|Alice Kennedy (rosemary_thyme) wrote in paxletalelogs,|
@ 2017-07-27 11:54:00
|Entry tags:||uke mochi, xochipilli|
Got a secret, can you keep it?
Who: Alice and Gabe
What: Alice has a couple things she’d like to discuss with Gabe
Where: Gabe’s apartment
When: A few days following this
Alice had been standing outside of Gabe’s apartment door for a handful of minutes, trying to gather her wits and rehearse all she would say in her mind before knocking on the door. She wore a tank top and shorts, simple clothing from a morning spent in the bakery kneading dough, and a frown on her face. This was serious business after all, not a time to socialize and bring cupcakes--which she certainly did not bring along with her this time.
Finally, Alice knocked on Gabe’s door.
She was left waiting perhaps a touch longer than was socially polite; a second knock was required, and a person could be heard padding toward the door. Gabe had come out of his office (door closed, no interruptions please) to refill his glass of water just as he heard the hey, listen buddy: the sequel pounding with a slight trepidation on his door.
"Alice, hi!" He opened it wide, no small amount of surprise on his face, the nearly-empty water glass in his left shaking with the movement. What could be bringing the redhead up from the fourth floor? "What can I do for you?"
Alice sucked in a breath, looked up at the man, and stood up a little straighter. “We need to have a discussion,” she stated clearly and proceeded to march forward, through Gabe’s door and right into his apartment without seeking permission. She didn’t care, she tried to reason with herself despite her anxiety, she had to speak to him and this was not a discussion to be had in the hallway. “Where would you like to talk? I feel you should be sitting for this, preferably.”
She crossed her arms over her chest as she turned to look at Gabe, trying to appear strong and brave and ready to go to battle but in actuality, crossing her arms was only a way to prevent her hands from fidgeting with nerves. She already felt the guilt of doing this pressing into the core of her heart, but here she was all the same.
Gabe's brows were high on his forehead, and he closed the door softly behind her. Spot, seated in his usual corner in the living room, looked up, the movement underscored by the tinkling of his dog tags.
"Uh, we can sit in the living room. Can I get you something to drink? Is everything...OK?" Now those same thick, dark brows were knitted across his forehead, his mostly empty glass held between both hands as he somewhat meekly followed Alice's form through his own apartment.
“No thank you,” Alice replied, her eyes traveling over the nice living room and spotting the dog. For a moment, her tough expression faltered and her eyes went wide, a hand twitching to reach for the dog and give it a pet, but she was here on business and quickly tried to maintain that through her facial expressions. “Everything… well. That’s what I want to talk to you about. I want to ensure that things don’t get worse. So they’re okay… to a point. But they could be better and they could also be worse.” She turned to look at Gabe and frowned. “I’m talking in riddles, sorry. Look, I want to talk to you about Rafael.”
The near-empty glass immediately went to a nearby table not meant for such things. Gabe circled around Alice, leading her toward the couch.
"Why? Did something happen?" After everything else going on in the building, he was certain he would have heard a mishap of any sort from the man himself; the fact that it was coming from a friend meant it was certainly dire. It also hinted at the idea Rafe was hiding things from him, and Gabe had to take steps to not feel pained at that fact -- they'd been apart for so long, he had no right to the man's inner thoughts, as he once had. Gabe waited for Alice to sit first, but his anxiety was already starting to creep up.
“No,” She replied quickly then frowned. “I mean… yes. But he’s okay, it’s not like that. This is preventative. Sort of.” She rolled her eyes at herself and then took a seat, for a moment pausing and allowing the silence to grow before starting again. “So, you obviously know that Rafael is moving to this floor in a week and I wanted to talk to you about that." Gabe nodded, confusion replacing concern on his features.
“When he first told me, I was hurt. I was excited for him to live on my floor and to have someone nearby. I liked the idea that he’d be close with all that’s been going on in this apartment--I feel that way now more than I did even then…” she said quietly, her gaze drifting off as she recalled something Gabe was not privy to. Rolling her shoulders to get rid of the memory, she blinked and continued on. “So I’m upset about that, but I’m also worried about him. You both don’t know what the hell you’re doing and I’m worried you’re going to hurt him.” She looked at Gabe this time and there was something angry in her eyes. “He still cares about you, more than I think he even realizes. And now he’s going to be living across the hall from you and your boyfriend, or whatever. You need to be good to him. You need to not hurt him.”
Gabe blinked, taken aback by her words. His mouth opened, then closed, and it was clear he was trying to swallow back a laugh; the tension that had worked its way into the line of his shoulders visibly softened. "Woah, woah, OK, uh..." He almost looked as though he were going to try and take Alice's hand in an attempt to comfort her, but ended up just rubbing his palms on his thighs. His brows knitted over his forehead. "I already told Rafe this, but Eshan doesn't live with me. And, no offense, I understand that you're his friend, but Rafe.... He's an adult, Alice, he's allowed to make decisions on his own. I'm sorry that that means he's moving away from you, but he's still in the same building. Do you feel like I'm stealing him away from you, or something?"
“A little, if I’m being honest,” Alice admitted, a small flush developing on her cheek. “And it’s scary. I’m sure you know and have experienced all that’s gone on in the building, I’m sure Rafael has told you what he’s seen. And there’s more to it which, honestly, makes me feel frightened to be alone.” Her voice cracked at that and she quickly looked away. The idea of falling to pieces as she had that night not so long ago and no one being there, no one knowing, frightened her to her core. Would Uke Mochi have come and brought her back together if Rafael wasn’t there to call to her? If he hadn’t been there, how long would she had been lost to the floor as a pile of grains before someone would have noticed her absence?
“But I can figure that out,” Alice said quietly, still looking away. “And that isn’t the main issue. It’s you and him. It’s that he still cares for you, probably more than he should, and I’m worried you’ll hurt him. And he can’t be hurt, not anymore than he has been, he… he can’t.”
Alice looked back at Gabe now, her face serious and determined. “Something did happen. That’s why I’m so certain you can’t hurt him. And… and I need your help. I need your help to make sure he’s okay.”
Gabe finally reached out, taking Alice's right hand between both of his own.
"Alice," he said, his voice quiet but firm. "I promise that I only want the best for Rafe. I care about him deeply, and... I'm working very hard to make sure that our friendship is good for him, that there aren't expectations that either of us can't fill. If anything seems weird or off I'd tell you, all right? But you need to stop worrying. I'm guessing Rafe told you about our history, or some portion of it... We haven't been together in a long time, and I'm... I'm pretty sure that ship has sailed." He did his best to hide the marked disappointment that threatened to leech into his voice. "OK? I just want you to know that. I would never intentionally hurt Rafe." I've probably already done enough damage. "You can tell me what happened, though. I'll help however I can."
Alice stared at Gabe for a moment and silently wished she could hit both Gabe and Rafael on the head simultaneously. She could see their attraction to one another, although with Gabe it was a little more than a guess than knowing, and she was certain Rafe still had feelings for Gabe. But there was no convincing, they were both in denial, and there were certainly more pressing subjects to discuss.
“Has Rafael told you about Uke Mochi? About how he and I share dreams? Do you know about that or about any weird changes to… to people here?” Her voice was soft, shy almost, and she looked at Gabe in an almost sheepish way as her cheeks took more and more color. But there was no stopping her now that she began to say it all, the words kept tumbling from her lips. “Has he told you about our nightmares? About the children with the old faces?”
His grasp on her appendage loosened a little, a thumb passing over the back of her hand. He shook his head. "He told me that he's shared dreams with several people in the complex, though I don't think he mentioned anyone named Uke Mochi. He and I, uh, there's been some dreams between people named Xochipilli and Freyr. And as for the weird things happening..." His brows lifted as his gaze dropped to the floor, a hand going to the nape of his neck for a moment. He released her hand completely, his own settling on his leg.
Finally, he met her eyes again, a smile flashing cautiously over his face. "He told me about the nightmares on your floor, the... weird kids. There's been weird things happening up here, too, and from the looks of the network board, all over the complex. But what's any of that got to do with Rafe? What happened?"
Alice couldn’t answer at first. She hadn’t spoken about that night to anyone yet, only discussing it in hushed tones with Rafael directly, and the guilt of exposing all that had happened turned in her belly. Rafael had been so insistent she not tell anyone about what she discovered about him, and here she was about to do the exact opposite, but she had to explain what pushed him to that point. “You may not believe it but just… just try to believe it, okay?” she whispered, unable to raise her voice as if this secret couldn’t be shared with the otherwise empty apartment.
“A few nights ago he and I both had a dream about those weird kids. We both woke up from it and we were talking about it. But then I changed…” Her gaze fell to her lap, unable to watch Gabe’s expression. She didn’t want to see the look of distrust or glimmer in his eye as if she were insane, it was best to look down. “Uke Mochi is the goddess I dream about. She and Freyr have had dreams together and she’s… she’s kind but she’s strange. She doesn’t have a body anymore. She died, another god killed her, and she decayed into grain and seeds. She basically became a woman made out of vegetation and that’s how she moves around now. And after Rafael and I had that shared dream, my body turned into that body. I became grain, I wasn’t human, I didn’t have skin and it… it was terrifying.”
She couldn’t help but glance up at Gabe with that admission, the fear still clear on her face. “And then I fell apart. I couldn’t hold myself together and I just fell to pieces on the floor. That’s all I remember but Rafael was there, he saw it all. He was holding me when I fell apart. He said that after that, Uke Mochi arrived and put me back together. That she talked to him and then she left and it was just me again. But I don’t remember any of that, all I remember is falling apart and then waking up in my bed. And Rafael… he… he didn’t take it well.”
Gabe's eyes were, understandably, wide. He stayed silent, listening intently to her explanation; nothing on his face spoke of disbelief or incredulity. Instead, a few more pieces were ticking into place for him. He recalled the faint details Rafe had told him about the negative encounter in the building during the floor change, plus the alleged suicide in his apartment, and now this? He felt a stone forming and sinking in his stomach, a sense of helplessness that he had not been able to do more.
"How?" He finally said, somewhat hoarsely. "What did he do?"
“When I woke up, I went to find him. I thought everything was a nightmare, or maybe I was just reasoning with myself it was, but I wanted to find him. He’s… he’s comforting, you know?” She looked up at him. “Of course you do. He’s just… he’s a good guy. But when I found him, he was in the bathroom and he…”
Alice’s breath caught in her throat and she paused, licking her lips for a moment. “He was doing coke. He was so upset when I found him and I think everything that happened to me. All that my body did and what not, it made him do that. But we talked about it and he’s been doing it for awhile now. Ever since everything sort of fell apart.”
A grimace worked its way across Gabe's face; one hand clutched his thigh a little tighter than he meant to.
"Fuck," he finally murmured. His gaze fell and then came back to Alice's face. "What... How do you want me to help? I know some rehab places, not that I've ever been myself... Friends though, just, the lifestyle. Did he say he was ready to stop? That he wanted help?"
“He wanted me to keep it a secret,” Alice admitted sadly, her shoulders slumping. “That night, I told him to get rid of it and that we’d discuss it the next day and he did. He got rid of it. I feel like if he was too far gone he wouldn’t have? I’m not sure though, I’ve never known anyone who has done this type of stuff. But we talked and he seems interested in stopping, but he said absolutely no to any in-patient rehab. Therapy and medication or whatever he’s down for. But… yeah, I just… I want to help him but I don’t know a lot about this type of thing.
“He seems to be doing better at the apartment. I haven’t found anything and he says he will not under any circumstances do anymore of that in my apartment, but it doesn’t necessarily mean he isn’t doing it elsewhere. Now he’s moving here and he’s going to be in that apartment alone and we won’t really know what he is or isn’t doing…” She sucked in a breath and now the weight of everything, the change, the drugs, and breaking Rafael’s trust, seemed to crush her. She leaned forward and pressed her face into her hands. “I don’t know what to do.”
Gabe leaned into her sway, his hands coming up to her shoulders. "OK, first... um... Let me talk to some people. Find out what good first steps would be, especially since he doesn't want to get anyone involved, not...not more so than anyone has to be." He's always been like that, he thought to himself grimly. Never wants to be a problem. The thought annoyed him, a little, thinking that Rafe was using it as an excuse to do these terrible things to himself. That was immediately followed by guilt, another voice saying Rafe wouldn't be in this position if Gabe hadn't dragged him all the way to California. "Maybe there's, I don't know, like a patch or something like for Nicotene..." He rubbed her shoulders, the action comforting himself as much as it might have her. "But we'll figure this out, Alice, I promise. You don't have to deal with this by yourself, and neither does he." No matter how many times I've told him...
Alice removed her hands from her face and looked at Gabe with a frown. “He’s been dealing with it alone for so long and we both missed all the signs. I feel awful, and even worse because I told you. He was so adamant that I should keep it a secret but it just felt wrong. First with the suicide in his apartment, and the floors changing, and the dreams, and then me falling apart on him and now he’s moving and I’m just so worried we won’t get him help in time. I don’t want him to be alone in that apartment, at least not until I know he’s not doing anything worse. He kept it hidden and I only found out because of all the weirdness from that night; what if there’s more going on that I still don’t know about?”
She fell quiet and bit at her bottom lip for a moment, lost to the various emotions churning through her. “Are you going to tell him I told you?”
Gabe was shaking his head. "No, I'll... we can find some other way. Maybe we can talk to him together, or I can give you some info and you can give it to him. But you're right, just because he threw it away then and there doesn't mean that he's not still doing it, and we have to help him, now that we know. The worst that will happen is that he'll get mad at us for interfering, but it's better than him hurting himself." he rubbed her shoulders again, ducking his head to look right into her eyes.
"OK? I'm gonna get info together and then I'll let you know, and we can decide together what to do about it. Whether its you telling him, or us, or whatever. And he'll be a part of the decisionmaking process. We're not just gonna throw him in some medical facility without him saying it's all right."
Alice nodded, feeling a small relief birthing in her belly. “He doesn’t want to be thrown into any facility, that’s for sure. Maybe... maybe we can watch him, sort of, even once he moves. Take turns or something? Just make sure we keep him distracted and don’t allow him much of a chance to go and do it. He and I cook together a lot, and we watch movies together and just hang out, maybe I can ask him if we could still do that. Well, I mean, he already said we could but maybe I can start making active plans to do that. And maybe you…” She frowned. “Do you think it would be good to hang out with him? Like, with your boyfriend around? For all three of you, I mean. I don’t want you guys to have further stress...I can try and keep him distracted.”
Gabe quieted, his hands stilling on her shoulders. "We already do, a little. Hang out, I mean." Not with Eshan, he didn't add. "And yeah, we could, I don't mind making plans with him. And he's going to be on my floor, so, I obviously should use that to my advantage, right?" He pulled his hands back, settling them in his lap. "We'll work this out. We can distract him, but I want to make sure he doesn't need something more than that. You said he's been doing this for awhile... but you don't know how long, or how heavy of usage, right? I just want to make sure we're not missing something that needs to be taken care of. But yeah, besides that, we just need to make sure he feels safe and loved. So, you know," he quickly added, covering up the last word as color flared gently in his cheeks, "he doesn't feel he needs that to make himself feel better." He reached out and took Alice's hand again, gently squeezing it. "So yeah. Maybe we can even all have a dinner up here, or down at your place, and get things sorted out. We'll work this out."
“Um, he told me he’s been using it since around April,” Alice began to recount, slowly going through the conversation in her head. “Or maybe it was May… He said he tried to never do it in my apartment but that night got a little away from us both.” Alice chewed at her bottom lip, uncertain if she wanted to share the last bit of information that Rafael had told her in confidence. “I asked him if he had done it before, you know? Or if this was something new. He said he started after you both broke up...unless...unless I misunderstood him.”
Gabe hadn't expected an answer; he'd simply been making a case that he wanted to ensure Rafe got all the help he need. The casualness with how Alice released the information told him that she didn't see it in the same light as he did; which is to say, it brought his freshly bound guilt bleeding out again, a nasty little voice in the back of his mind reiterating that this was all his fault. That'd be convenient, and selfish, though, isn't it? He replied back, trying to see sense. Just because Rafe had picked up a terrible habit simply because Gabe wasn't around didn't mean anything. Gabe had to keep telling himself that he didn't need to be around to hold Rafe's hand. He'd just finished telling Alice that Rafe wasn't a child, that he was perfectly capable of taking care of himself, despite all evidence to the contrary.
"OK, well, it just means he probably needs something more than we can give him," he finally said, forcing the words out of his throat. His voice felt dry, his head swimming with the admission that he really had done some true harm to his friend and former lover. He kept a smile on his face, despite how much he wanted to eject from this conversation and go find Rafe and shake the truth out of him. "But it's something we can talk about, with him. Or you can. However you want to handle this." He forced himself to take a step back, to remember that he wasn't supposed to know about any of this, at least, not where Rafe would know.
Alice was nodding along to what Gabe was saying, completely willing to follow along now that he knew everything, but his verbal allowance that it was what she wanted to do, how she wanted to handle it made her pause. “What do you think would be best? You’ve known him for a lot longer than me. Do you think if we did it together that he’d be more upset that you knew and mad at me for telling? Do you think it’s better if I try and talk to him one on one?”
Taking a moment to think, Gabe slouched back against the cushions. Just the fact that it had taken him being caught to out all this information didn't speak highly to Rafe being open to more discussion.
"I think he's going to be upset, no matter how it's handled. He's going to think he's making a problem for other people that they don't need to worry about. I think... I would like to help talk with him, just to show that he's got people who care about him and that he doesn't need to be doing this." One hand rotated, fingers grasping. "But he seems comfortable with you, so I don't see why you couldn't approach him one on one if you wanted to. Though I do think just one person would be easier for him to make excuses, say that everything will fix itself."
Alice nodded, biting her lips as she looked to Gabe. “I’ll keep talking to him, I’ll try and make sure he understands the conversation is open and he isn’t causing me any harm by being honest with me. And I’ll suggest we speak to you and feel it out a little. I’ll definitely let you know how things are going and you can always reach out to me. Shoot me a message on the community board or whatever. And once he’s moved in, you’ll keep an eye on him too? Until we know for sure he’s getting over this.” She was nodding along, counting each thing they would do to maintain Rafael’s wellbeing. “Am I forgetting anything? It’s all so overwhelming, but never tell him that.”
He laughed, feeling buoyed suddenly; it left as quickly as it came. "I won't. Rafe is... He's more fragile than he wants anyone to know.
"But that sounds good to me. Once he's in his apartment, you can definitely believe I'll be over there as much as I can." He started ticking through things in his mind, ways he might try to reach out to Rafael, without being overbearing. He was trying to remember the boundaries that had been created, and how he wouldn't overstep them. Then he refocused, looking back at Alice's face.
"Thanks for telling me. I really appreciate it, more... more than I can say. And I'll let you know if I find anything else out that would help."
Alice nodded and got to her feet with a frown on her face. She glanced around at the living room and sighed. “Um, sorry for barging in here earlier, that was rude,” she said quietly, shyly glancing at Gabe. “Your apartment… it’s really nice. And your dog is cute.”
"Thanks," he offered, the smile on his face thin. He rose as well, following on the heels of her movements, trying to gauge where the situation was going now even as it obviously was meeting its end. "He appreciates compliments, even if he doesn't show it." Spot watched them from the droopy pile on the floor that he'd become, his head between his paws. He lifted it when attention was cast in his direction, looking hopeful. "So yeah, if you need anything..."
Alice nodded and tried to smile, although it didn’t reach her eyes. “I’ll definitely let you know and I’ll let you know if anything else happens with Rafael, too.” She turned her attention to the dog and smiled more fully. “Bye, puppy. And bye, Gabe. Thank you, I mean it.” She looked at him with a nod then turned for the door, letting herself out and not feeling much better than before.
Likewise, Gabe kept the smile pressed to his mouth until the door was fully shut behind Alice. Then it dropped away, and he breathed out, long and low, a hand coming up to cup and then run through his beard. Turning, he glanced at Spot, but then sank into his own miserable heap on the couch, his head pressed between his hands.