Categories > Books > Anita Blake > Friends1 Reviews
Caleb reaches out for a friend. Pairing: CalebxGregory Non-Canon/ten chapters/completed 9/10
"Micah, I am not going to put up with anymore of Caleb's trouble." Anita was truly angry with his antics. "What did he do to Gregory? Not that I like Gregory much better. They deserve each other."
Micah wondered if Anita knew how fitting her last words were. "Anita, Caleb is really trying and he'll fix it. Just cut him a little slack. It's between him and Gregory, whatever it is." He'd have to spell it out if Anita was going to understand. He thought that maybe Anita, Gregory, and Caleb were the only people who hadn't figured it out. Anita wouldn't appreciate the humor in that.
Anita's eyes narrowed, she had a disgusted look on her face. "Are you trying to tell me that this is some sort of lover's quarrel? Are you saying that Caleb...and Gregory?" She rolled her eyes. "I don't want to know, don't tell me anything else. Just take care of it, please; and please, don't give me any details." Micah smiled, for a woman of the world Anita was surprisingly prudish.
It had started out innocently enough. The weekly Pard get-together at Anita's. Micah's attempt to meld their Pards, get people used to each other, heal some of the damage. Micah wondered just how much blame he had to take. The get-together was his idea but the fun was Nathaniel's doing. Surely Nathaniel wasn't that devious? Remembering the sly smile on his face Micah wasn't so sure anymore.
They'd argued over which movie to watch. Vivian and Cherry said they were tired of the guys picking all the movies. The boys had hooted and laughed at the 'chick flicks' the girls had suggested. Anita was ready to tell them to go home when Nathaniel had suggested they all learn to dance.
He volunteered to teach anyone who didn't know how and asked Gregory to be his assistant. He said they needed to learn 'real' dancing, like the waltz, stuff where you held your partner in your arms. The men had moved the furniture back against the wall.
Anita had stated firmly that she had no intention of dancing, but after a look from Nathaniel and Micah both she'd agreed. It wasn't very graceful but she agreed. Nathaniel pointed out that there were more men than women and they'd draw names. And Nathaniel put Merle in charge of the names. Could Nathaniel and Merle have conspired to cause so much trouble?
Anita wanted to ask Micah what he thought but since she'd already said she didn't want to know she couldn't bring it up. She replayed the scene in her mind.
Merle drew names. Nathaniel danced with Vivian first, he said it wasn't fair for Stephen to get her as a partner, he had to draw anther name. Gregory drew Zane's name and both of them were good sports about it. Zane even let Gregory lead. By the time Gregory got Caleb's name it was all fun and everyone had been laughing. So it was quite surprising when the shouting erupted in the kitchen and Gregory hauled off and punched Caleb.
Now Caleb was back in the upstairs bedroom with a black eye and Gregory had gone back to the apartment, furious with Caleb and looking sick. Anita had a feeling that Nathaniel at least, knew exactly what had happened, maybe everyone with preternatural hearing knew, but no one was telling her. And she didn't want to know; at least that's what she told herself.
Dancing was fun until he got Caleb for a partner. He saw the glance Nathaniel gave Merle but he couldn't prove anything. Had Nathaniel set him up? It was Caleb's fault for being such a jerk. No, it was his own fault for asking Caleb to move in, for letting Nathaniel talk him into dancing at the club, in Anita's living room.
Caleb lay in the dark holding an icepack to his eye. Who'd have thought Greg could hit so hard? He guessed he deserved it. He didn't know Greg would get so upset at his suggestion. He thought the way Greg had leaned into him when they danced was an invitation, especially after the performance at the club. When Greg went to the kitchen he'd followed. Maybe he'd been crude, maybe he shouldn't have grabbed, and maybe he'd handled it badly. Now everyone was mad at him, Gregory wasn't speaking to him, and Merle was probably sharpening his knife. Someone knocked at the door.
"Caleb, are you awake?" Great, it was Nathaniel. What did he want now? This was all his fault. It had been Nathaniel's idea to dance.
"No, I'm asleep, go away. I don't want to talk to anyone." Nathaniel opened the door and slipped into the room.
"What were you thinking about? Honestly, sometimes you are such a stupid git, Caleb." Nathaniel was mad at him, too. Great. Nathaniel was the closest thing he had to a friend, and he was pissed, too.
"What made you think Greg would like being grabbed and pawed in the kitchen with all of us in the next room? We all heard it, Caleb. How could you treat him like that, like he was nothing?" Caleb didn't think Nathaniel really wanted an answer. "You better fix it Caleb, before Micah turns Merle loose. Act like a real person for a change."
Nathaniel stopped at the door and looked back. "Gregory is worth a dozen of you. But he sees something in you, don't mess up." Caleb lay in the dark and stared at the ceiling.
Gregory wondered how it had all gone so badly. It was Nathaniel's fault. The whole stupid thing. His idea about the club, his idea about the dancing, his idea about having a boyfriend, about it being good to want more than just sex. It was a stupid idea to think about Caleb and Boyfriend in the same sentence. He would move back in with Stephen and Vivian. He'd let Caleb keep the apartment. It was just over, he didn't deserve a real life.
Caleb made his way to the kitchen hoping to have breakfast and leave for work without seeing anyone. Micah was already there having breakfast. He knew he was going to be sorry he hadn't just slipped out the door last night and disappeared. At least Merle wasn't waiting for him. He fingered the ring in his bellybutton nervously. Micah smiled like he knew just what Caleb was thinking.
"Good morning, Caleb, want breakfast? Coffee?" Micah was friendly, not mad. That made Caleb feel more at ease. At least he wasn't getting yelled at, not that he didn't deserve it. Maybe they wouldn't even have to talk about it. He needed to talk about it he realized to his surprise. He looked at Micah, cautiously, was it some sort of trick, being nice?
"Micah, I'm sorry about last night." Micah raised his eyebrows in a question. "I know I was a jerk, I just wasn't thinking." Micah was still watching him, his expression neutral. "Greg's been nothing but nice to me, I was way out of line."
"I think it's not me you owe the apology to." Micah looked at Caleb, waiting to see his reaction.
"I'll apologize to Anita again. I didn't mean to cause trouble at the Pard meeting." Caleb looked very earnest. Micah sighed; he didn't think Caleb understood yet. Caleb wasn't stupid, he was just...he had no idea about relationships.
"You didn't insult me or Anita last night, Caleb." He waited and watched Caleb. He wondered if Caleb was really this slow. Yeah, he was young, and well, not stupid but, maybe clueless. What kind of life had he led? A sad and sorry one.
"Oh, you mean Gregory." Caleb looked like a dog that had been kicked. "I don't think Greg will ever forgive me." Caleb sighed. "I wanted Greg to be interested. I didn't know how to handle it, I really messed it up."
"Yes, you did. But I think if you will talk to Greg and think about what you want you can straighten things out." Micah looked hard at Caleb. "Gregory has been through at lot. He doesn't need shit from you. Take care of it or I will personally kick your ass and hand what's left to Merle. Understand?" Caleb swallowed hard and nodded.
Micah held up a set of car keys. "If you go now you might miss your lecture from Anita." He smiled at Caleb's startled look. "If you hurry."
Caleb grabbed the keys and started for the door. "Thanks, Micah. I'll try, I'll really try."
Micah stared at the door as Caleb hurried out. "You'd better, Caleb. Merle's got his eye
on you." He smiled, it was mean to tease Caleb, but it was so much fun.