Spring 2011 – John is 31, Rachel is 30 and Arthur is 27. Last update: Summer 2010

Soundtrack: Maroon 5 – Woman

****Warning: This thing is long, like over 2,000 words longs so get comfy.****

John would be the first to admit that he leads a charmed life. He had been a spoiled and doted on child and is spoiled and doted on in his adulthood. He has a gorgeous wife, two handsome sons and enough money to do what he wants whenever he desires. He has a brand new car, one of hottest restaurant on the island and if he plans correctly, and he will, a luxurious, new vacation home on Twikkii Island.

He might not have commanded much respect from his father but his mother and the rest of the silly inhabitants of his hometown had made up for it. Lorelai Heredon had made sure everyone knew they were in the presence of greatness when she made appearances with her eldest son even if her husband made his living digging around in the dirt.

He had been her ticket to social prominence and John didn’t begrudge her it. Who didn’t want to be known as the best around? Who didn’t want families sitting at home sharing a pot of coffee with the neighbors while staring at your photo in the newspaper? She’d taught him how to go after what he wanted and in that he learned how to chase his pleasure.

And chase it he did: women, cars, the odd recreational drug and anything else he could think of. It panicked her when he got older John thinks absently, spotting a pretty brunette browsing through suit jackets in the aisle across from him. He hadn’t cared, the woman always seemed to have a plan to fix anything he was perceived as doing wrong and she fixed it the only way she knew how. John was set up with a proper wife of perfect pedigree as soon as he graduated from college and time wrote the rest.

He looks up again and this time locks eyes with the brunette. She’s cute in a generic way with a splash of freckles across her nose. Her eyes are a pretty shade of blue and he almost grins at the look of knowing recognition he sees there. Sometimes his conquests are a little too easy. Hell, since he was fifteen sweet talking women out of their underwear had been easy.

John allows himself to smile when she struts over to him, her hips swaying as she walks. “Cathy Miller, journalist.”

He chuckles at her performance and he knows it’s an act. She’d sized him up, thought about his reputation and decided on the best approach. It isn’t a bad one but he’s seen better.

“John Heredon but you knew that, didn’t you?” Her blush is pretty and John decides that Cathy must be quite young to still be able to pull off a blush. “Do you work at the Herald?”

“I freelance there as a food critic. I’ve been to your restaurant a few times but I’ve never gotten the chance to go a formal review.”

Her hint is there but John ignores it. He doesn’t take women to his restaurant no matter the convenience, that would be disrespectful to his wife and that was unacceptable. “Cathy, would you like to grab some lunch?”

“At your restaurant?” She asks, a smile spreading across her face.

“No, it’s too far but I can tolerate the food at Garden Lights if you’re interested.”

John can see the questions in her eyes: What about your wife? Is it only lunch? Will you call me? What will people think? He’s seen them all before so he simply cradles her hand in his and smiles, letting his charm speak for itself.

John fights to keep his cool. The chatter, the constant, irritating chatter spewing from the girl’s mouth seemed to speed up with every passing minute. Comments on ferry rides, statues in museums, exotic vacations, a persistent deluge of things she obviously knows little about yet tries to impress him with. He attempts again to get her to shut up, deciding that being polite isn’t getting him anywhere. “I think we should focus on the food. As pleasant it is to hear you talk, I do enjoy silence with my lunch occasionally.”

John ignores her simpering smile, knowing that she’ll be back to speaking in a matter of minutes. He doesn’t see her appeal anymore and wonder when his taste in women became impaired. Her hair is too light and her eyes are the wrong shade of blue. She chatters about something insignificant and her voice is too high and she speaks too fast. She – damn, what is her name? – doesn’t have the practiced ease and demure glance taught in etiquette classes that he’s come to find sexy, so what is her purpose?

Twisting his wedding band around with his thumb John thinks about Rachel while staring at this woman who sat like an imposter in her seat. Another failed attempt.  And like most of his dates with women who suddenly can’t seem to measure up to his wife John’s excuses for leaving are clumsy, barely disguising his need to simply be away from their company.

His thoughts are quiet on the drive back to the restaurant, his thumb continuously rubbing the smooth gold of his ring. It never used to have any weight to it. His commitments to home always in the abstract despite the children that called him Daddy and the warm meals always waiting for him. One question on a typical summer day had turned something that never used to weight anything into something he can barely carry around. He hates it.

John parks the car in the driveway, taking a few moments to stare at the house his ancestors had built and his wife is spending her time doing God-know-what but doesn’t go inside. The boys aren’t home from school yet and he knows that Rachel won’t really welcome his company so he continues the short walk to the restaurant.

He shakes a few hands and nods to Akil, his host that he needs to seat people faster. John hates to see people cluttering up the walkways. It made the place look cheap and he can’t tolerate that. Checking in on Steven, he catches the tail end of his bragging to Gary about his girlfriend, some sexy blonde who works at one of the local law firms who knows a few tricks in bed.

John pats the kid on the back, not bothering to comment before reaching over to taste the béchamel sauce that’s cooking. It’s not as good as his but he’s lucky if he can get into the kitchen to cook once a week. He stifles a frustrated sigh before entering his office, the door shutting out the myriad of noises in the main room and stares at the stack of invoices and bills on his desk. It’s shaping up to be another long night in the office but at least he’s needed here.

John eases the front door open slowly, noticing how dark the house is except for a single lamp giving a faint glow to the living room. The enticing smell of orange and cloves perfumes the air and looks over at the little retreat Rachel has created for herself in the living room, a book and a steaming cup of orange spice tea waiting for her to sit down. John walks further into his home – or is it simply a house? Sometimes he isn’t sure – and watches Rachel tuck Nicolas in.

She looks up at him when he steps on one of Fritz’s toys in the playroom, her eyes cloudy with an emotion that he can’t identify before she leans over and kisses their eldest son. Rachel walks past him carrying the sharp scent of lime and he allows his mind to wander briefly to when she started wearing less traditional scents and whether he likes it.

“The boys missed you at dinner. Did you forget you promised to be here tonight?”

“No.” John watches her settle into her favorite spot, neatly arranging the pillows to keep from looking up at him again. He knows when she’s being evasive, she doesn’t hide it well. “I had a lot of paperwork, sweetheart. I need help.”

Rachel makes a non-committal sound and focuses her attention on the teacup. The careful way she wraps her fingers around the cup mocks him with the fact that she’s barely touched him in months.

“Maybe I’ll get a secretary. I’m sure I can find someone who can take care of all my needs.” He knows what he’s saying. She flinches and he shifts his weight. Fuck. “Ra-”

“The boys rely on you to be a loving father, don’t disappoint them.” Rachel interrupts, her movements measured as she opens her book and prepares to settle in. She still refuses to look at him. Everything about her screams distant and he has a hard time marrying this image to the one of kissing her breathless in that same spot.

“I’m going to go out.” John waits for her to say something but she only gives a faint nod. He really doesn’t expect anything else. Rachel never asks where he’s going anymore and sometimes he feels like a ghost in her life, passing through without consequence. He didn’t think she would punish him for this long. He didn’t think she would punish him at all.

John hesitates for a second stopping at the door. He can see Rachel out the corner of his eyes quietly reading, her hair in artful disarray and he can almost picture himself curling up next to her, pulling her to lean on him while he watched some sports channel. The imagined picture is so enticing that he almost turns back, he could kiss all their problems away if she would let him but she won’t so he leaves.

He doesn’t end up where he thinks he will. Instead of speeding away in his car he walks across the field, dew clinging to his pant legs, to the old Heredon farmhouse and lets himself in. Arthur barely looks up when he walks in, simply cracking open the second beer he had lined up on the table and sliding it across the table. They sit in silence, nursing their drinks and lost in their thoughts as the old cuckoo clock ticked away the seconds. John’s not patient and he hates the quiet.

“Redhead bastard, where’s the family?”

“Baby’s sleep. She says she took Junior to the movies.”

“She says?”

“Yup.”

“Don’t believe her and why are we calling Marie ‘she’?”

Arthur says silent and John furrows his brows, watching his brother guzzle his beer like he’s chasing something. Arthur has always been quiet and while they aren’t close he can usually tell when he’s upset. He notices the tension in Arthur’s shoulders, the short, jerking movements and the grim set to his lips. There are five empty beer bottles by their feet, evidence of there being more than one six pack in the house and he didn’t need anyone to play Watson to his Sherlock to figure out someone has fucked up pretty bad.

John’s insistent. “You don’t believe her?”

He shakes his head, hunches over his drink and John has to literally bite down on his tongue to stop himself from berating him younger brother for acting like some mute, lovesick teenager. They’re Heredons. They stand firm in the face of adversity. You don’t see him falling apart because his wife decided to do her best Jack Frost impersonation and turned their home into an emotional equivalent of Antarctica.

He has to be getting soft in his old age because he actually feels sorry for his brother, sitting at the table where they grew up, marathon drinking while obsessing about the possible demise of his marriage.

Grabbing another beer from the pack, John stands and tugs on Arthur’s shirt before stumbling toward the door. “Come on. Let’s go outside.”

They settle onto the grass near the small pond they grew up fishing in, the air crisp and carrying a hint of salt from the ocean. John watches Arthur settle on his back, beer bottle hanging precariously, and laughs, a memory long pushed away coming into focus.

“Remember that winter you took your skates out onto the pond?” He doesn’t mind the way the alcohol takes the precision of his speech. The drawls they inherited from their Daddy, who’s Mama had been from one of the central states on the mainland, momentarily unburied along with childhood memories. “You were five – no six – and thought you could do anything but couldn’t see that the ice was paper thin. You fell through like a brick.”

“Daddy wasn’t home and Mama had to fish me out herself. She was pissed.”

John nods. “You always did seem to upset her.”

“I wasn’t what she wanted.” he says.

John doesn’t state the obvious, that their mother had wanted a girl, but it hangs between them like all the other issues their parents had foisted onto them and strains their relationship. He sees Arthur sit up out of the corner of his eye and waits for whatever news has put them on equal footing for the first time in years.

“She wants me to forget.” Arthur says, his voice low and words slurred. “She wants me to forget that a couple months ago she was unhappy enough to say divorce, unhappy enough to lust after my brother. She has a constant smile on her face that I know I didn’t put there because I haven’t changed. Nothing has changed except for her. She disappears for hours sometimes but when she gets back she’s everywhere I turn, helping me or touching me. It’s like she’s working off some kind of guilt and I want to hate her for it but I love her too damn much.”

The day must be getting to him because Arthur’s morose mood is leeching into him and the only way John knows how to respond to his normally reticent brother is share his own woes. He can’t tell him it will get better because it’s a blatant lie and he can’t suggest his normal remedy for women troubles – get rid of her – because they share a similar inabilitiy to take that step.

“Rachel and I never claimed to love each other. We knew why we got married but fell into something that shouldn’t have existed. Any other person and I would push and push until they told me what I knows there, that I’ve felt but not her. I don’t want to possess her but dammit she’s mine no matter how much she wants to hide herself away from that truth.”

John leaves out the part about chasing his wife’s replica in every woman he meets and the sharp stab of disappointment he feels everytime he can’t find it. He’s not lovesick. He won’t ever be lovesick. He needs to go home so he can sleep off this mood and start tomorrow like this conversation didn’t happen. Using Arthur’s shoulder as support John stands, patting his brother once on the back before stumbling off toward his house.

John’s surprised to see Rachel still awake and wants to believe that she stayed up to wait for him. He rests his head on the door frame and he knows he can do it without the embarrasment of her seeing him look weak. She never watches him anymore. He’s spent the majority of their marriage basking in her looks but they’ve been absent for so long now. Any other night he would have simply walked upstairs and got into bed but tonight he can’t. He takes her book and places it on the couch before streching out, his head laying on her lap. Rachel’s tense but John doesn’t care.

He closes his eyes doing his best to ignore the way the world tilts back and forth, his words are simple and to the point. “Baby, I think it’s time we start over.”

 

A.N: Take a deep breath you made it through to the end. I had a bitch of a time doing this one mostly because it was a mess to interpret some of John and Rachel’s wants. They had romantic wants but just general ones and they weren’t really talking to each other even less than usual. Even ACR didn’t kick in and I played them for 3 days so thus living in Antarctica.

I never noticed until this update that John and Arthur had elf genes, damn pointy ears! Oh well, they just have weird ears.

Dina is up next so get ready. It will probably be another long one.

 

 


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