I give you the next, oh so unedited installment of Charcoal, which is now longer than 16000 words! As alway comments are wonderful wonderful things, please and thank you. Enjoy!
The rose garden was another beautiful part of campus, Soul got there at 2 just so he could have time to sit by himself and enjoy the flowers that bloomed year round. He was lying on his back, dozing off when Scott entered the labyrinth of roses.
Soul looked beautiful in the sun. Almost like some sort of fallen angel, or fairy. Scott smiled at the thought of Soul frolicking through forests. He could imagine it all to easily. Even asleep Soul’s tension showed. Scott was comforted by the thought that Soul was as disturbed in the weeks apart as he had been.
Souls green eyes opened slowly when he realized the feeling of being watched wasn’t entirely in his dream.
“What did you want to talk about?” he asked sitting up slowly. He hadn’t been sleeping well and his body was reluctant to let him out of his dreams.
Scott was temporarily distracted by Soul’s tousled hair and sleepy blinking. He could imagine watching Soul wake up every morning. He wished that he did.
“Well?” Soul prompted. Scott shook of his daydreams and began to speak.
“I found your summer portfolio in Professor White’s office.” Soul felt like throwing up. The blood drained out of his face and pooled in his stomach. He felt lightheaded with panic.
“You did?” He whispered holding his stomach and trying to keep down what little he had eaten.
“Yes, I was especially stricken by the one with the poppies.” Soul straightened. He had forgotten about that picture.
“I drew that one because of a dream. I just included it on a whim. I think it actually put me over the submission limit.” Soul’s voice was scratchy, half from sleep and half from swallowed bile; the taste in his mouth was awful.
“I really love this garden, but can we get some coffee and talk for real?” Scott read Soul’s mind. He nodded. They walked back to the café where it had all started and settled into some chairs. Soul perched on the edge of his, uncomfortably reminded of what had nearly happened the last time a discussion began in this room, and this time the professor wasn’t there to moderate.
“Relax, I’m not going to do anything to you.” Soul sat straighter. There was no way he was letting Scott lead him into a false sense of security. He didn’t want his life to be turned over again. He still hadn’t recovered from the first mess.
“We need to talk because the picture you drew, the one of the poppies is exactly what was painted on my room when I was born. Also, my mother knows there is something going on. She has called me every week since- since we last spoke. I don’t know how she knows but she does, she wants to visit.” Soul stood and walked around his chair and gripped the back.
“But wont she- doesn’t she want…”
“She would want both of us to quit school, she would want you to come to our house and really train, she would want you to tell her where your mother is. Your father has never stopped searching for her. You would never be free again.” Soul’s nails dug into the soft fabric of the chair. Scott sat unbearably still, he knew he risked a lot telling Soul the truth, but knew if he lied, and the truth came out, and it eventually would- there would be no bringing Soul back.
“She will probably know you are here when she comes, if you are here. I tried to hide it, but she created the bond- she probably know that-“
“She knows that we kissed?” Soul gripped the chair harder and his knees felt weak. “Would she know if we, you know, did more?” Scott nodded and Soul’s cheeks flushed a dark red. He giggled. It was too much. “Good god, I don’t even know the lady and she’s peeking through keyholes. How can you stand knowing she knows?” Scott shrugged.
“I’ve known she would know my whole life. The only way to sever her connection with it is to finish it.” Soul stopped laughing. Hell no.
“But then she would know, because she didn’t know-“ It was getting more confusing and creepier. Again Scott nodded.
“Its not too weird if you grow up with it.” It was Soul’s turn to shake his head.
“There is no way that is not weird. If she will know what we do, she knows I’m here and everything else somehow- what are we supposed to do?” Soul came back around his chair and perched on the edge.
“Well, I don’t know really. The only way to keep you mom out of it is to go to her first, my mom. Then she won’t be able to force you to rat out your mom. I know it seems like the worst idea, but as a guest, it will be easier to leave.”
“I wouldn’t be a guest otherwise?” How sinister was this organization? This family?
“You would be in name…” Scott trailed off. “Would you be willing to do it, come to my house with me? You would be expected to practice your gift. The bond would be stronger in that environment, closer to where it was created. I wouldn’t- push you, but it would be expected…” Soul nodded. As distant as he was from his mother, he couldn’t make her go back somewhere she had worked so hard to avoid. He was lost here, and had no other ideas. If something big was coming, and in the movie that his life was becoming, there had to be something coming after so much nothing.
“I’ll do it.”
“Oh it is so wonderful to meet you!” Scott’s mother was perfectly made up, her face unlined and perfectly, gently tanned. Her eyes were the color of honey, nearly the same color as her neatly bobbed and pinned hair.
“And you too madam.” The house was huge, much bigger than Soul had expected, many times the size of the home he had grown up in.
“Oh, sweetie, you are as good as family! Don’t call me madam, that is far too old sounding. You can call me mom, or Sylvia!” She spoke in a blatantly false happy tone. Her eyes were sharp in their increased sockets and her skin didn’t quite feel real.
“Ok.” Soul stepped back from the terrifying woman and looked around the foyer. It showed evidence of hired help, from the spotless corners and polished marble floors. The single room was far too big for a single family to clean, and from what Soul had seen Sylvia was not one does any manual labor.
“You boy must be so tired!” Sylvia said into the silence that followed. “I’ll show you to the room. You must excuse me, you will have to carry your own bags, all the others are in temple, there seems to be something brewing.” She skipped up the stairs, her wickedly thin stilettos clicking on the polished hardwood of the stairs. “You boys will be staying in the scarlet room. I’m afraid Scott’s room is not quite big enough for two.” She winked in what Soul assumed was supposed to be conspiratorial way, but didn’t quite work as not all of her face could move.
“Mom, you know we haven’t-” Scott blushed, his mother taking away all the confidence he had. He was back in the place he had grown up, the place he was told he would be alone forever, that he was talentless, good only for the one that had abandoned him.
“No time like the present!” Sylvia squealed. “Here we are!” She threw open French doors at the top of the first landing. The first room they entered was painted a soothing lavender, but the second set of French doors lead to a lavish bedroom painted the richest scarlet. The bed must have been larger than a king and the headboard was iron formed into the silhouette of a tree. It was a beautiful piece, but an intimidating one.
“Mom, this room-“
“Is perfect for what you will no doubt be doing! I expect you to do what is expected of you Scott. I know you spent a large amount of time thinking you didn’t have to do your duty to the family, but that time has ended. You have been granted a chance to live up to your family name, don’t waste it.” Scott nodded and dropped his bag on the floor. Sylvia smiled, clapped her hands and left the room, closing the door behind her with a smile and another wink.
“Sorry.” Scott whispered, refusing to meet Soul’s gaze. “I forgot how she is. It was years before I realized how un-mother like she is.” Soul was too stricken to respond. He placed his bag on a chair and ran a hand along the satin comforter.
“There was a knock on the door, and it opened a moment later. Outside stood a woman that looked as much like Scott as possible without being a man. Her stomach protruded slightly in a way that suggested more than a large lunch. Soul had the uncomfortable image of Scott in the same condition before the new figure spoke.
“Hi I’m Josie! Scott’s sister. I am so exited to meet you; it has been so lonely here with only mom for company. And you must be Soul! It’s been so long! Oh has mother got plans for you.” She waddled into the room and gave Scott a hug. “You have to stay! I can feel myself become more like mom everyday. Nova says I talk like her not. Can you believe it!” Scott wrapped his arms around his sister’s shoulders and buried his head in her hair.
“I missed you so much. And no you are having a baby?” Josie giggled and twirled.
“Yes, I mean, I didn’t really intend on having one yet. But now that- well I think I am excited! I am supposed to be resting now, that’s why I’m not with the others, but I couldn’t wait to see you.” Soul liked the woman; her enthusiasm seemed genuine opposed to Sylvia’s forced smiles.
“And you-“ She turned to Soul, “are just too pretty, I might have to steal you for myself!” She giggled, but Scott’s face wasn’t something to laugh at, he looked beyond livid. “Oh silly don’t worry!” Josie patted him on the shoulder. “Nova might kill me. Now you guys should get dressed for dinner before mom flips completely. She wants you to wear your black suit that she got you over the summer with a green tie and the antique cufflinks.” She smiled at Scott’s irritated expression and turned to Soul. “She wouldn’t share what she wants you to wear but she left a box in the dresser, I think it has your name on it.” Soul wondered why she was telling them this if she was supposed to be resting, how were they supposed to know what to wear if she stayed asleep.
“Because I am supposed to get up at 6 to remind you, I’m just a bit early. I thought you might want to shower instead of just change. Plus I wanted to see my baby brother and resting all the time gets boring!” She turned and flounced out of the room. Soul was floored.
“Does she read minds?” He whispered as if that would keep her out of his head. Scott laughed.
“Not quite. She is really, really empathetic though. She probably felt your confusion toward her. She is really good at guessing too.” Soul nodded, still not quite understanding but unwilling to pursue it now.
“SO is your mom always this particular about what you wear?” Scott nodded and frowned at the closet.
“You bet, and you better get used to it, especially if she has already started with you. She usually waits until the second day to dress her guests. Better go find your clothes, we have an hour.”
After enjoying the waterfall shower for longer that the time warranted Soul opened the box addressed to him in a bubbly script. Opening it he was struck with the impression of green the shirt was a vivid emerald with what seemed like a million mother of pearl buttons down the front. It was beautiful. Soul hated it. Pulling it on without undoing the buttons Soul found the shirt fit him perfectly, if a bit tighter than he preferred. It then flared slightly at his hips. He despised it. The pants were made of a soft material Soul couldn’t identify, thankfully they were black and other than being a bit tight around the thighs and long, comfy. Dressed, Soul walked back into the lavender drawing room.
Scott’s breath caught when he saw Soul’s reflection in the mirror where he was fixing his collar. While he would have never picked the outfit for himself or for Soul it was beautiful. The green brought out the glow in his pale skin and the depth of his eyes. The cut of the shirt and pants emphasized the slender form Soul usually disguised. Scott turned around and the unfiltered imaged hit him like a punch to the stomach. He hardened painfully in his perfectly tailored pants. He wanted Soul like he had never wanted anything else. He forgot about dinner, about his mother and sister and the mess they were all in. All he could think of was Soul’s slender hips in his hands and legs wrapped around him.