This sory has been streached out, since it was started in November 2016. But you know what? This could be the last part! You'll just have to read and find out. <3
So this is part five, and this name has be chasing me since... oh, part three? "Neoteric" simply fits this part better.
So, without further ado, here is Neoteric.
Prompt: “Dying is easy. Coming back is where things get tricky."
Perspective: First Person
Genres: Supernatural, Secrets, Drama
Length: 1083 words
-Part five of?
-Peculiarly Old-World manners
Author Notes: It's odd that this literally has all the same warnings as part one. I intended this to be a two parter, but it's going to take at least five. We'll see how my boys behave.
Part five puts us back over with Bartholomew(Ambrose), so we'll find out things through his eyes... Should be a change of pace, at least.
The Talent series begins in "Endowment" and is followed by "Crystalline", then "Cipher" and "Requital". It's best to start at the beginning so things make sense, right? And if it's been a while since you read the story, it's always good to refresh!
He offered me a smile over his tea, only to grimace at the taste.
"Why do you keep drinking it if it's that awful, Jer?" I inquired. "They surely have something else that would appeal to your palate."
He sighed. "I know, but I haven't felt the need to explore the rest of their menu."
I arched a brow at that. "How often are you here?"
"Any time I don't want to go home to an empty house after work, really. I'm just... a little stuck in my ways, I suppose." He shrugged. "In some ways, I am such an old man and yet ever young. The tea is a concession to the old man."
Sliding my coffee cup to his side of the table, I took possession of his tea. I stared down into the cup: the color was watery, just this side of sheer, and yet too green to be properly brewed green tea. And yet Jeremiah came here day after day and sat down with the same sort of tea, just a stone's throw from the doors of the hotel I called my home.
How lonely, to sit alone and stare at the façade of the building when what you seek is inside it.
"How'd you discover this place?" I asked instead.
"Oh, some of my students occasionally think it's fun to hang out with their professor." He shrugged. "They're usually how I hear about a lot of things. I really don't get out much, aside from that."
I tried to imagine how many of those college kids had fallen in love –just a little– with Jeremiah. How many had asked him to meet them for coffee? How many had asked for more? It was so odd to me how I could find myself jealous of people I'd never met.
He took a sip of my coffee and looked about ready to purr in pleasure. "Good God. What kind of coffee did you order? Because it's amazing!"
The sun dappled kisses across his straw blond hair and I swallowed hard, amazed again to see the kindred spirit before me and awed that he didn't hate me on principal.
He looked to me, a smile hitching up a single corner of his mouth. "How long do you think we should dance around it before we man up and actually talk?" he inquired, his voice gentle but hiding a core of steel in its wake.
I shrugged. "We've avoided it for a few centuries already. What's another day?"
He reached for my hand and lifted it his lips. It was a gentle, barely-there brush against my skin, but I felt it in the very marrow of my bones. "Yes, but we're here together now, so why not? I mean, I think the to-do list that talking about this was on has decomposed."
His hold was still firm and warm on my hand, and I had to take a deep breath. "Why talk about it at all, Jer? Why not just... start fresh?"
"Because old resentments and past misdeeds will horn in on whatever we try to build, Tolly. We can't run from our past; we can only grow out of it. " He sighed, releasing my hand and shaking his head. "I... I felt abandoned for so long after you left, until I realized you never expected to be leaving anyone behind."
"Maman always said we were the last. How did you find out that you had the gift...?"
He shook his head. "You don't want to hear about that right now, Tolly. Not now."
"...How did you find me?" I whispered. I had disappeared so well that it should have been next to impossible to find me.
He smiled at that. "I could feel you. Your soul is like a warmth against my skin, the scent of a campfire on the breeze. It drew me, even when I should have lost the path." A subtle shrug and then he added, "I couldn't not follow it –it was almost a part of me."
"Have I..." I swallowed hard. "Did I hurt you, by not noticing or not feeling you or not knowing that you were there?"
He sat a little further forward. "Yes and no. I knew you didn't know, so it's not something I can really hold against you. I could feel you, the ember of your soul, but then, I also knew to look for it. As your lifetimes passed, I kept watch over you –but never did I expect you to stop living. I just had to comfort myself as I could." He shrugged. "The pain was rationalized away, but it was still there for me. I just had to move away from it."
" 'How many others have there been?' " I whispered softly.
He nodded. "My... my pain got the better of me. Would you like an exact tally?"
I shook my head, feeling my heart ache in my chest. Why couldn't I keep from causing pain to the people I loved?
"I've had lovers, too, though it's been a while for me. Our physicality has needs, Tolly. I understand that better than most." A wry smile pulled at his lips. "And we've changed since we first met. Maybe we need to think about those changes and feel them out before we do more than talk."
Swallwing hard, I shook my head. "I... I don't think I can do that." So I leaned across the table and took his lips, as though I had just as much a right as I used to have.
And I waited.
You think that he's a bit of an ashole, and then he surprises us all with this.
So, I have a bit of a question. I can leave this story here and call things done for Tolly and Jer OR I can write one more chapter for the boys. Your choice, but you have to let me know. Leave me a comment, or tweet, or whatever works, darlings!
Love you all,