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 A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]

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Dr. Cyril H. Darling

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PostSubject: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Sun Nov 18, 2012 6:14 pm

Do not stand at my grave and weep
I am not there. I do not sleep.
I am a thousand winds that blow.
I am the diamond glints on snow.
I am the sunlight on ripened grain.
I am the gentle autumn rain.
When you awaken in the morning's hush
I am the swift uplifting rush
Of quiet birds in circled flight.
I am the soft stars that shine at night.
Do not stand at my grave and cry;
I am not there. I did not die.


Mary Elizabeth Frye

Would Josiah return with Finn McAlister? Cyril had no way of knowing, left only with time and tide which would eventually reveal their strange fate. Though a great part of him silently bade Josiah 'stay away' for innumerable reasons, this additional limbo was unsettling to him, waiting from moment to moment for the sound of Finn's truck outside of the cottage he'd sworn he wouldn't go back to. So why was he here? And why had he cleaned up the mess in the kitchen? What did it matter? This was Josiah's cottage now, really. Though it was filled with Cyril's things, they might as well have been the items of a deceased grandparent, inherited by young men and women who did not understand or sense the meaning and history behind each object. Josiah was not that callous or shallow, but sometimes Cyril indulged himself that that was all his personal affects meant any more. They belonged to a dead person. Years from now, they would be scrapped as if they had never meant anything, and there wasn't a thing that he could do about that. Or else this place would be left to rot once again, slowly to be reclaimed by nature, erased from history. And Cyril would remain trapped here while his world fell away around him, while his life and his name were forgotten. Sometimes he liked to think that he could just shut this place down, undo all of the wrongs he'd done in reopening it in the first place. But at the end of the day, the truth was that despite his ability for independent existence, and stubborn defiance of the emotional need for companionship, the idea scared him. Newly dead and left alone with the other trapped souls, what would become of him? Who would remember him? What would he do for the rest of eternity? Sometimes he longed for Hell, when he thought about it, because those fantastical and ludicrous ideas of lakes of fire and eternal torture at least seemed to have purpose, and occupation for his time. If Hallowsgate was abandoned, his eternity would be empty. Maybe it was that subliminal fear of being forgotten and rendered pointless that brought him back to the cottage. Bitterly, he had considered leaving the mess, leaving the cottage cold and unlit as a physical expression of the resentment he'd been nurturing like an abandoned baby animal in Josiah's absence. But somehow, despite all of it, he couldn't quite bring himself to be as cold and callous as he remembered himself to be before Josiah had come in and changed his life, his death. Perhaps he was irreparably damaged after all. Perhaps that fortress would never be quite so desolate and steadfast as he liked to think it still was. Perhaps his lonely sanctuary had been breeched and would never be the same cold comfort again. And he hated that feeling.

When Finn's truck did pull up outside of the cottage, Cyril knew that Josiah was in it. In a strange way, he thought he could pinpoint the exact moment that the vehicle had crossed over onto the premises, sense Josiah's return to Hallowsgate like one senses the coming of a storm on a clear, sunny day. It was simply something in his gut, or whatever it was that he had now that he was dead. Obviously, Cyril had not replenished all that he'd destroyed in the kitchen. The freezer and refrigerator -though turned on still- were completely barren. Not a single jar of condiment, not a morsel of food. All that had survived his destructive rampage were canned goods, dry soups and snacks in packages that he been spared the brunt of his rage by their resilience. These few items, he had put back into the cupboards they belonged to, but evidence of what had happened still remained, if you knew where to look. One of the cupboard doors no longer shut properly, hanging askew at an angle that confessed to the force with which it was yanked open days ago, and two of the antique floor tiles were cracked, where large and heavy cans of sauce or soups had been thrown down, breaking and chipping the ceramic. There was no coffee, for that had been spilled from its flimsy tin, and there was no tea. There were no pancakes sizzling in a cast iron skillet, waiting for Josiah's return. In fact, Cyril hadn't even turned on the lights, wallowing enough in his own existential self pity that he felt he quite liked the way the shadows smothered the living room, intersected by geometric shapes of sulphur-orange light from outside. He didn't move at first either, even when he heard the vehicle doors open and close, the steady approach of Josiah and Finn following in its wake. Since his flustered and poorly planned admission, he had regretted telling Finn anything. He didn't want to see him now at all, didn't really want to see anyone, and so he remained invisible, even if that meant nothing to Josiah, who had somehow been gifted the sight enough to peel back Hallowsgate's ghostly layers. He could have dissolved, disappeared into the cold and void winds of the ether, and the truth was that he had been venturing forth into that place from time to time since Josiah left. But he didn't.

Not wanting to deal with Finn, for Josiah might inadvertently say something about Cyril being there should they come in together and decided to linger for friendly chatter, Cyril eventually relegated himself to the bedroom, just down the short hallway at the back of the living room, moment before the front door opened. He stood quietly at the small window, its view of the darkened back garden and the woods beyond that all too familiar to him now. He listened to the sounds of Josiah returning home, the distinctive clank of crutches, Finn's mild-mannered words. There was some light scuffle, as of luggage being arranged, parting words quiet enough that they were just mumbles to Cyril, and then Finn was gone, the house left in silence. There was a warm glow of light from the hallway, where the living room lamps spilled illumination into the narrow pass, let it seep in through the bedroom door. In a way, it felt heartening to suddenly know that there was a living soul in this place, that warm glow a metaphor for it. But it would be folly to expect that Cyril would so easily forget or dismiss his grudges. It mattered little to him that Josiah had insisted in his note that he would return, because to Cyril it made no difference. The feeling of abandonment was the same. That note meant that Josiah had wanted to be away from him, even if it was only temporarily. It meant that Josiah was sick of it all. It meant that he thought they were better off apart, away from one another, that there needed to be distance between them lest something worse, something catastrophic happen. But all their catastrophes had already come to pass, Cyril thought. Selfishly, he considered his own death, and the bleak and pointless nature of his existence on through the ages. And he thought of Josiah's ease of just... packing a few things, tacking a note to the fridge, and just walking out. Closing his eyes for a moment, he saw the tear-streaked, red face of a young and angry boy who did not understand his own feelings of abandonment enough to react appropriately. Don't leave me here! You can't leave me here! Fuck you! Fuck you! The futility of struggling against the tan cuffs at ankle and wrist only made him angrier, more bitter, more red-faced, until he was too exhausted to fight any more. He hadn't understood himself back then, couldn't know that the ultimate abandonment -that of his parents- hod done things to him that couldn't be undone. There was a place of impossible rage in him that served as the gathering pool for all the parts of himself that he would never fully grasp. Even now, it churned and bubbled, not because this was a situation in which he should be angry, but because he didn't know how to be anything else. All upset, hurt, and fear he ever felt wound up in that place, each emotion indistinguishable from the next. He had never had someone to belong to, or someone who belonged to him until now. And he wasn't certain that any of that had been true. He was more prone to realising that it wasn't, than hoping that it was, and it might take some considerable time and effort to ever convince him otherwise now. Something had been broken, and fixing it again might be impossible, or if not, might be laborious. Cyril didn't expect that he was really worth the effort anyway. Josiah should have stayed away.

But Josiah was not gone. He was left standing in the silent living room while Cyril listened to the sound of Finn retreating to his truck, its door closing and its engine rumbling off into the distance. Peeling his eyes open, he saw the back garden through grimy glass again, a broke kaleidoscope splattering of dark and twilight hat looked almost serene, undisturbed by wind or rain. The snow had long since gone, melted away, and for that at least he as glad, but such small pleasures no longer even showed up on his radar. When was the last time he had smiled, laughed? His face felt frozen in place, stoic, unfeeling, and distant. And it looked it too, by the time he silently drifted through the house, curiosity getting the better of him. He came to stand motionless at the end of the hallway, the precipice of the living room, the only indication that he was there at all the static, silent hum of the air in the apartment. Josiah looked as if he was half dead himself, and Cyril had wondered if -upon seeing the tutor again- he would immediately feel remorse, feel bad for all his wrong doings and ill thoughts. That was what a normal person would do. Upset, each of them, they would fall into each others arms in tears and apologies. But Cyril's heart felt like a burned out field on a cold night, winds moaning through the barren, and fallen branches of decimated trees, scattering cold ash like great clouds of starlings. Some embers burned there still, a small promise of life, sparks waiting to be re-kindled, but he felt cold, distant, reassured that his fortress was maybe still intact after all. He didn't say anything, wasn't sure what to say or if words were even needed. What could they really say to one another? Cyril didn't feel bad. He didn't feel that he needed to apologise for their argument. Conscience was a tricky thing for Cyril, who at times bordered on remorseless entirely. He felt justified in his arguments, because he wouldn't have spoken them otherwise, and didn't understand why he should feel guilt for saying what was on his mind. Though he wouldn't voice it aloud, he had felt hurt too, which of course translated almost immediately into anger, an instantaneous, knee-jerk reaction of self-preservation. Now he wasn't certain what he felt. Perhaps nothing. Perhaps it was a self-imposed numbness. He was peering at Josiah the way he peered at everyone else. Inoffensively, but distantly, as if he always knew, at every moment, that he would never be one of them, never be a part of their world. That went doubly so now. Why was he even here? Unsure of the answer to that question, all he could manage for some sort of action other than standing in motionless silence was to drift into the living room, towards the record player. He didn't really want to put anything on, and thumbed through the LPs that had been left out rather aimlessly, his back to the room.


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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Sun Nov 18, 2012 10:30 pm

All told, Josiah had been gone from Hallowsgate for almost a week, and yet, with the way he felt and all that had happened, it might have been ages since he'd left. Part of him expected to walk through the front door of the cottage and find it lying in ruins, covered in layers of dust, tangled vines crawling in through broken windows, as if life inside these gates somehow defied the laws of time, moving on at blinding speed without him. The other part of him didn't know what to expect, except darkness. Darkness and silence, a silence like smoke, so staggering and thick he didn't know if he'd be able to breathe around it. His underlying sense of rationale told him he was being silly, that it wasn't such a great task to walk up that path and through the door, and his body said something entirely different, protesting and wheezing despite its valiant efforts. He heard Finn's shoes clapping up the walkway behind him as he stopped at the door, pulling his keys out of his pocket to find the right one. It took a moment of fumbling with his crutches before he was able to lean heavily against the jamb and slot the little piece of brass into the lock, listening to the tumblers roll over. Normally a non-threatening sound, it held a tinge of foreboding now, and he almost forgot to breathe as he turned the handle and let himself in. Silence and darkness met him, as he'd imagined, but it wasn't so smothering with Finn lumbering in behind him, setting his suitcase by the door and moving to arrange his prescription bottles on the coffee table.

Josiah spoke not a word until Finn spoke to him, telling him to remember his medication and to call if he needed anything. "I will," he promised, and yielded to the hug the other man pulled him into moments later. His voice was muffled into Finn's shoulder as he murmured another heartfelt thank you. Though this was what he wanted, to be home, he realized he didn't want to be alone, and it was tempting to ask his friend to stay awhile, to put his feet up and have a drink. But Finn no doubt wanted to get home to Faith, and he should. He'd done enough babysitting Josiah for the day. The wounded ex-tutor watched the intern go on his way, quietly pushing the door closed after he got in his truck and drove away, tail lights growing red against the pitch of the night, reminding him of the eyes he'd seen peering at him through the conservatory windows. Suppressing a shudder, he slowly turned and met the living room with a dull and sweeping gaze. Nothing had changed that he could tell, not outwardly, but something underneath the surface of the stillness had, making for uneasy waters, foretelling a rough voyage ahead.

Leaning on the crutches, he reached forward to snap on the lamp beside the couch, then moved around it, taking the padded rests out from under his arms and arranging them on the coffee table as he sat. He thought it was time to take his pills again, but that would require getting up from the couch and going to the kitchen for a glass of water, the mere thought of which exhausted him. The scant effort of hobbling from Finn's truck to the front door had winded him enough, and all he wanted was to rest now. Feeling Cyril somewhere in the house, he didn't think that was going to happen just yet. He didn't know how he knew, but he did. It was a sensation he got at the base of his spine, one that crawled up to the nape of his neck and nestled there like cold fingers, or warm and welcome ones, depending on the day and their attitude toward each other. It was Cyril's own ethereal signature, and while part of Josiah was comforted to be near it again, another part of him was fearful of it, because he could feel how chilly it was, like ozone and electricity before a storm, crackling over his skin, warning him to find shelter from the clouds that were about to break open. There was no shelter for him. All he could do was stand in the pouring rain and withstand the beating as best he could.

He wanted to say something, to tell Cyril to come out, but his voice caught in his throat when he thought of trying, and as it turned out, he didn't have to. Josiah could feel him hovering at the threshold of the living room, and looked up a moment later for confirmation that his senses weren't playing tricks on him. Dim blue eyes, glazed over with fatigue and loaded down with misery, took in the harrowed lines of Cyril's face, but too quickly darted away at the look of numbness and detachment they found there, revealing nothing. No hate, no love, no rage, no pain. Any one of those things would have been better, because at least he would have had some idea of where he stood then. It was a look Josiah had seen before, but it made it hard to recognize him sometimes, to locate the man he loved behind the mask. He knew that he was in there somewhere, and the hope of finding him again was all that kept him going some days. Sometimes all it took was the slightest twitch of a smirk, a flicker of warmth in his eyes, or the way his posture unconsciously mirrored Josiah's when he wasn't thinking about it. Cyril was incomparably skilled at guarding his heart, his innermost thoughts, never wearing them on his sleeve or his face as Josiah did. They couldn't have been more different that way. Another way in which they differed was that, unlike Cyril, Josiah was burdened by an overabundance of conscience. He couldn't ignore his feelings of remorse or regret, couldn't seal them away and pretend they weren't there. He wasn't too proud to admit when he'd been wrong, but would it make any difference, to say it now? Would Cyril listen? Would he deny that there was anything to be sorry for, anything to talk about? Maybe he would ignore him, refuse to answer, make Josiah crawl after him on hands and knees until he spoke to him, craving some personal acknowledgement besides a vacant stare.

Josiah's eyes returned to Cyril when he moved to cross the room, watching him go. He stood in front of the record player, flicking through a selection of vinyls, and at a loss of what to do or say, Josiah squinted at his back for a moment before peering down at the leg of his jeans, where the bandage underneath lent it some extra padding. Poking experimentally at his injured thigh, like a child with sticky fingers who couldn't keep his hand out of the cookie jar, he let out a low hiss of pain and pulled his hand to his chest as if he'd been scalded. The comparison wasn't that far off, because the place where they'd extracted the bullet felt like fire, hot and throbbing. It was a wonder it wasn't burning holes right through the denim. He looked to Cyril again, finding him unchanged, unmoved, and said the first thing that came to mind, not wanting this uncomfortable stalemate to last forever. "It was a mistake. I shouldn't have left, not the way I did," he said softly, several shades louder than a whisper but nowhere near the volume of his normal speaking voice. "Do you wish I hadn't come back? Do you want me here?" The answer to that question should have been obvious considering Finn had been sent for him, but it wasn't that black and white, not with Cyril.

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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Sun Nov 18, 2012 11:40 pm



There was every chance that Cyril could very well have stood there all night and not spoken a word, not so much as glanced at Josiah again, if he had it in his head not to, in his heart. Had Josiah not said a word, it seemed a real possibility, or that perhaps Cyril would spent some time looming over the record player before just leaving. Just like that. It was easy to leave, he thought, but not so easy to stay, and how that must be true for everyone else. Certainly around Cyril, he thought it must be especially true, because it was a disappointment he'd grown used to, close to. And he supposed he was guilty of the same, though he recognised that his leaving had never meant anything to anyone. Before Josiah, who would have noticed if he had disappeared? Who would have cared? Who would have stopped to think beyond 'Cyril's crazy, he must have just wandered off. Oh well.' No-one, Cyril knew. He'd thought mason might have cared, once upon a time, but he knew now that that assessment was inaccurate. After all, hadn't Mason left as well? Hadn't he lied, and left? How easily he'd gotten in his car without a word to the stone-faced facility administrator, and just driven away. Simon had been there then, the only entity that had always stayed with him, provided him companionship that didn't falter. But like all things, even that had faded with time, become warped into something ugly, on an inavertable crash course to his own callous murder. Of all the people who had stuck with him, who he had trusted, Simon had been the only constant. Simon had meant more to Cyril than some passing friendship with another boy. he had made Cyril feel special, in that only Cyril could see him. In a life of being abandoned even by his own flesh and blood, that had been impossibly important to him. And now? Now he was dead, and nothing was what he'd thought it was. The ultimate betrayal, the ultimate wound. It was a wonder really that Cyril was as sane and composed as he was, even if that wasn't much. because it could have been far worse, and at every moment had the potential to be. Josiah's flight from Hallowsgate had not perhaps been an all out disaster, but maybe the fallout hadn't really even begun yet.

For some time after Josiah spoke to him, Cyril remained motionless, bot hands resting flat, just-so- atop the old record player. But his silence mean little. It didn't insinuate a calmness or serenity. Not to Josiah, certainly, who could sense beyond his appearance, reach out to the very stuff he was made up of. Not that it was a good idea to do that now, if he valued his mind intact. Before Cyril could really even formulate words to answer him -and there was a chance he might not be able to at all - his response was manifested in a different way, which said more than words possibly could. The sound that speared their uneasy silence was like the pop of a small firework detonating, and the origins of it were not immediately even visible, and might not be until much later. By his hand, the neared vinyl album had split clear in two, as if he had physically picked it up and snapped it in both hands. Cyril's eyes floated silently to the paper cover, faintly disturbed but otherwise intact. The Wall the cover announced in jagged, slashed black letters, set against a white, illustrated brick. It was an original pressing too. "Don't ask me questions," the volatile creature at the record player said, and there was a cool and quiet venom to his voice that said that he as indeed angry. But the volume of his voice was telling too, because he could have raised his voice, shouted hissed the words at Josiah. He hadn't. He was controlling himself, which must surely mean that he at least cared enough to not lay into Josiah as it was possible he wanted to do. In his mind, he fancied that Josiah didn't deserve the definitive answer to those questions, but really, Cyril wasn't sure what to say. He was all conflict on the inside, old battling new. before meeting Josiah, in a situation like this he could have easily hurt someone, done it on purpose. He wasn't known for his cool head, and there was a violence in him that still reared its ugly head at the drop of a hat.

"It wasn't a mistake." There was some measure of trust missing from the tone of his voice as he spoke again, finally turned from the record player. But he only glanced at Josiah an did not hold his gaze or linger long. The way his eyes passed over him in those brief seconds were as he was regarding someone he considered a threat to him, sizing them up secretly and finding them too immense to take on. Though he didn't show fear overtly, perhaps his mistrust was written in the way his gaze snapped away from Josiah, and the manner in which he moved to cross the room, taking the route farthest from the man on the couch, as if he expected him to jump up and snatch him. To Josiah, who perhaps knew Cyril better than anyone else had, aside from Simon, Cyril's evasiveness would be as obvious as if he'd just hauled off and slapped him in the face. There was something changed about him, about his gait even. Where he'd moved casually at home before, loose and languid, it was now as if he stalked with a purpose, as if he was measuring every step and ready to react at a moment's no should something or someone come springing at him. "You wanted to get away, and you went. You left. That was what you desired to do, and you did it. That is not a mistake." Was Josiah hoping for rationality? Was he hoping for understanding, that his reassurance that he would return was enough to hold all Cyril's demons at bay? If so, then perhaps they neither of them knew the other as well as they thought they did. Had Cyril not been dead, had l these circumstances not all piled up upon him, throughout the course of his life, then perhaps this might have turned out better than it was. But it wasn't to be, and at the very end of the day, the truth was that Cyril was really no more sane than the angry little boy left in isolation for days on end, a danger to himself and others.

The Cyril that moved though this cottage living room, and a cold and clear night in mid November was not quite the Cyril that Josiah had left behind, about a week ago. But the intuitive ex-tutor must surely recognise him still. This was the Cyril that was behind every flinch when Josiah touched him unexpectedly. It was the Cyril who pulled away from him unpredictably, at times, when Josiah was yearning for a hug, a kiss, a caress. This was the Cyril before Josiah was even a dream in his bleak life, the Cyril before Morgantown, the Cyril before Mason. This was the Cyril that though he knew a truth about the way the world was and the nature of man. This was the Cyril who had grown to have to rely on his own company, and that of a boy who didn't seem to exist. This was the Cyril that shut everyone out with such a vehemence that it was as if he was protecting some vital part of himself from being ripped apart, a heart pecked to pieces by carrion birds. If Josiah had felt Cyril guarded before, it paled now in comparison. Everything about Cyril's demeanour was locked up tight, even the feel of him in the room almost distant, seemingly unreachable, nigh intangible. All his fortress gates had been locked up tight, and perhaps it was that he was actually afraid to open them again and let Josiah -or anyone else- inside. But it was hard, with Cyril, to distinguish fear from anger, because he expressed all these things in the same way. Coldly and gruffly. And then, just as easily as if they were not having this earth-shattering, serious conversation that might change the course of everything, Cyril paused at the other side of the room, glanced to the kitchen, to the bottles on the coffee table, and then said in a distant, impersonal tone: "When are you meant to take those?"


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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Mon Nov 19, 2012 1:39 am

The pop in the air made him flinch, but Cyril's words hit him harder, made him want to shrivel up and retreat into himself, like a turtle back into its shell, but there was nowhere to go. Even if there had been, he couldn't get there now, injured and useless. This was where he wanted to be, he'd been saying for the past few days, and no matter how uncomfortable it was to actually be here now, he had to keep reminding himself of it. The last thing he wanted to do was speak quietly, exercise patience and understanding when he yearned for nothing more than to scream his frustrations aloud, but he had to if he wanted a chance at mending what was broken here. Still, that didn't keep a few shards of ice from his voice when he spoke next. "Oh, I get it, I can't ask you questions because you're too afraid to answer them. Alright." Josiah was wounded by Cyril's frigidity, and fighting not to show it on the surface. Though he set his jaw and pressed his lips into a thin, decisive line, his eyes still betrayed him, but Cyril wasn't looking anyway. He felt anger more than sorrow in those moments, impotent rage with no outlet. He could barely stand up on his own, let alone give voice to all the thoughts that rolled through his head, charging forward with all the speed of a freight train on a collision course with a brick wall. It was all too clear who was the immovable wall in this case, and who the determined, but ultimately doomed, train. He wouldn't win if Cyril didn't want him to, and he didn't see that there was much that Cyril did want to do, besides be left alone. But if that had been entirely true, why had he come out in the first place? Why had he drifted into sight when he could have stayed hidden, beyond the reach of Josiah's pleading, probing gaze?

If he was fire, then Cyril was ice, but he didn't know if he was strong enough to break through to him, to chip away the layers that had been rebuilt in his absence. Not only was he angry, but positively shocked at what came out of Cyril's mouth next. How could he counter that, argue with it? Cyril's logic wasn't completely faulty, even if it didn't come from any real place of reason. Josiah knew that part of him was right, that there was nothing he could say to change his mind, but he had to try. He had to defend himself, and resist the urge to ask more questions he wouldn't get the answers to. "It was a mistake. It was a mistake because it hurt you. And it hurt me too. I wasn't thinking. Yes, I wanted to get away, and I did, because I thought it was right at the time, but..." He sighed and chewed on his lower lip, not caring that he tasted the salty tang of blood rising to the surface, pulsing beneath the shredded skin. "I didn't want to get away from you, not permanently. I thought you needed some time. Maybe I thought wrong. But that's what we do, Cyril! We make mistakes. We say things we don't mean, we get angry at each other, but none of that changes the way I feel. And you can throw up all the walls you want, but I know you feel it too, deep down. I know your secret hurt, and I know that I hurt you, but I also know that if you didn't want me to be here, if you thought that I didn't want to be, you wouldn't be here right now." Josiah didn't know if he was making any sense, but once his head gave his heart permission to speak the words, they came in a tangled stream of passion and unchecked sentiment. It felt good to release it, even if he feared a great number of the potential outcomes.

"As soon as I left, I wanted to come back. I knew it was wrong. I suffered for it, and I still do. I told myself I couldn't turn around because I had people waiting for me, relying on me, but you needed me more. I betrayed your trust and let you down, and I'm sorry for that. You have no idea how much. I know sorry isn't enough. It might never be, but it's all I have right now." It surprised him, how he was able to speak so calmly, so steadily, when on the inside he felt anything but. As a testament to that, his hands were trembling, shaking in his lap where he had interlaced his fingers, twisting them tightly around each other. His legs were in motion too, jarring him with a fresh surge of pain every agonizing second he spoke, watching, waiting, hoping. All futile, he was sure, but he was running on sheer adrenaline and desperation at this point, knowing there was no point in trying to steer the course. He could feel the threat and distrust pouring off of Cyril, and each wave of it was like another punch to the gut. He wasn't sure he deserved such vehemence, such violent evasiveness and withering coldness, but he had known that it might come, considered all the options in his hospital bed and on the plane ride back home, and had no choice but to face the consequences now. This was his reality, this was what it had all come down to, and he couldn't run away this time. He wouldn't let himself be that particular brand of coward again.

Frowning, he glanced at Cyril as he easily changed subjects, asking him about his medication as if they weren't having the most important conversation of their relationship. "Every few hours, I think," he said, his voice falling in pitch again. He hadn't been yelling before, but somewhere within himself he had found the confidence that let him speak at a reasonable volume, the one he had used to teach classes or just have a normal conversation with a friend. Now he was back to being soft-spoken and tentative, watching Cyril from the corner of his eye as he reached for one of the plastic orange bottles and turned it over in his palm. "Up to three times a day, as needed. I should take them now." If asking was Cyril's impersonal way of offering to get him a glass of water, Josiah was having none of it. He waved off any attempts to help before they came, teetering precariously as he rose to his full height, one foot lifted off the floor to keep from putting any unnecessary pressure on the offended leg. He leaned forward to grab the crutches, his balance wavering, and awkwardly hopped out from between the couch and coffee table before tucking them under his arms and making for the kitchen. Defiantly, he moved forward at a slow clip, and when he stopped just inside the other room to flick the light on, he paused for a moment, brow furrowing in confusion as he noted the cupboard hanging at an angle, the pair of cracked tiles at his feet. Had Cyril done this? He had taken it poorly then, even worse than he'd thought he might. Shit. When Josiah went to plant his crutches next, he miscalculated the positioning, and failed to find his footing as rubber squeaked and skidded against tile, dumping him to the floor. Flat on his ass, legs sprawled to either side of him, he groaned and spat a colorful string of curses that rarely left his lips at any other time. Head hung between his shoulder blades, he pinched the bridge of his nose between thumb and forefinger, needing a moment to collect himself before he tried again.

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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Mon Nov 19, 2012 2:31 am



Oh, I get it, I can't ask you questions because you're too afraid to answer them.

As a slow, slow breath broke past Cyril's lips, an exhale of incredulity, the temperature of the room in which he stood, in which Josiah sat, plummeted with a ferocity never before known in this little cottage. They might as well have been in the North Wing, about to run into Dr. Granger, or the elusive Edward, for how violent the preternatural reaction was to those words. Did Josiah feel it, or was he wound too tight now and impassioned too much to notice, too much to heed the warning in it? Cyril didn't know, didn't care, and very few rational thoughts remained in his head as he mulled those words over and over again, feeling the rage boiling in the pit of his stomach like tar. He had turned to stare at Josiah at some point, feeling as if his own eyes were two burning points of fire in a frigid night, as if he might use them to scorch Josiah, fry him to a decisive crisp where he sat. How dare you. He wanted to open his mouth, frame those words to voice them aloud, but nothing seemed to happen. It was as if he was stuck there, turned to stone by Medusa, unable to tear his accusing gaze away from Josiah's face, even a the ex-tutor went on talking. he almost could have said anything. He could have recited the phone book for all the difference it made to Cyril's mood now. Those first words had lodge into Cyril's side like a thorn, and now the sound of Josiah's voice only drove the barb deeper and deeper. later, he might be able to absorb all he was saying and make sense of it, find some kind of reason, resolution, but it just was not happening now, as he stood there staring in barely restrained rage. If there was any time for Josiah to get a headache from being close to Cyril, now would be that time, surely, because the sheer potential energy that seemed to crackle, invisible, from his skin was a tangible presence in the room with them. To explain it in metaphor would be to dredge up images of yellow and red warning signs posted to the tall fences of electrical substations, telling of painful disaster if the fence was crossed.

Still Cyril did not move, even as Josiah stubbornly levered himself to his feet and reached for his crutches. He only regarded him from the other side of the room, and any thoughts he'd had about getting Josiah a glass of water -which in Cyril's world was almost tantamount to some tiny peace offering- had deserted him entirely. He was seeing red as his almost-lover hobbled himself to the damaged kitchen, where his note still hung, crooked, on the shiny surface of the refrigerator door. As he went, Cyril's eyes burned into his back, a lap of fire, or perhaps the burn of liquid nitrogen. That intense cold followed Josiah the whole way, gathered around him like a shroud as he surveyed the damage done in Cyril's frightened and by proxy rageful outburst. When Josiah lost his footing, the sounds of his fall followed by a torrent of curses it was as if the commotion broke the spell that had been cast over Cyril Darling. He found at once that his limbs were all moving in some autonomous mimicry of coordinated ease. The sounds of his heavy boots knocked against the floorboards ominously, hastily, as his feet stormed him across the living room, the tone changing when they met tile. It was the only warning Josiah got before Cyril's hand was knotted in his hair from above roughly. This was not a lover's game, a sensuous hair pull. There was nothing tender about the way Cyril took a hold of him as if he was little more than a ragdoll. Though he didn't wrench his head back, standing over him from behind with feet planted wide apart for stability, the outpouring of his rage and his secret hurt was not over. Far from it. Static snarled down his arm, and came to a head when his free hand swung down and slapped the side of Josiah's face from above brutally. Somewhere, in some distant fathom, the Cyril that had curled up beside Josiah some nights, drunk bourbon with him on the couch and wanted desperately to give himself to Josiah screamed an inaudible no. But there was little use in it. A vain cry from his conscience, lost beneath the sound of his hand smacking Josiah's face, only to draw back and then swing at him again with the same violence. He was scarcely even consciously aware of what he was doing, lost now, gone, his mind adrift in a red fog while his body took over and worked to protect him from the world, from Josiah.

"Don't you fucking dare!" His voice boomed from above. He had stopped slapping him with a force that was more a punch than an open-handed assault, and must surely leave bruises on Josiah's high cheekbone. What are you doing! Stop it! Stop! But now he did jerk Josiah's head back in some attempt to glare down into his face. There was nothing soft spoken about Cyril Darling now. "You think you know everything? You think you know how I feel and what I think and who I am? You don't know anything! You don't know what this place is! You don't know what it was like! You don't know how I feel!" With something of a shove, Cyril's hand was suddenly gone from Josiah's hair, and he was half stepping over him to stride past into the kitchen, a rush of denim jeans and engineer boots that could break Josiah's bones if they wanted to. His hands wanted to grip him and squeeze, wanted to wail against him until he was black and blue and red, but something was burning out inside of him as that distant voice wept some kind of low and horrible sound. If things had not been broken before, that voice whispered, then they were now. Josiah should have stayed away, if only to be safe from Cyril. Not yet calmed though, Cyril yanked open one of the top cupboards with the same force that had buckled another, and he snatched a glass from it and stubbornly jutted it out beneath the faucet, filling it with cold water. Only where he had planned to bring it to Josiah before, now he slammed it down on the countertop with a sound like a gunshot, slopping a great deal of it over the lip of the glass. He was battling for control of himself now, now that he had a moment to breathe, to think, to stop. His hands slammed down to either side of the glass, palms and fingers flat, and made the vessel dance for a second from the reverberation. The struggle was evident in his face, in the way he stretched his neck and worked to swallow, wrestled to take a breath. But the damage had been done. He knew that now. And he could not bring himself to turn around and look at Josiah, because he knew what he would see. That look. That look that people who knew what he was like would give him. That look that identified him as crazy, as dangerous.


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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Mon Nov 19, 2012 3:35 am

If Josiah had thought the air in the room couldn't get any colder, than he was wrong. As soon as the first words left his lips he felt the atmosphere change, plummeting several degrees until it wasn't just frigid anymore, but downright arctic. At this point he didn't care, couldn't feel it. He just kept right on talking, not fully realizing what he had said or that he had any reason to reconsider or take it back. As far as he was concerned, he was right, and Cyril deserved it. Cyril was scared and he knew it. There was no lying to Josiah on this, and he needed something to shake him up, make those walls come crashing down. Josiah spoke in the vain hope that something he said would be the thing to do just that. At heart, Cyril was a frightened little boy, abandoned from the crib, terrified to ever get close to anyone because it was easier than making himself vulnerable to that kind of pain and heartbreak again. He knew it, and nothing Cyril could do or say would convince him otherwise. Josiah was only trying to incite him enough that he'd admit to it, desperately wishing that he would concede to him just this once. Out of all the things he hoped might happen, what came next - Cyril's real reaction, and not some imagined pipe dream that would never come to pass - was the last thing he expected.

Sitting on the kitchen floor, cradling his throbbing head as he suffered the outpouring of Cyril's static mental fury and the ache in his jarred and rattled bones from their impact with the tile, he listened to his footfalls come closer. Surely he would help him up, hold a hand out for him to take, lead him back to the couch and insist that he sit while he got the water for him. It was what should have happened. It was what would have happened, in a normal relationship between two normal people, but it was not that, and they were not as well-adjusted or sensible as they might have been in an ideal world. There was no sense or reason to this, only madness, and it became all too clear when the hand that reached out to him did it not to hold him in some approximation of a tender caress, but to knot in his hair, straining the dark, luxurious roots in a split second warning of impending violence. He gasped, but even then he didn't see the other hand aiming for his face, maybe because some part of him refused to, shell-shocked and unable to believe that Cyril was capable of doing such a thing to him. He didn't put it past him with anyone else, should they ever attack him, but not once had he ever worried or feared that Cyril would take his rage, his hurt, the excruciating depths of his pain, out on him. He could do nothing but sit there limply as blow after blow rained down upon his unprotected face, so stunned he barely felt the pain. That would come later, when the terrible shock wore off.

He moaned, a tortured, ragged gasp of a sound, when Cyril finally relented, keeping that firm grip on his hair. Blinking up at him through a soft, watery haze of disbelief, and a heartache so complete and miserable he could feel nothing else, he only closed his eyes at the words that came next. He only heard the first part, shutting the rest out as Cyril had done to him mere moments before in the living room. "Don't you fucking dare!" And that was it. Whatever was left, he dialed out of it, going to some safe place inside his mind, desperately looking for a comfort he couldn't find. There was no safe place there, not anymore. Cyril had been that, and now he didn't know... He just didn't know. Anything. Maybe he never had. All peace eluded him, running from him, and at some point he stopped chasing it, realizing once he opened his eyes again that Cyril had let him go and moved away. In a daze, he watched his hands lift to cover his face, folding in on himself and flopping forward until the backs of his knuckles nearly brushed the tile, fingers experimentally probing the sore spots. Everything hurt. Everything was red and purple, black and blue, or it would be soon enough. He couldn't tell if there was an inch of flesh that had been spared, and from within him came a low, broken, dejected howl of a sound that gave way to tears scant seconds later. He couldn't think, couldn't breathe, but he must have been doing it somehow, because the sobs that wracked his body had to come from somewhere, some place of breath and life. Was he breathing? Or was he dead? Surely death would be more peaceful than this. But no, it wasn't. All he needed for proof of that was to look at Cyril.

He wasn't sure he could do that, but he did eventually, some time after he heard the glass slam down on the kitchen counter. He was still wailing, whimpering pitifully, the tears on his face only briefly cooling the battered flesh of his cheeks and jaw when he sat up, his eyes feeling just as hot and swollen as the rest of him as they turned to Cyril. What did you do? But he couldn't say another word, couldn't speak around the tension in his throat, and didn't dare to either. Why? Why did you do this? He wasn't looking at Cyril like he was crazy. The expression he wore only said that he didn't understand, that he couldn't grasp exactly what had just happened or why, but that it was more than he could comprehend, and that he wasn't sure it had been warranted. He should have known better, and maybe in a way he deserved it, but the second part was a fool's way of thinking. Cyril couldn't help what he'd done any more than Josiah could help what he'd said, but this wasn't the way to resolve any kind of conflict. Not now, not ever. He didn't deserve it, but the damage was done, and maybe at long last they were finally even with one another, hurting each other the only way they knew how. It took several long, arduous minutes in which Josiah managed to pick himself up off the floor without assistance, leaving the crutches where they lay as he limped over to the counter. Watching Cyril snap, feeling the full force of his anger, had been terrifying, but it was not part of Josiah's instinct to be afraid of him. What was it that he had said? I made a mistake. That's what he we do. We make mistakes. Tentatively, he reached between Cyril's hands for the glass of water and collapsed back against the refrigerator, lifting it to his lips and draining it all in one go. He didn't even have his pills. For some reason that struck him as funny, but he didn't laugh. Breathing heavily, he turned to set the glass back down on the counter and leaned forward on his elbows, letting them bear all his weight as his head drooped, red inside and out with pain.

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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Mon Nov 19, 2012 4:08 am



From the moment that Cyril's hand had knotted in Josiah's hair, he knew that he would do wrong, just as surely as he knew now that he had done, and that meant that it could not be undone. For all the fanciful fictions he had found to be true, in death, an ability to roll back time was not one of them. The evidence was in the stinging heat of the palm of his hand, where he'd repeatedly smacked him, as if somehow he could pummel understanding into him. Unable to scream and cry as might be expected of him instead, it had become the only true expression of how he felt that he knew. And there hadn't been anything in his life to change that misguided habit, bred into a boy who had learned not to cry. Like any other man, he felt and he thought. He even bled still, if he was cut. But there was no way for it all to come out of him and be free, unburdening him from all the horrors and agonies that his life was made up of. No way but to lash out. And when it happened, it was scarcely in hi control. it was like a boiler blowing, after months of steadily increasing in pressure. The gauge needle had eventually hit red, and there was nowhere else for it all to go. No amount of therapy with Dr. Forrester had ever helped him learn how to do things another way, and if anything, she had only made him worse, forcing him to retreat further and further into himself to spare his psyche the onslaught of her abuses. But for as much as he sometimes bordered on the sociopathic, when it came to sentiments of remorse, he was not entirely inhuman, not where Josiah was concerned in any case. And he knew immediately that he'd done something ghastly, something terrible, and that this might be the very end.

When Cyril heard Josiah move against the floor, his own misery and guilt serenaded by the frankly horrific sounds of Josiah's pain, both physical and mental, he did not move. he closed his eyes when he sensed his approach, every muscle in him tensing as he readied himself for the retaliation and strived to steel his mind against any ideas of deflecting it or fighting back. if Josiah was going to punch him, he'd let him. Wouldn't he? Or would it make him snap again? His muscles trembled with tension, a pre-flinch, only to be jarred in another way when Josiah did nothing but reach for the glass of water and retreat with it. Shocked for a moment, Cyril peeled his eyes open and whirled them towards Josiah for the first time since he'd beaten the only person who had ever actually mattered to him, the only person who had ever tried to understand him and know him, beyond his labels and many shortcomings. Staring, he watched Josiah drain the glass and set it aside, watched his posture fold, downtrodden and hurt. And a curious thing happened to Cyril, flipping on inside of him like a long lost switch. The weight of his remorse tore through all the fortified ramparts right to the core of him. Josiah's lack of violent reaction was more jarring to Cyril than if he'd hit him back. It meant more. It affected him more than he was ready for, or believed himself capable of, and in an instant he went from tensed for battle, to blubbering uncontrollably, not daring to get any closer to Josiah, even though a part of him desperately wanted to return to his side and gush all of the apologies he could think of, in all of the languages he'd ever learned them in.

But he couldn't move, couldn't advance. Because he knew on a deep level he hadn't experienced before that he had fucked up. he felt a kind of remorse that normal people must have had to endure. And Cyril wasn't ready for it, had never been to that horrible and desolate place of pure shame. He longed instantly for penitence, but didn't dare ask forgiveness, only backed away along the kitchen counter until he was intercepted by the wall, to the side of the back door. In a place he hadn't know before, he had no idea what he should do now, and even his knee-jerk defences seemed to evade him, for they simply weren't made for this. I'm sorry! I'm so sorry! He wanted to scream it, but all that came to him was a wordless misery that he was not equipped to handle. He could run. He could disappear. He could open that back door and physically escape, corporeal. But he wasn't sure he wanted o do that either, didn't know how to fix this now, or if it was even possible. Instead, his back abruptly slid down the wall in a rustle of cotton t-shirt and flannel over-shirt, until he came to an abrupt halt on his backside, knees drawn up to his chest.

Working in vain at stifling his tears, he hid instead, retreating to the darkness behind his hands as he played the sound of Josiah's howls and cries over and over again in his mind. They would haunt him for eternity. He knew that for a certainty in those seconds. He would never un-hear those sounds, in the same way he could never undo what he'd just visited upon the only person who should never have had to go through such a thing. I'm sorry would never really be enough to bring them back from this. If Josiah didn't just immediately leave entirely -as he should have done- then he would never fully trust Cyril again. And therein lay the irony. Where moments ago Josiah had worried that Cyril would never trust him again, now Cyril was lamenting the same idea, even as he managed to find some kind of useless, babbling mumble, muffle behind his hands. "I'm sorry... I'm sorry. I'm so sorry. I'm sorry." After a short time, the mantra trailed off, but to Cyril, he knew that those words would never be enough. Not only had he beaten him, but he'd spat terrible words at him, lies. And they were lies. Because Josiah did know Cyril, better than anyone else. And when he had called Cyril out on his fear, it had been true. And the sting of that truth had been what set him of. Fear. Fear had been the exact catalyst for all of this.


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PostSubject: Re: A Thousand Winds that Blow [Josiah]   Mon Nov 19, 2012 12:36 pm

The crack of Cyril's hand against his cheek, as it fell again and again, replayed in his mind like gunshots, making him flinch repeatedly, a delayed reaction to the actual assault from where he stood hunched over the counter. But no gunshot had ever hurt so badly, he was sure. Certainly not his own. That had been a random act of violence, and while this one wasn't exactly calculated, it was dreadfully personal, making it all the more painful. He'd pushed Cyril too far, driven him to his limit, and he had known what he was trying to do even as instinct warned him not to. Josiah's intuition rarely steered him wrong, but he had taken no time to heed it or plan his words, wanting to make Cyril hurt, to make him feel the way he did at being shut out, denied a lover's warmth and forgiveness. He should have let it go, shouldn't have said anything. Now it had all gone too far, and if Cyril couldn't look him in the eye again after what he'd done, then he wasn't sure that he'd be able to stay. By all rights, he shouldn't have. Any sane person would have been horrified by what had happened. He should have put some distance between them, dialed the phone, called the nearest friend to pick him up. And there was a split second where Josiah thought about calling Finn, asking him to come and get him, but he knew he couldn't do it, and also that it wouldn't be necessary. He knew it because he knew Cyril, knew he wouldn't do it again. This wasn't some after school special about teen violence and abusive relationships, in which the star refused to see that her boyfriend's beatings were never going to stop no matter how many times she denied it. This was real life, more complex than that, and Cyril's motivations weren't that of some sadistic deadbeat who enjoyed causing pain for its own sake. Josiah had hurt him, and he'd acted accordingly, the only way he knew how.

Josiah was still crying, albeit silently, when Cyril broke away from the counter. He didn't see the look of remorse on his face, but he could feel it, and even that word couldn't appropriately describe the waves of anguish rolling off of him, permeating the electrically charged, painfully quiet space between them. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply, shuddering, the nerves in his body waking up as the shock began to slowly wear off, fingers scrabbling uselessly at the countertop as he sought to counteract it, throat working to swallow it down. His face throbbed, raw and red, the muscles in his leg twitched and pulled, and he thought he might lose the dinner he'd eaten earlier, but that was another mess he couldn't bear to clean up right now. He refused his body permission to do it, choking down the bile rising in his gullet, and reached for the glass again, moving to refill it from the tap. The vessel shook in his trembling hands as he lifted it again, grateful for the cool passage of water as it slid down his throat. It worked to settle his stomach some, but did nothing to stifle the intensity of his emotion. Incredibly enough, he wasn't angry. He was sorry, so terribly sorry for everything, especially for giving Cyril the ammunition he needed to let things get this far. Josiah was hurt too, certainly, but he deserved that. Maybe not in the way it had unfolded, maybe not in the form of physical violence, but again, it was Cyril's way of expressing the unspeakable things that were in him, and he seemed all too aware of what he'd done, the horrible wrongness of it. He was dearly suffering for it now.

He peered over his shoulder, watching Cyril's passage to the door, and despite everything, worried that he might leave. Would he do that now? Open the door and disappear into the night, leave Josiah alone for the rest of his life, unable to face the bleak and crushing reality of what he'd done? He didn't have to. It had been a mistake. Maybe Josiah was a blind idiot for being too willing to forgive, to forget it all, but that was who he was, and he could no more hate Cyril than he could an angry, defenseless child left out in the rain and denied a parent's love, kicking and punching at anyone who came near because he didn't trust a single soul to take his pain or understand it. Cyril had been alone in the world, at least until Josiah had come along. Everyone who had ever mattered in his life had either left him or betrayed him, and then there was Simon, a spiteful, vicious creature who had fooled Cyril into believing that he cared, that he loved him, before murdering him in cold blood. That would drive anyone crazy, but Cyril had held on somehow. He wasn't insane, or mad, or unable to be saved. He was just broken, and broken things weren't entirely lost. If he couldn't be put back together again, he could be redeemed, the pieces of his fragmented soul remade into something new, stronger, with greater place and purpose than before. Maybe it was a long shot to think that way, but Josiah hadn't given up on him before, and he wasn't going to now. The reason for it was simple: he loved him, and it would take more than one instance of lashing out to change that. For all Cyril's faults, Josiah could never hate him, never be frightened of him. He knew him, understood why he had done it as the wheels in his mind slowly ticked over, giving him revelation in the aftermath.

"Cyril," he whispered, closing his eyes, feeling his way along the counter. When he came to the end of it, he opened them and looked down, at his lover hiding beneath his hands, hating the sounds of his cries. He knew there might be nothing he could do, but he wouldn't leave this room, not unless Cyril asked or scrambled away first, unable to bear his nearness. "It's alright. It's alright." It wasn't alright, but he needed to hear it, needed to know that he had not damaged things beyond repair. He wasn't getting rid of him yet. Josiah was stubborn, resilient, and if none of the other trials he'd been through hadn't completely shattered him by now, then this wouldn't either. He slid down the counter until he was sprawled out on the floor again, facing opposite Cyril, his heels against the door next to his side. He made no move to reach out and touch him, but he didn't shrink away either, putting himself closer as some small sign of his continued trust, his belief that it didn't have to be the end, that they could come back from this too, as they had from countless other things before. "I'm here. I'm here right next to you, and I'm sorry too." He didn't expect Cyril to reach for him, but if he did, he wouldn't pull away, his posture crumpled and defeated, but open and receptive all the same. "I understand. I forgive you. It's going to be alright." The words were genuine, and not just soothing platitudes, his heart in his eyes as he watched the man he loved suffer the ultimate betrayal of himself. "It will be. I've got you."

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GED Tutor - Thirty - Attached (It's Complicated) - Divorced Father - Southern Boy - Reluctantly Gifted
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