Conversation: Julian Howard and Alleyn Wallace
Jul. 18th, 2007 @ 12:26 pm
"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.
We sit for what seems like ages. I don't know if he needs a lover or if he needs a family, but he certainly needs a different sort of attention than anyone has been giving him. "You should probably clean yourself up. I'll take you to breakfast. You need to eat something."
I nod and sit up as he lets go of me. I stand up, feeling a lot more steady on my feet, and go into his WC. I piss and then freshen myself up as best I can. I scrub quite hard at my face, neck, and arms. Though I am unable to quite shake the feeling of residue from my retching fit the night before, I clean up fairly well, despite the obvious hangover written across my face. Alleyn seems to have done a good job of keeping my hair out of the way. Something else to thank him for, if I can ever list everything he has done for me in the last twelve hours.
I go back into his bedroom and look around for the rest of my clothes, now that I am awake enough to have noticed that I am only wearing an undershirt and my trousers, which were unbuttoned the whole morning. "Better?" I ask, displaying my slightly damp, cleaner self as I go to pull my shirt off the door of his wardrobe.
I dress while he washes up. "Better," I smile. I give him his shirt and one of my own jackets. "There's a fairly wretched coffeeshop down the way, but you don't want to show up in tails."
"I was just worrying about that," I say, and I button up my shirt then pull on his jacket. It is not too ill-fitting; I suppose our builds are not dissimilar. It does not match my trousers very well, but I can forgive that. "Good?"
"Good enough." I take him to my usual coffee house in the Grey's Inn Road. It's fairly awful, especially the tea, but the one thing they manage well is toast, which is impossible when you've only got a gas ring as a cooker. Over eggs and bacon and mugs of the swill they call tea, I ask, "Is everything going to be all right?"
I chew thoughtfully on my toast, staring down at my eggs. I'm having a little trouble eating them all, as my stomach's a bit upset still, but I am feeling better. That is not what he is asking about, though. I become aware I am likely making an odd face, thinking about this, so I look up and give him a noncommittal smile. "It... should be, I think... I hope."
"Would it be better for you to leave London for a while? Go home to your family, or maybe go back to Italy?"
"I don't know, maybe I do need to escape. But I cannot go to my family... If there's ever anything to make me feel unwell, it is going back to Southampton. And I don't have the money to go to Italy, nor do I think I really wish to... I like being in London, for all its problems. I chose to come here, rather than stay in Rome." I rub at my forehead; I still have the remains of a headache.
"Maybe something does have to change, though." I take a sip of my rather awful tea and stare into the air between his face and the tabletop, trying to think but not coming up with much of anything.
"Would your parents pay for the Royal Academy? Would you even be interested in studying at the Royal Academy? I think you need a better circle of acquaintance than you've so far found here. People rather than Forsytes."
"My grandfather might, but I couldn't say for sure. I have already asked him for so much - he sent me to school, and to Uni, and then to Italy after..." I pause, rephrasing myself, "after I left Oxford."
"I do not know if I truly wish to study there, either, though it is an idea I have entertained. What I want to do, more than anything, is just to hide myself away with my paints and canvases and work and work, without interruption. And yes, I would love to meet people who are not, as you put it, Forsytes." I shake my head. "They are, aren't they? Especially Penelope."