The Golden Back Scratcher

Part 4 - The Favor that Jack Asked

He knows he isn’t alone.

Something is chasing him, hunting him, as he runs. In any other circumstance, he’d probably have attempted to devote some brain power to figuring out how, exactly, he has ended up running through a forest at midnight – a bitterly cold late Autumn wind blasting against his body, with leaves scudding through the air and littering the floor beneath his pounding feet, wearing only a thin tank-top and a pair of shabby boxer shorts.

But now, inborn preservation makes him run. Some base instinct inside him is telling him that It is coming; that It is nearby and he’s gonna be dead, Dead, DEAD if he doesn’t run faster….

His lungs stretch for breath as a cold sweat slides over his already freezing skin. His sides and belly ache with such ferocity that he’s sure something is going to burst.

He knows he should be in much better shape. He is an Evil Boy Genius, after all. How is he going to take over the world if he can’t fight to keep it?

Stopping for a moment, he justifies to himself that he has time. Surely he can get away. He’d done it before, he’d left the monster behind before – or the monster left him behind, and who was the monster, anyway? – he can get away, can run as far and as fast as he can if he has to. Again and again and again. But right now, he just needs to catch his breath, slow the sharp pain in his guts—

He whirls sharply. Behind him – a noise? Intently, he scans the woods that are illuminated by the huge, brightly glowing full moon above him. No, nothing there except the furtive rustle of dead autumn leaves and the bitter, biting wind.

Maybe… maybe he did it? Maybe he is safe?

He is proven wrong a flashing millisecond later.

A shadow slides along the ground, quicker than thought, and he looks up through the dead tree branches to see a glimmer of light in the sky, warping the shape of the moon.

Then the light falls out of the sky towards him and he screams as he tumbles backwards onto the leaf-littered forest floor.

Crouched above him is the Crystal Dragon, and perched atop the beast is Wuya, the Heylin witch.

The evil demon-creature is laughing as she holds up her right hand, glowing with green eldritch fire; her green eyes cold and hard and sharp with the desire to give pain.

He is afraid, but some small part of him demands that he make a stand; that if he does go down, then he will go down swinging.

Wuya brings forth her left hand, holding aloft an object for him to see.

The expression on Chase Young’s face is one of hate and horror – taken at the precise moment his head had been severed from his neck.

There is no hope for it – with despair and heartache, he begins to scream.


“—up! Spicer, wake up now!

Jack awoke to a dizzying sensation of movement and a loud noise. After several seconds, he realized someone was gripping him by his biceps and shaking him, and that he himself was screaming.

He stopped shrieking and his eyes snapped open wide to a view of Chase Young standing over him, a ferocious scowl on his face, and nearly screamed again.

“Ch-Ch-Chase,” he stammered out through chattering teeth, trembling hard. “Wh-what’s going on?”

Chase stopped shaking the youth and glared at him. “I honestly have no idea. I came here to discuss something with you at your request, only to find you lying on the floor and screaming. It took a few moments to wake you.”

Jack blinked. Craning his neck slightly, he tilted his head back and looked around. He was in his Evil Lair, apparently, and fully clothed. But for some reason, he was on the floor and had been for a while, if his aching back were any indication.

“Weird,” he muttered, and then yelped as Chase abruptly stood up from his crouch, dragging Jack up with him.

“Are you well, Spicer?” Chase asked suspiciously as he finally let go of the youth.

“Uh… yeah, I think so,” Jack replied, rubbing the back of his head, checking for bumps.

“What were you screaming about?”

Jack blanked out for a second, trying to remember. Abruptly, he reached out to catch hold of Chase’s arms, ignoring the way the other man tensed instantly, and said, “Chase! It’s Wuya – she’s going to get her powers back and take control of the Crystal Dragon and she had your head in her hands – just your head! And it was awful and you were hurt, you were gone, you were dead, and—“

Chase’s right hand clamped firmly around the lower half of Jack’s face; effectively halting the frantic babble of words. He looked into the wide red eyes that were looking at him so desperately and smiled darkly.

“As touched as I am that my passing seems to distress you so, there is one fraction of that gobbledygook that stands out apart from the rest – you said Wuya is going to get her powers back and take control of the Crystal Dragon. How do you know this? Have you been mucking about with the Crystal Glasses, Spicer?”

Jack shook his head, frowning, and Chase let go of his face.

“No…” Jack said slowly. “No, I haven’t; I don’t have them – the monks have that Wu. But I just… know; if that makes any sense.”

“It does,” Chase replied. “However, what would be more helpful would be knowing when, where, and how so as to effectively stop her from succeeding.”

“If we were to take the Crystal Glasses from the monks—“ Jack started to say, but went quiet when Chase held up a hand.

“The Crystal Glasses will show a user what happens only moments from glancing into them or one of many possible futures if the user attempts to see far enough ahead,” Chase said dismissively. “To be blunt: they are a hit-or-miss device. I will simply have to be warier than usual around the witch.”

Jack frowned. “Thought you two were shacked up all cozy-like.”

“And this would be why you consistently fail,” said the evil everlord, crossing his arms over his chest as he grinned wickedly. “So blindly trusting of everyone, including your own evil allies; one would think you’d learn from your mistakes if you’re the genius you claim to be.”

Jack’s scowl was ugly as he replied, “Watch it, Young, or I’ll have your tongue in my mouth so fast you’ll think you were in a time warp!”

A moment later, Jack felt as though his ribs were broken as he was slammed hard up high against a wall, pinned in place by a very angry, very reptilian Chase.

“Don’t you dare threaten me with your dirty mouth, boy!” Chase snarled, his gold eyes narrowed hatefully. “Is that what you were dreaming about during your nap on the Crystal Dragon? Is that what made you make those noises?

Jack felt the blood drain from his face, though his skin didn’t change color. Crap, Chase had known?

Seeing that Jack wasn’t going to answer, but that he was suitably cowed anyway, Chase returned to human form. He allowed Jack to drop to the floor with a thud where he sat breathing heavily, keeping his eyes averted from the older man.

Smirking, Chase bent over and grabbed Jack by the arms and once again hoisted Spicer onto his feet.

“While it is flattering to be the subject of a pubescent boy’s wet dreams, I have things to do. So, if you would kindly tell me what it is you wanted to see me about…?” Chase suggested.

Jack opened his mouth to reply, but said nothing. He frowned, confused, and said, “That’s weird… I don’t remember.”

“You don’t remember what you wanted to talk about?” Chase asked, irritated.

“No – I don’t remember asking you to come over here at all.”

Chase frowned, too, and reached out for Jack’s face.

Jack, wary, leaned back away from the big hands reaching for him and then skittered away to keep his balance.

“I’m not going to hurt you,” Chase growled, following the youth. “But I can easily do so if you don’t stand still.”

Instantly, Jack stopped moving. He knew Chase would keep his word, but the fact of the matter was that if Chase wanted to, he could pound Jack into the ground like a tent peg and there wouldn’t be a thing Jack could do to stop him.

Chase carefully took hold of Jack’s head and tilted it up so he could look down into Jack’s face, then sighed and ordered, “Open your eyes, Spicer.”

Jack did as he was told and found himself looking directly into Chase’s gold eyes, perhaps an inch or two away from his own. His palms started sweating and he trembled; part of him hoped Chase would move just a little bit closer, while the rest of him was quite certain that he would throw up if Chase knew what was happening “down there.”

Chase, who had a pretty good idea what was going on anyway, but felt no need to comment, said, “Hold still – I’m going to check your eyes.”

“What—“ Jack started to ask, then went rigid with a muffled “Eep!” when Chase’s grip on his skull tightened.

Once Chase was certain that Spicer was going to follow orders, he cupped the back of Jack’s head with his left hand while he used the thumb and forefinger of his right hand to push back the eyelids on Jack’s left eye and looked closely. A moment later, he switched hands and positions and looked into Jack’s right eye; then he let go and backed away.

“Did you have a headache when you woke up?” Chase asked.

Jack shook his head. “No, and I was checking for bumps. I know what a concussion is and the signs of having one. I don’t.”

Chase started to ask another question but Jack turned and walked away to his computer console. Chase followed, curious, and watched as Jack typed in a few commands.

“What are you doing?” he asked.

“Checking the security cameras to see if anything – What the…?” Jack’s reply trailed off as he watched static fill the screen as the recorded images were erased from up to an hour ago; the grounds of the Spicer estate – the upper levels of the house – and Jack’s own Evil Lair in the basement. The two men watched as Jack, working at his table, clearly heard something and turned to face the sound; then the picture went blank with static.

“Weird,” commented Jack. “I don’t hurt – well, at least not from that.”

Chase smirked at the glare he received from over Jack’s right shoulder.

“Anyway, I wonder what that was all about,” Jack continued. “I’m going to check my day-planner; see if I wrote down what… oh, yeah.”

Turning from his on-screen day-planner, Jack grinned wickedly at Chase and said, “I’ve been working on a surprise for you.”

“Does it have anything to do with the dragon clone operation?” Chase asked, his tone bored.

Jack’s eyes widened first, then narrowed angrily. “And how do you know about that?

“Let’s just say I have my sources,” Chase replied, smirking darkly.

“Hah – more like you hacked my system and read the information,” Jack grumbled. “So, I suppose this is all pointless, then?”

“No, no… go on with your presentation. I think it’s cute,” the older man said mockingly.

“I can easily make it self-destruct from here,” Jack warned. “If you think I won’t waste all that time and effort, try me – just try me!”

Chase smiled and tilted his head slightly to the right. “You are far too easy to wind up, Jack Spicer.”

Jack pouted and said nothing.

“Continue if you wish to do so,” Chase invited a moment later.

“Yeah, well – here,” Jack muttered, and pulled a spiral-bound notebook from a drawer at the computer station. He tossed it over to Chase, who caught it, opened the front cover, and began reading while Jack said, “I took some samples from Dojo and turned them into clones, so you don’t have to worry about where your next fix is coming from.”

Chase looked through the notebook, taking note of the easy-to-understand diagrams and instructions on how to harvest the non-sentient dragons. Finally, he closed the notebook and looked at Jack, who was waiting nervously for his reaction.

“Thank you,” Chase said simply.

Jack couldn’t help the brilliant grin that spread across his face – he could hear in Chase’s tone that the man was genuinely thanking him!

Just as he started to say something about how it was no big deal, a new voice interrupted.

“Uh… excuse me?”

Chase and Jack turned to face the stairs – Chase surprised that he hadn’t heard the newcomer arrive; he tensed, alert to any possible threat.

Walking down the metal stairs out of the shadows, the newcomer stepped into the light from the overhead track lighting, carrying a case that clearly held a laptop computer.

“Who are you?” Jack asked, confused at the abrupt appearance of a strange man in his Lair.

The man grinned as he walked over to Jack, showing perfectly white teeth. He was tall – taller than Chase, and built slim but with clear muscle definition. His attire was simple: dark gray T-shirt, blue jeans, boots, and a leather jacket. His face was handsome and carefree, with a strong, square jaw and smooth skin. He had bright green eyes and jet black hair.

“I’m sorry for interrupting you and your friend,” the man said, giving Chase a quick glance before clearly dismissing him. “I’m an acquaintance of your father’s; I just popped over for a little visit, but my computer seems to have frozen up on me. He said to come on down and have you take a look at it – said you’re some kind of whiz-bang genius with machines.”

“My dad said that?” Jack asked, confused. There were times he felt as though he were clearly flying well below his father’s radar.

“Yep,” agreed the stranger. “So, if it wouldn’t be too much of an imposition…?” He held up the carrying case.

“I believe young Mr. Spicer asked: Who are you?” Chase said suspiciously.

“Oh! Quite right; sorry for my poor manners. I am Lennon McLean,” the man said and extended his hand to Jack.

Jack eyed the man’s hand warily and then reached for the computer instead. “Yeah, okay. I’m Jack, but you obviously knew that.”

“Yes; your father said you’d look as though you’re dressed up for Halloween, but it’s easy to see that you’re simply a renegade soul, out to express yourself with a certain style,” Lennon said with a shrug, apparently unconcerned with Jack’s refusal to shake his hand.

Jack’s eyes widened. “Well… yeah.”

“Your father didn’t mention you’re such a handsome lad, but then he probably didn’t want to sound as though he were bragging,” Lennon continued. “I suppose if I had an attractive genius for a son, my ego might get a little swelled, too.”

Jack grinned, clearly charmed.

Chase scowled, clearly irritated.

“I’ll get right on this,” Jack said. “You can come back for it—“

“Well,” interrupted Lennon, “if you don’t mind… may I stay to watch? Perhaps I might learn something so I don’t have to inconvenience you again.”

Jack blinked, startled. “Uh… I don’t know what you’d learn from me. I’m just going to look around, run a diagnostic, and then tinker with the thing if the problem is fixable.”

“True enough, but you don’t need to be speaking in order to teach. For instance… your hands, I’ve noticed, are moving with an unconscious grace and dexterity even while we’re talking. You work with your hands a lot and there’s a lot that can be learned from watching them move,” Lennon said with a smile.

Jack looked down at his white hands and then back over to Lennon. “I suppose….”

“Of course, if I’m making you uncomfortable, you can ask me to leave,” Lennon added. “It is your right since this is your space.”

“That might be a good idea,” Chase interrupted when Jack opened his mouth to reply.

Lennon turned his head to glance at Chase. “I wasn’t aware that Jack had a personal bodyguard.”

Chase’s eyes narrowed a bit and his chin lifted. Jack winced, recognizing the signs of a highly irritated evil everlord.

“I am not Jack’s servant,” Chase said tightly.

“Then why are you here?” Lennon asked bluntly.

“For personal reasons that are none of your concern.”

“Well… that’s honest.” Lennon turned to face Jack again and affected an apologetic expression. “I’m sorry; I had no idea I was interrupting you spending time with your partner.”

Jack’s eyes bugged out and Chase’s eyebrows went high up his forehead.

“Ch-Chase isn’t my partner,” said Jack, stumbling slightly over Chase’s name. “Not the way you’re thinking. He’s just an… associate, for lack of a better word.”

“Ah,” Lennon muttered, and then grinned. “Well, sorry again, then, for completely misreading the situation.”

Chase frowned again, but didn’t comment.

Jack turned his attention to the computer and within a few moments, he’d isolated the problem.

“You’ve been spammed,” he said, his fingers flying over the keyboard and his eyes moving rapidly back and forth, assimilating the information scrolling across the screen.

“A virus?” Lennon asked, concerned.

“Kind of. Give me a moment to get it isolated and taken care of.”

The two men watched as Jack worked and, within the space of a minute, had the spam problem contained and then cleared away.

“All done,” Jack said, and handed back the computer.

“Fantastic!” Lennon said as he quickly checked through his messages and files, pleased as everything worked properly once again. He grinned at Jack and said, “I can’t tell you how much I appreciate this!”

Jack shrugged. “I hardly did anything.”

“Still, I’d like to show my appreciation.”

Jack, fully expecting to be handed some money, was taken aback when Lennon asked, “May I take you out to dinner?”

Chase felt his hackles rise. “The boy is a little young, don’t you think?”

“I’m fifteen!” Jack fumed, ignoring his own astonishment.

“Precisely; it’s hardly inappropriate for him to accompany me out for a meal in an effort to thank him for taking care of my problem,” said Lennon stiffly.

Chase opened his mouth to snarl something, but Jack interrupted.

“You’re not my dad, Chase,” the teenager growled. “If someone asks me to dinner, I can make up my own mind.” Jack then turned to Lennon. “Weren’t you here to see my father?”

“Yes, but the dinner invite wasn’t for right this second,” Lennon shot back with a grin. “How about tomorrow evening?”

“Uh… sure, I guess,” agreed Jack.

“Great. I’ll let him know that I’ll be here around eight to pick you up. We won’t go anywhere really ultra especially fancy, so don’t worry about needing to dress up in a suit or anything.”

“Good, because I wouldn’t have anyway,” Jack sneered. “People can take me as I am or they can get in my face about it, but I’m not conforming to anyone’s standards except my own.”

Lennon’s smile was quick and bright. “I like your attitude, Jack. You’re going to go far if you keep that way of thinking.”

“Farther than you know,” Jack smirked.

“Well, I’d better get going before your father starts to think I’ve abandoned him – not that the idea isn’t tempting,” Lennon said with a wink. “But I do have business to discuss with him. I’ll see you tomorrow, Jack.”

“Later,” Jack said nonchalantly. Upon hearing the soft click of the Lair’s door, Chase turned to Jack with a glower.

“Awfully chummy with a fifteen-year-old boy he’s never met before, isn’t he?” Chase snapped coldly.

“Who knew you even knew the word ‘chummy’?” Jack shot back, irritated. “Don’t you think you’re reading a little too much into this?”

“I’m not reading anything; the evidence is obvious that—“

“That what? Somebody is willing to put up with me for more than a few minutes? Oh, no – the unthinkable has happened and the world is tilting off its axis!”

Chase lunged but Jack dodged, narrowly avoiding having one of those large, strong hands wrapped around his throat.

“What do you care, anyway?” Jack yelled as he ran around to the other side of the table, though he knew it wouldn’t do any good as Chase would just go over or possibly even through the thing if he had to. “You got what you came for!”

Chase forced himself back into calmness and said, “You’re quite right, Spicer. I don’t care.” He smirked when Jack’s expression took on a very slight hint of ‘crestfallen’. “I must be going now. Thank you for—“

Abruptly, a red light began flashing from the vicinity of Jack’s left wrist, and the youth lifted his arm and twisted so he could see the display.

“What is that?” demanded Chase.

“My Detect-o-Bot,” replied Jack. “It goes off and points the way whenever a new Shen-Gong-Wu activates itself.”

Chase sighed and facepalmed. “That means Wuya will be rabid when I get back.”

“As if she’s any other way any other time,” Jack groused.

“True,” the evil everlord agreed with a smirk.

“So? Just tell her ‘no’ and let it go – you’re good at that,” Jack said as he walked quickly towards the staircase.

“Oh, I don’t know,” Chase rumbled from behind him, “every time you come crawling around begging me for something, I acquiesce most graciously.”

Jack aimed a sneer back over his shoulder. “I’m busy now – can I ignore you some other time?”

With that, he was gone, leaving a surprisingly amused Chase Young behind.


The Shrill Whistle was won by Jack who, as soon as he discovered that it was the only Shen-Gong-Wu that could permanently damage the Crystal Dragon, immediately used a Favor to keep Chase from stealing or coercing from him the Shrill Whistle – and that included getting anyone else to do it for him. With genuine irritation but also with no other choice, Chase agreed to the Favor and Jack was allowed to keep the Shrill Whistle. Jack had already considered using a Favor to ensure that Chase would never again attack him with the intent to hurt or scare him, but he let that thought go; otherwise, the man would never touch him.

The evening after Jack acquired the Shrill Whistle, Chase “called” him via computer connection to remind Jack that he now only had two Favors left. Jack thanked him for pointing out the obvious and then, in all seriousness, asked if Chase had made use of his gift yet.

“I have,” Chase told him. “You provided clear and concise instructions on how to harvest the dragons – thank you again.”

Jack simply nodded and said he had to go; he had a dinner date to get ready for. To his surprise, Chase scowled darkly and terminated the connection without another word.

Jack had a fine time out with Lennon. A part of him was wary, wondering if Chase was right and there was an ulterior motive, but Lennon kept everything above-board the entire time. A couple of times, Lennon touched the back of his hand, but he didn’t linger overly long; so Jack, though he tensed, never pulled away from the other man. They talked about computers and robotics and basketball and lots of other things and before Jack knew it, dinner was over and he was home at nearly midnight.

“Thanks again for your help yesterday, Jack,” said Lennon. “You have no idea how you saved me.”

Jack shrugged and shook his head. “Any tech could have done the same.”

“Yeah, but none of them were you. I’m glad it was you, because I had fun tonight. You’re a terrific conversationalist.”

Blushing, the teenager replied, “Uh… I’ll take your word for it.”

Lennon’s eyebrows rose significantly. “No one’s ever said as much to you?”

Jack shook his head.

“Now, that’s a real shame,” Lennon said, tsk-ing. “But, I suppose genius is hard for us mere mortals to tolerate.”

“Yes,” agreed Jack solemnly. “No one ever said the Road to Greatness was paved with companionship.”

They both laughed at that and then Lennon said goodnight to Jack, shaking his hand firmly with genuine respect – something Jack was not used to, but decided he liked a lot.

He made his way downstairs to his Evil Lair, yawning tiredly, and walked over to his computer console.

“Did you enjoy yourself?”

Jack gasped and whirled around, his eyes darting frantically as he searched the Lair for the source of the voice. “Chase? Where are you?”

Directly ahead of him, walking slowly out of the shadows, Chase Young appeared – his gold reptilian eyes seeming to glow with malice and power.

Jack gulped as his eyes widened. He wondered if he’d be able to talk fast enough to invoke his second-to-last Favor to keep Chase from wiping the floor with him.

He tried edging along the console and then scooting past the apparently cranky evil-doer, only to find himself caught by his right arm in an iron-strong grip. A moment later, he was flung across the room to land reasonably lightly against his worktable; catching himself on his palms. He turned—

—and found himself caged as Chase stepped up close against him, leaning in to brace his own hands on the table behind Jack, effectively trapping the youth against the worktable.

“I believe I asked if you enjoyed yourself this evening,” Chase rumbled, his face barely an inch away from Jack’s; his eyes narrowed with ire.

Jack – his head tilted far back on his neck – looked up into those angry gold eyes and trembled. His knees felt like they wanted to throw up, but he forced himself to nod slightly and said, “Y-yes.”

Chase hissed between his clenched teeth and then forced himself back to calmness. “It certainly looked that way – especially when he touched you.”

“You were spying on us?” Jack growled.

“I was curious.”

Jack smirked. “If I didn’t know better, Chase, I’d swear you were jealous.”

Chase bared his teeth in a snarl and Jack was startled to see the mouthful of razor-sharp fangs. He thought those didn’t appear until Chase went lizard, but Young was clearly still in his human form.

“I don’t do ‘jealous’, boy,” Chase snapped, his voice liquid and growly.

“Then why are you acting like this?” Jack demanded to know.

Chase scowled and pulled away from Jack; stepping back several paces and crossing his arms over his chest.

“I have my reasons and no, you may not know what they are,” Chase growled.

“Do you even know? I’ve never seen you like this!” Jack grumbled as he slowly stood up straight.

“You don’t know me as well as you like to think you do, boy.”

“Stop calling me that!”

“Use a Favor and make me.”

The look in Chase’s eyes said that if Jack did use a Favor, he’d better make it count.

Jack crossed his arms and looked away.

Chase looked at the youth for a moment; then he smirked and said, “It could almost be cute – the way you pout, that is.”

Jack shot him an angry look. “You are a strange man.”

“Not as strange as some. I don’t proposition teenagers I have just met.”

“So, what – you wait until you’ve gotten to know them and then make your move?”

Chase closed one eye, feeling a migraine forming, and glared at Jack through the open eye.

Jack sighed and shook his head. “Sorry – cheap shot. Look, was there something you needed? I’m tired.”

“How can you possibly be so exhausted from having dinner?” Chase demanded incredulously.

“I’m up past my bedtime,” Jack said with a grin.

Chase rolled his eyes and shook his head. “Young people these days – no staying power.”

Jack protested. “I need my beauty sleep.”

“You’re going to require a lot more than mere sleep.”

“Walked right into it,” Spicer grumbled.

They were both silent for a few moments. Finally, Chase uncrossed his arms and tucked them behind his back casually.

“I’ll be going now,” he said.

Jack frowned, confused. Then he grinned and said, “Awww… you waited up for me to make sure I got home alright? Nice.”

Chase’s eyes narrowed yet again and he stalked over to Jack, who once again shrank back against the worktable as the older man leaned over him.

With his mouth very close to Jack’s, but not touching, Chase allowed his expression to soften as he murmured, “Jack… don’t flatter yourself.”

And then he pulled away, stepped back a few paces, and teleported out of the Lair.

Jack stared blankly at the spot where Chase had been, and then turned the air blue with an impressive display of vocabulary.


To Jack’s surprise, Lennon called on him again, asking for another dinner out.

And then another.

And yet another.

For several weeks, Lennon found excuses and reasons to show up to talk to Jack and to take him out to dinner or to other activities. Once, even, Lennon got permission from Jack’s parents to take Jack to Tokyo for a technology convention going on in the city for an entire week. Jack had a grand time; he learned a couple of new things he’d never thought to try, scoffed at several other inventions that he had figured out years ago, and even found time to pick out a few postcards and send them off to various people. He couldn’t help giggling when he wrote out Chase’s address: “Chase Young / Evil Everlord / Mountain of Doom / China.”

His message had been brief: Hi, Chase! I’m having a blast in Tokyo with Lennon. Wish you were here! Your favorite Evil Boy Genius – Jack Spicer

Oh, to be a fly on the wall for the result of that little note! But, of course, the Monks had the Manchurian Musca.

The day before Jack was to return home, he got a phone call from his mother, telling him that she and his father were going to be in Europe for a couple of weeks and that they’d see him when they got home. He was disappointed, but figured that gave him time enough to get a few projects taken care of that he knew would make his parents go ballistic.

The next day, Jack and Lennon traveled back to China and Lennon took Jack directly home.

“That was fun,” Lennon said as he followed Jack down into the Evil Lair. He grinned at Jack, his green eyes bright with pleasure. “And the best part is that I had too many people asking me who was the bishounen with me.”

Jack blushed and scrubbed a hand through his hair, messing it up and giving it a wind-tossed look.

Lennon grinned and stepped closer to Jack. “You’re cute when you blush.”

“Hah! I’ll have you know I’m always—“ Jack started to say, and then stopped abruptly.

Because Lennon had reached out, caught his head in his hands, and hauled Jack in for a kiss.

Startled, Jack struggled and pushed Lennon back an inch or so. “What are you doing?”

“Showing my appreciation for a beautiful young man I admire, whose company I really like,” Lennon said softly, not letting go of Jack.

“I – I’m only fifteen,” Jack said, feeling somewhat stupid and overwhelmed. He was feeling something, but he wasn’t sure what it was.

Lennon grinned. “So? I’m only eleven years older than you. And being fifteen is a fun time. Plenty of new things to… learn.”

Jack gasped as he felt one of Lennon’s hands move from his head, down his back, to rest suggestively at the base of his spine; just where the curve of his buttocks started.

“I won’t hurt you,” Lennon promised earnestly. “I like you a lot, Jack. I want to be with you; I want to give you so much – I want to give you everything.”

“But—“ Jack murmured, and then trailed off into a moan as Lennon leaned in to kiss him again; using his tongue and lips to great effect to tease Jack’s interest.

Jack trembled in Lennon’s arms as his mouth was tasted and stroked very, very tenderly, but definitely with passion. Lennon’s lips were firm, yet soft, and the light hint of beard stubble scratched pleasantly at Jack’s chin and mouth. He felt so hot, so lightheaded, and he rested trustingly against Lennon, not minding the hands cupping his arse as he began to kiss back with fervor; glorying in the sensations the older man was arousing.

It wasn’t until he felt Lennon bring one hand between them to start fumbling at the waistband of Jack’s trousers that Jack stiffened and pulled away.

“Moving too fast?” Lennon asked, his grin rueful.

“A bit,” Jack muttered, his cheeks flushed a delicate pink color. Then he offered a grin to the other man and said, “Doesn’t mean I didn’t like it.”

Lennon smirked. “I could tell by the way your tongue tucked up against mine and wriggled.”

Jack’s blush intensified.

“No, don’t be embarrassed – I’m glad you liked it,” Lennon said softly, reaching out to stroke Jack’s cheek with the backs of his fingers. “Something tells me you don’t get kissed nearly enough.”

Jack shook his head, blushing still.

“That’s a shame,” said Lennon.

“I know it,” Jack grumbled, then grinned. “But I’m open to more of it.”

Lennon smirked and leaned in for a few more kisses before pulling away.

“Hate to smooch and run, but I’m jet-lagged and I still have to get home,” he said reluctantly.

“There are plenty of guest rooms here,” Jack offered.

“And too much temptation, too,” Lennon replied with a wink, enjoying the way Jack blushed upon realization of what he meant. “I’ll get on home. Thank you for everything, Jack.”

“Isn’t that supposed to be my line?” Jack wondered sarcastically.

“Hey, you’ve made me happy; I think that’s worth a ‘thank you’.”

Jack felt like a dweeb as he blushed yet again before seeing Lennon back upstairs and out of the house.

Several miles away, Chase Young sat on his throne, watching the goings on at Jack’s house via his Eye-Spy orb, and seethed.


Chase was surprised at the call he received from Jack nearly three weeks later.

In the three weeks since Jack returned home from Tokyo, he and Chase had not interacted much. Chase had attempted to make use of the Crystal Dragon to wreak a great deal of havoc on most of China, and Jack stayed out of the way and let him. Unfortunately, the Xiaolin Wudai monks tricked Jack into a Xiaolin Showdown and he lost the Shrill Whistle, which they promptly used to shatter the Crystal Dragon; thwarting Chase’s plans for tyranny. Chase had then called upon Jack to bellow at him and give the youth an earful before taking his leave without allowing Jack a rebuttal, so angry was he.

Which is why Chase was so surprised to see a message from Jack, requesting him to come see Spicer immediately upon acceptance of the message, concerning a Favor.

The terseness of the message alone had Chase’s curiosity piqued, and so he informed Wuya of where he was going, ordered her to behave herself, and then teleported into Jack’s Evil Lair.

Seeing the youth standing over in front of a cabinet with its doors opened, Chase walked soundless to join him, taking note of what appeared to be about fifteen Jack-bots, ready and waiting.

“I’m here,” Chase drawled. “What do you—“

Jack turned and Chase shut up instantly at the look of murder in the young man’s red eyes.

“Chase,” said Jack, his voice low and tense with hatred, “the favor I ask of you is to help me retrieve my parents from Lennon McLean.”

Young felt the magic of the Golden Back Scratcher take hold and he nodded. “This is quite the abrupt change – tell me what happened,” he ordered.

“In a minute,” Jack said and turned back to retrieve a few items from the cabinet, including the Golden Tiger Claws. Once he had those, he closed the cabinet and then stalked over to stand in front of his small robot army to give commands like a commanding officer.

“We’re going in using the Golden Tiger Claws. Once I open the portal, all of you file through; Chase and I will be right behind you,” Jack said. “Secure the premises and if Lennon tries to leave, keep him from doing so.”

“Yes, sir,” replied the robot army in unison, saluting him with their clawed hands.

Jack turned to Chase, who looked at him with a raised eyebrow and nodded slowly.

“I’m impressed,” he said. “But I still don’t understand what has happened.”

“What? No spying spell this time?” Jack sniped.

“I’ve been more than a little busy lately; I have other things to do than keep track of you.”

Jack’s hands tightened into fists and he was silent for a moment as he organized his thought processes. Finally, he began to speak.

“Lennon has been… clingy, lately. Worse than the way I used to get with you.”

“With you so far,” Chase teased calmly.

“He kept trying to take our – whatever we had – further than I wanted to; kept saying how I was perfect and wonderful and fifteen, so of course I just wanted to. I didn’t like that.”

“You didn’t like being told you’re perfect?”

“I didn’t like having assumptions made of me, and do you want to hear this or not?” Jack growled.

“Sorry, please continue.”

“Right. So, I told him I’d like to cool things down, that we were moving too fast. He didn’t like it. Next thing I know, he’s stalking me and I tell him that’s enough and to leave me alone and never come back. That’s when my folks went missing and he told me that if I gave myself to him, he’d let them go.”

Chase frowned. “Give yourself to him?”

“Yeah, the whole kit and caboodle – mind, body, soul... the works.”

Chase’s eyes narrowed. “I don’t think so.”

“Yeah, that’s what I think, too. So, we’re on our way to get my parents back and to get the point across that it’s over. You have a problem with that?”

“Not in the slightest.”

“Good. Let’s go.”

And with that, Jack pulled on the Golden Tiger Claws.


“How did you do that?” Lennon demanded to know the very instant he saw Jack come through the portal into his home office.

“None of your business,” Jack growled, turning away slightly in order to discreetly pull off the Golden Tiger Claws and hide them in an inner pocket of his trench coat.

“But—“ Lennon began, only to be interrupted.

“Where are my parents?” snapped Jack.

“Oh, they’re fine!” Lennon rushed to reassure the youth. “They got a little excitable, so I had to put them down for a nap—“

Jack snapped his fingers and two Jack-bots zoomed forward, their laser cannons primed and ready as they stopped a few inches away from Lennon, who looked at them, wide-eyed.

“They’re only asleep!” squeaked the man.

“They’d better be alright or so help me, I’ll use my bare hands to rip you apart!” Jack yelled at the top of his lungs.

“They’re fine, Jack – I swear, they’re just fine!”

Jack glared at the other man for a moment and then said, “Chase, will you go find my parents and get them to safety?”

Lennon sneered. “I’ve got some of the best mercenaries in the world as bodyguards on duty. Just because he has pretty armor doesn’t mean he’s going to win!”

Chase smirked at the man and said, “No, but I do have quite a bit of experience, McLean, as your hired thugs will soon find out.”

With that, he moved over to Jack and caught hold of the youth. He appeared – at least to Lennon – to be giving the teenager a brief hug about the waist, but actually, he was discreetly taking the Golden Tiger Claws and keeping them out of sight so he could use them to transport Jack’s parents out of danger. He could have teleported them using his own magic, but why waste his own power if he didn’t have to?

Jack felt the absence of the Tiger Claws’ weight and knew what had happened. Still, he didn’t react, but kept his gaze trained on Lennon.

The two of them watched Chase calmly walk out of the room using the only visible door and then turned their attention back to each other.

Lennon sneered. “Your little friend isn’t going to have such an easy time of it; mercenaries aren’t the only things waiting out there.”

Jack bared his teeth and said, “Jack-bots! Half of you go with Chase; follow his orders, whatever they are.”

Instantly, eight of the Jack-bots closest to the door split away from the group and literally went through the door without opening it to catch up with Chase.

Jack, who had watched them go, turned back to face Lennon. “Now—“

He blinked at the sight of a gun in Lennon’s hand.


“Mr. Young, sir,” said a robotic voice, and Chase turned with a frown to see eight Jack-bots behind him.

“What?” he snapped.

“We were sent after you; there is more waiting than mercenaries, sir. We were told to follow your instructions,” said the lead Jack-bot.

Chase sighed. “Very well. Your orders are to stay as silent as possible and be alert to incoming attacks from anything other than the mercenaries. When the attacks come, fight back against them in an effort to eliminate them.”

“Yes, sir,” the Jack-bots chorused, and they followed silently behind Chase as he made his way through Lennon McLean’s sizable mansion.


Jack gaped at the sight of seven smoldering piles of what used to be Jack-bots before turning to face Lennon once again.

“That’s right,” said Lennon with a grin as he thumbed on the safety of the laser gun. “I don’t think I ever told you that I am one of the top five marksmen in the world, did I?”

“No, somehow, that never came up,” Jack growled, and he began backing away towards the door.

Lennon tossed away the gun and held out both hands. “Jack – no. Please, don’t run away.”

Jack glared. “I don’t run.”

“No, of course you don’t,” Lennon agreed instantly. “Just – stay. Please, stay with me.”

“Why would I want to stay with you?” Jack protested. “I wasn’t ready to go further and said so, and you kept hammering at me, trying to get me to give in. Then, when I’d had enough, you… what was it you did? Oh, yeah – you KIDNAPPED MY PARENTS!

“Okay, okay – I admit that it wasn’t the brightest move, but I had to get you to pay attention to me somehow!” Lennon argued.

“What part of ‘NO’ did you not understand?” shouted Jack.

“That’s just it! I don’t understand! Jack, we’re so perfect together! It only makes sense!

“You don’t know me half as well as you think you do,” Jack snapped. “I’ve got plans for bigger and grander things than just being your boyfriend.”

“What – the whole world domination thing? I’m totally for it. Whatever you want, I’ll help you get it; just let me be with you!”

Jack scowled darkly. “How do you know about that? I never told you!”

Lennon’s face showed a guilty expression as he said, “Ahhh… well. About that… um, I might have maybe engineered that whole ‘my computer crashed please help scene’.”

“I figured that out back in Tokyo when it became obvious you knew your way around computers,” Jack said coldly. “I just couldn’t figure out why.”

“Because I needed to check on you to make sure you were okay!”

“From what?

“That day we met… well… I’d done something bad to you.”

Jack thought for a moment and then shouted, “You were the one that knocked me out!”

Lennon nodded. “Your father had let it slip that you had cooked up some amazing new gizmos in your workshop and I wanted to see them. He told me that you weren’t likely to let anyone see them and why, and so I…”

“You didn’t,” groaned Jack.

Lennon nodded again. “I knocked him out and snuck downstairs to your Lair. You were working at your table and you’d just looked up to see me coming down. I, um… tazered you, for lack of a better word.”

“Tazering hurts,” Jack responded. “I didn’t hurt when I woke up.”

Lennon grinned. “New and improved version I made; the jolt targets certain nerves so that the burst doesn’t have to last for quite so long. You were unconscious in about three seconds.”

“That doesn’t explain why I don’t remember any of it.”

“Ever see Men in Black?”

Jack blinked. “You built a Neuralyzer?”

“Sure; it was easy enough. And it works because you didn’t remember a thing and neither did your father.”

Jack didn’t want to admit it, but he was unwillingly impressed.


The sound of lasers firing and metal rending was loud as the Jack-bots went up against Lennon’s robots.

Adding to the din were the grunts and yells from the mercenaries as they attacked, though some were smart enough to realize there was an apex predator in their midst and decided no amount of money was worth that mess.

Which only made Chase Young’s work easier.

He met attack after attack with flawless defense and counter-attack; he dodged the bullets from the guns with utmost grace and skill, his focus perfect. His adversaries fell to the power of his strikes and Chase continued forward, his senses alive with the thrill of combat and victory; his body thrumming with excitement.

Soon there were none to stand against him and he easily broke through the door to the room that held Jack’s parents. He spotted the two of them lying on a comfortable looking bed; a quick check assured him that they were merely drugged into sleep and nothing worse had occurred.

Pulling on the Shen-Gong-Wu, he fixed the destination in his mind and called out, “Golden Tiger Claws!” and swiped them through the air. As soon as the portal appeared, he turned to pick up Jack’s father, slinging the man over his left shoulder; then he gathered Jack’s mother up into his arms, cradling her as he would an infant.

Chase stepped through the portal with Jack’s parents and reappeared two seconds later in the master bedroom of the Spicer estate. He quickly put the parents on their bed, tossed a duvet over them, and used the Golden Tiger Claws to get back to McLean’s residence to collect Jack.


“…and all I wanted was your files, but then I turned around and I saw you lying there, and you looked so perfect and vulnerable and – and I just wanted you, right then and there. Wanted to keep you and protect you and love you, because you’re so beautiful.”

Jack stared wide-eyed at Lennon, who was slowly stalking him around the office.

“You realize you sound like a pervert, right?” Jack asked. “I’m fifteen and you’re already talking life-long marriage.”

“Would it be so bad?” Lennon asked softly. “To know that you are the most desired, most adored person in the world to someone else? I have so much to give – so much that can help you realize your dreams, Jack; please, let me be the one to help you. Let me help you and adore you.”

Jack bit his lower lip, uncertain. Lennon’s proposal did sound nice; to be pampered and spoiled and supported the rest of his life sounded great, actually, but there was no guarantee it would last.

“Jack, you liked it when I kissed you, didn’t you?” Lennon continued. “You liked the feel of my hands when I held you and stroked you. Imagine what I could do to you – imagine the pleasure I could make you feel. Think of it, Jack: my mouth teasing you, hot and wet; my hands stroking you and giving you so much pleasure. I can teach you how to give in to ecstasy; I can teach you how to give ecstasy in return.”

Jack’s cheeks were flushed a delicate pink as he imagined everything Lennon was describing. He wanted that – to be held and cherished as though he weren’t a freak – as though he were worthy of someone’s time and attention.

Lennon grinned; he could see that Jack was wavering. All he had to do was tempt the youth a bit more and then that perfect, vulnerable, innocent young man would be his.

He had just opened his mouth when, abruptly, Chase Young’s voice said from behind him: “Jack, your parents are safe.”

Lennon whirled around to glare hatefully at the other man, who stood only a few feet away, hardly a hair out of place and a smug expression on his face.

Jack blinked and focused his attention on the evil everlord. “Chase. What?”

“I said your parents are safe, Spicer. Are you deaf suddenly? They’re at your home, tucked up nice and neatly in bed,” Chase replied.

“Impossible,” Lennon growled. “My defenses—“

“—were pitiful in the extreme. The Jack-bots spent themselves against your mechanical devices and I defeated your mercenaries – the ones that did not simply give up and walk away, that is.”

Lennon felt a migraine threatening as he bared his teeth angrily.

Chase ignored the man and looked past him to the startled-looking youth. “Jack, get over here – now.”

Jack instantly moved to obey, only to be caught by his left arm as he went past Lennon. Surprised, he turned his head to face the other man.

“Jack, no!” Lennon said desperately. “Please, you mean everything to me – stay!”

He began tugging Jack closer to him, but met with resistance when Chase grabbed Jack’s right arm; glaring at him over the shock of neon red-orange of Jack’s hair.

“Spicer is coming with me,” Chase declared with a growl.

“He has no reason to go with you!” Lennon shot back, pulling on Jack’s left arm.

“He is not staying with you!

“Jack, listen to him – he doesn’t talk to you with respect and he treats you shamefully! I will never do that to you! I will treat you like the precious gift you are!” Lennon said urgently, looking at Jack.

“I will always be real with Jack,” said Chase grimly. “I will give him what he needs to succeed on his own.”

Jack, who was looking back and forth between the two men, felt his eyes widen and he looked at Chase incredulously. Did that mean the evil everlord planned on taking and keeping him?

Abruptly, Chase’s patience was gone. With a vicious yank, he pulled Jack away from Lennon; the force of his pull causing Jack to stumble and fetch up against Chase’s chest, looking up at the evil warlord with wide, luminous eyes.

“Spicer, take the Golden Tiger Claws and go home,” ordered Chase. “I will catch up with you later.”

“But—“ Jack started to argue, only to find one of Chase’s fingers pressing against his lips, silencing him. He glanced down at the finger on his lips, then up into Chase’s gold eyes.

“I’m asking nicely, Spicer – please go home and leave this to me,” Chase said softly.

Jack knew in that instant who he’d rather deal with for the rest of his life. Relaxing, he nodded his agreement and reached for the Golden Tiger Claws.

In less than a second, he was gone, leaving Chase and Lennon alone together in McLean’s office.

As Chase advanced on the man, Lennon’s eyes widened and he ran for his desk to retrieve another gun.


Jack turned off the video feed of the breaking news story talking about the grisly death of a technology tycoon by the name of Lennon McLean. Sources had stated that the housekeeping staff had found the body parts spread out all over McLean’s office and blood was everywhere; however, there was no trace of the attacker – no fingerprints, DNA samples, no surveillance footage whatsoever.

Jack turned to Chase, who was leaning nonchalantly against the computer desk, his arms crossed and his expression extremely smug.

“Did you have to dismember him?” Jack grouched irritably.

Chase smiled, pleased. “Yes.”

“Ewww,” Jack muttered, and he got up from his chair to walk over to his worktable where a new project awaited.

“How are your parents?” Chase asked, changing the subject.

“Fine. They’d like to thank you in person; Dad is talking about some kind of reward for you.”

Chase snorted elegantly. “I require no compensation. Even if I did, I was honor-bound to pay a Favor, which negates such things.”

Jack nodded. “I know, but I haven’t told them about the Shen-Gong-Wu. For now, they’re chalking you up as a ‘Good Samaritan’.”

Chase hissed, displeased.

“Yeah, I know,” the youth sympathized.

The two of them were silent for a while; Chase watching as Jack worked on some new device. He noted that McLean had been right about one thing: Jack did have very deft and clever hands.

“Listen…” Jack said abruptly, his tone quiet. “Thank you for getting my parents out of there safely.”

“You asked me to help you,” said Chase simply.

“Yeah, but…”

“Jack, there was no reason to harm your parents; they hadn’t done anything to displease me.”

Jack laughed bitterly and said, “Except for having me, you mean.”

Chase frowned. “No – not even that.”

Jack shrugged and continued working. “Still… thanks, Chase. It means a lot to me.”

“And now you are down to one Favor.”

The younger man nodded and said nothing.

“Well, as soon as you know what it is, let me know. I would advise, however, not asking for more Favors; my patience is wearing thin on the subject,” Chase warned, his tone low and growly.

Jack sighed, but nodded anyway.

“Before I go – what did you see in that rampaging twit, anyway?” the evil everlord asked crankily.

Turning his head to look at the irritable man, Jack smirked and said, “He kissed me and he didn’t have to be tricked into doing it. I liked that.” Still smirking, Jack turned his attention back to the device on the table in front of him.

“Ah… so you want to be kissed, do you?”

Jack squeaked as he felt Chase grab his left arm in a vise-tight grip; then he was yanked sideways to fetch up against the taller man before he found himself bent backwards against the worktable. Startled, Jack lifted his face just as Chase’s right hand came up to splay against the side of his jaw and neck, holding him in place.

And then Chase’s mouth covered Jack’s in a hungry, passionate kiss.

The kiss went on for several minutes as Chase thoroughly explored and teased Jack’s mouth. Jack whimpered, his hands fisting in Chase’s hair while his knees went weak, his heart began slamming against his ribs, and he became distinctly aroused.

Finally, the intensity of the kiss lessened and, with a final brush of his lips against Jack’s, Chase pulled gently away.

Smirking, he looked into the youth’s dazed eyes and tenderly trailed a single finger over the smoothness of one white cheek and said, “Perhaps next time, Spicer, you’ll choose your partner with a little more care, and go for quality rather than quantity.”

Freeing himself from Jack’s grip, Chase walked a few feet away and vanished.

Jack whimpered and slid to the ground as his knees gave out.

“Dirty, rotten, conceited ass,” Jack growled down at the floor.

Then he smiled.




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