Ubi Caritas | John Rutter & The Cambridge Singers
“Of course. Confidential.”
Even mistakes him for someone who gives a damn. Ah, but so many do. It’s a part of his charm, after all. Including the soft, lulling laugh breathed past his lips. ”I am always careful.”
For a moment, Lumaria merely observes his guest as he steps amongst the plants. He can tell that the man is not a botanist by any standards, but figures— knows he will appreciate the beauty of so many healthy specimens. He himself seems to glide through the rows and aisles with steps of a very natural grace. He pauses, though, to watch Even reach out toward the morning glory. And he notices that he is not the only one of the household who has taken interest in the man.
A vine has been sneaking down from its hanging pot to try and hook around Even’s throat from behind. Lumaria, though, steps over to grab it just before it makes its move. Upon doing so, he ends up standing close in front of him; chests nearly touching as he grips tightly to the squirming vine. Even now, his eyes remain half-lidded, alluring, inviting. And when he speaks, his voice is amused and sly; soft, too, with how his face tilts just slightly closer to Even’s. ”It seems my collection is happy to see you too, Mr. Carmine.” In an instant, he twists the vine at just the right angle to have it suddenly retracting back up into its pot.
The young heir only smiles just slightly wider. ”Playful though they are, the specimens here are far more rare and exotic than anything the university might offer.” Smoothly, he steps away to return personal space back to the scientist, and beckons him to follow as he heads for the back of the greenhouse where his work station is. Casually, too, as though a plant just hadn’t tried strangling his new business partner. ”As you can see, everything is in order for our analysis. Will you be able to rest easy tonight, then?”
Lumaria’s soft laughter makes his chest flutter. A normal person might have identified this as a sign they were becoming fond of someone. Even, however, interpreted it as a poor omen and wondered briefly if he had gotten ill on the trip somehow.
He’s so focused on the plants on the table that he does not notice the vine at all; hence, he startles awfully when Lumaria steps suddenly and firmly into his personal space. He doesn’t know what it is that makes him react, but he steps back immediately, clumsily, gripping the bench behind him inadvertently.
For a moment Lumaria had been so close that Even would only have had to lean in a little to be pressed up close against his front. That would have been very, very unprofessional; somehow, though, Even has the ominous idea in his head that perhaps Lumaria might not have minded if such a thing had been to occur. His throat tightens and he’s struck with a weird urge to bolt out the door and—oh. Oh. He’s overreacting.
He knows this because he is a psychiatrist and he can recognise when people are being irrational. He knows that if he stops and thinks it all through he will realise there is really nothing to worry about and he ought not assume the worst.
Even breathes in, lets it out, and makes up his mind to pretend he had been startled by the plant.
“Fl-flavour of the month, aren’t I?” he mutters as he follows him to his workstation. This place is much more familiar territory to him, though some of the equipment is a bit more flashy than he’s used to. Even supposes Mr. Derosiers simply assumed that whatever cost the most probably worked the best and bought it—he had that luxury, after all. Envy sets in, then a sort of smug content.
When I return to Radiant Garden, I will have all of this and more.
“The university probably hasn’t the funds for such an endeavour. Botany isn’t very popular there, as I recall.” When he bends his head slightly to examine the equipment, his hair flops gracelessly into his eyes. He ought to have brought something to tie it with; the humidity is affecting him something awful. He manages an awkward laugh nonetheless. “I daresay I’ll manage. I ought to get back to my son.”
The word still doesn’t feel quite right in his mouth.
“Thank you for having us both.”
Requiem: “Pie Jesu” sung by Edward Saklatvala (treble) and the Choir of King’s College, Cambrige
Composed by John Rutter
Ienzo watches the doctor’s face for a few moments after he finishes reading his reply (but not his eyes, never his eyes). So, he thinks to himself, this man is afraid of what’s to come, what he doesn’t know, what he can’t control.
So he bites his lip and writes back, rather petulantly, “I’m not scared of the future. Not any more.”
But he holds onto the sketchbook for a long time after penning his response, devising ways of changing the subject. He knows that Even is to be his psychiatrist now, but that doesn’t stop him from being a stranger, and Ienzo feels now that he has divulged enough to strangers.
So he draws a dark line beneath his reply and begins anew: “I like to read. Do you read books, Dr Carmine?“
He tilts his chin up to peer slightly over the top of the sketchbook, just barely able to read Ienzo’s reply upside down. It’s a sad day, Even thinks, when an eight year old child appears to be less frightened of the future than he is. Having said that, he supposes most children don’t think an awful lot about the future. Even he didn’t; he had far too much to worry about in the present to think about that sort of thing.
The boy has stopped writing for now, though. Even gives him what he hopes is a reassuring smile and tries to be patient (the clock suddenly seems awfully loud).
Ienzo’s reply puzzles him briefly, but it’s more than obvious that the boy doesn’t want to talk any more about what happened. Even has little to volunteer on the subject of books… but it’s crucial that he builds a relationship with the patient to keep him comfortable. And maybe if he can make a connection—
His pen hovers over the page as he considers the morality of telling a child a white lie. He does read books, yes… and there may be an element of childish escapism in Even’s study of medical journals and encyclopedias, but nothing Ienzo would understand or appreciate.
“I read a lot of books,” he writes eventually, then adds, smiling, “but the ones they give you at my age are all very boring .”
Maybe Ienzo will think that’s funny. Even doesn’t really know how to make a child laugh. He doesn’t really know how to make anyone laugh.
“What kind of books do you like reading?”