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Rescue Me! - 6. Chapter 6

Rescue Me! – chapter 6:
They woke up Sunday and went to church. John had invited Jeremy to join him, and Jeremy had agreed. It became abundantly clear within the first few minutes that this was all completely new to him. John took them to his parish church, having warned Jeremy to dress warmly. In the middle of winter, despite internal heating, there was almost no way to warm the old stone building comfortably, so coats, hats, scarves and gloves were not only fashionable, they were practical. Once seated in the pews, Jeremy looked around wide-eyed at the stone pillars, the intricately carved dark wood, the gargoyles peeking out from the top of the pillars, and the strange smell that tickled his nose and throat – that curious mixture of musty old books and stale incense peculiar to some churches.
As the organ began to play an intricate Bach prelude, Jeremy turned around searching for the origin of the music that rolled and thundered around the building. John leaned over and pointed out the organ loft and the back of the organist bobbing around as he played, his hands and arms occasionally rising high in the air and showing above the rail of the organ loft as he pounded out notes or frantically changed stops on the organ. Jeremy was entranced. He sat, nearly turned around completely on his pew to watch the organist high in the back of the church. When the organist finished and the sound echoed for what seemed minutes, he turned and started to ask John something. John motioned for silence just as the organ started up again and began the introduction to the processional hymn. John reached over and opened the hymnbook, Jeremy awkwardly scrambled up beside him as the choir began to sing.
The thurifer accompanied by the boat boy proceeded up the aisle swinging the thurible in his right hand, incense wafting over the congregation. The large processional cross and torches followed him closely behind, then the choir of men and boys singing strongly, another crucifer and finally the clergy. First came the two assisting priests dressed in black and white, cassock and surplice; then the sub-deacon and deacon, holding the ornately jeweled Gospel book high in his hands, and finally the celebrant in a beautiful chasuble.
“Who are all those people, and what are they wearing? I’ve never seen costumes like that.”
John explained the functions of each of the people in the procession, and then went on to explain the vestments they wore. “The person wearing the poncho-like garment, called a chasuble, is the celebrating priest. The one holding that book is the deacon, and the book is called the Gospel book. The one in front of him is the sub-deacon. Each one of them has a very specific function in the service. The clothes they are wearing, called vestments, go back to the early days of the church and are modeled on the clothing of the Roman Empire. The guy at the front with the smoking pot that he is waving around is a thurifer, and the pot is called a thurible.”
“Oh.” Jeremy continued to gaze around him wondering about everything he saw. “Is that lady someone important? She’s not in the procession but she’s wearing all those furs and jewelry.”
John smiled. “Well, she doesn’t have anything specific to do in the service, but she certainly thinks that she’s important.”
The man sitting behind them choked on his laughter. He had obviously overheard Jeremy’s question and John’s answer. John looked back at him for a moment and smiled, their eyes meeting in conspiratorial mirth.
As the service continued, Jeremy kept asking questions, and John enjoyed answering them. He liked sharing this with Jeremy. At communion, he invited Jeremy to come up to the altar rail with him, he explained about kneeling, and keeping his hands crossed over his chest. The priest came to them, gave John communion and blessed Jeremy. Jeremy was silent when they returned to their seats, and stayed silent as John prayed quietly for a few minutes. Something seemed to have happened to him up there at the altar because he was silent for the rest of the service, content to simply be there with John. John felt it, too. At the end of the service, they left by a side door; John just didn’t feel like shaking hands or chattering with anyone else that morning.
They went out for lunch, passing the Shelter on the way. John took Jeremy for a smoked meat sandwich. Montreal smoked meat was unique, and every now and then he enjoyed it. Sharing this with Jeremy seemed right. After lunch, they drove around a bit, enjoying the lazy day. And then they went home. John realized that it really felt like home now, with Jeremy there. He knew that he needed to talk with Jeremy about tomorrow, about what would happen then.
At home, they settled into the living room on the couch, warm cups of coffee in their hands. They were silent, just enjoying being there, looking out the big picture window.
“Jeremy, I need to talk with you.” John looked down at his coffee mug, his hands twisting around it. “I’ve had a really good time this weekend. I’ve really enjoyed having you here.” He paused again. “We’ve got to talk about your future, you know. What are you going to do tomorrow?”
Jeremy seemed to disappear into himself at the other end of the couch, shrinking into the pillows. He, too, looked down at his mug. He sighed. “I guess you want me to go, don’t you? I’ll start looking for another place tomorrow.” He looked up, visibly taking a deep breath, “Thank you for taking me in this weekend. I don’t know what I would have done. I really enjoyed being here with you. It’s been the best time I’ve had in a long time.”
“What would you like to do, Jeremy?”
Jeremy looked down again, and was silent. The silent stretched on for several minutes. John just waited. Jeremy seemed to be struggling with himself. He looked up, and braced himself, “I’d like to stay here with you, John.”
Now it was John’s turn to look down, and his turn to remain silent. He mumbled, “I’d like that, too, Jeremy, but I don’t know if that would be good for either you or me.” Jeremy put his mug down on the floor beside the couch, and scooted over. He took John’s mug and put it down, and then reached out to take John’s hand. “Please, John, I’d really like to stay. You’re the first person who’s every treated me with respect. You’re the first person who’s not taken advantage of me. You’re the first person who seemed to care for me, to be concerned about me.” John sighed again.
“Jeremy, I’ve grown to care a great deal for you in the last week. I’m glad you think I haven’t taken advantage of you, but you’ve got to have noticed that I would have liked to…”
“Yes, I noticed,” he interrupted. “Did you notice how much I wanted you to?”
John was silent, thinking. He seemed to gather himself, and he looked up.
“OK. Here’s what I can offer you. You can stay, but…” Then suddenly he was interrupted as a young man filled his arms, hugging him fiercely and knocking him flat on his back. A warm mouth came down on his, hard, fervent, demanding. Automatically his own arms went around Jeremy, and he found himself kissing him back. For the next few moments the conversation of words was suspended as they communicated more deeply with their whole bodies. Then John pushed Jeremy back a bit, trying for a little breathing room.
“Jeremy, Jeremy, let me finish. Please, let me finish.” Jeremy began to pull back and John stopped him. “No, don’t go, stay, but let me finish what I have to say.” Jeremy settled and John began to stroke his head. “You can stay, but there are some things that have to happen. First, we need to get your identity documents back, your social security card, your Medicare card, all the other things that prove who are and that will get you registered again. If you live here, then we can get you some social security payments. Once we have that stuff settled again, then I want to get you into school. You’ve got to finish your schooling.” Jeremy began to mutter. “Yes, I know you can’t read well. We’ll fix that. Then, we’ll see where we go next. Is that OK with you? Oh, and no more tricking, and we’re going to get you a full medical workup to make sure you’re OK. Is that OK?”
“Yes. That’s all OK.” He snuggled down into John’s arms, his body molded against John’s. He was so content that he practically purred. His face fitted into John’s neck, and his arms snuggled tight around his chest. John wasn’t sure Jeremy would ever let go – and not sure that he wanted him to. They lay there together, content.
“Does this mean I can stop wearing those damn shorts to bed?” Jeremy asked, the question loaded with layers of meaning.
John sighed, “No, Jeremy. I’m not going to take advantage of you now, either. You need to be independent, to stand on your own feet. Then we can talk. But right now, you get to wear shorts…and so do I.”
“Doesn’t sound like you much want to wear them either!” muttered Jeremy into John’s neck.
John pushed Jeremy away a bit, and then sat up. They were both sitting up on the couch now, knee to knee, looking at each other. John reached out and took Jeremy’s hand, letting his thumb draw little circles on it. He looked down, searching for words, and then reached over and took Jeremy’s other hand.
“Jeremy, I spend my whole day looking after people. I love what I do, but it’s tiring, too. I need something else in a lover. Otherwise, it feels as if I never leave work. Sometimes I need to relax and let down, sometimes I need someone to take care of me, too.” Jeremy looked up into John’s eyes and looked as if he was going to speak. “Shh, please let me finish. I’m very drawn to you. I was from the moment you came in. You needed help, and I wanted to give it you. I felt protective of you, maybe a little like a father or like an older brother. That’s nice, I like that.”
Jeremy interrupted, “I feel safe with you. And I like that. I haven’t had that for most of my life. I feel like I can relax with you and just be myself. We have fun together.” He took one hand out and began to lazily draw circles on John’s chest. “And I think you’re kind of cute, too.” He looked up at John through his eyelashes, a sultry look with a hint of innocence to it, too.
“And I find you kind of cute, Jeremy. That’s why this is difficult. It would be so easy to drop the shorts and take you to bed. You are very sexy.”
Jeremy giggled and wiggled on the couch.
“But, Jeremy, I think I want more than that. I think that you’re worth more than a quick fuck.” Jeremy’s eyes flew open, John didn’t use that kind of language and Jeremy was shocked. “That’s right…I don’t just want a quick fuck, Jeremy, no matter how much fun it might be. I want a relationship, a mutual relationship between equals. I want to see if we can get to that – so, for the moment, despite how difficult it may be, we’re both going to keep out shorts on.” John looked earnestly at Jeremy, hoping that he had communicated what he felt to him, hoping that he hadn’t hurt him. He knew he was taking a risk, maybe Jeremy just wouldn’t understand, or maybe he was just too wounded. He didn’t know.
Jeremy cocked his head to one side, looking at John, scanning his face, looking so hard that it almost felt as if he was trying to read his mind. He was silent, thinking hard, letting his heart begin to open up just a bit. He knew how to con men; he’d had lots of practice. Somehow, this felt different. The whole weekend had been different. He was still processing what was going on. Dare he trust this man, really trust him? Dare he begin to really hope that his world was changing? He’d lived by his wits and by his intuition for these past few years – not that that had always worked out – nonetheless, that’s all he had to go on now.
“Did you really mean that, about going back to school and getting everything set up again?”
“And I won’t have to sleep with you if I don’t want to?”
“No, you won’t. In fact, I don’t want to do that now.”
“Are you going to in the future?”
“I don’t know. We’ll see where this all goes. But it will still be your choice, too.”
“Oh.” Jeremy fell silent again, and then slowly withdrew his hands, sitting quietly on the couch, withdrawing into himself. John waited. “OK. I’ll stay – for a while – and we’ll see.”
“Good. I’m glad, really glad, Jeremy.”
The silence stretched on in the room. Jeremy looked up, tears in his eyes. “I’m glad, too.”

Copyright © 2011 MontrealOrmolu; All Rights Reserved.

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I hope they can make this work. They are two very special and loving people and they both deserve a HEA.

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