“You would think I was mad or playing some sort of elaborate joke on you.”
What if that was true? What if he really feared that Gerard was mad? Would that mean he wanted him to stop teasing him?
“I fear that you would hit me and I would be left unconscious on the floor again.”
How angry would he have to make him to do that? It probably wasn’t possible now blood was racing through his veins, desire roaring in his mind so no other thoughts could be accommodated until quiet sanity was restored with the fulfilment of his desires.
Gerard could tell him that the sky was green and the grass pink for all he cared as long as the furnace was blazing. He wouldn’t question it or be surprised until coal turned to ash and flames to a sullen grey smoke crawling along the floor.
It was hard to remember the urgency of the flames once they had subsided, so suddenly: just a trick of nature that he had distorted away from its intended aim.
“Do you want to try telling me something I will not believe,” he said as his fingers played with Gerard’s hair, his soul content like a baby from the comfort of skin against skin.
“Do you promise you will not hit me, however little you believe me?” Gerard asked doggedly.
“I don’t know why you’re worrying about me hitting you,” Timonthy laughed.“I don’t suppose you’d even feel it. You’re made of muscle as hard as stone. The only effect of me hitting you would be to bruise my hand.”
“I’m not worried about you hurting me,” Gerard said. “I just don’t want you to be so upset that that is your only recourse. It would be hard to recover from that to our normal good relationship.”
“I might be upset. I have no idea what you are going to tell me. But I will stay my hand, for the sake of my hand, I promise,” Timonthy answered jokingly, secretly afraid of what Gerard might tell him.
“Stolid asked me to keep you and Paris safe,” Gerard said. “That is the job he gave me.”
“I don’t understand,” Timonthy said.
“I think that was the point. You were probably never going to understand anything I said to you but just accept it. Think of it as Stolid’s way of showing he cares about you two. He’s not worried about your friend Lizzie, at all. I don’t know why.” Gerard shrugged.
“So why…..” Timonthy began to say and then he shut up. He had so many questions and he knew that Gerard would answer them now, because he was relaxed and trusting but he didn’t want to waste the moment.
How many times were there in a person’s life when they would feel like this… completely connected, completely accepted and accepting, unaware of time passing, of any need to do anything other than lie there and be happy.
* * *
“I suppose dinner will be finished now,” he said later when his thinking, planning brain returned. The sun was setting and the birds singing.
“There will still be something there,” Gerard commented and he was proved right as they entered the dining room after making themselves look respectable. Lizzie and Paris were sat with Stolid, Koa, Elena and Yan. Lizzie waved lazily at him as he entered.
Gerard walked along the long table at the edge of the room and helped himself to food from different bowls and baskets and Timonthy copied him.
They made their way with full plates over to some empty tables near to the others but Elena waved them over. “Here, you can have these seats. I’ve got to take Yan to bed now. Goodnight everyone.”
They sat down as Elena left, between Paris and Stolid. Everyone else had finished eating and only had glasses or flagon-like mugs in front of them. Conversation had been flowing before they arrived but now everyone seemed to be gathering their thoughts.
Gerard was hungry and began to wolf down his food oblivious to everyone around him.
Timonthy felt uncomfortable about eating when everyone else had finished and had moved on to the stage of focusing on each other’s faces as they spoke. He wished that Elena had not chosen that moment to move so that they could have first eaten in peace.
He wished he could be oblivious like Gerard and he tried to be. Koa helped in this ambition by telling a fairly disreputable story of something that happened to him in Egypt and distracting attention away from him. It was unnerving to listen to him. To realise firstly that Stolid was with him when he had visited Egypt, although it did not sound that recent. Secondly more disturbingly, how like Johnathon he sounded.
The way he gave emphasis to certain words, the rhythm of his speech and even the words he used – it was so like Johnathon he understood completely why Stolid had decided to throw his lot in with this stranger.
If he shut his eyes he could almost imagine his friend was there with him still. He did briefly shut his eyes and open them again to see Lizzie give him a knowing look. She’d noticed it too. The story was finished with sufficient laughter to give it its due.
Then Gerard asked, “Did Elena forgive you in the end, Stolid?”
“She did, thank-you Gerard. What about you? Have you forgiven me?”
Gerard gave a tight lipped smile. Evidently he was not prepared to completely forgive although he was trying.
“What are they forgiving you for?” Paris said intrigued.
“Well we had a spot of confusion between Elena and me. I thought because Yan was with us, that Elena had told him to come with us because she wanted a break from him. Actually she had no idea that Yan had followed us and was imagining him lost. Gerard is just sulking because he got left behind.” Stolid said this with a hint of challenge.
“That’s not fair,” Gerard replied defiantly. “I was sulking when I thought it had been done deliberately. Now I know it was an accident I am just sad.”
“It was only a little tour of the garden, Gerard,” Paris said. “I’m sure that you’ve been to all of it before. You probably helped create most of it.”
Paris received the same tight-lipped smile as if Gerard was thinking that she knew nothing about the subject but although Timonthy might have imagined it he thought the smile was slightly friendlier than the one accorded to Stolid and he was glad.
He was glad that Paris had made the effort to comfort Gerard as if she cared about his state of mind.
To Timonthy this meant that she was trying hard to accept him, even if only temporarily, as part of her new family.