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~:: The Triad ::~

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He crept into the darkened apartment and silently moved down the shadowed hallway to the extra bedroom that served as a home office and computer room. The pale blue light from the side of his PC tower glowed across the top of the small desk in a corner of the small room. He sighed wearily and slid softly into the chair to wrap up his mission reports for the evening.

The skills from his former life included a keen sense of awareness and finely tuned hearing. A soft sound from the living room made his head jerk up from focus on the program that was opened on the screen. Without making a sound, he crept through the shadows to see who was stirring at this late hour.

Peering from shadows of the doorway that opened into the large room that served as a dining room and living room area, he saw his young bride sitting on the sofa with her feet poised on the edge of the coffee table as she deftly applied a coat of deep crimson polish to the gently rounded talons at the tip of each delicate toe. He smiled softly. He had expected her to be deep in slumber when he arrived home. For a few blissful moments, he stood transfixed by a beauty that was radiant even in the near dark of the living room. A pale light filtered in from doorway to the kitchen, augmented by a few softly glowing candles and a roaring fire in the fireplace. The flames played with the shadows that danced softly around the room and painted dark shades over her creamy skin.

As she daubed the last of the gleaming crimson, he moved from the shadows without a sound. She looked up and smiled.

"I didn't hear you come in," she said softly.

He just grinned. He knew the statement was purely rhetorical as she was well acquainted with his ability to move both invisibly and silently. "You look wonderful," he breathed heatedly.

She blushed. "I'm glad you're home. I want to talk."

He felt that twinge of uneasiness that any husband experiences when they hear that particular phrase. Trying to avoid wincing visibly, he dropped he gaze and turned his back towards her. "Would you like a glass of wine?" he called over his shoulder as he moved into the lighted kitchen.

"Sure," she purred.

She didn't sound upset - just determined, he reasoned to himself. Despite its catastrophic beginnings, their relationship was a very solid one. They had not yet experienced even so much as a mild disagreement, despite having lived together for nearly a year before getting married. Thoughts of possible topics for the 'talk' they were about to have turned his thoughts inward, tugging at twinges of guilt that made him flush with shame. He set his jaw as he poured the wine into two crystal goblets, wedding presents from Danitra - a friend of Sheken and her family.

Carrying the glasses in both hands and with the bottle tucked under his arm for reserve, he cautiously returned to the living room, where Sheken was curled up at one end of the small love-seat type sofa. She patted the luxuriant tapestry of the cushion next to her and gave him a 'come hither' gesture with both her fingers and her stunning blue eyes.

He tried to force a smile, but inwardly he wished for some way to avoid opening the Pandora's box that he feared this little conversation was about to burst asunder.

"Marcus," she began in a quavering voice, as she sipped daintily from her glass of wine, "I think we need to talk about what happened after the wedding."

"I told you I just wanted to forget it," he said with absolutely no force or malice in his tone. "We were all drinking..."

"That's just it, honey," she began. "We were drinking. But really, deep down... something I learned from Mom was that the alcohol doesn't make you do anything you don’t really want to do in the first place. It just removes your inhibitions so that you do things you secretly want to but think you shouldn't."

He gave her a pained look. "I am so sorry, honey. I know I told you she, umm…we had… been together before I met you. You knew that. I don't know how things got so out of control."

"Marcus," she said, her voice dropping to a trembling whisper, "remember the night you... we... escaped... and she hid us out in that secret room in that…what did she call it.. lair?"

His eyes dropped to the floor. He spent every conscious moment trying to erase those horrible memories of a time when he lived a very different life. "I... I try not to think about it, really..." his voice cracked.

"No, my love, it's not like that...I... mean... after we talked... and you told me about... your mo...uh...your past...and then we....we..."

"Oh, yeah," he murmured, feeling a sudden stirring in his loins as his mind involuntarily began to locate and playback that particular memory.

He looked at the mask of fear on her delicate features and softened his tone. "I'm sorry." He reached towards her and once again pulled her into his arms.

"I am the one who is sorry. I shouldn't have asked that. I had no right…"

"No," he answered her firmly. "Sheken, that is something that has been bottled up inside me since it happened. It has eaten my soul every single day of my life, eaten it until there was nothing left."

She hugged him tightly and cried.

"I needed to let that out. I should thank you." He stroked her hair gently and lifted her face to meet his own. Without so much as a thought, she closed her eyes and met his gaze by planting her satin lips on his own.

He moaned quietly as the tender kiss smoldered and flared into a deeper one. He felt himself falling backwards as she pulled him off balance to join her in lying prone on the bed. Well, if we are going to be found here, at least they will find us in a state of bliss. He chuckled morbidly at thought of Naimah and the doctor discovering them in flagrante delicto.

She reached out and put her hand on his thigh, bringing his thoughts back around to the present. It was the first time she’d made love to him and a memory that was both bitter and sweet at the same time.

His arousal was becoming plainly evident and she moved closer to wrap a leg over his lap as she took a deep draught of her wine.

"Remember when she came back? And we were..."

"Yeah...and she..."

Sheken nodded wordlessly. "I didn't mind her being there while we were making love," she blurted suddenly. "I mean...it felt really... natural."

Marcus looked at her with confusion muddling his expression.

"And after the wedding, when we all came back here..."

"I thought we agreed to just leave that in the past and not bring it up ever again?" he asked, his voice tinged with pain and regret. "I really didn't mean for it to happen and you have to believe me when I say I am sorry and it won't ever happen again." His jaw set in a firm mien of determination.

"But that's just it, Marcus," she whispered, tears forming on her thick lashes as her hand gripped his tightly. "What would you say if I told you I wanted it to happen again."

He had always thought the expression 'jaw dropping' was just that – a play on words, but as he felt gravity nearly wrench his mandible from its sockets he understood the phrase more completely than he had ever intended to. It took him long moment to recover his wits, and his voice, to answer her. "I...I don't know what to say, Sheken. Do you mean... you had it planned?"

"No, silly," she said, giving him a demure smile. "But when it happened, even though I had a lot to drink, I was still in my right mind. I wasn't totally drunk out of my head, so that I didn't realize what was going on. I knew. And I wanted it."

"You...wanted me to..."

"Yes. And I want it to happen again," she said shyly, as she swallowed hard and looked at him with questioning eyes.

He felt lightheaded all of a sudden, as the impact of her words hit him like a tank running headlong into a Rikti Chief Soldier. "You...I...but..."

She gave him a pleading look, one he knew he could not deny.

He swirled the wine, watching it coat the sides of the glass. Lifting the bottom high, he downed the contents in one deep swill. She sat anxiously watching him for some reaction.

Finally, after some moments had passed, he found his voice again. "Sheken, I don't know about this. What about us?"

"There will always be us, Marcus. I love you. Nothing will ever change that."

"Yeah, but..." He looked directly into her eyes, glittering in the flickering candlelight.

"Marcus, I thought you would be...excited... at the idea. I mean after..."

He winced. Again, she brought up memories of their recent ménage with the beautiful succubus, and on their own wedding night, no less. A wave of guilt washed so forcefully over him that he thought it would expel the wine he'd so recently quaffed.

"Look," she began, "what happened that night was... beautiful. Syn is a very special...person." She couldn't quite bring herself to call the succubus anything else. "She saved both of us, you know. I don't see why she can't just stay here with us, and... be a part of our family."

He looked at her in astonishment. "You want her to move in here? With us?"

She nodded. "I talked to her before the wedding. She is going to have to leave the Rogue Isles. She needs a place to go, and somewhere she will be safe."

He cocked an eyebrow. "Really? What's up?"

“She said something about an arbitrator.”

Marcus gave her a puzzled look. “Arbiter, maybe?”

“Yeah, that sounds right. Anyway, she said she’d crossed one and he was out to get her. Dallas, or something like that,” she murmured.

“Daos?” he asked with an edge of fear in his voice.

“I think she could have said Daos.” Sheken shrugged.

His eyes widened. “The arbiters are Recluse’s handpicked troops. They are a faction that operates as a direct extension of his authority. If an arbiter decides someone should die, they only need to say so, and it will happen. And Daos is Recluse’s top man as far as the Arbiters go.”

Sheken looked at him in shock. “What does that mean?”

He grimaced painfully. “It means if she has defied him, her life will be in danger.”

She winced. “Marcus, we have to help her.” Her voice was low and edged with a tone of desperation.

He gave her a helpless look. “How?”

“She can stay with us. She doesn’t need to go back there.”

He blinked slowly and looked away. “I don’t know…I’m just not sure that is a good idea. Don’t you think that would be strain on our relationship?”

“Why would it?” she said in a tone of astonishment.

Marcus gave her a puzzled look. “Let me get this straight… you want her to be just a roommate? Or you want her to actually… like…be involved with us?”

“Roommate is okay,” she answered hesitantly. “But really, I think I love her. Does that make you upset?”

Marcus felt his breath catch in his chest. “As in…you’re…bisexual?”

“I guess…I guess… I am,” she admitted, her voice barely a whisper. “I just know that I love her and I think she’s beautiful. I’m sorry, does it upset you? I am just being honest about my feelings.” She looked down at the floor.

He reached out and pulled her into his arms, smoothing her silken tresses with a gentle hand. “Oh, baby, no. I am not upset. I mean, I don’t feel threatened by your feelings for her. But what about me?”

“You?” She met his eyes. “Oh, Marcus. I love you more than anything. Nothing will ever change that.”

“That’s not exactly what I was getting at… I mean… what about me… and her? What about my feelings about her? You know we were together before. I mean…not together, like a couple or anything. I just…she… well…uh….”

“I know, Marcus. She told me,” she whispered, putting a delicate finger against his lips to hush his stammering voice. “It’s okay. Really. You don’t think you can love both of us?”

“You don’t think you’d get jealous eventually? Or maybe she would?”

“I don’t think she’s capable of being jealous. And I know I won’t be. Look…Mom had a lot of…relationships….while I was growing up. Keres never got jealous, really. He just always wanted her to be happy.” She gave him a small shake of her head, causing her auburn tresses to fall over her eyes. “I can’t imagine being that…free…like Mom was, with my affections. But I can understand how you can love more than just one person.”

“How many, then?” he asked, with a tinge of apprehension in his voice.

“I don’t know,” she murmured.”I know I love you. I know I want to be with you for the rest of my life.”

“What if you meet someone else that you love, too? Do we just keep bringing more and more people into our relationship?”

She looked at the floor for a moment. With one finger, she reached out to one of the small votives and dipped a tiny circle of molten wax on the tip of her nail. As she idly rolled it between thumb and forefinger she spoke quietly: “I don’t know what the future holds.”

“Sheken,” he said softly as he put a gentle hand on her chin and lifted her gaze to meet his eyes, “I don’t want anything to come between us. I found a love with you that turned my whole life around. It saved me from myself. I don’t ever want to lose that. Not for anything.”

She gave him a sad smile. “I know. I don’t want to lose you either. But I don’t think we have to lose anything.”

He looked at her helplessly, not knowing what to say. “Can we sleep on this and see how we feel in the morning?” she suggested, with a delicate yawn.

He nodded and leaned over to place his mouth over hers, pressing her back against the cushions in a torrid embrace. “I love you,” he breathed heatedly.

“I love you, Marcus,” she murmured in a soft voice that was muffled against the ardor of his kisses.

She awoke in the morning in a tangle of bed sheets. He was already up, and judging from the delicate aromas of coffee, cinnamon and bacon, he was making breakfast. She smiled. He liked to surprise her with breakfast in bed for no particular reason. She closed her eyes and let herself doze lightly, knowing he was hoping she’d sleep until he was ready to surprise her with the tray of freshly made food.

She wasn’t quite all the way asleep when he quietly snuck through the door and gently sat the tray on the edge of the bed. He leaned forward to kiss her on the forehead. “Wake up, darling,” he whispered huskily. Her eyes fluttered open and she smiled.

“Oh Marcus, you are so wonderful, thank you!” She sat up and arranged herself comfortably among the tangle of sheets and pillows.

He placed the tray over her lap and eased himself onto the bed beside her. She smiled with delight at his thoughtfulness as she looked from the proffered breakfast up at him. An overwhelming feeling of love flowed between them, stopping time momentarily as they locked gazes and reveled in the deep emotion that passed between them.

Picking up a spoon, he scooped up a bit of omelet and raised it to her lips. She parted them to allow him to place the bite on her tongue without ever taking her eyes from his. “I love you, Marcus,” she said with conviction.

“I love you, too, Sheken,” he replied, “more than I have ever loved anyone or anything in my life.”

She picked up the warm cinnamon roll and tore off a small bit of it. The icing was still melted and trickled down her finger. She lifted the morsel to his mouth. He smiled and took in the bite, and half her finger as well. He gently sucked the icing from her digit with a grin.

“Mmmm….” She purred.

“First, you eat,” he commanded in a mock-stern tone.

The gentle tones of the intercom alerted them to an interruption in their pleasant morning routine. He jumped up and moved to the living room to answer it. “Yes?”

“Marcus?” That soft silky voice could only belong to one person.

“Hey, Syndi, I just made Sheken breakfast,” he answered, pushing the button to allow her entry.

“Did I come at a bad time?”

“Nah,” he replied. “Come on up.”

A few moments later she was at the door. She looked like any other normal young woman, in a tight skirt, form-fitting knit top, boots and a long dark coat. Marcus motioned her to step inside.

“Coffee?” he offered.

“Mmm. Thanks,” she purred.

He poured her a steaming mug then excused himself to return to Sheken. His young wife had her breakfast half eaten. “It’s Syn,” he told her. She motioned him to bring the succubus to her without pausing the mastication of the bite she was savoring.

“Back here, Syn,” he called from the doorway.

The beautiful brunette followed the sound of his voice and appeared at the door to the bedroom. Sheken patted the bed beside her. Syn sat gingerly on the edge of the bed sipping her coffee.

“Is everything alright?” Sheken asked her.

“For the most part,” the demoness answered her as she shook back her dark locks. “I returned to Cap au Diable last night, to check on Meg and Alexandra.”

“Oh?” Marcus raised an eyebrow.

“Aria was there, and confirmed that I am indeed marked for destruction for failing to obey Arbiter Daos’ order to betray Ghost Widow.”

“Syn!” Sheken grabbed the little succubus by the hand. “You can’t go back there! What if they catch you?”

The brunette sighed softly. “Well, I did manage to give everything I wanted to keep to Megan. I funneled some… funds...from the Betrothed coffers to a secret account. She will use them to ship things to me, a little at a time, so no one will suspect anything. Aria planted some erroneous information concerning my whereabouts to throw them off track,” she added with a grin.

“What are you going to do?” Sheken asked, hesitantly. She shot Marcus a pleading gaze.

“I am not sure,” Syn began hesitantly. “I turned the reins of the Betrothed over to Aria, at least until Maritus finds his way back from the Zig.” She chuckled at the thought of the doctor incarcerated in Paragon City’s massive penitentiary. “I could return to the Realms, but there I would face the wrath of Xandaros for my part in Naimah’s undoing.”

Sheken shook her head emphatically and looked to her husband, a desperate plea in her gaze that he knew he could not refuse.

“Syn,” he began hesitantly, “what if you were to stay in Paragon City?”

She gave him a surprised look as she sat the nearly empty mug on the nightstand. “I don’t really have a way to survive,” she began. “I don’t have a job, and currency from the Rogue Isles isn’t any good here."

“Yes,” he explained, “but what if you stayed here, with us?”

She gave him a fearful look as a hot flush of shame crept over her visage. “Marcus, I appreciate what you are trying to do, but no. I can’t. I fear I may have already caused enough… strain in your new marriage… and for that I apologize to both of you.”

“There is no need to apologize, Syn,” Sheken asserted forcefully. “You haven’t done anything to strain our relationship. In fact, if anything, you’ve strengthened it.”

The dark-haired beauty gave her a truly puzzled look. In answer, the young redhead lifted her breakfast tray aside, and turned to embrace the startled succubus, gently planting her soft lips over Syn’s gaping expression of surprise.

“I have been giving this a lot of thought, since our wedding night,” she murmured softly into the heat of Syn’s silken mouth. “I love you. We want you to be part of our lives, Syndi. Is that so wrong?”

The shock of her words made the little succubus freeze in hesitation. Caught totally off guard, she was unsure of what to say, so she remained silent as she passively melted into the arms of the young redhead.

Marcus stood transfixed at the sight of the two beautiful females locked in their embrace. A maelstrom of emotion swirled through him, ranging from unabashed arousal to fear of somehow destroying the perfect marriage he’d found with his new bride.

As if she read his mind, Sheken raised her eyes to give him a come-hither smile without ever taking her mouth away from Syn’s satin lips. She raised delicately taloned hand, her crimson nails beckoning him towards them. Patting the bed on the other side of her, she urged him to join them.

His heart was pounding in his chest. A very instinctual part of him was overwhelmed with desire yet the logical part of his brain was screaming in protest. What if things don’t work out the way we hope? Will I end up losing her? His breath caught in his throat and tightened his chest.

Sheken sensed his fearful hesitation and broke away from the kiss to turn her attention to him. Syndi was reeling from the shock of the young girl’s startling revelation as well as the sobering sensual assault on her senses. As she sank back onto the pillows, Sheken reached out and grabbed her husband by the hand, pulling him towards them. “Do you trust me, Marcus?” she whispered hoarsely.

“Of course I do,” he answered.

“Our love is never going to change,” she said, tears forming in her eyes. “I love you now just as much as the first moment I realized that I loved you. But I love Syndi, too. And I think you do too, in a way.”

His face flushed, “I am just not….”

“Shhh…” she soothed, putting a delicate finger against his lips to stifle his protest. “First just listen to what I have to say, please.”

He nodded mutely.

“Maybe you don’t think of it as love, right now. But there is no denying that you have feelings for her. You have a connection that began long before you met me.” Again his face burned crimson but she continued, “No, Marcus, don’t look like that. There is nothing to be ashamed of.”

He opened his mouth as he grabbed both her hands in his and pulled her to him. “Yes there is! I should have been able to control myself.”

Syn’s face paled as shame flushed her own cheeks. Not missing that detail, Sheken sat back and addressed both of them.

“Look,” she said, in a matter-of-fact tone, “what happened wasn’t something awful. It was beautiful. We all shared it, and I think we all enjoyed it. Why all the guilt?”

Marcus looked at her, and then at Syn, and then back at her. “I guess, maybe, because…well…because I feel like I have betrayed you.”

“As do I,” Syn chimed in mournfully, as tears misted her eyes.

Sheken shook her head. “No! No! No! Where was there betrayal? I was RIGHT THERE! Nobody lied to me. Nobody went behind my back! That isn’t betrayal. Come on, we are all consenting adults here. Why is loving each other so wrong? Who says you can only ever love one person at a time?” She realized her voice was raising in pitch and volume and drew in a deep breath as if to calm herself. “Syn, do you care about Marcus?”

Syn’s eyes opened wide. “Of course,” she answered firmly, then paused, “as a friend cares for a good friend.”

“But at one time, you were intimate with him,” she pressed. “Doesn’t that mean something to you?”

Syn lowered her gaze. “I have tried to… forget about it. I…have…”

“Syn! Why?”

Syn raised her eyes with a look of shock, “Because he has fallen in love with you. Out of respect for you, I have controlled my….” Her voice trailed as she realized she was about to affirm her feelings for Marcus. “I see where you are going with this,” she said quietly.

“Okay,” the redhead continued excitedly, “but what if it didn’t matter. I mean, what if I weren’t in the picture?”

Syn gave her a small smile, “Well, if it weren’t for you, I wouldn’t be worried about controlling my feelings. I just care about you and never want to hurt you in any way.”

“You aren’t. I don’t mind sharing Marcus with you. I love you and I think we can both love him. And I think,” she stole a sidelong glance at Marcus, “that whether he realizes it or not yet, he loves both of us – maybe just in different ways.”

Marcus gave a small silent nod.

“So, again,” Sheken pressed, “will you come live with us?”

Syn looked nervously back and forth between them. In Sheken’s crystal blue eyes she saw pure love and acceptance. Marcus looked unsure, but he nodded his head and repeated, “Will you?”

“Can I think about it?” Syn asked hesitantly.

“Sure,” Sheken answered with a smile. “But don’t be surprised if I try to influence your decision,” she gave the beautiful succubus a wicked smile.

Syn returned her smile as Sheken reached for Marcus and pulled him between them. He settled back as Syn subconsciously moved slightly away. Sheken gave her a stern look and shook her head, crooking a finger to urge her to come closer.

Syn blushed and nestled in closer. Sheken looked at Marcus and he lifted each arm, wrapping one around each female.

“Syn, have you had breakfast?” Sheken asked.

“Actually, no. I was a bit worried and hadn’t felt like eating this morning. Just coffee.”

Sheken shook her head. “Stay right here,” she commanded in a voice that let the succubus know there would be no winning an argument on the subject. “Marcus,” she purred, as she slid from the bed and headed for the kitchen, “Why don’t you give Syn one of those back rubs like you give me after a rough day of work?” She winked and darted from the room out to the kitchen, where the sound of pots and pans clattering verified that she was making breakfast for Syn.

Marcus and Syn exchanged an uncomfortable look for a few moments before he broke the ice by joking, “I suppose I better be giving you a backrub by the time she gets back in here. You don’t want to see what happens when I disobey her,” he said with a wink.

Syn smiled. She turned to sit off the edge of the bed, presenting her back to him.

“Umm…”

“What?”

“That isn’t the kind of backrub she is referring to,” he said. “You’ll have to lay down on the bed on your stomach.” She shot him a panicked look over one shoulder.

Just then, Sheken reappeared in the doorway. “How would you like your eggs?” she asked.

“Whatever’s easiest for you,” Syn said. “I’m not picky.”

“Marcus, you aren’t rubbing her back,” she teased. Sensing their tension, she moved the side of the bed, and dropped to her knees, running a soft hand up the inside of Syn’s thigh to find the top of the zipper to her left boot. Slowly, she unzipped the boot and pulled it off, laying it aside. She repeated the procedure with the right boot. “Lay back,” she commanded gently. Syn complied without protest. As she lay back on the bed, the young redhead reached down and tugged at the zipper at the side of her skirt. Syn’s eyes widened but she made no move to protest. With one hand, Sheken pulled the sheet up to Syn’s waist. Reaching beneath the sheet, she pulled the skirt down slowly as Syn raised her hips to facilitate the removal. Then she put her hands on the brunette’s trim waist, peeling the top upwards to expose a silky lace camisole. “Roll over,” she urged gently. Syn nodded and rolled onto her stomach, scooping the pillows out of the way with one arm. Sheken gently tugged at the camisole, working it up and gently over Syn’s shoulders and head, and laid it on the dresser. “Okay, Marcus,” she purred. “She’s ready. Make it a really good one. She’s very tense.” She smiled and once again disappeared in the direction of the kitchen.

Marcus obediently took his place beside the succubus, who involuntarily flinched as his warm hands began to roam over her smooth flesh. Lightly at first, he made soft circles on her upper back. Slowly and gently he increased the pressure as she began to relax.

She sighed deeply as his skilled hands worked the worry and tension out of her taut flesh. When Sheken finally returned with an omelet, a bowl of fresh melon, a cinnamon roll, and a fresh steaming mug of coffee, the succubus was so relaxed she was nearly asleep.

Sheken sat the tray down on the bed as Marcus gently lifted himself out of the way. Carefully Syn rolled over and eyed the fare. “Wow. You went to a lot of trouble.”

“Not at all,” she beamed. “I hope you enjoy it.”

Marcus smiled as he looked at the face of his beloved. She returned his smile with a warm loving gaze. “Your turn,” she ordered. She propped Syn up with pillows and situated the tray on her lap, then moved Marcus to the other side of the king size bed, sliding his robe off his shoulders. As the succubus nibbled on her breakfast, Sheken massaged her beloved husband until he too began to melt into a state of relaxation.

“We can turn the guest room into your bedroom,” Sheken said quietly to Syn. “And if someone does need to stay over, they can sleep on the futon in the office.”

“How often does that happen,” Marcus said wryly. “Your brother slept over once, after we all ran that nearly never-ending task force together.”

Sheken nodded. “True,” she said. “And he slept on the couch because he fell asleep while he was still protesting that he should be going home,” she laughed. “I should have just called Mom to have her teleport him home, but I figured he’d get more sleep if he didn’t have to play twenty questions with her and have her fuss at him for going with us.”

Marcus chuckled. He knew his mother-in-law all too well and knew that his wife’s assessment of the situation was dead-on accurate. Even Syn giggled lightly at the thought of Dawl lecturing her fully grown son on the hazards of undertaking such a monumental job. The three of them slipped into a state of relaxed camaraderie as Syndi finished her breakfast and Marcus dozed lightly as Sheken ran her silken hands over his strong shoulders.

Once Syn had finished eating, Sheken picked up the tray, and took it to the kitchen. Syn started to follow her but she shook her head adamantly. “Back in bed,” she ordered with a grin. With a soft smile, the little succubus complied.

Marcus began to snore softly. Syn giggled quietly in amusement as Sheken returned from the kitchen to gently ease herself onto the bed. She snuggled up to Marcus and motioned for Syn to do the same. Hesitantly, the luscious brunette moved close. As she nestled against his warm body, she could feel a stirring deep within her being. Sheken sensed it and reached across her husband to lightly stroke Syn’s shoulder.

His eyes fluttered open to find himself surrounded on both sides by warm female flesh. Sheken met his eyes and smiled. “Everyone’s had breakfast. Now what about dessert?” she grinned wickedly.

When the trio finally awakened it was well past noon. They were nestled together in a tangle of bedclothes. Syn’s eyes fluttered open as she oriented herself to her surroundings. Sheken had her arm over Marcus but her hand was gently tucked in Syn’s generous cleavage. Marcus had one leg flung over Syn and an arm around Sheken, whose head was resting on his chest. Not such a bad way to wake up, Syn thought to herself.

Marcus woke with a start as he looked at the clock. “Gaaaahh. I had an appointment at eleven-thirty to meet with an informant and pick up some information on this job I’ve been working on.”

Sheken sat up groggily and tried to shake off the cobwebs of sleep. “What are you going to do?” she asked.

Syn smiled broadly. “Get dressed, Marcus,” she commanded. He gave her a puzzled look but moved to the edge of the bed and rose to shower and retrieve his clothes. Sheken gave a soft whistle at the sight of his bare back retreating towards the bathroom. Syn chuckled.

She stood up and raising her hands, morphed into her demon form. She pulled her wings tight against her back and beckoned Marcus a few minutes later when he exited the bathroom clad in his dark outfit and cape. With a soft hiss, she disappeared.

Suddenly, Sheken and Marcus found themselves back in bed, however Marcus was still fully dressed. Looking at the clock, he noticed it was only ten-thirty.

Syn was standing next to the bed, a cloud of swirling darkness receding around her feet.

“How….?” Marcus gave her a confused look.

Syn smiled. “I merely moved out of …what you know as ‘time’, re-entered at an earlier point, and then pulled the two of you to join me.”

Marcus blinked. “Wow. Thanks,” he nodded.

“We can’t do this often, mind you,” Syn admonished. “Your form isn’t designed for the continual shifting.”

He didn’t fully understand what she meant, but nodded anyway. “I need to get going,” he said, kissing his bride.

Sheken motioned towards Syn. Marcus raised an eyebrow. “She needs a kiss, too,” she said playfully. Marcus smiled and kissed the brunette lightly. She blushed hotly as Sheken laughed softly.

Once he’d gone, Sheken beckoned to Syn, “Our turn to shower,” she said brightly. “You want to go first, or you want to share the shower?”

Syn blushed. “Sheken, I need to talk to you, now that Marcus is gone.”

Sheken nodded. “Share it is,” she said, as she slipped out from under the sheet and headed for the bathroom. Syn followed her. “So what is it you want to talk about?”

“Sheken, you know I care deeply for both of you. You also know that Marcus and I share a…certain…past…together – one of which I am not very proud. Has he told you about how we met?”

Sheken nodded. “He explained that you were the one who convinced him to join the doctor’s organization.”

“The Betrothed,” Syn murmured. “Convinced is a rather polite way of saying ‘seduced’, but then that was my job. Maritus used me just as he used Marcus, and anyone else he could get his hooks into.” She sighed deeply.

“Did he control you, too?”

“No. He can’t. Humans really have no idea how our minds work. He thought he did. And as long as I kept him believing that, it made it easier for me to undermine him at every opportunity.”

“So that’s how you were able to save us?”

Syn nodded gravely.” I was so…angry. Angry at him, and Naimah. Azazela was my friend.” Her voice grew an edge of rage.

Sheken reached out to pull her close. “I know. We were all hurt by what happened. Even Marcus, though he didn’t realize it at the time.”

“I know,” Syn breathed softly. “Sheken, I just don’t want to come between the two of you.”

“What makes you think you will?”

“I don’t know. But what if it happens? What if you get jealous? What if Marcus gets jealous of us? Human emotions can be very unpredictable at times.”

Sheken drew a deep breath as she hugged the petite brunette. “One thing I learned from my mom is that jealousy is destructive. I am not jealous of Marcus. Not in the least. And I don’t think he’s going to be jealous over me being with you. I’d say we will be sharing you but that sounds too…too much like you are an object or a possession. But you know what I mean, right?”

Syn nodded. “I just don’t want to cause any problems in your relationship. Promise me this. If I do, you will let me leave quietly, without trying to change my mind.”

Sheken nodded. “Fair enough.”

“I respect what you have with Marcus. And you are his first love. Nothing will ever change that. I want to make sure he knows that you should be his top priority, no matter what.”

Sheken pursed her lips. “Maybe. At first. But I think after we’ve been together long enough, you will be just as important to him as I am, and vice versa. I believe we are all intelligent enough to work out any problems or differences that might come up. We already know we all care deeply for each other. And it isn’t just the sex. It’s a genuine love and concern for each others’ well being.” “Maybe you’re right,” Syn agreed softly. “I just feel a little uncomfortable at times.”

“And you probably will. I think it’s the same as when you first start dating anyone. It’s like that newness where you are trying to figure out what they expect from you, and trying to show your best side to make a good first impression.”

Syn chuckled quietly. “I guess maybe you are right. I don’t know about the whole human dating ritual. I have never really dated. My reasons for becoming involved with humans always had… darker motives.” A sudden pall of sadness came over her visage. “Sheken, I am not even sure I can manage a relationship with you. Both of you. Either of you.”

Sheken released her and opened the shower door. Turning on the water, she held forth one hand to sample the temperature. As the water warmed, she mulled over the words of the little succubus.

“The relationship wouldn’t be normal, by most people’s standards, that is for sure,” she said, finally. “But then again, none of us are really normal, are we? My father is an angel, my mother is half demon and half human. You are a succubus who spends a good amount of time in a human form. Marcus is the most normal one, and even he has powers I don’t understand.”

“You can blame me for that,” Syn answered glumly. “Maritus ordered me to enhance the abilities Marcus already had so that he could better serve his evil purpose. I merely gave him the ability to alter the perception of all those around him so that he could move virtually unseen.”

“But now he uses it for good,” Sheken countered.

“Yes, that is true, I guess,” the brunette said softly. “I just felt somehow responsible for what happened to you when…” Her eyes misted as her voice faded.

“Syn, everything happens for a reason. You know, I will admit that when I realized where I was, I was scared. Crazy scared. Somehow, I knew this time he meant to harm me. I never thought he’d…he’d… “ She paused for a moment. “I did believe he was going to kill me,” she added finally.

“I am glad he couldn’t,” Syn answered.

“Me too,” Sheken said with a smile. She adjusted the water to a comfortable warmth, and stepped inside, beckoning to Syn to follow her. They shared the generous stream of droplets from the large shower head, taking turns soaping each other tenderly. There was no sexual undertone to their ministrations, just two people who loved each other sharing a quiet moment together. They lathered each others’ hair, and scrubbed each others’ backs. When they’d finished, they shared a large fluffy towel, drying each other with gentle caresses.

“What do you want to do today?” Sheken asked Syn, when both of them were dressed and applying their makeup in front of the dual mirrors over the sinks in the bathroom.

“I guess I need to call Meg,” Syn said, with a smile. “I need to let her know where she can send my things.”

Sheken grinned. “I am glad you decided to stay.”

Syn returned the smile. “I am glad too. You’ve made me feel very much at home. Thank you. Thank both of you.”

Sheken nodded “Now, let’s go shopping and find something to make for dinner before Marcus comes home.”

The deepening shades of twilight were gathering when the weary hero returned from his travels. He found both Sheken and Syn blissfully asleep beside each other on the couch, snuggled beneath a small fuzzy throw. The television was silent, its screen a softly glowing black. He switched off the TV and the DVD player and tossed a larger throw over the sleeping pair with a warm smile.

They woke up to the smell of freshly baked rolls, and the savory aroma of freshly grilled steaks. Marcus waved a plate under Syndi’s nose. She sniffed. “Mmm,” she purred.

“It’s time for supper,” he said softly, as he bent down to kiss his bride. She gave him a look that prompted him to turn and plant a soft kiss on Syn’s lips as well.

“We were going to surprise you!” Sheken said with an air of disappointment in her voice.

“I guess we fell asleep watching that awful movie,” Syn laughed.

“Yeah,” Sheken replied glumly.

“It’s okay,” Marcus assured her. “I felt like grilling out tonight anyway. I put the chicken you were going to roast back in the freezer. I picked up these steaks down at that little Mexican grocer on the way home.”

“They smell wonderful,” she replied.

“Don’t just smell it, EAT it,” he admonished with a chuckle.

And eat they did. They enjoyed the steaks, some rolls and a salad, while Marcus regaled them with an account of his day.

“…and we ended up clear on the other side of Independence Port.”

Syn laughed. “I came in through there a few times,” she said quietly.

Marcus nodded. He knew hiring a rogue sub captain wasn’t too difficult. The war walls couldn’t stop those who were truly determined to make their way into Paragon City.

Sheken giggled. “I remember sneaking in there one time after working in King’s Row. A group of us wanted to go see if we could see Lusca. Somehow, Mom found out, and BOY was she MAD. I was staying back, just looking, but she still got all upset because she was worried. She says Lusca is very dangerous.”

“I’ve never taken on Lusca,” Marcus replied.

“And you’d better not, without me,” she answered with a grin.

“Trust me,” he nodded.

Syn laughed. “Do you suppose…” she began.

“What?” they answered in unison.

“Since I am going to be living here, do you think maybe I could get work, you know, as a… a… hero?”

Sheken shrugged. “I don’t see why not. Marcus did after he…” She stopped short of reminding him of his incarceration, but they all three knew the story. Marcus had been sentenced to six months in the local penitentiary for his role in kidnapping and assaulting Sheken. Once released, he was enrolled in a covert program that helped reformed ex-convicts escape their checkered pasts and start a fresh new life under a secret identity by working as heroes. They had even helped him get an apartment in Kings Row until he started working regularly enough to support himself.

“Can I just… apply… for the security identification or whatever it is you have to register for? Won’t they want to know my past? Will they even accept me, being a demon?” Sheken gave her a wry look. “Please. Mom’s half demon. Aunt Az was nearly fully demon, though she didn’t’ realize it at the time she became a hero. You should have no problems.”

Marcus piped up. “I still keep in contact with Suzy, my caseworker from the program. She was a huge help to me in getting a new life started. I could ask her if she has any advice for someone who hasn’t been incarcerated. Maybe she can give us some advice.”

Sheken smiled. “I am sure we can figure something out. It is nothing to worry about, Syn. You are safe here with us, and there is no immediate need to rush right out and get a job today.”

“I just feel like a leech,” Syn said. “With both of you cooking and cleaning and serving me my meals…I just want to do something to contribute.”

Sheken nodded. “We can split the chores, if you want something to do.”

“I have a better idea,” Syn said firmly. “Since I am not contributing to the upkeep around here yet, I say I do ALL the chores, until I can get a job and help out financially.”

Sheken looked at Marcus hesitantly. He realized the little succubus was feeling embarrassed over being the object of their charity. “Fair enough,” he said. “But don’t expect us to treat you like Cinderella,” he added with a laugh.

She smiled. A strangely warm feeling came over her suddenly as she realized she now had something she’d never had since her creation in the pits of darkness. She had a family. They were people who were concerned about her happiness and welfare. She began to cry.

Sheken put her arms around her. “What’s wrong?”

“I..I… just….realized…” she sobbed. “No one… has ever …cared… about me before. I was just there… to be used…to be summoned and commanded… to serve my masters. I… am…I’m… free now. And you both care for me. I’m so … overwhelmed by it all.”

Even though he had no empathic blood in his veins, Marcus joined his wife in feeling the acute pain that tore through the demoness as she pondered her past as a servile being.

“You know,” he said softly, “I always liked you. You were never like the others. Not like Naimah, or the doctor – not like any of them.”

“I think that is why you were different, Marcus,” she whispered almost reverently. “I never made any kind of emotional connection with the humans that I….that used me. Then…there was you. I know it was wrong to have seduced you into joining the Betrothed. I am so sorry. But I really… felt something… when I was with you.” She looked up at Sheken for any sign that the conversation was invoking jealously. Instead she saw nothing but love and acceptance in the redhead’s teary blue eyes.

“You belong with us, Syn,” she said warmly. “You made a connection with Marcus long ago, and now you and I are very close. You were already a part of our family even though none of us realized it.”

“I don’t know how to thank both of you,” the succubus murmured softly.

The trio lapsed into silence as the shared a moment of quiet unity. Marcus was the first to break the spell of quiet by moving slowly to sit on the other side of the Syn on the loveseat. As the trio huddled together, he reached a hand up to gently stroke the little succubus on the cheek. “I’m sorry for the things you’ve endured in the past. I can’t change them, but I can do my best to help give you a better future.” She nodded as she daubed at her tearstained eyes. Sheken remained thoughtfully quiet but the look on her face gave away the intense thinking which was going on behind her silence. “Marcus, what would you think about having another ceremony?”

“Ceremony?” He shot her a completely baffled look.

“Like a wedding. Only this time, with both of us.”

“Both of us?” he echoed.

“Well, both me, and Syn. With you. You know, the three of us.”

“We can’t do that,” he countered. “It’s illegal.”

“It’s illegal if you do it officially,” she countered. “I mean a private ceremony, with just us three.”

“Are you planning on binding me?” Syn quipped.

Marcus laughed at her dark humor. “Not in the way demons are traditionally bound,” he retorted. “We could do that. Kind of like the three of us saying vows, to each other, you mean?”

Sheken nodded.

“Syn?” he asked hesitantly, “would you like to…err… take some kind of ceremonial vow to form a commitment with us?”

“Like being married? Demons cannot marry, you know.”

He nodded. “It’s not exactly marriage. But whatever you are comfortable with.”

She smiled softly. “But I am all for it, as I want to promise my love and loyalty to both of you.”

She realized she’d just invoked the L word, as her eyes widened in surprise.

“And I will promise you the same,” Sheken said as she reached for Syn’s hand.

“As will I,” Marcus intoned, reaching out to clasp both of their hands in his own.

“I guess this is it,” Sheken smiled. “We are all bound to each other now!” She gently pulled her hand from the mix and stood. “And now for a toast.” She pulled a bottle of champagne from the fridge, handed it to Marcus and pulled three champagne flutes from the china cabinet.

As Marcus filled the flutes, the girls stood and approached him. They stood on either side of him, holding their glasses high. As the glasses clinked, Syn spoke up, “I’ve never felt so loved and accepted. One such as myself would never dare to even dream of a moment like this. I vow to be the best partner I can be to both of you.”

Sheken smiled, downing a large gulp of the champagne, “And I vow to love and care for you, and to love and care for Marcus. May we all grow together as a cohesive family.”

Marcus blushed lightly and added, “And I vow to protect, cherish and care for both of you, and to love both of you from the bottom of my heart.”

As they clinked glasses, Sheken added, “And this means we need another wedding night,” as she gave the succubus a lusty smile. Turning to Marcus, she added “I hope you aren’t too tired. We are going to take you places you’ve never been.”

Marcus grinned from ear to ear. Nothing in life is guaranteed and no one knows what the future would bring, but in this moment everything was perfect and he was one of the luckiest men alive.

She topped off all three glasses and raised her glass high, “To the Triad, three who are one.”