An Ipswich Christmas
The night air is cold against his skin, turning his cheeks a hearty, rosy red, and his breath to opaque fog in the crystal stillness found between the trees. The moon was only half full, but was more than enough for him to find his way; after all, this wasn’t the first time Caleb had walked this path, midnight on Christmas Eve. He did it every year, this ritual pilgrimage to the place where his father had Ascended, alone and scared at eighteen.
This place that had heard his father’s vehement vows shouted out into a night much like this one, that he would use the Power only for the good of the Families, for Ipswich, and then only sparingly and never without good reason.
Caleb had made much the same promise after the fight in Putnam’s barn, when he had had the luxury of time to make such a promise. He only hoped his will was stronger than his father’s and that he would be able to keep it. That’s why he made this trek every year, deep into the woods around the Manor; to remind himself of the consequences if he didn’t.
The steady crunch of his boots on the snow was soothing, the pale light from the half-moon casting a faint web of shadows over the meager path from the bare branches above his head. It had snowed earlier in the day and the temperature had dropped, the air turning colder as the clouds had scuttled out away from the coast, leaving only wisps edged in silver to run in a black sky left open for the moon and the sharp points of the stars.
Caleb frowned as the night changed from that same silver to gold along the path in front of him. Looking up, he found a round globe of golden Power floating in the branches in the darkness a few feet above his head. Around the curve ahead he could barely make out another such globe, this time in red…and even further through the trees to his left, where the path would be through the trees, one in green.
More globes in the same pattern of colors lit his way through the forest until, breaking out into the clearing that had been his destination all along, Caleb stopped short, eyes going wide at what had been placed in the middle.
An extremely large evergreen, decked out and garlanded in ornaments, cranberries, popcorn, and more tiny globes of Power about the size of walnuts, scattered in and around the dark bows in lieu of electric lights. The clearing, too, was ringed with more colored globes the size of the ones that had led him here. Green. Red. Gold.
Standing in front of the tree were Pogue, Reid and Tyler, each of the Sons holding a present in their hands with more piled underneath.
“We figured you were going to stay cooped up in the Manor again this year, moping over duty and responsibility, so we decided to bring Christmas to you,” Reid smirked.
Pogue shot the younger Son a glare the blond just ignored, and a shove he reciprocated, Tyler rolling his eyes and shifting from one foot to the other as Caleb just stood there, stunned they would go through all this trouble - and Usage - just so he wouldn’t be alone.
Of course they could have just come on up to the House…but he supposed he still would have been moping, so…
“We didn’t want you to be alone,” their youngest offered. “And then Reid got this idea -”
“Dude, shut up!”
“What? Dude, you did!”
“Sure you don’t want to be alone?” Pogue asked with a dry grin.
“You know,” Caleb grinned and shook his head at their two youngest ‘brothers’ as Reid chased Tyler around the tree. A mere thought and a tiny usage of the Power had his own globes of blue joining theirs around the clearing and through the tree. “I really don’t.”
“Baby Boy’s right. Merry Christmas, Caleb,” Pogue grinned. “From all of us.”
Taking a deep breath of the pine and popcorn scented air, Caleb reached out and claimed a kiss from Pogue, and then from Reid and Tyler, grabbing each of them as they rounded the tree and into reach. “It is now.”