The Butler - 20. Chapter XX
After having gained an EDITOR (yay!), I was encouraged to adapt a new format. "Line spacing 'r' us" is something I never bothered with, so I apologize for this and thank T for his direction towards the light! You will be seeing the new chapters in this new format from now on, and I will go back, editing the other chapters (and at some point also the other stories, which will be a MAJOR task, blech/bah/brrr) and give you a correctly spaced and readable little fantasy I dreamed up so long ago.
Stretching my legs, I set my feet on the sand and rose, taking a few steps toward the waterline. I could feel his eyes in my back. Turning around, I sought his gaze.
"Did it ever occur to you," I said with some difficulty, "to just start a conversation? Like normal people?" He didn't say anything, just kept eye contact. "Show interest? Ask me on a date? You know; get to know me? Or is any of that unavailable in your world?"
Rising, he shoved his hands deep in his pockets but he never looked away. “Would you have?”
“Back then? Before you were a complete and utter jackass, you mean?”
I sighed, blowing out a breath. “Probably,” I then admitted. “Yes. You were so different, then. Engaging, open, passionate.” Tilting his head a bit, he regarded me curiously.
“So I wasn’t the only one who was interested, when we first met, was I?” When I didn’t respond right away, he came over to where I stood, his gaze searching. “Was I?”
“That Greg was someone who would’ve been great to get to know,” I answered, evasively. He stilled.
“He’s right here,” he then replied, softly. I knew what he was doing and any sane person would've stepped back. Give some rebuke. But I didn’t step back and whatever came out of my mouth, a rebuke wasn't it. A very inelegant croak did, but nothing else. His hand came up and hesitated a second; then the back of his fingers touched my cheek. “Chris, I am still that man. A man who still would very much like to get to know you. And for you to get to know him. Warts and all.”
“That’s not fair, using my own words against me.”
“It’s late in coming, but they’re good words to use. Get to know the real me. Start over…”
“And forget all about the past six years? You treated me like shit, intimidated me; forced me to do something I didn't want to do and used my past against me, threatening to...God, Greg...not okay." His thumb gently stroked at the corner of my eye when emotion got the better of me.
“How about forgive?” he asked. “No, that was not okay and no apology will correct it. You never accepted it, when I did apologize. But could you forgive?”
“And forget?” I countered, finally finding the control over my feet and taking a step back, using the palms of my hands to wipe my eyes.
“I’m not asking you to forget; much of what I’ve done and said went much too far to forget but I’d like to be forgiven.”
“To start over and begin again, as should have happened six years ago. You once said you got a second chance and jumped at it...” He looked down for a few long seconds and then raised his head. His eyes were very clear. “I’d like a second chance. And do it right, this time.”
Of all the things he could have said…
Inhaling deep, I closed my eyes for a second, shaking my head to clear it. Then I met his, still clear, unblinking and expectant. I barely nodded and let the words come.
“I forgive you.”
"The Sound of Music."
We were walking back to the inn, having spent the last five minutes in complete silence. I guess we were both in deep thought; I was. My brain was a maelstrom of thoughts; where would we go from here? What was he thinking about?
It was pretty clear his own thoughts were also occupying him and at times it felt like he wanted to say something, turning slightly towards me much like I at times did to him, almost saying something but then thinking the better of it. Then I latched on to something and it wouldn’t let go so I had to say it. And see his expression turn to puzzled.
"You read it on that day, didn't you? Your father’s letter, when we watched it?"
He nodded. "Yes. You have a good memory. How did you know?"
“Something you said back there, where we left the wreckage of us,” I answered, jerking my thumb over my shoulder. “I don’t ever want to go back there. Too much pain.”
A corner of his mouth turned upwards. “I do. I’ll always go back there.”
“Masochist,” I muttered softly under my breath.
It caused him to softly laugh. “What did I say? I said a lot of things.”
“That I hadn’t accepted your apology. I was thinking about it, and that was the day you had to have read it because something changed. You changed.
"Ah. Yes, you finally yielded to me.”
What the… “You took control!”
“And you accepted it.”
“No, Chris,” he cut in, “you accepted it. You didn’t like it, but you accepted my control.” I thought back hard. Had I? “I asked you to share, you decided to throw a hissy fit, so I put my...”
“I do not throw hissy fits,” I huffed, interrupting him. That earned me a ‘oh please’ look. “Fine. I threw a hissy fit. It’s not every day someone takes your toys away.”
“Your toys,” he repeated, snickering. “How did you feel, when I did that?”
“Angry, at first...”
“Well, yeah. I mean, I’d been doing all of it for six years. Kinda hard to give it up, from one day to the next. The way you went about it was so…final. But, after a while; I dunno, it was kind of nice, not having to worry or try to do ten things at once.”
“Exactly. You yielded.” I flared up again. That word just...set me off but he stopped me when he saw me react. “Nuh-uh. You yielded. You accepted my dominance over you.”
“Especially then. I put my foot down and you finally stopped resisting.”
I swallowed and slowed to stop, a realization dawning on me. The way he viewed the world around him…I was out of my depth. I'd done several things in the past but never an official...
“Greg, do you...am I….so right now…”
He frowned. He must’ve seen something in my expression because he halted as well and came right over. “Chris? What’s wrong...” I got completely flustered by now, my brain working overtime.
“W-when I said I forgave you, and agreed t-to start over, did I submit?”
And for the second time in as many months, the first time being when he saw me shy away from a phone on vibrate, I saw Greg laugh out loud.
Edited 04/18/2018: redid the spacing + small correction.
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