Cole suspected every morgue in the world carried a chill to it.
As a sidhe, he wasn’t susceptible to temperatures the way humans were, but the subtle changes in climate were something he remained aware of regardless. It was currently February, and outside in the bleak darkness, New York City was currently facing a maelstrom of winter snow. The heavy clouds churning with white flakes had blanketed half the country, spreading out as far south as Texas and the Gulf Coast.
Cole had walked out in it alongside his partner and superior, Inspector Joss Vallimun, as the two had been called down to the morgue to inspect another body. It hadn’t bothered him to walk outside while the flakes continued to pelt the ground. Joss had been shivering the whole time, but Cole was perfectly comfortable. Then they had entere237d the hospital morgue, and for the first time that day, Cole had shuddered involuntarily.
His left hand was twitching now. It always responded when there were a number of dead bodies in the area. His Hand of Power, the Hand of Cold Death, could summon anything cold and dead up to obey his every command. It had been called a weak, shameful power in the land of Faerie, but here amongst mortals, where he now worked as a special detective, the Hand had its uses.
The morgue, of course, reeked with the stench of formaldehyde. The smell of it was making Cole’s nose itch as Joss spoke with the coroner. The man didn’t look as though he was particularly happy to see him, and Cole suspected he knew why. They had been to this morgue before and each time had needed a moment to themselves in order to “examine” the body. That was the official story, at least. In reality, Cole didn’t enjoy being gawked at while he questioned the deceased. It made him uncomfortable, a rare thing among his kind. Plus, the screaming and pointing from other humans in the room got old after a while.
Cole waited while Joss sorted things out with the head of the department, making sure all the paperwork had been filed and whatnot so they could carry on with their investigation. Meanwhile, the coroner’s assistant, a young woman with olive skin and dark hair, kept shooting glances his way every few seconds. She had pretended to be busy sorting files, but when several fell out of her hands, the facade was pretty much blown. Cole waited while she picked them up, then caught her attention for a second. As Joss came over to fetch him, Cole gave the woman a wink and smiled as she blushed.
“Having fun?” Joss’s voice carried a thread of jealousy far beneath the mirth on the surface. “We can go inside now. They’ve got the body already laid out for you.”
“Right.” Cole said nothing more, following after Joss as he led them across the room into another area, one filled with drawer after drawer of dead hosts. One was already pulled out and waiting for them. Cole felt his left hand twitch with nerves as they entered, begging for the power inside it to be released.
“Name?” he asked, as the coroner lingered.
“Aaron Hoover,” the coroner replied. “The body was found in an alley. Someone had called their landlord about a bad smell coming through their window.”
The body in question was of a young boy around the age of ten with dark hair and blue eyes, having a light-colored skin. Cole knew this because he’d read the report. Had he not, there would have been no way of figuring that out, going by sight alone. The body had been burned to a crisp. The whole surface was burned from head to toe, except in places where it looked like chunks of flesh had been torn away.
“What about the wounds?” Cole asked, looking the body over. “It looks like they were caused by teeth.”
“Official report says the same thing,” said the coroner. “It looks like the body was burned first and then torn up afterward. There’s also evidence that he was held prisoner in a very cramped space before dying.”
“Just like the other two,” Joss commented, keeping his voice even and neutral.
“I’ll leave you two alone,” the coroner said, walking away now. “Just knock when you’re finished doing… whatever.”
Cole waited until the door shut before speaking. “There may be more,” he reminded Joss. “The first one we spoke to said that he’d been held prisoner in a dark place and that he’d heard other children talking.”
“The report said that the body had been held in a cramped space before dying,” Joss mused quietly to himself. “That corroborates with what the first one said, and the second one talked briefly about being in a cage.”
“The first one said that he’d been held in a cage,” Cole reminded. “The second one mentioned a tiny space before it got really hot.”
“It fits with the killer’s MO.” Joss nodded, keeping his face relaxed. “Good thing you told me to ask the coroner to check and see if the bodies showed signs of being imprisoned before they died.”
“It was just a hunch. Shall we get on with it, then?” Cole stretched his left arm out over the corpse and let the power burst out of his hand. “It was Aaron Hoover, wasn’t it?”
Cole released enough power to summon three or four bodies at once. It was needed, however, to shift the dead body back to something resembling a human form. There was no way the deceased could speak with a body charred so badly. The Hand of Cold Death could temporarily fix a damaged body with no life in it, but this required a little extra effort. Cole took several deep breaths as the form recovered some of its former youthful beauty and blinked up at them.
“Aaron Hoover,” Cole said slowly. “I want you to listen very carefully to me.”
The corpse blinked again. “Where’s my mom?” it croaked. “I want to see my mom.”
“Aaron,” Cole said sharply. “You are already dead.”
Joss gave Cole a look, but Cole ignored him. “You’ve been dead for a few days now,” Cole explained. “I have awakened your body so that we can ask you some questions about how you died. Once we are done here, you will be laid to rest again, and your spirit can finally move on.”
The boy didn’t stop looking terrified by this news, but with each word Cole spoke, the tension in his body seemed to lessen.
“Good,” Cole said, smiling now. “Now, do you remember where it was you were being held prisoner?”
The body of Aaron Hoover tried to swallow and found that it couldn’t. “It was dark,” it whispered hoarsely. “I couldn’t see anything.”
Joss looked across the slab at him. “Just like the others,” he said softly.
“Do you remember who kidnapped you?” Cole asked.
The body shook its head slowly. “I don’t remember being kidnapped. I was walking home from the bus stop. The next thing I knew, someone had put me in a cage, and I could smell something baking in an oven.”
“Baking,” Cole repeated, looking back at Joss. “Didn’t the others mention they smelt something?”
“Maybe,” he said with a nod.
“What did it smell like?” Cole went on. “Was it a bad smell?”
“It smelled good,” the boy who had once been Aaron Hoover replied. “It reminded me of when we used to visit Grandma’s house. It almost smelled like cookies, but better. I could smell it the whole time.”
Cole took a deep breath. “Here we go,” he warned Joss. “Aaron, do you remember how you died?”
The corpse didn’t answer at first. Cole wondered perhaps if it hadn’t heard him when the body suddenly shook. It almost rocked itself off the slab and onto the floor, but Cole forced it still by pushing his will into it through his Hand.
“They came for me,” the body cried out now, panicking. “I could feel them grabbing me with their sticky hands. They were taking me somewhere, and it was small and tight. I couldn’t breathe!”
Aaron Hoover’s corpse gasped, his breath rattling like a clanging bell in his lungs. “It was too small. I couldn’t get out, and it was getting so hot!”
Cole tried to will the body to stay calm, but it was reacting like the others before had. The more Cole tried to force the panic back down, the more it fought.
“It’s not supposed to react like this,” he growled, steadying his power and feeding more of it into the body. “Aaron Hoover, I command you to be at peace!”
The body went still at once, but the corpse began screaming. “I want my momma!” it shouted, the voice echoing off the metal drawers surrounding them. “I want my momma! Momma, help me!”
“Cole, turn it off before the whole department hears him,” Joss ordered.
Cole made a fist, shutting his power down at once. The corpse rattled for a bit as the air was expelled from the lungs, making a loud whistle. Stepping farther back, Cole waited as the deceased form went back to being a lifeless burned shell.
“Just like the others,” he commented. “They all died horribly, and under such traumatic circumstances that raising them for questioning is nearly impossible.”
“Held in a cage,” Joss said, thinking the words over carefully. “Then put inside a cramped space where it got hotter.”
“A furnace,” Cole said, feeling certain of his answer. “Or an old-fashioned stove.”
Joss nodded. “A kiln could have the same effect. I’ve seen some of the bigger ones up close. You could stuff a dead body his size in there no problem. As hot as they get, it’s a wonder there wasn’t just bone left.”
“The sweet smell, though,” Cole pointed out. “They all smelled something, and this one said that it smelled like his grandmother’s house. That’s why I think it was an oven.”
Cole was silent for a moment. “Should I try again and ask if it remembers seeing her?”
Joss shook his head. “We tried that last time and the poor kid kept right on screaming. I don’t think this is her handiwork.”
“Me neither,” Cole admitted, turning away. “But it was worth a shot.”
None of the people in the main area would look at them as they left. Everyone, including the coroner, was entranced by the floor or their own shoes. Cole ignored this and marched out the front door, timing his steps to where they fell in alongside Joss’s.
“I think the sound of dead bodies screaming is beginning to affect them,” he remarked once they were safely outside the hospital.
“You think?” Joss asked, cocking an eyebrow at him.
“It’s just a theory at this point.”
Both men climbed into Joss’s car and got comfortable. The snow had let up for a few minutes, but Cole could sense it was just a temporary reprieve. Soon, something much bigger would be slamming against the city with full force. It was lucky he had the very best that money couldn’t buy in central heating. Otherwise, he might have wound up freezing his ass off like so many who lived here.
“Come over to my place tonight,” Cole asked as Joss pulled out of the hospital parking lot into traffic. “It’s warm, and you can take a hot shower for as long as you like.”
“Sounds good,” Joss replied. “I could use one after today. They’ve had us running all over this fucking town looking for leads on this killer.”
“While we’re supposed to be out looking for clues to where Naryssa is hiding,” Cole pointed out. “How did this case get dumped into our laps again? Shouldn’t it have been something for homicide to deal with instead?”
“I guess the department thought it was weird enough,” Joss said, shrugging. “I really don’t know, but my guess is they’re swamped too. Budget cuts were not kind to those people.”
“They haven’t exactly been the Spring Faerie Falls for us, either. Speaking of which, has there been any word about getting some more people transferred to our division?”
Cole and Joss both worked in the same department, a clandestine undercover group called Section Thirteen. It had originally been started back in the fifties by a group of mortal cops who specialized in occult crimes and the supernatural. The city had disbanded them sometime during the seventies after too many of their reports read like acid-rock poetry. One month ago, roughly, the city agreed to bring the Section back into business after a mad half-sidhe hag by the name of Naryssa had gone on a murdering spree and kidnapped a number of half-fey children. Cole had gotten dragged into the mix and was now working with the police as an officer of the law to bring her in.
Cole often found himself repeating that statement to himself. Even now, it sounded too weird.
The Section had started off with the two of them and one other homicide cop, a man who had been Cole’s contact when he worked as a police consultant. These days, he and James Corhagen didn’t speak with each other much. It was just as well, especially considering Cole had moved on in his life, away from James and his problems.
Working in the Section had given him a whole new set of problems, and those were more than enough. When Cole had first signed on, Joss had brought in several members of the city’s vice squad to help out. Two weeks later, following an incident in the sewers, where they had been chasing after a large gelatin cube, every member of vice had pleaded with the brass to be taken back to their old assignments.
Dealing with the supernatural underside of New York was not something for the weak of stomach.
So it ended up that the Section was stuck with the three core members and no one else. No one else wanted to come close to them, and no matter how much Cole claimed he didn’t care, they were only three men. The Section had jurisdiction across the whole city, meaning they got called out several times a day to examine a crime scene just to clarify that it had been caused by something mundane and not a rampaging orc.
“I want to take my car home first,” Joss said, breaking up his thoughts. “Since there’s no place to park outside your place.”
“Let me have your cell phone, then,” Cole said, holding his hand out. “I’ll go ahead and call a cab for us so it can be waiting when we arrive.”
Joss fished his phone out of the back pocket of his pants and tossed it to him. “We really need to get you one of those. It’s difficult enough getting hold of you when you’re not on duty.”
“That’s the whole point,” Cole replied, punching in the number. “Hey, Crystal,” he said into the phone. “Yeah, it’s me again. Can you have a cab waiting for us at the usual place? Right, we’re a good fifteen or so minutes away, maybe more now that traffic has picked up again. Just tell your man to park outside the apartment, if you wouldn’t mind. Thanks!”
Joss shook his head. “I think she’s starting to wonder.”
Cole handed the phone back to him and stretched comfortably, gazing out the passenger window. “I love it when it snows here,” he said softly. “It reminds me of home.”
“I hate it,” Joss grumbled. “Give me spring any day. Before long, summer will be here and it’ll be too hot to breathe.”
Cole kept his thoughts to himself and allowed Joss the silence he needed to make it home quickly and efficiently. Soon, they were pulling up into the driveway of the inspector’s apartment, a shabby but neat building that Cole had been a guest at several times since he had joined the police force. The cab he had called for was waiting for them with the motor, and probably the meter, running. Joss parked his car; then they both rushed out to jump in the back of the waiting vehicle. The driver didn’t so much as comment, pulling out into the street without a backward glance at them.
They reached Bowling Green Park a little bit later. Cole already had his money out and passed it up to the driver before hopping out.
“Keep the change,” he said, slamming the door shut behind him.
“I’m surprised you can afford to keep doing this,” Joss remarked as they wandered through the entrance together.
“I just have to pay for food,” Cole reminded him. “The sithen provides me with everything else.”
Cole laughed as they came up to the fountain. The jets had been turned off due to the weather, yet the water inside the basin had yet to freeze. People surely found this strange but were too busy with their own lives to investigate the cause. Cole snapped his fingers, then waited as the entrance to the world below rose up in front of them. As the doorway formed from the water’s surface, Cole brought his arms around the inspector’s waist and squeezed.
“Whenever you are ready,” he whispered into the mortal’s ear.
The first time they had gone through this door together, there had been an uneven flight of stairs leading down into a dark corridor. The sithen had been under Naryssa’s control back then, but after Cole had defeated her with Joss’s help, he’d taken up living in it. Naryssa had escaped, and now her home was his to do with as he pleased. Cole had gotten rid of those blasted steps first.
There was only a step or two down now. Joss went through first and removed his shoes at the landing. Cole came in next and waited as the door slid shut, sealing them off from the mortal world.
“Everything okay?” he asked.
“Fine,” Joss replied nonchalantly. “No strange visions or unusual colors. I had worse side effects from walking into my roommate’s dorm in college.”
“I simply wanted to be sure.” Cole had brought Joss here several times already, and each time, they’d stopped before going too far in to check and make sure the sithen wasn’t playing tricks with Joss’s mind. Legends spoke of the Faerie mounds giving mortals the odd turn now and again.
The ceiling was high, held in place ostensibly by a long row of columns that had tree roots wrapped around them. Halfway down the stone path was a stone fountain, the water of which splashed merrily, welcoming them home. Cole could hear laughter coming from it and waved at the pixies playing there as he walked past. They had once lived in a storm drain in Central Park, but after he had moved into the sithen, Cole had invited them along.
Above the fountain were two ghostly figures. The bean sidhe who guarded the entrance had taken to avoiding their posts whenever Cole brought Joss home. Cole suspected they were jealous and knew what he would do to them if they tried anything on Joss.
“Welcome home, Master Colewyn,” a voice said.
Cole looked to the source as a short man with a balding head materialized. “That way,” Mal, the ghost and operator of the sithen, said, gesturing. “Right through the door. I’ve already gotten your bed ready, and the bathroom water is nice and hot.”
“Thanks, Mal,” Joss said as they entered the double doors he’d been pointing to. “He’s really taken to this whole ‘butler’ role, hasn’t he?”
“I think he finds the role amusing,” Cole replied. The sithen had already changed itself around, as per Mal’s instructions, to take them directly to Cole’s private chamber. It was just down the smaller hallway now and to the left.
“That makes me worry,” said Joss in a grave voice as they entered the expansive room. “If what you told me is true, why would the ghost of a former sorcerer condemned for practicing black magic find being a butler amusing?”
“He was trapped in a book for centuries,” Cole pointed out, directing them both to the bathroom. “Mal is probably relieved to be out and doing anything now.”
The sithen, with Mal’s help, had constructed a spacious room for Cole that was decorated in brown paneling with cobblestone floors covered by thick rugs. The bed was by far the largest piece of furniture in the room, but the cabinets, shelves, and desk were all massive and varnished a deep brown color to match the walls. It was the sort of room he’d always dreamed of having.
Off to the side was the bathroom. Cole entered first and began shucking his clothes as Joss came up behind him and did the same. As usual, Cole had worn all black while on patrol. His leather pants and long vest were far from regulation, but since Joss had insisted that Section Thirteen be a plainclothes operation, there was very little the higher-ups could do. Plus, as Cole himself had pointed out, a uniform would do very little to help him blend in.
Joss, unlike him, had dressed for freezing weather. His knee-length coat was the first thing to go, followed by the cream-colored button-down shirt. Cole was already naked now and stood there enjoying the view. Joss took a moment to slowly draw the undershirt over his head, knowing how much Cole liked to watch. His abs and chest came into view, covered in a natural rug of curly hair. Cole sighed, feeling a low moan rising up from his throat. He loved running his fingers through that carpet and did so at every chance. When Joss dropped his pants, the underwear came with them, and his shaft stood upright and rigid.
It was as big as a baby’s arm.
The head was leaking precum now, causing Cole’s mouth to water. Once Joss had stepped out of his clothes, Cole wasted no time in dragging both of them into the shower. The water kicked on immediately, and true to Mal’s word, it was at just the right temperature. Joss groaned as the three showerheads above them sent jets of steaming liquid onto his back, pounding the stress of the day out of him. Each head was shaped like a theater mask: one frowning, one grinning, and one trapped in between.
Cole seized Joss by his thick mane of wet blond hair and pulled him in close for a kiss that ended with their tongues dancing around one another. His own cock was stretched as far as it would go, almost to the point of pain, as their arms encircled each other. Cole could feel Joss’s hands all over him, and he moaned his pleasure down the mortal man’s throat.
Cole began kneading the knots out of Joss’s back as he nuzzled the man’s ear. “That feels so good,” Joss breathed, kissing Cole lightly on his shoulder. “Don’t stop, please.”
“Never,” Cole cooed. “Let go. I’ve got both of us now.”
Joss went silent for a moment as Cole continued to massage his back in time with the water. “That boy,” said Joss softly as Cole worked lower. “He couldn’t have been, what? Ten years old? Somebody baked him alive.”
“We’ll find them,” Cole assured him, not letting up. “And when we find them, we put a stop to it.”
“You make it sound simple,” Joss groaned, running his own hands up the slicked surface of Cole’s back. “It’s never that simple. Being a cop is anything but simple.”
“I’m not really a cop,” Cole reminded him. Seizing the man by the hair, he gently pulled until Joss’s eyes were facing his. “I am a sidhe warrior. You brought me into the NYPD, but at heart, I will always be who I was raised to be. No amount of paperwork or procedure will change that.”
“I shouldn’t let you say things like that,” Joss mumbled. Their foreheads pressed together under the jet stream. “We’re supposed to catch the bad guys, not execute them. But after what I heard those kids say….”
“One thing at a time,” Cole said, shushing him. “For now….”
Joss looked at Cole when he didn’t finish.
“I’m going to fuck you silly,” Cole whispered into his ear before spinning Joss around.
Joss brought his arms up to brace himself against the slippery wall of the shower as Cole reached his hand out. The sithen was always quick to respond, and this time was no exception. Before Cole’s hand could touch the wall to the right of Joss, it opened up a hidden compartment to reveal a small bottle of golden liquid.
“Last time, it was under the frowning shower head,” Cole noted, pouring some of the fey lubricant onto his fingers.
Joss merely grunted and steeled himself as two of Cole’s fingers were inserted into his ass. Cole quickly flexed and wiggled the tips as he felt them brush across Joss’s love nut. Joss’s cock jumped at the stimulation and began drooling. The rough and rugged male grunted as another finger joined the others. His asshole was opened slightly, but it was still tight and snug as Cole began to gently fuck his digits back and forth.
At the same time, he managed to dribble a little bit of the oil onto his other hand by tilting it slightly. It wasn’t easy, and he wound up with more than was needed, but the glass bottle didn’t slip out of his fingers once. Cole placed it back into the slot in the wall, snapped the cap back into place, and watched as it disappeared once more. Satisfied, he used the oil smeared all over his left hand to slick his cock up as Joss began moaning with pleasure.
“Here it comes,” he warned, pushing the head of his dick up against Joss’s entrance.
“Umph!” Joss grunted as the head popped past his sphincter. “Ohhh, yeah!”
“Get ready.” Cole braced himself, getting a nice grip on Joss’s hips as he drew back slightly, then drove himself forward hard. The head of his cock plowed into Joss’s innards, tearing a path that made the rough-and-tumble man moan.
“Fuck, yeah,” Joss breathed as the steam built up around them. “Fuck me, lover.”
“You want that?” Cole began to pick up speed as he slapped his hand across Joss’s ass cheek. “Your ass is as tight as I’ve had in a long time. It’s hotter inside of you than in this shower. I’m going to enjoy fucking the shit out of you.”
“Just shut up and fuck me!” Joss replied.
Cole was a sidhe warrior, and despite his svelte frame, he had the strength of ten muscled men on crack. It was very important for him not to forget how delicate Joss was by comparison. The mortal would not have liked hearing that, but of the two of them, Cole was actually the more durable. Yet the two had been on the move for days, tracking a killer who seemed even more elusive than the one they’d come up against a month ago. In that time, they’d barely had the chance to share a private conversation that didn’t involve the more unpleasant aspects of their work. As such, Cole found himself throwing aside some of his restrictions now. As Joss’s moans filled the steamy air surrounding them, Cole’s hips picked up speed, and he began to really pound into his man.
Joss tossed his head back and howled as his canal was savaged. Water from the showerhead splashed down into his face and mouth. Even then, he didn’t stop yelling for Cole to fuck him harder.
Cole was happy to oblige. As he kicked it into high gear, Cole felt his balls begin to draw up. Cum churned inside them, ready to unload down the dark tunnel of Joss’s ass any second. Joss’s own balls were already swollen and ready to burst. Cole grunted right along in time with his lover and steeled himself. Both of his arms snaked around Joss just below his hairy chest. As Cole was getting ready to bust, a voice rang out in his ears.
Cole gasped and leaped backward, drawing his dick out of Joss’s asshole as the air around them swam unexpectedly. Joss glanced back in confusion, still pulling at his dick as Cole leaped out of the shower in a panic.
“What happened?” he moaned. “Why did you stop?”
“Never mind that! Turn the water off and get your clothes!”
The sithen was already two steps ahead of him. The shower heads shut off immediately, and Cole suddenly found their clothes much closer than where they’d left them. Amidst the pile were their weapons, which to him was much more important. Cole could already feel the spell beginning to take hold of him.
“Hold on,” he ordered, snatching their things up off the floor and jumping back in with Joss. Joss, however, had gotten the wrong idea and seized his cock, jerking it back and forth.
“I didn’t mean that!”
Cole turned sideways next to Joss and felt his cock jerk hard as his balls were drained of their essence. Joss’s own cock was already exploding in the same direction. Something was pulling both men upward through what felt like a wet rubber tube as they shot their loads into clear space. A sense of displacement followed, and Detective Corhagen was abruptly standing in front of them with two separate loads dripping down his face.
Joss still had a few good shots left in him, it turned out. A whole rope of cum landed on Corhagen’s long coat, and another from Cole splattered across his tie. Corhagen’s eyes went wide from shock to disbelief as he took in the sight of both Cole and Inspector Vallimun standing together naked inside the summoning circle he’d drawn.
“Well,” said Cole, dripping wet. “This is a new twist.”