Oops I guess it has been a bit longer than I expected since last updating. Vacation makes time pass oddly. Anyway I hope you enjoy and as always any comments are welcome!
Soul was late to the table. He had assured Scott that he was only going to wash his face but he has managed to speak with the twins, if only for a moment. They had a plan; he had a plan, even if it was only to make a plan.
Soul slipped into his seat as quietly and respectfully as he could, it was an unacceptable thing to be late, but apparently his and Scott’s earlier activities had tempered Sylvia’s ire. She smiled tightly at him and continued her conversations, which included berating everyone for small indiscretions. Her lack of attention was a gift and was almost worth Soul’s earlier embarrassment. He had known that she would know what they were doing, known that she might even walk in. Soul knew it, and still he had persevered. He hadn’t imagined that he would be able to forget the oppressive house, the watching eyes and listening ears, but he had, yet again he had underestimated the power of Scott’s touch. Soul sighed as he remembered. It had felt so good, even as it had almost hurt. He could feel a blush coming to his face as he remembered in more detail, the feel of Scott growing in his mouth, the feel of Scott’s hands, almost tickling-
“Even thought the library is not the most appropriate place for such activities.” Soul looked up, startled from his revelry, right into Sylvia’s face. She had apparently been thinking of similar things as Soul, he blushed and looked to his right, where he found others staring at him. Scott took his hand under the table, for support Soul was sure, but he hated being talked about, he didn’t want them to imagine what he had been remembering. His peace about having and fulfilling a plan began to fade. He pulled his hand away and wrapped it with his other in his lap. He knew that Scott would have a hurt expression on his face but couldn’t face it.
The conversation continued, Sylvia mentioning the bond and how important it was to ‘continue their work’. She said she understood his hesitance but that she really needed them to proceed. She spoke of how lovely it was that his drawings were becoming clearer, but also that he needed to focus on the abstract. Soul focused on that, finding it much more comfortable to be frustrated than embarrassed.
“I can’t focus on something if I don’t know what it is.” He spoke softly but clearly. He could feel Sylvia’s eyes on him even though he didn’t look up. “With Scott I focus on him, I can see him, it’s a very specific anchor. But I don’t know what you want me to look for there are so many things in the world I can’t just know what you want.”
Everyone was silent for a moment, talking back to Sylvia just wasn’t something that was done, and certainly not at her table with others watching. There was a brief silence, as everyone held their breath. Sylvia sighed and when Soul looked up he saw the end of her nod.
“You are right, it isn’t fair to keep you in the dark.” Soul waited for her to continue, for her to finally explain something but she didn’t, she turned back to her place and delicately prepared a bite with steak and just a bit of potato. She smiled up at him when she was satisfied by the food on her fork.
“Just finish the bond, and everyone will be so pleased.” She put the fork in her mouth and pulled it would very slowly, maintaining eye contact and Soul was reminded of a picture of a wolf he had once seen, its eyes almost glowing as it stripped the flesh from a deer carcass, he shivered and wrapped his hands more tightly around each other. If he had had an appetite before it was completely gone now.
Soul had slipped from Scott’s arms easily. His earlier actions were paying off. Scott was relaxing around him. Soul felt almost bad for manipulating him he did think that Scott was a good person, someone he could really love in different circumstances. But for now he had to get out of here, to find his mother, to find some answers.
Soul walked quietly down the hall and out into the back garden. He half expected there to be an alarm, for dozens of the newcomers to come pouring out of the house to drag him to some dark dungeon. But there was nothing but the soft noises of suburban night, and the sweet smells of a well-tended garden. Soul realized as he felt the dew on the soft grass that he hadn’t been outside in days. He missed it then, deeply. He wandered for a bit, smelling the flowers and picking small leaves off the plants in a small plot of kitchen herbs. He was so engrossed that he forgot for a moment his reason for being here- meeting the twins.
They approached quietly, and even thought their greeting was soft Soul was still more startled than he would like to admit.
“You were early.”
“And you wanted to speak with us?”
Soul nodded and looked around, still surprised that no one had come to shoo him back into the house.
“The garden is warded”
“There will be no alarm”
“Unless you try to leave.”
Soul nodded but still didn’t speak.
“There are still listening ears”
“There are everywhere”
“There are everywhere”
“But fewer that in the house”
“And less attentive”
“Especially at night.”
Soul nodded again and took a breath.
“I need to get out of here.” The twins nodded and shared a long look.
“It is sooner than we wanted.”
“But it is time to act”
“But it is time to act”
“We have an idea”
“But you can’t tell anyone”
The plan was basic, but believable and Soul so needed something to believe in. And if something did happen he did have his plan b, though now it was looking less attractive, something made Soul want to see this through, he didn’t want another generation fighting Sylvia, and he knew somehow she would still be there, fighting even after he was long gone.
Scott smiled, grinned really, when he opened his eyes, Soul was still sleeping in his arms. Scott knew he had gotten up in the night but didn’t want to pry and now his patience was paying off. He pushed himself up on his elbow gently, trying to avoid jostling Soul too much, and he was successful. Soul grumbled something then snuggled closer into Scott’s chest. Scott felt himself filling with warmth. He had all that he wanted, right here right now.
Scott’s shoulder began to ache as the minutes ticked by and the light from the window inched closer to Soul’s face, but he ignored it. He would endure much more for this moment to last. It was bittersweet when the sunbeam reached Soul’s eyes and after squinting for a moment they began to open. Soul wrinkled his nose as he opened his eyes and Scott thought it was the most beautiful thing he had ever seen. Soul looked into Scott’s face warily for a moment, but then his eyes closed again. Soul pulled away from Scott but flipped onto his stomach and pulled his knee under his elbow. The movement pulled the sheet tight across Soul’s ass and Scott debated whether this view was better or worse than the other. After a few moments Soul’s breathing evened out into an almost snore and Scott flopped back onto his pillow massaging his aching shoulder. If Soul wanted to sleep more Scott wasn’t going to take it from him. The moment was too peaceful, domestic almost and Scott wasn’t going to let anything ruin it. Not even his own libido.
At breakfast Soul looked happily rumpled. He still had lines from sleep on his face and he ate slowly, putting jam on only the bit of toast he was putting in his mouth next. He seemed absentminded but Scott didn’t mind, it was a continuation of earlier. He imagined mornings like this in the future, the bond complete, sharing sleepy feelings and thoughts, away from this house and his mother. Just sharing the bright morning together in piece. Scott sighed and when he did Soul looked up, a small spoon filled with raspberry jam still in his hand. His eyes seemed clearer now, more awake. He smiled as Scott and it brought more warmth to Scott than the sun streaming in the windows.
“I need to get some things from school, I miss my pencils, and easel. Drawing on the table is fine I just-” He trailed off and Scott didn’t mind. Soul was moving some of his things in. That was al that mattered. Even thought this was not the house he had imagined sharing with Soul he didn’t mind. It wasn’t perfect but for this moment, it was pretty damn close.
“Okay, do you want me to come?” Scott knew what the answer would be but he still had to ask. He knew that he had to continue to give Soul space even if he didn’t want to, but after yesterday he didn’t mind as much. His efforts were working. He just had to be patient a little longer and his lifelong torment would be over. He smiled and took a sip of his coffee. Maybe they would get a dog when it was all over. A big fluffy one that would knock Soul over when he walked in the house. One that would sleep on the bed and they would take for long walks. Scott sighed, they would do so many wonderful things and it would be perfect. He just had to be patient a little bit longer, he just had to let Soul come to him, and it was already happening.
Scott looked so hopeful when he asked if he could come, and he looked so happy when he was sipping his coffee Soul felt badly about his deception. Maybe Scott could come. It would make it look better to Sylvia too and if he could get out without her suspicion it would make everything so much easier. And it would make sense that soul would want to leave for a bit, to get to know his new-boyfriend? - In peace outside of his mothers home. It was a change of plan and the twins might not like it but-
“Sure, you can come if you want.”
Scott looked so deeply happy when he looked up Soul was glad that he had said yes. He thought that Scott was probably expecting a no, but he liked being nice to Scott, he liked putting that smile on his face. Soul liked putting any smile on Scott’s face and he was struck again with a strong nostalgia of what could have been.
“We have to go and get some of Soul’s stuff.” Sylvia had entered the room and Scott was eager to tell her the news. She would understand the significance he was sure and her smile meant the world to Scott. Soul smiled to himself, it was an excellent decision to bring Scott. His mother was placated, and Scott was smiling. Two good things and with just a word from him.
They were ready to go just an hour later and Soul was almost bouncing on his toes as they waited for the twin to come and ‘escort’ them. It was the perfect plan and nothing could possibly go wrong.
The twins arrived ten minutes after they had been called and looked fresh out of a shower. Soul wondered for a moment if they had showered together and decided he didn’t care. It was time to get out of the damned house and get some answers. He thought their first stop should really be at the school. He did miss his charcoal and graphite sets and an easel would be nice if he did end up back at the house for an interim period. Plus they could ask Professor White if he had any more information. Soul wondered if he had guessed what had happened to him. The long weekend was long over and they had missed a few classes. Soul wondered if his mother had been notified. But dismissed the notion. It was college, nothing would be said until there was an emergency, and no one knew how much of an emergency this was except him and Scott, and maybe Professor White.
“Where should we go first?”
“Just tell us where”
They had just exited the gate and already the feeling of being trapped was fading, Soul bounced in his seat feeling more energetic than he could ever remember feeling.
“To the school first, I really do want to get some of my supplies, then we can see if Professor White is in.” The twins looked back at Soul with identical expressions on their faces, Soul couldn’t quite tell what the expression was, but it didn’t look the most complimentary.
“He was there?”
“He is teaching?”
“What an idiot”
“I can’t believe he is still alive”
“He really doesn’t know when to butt out”
“He must be waiting for your mother.”
Soul was confused. Yes Professor White did seem to have had a weird thing for his mother, but he must have gotten over it. He could easily find her, he just had to look in Soul’s file for his home address, but if he was as idiotic as the twins seemed to think he might have just not thought of it. Soul didn’t let it bother him. Their plan had worked, they were outside the gates and on their way, he couldn’t imagine anything that would ruin his mood.
The school was just as they had left it; soul went quickly to his room, relieved when he found it empty. He grabbed his stuff and considered leaving a note, but decided it wasn’t worth it. What would he write? He looked around slowly thinking how odd it was that this small room could feel so familiar and homelike after living in it for just a few weeks. He grabbed a small bag of more formal clothes, if they went back to the house he wanted to be able to wear something of his own. Being dressed by Sylvia was a little to invasive, and it was a small enough thing that he might be able to get away with it. And with her, even a small victory would help him keep his sanity while waiting for the big ones, and now free from her oppressive reach he could see them coming, there was light on the horizon and it was bright.
They walked to professor White’s office and Soul noticed the twins whispering to each other. It was odd after their constant sameness. It sounded almost like they were bickering about something, but their voice were quiet enough so Soul ignored it and grabbed Scott’s hand. He didn’t know how long he was going to still be with him and wanted him to have a few fond memories. Soul wanted Scott to think of him in a kind light. He knew he supposed that Scott would never hate him, that he couldn’t hate him, but he wanted the feeling to be real. With the end in sight soul allowed himself to be a bit sentimental. There was no reason not to be.
Professor White’s office is empty and it appears that he has not been in for a while. His inbox is filled with letters and papers, even some portfolios, the door is locked. Soul shrugs, he hadn’t thought the Professor would be too helpful and even if he has disappeared there are much more pressing things for him to worry about, like getting home and finding his mother. It may have seemed out of character but in this new world no ones character seemed to stay at Soul’s first impression, maybe the older man was really just a flakey old artist that had stick his nose where it didn’t belong like the twins seemed to think. And even if he had gotten himself into trouble it wasn’t Soul’s problem. With a shrug Soul tugged on Scott’s hand.
Back in the car the twins bickered more, they are becoming, as the moments pass, more and more like Soul remembers them from the past, similar, but just different enough that they can’t agree on anything. Maybe things aren’t so different than they were, Sylvia’s influence must just have a bad impact on them. Soul smiled to himself and reaches again to take Scotts hand. Scott answers with an unabashed grin that makes Soul’s heart flutter. It was so easy to make him happy, Soul almost felt bad for all the opportunities he had missed to see that smile. Now that he has known Scott for just a bit longer he sees how careful he must be being to not send Soul running for the hills, and even though Soul would be running for the hills if he thought it would do any good, he wondered if it would be so bad to bring Scott with him.
“You cannot do that,” Michelle says clearly startling everyone. “I will not allow you to and I will throw your phone out of this window so help me.” David mutters something under his breath and the car swerves as Michelle takes a swipe for the phone.
“What did you just say?” Michelle asks once she has righted the car. Her voice is cold and though her eyes are facing front Soul can tell that they would pin David to the seat if she turned his way.
“I said I already did it.” David sounds chagrined and Michelle sighs.
“I might have to kill you for that. I really might.” David shrugs and looks out the window. Soul would be worried but they are so close to his house, to his mother, who almost never left and is bound to be home, and answers, they are so, so close to finally finding some answers.
Soul was out o the car almost before it stopped moving, he was through the gate and knocking on the door before any of the others had even made it out the doors.
“Mom! Mom! Open up, I have to talk to you!” Soul was about to look for the spare key when the door opened. It smelled like cookies inside and Soul felt all the stress melt from his body, if not an ounce of excitement.
“Oh mom I have so much to tell you and you wouldn’t believe any of it if you weren’t a part of it. You have so much to tell me I can’t believe-” Soul had to catch his breath, he had been talking much more than he ever had in the past weeks but still he was breathless.
His mother hugged him, as gently as she always had and opened the door more widely for the others to follow her inside. She set a plate of cookies at the kitchen table and brushed some flower on her apron.”
“Hi sweet Soul, why have you come to visit?” Soul paused and looked into her face, he hadn’t done it for years and she almost didn’t seem real, she seemed too young, exactly as he remembered her, as he had always remembered her. And she was so calm.
“I have lots of things to ask you-” He paused, he had caught Michelle’s eyes and she looked sympathetic, not something he wanted to see, he wanted eagerness, he wanted- something other than pity, he was so sick of pity.
“Yes darling you know you can ask me anything.”
“You know Scott-” and for a moment her eyes flashed, but the placid smile was back in a moment.
“Oh yes Scott, your friend from school.” Soul paused again, had he called and told her about Scott, or was she checking up on him? Maybe it had something to do with Talent- and the flash, he didn’t expect her to like Scott after all she had done, but-
“How have you hidden for so many years, from her?” She smiled again and turned to turn on the coffee maker.
“My sweet darling I am not hiding at all.” Soul looked at her again. Really looked and tried to remember any time she had lost her temper, any time she had shown strong emotion, and he couldn’t remember one time. This was not the fiery woman that he had heard of. But maybe she had lost something protecting him. Maybe.
“Honey, Soul, that’s not your mother, not really.” It was Michelle; she placed a hand on Soul’s lower back and began to rub in small circles. “That’s just her reflection. A part of her she left to take care of you, to keep up appearances.”
Soul looked between them, the twins, Scott, his- not his mother.
“You aren’t really my mom.” He spoke quietly, slowly, maybe that way it would turn out to be a joke. If he yelled- cried- it might make everything all too real.
She kept working on the coffee humming now, it seemed this question didn’t have an answer.
“A part of her yes, like a reflection. But not really your mother no. Not all of her.” Scott spoke softly, like he had known all along, and he probably had.
“We knew where you lived, and Sylvia too. She would have made us tell her, if we knew where the rest of her was, you must know that.” It was David. The twins, since being away from the house had begun to separate into two people again.
“She kept waiting for your mother to really come, to take you back. She thought if we lived close by we would notify her. She thinks we tell her everything, and even though we don’t, we would have had to tell her that. She knew where we lived, visited us even.” Michelle added.
Soul nodded but it wasn’t okay, he wasn’t okay. He didn’t know if he would ever be okay. He tried to remember if there was ever a time when he could have figured out his mother wasn’t a real person. That she was a shadow, and impression of what his mother really was. He couldn’t remember. He remembered moments, feelings, love, and support. But they hadn’t really talked. She had read to him but never paused to explain the pictures or ask him what he thought. He had imagined that all mothers were like that. Presences but not really people.
Soul felt lost, more lost than he had ever felt. He had been so excited for this moment, this little bit of hope. He could have asked her everything, could have found out why she hadn’t stayed with him. But she wasn’t a real person, and his real mother had left him. Soul felt like there was cotton filling his mind. There was the buzz of static filling his ears and pins and needles climbed from his toes up his legs. There was no hope. There was nothing left to try for, nothing left to hope for. Sylvia was going to win.