Where the Heart Is (Michael)

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Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Thu Mar 08, 2012 2:49 pm

The young man, clutching the resident's handbook in one hand, listened silently to the orientation lecture. He was pale and thin and looked as though he had been born tired. The tremors and spasms that had afflicted him for three days were gone, but he still looked a bit weak. He had come past the physical withdrawal from cocaine and triumphed, barely, but the psychological addiction still lingered, and Talon Rogers was not sure he had the strength to resist it. Thanks be to God, at least here the likelihood that he would get hold of any coke was slim to none.

He ran one long, slender finger under the fine silver chain around his neck as he watched with one eye the security guard pawing through the carpetbag that held all of his worldly possessions. There was nothing fancy about anything he owned. His father had been very strict on the Bible's admonitions against storing up riches; it had been his second-favorite sermon topic (his favorite being sexual immorality, a topic which everyone present knew was directed at his son). The clothes in the bag were simple, sensible, and sturdy--a few long-sleeved button-down shirts, some pairs of khaki trousers, a few pairs of blue jeans, a couple polo shirts, a handful of T-shirts, and an assortment of sweatshirts and hoodies--and the only other pair of shoes he owned besides his trainers, which were on his feet, was a pair of polished black Oxfords. His only other possessions were his leather-bound King James Bible, a ribbon bookmark laid between the pages where he had stopped reading, and his one piece of jewelry: the fine silver chain, at the end of which hung a simple pendant, a cross made of polished rosewood. He usually wore it tucked inside his shirt, close to his heart, but today the cross hung on the outside, visible for all to see.

At last his bag was repacked, his possessions declared safe--like he would have been stupid enough to bring a hypodermic needle or a weapon--and he was told to go up to his room. It was late in the evening; he had missed dinner (fortunately he had eaten on the train, not that he had been particularly hungry), and the evening chores would be over. Talon noted listlessly that he had been assigned to kitchen chores, maybe in hopes that he would put on a little weight, and then began trudging up the stairs towards his dormitory.

As he climbed, his thoughts turned to the past, to his family and--more specifically--to his brothers. It was his biggest regret that he had given his little brother nothing when they were separated, no token of any kind, other than a tight hug and a fervent promise that nothing should keep them apart for long. When his older brother had been taken away from him, Jackson Rogers had given his younger (and, at that time, only) brother a gift--one half of a silver mitzpah medal, hanging at the end of a length of dark green ribbon. His half of the medal read "The Lord...Between Me...While We...One Fr" and now dangled from the bottom of the ribbon marking his place in his Bible. Jackson's half read"...Watch...And Thee...Are Absent...om Another" and noted the verse, Genesis 31:49. It must have cost Jackson a fortune, and Talon had no way of buying anything similar for his own little brother. The best he had been able to do was a slip of paper with the complete verse, The Lord watch between me and thee while we are absent one from another, stuffed in a pocket of his brother's bag before the boy was taken away.

And then, less than a week ago, he had accidentally found a small, polished wooden cross, identical to the one around his neck, lying in a corner of the home where they had been living. The thought of his little brother, far away from everyone who loved him, without his cross pendant, had been too much for him to bear, and he had sought to blank out the memory with cocaine. The attempt had been so successful that he had woken up a day later in the hospital, hooked up to all manner of IV tubes, with doctors and psychiatrists flitting about anxiously. It had taken him the better part of a day to convince them that he had not intended to commit suicide, that the overdose had been completely accidental, and that he wasn't depressed.

In the end, he supposed, it had worked out, because they had sent him to Highgrove. And at Highgrove, he knew he would find his salvation...one way or another.

He was so lost in thought that he almost strode past the other person on the stairwell without thinking. But, at a distance of perhaps ten steps, he happened to look up, catch sight of the figure, and freeze, his eyes widening in surprise. Of all the people he had expected to meet, this was the last one he had expected--at least, not so soon. Tears sprang to his eyes, and he dropped both carpetbag and handbook as he practically leaped up the steps, hands outstretched. A single word was torn from his throat.

"Michael!"
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Fri Mar 09, 2012 7:53 pm

It had been exactly a month since Michael arrived at Highgove… and Dilly had been right when she said he would get used to it. He eventually became accustomed to the Highgrove routine. He did the chores that were expected of him and more until the assistants told him to leave. He wasn’t doing the obsessive nightly cram sessions for school anymore because he didn’t want to get in trouble by staying up later, although he was still studying during the day. And the free time that wasn’t spent studying was taken up by exercise- because he was more than a little compulsive, running around the grounds and laps in the pool became a strict training regiment… both of which decreased his anxiety dramatically. This, and seeing Dilly whenever he could, was most likely the reason for not having a single anxiety attack since he walked through Highgrove’s doors. Perhaps he was finally in synch. He was told by Noreen when the Elders weren’t looking that girls were always right, and he didn’t believe her, but in this instance… he was starting to rethink his ideology. When he first met Dilly and she told him that it’d eventually get better, he wanted to believe her, but didn’t at the time. Now though… it wasn’t so bad.

Of course, none of this made him miss Talon any less. Talon was pretty much every kind of support imaginable rolled into one person- he was Michael’s brother, best friend, confident and person to strive to be when he got to be two years older. He had no idea what he would do if Talon did what he swore he wouldn’t- disappear out of his life forever… like every other one of his family members had. But the love that strung each of their hearts was strong enough to reach the three hundred and twenty miles that separated Grove’s End from Felixstowe. Even though Talon wasn’t with him at the moment, Michael knew that they’d always be brothers- even if they were on opposite ends of the Earth. Sometimes when he would think about Talon and get upset that he wasn’t around at the moment, he’d imagine his brother’s arms around him and he was usually fine after that. He didn’t know who he would be without Talon and his love- he probably wouldn’t be alive.

It occurred to Michael long before that he hadn’t written to Talon yet, but he had other ways of telling his brother all about his experiences. Michael developed another activity in his time at Highgrove- the staircases seemed completely vacant after evening chores, so every two weeks or so, he would speak to Talon’s heart by a messenger he knew he could trust- God.

After being released from chores in the kitchen, the small boy bolted as fast as he could without running to the empty stairwell. He looked both ways as he peeked past the wall to see that the coast was clear. What he was doing wasn’t deviant- he just didn’t want to disturb or annoy anyone. That would be another thing for his OCD to make him feel guilty for through repetition. He smoothed out the shirt he was wearing- a dark green turtle neck that was once Talon’s when he was young enough to have his clothes picked out by Joanna. A good percentage of his clothing were Talon-hand-me-downs because Timothy Rogers hated spending money only slightly less than nonbelievers, homosexuals and fun. Michael kneeled on one of the stairs and brought both of his palms together as if he were at the Old Chapel, but it was raining that night, so this would have to do.

“Lord, please allow me to thank you for everything you give to the world,” His meek, child-like voice began. “Thank you for clean water… laughter… soap… moments when you’re unafraid to be alive... symmetrical wall decorations… oh, and love too. That’s pretty important. Speaking of love,”

Michael stood up from his spot on the stairs, his back facing the entrance. “I love my brother Talon and there are so many things I haven’t told him yet. I…” He rocked back and forth from his toes to heels innocently. “…I was hoping that you could deliver a message to him for me. Not necessarily to his ears, but to his heart. To let him know that I still love him and that I’ll never stop. In return, I promise I’ll be really, really good. Thank you, Father.”

He crossed his heart and cleared his throat, and suddenly the atmosphere changed- it was as if he were speaking to his brother face to face. His eyes brightened and his face conveyed the excitement he felt. When he first spoke, he even waved as if Talon were standing right in front of him.

“Hi, Talon! I hope you’re not too lonely at St. Adrian’s- have you made any friends yet? Well, of course you have- you’re cool and not awkward… unlike me. What are you doing while you’re over there? I hope you’re okay… S-So,” He touched the back of his neck as he thought of what to say. “I made two friends here- Dilly and Elias… and I sort of know my five roommates. One of them’s named after St. Ninian- he’s quiet. I haven’t spoken to Nate at all, but I guess he’s nice. Chance is scary when he’s angry but laid-back when he’s not. Harry’s terrifying, but don’t worry- he hasn’t… hurt me or anything. And Elias is my bunkmate- we talked a Sunday while I was studying for math and even though he doesn’t like to talk much because of his stutter, I think he understands a lot. He also draws wicked pictures of random stuff! I was told his old bunkmate and the guy who had my bed last had a blood fetish. And Dilly…”

Michael’s cheeks flushed with more color the more he tried to force his words out. As his choppy sentences continued, his voice became quicker with more excitement and spun around in frantic circles as he tried to describe her:

“She’s- she has OCD, and she looks really young for her age as well- and-and she doesn’t like germs either! And she has speech impediments! And when I told her that nothing was wrong with her she said, “That's the sweetest thing anyone's ever said to me.”

This, of course, was in Dilly’s voice.

“And-and-and she’s so… sweet and… kind… and… sincere… and I… I…”

Michael’s running in circles slowly turned into pacing in circles as he described Dilly further. He then stopped, still with his back toward the stair’s entrance and oblivious that anyone was watching him. He took a deep breath in as his cheeks became a visible pink.

“I really… really like her.” This sentence was intense and drawn out, because he hadn’t openly admitted to it up until then. “She makes me feel… all these things I’ve never felt before. And I don’t know what to do or how to act or… er,”

He blushed some more. “A-Anyway, that’s really all that’s going on right now. I started exercising though- running and swimming. I think that’s why I haven’t had any anxiety attacks. Can you believe it? But still…”

Michael stopped speaking, and the aura of the ‘conversation’ changed. His shoulders sank slightly as his fist clenched the collar of his shirt… and tears, one by one, started to pour out of his eyes no matter how much he tried to hold them back.

“I miss you loads,” He whimpered from underneath his sleeve. “A-And I wish you were here.”

"Michael!"

Talon’s little brother didn’t have much time to turn around and process the voice behind him- he only saw a pair of familiar arms stretch out and envelop him in a tight embrace. He didn’t have the slightest clue who was hugging him, but the confusion only lasted for a split second… until he smelled vanilla and old books- warm and emanating off of a shirt he recognized. Everything came back to him- bonding in the children’s home, the telling of bible stories, hugs after beatings, love…

In disbelief, Michael frantically lifted his head off of Talon’s chest to see his face. Then sobbed in his shirt all of the tears that he held back for a month… the joy and overwhelming excitement overtaking him.

“Talon, Talon, Talon, Talon, Talon, Talon, Talon!”
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Fri Mar 09, 2012 8:31 pm

Talon could hardly believe it. He had hoped to run into Michael as soon as possible--he had imagined their reunion hundreds of times--but he had never in a million years expected to find him on the stairwell. But yes, this was Michael--innocent, youthful Michael, wearing one of Talon's hand-me-downs (actually, he was pretty sure it had been his favorite shirt at one time), and fitting in Talon's arms as though they were a part of one another. He saw the tears falling from Michael's eyes, and felt them, too, but it didn't matter, because he was crying, too.

"Oh, Michael...oh, baby..." he murmured, burying his face in his little brother's hair and holding him tightly, afraid to let him go in case he vanished. For a fleeting instant he wished Jackson could be there, too, to put his arms around them both, but he let the thought disappear instantly. Jackson had never met Michael, and while Talon was sure his older brother would love his younger one--for who wouldn't love Michael Courtenay?--he had no part in this joyous, tearful reunion.

Getting his tears under control at last, Talon pulled back slightly, still holding Michael's shoulders, to study him. "Let me look at you. Oh, Michael, I feared I'd never see you again. I was so thankful when they brought me the papers..." He shook his head and smiled. "I missed you so much."

He ignored his carpetbag and the crumpled pages of the resident's handbook and sat down on the broad stair, patting the spot next to him. "Care to join me? We have a whole month to catch up on." His eyes twinkled. "I would have written to you, but Matron--the old cow--wouldn't let me. Said I had to give you time to settle in before I wrote and made you discontent. I guess this place must be pretty exciting if you didn't write to me." He winked to show his brother he was teasing.

"So--" he began, and then stopped, his smile fading. He had been about to ask Michael to tell him all about Highgrove, about his friends--for surely he had made at least one--and about his classes, where he did his chores, which dormitory he was in, whether or not his roommates were kind to him. And Michael would have told him, he was sure--they had no secrets.

Except one.

Talon turned to face Michael and took both of the younger boy's hands in his own, his face grave. "Michael," he said softly, "I have a confession to make. I...I've been deceiving you almost since you joined our family. Can you ever forgive me?"

He hoped--he prayed--that Michael would forgive him, that the boy wouldn't blame himself or think that he had driven Talon to do...the things he had done. But in truth, Talon had been involved in drugs and prostitution since he was eleven. It had cost him one brother, and he was terrified it would cost him another, but he had told the truth to the interviewer--he didn't have the strength to stop his habit on his own. He needed professional help.
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sun Mar 11, 2012 5:52 pm

In Michael’s earlier transitioning nights, sometimes he’d dream about the exact scene happening now: He’d dream about turning around and being enveloped in Talon’s warm, safe arms once again… feeling his big brother’s heartbeat in his ear as his head fell on his chest… breathing in the sweet and musty scent that Talon always had… and when he’d wake up to only a blanket and sheets around him, he’d start crying. At other times, he’d imagine Talon’s arms around him when a spike of anxiety was caused by some crust left on the dinner plates, and that would both calm him and make him sad afterward because it wasn’t truly happening at that moment.

Now, though… it was. Talon was here, and so was his voice, his warmth, his tears dripping into Michael’s hair… everything. He was holding Talon just as tightly, and he was wailing too hard to say what he wanted:

I missed you!
I love you!
You’re real!

As Michael sobbed, he was hiccupping and occasionally holding his breath between them, only to make the sounds more irregular. The choppy breathing and whimpering that wrenched from his throat resembled a lost child’s who had finally been found. He tried to make his crying quiet, but he couldn’t do it. His chest achingly squeezed out all of the “I miss Talon’s” that entered his heart since he arrived at the home.

He was in a race between breathing and speaking as his words were chopped in half by the fitful bouncing of his diaphragm. Every sound was separated by a hiccupping breath:

“I-I-I th-thought I-I-I’d never-r-r s-see you a-a-again-n. I-I th-thought I’d be a-a-a-a-al-”

Alone again.

Saying this just made him cry harder, and he pulled himself closer to Talon, trying to control the heartwrenching sobs that were ripped from his throat. He spoke of his worst fear- being abandoned… for a third time. But Talon was there… so everything would be alright.

When Talon drew back to look at him, he tried to pull his chin underneath the turtleneck to hide himself from Talon’s gaze, horribly embarrassed. He thought he was barely recognizable, with all of the tears running down his cheeks and whatever else leaking out of his nose. But he was starting to calm down finally- his breathing was slowly becoming regulated. When Talon spoke, he looked up at him with huge, wet eyes.

“I missed you too,” The sound of his words were between a squeak and a whine, his bottom lip quivering. “A whole lot.”

When Talon motioned for him to sit beside him, the small boy instantly sat on his lap, cuddling into his chest. He breathed a tiny sigh and he was suddenly very tired- all of that crying wore him out. He held Talon’s shirt in a gentle fist and listened to Talon’s words as if they were a lullaby or a Bible story to help him get to sleep and floated off. But he instantly sat up at Talon’s last comment:

“No, no!” He shook his head frantically. “I’ve been talking to you through God- I asked him to deliver messages to your heart so that you knew I was thinking of you.”

He smiled genuinely. “I’m not keeping secrets. Don’t worry.”

And just as suddenly as it came, the aura of the conversation changed. It was if the sun burned out and that was left was a cold, desolate feeling- when Talon put a grave and solemn expression on his face, he knew something wasn’t right.

“W-What’s wrong?” Michael asked innocently and wide-eyed as both of his hands were taken. “Am I in trouble?”

‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad.’
‘You did something bad on March 8th, 2012.’
‘You don’t know what it is, but Talon might be mad at you for it!’
‘You did something bad.’

"I have a confession to make. I...I've been deceiving you almost since you joined our family. Can you ever forgive me?"

“Yes,” Michael answered immediately, without really thinking.

Whatever Talon did couldn’t be that bad… right?
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Tue Mar 13, 2012 1:55 pm

Talon's heart wrenched at Michael's sobbed admission. Now more than ever he wished he had defied Matron and actually written to his little brother before now. Even though, until his accidental overdose had landed him in the hospital trying to convince a phalanx of staff he wasn't suicidal, he hadn't seen any way of getting into Highgrove and meeting up with his brother again, he had never given up on the idea that, somehow, he would. He had even tried looking into the possibility of adopting Michael, but he soon gave that idea up--reluctantly--when he learned that he had to be twenty-one to adopt a child, by which time Michael would be nineteen and out on his own.

There had been times he had fantasized about getting adopted by loving, caring, accepting parents, but before they signed the paperwork, telling them about Michael and insisting he would not go without his brother, and the couple rescuing Michael from his incarceration and taking them to a home in the country. Usually, however, the farm to which they arrived in his daydreams was populated by unicorns and kittens and rainbows, which he supposed was his inner realist (or cynic) pointing out that such a thing was incredibly unlikely. He was sixteen, a drug addict and a refugee from a church community that wasn't isolated enough to be a cult but wasn't integrated enough to be normal, no longer young and no longer innocent. Nobody would ever want to adopt him. Michael was different. Michael was young and sweet and impressionable and it was not outside the realm of possibility that someone would want to adopt him someday. As selfish as it was, Talon hoped he wouldn't be, because he couldn't bear to be parted from his brother. Ever.

"Never, doushenka," he said softly, the Russian endearment rolling off his tongue as though he had been born in the country. He'd always had a facility with accents, but while he usually used foreign languages in his singing, he had a small cache of words he had stored up to bestow upon his little brother. "I would never leave you. Don't you remember me telling you, that first night you spent with us, that you would never be alone again?" He smoothed Michael's hair tenderly. "I love you more than anything in this world, and nothing would have kept us apart for long."

Michael tried to pull away when Talon tilted his chin, and it worried him--had something happened? An injury...an illness? But when he did look up, Talon was relieved to see that nothing had changed. He was probably just embarrassed about the fact that he was crying, even though Talon had never cared about that before. His eyes softened and smiled at his brother's words.

When Michael sat on Talon's lap, he wrapped his arms around his brother's shoulders lightly and rested his chin on Michael's head, rocking him slightly without even thinking about it. It seemed perfectly natural to hold Michael, to comfort him, and to sit silently for a moment and revel in his nearness. The posture was one that had caused several of the girls in the Church of the True Light to giggle behind their hands, and to tease Talon about his "itty-bitty-baby-brother" out of earshot of the church elders--and of Michael. Nobody in the church had wanted to hurt Michael's feelings, and the girls also knew that if Talon got wind of anyone hurting Michael, there would be hell to pay, and its chosen debt collector was Talon Rogers.

He laughed lightly at Michael's defensiveness. "I was just teasing, you know that. I knew in my heart you were all right. And every night when I said my prayers, I asked God to watch over you, to make sure you were happy and safe, and to let you know that I would be there for you as soon as He showed me the way." His eyes crinkled in a smile. "I got your messages."

The expression that fell over Michael's face made Talon curse himself silently. He should have approached this more gently, should have tried to be less abrupt in telling his brother...he knew that look in Michael's eyes. He was already blaming himself for Talon's serious mien. God alone knew what he would say...but Talon had to tell the truth. He couldn't keep hurting his brother.

"Yes."

The immediate response actually worried Talon more than if Michael had asked for more details. "Just like that? Without knowing what I'm about to say?" He shook his head. "Matya mou, I don't want you to think you have to forgive me. If...if after what I say, you don't think you can forgive me, tell me. I won't be mad." I deserve no less, he added silently.

He took a deep, steadying breath, and then began to explain, in a soft voice. "Michael...the reason I'm here is because...because I'm a drug addict. It's not anything you did. I...I met a friend who started me on it when I was eleven. Cocaine. I...I'm what's called a mainliner--I use a needle and inject the cocaine directly into my veins. Or I did. I've been without it for five days now. I'm past the physical withdrawal, but I still have to overcome the mental addiction, and that's why I'm here--to get that help."

Briefly, he closed his eyes, then opened them and went on. "To feed my addiction, my...my friend who got me started--well, I thought he was my friend--he showed me how to get the money. I...I was working as a p-prostitute, Michael. I...I sold my body, myself, for my drugs, or the money to get them."

That had been the hardest part for him to get out. He hated to tell his brother that he had not only lied to him, but debased himself so badly. Not that Talon had ever believed in the strict injunctions against sex before marriage, but somehow, the things he had done made him feel worse. And it was hardest of all wondering if Michael would hate him for it.

Only the last bit to tell now. He could do this, he could and he would. "The last straw...the reason the staff at the home found out, and the reason I was sent here...I found...I found this, the other day." Reaching into his pocket, he extracted the small, polished rosewood cross and held it out to Michael, balanced on the palm of his hand. "All of a sudden I couldn't bear the thought of you being here, alone, thinking I'd forgotten you, and without your cross, and...and I snapped." Tears welled up in his eyes, but he tried bravely to finish. "I'd always...I did cocaine because it made me forget, it helped me escaped how cruel Father was to me, and so I reacted badly to being scared for you. I went out and got some cocaine, and I tried to give myself enough that I wouldn't be able to think for a while. Only I overdid it..." He took a deep, shuddering breath. "I woke up three days later in the hospital. I nearly died. It was my fault, not anybody else's--especially not yours--but that was why I decided I had to tell you."

He bit his lip, the tears finally spilling out of his eyes as he looked down at Michael. "My addiction already cost me one brother," he whispered. "I couldn't bear it if it cost me another. Michael, a stór, can you ever forgive me for the horrible things I've done?"


((OOC: "Doushenka" = "Little Soul" (Russian); "matya mou" = "my eyes" (Greek); "a stór" = "oh treasure" (Irish). Just FYI.))
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sat Mar 17, 2012 11:12 pm

While he was sobbing, Michael didn’t really keep track of what he was saying- the sentence about being alone was the only decipherable one. He tried to say how much he missed Talon and that he loved him and that he read the slip of paper Talon wrote him every night before he went to bed, but all of that came out as blubbering, stammering gibberish. It sounded like he was having the worst anxiety attack of his life when he really wasn’t- usually when that happened he cried, and the hyperventilation prevented him from speaking except for bits of shaky, nonsensical sound. Not being able to talk was what embarrassed him, he reasoned.

Despite Talon’s thought that Michael would leave him as soon as he turned eighteen, the younger boy prayed since he met him that Talon wouldn’t send him away once he became of age. Very recently, he had begun to do some thinking about what would happen after Highgrove- he imagined living with Talon in an apartment together, getting jobs and paying their way through school- in Talon’s case, acting school… and in Michael’s, trade school. It sure would be hard, but at least they’d be together. But of course, this idea was shot down as soon as it appeared- Timothy Rogers would have wanted Michael to go to a ‘real college’. (Of course, he would have wanted the same for Talon, but Talon would have been strong enough not to listen) And, for now, that’s what he aspired to do… even though something was screaming at him to do different.

Surprisingly, Michael didn’t have the same fantasy about finding loving parents- since he was an orphan for most of his life, and that his first foster parents saw him as a farmhand instead of a child, he really didn’t have a solid concept of how parents were supposed to act. When he was fostered by the Rogers, he was too marveled at the fact that he had parents to pay much attention to their actions. Because of his forgiving nature, he reasoned that Timothy beat him because he deserved it and that Joanna listened to her husband because those were the rules. (However, whenever he saw Talon get caned, his dormant anger flared. He hated when Talon got hurt just as much as Talon hated him getting hurt. The only difference was that he was always unable to defend Talon- while Talon was always able to protect him. This uselessness was another source for his bubbling self-hatred.)

Talon was wrong about something else too- if someone randomly came along and wanted to adopt Michael but wouldn’t take Talon because of how jaded they thought he was… the smaller boy would refuse and fight them if he had to, no matter how kind they were. The courts mostly took into account the wants of older children, and Michael was fourteen now- way passed being incompetent about the matter. He wouldn’t leave Talon for anyone else- even if he found his biological parents and were so nice they barfed rainbows. Talon was his brother, and he wasn’t planning on leaving him any time soon, especially since they’d just reunited- they were so attached that one month apart felt like ten years. If Talon felt it was selfish for him to want to hold on to his brother, then Michael must’ve been selfish too.

If he hadn’t been crying before, he would have exclaimed some kind of awe-filled compliment about Talon’s skill with accents and other languages: ‘Wow! Is there anything you can’t do?’ But in response to the Russian name that he had no idea the meaning of, (Talon had probably told him before, but he forgot) his wide eyes conveyed the unspoken sentence perfectly. At Talon’s question, Michael’s mind took an inventory of what the first night at the Rogers’ was like: he got caned for not using proper table manners, which he didn’t have to do at the Wallace’s- and again in the morning because he wet the bed. Up until then, he’d never been hit- in the home it was illegal and at the Wallace’s, Granpa had screamed at him for careless mistakes but he surprisingly never laid a hand on the boy despite his frustrations. Because of this, Michael had a very low pain tolerance that wasn’t built up very much by the time three years had passed. But being in Talon’s arms, much smaller then, telling him that he would never be alone again was the best thing that had ever happened to him, and made getting whacked repeatedly with a heavy piece of wood completely worth it.

“Uh-huh. I’ll never forget it,” He said, breathing normally and buried into Talon’s shirt. “I love you more than anything too- I think you’re the reason I’m alive.”

Sitting on Talon’s lap and being held in his arms was what finally calmed him down. The position had become sort of a trademark of theirs- after an anxiety attack, or if the boys just wanted to, Michael often ended up curled against Talon’s chest while being rocked back and forth. This seemed to be a source of comfort for the both of them because both hugging, being hugged and enjoying tender nearness was a way for them to escape their father. The small boy sighed calmly into Talon’s chest while cradling a piece of his shirt in his fist like a stuffed toy. Crying so much earlier had worn him out, and his eyelids slowly started to sink- he almost wanted to take a nap, but he was screaming at himself to stay awake and talk to Talon more. He realized that, truly, the only place he felt safe was in Talon’s arms.

Soon, though, he was jolted awake to explain himself and then beamed when he learned that God spoke to Talon. He was overjoyed that Talon knew that he wasn’t alone in St. Adrian’s, and that the messages were delivered. He silently thanked God for that too- in addition to answering his prayers and leading him to Talon three years prior.

The sudden turn of the conversation sparked some anxiety, but not nearly enough for an attack. When both of his hands were grasped, his eyes conveyed mild panic and his stomach churned as he tried to comb his brain for the answer. His mind went straight to where it always did when there was a problem with anything- what he did wrong or what he could have possibly done to cause it. He couldn’t think of anything at the time, but there had to have been something!

Michael would have answered ‘Yes’ even if he had thought about it for a longer period of time than one second. He couldn’t think of anything imaginable that he would actually blame Talon for, let alone hate him for it… as his brother was suggesting it could lead to. He bowed his head and blushed at Talon’s words, embarrassed that he hadn’t thought of asking questions- not even general ones like ‘What do you mean?’ or ‘What did you lie about?’

“I didn’t forgive you because I had to,” Michael said to his shirt. “I said that because I wanted to.”

Talon’s confession made his eyes widen, but only slightly. In all the years he’d known his brother, his mind was frantically searching its limited knowledge about psychology for how in the world Talon dealt with everything… seemingly so well. Michael’s anxiety, although present before he was fostered, was the way the fear of Timothy Rogers manifested itself. The terrible brew of feelings that simmered in the Rogers home made him obsessively study, have anxiety attacks and organize everything he could without getting beaten. He wondered for years what Talon did with his rage, his fear, his sadness that his own father would never accept him for who he was simply because of who he was attracted to. Talon had much worse of a life than Michael- and yet he always seemed so strong and… together. Now he knew the answer- because he had a very intense, life-threatening escape plan.

The second revelation surprised him as well because of how sheltered he was- up until then, he thought all prostitutes were female. If Talon had been able to read minds, (Which Michael believed he could do) he’d be relieved to find out that none of his brother’s thoughts were hysterical- there was mild shock, but no harsh judgments attached.

The seriousness of Talon’s words deepened when he told that he almost died because of the cocaine- and that was what made Michael’s eyes water. His surprised expression melted into sorrow- he now knew what Talon did while he was at home studying. He now knew how he dealt with his life. And he blamed himself for not recognizing it and not getting him help (ACTUAL help- not the Church’s help) and that Talon nearly killed himself because of how worried he was… for him.

All of this negative self-talk evaporated into thin air when he saw tears run down Talon’s cheeks. Talon very rarely cried- at least in comparison to Michael, so this was what brought the look of shock back on his face. He thought of what he could say to make Talon feel better- Talon usually did most of the comforting… a fact that sickened the boy to no end. Michael’s heart and facial expression, interestingly, mirrored Talon’s whenever he cried- a gentle smile with eyes glowing of sincere compassion. In response, he knew that their current position wouldn’t convey his message, so he hopped off of Talon’s lap and walked behind him to kneel. He then drew his arms around Talon’s shoulders and rested his chin on top of his hair- blonde, airy and tickling his cheeks.

“This is kind of sad, coming from me… but you worry too much.” Michael giggled.

He sank further against Talon by resting his chin on top of his shoulder, hugging his neck tightly as if he were on a piggy-back ride and shifting his weight back and forth so that he could rock Talon for a change. His voice was mellow and loving:

“Why did you think I wouldn’t forgive you? When you told me, the first things that went through my mind was how much you had to suffer to have to resort to cocaine. I’ve always wondered how you dealt with everything, and now I know. And I’m really, really glad you told me because I was worried about you.”

He lifted his chin to find Talon’s eyes and smiled, arms still locked around him. “I hope the next time you’re in such a dark place… you can trust me enough to tell me so I can try to help you. I’m always going to love you, no matter what. Even if you murdered someone, I wouldn’t hate you- I mean, I’d be sad… and really scared, but I wouldn’t hate you.”

His voice became somber after that as he tried to block out all images associated with it. If he thought about it too much, he’d start crying again.

“I just… don’t want you to die,” He admitted sadly. “You’re the only family I have, Tal. I don’t want to lose you.”


((I'm REALLY antsy for Talon's reaction to this one... so muses provide, can you do this one before Dilly's? *does not change that she LOVES Dilly to death... so to show it, she puts gloves on and offers a very clean banana-chocolate chip muffin to her*))
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Mon Mar 19, 2012 2:18 pm

Talon Abiram Rogers, the dragon-child, the boy without fear. How many times in his life had he been called that? Even his own flesh-and-blood family believed him to be fearless. It had driven his mother to distraction with worry that he would get himself into trouble (which he did). It had made his father furious because his punishments were ineffective. It had made him a hero in Michael's eyes. He had no idea what Agnes thought about it, or even if she did. Friends, enemies, and clients alike had known you could throw Talon into any situation at all, and he would handle it with nonchalance. Nothing scared him.

Except that Talon knew otherwise. Despite the confident aura he projected to the rest of the world, deep down inside, he was just a scared little kid who wanted his parents to love him, who wanted--needed--someone to take care of him. Boys didn't cry, he had been told from the age of two, and for a number of years he would stoically bear up under whatever punishment his father gave him and then climb a tree to cry, or bury his face under his pillow at night. He had never needed to be the strong one, because Jackson would comfort him and make him feel better. After Jackson was ripped away from him, Talon hadn't cried again. He had only taken to the cocaine, harder than ever before, and it had given him a kind of liquid courage. It had never occurred to him to run to Agnes for protection; she was a Good Christian Girl, and he considered her, like their mother, too brainwashed by Timothy Rogers to understand and care for Talon.

And then Michael had come into his life, and everything had changed. Well, not everything; the psychological addiction to cocaine was too strong to be overcome, no matter how much he loved his little brother. But for the first time in his life, Talon had had a reason to be strong--and a reason to be afraid. His fear showed less often, if ever; the closest he had come to showing fear had been when he learned of Michael's "exorcism" in progress, and he had scared Agnes because abject terror had manifested itself as black anger. But it was always there: fear that something would happen to Michael, fear that his father would demand the boy be returned to his group home (although why was hard to fathom), fear that they would be forever separated. And his deepest, darkest, and greatest fear had been that Michael would react badly to finding out what Talon had done.

So when Michael slid off of his lap after Talon managed to get the whole story out, he feared the worst. He dropped his head onto his chest, the tears flowing faster. Michael did hate him--he was afraid of him--he didn't want to be anywhere near Talon again. He was glad he had told the truth...but it hurt him so badly that it had cost him his little brother, the one person he loved more than life itself. He hadn't even heard Michael's earlier statement.

Suddenly, however, he felt two small, thin arms encircle his shoulders and the gentle feeling of someone resting their cheek on top of his head. In an instant he was seven years old again, crying because he had fallen off of his bicycle and skinned his knees so badly that he couldn't walk, only to feel the strong arms of his brother lifting him up and bearing him inside to comfort and care for him. Only this time, it wasn't Jackson whose arms held him in a loving embrace--it was Michael.

All of his terror, his fear, his pain and his hurt melted away, like the spring thaw, as Michael spoke in his gentle, warm voice. He doesn't hate me. He doesn't hate me and he isn't afraid of me. He's afraid for me. Nobody's been afraid for me since... The tears were still falling, but a smile slowly stole its way across his face.

When Michael looked into his eyes, Talon responded instantly, wrapping his little brother in a bear hug and bringing him back down to sit next to him on the step, Michael's arms around his neck, his arms around Michael's waist. He bent over and rested his forehead against Michael's.

"I'm sorry," he said in a voice still husky with tears. "I should have trusted you...of course I should have trusted you. But...well, you may be my little brother, but you're so sweet and innocent and good--all the things I haven't been in a very long time. I thought at first that you couldn't forgive something like that. And...well, I was afraid."

He smiled a little. "You know, maybe better than I do, that one can't control one's fear. And my biggest fear was that I would lose you--that something would happen and I wouldn't have you with me anymore. I've been in a dark place since they took Jackson away, and that was my fault. I've never forgiven myself for that. And then I was afraid I would lose you, too, and that would be my fault, and...well, I wouldn't have had anything to get better for, then."

“I just…don’t want you to die. You’re the only family I have, Tal. I don’t want to lose you.”

Talon hugged Michael just a little tighter, closing his eyes briefly. "Oh, baby. I don't want to lose you, either. I promise I'm not going anywhere, ever again, and I will never do anything to hurt you again. I promise."

Closing his eyes, he began to sing softly, his voice still a little wet with tears, but his tone true. "I see the questions in your eyes
I know what's weighin' on your mind
But you can be sure I know my part
'Cause I'll stand beside you through the years
You'll only cry those happy tears
And though I'll make mistakes
I'll never break your heart

I swear
By the moon and the stars in the sky
I'll be there
I swear
Like a shadow that's by your side
I'll be there
For better or worse
Till death do us part
I'll love you with every beat of my heart
I swear...
"
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Thu Mar 29, 2012 6:29 pm

Talon was Michael’s hero. He was the warm, safe arms that gathered him up after a beating. He was the image of a boy standing tall against an ogre with a huge walking stick, shoulders wide and taking every hit without a single tear or scream. He was strong, smart, talented and unafraid- everything Michael wasn’t but wished he could be. In the three years that the tiny boy was practically a Rogers, it seemed that with every beating, Talon grew stronger and Michael got weaker- this may have been because Talon forced himself to craft a suit of unbreakable armor to protect Michael and to continue to live, in addition to the cocaine use, and walking away after a caning with nonchalance (and baffling/angering Timothy) was an accomplishment in itself. Michael, on the other hand, was submissive, anxiety-ridden and completely unprepared for the house they lived in. In a way, he became his own enemy- instead of trying to create a reason to be strong, he obsessed over being good enough for Timothy… which never worked in the end and had the potential to destroy him if he stayed in that house longer. If he were fostered by the Rogers and Talon wasn’t there to love him… he didn’t have a doubt in his mind that he would have either run away or killed himself.

Michael knew that Talon’s strength and courage was never a façade- the only thing worse than being a ‘womanly’ son in Timothy Rogers’ eyes was to be a gay son… and with that label, one would need to have both a superhero-like pain tolerance and an unyielding spirit to boot. (Both of which Talon attained.) His little brother knew that all of his outward strength was real and necessary to endure in the cruel confines of their previous home… and yet, he didn’t say anything about it, but he knew that there must have been something else swirling underneath Talon’s unbreakable shell. Everyone wanted their parents to love them- it was human nature. Talon didn’t say much, or anything, about the matter… but Michael knew somehow that he was hiding a lot. Michael didn’t have a problem with their parents because they were all he knew about what a mother and father were, and that he internalized all of the punishments and thought it was his fault, not Timothy’s. Talon felt different- and he should have. He got through the horrors of their house because he needed to be strong to survive and knew that he had to protect Michael- his little brother on the other hand was weak-spirited and fragile, but his energy to move forward came from both Talon’s love and the naïve faith that everything would be okay tomorrow, or the next day. That was their main difference.

And now he knew. Now he knew how Talon dealt with everything- he had to turn to cocaine to power up the bravery he needed to face their father, and to escape from him. He knew he must’ve been pretty desperate for it too, because of the prostitution and the needle injections. Michael couldn’t imagine how painful that must’ve been- physically and mentally. He had multiple anxiety attacks whenever he needed to get one flu shot, so he had no idea what he would do if he had to get a shot every day just to feel better.

When Talon cried, he reacted as instantly as Talon did when he cried. He jumped off of Talon’s lap and wrapped his arms around his neck. He noticed that Talon cried a lot harder during that span of time, but was glad that it subsided when he felt the hug. Hugs made everything better- at least to Michael. He wondered for a moment why Talon was so much more upset when he got off of his lap- it certainly couldn’t have been that he thought Michael would leave him there… could it? The younger boy had his fair share of freak-outs on that subject as well- he asked Talon sometimes if he would ever leave him and the answer was always the same. Talon knew Michael would never leave him… right? He smiled- perhaps he’d need a little reminder, like Michael did sometimes.

He affectionately rested his cheek on top of his head and swayed back and forth, like Talon would do if the roles were reversed. Michael definitely hugged Talon a lot- mostly to greet him after a long day at school or to thank him or to respond to something Talon said that he didn’t know the words or for no reason at all. However, he never had to comfort Talon because his brother had never shown that kind of ‘weakness’. If he had, though, Michael’s arms would be around him instantaneously, no second thoughts.

He giggled as Talon embraced him and as their foreheads met, narrowed his eyes and stuck his tongue out- in the hopes that Talon would laugh. He figured his brother had a lot on his plate as far as emotions were concerned. He wasn’t the most creative with funny faces either, but it was the thought that counted. The face turned to sympathetic again, however, when he heard Talon’s voice becoming croaky from crying so much.

His head tilted and face turned to plain confused at the mentioning of the word ‘good’- the same face he would make if he were an alien who was trying to grasp the concept of toilet paper. Due to Timothy’s brainwashing and his own barely-existing self-esteem, he didn’t think he was good at all. He thought there was a demon inside of him- that meant he was evil, surely? And the list of crimes he committed over the years and their dates proved that he was bad… didn’t it? But Talon didn’t think so. So he didn’t say anything to question or argue- but the face he made was clue enough that he didn’t feel the same way.

“I don’t think it’s something you have to forgive,” Michael began, shaking his head. “But something to… I don’t know, help. Like… if you had a goldfish, right? And the goldfish, for some reason, kept jumping out of his bowl… to escape something. But when he escapes, he flops around because he can’t breathe and you’d have to help the goldfish live his life by putting him back in the bowl and giving him food or something… not punishing it by letting it die.”

As Michael was narrating the life of a disturbed goldfish and its owner, he waved his arms to represent flopping and made a motion of diving when he said ‘jumping’. Because he was a hands-on learner at heart, he seemed to have a habit of using movement to tell a story in addition to words. The gentle smile Michael displayed while rambling about how Talon’s ailment was meant to treat and not to condemn disappeared immediately once he remembered and felt a surge of anxiety.

“I-I killed a goldfish once!” He stammered, body trembling slightly. It was a story Talon knew better than some of the psalms- one of those crimes that seemed to get repeated over and over again, and quite possibly the worst thing Michael Courtenay had ever done, sadly enough. The story was short- he was five and fed the class goldfish a bit too much. And he, along with Talon if he uttered it aloud, was reminded of the incident whenever the subjects of goldfish, class pets or murder was brought forth somehow.

He calmed down instantly when Talon spoke again, though, and smiled warmly at the first sentence. He knew something better than Talon? That was a surprise- but it made sense. Michael’s entire life was pretty much based on fear he couldn’t control- anxiety was fear, essentially, wasn’t it?

The second part intrigued, and concerned, him. Talon thought Jackson going away was his fault? And he said ‘they’. Who were ‘they’? Over the years, Talon had told a number of hilarious stories about things that Jackson did and what Jackson was like, and Michael almost knew him even though he never met him. However… the only part that he didn’t know was what actually happened to him. He wondered for years, but again, never questioned because it may have been painful for Talon to explain.

He sank deeper against his brother as his arms tightened, feeling warm and safe. He melted a bit when Talon said he’d never go away again- with that promise made, everything he’d been worrying about recently had evaporated. That piece of his anxiety, which made up the majority of it, was gone. Talon was here to stay.

From his spot on the stairs, he curled up closer to Talon as he sang. Like how children sometimes did with their mother’s voices, Michael’s immediate response to hearing Talon sing softer songs was to feel sleepy, because Talon had sung him to sleep. His eyelids drooped slightly and his breathing was even, and he almost wanted to go to sleep even though he wanted to spend some more time with his brother. He wasn’t even listening to the words- just gently drifting with the voice. And this is where, he reasoned, he felt most secure.

((AGJETKWSTJ4WYO4ITYTHTH… I’m sorry this is so late… XD))
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Wed Apr 04, 2012 12:08 am

Talon couldn't help but laugh at his little brother's goofy face. It was so typically Michael--to make him smile or laugh at just the right time. He had to admit that a large part of the reason he hadn't broken down in the last three years was because, whenever he felt like crying, Michael seemed to have an uncanny knack of cracking a joke, showing off his latest project (the duct-tape octopus had pride of place in every room Talon had slept in since--he'd raised a fuss until someone from the home brought Jesse to the hospital while he was there), or running up to give him a hug. Talon's faith in God had always been firm, but in knowing Michael his faith was secure. For someone as perfect as his little brother to exist, there had to be a benevolent and all-knowing God who loved all of His children.

He felt slightly off-balance, with Michael in the role of comforter and he in the role of comfortee. When Michael tried to compare his drug addiction to a goldfish jumping out of its bowl, though, everything seemed to snap back into place. He could have--and would have--pointed out that the analogy was somewhat flawed. Goldfish rarely decided to jump out of their bowls just for the hell of it--they did it because they were stupid and didn't always know the limits of their environment--and allowing them to die for following an instinct was borderline cruelty. Cocaine addicts, however, knew the drug was bad for them and chose to take it anyway...and once it got a hold on you, it was awfully hard to choose correctly. There was no such thing as "just this once" with addictive drugs, and if a cocaine addict repeatedly chose to poison himself, one could be forgiven for allowing him to die.

However, he did not bring this up, for two reasons. One was that he knew Michael would take it badly--would think that Talon was saying he deserved to die, which he didn't, or that Michael shouldn't forgive him, which he wasn't going to even think. The other reason was that he knew the words "goldfish" and "die" were going to trigger one of Michael's OCD episodes. Sure enough, the smile dropped from his little brother's face, and he stammered out that he had killed a goldfish once.

Stroking Michael's hair, he repeated the same thing he said every time Michael brought this up, knowing it would have the same effect it always did--to wit, none. "Michael, love, you were five. And goldfish don't live very long anyway. It was probably its time to go--your overfeeding it didn't kill it. And even if it did, it wasn't your fault. Not really."

As he sang the soft, plaintive strains of the song, he felt Michael sinking into his arms, relaxing, becoming the boneless pile of Jell-O he so often became when he was sleepy. Smiling fondly, he brushed the last of the tears from his eyes, then bent over and kissed his little brother lightly on the top of his head. "Hey, don't go to sleep on me now, motek," he said affectionately. "We still have a lot to talk about."

The smile settled into a full-blown grin as the world reshaped itself into normality. Here they were, two brothers just catching up after a whole month apart, and way too long of a month if you asked Talon. "So tell me," he invited. "What have you been up to since you got to Highgrove? Have you made any friends?"

Something occurred to him suddenly, and he felt the step to one side of him. Yes--there it was, right where he had dropped it after confessing to Michael. He picked up the smooth rosewood cross, brushed the dust off of it with his index finger, and then pressed it into his brother's hand, murmuring, "By the way, I think this is yours. I'm glad to see it back in its rightful place."
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Michael Courtenay on Sat Apr 14, 2012 8:01 pm

Michael tried his best to make people happy, especially those who were close to him. He wouldn’t have known that his hugs, duct tape animals and general kindness were what kept Talon from crying for so long, because he believed Talon to be virtually indestructible and his actions to be minor. It was just what he did- he didn’t know it would have such a profound effect. It felt odd comforting Talon, because Talon never appeared to need it before. The roles were usually reversed.

As Talon stroked his hair and tried to bring logic into the argument, Michael’s OCD was still rolling a number of items through his mental conveyer belt- all of which made his voice louder and more frantic:

“B-But killing a goldfish might lead to killing a squirrel while driving, and-and that might lead to killing a person, and if I kill a person I won’t be able to stop killing people, and might become a mass murderer because of the fiery demon that lives inside of me!”

The lightning fast speech was a trademark of Michael’s, along with the pattern: ‘This leads to this, and then this leads to this and then this leads to this! This was usually spoken when he was anxious and when his thoughts were running rampant. Most of the time, his worry thoughts ran so fast that he couldn’t keep up with them, and almost none of them made logical sense but somehow found their way out of his mouth:

“Do you think mass murderers like strawberry milk? Because I don’t wanna be a mass murderer and I like strawberry milk. There are correlations explaining who’s more likely to kill, you know. Someone told me that a good percentage of murderers were white male bedwetters and I was one too.”

He blushed furiously after he said that, even though he knew Talon was fully aware that he wet the bed until he was eleven. After a year’s worth of switchings from Timothy Rogers, biology eventually caught up- unfortunately, when Michael was eleven, physically he was eight. It was another thing to add to the list as to why the boy had a demon inside of him.

Talon’s singing was always beautiful, but this song in particular caused him to melt, mostly because he hadn’t heard Talon sing in a whole month- the world seemed oddly quiet without his brother’s voice carrying a tune under his breath or practicing. Not hearing Talon sing for an extended period of time was like suddenly wearing shoes without socks- it was just weird and uncomfortable. He’d forgotten just how amazing Talon and his voice were, and like an incantation, his body and eyelids were suddenly very heavy. He felt himself curling up closer to his brother and sinking slowly into dreamland. It was a physiological response to hearing Talon sing softer songs- they helped him get to sleep, after all.

His eyes snapped open with the kiss on his head, however- and he smiled. He tried to sit up straight and wipe the tiredness from his eyes. It was an image that would have been familiar to Talon.

“We do.” He agreed softly. He then looked up at Talon, his eyes and voice suddenly sad and carrying a slightly desperate whine. “We haven’t talked in a month, but it felt like years and years and years.”

At Talon’s question, his back straightened out and his face brightened- back to its normal excited expression. “I started running and swimming during free period! It’s a strict schedule- like most things I do, I think. But I’ve been able to cover more ground without stopping and, because of the exercise, I haven’t had a single anxiety attack! Can you believe it?”

A wide, proud smile found its way to his face- he couldn’t remember a time when he hadn’t had an anxiety attack for a month’s time. Of course, he didn’t mention that he usually ran or swam until he felt like passing out- he hadn’t set a limit, and Talon would probably be concerned. Obsessive-compulsive hard work was fun in Michael’s eyes, and Talon knew better than anyone that he usually had a problem with stopping and setting reasonable limits.

“I made friends as well- two, actually. Elias is my bunkmate, and we talked while I was studying for math- he draws wicked pictures! He also understands a lot even though he doesn’t talk much, I think. And… I met someone else too. Her name is Dilly, short for Dilwen.”

After he said that, his gaze drifted upward and his fingers were suddenly having a wrestling match while his cheeks turned crimson. “A-And she… well, I-I kind of… I mean, she’s just… amazing! She has OCD, and she doesn’t like germs, and she’s really sweet and likes to read and knows a lot about the meanings of colors and cleans a lot too and I told her that if I’d walk from the South Pole to the North Pole if she were stuck there and she said that we’d meet at the equator because we both don’t want to be without each other… and…”

The speeds at which he spoke fluctuated, and as this happened his face got redder and redder. Finally, his eyes locked onto Talon’s and conveyed partial embarrassment and sincere admittance:

“I think I’m in love.”

The steadiness in his voice meant that he was completely serious, and his face get redder still. He sighed:

“But I don’t know the first thing about that.” He looked to Talon again. “What about you? What have you been doing? Have you made any friends over at St. Adrian’s?”

Michael hadn’t noticed the cross drop on the stairs because he was too overjoyed that Talon was in front of him, but when his brother picked it up off the ground, he was shocked.

“Oh! Thank you,” He said as his fingers clenched the rosewood, feeling a small piece of himself being returned to him. “I’ve been wondering where I dropped this- you carried it all the way from St. Adrian’s?”

He pulled it over his head and tucked it into his shirt. “I think I dropped it because I held it in my pocket the day I left and probably didn’t feel it slide out because I was too upset.”

He smiled sheepishly. “I think we both were that day, though.”
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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

Post  Talon Rogers on Sun Apr 22, 2012 10:25 am

Talon sighed. He was familiar with Michael's "logic" when it came to why the things he had done were so horrible, but the progression in this one was more illogical than usual. Overfeeding a goldfish might lead to accidentally running over a squirrel because squirrels, like fish, were stupid, which might lead to killing a person--and that particular leap of logic made Talon's head hurt. Patience, that was the key.

"Michael," he said gently. "Love, you're not anywhere near seventeen yet. I don't think you're in danger of accidentally running over a squirrel any time soon." He emphasized the word accidentally. "And I can honestly say that I have never heard of someone who accidentally killed an animal going on to purposefully kill a person. Most murderers who start out on animals hurt the animals deliberately. And they certainly don't feel guilty about it," he added, eyes twinkling slightly.

He didn't even address the fiery demon comment. That was ground he didn't feel up to covering right now. Deep down, he knew that his brother was not possessed by anything, except maybe the Archangel whose name he shared, because he was so good-hearted and kind. A demon wouldn't allow any of Michael's personality to show--certainly not the guilt, or the compassion, or the love. But no matter how many times he pointed that out, the fact remained that Timothy Rogers had convinced Michael that he had a demon inside him, and Joanna Rogers had agreed, and that was a force Talon didn't feel equal to opposing at this point in time. Maybe the psychiatrists here would help.

At Michael's next anxious question, however, he rushed to reassure him. "No. As a matter of fact, it is an established fact that mass murderers hate strawberry milk, beautiful music, and small furry animals." He smiled warmly, stroking his brother's hair lightly as he did so. "You have nothing to worry about."

His smile broadened as Michael began talking excitedly about his new exercise routine. "That's wonderful, Michael! We'll have to go running together some time. I need to get in that kind of shape." He looked ruefully at his skinny legs. The cocaine had probably sapped his physical condition. Not everyone could be Sherlock Holmes and gain physical and mental prowess through the use of cocaine.

When Michael told him about his friend Elias, Talon was about to make some comment, but the words stuck in his throat when his little brother began talking about Dilly. Through a supreme effort he kept his face normal, his pose relaxed, but inside he felt as though his heart had been encased in ice, as though his veins were filled with lead, as though someone had replaced his stomach with an anvil.

"I think I'm in love."

Talon had gathered that well before Michael was able to admit it. For a moment, he couldn't breathe. Michael Courtenay, in love? It was...it was something Talon had never contemplated. It was incomprehensible.

Not that he was upset--far from it. He thought it was wonderful, and if Michael had been anyone else would have immediately pressed him for details. But--it was Michael. His baby brother. And from the sound of it, this wasn't a childish infatuation, the crush of a little boy. This was the genuine article. This had the potential to be a relationship that lasted. Talon wasn't sure how to handle it.

He'd never thought of Michael as being old enough to fall in love. Part of it, he admitted to himself, was that Michael was so small for his age that Talon occasionally forgot he was fourteen years old. But it was also his childish enthusiasm, his blushing innocence, his pathetic naïvité. Michael didn't act like he was old enough to fall in love. But, from the way he talked about Dilly, not only was he old enough, he had. And Talon suddenly felt very, very old.

When Michael admitted that he didn't know the first thing about it, Talon remembered how to breathe and smiled fondly, if a little wistfully, at his brother. "Sounds like you've got it pretty well," he said quietly. "I've never been in love before either, but I know what love means, because I love you, even if I'm not in love with you, you know? I don't see why a romance should be any different. You care about her, that's obvious, and she clearly cares about you. You have a lot in common, and you have a friendship already that goes all the way to the bone. Yeah, that sounds like love to me." He hugged his brother tightly. "Oh, baby, I didn't realize how much you had grown up."

At Michael's question, however, he quickly regained his equilibrium. "Just one, really. Her name was Maggie. She talked a lot, but she never really seemed to say anything...anyway, she'd been at St. Adrian's since she was six. Her parents died in a car accident and she lost her left hand. She's the one who found me when I accidentally OD'd. I promised I'd write to her once in a while, let her know how I'm doing." He smiled. "I'll be glad to tell her that you're here and safe."

He nodded seriously. "I was trying not to show how upset I was, because I didn't want to make it too hard on you--I knew you didn't want to go any more than I wanted you to. But I comforted myself with knowing you had your cross and that Bible verse I gave you, which is probably why it hurt me so badly when I found it." He smiled. "I'm glad to see it back in its rightful place."
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Talon Rogers

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Re: Where the Heart Is (Michael)

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