Leaving the Past Behind Ch. 25byPS_Lopez©
Chapter 25: Dorian
Eric was brooding again, like he had this morning. I glanced at him. He'd clasped his hands in his lap as though trying his very best to behave.
"What are you thinking about, Loverbory?"
He gasped. He'd been jumpy all day, probably as a result of our discussion this morning.
"Why are you doing this?" he half-whined. I mentally stuck on the "to me" he hadn't included.
"You said you couldn't leave me anyway," I reminded him.
I saw Eric nod in the corner of my eye.
"Relax, Eric," I said. I patted his knee briefly, between shifting gears.
"Why aren't you even trying to resist this?" he asked. That was better; he sounded more like himself.
"Because there's no point," I said. "Why are you resisting it?"
He didn't respond. I knew the answer. He was afraid. I sighed quietly, wishing I could convince him to leave his fear behind. He was clinging to it, only half-subconsciously, as though it could save him. He was afraid of making mistakes, of hurting me. It seemed that, in getting his story about what happened with Klaus from him, I'd gotten only the surface of his problems. It was as if he expected me to turn on him, as he had on Klaus, when I had no proper incentive to. He'd at least had a very good, very frightening reason to turn on Klaus and do what he did.
Yet, Eric wanted me to kick him out of my life for no reason whatsoever.
At least he'd cooperated today. I pulled into a parking spot at my apartment building and unlatched us both, as he seemed too distracted to realize we had arrived. I kissed his cheek as I did so, and he jumped a little, looking at me. I smiled at him.
I got out of the car, pressed the lock button down and closed the door. I waited until Eric got out of his side and shut the door. I opened the hatch and pulled out the suitcases he'd packed, set them down, and shut the hatch.
He picked up his suitcases and plodded towards my apartment as though he was on the road to Hell. I followed him, whirling my keys around my index finger. I quickened my pace and tugged the rubber band out of his braid and finger-combed his hair free one-handed. When I had finished, I tucked the rubber band into his left pocket and walked around him to get to my front door first, so he wouldn't have to wait.
I swung the door open and stepped inside, holding it until Eric passed. I shut and locked the door, then followed him to my room.
We hadn't made the bed before leaving this morning; Eric put his suitcases on it anyway. I opened the closet and handed him a hanger. For the next five or ten minutes, I passed him hangers, and he returned them to me dressed to be hung in the closet. After emptying the suitcases, he slammed them shut and brought them to the closet, and I tucked them away next to mine.
I closed the closet and caught Eric's arm before he got too far away. I turned him to face me.
"You're still very much surprised, aren't you?" I asked, tilting my head to the side.
"I think so," he said.
I pulled him into an embrace. "That's okay," I said. I kissed him. "I can be patient."
"You've already been much too patient with me," he said raising one hand a little and dropping it to his side again. He shifted from foot to foot.
"It's my pleasure to be patient with you."
He groaned and rolled his eyes. I chuckled. He opened his mouth.
"Uh-uh," I said, anticipating that he was going to say that he didn't deserve my patience. It was simply a variation on a theme that I'd become quite aware of.
He sighed, flailing the same hand as before. I kissed him again, sucking on his lower lip, then turned to get a pair of pajamas out of the drawer.
"Here," I said, pressing the pajamas into his chest. I held them there until he reached up to hold them himself. "I know you want to be comfortable. I'm going to go start on dinner. I expect you to pull a chair from my useless dining room to keep me company while I'm fixing it."
He sighed, but it wasn't a sigh of resignation. I wondered what he was thinking. He kissed me, on his own, for the first time today, pressing his tongue between my lips. I let it in and entwined mine with it. We separated, lips clinging. He shuddered; I could feel myself blushing.
"Five minutes," I told him, poking the pajamas, which he still held to his chest.
"Imp," he said, and gave me the first real smile I'd seen since last night. "Five minutes."
I pecked him on the lips and left him to change. I hummed into the kitchen, one of the songs from one of my CDs of Catholic liturgical music. I murmured words on and off, as I remembered them, while starting on supper.
Eric walked in, and I nodded, pleased to see he was walking like normal. He passed through the kitchen and I heard him dragging a chair in from the dining room. I'm sure it left marks on the linoleum floor, but I didn't care.
"Okay, I'm here to keep you company," he announced after the scraping and the thud of all four feet of the chair landing on the floor.
"Excellent," I said. I already had the chicken cooking in the wok and tossed in the veggies.
"You making stir-fry?" he asked.
"Yes, indeedy," I said, humming as I added some more soy sauce to the mix. Excellent. I stirred the lot.
"Smells good," he said.
"Yes, Loverboy?" I asked.
"I do that sometimes," I said. I had a quiet little plan for later. Another surprise for him, this time with a little gift that Mom had passed on to me, along with her stunning looks. I didn't invoke it very often, because I could get it from Mom, and I rarely needed it for myself, but I thought that Eric might appreciate it, even as it would surprise him. And I knew he'd notice it, because it was so contrary to my usual demeanor.
"What are you humming?" he asked.
"Liturgical music," I said.
I set two plates on the counter and scooped out stir-fry onto each of them. "Music that is played and sung during Catholic Church services. We can listen to some, if you want to later. I'd like to introduce you to it."
I took glasses from the cupboard and set them next to the plates. I frowned at the level of the lemonade, but emptied the pitcher into the glasses.
"I don't know," Eric said.
"That's fine." It would have helped with my little invocation, but humming the music and prayer worked just as well.
I set the pitcher in the sink, running water into it so it wouldn't dry out sticky while I put silverware on the plates.
"Come get your food, Eric," I said, turning off the water.
He came over and picked up a plate and glass, then just stood there. I giggled, turned him by his shoulders, and nudged his rear with my knee. He chuckled and toddled himself out into the living room. I shook my head and grabbed my food and lemonade, following him.
He'd dropped into his customary place at the end of the sofa; I sat down next to him and pulled my legs up like usual, making sure my knee was on his thigh. I set my glass next to his.
"You always do that," he said, referring to my knee on his thigh.
"Mm-hmm," I said nodding as I chewed my first mouthful of food.
He sighed. It was his "I know why you do that," sigh. I smiled a little. We ate in silence; I fidgeted, letting more of my rampant energy go in an effort to prepare for the invocation. He finished his food before me and set his plate on the table.
"That was good," he said.
"Thank you, Loverboy."
I stabbed the last pea pod and munched it, swallowing as I put my plate on the coffee table as well. I pushed against Eric's back. "Up you go. I've got a little surprise for you."
He got up. I stretched out on the sofa.
"Come on. Lay down on top of me."
He did so carefully, wincing a little, I suppose at the sore muscle in his back. I wrapped my legs around his, locking my ankles, and folded his arms up around my head, embracing him loosely. I sighed and wiggled a little until I felt comfortable.
"Now be still and patient. It's been a long time since I've done this," I murmured.
His head, resting on my shoulder, shifted as he nodded.
I relaxed my body. How Mom could sustain this all the time, I didn't know. Maybe she could because of her deep faith.
I let my eyes half-close and hummed the tune of a Gregorian Chant. This was a bit of a trance I sought; I had to trance a bit to find the peace within me and bring it out. It came faster than I thought it would.
I felt Eric sigh. "You're very still," he murmured.
I didn't respond; I couldn't interrupt myself yet; the peace hadn't quite arrived yet. When it did, I went utterly limp. This limpness was part of the reason why I couldn't understand how Mom could sustain this peace all day every day. Maybe the relaxation went away, if the peace was invoked often enough.
Eric sighed again, this one deeper. I ceased humming and sighed as well.
"Wait," Eric said, raising his head. He looked at me. "How'd you do that?"
I smirked. "A little bit of a trance."
"I feel peaceful, like with your mom."
I nodded lazily. "That's what I'd hoped for."
"Wow," Eric said, laying his head down again. I could feel his fingers tickling my hair.
I chuckled softly. "I thought you'd like it," I said, very pleased with myself.
He shifted against me, but languidly, and sighed again. I slid my hands up his back to hold his shoulders gently.
"It's my most precious God-given gift," I said.
"I think I'm beginning to understand you a little more," Eric murmured.
"You are?" I asked.
"Your closeness to God. Makes me feel ashamed of myself"
"Don't feel that way, Eric. You can always reclaim your closeness. God wants you to."
He shifted again. He didn't reply, and I let the matter go. That was a decision only he could make; I wouldn't force it on him. We lay in silence for a long time, and I realized, just before I dropped off to sleep, that Eric had fallen asleep. I chuckled a little and kissed the top of his head.
"Sweet dreams, Loverboy," I murmured.