The Golden Back Scratcher

Part 6 - Despair and Delight

Wuya regarded her recently won Shen-Gong-Wu with a great deal of satisfaction. She had been expecting Jack to show up, as usual; and as usual, she would have made use of him. However, to her surprise and the monks’, he never arrived at the scene, and so the battle was left to her and the four monks. Powerless as she was, she had pulled out all the stops and won the new Shen-Gong-Wu – a Wu known as the Ring of Reaction, with the power to enhance the emotions of any person the Ring was aimed at.

The fight had taken all her skill and strength, but she’d won it.

Now, Wuya silently entered the Spicer estate. She hadn’t forgiven Jack for ratting her out to Chase in the first place, but a few days later, when she’d arrived at Jack’s home to attempt to ingratiate herself with him – and oh, how that had rankled her pride! – the boy had had the unmitigated gall to throw her out and snarl at her to never come near him again.

At the time, she’d given serious thought to walloping the little troll right then and there, but fortunately, she’d regained control of herself. She had always been a woman to appreciate the finer things in life, and nothing was so fine as an artfully crafted revenge.

Slinking into the Spicer mansion, Wuya made her way down to Jack’s private lair. Stealthily, she hid herself in the shadows as she watched Jack for a few moments. If she happened to notice that Jack seemed unnaturally subdued or that he was listlessly tinkering with yet another robot, she didn’t acknowledge it. Instead, she thought about the spectacle to which she was about to be treated. She wondered which of Jack’s emotions would be enhanced; true, it was usually the strongest emotion a person was feeling at the time that got enhanced, but she wondered which one it would be: Fear? Greed? Apathy?

Too bad stupidity isn’t classified as an emotion, she thought snarkily to herself, that would definitely be the one to be enhanced where Jack is concerned. But, as they say, time’s a-wastin’.

Grinning wickedly, Wuya slipped the Shen-Gong-Wu onto her finger and aimed the face of it at Jack. Quietly, she hissed, “Ring of Reaction!”


He couldn’t get it out of his mind.

Even as his fingers worked automatically, piecing together parts of a new robot, Jack’s mind was preoccupied.

Over and over in his head he relived the memory of that day Wuya had stolen the Ryo Reverso from him. He remembered going to Chase at the mountain. The derogatory name-calling had hurt, yes, but the fact that he’d been told to remain standing – and in such an indifferent tone of voice – had given him pause. The order had basically told him he was not an equal; only an equal would be allowed to sit in Chase’s presence. Also, not being allowed to sit meant he was not wanted there and would not be staying long. That, more than anything else, had made Jack feel cold all over.

But the thing he could not forget, could not let go of, was the fact that Chase had thrown him to a man-eating dinosaur.

He saw it, again and again in his mind’s eye: saw the evil man stop short and, still staring straight ahead, lash out with his hand. Jack could still feel, through sense memory, the grip of Chase’s hand on his face; the denting of his skin from brutally strong fingers, the darkness caused by that broad, strong palm blocking most of his sight. He’d frozen, utterly unable to believe what was happening, even as he heard Chase offer him up to T-Rex.

And then he’d been thrown.

Jack shivered as he felt again those fingers tightening against his face and the abrupt dizziness of being lifted and flung through the air. He felt again the jarring impact on the steel deck of the iron rig; felt the terror of looking up to see twelve-inch long teeth hovering above him, with ropes of foul-smelling saliva trailing down from massive, powerful jaws. He had glanced over, briefly, but Chase had already vanished, and it was then that Jack had known that he truly wasn’t good enough for the likes of Chase Young.

His hands clenched, his knuckles straining against his skin as he fought back the rising tide of heartache. He didn’t know what he’d done to deserve this treatment. He hadn’t seen Chase since that night a couple of weeks before Halloween, when the older man had helped him carve a jack-o’-lantern – after making him come in his pants. Jack didn’t understand the sudden indifference, but there was nothing else he could do except to accept this fact and move on. He’d known anyway he wasn't in Young’s league; this simply enabled him to turn his focus in another direction. He would be able to—

Jack dropped the socket wrench he’d been holding as, without warning, he felt himself swamped by a wave of utter despair.

Gasping, he held onto the edge of his worktable, steadying himself when it felt as though his knees had liquefied. He had the sensation that he couldn’t breathe, although he knew his lungs were working. It simply felt as though something were crushing his chest cavity from the inside, until he was left with the need to claw and tear at his own skin just to make it stop.

Shaking, he brought his hands up from the table. He stared down at the utterly white body parts encased in black leather for a moment; then, slowly, he crossed his arms over his chest, gripping his own upper arms tightly while he tried to battle back the despair as he’d been taught to do by countless psychiatrists.

But it wasn’t working.

With each passing second, he fell further and further into a mental quagmire of anguish, unaware of tears pouring unchecked down his cheeks; his eyeliner running in smearing rivulets across the whiteness of his skin. Standing up from the stool he’d been sitting on, he tried to walk towards the intercom, intent on calling for help from one of the household staff in a last ditch effort, but he tripped over his own feet and crashed to the floor. As he fell, he tried to catch himself on the table, but instead ended up knocking the toolbox off. And so, he hit the floor amidst a clatter of tools.

Jack slowly sat up, his lungs heaving as he tried to deal with the heavy mantle of heartbreak he was laboring beneath.

And then he saw his pen-knife, fitted with an exceptionally sharp razor blade, lying on the floor beside his right hand; gleaming dully in his shadow.

His hand trembling, he reached out to carefully pick up the tool.

He stared at the sharp blade for several long moments, trying to come up with a reason – any reason – to not use it.

He couldn’t.


Wuya had buried her face in her arms when she’d seen Jack fall, toppling the tool box along with him. A few minutes later, she finally began to get her giggling under control.

However, when she lifted her head, she gasped in startlement at the sight of Chase Young standing only a few inches away from her. “Ch-Chase…”

“Hello, Wuya,” the evil everlord growled through a smile. His gold eyes were utterly cold as he looked at her.

“Wh-what are you doing here?” she asked, cursing herself for betraying her nervousness.

“None of your business,” Chase shot back calmly. “Although, I do wonder what you are doing here. Spicer was decidedly not pleased with your antics when he came to me at my home to lead me to you.”

Wuya scowled. “I don’t think he’s any more pleased with you – considering you threw him to a dinosaur.”

Chase shrugged. “Spicer knows I’m evil.”

“Whatever,” Wuya sneered. “I think you pushed him too far this time, Young. Jack doesn’t handle rejection very well.”

“He should know by now that until I say the words, I haven’t rejected him.”

Wuya rolled her eyes. “This is Jack we’re talking about. He isn’t exactly the sharpest crayon in the box.”

Chase raised an eloquent eyebrow. “Or, he’s actually sharper than he’s allowed you to think he is.”

The Heylin witch glowered at him and he smirked.

After a few moments’ silence, Wuya sighed and asked, “How long have you been here?”

“I arrived just after Jack fell over.”

“Ah. So, what did I miss?”

Chase frowned. “Nothing. He hasn’t moved since he fell. I wouldn’t be at all surprised if he got conked on the head when the box came down after him.”

Wuya snorted. “I’m not surprised – Jack is the most graceless thing on two feet I’ve ever seen.”

“He’s still growing, Wuya. What a shock that a teenager would be awkward and gangly.” He paused for a moment, and then added with a smirk, “But that explains him. I wonder: What is your excuse for being so ugly?”

Wuya’s eyes narrowed and she bared her fangs at him in a snarl.

Chase laughed, knowing it was all she was capable of doing to him. If she tried to use Shen-Gong-Wu against him, or physically attack him, he would slaughter her, and they both knew it.

Forcing herself to calm down, Wuya shrugged nonchalantly. “Whatever – I want Jack awake. I can’t have my fun if he’s unconscious!”

“If you think I’m going to let you continue to ‘have fun’ with him, you have another think coming, Wuya,” Chase said coldly.

Recognizing the danger she was in, Wuya made no reply.

Chase turned and walked towards Jack’s worktable, alert to the possibility of an attack from behind as he heard Wuya follow him, and then went around the table.

He froze at the sight that met his eyes even as he heard Wuya’s shocked gasp behind him.

Dark crimson blood was pooling around Jack’s slumped body, spilling from the gashes in both wrists that lay unmoving on the floor. Only inches away from Jack’s left hand was a razor blade that had clearly been used to do the damage.

Chase whirled around to face Wuya, who was staring wide-eyed at the boy on the floor. “Where does Jack keep his Shen-Gong-Wu?” he asked tersely.

Wuya said nothing – still staring at Jack.

Chase reached out and fisted her hair, shaking her roughly as she cried out and reached up to claw at his hand. “Where does he keep his Shen-Gong-Wu?”

“H-He usually keeps them in th-that cabinet!” Wuya answered hastily, pointing to the far side of the room.

“You’d better hope they’re in there,” Chase growled, and he let her go so he could cross the room to the cabinet, tearing the doors off their hinges.

“What are you doing?” Wuya asked, wincing as she rubbed at her aching scalp.

“I’m looking for the Golden Back Scratcher,” he replied. “If I have to, I’ll force Spicer into staying alive.”

“But what do you care?” she asked, confused. “You got what you wanted from him – he finished the cloning project. Why not just let him die? It’s not as if he’s needed by anyone.”

Chase felt the need to commit murder flicker like a whipping snake’s tail, but he ignored the witch; there wasn’t a moment to waste if he was going to save Jack Spicer. He opened drawer after drawer inside the cabinet until, finally, he found the Golden Back Scratcher. Snatching it, he turned and hurried over to Jack’s prone form.

Kneeling down onto his right knee, uncaring of the blood that soaked into his trouser leg, Chase reached out and cupped Jack’s chin in one large hand and lifted Jack’s head so he could see the youth’s face and cursed silently. If it were at all possible, Jack’s skin had gone even whiter than it had been before he’d cut himself.

Shifting Jack so that his body lay propped up against Chase’s raised left knee, Chase then reached for Jack’s hands and pressed both bleeding wrists together; then wrapped his right hand around the slender wrists and squeezed hard with as much strength as he dared to use on the frail human teenager, hoping to slow the bleeding.

A soft, pained moan wheezed almost soundlessly from Jack’s parted lips.

Bending his head, Chase touched his lips to Jack's and wanted to flinch at the coldness of them.

"Jack," he said quietly yet firmly. "Jack, listen to me. I have the Golden Back Scratcher – I will use it on you unless you make the choice yourself to live. Do you understand? I am offering you the chance to make this choice on your own."

Jack's eyelids trembled and, several heartbeats later, slipped open a crack. The expression in the youth's red eyes was clear: he had given up.

"Very well, then," Chase murmured, and he pressed his lips harder against Jack's for a brief moment. Then he pulled back and took up the Golden Back Scratcher in his left hand. Bringing it down and underneath the prone figure, he scratched Jack's back once and said, "Jack, the favor I ask of you is to live."

A low moan slipped from Jack's throat, but in the next moment, his eyes seemed to become clearer, a bit sharper; he gained focus as he struggled to follow Chase's order.

“This is a waste of time,” Wuya grumbled from behind Chase. “Nobody wants him—“

“Shut up,” Chase snarled, and the witch instantly went silent.

Several moments later, Chase decided Jack was as safe as he was going to get, and, still holding onto Jack’s wrists, he slid his left arm under the prone youth and then stood up.

Chase held Jack close against his chest and turned to give Wuya a cold, hard glare; so cold and so hard, that she shuddered visibly and was infinitely grateful that the man apparently hadn’t time to waste on her.

A moment later, Chase and Jack were gone from the Spicer estate and Wuya breathed a harsh sigh of relief before she swiftly took her own exit, hoping she could prevail upon Hannibal Bean to keep her out of Chase’s sight for a while.


Chase stood by the side of the bed that contained Jack Spicer, silently looking down at the youth.

Repairing the damage had taken many hours and meticulous skill on his part –with needle and thread and also with magic. However, by the time he was done, he was ninety-eight percent certain that Spicer would live.

He glanced down at the heavily bandaged left wrist that lay motionlessly by the teenager’s left hip. That one had taken the most effort to repair, given that it was the one that had been cut first. Jack being right-handed anyway, it meant his grip had been steadier and the cuts deeper than the ones made to the right wrist. This was the ambiguous “two-percent” that had him worried – this and Jack’s own will to live.

He had been shocked down to his very core to see Jack lying in a puddle of his own blood, created by self-inflicted wounds. When the youth had first begun suffering the effects of the Ring of Reaction, Chase had been quietly worried. Like Wuya, he had been expecting apathy or fear or greed – he had certainly never expected Jack to feel so utterly worthless as to make an attempt on his own life.

The fear that had coursed through him upon the sight of Jack lying in the puddle of blood also surprised him. While he had become strangely attached to the youth in his own way, he had not thought he’d be upset if anything happened that would take Jack away from him forever. In retrospect, he should be prepared for it, because Jack was mortal – he would eventually grow old and die and he would be no more in this world.

The very thought of it was enough to twist Chase’s guts into icy knots.

Moving carefully, he sat on the edge of the bed and reached out one hand to gently begin stroking Jack’s hair; smoothing the vibrant red-orange strands away from the completely white face.

“I had no idea you felt like this, Spicer,” he murmured quietly to the unconscious youth, knowing that subconsciously, Jack was listening to every word. “I did not intend for you to be hurt – either by someone else or by your own hand. I nearly lost you today. I will not let it happen again.”

Jack made no reply, either physically or verbally.

Chase considered it a good sign that Jack’s chest continued to rise and fall with steady, even breathing.


The world around him slowly came into focus as Jack blearily blinked open his eyes. They felt gummy and his sight was blurry, so as he took a few shuddery breaths, Jack blinked his eyes again and again until, finally, everything came into focus.

Including Chase Young.

Jack looked at the older man for a long, long moment as his memory slowly pieced itself together with each painful throb from his wrists.

Finally, he croaked hoarsely, “Why did you do it?”

Chase raised one eyebrow and replied flatly, “Isn’t that supposed to be my line?”

Jack shifted his gaze to look straight up at the ceiling. He gasped when steely-hard fingers caught his chin and tugged, forcing him to return his gaze to Chase.

The evil everlord was scowling darkly – more darkly than Jack could ever before remember seeing.

“Never,” growled Chase. “Never again will you ever do anything this stupid. I won’t allow it, Spicer.”

Jack’s smile was bitter, humorless, and appeared more as a grimace than a smirk. “This… this from the man who threw me to the T-Rex?”

Chase’s fingers tightened just a bit more, but Jack remained motionless.

“You were in no true danger. If you hadn’t rescued yourself, Omi would have done so. And if not him, then I would have come back for you.”

“How was I supposed to know that?” Jack asked tonelessly.

Chase’s eyes glowed briefly as his fury heightened. Forcing himself back to calm, his eyes losing their glow, he growled, “Did I ever say I wanted you dead?”

“Actions speak louder than words,” Jack quipped morbidly, his voice low and soft with fatigue.

“Ah, but with me, my word is my bond, Spicer. You should know that by now.”

Jack sighed and blinked; his eyelids heavy with exhaustion. “Wuya is right – nobody needs me, nobody wants me. I’m useless. You should have let me die, Chase.”

Chase’s grip tightened yet again and they could both hear the protesting creak of the teen’s jawbone. Snarling, Chase let go and stepped away to pace beside the bed. Jack watched him, feeling a detached sense of amazement that the older man appeared to be incredibly upset over his near-miss.

“Ordinarily, I would dismiss such words as the result of the power of the Ring of Reaction that was turned on you,” Chase rumbled. “Wuya won the newest Shen-Gong-Wu in a Showdown against the monks. It is called the Ring of Reaction and it has the power to amplify the emotions of anyone it is used against. The strongest emotion usually takes the lead. Wuya snuck into your Lair and used it against you. Imagine our surprise when we find that Despair was your strongest emotion.”

“What did you… expect?” Jack asked, pausing briefly to yawn. He looked sleepily at Chase. “A guy can only take so much of having his unmitigated ineptitude pointed out to him. I’m useless, Chase. I’m not wanted, not necessary… there’s no point in anything anymore.”

“Is that why you never went after the Ring of Reaction?”

Jack nodded slowly. “There just didn’t seem to be any point. I wouldn’t have won it. Even if I had, someone would’ve beaten me up and taken it away from me. The only thing I have going for me is my mastery of robotics, and even that’s useless. I can’t fight, I can’t win… I’m a nuisance and a weakling. The one person who thought I was worth something is dead—“

Before he could finish that sentence, Chase was leaning over the bed, snarling down into Jack’s face.

“That’s right, Spicer; McLean is dead because he tried to take what’s mine.”

Jack’s eyes widened, surprise and a hint of fear in his red gaze.

“Oh, yes, Jack – you are mine,” Chase drawled, a cold smile gracing his face.

“I don’t get it,” Jack blurted, his voice small.

“You will,” Chase promised. He reached out to stroke Jack’s hair and frowned when the youth winced at the sight of his approaching hand. “You’re going to be weak for a while yet, Spicer. Get some rest; someone will be by later with dinner for you.”

“How long’ve I been here?” Jack mumbled, his eyes closing drowsily.

“Two days.”


“If you’re not well enough by the time your parents return from their trip, I’ll come up with something to keep them preoccupied.”

Jack wanted to make some sort of reply to that, but before he could formulate a response, he fell asleep to the soothing strokes of Chase’s hand against his hair.


The next time he woke, Jack chanced a stretch and groaned with relief as his spine and legs unkinked from what felt like a million knots. He had to struggle to not stretch his arms as well, because when he had tried to do so, he’d felt a sharp, painful tug from both of his wrists. He didn’t want to rouse Chase’s wrath when he was unable to move fast enough to avoid it, so he kept his arms as still as he possibly could while stretching.

When he was done, he yawned hugely and then relaxed, blinking sleepily up at the ceiling.

The light shifted slightly and he frowned as he realized the door had opened. Jack lifted his head and looked down the length of his body to see who had come in to the room.

To his surprise, the African warrior woman – normally in the form of a panther – stood at the foot of his bed, holding a tray with a steaming bowl and a glass of milk settled on it.

“Didn’t think I was that loud about stretching,” Jack grumbled, but he began struggling upright, or at least attempting to do so.

The warrior woman balanced the tray on one hand and held up the other in the “stop” position – palm facing outward towards Jack. He instantly stopped moving and watched as she walked around the bed to set the tray on the nightstand beside the bed, then turned to him.

Warily, Jack braced himself as the warrior reached out for him, only to find that she was there to help him sit up and then ease gently back against the pillows she propped up against the headboard. The dinner tray was then swiftly deposited on his lap, but when he reached for the spoon with a shaking right hand and a grimace, the warrior lightly swatted at his hand and sat on the edge of the bed, twisting to face him. She then took up the spoon and dipped it into the vegetable-beef stew in the bowl and held it up for Jack to eat.

Jack sighed and rolled his eyes. “Can’t believe I’m being fed like a baby,” he groused. Still, he was feeling a bit hungry, and he had the feeling that if he balked, the warrior would find a way to make him eat. And then Chase would find out….

Leaning forward, Jack wrapped his mouth around the end of the spoon that held the stew, slurped it into his mouth, and sat back. He chewed briefly, then swallowed, and by the time he was done, another spoonful was waiting for him.

“Let me guess: lost the coin toss for dealing with me?” Jack muttered bitterly.

The warrior said nothing; merely gestured slightly with the full spoon.

Sighing, Jack again ate the soup. When he’d finished that mouthful, he asked, “So, do you have a name?”

The woman said nothing; she remained silent behind her intricately designed mask, her features and voice hidden from Jack as she spooned up more soup.

Jack realized he wasn’t going to get any answers from her, and so settled in to eating as much of the soup as he could. He finished almost half of the soup and all of the milk that had been brought before he groaningly protested that he couldn’t eat another bite.

Immediately, the warrior stood from the bed, taking the tray and dishes as she did so and headed for the door.

It opened just as she reached it and instantly, the warrior woman went down on one knee, her head bowed as Chase stepped into the room.

Jack watched with interest as the evil everlord looked down at the kneeling warrior and smiled.

“Thank you, Elanna,” Chase murmured. “You have done well. Return the dishes to the kitchen and then you may have the evening to yourself.”

Elanna’s head dipped further in reply, and then she smoothly rose up onto her feet once again.

Chase obligingly held the door open for her and closed it once she’d left the room. Then, he turned and walked silently over to the bed and looked down at Jack.

“Good evening, Spicer,” he said pleasantly.

“I guess,” Jack said with a shrug, then blanched when Chase’s expression lost the “pleasant” quality. “Uh… I mean, yes. I mean – good evening, Chase.”

“Very good, Jack. How was your meal?”

“Fine. Quiet, but fine. Thanks.”

Chase nodded. “My warriors do not speak unless I give them permission to do so.”

“Do they ever get permission to speak? Or do you prefer the strong-and-silent type?”

Chase smirked. “They talk when they report to me what I need to know.”

Jack waited, but it became obvious soon enough that that was as much of an answer as he was going to get.

Sighing, he shook his head and said, “Why are you doing this, Chase? There’s no need to keep me.”

“I have my reasons, Spicer.”

“Do I get to know what those reasons are?”

“When the time is right.”

“And that time’ll be…?”

Chase gave Jack a very cold scowl and Jack immediately shut up and cringed back into his pillows.

“Never mind,” he said meekly.

Chase shook his head. “You’re still suffering the effects of the Ring of Reaction. It will take a few more days before the magic has completely worked its’ way out of your system.”

“And after that…?”

“We’ll play it by ear,” was the reply, along with a wickedly charming grin.

Jack sighed and shook his head. “You really don’t make much sense to me.”

“Good; I’d hate to think I was predictable. You can attempt to unravel my many mysteries later. For now, you should get some rest. I’ll be by later to help you relieve yourself.”

“Wait,” Jack blurted when Chase moved to leave the room. The older man paused and looked back at him. “I’m not ready to sleep again; not right now. Can’t you stay with me? Just for a bit?”

Chase raised an eyebrow. “Perhaps you want me to tuck you in and read you a bedtime story, too.”

Instantly, Jack’s face smoothed out as he attempted to shutter his emotions. His face pale and eerily blank, he said tonelessly, “Never mind.”

Chase sighed and came back to the bed. He sat at the foot of the bed; his legs crossed and folded Indian-style, and said, “I apologize, Spicer; that was unfair of me. Though, I am still angry with you.”

The younger man looked at him curiously.

“For your idiocy,” Chase explained, gesturing to Jack’s wrapped wrists.

“Is it idiocy to want to escape an existence of agony?” Jack countered.

“It is when there are several different options to choose from and you choose death.”

“What options? I’m good for nothing or at anything. There’s no progress, only continuance.”

Chase sighed. “Why did you not ask me for help?” When he saw Jack’s eyes shift away slightly, he added, “The truth, Spicer – tell me the truth.”

“All right,” Jack agreed. “The simple truth is that I didn’t think you’d help me. And… I was… afraid.”

“Of me?”

“Always. But this was different. I was afraid you’d come right out and tell me to my face that it’d be a waste of your time. My unworthiness is easier to deal with when I can lie to myself. But you… I can’t hide from you. Not from anything you do or say. If you were to tell me right to my face that there was no hope for me… that’d be it.” Jack offered a bitter smile. “You were right, Chase – you do own me.”

“You don’t seem very happy about it.”

“People who are owned are generally not respected. More than anything else, that’s what I want: respect.”

“And so that’s why you didn’t come to me, asking me to train you.”

“I tried,” Jack said with a frown, picking listlessly at the blanket covering his lap. “Remember when you were holding that fake apprentice competition between me and Katnappé?”

Chase raised an eyebrow. “Fake?”

Jack shook his head. “The way you switched between us so easily, and your obsession with Omi… it was obvious that we were your duck blind, so to speak.”

“Good analogy. Why did you go through with it, then?”

“I had some wild, crazy hope that if I worked hard enough – if I proved myself – then you actually would make me your apprentice. That you’d forget about Omi and focus on me.” Jack smiled bitterly again as he stared at his left wrist. “But I failed. Again. That’s all I do.”

Lifting his hands, he took hold of his left wrist. His face crumpled and, his voice thick with tears, he blurted, “Why did you stop me?”

Two large, strong hands clamped firmly, but gently, around Jack’s. His hands were pried apart and forced down to his sides; trapped against the bedding. Jack blinked and looked up to find Chase leaning over him, staring at him with fierce gold eyes.

“We’ll work through this, Spicer. I’ll help you through it. You’ll be unstable for the next couple of days due to the Ring of Reaction. By then, you should be on an even keel. Once you are, I expect you to start thinking long and hard about what you want: from me, from yourself, from life in general.”

Jack blinked. “But—“

Chase let go of one wrist to press a single finger to Jack’s lips. “No. You cannot make a rational choice right now. When you’re better, you will think and make your choices.”

The younger man stared cross-eyed at the finger that voluntarily touched his mouth, then glanced back up to Chase, who seemed to be waiting expectantly. Hesitantly, Jack nodded, and the finger was taken away from his lips and Chase left the bed.

“Everything will work out for the better, Spicer,” Chase said somberly. “You’ll see.”

With that, he left the room, shutting the door quietly behind him.

Jack sighed. He sounded as though he were three days older than dirt and had been awake the entire time. He felt like it, too.

Moving gingerly, he slid down and snuggled under the covers and resolved to not come out until the world made sense.


Two days later, Chase tossed Jack out of bed.

Literally, he tossed the youth out of the bed he’d been curled up in. Striding into the room, he tore the covers off the bed, caught Jack by the back of his neck and flung the young man onto the floor.

Jack yelped and winced. His wrists throbbed painfully from the pressure as he caught himself on his hands to keep his head from cracking on the floor. Then he rolled over and began scrabbling backwards, away from the approaching predator. He gave no conscious thought to anything except getting away from the seemingly angry man.

“Time’s up, Spicer,” Chase growled as he stalked the cowering youth. “Today is the day you get up, get moving, and get on with your life – one way or another.”

“Is this about the not eating for the past two days thing?” Jack babbled nervously. “I didn’t do it to be stubborn! I just wasn’t hungry! If I was going for suicide, I’d have refused the liquids, but I didn’t!”

“I know that! I also know that you’re free of the magical residue from the Ring of Reaction. Your wrists are healing quickly from the magic I used and you’ve gained back a bit of strength – though you’d have had more if you’d eaten as you were supposed to,” growled the cranky evil everlord.

Jack, backed into a corner and shaking, nodded his head. “I know. I’m sorry. I know.”

“You don’t know anything yet,” Chase sneered. “Now get up. There’s a bath waiting for you down the hall and you are to scrub yourself thoroughly, but be mindful of your wrists. When you’re done, you’ll dress in the clean clothing waiting for you and join me for dinner, where we’ll discuss your future.”

The younger man sighed and crossed his arms over his chest as he curled in on himself. “Chase, why bother? I’m not—“

He shrieked when he found himself lifted completely off the ground. Jack had time for one brief glimpse of the Golden Back Scratcher in Chase’s right hand before he found himself nimbly spun around and pressed front-first against the rock wall of the bedroom.

“Hey – no!” Jack yelled, squirming.

There was nothing he could do about it. He snarled as he felt the Golden Back Scratcher drag firmly over his back once, and shuddered as a tingle swept through his nerves.

“Jack, the favor I ask of you is to think about what you want for your future while you bathe,” Chase said from behind him, and Jack shivered again as he found himself nodding.

He was then deposited back on his feet and turned around. The bandages were swiftly removed from his wrists and then he was turned towards the door. A slap to his arse had him stumbling towards the door while Chase said, “Go. Get clean. I’ll be waiting in the dining room.”

Jack clamped a hand over his stinging arsecheek and turned in the doorway to glower at Chase. He opened his mouth to say something snarky, but froze as he registered the feel of bare skin under his own hand. Glancing down, he realized that he was stark naked and had been the entire time.

Blushing hotly, he swiftly covered his genitals with his hands and looked back at Chase.

The older man was smirking at him as he walked towards the door. “Don’t be such a prude, Spicer; it’s nothing I haven’t seen before.”

Jack let out a gurgle in reply, mortified beyond speaking, and then bolted through the door and down the hallway at the direction of a pair of tigers, heading for a communal bathing room.

Highly amused, Chase walked out of the bedroom and paused long enough to watch Jack’s bare white rump disappear into another room before turning to go to his dining room.


Inside the bathing room, Jack found himself facing a deep, round hot tub set into the floor and filled with steaming hot water that was giving off a pleasantly spicy scent. Piled beside the tub were a couple of towels, a washcloth, a long-handled back scrubber, and a fresh bar of soap.

A rumbling growl from below and behind him had Jack flinching, and he stepped further inside and turned to see that the two tigers had followed him into the room.

Scowling, he snapped, “Can’t a guy get a little privacy?”

One of the tigers moved forward to nudge his left wrist with its nose, and Jack sighed. “You’re here in case I try to do something stupid again, right?”

Both tigers nodded.

“Terrific,” Jack groused, and went to the tub.

He settled carefully into the water, hissing softly when he let his wrists slip below the water and it stung the delicate new scars. He pulled his arms out of the water and laid them along the rim of the tub, allowing the rest of himself to relax in the water.

Jack sighed and stared up at the ceiling that was several feet upwards and made entirely of stained glass. He thought the blue-green color was pretty, yes, but it made him feel a bit too much like he was underwater; an uncomfortable sensation at best, and not entirely because of his many defeats at Omi’s hands. He preferred reds and golds, if he had to have bright colors. They made him feel as if he were on fire, in a really good way; like he was powerful, or something.

With another sigh, Jack turned his mind to his future while he took up the long-handled back scrubber and the soap. Soaking the scrubber bristles in the hot water, he thought about what he’d really like to have: the citizens of the world bowing to him and doing his bidding. Coating the scrubber bristles in a thick lather of rich, creamy soap, Jack acknowledged that he’d never have that. He was too young, too inexperienced – too much of a screw-up. The best he could hope for was a high place in an evil hierarchy if one of the Heylin members managed to take over the world. Reaching carefully over his shoulder, wincing a bit at the strain on the scar on his right wrist, Jack began scrubbing his back and nearly purred at the feeling of the silky soft soap and pleasantly soft bristles rubbing over his skin, and wondered what he could possibly do that would make a difference in his life.

He gave a brief thought to becoming one of Chase’s cats. After all, as a cat all he’d really have to do is wear a fur coat and look pretty; that was easy enough. Except that Chase preferred his ornaments functional as well as decorative. Even when in cat form, the warriors were expected to be vicious fighters, and that was something he, Jack, just couldn’t—

Jack let the back scrubber plop into the tub, the soap fizzing free to disperse on the surface of the hot water. He blinked and slid down into the water up to his neck and twisted from side to side, rinsing himself clean of soap. He had the barest beginning of a thought, but he wasn’t sure if he could do it or not.

Jack quickly finished his bathing, although he winced when he scraped the washcloth over the pink, tender scars on his wrists. When he was done – scrubbed clean from the top of his head to the tips of his toes – he rinsed off a final time and then pulled the plug, letting the water drain from the tub. Giving a nervous glance to the tigers, he got out of the tub and kept his back to them while he dried off, then wrapped the towel around his waist and went to investigate the pile of clothing left for him.

The clothing turned out to be a simple set of utterly black loose-legged trousers and a matching long-sleeved tunic, with plain black slippers. Frowning over the lack of style – and underwear – Jack nevertheless pulled on the clothing, rubbed his hair with a clean, dry towel to get more of the moisture out, and then turned to the tigers.

“Ready as I’ll ever be,” he said, and they grunted and turned to lead the way to the dining room.

Chase looked up from his magazine when Jack entered, and the younger man felt a trifle foolish when his heart beat a little bit faster at the sight of the beautiful smile the other man gave him.

“Well, you look much better,” Chase said with a smirk as he set aside his magazine. “Are you hungry?”

Jack was tempted to say no, but the delicious smells coming from the table full of food hit him, and his stomach grumbled loudly before he could say anything at all.

“Good,” said Chase, his smirk widening to a grin. “You may join me and we’ll talk about your decisions.”

“I haven’t made any decisions,” Jack blurted out.

Chase’s grin fell away into a scowl. “You were to make decisions about your future.”

“Then you should have said so. All you ordered me to do was think about what I want. I did that,” Jack shot back.

Chase tensed visibly and Jack flinched and took a step back. He stepped up against a solidly braced tiger and flinched again as a low growl rattled up his spine.

The evil everlord sighed and said, “You’re correct; I did say that. Very well, let us eat and you can tell me what you thought.”

Jack obeyed the nudge given to the backs of his thighs from a tiger and hurried forward to settle into the chair across the round table from Chase.

“Dig in, Spicer,” Chase invited. “There’s plenty to go around.”

Jack looked at the almost gargantuan pile of food and felt a bit queasy.

The older man correctly interpreted Jack’s expression, and laughed. “No, I don’t expect you to eat all of it. Try a little of everything, that’s all.”

And so Jack did. Soon, his plate was piled with paper thin slices of ham, small chunks of chicken, half of a roll, a couple slices of cheese, a few orange slices, and two strawberries. Next to his plate was a small bowl filled with a mixed-greens salad, and a tall, frosty glass of milk was within easy reach.

“I’m going to explode by eating all this!” Jack protested.

Chase looked at the food on the younger man’s plate and snorted. “Highly doubtful. Do your best to eat as much of it as you can. Stop before you get to the point you might actually throw up.”

“I knew that,” Jack muttered, then looked down at his plate quickly when the older man glared at him.

They ate in silence for a while, and though Chase never actually looked at him, Jack could sense that his eating was being monitored. The sudden mental image of Chase as a Mother Hen, complete with feathers and apron, caused Jack to snort into his glass of milk as he was taking a gulp; splattering the cold white liquid up onto his face.

When he was done wiping his face clean, he found Chase regarding him with amusement, and he felt his heart quiver at the sight of the slight smile and warm gold eyes. It was such a change from the usual cold disdain he was treated with.

“What caused that?” Chase asked, raising an eyebrow.

“Nothing, really,” Jack replied with a shake of his head. “Just a spur of the moment inanity.”

The older man looked at him silently for a moment longer. Then he sat back in his chair and the look changed from one of amusement to one of focused intensity. “Tell me what you thought of for your future. Give me everything – even the things you fear might be too stupid.”

Sighing, Jack told him. He even mentioned how he’d given thought to just chucking everything and being one of Chase’s cats, but how he’d trashed that idea as he wasn’t a warrior in any shape or form.

“I’ve never had a cat for sheer ornamental purposes,” Chase mused quietly, though the expression on his face suggested he was teasing. “I wonder what form you’d take?”

Jack blinked. “Don’t you usually make the decision?”

“The warrior’s own personality and inner strength usually make the choice when I cast the spell. It is why Omi ended up a lion cub instead of a tiger or a black jaguar.”

“I thought they were panthers?”

“That’s the name given by the largely ignorant human populace. They are, in fact, black jaguars.”

“Huh,” Jack muttered, and then shrugged. “Which would’ve left me out anyway. I’m too white to be a jaguar.”

“There’s always a white tiger, but as I have no intention of turning you into one of my cats, the point is moot,” Chase replied.

“Because I’m not a warrior,” said Jack morosely, not looking at the older man.

“Because I do not want you to be a cat,” Young shot back.

“Then what do you want from me?” the younger man snapped, exasperated. “I’m not a fighter, I’m not soul-deep evil – no matter how hard I try – and I’m useless!”

Chase regarded him with narrowed eyes. After several moments, he said, “It will mean more if you figure it out for yourself, rather than me just handing you the answer.”

“But, Chase—“

The evil everlord made a swift cut through the air with the edge of his hand; a gesture for Jack to shut up, and he did so quickly.

“No. Every action you’ve ever made since I’ve known you has been made in haste. You have one week to stay here, and by the end of it, I want you to know what it is you’re going to do. That means you will be doing a lot of thinking, Spicer, and I expect you to follow my orders.”

Jack looked at the older man for a long moment. Finally, he nodded and said quietly, “All right.”

Chase smirked. “Excellent, Jack – I am most pleased.”


Jack sighed as he watched Chase move slowly through his katas. The man’s fluid movement looked like what Jack supposed ballet was supposed to be – beautiful, hypnotic; a tale told through the medium of dance, only without the mind-numbing old fart music in the background. So far as he understood it, ballet was supposed to be an emotional experience for the viewer. If that was the case, then he was watching the Chase Young Ballet Corps of One, and that was all right with him.

He stood silently in the shadowy inner recess of the rock doorway that guarded Chase’s home from the outside world. He remembered the last time he’d arrived to find Chase out on the fire-pit-lined ledge; his eyes closed as his body moved with effortless agility and grace; his movements composed, serene, peaceful. He remembered again how he’d been admonished to remain standing, and the man’s impatience with him as he’d spoken.

And so Jack remained silent and standing as he watched the slow-motion dance. He felt almost breathless with expressionless delight at the sight of Chase’s hair swirling about the man’s lithe form; tossed about almost playfully by the high-altitude wind that swept over the mountain. He admired Chase’s serenity; the peace on that smooth, eternally youthful face, and the fact that the evil everlord was so confident in his movements that he could keep his eyes closed without fear, when one misstep would send him plummeting over the edge and tumbling down the mountainside.

Although, if I’d bother to think rationally, I’d recall that he can teleport. So even if he does fall over the edge, he’d be back up in the blink of an eye, Jack thought silently.

He watched Chase plant one foot flat on the rock ledge and then pivot to the right and stretch outwards; his knee bending, his thigh flexing, as he slowly moved into a deep lunge, his hands held flat in a defense posture. His entire body was as steady as the rock he stood crouched on without a tremor to be seen.

Jack felt a sharp, piercing ache in his chest at the thought that this man would never be his beyond a fleeting dream or two. He could never be like Chase; never in a million years, even if he had a million years. Chase deserved perfection, and perfection only came with patience – something Jack didn’t have much of. Yet another failing on his part.

This is useless, Jack sighed mentally. Folding his arms over his chest, the youth turned and silently made his way back inside the palace. He did his level best to ignore the two tigers who followed him; his own personal guard during his stay in Chase’s home.

Outside, Chase continued his kata with his eyes closed, but his mouth curved in a very slight smirk.

Two hours later, he finished his katas and went back inside. His three favorite cats – the first warriors he conquered and transformed – met him at the door. He tenderly petted all three of them and then made his way up the long winding stairs towards his bedroom. He was pleasantly tired and ready for a few hours’ sound sleep.

When he passed by Jack’s room, however, he paused; his sharp ears catching a muffled cry from inside. He glanced at the tigers that lay to either side of the doorway.

“How long has that been going on?” he asked quietly.

One of the tigers growled and shook its head. Chase frowned and used a hand signal that instructed all of the cats to wait there in the hallway, and then he opened the door and stepped into the bedroom.

Jack lay curled up amidst a tangled mess of sheet and blankets. From the doorway, Chase could see the tremors shaking the young man’s body. By the time he reached the side of the bed, he could smell the saline odor of the tears he could see trickling down Jack’s cheeks from beneath closed eyelids.

Seating himself carefully on the bed, Chase reached out and kindly began stroking Jack’s hair. His fingers slid lightly, tenderly through the messy red-orange strands; his palm gently shaped the curve of Jack’s skull. He kept the rhythm of his strokes calm and steady; slow and soothing.

His touch did what he’d intended it to do. Several seconds after Chase began stroking the young man’s hair, Jack’s trembling faded away and the tears stopped falling. In less than a minute, Jack was eased from whatever nightmare he’d been suffering through and into a state of deep, dreamless, restful sleep. Still, Chase continued stroking Jack’s hair for a few more minutes. He wanted to make certain the youth was truly, deeply asleep; he didn’t want Jack to back-slide into an angsty, suicidal state so soon after the last one. Not only would it be a set-back to his own plans, but he was fast becoming deeply annoyed at the self-absorbed whining.

A few more soothing strokes to Jack’s hair and then Chase pulled his hand away slowly. He got to his feet and stayed long enough to twitch the blankets back over Jack’s body so the warmth of the covers would keep Spicer asleep. Then he left the room, quietly shutting the door behind him. He bid goodnight to the tigers guarding the young man and then made his way down the hall to his own room.

Waiting for the three warrior-cats to enter the room before shutting the door, Chase sighed and muttered, “Since when am I a den mother?”

The cats had no answer for him beyond low, whuffing breaths that resembled laughter.

Chase snorted and began undressing for bed.


Jack groaned, his muscles protesting the strain being put on them as he attempted to follow Chase in the pattern of the yoga exercises in the gym that had been installed in one of the upper most levels of the mountain palace.

Chase frowned as he glanced over at Spicer. “For someone as young as you are, and the battering you take so many times a week in Showdowns, you have a low tolerance for pain.”

“I can take pain fine,” Jack retorted. “But this is something my body’s not used to!”

“Which is why we are doing this now. If I accomplish nothing else during this century, I will at the very least instill some self-discipline in you.”

“If it’s you giving the discipline, does that still make it ‘self’?”

“Don’t go Zen on me; I’m in no mood.”

“What a surprise,” Jack muttered.

Two seconds later, he hesitantly cracked open his eyes and saw that his knees were barely two inches above his face. Given that he was lying crumpled upside down against a far wall, that wasn’t so odd to him.

Chase’s feet appeared beside his head, and Jack winced before rolling his eyes so he could see the man’s face far above him.

“My patience is not infinite,” spat Chase. “I am attempting to help you. Ungrateful brat that you are, you’re throwing it back in my face. Not this time, Spicer! You’re here and you’re going to learn something even if it kills you. Be warned, however: mouth off to me too many times, and that may very well happen.”

Jack scowled as he rolled and flopped over, and then sat up on his butt. Craning his neck back, he glared up at Chase and said, “So you… what? Saved my life only to take it yourself at a later date? That makes less than no sense!”

Chase’s hand buried itself in the younger man’s hair and lifted.

Jack screamed, his hands flying up to claw at the powerful fist locked in his hair. His scalp stung like it was on fire, but Chase’s grip never wavered.

Abruptly, the older man’s face was very close to his own, and Jack closed his mouth on a whining cry.

“That’s right, Spicer,” Chase growled softly. “You are mine. Everything about you is mine, right down to whether you live or die. The sooner you adjust to that fact, the faster your understanding of why you are here will come.”

“Does it matter? You’re the one who’s calling the shots anyway!” Jack said petulantly, tears in his eyes from the pain in his scalp.

“I always am, no matter what. And I told you before: I want you to figure it out for yourself!”

“Figure what out? That you’re keeping me around as a punching bag?”

Chase abruptly changed to his lizard form. He threw back his head and loosed an ear-shattering roar towards the ceiling in an effort to vent his frustration.

Jack felt his guts turn to ice. He was about to be Purina Evil Lizard Chow, he just knew it.

The giant reptile let his head drop forward when the roar finished. His vicious gold eyes, recessed in his head, glowered down the length of his snout into wide, frightened red eyes.

“One day you will push me too far, Jack Spicer!” Chase snarled, his teeth gnashing together with each snapped syllable. “But as you insist on acting like a little child, then so shall you be treated like a little child. You are being a bad boy, and so your punishment is to clean the cats’ litter boxes – all of them. And when you’re done, you may jog up and down the stairs – ten laps. Perhaps if you’re too tired to talk back, I won’t give in to the urge to thrash you senseless!”

With that, he released his clawed grip on Jack’s hair and the young man fell back to the floor with a thump. Then, he turned on his heel and stalked out of the gym, his tail lashing.

Jack shuddered as he hunched over, gagging with fear. When he gained some control of himself, he scrambled up onto his feet and ran for the door. He heard the two tigers that were his guards running behind him, but he didn’t give a damn. He was getting out of the mountain; he wasn’t going to stay where he couldn’t be certain of anything. Out in the real world, he was vulnerable to attack from every direction, but at least there he could make decisions for himself.

He bolted down flight after flight of stairs, the tigers yowling behind him, but their growls and roars served only to spur him on faster. He had it in his head that if he could just get outside the mountain, get through the door and outside, then he’d be free.

Leaping the last three steps, Jack landed hard on the foyer floor, stumbled, and ran for the door.

He was perhaps three feet from it when Chase – once more in his human form – landed heavily in front of the door and instantly braced himself in a defensive stance. His handsome features were drawn back in a ferocious snarl as he glowered at Jack.

The younger man slid to a halt, pivoted, and began running again. He didn’t know of any other way out, but that didn’t matter; all he knew was that he had to get away.

He didn’t get more than a foot of distance when he was tackled off his stride.

Jack let out a scream as he went down. He grunted with pain when he hit the floor hard, but then he gasped when he was abruptly flung over onto his back and one of Chase’s hands went around his neck and squeezed tightly. The look in the yellow eyes was feral, and Jack was deeply, truly frightened of this man in a way he’d never been before.

Mine,” Chase rumbled low in his throat.

Jack tried to reply, but couldn’t. His airway had been squeezed shut, and all he could do was make a thin whistling noise as he tried desperately to draw in air to fill his lungs with. His hands were wrapped around Chase’s wrist, trying to pull the man off of him, but it was like trying to pick up the mountain they were currently inside of – just no way in hell was it going to happen.

“You don’t run from me!” Chase snarled, shaking Jack slightly.

Jack felt like his lungs had been set on fire inside his chest. He realized then that he was probably going to die and as his vision went hazy, he couldn’t figure out why he was trying to stop it. He let his hands fall away from Chase’s wrist and stopped struggling in the older man’s punishing grip.

Chase’s face went blurry… then blurrier… then finally darkened and faded out altogether.


A dark, rocky ceiling swam hazily into view as Jack blearily opened his eyes.

He swallowed roughly and grimaced with the pain of it. Opening his mouth, he attempted to speak, but found he couldn’t.

“Don’t try it,” a cold voice warned. “I inflicted some damage on your larynx. You have to let your voice rest for a while until it’s healed.”

Jack stiffly turned his head to the right and saw Chase sitting in a comfortable looking chair by the side of the bed. The only illumination in the room came from the single candle in a candleholder placed on the bedside table.

Carefully, Jack lifted his hands and stroked across the scars on his wrists with the tips of his fingers. Then he brushed those same fingertips over his throat.

“I healed your wrists quickly because it was a life-or-death situation. I will not heal your throat for you. The pain will, hopefully, stay with you long enough so that you will remember what happens when you push me too far.”

Jack sighed through his nose and let his hands rest on the mattress again.

Chase stood gracefully and leaned over the bed so Jack could see him clearly. His gaze was as cold as ice and his voice even colder when he said, “You are an idiot, Spicer. I gave you a direct order. You ignored it and then you tried to run from me. On top of that, you let me come close to killing you. I very nearly didn’t pull back from the rage in time. I probably should’ve slaughtered you! Foolish boy! You will stop acting like a child, Spicer. I am not going to waste my immortal time trying to pound sense into your thick skull! Come hell or high water, you will understand and accept what is expected of you!”

The young man in the bed blinked once, twice, and then again before closing his eyes.

Chase scowled darkly. “Very well, Spicer. You may rest for now, but we will discuss this at length later.”

Reaching out, he took hold of the blankets and twitched them higher, tucking them in around Jack.

“Sleep, you foolish boy,” the evil everlord growled, and then was gone from the room.

Jack wished he was well enough to cry.


Jack groaned softly as he let the scrub brush fall into the bucket of warm, soapy water.

His arms hurt, his back hurt, his legs and feet and just about everything else hurt. Even his eyebrows hurt, which struck him as just plain weird, but there it was.

Chase had given him a week to think about what his future was going to entail. That had been four days ago. He had three left, and he was still effin’ clueless as to what the older man wanted from him. So far, his only clue was that Chase definitely had something planned for him, but it was up to him, Jack, to figure it out and make it happen.

“Finished, Spicer? Good.”

Jack sat back on his heels and looked straight ahead as Chase walked up the steps to the highest level. It had been Jack’s task to hand-scrub every step to gleaming perfection. He was still irritated at being treated like a servant and so he did not look directly at Chase, but merely waited silently.

Chase laughed darkly and said, “Still attempting the silent treatment? Oh, but Jack, this is why you have the ears and tail, remember? You cannot hide anything with those charming additions to your person.”

Jack scowled and felt the feline ears atop his head swivel and lay back against his skull, while the tail that sprouted from his lower back twitched fussily.

It had been four days since Chase had nearly killed him in a fit of possessive fury. Two days after that incident, the evil everlord had become fed up with Jack’s attempts at blocking him out. The younger man had refused to look at, or even speak, to him; had, in fact, adopted a “poker face” that gave away nothing of what he was feeling or thinking when in Chase’s presence. Chase had fixed that by magicking a set of feline ears and a tail onto him. Now, no matter what expression he kept on his face, his ears and tail responded to the older man.

Chase snorted and reached forward to scratch the bases of those tufted ears, one eyebrow arched in sardonic amusement.

Jack whimpered low in his throat and shivered. His tail went from angry-twitchy to lazy-waving and his ears perked forward again. He hated how Chase only had to touch him like this and he instantly melted.

“Ear scratches: the universal peace-maker,” Chase rumbled, still scratching. “Works every time. Even Omi couldn’t stay mad at me when it came to ear scratching.”

Abruptly, Jack’s ears flicked back again and he ducked away from Chase’s hand. He got up onto his feet, scowling; his tail lashing.

Chase observed all this; taking particular note of the tail, and smirked. Raising his gaze to furious red eyes, he drawled, “Jealous, Jack?”

“Of an arrogant Twinkie? Hardly,” the younger man sneered, his voice still slightly husky from the damage done to him. “I just don’t like the guy, is all.”

“Of course,” the evil everlord allowed graciously, though his gold eyes were mocking.

“Did you show up just to pick a fight with me?” Jack asked tightly.

One eyebrow arched again. “No, actually – I came to tell you that I’m going to have a bath.”

Jack blinked. That was certainly an unexpected answer. After a moment, he said, “Uh… okay?”

“Yes, and I want you to attend me while I bathe.”

Spicer frowned. “Attend you?”

“Yes. You’re going to scrub me when and where I tell you to.”

At that, Jack felt a trifle light-headed, but he rallied with, “But… you’re so flexible. Can’t you reach everything on your own?”

Chase smiled. “Oh, yes, I can – when I’m human. My lizard form isn’t quite so stretchy in some places, however.”

Jack’s eyes went wide. “Lizard?

“Mmm. There are times I just like to let it all out. This is one of those times. You will join me in my bath and scrub me.”

To Chase’s surprise, Jack was clearly hesitant.

“Is there something wrong, Spicer?” he asked, curious.

“I… I just… what… I’ve never been with you like that. Naked, and awake, and with you,” Jack stammered.

“Ah. This is merely your prudery coming to the fore, is it?”

“I’m not a prude! I just don’t happen to enjoy exposing my most vulnerable parts to gigantic teeth and claws!”

Even as he said it, Jack knew it sounded stupid, but it was all he could think to come up with.

Chase laughed. “If that is your only excuse… hmmm. I’ll make a deal with you, Jack: come with me now, bathe me, and I’ll remove the ears and tail.”

Jack thought about it for a long moment. In the end, he wanted the ears and tail gone more than he wanted to preserve his illusion of privacy. He nodded his agreement.

“Excellent,” Chase murmured, and snapped the fingers of his right hand.

The younger man gasped and shuddered as he felt the magic take hold. In only a few seconds, the ears and tail morphed and melded back into his body, becoming human flesh once more. He took a moment to steady himself and then looked at the other man expectantly.

Chase turned and led the way three flights of stairs down to another level, then down the corridor that led to his bathing chamber.

“Why didn’t you use the Golden Back Scratcher to force me to bathe you?” Jack asked as they walked.

“You made the decision on your own power,” was the laconic reply.

Jack sighed. “Are you still on that? I can’t make a decision if I don’t have all the facts!”

“You do have all the facts, Spicer – you’re simply being recalcitrant about accepting them. I’d get over that stubbornness if I were you; once the week is up, so is this opportunity.”

“Have I ever mentioned how much I hate cryptic comments?” the youth grumbled.

“Yes. I don’t care.”

With that, Chase opened the door at the end of the corridor and stepped into a cavernous room. In the middle of the floor was a small pool filled with steaming water.

That’s your bathtub?” Jack squeaked.

“The one I use when I decide to bathe in my lizard form. It’s the only one that fits,” Chase said with a smirk. “Now, get over here and start removing my armor.”

“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” Jack sighed, but he walked over to where Chase stood waiting by a wide, padded chaise lounge.

He reached for the man’s left arm and unlatched the fasteners that kept the arm guard in place, then set the chunk of armor aside on the lounge. He repeated the process with the right arm, and then began to work on the shoulder guards. His slim white fingers searched out the hidden buckles and undid those; in short order, the shoulder guards joined the arm guards and Jack turned his attention to the buckles for the sculpted metal plates that formed the torso armor.

As he worked, Chase waited patiently; watching quietly whenever Jack came into view. He made no comment when Spicer unwound the sash at his waist before unbuckling the armor skirting that protected his pelvic region and groin. He tilted his head forward to watch when Jack knelt down to unlatch his shin guards, enjoying the sight of the pale, slender youth at his feet.

When the shin guards joined the rest of his armor on the lounge, Chase murmured, “Now the rest of it,” and held his right foot off the floor; balanced perfectly on his left foot.

Jack stared at the foot, swallowed hard, and then forced himself to reach for the ties that held the sandal strapped on.

Piece by piece, Chase’s clothes were stripped away and laid neatly on the chaise lounge. He wasn’t at all surprised that his underwear was saved for last. When Spicer hesitated, he raised a challenging eyebrow at the youth – who was red-faced and twitchy. With another gulp, Jack reached out and hooked his fingers into the waistband of the underwear and swiftly pulled them down from Chase’s hips, guiding the pants down the muscular thighs and calves to the floor. Calmly, Chase stepped away, and it was finished – he was naked.

He looked down to see Jack staring down at his underwear, still fisted in the younger man’s grip, and asked, “Something wrong, Spicer?”

“No… I just… it’s kind of strange, is all. That you wear archaic armor, but modern underwear,” Jack said, still blushing.

Chase smirked. “Modern underwear is preferable to archaic underwear; much less of a hassle to deal with, and more comfortable besides. Now, if you’re done contemplating my skivvies, it is time for you to undress and join me in the bathing pool.”

With that, he closed his eyes, concentrated, and only moments later, he was in his lizard form and the roar he gave was echoing off the walls.

Jack stared up at him with wide eyes and blurted, “Why do you always roar when you change?”

The long, muscular tail lashed briefly and Chase replied, “Because the transformation hurts and roaring is more dignified than screaming.”

An expression of astonishment stole across Jack’s face and he said softly, “I didn’t… it’s strange, kind of, to realize you feel pain.”

“I’m a lizard, not dead; of course I can feel pain. Stop stalling and get naked.”

Jack blushed and muttered, “Can you turn your back, please?”

Chase sighed roughly, but he had always known how to choose which battles to fight and which to let go of, and so he turned around and walked over to his bathing pool. He slid into the water gracefully and closed his eyes as he submerged, relishing the heat wrapping around his body. He stayed under the surface, holding his breath; floating peacefully in the warm water. When he sensed Spicer’s approach, he stood up and shook his head, flinging water everywhere, and opened his eyes.

Jack stood at the edge of the bath, his hands cupped over his crotch, and looked downright miserable.

“There’s no need for such prudery,” Chase rumbled. “Relax and get into the water, Spicer.”

The young man aimed a dirty look at the giant lizard. He began trying to squat down while still keeping his hands in place, and only succeeded in unbalancing himself and toppling into the water with a surprised shout.

When he thrashed his way to the surface, he was greeted to the unlikely sight of Chase’s head thrown back while the evil being indulged in a fit of uproarious laughter.

Jack snarled wordlessly and moved for the edge of the bathing pool. Putting his palms on the flat tile surface of the floor, he pushed up, only to yelp when something whipped around his waist. Glancing down, he found Chase’s tail circling his body, and he glanced back over his shoulder.

“Going somewhere?” the giant lizard purred, his flat gold eyes looking at Jack with wicked amusement.

Before Spicer could say anything, he found himself lifted up out of the water, moved over to the middle of the bathing pool, and then dropped.

Sputtering, he stood up out of the water and gave Chase an incredulous look. “Have you gone insane?”

Chase shook his head and sighed. “There are times, Spicer, that I fully believe you were born old. Haven’t you ever played in a pool before? The game of lifting a person out of the water and dropping him or her back into it has been around for centuries.”

Jack blinked, nonplussed. Then, slowly, he shook his head. “I… no. No one’s ever played with me in a pool before.”

“Hmmm. So… you are experiencing a first with me. How lovely.”

The teasing tone in Chase’s voice let Jack know immediately what the older man was implying and he blushed; his white face turning bright red.

Chase snickered and then, to Jack’s surprise, flicked his tail along the top of the water, splashing water into the young man’s face.

Jack snorted and coughed, then stared at Young in disbelief. “It’s finally happened, hasn’t it? A thousand-plus years have taken their toll on your mind and I’m the lucky bastard that gets to witness it.”

“You believe I’m crazy?”

“Well, why else would you be acting like this?”

Chase rolled his eyes and then replied sarcastically, “Perhaps because I like having fun?”

“But you’re….”

“I know what my age is. But what is the point of having eternal youth if I can’t enjoy it?”

Jack hesitated. “So you’re… playing?

“Yes. Why is that such a big deal for you?”

“Because you’re an evil everlord.”

“Spicer, don’t you suppose it would be a bit boring to be grumpy and mean for all of eternity?” Chase asked casually.

Jack paused and then nodded slowly. “When you put it like that….”

Chase nodded and let himself sink down into the water again. A strong flick of his tail propelled him to the far end and Jack turned to watch him go.

“You’re acting like a schizo, y’know,” he called after the evil everlord.

“I’m aware of it. I prefer to think of myself as deviously unpredictable,” Chase called back.

“Yeah, that too,” Jack snarked.

Then he went chill with dread when he saw Chase reach a clawed hand out to collect a small scrub brush and turn to beckon him with it.

“You can’t be serious,” he whined meekly.

“Oh, but I am,” Chase drawled.

Jack didn’t know how Young managed it, but the expression on that wide, reptile face was definitely a smirk.


“Unless you’d prefer the return of the ears and tail?” Chase murmured, lifting his right hand, the fingers already curled together for a snap.

His shoulders drooping, Jack moved slowly through the water to where the giant lizard waited.

“Try not to look as though you’re going to your execution,” said Chase dryly. “I’m only asking that you bathe me.”

“And if I do something you don’t like… what happens? Am I going to be eviscerated or do I get to drown?” Jack challenged with a baleful glare.

Chase gave a husky, wicked laugh. “Follow my instructions and you won’t have cause for worry.”

Jack could hear another meaning in those words, but he was too frazzled at the moment to put much effort into figuring it out.

Chase took one of Jack’s hands and held it up between them. “Straighten your fingers,” he said quietly, and the young man did as he was told. A moment later, the small, circular brush – as big as Jack’s palm – was put into his hand; the strap attached to the back of the brush sliding over the slender white fingers to settle across the back of Jack’s hand, holding the brush in place.

“Let the bristles soak in the water for a few moments,” the giant lizard instructed, and he pushed Jack’s hand down below the water.

The two of them stared at each other in silence for several seconds. Then, Chase blinked slowly and nodded.

“Now, use your other hand to scoop some of the soap out of that jade pot,” he commanded, pointing at the small green pot by the edge of the pool. “Work the soap into the bristles of the brush until you get a thick, rich lather going.”

Jack did as ordered and found himself smiling at the feel of the rich, creamy soap. Clearly, Chase believed in using luxury items at every given moment. When he had the brush lathered up, he then looked questioningly at the evil lizard.

Chase turned his back to Jack, but glanced over his shoulder as he said, “Follow the direction of my scales. Going against them will cause irritation, in both the mood and sensation meanings of the word.”

Spicer nodded and he lifted the brush, setting it gently against Chase’s back and lightly began stroking downwards, following the flow of the scales.

“Harder than that,” said Chase, amusement lacing his tone. “I’m not glass; I won’t break.”

Rolling his eyes, Jack pressed down harder, and figured he’d gotten the pressure right when a loud, throaty hum echoed through the room.

Spicer worked in silence, swiping the brush in long, straight sweeps from the crown of Chase’s head, down his back, to the base of his tail. He brushed along the edges where the black, leathery fringe that trailed the length of the giant lizard’s spine merged with his skin and scales, but did not actually touch the fringe, and when Chase said nothing, decided he got it right and kept going.

When the entirety of Chase’s back was covered in foamy lather, he stopped and asked, “Now what?”

Young made no reply, but instead leaned forward and fell gracefully into the water, submerging himself.

Jack watched as Chase swam slowly beneath the water to the other end of the pool, turned, and came back; surfacing directly in front of him. He looked up at the large, steaming reptile and had a mental flashback to the day he first used the Sands of Time, when he’d accidentally gone back to the Jurassic period and nearly got chomped on by an Allosaur. He blinked hard, willing the mental image away; the last thing he wanted to be reminded of, where Chase was concerned, was dinosaurs.

“Now my arms, starting at the shoulders,” Chase growled, and Jack, sighing, went to work.

He slid the brush along the muscular curves of Chase’s left arm, aware that the intense gold eyes were watching him, but he didn’t raise his eyes to meet the evil creature’s gaze. He was extremely careful when he swiped the brush over Chase’s claws, and when he was done, he moved around to the other side of the giant lizard and began cleaning the right arm.

When that was done, Chase swam again and returned.

Jack, following Young’s instructions, methodically cleaned the reptilian body – although he blushed the color of a tomato and stayed that way when he was ordered to scrub the brush between Chase’s legs and up under the base of his tail. To his surprise, however, he didn’t encounter anything that resembled genitalia, and Chase laughed at the expression of curiosity and incredulity on his face.

“In this form, my ‘dangly bits’ are tucked away, as with any reptile,” Chase explained. “It wouldn’t do to have them dragging around and getting in the way; not to mention rude to have them hanging out for the world to see. And let’s be honest: I’d look ridiculous in a loincloth.”

Jack pictured Chase in his human form, wearing a loincloth and his red sash, surrounded by various cats, and felt his blush deepen.

Chase sniffed subtly and felt his snout tingle when he scented pheromones rising from Spicer’s body.

Abruptly deciding he was clean enough, Young rinsed off and then took the brush from Jack.

“Now, I shall clean you,” he informed the youth, and wasn’t surprised when Jack began backing away with wide eyes, shaking his head.

“N-no, thanks anyway,” Jack said. “That isn’t necessary.”

“Oh, yes it is,” Chase replied. “Your human nose isn’t aware of it, but my reptile nose is telling me you smell. You worked up a sweat cleaning the stairs—“

“What do you expect?” the teenager growled. “There’s only a million of them!”

“Five-thousand, three-hundred and twenty-two,” the evil lizard corrected. He turned slightly, whipped his tail around Jack’s waist, and hauled the youth close again. “Now, stay put and let me scrub you down.”

Jack warily eyed the claws that curled around the handle of the brush. He wasn’t at all certain he wanted those sharp weapons anywhere near his skin.

Chase reached for the small jade pot and scooped up soap. “Relax, Spicer; I won’t cut you – unless you ask nicely.”

The younger man snorted. “Yeah, right… like I’m ever going to want you to slice my skin open.”

When the giant lizard paused to look steadily at him, Jack thought quietly to himself: There’s a big “Oh, shit!”

“Well, now,” purred Chase. “That sounded like a challenge.”

“No! No, it wasn’t!” Jack said, putting up his hands in the “STOP” position. He tried to back away, only to feel Chase’s tail tightening around his waist. He stared with wide, wary eyes as he was drawn closer to Chase.

“Now, Jack, what have you to be frightened of?” Young murmured, mixing the soap among the brush bristles.

“How about the fact that you’re acting like you’ve gone mental and you seem taken with the idea of using your claws on me!” Jack shrilled, his body tense.

“I have not ‘gone mental’, as you so charmingly put it. And, yes, I do like the idea of using my claws on you. This is something I doubt you’ve learned, but there can be a great deal of pleasure gained in the precise application of pain at the right moments.”

Jack gave Chase a look that suggested the evil everlord was one sandwich shy of a full picnic basket, but remained silent.

Chase laughed at the expression on the youth’s face, but did nothing more than set the brush to Jack’s chest and begin cleaning the smooth white skin.

Jack relaxed over the next few minutes as he was scrubbed thoroughly from his neck to his toes, rinsing off whenever Chase told him to by swimming up the small pool and back down again. Chase used just enough pressure to ensure that the bristles scraped his skin clean, but not enough to cause Jack any pain, for which he was grateful.

And then he felt something delicate and sharp slide over his right hip, causing a pleasurable, shivery feeling. It was followed swiftly by a soft stinging sensation, and he glanced down to see the claws on Chase’s left hand sliding away from his flesh, and the minute swirl of see-through-red fluid escaping from the small slits in his skin to disperse in the water of the bathing pool.

His head snapped up and Jack stared accusingly at Chase as he snapped, “You cut me!”

“Mmmm,” Chase agreed, and set aside the brush after rinsing the soap from it.

“You said you wouldn’t unless I asked for it!”

“I know; forgive me. I took a gamble that you were simply too shy of making the request, but would actually be receptive to the sensation.” Chase fixed him with a strong gaze and added, “I was right.”


"It’s a matter of perspective, Jack," Chase said softly, his amplified voice rippling through the air. "In all things, there is balance – Evil and Good, Wrong and Right... Pain and Pleasure. A person can experience both at the same time."

"But... who gets the pain and who gets the pleasure?" Jack whispered hoarsely.

"You do," Chase replied, trailing one clawed finger down the boy's cheek to his throat, leaving a faint red line. "You get to have both," he added, and dipped his head to lick across the crimson cut in the pale skin; an action that caused Jack to arch against him and moan, his eyes going wide with shock.

“I don’t want—“

“You shivered, Jack,” the giant lizard rumbled against his throat. “You shivered, and I could smell the spike of excitement in your scent.”

“What… you’re moonlighting as a bloodhound, now?” the younger man groused, backing away.

“Don’t move.”

Jack, hearing the warning tone in the words, instantly froze.

He watched as Chase glided towards him, walking smoothly through the water. Then the giant lizard went past him and Jack could feel the currents through the water as Chase turned to sidle up close behind him. He could feel the pressure of the evil being’s breath against the back of his head; down the length of his neck and across his shoulders, and his skin rippled with goosechills.

“You’re shaking,” Chase rumbled from behind him.

“Lessee… a large, apex predator with an urge to cut me is breathing down my neck,” snarked Jack. “Gee, what a surprise that I’m nervous.”

Two scaly, reptilian hands settled lightly onto Jack’s shoulders.

“Don’t be nervous,” Chase murmured. “I’m not going to damage you.”

He slid his hands away from Jack’s shoulders, moving down his arms, and as he did so, he crooked his thumbs so that the tips of the claws on his thumbs slid delicately across the smooth white skin.

Jack hissed at the sensation of being scratched. He didn’t turn his head to look, knowing he’d see blood welling up from the marks in his skin; thin as paper-cuts.

“Did that traumatize you?” Chase asked, the tone of his voice darkly amused.

“No,” Jack growled.

“Good,” Chase replied, and he moved his hands back to Jack’s shoulders and then slid the flat of his palms down the younger man’s back, his claws gently scratching red welts down the length of the pale skin.

Jack shuddered and twisted slightly. The tingles being evoked from his body made him uncomfortable; he’d never have thought he was one of those weirdoes who liked to be hurt! But... this didn’t really hurt. The touch of Chase’s claws were hardly more painful than a scrape he might receive from one of his tools; nothing more dangerous than a simple back scratch.

Then Chase scooped up water in his hands and poured it down Jack’s back, and Jack jerked forward, yelping at the sting in the cuts as the very warm water flowed over them.

“S-stop it,” he stammered. He felt hot, on fire; entirely too warm and feeling as though his skin was two sizes too small. He was restless, jumpy, and parts of him were entirely too thrilled with this.

Jack found himself spun about and pressed back against one of the tiled walls that formed the bathing pool. He looked up into Chase’s gold eyes and shuddered again at the feral look in them.

He arched, sucking air between his teeth in a low hiss as the tip of a claw trailed steadily down his chest. Tilting his head, he glanced down and wasn’t surprised to see a thin line of red welling up in the wake of the claw's passage. Then Chase's head dipped forward; Jack flinched and let out a gurgling shout when the tip of Chase's tongue followed the same path his claw had just taken. He couldn’t believe how it felt to have the evil creature licking him.

Chase lifted his head to observe the trembling youth before him. He dropped his jaw to show a reptilian grin and his eyes narrowed. "Why, Jack... I do believe you like this."

Jack gave the evil reptile a mutinous look. "Wh-what makes you think that?" he demanded, his voice a feeble growl.

Young said nothing. He smirked as he brought his tail around and up between Jack's spread thighs, pressing the long, ropy digit directly against the teenager’s straining erection.

Spicer blushed bright red. “Th-that doesn’t prove anything,” he muttered, completely mortified.

“No?” Chase curled the tip of his tail slowly around Jack’s cock. The muscles in his tail rippled, coiling the green limb around the youth’s rigid erection; squeezing and releasing similar to the way a fist would.

Jack shouted, helpless against the pleasure Chase provoked in him.

He felt the evil lizard’s hands grip his arms tightly; felt the bruises form instantly under his delicate white skin, and whimpered softly.

Chase let go, sensing the youth’s honest pain. Glancing down, he saw that brilliant crimson and black and plum bruises had already formed in roughly the same size and shape as his fingers.

The colors were beautiful, backgrounded as they were by Jack's soft, supple, extremely white skin.

And they gave Chase a very, very wicked idea, indeed.

"So..." drawled the evil everlord. "You have extremely delicate skin."

Jack blinked, and then frowned and gestured angrily at his chest where the thin red lines that had been cut into his skin showed brilliantly against the white. "What does this tell you?"

Chase shook his head, his fringe waving languidly, and narrowed his reptilian eyes. "Those were made by my claws; anything or anyone would have reacted the same. But I merely grabbed you by your arms, not even attempting to hurt you; yet you bruised in an instant."

Jack frowned. "You ought to know that by now; don’t you remember what we did when carving the jack-o’-lantern?”

“I had my mouth on you for quite some time; that wasn’t conclusive proof,” Chase countered.

Spicer shrugged and looked away. “So I happen to be a natural dermatological albino. Do you have to rub my shortcomings in even further?"

Chase threw back his head and laughed; the sound of it echoing from the cavernous walls of the bathing chamber, and Jack flinched, feeling small and shameful and unworthy.

Then Chase tilted his head forward again and regarded Jack with a pleased smile on his reptilian face. Reaching out, he caught the teenager by the back of his neck and pulled Jack closer to him, angling his own head so the youth’s eyes were closer to his own.

"No, Jack," Chase rumbled. "For once, this is not a shortcoming of yours. I like the way your skin reacts – especially to something I have done to it."

Jack's eyes closed in despair. Licking his lips, he tried to speak, but only a puff of air emerged. He tried again, and managed to choke out: "I knew it."

"Oh? What did you know, Spicer?"

"You're going to t-torture m-me, aren't you?"

Chase regarded the shaking, naked young man before him. He stepped closer and used one hand to frame Jack's pale face carefully.

“Is it torture to receive pleasure from me?” he asked quietly. Before Jack could answer, Chase morphed back to his human form. “Is having me touch you really all that bad?”

Jack couldn’t answer. Chase had stepped closer, using his own body to push Jack against the tiled wall, and Jack thought he was going to lose his mind at the feel of all that hot, smooth skin pressed against his own body.

Chase dipped his head and latched his mouth onto the thin cut on Jack’s neck. He nipped, reopening the slight wound, and then sucked; his tongue lapping at the cut, flagrantly enjoying the taste of Jack’s skin and the copper tang of his blood.

Spicer gave a stuttering wail, his head falling back as he surrendered to the pleasure evoked by the evil man.

“Hold onto me,” Chase ordered gutturally, moving upwards from Jack’s throat to press biting kisses along the youth’s jaw and chin.

Blindly, almost frantically, Jack lifted wildly trembling arms and wrapped them clumsily around Chase’s neck; tangling his fingers in the long, silky black hair.

Chase growled softly, happy to be obeyed, and took Jack’s mouth in a hot, hungry kiss. He shifted his hips until his cock aligned next to Spicer’s, and he reached out to take hold of the edge of the bathing pool; grabbing on tightly and pulling himself a little bit tighter against the younger man, and was rewarded with a gasping cry of his name into his mouth.

It was awkward, frotting against the side of the bathing pool, but Chase couldn’t have stopped if his life depended on it. Spicer’s mouth was hot and wet and eager against his; the youth’s slim, white thighs were held tightly to his hips, and the sensation generated as he arched and thrust against Jack was brilliant. He pulled his mouth from Jack’s; set it against one of Spicer’s shoulders, nipping and sucking at the cut there, and felt Jack shudder hard against him.

Jack was inundated with mind-blowing pleasure. He stared sightlessly at the cavernous ceiling above him; all of his attention focused on the feel of Chase rubbing against him. He felt the sting of pleasure-pain drawn from his skin when Chase’s mouth – hot and wet and frantic – attached to his shoulder. He could feel Chase’s cock rubbing against his own, creating delicious friction that Jack felt certain was going to kill him. If he’d had the ability to think, he would have marveled at the fact that Chase was doing this to him; Chase was touching him, kissing him, doing… doing stuff to him. If he could think, Jack would have looked his fill of the hard, muscular body; consciously stroked his hands over Chase’s firm, smooth skin; gloried in the softness of the beautiful black hair.

But Jack couldn’t think – he could only feel his orgasm building within him. It seemed to tingle and heat his nether regions, flooding upwards into the pit of his stomach, filling him with a sweet sensation that was too intense to be believed. He felt like a spring that was being wound too tight, and with every thrust Chase made against him, that wound-too-tight feeling went even tighter. His hands flexed and grabbed at Chase’s back; his stubby nails clawing at the older man’s skin. His body moved instinctively to meet Chase’s thrusts and he began to make growling, whimpering noises.

Chase was more in control of himself, and when he felt the scratches and heard the whimpers spilling from the youth’s throat, he knew Jack was close. Feeling generous, he latched his mouth back onto the thin cut on Jack’s throat even as he pushed a hand between their bodies and took hold of both of their cocks; stroking them both with a hard grip and a fast rhythm.

Jack arched wildly against the older man. He shuddered uncontrollably as he threw himself into that tight feeling. Instinct took over as the last of his conscious thoughts were subsumed in ecstasy. He wasn’t aware of his high-pitched, ululating scream; he wasn’t aware that he yanked on Chase, urging the evil man closer to him even as he arched so hard, his back left the tiled wall. He wasn’t aware that his hips bucked, working his cock frantically within Chase’s tight-fisted grip, splattering them both with his seed.

Chase threw back his head and lunged powerfully against Jack, shoving into his own fist. He allowed himself to become senseless to everything except the wet warmth around him; the feel of Jack’s flesh throbbing against his own. He gave up awareness of everything except his need to come.

Three more vicious thrusts did it, and he arched against the younger man, his teeth bared in an open-mouthed snarl. He surrendered to the unutterable ecstasy of orgasm, shuddering hard against Jack’s body. He panted harshly for breath, every part of him tingling pleasurably, and eventually found enough presence of mind to wonder what in the hell was happening to him that he was so thoroughly done in by such a bratty, callow young man.

When he’d calmed down, Chase lifted his head to look at Jack. The youth was a sweat-drenched, bruise-covered, blood-smeared wreck.

He was also passed out cold.

Chase started to laugh. Soon, the bathing chamber was filled with the echoing sounds of his hilarity.


When Jack finally understood what it was Chase wanted from him, the epiphany came to him with all the finesse of a cherry bomb lodged somewhere in his brain.

It was the final evening of his stay in Chase’s palace. Two days ago, Chase had played with him in the bath. Yesterday, he had again attempted to teach Jack some basic exercises designed to increase flexibility – only to interrupt the exercises himself when he’d evidently become turned on with the flexibility Jack had achieved. In a little under twenty minutes, Jack had been reduced to a panting, sweaty mess on the floor, with Chase in not much better condition. The evil man had changed his mind and tried to teach Jack basic fighting skills, but again became sidetracked when Jack managed to block the punches that had been aimed at him. In short, the entire day had been a series of abbreviated lessons segueing into randy moments of molestation.

Still, despite all that, Jack had the feeling that Chase wanted something else, and was frustrated with himself for becoming sidetracked. So much so that the very next morning, he had asked – well, no, actually, he had ordered Jack to do nothing but think about why he was there, and then had made himself scarce.

So Jack had thought, because he really wanted to know what was going on.

And now… he knew.

Jack sat on the end of his bed, trying to figure out what to do with his new information. It all came down to a choice, now, and he knew that part of this involved thinking some more, and he wasn’t going to stop thinking until he knew what choice he wanted to make.

Finally, he had his answer.

Getting up, he walked over to the door and opened it. As soon as he did so, he was confronted with a pair of tigers, who immediately got up onto their feet with questioning growls.

“It’s all right,” he said quietly. “I’m going to go see Chase. We need to talk.”

The tigers looked at each other, conferring with soft, rumbling growls; then they turned to lead the way down the hall, with Jack following quietly behind.

The three of them arrived at the door, and one of the tigers touched it. The handle clicked and the door swung open to reveal a bedroom, dimly lit by only one torch set on a back wall. There was enough light for Jack to see as three sets of feline eyes lifted from the floor, glowing eerily green in the shadowy darkness of the room.

Jack walked forward, moving slowly. He kept his gaze on Chase, who lay in the center of a large bed. The covers were pulled up to his chest, and from what Jack could see, the man was naked beneath the sheets.

Jack ignored the cats and walked over to the foot of the bed. He had no hope that he could sneak up on Chase, and he didn’t really want to. He was of the opinion that sneaking up on Chase would result in nothing but a lot of broken bones for the idiot dumb enough to try it.

So, he climbed up onto the mattress, settling on his knees, and waited.

Chase lifted his head from the pillows, staring down the length of his body. His hair was sleep-mussed, his expression one of half-awake crankiness.

Jack smirked and began crawling forwards, sliding his knees along the outside edges of Chase’s legs.

Chase propped himself up on his elbows to meet the teenager, the covers falling to his waist. “What—“

Jack reached out and cupped the older man’s chin with his left hand, using his thumb to gently silence Chase.

“I’ve been thinking,” Jack said quietly, and his smirk changed to a small smile. “I finally understand what you want from me.”

“Really?” The tone was cool, indifferent; they could have been discussing the weather for all it apparently mattered.

“Mmm. You want me to wake up and realize this isn’t a game. You want me to come to you, knowing that you can teach me everything I’ve ever wanted to learn. You want me to put myself completely in your care, giving over every aspect of myself to you in trust. You want me to ask you for help, for no other reason than that.”

Chase was silent for a long moment. Then he smiled and sat up fully.

“Excellent, Jack,” he said, satisfaction evident in his voice. “I knew you had it in you.”

Jack smiled, and said nothing.

“Well…?” Chase prompted, leaning back into his pillows.

And Jack shook his head slowly from left to right.

Chase went very still. After a few minutes of icy silence, he asked, “What do you mean: ‘no’?”

“It means… Chase, the Favor I ask of you—“ Jack began, and then scrambled backwards off the bed to avoid the hands that reached swiftly for him; intent on shutting him up.

Speaking quicker now, knowing he’d lose the opportunity if he didn’t, Jack scrabbled back away from Chase who stalked after him, and said, “Chase, the Favor I ask of you is to let me go to find my own way in the world!”

Chase halted, his hands barely an inch from the younger man, and snarled as the Shen-Gong-Wu magic took hold. He shuddered, infuriated. Finally, when he’d regained some of his control, he asked, “Why do you demand such a thing from me?”

Jack relaxed slightly. He knew Chase still had the Golden Back Scratcher, and he could easily use it to cancel out Jack’s request. So he had to choose his words carefully. After a moment, he thought he had them.

“Chase,” he said quietly. “Chase… it means – no, wait. What I’m trying to say is that more than anything else, I want your respect. I really don’t think I’m going to get that by staying here and becoming one of your toys. Toys are eventually broken, or discarded, or ignored. Sometimes, all three. I can’t accept that. And I don’t really want to become an extension of you. If I stay here, that’s what I’ll become: A remote unit of Chase Young. I’m Jack Spicer. That’s who I’m meant to be – I just don’t know who that is, yet. So I want to find out.

“I want to go out in the world and learn who I am and what I can do. I want to earn victories and even make a few mistakes. Only, maybe, this time, I’ll learn a lesson from those mistakes. I know there’s a lot that can happen. I know the monks are out there, ready to interfere. I know Wuya’s still out there, ready to hurt me. I know all that. But, it’s time for me to grow up, Chase, and in order for that to happen, you have to let me go.”

Chase had remained silent during Jack’s speech, and he was silent for several moments after Spicer stopped talking.

Finally, he nodded his head slowly and said, “Correct. You have already taken the first step to becoming your own man. Congratulations, Spicer – you’re already on the path to adulthood.”

Jack grinned, a trifle nervously.

“Very well,” said Chase. “I will not stop you. You are free to go.”

Jack nodded. “Thank you. Not just for this – y’know, for everything.”

A corner of Chase’s mouth quirked up. “I know.”


Jack stood on the ledge outside of Chase’s mountain, breathing in the cold morning air, watching the sun rise up over the mountain range.

He was alone on the ledge, the door to Chase’s home shut behind him. The braziers lining either side of the ledge were still lit; their wildly flickering flames providing welcome warmth at his back.

When the sun had cleared the horizon, Jack nodded to himself and said quietly, “Now.”

The heli-pack on his back opened and the steel posts that held the rotor blades extended up and outwards, the blades snapping into place far over his head and starting to spin. He had been surprised when Chase, waiting at the top of the stairs that led down to the main entrance, had silently handed it to him, but he was grateful Chase had been so thoughtful to retrieve it for him.

Taking a deep breath, feeling the pull from the rotor blades beginning to lift him, Jack stepped off the ledge and into open air.

A moment later, he was airborne and flying away from Chase Young’s mountain palace.

The End


Part 5 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Xiaolin Showdown ~~~~~~~~        



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