that’s the key

I’ve always loved riddles. I’m not sure why. I suppose they give me something to focus on, something to sink my proverbial teeth into. At times, though I suppose I could say most of the time, when I find riddles to try to solve, I manage to find the answer pretty quickly. Those aren’t really riddles I much care for. Now and again though, I’ll stumble onto a particular riddle that will leave me scratching my head for a while. I’m sure a lot of folks would find that absolutely annoying but I love it, it feels like I’ve managed to have myself a good cup of strong coffee. I’m strange that way.

There’s one riddle I’ve found lately, I come back to it every now and again but I still haven’t found the answer. I don’t really obsess over these things, they’re just little extras I keep my hands on so I don’t feel like my life has settled into a perfect little routine. I don’t know how people handle routines but I just can’t handle it. There is nothing more routine-like than going to work at the library, placing books back where they belong, scan books people want to borrow and do it all over again but it is what I do for a living, it is what I love, there just is always enough going on each day to make today stand out from yesterday.

Some of these riddles often require keys and finding those are what takes me more time than not. Once I’ve managed to find those, that’s that, I can figure out the rest and I put it on the pile of ‘done’ riddles. I don’t necessarily dig another riddle up the moment I’ve figured out the one I was working on for a while, that wouldn’t really make much sense. No, instead I read the old riddle over and I check the answer to it to make sure it does make sense. Once that’s done, now and again I’ll actually look through the books I’ve found them in to see if I’ve found the right answer or not.

After all, finding an answer to a riddle is one thing but finding the right answer is even more important, after all. Not all books offer answers and there are some older riddles that still are unsolved in my desk. When it takes me too long to find an answer, I tend to put it aside and focus on something new. Once the new one has been solved, I spare a glance at the old ones I haven’t managed to find the proper clue for yet, perhaps hoping that the new knowledge I’ve learned over time might help me shed a bit more light on everything.

It doesn’t always work but I suppose that is the point of it all. Not all riddles are meant to be solved though that seems to defeat the purpose of them, in the long run.

Just last night, I was reading a passage in the current book I have on my night stand and something clicked. I read it over, three times to be sure I hadn’t imagined it, I put my bookmark right there, closed the book and put it down. I made my way off towards my study room and my desk where I made to dig through all those little bits of papers I have my riddles on. I like writing the riddles down on little bits of cardboard and paper, it helps me to better understand them and it just makes everything more uniform. I may not like routine but I like things when they are uniform enough. I suppose that’s why I don’t much like myself.

So I sat at my desk, I dug through my bits of paper and cardboard and I found that one old riddle that had been following me for a few year at least at that point. I took it out, closed the drawer and looked at it. I read it once, twice and a third time to make sure and there it was, right in my face, as if it had been waiting to be exposed to light again. I took a pencil, another piece of paper and I scribbled, oh I wrote and scribbled, almost a whole page of little notes as I worked the riddle out part by part.

By the end, I had myself the answer, the very key that made the riddle seem so easy when you stepped back and really looked at it from a new point of view. I wrote down my answer, read the riddle, read the answer and told myself that this was going to be it, that this was the answer I’d been trying to find for so long.

Instead of hopping directly online to check it or trying to find the book in which I’d found that riddle, I put the paper and bit of cardboard away. I set them partly under my lamp so they wouldn’t go floating off. It was late and I knew I’d had to write down the flash of genus that had crossed my mind otherwise it would have more than likely fled me. Now that I was done, all I really wanted was to head back to bed where I’d been doing my reading.

Once back in bed, I went for the book again, not much caring to leave a chapter undone. I opened I back to the page I had bookmarked and I continued reading, it was just a couple of pages more. Once the new chapter appeared on the following page, I set my bookmark again, closed the door, set it down and settled against my pillows to sleep and rest.

The shining morning sun pulled me from my restful sleep. I looked at the book on my bedside a moment and told myself it might not have been the best thing to read before sleep, my dreams had been less than clear, confused and somewhat dark from what little I recalled, not quite the kind of sleep I tended to hope for, though I was more than aware I couldn’t really control what I dreamed about.

I went about my morning’s mock-routine, I washed up, I got dressed, I ate a little something and I pondered checking online to see if my answer to the riddle was the right one, if I’d found that one key I had been needing all these years. I decided against it for the time being, knowing it would very likely end up with my being late heading out for work. Riddles are just one of those things, they have my whole attention and I get sucked into whatever it is that I find about them when I get to looking around for more information on them.

I knew I could look it up when I came home or even look it up while at work depending on how quiet or not the day was going to be. With Eoghan now having set his sights on that beautiful church to transform it into the new library, the workers have gone, the place is quieter and people just are busy with their lives as a whole during this time of the year.

It’s not to say there wasn’t enough work to keep busy with, there was plenty but it did usually get mostly done in the earlier hours, leaving a bit of very quiet time before the day was over and before it was time to head on home.

I decided against bringing the riddle with me to work, figuring I had plenty of time to look it over once I was home again tonight. It wasn’t going anywhere and the world wasn’t about to end—though one never could really know about that.

I like riddles, other people like sports or group games or dancing. Riddles are just one of those things that I know don’t judge me and that’s all I want.

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ready for anything

“So if they were to attack right about the moment, I think we’d have a good chance of survival.” Agni’s words were thoughtful as the trio walked back down to their floor and then into their apartment. Mira was one step behind and his face was clearly stating that he wasn’t sure he understood the discussion at this point.

“I’m still not sure I get it. What is the point of zombies?”

Laughing softly, Cyrille shook his head and stepped back, wrapping his arm around Mira’s shoulder once they’d stepped back into their home. The movie had been interesting though he’d seen it before but the twins’s reactions, as always, had been enough to keep him entertained. “It’s not all that complicated, though it’s all just science fiction, really. Zombies are folks that have died but are somehow still alive. They’re out to eat everyone’s brain or infect them, it depends on the person.”

“But what’s the point of them?”

“There isn’t much of a point, Mira. It’s like most any other monster story out there.” Shaking his head, Mira sighed and rubbed the bridge of his nose.

“Well I still don’t get it and I don’t understand what they’re supposed to be useful for.”

“They’re not, that’s the whole point of them. Stop thinking about it so much, Mira, you’re only to keep on hitting walls. With my gift and yours though, I’m pretty sure we’d be ready for anything.” Agni grinned at the idea, rubbing his hands together a little almost as if he were looking forward to a zombie invasion so he could prove his point.

“I don’t know, Agni, in most cases, zombies tend to only stop moving when you blow out the brain and unless you can do that with your fire, they’re still going to keep coming.”

“I hadn’t thought about it that way, huh.”

Throwing his hands up to the sky, Mira muttered and left the other two to their discussion. He really couldn’t grasp the point or interest of zombies. Then again, most movies where monsters of the sort were concerned, he couldn’t really find an interest. He knew it was fantasy, science fiction, make believe really but he still couldn’t bring himself to care about any of it. He preferred things he could touch, things he could wrap his mind around and understand, things that made sense in some way. Zombies were in no way, any of those things.

Watching his brother go, Agni rolled his eyes and stretched before he flopped down on the couch with a yawn. “He’s just annoyed for some reason because he didn’t like the movie. He’s been cranky lately, such a spoilsport.”

“He’s also been sick for a few days and I think that might have been a first for him. You’ve had your cranky days, Agni, and no one has complained about it and I’m pretty sure no one’s talked about you behind your back during that time. I know I haven’t at the very least and I can’t imagine Mira talking to himself about your crankiness.”

With a huff, Agni crossed his arms and stared ahead, as if those words had completely ruined his mood.

“Don’t be childish, all I’m saying is that everyone is entitled to having bad days.” Cyrille’s voice quiet, thoughtful as he shook his head with a sigh and left one twin sulking and went to see the other one, just to be sure he was okay. He didn’t much like the idea of the brothers fighting though he knew there wasn’t much he could do about it. Fights were inevitable and no one was always a hundred percent happy.

He knocked on Mira’s door gently, waiting to hear an answer of any sort before he stepped inside. It took almost a full minute before there was a sigh on the other side of that very door and a quiet ‘I don’t even want to talk but whatever, just come in’ was offered. He shook his head and carefully pushed the door open, closing it behind himself once he was inside.

“They’re just make believe, Mira. It’s not as though anyone has to have the last words.” Cyrille shrugged and Mira echoed the motion, sitting somewhat hunched over at his desk.

“I don’t really care.”

“If you didn’t care, you wouldn’t be reacting this way, it’s almost as if you’re taking this personally.”

Mira’s shoulder tensed but went lax moments later. He shrugged again and dropped his head into his hands. “I don’t even know why it’s bugging me that much. I don’t want to care, it makes no sense.”

Cyrille stepped closer, his hands moving to carefully settle on Mira’s shoulders where they gave a gentle squeeze, followed by a rub. Giving massages wasn’t something he excelled at but he tried to tell himself it couldn’t hurt. It helped that Mira wasn’t tense beneath his lightly working hands. “It’s just one of those things, at times the weirdest of stuff is going to set us off and we won’t even be able to understand why. Maybe you should try for a shower to relax you and read a book on one of those subjects you’d rather your mind focus on.”

Mira mumbled, his words inaudible but he was growing lax under those hands. Cyrille assumed the mumbling was closer to mindless uttering than anything that could hold any true meaning. Eventually, he pulled his hands back but leaned down to kiss the teen’s cheek softly. “Go on and have a shower, read a book, I’m sure you’ll be able to manage some rest after that, it’s late.”

With that, he excused himself from the bedroom and slipped back into the living room where the other half of the twinset still was sulking. He rolled his eyes, mussing Agni’s hair before he was stepping around the couch to sit down next to the other.

“I think we’ve managed to avoid a war being started.” Cyrille kept his voice light, trying for amusement and Agni rolled his eyes lightly though he sighed moment later and sunk a little deeper into the couch.

“We all have bad days, this is just one of them, don’t worry about it. How about we watch another movie before we sleep?”

Agni’s eyes brightened at the idea and he was on his feet within seconds. He walked to the small collection they had and dug through it. He huffed as he went through the pile once and then looked at it a bit more carefully. Obviously, he wasn’t really finding what he was hoping for as a movie but Cyrille let it be. He knew there were no zombie movies in that collection and he figured it was for the best. Zombie discussions could be had at a later date when bad days were a thing of the past.

After a few more moments of looking, Agni picked up one particular box and set the disc into the player. From where he was crouched, he moved to turn the television on, put the box down and wandered back to the couch where he flopped again, almost bumping into Cyrille as he did. He laughed softly.

“Couldn’t find what I really wanted but this one is good too.” From the dvd’s menu, Cyrille couldn’t really make out what the movie might have been and he didn’t ask. If it was something Agni was wanting to watch, then they’d watch it and that would just be that, in the end, that was all he cared about at this point, a little bit of peace.

“So long as we keep the volume to a decent level so as to not bother your brother, I know he’s probably going to be reading for a while before he sleeps.”

Rolling his eyes, Agni reached for the remote, checking the volume to make sure it was just so and then pressed play on the movie. He didn’t much care if it bothered his brother right now but he wasn’t all that cruel and he could try to be nice.

peace

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.

fountain

“You were right, I think. This place is huge, there’s room and then some. We could even finally have a real reading corner and a more comfortable area for the computers, I think we could even have an area for kids with padded seatings and all.” His eyes, oh they were so bright now. After his little breakdown about the idiocy of human though I’m pretty sure it is idiocy in all its form, I can imagine that demons might have made the same building mistakes, I gave him a few days to just relax, to not think about anything relating to the library in any way.

Of course, I made sure to keep his mind occupied on other things and he was too exhausted most of the time to even really form a coherent sentence. That was the way I’d wanted things to be. He needed to forget for a couple of days at least and that turned out to be mission more than possible. I know just which buttons to push.

Once I’d figured that he had rested plenty, I took him to the church. I’d called the guy who was selling the building first to set up an appointment and he was more than pleased to have a potential buyer come around to look at the place. He looked surprised, the seller that was, to hear that we were thinking of turning the old building into a library to replace the one that was falling apart downtown. Surprise aside, he opened up pretty quickly to the idea and I could see his mind coming up with dozens of plans as to how it could be achieved, even if it would be out of his hand once the sale took place.

Eoghan scrutinized the place from top to bottom, asked question after question, from the state of the foundations to the roof and everything in between. We even went out back and that was where he mostly stopped in his tracks and he laughed. I admit I was a little surprised too, I hadn’t expected to see a fountain, of all things, in the church’s backyard. I have no idea why it was there at all to begin with though it was beautiful and clean though currently not running and I figured it hadn’t run since the church had been put on sale.

The man, seeing our puzzled look, went on to explain that it seems as though, during the summer months, the fountain was used as a baptizing area. I exchanged a look with Eoghan but we let it be, if they wanted to use a fountain, it was up to them, really. It was lovely, it had nothing on it that would state it had been made with religion in mind. There were no crosses, no carved out saviour, no angels, nothing.

Eoghan took a good, long look at the yard and he nodded with a smile. It could very well work, a sort of outside reading area with the fountain and all.

We told the seller that we would have someone come along to examine everything though we trusted that he’d had his own professional do the once over. We just wanted to be sure that everything would last for a long time yet before we might decide on buying. He went with the idea, approving of it really and we each went our separate ways. I knew just who to get in touch with and I knew that if there was so much as a tiny little crack somewhere she would tell us. I wasn’t worried.

“But I still don’t really understand the whole fountain thing.” I shrugged, chuckling softly as I did. The fountain didn’t make much sense to me either but I didn’t much care, it was there, that was all there was to it in the end.

“It doesn’t matter much whether you understand the whole fountain thing or not, Eoghan. Think about it, it’s in good condition, there’s nothing on it that really screams ‘religion’ and once we replace the windows with just regular stained glass and not depictions of this so called saviour’s life, I think we’ll be pretty good to go. A little scrubbing here and there, some floor covering in places. Of course it’s likely we’ll need to buy new shelves but I think you’d already planned on that one anyway so it’s not much different from what you’d decided on from the start.”

He nodded, looking up at the wide doors with a little smile on his lips. It was a little distance from downtown, just barely, but I knew it was going to be exactly what he’d wanted. It would require less work, it would take less time to prepare and what would more than likely take longest was set up all the different areas, the shelves and move the books. I figured that right after the holidays, as the new year was bound to begin, we’d get that transfer going and we’d post up a sign outside the old library to tell them the place had been moved and set up the old building up for sale, making sure to let folks know the amount of work that needed to go into it, that they were better off tearing it down and starting over.

I’ve never believed in hiding the truth from people, at least the truth about these things. The truth about my roots was something else altogether and people weren’t ready for that kind of honesty.

As we walked away from the church altogether, Eoghan kept on glancing back and I had to keep myself from laughing. I knew he was hooked on this building and I’d done a pretty good job of showing it to him. It would be so much less stress than what he was going through at that very moment.

“Thank you, Lex.” Finally, he moved to link our fingers as he stepped beyond the fences that had been set up to keep kids out of the area while the building was on sale, something about keeping the walls free of graffiti and the windows unbroken. I’d seen it happen in the states but I’d never really seen it here in France in the little time I’d been about, still.

“Nothing to thank me for and you know this as well as I do. I just saw the place and I thought you might like it. That you came home pissed at the world helped me in making that decision but that’s all there is to that. It’s just a little bit of this and that.” I shrugged, squeezing his fingers gently as we kept walking. We’d come on foot, had taken the bus. The day had been chilly, almost cold but we thought that a good walk would keep our minds clear.

“Still, you put up with me when I get all rawr-world and at times I’m afraid you might get sick of my childish antics.” I stopped, looking at him for a long moment before I shook my head.

“Eoghan, you’re my world, you’ve been my world for decades and while I know that I nearly ruined us and again by disappearing when I felt my control slip, I would never grow tired of you or sick of your childish antics, as you put it. You’re perfect in my eyes and I wouldn’t change a single thing about you.” I squeezed his fingers again and he breathed in deeply, holding it in before he was exhaling. He nodded, a slow sort of nod.

“I will never, ever, I tell you, abandon you. If I do, it will be because of things that are absolutely out of my control and I will fight tooth and nail against whatever that might be so I can still be with you. I realized how wrong I’d been to leave you all those years and then come back and expect things to go back to the way they’d been before, I don’t want to do that kind of thing anymore, I just can’t.”

His eyes grew wet then and I pulled him closer, hugging him fiercely. He laughed against my shoulders, wiping his eyes before we stepped apart and simply started walking back to the bus stop. We all had our days, I knew. I wouldn’t hold this one against him.

out to dinner

“So you thought we were overdue for a lover’s meal together?” Yael’s words are amused as he fixes me with his ever-pale eyes. At times it slips my mind that his sight is as good as mine, they’re so pale. People tend to not make much of it but some people seem to believe that he’s absolutely blind and cannot understand how he wanders around so well without any cane or anything else. It makes me laugh though I try not to laugh publicly. I wouldn’t want to hurt anyone’s feelings.

I shrug gently, offering him a grin over the candles, over the fancy schmancy stuff that’s all set out on the table. I honestly think they tend to go overboard with it all but I figured that one meal together outside of the house, without everyone else, was long overdue indeed. “I wanted to appreciate the beauty of your face as the candles offer it a warm, inviting glow?”

He blushes and I grin, offering him a playful sort of shrug. I mean it though. I’m well aware that we have candles at home and we could have had this meal at home but the cats have been bounding about with energy lately and I was afraid that any candles we might have might get batted at and end up on the floor and then, well who knows what might have happened.

“But yes, I thought we were long overdue for a meal out, just you and me, somewhere quiet and calm and absolutely romantic because you deserve the best of everything.” He smiles, oh he smiles and he still blushes lightly and I just sigh because this is so absolutely perfect, it’s wonderful. Any time I spend with him is perfect and wonderful but at times I suppose romanticism takes a step up and I need to give it all the room I have to offer.

We order things that come on platters, meals meant to be shared and instead of staying seated across him I move to sit next to him. It might not be as romantic but this isn’t all about being romantic though it partly is. There’s nothing romantic about burning your hand over a candle’s burning flame while you try to feed your lover something, so really, moving to his side is so much better and I get to feel the heat of his body next to mine.

We share, we feed one another, we talk about pointless things though we honestly don’t talk all that much. I think we’re both too busy just enjoying the moments as they drift and pass. The food is delicious and it’s hard to not want to stuff it all down my face without slowing down to really taste it all it’s so good.

Just before we head outside, we’re putting out coats back on, I make sure his scarf is secure at his throat, the breeze is cold and the air has lost whatever little bit of autumn warmth there was left to it just even a week or so ago. He mimics the motions on me, tightening my scarf and offering me my gloves.

Once we’re both wearing all we came in with, we step outside. He reaches for my hand and I offer it more than willingly. The wind is at our backs, pushing us along as we head for the bus stop. Taking the bus isn’t exactly romantic but we both decided that it was a lot less complicated to take the bus than to try to hail a cab. They’re not all that common at this hour though you’d think they were.

When we get home and we’re safe inside where it is absolutely and deliciously warm, we leave our coats, scarves and gloves in the foyer and step back inside.

We’re greeted by an army of purring and I laugh. I don’t pick any of them up, in my mind, my outing isn’t quite completely done and over with just yet and my focus still is on Yael. The cats act as if we’d been gone for a decade almost and I admit the sight is rather amusing, not that it will deter me from keeping to my plans, nope, not one little bit.

With careful movements so no cat gets hit with flailing limbs, I sweep Yael off his feet. He laughs, startled, and wraps his arms about my neck to keep himself up. I walk us further inside, careful of my steps since not all the cats have scrambled away yet. I make it into our bedroom but instead of stopping there, I move into the bathroom and I close the door. This is as private as it’s going to get and I know we’re bound to hear some pawing against the door. I just want to get my plan in action before I let any of the cats into the bathroom.

I set Yael down on that little bench we keep in the bathroom and he still laughs softly, his eyes bright and amused. I move to kneel by the tub, getting the water started on just the right temperature. Not lobster hot but still almost steaming. While that is filling, I offer him my hands and he takes them, easing back to his feet.

I take my sweet time undressing him, sneaking glances up at him all along. The blush on his cheeks deepens with every brush of my fingers. I’m not trying to be indecent, I’m just memorizing the feel of his skin under my hands. Once he’s bared, I turn to the tub and I turn the water off, knowing it would be more than enough for the two of us. I offer him my hand again and he takes it. I walk him to the tub and he steps inside, settling in with a low sigh of contentment. I open the door, just so, not even leaving it ajar, just unlatching it. I know that if any of our cats want in they’ll come in.

I undress, stretching as I go and I move to the tub. He eases forward slightly and I move to settle into the water with a low note of pleasure. He leans back against me and I close my eyes. Just hot water and the two of us together in the tub. I don’t even need fancy oils or rose petals or anything else, This is perfect for me and I can’t imagine I would ever really want for anything else.

We stay in the tub until the water cools, the door still unlatched but closed and I’m grateful that they let us have some peace. Yael leans somewhat away from me and I follow his motions so I can reach around him to pull the plug on the tub. I hug him closely as the water begins to drain before I step up and carefully out. I wrap a towel about my waist and once more I hold my hand out for him.

He takes it, easing to his feet carefully and stepping out. I wrap the second towel around him, helping him dry up. Once we’re both sufficiently dry, I open the door from bathroom to bedroom completely and we step into the bedroom. I pull down the sheets from the bed and we both simply settle, nestling up close and comfortable.

Before long, Yael curls up against me, his head against my shoulder and one arm draped across my waist. I really don’t need a whole lot to be happy though I suppose that one romantic outing now and again certainly can’t hurt. It does wonder. I know we’ll both be relaxed as can be come morning and that might just be for the best.

He mumbles something against my shoulder, wiggling to settle closer and I laugh, shifting my weight just so, giving him more room. At times I think he’d try all he could so we could be just one, he presses up so close that if it weren’t for our slightly different skin tone, I don’t think you’d really be able to tell who is where. I’m perfectly fine with that.