Of Mice and Men Ch. 03byGweall©
Ethan shut the door to his last infected, and headed towards the elevator. He headed down the hall and stopped when he was only a few steps away. He bit his lip, before turning back and heading towards Carey's room. Before he knew what he was doing, he knocked on the door. He heard a soft scurrying sound, smiling to himself a little, and the door opened a crack.
"H-Hello?" Carey stuttered, poking a mousey black eye through the crack in the door.
"Carey? Hey It's Ethan," he smiled. He was speaking softly like he was talking to a small animal. In a way, he supposed he was.
"E-Ethan? I didn't know you were coming today, they usually tell me..." Carey looked nervous. "O-oh. Sorry." He opened the door and let Ethan step inside. He shut it, and Ethan couldn't help but notice the three locks that had been added to the door. Maybe they should have added agoraphobic to the phobia list.
"Sorry, honestly I wasn't supposed to visit you today. I just wanted to check in on you," Ethan admitted, not knowing what he was saying.
"O-oh. Okay," Carey smiled. As usual, he clutched his tail in his left hand down by his side. He played with the tip, absentmindedly moving it in circles with his thumb. His ears were lying flat against his head and the tiny claws on his bare feet clicked softly on the floor. "Can I, uh...Get you a drink?" Carey asked nervously.
"Sure. Some water would be nice," Ethan replied. Carey nodded and disappeared into the kitchen. He returned shortly, a glass of ice water in his clawed hand. He put it on the coffee table in front of Ethan, and sat down. Awkwardness took over. Neither of them knew what to say.
"Uh... so..." Ethan searched desperately for something to say, but his mind was blank.
"I..." Carey spoke up suddenly, but the words died in his throat as he realized he didn't have anything to say either. Ethan bit his lip and, for the thousandth time that day, did something without thinking about it first.
"That's a lot of locks," Ethan blurted. Carey glanced at the door and blushed.
"Oh... yeah. It just makes me feel safer. I really don't like being out in the open," Carey whispered, nervously petting his tail. "Just my cross to bear, I guess. We all have them," Carey said, glancing up at Ethan. Suddenly, the slightly glowing anger that Ethan had been feeling since he knocked on the door flared.
"And what the fuck is that supposed to mean?" he snapped. Carey's ears fell back and his nose twitched.
"I-I didn't mean anything by it," he said. "I was just saying that we all have our own problems," he added, in his soft voice.
"And what's my problem, Carey? Huh!?" Ethan knew he was being stupid and irrational, but he couldn't stop. The blinding rage had taken over as he stood and towered over the cowering mouse boy.
"I-I didn't mean... you don't have... I-I- I'm sorry." Tears were falling down his face. He had curled himself into a ball so tiny Ethan thought he would vanish. It was like he had been turned inside out. The anger that normally swirled inside his chest was now out for the world to see. But the caring man who wanted nothing but to soothe the other man's fears was locked away under the mean exterior. His heart hurt for the terrified man. But there was nothing he could do to help him.
"Is this my problem, Carey? Huh?" Ethan easily tossed the coffee table onto its side before turning back to Carey. He continued to get in his face and yell, until suddenly the mouse pushed himself off the couch and ran clumsily into what Ethan assumed was his bedroom. He ran after him and hit a fist on the wooden door. "Open the fucking door!" he shouted, hitting it again. He could hear Carey crying quietly on the other side. As Ethan stood there, hitting the door in anger, he began to feel something. Slowly, the anger began to slip away. Soon, he stopped and just let his head rest against the door in silence. He could still hear Carey sobbing. "Carey? I'm sorry... I-... please come out," he said, in a gentle voice. There was no sound other than Carey's crying. Ethan sighed and sat on the couch. He had thrown the coffee table to the other side of the room, and now the glasses of water and the bowl of nuts Carey had been snacking on when he had arrived were scattered on the floor. Magazines were on the ground, and the couch cushions were askew from Carey kicking off of them when he headed for cover. He heard the door open quietly, but didn't move. After a minute, he looked over and saw Carey poking a tear stained head out. Neither of them said anything. Carey slowly came out of the room and stepped forward, in the safe space between the living room and his bedroom. He held his tail to his chest like a child would hold a stuffed animal. He looked worried, and the soft sprinkling of white fur on his face was matted down from tears.
"I'm sorry. I'll clean this up," Ethan said quietly. He got down on his knees and began picking up the stacks of magazines. Carey watched for a minute, before getting down with him and picking up the pieces of glass from the cups Ethan had broken.
"It's okay..." Carey whispered. His voice was shaking, as were his hands.
"Careful, you're going to-" Ethan was interrupted by Carey's gasp of pain as a shard of glass cut through his hand. He dropped what pieces he had picked up and grasped his pale hand with pain, as blood began gushing from the wound. "Hurt yourself..." Ethan finished. He dropped the magazines and grabbed Carey's hand. The fur that covered the back of his hand, up to his knuckles, was the softest thing Ethan had ever felt. The warmth of Carey's hand made something happen inside him. It took him a moment to figure out what it was, but when he finally did he was shocked. The softness of the fur, and the warmth of another persons touch made his rage disappear. It came back quickly, but those few seconds were the most fantastic he had felt in a long time. He cleared his throat and looked up at Carey, who had frozen under Ethans gaze. "Do you have a first aid kit?" Ethan asked. He nodded.
"It's in my bathroom," Carey stood up. Ethan held his shoulder as he picked up a couch cushion and put it back into place.
"Sit down, I'll get it," Ethan said firmly, but kindly. Carey did as he was told and stared down at the stream of red blood that was dripping from his hand.
Ethan stepped into the plain looking bedroom, and ran to the bathroom. It was kept clean and it was easy to find the white box. He headed back through the room and back to Carey. He did notice that his bedroom door had even more locks than the front door. He knelt down next to Carey and wiped away most of the blood with a piece of gauze. He grabbed the disinfectant and sprayed Carey's hand quickly. He gasped and tried to pull his hand back but Ethan kept held it firmly in his own. The small pout on Carey's face as he stared down at the wound on his hand made Ethan's heart beat faster, before he turned back to the task at hand.
"Thank you," Carey said, when his hand was well bandaged and Ethan had finished cleaning up the living room for him.
"It's no problem. It was my fault anyways," Ethan replied.
"I forgive you," Carey said, a small smile crossing his face. Ethan smiled back.
"Uh... I should probably go." Ethan headed towards the door.
"Please stay!" Carey said. Ethan turned back and saw he was looking down at the carpet. His ears were lying back against his head and his tail was drooping down to the floor. That was the first time Ethan had seen his tail not in Carey's hands. He thought it looked longer when it was just lying around. Carey was biting his lip, and blushing so hard it showed through the thin layer of white fur. "I-... uh... I just mean... uhm... it's lunch time. Let me make you something to eat," Carey stuttered out. Ethan stared at him before looking back at the door.
"Yeah, okay," he smiled. Carey stood and hurried off into the kitchen without saying anything else. Ethan followed him and smiled at the clean kitchen. Carey glanced at him out of the corner of his eye and reached for a plate on top of the microwave. He held out a hand to Ethan, where a medium sized chocolate brownie sat. "You bake?" Ethan laughed, and accepted the treat. Carey smiled.
"I really like to cook and stuff. It's something I can enjoy without leaving the house..." he said. Ethan nodded and looked around as Carey made them some sandwiches, with a cold glass of iced tea to go with it. They sat at the table and ate quietly. "Have you ever seen anyone about your anger?" Carey asked, suddenly. Ethan looked up at him. Carey ducked his head and put his ears back, he fiddled with his tail under the table nervously.
"No," Ethan answered. "Have you ever seen anyone about your phobias?"
Carey looked up at him. "No," he said quietly.
"You really should see somebody. It's strange for someone to get so angry like that so fast," Carey said. "What made you so angry?" he asked, wondering what he had done.
"It wasn't your fault. I'm sorry. I just..." he sighed. "Whenever I'm around any infected I can't help but get so angry. I just... I hate them so much," he admitted, and then realized what exactly he had said. Carey looked down at his sandwich quietly. "I didn't mean it like that, Carey. I just... I don't want to hate them... you... I just... I don't know what causes it. I don't know why I get so mad." Ethan sighed and put his head in his hands.
"That's what I'm talking about, Ethan. You should see someone about that. There are free support groups you can go to," Carey suggested.
"What are you, some kind of doctor?" Ethan snapped bitterly.
"Yes," Carey smiled. Ethan looked up, confused, and then laughed when he realized that Carey was, in fact, a doctor. They laughed together for a minute, before finally settling down. "That's what I studied in the labs, psychology. There's a lot of stuff that could lead to this kind of anger, and none of it's good," Carey warned.
"I know... but I don't think I can go to one of those support things. I would be too nervous," Ethan said, and then his eyes lit up. "How about this... I'll go to an anger management group if you go with me, AND, go to a group that helps people deal with phobias," Ethan said. Carey's ears flew back as fast as they could, and he ducked his head nervously.
"W-What? Oh, no.... I-I-I... I don't t-think... oh..." he moaned, worriedly. Ethan knew it was a fearful moan, but he couldn't help but find it attractive.
"Come on, Carey. I'll be there with you. You won't be alone and no one is going to hurt you. You're in more danger here, with me, then you are out there," Ethan pointed out. Carey looked up at him and bit his lip. "Please, for me?" Ethan begged. Carey stared, his eyes wide with fear girdle the future.
"Okay..." he said anyways. Ethan smiled and held back the cheer that was rising in his throat. It was only after he was leaving his unscheduled visit with Carey, that he realized he had agreed to go to an anger management group. He swore as he rode the elevator down to the first floor. He dropped his files on the desk in front of Trish.
She eyed them as he headed toward the door. She glanced up at the clock and called after him.
"Your required time was done an hour and a half ago," she pointed out. Ethan stopped at the door for a moment, before silently leaving. Trish watched with a smile on her face as he headed down the street, and away from the building that held the man who was slowly changing his life.