Payson felt a knot in his stomach all night. He could barely function since the revelation that Riley wasn’t completely his. He had never thought about having to share someone he loved before, but he certainly hadn’t thought about sharing them with someone older and more experienced.
Spike was all the things that threatened his friendship with his best friend. He was older, confident, sexy, smart and it seemed obvious that he had a lot of experience with relationships.
How could he compete with that?
What frightened him more than anything else, was the thought that Riley would like Spike more than he liked him. That he would be a better friend, a better boyfriend, more considerate, funnier, smarter, more powerful. What if he couldn’t be Riley’s best friend any more, and he was relegated to his second best boyfriend? Just who was he without Riley? He had changed so much since meeting him that he didn’t think he could live a life where they weren’t together all the time.
“Well, I’m beat. I’m going to bed.” Sheldon explained, stretching obscenely as he sat on the sofa. As soon as Payson caught his eye, he nodded to the dormitories discretely and then got up. “Night everyone.” He called cheerily, before disappearing from the common room.
For a fleeting moment Payson wondered, and prayed he was wrong, if Sheldon had been hitting on him. Then he realised the odd looks he’d been giving him all day and the few times he’d spotted him standing whispering with Riley. He wondered if he wanted to help them. If so, he wasn’t sure there was a way.
Payson decided to see what was going on, so he followed Sheldon to bed, not even bothering to say anything to his friends. When he got into the dormitory, however, he found the twin with the least tact packing up his wardrobe into the duffel bag that had been under his bed.
“What are you doing?” He asked, rushing over to stop him.
“You need to move into your new room.” He told him, in no uncertain circumstances. Payson froze, wondering how he knew that. Then he realised that Riley would have explained everything over dinner. “We all know what’s going on. Everyone else is just too afraid to say anything. But whatever reason you have for avoiding Riley is stupid; you’re putting your entire friendship at risk. Now go to your new room, apologise even if it’s not your fault, and make up with your best friend and soul mate.” Sheldon demanded, as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
“Why not?” He sounded exasperated.
“Because I’m not his only soul mate.” Payson argued, getting angry with him. He wasn’t sure what gave him the right to dig into his private business, but it wasn’t on. He wasn’t going to stand there and be dictated to, by someone who didn’t know the whole story. And sure enough, Sheldon froze and sat down on the bed in surprise. “He went to talk to Linny, and found Spike instead. He stopped to talk to him, but his Banshee realised before Riley could, and his system overloaded.” He briefly explained the most painful part of his day. “Spike is his soul mate, as well. We both are.”
“And you’re angry why?” Sheldon asked.
Payson couldn’t help but stare at his friend. He didn’t know what he meant by that tone, that said it shouldn’t be a big deal and he was making a mountain out of a mole hill. So he explained what should have seemed obvious. “I don’t want to share him.” He admitted.
“I very much doubt Spike wants to share him either.” Sheldon argued, sounding angrier than he thought he had the right to. “And I doubt Riley wants to share either of you with the other one, but he doesn’t have a choice. Soul mates are not something to take lightly, Payson. Either you’re in this for the long haul or you’re a crappy soul mate.” He said, raising a challenging eyebrow at him. The accusation stung almost as much as finding out Riley had a second soul mate.
“Do you have any idea how lucky you are? Riley is an awesome person. From what he says of Spike, he’s also an awesome person. Not one of them are selfish, egotistical idiots who will be more interested in power than love.” He told him, getting angrier with each word he said.
Payson took a step back and sat down, unconsciously, on Riley’s empty bed. His side of the room was entirely empty now and it hurt. But not any more than Sheldon’s words.
“The rest of us out there in the world have no way of knowing if we’re with the right person. We can get hurt, be cheated on, accidentally hurt someone else. And we will never know if we’re with our soul mate. We can only guess.” He claimed heatedly.
“But you!” He snapped, getting up and jabbing a finger into his shoulder as he towered over him. “Riley’s a Banshee so you can know without a doubt that he’ll be faithful. He will never cheat on you, he will never so much as look at another person. You don’t have to wonder what he’s thinking because he’ll tell you. You know that he’s in love with you, for who you are, and nothing else will matter to him. How can you turn your back on that?” Sheldon asked in a shout. He started pacing, worrying Payson that he had struck a nerve without meaning to. He just couldn’t understand where all this came from.
“You will never find anyone who will love you and be as faithful and loyal to you as Riley will. That’s even without his Banshee instincts. How can you bond with him and then be without him?” He asked, actually sounding in pain.
Payson watched him curiously, before giving in to his instincts. He used his gift to read his mind and saw that Sheldon was jealous of his relationship with Riley. He wanted love and to feel whole, to not be so lonely. He saw Lane and Felicity getting close, him and Riley, even Estelle and Nathan beginning to notice each other and he felt excluded. Payson was shocked to find that Sheldon wanted to be in love. He would give anything for someone to care for him as Riley cared for him.
“You expect me to share him with someone else? How does having two soul mates fit into your theory that he’ll always be faithful and loyal? Because he won’t. He can’t.” He objected, trying to argue his side of the story because Sheldon wasn’t getting the real issue. “With two soul mates, he’ll be cheating on me all the time! Just because he’s doing it with Spike, who is his other soul mate, doesn’t mean squat.” They were shouting at each other now, although he had never wanted that. He just couldn’t seem to get through to him.
“It means everything!” Sheldon bellowed back. “Don’t you get it? Spike isn’t just Riley’s second soul mate, he’s yours!” He huffed, before running his hands through his hair and sitting down again.
“What?” Payson blinked and tried to make sense of that statement.
“You’re as much Spike’s soul mate as you are Riley’s. And he’s as much yours as Spike’s. The three of you are intermingled. You’re not one person with two soul mates, you are three people, each with two soul mates. You have Spike and Riley. Spike has you and Riley. And Riley has you and Spike. Deal with it!” He insisted, the anger fizzling out of him as he sat on the bed, shaking his head. He gave his partially packed bag a shove that sent it onto the floor, clothes spilling out of it. “If you’re willing to lose everything because you’re a self-centred prick, be my guest. Just remember that you won’t be the only one to suffer for it.” He sighed.
Payson watched in dismay as Sheldon got up and left the room, slamming the door behind him. Since no-one else was sleeping, he guessed there was no point complaining about it. He looked down at his things, sprawled across the floor and took a deep breath before gathering them up again. He unpacked and slotted his bag back under his bed, only to wonder.
What was Riley doing at that moment?
He spent ten minutes trying to read on his bed, before the question began burning in his brain. He wasn’t going to rest until he knew. He got up, slipped on his slippers and left the dormitory for the room at the end of the hall. He thought about knocking, but then dismissed the idea. He quietly turned the handle and opened the door slowly, so that no-one would know he was there. Then he ventured inside and looked around at the incredible, homey room.
He would have liked to stay in there; it was exactly the kind of open, light space he liked. Spike and Riley were sleeping in separate beds on the left side of the room. Spike’s back was to him, as was Riley’s, but he could clearly hear that one of them was crying. His instincts told him it was Riley; he knew his voice too well by now not to recognise it.
“Please let me go get Payson.” Spike asked, as if he’d said it a thousand times.
“No.” Riley sniffed, a movement under the covers suggesting that he was wiping his nose.
Payson wanted to go to him, but he was frozen in place. Clearly his boyfriend didn’t want him.
“What he’s doing is wrong. I won’t give him the satisfaction of knowing it hurts.” He explained, breaking his heart all over again.
Did he really think his intention was to hurt him? It couldn’t be further from the truth, but he wasn’t going to sit by and get hurt by him either. He didn’t want Spike anywhere near their relationship, never mind a part of it.
“Please, Riley.” He begged again. There was a long moment of silence. Then he let out a sigh and threw back the covers. Payson pressed close against the wall so that he wouldn’t be seen; he wasn’t sure what his plan was just yet.
Spike crossed to Riley’s bed and pulled back the covers so he could climb in, wearing only a pair of boxer shorts. His jealous raged again, but he couldn’t do anything about it. To make things worse, the moment he was in Riley’s bed, placing his hand on his arm, Riley turned over and began sobbing into his chest.
He’d seen enough. Spike began stroking Riley’s hair, holding and rocking him to soothe his tears. Riley held on so tight that Payson was surprised the Selkie wasn’t complaining about it. He quietly left the room and headed back to the dormitory, where the twins were getting ready for bed. He didn’t say anything as he walked over and climbed into bed.
“Well, what did you see?” Sheldon asked gruffly. He let out a sigh and decided to tell the truth.
“He doesn’t need me. Not with Spike there.” He replied.
“Coward.” He muttered under his breath. Payson could still hear him. “Did you even talk to him?” He asked, persisting with his case.
“No. I didn’t have to. Riley was crying…Spike took care of it.” He shrugged it off, trying not to let on that it affected him. He heard something being smacked down hard, and then something hit his bed. He looked over the top of his covers to see one of Sheldon’s pillows on his arm. He met the gaze of his friend, from across the room, and noticed the hard stare glaring back at him.
“Bloody coward!” He shouted at him, before grabbing a small bag and disappearing into the adjoining bathroom.
“I’m sorry. I’m not sure what’s going on with him right now.” Lachlan apologised for his brother. Payson ignored it; he didn’t want an apology or need one.
“He’s jealous and lonely. He wants a soul mate.” He explained, since he figured Lachlan should know that about his brother. He deserved to know that much, even if he never planned to explain what they were arguing about.