by athens7 as Jack (font: Courier New)
and mazaher as Patrick (font: Verdana)


4. Reunion: Tearing down the barrier, one layer at a time


Patrick’s POV

I had prayed to God. I had prayed to the Devil. I had prayed to every Goddess to turn their face to us and save us. I don’t know who listened, but now I am here, in very heart of his house as though I also was in the very heart of him, and I know someone has heard me, for salvation or perdition. I don’t know and I don’t care.
What I cannot do for the life of me is speak, now that we are face to face in his house after seven weeks of purgatory.
His fingers reach for the marigold in my lapel. He asks me what it means. This is the moment I feared and desired, when I would be granted audience to tell him my shame and grief, and --once again!-- I fail. I stutter, I fall silent. Yet he forgives me.
He declares me forgiven, like that, just for my knocking at his door. No other effort of mine, no penance, like my fault was not screaming in his face.
And as the selfish monster that I am, I cannot accept it. I fight, I fight to be allowed a measure of suffering as price of what I did.
It’s so hard to be forgiven freely.
But, “Do you find me so disgusting?” he asks, and-- oh, I realise how I wronged him, even as I tried to make my amends. I used to see the world in black and white: my blackest heart, his fine soul white as light. Yet now he wants me to see the colours, infinite shades of brilliance reflecting between us.
He talks of meeting me halfway.
He spells it loud and clear: “I am in love with you.”
He offers himself, for the past and the future, his arms wide open in welcome for the burning, dangerous flame of my love and the sharp cutting blade of my wickedness.
And I go to him.
If he’s so strong and so brave and so proud that he wants me, oh how I want him, and he will stand the shockwave, for me, for us.
Still he doesn’t grab me.
He leaves me free to turn my back on him, pliant to my whims, even as he has pledged himself.
I touch my lips to his once, and it feels like touching the leaves, delicate as lace, of the Mimosa pudica my mother grew in her conservatory. I feel I am despoiling something virginal and precious, this trust of his --in himself, in me-- doomed to be broken so soon. So I don’t stop, I deepen the kiss, I hold his face between my hands as I search for his hot tongue with mine.
He doesn’t pull back. He rises to meet me, with his tongue, his mouth and his groin.
I am undone.
I manhandle him to the sofa, divest us both of what garments are in our way, and go for what I want, because I can’t wait one moment longer.
He stops me. Bless his clear head and his gentle heart, he stops me before I make myself guilty of the same offense again. I can only grin at how I feel curbed and held in check and *safe* in his hands. Safe from myself, at last, for a while. This really is heaven. Some invisible, taut wire which kept me painfully tense breaks in me now, and relief floods me. He will not let me do wrong. Indeed he will watch upon me, upon us both, and keep us safe...
What can I do to thank him? And to celebrate this rebirth, this irrevocably short lapse of time before sin catches up again with us?
I take him in my mouth and I do my damnedest to bring him into the same heaven in which I am now.
Then I impale myself on him.
I’d have thought he would accept my offer, even as I make it seem a demand. But no, he’ always been the stronger man between us. He waits, still inside me while I shiver under the slide of his hands on me, gentle, amazing fingers, until I can’t stand it anymore and burst out: “For all the saints, what is a gentleman required to do to get sodded?”
This shocks him into action at last. He abandons every pretence of not being the one in control (and when, oh when has he not been in control?), rolls us around, and by the Devil’s tailtip, he brandishes sin like a sword and goes into battle next to me. In me, for a handful of moments that feel like forever.

As the grace of a beech tree is in the curve of the lower branches where they part from the trunk, so his is in the curve of his armpits and his raised limbs.

When we come back from the other side of bliss and oblivion, the first sensation I receive is his touch. Eyes close, like he wants to concentrate all his being into his sensitive fingertips, he touches my face all over, making it anew with different contours all of his own.
I don’t want to return to the grey light of common days. I have no faith in the future, no affection for the past: I only want to close my eyes and stop here, in this spacetime forever.
The world as I know it can’t exist without him, and his gentle strength and wisdom. The light of a new season is trying to break out, and Jack is as comfortable in the light as I am at ease in the darkness.
I try to tell him; I want to find a language of joy, an inhuman tongue unheard-of, to tell him that nothing will ever be so good as *now*, and that I want myself to finish here.
Maybe I’ll burst out in birdsong...
But it is he who speaks, and the Queen’s English is only tolerable in my ears because it is he who speaks it.
“Do you want to stay?” he asks.
“Yes!” I want to answer. Stay, and never be alive and wracked by pain anymore.
“Do you want it?” I say instead. Leaving him space. Denying my greed for him, because after what he’s already given me, what else could I make myself believe I could receive?
“More than anything else in my life,” he answers.
The swell of happiness is too much: should I allow it to flood me, I would be transformed into something else, unknown, a different monster. I am dangerous, all the more so when I am happy-- disaster follows my joy like a wolf stalks its prey. I don’t want him to have my joy, I don’t want him to even see it, because with it come destruction and death, tightly knit in a hard poisonous ball which I never want him to come near, although it sits at the core of me like a curse. I must hold it back, hidden, safe inside, and keep him at a distance, although he bleeds at the gate as much as I am bleeding. He must not have it.
So I stifle it, and I wear my sour mask once again, this fin de siècle persona of the gentleman who waits for Last Judgment because everything else he’s already seen, and who doesn’t really care for love.
It hurts. I can see I’m hurting him --now that he’s still unguarded-- with my denial of something fundamental, although he can’t begin to imagine what it may be. But I can see he knows that I am refusing him access to the innermost part of myself, and although it wounds him, he accepts my need to distance myself that much so that I’ll able to stay and not run away.
I speak of a quality leap.
I hope he understands what I am really trying to say.
I believe he does.

He has fallen asleep, sweetly and deeply, his head hanging back on top of the velvet armrest, his long throat exposed. I count the slow strong beats of his heart in the pulse of his jugular vein.
I look at him for a long time. He is my peace.
But peace is always short-lived with me.
I watch, and I feel my heart silently cracking and breaking.
What can I offer to this man who offers me the whole of himself?
Only madness, and sin, and an irrevocable fall into the same slavery that binds me.
He doesn’t understand. He can’t understand. He won’t!
Suddenly, I can’t stand his sight anymore. I stand (he sighs and murmurs something in his sleep), I step aside, I turn his armchair to the window, and I sit there, watching the morning flood over London in rose-pink light.

Earth has not anything to show more fair;
Dull would he be of soul who could pass by
A sight so touching in its majesty:
This city now doth, like a garment, wear
The beauty of the morning...

Can this pure light from heaven, bathing me from the half-closed curtains, change me into something worth of his love?

...silent, bare,
Ships, towers, domes, theatres and temples lie
Open unto the fields and to the sky,
All bright and glittering in the smokeless air.

Or will this moment of bliss be swept aside by time, as soon as the thrum and noise and bustle of the city will gather momentum for another wicked day?

Never did Sun more beautifully steep
In its first splendour, valley, rock or hill;
never saw I, never felt, a calm so deep.

Oh if only I could wrap this peace around me like a mantle, or even like a funeral shroud, and rest inside it forever...

Dear God! The very houses seem asleep;
And all that mighty heart is lying still.

But he whose mighty, kind heart was lying still, asleep on the sofa, now wakes up, he stands, he turns to look at me. So beautiful he is, half-naked, just now back from the soft hazed territory of dreams, and so far he looks yet from the harsh planes and surfaces of conventional wisdom, that on impulse, like a lover would leave a freshly plucked sprig of sweetbriar on a lover’s doorstep, I tell him something nobody now alive has ever known.
Sweetbriar is for simplicity.
I tell him of my wild desire to be someone else. Not my father’s son, but a free man of my own, even as I was only eight at the time.
Even if this would have condemned me to a deeper isolation than has been my share until now.
I tell him of my hopelessness. I tell him of my doubt, now that I have been allowed in his presence again. Of my absurd dream that I may still become someone else, and --this I don’t spell in words-- his.
He comes to me, he kneels, and it looks as though he’s trying to curl around his happiness like a jar of warm honey he doesn’t want to break.
“Patrick, you are free,” he says.
I grab at his words. I was drowning, and he took my hand. I am not gentle. I hold him too tight, and dig my nails into his flesh, because I want to live, to live for him, and I want him to know.
I am desperate.
I ask for his help.
I beg.
“Of course,” he answers, and he takes my hand in his, and presses it to his heart.
Tick, tock goes his heart.
Tick, tock goes the pendulum on his desk.
Tock, ta-tack, goes my own heart, skipping a beat, leaping in my throat.
So I threaten him.
“You will have to stand by my side as long and as often as possible,” I say.
He doesn’t answer.
He smiles.


NdA: The quote is from William Wordsworth, Upon Westminster Bridge (1802).