Conversation: Alleyn Wallace and Julian Howard
Aug. 19th, 2007 @ 01:08 pm
I've avoided the appropriate for too long, and though it is pouring rain, I feel I must get out and do what I ought to have done during the week. So I find myself outside Julian Howard's building - the Lady Penelope certainly seems to have good taste. He must be home - the weather is dismal and certainly the light must be awful for painting, otherwise I would have called at his studio.
I climb the stairs and stand, dripping, umbrella in hand, before his door. Too late now to run the other direction. So I knock.
I am sitting in the parlor reading when someone knocks on my door. It takes me a moment to even realize what the noise is, but then I am at the door and opening it, asking myself over and over who could be visiting at this time of day, in this weather.
It's Alleyn; I gape at him briefly before ushering him in. Despite the meeting with Tamara Elias a few days ago, which showed that he had thought of me at least once since the fiasco after the party, I had been in the throes of doubt over whether he would ever contact me again. "Alleyn," I say. It comes out as a half-gasp, half-whisper; I would have preferred to sound less shocked. I recover and bit and step back, out of the doorway. "Please come in."
He seems surprised to see me. I don't blame him - I'm not entirely certain myself that I am here. "I thought you would here, what with the weather." I divest myself of my coat, sodden at the bottom, and my hat and umbrella. "Tamara said she would write you - has she?"
"She has. We're to meet tomorrow." I hang up his things then lead him into the parlor. "Should I be concerned?"
Of course, I already am concerned, very much so, but the fact that he has come to see me seems to ease it somehow. One of my many invented scenarios was that she would act as his proxy and tell me to leave his life; at least if he has come to say the same thing today, it will come from his own mouth.
I give him a little smile. I am, after all, quite glad he's here.
"I don't know. She could be very harsh, if she is indeed attempting to save me from myself. She loves me, in her way, and we've only just got back to normal, and now all this. She doesn't trust you. I don't suppose I would, either, if I were an external observer. You mustn't hold it against her, whatever happens." I pause, then it comes flooding out. "I am sorry about last week. In public, you see. You do understand I had to go to Golders Green, don't you? But in public, that was shabby, and I'm sorry."
His words sink into my mind slowly at first; I hear all the negatives, the 'save me from myself,' the 'doesn't trust you,' but then his apology comes in fast, and I chide myself for having doubted him, for being unhappy.
"Alleyn..." I say. "Don't apologize. I understand." I pause, frowning to myself, then laugh a little under my breath from pure relief. "I was so worried that I had offended you somehow, even though I knew it had to be like that, with us on the street... oh, I am so glad to see you."
"Oh, thank god you're not upset. I've been working myself into circles all week." I find I'm slumped on the sofa now, comfortable just in sheer relief I haven't made a complete arse of myself. "I hear Mr Lowell has left the country. Has that made your position a little easier, at any rate?"
as eclectictastes7: Letter from Tamara. Not meeting with. I got a bit confused on the dates.
I am unsure of what to say, so I remain hidden behind my hand and laugh a little to myself; it eases the grating of my nerves a bit. I peek at him from between my fingers; he does not look upset.
"Father and son..." I say, wondering if it really is that he hears in my words. I had missed it, so far. "That is not what I want either, Alleyn. I've already done that, and it's no good, in the end." I have my own father, and my grandfather, strong parental figures both of them. And then there was Bernardo; he was a father, and I the son, in an entirely different way. "All I want is friendship; I hope you know that?"
I lean forward. "Do you? Some of what you say doesn't quite sound as if you mean a relationship of equals."
I take my hand away from my face and look at him, trying to read his expression. "You have to understand that I have not gone through friendship of any sort in a long time, and the best friend I've ever had was also my lover, and a great deal older than me. I'm not much good at socializing, truly - I can be charming, and pleasantries come easy, but the rest of it... I've no idea what to do. But I do want to be your friend, and to be your equal, but for all I know that is out of my reach."
I worry too much and judge too harshly - he spent his youth avoiding people in fear and his adulthood prostituting himself. Of course his reaction to kind treatment is sexualised, even in the language. "That is for us to discover together. You are too young to be fully formed, so how can either of us know what is in your reach?"
I smile a little at him, relieved. "Thank you. I will try my best not to be an awful friend."
"Are you worried about tomorrow?"
"Somewhat. I want her to like me. Not because of Goupil, but because she's your friend. So, yes, I am a little anxious." I look around the room and remember that I am the host today. "Would you like some tea?"
"I think they do youthen; she seems to have worked her way down until she found me, and I am as close to a youth as you can get and still find someone who knows how to pleasure you. And her husband... I am unsure how much he knows. He is very much in his own world, filled with politics and his club and his own mistress. Penelope is very good at getting her allowance raised whenever she wants, but he must know it is all going somewhere. If he knows about me in particular, though, I have no idea."