There was an awkwardness in the air.
Claire and Richard were facing each other across a dinner table in the middle of a fancy, upscale restaurant. They had eaten there many times before, since it was a favorite of both of theirs. It was a fairly elegant place, quiet and refined, all the tables covered in fancy cloths, low lighting from numerous candles, customers all around talking in soft, muted conversation. A violin played in the corner, simple and elegant. Frank and Claire sat across from each other at one of those tables, uncharacteristically subdued. They usually had a good time here. But tonight Richard and Claire just sat there, poking at their food in an uncomfortable silence.
Claire wasn't even looking at him, her thoughts a million miles away. But there was an almost imperceptible sadness in her eyes that she couldn't hide.
Richard paused, studying her expression as he lowered the fork he held. He could see that she was distracted. But regardless, she looked like a vision in the soft light of the room, stunning... and perfect. Her hair was arranged just so, a single dark strand curling down the curve of her cheek. Her gown was breathtaking, flattering her and her figure, bathed in the soft light around her. She was so beautiful. And yet... sad. Richard wondered where Claire's heart was in that moment, since she seemed so far away. He wondered is she even saw that he was there.
"Claire..." He asked softly.
She looked up at the sound of his voice, her brown eyes looking blankly at him for a second, before coming out of her thoughts and remembering where she was. "Oh... I'm sorry, Richard."
Silently, Richard nodded, still watching her. Claire still seemed so sad. He reached across the table and rested his hand on hers.
"Claire, do you know how much I love you?"
Claire's smile was small and perfunctory, her thoughts still somewhere else. But her pleasant expression was brief, disappearing almost instantly. "Of course I do, Richard..."
Richard watched as she lowered her eyes. Claire was still absently poking at her food, her face subdued.
Pursing his lips at her silent demeanor, Richard pulled his hand away from hers. "Claire is something wrong, because I-"
"What..?" Claire said softly as she looked up at him, snapping out of it. "Umm... no Richard. Really, I-.... Nothing's wrong. I'm just not feeling very talkative tonight, I guess..."
Richard didn't believe that for a second. Claire was absently poking at her food again, slowly, her eyes only on her plate. It was almost as if she couldn't bring herself to look at him.
Richard stared at her distracted expression for a long moment, finally forcing his next words out before he could think better of it.
"Claire, why have you never told me that you love me?"
Her shoulders stiffened, and her fork paused on her plate. She blinked once, still looking down, but her expression didn't change. She didn't look up. Turning the fork nervously in her fingers for a moment, Claire placed it aside and reached for her wine glass, taking a sip as if she hadn't heard what Richard had said. Her eyes never looked up at his.
As the silence stretched on between them, Richard's slowly leaned back, thinking to himself, realizing she wasn't going to answer him. Lowering his eyes, he went back to the meal before him, both their utensils making quiet noises against the plates as they ate in silence, surrounded by the other crowded tables of the restaurant.
Champ sighed as he held Jaclyn close to him.
It was afternoon of the next day and they were both sprawled out the couch in what was now their mutual apartment. As they lay there, they were draped in each other's arms, Jaclyn resting her head against his chest. The small apartment was quiet around them. Peaceful. There was no television running, no radio, no distractions. It was just the two of them, softly lit by the white cloudy sky of a cold, overcast Saturday glowing outside the window. They were both watching the sky, waiting to watch the snow that the weathermen had been promising for days, but which had still not fallen. Nothing more complicated than that. But it was enough. In that moment, they needed nothing else but each other.
There was a knock on the front door, and both Champ and Jaclyn looked up at the sound, coming out of that contented moment. Champ gazed down at Jaclyn.
"You expecting someone?"
"No..." Jaclyn rose from his arms, curious. "Not really..."
She stood and walked across the living room to the front door, leaving Champ behind on the couch.
Jaclyn opened the door but stopped in mid motion when she saw Claire standing there in the hallway outside, obviously on the verge of tears.
Claire's words were soft, starting before Jaclyn could say anything. "I told Trevor that I love him..."
Eyes widening, Jaclyn didn't know what to say, speechless. She glanced back at Champ. Champ rose to a seated position as he looked at Claire, just as stunned as Jaclyn was.
Claire wiped her eyes, her voice sounding a little shaky. "I-I can't believe I'm still crying. I've been crying sort of off and on for the last few days. Sometimes it just starts out of the blue and it's-... it's funny, because I'm not usually like this and-..."
With a sob she stepped forward and collapsed into Jaclyn's arms. A little caught off gaurd, Jaclyn held her softly as Claire continued to cry. Her arms wrapped warmly around her, holding her tight as Claire cried into her shoulder.
"Jaclyn, what am I going to do?" Claire whispered in despair.
Behind them, Champ was already on his feet. Without a word, Jaclyn looked at him, and somehow he understood. Champ reached over and took his coat off the back of a chair, slipping it onto his shoulders. He headed for the door, moving off to find Trevor and to leave Claire and Jaclyn alone together, seeing how upset Claire was. Kissing Jaclyn lightly on the cheek, he stepped past them and into the hallway, looking worried as he disappeared out of sight. Jaclyn closed the door behind him slowly, still holding Claire, leading her into the apartment as she cried.
There was a knock on Trevor's door, and unexpectedly, it swung open partially with the impact, having not been completely shut. After a few moments, Champ took a cautious peek into the quiet apartment, his eyes scanning across the living room, but seeing that it was empty.
Slowly, Champ walked in from the hallway and closed the door behind him. He looked around, rubbing his arms over his jacket to drive away the chill of the air outside. The apartment was a mess. Left over fast food containers were everywhere. Clothes were draped half haphazardly all around. Bare expanses of dusty open floor dotted the room where Champ's furniture had been. Trevor hadn't rearranged his things since Champ had moved out.
"Trevor..?" Champ called out again, his footsteps loud on the wood flooring, the apartment silent around him. Wondering where he was, Champ suddenly hear a soft, tired moan from Trevor's bedroom. Moving towards it, Champ stepped into the open doorway, gazing down at the bed.
Trevor was sprawled on his stomach on top of his rumpled bed sheets, fully clothed and moaning softly as he rubbed his aching head. An empty whiskey bottle was nestled in the crook of his arm as he lay there.
Champ waved his hand in front his nose at the stench wafting out of the room. He whispered softly to himself. "I really hope that smell is only alcohol..."
Sighing, Champ tried to be patient as he walked over and carefully sat down on the edge of the Trevor's bed. He looked over his shoulder at Trevor's rumpled and disheveled appearance. Reaching out, Champ shook the one shoe that Trevor still had on his feet.
"Wake up, Trevor...."
There was a soft yawn. "Just a little longer, mommy. Tell the Satyrs to figure it out for themselves..." Trevor whispered, half asleep.
Champ shook Trevor's foot more forcefully.
With a moan, Trevor lifted his head in a dreary haze, wondering what exactly it was that was shaking his foot. His unkempt hair was pointing in every direction. He managed to focus through the confused colors over his vision, dimly seeing Champ sitting there beside him. Suddenly Trevor's eyes lit up. His voice was hoarse and gravelly, speaking softly.
"Champoo...?" he asked uncertainly.
Champ nodded, smiling slightly in understanding, amused at Trevor's condition. "How's your head?"
"Champoo!!" Trevor was a little more awake now, smiling as he sat up. The bottle in his arms rolled away from his body and fell off the edge of the bed. Trevor's shoulders jerked at the loud, unexpected sound of the bottle hitting the floor and rolling away. Reaching up, he held his ears as if the sound were slicing into his skull. Slowly opening his eyes, Trevor looked at Champ, before reaching clumsily out and clamping his fingers happily on Champ's shoulder.
"Hey! Mr. Terrace! The prod-a-gal son returns! What are you doing here? Jaclyn kick you out already?"
"No. Actually I came to see-"
Trevor nodded, interrupting. He patted Champ's shoulder. "Hey, tough break. I understand, man. Don't worry. I'll get the two of you back together. You two will work this out..." Trevor rubbed at his sore temples, getting an idea. "Hey, come on and join me for a drink! Oh... Can't. It's all gone. You know, I never really saw what old Uncle Bacchy saw in all this booze stuff, but now that I'm down here, I'm beginning to. It's a great anesthesia from the fairer sex. Hey, we'll commiserate together! Women. They're nothing but heart ache and heart break, my man. If only they didn't come in such really great packages..."
"Trevor... Jaclyn and I haven't broken up. We're doing fine." Champ looked around at the wreck that was Trevor's bedroom. "I don't know if I can say the same for you..."
"Don't worry about me, Champoo..." Trevor moaned as he rolled away the bed and rose shakily to his feet. "I was just doing some abstract redecorating...."
"With liquor bottles?" Champ picked up another empty bottle from the nightstand beside the bed.
"Yeah..." Sadly, Trevor looked at Champ. "Yeah, that was pretty much what I was going for...."
His entire body obviously aching, Trevor stumbled gingerly towards the living room, not even glancing at the now empty corner of the wall above his head.
Champ put the empty bottle aside and followed Trevor out into the living room, looking once at the empty place where Trevor's string used to be, knowing that Trevor had made sure not to look at it.
Walking out of the bedroom behind Trevor, Champ frowned. "I noticed your string of beads was out in the trash can when I came in..."
Trevor didn't turn around. "Are those still out there? Huh... You know what, the sanitation collection really sucks in this city. No one comes around to haul off the garbage nobody wants anymore..."
Champ paused, standing in front of the sink as Trevor stepped around behind it and into the kitchen, heading for the refrigerator. Champ looked over at him. "Feel like talking about it?"
"Not really...." Trevor opened the refrigerator and pulled out milk carton, drinking it straight from the box like he always did, tilting it back. Some of the milk dripped down the stubble on his unshaved chin and onto his wrinkled, stained t-shirt.
Champ looked at the milk box, and realized it had been in there for a while, since before he had left. "Umm... Trevor. That milk is old. It's really out of date..."
Stopping, Trevor pulled down the carton and looked at the expiration date. With a shrug he finished it anyway, before wiping his mouth with his arm.
"Join the club..." he replied softly.
Across town, Jaclyn and Claire were seated on Jaclyn's couch in her apartment. Jaclyn sat there patiently, holding Claire's hands softly in her own as she leaned forward and listened to what Claire was saying, watching the tears sparkle in Claire's eyes.
Claire continued. "I told Trevor I loved him, Jaclyn. I thought it was for the best that he knew why I stopped seeing him. But now... I don't know what to do anymore." Her voice was full of despair.
Jaclyn leaned forward. "It's ok, Claire. I'm here. Just tell me what happened. You told Trevor you loved him? When?"
"A couple of days ago." Claire sniffed. "And to be honest, that's not what I told him. It's worse than that. I told him I couldn't love him because he thinks he's Cupid..."
Jaclyn looked at her sadly.
Claire wiped her eyes. "I hurt him. I saw it in his face... when I told him that I couldn't love... Cupid. That I couldn't let myself love him the way he is, the way he wants to be.... I hurt him so much, Jaclyn."
"Claire, I'm sure he knows you didn't mean it."
"But I did mean it," Claire lifted her gaze to look at Jaclyn, her eyes still filled with tears. "That's the worst part of all. I did mean it..."
Claire was silent for a moment, searching for words that would explain what she felt. Jaclyn waited patiently. Claire's voice was soft when she spoke again. "I can't let myself love him, Jaclyn."
Claire looked out the window, her last words a soft, desperate whisper as a single tear finally slid down her cheek. "But I do...."
Champ lowered his gaze as he stood facing Trevor across hi kitchen. "So... I heard Claire finally admitted that she loves you..."
Trevor's face was empty, not looking at Champ. His knuckles rapped nervously in sequence against the countertop, soft in the quiet room. "Umm, yeah. She did...."
Champ watched him silently. "Are you ok?"
Trevor didn't respond, lowering his eyes and staring into space.
Champ tried again. "What happened, Trevor?"
"She..." Trevor leaned forward, resting his palms against the counter top as he tried to hold in what he was feeling. "She said it wasn't going to happen between us..."
"Why?" Champ blinked. "What did she say, exactly?"
"She said..." Trevor sighed, unable to stop his face from growing a little sadder despite the unconcerned front he was attempting. "She said I'm not a real person. That she can't let herself love me because.... I'm not real. Because I'm not being real, I guess. Not with her.... She said she can't love me as long as I believe I'm Cupid... Which sort of puts me in a tight spot, you know?" Trevor laughed weakly.
Champ nodded slowly. "So you decided to get rid of your beads?"
"Yeah." Trevor took a deep breath. "Yeah, I did. Got tired of looking at them. I don't need them anymore..."
Lifting the out of date milk carton he had emptied and still held in his hands, Trevor arced it through the air and into the trash can with one shot.
Claire sobbed once, softly, before she continued.
"Jaclyn... everything I love about Trevor, is changed now. I've ruined all the things in him that I fell in love with in the first place. Without even knowing it... His light. His spirit. His lust for life. His elation for love, for being in love, no matter who's experiencing it. His unstoppable faith in the power and resiliency of the human heart to triumph over all the things that keep people apart.... That's what Trevor is! That's who he is inside! And I've ruined that. I've changed who he is, and finally it forced me to realize.... maybe I didn't want him to change in the first place."
Jaclyn leaned forward. "Trevor's still the same person. He is, Claire. Why-... how has he changed?"
Claire looked at her. "I was at Taggerty's. I saw him. He was drinking. He was drinking a lot. And he wasn't... Trevor. Not anymore. I watched as a chance to put two people together fell right into his lap... and he turned away. He turned his back on--on love. He didn't even know I was there. That wasn't the reason. He just didn't care anymore, Jaclyn. And that's my fault. Trevor didn't seem to care about anything. I've taken away the best part of him, the part that made him the most human. The part that I fell in love with. I've taken away his heart..."
Claire's eyes filled with tears and Jaclyn reached forward to take her into her arms, letting Claire's tears drop onto her shoulder.
Claire cried softly. "What have I done?"
"What you've always done..." Jaclyn swallowed cautiously. "Claire.... I think the real question is... why are you always pushing Trevor away?"
Pulling away, Claire rose from the couch, tearful and desperate, as if she were unwilling to admit something even to herself. Jaclyn still watched her.
"I don't know Jaclyn...I-" Claire didn't sound like she believed it. "I guess because I--..."
Jaclyn's eyes were full of understanding, knowing how hard this was for her to say.
Claire squirmed, reluctant as she stood there. Her eyes misted over even more as she thought about it, glittering in the soft light as her face went sad. Her words were slow and soft. "Every man I've ever loved has left me. My father... Jack. Alex. Frank. And I'm afraid that... I don't want Trevor to hurt me too..."
Trevor looked up at Champ. "I'm giving up on the whole god thing..."
Champ pulled back, stunned to hear him say that. His words were soft and full of disbelief. "You're giving up? Don't you still believe that you're-"
"I don't know!" Trevor interrupted, shaking his head. ""I mean, I... I don't know anymore. Maybe everyone else is right..."
Trevor walked past Champ and out of the kitchen into the living room.
Champ turned where he was. "Everyone who, Trevor?"
Trevor stopped and looked back at him, a hard expression on his face. Annoyed, he finally admitted it. "Everyone. You. Claire. Dr. Dehnt. The hospital. The board. The whole world. Maybe you're all right and I'm wrong to believe what I do. I used to be so sure. You have no idea. Flying around, hanging out with the other gods, living forever. It was as real to me as you are now. But since I've been down here.... what if I really am delusional? What if I'm kidding myself? I mean, deep down.... I know what I think I know. But how do I really know what I know? I mean, what if my memories... are just figments of my imagination? Some sort of coping mechanism like all the shrinks say? How does anyone really know what's real? When everyone else is saying that you're crazy. When they're saying that they can't fall in love with you because you're..." Trevor looked away. "A delusion."
Champ was silent as Trevor continued.
"I'm just not-..." Trevor exhaled angrily, throwing up his hands. "Maybe I am insane and I just don't know it. I mean, would I even realize it if I were? Or would I just keep on believing the fantasy?"
Trevor grew quieter, looking away. "Champ, have you ever felt like you just don't fit in anymore? That the world has moved on without you, and you no longer have a place in the grand scheme of things? That... no one cares who you are anymore, or if you really exist. That's where I am now. I don't know. Maybe I really am insane."
"But what if you're not?" Champ stepped closer to him, looking sympathetically into Trevor's eyes. "Look, I'm not saying I have the answers. And I know what Claire said hurts. But you--... you've always been so certain. I know you're not sure of yourself right now, but that doesn't mean that you should just--"
"Yes it does, Champ. I'm surrendering. I'm giving up. It's over. It's done. Hate to break it to you Mr. Terrace, but... Cupid doesn't live here anymore."
Trevor turned and started to walk away.
Champ blinked. "So you don't believe you're him?"
"Oh I believe..." Trevor thought about it. "I'm just not so sure I should."
Claire looked at Jaclyn, tears falling down her cheeks. "I've got to tell him."
Tenderly, Jaclyn wiped Claire's face dry. "Tell him what?"
"Tell him that I made a mistake! That I don't want him to change. I've got to tell him that I was wrong, Jaclyn. I've got to tell him..." Claire paused, thinking about it, and her face crumbled. "It's all so impossible. I've got to tell him....to hold on to his delusion."
Jaclyn hugged her, trying to help Claire get her composure back a little. "Maybe it's what you both need to hear."
Claire pulled back and looked at her. "But what if I want that because it's good for me and not because it's good for him? Can I be that selfish?"
"It's not selfish, Claire." Jaclyn held her hand and smiled sadly at her, her voice bittersweet. "It's love..."
Champ was still thinking about what Trevor had said. He shook his head. "I don't believe that. You and Claire can still work this out. Once she realizes-"
Trevor shrugged. "There's nothing to work out."
Champ looked at him. "Maybe. Or maybe you should give it a little time. Giving up on being Cupid isn't the answer. Not if you don't really believe it. Because in the end, you can't make someone fall in love with something that you're not. In the end, you have to be true to yourself, Trevor." Champ looked down. "Both of you do..."
Thinking about it, Trevor stood there with his arms crossed before him, looking at nothing. There was still a sadness in his eyes, and he was quiet for several seconds as Champ stood there next to him. Then out of nowhere, totally unexpectedly, Trevor quickly turned around and gave Champ a deep, genuinely grateful hug.
Surprised, Champ hugged Trevor back as they stood there.
After a long while, Trevor pulled back from him with a small embarrassed smile. "You're a good apple, Mr. Terrace. Always knew that. Look... I understand what you're saying. Really. But it's time to throw the toga into the ring and stop fighting it. Time to lead a boring, ordinary... mortal life. Don't worry about it. It's for the best...."
Trevor clapped Champ warmly on the shoulder and walked away. Champ stood there, realizing that for now there wasn't much more he could say that would change Trevor's mind. So he changed the subject.
"Umm... Trevor, as far as your roommate situation goes, I found someone I think you should meet. A struggling actress friend of mine named Allison. I know you can't really swing the rent here on your own, so I talked to her and she's shown some interest in moving in here with you as your roommate. Besides, she needs to find a place, and... I thought that maybe you could see her next week..."
"Yeah..." Trevor's thoughts were somewhere else. "Sure. I'll... I'll have to do that..."
Without another word, Trevor turned and walked into his bedroom, leaving Champ standing there alone.
Champ wasn't sure he had accomplished much by coming over. But he didn't know what else there was to say.
Across the city of Chicago in Jaclyn's apartment, she still held Claire close, rocking her back and forth slowly, sitting on her couch. And neither of them found anything else to say either.
Dr. Hazerman walked slowly down the hallway of his office building, trying to move forward as best as he could down the corridors. His office was somewhere far behind him, but the old man was in no real rush, carrying several completed case files in his hands. He was in a good mood. Normally he wouldn't be taking these files to the central office himself, but today he was, since it was Jaclyn's day off.
Dr. Hazerman didn't mind doing it. He knew that the case files he had worked on weren't all that important, having realized years ago that the hospital was basically keeping him on as a courtesy for all his prior years of service. They still looked upon him fondly of course, but they didn't really trust him anymore. Not with anything serious anyway, preferring to give him small, cream puff cases to occupy his time. Dr. Hazerman wasn't fooled, and neither was any one else. But he didn't mind. He still loved his work, no matter what the capacity. It still felt good to be useful, and a contributor for as long as possible, even if the board didn't really have much faith in him anymore.
But when it came to his true abilities, Dr. Hazerman knew better. His eyes still sparkled with a keen intellect that was as sharp as it had ever been. He was far more aware than any of them thought. And he knew far more about what went on around him than they would ever believe. He was still capable. Let everyone think what they wanted to because of how he talked. How they percieved his mumbling didn't matter to him, not really. Because he loved doing this too much to stop.
Slowly Dr. Hazerman stepped into the central office. He looked over at the main desk where a bored looking male office assistant was processing several files through a computer.
The slowly moving doctor smiled, shambling slowly over as he greeted the young man with a soft, pleasant mumble.
Looking wearily up, the young man paused, still holding a case file in his hands. He let out a soft, resigned sigh when he recognized who it was, being polite even though he didn't understand a word that was being said. "Good morning, Dr. Hazerman...."
The doctor mumbled again in response, talking incoherently.
After a few moments, the office worker awkwardly tried to answer. "Umm... right. Thank you... I guess. How are you today?" The young man looked back at his files, not really listening.
Dr. Hazerman chuckled as he answered pleasantly, placing the case files he held on the counter. He continued to speak to the office worker in a friendly manner, his quick non sensical words blurring into one confusing stream.
"Right... Right..." The office assistant said absently, still going over his work and not really listening. He had learned that was best approach whenever Dr. Hazerman was around. "Absolutely. Sure. Umm-hmm..."
The assistant continued to work as the doctor prattled on. The young man was typing in the information from the case file he was working on, before closing it and moving on to the next. Dr. Hazerman didn't seem to mind, still mumbling as he leaned against the counter. The assistant grabbed the next file in his stack and opened it. He paused as he read the name. With a sympathetic, yet not too concerned shake of his head, the assistant let out a sigh as he looked at the file.
"Trevor Hale..." The office assistant whispered.
Dr. Hazerman stopped when he heard that name, and his face brightened even more. Chuckling, he began to ramble on indecipherably about Trevor, talking happily.
The orderly noticed the change in the old man's voice. He was still totally lost in the mushed stream of words, but he couldn't help but smile. "You like Mr. Hale?"
Still mumbling, Dr. Hazerman nodded, basically talking fondly to himself as he remembered.
The assistant started to tune him out again, looking sadly down at the case file. "Yeah. I like him too. He's a good guy. It's too bad though... Well, at least maybe now he'll get the help he needs..."
Dr. Hazerman blinked, looking at the assistant, not understanding.
The young orderly noticed his expression. "Oh... I thought that you would already know. Dr. Dehnt has been granted a hospital review board to evaluate having Trevor committed to a psychiatric facility..."
The old doctor was speechless for a moment as his expression fell. Almost imperceptibly, he slowly stepped back.
The assistant seemed concerned, blinking at his reaction. "Dr. Hazerman? Are you alright?"
The aging doctor said nothing, thinking about what the assistant had told him, looking off into space. Then without another word, he turned and quickly moved away, heading back to his office at the closest he would ever come to a run again. He had to call Jaclyn. She would know where to find Trevor. He had to be told about this.
The office assistant sighed when Dr. Hazerman was gone, accustomed by now to the doctor's confusing eccentricities. He shook his head as he watched him leave. "Your one strange cookie, Dr. Hazerman..." the assistant whispered.
Looking back down at the file, the assistant's eyes seemed a little sad as he read it, thinking of Trevor's approaching life, shut away from the world in an institution. Closing the file, he bounced it sympathetically against his palm.
"Good luck, Trevor..."
With that, the office assistant moved the request folder to the outbox, ready to be sent back to Dr. Dehnt's office. Without a second thought, he was already hard at work on the next case file.
Trevor had cleaned most of his apartment.
He was standing in front of his sink, dutifully washing the dishes he had ignored for a whole week. All the trash was gone in the living room in front of him. The furniture was neatly re-arranged. Everything was clean and in it's place. Trevor had been busy. He was tired of the trashed out way he had been living the last week. It was time to clean himself up. It was time to go on with his life.
As he scrubbed, Trevor's eyes couldn't help but shift to the folded newspaper resting on his kitchen table. He had skimmed through it when he had brought it in of course, but for once he hadn't gone immediately to the back to peruse the singles ads. Well, not twice through, anyway. Old habits die hard. As his hands worked on a severely crusted plate, his eyes shifted back to that newspaper, thinking about the singles ads, all the lonely desperate people crying out for help in those small, tiny, paragraphs.
"No..." Trevor shook his head, speaking softly to himself. "No I can't. None of my business anymore. Just think about something else..."
He looked back at the paper again. "Well... maybe just a quick look... For old times sake...."
Trevor pulled his hands out of the soapy water and wiped them dry. He started to walk eagerly towards the newspaper with a smile when the phone rang. Pausing, he looked reluctantly over as it rang again, before he finally changed his course, moved over, and picked it up.
"Trevor!" It was Jaclyn's voice on the phone line, and she sounded frantic, desperate. "Trevor, I'm so glad I caught you! I don't know what to do!"
"Jaclyn, what's wrong?"
"Dr. Hazerman called me just a second ago, Trevor. He was working down at the central office and he saw a request that had been filed. Dr. Dehnt has asked for a hearing before the hospital review board to have you committed into a psychiatric facility! Trevor, we've got to do something! If they take you away-"
Trevor couldn't believe it, anger soon flaring across his momentarily stunned face. His voice was low and seething. "Why that arrogant little son of a--"
"Trevor, what are we going to do? They can't just lock you up!"
In a rage, Trevor swung at the washed dishes he had just placed beside the sink without thinking. They clattered angrily to the ground, some shattering onto the momentarily clean living room floor as Trevor stepped away, fuming. "I can't believe he would go this far. Why that little--..."
Taking a deep breath, Trevor held back from shouting several multiple and explicit obscenities that suddenly came to mind in several multiple and explicit ancient languages. He paced back and forth in his apartment, the phone still against his ear. Trevor's mind was racing, trying to find a way out of this. Looking up, his eyes darted over the walls around him, feeling suddenly confined, feeling like the walls of his apartment were slowly closing in on him. Like the world itself was closing in on him. He had to do something, before the familiar walls of his apartment were replaced with other, less pleasant walls. "Uhh...."
"I'll stop him, Jaclyn. There's got to be a way. I don't need to be institutionalized! The Gods' honest truth. Dr. Dehnt knows that as much as I do. That little... lint bucket, won't get this past the hospital board. I'll make sure."
"Hey, that used to be a big put down in ancient greek..."
"But Trevor, it's your word against his! How will they ever believe-"
"Look, I'll handle this, Jaclyn. Dr. Demented won't force me to go anywhere. I'll go over to his office right now and stop him from doing this. That little mortal doesn't know what he's up against. He won't get away with this, even if I have to beat some sense into his thick psychiatrist skull..."
"Trevor, wait. Maybe you should calm down and-"
"Calm isn't really doing it for me right now, Jaclyn!"
"I understand that. I'm just saying don't do anything stup-"
"I'm tired of this, Jaclyn! I'm tired of getting pushed around by a bunch of shrinks! That's all that's happened to me since I've been down here!"
"I know, I just think you should think about-"
"I gotta go, Jaclyn. Bye."
Trevor hung up on her as she started to speak again, his eyes full of rage, his body tense and seething. He started to pace again, thinking through it. His feet crunched through the remnants of the shattered dishes on his living room floor.
"Come on, Eros. Think...." Trevor's voice sounded frantic.
The phone he still carried in his hand rang again and he instantly hung up without answering, knowing it was Jaclyn calling back. Trevor stopped in mid-stride, thinking for a moment, and he began to dial a number.
"Claire... I'll call Claire. She can help me. She's a psychologist. Maybe she can find a way to-"
Suddenly reluctant, Trevor paused... and hung up the phone before he could finish dialing. He growled softly to himself in frustration. "I can't get her into the middle of this. I won't have her jeopardize her career for me. I have to do this myself. DR. Demented. If only everyone could see how big of an assho-.... Wait. That's it..."
Trevor's fingers darted over the keypad with a new purpose in his eyes, dialing a different number.
"Hello?" A husky, female voice answered.
"Hey. It's me. You said you owed me a favor for hooking you up last summer. Well... it's time to pay up...."
Claire's apartment was empty and quiet. No one was home. The living room was silent. A pale overcast afternoon sky filled the front window. Suddenly the phone's ring broke into the noiseless room, filling the air with an almost shrill sound. It rang several times before the small black answering machine on the end table picked up, a tiny red light glowing on it's surface as it played it's simple recorded message.
Hi, this is Claire Allen. I can't come to the phone right now, but leave a message and I'll get back to you. Thanks...
There was a soft beep, and suddenly Jaclyn's frantic voice could be heard in the quiet house, coming through the answering machine's small speaker.
"Claire pick up! Claire please pick up if you're there! Oh god.... Look, I just told Trevor that Dr. Dehnt is trying to have him committed and he was furious! He went totally crazy! Ok, so maybe crazy isn't the appropriate word right now, but I don't know what Trevor's going to do Claire! He's headed over to Richard's office right now! Claire, you've got to go over there and stop him! You've got to-"
There was a loud beep from the machine and Jaclyn's voice suddenly cut off as the recording time ended.
Claire's house was quiet again. No one was home. The rooms inside were all motionless and empty. On the electronic answering machine in the living room, a small red light blinked in the silence, but there was no one there to see it.
A song was going through Trevor's head, forceful and angry. A song that was resonating in his skull, resonating with how he felt, his steps coming down hard on the asphalt. Loud guitars, strong chords, strident lyrics with everything coming to a head. He could hear the lyrics even now.
One man come in the name of love,
One man come and go....
Trevor was fuming, thinking about what Richard was doing to him. His eyes were filled with an angry light as he strode forcefully ahead down the middle of the busy, downtown street, skyscrapers towering all around him. The air was cold and overcast. People filled the sidewalks far off to either side. A tide of cars moved and honked to either side of him, well within arms reach. But Trevor was oblivious to everything around him, still swimming in his anger. His black leather coat flapped behind him as he walked brazenly down the street's center stripe, not caring anymore what was in his way.
One man come, he to justify
One man to overthrow...
A taxi approaching Trevor saw him too late and swerved to avoid hitting him, its tires screeching on the asphalt as it came to a rest across two lanes. Other cars behind the cab slammed on their brakes, their fronts dipping as they came to abrupt halts in a domino effect. Trevor didn't blink as he walked around them, still fuming. He didn't look up at the drivers yelling obscenities and honking their horns at him. Cars were forced to stop everywhere along his path, but he ignored them, walking forward and letting them slide away behind, still moving down the center of the street as more cars screeched to a halt on either side, before they fell back beyond his vision too.
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
In the name of love
What more in the name of love
Trevor's fists were clenched at his side. Glaring in front of him, his jaw hard, he finally sped up and turned to walk off the street and onto the sidewalk, heading into office building where Claire and Richard worked.
Richard was sitting at his desk, looking sadly at the response he had gotten from the hospital board. They had agreed to his request for a hearing and for the possible use of 'alternate methods' on Trevor Hale. But for some reason, it didn't make him any happier. Suddenly his door slammed open and Trevor burst into the office like a gale.
"Why the hell are you doing this!" Trevor yelled.
Richard rose from his chair, putting the hospital's response down, not needing to ask what had Trevor so upset.
Richard tried to calm him. "Trevor, it's for the best..."
Stepping quickly forward, Trevor glared at him angrily. "You're committing me!?"
Richard's face grew hard at Trevor's loud, confrontational words. He soon matched him measure for measure, not able to stop himself from glaring back, feeling the anger rising in him. Not backing down, Richard's words were cold and hard. "You're not making any progress. I think that other 'options' should be explored in your case. It's not final yet, Trevor. We'll still have to face a hospital board review, but I think that's just a formality that will-"
"How can you lock me up when I've already told you that I'm no longer Cupid? There's no more delusion to fix! It's over! There's no reason to lock me away!"
Richard didn't blink, his voice soft and contemptuous. "Do you really think I believe that?"
"It's the truth! You've cured me, that's what you wanted, isn't it? So why are you doing this! For what possible reason? Why would... Unless..."
Trevor pulled back, as something finally occurred to him. Trevor's voice was softer. "You know..."
Richard's eyes were like hard bits of broken glass. "What?"
Trevor's voice became louder. "Don't give me the coy act, doctor! You know. You... KNOW! You know that Claire doesn't love you. And you want to blame me, because you think that I'm the reason!"
There was contempt simmering in Richard's soft voice. "That's not it, Trevor..."
"Yes it is." Trevor stepped forward, jamming a finger angrily at Richard over his desk. "Claire doesn't love you and you think I'm the reason. That's it. Well let me tell you a little secret, Mr. College Doctorate. I've got nothing to do with how Claire feels about you. If Claire's not in love with you, it's because of YOU, not me!"
Richard was quiet and seething, not really listening to him anymore. "I'm going to give you the help you need, Trevor. Whether you want it or not."
Trevor ignored him, his voice just as angry. "You think Claire's in love with me, and that's the real reason you want me committed!"
"I don't know what you're talking about..."
"Yes, you do! Admit it, somewhere you got some crazy idea that Claire's in love with me and you want me out of the way!"
"What, don't even have the courage to tell me straight out that's what you're doing? Are you hiding behind your credentials, doctor? Afraid to admit what we both already know is true? Worried someone will see your true motivations? Doesn't make you much of a man. Or much of a person for Claire to love, now does it?"
Richard was suddenly furious, his words bursting out. "Fine! I'll admit it! I'll admit it, Trevor. I know what I know. What we both know! Claire's in love with you. So it's time that you were out of her life. Haven't you hurt her enough, Trevor?"
Trevor was incredulous. "Hurt her? You're the one who doesn't give a damn about her! All you want to do is protect your own relationship with Claire by keeping us apart! Because you know that I'll get everyone to see you for the snake you really are!"
Richard glared at him, but said nothing.
Trevor looked at the floor, unable to hide his anger, but making a small attempt at being conciliatory. His soft voice was still hard as he pleaded. "Don't do this..."
"It's done, Trevor."
Trevor looked up, growing desperate. "Don't bring Claire into this. The one thing I do know, is that she'll never--.... she'll never love me. I know that. She doesn't love me, alright? How can I make that any more clear? You're kidding yourself if you think she does. Deep down, you know perfectly well that there is no reason for me to be committed!"
Richard slammed the hospital's response form down on his desk as he angrily stepped around it and moved right into Trevor's face. Trevor didn't back up an inch, glaring back. Richard's voice was cold. "Do you think I'm stupid, Trevor? Of course I know you don't need to be committed. I know that better than even you do. But the truth is I wasn't making any progress with you anyway. So this is for your own good regardless...."
"It's for your good, Richard! No one else's!"
Richard nodded, trying to stay calm. "You want me to tell the truth? Then why don't you do the same! Let's lay our cards out on the table. Here's the deal. The cold, hard truth. You're right, Trevor. I think that she's in love with you. And it sickens me..."
Trevor stared back but said nothing.
Richard's voice was full of scorn and loathing. "How can she love a smug, arrogant little psychotic like you? What do you have to offer her, Trevor? Pain? Humiliation? A future of mental ward visits, outpatient reviews, and psychotic episodes? All the pretty little experimental drugs that they'll force down your throat and years of unproductive psychotherapy? Is that what you think she deserves from the man she loves? When I can give her so much more. More than you'll ever be able to.Ii'm a respected doctor. What are you? You're a bartender, Trevor. A bartender in a nothing bar with a nothing life, who's somehow deluded himself into thinking he's Cupid. Because he's got nothing else that's woth anything. Because he's really just a pathetic human being. What... is she going to introduce you to her friends? Her family? Hey everyone, here's my delusional boyfriend, straight from Olympus. Is she going to marry you, Trevor? Show you off to the world? Her insane husband. What Claire needs... is to be rid of you, Trevor. What Claire needs is to get you out of her system. Just like any other infectious disease. She needs to move on, instead of letting herself fall in love with a hopeless psychotic. So yes, Trevor. It would be good for me. Absolutely. You won't be coming between us anymore. But it would be even better for Claire. Once you're gone, she'll be able to move on. And maybe you'll finally get the help you need..."
Trevor still stood there silently in front of him, not backing away from Richard, his face inches from his as Trevor's fists hung on either side of his hips. There was still anger burning in Trevor's eyes, but now, maybe there was a glimmer of doubt as well. He blinked as he thought about what Richard had said, wondering if maybe, on some level, Richard was right.
Claire opened the front door of her apartment and stepped in with a tired sigh. She slowly moved past her answering machine, it's small red light blinking quietly as she reached down and pressed a button on it without stopping, moving out of sight.
Jaclyn's frantic voice suddenly sounded over the answering machine's small speaker, and Claire suddenly stopped where she was, rushing back and listening intently when she heard the panic in Jaclyn's words. Claire's face paled as she listened to Jaclyn's latest message.
"Trevor was so furious when he heard Richard was trying to have him committed, Claire! I don't know what Trevor's going to do! Claire, he's heading over to Richard's office. You have to stop him before he gets there and does something stupid! Claire, I-"
Claire looked up as the message cut off, thinking about Trevor. Her scared voice was soft. "Trevor... no. What are you doing?"
Frantic, she grabbed her car keys and rushed back out of the house, the fear evident in her eyes as she slammed the door shut behind her, heading for Richard's office. The house was empty again once she was gone, and the answering machine's red light still blinked in the silence.
Trevor's voice was almost a shout, still arguing with Richard. "You don't get it! You just don't get it, do you? You can't make Claire love you!"
Richard glared over at him from where he was pacing on the other side of the office. "Maybe not. Not yet. But once you're out of the way, she'll come around."
Trevor shook his head in disgust, moving towards the door as if to leave. "Never happen! You go ahead and do your best, Doctor! But I've gotten past those hospital boards before and I'll do it again!"
Richard rushed angrily over to him and grabbed Trevor's arm, not letting him leave. "Stay away from Claire, Trevor."
Trevor glared down at Richard's hand for a second before he threw it off his arm with a hard shake of his shoulder. "Or what?"
Richard suddenly smiled coldly, filled with an unexpected smug look. He stepped confidently away. "I talked with Mary Simmons last week, Trevor. Remember her? Faith? You last saw her at the top of the stairs outside your apartment? Surely you remember her? Blond, fanatical, insane... armed. Got a bit of a... penetrating personality. She's hard to miss..."
A pit suddenly opened up in Trevor's stomach, not expecting that. He waited, wondering where Richard was going with this.
Richard looked over at him, his eyes glinting dangerously. His voice was cold and quiet. "Faith followed you around like a lap dog for quite some time, didn't she? She saw a lot of fascinating little details about your average, every day life. Details like... you kissing Claire outside her office. Ring a bell?"
Trevor's expression fell away, feeling it all fall apart around him.
Richard stared at him meaningfully. "She was watching it the whole time. Hiding down the hall. Now if something that... scandalous were to get out about our esteemed Claire, well... you know how peers can talk."
Trevor couldn't believe what he was hearing, his voice low and seething. "You really are a bastard, you know that?"
Richard paused for a moment, not looking very concerned. "You know, it's funny Trevor. I never would have imagined Claire to be one for doing something like that. Kissing one of her patients. Falling in love with him. It's so unethical. So unlike her. To tell you the truth, I'm not even really sure what Faith claims she saw ever really happened. She is psychotic after all, as I'm sure you can relate to. For all I know, she could be making it all up even now... BEcause believe it or not, she's still obsessed with you. Good thing for youthat for the moment she's locked up and out of arms reach, huh? I don't know, Trevor. Whether it's true or not, there's one thing I am sure of. I'm sure I could get a professional review board to believe her. I could ruin Claire's career. Even the mere implication could do it. It would be... sooo easy, Trevor."
Trevor's eyes sparkled. "And you were the one who a second ago was so concerned about hurting Claire!"
"I'm not the one threatening Claire's career, Trevor. You did that all by yourself. After an allegation like that, who knows what a follow up investigation would find between you and Claire. Maybe other indications of how she feels about you? Other less than professional moments? Other friends or co workers she may have told, or who may have suspicions? Other kisses perhaps? Would they find anything else, Trevor?"
Trevor was silent, obviously furious, but thrown off balance, feeling like he was losing control of the situation.
Richard stepped closer to him. "But I suppose that all depends on you."
Trevor's eyes were full of anger as they started to mist over in despair. "Don't you dare do this to her. Don't you dare hurt her this way..."
Richard smiled. "When I present your case to the review board, you're going to agree with evrything I say. Because you're willing to sacrifice yourself for Claire, aren't you? Don't fight me on this, and I won't have to do anything to Claire. Stay away from her, Trevor. Or... don't. End up in a mental hospital anyway for the rest of you life, with Claire's reputation in shambles. But don't kid yourself. I'll do what I have to do. Make up what I have to, as long as it gets you out of our lives. Even if it costs Claire her career. So walk away... or get locked up. But either way.... I win."
Anger burned through Trevor's eyes as he listened to the arrogance in Richard's voice. His fingers were stiff as they slowly balled into a fist at his side.
The door to Richard's office suddenly burst open.
Trevor's arm swung out and sped around.
Claire was standing there in the hallway. She screamed at what she saw. "Trevor, don't!"
Trevor's arm exploded in a wide, unstoppable roundhouse swing that blurred forward, his coat flying as he punched Richard straight in the face and sent him flying backwards.
Richard stumbled into the far wall behind him with a clatter, collapsing to the floor, his back sliding down against the wall. After he came to a stop he shook his head.
Breathing heavily, Claire rushed over to Trevor and grabbed him, pulling him back as he took another menacing step towards Richard. "Trevor, stop! Trevor!"
Trevor glared down at Richard as Claire held him back, his eyes cold and furious.
Claire pulled him back even more, stepping between the two of them as she held Trevor tightly in her arms. She looked disbelievingly back and forth between the two men, tears welling in her eyes as what just happened started to finally sink in. "Trevor... what have you done..."
Richard was breathing deeply, his chest heaving. His lip was cracked and bleeding as he rubbed it with the back of his palm, wincing slightly in pain. But as he lay there on the floor, he was... smiling. It didn't upset him to see Trevor standing there in Claire arms. As he gingerly licked the blood off his teeth, his pleased expression was clear. With that one punch, he had already won.
Claire's voice was fragile and shaky, feeling overwhelmed as she faced Trevor and caressed his cheek tenderly, making him look into her eyes. "Trevor, I-"
Forgetting Richard, Trevor looked deeply into Claire's face. His expression seemed to be filled with so many things in that moment. Anger, sadness, fear.... loss. It was over. Without a word he turned away from her and left Richard's office.
Claire took a step to follow him but stopped, feeling helpless and uncertain, her eyes filled with new tears, not knowing what to do.
Richard was still seated on the floor, his back against the wall. Lifting himself up, he winced again, touching his bleeding lip as he stood. Claire was still standing there, gazing in the direction Trevor had gone. Richard didn't look at her as he spoke.
"I can have him detained before he sets foot on the sidewalk."
Claire whirled on him, eyes sparkling and her voice hard and angry. "Don't try idle boasts with me. We both know you don't have that kind of authority. Trevor's not the only one who see's what's really going on here. I see it too. And if you try to have him committed, I'll expose you for abuse of position and have your license removed for professional misconduct. You won't get away with this..."
Richard looked at her. "Professional misconduct. Ironic, coming from you. Besides... I've already gotten away with this." He couldn't help but smile at her. "You can make whatever claims you want, Claire. But I suspect Trevor will back up any proposal I make to the board. He doesn't really have any other choice..."
Still glaring at him, Claire blinked in confusion, wondering what he meant. Without another word, she ran out after Trevor, leaving the office far behind.
Alone in the quiet of his office, Richard suddenly sighed to himself, looking a little more doubtful now, and wondering what it was he had done.
The hallways and offices all bounced and blurred through Claire's tear filled eyes as she quickly ran forward, searching frantically for Trevor. She looked everywhere, trying not to cry outright, her watery gaze searching through every hallway. Where was he? She continued to move quickly down the hallways, ignoring the strange looks the other workers were giving her when they noticed her upset expression, noticed the tears falling on her cheeks.
Finally Claire saw him, standing at the end of one long hallway with his head bowed down. He was in front of a large window looking out at the cold cityscape of Chicago under a gray, overcast sky. Trevor's left arm was straight out, his palm supporting his weight against the wall, as if the weight of the world were resting on his shoulders and he had lost all hope. Even from here she could tell how broken he seemed.
Claire blinked, voice calling out softly. "Trevor..?"
Trevor looked over his shoulder at her sadly, before straightening up and turning away, wiping at his eyes as he put something away in his pocket. Claire rushed forward to him without hesitation, gratefully collapsing into his arms, holding him tightly to her. She pulled him close, not caring anymore who saw them. Trevor closed his eyes and held her tighter, held her like she was holding him, his arms tenderly wrapped around her, holding on to that one moment like no other. Claire felt a tear roll down her cheek as she leaned her face against his. Trevor held her tighter, almost as if it was for the last time.
"Trevor..." Claire gasped, her fingers lightly grazed his cheek sadly as she looked into his eyes. "What are we going to do? If Richard somehow finds a way to have you committed..."
Trevor closed his eyes and swallowed, trying to concentrate only on Claire being in his arms, on her there against him, close like he had always wanted her to be, not thinking about the future ahead of them. Finally he opened his eyes and looked deeply into Claire's beautiful brown eyes, eyes that were still filled with tears, and asadness he had caused.
Claire gazed back at him, not knowing what to say. "Trevor, I-... I don't know what to think."
His hand touched her face, tenderly grazing her cheek. "I think it's over, Claire..."
"Trevor, if you leave me, I don't... I don't think I can-... I'm so sorry. I was so stupid before. Fighting what I knew I felt. I've wasted so much time, Trevor..."
Claire sighed and tearfully rested her forehead against his, closing her eyes, just being there with him. Then she looked up again, unafraid, a decision in her eyes. Slowly, she tilted her head, and her lips tenderly came towards his. This was her choice. She was doing this because she wanted to, on her own, for the first time. The window behind them brightened as the overcast sky parted for a moment, one shining moment, as a single gold ray of sunlight fell onto them, outlining them against the window. And for a moment as her lips came closer, Trevor felt that maybe there was somehow a way that they could-
But then... his fingers came up and pressed gently against her lips, stopping her. The sunlight faded behind a cloud. Trevor sighed, realizing it was the hardest thing he had ever done, but... he stopped her. Slowly, Claire pulled reluctantly back, looking at him. Trevor pulled himself out of her arms.
"It's over, Claire. Don't worry about me. Whatever happens... you'll be okay. Remember that. Don't worry. Really. I got it down. I'll handle this. I promise...."
She didn't know what to say. It all sounded like so much false reassurance to her.
With one last look, Trevor forced himself to turn and walk away. Claire's hand slipped out of his, their fingers no longer intertwined, her palm hovering in mid air in the absence of his.
Without a word of explanation Trevor left, his steps echoing down the hallway as he moved further away. Claire watched him, speechless, as he stepped around the corner and out of sight.
She wrapped her arms around herself and stepped closer to the window, feeling the cold emanating from it. Her silent breath misted the glass, eyes stricken. Alone in the hallway, she finally bowed her head and cried.