Levi wandered the streets aimlessly, people stared but he didn't notice. He wished he had never left his home. He wished he had never met Devin or Stoph. He wished he had never been born. He wished he had never fallen in love.
The last thought cut into his mind like a hot knife and he let out another sob. He should have let Devin make love to him again. The more they sealed their bond the more impossible it would have been to break. The freshly made pairing was like a cut that had just scabbed over. It was strong enough to hold together, but the slightest friction would have broken it apart, and now all that was left was an ugly scar. Levi brushed his side where his tattoo used to mark him as Devin's, and now he wished it had never been there in the first place. You can't miss what you never had.
But he had had it, and it had been wonderful. Even when Devin was mad at him, just to be near him made him feel whole. Now, as the distance between them got larger, so did the newly ripped open wound.
"Stoph!" Devin crashed into his friends house.
"Devin?" Stoph raised an eyebrow. "Are you okay?" He set down his cup of coffee.
"Of course he is!" Boto came from behind him and put a loose arm over his shoulder, across his chest.
"Get off me!" Devin threw the arm off. Boto rolled his eyes and put his hands up in an 'I surrender'.
"Is Levi here?" Devin asked, searching the room with his eyes for any sign of his broken mate.
"No... he was just with you. What happened? Wait, where's your tattoo?" Stoph stood up when he noticed the blank spot on Devin's chest.
"It wasn't my fault, I swear!" Tears brimmed Devin's eyes.
"Devin... what happened?" Stoph demanded. His eyes grew dark within seconds.
"Just a little lovers spat." Boto laughed and ran a hand through Devin's hair.
"Get off of me!" Devin shouted at the demon. "Stoph get your friend out of here!" Devin turned towards Stoph.
"Boto, I think you better leave." Stoph said, sensing what had happened.
"You've changed, Mephistopheles." Boto's brow ruffled.
"Get. Out." Stoph said firmly. Boto stared at him for a moment before turning and leaving the home.
"Sit down Devin, now tell me what happened." Stoph pulled Devin down to the kitchen table as Steve walked in.
"What happened?" He asked, his mouth full of donuts.
"Levi's gone. We were just playing, you know... he was getting dressed and I didn't want him to... we were playing hide and seek and Boto showed up. He started coming on to me and he kissed me right when Levi came out of hiding. He saw us... God the look on his face!" Devin was sobbing now.
"It's alright, Devin. We'll find him." Stoph stroked his hair and looked at Steve.
"You don't understand, Stoph. I kissed him back! I wanted it..." Devin covered his mouth.
"No, Devin, YOU don't understand." Stoph made Devin look at him. "Boto is an incubus. He's like a walking ball of pheromones. He's like a merman but a siren as well. You didn't want to kiss him, he made you want to kiss him." Stoph explained.
"Can I fix it? Can I get Levi back and... I don't know! Just help me fix it!" Devin sobbed.
"We will, Dev." Steve put a hand on his back. He rubbed his back for a second before disappearing and coming back a moment later, dressed with keys in his hand.
"I'll go look for him. Stoph, you and Devin take his truck and see if you can find him." Steve said.
"Devin, why don't you go lie down. Let Steve and I look for him." Stoph said.
"No, I have to find him. I have to-"
"No, Devin. Levi knows that it wasn't your fault, he's just upset right now. Let me talk some sense into him."
"Will that fix it?" Devin touched his side.
"I don't know." Stoph answered honestly.
Stoph drove down the road slowly, stopping to ask anyone if they had seen Levi. He had been following a trail of sightings and ended up at the lake. He climbed out of the truck, slamming the door behind him and walking to the shore.
"Levi?" He called.
"It's Stoph." He searched the water for any sign of movement.
'Go away, Stoph.' Levi's soothing voice appeared in his head, but it was raspy and rough. For a moment Stoph had forgotten that Levi's kind could speak using telepathy. They didn't do it often, only when they didn't want to come to the surface. They could speak to each other underwater.
"No, Levi. You know it wasn't Devin, it was Boto." Stoph stood at the shore, he kicked off his shoes and wadded in knee deep.
"Come on, Levi." Stoph begged. He saw the ripples in the water coming towards him. He sighed and smiled, he didn't want to go swimming.
'Just one thing, Stoph.' The voice in his head said. A chill began creeping up his spine and he shook it off.
'I'm not Levi.' A webbed and wrapped around his ankle and pulled him into the water.
"Devin?" Steve called out, putting his keys on the table.
"In here." Devin sat on the couch, he wasn't crying but his eyes were puffy and red.
"Hey, is Stoph with you?" Steve asked.
"No, he went out to find... him." Devin didn't want to say his name, he felt dirty saying his name.
"It's been hours. I tried to call him but he won't pick up his phone."
"You didn't find him?" Devin's eyes began watering again. Steve looked up and sighed. He sat down on the couch and wrapped an arm around Devin.
"No, but we will. Maybe Stoph found him and they're just talking things out." Steve said, knowing it was a lie. Stoph would have at least texted him.
"Maybe." Devin didn't seem like he believed it, but was trying to anyways.
"Come on, lets go see if we cant find them." Steve and Devin climbed into his truck and drove off.
"What about the lake?" Devin said, once they had made their second drive through the town looking.
"You're right, I don't know why we didn't think there first." Steve rolled his eyes and turned the truck around.
Devin's truck sat by the side of the lake, keys still in the ignition.
"There, see," Steve said, climbing out of his own car. "They've got to be around here somewhere." He followed the footprints in the mud to the shore.
"That's weird, Stoph hates swimming." Steve said.
"But Levi doesn't. He probably went in so that he wouldn't have to come all the way out." Devin nearly choked on his lovers name.
"I guess. But that still doesn't seem like Stoph. Maybe up to his knees, but not all the way in. He can't swim very well." Steve said to Devin.
"Figures, the guy who created Atlantis can't swim." Devin had his arms crossed against his chest, he felt small and weak without Levi. He wondered if he would always feel like this if things didn't get better.
'No, they have to get better.' He told himself.
"Stoph? Levi?" Steve cupped his hands around his mouth and called for his mate and his friend's lost mate.
'Steve, find Levi.' A quick thought flashed through Steves head. He put a hand to his head.
"What the hell?"
"I don't know... I just got a flash of something, weird." Steve shook his head and stepped closer to the lake.
'No!' The voice shouted.
"No!" Steve screamed, he held his head and stumbled back several feet.
"Steve? What's wrong, man?" Devin shouted, he caught Steve as he almost fell. Steve leaned against Devin's truck and panted, holding his head.
"Stoph didn't find Levi." Steve shook his head.
"Then where is he?" Devin asked, looking around for his mate.
"The real question is, where are they?" Steve scrunched his brow, and headed back towards his truck with Devin in tow. "Something bad happened to Stoph. He sent me some weird telepathy thingy." Steve waved his hand around.
"I thought he lost all his demon powers?" Devin asked.
"Well... Most of them, he still has a little bit leftover. Like a dead battery still has a tiny bit of juice left, but eventually it will be gone." Steve explained.
"So he didn't find Levi, and he's in trouble." Devin thought out loud.
"Yep." Steve said as they drove.
"How is he in trouble? What the hell fucks with a demon?" Devin asked, and then blushed, "No pun intended." He smiled. Steve rolled his eyes.
"Someone who knows he isn't a demon anymore..." Steve said.
"It's Boto, I know it." Devin said.
"You don't know that." Steve rolled his eyes.
"Yes I do! The guy's a sleaze." Devin said.
"Can't argue with you there." Steve sighed.
"Steve, look!" Devin shouted, pointing out the windshield. A small figure stumbled down the road. His beaded hair swung from side to side as he walked and his arms were crossed.
"Levi!" Steve shouted, and pulled alongside the merman.
"Leave me alone." Levi's melodic voice was filled with pain. Devin jumped out of the still slowly moving car and ran over to his mate, grabbing his shoulders.
"Please, baby," he begged, "I'm so sorry, I never meant to hurt you. He kissed me I didn't want it!" Devin begged. Levi shrugged his hands off his shoulders and kept walking.
"I just want to be alone." Tears fell from his eyes slowly.
"Please, don't cry." Devin sighed.
"Why shouldn't I?" Levi turned and yelled at him suddenly, "You hurt me, Devin..." Levi's voice got quiet and wavered with tears.
"I know, sweetheart, and I'm so sorry!" Devin stepped in front of him to keep him from walking away. "Stoph said that you just needed time to think, and I know I should give you that but there's other things happening right now!" Devin hoped he could put off the hatred in Levi's eyes.
"Like what?" Levi asked, completely uninterested.
"Stoph is missing, we think Boto has done something to him." Steve said, climbing out of the truck.
"Why would he?" Levi asked.
"We think he figured out Stoph is human now. Stoph said it could get dangerous if anyone from his past found out. A lot of people have grudges against him, and the only reason they haven't acted on them is because when he was a demon he could have kicked their asses or even destroyed them if he really wanted to. But now..." Steve trailed off.
"Now he's vulnerable, and he needs our help." Devin said. Levi looked at him for a long time.
"This doesn't mean you're forgiven." Levi said quietly, and climbed into Steve's car.
"I know..." Devin said silently to himself as he watch Levi walk away from him.
"Boto, release me!" Stoph shouted.
"You don't scare me anymore Mephistopheles. But I guess I really shouldn't call you that now, should I?" Boto walked around the ex-Demon tied to the chair he had dragged down to the cave, deep under the lake.
"I swear to God, Boto if you don't-"
"You swear to Him now, do you?" Boto glared at him.
"That's not what I meant, you fool!" Stoph shouted.
"Yelling will get you nowhere.... Stoph." Boto said. Stoph glared at him and Boto laughed.
"You're human, I can't believe this. I just can't believe it. There's been rumors on why you haven't been wreaking havoc and now I know." Boto stepped back from Stoph and starred at him for a long time.
"Pathetic, really. I should do you a favor and kill you now." Boto muttered.
"It's not like that, Boto. I'm happy." Stoph said.
"With being human? Impossible, you're one of the greatest demons to have ever lived!" He shouted.
"Was, I was one of the greatest demons. I'm not anymore, and that's how I want it." Stoph said.
"You've gone mad. Probably that soul you have floating around in there." Boto poked his chest hard.
"Steve won't stop hunting for you, neither will Devin or Levi." Stoph said.
"Two humans and a merman, scary stuff." Boto rolled his eyes.
"It's not what they are, that you should be scared of, it's what they'll do to get me back."
"Are you sure it's safe?" Steve asked.
"No." Levi said, staring at the lake. "But if he is down there, we can't just leave him." Levi said.
"And you know where the cave is?"
"Yes, I used to stay there when I was trapped in the lake." Levi explained.
"Good luck, and be safe." Steve hugged him.
"Levi." Devin grabbed his arm, as he started to walk off. Levi turned to face him and blinked, knowing what he was going to say.
"Don't." Levi said. Devin looked hurt and Levi looked at the ground for a split second before speaking again. "Save it for when I get back." Levi said. Devin smiled and pulled Levi close to him, in a hug.
"Again, this doesn't mean you're forgiven." Levi said, completely serious.
"I know, but it means I have a chance to be forgiven." Devin gave a sad smile and let him go.
The water was a welcoming shock to Levi's quickly changing body. His legs fused together to form the powerful tail that would steer and propel him through the murky water. His eyes glazed over like a sharks to keep the cootie and dirt infested water out of them. His hands became webbed and were used to steer and pull himself through the lake and his spine and wrists grew the scaly blue green crests. He could heard Steve and Devin talking on the surface, but turned towards more important matters.
He propelled himself forward and deeper into the darkening lake water. Once he got to the bottom of the lake an average person would hardly be able to see. His pupils widened and made his eyes entirely black so he could see in the dark water. He searched for the underwater cave he had found his first day here and found it within a few minutes. The gills on his neck opened and closed as he removed the rich oxygen from the water. He swam inside the opening of the cave and brought himself close to the surface. It was clear there was a fire in the cave, it should have been pitch black but he could definitely see light on the surface. He poked his eyes above water, staying as silent as possible.
"I can't believe you would choose this, Mephistopheles." Boto spoke, his back to Levi. Levi tread the water quietly. Stoph glanced over and made eye contact with Levi, but kept his face the same, showing no emotion to Boto.
"You wouldn't understand a thing about me." Stoph spoke.
"Right, I know you. I've known you for hundreds of years, much longer than these humans." Boto gestured behind him blindly.
"No, you know Mephistopheles. You don't know Stoph." Stoph said, quietly, "I found love, and friends, and family." Stoph said.
"Your only love is for slaughter, your friend is Death, and your family is pain!" Boto shouted.
"You're wrong." Stoph said quietly.
"You can't honestly say you don't miss it! Miss the mayhem, the destruction, the corruption!"
"No, I can't. I do miss it, every day. There hasn't been s single day that's gone by that I haven't had the desire to destroy, to kill, to 'corrupt' the masses. There will forever be that darkness inside of me. But I'm happy where I am. My life now is better than any dark desire I've ever had." Stoph said, without hesitating.
"You're mad." Boto shook his head.
"I won't go back to what I was, Boto. As long as I have my friends and family, I'm staying right here." Stoph nodded. Boto's eyes lit up.
"I can fix that." He smiled, he began to change, growing the crest on his bare back and arms, fingers becoming webbing. Levi knew what was happening and swam quickly and silently to the farthest wall. Boto dived into the water and swam out of the cave. Stoph sighed and watch Levi surface.
"I knew you'd find me." He smiled. Levi pulled himself out of the water, crawling over to the chair so he could cut the ropes holding Stoph. Levi flicked his claws out and cut the ropes with one swipe, retracting them again to help Stoph up.
"We have to go, he's going to hurt Steve and Devin." Stoph said, stepping towards the water and looking in. He swallowed and licked his lips nervously.
"Just hold your breath, Stoph. I'll do all the swimming." Levi said, Stoph jumped into the water and surfaced, he wrapped his arms around Levi's neck, making sure to stay away from his gills, and nodded he was ready. Levi bobbed up once, before diving down. Stoph shut his eyes and let Levi glide through the water with him on his back. He felt his lungs burn and began panicking. He opened his eyes and looked back and saw they were already too far from the cave to go up, and too far from the surface as well. He held his breath longer before his chest screamed to let it out. He breathed out, letting several bubbles rise far above them to the surface. Levi looked back and saw the drowning ex-demon. He turned and as his gills opened to collect the oxygen, he breathed into Stoph mouth, giving him enough oxygen to last till they reached the surface.
"Stay here." Levi said, once they were at the top.
"No, take me, it's my job to protect Steve too." Stoph said.
"It just means more swimming." Levi warned.
"If that's what it takes." Stoph said, not backing down. Levi dived again, staying relatively close to the surface with Stoph holding on. He didn't know what Boto was, but knew where he was going to be.
"Look." Devin stood from the bank of the lake.
"You think it's them, or Boto?" Steve frowned and turned to look at the ripples swimming directly towards them.
"I don't know..." Devin hadn't thought of that. Their question was answered when Boto surfaced.
"Well, this makes things a lot easier." Boto smiled as he stood up with human legs. "Not as much walking, I do really hate walking." He frowned.
"Where is he. Where's Stoph?" Steve stepped forward.
"I wouldn't worry so much about him, more about you two." Boto smiled. He took a step back into the water and began singing. His voice was low and dark, like molasses. He stood at ankle deep water and Steve and Devin stepped towards him. His voice coaxed them to him in the foreign language that belonged to the Merpeople. They couldn't understand the words, but they were well aware it was a love song. Their emotions boiled, and their minds drew blank as they stepped into the cold water. Boto backed up as he sang, until he was knee deep in water. He stood at the drop off of the lake, where it went from shallow, to at least twelve feet deep in less than a foot. He was prepared to change when the two men got close enough. His hands twitched in anticipation of pulling the two young humans down into the depths of the lake, forever. He had a sly smile and was so confident with himself that he didn't see the quickly approaching V of ripples in the water. Stoph was swimming around to his right, off to where Boto couldn't see him, and he crawled up onto the bank, hiding behind a tree until Levi was ready.
Boto reached a hand out and Devin followed, their hands were centimeters away and the arrow of ripples grew closer and closer. Boto grabbed his hand violently and Devin snapped out of the trance, Boto smiled and ceased his singing. Devin opened his mouth to protest, and Levi shot out of the water, wrapping his left arm over the left shoulder and his right arm under the right arm of the Incubus. He pulled Boto back into the lake, taking Devin with them. The three fell into the lake with a splash and Stoph raced to check on Steve.
"Are you alright?"
"Yeah, I don't know what happened. My head is all fuzzy, everything is a blur.... where did the music go?" Steve looked around.
"Levi is taking care of that tool of a musician." Stoph glared at the water, where no sign of the three men showed.
"Devin fell in with them," Steve said, "We have to do something!" He stood up from where he had collapsed when Boto had stopped his song.
"There's nothing we can do..." Stoph said, staring at the calm water of the lake.
Levi swam down as fast as he could, pushing Boto in front of him. Boto thrashed from side to side, trying to get free of Levi's grip. His mouth was open, showing jagged shark teeth and his eyes were completely blac,. Whether they were black with anger, or because of his enlarged pupils, Levi didn't know. He let his own teeth grow, and extended the claws on his webbed hands. The spines on his back grew longer and sharper, sharp enough to serve as a knife if need be, and they would serve as a knife then. Boto clawed at Levi's chest and Levi bit at his hands, letting his teeth sink an inch or more deep into the webbed flesh. Boto cried out under the water and managed to splash away from Levi.
Levi shook his head and waited for the bubbles to clear, and when they did, he saw a furious Boto swimming towards him. He moved to make a defense but was too slow and Boto's hands landed firmly on his chest. He was pushed back into a large boulder under the water and he felt his head crack against it. Boto drew his arm back and clawed at Levi's face, but Levi moved just in time to avoid taking four razor sharp claws, that resembled a cats, to the face. Instead, the four claw marks were added to the collection on his chest. He hissed and used his tail to smack Boto away from him.
Using Boto's own trick against him, he used the time Boto was dazed, to charge the other Merman. His teeth sunk into his shoulder and he tossed his head back and forth like a furious shark tearing its prey. Boto clawed at his back, trying to get away from the rows of pointed teeth. Finally Levi pulled away. The water was swirling with blood and Boto turned to retreat. Anger filled Levi and he chased after him, he was catching up quickly and with one final push of his tail, his teeth sunk into the soft, thin flesh of Boto's golden tail. He pulled back and his teeth raked the scaled flesh, tearing many long lines down and filling the water with more blood. Boto cried out and spun around to check the damage. He looked down at his tail and Levi attacked him again with even more ferocity. His head hit his chest as he drove him deeper still into the lake.
They reached a point where they could hardly see, a human would be completely blind down there, and they continued the fight, though Boto was losing badly. He swam at a quarter of the speed he was swimming at before, and was almost hobbling along in the water. He struggled and squirmed, trying to flee from the viscous Levi, but to no avail. Levi sunk his teeth into his side one last time and twisted, blood filling the already black water. Boto was lifeless in the water and Levi realized what he had done. His claws and his teeth vanished, the crests on his back and his arms shrunk back to their normal size and he turned away from the corpse of the half merman. He sat there for a moment, frozen with the realization that he had just killed someone, one of his own kind. He swam slowly up to the surface and stopped halfway up. Devin floated in the water, as still as Boto had been. His leg was tangled in the long pieces of kelp at the bottom on the lake. He was pale and his eyes were shut.
"No..." Levi spoke, words garbled by the water. He swam as fast as he could towards his lover, biting the kelp free and grabbing him around the waist with one arm, he swam back to the surface as fast as he could ignoring his injuries. He splashed his way towards the bank and put Devin on the beach.
"No! Please, no..." Levi touched Devin's chest. "Please, wake up, Devin... Please." Levi cried.
"What happened?" Stoph and Steve knelt down by Devin, Steve began performing CPR and ignoring the talking men.
"I was so angry, I didn't see Devin.... I just..." Levi couldn't speak.
"Where's Boto?" Stoph asked. Levi was silent. He swallowed and without looking up, mumbled, "He's gone."
Stoph stared at him a second and nodded. Before turning back to Devin. Steve stopped CPR for a second to catch his breath.
"Don't stop!" Levi begged.
"It's not working, Levi. I'm sorry." Steve shook his head.
"No! It has to!" Levi put his lips to Devin and filled his lungs with air, before using his hands to pump his chest. He did this a few more times, Steve and Stoph looking at him sadly, knowing Devin was lost. He continued to pump Devin's chest, and slowly his tail and scales became legs and flesh as his body dried on the shore. Suddenly, Devin rolled onto his side and coughed up water. He gasped for breath and looked around him at his friends.
"What happened?" He choked.
"Devin!" Levi attacked him, holding his waist tightly and burying his face in his chest. Devin frowned, confused, but held the smaller man.
"Where's Boto? Did we win?" Devin gave a sideways smile. Levi leaned up and kissed his face repeatedly, finally landing on his lips. The two kissed passionately, holding each other in each others arms.
"I got him started you know." Steve crossed his arms.
"I know you did." Stoph hugged Steve and the two kissed.
"I'm so sorry, Devin!" Levi cried.
"It's okay, babe. Look." Devin pointed down. Slowly, the tattoo's in the foreign language began to scroll across their torso's and up there arm, onto their neck. Levi looked at the markings and sighed with relief. He put his head on Devin's chest.
"I want to go home." He whispered so quietly, Devin almost didn't hear him. He looked up at Stoph and mouthed 'What happened?' Stoph could only shrug in response.
"How is he?" Stoph asked, once Devin closed the door to their bedroom quietly.
"Sleeping, but he's pretty upset. What happened?" Devin sat down on the couch.
"I don't know, but he came up, and Boto didn't..." Stoph sighed.
"You don't think Levi could have..." Steve trailed off.
"No!" Devin shouted, and then lowered his voice once he remembered his sleeping lover. "No, Levi is to... Innocent. He could never kill someone....could he?" Devin looked at Stoph.
"I don't know, Merpeople have a history of being peaceful. But they aren't cowards, if they or their mates are threatened, they'll fight back." Stoph said.
"I just ca'nt see him doing that." Devin shook his head.
"If he did, he probably didn't do it on purpose. He was upset and emotional, and not to sound childish.... but Boto started it." Stoph said.
"That doesn't make it okay." Steve said.
"Well no, but it doesn't make it wrong either." Stoph shrugged.
"Yes it does, killing is wrong. Period, Levi has to be punished for what he did." Steve said.
"And should I be punished for all the things I did?" Stoph asked.
"You were, baby." Steve said, caressing Stophs face and stroking the scar that cut his otherwise flawless features. Stoph leaned into the touch and put his hand over Steves.
"He was just protecting us, he doesn't deserve to be punished for that. He didn't even mean to." Stoph said.
"Can we stop talking like we know for a fact that he did it?" Devin stood up and yelled.
"But I did do it." Levi stood in the doorway. He was naked except for a pair of boxers that hung loosely around his hips.
"Go back to bed,sweetheart. You need your rest." Devin walked up to him and rubbed his shoulders.
"You do too." Levi mumbled, it was obvious he was exhausted, but wouldn't rest until the other men were safe.
"I know, I'll be there in a bit." Devin pulled him away from him enough to kiss him on the forehead.
"Please, I didn't mean to..." Levi turned towards Stoph and Steve.
"We know you didn't, sweetie." Stoph got up and hugged Levi to him.
"You know we love you, Levi." Steve stood up and hugged him as well. "You're family to us, no matter what." he said.
"I'm a killer." Levi began sobbing quietly.
"It was self defense, Levi. You were trying to protect your family." Devin said.
"He tried to run, I chased him down." Levi looked into Devin's eyes. "I didn't just kill him, Devin. I murdered him, and enjoyed it." Levi sobbed louder, into Devin's chest. Devin tried to soothe the destroyed man but he couldn't stop his tears. He finally scooped the smaller man into his arms. Stoph opened the bedroom door for him and he put him onto the soft bed. His sobbing lover clung to his chest and soaked his shirt with his tears. Devin climbed onto his bed and buried his nose in the soft braided hair. Stoph shut off the lights and Steve shut the door behind him,
"Levi grew up sheltered, I honestly don't know if he can cope with what he did..." Steve frowned as he and his lover cleaned up the house for the two sleeping men.
"He'll get through it, he has Devin and that will bring him back from anything." Stoph smiled.
"How do you know?" Steve asked.
"Because, I was in a place just as dark once, and the man I love saved me." Stoph smiled at him, leaning against the kitchen counter.
"He must have been a great guy." Steve stepped up to him, until their chests were almost touching.
"He still is, sexy too." Stoph smiled. Steve kissed Stoph tenderly and the two pulled apart.
"Lets let them sleep." Steve said, throwing the last of the trash away as he walked out the door.
Levi woke and felt the soothing feeling of Devin's chest rising and falling under his head. He closed his eyes and let the steady rising and falling soothe his crowded mind. The pain of having just killed someone ached deep inside his chest, in a place Levi didn't know even existed.
"Morning." Devin said.
"Hi." Levi's voice cracked, sore from the hours of crying in his sleep.
"Do you feel any better?" Devin asked.
"No." Levi sighed, turning his face against the warmth of Devin's chest. He moaned and rolled over. He just wanted to go back to sleep and never wake up, like Boto did.
"Come on, you need to eat something." Devin said, and climbed out of bed.
"I'm not hungry." Levi muttered.
"Baby, you need to eat." Devin insisted.
"I think I'm going to be sick ." Levi whimpered, and rolled onto his stomach, taking up the whole bed. Devi sighed and sat down to stroke his hair. Levi moved and crawled into his lap, letting his head rest on Devin's lap. Devin stroked his hair,
"This wasn't your fault, Levi. If you asked me, the world isn't exactly mourning his death." Devin shrugged.
"That doesn't mean he deserved to die." Levi choked on his words. Devin kissed his head and sighed.
"I know you feel bad, love. But you cant beat yourself up over this. He was going to hurt us, hurt me. You wouldn't let that happen and you did what you had to do. I would have done the same thing. I wish I could take the hurt away from you, but I can't." Devin said.
"I know." Levi whispered.
"Look, babe." Devin said, after a moment of silence. Levi looked up at him and he pulled him up into a sitting position. They sat next to each other in silence. "Our tattoos are back. And they're brighter than they were before." Devin smiled. Levi gave a slight smile.
"It's official. We're fully mated, our bond has had long enough to seal." Levi said.
"So nothing can separate us now?" Devin asked.
"Nope." Levi looked at Devin's chest distantly. He put his hand on it, running his fingers along the swirling words.
"I love you, so much." Devin said. Levi looked up into his eyes.
"I love you, too." He leaned up and kissed him.
"It will get better, sweetheart. I promise." Devin smiled. "Now please, eat something?" He frowned. Levi nodded and smiled Devin stood up and dragged him to the kitchen. "Just remember, moderation. Last thing you need is another stomach ache."
Levi straightened his tie and looked at himself once more in the mirror. He knew he was supposed to be terrified, but he wasn't.
"How you doing, fish boy?" Steve walked in smiling, "Nervous?"
"No, this is just another human ritual I'm following for Devin. In my eyes, we're as mated as it gets." Levi smiled.
"This means a lot to him. I don't think you understand how much." Steve said.
"I don't care if I know. The fact that it's important to him is enough for me." Levi beamed.
"Come on it's time." Steve said, hearing the music starting. Steve walked him down a hallway, where Stoph was waiting.
"Thank you for doing this." Levi smiled as they prepared to go.
"Of course, I'm honored Levi." Stoph kissed his forehead before they began walking down the isle.
"Hi." Levi smiled when he reached Devin at the end of the isle.
"Hi." Devin winked. Their vows were said, and the two shared their kiss, with all of the friends they had collected in the past four years watching and cheering. At the reception, Steve stood up as the friends of the couple finished their meal.
"I've known Devin and Levi for years now. Devin and I met awhile back, when I first moved here. He was a good guy, but he's even better now that he's found Levi. I promised them I wouldn't get all sappy with the speech." The crowd laughed. "They're the best friends I could ever ask for, and I know they'll have a long happy life with each other. I wish them all the best, and I'm so glad they found each other." Steve raised his drink and the wedding guests toasted to the couple. "Now let's dance!" Steve chugged the drink and the music started.
One year later.
"Dad, I'm going to be late for school! Ugh, honestly, everyday you're doing this!" The little eight year old girl stood at the front door impatiently tapping her foot, her arms crossed and a scowl on her face.
"I'm coming, I'm coming." Devin grabbed his daughter's backpack and put it on the couch as he pulled on his jacket. "Where's your father?"
"I don't know."
"Can you go see if you can find him?"
"DADDY! WHERE ARE YOU?"
"Amy, I said go find him, not scream for him!"
"I'm here, I'm here." Levi said, carrying a bag lunch which he put in her backpack.
"We have to go." Devin said, standing at the open door.
"Finally, you've been taking FOREVER." Amy said and headed out the door.
"Bye, Amy." Levi said.
"Bye, Daddy." Amy said, running back inside and giving him a kiss on the cheek.
"Bye, Daddy." Devin winked and kissed his lips firmly.
"Bye." Levi watched his family leave and smiled. He loved his life, his husband, their daughter who they had adopted when she was seven, and their home. He didn't miss his old life anymore. This was all he would ever need.