Tag - Calvin Summers

THIRDS Thursday - 7/19/18

Prompt: Can we see Hobbs and Calvin’s hospital kiss from their point of view?

PART TWO

Calvin walked outside in time to hear Maddock groaning.

“What did you do?”

Dex shrugged. “Nothing.”

Maddock gave him a look that clearly said he knew better and wasn’t buying it.

“I bought a karaoke machine for the break room.”

“Oh hell no.” Maddock thrust a finger at him. “You’re taking it back.”

“But—”

“No. I’m putting my foot down on this.”

“But we were going to have a sing-off. Destructive Delta versus Beta Ambush.” Dex shook a fist at the air. “They’re so damn cocky. They think they can out air guitar me? We’ll see about that.”

“No, we won’t, because whatever’s going through your head right now isn’t happening. You want to do a sing-along—”

“Sing-off,” Dex corrected.

“That machine enters the building and it’s going back out via the nearest window. Be weird on your own time.” Maddock stormed off and Calvin stepped up to Dex, studying him.

“You didn’t really buy a karaoke machine for the break room, did you?”

“What?” Dex laughed. “Don’t be ridiculous. Of course I didn’t. This whole case has him on edge.”

Calvin gave it some thought when it occurred to him. “And you were taking some of the edge off.” That was actually really… smart. No one wanted the sarge to be on edge.

“When it seems like the world’s burning down around you, a little sense of normality can go a long way.” Dex took a seat on one of the plastic chairs outside Ethan’s room. “The sing-off is real though. I’m going to crush those Beta bastards. Can you sing?” He waved a hand in dismissal. “Don’t worry about it. We’ll still beat them. So, you and Hobbs.”

Calvin cleared his throat and took a seat, his face burning up. “What about us?”

“Dude, I walked in on you two sucking face like a couple of college kids, come on. Whatever you say stays between us. If you can trust me with your life, you can trust me with this. Something’s been up with you guys for months, and if you haven’t noticed, the team’s been worried.”

Calvin’s head shot up and he turned to Dex. “They don’t suspect anything, do they?” If anyone found out, who knew what they’d do. They couldn’t split them up, everyone knew that, including the sergeant, but they could take them off the team, move them into a different department. Okay, he needed to stop freaking out about this.

“Nah. Whatever they’re thinking, it’s nothing close to that, but if you don’t sort it out soon, Sloane’s going to get wind something’s wrong, and you don’t want him interrogating you. It’s not fun. So?”

Calvin had no idea what it was about Dex that made him feel like he could tell the guy anything. Which was weird considering what a gossip the guy was. Yet he knew Dex would never tell anyone about his relationship with Ethan.

“You know Hobbs and I grew up together. We both came from a rough neighborhood. No segregated schools, at least not officially. Inside was a different matter. There were more Humans than Therians. We got shit for being friends. On top of that, Hobbs got bullied for his mutism. Those assholes knew he couldn’t fight back. He was bigger than them, stronger, but he was so crippled by his anxiety, he didn’t stand a chance.

“I don’t think a day went by where I didn’t end up in the principal’s office for fighting, but I had to protect him. My mom wanted to put me in another school, one strictly Human, but I refused to leave Hobbs behind in that shithole to fend for himself. He needed me. I can count on one hand the number of times we weren’t together. By college, Hobbs had gotten better with his mutism and the anxiety. We shared an apartment. Man, it was so much fun. We did some pretty stupid shit,” Calvin said with a laugh. Then he thought about the night that changed everything, and his smile faded. He looked down at his fingers, lost in the memory. “Anyway, things were good. After college, we got recruited by the THIRDS and moved into a bigger apartment together. We figured there was no point in spending a load of money on rent when we could save that money and help get our families out of the ghettos they were living in.

“Everything was cool between us. We’d never been closer. Then last year, we had this big Fourth of July party at our apartment, and both of us got shitfaced. We hooked up with these guys, the four of us in Hobbs’s bedroom, and everything was fine until Hobbs started fucking this guy. He was blond, about my height and size. I bolted. I couldn’t be in the same room while he screwed that guy.”

Calvin remembered that day as if it were yesterday. The way he’d felt sick to his stomach when he’d seen Ethan’s hands all over that guy, when he’d kissed him, fucked him. It made him feel sick now just thinking about it.

“What did Hobbs do after you bolted?”

“He came after me. We had a huge fight, mostly because I was so pissed off at him and at myself. I didn’t know what the hell I was feeling. All I knew was that I couldn’t stand seeing him fuck another guy. It was selfish, I know. I told him I needed some space. You should have seen his face. It was like I’d stabbed him in the heart. For days I hid out in my room, making sure when I came out I didn’t bump into him. He was so damn patient and good. He’d make me sandwiches and leave them in the fridge for me.” Calvin’s eyes grew glassy and he gave a sniff. He’d hated himself at the time for making Ethan feel so shitty, but he couldn’t stop feeling what he did. He’d tried.

“He caught me one afternoon in the hall, and when he tried to apologize, as if he was the reason I was acting like such an asshole, I lost it. I told him I didn’t want him fucking anyone else because… of how I felt about him. I couldn’t say the words, mostly because until the explosion, I couldn’t say exactly what it was I felt. I told him somewhere along the way, things had changed. The way I felt about him changed. I thought I was going to lose my mind waiting for him to say something. In the end, he hugged me and said we’d work it out.” Calvin let out a heavy sigh. “He’s scared we’ll lose our friendship. I tried to tell him it would never happen. If things didn’t work out, I’d never stop being his best friend.”

“How’s he feel about what just happened?” Dex asked, nodding to the closed door beside him.

Calvin shrugged, a small smile coming onto his face. “He kissed me back. That’s a good sign, right?”

Dex threw an arm around Calvin and gave him a reassuring squeeze. “I think so. Give him time. It’s a lot to take in. I’m betting Hobbs isn’t the kind of guy crazy about change, especially when it concerns the possibility of losing his best friend.”

“Thanks, Dex. I’m gonna head back in, say good-bye. Maddock and Sloane agree he needs more time to recuperate. I’ll see you at HQ.”

“No problem, buddy.”

Calvin headed back inside, feeling better at having gotten all that off his chest. It was nice having someone to talk to about Ethan. It wasn’t like he could tell Seb, or Rafe. The war between those two was getting worse by the day, and at some point, something had to give. God, they were all such a fucking mess. He dropped down on to the chair pulled up to Ethan’s bed and watched him sleep. Sometimes he couldn’t believe they were here.

After years of struggling and fighting, they’d done it. They’d clawed their way out of the putrid hole the world had thrown them in, refusing to back down. It had left them scarred in more ways than one. Calvin absently stroked the back of his head, tears welling in his eyes. There’d been times when he’d considered giving up, because really, how much shit could the world pile on the back of one short ass scrawny kid? But then he’d look at Ethan, and he’d find the strength to keep going, because if he gave up, Ethan would fall with him. Calvin couldn’t have that. It would break his heart if Ethan didn’t feel the same, or decided he couldn’t take the risk, but Calvin would have to find a way to get over it, because not having Ethan in his life wasn’t an option. Only time would tell, and until then….

Calvin took Ethan’s hand in his. “I’ll always be here. Always. No matter what happens between us, I’ll never leave you, Ethan. I promise.”

Ethan let out a soft sigh, and Calvin lay his head down, and as he fell into a deep, dreamless sleep he could have sworn he heard Ethan murmur something and squeeze his hand. Maybe it was just his brain playing tricks on him, or maybe… just maybe, everything would turn out okay.


Copyright © 2014/2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Thursday - 7/12/18

Prompt: Can we see Hobbs and Calvin’s hospital kiss from their point of view?

PART ONE

Don’t lose your shit. Don’t lose your shit.

“I’m fine,” Ethan said quietly from where he sat, propped against several pillows on the Therian-sized hospital bed. Calvin could only shake his head in response as he paced the floor at the foot of Ethan’s bed. Fine? How could he sit there so calm, and tell Calvin he was fine? If Dex hadn’t disobeyed orders and gone back for Ethan….

“I could have been standing in the morgue right now,” Calvin hissed angrily. Maybe he should get some air. He’d been in this room since they’d allowed him in to see Ethan. It seemed like forever ago. When he’d come in, and he’d seen Ethan hooked up to all those machines, a tube stuck in his nose, IV in his arm… Calvin had taken advantage of the fact Ethan had been out, and no one else would be coming to disturb them, and he’d cried like he hadn’t all his life.

It wasn’t the first time either of them had been hurt on the job, but none of those instances had ever brought either of them as close to death as this.

“The whole time you were trapped in there, all I could think about was how the hell I was gonna tell your mom that you were….” Calvin shook his head, and pressed his lips together in an attempt to keep the tears at bay. “And then it hit me. I might actually lose you. Twenty-three years, Ethan. Did you know that? We’ve been together, side by side, nearly every single day for twenty-three years. Suddenly I was faced with the possibility that you wouldn’t be there anymore, and I couldn’t….”

“Cal….”

Calvin’s bottom lip trembled, and he rubbed his eyes. He sniffed, and blew out a steadying breath before straightening. He walked to the side of Ethan’s bed, and took hold of his hand, his heart pounding in his ears when Ethan smiled. He looked so sweet and confused. It was a huge risk, one Calvin couldn’t afford not to take. Not anymore.

“For a long time now, I kept it inside because I was afraid of messing things up between us, but then I almost lost you. I thought about how I might have never had the chance to tell you how I really felt about you, Ethan. I told you after that party how things had changed for me, and I still feel that way. You’ll always be my best friend, and I love you, but now… I want us to be more. I want to be the only guy you have in your bed. I want you.” Calvin gently took hold of Ethan’s face and kissed him. Ethan tensed beneath Calvin, no doubt caught off guard, and for a moment Calvin feared he’d screwed up, but then the most amazing thing happened.

Ethan returned his kiss.

Ethan didn’t just kiss Calvin back, his kissed Calvin with just as much desperation as Calvin felt, his fingers gripping Calvin’s arms, sending a tremor through Calvin’s body. He opened his mouth, allowing Ethan’s tongue inside to explore. They kissed like they’d been starved for each other, and Calvin’s heart beat so fast he was afraid he’d pass out right then.

“What the hell is going on in here?”

Oh shit! Calvin jerked back, his eyes wide and his face burning. When the hell had the sergeant and Dex come in the room? How long had they been there?

Dex spun around and threw a hand up. “It’s my fault, Sarge. I made him do it.”

“What?” Maddock looked from Dex to Calvin and Ethan and back, not looking convinced. Dex turned, his expression when he saw Calvin not boding well, especially when Calvin followed Dex’s gaze to Ethan who was just as wide-eyed, breathless, and red-faced as Calvin.

“Well, Hobbs was bitchin’ about his ouchies, so I said Calvin would kiss it and make it better. Calvin said no, so I said the only alternative was for me to reenact Romancing the Stone scene for scene while singing Billy Ocean’s “When the Going Gets Tough.” And wouldn’t you know it, Calvin puckered up. Absolutely no appreciation for the arts, these two.” Dex shook his head in shame and started singing softly. Sergeant Maddock didn’t hesitate. He shook his head and smacked Dex upside the head. “Ow!”

“Boy, what the hell’s wrong with you? The poor guy got blown up and you’re torturing him with your crappy-ass pop music?”

“Whoa, hey now. Don’t you insult Billy. Billy’s the man. But I understand what you’re saying. I need to work on my selections.” Dex thrust a finger at a startled looking Ethan and started singing “Eye of the Tiger.”

The guy was a nut. He was also trying to cover for Calvin and Ethan.

“No you don’t.” Maddock grabbed Dex by the collar and dragged him out of the room then the sergeant returned. He stopped by Ethan’s bed, his expression softening. “How are you feeling?”

Ethan nodded, and smiled.

“Good.” Maddock nodded. He was quiet for a moment before he gently patted Ethan’s shoulder. “You gave us quite the scare, son.”

Calvin stepped to one side to let the sarge talk to Ethan privately, and took the opportunity to text Dex.

Thank you.

Dex replied with a winking happy face, and Calvin smiled. That guy was such a dork. But the longer Calvin spent around him, the more he realized what a perfect fit for the team he was. Calvin had been skeptical at first, like everyone else, but the more resistance Dex met, the harder he fought, and Calvin had to admire that. It was the second time in only so many months that Dex had tried covering for him and Ethan. It was also the second time Dex had risked his life for them. First at Greenpoint where Calvin had gotten in over his head helping Ethan, and now when Dex went against orders, and dragged Ethan to safety.

Calvin wasn’t ashamed to admit that he didn’t understand why at first. He wondered if Dex had some kind of death wish, or if he was that desperate to impress Sloane, or his dad. It quickly became clear that it was just the kind of guy Dex was. He was the guy who ran into a burning building to save someone.

“You rest, and I’ll send someone to check on you later,” Maddock told Ethan before giving Calvin a nod then leaving the room. Calvin turned, smiling at the sight of Ethan trying to fight sleep. He walked over, and ran a hand over Ethan’s head.

“Just go to sleep and stop fighting so hard.” Ethan wrapped a hand around his wrist, his words almost a whisper when he spoke.

“Will you be here when I wake up?”

“I’ll be here as long as they let me.”

Ethan smiled softly, and Calvin couldn’t help but place a quick, sweet kiss to his lips. When he pulled back, Ethan was already asleep, a tender smile on his face. Calvin had no idea how Ethan felt about him, but he had to take their kiss as a sign right? He’d have to be patient, very patient. Change was difficult for Ethan, always had been, and no change was greater than whatever was happening to their relationship right now. After twenty-three years of being best friends, of things always being the same between them, Calvin couldn’t expect Ethan to suddenly change.

Calvin had admitted his feelings, and made the first move. The ball was in Ethan’s court now. The wait was going to be excruciating, but Calvin would be patient and supportive. First, he needed to find Dex.


PART TWO next week. Copyright © 2014/2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Thursday - 5/24/18

PromptHow does Ethan’s family react the first time he brings home this weird little human kid (Cal)? 


FINAL PART

Rafe headed for the kitchen, and Ethan looked at Calvin worriedly.

Calvin let out a snort. “Please. My mom’s not scared of anything. Come on.” They tiptoed over to the kitchen doorway, and peeked around the corner. Darla and Julia sat at the table drinking tea and laughing together. It made Calvin happy to see his mom like that. It seemed like all she ever did was work, and when she wasn’t working, she only ever thought about Calvin, never herself.

“Hi,” Rafe said, standing next to the table.

Darla and Julia looked up, Darla’s eyes going wide. “Hello.”

“Darla, this is my oldest son, Rafe. He works for the THIRDS.”

Darla smiled wide. “Oh, how wonderful! Has Calvin told you he wants to be a THIRDS agent?” She put a hand to her chest as she moved her attention to Julia. “It doesn’t surprise me. He’s always been such a brave boy, always wanting to help people, protect them. The moment he said he wanted to be a THIRDS agent, I knew he’d found his calling.”

“Ethan wants to be a THIRDS agent too,” Rafe grumbled.

“That’s perfect,” Darla said cheerfully. “They can help each other. It’s not an easy path by any means, but then I’m certain you know better than anyone, Rafe. With you and Seb to help guide them, they’ll be in good hands.”

Rafe stared at her. “Can I ask a blunt question?”

“Of course,” Darla replied. “If we’re all going to be friends, we should be honest and open with each other.”

“You really don’t have a problem with Ethan being a Therian? With us? Because you seem a little too relaxed about all this.”

Darla let out a heavy sigh. “I’m going to be very upfront with you.” She smiled sadly at Julia. “You have such a beautiful family, Julia. You’re very lucky. I’m Calvin’s only family. It’s been the two of us for a long time. When I hear a Human say Therians are monsters, I know they’re wrong, because I lived with a real monster.” Her eyes teared up, and Calvin wanted to go to her, but Ethan held on tight to his hand. He knew they shouldn’t eavesdrop, but he couldn’t help it.

“Oh, Darla, you don’t have to,” Julia assured her, placing her hand on Darla’s for comfort.

“It’s all right. I’d like your son to understand where I’m coming from. Calvin’s father was Human, but any man who would hurt his own child the way he did doesn’t deserve the title of father. I tried to protect Calvin as best I could, but I was forced to leave Calvin in his care when I ended up in the hospital one night. When I was released, and I saw my baby bruised and bloodied, I knew I would never let that man touch him again. I did what I had to and got Calvin far from him.”

“Do you need help? Where is he now?” Rafe asked, his hands balled into fists at his sides. “If he lays another hand on you or Calvin—”

“He’s dead. He was killed by the police after he robbed a gas station and took a clerk hostage.”

Julia gasped. “Does Calvin know?”

Darla nodded. She took the tissue Julia handed her with a “thank you”. “Like I said, I’m the only family Calvin has. We don’t keep secrets.” She smiled up at Rafe. “So you see, I know humanity isn’t exclusive to Humans. Who we are, our deeds, how we love, and the way we treat others? That’s what matters.”

Rafe swallowed hard. He nodded. “If you or Calvin ever need anything, you call us. I’ll give you my card, and you call me any time, okay?”

“Thank you.” Darla wiped the tears from her cheeks and let out a little laugh. “I’m sorry. Please excuse me for getting all emotional.”

“Nonsense.” Julia took Darla’s hands in hers. “You and Calvin aren’t alone anymore. You have the Hobbs family now.”

Darla started crying, and Calvin couldn’t help himself, he ran to his mom, and threw his arms around her.

“Don’t cry, mom.”

“It’s okay, baby. I’m just happy.” Darla wrapped her arms around him tight, and kissed the top of his head. “Whatever happens, you come to me, Julia, or one of Ethan’s brothers.”

“I promise,” Calvin said, moving away as Ethan came up beside him. Ethan stepped up to Darla and hugged her. Julia and Rafe looked surprised.

“Thank you,” Darla said, hugging Ethan. She pulled away, and cupped his cheek. “Thank you for finding us. I need you to be brave for Calvin. Can you do that?”

Ethan puffed up his chest and nodded. He took Calvin’s hand, his smile big before turning to Julia and patting his belly. Julia laughed.

“Yes, you and Calvin can have some milk and cookies.”

Ethan pointed behind him, and Julia nodded.

“Okay, you can have them in your room, but no crumbs on the bed. Go play. I’ll bring them over.”

They ran to the bedroom, and Ethan let go of Calvin’s hand to run over to the bottom bunk where Seb was on his side reading. Ethan jumped on him, and Seb laughed, grabbing him, and tickling him. Ethan laughed as he tried to fend Seb off.

“You think you can just launch an attack and not face the consequences?” Seb said.

Calvin sat to watch them. He’d always wished he had brothers or sisters. Julia said that he and his mom weren’t alone anymore. Maybe they’d all be a family. A real family. Calvin really hoped so. Hearing Ethan laugh made Calvin smile. He liked Ethan’s laugh. Seb looked over at Calvin, and arched an eyebrow at him.

“Oh, you think you’re walking away from this scot-free?”

Calvin’s eyes widened when Seb stood up. He scrambled to get up when Seb grabbed him, hauling him up under one arm with a playful growl. Calvin shrieked before breaking off into laughter. Seb turned and hauled Ethan up under the other arm, growling, and swinging them around.

“All right, I’m heading into work. You brats behave yourself. That includes you, Seb.” Rafe walked into the room, and Seb put them down. He scratched his jaw with his middle finger, but Calvin knew he was flipping Rafe off and trying to be sneaky about it. Rafe just rolled his eyes. Maybe Rafe was a jerk, but he looked so awesome in his THIRDS uniform. Ethan and Calvin ran over to him.

“So cool!” Calvin stared up at Rafe’s name tag. One day, he’d have a uniform just like Rafe’s and it would say “Summers” on it. As Rafe headed for the door, Calvin and Ethan followed him.

“How many Therians are at the THIRDS?” Calvin asked.

“Lots,” Rafe replied.

“What kind of Therians?”

“All kinds.”

“Are there any bigger than you?”

“Some.”

“Really? There's a Therian bigger than you? What kind?” Calvin couldn't imagine a Therian bigger than Rafe. “How tall are you?”

“I'm seven foot two. Bear Therians are bigger.”

“By how much?”

“A few inches taller maybe. Depends. They're wider though. More muscles.”

How was that even possible? Calvin and Ethan gaped at each other. “Have you seen a bear Therian?” he asked Ethan. Ethan shook his head.

Julia walked into the living room, and kissed Rafe’s cheek. “Be safe, baby.”

“Always.” Rafe kissed her cheek in return, and it looked like he smiled at Darla. Maybe. It was hard to tell with Rafe. “Nice to meet you, Darla. Remember what I said. If you need anything, you just call us.”

“Thank you, Rafe. Stay safe.”

“I will.” Rafe ruffled Ethan’s hair. “Be good for Mom, Squirt.”

Ethan nodded.

They watched Rafe walk out, and Calvin didn’t understand why Julia looked so worried. Rafe was a huge Therian, and a THIRDS agent. He was also all growly and scary. Who would mess with him?

“It’s so dangerous out there right now,” Julia told Darla. “I worry about him.”

“No matter how big they get, they’ll always be our babies,” Darla said warmly.

Julia turned to smile at them. “How about those cookies I promised?”

“Yay!” As Calvin and Ethan followed their moms into the kitchen, Calvin couldn’t remember ever being happier. He knew things wouldn’t be easy, but then he was used to it. Except now, it wasn’t just him and his mom. Calvin smiled at Ethan, and took hold of his hand. He knew it was going to be hard, and that lots of people wouldn’t want them to be friends, or understand why, but one day, he’d help them understand. Together, he and Ethan would get bigger and stronger, and become THIRDS agents, and help Humans and Therians be friends. Whatever happened, he would always look out for Ethan. Always.


Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Thursday - 5/17/18

PromptHow does Ethan’s family react the first time he brings home this weird little human kid (Cal)? 


PART THREE

Calvin ran up the stairs to the roof, and out the open door which was never locked. Up ahead, Ethan ran toward the low wall at the end of the roof. “Ethan, stop!”

Ethan climbed onto the edge, and Calvin shouted as loud as he could.

“You’re scaring me, you big jerk!”

Ethan turned to look at him with a frown. He sat down on the edge, legs swinging over the side. When Calvin skidded to a halt near the ledge, he punched Ethan in the arm, making him growl.

“Screw you! I was really scared!”

Ethan looked confused. He glanced over the edge, and he realized why Calvin had been so scared. His eyes widened, and he pointed to himself then down at the street before shaking his head.

“Well how was I supposed to know?” Calvin plopped down onto the ground and wrapped his arms around his drawn-up knees. He hated that he was crying and shaking. Ethan sat down next to him and tugged at his arm. “No. I’m mad at you. I thought you were going to do something stupid.” He shut his eyes tight, grunting when Ethan dragged him forward like he didn’t weigh anything. Calvin felt Ethan slide in behind him then his arms wrapped around Calvin, hugging him close.

“We’re best friends,” Calvin said with a sniff. “That means we’re together forever. You promised.”

Ethan squeezed him, and Calvin felt a little better. He was still super mad though. Stupid Ethan. Calvin didn’t want to lose his best friend. Ever. He didn’t know why he cared about Ethan so much. They’d only just met, but it didn’t feel like that. It felt like he’d always known Ethan.

“Ethan!” Seb came bursting through the roof door, Rafe on his heels. They spotted Calvin and Ethan, and ran over, dropping to their knees beside Ethan, one to each side of him.

“Are you both okay?” Seb asked. “What happened?”

Ethan rubbed his cheek against Calvin’s hair.

“Jesus, you scared the hell out of us. Don’t take off like that again. Please.”

“Cavin’s right,” Rafe said, his voice hoarse. “I was being an asshole. If you want to be a THIRDS agent, then… we’ll find a way to make it happen.”

Ethan buried his face against Calvin’s neck, and shook his head.

“Ethan, if you want to be a THIRDS agent, you can be,” Seb promised. “Just because something hasn’t been done before, doesn’t mean it’s not possible.”

Calvin pulled away enough to turn so he could take hold of Ethan’s face. “Hey, we’re both going to be THIRDS agents, you’ll see.”

Ethan put his hand to his throat.

“We’ll just have to be the best,” Calvin said brightly. “If we’re the best they’ll have to take us. We can be partners.” He looked up at Seb. “If we become the best then they’ll have to put us on a team, right?”

Seb ruffled Calvin’s hair. “Yeah, but you two need to understand that from this point on, life’s going to get even harder. Sometimes it’s going to feel like it’s just the two of you against the whole world, but never forget you have family who love you and are here to support you. Rafe and I, we’re working hard so things will be better out there. Hopefully things will be different by the time you guys get old enough to apply. Until then, just look out for each other, and remember, a good THIRDS agent doesn’t fight unless he has to.”

“Got it,” Calvin said, taking Ethan’s hand. “We’ll show’em.”

Ethan smiled, and nodded.

“Okay. Come on. Dinner’s ready.” Seb stood then helped them to their feet. “You want to be big strong THIRDS agents? That means eating all your dinner, including your vegetables.”

Ethan made a gagging sound, and Calvin groaned. Vegetables were gross.

“Especially you, short stack,” Rafe said.

“I might be short now, but when I’m all grown up I’m going to be big and buff.” He flexed his muscles and growled menacingly.

“Yeah, okay. Take it easy there, Rambo.”

“Whatever. Does that mean I have to do better at Math? I hate math.” Art class was more fun.

“Yep,” Seb replied with a chuckle. “But lucky for you, Ethan is great at math, and science. Chemistry especially.”

“Really?” Calvin asked Ethan, who smiled and nodded, giving two thumbs up. “Cool.”

Seb let out a bark of laughter. “Oh my God, I just realized it.”

“What?” Calvin asked. “What’s so funny?”

“Calvin and Hobbs.”

Rafe rolled his eyes. “You only just got that, genius?”

“Shut up. I was focused on more important things. That’s funny.”

“Yeah, I hope they think so too, because it’s going to follow them their entire lives.”

“I don’t understand,” Calvin said, looking from Seb to Rafe.

“It’s cute,” Seb told Rafe, elbowing him playfully. “Come on. It’s adorable.”

“See if they think it’s adorable when they’re thirty.”

Calvin and Ethan exchanged glances and shrugged. Grown-ups were weird. Downstairs, dinner was on the table, and it smelled so good! Calvin’s mom didn't get to cook much because of how tired she was when she got in from work, but when she did, it was Calvin’s favorite. Ethan’s mom made the best meatballs, and she let them have lots of cheese. After dinner they did their homework, and they were watching TV when the doorbell rang. Calvin jumped to his feet when Julia opened the door, and he saw his mom.

“Mom!” He ran to her and threw his arms around her, hugging her tight.

“Hi, baby.” She kissed the top of his head then smiled wide at Julia.

“Hi, I’m Darla Summers. Thank you so much for having Calvin over, and inviting him to dinner.”

“It's a pleasure, Darla. I’m Julia Hobbs. Calvin’s such a lovely boy.”

Ethan poked his head out from behind his mom, and Calvin took his hand, pulling him out.

“This is my mom. Mom, this is Ethan. We’re going to be best friends forever.”

Darla blinked at Ethan. “Oh. You didn’t mention Ethan was a Therian.”

Ethan squeezed Calvin’s hand, and Calvin smiled. “It’s okay, Ethan. My mom doesn’t care.”

Darla knelt in front of Calvin, and pulled him close. “Baby, you know this changes everything.”

Ethan made a worried sound, and pulled away from Calvin to hug mom, but Calvin wanted to know what his mother was talking about. Did she not want him to be friends with Ethan? She looked really worried.

“What do you mean?”

“It means, you two will have to be very careful. You’ll have to look out for each other. Take care of each other. There will be those who won’t understand. They’ll be angry and look to hurt you and Ethan. Promise me you’ll both be extra vigilante and very careful.”

Calvin nodded. “I promise.”

“Okay.” Darla looked over Calvin’s shoulder, and smiled warmly at Ethan. “Hi, Ethan. I’m Calvin’s mom, Darla. I’m so very happy to meet you. I know you and Cal will be great friends.”

Ethan’s eyes widened. He looked up at his mom, who for some weird reason had tears in her eyes, and she nodded. With a shy smile, Ethan stepped up to Darla, and waved.

“Hi, Ethan. It’s lovely to meet you. Thank you for looking out for Calvin.”

Ethan nodded.

“Ethan has selective mutism,” Julia explained quietly, running a hand over his head. She smiled at Darla. “Would you like a cup of tea, or coffee?”

“I would love some tea. Thank you.”

“Why don’t we go in the kitchen,” Julia said, “leave the boys to watch their cartoons. Maybe Calvin can come here after school, and you can pick him up when you get home.”

Calvin was so excited he was all but bouncing. “Can I, Mom? Please, please, please!”

Darla laughed, and ruffled his hair. “If it’s okay with Julia, and you promise to do all your homework.”

“I will. I’ll be super good.”

“Okay.” Darla and Julia headed for the kitchen, chatting, and both smiling.

Calvin hoped his mom and Julia became good friends. An idea struck him, and he turned to Ethan, whispering loudly.

“Our moms should be best friends!”

Ethan’s smile widened, and he nodded.

“This is going to be awesome!” Calvin grabbed Ethan’s hands, and they jumped up and down excitedly. Rafe walked into the living room, and dropped down onto the couch.

“What are you two so excited about?”

“My mom and your mom are going to be best friends.”

Rafe arched an eyebrow at him. “That so?”

“Yep. I told you my mom wouldn’t care,” Calvin said smugly. “She’s happy Ethan and I are best friends.”

“Easy when you’re faced with a tiny Therian like Ethan.”

Ethan was tiny? Maybe Rafe needed glasses.

“Let’s see how she does with a Therian who’s not so cute and cuddly.”


PART FOUR next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.


THIRDS Thursday - 5/10/18

PromptHow does Ethan’s family react the first time he brings home this weird little human kid (Cal)? 


PART TWO

“You want to maybe not block the whole doorway,” a low growly voice said before the huge tiger Therian was pushed into the room, a second even bigger tiger Therian stepping in behind him. The first one looked a lot like Ethan, with black hair and the same green eyes. The second guy had lighter hair, and the same eyes as Julia. He was way scary looking, especially when he narrowed his eyes at Calvin.

“Who’s the pipsqueak?”

Swallowing hard, Calvin hid behind Ethan. He knew he shouldn’t be scared of Therians, but they were so big!

“Boys, please,” Julia said. “You’re scaring Ethan’s new friend.”

Ethan took Calvin’s hand, and stood with him. He smiled warmly, and patted his chest before pointing to first one guy then the other.

“Oh! They’re you’re brothers. That makes sense.”

“Wait, you understand him?” The bigger of the two said, looking surprised.

“Well, yeah.” Calvin shrugged.

“How?”

Calvin peered at him. “I pay attention.”

The other brother laughed, the older grumbling something under his breath. Maybe Ethan didn’t say words, but he talked, so Calvin listened.

“Calvin,” Julia said softly. “That’s Sebastian. Sebastian, Calvin Summers.”

Sebastian smiled, and Calvin felt at ease right away. He looked a lot like Ethan, just older.

“Hi, Calvin. Call me Seb.” He held his hand out to Calvin who took it hesitantly.

“Hi.”

“And that’s Rafe,” Julia explained. “Ethan’s oldest brother.”

Calvin tilted his head up, his mouth dropping open. Rafe’s head almost touched the ceiling.

Rafe didn’t say anything or hold his hand out to Calvin for him to shake. Instead he frowned and looked at Julia. “Do his parents know he’s here?”

Julia cleared her throat. “Calvin’s mother is at work, but he’s going to let her know.”

Rafe shook his head, and let out a heavy sigh. “Mom—”

“It’s going to be just fine. According to Calvin, his mother says Therians are just like Humans and should be treated like equals.”

Rafe and Seb’s eyebrows shot up. Seb smiled warmly at Calvin.

“Is that so?”

Calvin nodded. “It’s true. My mom won’t care. She’ll be happy I have a best friend like Ethan.”

Rafe ran a hand through his hair. Why did he look so worried? Did he not believe Calvin? He turned to face Ethan who was looking sad again. Calvin took his hand.

“It’s true. I promise. You’ll see.”

“All right. Why don’t you boys wash up for dinner? Calvin, would you like to stay for dinner?”

Calvin’s stomach growled, and Ethan laughed.

“Yes, please.”

Julia walked over and kissed the top of Ethan’s head. “Why don’t you show your friend where the bathroom is.”

Ethan took Calvin’s hand, and led him down a short, narrow hallway. He pointed to the bathroom, and Calvin nodded.

“Where’s your dad?” Calvin asked, his heart hurting when Ethan’s eyes got watery, and he looked real sad. He pointed to a closed door then put his hands together and pressed them to his cheek. “He’s asleep?”

Ethan nodded. He made himself cough and then shook his head.

“He’s not well?”

Ethan shook his head again then sighed. He motioned to the bathroom, but Calvin told him to go first.

“I’m going to call my mom at work and tell her I’m here.”

Ethan nodded, and Calvin went to ask Julia if he could use the phone when he heard Rafe and Julia talking quietly inside the bedroom.

“Mom, you shouldn’t have let him stay. Ethan’s just going to get his heart broken again.”

“Maybe I can talk to Calvin’s mother, make her understand how much they need each other.”

“And how many times has that worked?”

“I have a feeling this time it’ll be different. You have to have faith, sweetheart.”

“Yeah, a whole lotta good that’s done us.”

“Rafe, baby, is something wrong? You’ve been so distant lately. Your father and I are worried.”

There was a pause before Rafe spoke up. “I’m fine. Just a rough day at work.” He let out another heavy sigh. “Talk to the kid’s mom. Let me know if you need anything.”

“I will. Thank you, baby.”

Calvin quickly ducked back into the hall, waiting for Rafe to leave the room. When he heard Rafe and Seb in the kitchen, Calvin walked to the bedroom. Julia sat on the bottom bunk, hugging a stuffed tiger toy. He hated that she looked sad.

“Mrs. Hobbs?”

She smiled warmly at him. “Hi, sweetheart.”

“Ethan’s washing up first. May I use your phone to call my mom?”

“Of course. It’s in the kitchen.”

“Oh.” Calvin worried his bottom lip with his teeth. That’s where Seb and Rafe were.

“Is everything okay?”

Calvin nodded, and smiled. “Yes. Thank you.” He headed for the kitchen, stopping just inside when Rafe and Seb stopped talking and turned to look at him. “Um, your mom said it was okay for me to use the phone to call my mom.”

“Sure.” Seb pointed to the counter on the other side and the black phone sitting on top on one corner. Calvin had to walk by Ethan’s brothers to get to it.

If he wanted to be best friends with Ethan, he couldn’t be scared of his brothers. Lifting his chin, he walked by when Rafe grabbed his arm. Calvin’s eyes went wide as Rafe turned him, and knelt in front of him so they were eye to eye.

“Why do you want to be friends with Ethan?”

“Jesus, Rafe, leave the kid alone,” Seb said with a groan.

Calvin narrowed his eyes at Rafe, his hands balled into fists at his sides. “Because I want to. I like him. He’s nice, and funny, and we both like comic books and cartoons.”

Rafe studied him. “The other kids aren’t going to like you being friends with a Therian.”

Calvin shrugged. “I don’t care.”

“They might try to beat you up.”

“I can fight,” Calvin growled. “If anyone tries to hurt Ethan, I’ll fight them too.”

Rafe blinked at him, and Seb cursed under his breath.

“Fighting isn’t the answer,” Seb said. Rafe let go of Calvin and stood to face his brother.

“Did you see Ethan? You think those little bastards who gang up on him care about talking things out? No. He’s different, so they hurt him. Ethan needs to protect himself. He’s bigger than them.”

“Exactly,” Seb hissed. “He can really hurt them, and he knows it.”

“Come on, bro. Ethan doesn’t fight back because he’s too scared to, not because he knows he’ll hurt them. You all baby him too much, and it’s going to get him in real trouble. What about when he’s older? Is that the kind of guy you want him to be? Someone who’s scared of his own shadow?”

“We’re going to be THIRDS agents,” Calvin said, arms crossed over his chest. “No one’s going to pick on Ethan then, and we’re going to protect people.”

Rafe and Seb stared at him.

“Did Ethan tell you he wanted to be a THIRDS agent?” Seb asked, looking worried.

“He can’t be a THIRDS agent,” Rafe snapped at Calvin.

Angry, Calvin snapped back. “He can too! You’ll see!”

“He can’t talk! How the hell is he supposed to be a THIRDS agent when he can’t talk? You need to stop getting his hopes up.”

“He can too be a THIRDS agent!”

“Listen here, kid. No way the THIRDS is going to put a mute on one of their teams.”

A gasp caught their attention, and they all turned to the door where Ethan stood, tears streaming down his face.

“Shit,” Rafe muttered when Calvin shoved him as hard as he could.

“You’re an asshole!” Calvin left Rafe and Seb arguing in the kitchen and ran after Ethan who ran out of the apartment. “Ethan, wait!” Ethan was much faster than he was, but he knew where Ethan was going.


Part Three next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

THIRDS Thursday - 5/3/18

Prompt: How does Ethan's family react the first time he brings home this weird little human kid (Cal)? 

PART ONE

“No way!” Calvin stared up at the apartment complex. “You live here?”

Ethan shrugged. He looked embarrassed, and Calvin knew why.

“Yeah, it’s a really shitty neighborhood.”

Ethan nodded, his cheeks going pink as he looked down at his sneakers.

“It kinda sucks less now though.”

Ethan tilted his head, his brows drawn together in question. This was so awesome. Calvin couldn’t help his huge smile. He pointed to the apartment complex next door.

“That’s where I live.”

Ethan’s eyes went wide, and then his face lit up. He pointed to Calvin then at the building, and Calvin nodded.

“Yep. We just moved into that roach motel.” He scrunched his nose, and Ethan nodded. He waved a hand over his nose, and Calvin laughed. “Yeah. The hallway smells like piss, but it’s worse at night.” He followed Ethan inside the building and toward the stairs. Now that he was in Ethan’s building, he felt kinda scared. “What if they don’t like me?”

Ethan stopped on the steps, and smiled at him. He shook his head. It didn’t help that Ethan still looked kind of a mess from earlier when Ruben and those jerks had pushed Ethan around. His clothes were all dirty, his jeans torn, and his lips split. What if Ethan’s family hated him because he was a Human? Just because Ethan’s mom was Human didn’t mean she’d like Calvin. The rest of the Hobbs family were tiger Therians.

Ethan grabbed Calvin’s wrist, and started running up the stairs, making Calvin laugh.

“Hey, slow down! Some of us have short legs!”

Ethan laughed, and Calvin smiled wide, his heart skipping a beat. He had a best friend. He’d always wanted one. What if Ethan’s brothers didn’t like him? What if they told Ethan he couldn’t be friends with Calvin? The thought made the back of his eyes sting. He’d just have to show them that he’d be a good friend to Ethan.

They reached the floor Ethan’s apartment was on, and Calvin was out of breath. Man, he couldn’t wait to grow up and be tall. Maybe then he could be fast enough to keep up with Ethan. If Ethan’s family didn’t kick him out, he’d call his mom to let her know where he was so she wouldn’t worry. She wouldn’t be home until nine anyway, but still. It was almost dinner time since they’d had to take the extra long way home. Stupid Ruben. His brother and friends had come to pick Ruben up at after school and Ruben had told his brother something about Ethan. They’d chased Calvin and Ethan for blocks. Man, he was tired.

Ethan opened the door, and Calvin followed him inside, putting his bag down beside Ethan’s. The apartment was a little bigger than the one he and his mom lived in, except here there were four Therians sharing the tiny space. If Ethan was this big at eleven, Calvin couldn’t even imagine how big his brothers were.

“Hi, baby. I’m so glad you’re home. I was getting worried.”

A pretty woman around his mom’s height with dark brown hair and hazel eyes walked out of the kitchen, her eyes tearing up when she saw Ethan. She hurried over, and dropped to one knee in front of him to cup his face.

“Ethan, are you hurt anywhere else?” She checked him over, her worry turning to anger. “Is it those boys again?” She shook her head, tears in her eyes. “How much worse does it have to get before that sorry excuse for a principal does something? That’s it. I’m asking Rafe to go in and speak to him.” She stood, and Ethan grabbed her hand, his eyes wide as he shook his head adamantly. “Ethan, Rafe’s a THIRDS agent now. If that man won’t listen to me, maybe—”

Ethan shook his head, pleading.

“We’ll discuss this with your father later.” She looked at Calvin and blinked, as if seeing him for the first time. “Oh, hello. I’m so sorry. I’m Julia Hobbs.” She held her hand out to Calvin, and he shook it.

“Calvin Summers,” he replied. “It’s nice to meet you, Mrs. Hobbs.”

Julia smiled brightly, and Calvin relaxed. She seemed really nice. “Are you a friend of Ethan’s?” she asked, looking to Ethan who nodded, his smile big.

“We’re best friends,” Calvin said cheerfully.

Her eyes grew glassy, and Calvin wondered if he said something wrong.

“Is that okay?”

Julia pressed her lips together, and nodded. “Of course, sweetheart. Hey, would you boys like some milk and chocolate chip cookies? Dinner won’t be ready for another hour. A couple of cookies wouldn’t hurt.” She winked at them, and they followed her excitedly into the kitchen. It was small, with a table and four chairs in one corner. Ethan sat on one side, and Calvin sat across from him. He thanked Julia for the glass of milk, and cookies. They were so good! They were homemade too.

Julia took a seat at the table with a cup of tea. She looked worried. “Calvin, do your parents know where you are?”

“My mom is at work. She won’t get home until nine. May I use your phone later to call her, so she won’t worry?”

“Of course you may. What about your other parent?”

Calvin worried his bottom lip with his teeth, and shrugged. “It’s just me and my mom.”

“And will your mother… be upset if she knows where you are?”

Calvin frowned. “Why would she be upset? She only gets upset if I’m not home when she gets home from work, since it’s late, or if she doesn’t know where I am. Stuff like that.”

“Does she know you and Ethan are best friends?”

Calvin shook his head. “We only became best friends today. She’s going to be really happy.”

Julia perked up. “Oh?”

Calvin nodded and took another bite of his cookie. “She’s a mom. She worries. It’s a new school.”

“And will your mom be okay that your new best friend is a Therian?”

Ethan stiffened, his brows drawn together, and his eyes watery. He pushed his chair back, and jumped down before running from the room. What the heck? Calvin jumped down, and ran after him.

“Ethan!”

Ethan ran into a room, and Calvin followed. There was a set of bunks beds on one side, and another bed on the other side of the room. Ethan threw himself on the bottom bunk, and covered his head with a pillow.

“What’s wrong?” Calvin asked as Ethan curled up on himself. He wouldn’t let go of the pillow when Calvin tried to pull it away.

Julia sat on the edge of the bed, her hand on the pillow where Ethan’s head was buried under. She looked so sad. Calvin looked up at her, not understanding.

“What did I say?”

“Calvin, honey, your mother might not want you to be friends with Ethan.”

Calvin frowned. “Why?”

“Well, because Ethan’s a Therian.”

Calvin stared at her. “Is that all?”

Ethan sat up, and smacked Calvin with the pillow.

“Ethan,” Julia scolded.

Ethan huffed, and crossed his arms over his chest. Was that really it? Wait. Was that why Ethan didn’t have any friends? Because the other kids’ parents didn’t want Ethan? The more he thought about it, the angrier he got.

“That’s stupid!” He marched angrily from one side of the room to the other. Really, he didn’t get very many marches in because the beds were so close together, but he was so stinking mad! “My mom doesn’t care. She says Therians are just like Humans and should be treated like equals.” He spun to face Ethan. “My mom is going to love Ethan. Just you watch.”

Julia smiled wide, and Ethan flew out of the bed, running into Calvin and knocking him over with a big oomph! They hit the floor, and Ethan hugged Calvin tight, making him laugh.

“You’re such a dork,” Calvin said, but he hugged Ethan tight.

“Mom?”

Ethan sat up, his smile huge.

“In here, Seb, darling.”

Calvin sat up, his eyes going huge at the tiger Therian that stepped into the doorway. Oh my Gosh.


Part two next week. Copyright © 2018 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS published by Dreamspinner Press.

#TeaserTuesday - 10/17/17 Tried & True

Hello, all! This week's #TeaserTuesday brings us a fun little snippet from Tried & True.

[Dex] grabbed the bowl of gummy bears and chucked one over at Calvin, intent on smacking him in the face with gummy goodness when Hobbs pulled a Matrix and snatched the little bear out of thin air. He tossed it up and caught it in his mouth.

He winked at Dex, and Dex peered at him. “Okay, hotshot. Think fast.” He threw one at Angel, and Hobbs caught it. Damn. Big guy got some moves. Dex narrowed his eyes. He whipped out a hand, the gummy zipping toward Rosa. Hobbs dove over three of their friends and caught it.

“Oh my God, my spleen,” Angel groaned. He glared at Hobbs. “Dude, have you forgotten you weigh a fuckton?”

Hobbs tossed the gummy bear into his mouth and waggled his eyebrows.

Calvin grinned at Dex. “Ten bucks says he can catch the next one no matter where you throw it from.”

Dex jumped to his feet. “You’re on, Summers.” They both removed ten dollars from their wallets and placed them on the table. “Who’s in on this?”

Everyone placed their bets, and Dex looked around the bar. “Okay.”

Hobbs stood, and Dex crossed the room, garnering the attention of several patrons. More heads turned, curious to see what crazy Dex was up to. He held a thumb up to Hobbs, who didn’t move from beside the table. Weird. Hobbs smiled and nodded, his hand going behind him. What was he up to?

Dex took a gummy bear from the bowl and tossed it high into the air. He stared stupefied as Hobbs snapped his wrist and one of Bradley’s aluminum plates streaked through the air, hit one pillar, flew across the room, hit another pillar, and then Hobbs dove forward, rolled, and popped up to snatch the plate out of thin air. Dex’s jaw hit the floor.

Hobbs winked at him, peeled the little bear off the plate, then popped it into his mouth. The bar went nuts cheering, and Hobbs bowed first in one direction, then another. Dex stopped in front of him.

“Dude, how the—” He gasped, then marched over to Calvin. “Ooh, you took me for a ride.”

Calvin counted his winnings, then gave half to Hobbs. “And what a sweet ride it was. You should have seen your face. Oh, wait, you can.” Calvin held his cell phone up to Dex, and Dex stared at the video of him and his comically stupefied expression.

“Hustlers, the both of you,” Dex grumbled.


Copyright © 2017 Charlie Cochet. THIRDS Published by Dreamspinner Press.

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