"Dr. Richard Dehnt.."
Richard spoke calmly as he held up his small picture badge to the glass, flashing his credentials to the burly looking orderly working the door. The hospital's normal psyche ward stretched in the distance behind him as Richard stood there in his white doctor's coat, waiting to be let in through the locked door.
Behind his small window in the wall, the orderly checked Dr. Dehnt's credentials thoroughly, being meticulous as he entered the information in a log book.
Richard didn't seem to mind. The two of them had both seen each other countless times before. He knew the orderly by name. But Richard also knew which section he was going into. And he knew that the extra precautions were necessary for the particular ward he wanted to enter.
Having finished his logbook entry, the orderly looked up at Richard again. His voice was level and businesslike, as cold and meticulous as his writing.
"And the patient you will be seeing?"
Richard answered calmly, but deep down, he could feel himself grinding his teeth a little. "Mary Simmons..."
The orderly looked silently at Richard for a long time. Richard could almost feel the connection the orderly was undoubtedly making in his mind at that exact moment. Mary Simmons. Dr. Dehnt's one, spectacular failure.
Invisibly, Richard squirmed under the scrutiny, but revealed nothing outwardly. Saying nothing, his face hardened even more, waiting in the silence.
The orderly didn't say a word, his expression motionless and neutral. Finally he lowered his head, writing in the patient's name. Richard wondered what the orderly must think of him. Then he wondered why he should care. He was just an orderly after all.
The orderly spoke again without looking up, still waiting to write something further. "And the duration of your visit, Dr. Dehnt?"
An angry pit opened up in Richard's stomach as he thought about why he had come to see Mary, and the questions he intended to ask. Questions he didn't think he'd like the answers to.
"At least an hour..." Richard answered, trying to keep his voice calm.
"Will you be requiring an escort, Dr. Dehnt."
"No..." Richard said softly. "No, I'll be fine.."
The orderly nodded simply, entering the last of the information. Richard looked up towards the corner of the ceiling, feeling the lens of the surveillance camera watching him. Behind his window, the orderly placed his logbook aside and looked at Richard for a long second, in no rush. Finally he reached over and pushed a button. There was a small buzz, and Richard's eyes quickly shifted to the small electronic LED light glowing on the door lock before him as it shifted from its red light to the yellow one.
The orderly watched Richard quietly, calm and unsympathetic.
"Go on in, Dr. Dehnt."
Richard lifted the ID he had shown the orderly and swiped it through the waiting card slot beside the now yellow light. There was a soft beep, and the light changed from yellow to green as the lock released.
Clipping the ID back to the pocket of the lab coat, Richard pulled the unlocked door open and stepped in, before letting it swing shut behind him, hearing it slam loudly. The lock clicked as the door closed. Looking up, a long, bright hallway waited silently before him. It was well lit, meticulously clean, and virtually empty. There were no objects in the hall. No stray items were unaccounted for. Somehow, it just looked watched.
Slowly, Richard started to walk forward, feeling the camera mounted to the wall above the door watching him as he moved away, feeling it on his back. His mind started to wander, thinking about why he had come.
Trevor was lying. And Claire had been lying too. He knew that. He knew that both of them... were holding something back. Keeping something hidden from him and most likely from each other. He had to know for certain what that something was. He had to find someone who would be willing to give him the answers he needed. An outside source who had observed Trevor closely for weeks, and Claire too. Someone who had observed the kind of relationship Trevor and Claire had had together, and who would tell him the truth.
Richard paused for a moment, uncertain. He didn't know if he should be doing this, using his position to accomplish what amounted to spying on Claire, the woman that he loved. It almost felt like a... betrayal, not trusting her. She had never done anything to warrant his distrust, he knew that. But he also knew he had to find out the truth, no matter if it meant going behind her back. Richard finally pushed his doubts aside and started walking forward again. He loved Claire. He would do anything for her. But he had to know where he stood.
Resolved, Richard continued those last few feet down the corridor, before he inhaled and turned, taking a single determined stride closer to one of the locked doors lining the hallway. Leaning forward, he looked in through the door's small, airtight window as he flashed a small, dangerous smile to the person he saw inside.
"Hello, Faith." Richard said. "I need to ask you some questions about Trevor Hale..."
With an angry downward swipe of his ID through the door's lock, he opened it and stepped in, leaving the sparse hallway empty and silent behind him.
For once, Trevor felt relaxed in a psychologists office.
It was after hours as he sat in front of Jaclyn's reception area desk. The late afternoon sun was flowing in through the window behind the desk, long golden rays falling to the floor in front of him. Trevor sat facing both Jaclyn and Dr. Hazerman, who were seated comfortably across from him as he told his tale. Jaclyn was obviously trying to hide a small smile behind her hand as she sat there. Beside her, Dr. Hazerman listened intently to Trevor's words.
"So then," Trevor continued, his eyes bright and sparkling, "so then of course I had to tell them that it had never really been a cucumber at all, so..." Trevor paused, looking over at Dr. Hazerman with anticipation once he finally reached the story's punch line. Jaclyn fidgeted a little nervously, uncertain of Dr. Hazerman's response.
Blinking, Trevor prodded further, hoping for something, anything more from silent, aging doctor. "Umm.... Not a cucumber. NOT..."
Trevor smiled a little awkwardly, feeling suddenly self conscious under the doctor's motionless stare. The doctor didn't seem to be listening to him anymore, instead thinking about what Trevor had already said. Trevor tried to explain a little more clearly. "See, they... they sort of, of thought that it was a cucumber the whole time..."
There was a long silence.
Then suddenly the reception area burst with a raucous, unbridled laughter. Trevor blinked when he realized it was coming from Dr. Hazerman. The old's man's face was unexpectedly lit up with merriment. His mouth hung wide open as he laughed hysterically. Ignoring Trevor's feeble attempts at clarification, he had apparently only just now processed the rest of what Trevor had said all on his own.
Jaclyn's eyes went wide at the unexpected, continuing sound. She giggled as Dr. Hazerman's howling laughter rolled on, echoing clearly down the hallway before them. The old man bent forward as he deeply guffawed, almost losing his breath. Jaclyn had never seen the doctor react to anything like that. She had never seen him laugh so hard. As his hysterics continued, Jaclyn shook her head, sighing with relief. She had known how racy a joke Trevor was telling, having heard it before. But Dr. Hazerman seemed to have taken it pretty well, still laughing so hard that he began to cough. Watching his reaction, it suddenly occurred to her. Was all this exertion safe for a man his age?
"Hey. Easy there shrink meister." Trevor slapped the coughing old man's back, who was still laughing hysterically. "Don't puncture a pacemaker on my account, doc."
Still chuckling and finally catching his breath, Dr. Hazerman smiled as he slowly rose from his chair. Seeing that the doctor was leaving, Trevor and Jaclyn rose with him. The aging doctor was mumbling happily to himself, still amused, when he paused and fixed an intense stare on Trevor, his clear, penetrating blue eyes glinting with clarity. The doctor suddenly walked over to him, and Trevor couldn't help but to nervously back up for a moment, uncomfortable with the doctor's enigmatic smile.
Holding his briefcase under one arm, the doctor reached up with his free hand... and fondly grabbed Trevor's shoulder. Looking into Trevor's eyes, he began to mumble as his words blurred together.
Trevor stared at the man blankly, without a clue as to what the man was saying. As Dr. Hazerman continued, Trevor simply nodded politely, smiling to humor him, but blinking in confusion as he tried to follow what the doctor was telling him.
Dr. Hazerman nodded contently, a big smile still on his face, before patting Trevor's shoulder one final time in a gesture of approval. After that quiet moment, he turned and stepped away, shambling off slowly down the hallway, starting to chuckle softly to himself again.
Trevor looked perplexed, not knowing what the doctor had just said. Jaclyn smiled as she watched the old man leave, her hand resting against her chest as if she felt touched by what he had said. Trevor looked over at Jaclyn with a question in his eyes.
"What just happened?" he asked.
Jaclyn's smile grew wider as she looked at Trevor. She laughed, and told Trevor word for word what Dr. Hazerman had said.
"He said that all the things I told him about you were right all along. That you are a marvelous person, and that he wouldn't change a thing about you. Because there's nothing in you that needs to be fixed. And he told you to never ever let anyone tell you that you're insane, Trevor. Ever. And..." Jaclyn smiled. "He said that you're lucky to have a wonderful, insightful friend like me."
Trevor's jaw dropped, but it slowly turned into a smile as he looked off the way the old man had gone. "You understood him?" Trevor sounded impressed.
Still grinning, Jaclyn shrugged. "Sure. Work with him long enough, you pick things up..." Turning, she looked at the afternoon light flowing in through the window behind her, the color warm on her smiling face. "Come on, Trevor. It's getting late. Let's get out of here before they lock us in..."
Trevor playfully bumped her shoulder with his. "Ooohh. THAT could be fun..."
Unexpectedly, she slapped him brazenly on the butt, making him jump. Jaclyn shyly bit her lip. "Cut that out, Trevor. Don't start something you can't finish. Besides, I'm with Champ now..."
Trevor seemed surprised at what she had just done. "Jaclyn! You're a spanker! Mmm, that could be fun too. Several amorous poibilities quickly spring to mind. And all of them bringing a flush to my-" he looked back at where she had slapped him, "...cheeks. Come on, play along Jaclyn. Can't you give a god what I'm sure would be a really pheneomenal break?"
"A break from immortality, Trevor? Isn't that what you said would happen if you ever... you know, gave in?" She smiled at his flirting. "Besides... if you keep this sort of talk up, when Champ finds out I'm sure he'll happily give a god a break... several of them."
"Yeah, but his won't be as fun..."
Jaclyn shook her head as she walked over behind her desk. "For someone who's claims to be omniscient, you sure do keep a one track mind."
"Occupational hazard..." When he saw Jaclyn gathering her purse and some case files she needed to take home, Trevor moved over to her. "Here, let me help you with those, Jaclyn."
"Thank's Trevor." She touched his shoulder fondly, before dumping the whole stack into his arms, leaving hers empty as she sighed. Trevor looked at her for a moment, but he only smiled, following her out from behind the desk.
The rest of the building was quiet around them as they slowly walked away from her desk, side by side. The hallway was empty, since most everyone else had gone home already. They left the rays of light falling behind them.
"So, Jaclyn..." Trevor's voice sounded reluctant as he shifted the weight of her files in his arms. "What are you doing later on? Do you have any plans for tonight? Maybe we could go see a movie or..."
"Umm..." She smiled politely. "Champ's waiting for me at our apartment for dinner..."
"Oh..." Trevor seemed disappointed. "Ok. Sure."
"I'm really sorry, Trevor. But it's sort of a big deal. Our first full night living together. Champ's planned this romantic meal-"
"No, I understand, Jaclyn. Really. A little bit of food, a little bit of wine. Some candlelight, romantic atmosphere, and the next thing you know the two of you are christening every reasonably stable and flat surface in the apartment in a really, REALLY good way. Hey, I totally approve. A REAL housewarming. You two have fun on my behalf, ok?"
"Sure. Thank you, Trevor." Jaclyn blinked, looking at him. "Are you going to be ok being all alone tonight?"
"Yeah. Hey, I will be. I'm a god. It's not a problem. It's just that... the apartment seems so empty with Champ gone..."
Jaclyn nodded sympathetically, smiling sadly. But she didn't know what to say to that. She took a breath, her face brightening as she changed the subject.
"Dr. Hazerman really liked the joke you told, Trevor. I could tell..."
"So could all of Illinois..." Trevor smiled.
Jaclyn nodded happily. "I've never seen him laugh like that since-... well, ever. Where did you hear that joke, anyway?"
Trevor's brow furrowed. "Joke? That wasn't a joke. That all really happened."
"Trevor...." She gave him a skeptical look, tilting her head at him as they continued to walk down the hallway side by side. "Oh, come on..."
"I'm serious. I was there. You haven't partied until you've partied with the gods, believe me. It was Rome. 1956... B. C. of course. And by B. C. I mean 'before cucumbers'. Ahh... the good old days. Bacchus was passed out in the between the temple columns, the torches were down low, the nymphs' hem lines were down lower..."
Jaclyn giggled some more as she looked at him. "You know, the doctor's right. There's nothing wrong with you, Trevor."
Trevor suddenly looked sad. "Sometimes I'm not so sure..."
She stopped in the hallway and touched his arm again. "Are you sure you'll be ok tonight?"
He smiled at her. "Absolutely. You guys have fun. Demolish a headboard or two in my honor, ok?"
Her eyes glinted seductively. "We will." Jaclyn reached out and took the things he was carrying for her out of his arms. "I'd better go. Thank you Trevor. I'll talk to you tomorrow, ok?"
"Sure. I'll expect a full report. Visual records of any kind will be highly appreciated."
Smiling at his remark, she was about to leave when she stopped. Turning, she quickly leaned in and shyly gave him a swift kiss on the cheek before instantly walking away.
Trevor paused, touching his cheek where she had kissed him. As she left, his face brightened and he felt perhaps fractionally better. He thought about what Dr. hazerman had said, and realized the old man had been right about one thing. He WAS lucky to have a friend like Jaclyn.
Jaclyn looked over her shoulder at him with a smile from the far end of the hallway. She waved at Trevor, and then stepped out of sight around the corner.
"Have a great night, Jaclyn..." Trevor's said softly as he thought about how he had gotten Champ and Jaclyn together, two people he cared so much about. Not like his old bow and arrow days of shooting couples at random. This one he was proud of, because he cared about both of them. "And you're welcome..."
Feeling better, Trevor suddenly realized he was standing there alone. The hallway was empty and echoing around him. The elation he felt didn't last. It faded coldly away a he realized there was no one there with him. After a few moments, Trevor took a side hallway and headed home to an apartment that was just as empty as that hallway. And where he was just as alone.
The same rich sunlight was falling into another building all the way across Chicago. It angled down through a clear glass window, golden rays falling into the white, antiseptic hallway of the hospital psyche ward at Lakeview, reflecting off the clean, polished flooring tiles and lighting the sparse white walls to either side with it's warm glow.
Richard stood in those colorful rays of falling light, his body casting bars of shadows down onto the floor. He was standing in front of a pay phone, facing it with his body ridged and tense as he fumed in silence. His arm was stiff as he pressed his palm against the wall, holding the pay phone's receiver to his ear with his free hand, listening to the phone ringing the number he had just dialed. Richard tried to stay calm, but he was finding that more difficult by the second, thinking over what he had heard in his just completed questioning of Mary.
"Hello?" Claire's voice answered hopefully on the other end.
"It's me..." Richard's words were soft, fighting to hide the anger he felt simmering underneath.
"Oh... Richard. Hi..."
"You were expecting someone else?"
"No. No, not at all. Why do you ask?" Claire's voice seemed guarded to him. Her words sounded cautious... nervous. She probably could hear the anger hidden in his voice, but he didn't care. Richard said nothing for a while, his face hard. It suddenly occurred to him that he really wished he could see Claire right now. He wanted to look into her eyes as they talked about this to see what she was hiding. But somehow... Richard knew this couldn't wait.
"Claire, I need to ask you something..."
There was a pause on the line. "Umm... Sure."
He closed his eyes, remaining silent for a second. Lowering his head, his lips formed a tight, angry line. But finally he opened his eyes to look at the sunlit floor beneath him as he continued.
"Claire... did you ever see any indication, any indication at all... that Trevor was romantically attracted to you?"
"Trevor?" He listened to her nervous sigh. "Richard why are you-.... where did this come from Richard?"
Still simmering, he shifted in the bars of light falling across his shoulders. His palm was still pressed hard against the wall, as if to stabilize himself, or to prevent his hand from hitting something.
"Just answer the question, Claire."
"Richard, I-.. I don't know why you would think-... Well, I-... I guess Trevor hit on everybody..." Richard could hear how flustered Claire sounded. Her answer seemed to be all over the map.
Richard's angry expression unexpectedly melted away. His hand slowly came off the wall as he straightened up. Blinking for a moment, her evasiveness devestated him, because now... he knew what it meant. He hadn't wanted to believe it before. Not really. But knowing what he knew now, knowing what Mary had told him, he had no other choice. Not anymore. It all seemed so clear. Why hadn't he seen it before? He spoke again.
"Did Trevor ever make a play for you, Claire?"
"Richard, I don't understand why-... Look, I-... If Trevor ever did, I don't even remember it."
Richard paused, not appeased in the least. He swallowed, before continuing. One final question. One question to make sure.
"Did he ever kiss you, Claire?"
There was a long silence on the line.
Richard closed his eyes, waiting for her answer. The anger on his face was gone. Now there was a sadness, a desperation in his voice as he held his breath, knowing this was the point of no return.
"Claire, I really need to know..." he said again.
Finally... Claire answered.
"No, Richard. He's never kissed me. Of course not."
Richard didn't know what to say. His eyes stared blankly ahead, taking in her words. Knowing what he knew, his world crumbled. It was done, and things would never be the same.
Claire spoke again, obviously wondering what was going on. Her voice sounded nervous after he was silent for several seconds.
Richard sighed softly as his free hand rubbed his forehead. He didn't know what to do. He had never known any one else like Claire. He probably never would again. She was beautiful, smart, amazing, so perfect for him. But now he felt lost. The hallway and sunlight seemed to spin around him. Like his entire world was spinning now.
"Claire... I, I love you so much..." His words were on the verge of a desperate gasp, dancing along a very thin edge. But as always, he kept himself in control. He always had to keep things under control.
She took a second to answer him, still wondering. "Richard, I... I know you love me. I really do, but I-... Richard, what's wrong?"
"I would do anything for you, Claire." He looked sadly out of the hospital window, where the sun was already beginning to set, thinking. Why was it that no matter what he said, it seemed like he had already lost her?
"Richard, is everything ok?"
With a bitter, whispered half laugh, he tried to shake it off. "Yeah. Yeah, everything's fine Claire."
"You sure? You sound a little... I don't know."
"No," Richard nodded, even though he knew she couldn't see him. "No, I'm fine. Really. It's, it's nothing. Umm... how's your book coming?"
"Actually, I finished it last week."
"Have you sent it off yet?" he asked softly.
There was a pause on Claire's end. "No. No I haven't."
He blinked at her response, and his eyes starting to glitter a little, thinking about her and Trevor. "Guess it's... hard to let go of some things sometimes..."
Her voice was quiet. "Yeah. Guess so... I don't think I'm happy with the ending yet."
He closed his eyes.
"Richard, are you sure you're alright?"
"Yeah," He listened to the sound of Claire's voice, small and distant in his ear. He felt so far away from her in that moment. Seperated n more ways than one. Perhaps he had never been any closer to her at all. Not really. "I'm fine, Claire. It's just been a long day, I've been talking to a patient of mine. Look, I'll... I'll see you tonight, ok?"
"Ok. See you then. Bye, Cla-"
The phone went dead before he could finish, almost as if Claire hadn't wanted to continued that awkward line of questioning any further, wanting to escape from it as quickly as possible. Richard pulled the receiver from his ear and slowly placed it back in it's cradle. He looked at it sadly, gazing at it for a long time, it's silence mocking him as he stood there alone.
His eyes began to mist over even more, and his voice was soft.
"You're lying for him, Claire..."
Richard finally turned and stepped out of the light flowing in through the window. As he calmly walked away, he left the pay phone bathed in the fading sunlight as it filled the empty hallway behind him.
A new day was glowing brightly over the sprawled expanse of the city beneath it.
Claire wasn't really looking where she was going as she walked down the streets of Chicago. The sky above was bright and sunny, a mid-morning light falling on her despondent face as she walked dejectedly through the crowd. Cars sped by on the street beside her as she stepped out onto one of the downtown bridges spanning the river, just as she had done a thousand times before. The stone railing slid by her as Claire walked along the busy sidewalk, just another figure in the crowd. The city was noisy and bustling all around her in the sunlight, but she didn't notice.
It had most definitely been an uncomfortable night last night. Richard had come over, but their time together had been tense from the start, both of them feeling awkward and quiet. And she had no idea why. Soon she had given him every signal she knew of for them to call it a night, and finally he had gone home, never revealing what had caused his mood. Claire began to wonder what she was going to do now. She could no longer deny that she didn't feel connected to Richard. Richard just wasn't... She couldn't help it. She couldn't stop thinking about Trevor.
Claire had reached the center of the bridge when she finally saw him, standing there patiently on the sidewalk, watching her approach. Coming to a stop a few feet away, Claire looked into Trevor's eyes. Standing in the middle of that bridge, there was no where else for either of them to go, no where else to run.
They stood there silently as the busy crowd flowed past in either direction, For a while they looked at the sidewalk, the crowd, everything but each other. When Claire finally looked up into his eyes, Trevor tried to break the awkward silence with a smile.
"So Sparky. Long time no see..."
Claire sighed. "Trevor, I..." She stopped, looking away, not explaining further what she had started to say.
Trevor nodded. "I see you haven't really changed your mind about talking to me..." They were both standing several feet apart, looking uncomfortable.
Claire looked at him, realizing all over again how much she had missed him the last few weeks. She began once more. "Trevor, I-"
"I know that was you on the phone, Claire..."
Claire stopped in mid sentence, blinking.
Trevor looked at her sadly, the light on his face not matched in his eyes. "That night you called? Even though you didn't say anything... somehow I knew."
Suddenly Trevor looked painfully away at the memory. "Why won't you talk to me, Claire?"
"Trevor, I just can't, ok?"
There was heartbreak hidden in his expression when he looked at her again. "I'm sorry, Claire. I pushed you away somehow. Maybe I did some things I shouldn't have done, things that went too fast. I pushed too hard hoping that we would.... Never mind. I still miss you. I miss you so much it hurts..." His eyes were misty as he gazed into her face, as if he was trying to drink in and save a much of her as he could while he had the chance. "Missing you hurts every day. Do you have any idea how that feels Claire?"
"Yes I do, Trevor." She said nothing else for a moment as the crowd continued to flow past them. "Trevor, I never meant to hurt you..."
He huffed derisively. "You have a funny way of showing it, Sparky."
"Trevor, this isn't going to happen."
"What...!" His voice was a little more animated. "What's not going to happen, Claire? A civil conversation? Us talking for a whole minute without you deciding to cut and run or you trying to make me feel like I'm the lowest god on earth? Without you hanging up on me or slamming a door in my face?"
"Trevor..." Claire shook her head, her voice emotional as well as she turned away.
He looked at her. "You know what the worst part is, Claire? That I don't even know why you're doing this to me. What I did, or didn't do--..." He sounded exasperated. "I don't know anything anymore, Claire!"
Claire turned back to face him, making Trevor blink when he saw how upset she was too, tears forming in her eyes.
Squinting, she glared at him. "Do you really want to know, Trevor?"
"You mean you're giving me a straight answer? What's next? The acropolis without a roof? George Hamilton without a tan? Siegfried without Roy? A wing without a pra-"
"You really want to know?!" She stepped quickly towards him as the sunlight fell on her face, her expression growing more upset.
"Yes, Claire! I really want to know. You don't even have to phrase it in the form of a question. And all answers will be graded as correct!"
The anger fell from her face as she looked at him sadly, a silence stretching between them as the traffic and the people on the bridge continued noisily past them. Sighing, she looked away again, reluctant, before turning back to him, trying to force the words out as her eyes misted over more.
Her voice was heart broken and vulnerable. "Trevor, I can't hurt you like this anymore..."
Silently, Trevor swallowed when he realized she was serious, but said nothing.
"Trevor, I..." Claire paused in mid sentence, looking into his eyes as the words finally tumbled out of her. "Trevor I'm in love with you!"
There was absolute shock on Trevor's face, not expecting that in a million years.
Exhaling, Claire could take no more. She turned and walked away. Trevor was stunned, still standing there for several seconds, before realizing that she was leaving. He chased after her, starting to walk beside her, his face brightening with pure joy.
"Claire, that's... that's great! I've always-"
She could hear the joy in Trevor's voice, see the happy light in his eyes. The exact response she had been afraid to see. She stopped on the sidewalk and whirled to face him, oblivious to the crowd moving past all around them. Her voice was full of anger and despair, trying to keep herself together.
"NO, Trevor! There's no 'great' here, ok?"
Trevor seemed confused as he stepped closer to her, softly gripping her arms. "Why not? Love is the greatest thing in the world! I love you, you love me. What's the problem?"
Claire was on the verge of tears as she looked into his eyes. "You are, Trevor."
He pulled back. "What?"
She sighed, knowing it was painful to say this to him. "Trevor, I-... I can't love a man who isn't a real man. I can't love a man who think's he's Cupid."
Dumbfounded, Trevor looked at her. "But that's who I am..."
"And that's why I can't let myself love you." She wiped a tear away from her cheek as she looked away. "So... now you know."
Without another word, she began to walk away again.
Trevor moved quickly to follow. "Claire, you can't just run away from love. Please. You can't just run away from us-"
"There is no us, Trevor! There never will be an us!" She didn't look at him, still walking forward.
"Look... I'm Cupid, Claire. I can't change that. I can't change what I am. Who I am inside! And you can't deny that you love me anymore than I can deny that I love you, Claire. I know that you do. So what do-... I mean, what do you expect me to do?"
Claire stopped again, turning on him angrily, her eyes glittering. "What do you think I expect, Trevor! What have I been trying to do since the first day we met? What have I been trying to do the whole time I've known you? I've been trying to find... YOU, Trevor! Find out who you really are underneath all the crap you parade around for everyone else! I've been hopelessly searching, analyzing, looking for the truth about who you really are! The real, living, breathing flesh and blood man underneath. The person I know absolutely nothing about. And yes. Yes, Trevor. I'm in love with you! Yes, I think about you all the time! Yes I'm miserable since you've been gone. But until you give up being Cupid, none of that's matters! Not until you finally-" Claire paused, closing her eyes for a brief moment, before continuing. "Not until you show me the real you."
Exasperated, Trevor spread his arms. "This is the real me!"
Her voice was softer, sad and quiet. "No, it's not, Trevor. This is your shield. Your shield from the real world. Your shield from getting hurt. I mean... who needs love when you're the god of love, right? I can't love a shield, Trevor."
He looked into her eyes, not giving in. "It's not a shield, Claire. It's not. What it is your excuse. YOUR excuse..."
She sighed, tired, not really sure she wanted to argue with him anymore as she looked down.
Trevor continued. "My being Cupid is the excuse you're clinging to because deep down you see my so called 'delusional nature' as a liability! You ever think that maybe you're the one who's afraid of getting hurt? Of letting yourself get close to me? I know you, Claire. Me being Cupid is just a convienient firewall so you can toss me away when I get too close. You couldn't possibly love an 'unstable' man like me right? Olympus forbid! I'm just a nut. A mental patient. Deluded. Psychotic." His voice sounded bitter a he paused, still looking at her. "Sure, I'm Cupid this week, but who know's what I'll be next week. That's the way you see me, right? As a risk? A leap of faith you're not willing to take. What about me, Claire? Do you think the gods will be happy I've fallen in love with a mortal again? You think they'll just let it slide? You ever considered what they'll do to me because of what I feel about you? But you know what? I don't care what they do! I've handled them being angry at me before, I'll do it again. Because I love YOU, Claire! I'm willing to take the risk. Willing to throw my arms to the sky and be the tallest thing for miles..." He looked at her. "But only if you take that risk with me! This is who I am, Claire! This is what I am, for better or for worse. Here you are cutting me out of your life, and my only crime... is that you love me! When we both know deep down that what's going on here isn't my fear, it's yours, Claire. YOUR fear. That I'll turn out like every other man you've loved who's left you. Alex, Frank, your father... So this time you decide to leave me first instead of risking that you'll get hurt. The real me? What about the real you, Claire?"
Claire glared at him, silent for a while. Then she sighed. "Trevor, nothing will ever happen between us with things the way they are. Not with you believing, what you believe..."
Stopping in mid sentence, her eyes filled with sadness as she realized what she was saying and what it meant for both of them. She looked dearly into his face, her soft voice one of finality.
"I'm sorry, Trevor. It's either Cupid, or me."
Claire looked at him one last time as a single tear rolled silently down her cheek. There was nothing more to say. Slowly she turned and walked away, leaving Trevor there on the span of the busy Chicago bridge. He made no attempt to follow her, watching her go. As Claire walked away from him, she looked straight ahead, crying openly as she moved through he crowd, but remaining silent as the tears flowed down face.
Trevor finally lowered his head when she was gone, just one small figure in the mid morning sunlight, standing on a busy, crowded Chicago bridge with the river glittering beneath. He turned at last, and walked the opposite direction.
A song began to play, its soft guitar chords sad and introspective, strumming over the bright skyline of the city of Chicago. The city beneath went silently along it's way as the music continued. Cars on the street. People at their jobs. Everything without sound, except for the playing guitar. But finally, a female voice joined in, singing softly, sadly, as the lyrics began.
That I would be good,
even if I did nothing...
As the sad music continued, the front door to Trevor's apartment slowly swung open. He was standing in the hallway beyond it, tired and dejected as he walked in. Closing the door behind him, he looked around the apartment, it's interior lit by the ambient daylight coming in from the windows.
That I would be good
No one was there with him. Trevor's apartment was empty. All of Champ's things were gone. There were empty spaces everywhere his things used to be. Empty shelves, empty stretches of floor. Looking mournfully around, Trevor said nothing, before absently walking forward, moving alone towards his bedroom.
Even if I got the thumbs down...
Trevor collapsed into his cushioned recliner near the foot of his bed, his mind somewhere else as a tear glittered wetly down his cheek. His thoughts wandered as he remembered that first night of talking with Claire on the phone, remembered hearing her laugh, the sound so soft and honest. That all seemed so far away now. Suddenly he noticed something at the edge of his peripheral vision, and he looked up.
There, hanging in the air above him, was his string of beads. He stared at them for several long seconds. His beads. His tally to go home. Still hanging there, even after he had lost so much. As he sat in his empty apartment, he could picture Claire's face, wondering if he would ever see her again. But his beads were still there. Small. Inconsequential. His only company.
That I would be good,
If I got and stayed... sick.
Claire was sitting alone on her bed, crying her eyes out. The room was slowly growing dark around her, the sunlight fading in the window. She thought about all that had happened, all that she had said to Trevor. She thought about the pain she had seen in his eyes, after telling him she couldn't love him the way he was. And suddenly as she continued to cry, she wondered if it had really been a good idea to tell him at all.
Tears flowing down her cheeks, she curled up and cried, rocking gently, alone in her bedroom.
That I would be good,
even if I gained ten pounds...
Trevor's face hardened as he thought about what Claire had said. The deepening nightfall filled his window. He thought about all he had given up for his mission. His bedroom was lit by the fading blue sky and by the distant street lights, glowing palely on his face as he thought silently. The beads were there with him. Claire was not. It was a high price. When would it be his turn? When would the god of love finally find love? Why everyone else and not him? The anger grew across Trevor's face as he slowly stood up.
He fumed, glaring up at the hanging string above him in the shadows. In a grim silence, he looked around. There was a baseball bat propped up against the frame of the door. Without a word, he slowly took it into his hands, fingers curling tightly on the bat's handle as he lifted it.
That I would be fine,
He looked up at the string as he held the bat. His mouth was a hard angry line, glaring at all those pathetic little beads and all they had cost him. How much was true love worth?
Suddenly the anger burst out of him and he quickly swung the bat against the string, the impact instantly ripping the string from the wall and flinging it against the edge of the ceiling behind it.
Stumbling to regain his balance, Trevor watched as the beads clattered down onto the hardwood floor like rain, bouncing away in every direction. Trevor tossed the bat to the floor, walking away as the beads danced and rolled to a stop, scattered everywhere. As Trevor walked into the living room, he didn't look back.
Even if I went bankrupt...
Richard cautiously opened Claire's front door, listening. The walkway behind him was covered in shadows, the sky above the deep blue of late evening with the last remnants of the day. Claire hadn't answered when he had knocked, so he had used his key. He stepped into the house, worried about her as he closed the door behind him. Listening for a moment, he finally walked up the stairs to the second floor.
When he opened her bedroom door, Claire was crying in the dark. Even in the dim light from the window, he could still see her, sitting against the headboard on her bed, arms wrapped around her knees, weeping. He blinked at the image. And somehow he knew. She was crying for him. She was crying for Trevor.
Without a word he moved over to her, seating himself beside her. Her eyes were full of tears when she looked up and realized he was there. She instantly she fell into his arms, crying against his shoulder.
That I would be good,
Richard said nothing, rocking her gently back and forth. He held her tightly, caressing her hair, letting her cry. Nothing had to be said or explained. Just as long as he stayed there with her.
She continued for several minutes, and Richard's brow furrowed even more, sharing the pain she was in. Claire was in shambles, her feelings for Trevor were obviously tearing her apart.
If I lost my hair and my youth...
Wiping his own tear away before it could fall, Richard nodded to himself, a new determination on his face as Claire continued to cry. He couldn't let Claire be put through this again. He couldn't let Trevor do this to her. He had to fix the situation. Suddenly Richard knew what he had to do.
Holding her tighter, he rocked her gently as she continued to cry, two small figures sitting near the headboard, as the night deepened in the bedroom all around them.
That I would be great,
Claire was sitting at Taggerty's the next night. The bar was full, and Claire was trying to go as unnoticed as possible in a back corner as music played loudly around her. She had some of her old newspaper columns on the table before her, thinking about what to write in her next one, reading through them. But she was distracted.
if I was no longer queen...
She could feel him there, in the room, knowing exactly where he was even with her eyes closed. Claire sighed, trying not to think about it. Finally she couldn't deny the impulse any further and she looked up.
Trevor was seated in front of the bar on a bar stool. A filled shot glass rested on the counter to his left, and he lifted it and downed it with one swallow, before clumsily placing it beside the growing row of overturned, empty shot glasses to his right, wincing at the string of the alcohol. He grabbed the bottle he had appropriated from beneath the bar to serve himself again, but it was empty. Dropping it absently onto the counter, Trevor rubbed his forehead.
Claire watched from across the room. She knew he hadn't seen her there, so she continued to watch him, filled with curiosity. Trevor rubbed his tired eyes. In his present condition, Claire knew that was in no way a surprise.
A man walked through the crowd on Trevor's right, drawing closer. A woman approached from Trevor's left, talking to a female friend. As they both passed each other behind Trevor's back, a third customer squeezed out of the crowd and ran past them both, making the man and woman bump into each other inadvertently, and into Trevor in the process as they held precariously onto their drinks.
That I would be grand,
Claire watched as Trevor turned around. The man and the woman both stopped in their tracks, starting to awkwardly apologize to each other and to Trevor as well. Some of their drinks had spilled on the other's clothing.
From where she was observing, Claire paused, waiting for what she knew Trevor would do next.
If I was not all knowing...
Trevor's eyes were sullen as he looked at the man and women standing behind him. The three of them exchanged glances in the awkward silence, as the moment stretched on. Trevor finally nodded at their apology but said nothing. With a sigh he turned away, ignoring them.
The man and woman acknowledged each other without a last glance, before turning and going their separate ways, moving in opposite directions, each already forgetting the other.
Across the bar, Claire blinked to herself, thinking. She wondered what she had done. How had what she had just seen made Trevor any better?
Richard lowered himself down into the chair behind his desk in his darkened office. It was dark outside, and shadows hovered in the corners of his office, the interior lit only by a single desk lamp. Slowly he opened a drawer and pulled out a form. With a sigh he placed it on the desk in front of him, suddenly growing reluctant. He wasn't sure he should do this. Closing his eyes, Richard remembered Claire crying in her bedroom, remembered the pain Trevor had caused her.
Nodding to himself, Richard knew this was that right thing to do. For all of them. He swiveled over towards his manual typewriter, and slowly slid the form in.
The music grew louder.
That I would be loved...
The alley behind Taggerty's was cold and dark, lit dimly by a distant streetlight, as an obviously inebriated Trevor Hale stumbled slowly forward. He teetered on his feet, steps moving left and right and criss crossing as he hummed a sad song to himself. He began to talk to no one in particular, commiserating with himself in an indecipherable babble. Slowly his body began to tilt forward, before finally falling face first against a trash can. The trash can clattered loudly away across the cement, spilling it's contents as Trevor lay sprawled at it's feet, already snoring loudly. Totally passed out, an empty liquor bottle rolled out of Trevor's hand.
Even when I numb myself...
In his office, Richard looked up when he finally finished typing. Realizing with shock what he had just done, he slowly lifted his fingers from the keys of the typewriter, reluctance on his face. Thinking better of it, he reached forward to throw the form away. But then he remembered what Trevor had done to his relationship with Claire, and he paused. Anger flared quietly in his eyes, and he suddenly pulled the form free. Dropping it into a vanilla envelope, he sealed it and wrote on the envelope's exterior label, addressing it to who he needed it delivered to in the building.
That I would be good,
even when I'm overwhelmed...
Picking the envelope up, Richard held it in his hands, before reaching over and turning off the lamp on his desk, plunging his office into darkness.
A different pair of hands, Claire's hands, held the thick envelope of her manuscript as she turned on the light in her darkened front door hallway. She was dressed, ready to go, and she checked herself in the mirror. She would deliver it today. It was time to end this. Glaring at her own reflection, she took a deep breath to psyche herself up, before she turned out the light. She opened her front door and walked out into the morning light, heading to the post office to deliver her completed manuscript. Pausing, she looked at her car for a moment, before deciding stubbornly to walk.
That I would be loved,
even when I was fuming..
Trevor shoved back the curtains from his bedroom window, his eyes dreary and red as he squinted up at the rising morning sun. Shading his eyes with his palm, Trevor moaned, feeling the sunlight drilling deep into his aching head. He turned away, letting the curtain fall back into place. He walked towards the front door, moving across the living room in his sweats and t-shirt, before slipping on some shoes and a heavy coat for the chill outside. Leaning down Trevor picked up a box by the door and walked out into the hallway. Closing the door behind him, his hand released the doorknob.
Claire's hand gripped the door handle at the post office as she opened it, exiting the building. The doors swung shut behind her as she stepped into the morning light. Frustrated, she squinted up at the sun, before looking down at her arms, where she still held her book manuscript, not ready to let go of it yet again. She looked back into the post office at where she had come. She had gone in fully intending to go through with it, confident she'd be able to this time. But somehow, she still couldn't. Holding the sealed manuscript in her arms, she turned and walked away, moving off as her form grew more distant.
That I would be good,
even if I was clingy...
Trevor's form grew closer as he walked out into the alley near his building, heading for the garbage. He knew he was hung over. Severely so. He could deal with that. He just wished he could find a way get that satyr that had snuck into his head last night from doing so much stomping and gymnastics under his skull. Still in a haze, he carried his box over to the trash can and dumped it in.
That I would be good,
even if I lost sanity...
Some of the contents of the box spilled out slightly, but Trevor didn't look back, walking away. Trevor's string of beads, reassembled, was resting haphazardly over the edge of the trash can. Underneath it was all the notes and scraps of paper Trevor had written, schemes and counter schemes to get couples together, all of it discarded. The string of beads was left there with the garbage as Trevor walked away, moving out of sight around the corner of the building.
That I would be good,
whether with or without you...
The song continued for several more moments, a sad instrumental over the empty shadowed alley, before it finally, faded away...
For once, Richard and Trevor were both quiet as they sat in Dr. Dehnt's office, both saying nothing as they started their next therapy session.
Richard couldn't look Trevor in the eye, shifting in his chair behind the desk, before nervously checking his inbox for a reply to the request he had sent off to the hospital board. But just like when he had checked it a second ago, there was still nothing there.
Trevor was silent too. But his eyes were glaring dangerously at Richard, staring at him angrily and not saying a word.
Richard noticed Trevor's glare. He finally exhaled, exasperated. "What. What is it, Trevor?"
Trevor stared at him for several more seconds before finally answering. His voice was quiet and hard. "Do you think you make her happy?"
Richard pulled back in surprise. He didn't have to ask who Trevor was referring to. "Trevor, what are you say-"
"Have you ever considered..." Trevor was still glaring at Richard. "... that maybe you're standing in the way of her being happy?"
Richard began to grow angry himself. "Trevor, what did Claire tell you?"
Trevor shook his head bitterly, looking away as he thought better of it. His voice was a whisper. "Nothing... She didn't say anything."
Richard's eyes were full of suspicion, considering Trevor as now he glared silently across the room.
Trevor finally sighed before looking back at Richard again. "Anyway.... here's some good news, doc. I've got a little announcement. Something that should make your day. I hereby certifying.... that I'm retiring from the delusions of grandeur business. I'm no longer Cupid. I never was. I'm just... a small, ordinary, hopeless mortal. Like I've always been. I've thrown out my beads. I've given up my mission. So you see, you should be happy. You've beaten me down. You were right the whole time. It was all... a delusion. I know now I was wrong to believe I was anything more than what it seems I am. You've won, Dr. Dehnt. I'm cured..."
"That's... great, Trevor."
Richard leaned back in disbelief after a few moments. Trevor said nothing else after his pronouncement, looking sadly away. Both of them sat there in the silence, wondering if either of them really believed any of it.