Tuesday, September 10, 2019

Fear – 63

"Did your parents know what happened with that guy?" Shawn asked.

"No. Oh they might have suspected toward the end that something was wrong but I never told them. I was too ashamed." Gene smiled wryly. "Maybe if I had said something, I'd have gotten out of the relationship a lot sooner. My father would have made sure of that."

"He was bossy?"

"No. He was a psychiatrist, so he'd have sat me down and pointed out exactly what was going on in words of two syllables to make sure I got it." Gene shrugged. "Of course, first I'd have had to visit them, which I didn't. My excuse was that med school kept me busy, which it did."

"And the guy didn't want you to."

"Got it in one." Gene gave the soup one last stir then ladled it into two bowls, which he set on the island along with a loaf of bread, butter, plates, and utensils. Then he sat down beside Shawn, cautioning him to eat slowly.

"I'm feeling better now, a bit," Shawn told him, tasting the soup. "This is good. Did you make it?"

"Nope. Sorry. It came straight out of the container. But it is from the natural food store so it's a bit tastier than canned."

"Much tastier," Shawn stated.

They ate in silence, glancing at each other occasionally but saying nothing until they'd finished. When the dishes were rinsed and in the washer, Gene suggested Shawn should go upstairs and sleep.

"You've had a long, hard day, to put it mildly. You need to rest," he said when Shawn started to protest.

"I can rest here." Shawn told him, heading into the living room to settle on the sofa. "I'm still too hyped to sleep. Honest."

"Who's the doctor, you or me?" Gene grumbled, taking a seat at the other end of the sofa.

"You," Shawn admitted reluctantly, resting his head on back of the sofa, turning it so he could still see Gene. "I just don't want to be alone quite yet." He closed his eyes. Moments later they snapped open as he sat straight up, looking around fearfully. "Damn it!" He shivered.

Gene moved quickly to sit beside him. "No one's going to come after you again. Jared wouldn't be stupid enough to send anyone else. And if he was, they wouldn't look for you here."

"I know…I guess. God, I wish I'd never met him." He sighed, leaning his head on Gene's shoulder. "Of course," he said slowly, "if I hadn't met him then I wouldn't have met you."

"Very true, although I'm not certain that I'm much of a reward for all he's put you through."

"I disagree. You make everything else worth it." Shawn looked up at Gene, grinning a bit. "You're an Oscar, an Emmy, a Heisman Trophy."

"A what?"

"You know, that football thing? Oh wait, that's the Super Bowl ring." He took Gene's hand, tapping his ring finger. "It would look great on you."

Gene snorted. "Somehow I doubt I'd be in contention for one." Taking his hand back, he slid his arm around Shawn. "I think," he said quietly, stroking Shawn's hair, "in fact I'm fairly certain, it's over now and you can start living your life on your own terms."

"Can my terms include you?"

Gene hesitated. "I think so. We seem to be moving in that direction."

"Good," Shawn said sleepily, exhaustion finally overcoming his desire to continue the conversation.

Chuckling, Gene said, "Come on, let's get you up to bed."

"In the guest bedroom?"

"Um-hum. I think that's the best place for the time being." Standing, Gene held out his hands, carefully pulling Shawn to his feet when he took them, mindful of his injured arm. "I have a pair of sweats you can change into."

"I'll look like a clown," Shawn protested as they walked slowly upstairs.

"A very cute clown, so shush." He opened the door to the guest room, ushered Shawn in, and told him he'd be right back. When he returned with the sweats, he stopped at the door, smiling. Shawn was curled up on the bed, sound asleep. After hanging the sweats over the back of the chair, he carefully removed Shawn's shoes and folded the comforter over him. Then he kissed his forehead, turned out the light and left.