People were up well into the night after those announcements, very few have decided to leave the building and go to work as usual. Robert had the weekend off so he wouldn’t mind staying in for a little bit but there were things both he and Y/N wanted to do. Robert hovers over the dining table, flipping the page of today’s newspaper. There was something not right about this situation, if the entirety of the lower levels were sick with the flu; why not report this sooner? Even if it was half of the lower levels, a heads up would’ve been nice. Robert has walked in and out of the building a handful of times in the past week, he was lucky to not be showing any symptoms. After his run-in with the dentist in the lifts he made sure to keep tabs on himself, distance himself from Y/N when he was in the same room with her. No physical contact, it was hard but he did what he needed to do. He had to conserve his wife’s health, the health of their unborn daughter was also at risk here. Robert still couldn’t shake this feeling, something wasn’t exactly right. The dentist probably had it alright, looked very pale and tired. Sometimes the flu can be very similar to a cold, one doesn’t have to hit the symptom-bingo to have the flu. The dentist had a cough, it didn’t sound all that dry. Maybe somewhere in the middle, a bit squelchy in places. Voice wasn’t hoarse, could rule out the sore throat.
As far as Robert knew, the dentist didn’t have difficulty sleeping. Clearly eating more than enough judging by how tubby he continues to be, over all there wasn’t much he could say without knowing what the dentist was experiencing personally but he wouldn’t be surprised if he had the flu. The paper was still delivered as per usual but now wrapped in sealed plastic, smart move. Instead of going down to the mailroom to get it, it was left on the floor outside the flats. Robert had seen a lot of the other neighbours get the paper at the same time, each neighbour casted eyes at the dentist’s door. Robert remembered seeing a long dresser in the middle of the hallway, sort of marking the area which the dentist lived in. Robert believed that it was to serve as a blockade of sorts, people really do worry about getting sick. No one wants to stay at home with their sick children when they could go do something else. Robert had seen a lot of the mother’s in the high-rise drop their children off at the school and then make a beeline for the nearest cocktail bar. Those places were practically open all day and night, Robert thought it was rather modern.
Robert looks up to see his wife shuffling about in her robe, hardly ever took it off these days but if it made her more comfortable who was he to judge? He smiles and looks back down, beginning a new article that featured the country’s current prime minister.
“Good morning darling.
He noticed quiet in the room, by now Y/N would already be banging her pots and pans together. Hoovering the flat and singing along with the radio, today was different however. Robert couldn’t blame her, she must be rather nervous about last night’s announcements. She wouldn’t tell him though, he’s got to wear her down in order to get her to disclose her discomforts. Robert wished that she wouldn’t do that, that she would just tell him what is wrong instead of grinning and bearing it. They were married, for sickness and in health and she knew that. Having lived in a rather rough situation before they met, he understood that she is not used to living for herself. He tries though, on some occasions she loosens up when he takes her out for dinner. Y/N likes that little place downstairs, the Italian place he took her to for their anniversary a year ago. He can’t believe that it’s already been a year in this place, goes by so fast. Even faster now that there’s a child on the way, Robert hardly had the time to blink.
’‘What if I get sick?”
Robert looks back up, Y/N was stood by the counter. Her hand pressed against her full belly, a worried expression on her face. She was allowed to be worried but he didn’t want her to be.
“What’ll happen to our daughter?”
He was quick to fold the paper and set it down, Robert understood Y/N’s fear and thought it to be valid but it wouldn’t do her any good to stress over it now. It was bad for the body, mental health overall. Robert was uncomfortable with the idea of his wife’s discomfort, there wasn’t much he could do but attempt to alleviate it. He stood up from the table and walked over too her, wrapping his arms around her. If it weren’t for the newest addition, he would’ve hugged Y/N so tightly. Robert cupped her cheeks with both hands, she had to know that he would always be around for her. Keep eye contact and exchange words of care and reason, he was a doctor. Though he only dealt with dead bodies, he was well trained in living medicine as well. When she was at home, he would oversee her. Take care of her and give her the guidance she needs to guarantee her health and the health of their daughter. Robert smiles as he ran his thumb across the skin of her cheek, caressing the skin below her right eye.
“Y/N, it’s okay. She’ll be just fine because I’m not letting you get sick, alright?”
She sniffles, covering his hands with her own. Leaning into the warmth of them, marriage hadn’t been for him at first but he grew attached to the idea of two people essentially mating for life. Robert felt his age settling, he had been around the block more than just several times. Met a sea of different women that he had either temporary flames or short attempts at the real thing, Robert had always been alone and only really cared for the shortly lived encounters of the sexual nature. Until he met Y/N, secretary at the letting office at the time he was searching for his own place. Helped him secure their old house for a good price, he wasn’t sure what made her different from everyone else but he had a suspicion that it had something to do with her rejecting his advances multiple times. In truth, Robert had to wear her down to even accept a simple cup of coffee. He’s never put that much work into gaining anyone’s affections, Y/N was special to him and she became his longest relationship. His heart viewed her as it’s life partner, legal marriage aside. Even if they hadn’t gotten married, Robert would’ve stuck around. Even if Y/N got sick of him, he’d still wait around.
“It’s just the flu, it’ll be over before you know it.”
If only that had been the case, another announcement was made. Residents were now to be confined to their floors, specifically to not leave their flats for anything unless it was to dispose of rubbish. Bad timing, seeing as Robert had planned on going down to the shops today to stock up. He could’ve gone to the middle section one, the one that avoids the lower levels completely but even that was off limits, he sighs into the receiver. Royal’s lines were all occupied, of course they were but he had to try. Waiting his turn, eventually it would come to it but how long would that be? There were at least a thousand residents in this building if not more, Robert rubs his nose with the back of his hand.
He groans, this would be the tenth time he’s been asked to hold. How many people were on this line anyway, didn’t Royal have enough people working for him to man the fucking lines?
“I’ve been holding for half a fucking hour!”
He could hear the woman on the phone sigh, of course it was difficult for her. This situation was difficult for everyone, Robert had other calls to make and he couldn’t waste his entire day on this phoneline. Considering how many people live in this building alone, he might be here all day. That is if he counts out the other buildings, hopefully those were operating just fine otherwise this would become an even bigger problem than it already was.
“I understand your frustration sir but it won’t be long now.”
Robert nods to himself, looking at his watch. He could hear the line go dead, how unprofessional. He’s already lost his place in the line and there was no way he was going to dial in and wait even more for a simple answer, how could that woman just hang up on him like this? Was the connection dodgy? Robert was quick to dial the operating table, luckily calling between flats wasn’t an issue. Seeing as most if not all flats were on the phone with Royal’s assistance line, the phone rings for a moment before someone picks up the receiver. He was relieved to know that Wilder was still alive down there, unfortunate situation.
“Wilder? Did you get through?”
Wilder sniffles, without a doubt still tired. He really has to stop sleeping so late and so little, it wouldn’t do him any favours now. Wilder was a special kind of man, not exactly a friend he’d want his family to know about. His family would’ve disapproved but Robert has had worse friendships in the past. Wilder’s eyes never really seemed attached to his skull, often noticing his friend eyeing up other woman and on occasion Robert’s caught Wilder eyeing up Y/N, which he didn’t appreciate whatsoever but Wilder promised he wouldn’t do it again. Which was utter bullshit seeing as he caught him doing it again at a dinner party four months ago. He was Robert’s only real friend in this place however, he had no one else to talk to. No one would really warm up to him, Robert felt really singled out the moment he moved in while Y/N was already off making friends. Joining her own bookclub, not the type to simply sit down and listen to the radio most days. Robert liked that about her, she had her introverted days and then she had her extroverted days. Best of both really, Robert wasn’t fond of most of her friends but who was he to tell her not to see them? As long as she didn’t bring those insufferable hags to the flat, he’ll be fine.
“And? What did they say? I’ve been waiting for thirty bleeding minutes, on hold with no information! They hung up on me, what is going on?”
Robert could hear Wilder’s sons screeching in the background, engaging their regular games. It died down, assuming that Wilder had moved away from them. Into another room or simply told them to quiet down, Robert didn’t hear any harsh whispers however.
“People down here are sick with the flu, that’s all I know. No trips to the shops will be allowed, food and other important items will be rationed out to us on Sundays.”
Robert’s eyes widened.
“Rationed? What is this, the military?”
Why would there be rations? The high-rise was more than equipped for this sort of situations right? Royal had talked up a big game about the shops, how often products get delivered. Almost daily now that Robert though about it, he wasn’t all to happy about the rationing situation however. It was difficult seeing as his wife was still eating for two, it all depended on the amount per ration. They would have to see tomorrow as tomorrow is Sunday, Robert’s heart began beating faster. There was still something not right about all of this, first the flu and now rationing supplies?
“Ridiculous isn’t it?”
Robert hums in agreement, nodding as if Wilder were standing in front of him. “Thank you for the information Wilder, is your family well? Fever or anything?” As much as Robert didn’t care for the man’s leering, he was still worried for him and his family. Living down in the lower levels though Robert thought he made enough to stay a bit higher up, suppose there wasn’t anything to be done about that. Robert doesn’t make the rules around this place, Wilder just happened to live a level above the blocked off sections of the building. According to the announcements, the lowest floors were off limits but Wilder was still dangerously close. If anything, there’s a greater risk of this so called flu to spread up. Robert leans against the wall, he felt so tired after all that frustration. Being angry takes a lot of energy, that was something he learned quite recently. He had to keep a calm front, any sign of distress from him and Y/N will start panicking.
“One of my boys had a cold last week but nothing too bad, cleared up now. Between you and me, we heard our neighbours screaming last night but we aren’t allowed to go out there. It died out fairly quick, I assume they were having a bit of a domestic.”
Nothing out of the ordinary there, screaming was pretty frequent in this building. Mostly party related, fights and whatnot. Robert did worry about the noise once his daughter is born, he would have to somehow soundproof her room. Y/N slept just fine, she was used to the noise. Robert was fine with it as well, sometimes it gets annoying to listen to but only when the parties move closer to their floor.
“Don’t all couples at some point?”
Wilder laughs into the receiver, Robert knew that him and Helen bicker frequently. About what was beyond him however, not that Robert cared to know.
“Not you and Y/N, when was the last time you two fought aye?”
“Paint samples for our daughter’s room, perhaps five months ago.”
It was true, Robert and Y/N haven’t really fought before. There was no reason to, no real need for a shouting match. There had only been a few heated exchanges but they always came together at the end and made things work, such as the nursery. She wanted to paint it a light salmon pink but Robert thought it would be too loud and obnoxious and voted for the sleek white they had for their own bedroom. Y/N thought it wouldn’t feel as warm as the pink would, in truth Robert wasn’t fond of the colour pink. He didn’t want to force a colour onto his daughter, she should learn about different colours before finding her favourite one. Who likes salmon pink anyway? A pretty colour for sure but for a nursery? Y/N had tried to argue her point but soon realised she had no real reason as to why she wanted the room to be pink, Robert suggested that they could do pink accents seeing as it would go rather nicely with the white walls. Y/N was happy with that decision, painted multiple butterflies and little flowers all over the walls. They were both very satisfied with the outcome, Wilder let out another laugh.
“That’s as far as you go then, you’re lucky.”
He saw Y/N in the corner of his eye, she was vigorously wiping down the glass dining table. He sighs into the receiver, he had to go and tend to her.
“I’ve got to go Wilder, I’ll call you tomorrow.”
He hung up before Wilder could say goodbye, Robert wasn’t much for goodbyes. He would see him at some other time so the goodbyes weren’t needed when they practically lived next door to each other. Couple of floors apart really, same thing essentially.
Y/N wouldn’t stop viciously buffing the top of the glass table, spritzing it again with her cleaning solution. Robert was glad to have found someone who took hygiene so seriously but sometimes it wasn’t all that great, Y/N’s stress cleaning was somewhat of a problem. As nice it was to have their flat be absolutely spotless, it was already cleaned this morning. Robert swept, vacuumed and wiped down everything. They normally did this together on Saturdays, it was something they enjoyed bonding over. Stress cleaning was an unnecessary waste of not only cleaning product but energy, also any sign of stress at this current moment was bad. Robert approached her from behind, his palm resting on her back.
She wouldn’t stop, furiously scrubbing at some imaginary spot that her brain had created to occupy her. Robert wrapped his arms around her, hoping that it would get her to stop.
Y/N had a nervous disposition, Robert was very well aware of this. Gets stressed easily and had her own methods of coping, one of them being unhealthy food and a lot of it. Robert wouldn’t have minded a bit of unhealthy food but in her current state, it was best to keep the crisps and other things down to a minimum. A small serving here and there wouldn’t hurt of course, Robert would like her to pick up some other habit instead of straining herself this way. She’d hurt her back with all the extra weight she currently carried, Robert reached for the sponge in her hand and took it from her. Tossing it across the table, Y/N let out a sigh.
“It’s okay, we’re alright.”
She was breathing deeply, Robert felt sad to see her like this. Knowing that Y/N wouldn’t want him to but this is what it was like to be married, you can’t just ignore your spouse when they needed help. Robert would rather eat from the bin than leave Y/N alone to her vices, he loved her and she deserved better. Robert’s hand rests on her swollen belly, feeling for their daughter’s feet. Sure enough, she was still kicking away. Y/N felt comforted by the feeling, he pressed his lips to the back of her neck.
“Let’s go sit down for a bit, alright?”
Robert let out a yawn, stretching out his back. He had stayed up to read, they had a television but there wasn’t much on there worth watching. They do however sit down to watch the films shown on Wednesday nights, he tossed the journal aside. Enjoying his medical journals in the dead of night was something new, sitting in silence underneath the lamp was new. He doesn’t remember a time where the building was this silent. Robert stood up with a groan, his eyes found the bin bag that sat on the floor. He forgot to take it out earlier, better quickly get that over with so he could sleep. Y/N had gone to bed a few hours ago, today had been difficult to get through but he was proud of her for managing. He could wake up early and make her breakfast to cheer her up, he knew she would appreciate it. Why not do all the chores as well while he was at it, minus the laundry. It would be a little while until they could go down to the laundromat to give their laundry a wash, luckily it wasn’t a big pile. Just half a basket, on the other hand they could wash it all by hand. Robert knew a thing or two about that, it could be a good temporary solution. Just to deal with everything if the laundry starts piling up too fast, he made a beeline for the binbag. Picking it up and adding an extra knot to secure the waste inside, at least Royal gave them the chance to take out the rubbish instead of letting it pile up, rot and fester in the flats. Robert approached the front door, unlocking it and stepping outside into the dimly lit hallway. The night setting had gone off about two hours ago, they dimmed the lights after nine which was quite nice. He heads over to his nearest chute, noticing his dentist neighbour in the corner of his eye. He huffs.
No answer, Robert pushed the bag inside and listened to it drop down the long chute. He turned only to see the dentist’s silhouette in the distance, seemingly staring out the big window at the end. Nothing unusual about enjoying the view from up here though it would be a lot better if he were up top, there he could see everything.
Still no answer, Robert took a few steps forward. Looking down at the dresser that had been put down to cut off the dentist’s part of the hallway. It was clear that he was suspected to have the flu, this was a bit much however. Barricading the man in, he heard the dentist wheezing. Some difficulty breathing, Robert didn’t like the sound at all.
The man slowly turned, his head lazily rested on his left shoulder. The wheezing became louder, did he really have this flu? If so, this doesn’t sound like any flu that Robert’s encountered before. Perhaps some sort of type, he wouldn’t be surprised if that were the case. Common place illnesses evolve and devolve all the time, he could see the dentist hoppling towards the dresser.
“Are you feeling alright?”
Robert’s eyes widen as the dentist steps into the light, his clothes soaked in blood. Was it his own? His eyes bled, trickling down his pale face. The whites of his eyes now completely red, how many vessels had he burst? The dentist flops onto the dresser in front of him, struggling to climb on top of it.
“Mr. Green, are you okay?”
Clearly not okay by any means judging on his appearance. Nothing left the dentist’s mouth, nothing but a bunch of hoarse whispers. Robert took a step back as the dentist stood up, snarling in his direction. What could it possibly be? Was he suffering mentally, whose blood is he covered in? What happened to his eyes to make them bleed this much? He had seen him just yesterday and he seemed fine apart from the cough, was this the flu that they mentioned? Didn’t look like the flu to him, the dentist growls. Robert hadn’t anticipated the dentist’s next move, in the blink of his eye the dentist had jumped and thrown himself on Robert causing him to fall back onto the floor. Robert was trapped, the dentist weighed so much more than he thought he would. The dentist leans in to bite him, Robert held him off by pressing the side of his forearm against his neck.
“What’s wrong with you?!”
Robert manages to quickly roll over, now knelt on top of the sickly dentist. Pinning him down against the dark carpet beneath them, he got a better look at him and he wished he hadn’t. The dentist’s teeth had turned yellow, bits of what looked like hair stuck in between them. Robert didn’t want to imagine what had happened but he suspected it had something to do with the heaps of blood that soiled the dentist’s clothes. He didn’t waste any more time, he had to get back inside. Robert rose up, the door wasn’t too far away from him. As he took the first step he felt the dentist’s hand wrap around his ankle, the sheer power behind his grasp was astonishing. Robert wouldn’t have believed him to be this strong just by looking at him, Robert growls as he managed to turn around. Pulling his leg in order to get loose but the dentist held on.
Robert kicked the dentist in the face, his jaw snaps with a sickening crunch that had Robert’s hair standing tall. He stepped away from the still moaning dentist, backing up to the door to his flat. Y/N was still sleeping, no doubt she would be awake by now. Robert saw the other neighbours starting to step out of their flats, the curious look in their eyes soon turned to terror as they saw the state of the dentist’s face.
Robert had completely broken his jaw, the dentist’s jaw hung wide open. Almost limp, in his entire career he had never felt sick before but this moment was different. Robert felt the bile rising, gagging as the strong smell of iron began to invade his nostrils. The dentist began crawling towards him in some last attempt to attack him but Robert wasn’t going to stay still, he was quick to open his front door and slipping inside. Slamming the door shut and bolting it, resting his back against the cool heavy duty door. He was thankful to know that the doors were built very sturdy at least.
What happened to him? What was that just now? Robert just kicked a man’s teeth in, a sick man. This wasn’t just a flu, this wasn’t a normal flu at all. Royal wasn’t telling them anything, were the other people sick like the dentist? Robert began ruling out other illnesses that might’ve caused this but he didn’t get a positive light on any of them, he hadn’t seen anything like this before. Robert doubts it would be the last, his chest heaves as he sees Y/N appearing in the hallway. He smiled for a split second, he always loved seeing her all sleepy-like. Y/N’s endearing sleepiness aside, he didn’t want her to see this. She shouldn’t see this or know of this, he bit the inside of his cheek.
AN: Decided to release the starter, I am still working on Itty Bitterlings but it’s a slow progress. Please do let me know if you want to be tagged or if you want me to stop tagging you in this story. There will be dark themes, death and possible gore to follow.
He could hear them running down the halls, if he hadn’t barricaded the door they would be in here. Robert flinches as they began barrelling into the door, he hadn’t much to defend himself except his tennis racket but he knew how to make the most out of a iron curtain rod. He raises the rod up, ready to swing down. He had to get out of here somehow, the door gets pushed open but thankfully the chest of drawers that blocked the entrance didn’t budge much. A few arms made their way through the opening, clawing and grabbing at whatever air they could get their hands on. The people he once knew, colleagues, friends and neighbours.
“Come on you fuckers…”
Today had been a bit slow, more paperwork than actual classes. Robert hadn’t performed any autopsies or done anything really challenging, just sat in his offices and signed documents. Smoked and drank his coffee, had a few things photocopied. Luckily, it was Friday which mean the weekend was already here. The moment he walks in through that front door he was officially on break from the entire workplace. No more half finished breakroom talks, no students pestering him about coursework or wanting to prove themselves in the next demonstration. Just him, at home, with her and a glass of wine. Hopefully he’ll manage to buy on on the way up, that is if the store wasn’t out again. That Riesling was very popular among the residents of their high rise, he could only imagine the case to be the same in the second building.
Robert sees one of his neighbours wave from the lift, of course he would be down here at this time. It wasn’t even six yet, probably on his way back up. He loathed the idea of having to share the lift with him, so nosy. Robert smiles politely, biting the proverbial bullet and simply sharing the lift with him. He pressed the button for the twenty-fifth floor though he had no real reason to as they lived on the same floor, close to one another as well. No idea how someone like him even managed to afford a flat this high up, being a dentist and all. Robert always believed dentistry to have shit pay, all they do is fix teeth. Dentists don’t exactly save lives, just smiles. Robert had a hard time finding reasons to smile when he was out of the flat, instead finding himself wanting to isolate himself. Lock himself away, spend time with his wife and just seize to be. Pretend like the outside doesn’t exist for a day or two, that’s why he takes weekends off.
“How far along is your wife? I assume she’s due any day now!”
He took weekends off for his wife and for his child, his first child. Their child, he hums. Avoiding the eye contact, as mentioned before. This dentist was quite nosey, quite the gossip.
“Close, she's due next week but we could be looking at a couple of days. Children come out when they want to, she's quite frustrated herself.”
Y/N had been good at looking after herself though she gets carried away, Robert was very nervous if not more than she ever was. Children hadn’t been on his to do list, never had but things happen when one isn’t careful. Neither of them ever predicted or particularly wanted children, their view was very neutral. If it happened, they would deal with it accordingly. Robert didn’t think it would happen this way but he found himself falling for the idea more and more every day that he got to wake up next to her. Y/N had taken time off work to focus on carrying the baby, in the end she quit but it was nice of her boss to keep the position open if she chose to return after the baby comes. Robert wouldn’t mind if she never did, if Y/N preferred to become a stay at home mother he would fully support it. He made more than enough to take care of them now that they ditched the house and moved into a two bedroom flat, a lot cheaper. They could afford taking good care of a child, Robert smiles to himself.
The moment he saw that ultrasound he couldn’t contain himself, Robert assumed that this is what true loving fathers must feel like upon seeing their children for the first time. Not something Robert remembered his own father doing, lack of emotion in his face. His father didn’t even congratulate him on his marriage, didn’t really see eye to eye with Y/N when he introduced her to the family for the first time. Robert’s father eventually passed on unceremoniously, cremated and kept in a ceramic cookie jar that rested on his mother’s mantle. She doesn’t really care about the urn unless it was to play up her loss to guests in her home, she loved the attention. Of course she did, no one would ever just leave the mourning widow alone in this hard time. Even if her husband died almost a decade ago because as she said “grief takes time”.
“I can only imagine, when Margaret carried our first son she did nothing but whine on and on about this and that. Drove me absolutely mad, no idea how you are so calm.”
“Maybe because I am a medical doctor, not a dentist.”
He hadn’t meant to say that out loud, Robert’s jaw tensed. He didn’t perform live surgeries and yet he refers to himself as a surgical doctor, sure he had his degrees and his medical license. He just didn’t really bother performing live surgeries as there would be an evitable loss and he didn’t know if he could really deal with that, people that were already dead were however; easier to deal with. No one needed a transplant or needed something removed or had some sort of a brain tumour that ended up being inoperable. It was just some person, already dead on his table that donated themselves to medical science to make a change. Robert could easily deal with them without the pressure of losing a life or two, he knew a few colleagues who eventually quit after losing a couple. Couldn’t handle the guilt, Robert didn’t want that. The dentist huffs and leans back against the lift, looking at the numbers change as they got higher and higher up. The ride was taking too long, he just wanted home.
“Perhaps you’re right, surgeons do have steadier hands.”
The silence stretched on, until the dentist began coughing when they reached the twenty third floor. Robert took a step to the side, trying to avoid being coughed on. He couldn’t really afford getting his wife sick at this point in her pregnancy, she was pretty much done and ready to pop at any moment. No time for risks, he covered his mouth with the sleeve of his jacket to avoid inhaling any of the air around the dentist. Hopefully the material would filter it out, what was next? A big sneeze? The dentist clears his throat, he wasn’t looking all that good today now that Robert took the moment to look at him.
“Don’t worry, just a little chest cold.”
He simply nods.
Sounded similar but as a debuting father, he needed to be careful. The lift dings as it reaches the twenty-fifth floor, opening it’s doors to let them out. Robert was quick to jump out, giving the dentist a half hearted wave. He needed to get away and sanitise his hands, he wasn’t going to kiss his wife without making sure he was clean. Y/N deserved a healthy first pregnancy, every woman did. Robert had read a lot about childbirth and the numbers of fatalities that occur in this field, he did all he could to make sure she was taken care of and healthy. Reminds her of the important nutrients she needs, going as far as insisting that she keeps off her feet. Her sixth month hadn’t been the best between them, Robert kept wanting her to stop using the stairs to get about the building but who was he to do that? The paranoia was strong, he had good reasons to be nervous but he shouldn’t forget that Y/N was the one who fully formed and carried their child. Eventually having to birth said child, he was sure it wouldn't be pleasant.
Robert got his keys out as he approached his door, the dentist lived on the other side of them. Two doors down, Robert didn’t really know any of the other neighbours. Didn’t care to get to know them, Y/N knew a few. Mostly the mothers, though all of their children have grown and flown the nests. Robert was glad to see that she had input from other women, such as childcare and clothes. Tips and tricks that he as a doctor couldn’t give. Robert was quick to unlock the door, slipping inside and locking the door after closing it. Making sure to bolt it for good measure, just some extra reassurance that the outside world won’t invade his home.
“In the kitchen, dinner’s ready!”
He smiles, dropping his suitcase onto the floor before making his way to the bathroom.
Choosing names for a child wasn’t exactly easy, they couldn’t settle on just one name. It always turned into a list of names, Robert agreed that there were a lot of beautiful names out there. Rose, Melissa, Theresa and many more. They knew it was a girl, Robert couldn’t help but feel slightly disappointed for a split second as the reveal took place. He didn’t want to be like those other fathers that expect nothing but boys, he loved his daughter and there wasn’t anything anyone could do to change that. His father had talked about how the first born had always been a boy in their family, went up generations. Robert still remembered the night he spoke about it, glass of whiskey in his hand.
The firstborn will always be a male, it is how the genetics of this family have always worked.
Robert knew that to be complete bullshit, it was all chance really. He had an equal chance at conceiving a male child as he did a female one, it didn’t matter in the end. That baby belonged to him, she would be bright no matter what. Perhaps she’ll become a doctor later on in life, god knows the world needs more female doctors. The nurses get treated like shit on a daily bases by the male staff, Robert didn’t like to associate with those doctors. Especially the surgeons, they mocked him for the choice he had made in his studies. Wanting to take autopsy work, training rookies and conducting research. It’s what he was good at, better than shouting at the nurses for a scalpel and then blaming them for being nothing but a distraction in the operating theatre. No, the world needed more women in the medical fields. Doctors preferably, it could change things around. Balance it out, Robert didn’t enjoy working at the hospital back in the day, having to listen to the vulgar conversations in the breakrooms between shifts. He liked it in the morgue, there wasn’t any sort of conflict there. Very cut and dry, everyone down there was already dead. Had no real substance to them, just medical histories and names to follow. Cause of death and a tag on their toes, now that Robert thought about the tags he remembered that he hadn’t tagged enough cadavers for next week’s demonstration. It was all about the brain next week, he was very convinced that none of the students will keep upright the moment he cracks the bone.
His attention was grabbed by his wife, her hand resting on his shoulders. Robert couldn’t help but smile, wrapping his arm around her. Lasagne night, not that it was a regular dish in their home. He enjoyed her cooking more than he thought he would, being a man of quick cuisine. Simple toast or something out of a tin served him just fine but it was all so different when one cooks a whole meal. More nutrients, it’s delicious and a genuine pleasure to eat. Y/N carefully sits down in his lap, her hand supporting her swollen belly. Robert chuckles, pressing a quick kiss to her neck.
“I’m eager for my dessert…”
Y/N just giggles, gripping his chin with her fingers.
Robert couldn’t help but roll his eyes. Intimacy became harder to maintain in these final months, their sex life had been and still is very vibrant but there was a fear that one wrong move could undo all of the progress they’ve made. Sex wasn’t generally recommended during pregnancy but they found their way around, Robert found himself enjoying it immensely. There was something so exciting about it, hopefully once the little one comes they can make up for lost time. Her healing process would take three months, so no rough activity until the waiting period is over but that didn’t mean he could pamper her a little bit.
“Come on, won’t you give me a hand?”
Y/N snorts, wrapping her arms around him. Robert couldn’t get enough of her, no matter how much time he actually spent at home. No matter how much Y/N constantly pestered him, there was just something about her that he couldn’t get enough of.
Robert cradles her belly, his palm resting against the top. He could feel his daughter being quite restless within, he wondered how truthful Y/N was with how she was dealing with things. She’s downplays her health all the time, it’s frustrating but it’s something she’s so used to. Living in a world where being able to work is the most important part of life, she couldn’t afford missing a day or two out. She was afraid that there would be consequences if she took a sick day, Robert was glad that she wasn’t doing that anymore. Their financial situation was good, stable enough for children so Robert was happy to see that she took her health more seriously. Especially the health of their daughter. Y/N pressed a kiss to his lips, he had been waiting for his dessert very patiently. Robert hums contently, cupping the back of her head with his free hand. His thumb softly brushes against the underside of her jaw, he loved her in a way that he couldn’t possibly describe. A firm believe that he couldn’t possibly move on without her, having made too many mistakes in the past. She pulled away, resting her forehead against his for a moment.
“I’ll do the washing up tonight…”
The lights were a nice bonus to this flat, being able to see London from here. The busy life on the roads, sadly she hasn’t been out here in a little while. Perhaps she would like to enjoy the lights soon enough, Robert took the cigarette smoke into his lungs. Y/N was the first woman he ever brought home with him, to meet his parents. Not that they cared that much, they wouldn’t support his relationships unless they provided the woman in question. Robert was hesitant to marry Y/N to begin with, only ever toyed with the idea after being invited to wedding after wedding in medical school. His friends all got married very early on, already had a kid or two at twenty-four which wasn’t bad by any means but difficult perhaps. The idea of having this marital bliss was enchanting but he hesitated to propose to her, not because he didn’t want this happily married life with her but because he wanted to marry her for the love and not for the image of it. He did it eventually, his family was present but there wasn’t much fanfare. Robert enjoyed having his friends and Y/N’s family there more than his own family. His father only sat back and sipped wine, didn’t bother congratulating him or his wife on their union. No gifts, nothing. His mother went as far as to criticize the ceremony, Y/N’s dress and the food they served. Robert’s sister was alright, she did in fact congratulate them and felt happy for them so he was grateful that he had at least one person in his corner.
Robert’s mother still calls to pester him about the baby, he regrets letting her know. In truth he thought about going no contact with her for a little while, preferably a few years. Y/N felt guilty to leave her mother-in-law out in the dark about her first grandchild and ended up calling her, it wasn’t well received but now he’s gotten nothing but questions about whether the baby was here yet or what the gender was, when they would come and let her see the baby and all that. Robert felt as his fatherly bliss was half ruined, he just wanted to sit back and enjoy the mixture of excitement and fear that was fatherhood, taking care of his wife. Enjoying those pregnancy milestones, ultrasounds, baby showers and furnishing their daughter’s bedroom. His little girl, it was an odd thought. He had a little girl coming into the world soon and there was nothing that could ruin that. Except if his mother somehow barged into the delivery room to observe the birth which Robert would not be tolerating, they had already agreed that he and Y/N’s mother would be the only two people in the delivery room. Robert worked in the maternity ward for a short while, mostly just examining the babies and help care for the prematurely born but he’s seen a lot there. He would rather leave things up to the midwife, there was a discussion of the possibility of home birth but there was a low chance so they didn’t worry about it too much. Y/N did however put her complete trust in him, it felt nice to be trusted that way. Especially by the person you loved the most, he exhaled through his nose. Blowing the cigarette smoke downward, all in all he was very content with the way things were. He had constant access to sex, a beautiful wife, a job and a child on the way. The dream life for many really, Robert felt happy. He smiles at the twinkling lights in the distance, happiest he’s ever been.
“How is she?”
Robert looks up, noticing Charlotte leaning over the edge of the balcony above. He gave her a half hearted wave, he was tired. A long day, he was socially exhausted after all of the run-ins today. All the phone calls, this was normal however and Charlotte knew. Robert leans back against the stone railing. Now that he looked across their balcony, it was very much babyproof. He wouldn’t want the baby to venture out here however, as their daughter grew she would become taller and at some point will be able to climb over the edge. Hopefully she knew better, Robert flicked the cigarette off the balcony. Watching it’s glow disappear into the dark depths below, he was reminded of his past as a student.
“She’s gone to bed now, she can’t wait for it to be over at this point.”
Charlotte hums and flicks her own cigarette into the dark, Robert was glad to have met Charlotte. Even happier to have introduced her to his wife, Y/N was fond of Charlotte and now they had something else to bond over. Children, granted Toby wasn’t exactly an infant anymore. Well past the age of eight, Y/N still felt grateful to have Charlotte’s insight. Their friendship was warm, Robert felt happy to see that. Charlotte sniffles, scratching the back of her neck.
“She’ll be happy for all the time it took, trust me.”
Robert nods, though he was glad that Y/N had found friendship with Charlotte and as much as Robert was fond of Charlotte; he was never alone in a room with her. In the past she’s flirted with him, Robert still hadn’t managed to determine whether it was innocent or something more serious. Charlotte was by no means an unattractive woman but should know to keep off the married men, especially Robert. He wouldn’t lie, there were certain fantasies that ran through his head in the beginning. All of them included Charlotte and Y/N together, despite it being an exciting idea he still didn’t like having to share Y/N with another person. In the end, the thoughts were all put aside and forgotten about. It was better that way, Robert was very much possessive of his wife though he tried not to be overly protective of her.
Having a child will make those feelings worse, Robert had begun babyproofing the flat the moment she told him about the baby. Constantly tries to get Y/N to eat right, to exercise in moderation. Sit down, stand up, this and that. Robert got tired of being so protective all the time but it was hard to not be, his wife was pregnant with their first child. His first and maybe only child, Charlotte said that once you have the first, there’s a good chance there’ll be a second. Robert wouldn’t mind a second at this point but he preferred to tackle it one baby at a time, raise the first one until it becomes more independent before creating another one. Taking care of two babies at the same time must be exhausting, Robert felt a bit sorry for those whose firstborns turned out to be twins. Funny how the human body works.
“Do you hear that?”
Robert stared into his dark living room, straining his ears. He could make out the sound system in the hallway, he recognised the siren sound that was followed by the voice of Anthony Royal. Owner and architect of their homes, what sort of announcement could the man be making at midnight?
“It’s the speakers in the hall…”
Robert was quick to slip back inside, closing the balcony door behind him. His eyes focused on the front door, the speaker system became louder and louder as he got closer. Robert took a moment to look out through the peephole, he saw the neighbour across from him standing outside his front door in his bathrobe. Robert unbolted the door, unlocked and opened it. The bright hallway light stung, he should’ve gone to bed an hour ago. The system made that horrible siren sound again, Robert hissed.
“Tenants, please do not be alarmed. We seemed to be dealing with an outbreak of flu in the lower levels, please do take care and stay indoors until further notice.”
An outbreak of flu?
Y/N had materialised behind him, wearing her fluffy robe. The siren must’ve woken her up, Robert was quick to wrap his arms around her. This announcement was a cause for concern, he could see the other residents gasping in horror and some of them were now arguing with one another. The housewife next door began crying and her husband did little to comfort her, Y/N looked frightened. What was this outbreak nonsense, if it’s the flu people would simply have to stay inside their flats. The flu wasn’t that bad to deal with but he wasn’t going to risk his very pregnant wife getting sick, he was steadfast on following directions.
“I repeat, do not be alarmed.”
Y/N grabbed a fistful of his white shirt, Robert pressed a soft kiss to her forehead. As Anthony Royal began repeating his announcements, Y/N looks at Robert with a worried expression.
Arthur swiftly turned his head, looking for whoever had been addressing him. There was no mistake this time, who else would this man be talking to? Arthur was the only new person in this joint, he hadn’t even gotten the chance to change yet. His boss had told him that a business down the street needed a clown to advertise outside, not the most exciting first task but it had to do. He was eager to start, why not make money while making the world smile?
Very tall, a bit thick in the middle. Arthur refrained from laughing, simply sticking his hands into his pockets. Fiddling around with the lint and the few cents he still had left on him, half empty pack of cigarettes in his left. His eyes shift from the man and back to the clock behind him, he didn’t have a lot of time for chatting. Arthur was more than ready to put his face on, to get out there and work.
‘‘Arthur, right? We don’t get a lot of new people here, considering the profession.’‘
Arthur couldn’t help but smile, sure it wasn’t exactly the dream job many people have but he had nothing but faith in this place.
‘‘I like making people smile, my mother said I was born to make people laugh.’‘
She also said that making a good first impression was important, be kind and they will do the same for you. That sort of thing, though he hadn’t actually experienced much of that in the past but it wouldn’t hurt to keep trying. He had to better himself if he was going to get her back, he needed this job.
‘‘Jeez, I think I can see what she means.’‘
Arthur frowns, not exactly what he meant by that. He loved his mother, his mother was a kind woman. Despite having a few loose screws, she was a good person. Arthur believed that, she wouldn’t lie to him. He had to take care of her too, he couldn’t just let his mother be homeless. That would be unkind of him, he wouldn’t even be here if it weren’t for her. She could be harsh sometimes but it was just because of how much she really loved him, he did that too sometimes.
‘‘I’m really need the money…’’
The man chuckles.
‘‘Well, this job ain’t exactly a gold mine.’‘
It was all he had at the moment.
The silence was uncomfortable, he felt suffocated but pushed through it. His legs bouncing about uncontrollably as he watched the social worker in front of him look through the paperwork on his desk, Arthur had been collecting his paychecks and the paperwork from his other appointments. Hospital records and all that the man needed to see was there, it was all accounted for. Arthur could hear her laughter already, as clear as bells. He couldn’t help but imagine her face the moment she gets to come home, he let out a nervous giggle as he took final drag from his cigarette. He was running low but that was alright, there was another pack waiting at home. His mother will start wondering where he is, he won’t get home until late.
‘‘It’s not enough.’‘
His heart stung, how was it not enough? He’s worked hard for months, he would’ve been here earlier if he had somehow hit the jackpot but sadly it’s not how the world works. Especially the city of Gotham where the rich consume the suffering of the poor without a second glance, his eyes welled up.
‘‘Not enough? But- I got the job and I-’‘
‘‘I’m sorry Arthur, you’re not making enough to get her back. You still live in the same apartment, they make regular checks and they won’t be happy with your living situation.’‘
Suppressing the laughs wasn’t exactly effective, he wasn’t sure why he even tried to do so anymore seeing as it never really works. Arthur knew it wouldn’t work, he had to laugh it out in order to make it go away. Even then it can last for minutes at a time, sometimes it’s in bursts and other times it’s just one long laugh. Either way, they hurt him but not as much as losing his daughter did. He gripped the arm of his chair, digging his nails into the wood as he let out a loud laugh. At least the social worker had the decency to wait it out instead of looking at him in that particular way, Arthur hated when people would stare at him. Thought he was pathetic no doubt, he couldn’t help it. He didn’t ask for this, his laughter died down. Leaving nothing but the heartbreak and a sore throat, he reached for the water almost immediately.
‘‘But I’ve been saving up and rent is really expensive.’‘
The social worker sighs and leans forward, Arthur could tell that he was a good man. He had pictures of his wife and kids on his desk, he must be a good person. Arthur felt like he could understand the situation, he wouldn’t like it if he lost his kids. No one in their right mind would, Arthur was distraught the moment it happened. He didn’t want to remember that day, his little peanut cried so much when they carried her out of the apartment. He had been reported by the school after failing to pick her up a couple of times but he passed inspection twice, Arthur knew now that the report that got his daughter taken away came from within his apartment building. Whoever decided to rip his daughter away from him wasn’t a nice person, Arthur could understand if they were just worried but it was their fault that she was gone now.
‘‘I’m trying my best here, it doesn’t look all that great. You’ve not shown up for two appointments in the past three months, the system won’t be happy about that either.’‘
It was true, Arthur had forgotten one appointment and didn’t feel like going to the second one which almost costed him his medication though they did absolutely nothing to help. They won’t give him a stronger dose, they insist on more psychiatric evaluations and those two words scared the shit out of him. He learned to fear those words, any dodgy answers and he could be sent off somewhere. He could go back to Gotham General and possibly be locked up for life, who knows. Arthur wouldn’t be able to get her back then, he sniffles.
‘‘She is my daughter, they can’t just take her away from me…’‘
The social worker leans back and began rummaging in the drawers of his desk, he hums with a soft smile.
‘‘There’s one thing you could do.’‘
Arthur’s eyes widen, he felt his heart skip. Whatever that one thing was, he would do it. He would do anything to get her back, living without her in the past months had been horrible. Walking home alone, coming back to home without getting bombarded with hugs and sweet little laughs. Her little eyes staring up at him, no more nightly reading. Arthur admits that he wasn’t the best at helping out when it came to her homework but she’s taught him a lot, the smartest girl in the world. Gotham’s treasure, at least to him she was.
‘‘You still have visitation, you still get to spend your regular time with her after school so that won’t change but if you really do want her back, you have to move into a two bedroom apartment. It’s either that or Joyce stays with her foster family.’‘
He didn’t like her foster family, they weren’t even her family. Arthur doubts they even cared about Joyce, he was her family. Arthur was surprised that they didn’t track down her mother and forced her to take care of her, Nina wouldn’t like that and he would never hear the end of. Especially since she told him that she wanted absolutely no part in Joyce’s life which he still couldn’t understand, having a baby is hard and that was all well and good but how could she not want to hug her own daughter? At the end of the day, it was Nina’s decision and Arthur was more than happy to keep her. She was his daughter after all, his only child.
‘‘Where do I start?’’
The social worker nods.
‘‘I’ll see what I can find for you, I’ll call you tomorrow.’‘
His favourite word, could a name be a word? It was his favourite thing to say anyway, his favourite name for his favourite girl. The one and only girl, Arthur should’ve seen it coming. He knew that people didn’t exactly like him, especially Joyce’s teachers. Never seem to trust him, the home visits were more or less expected but he never thought they would actually take her from him. He pressed his lips together, breathing through his nose as he watched the scenery go by. He was so sick of this place, how run down it was. Gotham was too dangerous for a child but he had nowhere else to go, he had begun saving up for a better place which he was sure he could get a hold of at some point within the year but being accepted for the place was different. He lived with his mother, his mother’s name was on the apartment. He only helped paying the rest of the rent that her welfare didn’t cover, Joyce would always try to give her the little money she had in her piggy bank. Arthur was touched that she had begun saving up so she could help but he couldn’t possibly accept his daughter’s money, it was her money and he wanted her to use it for herself.
In the past she had bought toys or little trinkets for her money, Arthur always made sure to give her some of the money he got paid so that she could put it in her piggy bank. She once used it to buy him a pot of grease paint for his birthday, Arthur cried that day. He remembered because it had been the sweetest birthday he’s ever had, in the past he’s never celebrated and simply preferred to forget about it. Leave it on the calendar and treat it as a normal day, his mother doesn’t even remember anymore. Arthur wondered if she even noticed time passing her by sometimes, probably not. The only birthday’s he was insistent on celebrating was Joyce’s. Always took her somewhere nice, he saved up for a gift and sometimes if that month had been a good one; two gifts. He smiles at the buildings passing by, his heart felt so warm when he thought about her. Arthur tried to get himself together but it was hard, single father in Gotham city with a condition most people are afraid of wasn’t exactly the dream life he wanted. At one point he imagined himself living in a house somewhere, perhaps in another city. Somewhere by the seaside, he could take his peanut down to the beach and just play all day.
That’s exactly why he had to save up, so he could give her a better life. Joyce wouldn’t want for anything while she was in foster care but he didn’t like the look of the people that were taking care of her. That lady had a nasty expression on her face when he first met her, she kept looking at him like he had grown a second head or a second pair of arms. Arthur didn’t trust anyone but himself to look after Joyce, it was nice to get a bit of a break from the constant worrying but he found himself missing it. All he does these days is wake up, go to work and then come home. Sitting on the couch and watching television until he hopefully fell asleep, no goodnight kisses or late night buttered toast with Joyce.
She gave him something to look forward to, Arthur wasn’t in the best shape to look after her but he couldn’t imagine himself doing anything else. The people around him warned him that she would get taken away from him and he chose not to listen, that was his mistake. Raising a little girl in a one bedroom apartment that was occupied by three people, the lack of finances and the troubled neighbourhood they lived in. It just wasn’t realistically doable long term, Arthur had envisioned himself in a better place. His daughter by his side in a beautiful house, perhaps he would make friends at some point and they would all absolutely adore Joyce like he did. No one had a real choice to dislike her, she was such a charming child. Such a friendly little character with a laugh so sweet that Arthur wished all of Gotham could have a listen, perhaps the city would lighten up a bit more.
He slumps over in his seat, Joyce has already tried to run away from her foster family. She tried to come back home to him, Arthur has repeatedly told her not to do that. Joyce could get lost, she was too trusting. He had gotten her to remember their address, he overheard the mothers of Joyce’s classmates speaking about how important it was for their children to know those sorts of things. If they couldn’t remember the phone number, their address and their parent’s name was more than enough should they find a police officer somewhere to help them out. Arthur hoped she would never have to use this knowledge, luckily she was caught by her foster father before she could get out of the neighbourhood. His heart hurt to know how much Joyce missed him, she wouldn’t have to worry for too long.
Arthur felt relieved when the rain stopped, it had been raining nonstop for what felt like months. Maybe the clouds got sad whenever he cried, the weather always seemed so gloomy whenever he felt down. He waited outside the school gates as he used to, this is what his visitations included. Walking her to her foster home, spending time with her. Joyce’s foster mother was there however, supervising things and making sure nothing happened. As much as Arthur wanted to pick his daughter up and run away with her, he couldn’t. As she has been placed in foster care, it would be bad for him if he took her. He might be charged with kidnapping his own daughter, the urge was easily thrown out the window however. Getting to hold his daughter’s hand as they walked together, granted it wasn’t back to their apartment but soon enough.
Arthur was quick to spot her, running towards the gates with her arms open. Fully sprinting across the concrete, he hoped she didn’t trip and fall. Joyce didn’t bother greeting her foster mother and instead threw herself into his arms, he hugged her so tightly. Lifting her up from the ground, Joyce wrapped her thin arms around his neck. Burying her face in his shoulder, the little angel must’ve been so excited to see him today. Arthur didn’t get to see her every day, three days a week. It was pure torture but no one said he could watch her leave school from across the street, as long as he didn’t make contact outside the set hours. He ran his fingers through her hair, she looked so clean.
Her foster mother clears her throat after a moment, Arthur had gotten so lost in the smell of Joyce’s hair. Hugging her so tightly, as if she were to melt into him if he tried hard enough. His daughter giggles as he sets her down, she was so neatly dressed. Wearing a little skirt and the little sweater he had given her for Christmas last year, she looked so cute. It was a bit odd to see his daughter wearing a skirt, she only ever wears her jeans or her overalls. Maybe Arthur should find her some new clothes for when he gets her back, Joyce was quick to grab his hand.
This was what he had left for the time being, Arthur was determined to get her back no matter what. They walk down the street together, her foster mother following close behind. It was easy to block her out of the current situation, he just wanted the time to himself where he didn’t have to engage in conversation with her. Arthur thanked her however, despite not really liking her he could still see that Joyce was being taken care of. His daughter didn’t complain about her stay at that house but if she had, he would’ve said something.
‘‘Can I come home soon? I miss nana.’‘
Arthur’s mother had barely noticed that Joyce was gone, occasionally makes a remark about not having seen her that particular day but she never really follows up. It was sweet of Joyce to miss her grandmother however, despite not having too much of a relationship with her. Mostly ever sit together, play cards or watch television. It always seemed like a one-sided conversation from where Arthur stood, his mother never really believed him when he told her that he had a kid. Somehow she never came to imagine him as a father, a bit hurtful but he could see why. He wasn’t exactly fetching to look at but he was nice, Arthur wondered what life would’ve been like had he gotten married and lived somewhere else. That thought was kind of scary, he didn’t know who that woman would be or whether Joyce would even exist. Arthur never wished for anything else but his daughter to have a good life, the two of them together.
‘‘Not just yet honey, soon though.’‘
He stopped for a moment, kneeling down in front of Joyce. There wasn’t much he could say or promise but he wouldn’t stop until he got her back. She belonged at home with him, he was her father and he would be ridiculous to just let this go. As a father he’s learned a lot of things that he’s never been taught before, taking care of another human being. Arthur has learned to better care for himself in the process, it was a valuable experience to him. Soon enough she’ll become a teenager, she might go out into the world and she might get to know some bad people. Maybe she’ll go to college once she’s old enough, Arthur should start saving up for that too. He heard college can be very expensive, she could live at home and go to her classes if that was any easier.
‘‘I promise that everything will be back to normal soon…’‘
She smiles, that soft little smile that made him question as to how he ever became so lucky. How that one single night had resulted in something so pure, a child’s laugh is the most beautiful sound in the world to him but no other laughter could beat his little Joyce’s.
‘‘Daddy’s working on getting a bigger place, so you can have your own room.’‘
Her eyes light up, she would be so happy with her own room. It could be a space of her very own, she wouldn’t have to share a bed with her grandmother or sleep on the couch with him. It would be good, he huffs.
‘‘Will we still have sleepies?’‘
How could he forget the sleepies, never one to call them sleepovers or simply referring to the act of shared bedtimes. Arthur knew he shouldn’t have made it a habit to co-sleep but he’s been doing it since she was a baby, Joyce was so small that he didn’t trust her sleeping on her own. He would often sleep on the floor next to her crib in order to be close to her. She didn’t like the nightmares either, it always made them feel better to be so close.
‘‘All the sleepies you want…’‘
Joyce hugs him again, Arthur buries his face in her shoulder. Pressing her tightly against his chest. Whether the city of Gotham approves it or not, he was getting his little girl back. Nothing was going to stop him from doing so, she needed him.
“Can’t we just leave without telling him anything? I don’t think I can take any more fairy talk!”
Loki hid behind the door, listening to his brother talking to his friends. He hadn’t meant to be obnoxious, he was starting to regret all of his research into the magical critters now that it would seem that it’s affecting his relationship with Thor. Volstagg laughs, of course he’d laugh. Loki held his breath, Thor always meant well. He knew that, he smiles.
“He believes in fairies? What a baby.”
“I know, it’s embarrassing.”
Loki’s smile fell, Thor didn’t defend him this time. Why? He listens in as Thor and his friends quickly scurry off, leaving him behind. Loki had planned on tagging along for today’s adventure, Thor had let him come before but today it was all different. Loki wasn’t wanted, he was just a baby who believed in fairies. His jaw tensed as the tears gather in his eyes, Thor was an idiot. He’ll always be an idiot, the tears stream down Loki’s cheeks as he turns on his heel and runs down the hall. Perhaps if he ran far enough he’ll end up in a better place, a place where he could get a new brother. Someone better than Thor, someone who wouldn’t call him a baby or be embarrassed by him.
Loki sobs between breaths, Thor was stupid.
Loki turns in his bed, looking over to his bedside table to see if Gullveig was awake. He smiles upon seeing her sleeping in her spoon, comfortably wrapped up in her petals. It was vital that they found the scholar today, if he was still alive that is. Loki planned on trying out the spell, to see if it’ll make her bigger. If it did then he could conclude that she was a regular Asgardian under someone’s spell, perhaps cursed by a witch. It wouldn’t be unlikely, those things do happen. Loki hadn’t seen it happen in person nor did he know anyone personally but according to his mother, these things do happen.
He closes his eyes, no doubt his mother would attempt to make contact with him again today. Perhaps she’ll recruit Thor again, Loki should leave the palace before attempting the spell. His surroundings could be affected by it if it goes wrong, Loki couldn’t afford any more trouble. He turns his head to the side, staring at Gullveig’s sleeping face. Loki was grateful for this distraction, that he had something to focus on. It was unexpected but not unwelcome, strange things happen during strange times. Perhaps he was destined to find her, to get her back to wherever she came from. He wondered what her family would be like, if she had any. Perhaps her mother would be glad to see her, did she have siblings? Do they have wings?
“Good morning Gullveig…”
He smiles as she stirred in her spoon, a sleepy groan escaped her. Even fairies didn’t like waking up, perhaps they weren’t all that different. Everyone enjoyed sleeping in comfort though Loki questioned whether she was truly comfortable sleeping in a spoon with nothing but flower petals and leaves. Wouldn’t she like to sleep under a nice quilt or perhaps a knitted scarf? Loki had offered her one of his silk scarfs but she simply declined and said that the leaves were fine, she was his responsibility now. He sat up, looking out the window on the other side. The sun was up, it was clearly around or nearing midday. He couldn’t believe how long he had slept, Gullveig can talk at length but it was rather nice to listen to her. Loki thought her voice was soothing, she sings and speaks so sweetly. He wouldn’t mind it if she read him something some day, he drew a deep breath. Stretching out his arms, groaning at the soft crackle of his spine.
“We’ve got to get ready to leave.”
Gullveig stood on the ground where he could still see her, in the middle of the markings he had made for her a short while ago. Currently stood near the outskirts, it was quiet. Loki had been diligent in asking around for the scholar, some of the older generations remembered him. Pointed towards the outskirts, there should be a cabin somewhere near the woods. It would be at least an hour’s hike from this spot so it was a perfect chance to try the spell out. Gullveig was rather nervous and he could understand why but he asked her to trust him, to his surprise she said that she did. Loki took his stance, keeping his feet firmly planted. At least a step apart, taking deep breaths and emptying his mind.
“Any moment now greenhorn!”
Loki groans, the comment was unwanted. He knew what he was doing. Loki had learned a lot over the course of his life, his mother taught him all she knew in this field. Gullveig would be wise to be vary unless she wanted to become a toad or something worse, he stomps his foot down which ends up throwing Gullveig off her feet.
“Be quiet and let me concentrate!”
Loki felt a bit bad for snapping at her like that but this wasn’t the time to play around, he had to get it right. Gullveig stood back up with a huff, crossing her arms. Loki closed his eyes, taking a deep breath in. Recanting the spell in his thoughts, remembering each and every word. What if she was just like him? Who would’ve cast a shrinking spell on someone like her? How come she didn’t remember anything, it was all a bit suspicious. Loki wasn’t confident that she was under any other spell but a memory one, how does someone so small wake up on a lily pad with little to no recollection of who they are or where they came from?
The markings on the ground began glowing, he could hear Gullveig gasping. Loki could see her now, in his mind. Fully grown, in his mind he could see her in her regular size. Loki felt something rushing through him, he couldn’t breathe.
He stood his ground and kept chanting, he knew it would work. It had to, for a moment he couldn’t hear Gullveig calling his name. The rustling of the trees was absent, he couldn’t hear the birds singing in the sky. The humming of the bees had stopped, Loki flinched as something managed to knock him over. Falling onto the ground, he was quick to open his eyes. Whatever that interruption was, he had to deal with it. Loki stared up at the blue sky, laying on his back. It felt different from before. He squints as the sun began shining into his eyes as the drifting cloud moved away, he could hear Gullveig calling for him again.
“Loki! Are you alright!?”
She sounded so close, he saw a shadow above him. He made out the two blue eyes he had such trouble looking at this morning, the soft button nose and the sweet rosy cheeks. She was there, hovering above him. So closely, Loki felt her hand pressing down on his chest. Too distracted by her smile, she began laughing at the whole situation. As clear as bells, he smiles back. For moment he let himself indulge in this vulnerability, enjoying her closeness.
His eyes widened, she was so up close. Loki sat up straight, his chest heaved for a moment as he took in his surroundings. Blades of grass the size of trees, the little pebbles he had kicked around earlier now boulders and mountains. The sky an endless void of blue, Loki turned back to stare at her. He was shocked to see her so close, no more the tiny little thing that she used to be but there was a downside.
“No, no, no, no, no…”
What could he possibly have done wrong? He was sure he had the incantation right, he looked around for the satchel he had brought. Loki had broken his one rule, disrespecting the books that made the palace library but ripping the page out. He spotted it but it looked as if it had moved, all the way on the other side of the field. Loki looked to the now worried Gullveig, she was so ordinary this up close. His cheeks reddened as he noticed the closeness between them, he scoots away. Making space between the two of them, it was different now that he could see her fully without having to cross his eyes.
“We’re the same size.”
Gullveig gasps, he didn’t know what to do. This wasn’t how he thought it would turn out, she was supposed to be the size of an average Asgardian woman by the time the spell worked it’s magic. What went wrong? Gullveig stood up and dusted her dress, Loki was seeing in her in a brand new light. Well, brand new angle really. Suppose this would be what it would be like to be near her if they were of similar sizes, Loki got back on his feet. Looking around himself, he spotted the open satchel he groans.
“In Valhalla’s name!”
Gullveig looks around the area, examining herself from head to toe.
“Did it work!?
Loki had the urge to just lay down in the dirt and stay there, he needed to get answers.
The sun had already set, their travels extended. Walking for many hours instead of just couple, Loki would’ve gotten to that cabin by now if that spell didn’t backfire like it did. He had to leave his satchel behind, he could’ve dragged it with him but it would’ve been too much hassle. He didn’t have much of importance in there, except maybe a piece of bread and the page from the book of spells. He did take a look at it, managed to unfold it with Gullveig’s assistance. Downside however, the page didn’t tell him what went wrong or why it went wrong. He had only ripped out the one page with the incantation and the back of the page wasn’t even about the same subject, talked about some sort of light in a dark hallway. Not that he cared, he had already made a mess of things. Loki felt as if he shouldn’t had tried that spell, simply assumed that Gullveig was a fairy and not a regular person under some curse.
’‘Are we there yet?”
He rolled his eyes, jumping over a thin piece of straw that obstructed their way.
Gullveig hums, she had been brilliant company.
“When will we get there? Is he nice? Does he know where my family is?”
When she stayed quiet that is.
“I don’t know…”
Loki hisses as he turns around, he was irritated, tired and confused. He didn’t need the commentary at this time, trying to make sure they get to the scholar’s cabin in one piece was hard work when one was this small. He wondered how Gullveig even coped being so uselessly small, what could she even do so low to the ground?
“Please, just be quiet for a moment.”
He could see the hurt in her expression, she looked away from him. Her lips pressed together, he sighs and turns back around to focus on the path in front of him. Perhaps his tone was a bit too harsh, she was simply curious. Loki was tired, frustrated beyond compare. Worried if anything, how would he get back to full size? He didn’t really dabble with these sorts of spells, illusion magic was his trade and he was quite proud of it. He could hear the grass rustling, heavy steps of some sort of creature. He was sure that it was something simple, like an ant or something like that. Loki wondered what they would look like this up close, the ants were always so much smaller than his fingers. Definitely smaller than precious Gullveig, his cheeks heat up. Being this close to her was a lot more different than simply holding her in the palm of his hand or having her standing on his shoulder, he hadn’t really prepared for this. Then again, he wasn’t exactly expecting the spell to backfire.
“We shouldn’t go any further, it’s too dark.”
Loki turns to see that Gullveig had stopped, she seemed nervous.
“If we keep going we’ll get there by morning-”
“You want to risk getting eaten by spiders?”
Spiders come in different shapes and sizes, he didn’t like their long legs or how furry they could be. Some even know how to jump, the thought made him shiver in disgust. Knowing that some spiders could easily be larger than Gullveig was somewhat terrifying, he was however armed. Luckily his dagger managed to shrink down with the spell as well, he was armed. Loki reckoned that he could take on one measly spider, she had nothing to fear.
“How would you know? Last time I checked you sprouted from a lily almost two days ago.”
Gullveig pouts, crossing her arms. Loki really did question her memory at times, she seemed to retain some sort of knowledge of how she or someone of her size survives. Somewhat like a mouse would know to hoard food for the winter or bears hibernating after filling up, perhaps fairies were the same. Loki read that they either move about to avoid the harsh winter cold or they close themselves off in their homes and live underground until the spring arrives. Gullveig shrugs her shoulders and walks underneath a mushroom cap, gently poking at it’s underside. Loki was curious, was it simply the survival knowledge of her species? Whatever species she turned out to be, he wanted to know how she would know.
“I don’t know.”
Loki walked underneath the mushroom cap, looking up at the folds. Rather soft and spongy, she kept poking at them with her fingers. Startled when she heard the clouds rumbling in the distance, as if this situation couldn’t get any worse. Gullveig’s eyes widen as she points out into the darkness, Loki peered his eyes in order to spot what she was pointing at.
“That’ll do nicely, you don’t expect us to hike through in the rain? We’d drown!”
She had spotted small hollowed out spot in a nearby tree, off the ground but high enough for them to be able to climb in. They would be protected from the rain and as she put it, not drown as they slept on the ground. In some way, Loki could think of worse things.
“Not the most humiliating way to die…”
Gullveig giggles and shook her head, Loki rolls his eyes.
“Morbidity suits you.”
He pressed his lips together, suppressing a smile he wished he would’ve given her, who was he to give her such smiles anyhow? It wasn’t as wonderful as hers, he shrugs. Gullveig breaks of a small leaf that grew out of the stub, holding it above her head while Loki attempted to reach the ledge of the opening. He’d have to jump just a little but nothing too hard, she took a deep breath.
“I think I saw some berries over there, if you could use your fancy magic to make a fire that would be great!”
Loki turned to question her but she was already off to the bush on the other side of the clearing, he was very eager to follow her. He still had this feeling that she wouldn’t be able to fend for herself if she were on her own. He quickly let go of the ledge and ran towards her.
“Hold on! Don’t go wandering about on your own!”
A long night ahead of them, Loki was sure of it.
It wasn’t as bad as he thought, cold definitely but not half bad. Staring out at the falling rain, at this level it looked like a waterfall. Just a steady stream of water as if someone was pouring it out of a bucket, it was odd and yet wonderful at the same time. The sound so soothing, Gullveig hugged her knees. Bringing them close to her chest, staring out at the rain. Loki had acknowledged that he wasn’t exactly the nicest today, this whole being kind wasn’t something he was used to but she just seemed to bring it out in him. As well as being rather annoying with her constant questions but he couldn’t fault her for having them.
Loki turns to look at her, half lit by the glow of their little fire. Like the sun setting across her face, her eyes glistening like dripping jewels. Gullveig had tied her hair back while tackling that large berry that she managed to cut pieces out of thanks to Loki’s knife, he could properly see her face now that there weren’t any strands covering it but she was just as beautiful. His jaw tensed as he quickly averted his eyes, looking back out into the rain.
Gullveig sighs and he gathers the strength to look back, there was this guilt in her voice as she apologised to him. Loki felt the hurt in from his childhood coming back as he apologised time and time again for being such a child, his brother never forgave him or gave him the chance to grow up. Left him alone to his fairy tales, allowing the bitterness to take over him in the process. In truth, Loki didn’t have anything to apologise for. How would one apologise for simply being a child? It was ridiculous but at the same time Loki felt sad to think back to it, that he had held onto these dreams for such a long time. His obsession with magical creatures all but faded away as he turned from boy to man, princely duties and sparring took up most if not all of his time and he let the boy inside him disappear.
“That you’re stuck like this now…”
His eyes widened, Gullveig felt guilty for the spell backfiring? If anything, he should’ve apologised for the way he’s been acting today. He’s snapped at her countless times, grumbled and groaned over her countless questions. As annoying as she was he couldn’t help but find her just as sweet, giving sort of presence. His heart jumped as their eyes connected from across the fire, he couldn’t help but smile. Leaning back on his elbows as he laid down, Gullveig had brought him back to a place he had a hard time recognising at first but he was sure he knew now.
“We don’t know that yet, the scholar will have answers. I’m sure of it.”
Gullveig sniffles, picking at her dress with much interest. Loki found her to be pleasing to look at, good company and a good conversation starter. Maybe it was mostly due to her lack of knowledge about the world he came from, the big world as Gullveig had named it. She was full of questions that Loki was eager to answer, he felt his inner child rejoicing at this adventure he had found himself on. The boy laughed with each corner it rounded, discovering new things about Gullveig in a light that he’d never thought he could see. Loki sat up and hums, he would get her to the right people. To the place she belonged, so that she could be happy.
“I’ll get you home, I promise.”
He smiles at her but his smile quickly disappeared when Gullveig crawled over to him, he didn’t mean to make her upset. He knew he had been rather unpleasant company but he wasn’t exactly used to being on the road like this, would this count as camping? He wouldn’t know seeing as he’s never gone camping or made camp anywhere else than in a royal tent with his brother, not really this rustic but in a way he preferred it this way more. Gullveig approached on her hands and knees, avoiding getting caught in the little fire he had started. She was so close to him, Loki had forgotten what she looked like before. His thoughts consumed her appearance like a hungry poet, Loki could piece together a thousand words to describe her and yet none came to mind. Gullveig leaned in, planting a soft kiss to his cheek.
He felt the heat of the fire against his skin the moment her lips touched his cheek, Gullveig retreated. Crawling towards the bed of leaves they had collected for comfort, leaving Loki unable to look away from her. A simple gesture, an act of gratitude perhaps? He grumbles and turns back, looking out into the rain as it begun letting up. Ignoring the burn in his cheeks, he never knew that a fairy’s kiss would be so delicate and yet so powerful. Loki laid back down, staring at the embers flying into the air, he could compare the feeling to them.
AN:baby it is over, it is here and we are easing into that ending here ya go. thank you all for reading, i’m happy to be able to add another book to my bookshelf! i am now very sleep deprived, i finished this at 6:20 am so sorry if there’s some minor blips, i’ll go over it later <3
Jonathan couldn’t breathe, sat upright in the bed. Staring into the darkness, his chest heaving. Sweating bullets from the nightmares, they still seemed so vivid. Practically smelling the metal, he could feel the sand between his fingers as he dug them into the mattress below. The summer heat didn’t make it any better, Jonathan flinched as Aura pressed her palm against his chest.
Jonathan leans against her, taking deep breaths. He counted down from five each time he inhaled and again with each exhale, just like she said. Aura made breathing so much easier, simply being around her helped a lot. She pressed a soft kiss to his temple, hugging him tightly.
Jonathan buried his nose in her neck, hiding away from the darkness. Inhaling the sweet smell of cinnamon, she was the safe space. Aura wanted to help him, the two of them lay back down. Jonathan didn’t bother pull the covers over himself, needing the escape from the heat. His breathing calmed down but he wouldn’t let go of her, he couldn’t let go of the anchor. Not just yet, Aura lightly rakes her fingers through his hair. Earning a deep hum of appreciation, Jonathan had buttons he didn’t know about.
“I’ve got you…”
The house was silent for another day.
“We are already in the middle of a heatwave, you know!”
Jonathan felt his chest bubbling, the awful part of customer service was to deal with complaints. The guest in front of him red and sweaty from the intense summer warmth, the heatwave hadn’t been merciful. A lot of shops were struggling to keep their stock cool, people were flocking into the shades and into the freezer sections of all stores in the country. Jonathan had been conditioned to intense heat, he could handle it fairly well but that didn’t mean he didn’t sweat. Wearing the suit wasn’t exactly desired in this heat but the owner insisted, Jonathan hoped to persuade him to change his mind. Maybe allow a lighter attire, still formal but thinner in order to help the staff out a little bit.
“I’m very sorry sir, I will see to it that you will be transferred immediately.”
This guest’s room hadn’t been properly ventilated, all of their rooms had air conditioning but the unit in that particular room had been damaged about two days ago. Jonathan tried to let the night shift staff know of this so that they could pull the room out of the registry until the unit had been properly taken care of. Judging by the lack of cool air coming through, he would have to have it repaired or better yet, replaced. Jonathan tilts his head down, looking at the screen in front of him. There weren’t a lot of rooms left, the tourists came in droves over the summer months. London was a popular destination for people, special city but overly crowded. Jonathan repressed the urge to groan as he thinks about the train ride back, the underground was absolutely unbearable at this time. Especially during commute, he didn’t work long hours at the moment. Mostly from the morning and up until the afternoon, sometimes he would return home at the end of the night but he had things to take care of. Specifically a dog, Adam had become quite lazy lately. Hadn’t walked Sergeant in some time like Jonathan had asked him too, perhaps it was time to have a word. Then again, Adam was approaching that time in his life that everything was turned upside down. He could just be having some internal struggles, Jonathan was glad to see that he still attended his football meetings.
“I would also like my usual bottle of white wine sent up to my new room.”
“Of course, allow me to notify the staff to bring it up.”
The guest seemed very smug with himself, Jonathan couldn’t blame him. There must be some satisfying aspect of being the customer, having the staff practically lick their wallets. He didn’t pay attention that however, as a manager he had to look over the staff and make sure everything ran smoothly. For now, he only worked half days. Jonathan was quick to transfer the man to a new room, it wouldn’t be as luxurious as the one he had asked for but the preferred bed size was there. It was the only thing he had at the moment, he looks back up. The guest wasn’t exactly all that nice to look at but he knew that it was expected of him to be as polite as possible, seeing as he was an investor. Made frequent trips and stays here every time, it wasn’t so much his money but the plethora of women he practically dragged upstairs to his room each night he stayed. Jonathan noticed the ring that kept vanishing, it would always be there when the guest checked out. Safe to say that he was married but had his multiple affairs in this hotel, a safe space if you will. Jonathan didn’t feel all that happy about that, must people really be this sneaky? Then again, he didn’t have the right to judge as he didn’t know this man’s story.
“I have transferred you to room seventy-one, it’s one floor below.”
Jonathan simply handed over the keycard with that same polite smile.
“Sir, it’s the only room available at the moment. We are fully booked up seeing as it is tourist season, please do accept our complementary breakfast as we are very sorry for the mishap.’’
It wasn’t all that hard to make guests happy, offer them free anything and they will eat it up. As much as Jonathan didn’t want to give this particular visitor anything complimentary, he didn’t have the energy to argue with him today. He was tired and just wanted to go back home, Jonathan was expecting to arrive to find Sergeant waiting at the door with his leash as Adam most likely hadn’t taken him out today.
’‘Foreigners- Thank you, I appreciate the freebie.”
Jonathan had almost forgot how unsavoury this man truly was, hence why he doesn’t normally interact with him. Seeing as the guest in question always shows up when he wasn’t working, which would be the evening time. One of the unfortunate things about working evenings when the investor was in town but Jonathan just took it on the chin like everyone else, working made him feel good. It was mostly to distract him, give him something to do instead of sitting on the sofa and watching television all day or working out. He still had more than enough settlement money to last him until he dies, he was in no rush to spend it all. It was in reserve, all of it pushed into his savings account. Sure, he’ll dip into it every now and then but he still lived paycheck to paycheck just like everyone else.
“Would you like me to take you to your room?”
The man tuts and grabs the card out of Jonathan’s hand, turning around.
“I can find my own way!”
By all means, Jonathan wouldn’t be there to help him when he eventually got lost.
“Your life seemed to have turned itself the right way up.”
Jonathan couldn’t help but chuckle, he hadn’t exactly anticipate seeing Angela again. It’s been quite some time but she had ambushed him in front of the station on his way home. He had texted Aura, telling her that he’d be home a bit late. Hopefully she wouldn’t mind, he should pick something up from the express on the way back. She had mentioned needing more milk, the calcium intake had increased exponentially in the past two years.
“You could say that again, some things will probably still be present but I’m dealing with them.”
Jonathan knew that the dreams might never truly stop but he could help lessen the impact that they had, waking up in the middle of the night wasn’t as inconvenient as it used to be. With Aura sleeping next to him, it seemed to make everything so much better. It helped him come back to reality, reminder that he wasn’t back in the desert. The therapy group disbanded about three years ago, Aura and Jonathan both felt that it was time to move on together but he began seeing a therapist on his own. Jonathan hadn’t wanted to at first but Aura was very encouraging, she had been very adamant that he sought help. If not for himself, for her and Adam collectively as well.
Jonathan knew he had to be there for them, his new family. The therapy paid off, it helped to talk about things. The medication he was prescribed wasn’t as pleasant but it was appreciated, sleeping pills and anxiety medication. Carefully administered as per the label, Jonathan didn’t feel like he needed it as much as he used to. The sleeping pills were used on occasion, before he had such trouble even just falling asleep in the first place. Aura’s presence definitely helps, that and physical activity. Jonathan’s cheeks redden at the thought of intimacy and how much it had helped, maybe not the right time to visualise a quiet evening in bed just yet.
“Yeah, less frequent now but they do come back every now and then. Perhaps, once or twice every other month. It’s not something that significantly impacts me emotionally anymore.”
Angela hums, he quickly checked his watch. He could still make the next train, he had more than enough time. Sadly the heat didn’t agree, he felt the back of his neck burning. Stepping into the shade of the train station, Angela follows.
“Sounds like you’ve got a good support network.”
“I do, Aura has been so good to me.”
Aura had been nothing but good, she was something that he didn’t know he needed. Jonathan was very sure that he had no use for fruitful relationships, that he didn’t need a rich family life to keep going. He had been alone since Sophie died, Aura had hit him like a meteor on a clear day. Out of nowhere, unexpected but well appreciated. In some way she knocked the sense back into him, Aura made Jonathan want to live life to the fullest. He wanted to experience different milestones, having a family, living together. Perhaps at some point he would consider marriage but at their current point, they were perfectly happy as partners. He still felt a bit giddy calling her his girlfriend, Jonathan was used to referring to Aura as his partner instead because that is what she was to him. His partner, a loved one, his number one supported. His memories of Sophie never faded away, he still remembered them but they didn’t take a front seat anymore. At times they would both speak about Frankie and Sophie, imagining what they would say to one another. No doubt Sophie wouldn’t get all that well on with Frankie but it was humorous to think about, Jonathan was thankful.
“I still don’t understand why you insisted on staying in that house, considering all that happened four years ago.”
Jonathan sighs, it had been the most unexpected choice but it was something they both decided on. The house had more than enough room, four rooms specifically. Aura’s mother had moved to Ireland, wanting to be close to Indigo and his now wife. They had a child together so it made sense for her to be there, they still come to visit. Jonathan had been texting Indigo a lot as of late, trying to pitch together a holiday plan for the family. Aura missed her mother and it was very clear that Jonathan had to make something happen, why not go back to Ireland this year? They did so last year and the year before, sort of a tradition at this point. Indigo and his family would come over for Christmas, now that they celebrated it together.
“If I were you, I would’ve sold and found another place.”
The horrors of Owen Parks had ended with a loud bang, Jonathan felt sorry for him but he was more worried for Aura and Adam. After the police arrested him, they had him on tape confessing to tampering with the breaks of Frankie’s car the day he had his collision. Effectively getting charged with murder, they had pushed for a harder charge because manslaughter didn’t fit the crime. Owen had been stalking Aura for a long time, he had been responsible for her husband’s death and got himself a good chunk of time behind bars. Jonathan didn’t want to know anything about what was going on with the man, he had attacked Aura’s mother. That man hurt Aura and her family, turned her life upside down. He was steadfast on protecting her and their home, regardless of whether Owen ever returned or not but knowing what he was charged with he knew that it was a very slim chance. There had been talks of moving but both Jonathan and Aura weren’t convinced enough to take that step, they still look at properties together for now but it would be difficult to move Adam out of the environment he grew up in, from a house that he’s always lived in. They were happy and comfortable there, end of.
“Owen is facing a hefty sentence, I am comfortable knowing he’ll be in there for the rest of his life. If anything, he needs the help more than I do.”
Angela lightly pats him on the back with a smile, he truly did appreciate her.
“Don’t sell yourself short Pine.”
He smiles, looking back at his watch. He would need to wrap up this conversation right now if he was going to get to the platform on time, he really wished he could take his Triumph next time. It was more for the winter time anyhow, got there faster. There was something very simple about using public transport, he felt like he was finally in the real world with everyone else when he leaned up against the pole in the train. Watching everyone else on their phones, texting their loved ones or watching videos to pass the time. The warm breeze of the passing trains blowing in through the little window in the back of the car, as miserable as the heat was sometimes it made Jonathan unnaturally happy. He turns to Angela with open arms, embracing her again. He was sure it wasn’t for the last time either, he chuckles.
“Thank you again, for everything.”
“No trouble, we’re still on for next week aren’t we?”
Angela told him once that he could’ve been an excellent police officer but the only title of authority Jonathan wanted to hold was that of a hotel manager, no doubt he could’ve done something great but he was happy with what he contributes to the city. He nods, they would be having dinner together on Sunday. It had become a frequent thing, Angela liked to butt in whenever she could. No one could ever tell that woman no, she aimed to do what she could.
“Feel free to bring your plus two again.”
Of course she would bring her family with as well, couldn’t forget them.
Jonathan had taken off his jacket, hoping to prevent sweating through it. Luckily it started to cool down as soon as he reached the neighbourhood, he would need to get his work clothes dry cleaned on Sunday. He loved the weekends, being able to take those days off to be with his family was something that he’s never really done before but now he has gotten a taste of that life. Jonathan loved weekends off, he got to go on runs with Sergeant in the mornings after he wakes Jonathan up with his horrible dog breath. He smiles to himself, turning the key and unlocking the front door. He gave a light knock to the mosaic glass on the door.
He could hear commotion in the kitchen, Aura cooking up another storm. Jonathan would often cook with her when he comes home from work but his conversation with Angela had taken some time, he arrived home later than he normally would. His eyes caught the little figure that stood on the floor, holding onto the shoe rack to balance herself. He couldn’t help but smile at the sight, he didn’t know she was already standing.
His first child and only daughter, Rose Pine. Little Rosie standing for the first time in her life, granted she had a bit of support but it counts. Jonathan carelessly tossed his jacket onto the stairs and bent down to pick her up. The little angel had her hand outstretched towards him, squealing as she saw him reach for her. Sitting his daughter on his hip, swaying about the hallway. He had missed her today, thought a lot about her. Jonathan pressed a kiss to her plump cheek, so soft and pudgy. She hadn’t been in his plans but a welcome surprise nonetheless, to think that he had his own child after the many years of looking after and staring at other people’s families. He hadn’t been sure if all that staring had any deeper meaning other than wanting to have some sort of family connections, Jonathan never really thought about having children of his own. Rose simply just happened and he just accepted it, there was this hesitance at first but it was mixed in with that intense fatherly excitement that most fathers feel. At least that’s what Jonathan believes, he kicked off his shoes and carried Rose further into the house. Silently greeting the photo of his father, alongside Frankie. They had their family photos on display downstairs, Jonathan didn’t mind being displayed right next to Aura’s late husband. It never bothered him seeing as he showed the man respect, one doesn’t simply forget previous partners like that. Frankie gave Jonathan Aura, he was thankful. Speaking of Aura, he is greeted by her as she stood in the doorway that lead to the kitchen. Sweat on her brow from cooking, that kitchen must be absolutely dreadful to be in.
“Sorry, I should’ve called you- She just started standing up a few moments ago-”
Jonathan just bounced his babbling daughter.
“It’s alright, I’m here now- Did you stand up today? Are you a big girl now?”
Rose simply kicks her legs about, chewing on her little fingers. Completely oblivious to his questions, perhaps not ready to start having full conversations just yet. Aura smiles and reaches up, pressing a brief kiss to Jonathan’s lips, eagerly accepted. He noted the lack of that familiar wagging nub of a tail, his furry companion was missing from the house. He leaned over to peer into the living room, no Sergeant to be seen.
Aura giggles and turns around, returning to the kitchen. Jonathan followed her there, noting the pot steaming on the stove. Pasta tonight, he was quite excited for that. Especially since Aura had attempted to make her own pasta from scratch, no idea if it would be successful or not but soon enough the truth would be revealed.
“Adam took him out for a bit.”
Jonathan leans against the door way, nuzzling his daughter who laid her head down against his shoulder. She seemed a bit tired, normally she’d be screeching and crawling about the house but he could simply put it down on the time. Almost seven-thirty, she would be put to bed very soon.
“Surprising, I have been meaning to have a word with him about walking Sarge but I guess I don’t have to now.”
Adam had been rather withdrawn as of late but Jonathan suspected that it had more to do with his age than troubles at school, Aura would want him to speak to Adam anyway. He should really, make sure that he is alright and not feeling bad about anything. His relationship with that boy had grown over the past four years, now almost fourteen. Jonathan felt like things were going by too fast, this was probably very normal for ordinary people. Having so much happening around them, children running about and having full time jobs. Adam always took Sergeant out for his afternoon walks to save Jonathan the trouble, he normally didn’t come home until six. Later if he missed his train like today but recently Adam hasn’t been keeping up on his tasks. Jonathan had to insist that he tidied his room, went out more and walked Sergeant as per their agreement. At the same time, he acknowledged the possibility of Adam struggling and he has often let him know that he is there if Adam needed to talk. Jonathan loved his stepson, he loved the relationship they had and he appreciated that he trusted him enough to give him the blessing to pursue his mother. Not that it was that much of an issue before, Jonathan smiles at his daughter.
“I would appreciate if you did talk, the only reason he went out is because Ellie went with him.”
Jonathan looks over to Aura who turned off the stove, moving the pot over to the sink to drain. The realisation hit him, he was at that tender age where his heart will start noticing things more. Especially girls, he chuckles and shook his head. A bit of a touchy subject, Jonathan could see that Adam might not want to share this with his mother.
“I see, what you think about all of this Rose? Do you think that your brother is ready to look after you now?”
Adam wasn’t very happy about being Rose’s babysitter, not that he didn’t love his half-sister. He loved her very much but watching babies wasn’t exactly something a fourteen year old boy would want to do, Jonathan doubts any kid wants to babysit their siblings but it was something both he and Aura would love for Adam to pick up. Even if it was just for a couple of minutes up to an hour while they took care of things around the house, all he would have to do was to entertain her really. He wasn’t old enough to look after his sister on his own, Aura huffs and shook her head. She didn’t need to say anything else for Jonathan to know the answer.
“Not a chance. Dinner will ready in a bit, can you take care of her while I finish?”
Of course he didn’t mind doing so but he felt a bit bad for leaving Aura to cook the rest of today’s dinner, he knew he could make it up to her afterwards by doing the dishes. Which he will most likely have to fight for, Jonathan carried Rose out of the steaming kitchen. He could at least help out a little and get the high chair into the dining room, set some plates out.
“Mummy’s been busy today huh?”
Lifting up his daughter, pressing a little kiss to her face. She looked very much like him but he couldn’t deny that he saw a lot of Aura in Rose. She’s got her mother’s eyes, his hair and most definitely his appetite. Jonathan sat down on the sofa, sitting Rose up in his lap. Today had been very long, almost felt as if it would never end. His daughter grabbed a fistful of his shirt, chewing on the fabric. She didn’t have much sense to not dirty daddy’s shirt but daddy didn’t seem to mind at all, it was the weekend after all. Jonathan looked forward to tomorrow, where he can wake up to her cries for attention. Before Rose, Aura would always be the first one up but now Jonathan was up first. There was some sort of nervous energy in him that woke him up, the desire to be near his child. To hold her, teach her to walk though she might still have some way to go. Rose hums as she looks up at him, those lovely brown eyes glistening in the setting sun.
Jonathan had never felt so loved, so safe.
Rose woke up a bit sooner than he expected, she still had her bouts of wakefulness but Jonathan wasn’t exactly awake enough to take her for a small car ride which always makes her sleepy. A man who was tired should not be driving, though had has broken that rule many times before. Jonathan wasn’t about to risk it, so walking through the house would have to suffice. A bit of a longer process but it worked as well, Aura was still awake. Doing laundry downstairs, she always puts the machine on before bed so that she could throw it in the dryer or on the line outside in the morning. Rose sniffles, the poor thing had woke up crying. So tired and irritated, Jonathan gently bounced her as he walked about the house. From room to room, stopping by Adam’s bedroom. He knocks on the door before entering, the smell hit him almost immediately.
“A bit stuffy in here mate, do you well to open a window.”
Adam was sat on his bed with Sergeant curled up at his side, scrolling through his phone. After his little fiasco four years ago, his mother got him a cellphone so that he could always reach her. Neither of them trusted him to go anywhere for a little while but now he was fully able of going around on his own, as long as it wasn’t deeper into London. Simply school and back, he knew the general area around their part of town and he wasn’t allowed to be out after seven. Jonathan knew that it was a bit unfair but it was for his safety, the less desirable crowds came out at around eight in the evening. Running up and down the neighbourhoods, he didn’t want his stepson exposed to that. Adam rolls his eyes, Jonathan couldn’t help but chuckle.
The many times Aura has asked Adam to put his football uniform into the laundry basket downstairs, Jonathan expected him to do so every time but he always seemed to forget. The boy had football practice a few times a week and then school activities, a light bulb went off in Jonathan’s head. He remembered that they needed to get Adam new uniform shorts as he just recently ripped his current pair, they could get that done on Monday. Meanwhile he would have to wear his trousers that day, Jonathan never liked school uniforms as a child but he admits that they were quite handy. No one was singled out and it was so much easier to get ready for school, he spotted the smelly culprit in the corner. The gym bag that needed to be thoroughly cleaned, Sergeant snores.
“I just wanted to thank you for walking Sarge today, I really appreciate it.”
He kisses the top of Rose’s head, she was getting tired again which was perfect. Jonathan noticed that Adam had been very fidgety today, out of the house and off to school before Aura could say goodbye. Neither of them had driven him to school for a while, mostly due to Adam wanting to be more independent which wasn’t all that bad. It was simply the timing of it all, Jonathan didn’t think much of it but Aura was worried for her son. He lightly pats Rose’s back as she began fussing again, he needed to get her back to bed. Jonathan stepped into his stepson’s room, Adam decided to set his phone down to pay him attention. He was at least courteous enough to focus on a conversation, he was glad to see that.
“Where did you and Ellie take him?”
Adam sat up straight, his cheeks reddened. This moment was quite telling, Jonathan was right to suspect that there was some alternative reason for him to take the dog out, Sergeant stirs in his sleeps and proceeds to get up to leave. Trotting down the hallway to go downstairs, possibly to go out into the garden. Jonathan should give him a bit of attention later, he took a step back with a chuckle.
“Sorry, your mum told me.”
Adam huffs and crosses his arms, Jonathan sensed that something didn’t exactly go according to plan on that walk.
“Went to the playground, she wasn’t all that impressed.”
“Not impressed by my Sarge?”
Jonathan mocked offence which got Adam smiling, in truth however, how could anyone not like Sergeant? The sweetest dog around these parts, most if not all of Adam’s friends loved Sergeant. Jonathan frequently brings him along to ball games, Sergeant was very popular with the kids in Adam’s year so if this Ellie didn’t like their dog, too bad. No dog for her, perhaps she was more of a cat person. It’s always the closest answer to why someone doesn’t like a dog, maybe she wasn’t impressed because she liked the smaller dogs. The ones that tend to be more puppy like, Sergeant was a handsome little fella so Jonathan didn’t understand. He hums, gently rocking Rose around.
“I just wanted to check in with you, see how you’ve been.”
Adam shrugs and leans back on his bed, Jonathan eyed the untouched helmet he had given him for his birthday a couple of years ago. He knew that Adam was too afraid to actually use it, didn’t want to damage it in any way but Jonathan was more than willing to replace it if that ever happened.
“I’m okay, school’s a bit shit-”
“Hey, sister’s present.”
Adam groans and rubs the skin below his eyes, Jonathan didn’t mind the occasional swearing but there wasn’t any swearing in the house around the baby. Aura wouldn’t be all too happy if she was the one standing here, Jonathan could let this go. Rose hums, looking around the room as she fiddles with his shirt.
“She’s just a baby, she won’t understand.”
Jonathan wanted to believe that but he didn’t want his daughter’s first word to be “shit”. Aura would never forgive him if Rose was exposed to that sort of language. Besides, kids pick up things on their own so who was to say that his daughter didn’t understand what was going on around her. He pressed another kiss to the top of her head.
“Do not underestimate the power of young children, you’ll regret it one day.”
Adam rolls his eyes again, he was going through some sort of phase. Jonathan didn’t know if he could call it a phase but he has been quite moody as of late. He did his best to listen to him, Adam never said anything about going through anything difficult. As far as Jonathan knew, his stepson was just fine. It was vital to give children their privacy during the formative years, let them discover things on their own. It was also important to let them know that as a parent, they could always come to them for advice. If they needed to get something off their chests, Jonathan loved Adam greatly and wanted him to know that he was there for him.
“You can always talk to me if something bothers you…”
Adam smiles and nods.
Jonathan’s heart swells, to know that Adam loved him as a father figure and looked up to him as one. Frankie was never replaced, that was something that was made clear from the start but Adam was allowed to call him whatever he wanted. If Adam wanted to refer to him as Jonathan or Jon, he was allowed to. It meant a lot to Jonathan to know that his stepson trusted and loved him so much as to call him “dad”. In his mind, he now had two wonderful children. Though he only fathered one of them, he felt an equal love for both. Jonathan promised Frankie that he would look after his son, that he would make him proud. He bids him a good night and closes the door on his way out, heading down towards his daughter’s bedroom. Jonathan hadn’t expected or hoped for this sort of life as his plan had always been to live out the rest of his life in isolation, on his own without anyone to bother him. Then he met Aurabell Blue and she changed all of that, flipped things upside down and disrupted his plans. He wouldn’t change it for the world, Rose whimpers as Jonathan padded over to her crib with the plan to put her down.
“My sleepy girl.”
Jonathan kissed her cheek, receiving a joyful hum in return.
“It’ll be good for us all to get out for a bit, breezy day tomorrow.”
Jonathan pulled off his shirt, tossing it into the basket in the corner. Aura takes off her glasses and sets them down on her nightstand along with her book, they had planned to go out tomorrow. A bit of fresh air for everyone, Jonathan was afraid that she was getting a bit stir-crazy from being at home. They would take the baby along, go to the park for a bit of sun. Exercise Sergeant, Jonathan promised to play football with Adam. Jonathan was quick to unbuckle his belt, he would need to take his slacks to the cleaners on the way. He could pick them back up on the way to work, get dressed there. Jonathan was trying to get into the habit of bringing a change of clothes to work so he wouldn’t sweat through his suit on the way back, he notices the worried look on Aura’s face as he pushed his slacks down. Enjoying the cool air, they left their window cracked for a bit of that cool night air to circulate.
“Is he doing alright, did you talk to him?”
He huffs and sits down on his side of the bed.
“I think he’s okay, just got a lot of growing to do.”
It was a sensitive time, Adam was reaching that part of his life where everything will change. He’s been this way since before Aura got pregnant with Rose, Jonathan was sure that there was a bit of hesitation in him when they both broke the news to him. Out of respect to Adam, Jonathan decided that he would of course be the first person to know. Aura’s mother was the second person to know, Adam seemed happy about the prospect of a sibling but maybe it was mostly the excitement of having a potential brother. He could still teach Rose to play football when she was old enough to kick a ball, perhaps she would get into the sport as well later on in her life. Who knows, they could have a lot of things in common. Jonathan wasn’t sure if Adam somehow felt replaced which obviously wasn’t what was happening, he would rather go back to the military than to replace Adam with some other kid. His stepson was not a toy to be replaced when it was broken, Jonathan would help him grow and nurture him just like he would his daughter. He was his son, end of.
“I’m worried, he’s not really been all that talkative lately.”
He got underneath the thin blanket, luckily he had remembered to switch the fan on before get in. He was too tired to get back up, Jonathan sits up against the headboard. He understood that Aura was worried about Adam, he truly did sympathise but there were times where they would have to stay in their lane. Her son will come to them if something bothers him, if he needs something or simply wanted to express himself. Jonathan had faith in his bond with Adam, he wasn’t going to push the boy around until he tells him what is going on.
“He’s getting older, children sometimes like to keep to themselves at this stage. Adam knows he can come to me whenever he can but if you’d like, I can sit down with him tomorrow night.”
Aura sighs, she knew that Jonathan didn’t want to have to sit him down. Adam found it uncomfortable to be talked down to like a child, Aura would always see him as her child and this is where Jonathan came in. He was willing to treat Adam like an adult, an equal. Only four more years until he turns eighteen and then he’ll turn twenty-one, thirty and so on and so forth. Adam was mature enough to make his own choices and to think for himself, only he knows what he is feeling in the moment. Jonathan wasn’t going to pretend like he understood what was going on but he wanted Adam to help him understand, he loved him greatly.
“No, I just think I’m being paranoid. Mummy stuff.”
Aura curls up into his side, laying her head on the pillow. Jonathan wished that she wouldn’t brush herself off like that, as a mother she would know things. He admired that about her, that she had this internal system to work with. The biological love of a mother for her children, something Jonathan never had. His mother had always been cold, Aura still hasn’t met her and most likely, hopefully never will. Jonathan’s mother wouldn’t be all that impressed with the way he’s turned out, so what if he lives in a lovely house with a beautiful partner and his children? It wouldn’t matter to her, she didn’t care about that. Jonathan did however decide to send her the one last piece in some delusional hope that she would think back on her life as a mother and realise how much she hurt him, Jonathan wouldn’t have blamed her if he had been born under undesirable circumstances but as far as he was aware he wasn’t. He wouldn’t have blamed her if she had simply had a change of heart midway through her pregnancy or through his upbringing, he would’ve given her space. Jonathan wanted her to love him but he had accepted that it most likely would never happen, two months ago he had taken a photo of the entire family together. Jonathan and Aura, holding their daughter. His arm around Adam and trusty Sergeant at their feet, stood in front of their shared home. Jonathan had recreated the photo he had taken from his mother’s home that night, the one photograph where he had been truly happy.
Jonathan had written on the back of it, telling her that he hoped she was well. That he had found himself a wonderful partner, that he fathered his first child. A beautiful little girl, that he was happy and that there was no cause for concern. He apologised for his outburst the night he had visited her, that she would never see him again and that she could keep the photo. Knowing her, she probably threw the photo in the corner and let it stay there. Jonathan was proud of Aura for being the type of mother that she was, to be this kind and nurturing presence. She should be proud of herself, bringing up two children in a world where love can be scarce in certain places.
“You’re wonderful mother Aura, if you feel that something is off with him we can sit him down and talk. Adam knows he’s got us on his side.”
Aura looks at him, her fingers lightly dancing across his chest. He pressed a soft kiss to her forehead, he had to let her know that she was doing all she could. That she was a good mother and that she shouldn’t think otherwise, anyone would be lucky to be her child. Adam loved his mother more than anything, it was very clear and Jonathan knew that wouldn’t change any time soon. All Aura needed was to allow Adam to come to her, he would always want his mummy when he was in trouble. When he needed help with homework or what to wear or about his future, Adam was already talking about college even though he wouldn’t be going for a few years. He knew that his mother had gone, he wanted to go. Jonathan thought it was a good goal, further his education but he shouldn’t forget to enjoy being a kid. Playing football with his friends, watching movies and playing video games. Things like that were also important, in moderation of course. Jonathan pulled back and laid down with Aura’s head on his chest, pressing her into him. He couldn’t care less about the heat, physical contact was important.
“I know, I guess I’m just getting ahead of myself. Kind of forgotten what it was like at that age, all went by like a blur.”
Jonathan closes his eyes, humming as he felt her lips on him. He was sure that he’ll come to understand what that feels like in the upcoming years as Rose continues to grow, what Aura said was true however. Adam went from being a short ten year old to this lanky fourteen year old, Jonathan hadn’t noticed how tall he got until he saw him reaching for a cup all on his own. Normally he would either ask him for help or use a chair to get a cup down from the cupboard, seeing him reaching the cupboard standing up was an odd thing to witness. It made Jonathan’s chest feel a bit tight, maybe he wished for Adam to be a kid forever. He smiles and sighs as he felt the breeze from the electric fan brush over his warm skin.
“He’ll be alright.”
Aura sat up briefly and gave him a swift kiss on the lips before laying back down. Her chest pressed up against him, he reaches over and turns off the lamp turns with a quiet click. Leaving the room dark, Jonathan opens his eyes to see the streetlamp shining in the dark outside. This is where he was, in bed with his partner. Sleeping with no trouble, for the first time in his adult life he didn’t have to keep himself awake until his eyes couldn’t take any more. The baby monitor crackles as his daughter whimpers in her sleep, Sergeant wandering about the house in search of his spot for the night. Adam would soon open his door and allow him to sleep in his bed, like always. Tomorrow was Saturday, Jonathan had weekends off. He had achieved the ordinary life that he always wanted, the simple life. Working nine to five, coming home and unwinding. His lips tremble, his arm wrapped around Aura with a watery smile.
Perhaps it was time to ask her to marry him, he closes his eyes and allows himself to drift off.
AN: So I somehow managed to finish this even after the shocking news today, there’s only one chapter left and I will write it before moving house. Hopefully I’ll be able to post it before finding a new place too, cause I might not be able to write for a while. Hopefully that won’t be the case.
“I understand that it’s hard but it’ll get better, I miss my dad all the time.”
Jonathan hadn’t given the situation much thought but it felt all very natural, speaking to Adam in this way. A bit familiar but he didn’t mind it, Jonathan wasn’t sure of himself as a man that he could provide Adam with the love and encouragement a father could but he wanted to. Jonathan wanted to be there for him, what better than to tell him the truth. Adam looks at the floor, swinging his legs back and forth. He had stayed up while his mother fell asleep in the bedroom, Jonathan hadn’t intended to start this conversation but there was something in Adam’s eyes that told him he needed to hear this now.
“Will it ever stop hurting?”
Jonathan leans back on the couch, watching the light flickering on the ceiling from the television that was currently set to mute. Pain never truly went away, it always came back. Sometimes at the worst moments and at the best, Jonathan would always feel the loss of his father since he took it so hard as a child. His relationship with his father had been the only one of true importance, his mother cold and rather unloving throughout his life. Jonathan had no one else but his father and then he had no one else but himself.
“Yes and no, the pain will be mostly gone but it might come back every now and then…”
Adam leans against his shoulder, Jonathan hadn’t had this conversation before. Talking about his father properly until now, over the years it was so much easier to just bury it. Not mention it, just deal with it in private. He kept his father’s personal things, some books, medal and some pictures. He wouldn’t display them out in the open but today he does, he likes to look at them. He could fully see his father sitting down and reading, it was a comforting sight. Jonathan missed him so dearly, no doubt Adam knew the feeling.
Jonathan looks down at Adam, he gets well on with Adam but he hadn’t truly given the situation a thought. The further his relationship with Aura goes, the closer he is to becoming Adam’s step-father.
“Because you start missing them all over again…”
The thought was terrifying but at the same time it made him feel so full.
She waited downstairs, Jonathan knew that she was waiting for her son and not him but in the moment, he didn’t mind. He carried Adam down the stairs, his arms wrapped around Jonathan’s neck. The boy had fallen asleep on him, wouldn’t let go no matter what Jonathan tried. His heart felt odd, he wasn’t exactly sure what it was. Ecstasy mixed with heartbreak, euphoria and pain all in one. Jonathan was sure that Adam hadn’t meant to but he called him “dad”. He saw him as a figure of importance, a second caretaker or some sort of fatherly figure. In his drift he must’ve let it slip, Jonathan felt stressed and at the same time he felt so embraced. Like that he had been waiting for this, he had readied himself somehow. Jonathan managed to push the door open, walking out into the cold snow that slowly fell down from the dark sky. She was there, stood on the other side of the pathway. Dressed rather lightly considering the current temperature, she must’ve gotten ready in a hurry. The visible upset on her face was telling, Jonathan wasn’t expecting her to stay.
There was this urge to withhold Adam from Aura, as if he didn’t want to let go of him just yet. He simply shushed her as the boy mumbles in his sleep, it was cold out. It would be best to simply get him into the car, hopefully it was heated up so that he could sleep soundly in the backseat. Aura approached him, softly pressing her hand against Adam’s sleeping back.
“He fell asleep almost an hour ago…”
The past hour seemed to go by so fast, faster than any other ordinary hour in the day. To Jonathan it felt like a second, a blink of the eye. Their past conversations began playing back in his head, the interactions he had with him. Football games, his birthday and up until tonight. His eyes watered, Aura just looked at him. As if she wanted to say something, what was there to say? He hid the truth from the start but he swore that he didn’t mean anything by it, he wanted to tell her everything but how could he get her to listen?
His lips trembled, Adam started getting heavier in his arms. His little hands clinging to the back of his shirt, as if he’d never let go. Jonathan felt as if his lungs were going to cave in on themselves, his breath like smoke in the cold air as he tried to catch it.
“He called me dad…”
Aura’s eyes widened, Jonathan wasn’t sure what it meant. He didn’t know if Adam had done it intentionally, if he looked at him in that way or if he was simply replacing his own father with Jonathan. That last thought broke him, he loved Adam now that he’s gotten the time to be with him. Spending time with him, there had been a time where he felt some affection for Daniel when Jonathan was still working to bring Roper down but he couldn’t for the life of him compare that experience with this current one. Adam was different, what he had with this boy was different and Jonathan didn’t know what to do.
“Adam said- He said- I-”
He couldn’t finish, he didn’t know what to say.
He felt Aura’s arms around him and Adam, all three together in one embrace under the lamppost. Jonathan whimpered, burying his nose in Aura’s hair.
Aura closed the bedroom door, they had agreed to let Adam sleep here for the night. Neither of them had the heart to wake him up, Adam would be rather upset if he knew he had to go home already. Jonathan sat on the couch, one hand stroking the top of Sergeant’s head. He had just taken his medicine, getting sleepy all over again. Nothing was set in stone just yet though he was relieved to see that Aura was stood in his flat once again, he didn’t know if he had the strength to have this conversation. A day full of heartache and surprise, he was so tired. Aura stood in front of him, on the other side of the coffee table with her arms crossed. She didn’t sit, perhaps she wanted to leave immediately. Come back for Adam in the morning, Jonathan sniffles.
“I went undercover, that’s why I’ve got all those passports.”
Possibly the best place to start, addressing the multiple lives he had lived up until this point. Jonathan has taken the names of different men as per Angela’s orders, though ultimately it only complicated things. Jonathan dedicated his life to that mission, he lost sights of himself. Who he used to be and who he was meant to become, at parts absorbing the identities of these false men into his mind. Allowing himself to fully become these people, these thugs. Heartless men, self preserved pricks. Jonathan felt them, he felt their emotions as if they were his own, in truth they had been his own. Turned his self loathing into a fully realised being, allowed it to inhabit him. It hurt, it was hard to revert.
“I had to build character to get on the inside, that’s why I have those.”
Aura uncrossed her arms, walking around the coffee table and sit down beside him. Sergeant stirs and sits up, for a moment he seemed to take the time to figure out his position before getting off the sofa and limping over to the balcony door, perhaps he needed the air. Jonathan focused on his companion for a moment until he disappeared out the door.
He turns back, looking at Aura. A part of him said that he didn’t deserve her and that particular part of him took that as a fact, he wanted to be deserving. He wanted to be right for her, nothing good ever followed him. Sophie came and went like the sun, Jed wasn’t the thing he was looking for and in his grief latched onto her. Though he believed himself to love her, it wasn’t strong enough to be the love she expected from him. Jonathan hurt her, he hurts everyone that chose to hang around him. He was better off alone, somewhere in the middle of nowhere. Perhaps on some lone island that no one else but himself inhabited, even though Jonathan felt this to be the right thought, he still wanted to stay here.
“I should’ve told you, I know I should’ve but I didn’t.”
Aura’s shoulders drop, she seemed so tired. Jonathan felt the weighty guilt of having hidden this from her but he didn’t have any idea as to how he could possibly bring it up. The work he had done to bring Roper down was still on the down low, he wasn’t banned from talking about it but he’d rather not talk about it anyway. It led him back down the path, the one from before. Jumping between countries, hopping planes and temporarily settling in some foreign town with the hope of a better life only to find his nightmares following him. They never went away, he sighs.
“I’m sorry I didn’t give you the chance to explain, I was scared- I know that isn’t an excuse but I didn’t know what this meant for us, for Adam. I panicked and I ran away when I should’ve stayed.”
Jonathan felt Aura take a hold of his hands, he could see the honesty in her eyes. How could she ever possibly lie to him, being the kind woman she was? Everyone kept secrets, he allowed that concept. Jonathan knew that there might be things she didn’t want to disclose, he was alright with that. In good time she could tell him if she chose, he hoped she would. His dishonesty had triggered a response, as a mother she simply did what she was born to do. Protecting her child from uncertainty, Jonathan was so deep into this relationship though it had only been so long. Love can be found within a single moment that lasted a single second, it could be found within and hour, a year and a day but for him it had only taken so long.
“You were protecting yourself, I don’t blame you…”
He couldn’t blame her for doing something that only came naturally to her, Adam deserved so much better. Something more stable, more present.
Jonathan took a deep breath, suffocating the tears that threatened to form in the corners of his eyes. He let go of Aura’s hands, running them through his hair. His heart was so tired, he wanted to escape. To find a place for himself, that would accept him. Understand him and feed him the light he needed in his life, a lump formed in his throat.
“I just want to feel fucking normal…”
Jonathan didn’t know what normal meant necessarily, in some sense it just meant general happiness. He wanted to find joy in simply waking up in the morning, the joy in looking at himself in the mirror knowing that day would be a good one. Waking up next to something important that wasn’t an empty bottle of spirits that he had used to put himself to sleep the night before, the things he had seen other people have. A complete family, purpose and a direction to walk in. Jonathan was walking backwards, his entire life he walked backwards. He stands up from the sofa, staring at the photo he had taken from his mother’s home. Hung it on the wall, the photo of himself and his father stood in front of their home. A bright smile on his face, something Jonathan hadn’t experienced in a long time.
“I want to have something meaningful, I don’t want to be Thomas Quince or Jack Linden. I don’t want to be those people, I want to be someone ordinary.”
Aura stood up, approaching him again. She wished to be close to him, Jonathan wanted her close. He wanted his ordinary life to involve her, he wanted to surround himself with her. Photos of her, her red hair, the smell of her. Jonathan wanted a life that she could be a part of, he was tired of running away.
“I hope Adam and I are included…”
He whimpered, she was so sweet to him. There was so many things wrong with him, things that were beyond repair. He was so tired of the dreams, laying awake in the middle of the night in fear of falling asleep and reliving those moments. Fallen friends and the fire that he had caused, the death that followed him overseas. Aura knew that he served but he couldn’t tell her the truth, about what happened. About the things he had seen and more explicitly done, the reason he left and isolated himself from the world. Jonathan had begun punishing himself for the blood he had spilled by living a life of no importance, a life where he was neither needed or even loved by anyone. Jonathan had never truly loved himself, his self esteem was down the drain and his confidence was all lies. Over the years he had learned to mask himself, his emotions and his issues. Burying them deep underneath his own skin in the most unhealthy way you could possibly imagine, drank heavily at times, chased meaningless connections that only lasted about five minutes. Dangerous thrill rides on his Triumph in hopes that something might change, Jonathan was so tired of it all.
“I don’t want to dream about them anymore, I don’t want to see their faces again. I don’t want to hear them screaming, I can’t deal with it anymore.”
Aura began panicking the moment his tears began spilling from his eyes, how would she feel if she knew? If she knew of the things he did? Aura reached for his hand in hopes to comfort him, she still only ever thinks of other people. Jonathan wished she’d stop doing that and think of herself for a change, perhaps she would be in a better place. Somewhere better than here, where she could live a normal life with someone who wasn’t so mangled on the inside.
“It’s alright, we can-”
“No! It’s not fucking alright!”
Jonathan couldn’t control himself, he hadn’t meant to yell at her but he did. The first time he had raised his voice at a woman, truly raised his voice. With his own voice, his own feelings.
“I killed people Aura, innocent people!”
He broke, remembering their faces made it worse. Remembering Sophie’s face made it worse, no matter where he went it followed him around. The lives he took with his own hands and then the lives that were drained by his involvement, Sophie could be alive and well had he not gotten involved or if he had managed to get to her before it was too late. He could’ve saved her, he could’ve saved all of those innocent people he killed. He could’ve laid down his weapons and walked away, Jonathan sobs into his hands. The tears slipping through his fingers, he could feel Aura desperately trying to comfort him. Her little hands gripping his wrists, trying to pry his hands away from his face. His skin felt so raw, he had the urge to scratch at it.
“I wasn’t told until after the mission was over, they didn’t tell me they would be there…”
Aura wrapped her arms around his middle, tightly pressing herself against him. Jonathan hadn’t opened up in so long, it had been years since he truly let go. He was quick to trap Aura in his arms, crushing her in his arms. He was afraid of letting go, his lungs struggled to expand as he breathed in. His chest felt as if it was caving in on itself, he slowly sunk down with her in his arms. Together they knelt on the floor, frozen in this embrace of security that he wished would never end. The moment he lets go, this will all turn out to be some elaborate sick dream his mind conjured up to punish him. He didn’t want that to be the truth, Jonathan buried his face in Aura’s shoulder. Her little hands softly stroke his back, he could feel so many things. The anguish and the warm body he held in his arms, he could feel himself. His skin, as if it was set on fire. He could hear the traffic outside through the window, the water dripping in the kitchen sink. Washing machine on a full cycle, whirring in the corner. There was so much happening around him that he didn’t know what was real anymore.
“You might’ve been at the wrong place at the wrong time, you made a mistake and you have acknowledged that mistake. You’ve beaten yourself up over for years, I can see it in your face. I want to help you, I love you…”
Jonathan let out a muffled sob, a desperate attempt to confess his love back but it all came out garbled. Unintelligible and so quiet, he snivelled.
“Let me help you…”
Jonathan nods, grabbing fistfuls of Aura’s sweater.
The hours passed by rather quickly, five minutes turned to fifty and then into two hours. It had taken Jonathan three hours to calm down, twenty minutes past twelve at night though he felt like he had been seated on the sofa for days. Aura combs through his hair with her fingers, she had done that for the past few hours. She had just been there, her arms around him, Jonathan felt so loved. More loved than he had ever been before, this was where he wanted to end up. Calm, in the arms of his loved one. Regardless of who that loved one was, he hadn’t expected a romantic partner when he moved to London. In truth, he had hoped to simply live through the rest of his life as he had done previously. As a faceless man in the background, no attachments or possessions tied to him. Another drone, it was all he knew. Jonathan closed his eyes again, focusing on the beating heart below him. They had been tangled up on the sofa, there was nothing like this feeling. Being able to touch something so hot without burning, he pressed a small kiss to her covered chest.
He just hummed, he felt good. There was a lot he needed to resolve and he had no hope of miraculously finding a cure to his emotions, he knew he could help manage them. Aura wanted to help him and he welcomed it, before her Jonathan would slap away the hands that would offer their help to him. He would bite at people, driving them away on purpose so that he could stay on autopilot. Jonathan sat up, stretching out his arms. He was tired, the both of them were. Sleep was calling him, he needed to rest. Aura yawns, rubbing her temples. He smiles and looks over to her, he found her to be so beautiful. Half lit up by the Christmas lights that Adam had tossed onto the tree in a hurry, she had such a comforting presence. Her eyes were so calming, the way she spoke to him. The sound of her voice was his favourite, he would follow it in his dreams because he knew that it would lead him to the sunny beaches that he so loved to run down. The warm sand between his toes, sound of the ocean waves. Would she like to go there some day? Adam would love it, he knew that.
“Maybe we could take Sergeant out tomorrow…”
Aura laughs silently, it had been some time since Jonathan had taken him out. He wasn’t exactly in the shape for a long walk but he was advised to at least let him have a bit of a wander. Perhaps the park would be a good place, they could let Sergeant have a bit of fresh air. Feel the grass before take him back, Jonathan let out a deep breath.
“Adam would like that.”
Of course Adam would like that, he loved that dog. Aura had told Jonathan about how much Adam had always wanted a dog of his own but she had always hesitated, it was a lot to balance raising a child, taking care of a home and a dog but she was happy that Adam got to experience dogs this way. Jonathan was more than happy to allow Adam to be Sergeant’s co-owner, Sergeant adored Adam. Would always sleep with him and lay on his lap, gets a bit riled up but he was a dog. They get riled up when they’re exposed to children and their shenanigans, it was sweet to look at.
Jonathan’s attention was grabbed by the phone ringing, he stood up and walked over to the kitchen counter where he had left his cellphone. Aura stretches her arms, leaning back against the sofa. Jonathan picked up the phone, noting Angela’s caller ID. He was quick to answer, pressing the phone against his ear as he stared at Aura from across the room with a soft smile.
Angela seemed a bit out of breath, perhaps she had recently taken up exercising. Jonathan really should get back to daily runs but it felt so lonely without Sergeant, his leg wouldn’t be better for some time yet so hopefully he’ll get to go back on runs with him soon enough.
“Hi Angela, is everything alright?”
Jonathan noticed Aura giving him a look, in the heat of the moment they had both seemingly forgotten about what had happened in the week prior. About the attack her mother had suffered, Jonathan was however glad to hear that her mother was up and about but he would still like it if she took the time to sit down more. A woman in her old age shouldn’t push things, especially recovering from an attack like that. She was quite a wonder however, stubborn and very much independent which was good. In some way, he could see where Aura gets it from. Being the strong woman that she was, he chuckles silently.
“We’ve caught Owen.”
His smile faded, Angela repeated herself. It wasn’t something he had actually expected to happen, Jonathan had been fully prepared to move Aura out of that house and relocate her if needed. He was willing to follow her, wherever she decided to go. Perhaps all the way to Ireland if she wanted to be close to Indigo, the thought of Ireland wasn’t a bad idea in the grand scheme of things. Picking up the euros would be a challenged, he hadn’t handled euros in some time. He was willing to uproot himself if it meant keeping Aura and her family safe, this piece of news was surprising but pleasant to receive.
Aura sat up on the sofa.
“He was seen loitering around Aurabell’s neighbourhood in the last couple of days, he returned at around nine and we made the arrest after Aurabell’s brother phone in.”
It made sense that Owen would’ve been seen around the house, Jonathan had been so preoccupied with the fear of losing Aura indefinitely to remember Owen. Her leaving and going back home seemed to have been the right move to do, seeing as the police ambushed him there. He worried for a moment, knowing that Aura’s mother had been left all alone for the majority of the night. Indigo had left at around midday and hadn’t come back until after Aura had gone out to find Adam, the boy had lied and left a note saying that he had gone to visit a neighbour to play football. Jonathan reprimanded him for running away from home, it was reckless of him to do so but he was just glad that he was safe. That everyone was safe, he smiles. Angela went into detail about how the situation proceeds from here, he will be kept locked up until there were more statements made. They would have to come down and talk to the team about the charges, he’ll most likely be put away for a small chunk of time. Jonathan was very sure that it would be in Aura’s best interest to move away from London, take Adam with her but he couldn’t exactly tell her what to do. If she wanted to stay here, Jonathan would do all he could to keep her safe.
He hung up and set the phone down, feeling weirdly relaxed. His chest wasn’t as heavy as he remembered, Jonathan looks down to investigate. Sure enough, his torso was still there and very much attached to his body. He could feel it there when he ran his hands across his chest, the lightness was coming from within. His lungs filled up so much more as he breathed in, Aura stood up from the sofa and approached him.
Jonathan cupped her face in his hands, he didn’t waste another breath before kissing her. Their lips pressed together, it felt so much better. Tasted sweeter, there was an intense high floating around in his body. He felt her smile against his lips, he finally felt as if he had won. As if he had finally been victorious, succeeded at something important. He loved her, he couldn’t even compile into words as to how much he did. In his mind, there was no word good enough to describe it. To describe this feeling, how it was to be with her. Jonathan hadn’t felt so free, Aura tugs on his sweater. Wringing the bottom of it with her hands, a soft hum escapes her. This is where he was supposed to be, Jonathan was sure that this is what had been waiting for him. That he would eventually stumble upon her, in the past he believed that he was destined to simply spend the rest of his days alone. Possibly in the mountains with some animal companion or just himself, that he would get no chance at having a family of his own. Now he had her, Jonathan had her son. His stepson, Aura pulls away with a light laugh.
“Would it be awful of me to take advantage of the moment and suggest that you let me take care of that mop on your head?”
She lightly combs through his hair, Jonathan didn’t bother taking care of himself in the moment where he thought he had lost everything. His hair was starting to reach his shoulders, it had grown rather fast in the past month. The last time he had a trim was about two if not three months prior, his light shadow had turned into scruff. He did acknowledge the few few specks of silver in there, Jonathan never felt so good about the prospect of ageing but seeing those grey hairs made him feel happy. Knowing that time was now moving forward, he was walking forwards now. No more running away, no more walking backwards. He chuckles.
“Don’t you like it?”
Aura pouts, should he keep the beard? Jonathan hadn’t really grown one before, this is as far as he’s ever gone in that department. He was kind of getting used to it, itchy as all hell though.
“It’s a look to be sure, I much prefer you all cleaned up.”
She had the expression on her face, begging him to let her take care of him. Just like she had said earlier, Aura wanted to help him.
A box without a lid, taunting me with the escape that should be within reach. With outstretched arms, it’s walls grow taller. Through determination I could’ve scaled it’s sides like a slug on it’s journey towards nutrition. A wasteful life, sat in the corner like a broken doll.
An ant under the magnifying glass that we call ‘’life’’, preparing for my end and kissing my scars goodbye. A hope that I can cut the wire before it goes off, setting the alarm that initiates that final moment of my insanity. Pills and endless one sided conversations, a cost of mental health which shouldn’t be a case of ‘’can I afford my happiness?’’. I smile because I know this is as bad as it gets, this is how good it can be. I enjoy the moment, the now and the here.
No need for tears, no words or promises of brighter days. I love my box but it’s time for me to bid it farewell, I do not need it anymore.
It doesn’t mean that I will forget you but it won’t mean that I will return, self preservation is over and now I can walk with everyone else. I promise to say hello, I promise that I will give you a fresh coat of paint. A lid, a window and a door. I will give you life, light and a hug.
I love you, you know.
Don’t worry, I’ll remember you when I see the ocean again.
RIP Chadwick Boseman. A video of him speaking about communicating with kids who had cancer. Unknown to the public, he was already battling his fight with cancer.
You were a rising star! This generations league of great Black Actors! You had so much ahead of you! And I appreciate all you have done for cinema! I hope your family finds peace and consolation. You will never be forgotten.
Adam groans and turns in his bed, he didn’t want to go to school. His uniform was so itchy, he felt the bed dip as his dad gently shook his shoulder.
“Come on, mum’s made your favourite.”
Adam felt so awake, the rush of potential sugar went straight to the brain. He quickly scrambled out of the bed, tumbling onto the floor. His dad laughs and stands up from the bed, Adam remembered that it was his birthday today. His mum only ever made his favourite on his birthday, nutella pancakes were the tastiest when she made them. He wished that he didn’t have to go to school today, Adam gets up off the floor and quickly gathers his school uniform.
“Hurry up and get dressed.”
Adam rushed over to his dad, crashing into him with his arms wide open. He knew that his dad would be picking up after school and that they would go play football at the park, perhaps he would get that dog that Adam wanted so badly. It had been a birthday wish for a long time, Adam loved dogs and really wanted one. It took a lot of convincing, he promised to take care of it all on his own but his dad wasn’t too fond of the idea but he seemed to be warming up to it. Adam felt his dad’s hand gently pat him on the head, he smiles.
“Happy birthday mate…”
Adam stared at the helmet that Jonathan had given him, he loved it. It reminded him so much of Star Wars, the colours were awesome. He sighs and sets the helmet down, hugging his knees as he stared at the little spaceships float about the walls. He enjoyed his lava lamp but he wasn’t sure if it could be called a lava lamp, Adam’s grandmother showed him a photo of a lava lamp she had once and it looked really weird. Looked nothing like his Star Wars lamp, he huffs. It’s been a couple of days since he saw Jonathan, he missed him. Adam liked the bike but his mother wouldn’t let him try it out, said it was too icy out even though Mr. Pillman regularly salts and sands the sidewalks in the neighbourhood. The bike had a similar colour scheme as the helmet, they matched in some way. Jonathan was cool, he really liked him.
He felt bad for liking Jonathan.
As he began spending more and more time with Jonathan, Adam seemed to forget his father more and more. He woke up almost a week ago with little recollection of his face, he had to look at an old photo album to fully remember his face. This made Adam feel guilty, he felt so bad for having forgotten his dad even if it was just for a second. In a way, it felt like his dad hadn’t died. Adam knew that Jonathan wasn’t his dad but he always made him feel like he was, Jonathan was nice to him, he was nice to his mother. He might be a little bit weird but Adam’s father always said that everyone is a bit weird. Adam never knew people that used a bag of flour to hold a door open but perhaps that was just something Jonathan liked doing because he didn’t have a doorstop. Uncle Indigo however was a different story, Adam thought Indigo liked Jonathan but ever since Adam was dragged out of the flat by his mother he’s been very angry. Adam didn’t like it when he was angry, it took a lot to make Indigo angry. He mostly just gets angry when his customers spill their drinks on the tables in his bar, Adam really wanted to go back and visit. Indigo was having a baby next year, Adam was excited to see if it’s a boy. He would teach him all about football if he’d like but not until they can run, babies are really tiny.
“Adam, I’m popping out for a bit!”
He didn’t bother answering Indigo, he would be gone before Adam would get the chance to shout back. He slumps against the side of his bed, staring lifelessly at the lamp. Jonathan thought the lamp was really cool, Adam wanted to get him one for Christmas but he didn’t get the chance to. He wasn’t sure why his mother won’t just talk to him, Adam didn’t want them to fight. It’s been so long since he’s seen his mother smile the way she used to, he liked that. Jonathan made her smile like that, what could they be fighting about? Adam wondered why he was always so secretive, people keep secrets and that was alright. It depends on the secret sometimes, Adam didn’t believe that Jonathan was bad at all but he wondered what it was that made his mother so angry. She started crying again, Adam once thought that she had finally stopped crying a year ago. That’s when he stopped hearing her crying when he goes to bed, she missed father a lot and Adam could understand why.
He picked up the helmet and placed it in his lap, staring at his reflection in its smooth surface. Jonathan said that he had it specially painted for him, it even had his name on the side in red letters. He didn’t want to use the helmet too much, he didn’t want to ruin it because it must’ve cost a lot of money. Adam was didn’t trust Jonathan at first but he noticed that he seemed really sad like his mother was, they went to that place together. Therapy group, Adam never got to go but maybe his mother needed it more than he did. His father was gone and he knew this, he knew he would never come back. It hurts, Adam sniffles and hugs the helmet tightly. Soon Jonathan might go away and never come back, his mother would go back to being sad and everything will be awful again. Adam’s grandmother had just gotten back from the hospital and the man who hurt her was still hiding, hopefully the police will catch him. Jonathan said that it might take a few days, Adam felt comfortable in his flat. He wasn’t all too happy to go back home but his mother wouldn’t let him stay with Jonathan. The clock downstairs began chiming, it was around twelve now. He would be having lunch soon, Adam put the helmet on his head and fastens the strap. There would be times where he would simply wear it for no other reason other than that he liked it, he loved it. Jonathan had it made for him, Jonathan gave it to him for his birthday.
Happy birthday mate, sorry I’m late!
Adam sniffles, furiously wiping his eyes with the sleeves of his sweater. Agitating the delicate skin around them in hopes to keep the tears inside, he missed spending time with Jonathan. Why couldn’t his mother just make up with him? Adam hated fighting. He gently knocks on the helmet, it was a strong one. A good one, his mother really liked it too.
Jonathan let him ride his motorcycle, it was so much fun. Adam wanted one but he knew there was no way he would ever be allowed, perhaps if he asked Jonathan he’d say yes. Adam thinks back that night, practically tearing up the street on Jonathan’s bike. It was so exciting, his friends wouldn’t believe that he got to ride a motorbike either when he told them. Adam wanted to do it again but a bit longer and maybe not just around the neighbourhood, maybe Jonathan could teach him how to ride on his own.
You’ve got to hold onto me real tight, alright?
Adam sighs, was Jonathan going to leave him too?
Adam had swiped his mother’s Oyster card, it had more than fifty pounds on it so he could easily get between stations. He knew it was risky but he remembered the station that was the closest to Jonathan’s building, he didn’t exactly know what he was doing but he knew that he wanted his mother to stop being sad. He wanted her and Jonathan to stop being upset, Adam wanted to stay with Jonathan. He had packed his backpack with a few things, he also took the little toy he was going to give Sergeant but his leg was still healing so he couldn’t play fetch with him just yet. Hopefully it’ll be all better soon, he could take him out for walks again and he could feed him, bathe him and play with him-
“Please mind the gap between the train and the platform.”
Adam was quick to push his way through the people on the train, jumping onto the platform before the doors closed. There were so many people passing through the platform, jumping on and off of trains. Adam felt completely turned around as he tried to look for the way out, he’s never taken the train on his own but he’s done so with his mother or his uncle. Not often but he thought it was enough for him to know how to do so, he sniffles. Clutching the blue Oyster card in his hand, he would need it for the gates. It had been a split second decision, he didn’t want to stay in that house anymore now that he had another place to go to.
“Train arriving at platform three-”
Someone bumped into him, Adam fell down onto the hard ground below. The man in question didn’t bother helping him up or say that he was sorry, Adam took a moment on the ground. Sitting up and staring at the stream of people exiting the trains, he could see that they were flocking to the staircase in question. He quickly jumps back to his feet and runs after the last of the people, following them up the stairs. He saw the exist sign on the way up, Adam wasn’t exactly sure where this station would exit out of but he knew that it was in the area. He always found it odd to see so many people travelling around on Christmas day, shouldn’t they be at home with their families? Spending time with them and such? That’s what Adam and his family did, his father would always make breakfast. There were sausages, black pudding and eggs. Adam’s father always put the bacon and eggs on his toast like he did, Jonathan did it too. He noticed, Adam stopped at the top of the stairs. It had begun raining while he was riding the train, it wasn’t too heavy but it was cold.
Jonathan ate his toast the same way Adam’s father did, it hurt to see for some reason. It was such a small thing, it wasn’t like Adam’s father was the only one who ate his toast that way. A lot of people did it too, it was odd. He sighs, watching as his breath became visible in the cold air. Rising like smoke in the sky, the rain hit his face. Into his eyes, he wiped them with his hands and pockets the card as he continues walking. He was somewhere in London, he wasn’t sure where. He couldn’t see many signs, there were some coffee shops around so he could go inside and ask if he needed it. Perhaps he could do so right now, Adam adjusts the strap of his back and walks down the street, he spotted a familiar building that he would have to walk towards and then turn right. Going off the vague memory if his surroundings was more difficult that he anticipated, perhaps he should’ve made a map or something. He should’ve brought a hat as well, his hair was wet now.
Adam didn’t want to compare Jonathan to his father, Frankie. It was unfair, Jonathan was nothing like him but Adam couldn’t help but see the few similarities between them. A few things, not to many. He didn’t want to compare them, Jonathan said that Adam didn’t have to call him “dad” and that he was in no way trying to take that position in the family but in some way Adam felt hurt that he said that. He had to get it through to himself that he wasn’t Jonathan’s son but to be able to have this sort of friendship made it so difficult to hold back, Adam felt afraid that once he would slip up, Jonathan would disappear. He withheld himself in that way, not wanting to be annoying. Adam’s father didn’t like it when he hovered around him, he was always working. It was hard, standing by the gravestone on that day. Adam didn’t want to remember that feeling, he didn’t want to see his mother cry again. It was too much, he wasn’t exactly sure as to how he was supposed to conduct himself.
Adam easily forgot that his father was gone, watching all of his classmates get picked up by their fathers. Many of them spent time with them, their fathers came to their football games but Adam was stood in the corner with no one watching him.
He was so happy when he saw Jonathan watching his game at the park, he didn’t feel so left out. Adam looked at the long road, he knew that it would take him there. Where he needed to go, the rain turned to sleep. It was cold, he took the moment to close his eyes. In his mind he wished for Jonathan to be home, he couldn’t be gone. He had to be there, Adam wanted him to still be there. He couldn’t have fully disappeared in the past few days, Jonathan wasn’t that kind of person.
Adam takes off, sprinting down the wet concrete.
Adam didn’t know how long he was sat there, he tried buzzing multiple times but Jonathan didn’t answer. The sleet had turned back into rain, he wondered if he’ll ever get to experience a snowy Christmas. It was always so pretty in the movies, in America they always had snow. Maybe that was only in the movies, Adam remembered the last time he visited Indigo. It had snowed there, it was so much fun but the snow was quick to disappear just like here. London didn’t get much snow, his mother often talked about how she used to enjoy the snow cause she lived in the country side. Adam didn’t think he could ever leave London, granted he’s never travelled alone through London. It was dark and very scary, he had seen some people asking him for change. One of them followed him for a few minutes, he was very scary. Adam knew he wasn’t supposed to be travelling on his own, he shouldn’t even be here in all honesty. It was dangerous, his mother has told him this many times but for some reason he decided to brave it in order to get to Jonathan.
He hugged his knees closer to his chest as he curls up on the ground, sitting outside the gate. He had tried ringing the bell below Jonathan’s, he knew it belonged to the old lady but she said he wasn’t at home and that Adam should come back later. He refused to leave, it was too dark to go away. He could’ve called his mother by now if she had decided to allow him to own his own mobile. Some of his friends had one, must be convenient. Adam didn’t tell anyone where he was going, no one even realised that he slipped out. Went out the backdoor and left through the gate that led to the little pathway out back, getting away from the house was all that mattered. Adam wished he could move somewhere else, his house wasn’t the same as it used to be. Christmas wasn’t the same, waking up in the morning wasn’t the same.
Nothing was the same since his dad died, Adam found little enjoyment in things around him. His toys completely tucked away in the corner, he latched onto Star Wars and football. The two only things that sparked any interest, he felt bad. All of the toys he got for Christmas, the presents from his family and his friends all laid neglected on the floor. Adam didn’t bother playing with them, he didn’t bother looking at them. The only things he kept in view were the figurines he got, the one of Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader.
Adam felt like he had things in common with Luke, seeing as he grew up without a father only to find out that the bad guy was actually his father. It must’ve been hard for him, especially when Darth Vader died in the end of the movie. Adam wondered if his father was a ghost somehow, watching over things. He didn’t think it was too crazy of an idea but it wasn’t as comforting as many would think, knowing that his father is watching over him but never to be seen. Adam couldn’t hear him laughing or see him smile, it hurts more to know that he is just silently watching in the corner. Doesn’t it hurt him as well? Adam felt his eyes welling up, it was at least something other than rain dripping down his face. Adam buries his face in his arms, crying into his sleeves. He just wanted things to go back to normal, he wanted his father back. He wanted his grandfather back, he wanted Jonathan back.
Jonathan’s voice echoes in the back of his head, Adam wanted to dislike him. He wanted to hate him so bad, he didn’t want anyone getting so close to his mother in fear that she’ll only be hurt again but Jonathan was so nice. He was thoughtful, giving, Adam couldn’t help but love him. Adam sobs into his sleeves, he was afraid that everything was going to change again. Now that Jonathan just came into his life, he’ll leave just as fast.
He looks up to see Jonathan stepping out of a taxi, he hadn’t noticed it pulling up to the building. Adam’s chest heaves at the sight of him as the taxi drives away, he jumps up to his feet and crashes into him. Wrapping his arms around Jonathan in hopes to keep him standing still, Adam wanted to prevent him from disappearing like dust in the wind. Feeling Jonathan’s arms around him made it even better, to know that he was still there and so very real. He buries his face in his jacket, bawling. It was cold, he was so scared.
“Don’t leave! I don’t want you to go away!”
Adam wasn’t ready to be alone again, his mother shouldn’t have to be alone again either. Jonathan leans down and kisses the top of his head, Adam smiles.
“Don’t leave me!”
Adam continued patting Sergeant on the back, he was still in his cast and would be for some time. Jonathan threw his clothes in the dryer for a hot moment so that Adam had something warm to put in, it was so cold outside. He wrapped the blanket around him, it was late but he wasn’t sure what time it was. Last time he checked was at the train station which was around lunch time or one o'clock. He must’ve been out there for a long time, Jonathan sighs as he entered the living room. Adam curled up, he knew he wasn’t supposed to be here let alone travelling here alone. London was dangerous, Adam wasn’t even allowed to walk home from school yet. It wasn’t close enough of a distance for him to walk, besides his mother teaches so it was only logical that he would be picked up every time.
“Does your mum know you’re here?”
Adam didn’t answer him but it was the silence that gave him the answer he sought after.
“What were you thinking? Do you have any idea how serious this is? You could’ve gotten lost, some stranger could’ve picked you up!”
Adam looks down at his lap, Jonathan’s eyes were red. There were a lot of veins, Adam remembers that his mother’s eyes would be the same after she cries. Did Jonathan cry? Was he sad? Didn’t really matter now that Adam was here, being scolded by him. He knew he shouldn’t have gone out without letting his mother know, he shouldn’t have left the house at all but he just couldn’t stand it. He felt so much better living in the flat with Jonathan, it was a bit small but he liked staying there. It was something new, Adam didn’t think of his father whenever he walks around the place. There weren’t any memories of him here, nothing to remind Adam that he had passed away. Nothing that would make him sad, why couldn’t he stay with Jonathan?
“Look at me when I am talking to you!”
Adam flinched, looking right at him. There was a moment just now, the way Jonathan was talking. Almost like his father did whenever he did something bad, he sniffled as Jonathan’s face softens. There was this sad smile on his face, Adam’s eyes follow Jonathan as he walks around the coffee table and sits down on the sofa next to him. There was something so familiar with this situation, Adam had almost forgot what it was like to be scolded. The tears well up in his eyes, the rain had stopped and the streets began to ice over. Jonathan sighs and softly strokes Adam’s back, it was all very familiar.
“Promise me you will never do this again…”
Adam wipes his nose and nods, he didn’t want to leave again but Jonathan probably already called or texted his mother by now. There was no way she didn’t already know that he was here, she’ll come take him away by the end of the night. It was inevitable at this point, Jonathan wraps his arm around his shoulder with a chuckle, Adam looks up at him. Sergeant began snoring about a minute ago, too exhausted to keep up with the conversation. Jonathan smiles and Adam sniffles, he couldn’t help but think about the fact that he wouldn’t stay here long. He didn’t know what he could do to stay, what he could do to make Jonathan stay.
“What you did was dumb but very brave.”
Adam curls up in Jonathan’s side, he smelled of the same soap his mother smelled of. Exactly the same, he felt Jonathan softly stroke his back. It was hard to keep the tears inside, Jonathan wasn’t his father, he would never be his father but Adam loved him like one. His tears stream silently down his cheeks, wetting Jonathan’s sweater. The realisation hit him like a train, Adam felt so guilty for looking at Jonathan in this way but he couldn’t help it. He gathered some of Jonathan’s sweater into his hands, roughly tugging on it to somehow prevent him from letting go. Jonathan’s arm just tightens, hugging Adam closer.
“I don’t want you to leave.”
He could feel Jonathan breathing, Adam closed his eyes. He was so tired after today, having walked all the way from the station. Sat outside in the rain for hours, cried for what felt like a day. Adam drapes his arm across Jonathan’s chest in order to embrace him only to feel both him hug back, even tighter than before.
“I’m not going anywhere…”
Adam felt the warmth enter his body, there was that feeling again. This safety, like he could just stay here forever. His breathing slowed as his chest began feeling heavier, Adam felt so guilty loving Jonathan this way. Knowing that he wasn’t his father, though in some way he wished he was and that was what truly made him feel guilty. His grandmother always said that it was nothing to be ashamed of, having feelings and showing them but Adam was always so afraid to connect with someone else. He didn’t want his father to think that he was being replaced by someone else, Jonathan had said that he wasn’t trying to take that place from Adam’s father. Hearing that made it so much better but Adam wouldn’t mind, wouldn’t his real father always be a part of his life no matter what? Family photos and gifts from the past all neatly lined up on his shelf, the stories he remembered. Going fishing and falling into the river, it was all nothing but good memories to hold onto. Adam felt himself drifting off in the warmth of Jonathan’s embrace, Sergeant quietly snoring on the other side nursing his broken leg. Adam didn’t have anywhere important to be at the moment, so why couldn’t he just stay here for a little while? Adam managed to open his eyes just a bit, the Christmas tree made the living room glow so nicely.
“I love you dad…”
He drifts off at the sight of the falling snow outside, Adam wasn’t going to let him disappear.
Did you based Loki’s wife (the one that is also Narfi’s mom) off of Sigyn? She gives me those kind of vibes with her kind nature and loyalty to her family. And Sigyn was the Goddess of Fidelity if I’m remembering right.
You are remembering right but in my mind I’m trying more or less to base it off of the real mythology, yes they give of the same vibes but its not entirely based off of Sigyn. Loki’s relationchip with comic Sigyn isnt something I want in my stories because their relationship isnt a truly loving one.
There is a difference between loving blindly and truly loving.
His jaw tightened, there wasn’t much he could say to her other than that he was sorry but even then she wouldn’t take it. His mother never took him seriously, she never listened to him. Jonathan stared through her, focusing on the postcard that still hung on the fridge. The last one his father had sent him, the one with the birds on it.
“Stop your crying, boys do not cry.”
Jonathan tried to stop his sniffling, to box in his urge to let go and cry. His mother didn’t like it when he did, she never liked anything he ever did to begin with. He missed his father, he wanted him to come back. Mother wasn’t as sad about it as Jonathan was, he wondered if she ever loved father at all. Clearly enough to create Jonathan himself though his mother often remarked on her regrets, he got the feeling that she hadn’t been that much of a motherly person. That she wasn’t fond of children but why couldn’t she just give in for once? Weren’t mothers supposed to love their children? Jonathan saw his school friends walking down the roads with both parents in tow, it was something he never got to experience. He was lucky if his mother even let him accompany her to the store, even then she pretended that he didn’t exist. Went about her life as if he wasn’t there, his father had always been so much better. Jonathan loved him, so much that it hurt to see him go.
“What are you standing around me for? Go do something else!”
She rolls her eyes and turns back to cleaning the stove top, the rusty stove top that looked like it hadn’t been used in forever. She was a shitty mum, Jonathan could agree on that.
He would’ve been worse than Owen, showing up to her house. Waiting to see her come out, he wanted to talk to her. Jonathan felt so weak, not having Aura smile at him. It’s been a couple of days, he hadn’t showered. Sitting on the floor, his back against the side of the tub as he listened to the water endlessly running behind him. How long had he been sat here? Should he ride over to her house again? Knock on the door or should he text her again? His phone was silent, the battery almost dead as it lay discarded in the corner of the bathroom. Sergeant laid his head in his lap, a heavy huff and a slight wheeze let Jonathan know that he was still alive. A part of the real world, this world that hadn’t brought him anything good.
Year after year seemed like such a joke, always something new came across him. The emotional weeds that had begun taking over the course of his rather grey coloured pathway that he dared call a life. Previous partners, Sophie, Jed and now Aura and her son. A long time ago he had accepted that people come and go but he hadn’t fully realised that he never wanted them too, feeling that it was his fault that they always end up leaving. Sophie was dead because of the documents, Jed didn’t feel loved enough as he simply found himself wanting to fill the empty void that Sophie had left behind. He lied and kept his past away from Aura and now she was gone, he had no way of knowing whether she was coming back or not.
Jonathan closed his eyes, embracing the darkness behind his eyes. Often wondering whether there was something inside his head, a brain or a soul. Something to let him know he was still alive, still human and very much not dead. His heart felt so empty, so hungry for the woman that left his bed smelling of her coppery hair. Like green apples and cinnamon, Jonathan should’ve told her that night. When he declared himself as her partner, he should’ve told her about the passports and about the life he led before her. That he had worked undercover and brought a criminal down to his knees, he should’ve been more open with her. Completely open as to avoid heartbreak, would she have understood? Did she understand?
“Boys don’t cry…”
Jonathan broke his own rule, he had been so strong throughout. He didn’t let his tears slip during service, seeing all of the innocence scorched by the napalm canisters he hadn’t been told about. He had wasted away that night, watching the sky glow red in the dark. Jonathan quit, left the military and ran away. He ran away from the things he had done, he ran away from all the death he witnessed in his time as a soldier. Jonathan wasn’t fit to be a soldier, too weak to pick up his weapon. They had turned him into a machine, a machine that now rusted away the last few cogs that kept it going. With work there was purpose, managing hotels had been his duty. Maintaining the happiness of hotel goers was never enough to atone for the lives he had taken, Jonathan was lied to. His commanding officer had lied to him and the rest of his team, none of them continued in the military after that tour. Most returned to England to be with their families, fishmongers and shop assistants.
Plane hopping hoteliers.
Jonathan sniffled, gently scratching Sergeant behind his ears. His eyes caught the cast that was wrapped around his leg, he wondered if one could equate the pain of a broken heart to that of a broken leg. It is what it is, isn’t it? Jonathan’s heart was broken, cracked in different places. All over again, he felt this loss. The same loss he had felt the night Sophie was murdered and yet it was more intense. Knowing that Aura was out there, still alive. Possibly sitting by the window and watching the drops of water trickling down the glass of her windows like he had seen her do many times. Jonathan looks at the open doorway, his eyes focus on the window at the end of the hall. He felt frozen, floating in space. How long had he been sat here?
It was Christmas morning, he remembered. Did Adam open his present yet? Jonathan had bought him a new bike, it would’ve gotten delivered yesterday. He hoped that Indigo picked it up, he would be staying past Christmas after he changed his mind. Jonathan hadn’t talked to Indigo, he had arrived at the flat to get the rest of his sister’s things. A glare and a fist in his face, Jonathan didn’t even try to defend himself. Simply took it, Indigo had warned him so it was only fair. The past few days hadn’t been good, Jonathan was too weak to move about the flat. Stayed in bed, barely ate. He was going insane, trying to put together enough words to fully explain everything to her. He wanted her to come back, Jonathan needed her to come back but she wouldn’t answer him. Aura didn’t answer the door, she didn’t answer the phone or the texts. Jonathan was trying.
“I’m sorry boy…”
Sergeant whines, burying his head in Jonathan’s stomach.
He didn’t know what brought him here, why he even got on that train to begin with was beyond him. His legs seemed to move by themselves, carrying him somewhere. Jonathan expected to end up in front of Aura’s house again but this time he was stood in front of someone else’s home, his own. The one he used to live in, the old cottage. It was still light out, he had enough time to walk around. Jonathan had decided to get some fresh air, that small step outside turned into a walk and then into a jog and then into a two hour train journey out of London. The same old vase still stood in the living room window, unbroken somehow after the many years it’s existed. Stood out in the cold, he could hear a small dog barking within. Of course she had gotten herself a yappy companion, Jonathan wasn’t surprised. The door was unlocked, he chuckles to hear that even to this day the mechanism was still a bit iffy to deal with. The door opens, he held his breath for a moment as an elderly woman appeared in the doorway. Perhaps not elderly but plenty old in his eyes, she seemed surprised. Of course she was surprised, Jonathan breathed out.
The older woman fully opened the door, wrapping her cardigan around her tightly.
She hadn’t really changed over the years, the skin was wrinkled around the eyes and her hair had begun losing it’s colour. Half greyed, he was surprised to see that she hadn’t continued to dye her hair. Maybe she realised how bad it can be or perhaps she just gave up on the maintenance, she had always been a well groomed woman. Jonathan knew he took the his mother’s cleanliness onboard when he moved out of the house, everything always had to be clean. A clean house maintained pride, Jonathan didn’t live in a fancy flat. Nothing too elaborate but he took great pride in how clean he kept it with the dog padding about. Jonathan missed him, he let the downstairs neighbour look after him for the day. He wished he could’ve taken him with but his leg wouldn’t allow for it, he has begun moving about the flat more but it takes him ages to get from point A to point B.
“What are you doing here?”
“It’s Christmas day…”
There was a moment, Jonathan swore he had seen some sort of softness in her eyes but then again he once thought that his mother really loved him. A mother doesn’t berate her son, he knew that now. Jonathan hadn’t liked to think back on it all, the behaviour and the punishments. The lack of communication, little to no love given. He was surprised at how he was even still around, a miracle really. She didn’t say anything else, Jonathan saw her retreat into the house. Leaving the door open for him to venture through, he felt so much anger as he walked into the foyer. The family photos were still up. He noted that there weren’t many photos of him on the wall, not that she ever really made it a habit to take photos. Jonathan was however glad to see the photo of him and his father stood in front of the house. Most of the frames that hung on the wall were almost caked in dust. His mother had let herself go a little bit but perhaps it was her age, she wasn’t exactly as robust as she once was. Lucky for him, he wouldn’t see her running up the stairs with her duster any time soon.
“The house hasn’t changed.”
His mother gave away that sound, the one of disapproval. The short and bitter tut that hit him in the stomach as it travelled through the house. He had many times heard that same sound, scoldings normally came shortly after. Jonathan steps into the small kitchen, she hadn’t gotten a new table but the chairs were new. He saw the ghost of himself sat at the end, staring out the window in hopes of some force to show him the love he needed. The many nights he would sit in his corner and stare out into the garden, small bit of toast and some milk. Sounded pretty good to him at the moment now that he reminded himself that he hadn’t eaten in quite a while. Jonathan scratches his bearded chin, the past few days had gone by so fast and yet not fast enough. The memory of Aura leaving him that night, it still hurt like all hell.
“You ought to get yourself sorted Jonathan, that hair isn’t doing anyone any favours.”
He ran his fingers through his hair, it had grown in the past months without him really realising it. Jonathan had been so caught up with living in what he thought was the norm that he had completely neglected to pay attention to his personal hygiene. He should’ve noticed the length as he began using more and more shampoo when he showered, his beard grew rather quickly. The past few days of Aura being away from him hadn’t really helped, he sighs.
“I’ve got a job interview lined up, I’ll pop down to the barbers before the new year…”
His new job opportunity that he had been excited about had also been forgotten, buried in the back of his mind. A high end hotel not too far from his area had the need of a manager, Jonathan didn’t hesitate and applied for it the moment he saw the ad listed online. The person that oversaw the hiring process seemed very impressed by his resume, didn’t bother asking him any details of the previous locations he’s worked at. It would’ve been difficult if that person had called the different hotels and inquired about his stay with them, after Jonathan got roped in with Angela to take down Richard his reputation with the hotels he worked at took a great hit in order to create the new image of himself needed to infiltrate.
“Last time I checked you were out on tour, retired already?”
Of course she would ask him about that first, didn’t bother asking him if he was alright or how he was feeling. What he had been up to in the past ten years, there was absolutely nothing on her end. Jonathan shouldn’t have expected anything else, he just wanted to be distracted.
“I did one tour mum, I never went back out there.”
He didn’t want to go back to that, he didn’t want to step back onto the bloodstained sand he once stood on. Jonathan hadn’t heard much from the others he had served with, last time he checked one of them had just gone back to whatever he had done before joining. Like most of them did, Jonathan however began pretending. Playing make believe at various hotels all around the world, he kept running. A few stops for a quick breath before heading back out, he didn’t know what he had been searching for all of those years but he believed that he would come to discover it sooner or later. Somewhere along the way he found love, he discovered therapy and got to experience the slow healing that came with it. Jonathan was too proud, too stubborn to deal with things properly. His memory of his father wouldn’t allow it, Jonathan’s mother scoffs.
“Figures, war is nothing but a bunch of nonsense. Look at what happened to your father, fought for his country sure but he never came home.”
His jaw tensed, Jonathan’s father never came home because he perished out there. His father had bravely gone out and given himself to the cause and he never came back home, Jonathan felt abandoned by him for so many years. He resented his passing for quite some time, that his father would leave him in the care of this woman he called his mother.
“As if you cared…”
He didn’t remember a moment where his mother cried, she seemed sad for a moment but it was nowhere near how Jonathan and the rest of the family reacted. His cousin and the rest of his father’s friends all mourned for him, they all missed him. Heartbroken and yet his mother, his father’s own wife didn’t seem all too concerned. Whether she deliberately buried her feelings in order to appear strong or not, it would’ve been nice to at least have that with her. To be able to mourn together like a family, like mother and son. Like Aura and Adam did, Jonathan’s lips trembled. What was it that his mother didn’t agree with? What was wrong with him? He backs up, now stood in the doorway.
“I beg your pardon?”
Jonathan swallows the lump that formed in his throat, he refused to cry in front of his mother. She didn’t deserve to see him in that state, why had he come here? Jonathan had nothing to prove, he was lost, angry and heartbroken. The only person that ran through his thoughts had been his mother, was it a natural emotional response to something so disheartening? Wouldn’t a broken child cry for it’s mother? Wouldn’t he cry for her? The woman that had taught him not to, his mother never wanted him to cry. She didn’t care for him, she barely knew him. Jonathan had no mother, he sniffles.
“As if you cared, is what I said.”
His mother’s face contorts, he had hoped to see some semblance of grief but of course Jonathan had expected too much. His mother had remarried shortly after his father’s death, divorced within the first five years. He had no idea what went through that woman’s mind, how could she not cry for the man who loved her? Did his father ever really love her or was in convenience? It wouldn’t be that unbelievable, a man in the military had perks. The service came with consolation prizes in result of a soldier’s death, was that why she married him? Jonathan felt that his life had been a waste, if one wasn’t wanted then why did he exist? He shook his head, he didn’t know what he was doing wasting his time here. He needed an escape, he needed to escape.
“This was a mistake-”
He quickly turned and ran out of the kitchen, stumbling down the hallway. He stops for a moment, staring at the only picture on that wall that mattered. Jonathan quickly unhooks the small frame from the wall, the photo of him and his father standing in front of their home. Taken so many years ago, Jonathan didn’t recognise the child in the photo but he knew it was himself standing next to the older man. His hold on his own life had slipped away, time went by too fast and he didn’t give himself the chance to notice. First he was ten, then he was twenty and now thirty. Jonathan heard his mother step into the hall, he pressed the photo to his chest.
“If he were alive, perhaps I would be happier…”
Jonathan opens the front door and heads out, leaving his mother behind for good.
The taxi ride was going to cost him a lot but he had more than a lifetime’s worth of money to spare, diligent saver. The compensation from his service days and the work he did for Angela. He had more than he could spend, perhaps he should’ve just walked home in the rain. Allowed himself to freeze over night, he stares out the window. Watching as the lights pass by, clutching the picture frame in his hands as he thought of her. Jonathan thought about Aura, he saw her reflection in the wet glass. The patient smile she gave him on that first day, he didn’t deserve it but she gave it to him anyway. Jonathan didn’t anticipate this, he didn’t see himself ever finding anything this strong. He criticised himself, told himself that he fell in love too easy but he couldn’t tell himself that this time. Over the years he had fallen in and out of love and lust, multitude of different romantic partners that didn’t last more than a year. He was lucky if he even felt anything for them for longer than six months, most of his heart was withered. So skinny and empty, it wasn’t by choice but by his evolution. Jonathan had taken emotional beatings over the years, a long time of repeated heartache that never seemed to fade away. First his father, then his mother, series of lovers, Sophie, Jed and now Aura.
He had found something that he loved, someone that he loved and adored. Aura made him feel so loved, so normal. Jonathan should’ve told her everything right at the start, the night she had told him that she loved him. He wasn’t sure a to what he could possibly say to change her mind, she had to come back to him. He wasn’t ready for this, neither of them were. It was understandable to be nervous, Jonathan was terrified. He wasn’t sure if he would’ve made a good father figure but after just one day spent with Adam, he was so bright. A good boy who had wormed his way into his heart somehow, Jonathan knew that Aura came with responsibilities and he had fully embraced them. He was so willing to change, he loved her and her son. His mind was reeling, his feelings were all over the place. One moment he feels the deep love he had developed for her, for her son and for the new life he had established for himself and then he was feeling miserable. Jonathan was angry with himself, he was upset with the fact that he allowed himself to forget the past even if it was just for a moment. Jonathan felt so free, there was no extra weight holding him down.
Aura taught him how to breathe, she wanted to help him see that his pain was just as real as anyone else’s. That no matter how much pain he had endured that he could still come back from it, he was so exhausted. The tears slip from the corners of his eyes, dripping down his cheeks and disappearing into his beard. If she saw him now, if she could see how pathetic he was in this moment would she still find it in her heart to love him? To come back to him, love him as the broken man that he was. Jonathan didn’t feel so broken when he held her in his arms, when she kissed him. Jonathan sniffles, looking down into his lap. Staring at the picture frame, his father looking back at him with a smile. What would his father have told him in this situation?
Hold onto her son, make her smile.
His life had lacked the father figure to guide him and now Jonathan had the chance to become someone else’s father figure. It was a field in which he was completely ignorant, he knew very little of children. Only ever interacting with children of guests at his hotels and local children in it’s area, young Daniel as well. Jonathan hadn’t planned on getting close to Daniel and he wasn’t too close to him in the end but he at least befriended him, Aura appreciated how much he’s done for Adam in the time that he’s known them. Jonathan treated Adam as if he were a man, occasionally that is. When Adam chose to show maturity, Jonathan jolts in his seat as the taxi stops in front of his building. He couldn’t believe that he was here already, time went by too fast.
“That would be twenty-six-fifty…”
He sighs and grabs his wallet from his coat, paying the driver his fee. The rain was lifting but he could still see a light spray, Jonathan opens the door and gets out. Wiping the tears out of his eyes, the rain would’ve covered it all up anyway. He needed to pick up Sergeant from the neighbour’s flat, hopefully he wasn’t being a nuisance. This spontaneous trip today didn’t do much for him, Jonathan hadn’t really understood what had gotten into him. There was just this flicker, some sort of hope that his mother would know what to do. The one person who had always showed him what to do in the past, she told him to put himself out there, to get a job and to make something of himself. Jonathan tried his hardest to do so only to end up in this situation, his mother never had anything of true value. He was however pleased that he managed to snatch the photo from the wall, one of the few things he now had to remember his father. Something to hang on his wall, he sighs as he quickly took out his phone which was very low on battery. No calls or messages, he opened up his texts. Staring at the barrage of messages he had sent her previously only to be left on read, Aura at least read them.
- I miss you, please call me!
- Please come back
- Baby, I’m sorry. Please let me explain!
All of them were read but she didn’t respond, she didn’t take his calls or answer the door either. Jonathan pockets his phone and continues walking down the parking lot, he wasn’t sure what else he could do at this point. Trash his flat a bit more? Fall asleep in the tub? Watch old game shows like he did before? Drink himself to sleep? The choices were endless, his eyes widened as he finds someone sitting just outside the building. Their jacket drenched from the rain, shivering.
Why was Adam here? How long had he been out here? The boy jumps to his feet and charges for Jonathan, wrapping his arms tightly around him. Jonathan stumbles back, he felt Adam burying his face in his jacket. The boy was crying, his heart hurt upon hearing it.
“Don’t leave! I don’t want you to go away!”
Adam didn’t want him to disappear, Jonathan sniffles and wrapped his arms around him. Embracing him tightly, he loved Adam despite not having truly fathered him but he couldn’t care less. Adam needed him, Jonathan pressed a brief kiss to the top of his head.
3 characters I associate you with are: Eve from OLLA, Samantha from Her And Ned Stark from Game of Thrones. Don’t know why, probably because they’re very nice and wise as well as open minded and sweet 🙂
AAAA, these are such great choices!
Eve has always been mentioned to me, I love her to death and back.
I laughed when I saw Ned Stark cause Sean Bean, I love Sean Bean. Sean Bean is life, Boromir and his fine self!
I don’t remember Samantha from Her all that much, I really need to watch that movie again it’s been a while. I wanna see Joaquin so baaaaaaad rn!
Loki opens his palms only to find yet another firefly, he huffs and lets it fly away. He had stayed up to see if he couldn’t catch one, he read that some fairies glow in the dark. Not all of them but what were the chances of one of these fireflies being a real fairy? There were so many of them out in the garden, he had stayed out here for over an hour catching them. He wanted to see one up close, he wasn’t sure if they were real or not but he believed they were. No matter what Thor said, Loki believed they were real. He sat on the edge of the fountain and sighed, fourth night in a row and still no sign of them. He was starting to think that book was all a big elaborate joke, he leans over the water. Watching the fireflies flitting about the sky in the reflective surface, the lilies were all sleeping.
His mother’s face appeared in the water and he turned around to find her stood in front of him, smiling. She always looked pretty when she smiles, Loki didn’t like to see her sad. She sits down next to him, he hadn’t exactly told her what he was doing up so late in the past few days. She might find it stupid but he had to know if those stories were real.
“What’s the matter?”
Loki felt a bit sad, what if Thor was right? What if fairies didn’t exist? That would mean that he has been wasting his time out here, Thor and his friends probably had a good laugh at his expense. There was no way that Thor hadn’t told them already, Loki’s face reddens deeply from the shame. Thor said that fairies were more for girls than boys too, Loki felt embarrassed. He felt his mother’s hand resting atop his head, gently combing through his hair with her fingers. At least mother was always there for him, Loki loved her very much.
“Are the fairies real?”
His mother laughs softly, Loki’s heart drops for a moment.
“If you believe hard enough they will appear to you.”
Loki didn’t understand what that meant, it was a simple yes or no question but perhaps there was some sort of hidden answer. He wanted to believe, he believed in the possibility of capturing one therefore he did indeed believe that they were real. He smiled softly as his mother takes his hand as she stood up from the edge of the fountain, it was late and she was definitely going to drag him off to bed. Loki didn’t fight it, he had his favourite books stashed away under his bed so he wasn’t all that worried about not catching a fairy tonight. He looks back at the fountain as he moves further and further away from it, his eyes widened as he sees one of the sleeping waterlilies glowing in the dark water.
“Where are we going?”
Loki sighs, this was the third time she’s asked since they left his room. He didn’t bother taking her into his hands, it would seem suspicious. Gullveig hid away in his hair, it gave her the perfect cover from prying eyes. It wasn’t that Loki wasn’t willing to share his discovery, he didn’t want anyone to rain on his parade so to speak. He found her and he was determined to solve the mystery of her being, he hadn’t slept much but it was enough for now. Gullveig slept for quite some time, he had made her a little area on his bedside table using a curved spoon and some flower petals. It was rather odd waking up to her sitting on the spoon, he figured she had slept for a good while. Gullveig doesn’t remember how she got inside the lily, she didn’t really know where she came from either.
“Library, get some answers.”
He felt her slightly tugging on his hair as she held onto it so she wouldn’t fall, Gullveig was very interested in her surroundings. The palace looked like caves to her, she was like a speck of dust if you put her on the ground. It was hard to spot her but her voice carries.
Gullveig had no recollection of her identity or how she fell asleep inside the lily but she had the knowledge of being an adult woman. She wasn’t sure if she had family, she wasn’t sure if she was a fairy or not. Loki thought that somehow that shooting star may have had a hand in her appearance, perhaps the lily decided to grow a small woman out of nowhere; he wasn’t exactly sure. His world was spinning, he didn’t know where to go or what to do but he knew he wanted and needed to think of Gullveig first. It was of utmost importance, he rounded the corner only to walk into his mother. He flinches as she smiles, Loki quickly ran his fingers through his hair to gather Gullveig into his hand. Hiding her behind his back, he felt her squirming.
“Good morning mother!”
She smiles, he had completely forgotten that he wasn’t currently on speaking terms with her or Odin. Especially Thor despite his desperate attempts to reach out, Loki wasn’t ready to face it just yet. Gullveig began squeezing through the gaps of his fingers, he tightens his grip. He had no patience for this type of behaviour at the moment, no one could see her. No matter how badly she wanted to see who he was talking to, Loki had to hide her.
“I wondered whether you were going to join me for breakfast, I was about to fetch you-”
“Can’t- I’m rather busy, official affairs and whatnot- Let’s go for a walk later!”
Loki dodges his mother’s hug and quickly walks down the hall, she could hear her calling for him but she soon stops. He wasn’t in the right frame of mind to spend time with her, not today. he was too distracted. Loki quickly jumps behind the next pillar and opens up his palm, looking at poor Gullveig that sat in his hand with her arms crossed. A pout didn’t suit such a pretty face but he understood that she was frustrated, someone of her size wasn’t suitable to walk freely around the palace. She could get squashed, Loki wouldn’t be able to find out where she came from then.
“That was completely uncalled for prince Loki!”
He brought her up to eye level, she was right. His behaviour was completely uncalled for in regards to him snubbing his mother, the woman that raised him. His mind was completely occupied by Gullveig to even think about what had transpired in the last few weeks and it was hard to keep the focus on one thing. In all his excitement he had neglected to reflect on his feelings towards the people he had called his family for so long, he had finally caught something that brought back the boy he used to be. Loki had long since lost the grasp of that child’s hand, allowing it to fuse with the memories of his home. Loki hadn’t been ready to let go of that time, he never was. Often found himself wishing to be a child again, where he had been none the wiser. Staying up late to catch fairies and fables, watching his mother knit and playing with Thor. He probably would’ve felt better if they hadn’t told him, if he hadn’t found out about his frost giant heritage.
“I’m sorry- I can’t let anyone see you, nobody would believe me even if they did see you.”
Gullveig tilts her tiny head to the side, Loki felt like her life was a lot simpler than his own. All she had to worry about was to not be stepped on, keep herself out of the way and she’d be living just fine. Loki didn’t get to live that sort of life, always busy with princely duties though he shouldn’t really call them princely seeing as he wasn’t truly a prince. Not of this realm anyway, he huffs. Gullveig pressed her little hands against the tip of his nose, he goes cross eyed for a moment as she is stood right in front of him. Her pout faded into a worried frown.
In a way, Gullveig’s presence and perspective was a breath of fresh air. Something new, a distraction that he hadn’t asked for but was grateful to be provided with. She wouldn’t truly understand but perhaps in some way she did, Loki wasn’t one to talk about his feelings. Kept to himself, silent and off to the side. He sighs, leaning up against the pillar.
“No one ever believes me.”
She smiles softly, there was something so hopeful in her eyes.
“I’ll believe you…”
She wouldn’t get off the book, constantly flitting about the pages. Running back and forth to examine the illustrations, Loki had pulled out every volume he had on small magical creatures but so far he hadn’t found anything of value. He was beginning to believe that Gullveig was in fact some sort of fairy but the lack of wings was odd, fairies were always depicted as flying creatures. Wings as clear as glass, he had always wanted to see if it was true. That one could see the rainbow if they saw the sun through their wings, his hand brushed over the illustration of the dancing fairy. Gullveig mimicked the fairy’s pose, gracefully extending her hands upwards and side stepping. She had the makings of a decent fairy, pretty as a rosebud and as joyful as the lambs in spring.
“Why don’t I have wings?”
Loki presses his elbows against the table, resting his head in his hands with a hum.
“I’m not sure, perhaps you were simply born without them…”
That was one explanation he had immediately thought of, if Asgardians could be born in all manner of ways why wouldn’t fairies be the same? Those who were born with out sight, born without legs and the joy of sound. Couldn’t fairies be born without wings?
“What if I am like you but just really short?”
Loki couldn’t help but snort at the thought, how would an Asgardian even get so small?
“Are you serious?”
“It’s a possibility right?”
Not exactly impossible, there could be a spell to reverse this. It would be a good thing to at least look into but Loki was firm in his belief that Gullveig was a fairy, why would the lily she sprung out of glow like that in the night? There was something magical about her, he was certain that she was a fairy but if she wanted him to look into the possibility then he could indulge her a little bit.
“You’re not wrong but I doubt that you are like me, no one is anything like me in Asgard.”
Loki gently pushes her off the page so he could flip to the next one, he enjoyed spending time in the library at this time. It was always empty, he could have full theatrical performances in here without ever being interrupted by guards or anyone else. Not that he would, reciting Midgardian plays wasn’t as fun when there were others watching him. Gullveig approaches his hand and climbs on top of it, he could feel her little toes pressed against his skin. He wondered if fairies ever wore shoes, there wouldn’t really be a use for them seeing as they have wings and probably just fly wherever they needed to go.
“No one is what? Handsome? A prince? Really tall?”
His cheeks reddened, he looks away from her. Gullveig’s blue eyes bore into his with such power, he wasn’t unnerved but a tad uneasy for some reason. Just looking into them, it was as if she could see through him somehow.
“A frost giant.”
She gasps, sitting down on the back of his hand.
“You’re a cold one…”
Gullveig nods and jumps down from his hand, walking around the page as if she were tracing each and every letter with her footsteps. She seemed to maintain some sort of knowledge that was seemingly passed down to her, Gullveig associated the word frost giant with something from her own mind. Sure it wasn’t exactly the same name but wherever she came from knew about frost giants, which mean she must’ve come from somewhere.
“I don’t remember much but I do remember the story of the cold ones, I can’t recall where from though.”
It was now clear to him that Loki had to find out where she came from, it was obvious that she had somehow wandered off from whatever community of beings she was a part of. Human or fairy, he had to see if he couldn’t locate that spell. Loki had to try something to rule out the possibility, Gullveig hums to herself for a moment as she thought back.
“It’s said that the cold ones are the tallest beings of all, you cannot let their blue fingers touch you or else you will freeze completely.”
Sounds about the same as what the Asgardians are taught, frost giants were indeed large and their skin could be deadly to touch. Loki was fortunate to be sporting the Asgardian gold, the protection that kept him here. He wouldn’t hurt anybody while he was still sheathed in Asgardian skin. No one would fear him either, not when he looks the part.
“I guess our stories are somewhat the same except here I am described as a monster. Frost giants are monsters Gullveig, I am a monster.”
Loki leans back, it’s what he had been told. The man who took him from the frozen planes of Jotunheim had taught him that the giants were evil, monsters that eat children if they didn’t behave. Bloodthirsty savages with no concept of peace, he was a part of those savages. Loki was a monster that was raised as a man, he had his sense of identity. A name though he wondered if whoever birthed him ever bothered to name him, perhaps not. Odin said that he had been found abandoned, left out in the cold to die as he was too small to be considered a real giant. Unwanted, even by the monsters that bore him. His jaw clenched, he sinks into the chair. Gullveig crosses her arms, tapping her foot against the page below her.
“You don’t look like a monster, would a monster really carry around a wingless fairy in their pocket?”
She made him smiles, though this friendship would be fleeting; he was glad he got to taste it.
“I suppose not.”
They were sat in the library for hours, he had only left to fetch food. It was funny to see her eat, tearing off little handfuls of bread. So tiny that even Loki couldn’t see them when she held out her hands, Gullveig was stood on the windowsill. She wanted to see outside, Loki didn’t mind as long as she stayed in there. She hums as she watches her own reflection move about in the glass, she seemed so content with herself regardless of the situation. Loki felt envious, perhaps if he were more like Gullveig he could come to accept himself but his heart wouldn’t allow him that. He found the spell that he had thought about earlier, it wouldn’t hurt to try it though he was sure that it wouldn’t yield any result. Loki hadn’t performed a spell such as this one, if done correctly Gullveig would in theory turn back to full size. She’d be a regularly sized Asgardian but Loki believed she wasn’t one. He stared at the illustration of the fairy that slept so soundly on a bed of leaves, there were physical similarities between Gullveig and the fairies in the books. Stature, facial features though she didn’t have the pointed ears. That was the one thing he was surprised to find but as he said earlier she could’ve simply been born a anomaly. He looks over to the window, watching Gullveig sitting down. Looking outside, it was raining.
Was it her lack of wings that led to her sleeping in the lily? Was she somehow left there to die? Couldn’t be, the waterlily despite it’s location seemed like a relatively safe place. Gullveig had a good chance of being discovered and taken care of, did her parents not want her? Did she even have them? The books never really talked about the conception of fairies, one book might say that fairies had gestation periods whereas another will say that they sprout from the ground. Loki wasn’t sure which to believe but either was a good possibility. He stood up with the book, flipping to the next page. This one had been written by an Asgardian scholar, he didn’t know if he was still alive or not but he possibly held even more answers. The scholar was said to live in the outskirts of the city, if he could somehow get there he might be able to get Gullveig some real answers.
Loki examined the page, seeing a group of fairies circling a mushroom. He wasn’t sure why he was even doing this, he could’ve kept Gullveig for his own entertainment. A pet or a part of a collection, if she was indeed a fairy there were bound to be more. Loki shook his head, looking at her now only made him feel horrible for thinking that way. He closed the book and set it down on the nearby table, Gullveig’s sniffles echo in the silent library. Loki hadn’t realised the time but he knew it was evening, his mother must be disappointed for not getting that walk in today. He approached the window, quickly dragging the nearby stool over so that he could sit and watch the rain. Gullveig hugged her little knees, watching on as the windows cry in the evening light.
“Do you think there are others like me? Without wings?”
Loki leans forward, resting his chin on the windowsill with a hum. He often thought about himself the same way, he knew there were others like him back in Jotunheim but he never really thought about anything more than that. He never really thought about how many small giants there were in existence, how they were treated and if any of them even survived. Seeing as he was apparently abandoned, he must’ve been unwanted due to his size. He was significantly smaller than a regular giant the last time he checked, Gullveig looks over.
“I don’t know.”
Gullveig stands and pads over to him, Loki crosses his eyes as she stands in front of him. Leaning on the tip of his nose, she felt so familiar. Gullveig was comfortable around him, it was odd but he was starting to get used to it after the short amount of time he’s known about her. He could see her eyes glistening, was she sad? Loki didn’t believe she had that much to worry about, he stops crossing his eyes for a moment to let them adjust. It hurts after a little bit, he could hear her softly laughing as he blinks before crossing them again.
“What if we never find the fairies, what if they don’t want me?”
Why wouldn’t they want her? Because she has no wings? He felt the pain in his heart, there was real sorrow in her words. What if she was right? Loki had found her all on her own, asleep inside a waterlily. Why would she be so far away from her home if she was indeed a fairy? Who put her there? Did she fall from the sky? He had thought for a while that she might’ve fallen from the night sky as he had witnessed a shooting star, landing in the fountain. Magic was unpredictable and sometimes very complicated to understand, it had a mind of it’s own in some way. There was magic all around them, in the earth, the stars, the water; it was everywhere. Loki gave her a reassuring smile, he wasn’t sure what he was going to do if she wasn’t wanted by anyone. Perhaps she could continue her stay here in the keep, Loki could do more magic research. Perhaps find some sort of spell to help her find her own way, all he knew was that for now they had to find that scholar.
“We’ll figure it out…”
Gullveig nods, perhaps he should try that spell in the morning.