The library was intact. It almost looked better now than it did before the vandals had a go at it, had all the books to the ground and the shelves toppled. Armin still had a hard time believing that it was all up again, that everything was cleaned and set away and it took all of a week. He had known his boss wouldn’t even check on him before the two weeks were up, expecting the place to be as much a mess as it had been when he left it and he hadn’t cared.
After the mess had been cleaned up and everything put away, he had profusely thanked the cleaners, the whole huge team of them and they had been on their way. He felt indebted to the two men who had made it possible for him to keep his job, keep the roof over his head and he didn’t know how to make it up to them. How to pay them back at all.
He only imagined that paying this team of cleaner would have cost him several months worth of salary and it made it even more difficult to know where to start. Eoghan had told him not to worry about it, that this was paid back already, that he had offered the team of cleaners to pay back for all the trouble that had been caused since his rescue from the woods but it was hard to accept that.
During the second week where Armin had been expected to clean, he opened up the library doors to its users. Their flow was slowed down. He supposed he wasn’t really surprised. The damages had been quite extensive and it was hard to believe that it had only taken a week to clean it all up.
He didn’t really care. He was doing his job, he was taking care of the books, answering rare questions and just all about doing what he wanted with his life (for the most part in any case). He still was being paid, his boss couldn’t just stop paying him unless he was fired and there was no reason at all to fire him, the place was up and running.
His walks home were peaceful. The weather was warming up, it was peaceful and usually people still avoided him like the plague. Usually it bothered him somewhat. He accepted openly that he was different, that people would likely never really look at him as if he were whole but still it hurt at times when he saw a mother pull her child away to the other end of the sidewalk to be as far away as possible from him.
At this point in time he barely noticed it. He was only thinking of his life as it was now. The voices were still present but they were murmurs, softer than ever and he mostly was managing to ignore them. His life had changed utterly. Meeting Eoghan and Alexis had changed almost everything in the way he went about his ways. He had a more comfortable roof over his head, in the winter during blackouts if there were to be any he could warm himself up nicely and cozily by the fireplace, a real one, not just a fake one with fake flames.
He still had his job and that too was thanks to these two ever kind men. He did want to thank them in some way but he couldn’t imagine what he could or could not do. They seemed to be able to afford anything and everything they might ever want so he didn’t really see what he could manage for them.
A dinner seemed starkly out of place and absolutely wrong, he still didn’t know them that much though he was getting to know Eoghan better. It didn’t mean he could offer them dinner just yet. Maybe a book of sorts. Eoghan had said something about Alexis being in the chocolate business, how he made his own chocolate from scratch. Maybe a book on that, but that too seemed far-fetched, it didn’t seem right.
He was sure he could dig through his collections of old things to find maybe something. There was a lovely bird cage near their entry-way, an old kind of birdcage that had been fixed up. It fit in with the rest. Maybe they did like antiques and maybe it would be worth a thought.
As he walked into the building and towards his apartment, he sighed softly and rubbed his eyes with his good hand. He still had a hard time believing he wasn’t in the other building, surrounded by all the old rumour-spreading coots. It had been a terrible way of life. At first it hadn’t been so bad, there had been other folks his age but over time, the older, retired ones had taken over, as if they’d somehow decided that this building was theirs utterly.
Door locked behind him, he wandered off, slowly, towards his bathroom. It was a strange sort of habit but every time he came home from working his day away at the library, he took a bath. It helped him relax, ease stiff muscles from the day’s work and it got the book dust away from his pores. He could swear that if he didn’t have his bath, eventually the book dust would clog his pores and he’d become some sort of mummy. The thought always made him chuckle.
He stepped into his bedroom, left his coat there, his shoes and the rest of his clothes. He found his bathrobe, wrapped himself carefully up in it and he made his just as careful way into his attached bathroom. He looked at the bath for a moment and wondered if it hadn’t been set up as it was because of his disability. He couldn’t imagine this kind of bath in every apartment. It was almost a standing kind of bath, with its doorway. He’d mostly heard of them in homes of older folks who needed the safety but it worked for him just fine. It meant he didn’t have to kneel down or struggle to get into the water.
Setting his crutch down and out of the way, he hung his bathrobe on the door’s hook and he opened the tub. He stepped in, closed the door and merely got the water started. He hadn’t actually had himself a bath during the cleaning week, always quick showers as he was so stressed that no bath could relax him. Now though, as the steamy water started to fill the sitting tub, he closed his eyes and leaned back slightly.
His life had changed, there was no denying that and unlike in the past, he wasn’t all that afraid of what was in store for him in the future. He was doing well, his life was almost easy for him to think about and he knew that this new step, this new beginning was what he had been waiting for all along. It’s all he needed. It’s all that really mattered.