Casey couldn't help feeling there was more to what Kim had told him than he understood. His magic was practically screaming at him that there was something he was missing. It irritated him for the rest of that day. It was almost sundown when they stopped traveling once again. They still hadn't reached the bay, but they were seeing seagulls in the air, so they knew they weren't far. The idea of pushing on in the dark to get the rest of the way had been discussed. However, shortly after that, Kim went to push a branch out of her way as she was riding in front. It wasn't a branch though. It was a very large snake that did not appreciate being batted around. Fortunately, Kim being the brawns of the duo, and having several knives hidden about her person in places that Casey did not want to imagine, she killed the snake easily enough.
"Well, supper tonight shouldn't take as long to prepare," she said smugly as she started butchering the reptile. Casey did NOT watch. "Here, Mr. Delicate, all chopped up and ready for you to cook."
"Umm, yeah, ok," Casey gulped trying to keep his mind off what had just happened. He waved the staff again and the cozy cottage took shape in the trees as it had the night before. "Ok, I will cook the meat that I did not watch you kill and do disgusting things to with your bare hands. You will take a very long, very hot, very thorough shower so that I don't see blood or guts anywhere on you, or smell them."
"Are all gay boys as prissy as you, or are you just abusing the privilege?"
"No coffee for the mean female tomorrow, yes noted and taken care of," Casey said loudly as he wrote something on the refrigerator in the house.
"Aww, that's fighting dirty," Kim whined. "I guess I am a little gooey though."
"TMI," Casey scolded. "Just go clean up, please."
"So is dinner ready yet?" Kim asked a while later, when she came out of the bathroom wearing the brightest orange bathrobe Casey had ever seen. He actually choked on his Kool-Aid when he saw it.
"HOLY CRAP!" he finally wheezed out. "That's your favorite color? Geez, no wonder lesbians need gay guys around to help them with fashion and decorating."
"Watch it," Kim growled. "And how did you give me my favorite color robe if you didn't even know what color was my favorite?"
"Magic," Casey grinned at her. He then waved his staff at the table in front of him and a pair of sunshades appeared. He put them on before looking back at her. "Much better now."
"You are not nearly as funny as you think you are," Kim sneered as she sat down and started eating. "Hey, snake meat isn't so bad. I guess I won't mind so much hanging around with you for the rest of my life if you can keep cooking this good."
"Don't expect snake to be on the menu all that often," Casey shuddered. "I saw a documentary once about food around the world, and there was a place that served snake, but they gave you some kind of wine to go with it. I guess that was so you wouldn't think too much about what you are eating."
"Well, that's not for me," Kim told him. "Uncle Clyde used to give me this cheap wine stuff that came in a box when he would want to play with me. It tasted awful, and always made me feel funny, so I made up my mind a long time ago never to drink alcohol again."
"Oh crap!" Casey blurted. "I just realized what has been bothering me about this situation with your uncle. I need to talk to Mitch now. He said that he let your uncle into this realm. That means that he knew your uncle."
"How are you going to get back to the tower from here tonight?" Just at that moment, a door appeared on the kitchen wall of the cottage, and Mitch stepped through it. "Don’t say it," Kim warned.
"Magic!" Casey and Mitch both yelled at her, laughing.
"OH WOW!" Mitch then gasped looking around himself. "It's our house; it's really our house." He looked over at Casey then and suddenly ran over and hugged the legs of the so familiar looking grown Casey. "Daddy," he mumbled. "I knew the magic was telling me that it was you, but now, seeing you looking just like you did right before I went to my room the night Darien, I mean Great Grandpa brought me here, this is weird, but good weird."
"Ok, son, something really important has come up," Casey began.
"I know, Dad, that's how I knew to come through that door," Mitch told him.
"Cut the chit-chat, boys," Kim ordered. "Mitch, how long have you known my Uncle Clyde?"
"Not long, I don't think," he answered, obviously thinking it over. "I can't really remember for some reason."
"Kim, do you have any gaps in your memory of any of the times that your uncle has been around you?"
"Well, now that you mention it," she mused, "there are some nights where he would come over early in the evening and feed us the brownies and the drinks and the next thing I would know it was the next morning."
"He's been drugging you guys," Casey frowned. "Mitch, do you remember him ever doing anything to you like what he is doing to your Poppa?" At the boy's shake of the head, he asked, "Do you mind if I check you out to make sure that he hasn't done it and you can't remember?"
"I don't have to get naked, do I?" Mitch asked nervously.
"Dude, if I'm your Daddy, then I have probably changed your diapers and seen it all before," Casey pointed out. "Plus you saw me naked when you brought me here."
"I so did not look at you, though. That would be nasty, creepy gross," Mitch said with his nose wrinkled in distaste.
"Besides that, why would you need to get naked when all I need to do is use the magic?" Casey asked. He waved his staff towards his son, and immediately sighed with relief. "You're all good, son. He didn't touch you."
"He acted creepy around me, but some... thing stopped him," Mitch told them with a noticeable stall in his voice. "It wasn't a thing, but I can't remember a person. It had to be a person, but I can't remember anyone being there to stop him." He looked up at his dad thoughtfully for a second and then said, "Yes, Dad I will stay and babysit Mom while you go back to the tower."
"Excuse me?" Kim snarled. "I do not need babysitting."
"I love you, Mommy," Mitch told her so sweetly that they all three almost got sick. Then he got serious and told her that she did need someone with her unless she wanted to suddenly be sitting on the rock that her chair actually was.
"So if he leaves, the house leaves with him," Kim reasoned aloud.
"Careful, Xena, if you think too much you might lose your standing as the dumb brute force of the mission," Casey said, then without even thinking about it, bent down and kissed Mitch on the forehead.
"Love you, son," he said and ruffled the boy's hair. "I'll be back as soon as I can." He then turned and rushed through the same door that Mitch had entered.
"Son, I hate to have to tell you this, but you may still stop existing tonight?" Kim told Mitch as she watched the door close behind Casey.
"What? Why? I thought things were going good," Mitch looked up at her nervously.
"Yeah, they were until he said that, now I have to kill him when he gets back," Kim growled.
"You won't really kill him, will you?" Mitch whispered like the frightened ten-year-old that he was. It was scary knowing that you might or might not stop existing at any minute.
"Fine, just because I like you so much, I'll wait and kill him after you're born," she sighed grumpily.
"But, Mom, I like Daddy now," he pouted with his best puppy dog eyes and quivering lip.
"You're ruining my butch image here, kid," Kim fussed. "I can't make you sad. You little brat, you're turning me into an old softie." She looked over at him, and suddenly saw the real fear in his eyes. "It must be awful, not knowing if you will be here from one minute to the next."
"Mom, I know I'm kind of old for this, but, umm... would you mind, I mean can I... can we...."
"One motherly cuddle coming up son," Kim told him as she scooped him off the floor and carried him back to the table with her. "You can sit on my lap while I finish eating. I'm still starving."
"What is that?" Mitch asked nodding toward the casserole in the middle of the table.
"I don't know everything your dad put in it, but the meat in it is snake," Kim replied. The cuddle was ended abruptly as Mitch ran for the bathroom.
Meanwhile, Casey was back in the tower standing in front of the door that he had seen before, but Mitch and Kim had not. He had no idea where this door would lead him, but he knew he had to open it. When he did, he found himself in a room that he could feel by his magic was still inside the tower. The other thing he found shocking was that he was suddenly thirteen again, and in the pajamas he had been wearing that disappeared when he first stepped into the tower from his bedroom with Mitch.
"Of course everything is as it was at that moment, Casey, because I have taken you back to that moment," a voice said softly. He turned and saw a very old man, well sort of a man, sitting by a fireplace on a little stool. What he saw had the body of a man, but there were enormous white feathery wings on his back, as well as what were clearly cat ears sticking up out of the long, snow white hair, and there was a cat's tail twitching lazily from out of the back of the robes that looked very much like the ones that Casey wore as a Time Wizard. "Yes, Casey, you seem to have inherited my sense of style as well. Well, I should say my bearer's, since I got it from him."
"Inherited? Does that mean that we're related?" Casey asked.
"Quite so, my boy, quite so," the man smiled. "To save some energy, since time here is rather irrelevant, we will dispense with the 2,736 greats that go in front, and just call me your grandpa." He saw the boy looking at his ears, wings, and tail and laughed gently. "No, dear one, you don't have any of these because quite a bit of the family genetics has been diluted over the centuries between me and you." He gestured to the other stool in front of the fireplace. "Come, sit, my boy. We need to have a talk, you and I. I can't answer all your questions right now because it isn't time for you to know all the answers. You aren't ready for them yet. Quite honestly, you won't be ready when you get the answers you seek, but you will have to live with them. The main thing you have to know is something someone very wise has said. Sometimes bad stuff has to happen so the good stuff can. Added to that, sometimes those of us with great powers want to stop things from happening that would hurt those we love, but to do so would change everything we know too drastically to even contemplate."
"There is someone else involved in this mess besides Uncle Clyde isn't there? Someone that is going to impact my life as well, am I right?"
"Those would be the questions I can't answer for you," Grandpa said.
"Not answering is an answer though," Casey countered.
"You are a very clever boy," Grandpa smiled. "You will work it all out and when you do, I will be here to cuddle you and hold you and try to make it as easy on you as I can."
"It's going to be that bad?" Grandpa shrugged, but did so very sadly. "Well lovely," Casey added sarcastically.
"I will also be here for Mitch if he needs more comfort than you will be able to give him, but I think you will be up for that challenge this time around."
"So basically my son and I both have a trip through Hell to look forward to," Casey observed.
"Four souls will be damaged to their very limits, and they will all be depending on your strength to make it all survivable," Grandpa told him. "One of those souls will be your own."