As he leaves his crutch in his bedroom and slowly makes his way into his bedroom, Armin briefly ponders the quietness of his mind, the almost utter peace he has found within himself now that the voices are nearly, oh absolutely nearly silent. A few days back, as he was soaking in a steaming tub with just a bare hint of tea tree oil to scent things up, he let his mind wander and drift. When he focused on his surroundings again, he realized how much quieter the already whisper-soft voices were. As if not focusing at all was the better way to keep them out.

He leans over the tub, fiddling with the temperature until he finds the perfect one and he lets a few drops of oil fall into the steaming water. It is hot, hotter than he’s ever really taken baths before but it helps loosen his muscles in ways that he has never really thought possible until that point in his life.

The soft scent of tea tree oil fills the bathroom and he sighs as he moves to sit on the small, low-backed chair he keeps for safety purposes in his bathroom. He undresses, the motions slow and careful. He lets his mind drift about, not even focusing on a single thought at this point. His mind is quiet, even the whispering notes usually hidden by the bracelets are silent. For a second he wonders if he’s not dreamed everything that has led him to this point in his life, since he’s first met Eoghan but the simple sight of his elegant bathroom, something he knows he never could have afforded by himself, reminds him that it all is real.

Once bare, he looks at the bracelet that still adorns his wrist and he tugs it off. The voices come though they are slow to, as if someone is slowly turning the volume on. He clears his mind as best as he can and the volume settles. As if he had several people all around him talking all at once. It is nothing like the yelling that was going through his mind before he had even learned he could control the gift at all and he marvels at this progress.

He slips the bracelet back over his wrist with a soft note and the voices go silent. He moves from the chair to the tub and he turns the water off. There are two bathrooms in his home, the one in the master bedroom with the walk-in tub, the one he uses most of the time and then there’s this one. This one with the full tub where he has to be careful of how he steps inside though he set up a bar by the side of the tub so he can step in and out a bit easier.

At times, he figures that it just is one of those things he deserves, to settle in the tub, the water up to his neck so that he can soak. He cannot really soak in his other tub, the water doesn’t come up quite high enough and he can hardly settle to be up to his neck in it. So there it is, at times he picks the second bathroom, just being twice as careful about what he does so he doesn’t break his neck.

Finally, with almost practiced motions, he eases into the tub. He leans his neck against the bath pillow he has and closes his eyes as the heat from the water envelops him utterly, cloaking him in heat and comfort. He lets his mind wander once more, appreciating the silence as it surrounds him as if it was one with the water.

As he opens his eyes, his mind draws him into a mindscape. This is not his first visit there but he always finds himself startled when it happens. It isn’t something he controls yet, at least not when it comes to opening the mindscape. He knows how to step out of it however and he’s grateful at least for that much.

“I really should tell Eoghan about this.” He knows he should but it seems as though it slips his mind every time he pulls from the mindscape. So long as he feels no danger from the area, he believes that he still has plenty of time before he can bring it up. Not that he’s trying to stall, his mind simply seems to refuse to recall to bring it up when they meet up.

He looks at his surroundings, as the forest, the thick grass beneath his toes. He looks down at himself and laughs as he notices he’s as bare now as he is in his tub. “I shouldn’t be surprised.”

He murmurs the words to himself and shakes his head as he looks left and right, trying to see if there isn’t something that catches his eyes. There usually isn’t. When he rests and relaxes in his tub, his mind simply seems to pull up a peaceful image from he isn’t sure where but it is there and it is beautiful. There is a warm breeze, the scent of blooming flowers, the grass so thick that it feels like a shaggy carpet beneath his feet and between his toes.

Knowing that he will slip from the mindscape when he is ready to, he sits where he was standing and he then settles down on his back. He stretches, moving to set his arms beneath his head. He feels confident in this place in ways he knows he might never feel in the real world. His body is thin, it has scars and reminders of the life he grew up living. His legs aren’t quite the same length which leads him to walking with his crutch in a permanent way. He cannot show his body this way to anyone.

Andoni had been different of course, the first few times, Armin had asked that the lights be all off and that he could at least keep a long shirt on. It had been awkward but so absolutely pleasurable. In time, Andoni had managed to convince him that his body was no horror show though he still covered up in the presence of others.

He sighs, a soft, content sort of exhale as he recalls the time he spent with his then lover, taken too soon from him. His body stirs in memory but he ignores it. It has been so long since he’s done that kind of thing that he doesn’t really know if he even should anymore. Eventually, his body calms and his mind wanders off to other memories, those less private but still as beautiful, in his mind. He knows that when the water cools, his mind will send a signal and that is when he will step from the water, dry up and probably settle up in the living room with his favourite book on his lap.

For now, he daydreams, even in his mindscape. The breeze is drifting along, the leaves are rustling and a few birds are singing not too far from him. He knows that this is as peaceful as his life might ever get. He also knows that this is not something he should try to escape into. Slipping away from the real world to take refuge in a mind-made world seems a foolish sort of idea though he knows that at least, while he’s just soaking in a tub, letting the worries of his days slip away from him, drifting into his thoughts is no crime.

Eventually, he opens his eyes again. The water is cooling around him and he slowly sits back up, moving to unplug the tub so that it might drain. He waits on the water being completely gone before he gets out of the tub, knowing he might just break his neck otherwise. He dries up, wraps himself up in a long robe and walks slowly back to his room to find something more covering to put on.

Once he’s dressed as comfortably as possible, he locates his book and heads for the living room. He feels at peace, he feels as though the whole word has been paused and he laughs softly at the idea as he settles down into the plush armchair. He knows he’ll just read, forget the world for a while longer. More than likely fall asleep with his face in that book but that’s hardly new. He can’t complain.


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