168 Days Until Faith And the Uncertain End (part 3)
Zeydar was awake. The soft and loud snores of those in the room sounded on as shift changed and light danced in the otherwise dark room. Heia had not given him back his drugs. The others had been feeding them to him, and that night all he had was nightmares. He couldn’t focus on trying to go to bed when all he heard was Arcadia, the chimeras, the world that had been destroyed by him.
Evester turned over in his sleep, his hair falling atop his face. Zeydar starred at him, turning to face Evester fully. Kim was next to him, snuggling closer to Heia who seemed to be pushing her off a bit, not liking the heat but enjoying the comfort. Shawn’s snores were the loudest as he slept on Heia’s other side, holding her hand lightly. Zeydar’s side was cold, from where Uly had gotten up to go to his shift for the night.
Zeydar’s eyes trailed over Evester’s features. He’d seen Evester sleep enough on the bus, but never this close. It was always from afar and it was only in the dimmed light of the space heater that Zeydar could make out much more. He could see the slight twitch of Evester’s face, the way his breath was even and the way he reached for Kim, for her warmth, as she tried to kick him away to get closer to Heia.
The air was brisk over them as the shift occurred. And when the room was all dark Evester gripped Zeydar’s hand. It was such a sudden movement, that if Evester’s hand wasn’t on Zeydar’s, Zeydar was certain he would have thought he’d hallucinated it.
“Nightmare?” Evester whispered so low the Zeydar was almost certain he’d not heard it. When Evester’s eyes fluttered open, Zeydar could see the sleep within them, but the coherence. The deepness to the brown was as filled and mysterious as the night sky. Evester was a light sleeper, this Zeydar knew. However, just how light was it? Was he too burdened by things he could not say aloud?
“You can’t sleep anymore.” Zeydar spoke only after casting a silencing charm about them both.
“Not soundly. I have not been able to, since I started this journey.” Almost a year ago, if Zeydar was right about his dates. “Was it a nightmare?”
“Memories.” Zeydar answered.
“Memories are the reason you get high no?”
“Tell me about them.” Evester pulled Zeydar closer. He was apart from Kim now, a space between them, leaving Evester and Zeydar cut off from the others. Sharing only their body heat with each other.
“You don’t want to hear it.” Zeydar wanted to push him back to the others, to where he was better off. Warmer. Safer.
“Keeping it in isn’t helping you.”
“I wouldn’t know where to start.”
“Where ever you want to start.” Evester answered, placing their foreheads against each other. Zeydaar’s body shivered at the connection. He could feel the magic circling Evester, flowing through him in the smallest of ways. Where their hands met, the magic was the strongest. It was a magnet pulling Zeydar closer to him. To the warmth. To safety.
The magic was telling him it was okay.
“It will have to be my decision to get clean. You can’t make me.” Zeydar warned him. And suddenly Zeydar felt tired. It was as if everything hit him in that moment.
“I know that. I can’t make you do anything or else it won’t stick.” Evester told him.
“I’m trying.” Zeydar squeezed his hand. “But the memories come back.”
“I know.” Evester whispered, his breath hitting Zeydar’s neck after a few moments. “I know you’re scared. We will make this happen.”
“This happen?” Zeydar asked him. Did Evester mean saving the world? Did he mean getting through the night? “Are you never scared?”
“Never.” Evester answered. There was such confidence in his voice, bound by the wave of anticipation that Evester got with all challenges. A need to prove himself. A need to do anything, to try it, to do it. To risk death.
“And that’s what makes you stupid.” Zeydar didn’t mean to say the words. Evester backed up to look at him. The slightest movement, but enough to cut off the magic that was seeping between them. Immediately Zeydar wished he could take it back.
“You aren’t wrong. A good dose of fear saves lives.” Evester smiled sleepy. “But confidence can best fear. And I’m confident in what I do. If I wasn’t then I wouldn’t do it. My adrenaline doesn’t come from the fear of failure, it comes from the desire for success.”
Zeydar could sense it. Could feel it. It was how the magic circled him. How magic circled them both. A new sensation and reading that Zeydar still did not understand. There was so much more to it all than he had ever known. “And if you fail, you die.”
“I’ll be dead what will it matter then?” Evester held Zeydar’s eyes. Neither blinked. Neither looked away. The space heater giving them enough light to make out that much at least. “As long as I’m breathing I will fight, and fight in the way I know. Fear be damned.”
Zeydar was taken back a bit. This was Evester’s way of telling Zeydar to fight, to make the choice to live on away from the memories. To keep them from swallowing him whole, to live within his magic fully. Where ever you want to start, Evester had said. “And what if I can’t? What if it becomes a mess? What happens when I lose control and everything I thought I knew is shattered?”
“Then you focus. Focus on what you know. Focus on what matters.” Evester answered. Evester then closed the distance between them. Breaths close, foreheads touching again. Hands holding each other, and pulling Zeydar back to the others, closer to Kim. Closer to Heia. and Shawn. And Phil, and Kony, and all the others who slept soundly just a few inches away. “You mustn’t destroy yourself for mistakes of the past. It is in human nature to grow. You can’t kill yourself over past decisions and mistakes.”
“I try.” But he couldn’t break from it.
“I know. I’m constantly trying to live by the words I preach. It’s not easy.” Evester smirked, their faces inches apart. “For all evil there is good. For all mistakes there are triumphs. For all bad memories there are better ones.” Evester’s hand gripping Zeydar’s released and traveled to Zeydar’s face. “And as you decide the person you want to be…” He moved. “If you can’t focus on yourself. Focus on me.”
There was no kiss, just Evester’s hand traveling to the back to Zeydar’s head, hand through his hair. Not so he was farther away that their situation couldn’t become more, but far enough so that Zeydar could fully see him. Evester was making sure that Zeydar memorized him, saw him, focused on him. And then Evester pulled Zeydar closer so Zeydar’s head was against Evester’s chest. For minutes they were like that. Evester relaxing back and Zeydar listening, next to him and listening. The sound of Evester’s heartbeat was loud and his breathing evening out. Zeydar was not sure if Evester was asleep, but he broke the secret charm, gripping Evester under the blanket, tangling his legs with Evester. He’d never been so close to another human, but his body relaxed to Evester’s heart beat.
It was louder than the screams in his memory. It was steady unlike his own racing heart, that wanted nothing more to match a calm one. Evester’s heartbeat was steady. It was firm. It was something to focus on. In that moment Evester’s heart was Zeydar’s and Zeydar’s alone. And it was the steady rhythm that had Zeydar drifting into dreamless sleep.