Conversation: Julian Howard and Alleyn Wallace
Jul. 18th, 2007 @ 12:26 pm
When I wake up in the morning I do not immediately know where I am, but I do know that my head is very, very angry at me. I shake myself out of my stupor and roll over, trying to get my eyes to focus on the room. I blink once or twice, trying to understand, as it seems I am in Alleyn's bedroom, on his bed, under his covers.
After straining my aching head I can vaguely remember him putting me to bed there the night before. For the moment, though, I'm not sure I want to try to remember anything else.
I close my eyes; when I open them again the light makes a fresh assault on my headache and I put my hands to my forehead in an effort to hold my skull together. "Bloody hell!"
When I wake, he is still asleep. Cham has always disturbed my sleep, and in any case, the situation is so bizarre I am not certain I would have slept well had I been completely sober. I wrap myself in a robe, wash up a bit, and put on the kettle to make some tea. Whilst it is steeping, I hear him moving around a bit more - he must be waking. I mix some asprin powder and plenty of sugar into a cup of tea and bring it in to him. "Drink this. I've put some asprin in it, so be sure to finish it off." He looks like death warmed over.
I take it and start drinking immediately. The idea of aspirin is sweeter than the idea of heaven right now. I get down about half of it then have to put it down; I'm starting to feel ill again. "Thank you," I say. I sit up fully and put my fingers to my temples. "Oh, God. I am so sorry." I try to think for a moment. "Oh, no..." There are very definitely some pieces missing from my memory, and that realization makes my head hurt even worse. I start drinking the tea again. "Did I do anything too idiotic?"
"If the police come, it will be for me, not for you, since they won't know where you live, and Sam can probably take care of it for me." I let that sink in for a moment. "You kissed me in the cab. The driver noticed. You also promptly vomited the moment I opened the door, so he knows you were dead drunk." If I sound severe, it's because I'm not keen on discussing my social life with the police again, even if Sam could probably handle it.
"Oh. Oh, hell. Damn it!" I put my face in my hands. "Alleyn... I..." How does one even begin to apologize for something like that? It is inexcusable. I've put us both in danger... especially him. And I kissed him, invaded him. My only goddamn friend. I remove my hands from my face and look down at the bed. "You should've left me in the gutter"
I sit next to him on the bed and rub his back. "You were drunk. I'm more concerned about that than about what you did whilst drunk. I told the driver you probably thought I was Violet Simms. If I were him, I would be grateful you managed to wait until you were out of the cab before vomiting. No reason to go to the police. Things are not at all well with you if this is the result of a party."
I give a little guffaw at the idea of my ever wanting to kiss Violet Simms, then fall silent. I choose not to answer his comment about my wellbeing; I think my sad state is enough of an answer. It seems things truly aren't well with me.
The warmth of his hands through my shirt makes me aware that I am clammy and a little cold. I lean into him and close my eyes; he feels solid and imperturbable against my own aching, upset body. Now that the feeling comes on me again, I can remember wanting to cry several times last night as he took care of me. I sit silent for a moment, absorbing a bit of comfort and reassurance from his presence and his care. Then I sigh, and it comes out shakier and closer to a sob than I expect. "Why are you so kind to me, Alleyn?"
I instinctively hold him close. "I don't know. I don't know why I do most of what I do. But there's something in you worth saving."
I crumple into his embrace, curling up inside his arms. I look up at him a little, though not so much that it would mean moving my head off his shoulder. "Thank you," I murmur, and then I put my head back down. He holds me in silence for a long time, and I surprise myself by calming down, so much so that I am brushing close to sleep again.
"I think so, yes. Mr. Tyler may be a tasteless old fool when it comes to art, but he rather likes me."
He seems to be finished eating, and I am too, so I drop a few coins on the table and escort him back to my flat. I have him sit next to me on the sofa. "What went wrong at Oxford? Is that what's really haunting you?" I ask as gently as I can.
I nod a little but do not look at him. "Somewhat. I had to leave uni because I had an emotional breakdown. And it was not one of those fainting spell, 'bit of bed rest will do you good' emotional breakdowns you hear about ladies having when they receive a shock. I was close to going mad... or maybe I did, I don't really know anymore. But I do know I am scared to death of it happening again, and that it was not an isolated occurrence. I was not normal, emotionally, before hand, and I am not now... so, it is what bothers me, somewhat, but there's sort of a larger problem of which it is the most extreme case."
I run a hand through my hair and sigh, still not looking at him. This is not
something I like to tell people... this is not even anything I like to tell myself.
The poor boy. I find myself rubbing his back again. "This life cannot be good for you. I suppose the specialists fed you a load of rubbish, too."
"Of course. No one could quite seem to decide what was wrong with me, and I was not able to help them much. The doctor they brought in at Oxford said I was drunk, and then a day later he accused of being a malingerer. I only got worse after that and they had to call my parents to come up and fetch me. And then more doctors saw me... One of them said I was obviously an opium addict; another said I had been over-exerting myself, and then in private he told me to stop seeing women so often - he was convinced I was sexually exhausted. Finally one said it was neurasthenia, and they left it at that." I laugh under my breath. "I'm not convinced. Half the advice that doctor gave me was wrong. I think the best thing he did was convince my parents to let me go to Italy. He said art would be a good relaxation, or something."
"Was he at least right on that? Was it the art? Or was it simply getting out of this country to a place where you can breathe without fear?"
I sit back, leaning on him, and close my eyes. It helps to feel that someone is there when I delve into these things. "Some of both. Painting always helps; it makes me so much happier. And being somewhere full of color and light and life was good. And Bernardo, he helped greatly. Though I was already getting better when I met him, he managed to heal things I did not know needed to be healed. He was so Italian, and so pragmatic, always telling me to do what I loved, to find release where I could, whether it was painting or fucking, no matter if the painting was bad or the act was immoral. And yes, there I could breathe without fear, as you put it. That was one of the many things that broke me down when I was at uni - discovering my irrepressible desire, and then being so afraid both of what it caused in me and what it could cause outside of me."
I sigh and let myself relax a little; I am feeling tired again. It is a lot to say.