Categories > Books > Anita Blake > Friends1 Reviews
Caleb reaches out for a friend. Pairing: CalebxGregory Non-Canon/ten chapters/completed 10/10
He was busy packing a suitcase, thinking about how stupid it was for someone like him to want what other people had. He heard the knock on the door and ignored it until whoever it was started yelling and banging. He threw the door open and there he stood, the person he least wanted to see. Caleb.
"What do you want? Go away." Gregory made to slam the door but Caleb caught and held it. He didn't try to step through the doorway, just stood there, watching, waiting. "Why are you knocking on the door? You have a key. Go away." Gregory glared and pushed at the door.
"I, uh, I lost my key." Caleb stumbled over the answer, not quite looking Gregory in the eye. He kept his hold on the door.
"Liar. Tell me what you want and get out." Gregory walked away from the door in disgust. He didn't care anymore; Caleb could come in, he was leaving, it just didn't matter, and he was too tired to argue.
"What are you doing? Are you going somewhere?" Caleb followed him into his bedroom and looked at the boxes and suitcase. He was leaving, now he'd ruined everything.
"Yes, I'm leaving. You didn't think I'd stay here did you?" Gregory couldn't believe he'd actually found Caleb attractive. He was incredibly dense, he just didn't get it. Now he looked bewildered; lost. His eye looked terrible. Gregory felt a momentary relapse until Caleb opened his big mouth.
"But you aren't gonna stay mad at me? I mean it was no big deal." Caleb didn't seem to understand. It was a big deal, at least to me, thought Gregory.
"No, it was no big deal, Caleb. I really enjoyed the scene in the kitchen and having everyone hear it" He shook his head, he couldn't believe Caleb. "I just don't want to live here anymore." Gregory was throwing clothes into the suitcase, tossing odds and ends into the box. It was pathetic really, how very little effort it took to pack all his things. Pathetic like his whole life.
"The rent is paid through the end of the month. You can keep the apartment or move out. I don't care." Caleb was looking sort of stunned Gregory noted with a good deal of satisfaction. It had wiped the smug, self-satisfied look off his face, for once.
"So why are you really here, Caleb? Why didn't you let yourself in with the key?" Trust Caleb to make himself inconvenient. Gregory wondered why he hadn't realized what an ass Caleb was in the first place...oh, wait, he had, he'd just been overruled by his hormones.
"I came to talk to you." Caleb looked around the room in confusion. "I wanted to apologize." His eyes stopped on Greg, eyed the tight jeans and crop top that showed off flat stomach, sleek taut muscles.
"Drop the remorseful act, Caleb. I'm not buying." Gregory looked around the room for any remaining items. Nope, everything he needed. He could come back tomorrow, when Caleb was at work. He was going now.
He closed his suitcase, picked it up, and turned to leave. Caleb was standing in the doorway. "Get out of my way or I'll black your other eye." Gregory growled. "We don't have anything to talk about. I don't want an apology."
"You have to let me apologize, I'm sorry, I wasn't thinking." Caleb let the words rush out of his mouth, falling off his lips in a sudden stream. He looked worried, stressed.
"Tell Micah and Anita that I accepted your apology. You should be off the hook now. It doesn't matter. It was just a stupid mistake." Gregory pushed past Caleb who stepped back out of the doorway and let him by.
"No really Greg, I'm sorry, I didn't mean to make you so mad." Caleb followed him and sounded a little panicked now. Anita must have really frightened him, Gregory thought.
Gregory put the suitcase down, turned, and looked at him. "Don't worry. I'll tell Anita that you said you were sorry. I'll tell Micah if you want." He looked at the carpet and said hesitantly. "I'm sorry, too. For what it's worth."
"You hit me in the eye." Caleb blurted out. "Jean-Claude won't let me come to work with a black eye" He watched Gregory's face. "And it hurts, it really hurts." He touched his hand to the shiner and winced. Was it working?
Oh, yes, Caleb would only think about his problems, typical, thought Gregory. "I said I was sorry. Ask Stephen for something to cover it with. And put some ice on it."
"Stephen isn't speaking to me." Caleb mumbled. "I don't know how to do it. Is there any ice?"
"Caleb, I am not going to give you make-up tips. I am not going to fetch you ice. It doesn't look that bad. Nathaniel can help you. Is Nathaniel still talking to you?" Gregory wondered what the hell this was. And I don't believe for a minute that Jean-Claude will care what your eye looks like, either, he added in his mind.
"Yeah, he's talking, he won't shut up," Caleb muttered under his breath. "Sure I'll ask Nathaniel but you could do it."
"Caleb, what is wrong with you? I'm not going to help you. I tried being your friend, it didn't work out. You don't want friends; you want people you can use and abuse." Gregory found this new and uncertain Caleb odd, and somehow, likeable. No, not now, I don't want to like him anymore.
"I liked your new routine, at the club, I really liked it." Caleb blurted. "It was good. The customers will think it's great." Caleb still didn't look at Gregory. Gregory wondered if all the regret and remorse was another act.
"I'm not going to use it. It was just something I was trying out." Gregory hoped Caleb was distracted enough not to sense the lie. He'd never intended to use the routine; it was purely to get Caleb's attention. And he had, hadn't he? Just not quite what he'd meant to happen.
Caleb looked up; maybe he noticed a shift in Gregory's demeanor. "You don't have to leave, it's your apartment. I can move back to Anita's." Caleb offered. He could always find another place to stay. Yeah, he thought, with one of my many other friends.
"You could give me another chance." Caleb said quietly. "You don't owe me anything. But it would be different. I swear it."
"Do I look stupid? It's a mistake standing here talking to you." Gregory couldn't believe Caleb's nerve. "We have to see each other, we have to be civil. That's it. I'll see you around."
"Don't go. Please."
"You could give me another chance." Caleb said quietly. "You don't owe me anything. But it would be different. I swear it." Gregory was just staring at him. There was no forgiveness there. Fuck!
"I really am sorry about last night," Caleb stared at his feet, "I got the wrong idea, I thought ... never mind. I should have remembered that you turned down every other offer I made," he mumbled to himself. He took a deep breath and continued more loudly, "I shouldn't have grabbed you like that. Even if you were interested, I shouldn't have ... Ah! What does it matter? I'll get my stuff and go. It's your apartment, I'll get out."
Gregory frowned at Caleb's back as he watched him pick things up and pile them on the coffee table. Had Caleb meant all those invitations seriously? Greg had thought he was just being sarcastic, but what if he hadn't been? What if that was the only way Caleb knew how to ask someone out? There had been pain in those mumbled words he wasn't supposed to hear. What if Caleb really did like him? What if ...? No. Not again. He wasn't going to like him any more.
It only took Caleb a few minutes to gather all his possessions. Gregory frowned at the small heap of clothes and stuff. He had thought his things were pathetic but Caleb had even less. Caleb didn't even have a brother to run to. Caleb didn't have anyone.
Caleb fetched a couple of grocery sacks from the kitchen and rammed his possessions into them carelessly. What did it matter? What did any of it matter? His chest hurt and he must have got dust in his eyes or something, they kept watering. At least he had a car, thanks to Micah; he didn't have to ask Greg to take him back to Anita's.
He stared down at the grocery sacks and felt a horrible weight inside. He didn't want to go back to Anita's. He didn't want to leave Greg. He wanted a second chance. But what did what he wanted matter? When had it ever mattered to anyone else? Gregory wanted him out of here. It would be the best thing to do, for both of them. Greg wasn't interested in him, and he would just keep getting things wrong and upsetting Greg. He didn't want to upset Greg. There were a lot of things he wanted to do with Greg but upsetting him wasn't one of them.
Gregory watched with a slight frown as Caleb stared at the grocery sacks with his fists knotted. Was he going to ask to stay again? Caleb reached into a pocket and drew out his key. He clenched his fingers around it for a moment, then bent slightly and laid it gently on the table next to his sacks. He stared at it sadly. That key had represented so much when he moved in. He sighed and grabbed the sacks. He had to get out of here now! Before he did something really stupid.
"That's it!" He said brightly, scanning around the apartment, avoiding Greg's eyes, "I've got everything I think. If not you know where I'll be." He tried to smile but it didn't work very well. He ducked his head, hoping Greg hadn't noticed. "I'll get out of your way. I'm sorry things didn't work out ..."
Caleb snapped his mouth shut before any of the ridiculous mushy stuff came out. Greg would really have a ball if he let him know how he felt. They would all be laughing at him then. They would anyway. He had fucked up again. What did it matter? Caleb refused to acknowledge even to himself just how much it mattered, all of it.
He headed for the door blindly, and ran into Greg.
"Sorry," he mumbled and tried to pull away. He had to get out of here now! But Greg was holding his shoulders, stopping him from leaving. Greg was talking to him, nicely not angry any more. He reached up and touched the bruised eye, ran a finger down the side of Caleb's face, gently.
"Your eye looks awful" Greg didn't add that he had more than deserved it. "I'll get you some ice." It might make it feel better but nothing was going to help the color.
Gregory steered him to the kitchen area and sat him down, tucking the pathetic grocery sacks under the chair. Greg swore at himself as he crushed ice into a towel for Caleb's eye. Why couldn't he just let him go? Why couldn't he just let it be? They were bad for each other. Caleb moving out was for the best. So why didn't he want to let him walk out the door?
Caleb was confused. Why was he sitting here when he should be as far from Greg as he could get? Gregory leaned against his shoulder as he applied the ice pack gently to Caleb's face. Caleb flinched and clenched his fists on his thighs. He wanted to reach out and tumble Greg onto his lap, wrap his arms around all that slender blondness and ... he shut off that line of thought. It would only get him into more trouble. Think about Merle, it was much safer.
"Caleb?" Gregory swallowed hard and forced himself to speak. He couldn't help noticing Caleb's reaction to his touch, or the sheen in his one good eye, even if he refused to look directly at him. "Did you really mean all those invitations? Did you really want a date?"
"Why the hell would I ask you out if I didn't want to spend time with you?" Caleb snapped back without thinking, and flinched again. He really must keep his big mouth shut. He was in deep enough as it was no need to dig the hole any deeper. "I enjoyed that time we ate together, I thought you did too," he heard himself saying, "I was wrong." He clamped his teeth together to stop anything else escaping.
"Oh," Gregory slumped against Caleb's side. Had he been that wrong? "I thought," he swallowed the ball of nerves that was jamming his throat, "I thought you were just being sarcastic," he cleared his throat and stared at the ice pack, "I thought you knew how I felt and were making fun of me." His voice ended in a whisper, but at least he had got the words out. Greg waited tensely for Caleb to trample all over his feelings again.
Deep breaths, take deep breaths and don't think about it. If Greg kept touching him he was going to grab him again and throw him on the floor. He was so warm and he smelled so good. He reached up to move the ice pack and his hand slid over Gregory's, fingers slid together and intertwined; locked together. "Stay." Just the one word, one whisper. It was enough.