B9 Kreswell Apartment – Early Afternoon
“Mother, where did he go?”
“Zach, I’m certain that Ethan will be back very shortly.”
“Well it’s a bit of a long walk he’s taken, isn’t it? You don’t suppose anything’s –” Zachary hesitated to put his fears into words.
“Don’t be silly. Ethan’s a grown man. Nothing’s happened and –”
“Grown men can run into trouble as easy as the rest of us.”
“–he would call if something happened to him.”
“If he was able to call. And what if he couldn’t? Maybe I should –”
“I’m sure there’s nothing to worry –”
“–go out and look for him…”
“–about. Go ahead and take your shower …Zach? Zach, where are you going?”
He was quickly slipping his coat on, the folder from Jason Felix lying forgotten on the coffee table.
“I’m going out to look for him.”
“You most certainly are not.”
Zachary gave his mother a haughty look. “I most certainly am.”
“Zach. Take off that coat and sit down.”
“I’m a bit old for you to be telling me what to do, don’t you thi –”
“I think you’ve let your new position go to your head just a bit,” Cameron said, with a hint of annoyance. More softly, she added, “Ethan told me he might be gone for a while and not to worry. I told you that less than an hour ago. Why don’t you go ahead and take your shower? By the time you’re done, he’ll probably be back.”
“And what if he’s not?”
“Give him some space.”
Zachary bit his lower lip at the remark. “You’re right,” he huffed, slowly taking his coat off. “I shouldn’t…I guess I am a bit of a pest.”
His mother sighed heavily. “You are not a pest. A little pig-headed, perhaps. You’re my son. And you are Ethan’s assistant.”
“You mean his ‘clingy’ assistant.”
“Zach…please come and sit by me,” his mother said, taking a seat on the couch.
He draped his coat over the back of the couch and came around to sit down beside her.
He bowed his head a little and looked up expectantly at her out of the tops of his eyes. Suddenly he smiled at her. “When was the last time I told you what a beautiful lady you are?” he asked.
“Flatterer,” she laughed at him.
He grinned broadly. “Not at all. You’ve always been the best looking of all the B9 mums.”
She shook her head, still laughing lightly.
“Don’t believe me,” he said. “But everyone says so. And they’re right.”
“Zach…don’t try to charm your way out of a talk.”
Cameron Kreswell’s smile faded and she looked uneasily at her son. “Zachary…”
“Uh-oh. Full name…” He inhaled in anticipation. “Yes, mother, what do you want to talk to me about?”
“It isn’t me, selling herself short. It’s you…you really don’t believe your own worth, do you?” She shook her head and stared out blankly, frowning at old memories of her husband and son together. “I wish I could have…left him. Before he had a chance to –” she turned and looked at her son, “to poison you. That’s my fault…”
Zachary smiled at her softly. “It’s in the past, Mother. I know who I am now. I know what I am. And I -II have the world’s best mum, and the world’s best job and-and…something more. Something that makes all of it, even the bad times…all worth it in the end.”
Cameron did not try to hide her concern. “What? What do have that makes it all worthwhile?”
He only smiled a little wider at his mother. “That’s my secret. For now, anyway.”
“Zach…you’re making a mistake about Eth –” she began knowingly.
The door swung open and a draft blew into the living room. Cameron turned quickly as Ethan stepped inside.
“Ah, there you are!” Zachary said, exuberantly. “Have a good walk?”
Ethan looked at the boy’s grinning face, then glanced quickly at Cameron. “Ethan,” she said, “Zach and I were just talking –”
“Ethan,” Zachary nervously cut his mother off, “I have an envelope here for you from Jason. He’d like you to read the contents right away, and jot down your thoughts. I’m to bring them right back to him, soon as you’re finished…”
He picked up the envelope from the coffee table and walked over to Ethan. Ethan was looking back at his mother. “Ethan?” Zachary called.
“Hm?” Ethan said, shifting his attention to the boy. “Right,” he said, taking the envelope.
“Oh, sorry,” Zachary said. “How stupid of me. You haven’t even had a minute to take off your coat. Here, let me –” He put his hand on Ethan’s shoulder to help him take his coat off.
Ethan sidled away quickly. “Well then,” he said, “best get started on this…” He slipped out of his coat and tossed it on the empty recliner as he walked around to sit beside Camden’s mother on the couch. He opened the folder and put on his reading glasses.
“Would you mind putting the kettle on?” he asked her. A look passed between them.
“Of course,” she said. “Zach, why don’t you go and take your shower now. Ethan’s back, so there’s no reason not to.”
Ethan gave her a puzzled look, but she merely turned and walked into the kitchen.
Zachary stood not far from Ethan, gazing down at him. Ethan pushed his reading glasses up on his nose and opened the paperwork Felix had sent. Without looking up, he said, absently, “No need to stand and wait…this’ll take a while…”
Zachary watched him a few moments more. Finally, he smiled lightly. “Guess I’ll go and take my shower now,” he said. “I’ll be back.”
Ethan said nothing, continuing to read. Zachary watched him a moment more, still smiling, then left and walked down the hall. Ethan heard the bathroom door close. When he finally heard the shower run, he exhaled.
“Ethan…” Cameron said, re-entering from the kitchen.
“Bloody hell. I wish he’d treat me more like they did at the Council. And vice versa.”
“What do you mean?”
Ethan gave her an exasperated look. “Zach hangs on every word – bollocks! – every breath that comes out of my mouth! The Council, on other hand, couldn’t care less about what I say and even less about me in general. If I could only cast a spell to change that around –”
“You needn’t be wishing for spells now if you had spoken to him when I told you –”
“I know, I know…”
“Ethan, you need to tell him now. This new job of his, being your assistant, is making him think he’s got license to –”
“I’ll tell him, Missus, I promise.”
“When he comes out of the shower.”
Cameron looked hard at him.
“What, you don’t believe me?” He huffed. “Stand in line.”
“What do you mean?” Cameron asked. He frowned and looked away. “They didn’t believe you at the Council, did they?”
“They practically laughed me off the grounds, which is better than being bodily thrown off the property I suppose. ”
“Why?” Ethan looked at her over the tops of his reading glasses. “You’ve always helped them!” she continued. “And what’s more, you’ve saved some of their lives…Rupert Giles, for one! And the little girl, the slayer…Shannon, isn’t it? When your resurrected dog attacked her? Not to mention –”
“It’s actually not surprising,” he said, taking the reading glasses off. He rubbed his eyes. “My past has overtaken me. Saving a couple of lives, regardless of whose they are, doesn’t make me eligible for Council Darling, if you take my meaning.”
“They’re ungrateful. And they’re fools! Why would you go to them with such a story? Any idiot could see that warning them held nothing in it for you. Whether what you think about B9 is true or not, Ethan – and I do hope you’re wrong – the Council owes it to take you seriously. What’s wrong with them? After you’ve proven yourself –”
“What? A scalawag?” He grinned.
“You’re not! I swear, you’re almost as hard on yourself as Zach, sometimes.”
“Unlike the boy, I have good reason.” Ethan held still, blinking in wonder at her. She suddenly realized how quiet he was and turned to look at him. She saw him slowly smile. “I love you, C.K.” he said quietly.
“Say it a little louder.” she half-joked. “He can’t hear above the shower.”
Ethan only smirked.
Watchers Council – Library – Evening
Willow looked very tired. She leaned on her hand, her elbow resting on one of the reading tables in the library. That table was covered with files, reports and glossy photographs of a girl. The girl looked pretty thoroughly dead, and blood was everywhere.
“Wow, look at you,” Kennedy said. “It’s all CSI in here.” Willow looked up to see the slayer standing across the table from her.
“What are you doing here?”
“I came to find you, actually,” Kennedy told her as she sat down. “We had an appointment. Magic practice.”
“Oh, right,” Willow sighed, running a hand through her hair. “Sorry. I was just…there was a meeting, and then we got this call from India, and then stuff kept happening.”
“So I see,” Kennedy said, gesturing to the papers on the table. “What’s all this?” Willow picked up a particularly gruesome photograph and handed it to Kennedy, who grimaced when she examined it. “Is that her…arm?”
“She was a slayer,” Willow said quietly. Kennedy glanced up, eyes wide. “Sathi Banerjee. She was…third-ranked, I think, in New Delhi. She disappeared two days ago. Late last night, or today, or however it works with the time, they found her like this.”
“In New Delhi?” Kennedy asked. “Why isn’t someone in Asia on this? Like Chao-Ahn. I hear she’s doing great over in Hong Kong.”
“She is,” Willow said. “You’d really be proud of her. She’s the biggest reason we’ve been able to get back on our feet so quickly in Hong Kong. She says she’s following up on a lead, and she wants my help researching in case that doesn’t pan out.”
“So you’re trying to figure out which beastie can…” Kennedy glanced at the photo again before tossing it back on the table. “…do that?”
‘I don’t know,” Willow said. She rested her face in her hands. “I don’t know.”
“Willow, maybe you’re not doing as well as you think,” Kennedy said pointedly.
Willow peeked her eyes out from behind her hands. “What are you talking about?”
“You know what I mean,” Kennedy said. “The terrorists.”
“I’m fine,” Willow said quickly, and at random she picked up one of the files on the table. She opened her mouth to protest when Kennedy grabbed the file away from her, but never quite got that far.
“Okay,” Kennedy said, “but I need to tell you something.”
Willow crossed her arms, leveled her eyes at the slayer. “What? Wait, is this about your runny nose again, because that’s just a normal side effect when you start…”
“I was in the room when it happened,” Kennedy said, her words coming out in a rush.
Willow’s face contained no hint of comprehension. “Huh?”
“Mia, Marissa and I,” Kennedy elaborated. “We were in the closet of the science lab. Hiding. We were there when you were…and I saw everything.”
Willow’s mouth hung open a little in shock. “You…you left that out of the official report.”
“I know,” Kennedy said. She suddenly got to her feet and started pacing. Willow’s eyes followed her. “We all did. It just seemed…too personal, or something. I didn’t want you to find out like that, and Marissa said something about how it didn’t have tactical significance…”
Kennedy sat down just as suddenly as she had risen and put her hand over Willow’s. “I wanted so badly to do something, anything, but Mia thought that, if I did, I would get everybody shot. In hindsight, I’d have to say she was right. That probably would have happened. So…they held me down, and it was weird because when I heard you, and you were screaming, I didn’t really know what I was feeling. We haven’t been…” Very quickly, she pointed from herself to Willow and back to herself. “…together for years, but…I wanted to kill them.”
She ran out of steam, and silence fell in the wake of her words. Kennedy looked at Willow expectantly.
“Wow,” Willow finally said. “Well, I’m sorry you had to see that.”
“Yeah, well, I could say the same to you,” Kennedy told her. “See, the thing of it is, the point, I guess, is that you’re not alone. Not then, and not now. You’ve got people on your side. And we can get through this, if we just, y’know, stick together and…stuff.” Willow raised an eyebrow, and Kennedy sighed. “I’m not tremendous at motivational speeches.”
“You did good,” Willow assured her with a growing grin. “Thanks. Hey, you wanna help with the gruesome death investigation?”
Kennedy smiled. “Sounds like fun.”
Willow passed Kennedy a pile of papers.
Bureau Nine – Kreswell Apartment – Later that Night
A man’s hand wrote something very neatly in a margin on a page loaded with magic runes, mystical symbols, English and an odd, ancient language. As the hand wrote, a youthful voice called out, “You’re a quick study.”
Ethan looked up from what he was writing. Zachary stood grinning before him, fresh from the shower and in clean, crisp clothes more fitting for a corporation man than a twenty year-old. Even his hair was carefully combed and arranged.
“My God!” Ethan said, staring in open-mouthed shock.
Zachary’s grin immediately fell and looked down at himself. “What…?”
“Who are you?” Ethan demanded. “And what have you done with Zach?”
The boy immediately snickered. “What do you think?” he asked, turning so Ethan could see the three-piece suit from all angles. “Bought it yesterday with some of what was supposed to be my college savings. Damn near perfect fit, too! Just need to bulk up a bit around the pecs and –”
“I’d say you need to bulk up a bit around the pocketbook,” Ethan remarked, noting the expensive cut and cloth. “That ‘ensemble’ must have cost you a pretty penny.” Ethan cast his gaze down at Zachary’s stocking feet. “Did you run out of money for shoes?”
Zachary looked down. “Oh…hold on, then.”
He turned and went quickly down the hallway. Within moments he was back, wearing one shoe and carrying the other in his hand.
“Brand new Oxfords. Lovely, eh?” he said, as he lifted his foot and put the other shoe on.
“And why are we suddenly dressing so…?” Ethan frowned, looking for the right word.
Zachary’s smile grew smaller, but more intense as his eyes shone back sharply at Ethan. “I did it for you. Wouldn’t do to have an assistant who doesn’t look smart.”
“And looking smart is so much better than being smart, eh?”
“Ethan! If I didn’t know any better, I’d swear you were trying to insult me.” Ethan’s grim look finally registered with Zachary. “Ethan,” he said, quietly walking up to him. “What is it? What’s wrong?” He reached his hand out to lay it on Ethan’s shoulder.
Ethan leaned away and put the papers from Jason Felix into the envelope. Then he laid the envelope on the coffee table.
“Zach. We need to talk. There’s something very serious we need to discuss.”
Zachary looked down at the envelope he had been instructed to return to Felix. “Ethan, I…Jason didn’t want me to be privy to those papers. I-I’d really like you to tell me what they say, but I think maybe you should check with Jason first to see if he’s all right with it…”
“I’m not talking about those papers. There’s something you and I need to talk about. Something we need to clear up between us. Something I should have said to you weeks ago and –”
Zachary suddenly brightened. “Don’t!” he said, beaming at Ethan. Then, in a hushed tone, he added, “Don’t say it out loud. Just…just think it. Think it and-and let me see the look in your eyes when you do.”
Ethan blinked at the boy, who stood looking seductively at him. After a long moment, Zachary grinned at him. “All right…now say it. But say it softly. I want the first time you say it to be –”
“Bollocks,” Ethan whispered, grimacing.
Ethan’s expression turned unreadable. “Sit down, Zach,” he said quietly.
Zachary obeyed and sat down on the couch.
Ethan sighed. “I had hoped this would be easier than it appears it’s going to be…for both of us.”
Zachary, barely breathing, looked at him anxiously.
“And I’m sorry – sorry that I didn’t make it plain long before this. But…” he looked aside and sighed again, more heavily. When he turned back to Zachary, his expression was hard, the look in his eyes stern. “Zach, I am very, very fond of you. In fact, I’ve no quandary about saying that I…I truly do love you. It’s not an emotion I’ve felt often in my life.”
Zack blinked and began to relax. “Oh, Ethan…my God, for a moment I thought you were going to tell me that you –”
“But it’s not the kind of love you’d like it to be. I love you but as a weary, old man loves the exuberance of youth.” Zachary blinked again, a look of pain on his face. “As a mentor loves his charge,” Ethan said, very gently. Zachary swallowed as his eyes began to fill with tears. “As a father, his son,” Ethan said kindly, smiling softly and searching the boy’s eyes. Ethan sighed as the tears began to trickle down Zachary’s face. “But not…” he said hesitantly, holding the boy’s hurt gaze steadily with his own, “not as a man loves another – man or woman. Not as lovers, Zach.” His voice was barely a whisper. “That love is just not in me for you. It never will be.”
Zachary shook his head as the tears fell faster. He mouthed the word ‘no’ several times. Then sharp sobs escaped him.
“I’m sorry, Zach, I –”
“Liar!” he cried out. “You’re lying! Ethan, why are you lying? Why?”
“It’s mother, isn’t it? It’s because of her! She doesn’t want me taking up with another man – especially one so much older than me! Well, sod that! I don’t care! I’m old enough to make my own decisions.”
“Zach! Listen to me!” Ethan growled. “I am not in love with you! Do you understand?” He gripped Zachary’s shoulders hard. “I-I love –”
“No! You…you took it. You took and you kept it –”
“What…? Kept what?”
“Why would you accept it if you didn’t love me?”
“Accept…what are you talking about?”
“The rose. Ethan, the white Valentine’s rose I sent you. The one I sent to show you my love and to tell you I understood if you were afraid to try love with someone as young as –”
“Oh, no…No, Zach. I didn’t accept that bloody flower! In fact, I threw it away. That very night. I tossed it right out in the trash.”
“Why are you lying to me? Are you really that afraid to love someone as young as me? Afraid I’ll lose interest in you? Afraid to lose your heart –”
Zachary heard a sharp noise and felt a sting across his left cheek. It seemed to take him a few seconds to realize that he had been slapped. He blinked as comprehension slowly overtook his grief. He raised his left hand to his cheek and turned his face to look at Ethan again.
Ethan stared shallowly at him through narrowed eyes. “Now listen, you spoiled little git,” Ethan said, coldly unemotional. “I am not in love with you. I will never be in love with you. You are nothing more than a child to me. I would like us to be friends, Zach. I would like almost nothing better. But if you persist in this uncontrollable hysteria – this utter nonsense – you will not have even that. Do you understand?”
Zachary blinked, dumbly.
Ethan’s gaze began to soften at the pain and disbelief in Zachary’s eyes. Then it grew more steely again. “I said, do you understand?”
“I –” Zachary began, still holding his hand to his face. He continued to stare at Ethan, then slowly lowered his hand. “I better bring…bring…” he turned his head to the coffee table and slowly picked up the envelope. “Jason is waiting,” he rasped out.
“Jason can wait a ruddy minute more,” Ethan said. Zachary stood up and began to back away from Ethan, as though facing a monster.
“No…No! Shut up!” Zachary said as he strolled toward the door.
“I’m in love with –”
Zachary quickly opened the door, slipped through it and slammed it shut.
“Your mother.” Ethan stood in the silent apartment. “Good show…” he said disgustedly, as he sat down on the couch. He put his elbows on his knees, braided his fingers together, rested his forehead on them and sighed.
Bureau Nine – Jason Felix’s Office – Moments Later
The knock on the door brought Jason Felix’s eyes up from the paperwork he was signing. “Come,” he called, irritably.
Zachary Kreswell opened the door and stepped just inside the office. “Here’s the papers you asked me to deliver,” he said in a monotone. He quietly approached the desk.
Felix looked up at the uncharacteristic tone and looked into Zachary’s face. He rose slowly and stepped from around the desk in time to meet Zachary as the boy’s hand moved to lay the envelope on the desk. Instead, Felix took it from him and peered at him intently.
“If there’s nothing more, I’ll go now…” Zachary said softly.
“Close the door,” Felix told him. “And come sit down.”
The boy let out a breath and did as he was told.
Felix watched him close the door without ceremony and take a seat obediently in the French Provincial chair. “So…” Felix began, half sitting on his desk, “what has got my best newly-appointed assistant so glum? Job that bad?”
Zachary turned his head away. “Doesn’t matter about the job. The job is nothing.”
Felix stared at the boy.
“Everything’s nothing,” he finished, his voice soft. Then he looked up at Felix. “I should have known. Should have known it would never be for me.”
“My dear, dear child…” Felix said, “you’re positively in despair. Why? What is it, Zach? What’s not for you? The job? I can find you another position, one that suits you more.”
Zachary looked up at Felix as though the man had lost his mind. Then a bitter smile crossed his lips. “It’s not the job. Though I can’t see how I can continue to do it.”
Felix stared hard at him, surprised to see tears begin to well in the boy’s eyes. “Zach…what’s happened? Please tell me. Is your mother alright?”
“Mother’s fine,” Zachary said, standing, “I did what I had to do. I delivered the papers and he –” His voice broke. “He…” Suddenly, he was sobbing, head down and shoulders shaking uncontrollably. “It’s not fair!” He brought his hands to his face and wept freely into them.
“Zach!” Felix grabbed his shoulders and held him steady. “I’m sorry. I should have realized the spot I was putting you in. I know you look up to Ethan Rayne. And it’s fairly common knowledge that neither he nor I are exactly enamored of one another, but…I just didn’t think!”
Zachary lowered his hands from his face and looked confusedly at Felix.
“I understand, truly. You’ve torn loyalties between Ethan and me. You’ve probably felt like an informer. And you’re right, it isn’t fair. You shouldn’t have to be in this position. I-I assure you, it was unintentional on my part. I was thinking only of business. Of the Bureau.”
“You…” Zachary said. “This is not about B9! This is about me! Me and-and Ethan…” he turned angrily from Felix and threw a punch into the back of the chair, flipping it backwards.
“Zach!” Felix caught him by one arm and pulled him around, but Zachary struggled free and looked hatefully at him.
Felix stood still for a moment, then said gently, “It’s alright, son. It’s going to be alright…” He moved forward a step. Zachary did not back away, but his breathing was heavy and his hands curled into fists.
Sudden realization crossed Jason Felix’s face. “It’s alright…” Felix continued to approach him, raising his arms as he did so until they were closing in loosely on Zachary, about his upper arms. Then he gently pulled the boy into a firm and steady hug.
Zachary’s tension held for a moment, but then he relaxed against Felix just a little, then more rapidly, his forehead coming to rest against Felix’s shoulder. He cried quietly, his weight resting against the older man’s.
“I’m sorry, Zach. He told you he wasn’t interested in you or…something to that effect, didn’t he?”
Zachary pulled away from Felix and looked questioningly into the man’s eyes.
“Your mother told me she was concerned about your true feelings toward Ethan Rayne. It was when he first arrived here. She said she thought you might have a crush on him. I told her she was imagining things, that you were merely experiencing a little hero worship or-or were just happy to have another man about to talk to. I-I’m afraid I put her off about it. She never mentioned it again.”
Zachary swallowed and wiped his eyes on the sleeve of his expensive new suit.
“But, I see that she and I were both wrong. You’ve got no crush. You’re actually in love with him, aren’t you?”
Zachary turned away, shamefaced.
“Here, here, don’t…don’t be like that. Look at me.” Zachary looked up into kind eyes “That’s right,” Felix said, “Hold your head high. You know who you are. And now,” he smiled gently, “so do I.”
“He doesn’t…he doesn’t…”
“He doesn’t love you the same way.”
“He told you this?”
“Just now…before I came here.”
“This is a hard knock. Zach, it may seem like the end of the world now, but first love lost usually does feel that way. Look, I want you to go wash up. Use my private bathroom,” he said, indicating the doorway off to one side of his office. “And I want you to think about coming to stay with me for a while. I’ve plenty of room in my apartment. I don’t want Ethan Rayne off on his own, so I’d prefer that your mother continue to house him as her guest. I won’t ask him to leave your apartment. But I don’t want you around him for the next few days, at least. You need a little time to yourself. Stay with me. Think about it.”
Zachary nodded and went into the bathroom. Felix stood, lost in thought until he heard the water run. He rubbed his hand across his face and sighed heavily.
When Zachary came out of the bathroom he found Felix leaning over a ring binder and flipping back and forth through its pages.
“Zach! I’ve got a brilliant idea. One I know you’re going to like. Come here. These are intern assignments we have outside of Cleveland. Foreign, most of them, and wildly varied. But all of them interesting and challenging, for the right type of person.”
Zachary looked down at the description of a job and the location.
Felix said, “This internship will get you away from this place for a while. Give you time to gather your wits again. To become something far more than you have yet imagined.”
“You want me to run from Ethan? I could barely leave the apartment. How am I supposed to go all the way to –”
“I’m not suggesting you run away from your problems. I’m trying to give you a fresh and worthwhile start. A way to discover your own worth, dependent on no one.”
Zachary looked down at the page once more.
Felix smiled softly. “Think about it.”
“But what about Mother?”
“She’ll remain in my employ, of course. She can’t go with you…”
“I understand that. So what becomes of her then? She has no one. She’s completely alone, except for me. And I hate to think of her being as alone as I am now.”
“But neither of you really are alone. You both have me – your friend. And I would continue to keep watch over her, and you, as I have all these years. It was Robert’s wish that I look after you both if anything happened to him.”
“Somehow I doubt that,” Zachary replied.
“Have I ever lied to you?” Felix asked. Zachary slowly shook his head. “He was concerned about your welfare should something happen. I have managed to keep up my end of the bargain. And not merely out of a sense of loyalty to your father, either. I do truly care about you both, Zach. Don’t worry about your mother. I’ll take good care of her.”
“When would I have to leave?”
“Well, it’s a closed posting, and all the plans are set. We can tell the other person that we’ve changed his assignment. But the flight is tomorrow morning.”
“Tomorrow would be…great. Yes. Yes, I’ll go. Tomorrow. It’s not forever, right? Just a few weeks, according to this…It…it’s just what I want.”
Felix looked squarely at Zachary, sizing him up. “Very well,” he said, extending his hand. “Congratulations on your new assignment. I’ll have the staff apprise you of everything.”
“But I need a passport, and maybe a visa…”
“Don’t worry about any of that. We’ve connections. It’ll be done by end of day. You may need to get a couple of shots this afternoon, however…”
“Fine, fine. But I can’t stay in that apartment, Jason. Not even for a night. I can’t bear the thought of being near him…I –”
“Then go and pack your things for the trip and go to my apartment and make yourself at home. I’ll have my secretary call you there. Here, take this…” He walked behind his desk and took something out of a drawer.
“This is a spare key to my place,” Felix said. “The guest bedroom’s fully turned out and you know where to find everything. I’ll see you later this afternoon. And if you like, I can tell you more about your father…some things that might surprise you. People aren’t always what they seem, Zach. They don’t always behave in ways that…that illuminate their true selves…”
“You’ve said a mouthful.”
Felix grinned and laid a hand on Zachary’s back. “Go on, now. Go and settle in and wait for my secretary to call.”
Zachary nodded and walked to the door. Then he turned. “Jason…thank you. For everything. Asking you to look after Mother and me is the one thing my father did do right.”
“He did other things right, too, Zach. Things you don’t know about. We’ll talk about all of it, I promise. Now go on, son. I’ll see you later.”
Zachary left without another word. As the door closed, Felix’s smile changed into a look of scorn. “And you, too, Ethan,” he said.
Bureau Nine – Kreswell Apartment – Moments Later
Zachary opened the door quietly, and looked inside the apartment. Seeing no one, he entered quietly and walked softly across the living room floor and down the hallway toward his bedroom. Halfway along, his mother’s voice floated to his ears.
“Ethan, we really shouldn’t be doing this now.”
Bureau Nine – Kreswell Apartment – Bedroom – Same Time
“I don’t care. C.K., please.” Ethan’s heavy breath came in hot bursts against her shoulder. His lips were at her throat again, slowly making their way down.
The midday sun shone brightly into Cameron’s bedroom. Ethan felt the warmth of the rays on his neck and back and tossed the covers off completely. The rush of air along his naked frame made him shiver.
Cameron’s arms closed around his shoulders.
“But I’m worried about him –”
“I’m worried, too, but he needs a little time by himself to get his bearings. Believe me, I know,” Ethan told her, his hands sliding behind her. “We’ll find him later. Just love me now. Just a little…”
“Just a little?” she asked, as he positioned her beneath him.
He looked at her steadily and buried his head in the nape of her neck.
Zachary stared unblinking from where he stood, watching from the bedroom door. He had opened it just a crack.
“Ethan…” his mother groaned.
“Cam…” Ethan answered and her over to rest on top of him.
From outside the room, Zachery caught a glimpse of his mother’s bare back as Ethan suddenly lifted her up and onto to his lap. Her toes and knees sank down into the mattress. His eyes widened as Ethan thrust upward. Cameron’s hair fell back over her shoulders as she lifted her face toward the ceiling.
Suddenly Zachary turned from the sight, putting his back to the wall. He raised his hand to his lips, as if to keep from retching. Quickly, and as quietly as before, he continued down the hall to his room, grimacing at the sounds still coming from his mother’s bedroom.
He shut the door of his room soundlessly. Steadying himself with a hand to the wall, he took several deep breaths.
He pulled open a couple of dresser drawers and took as many socks and underwear as would fit into his suitcase. He opened his closet and grabbed his two favorite shirts and three pair of jeans, one pair of comfortable shoes, an electric shaver, a comb, his wallet and his only credit card. He dropped them all into the small suitcase. He quickly zipped the suitcase and closed the closet and drawers.
The loud grunts and groans were louder as soon as he opened his bedroom door again. He steeled himself to walk by his mother’s room, half-shutting his eyes as he did so. Once past it, he stopped into the bathroom and grabbed his toothbrush, tucking it into his pants pocket. Then he headed directly through the living room and to the front door of the apartment.
He hesitated there, his hand on the door knob. “Ethan! Ethan!” He heard his mother’s loud litany over Ethan’s groans.
“I hate you,” Zachary said quietly, almost as if not even aware he was speaking until he had said it. “I hate you,” he said again, his hand tightening on the doorknob. He heaved breaths with each cry of the two lovers. “I curse you both,” he said, in counterpoint to the cries. “I curse you both. I curse you both…forever.”
Zachary turned the doorknob as the cries grew louder and exited the apartment. The door closed quietly in the empty living room.
End of Act Three