I am now out of the hospital and will be updating regularly again. I’m sorry to anyone who has anxious about an update.
Frank lay awake hours later, Escher curled around him just as he remembered. He couldn’t sleep, he wouldn’t sleep, he was terrified that if he did she would run again. He would stay awake for the rest of his life if he had to just to hold onto her.
He curled his face into her hair and breathed her in. It had seemed so unlikely, just a week ago, that he could be here, with her, holding her again. But then, it hadn’t. Something had led him to find her again and again.
She stirred in his embrace and blinked her big, crystalline eyes.
“Frank?” She murmured.
“What time is it?”
“I don’t know baby, it’s late”
Escher smiled against his chest.
“You can’t sleep?” She asked, looking up at him.
He stared at her and shook his head.
You can sleep, she thought, you just won’t.
And for just a moment, she saw, refelected in his eyes, hurt. Hurt that she had put him through. Hurt that it had never occurred to her that he would feel. She curled more tightly around him, clinging to him as if to try and make up for all the things she’d done and said. She felt his arms close around her and she smiled as she drifted back off to sleep.
When Escher woke in the morning, she was alone. Her heart thudded in her chest as her head ran away with her thoughts. Had he left her? Had it all been so he could do to her what she had done to him so often now.
She flew out of the bed, struggling to pull a shirt over her lithe, naked form as she hurried down the stairs. What would she do? Try and follow him? No, she just had to find him.
“Where are you going?”
She skidded to a stop and grabbed the French door to steady herself as she heard the voice behind her in the kitchen. She had run straight through and out towards the balcony without seeing him.
He raised his eyebrow.
“Who else would I be?”
She smiled shyly.
“I…when you weren’t there I thought…”
He smiled at her and she blushed.
“Escher, you’re wearing my shirt, didn’t you realize that it was mine?”
She blushed even more and played with the buttons as he slowly crossed to her.
“And you make it look so good” He whispered against her neck as he slipped his arms around her.
She let herself be held, just for now…but…
“What now?” She whispered and he stepped back, staring at the ground.
“I…I don’t know what you want” He replied softly.
“What do you want?” She asked.
She rolled her eyes and nodded, following him to the bench.
“Really though Frank, what do you want” She asked again.
“I want you to leave with me on the plane in…” He checked his watch, “two hours” He replied honestly, his voice bare and steady.
“I can’t do it” She whispered, cringing as his face fell.
“I thought you loved me”
Her heart felt as though it would break at his words.
“Oh God Frank, I do. I do love you, but I just can’t come with you. This is too new, it’s too much”
“You don’t believe me” He said, it wasn’t a question.
She stayed silent for such a long time, the seconds dragging out to eons.
Finally he nodded and picked up his back pack.
“I’ve got to go”
“But you said the plane doesn’t leave for another two hours” She said quietly.
“Fine, I’ll rephrase it, ‘I have to get out of here, out of this’” He hissed.
“It’s not that I don’t believe you Frank, I just…”
“Whatever Escher, I’m sorry for fucking up your perfect life once again”
He was half way down the stairs of the villa before she could say anything.
Escher was still sitting at the bench, stunned, when Ludivine arrived home.
“Where is Frank?” Lu asked.
“He left” Escher replied simply.
“What do you mean?”
Escher sighed and took a sip of her coffee, barely noticing that it was now stone cold.
“He apologized for ‘fucking up my perfect life’ and left” She replied in the same monotonous voice.
“Left to go where?”
Ludivine gasped and grabbed Escher’s shoulder, shaking her.
“Why did you let him go?” She cried.
Escher looked up at her, her eyes glassy and cold.
“If he didn’t want to leave, he wouldn’t have”
Ludivine let out a pained sigh.
“Why do you see things as so black and white Escher?” She asked, “It is either one way or the other to you, no shades of difference”
“What are you talking about?”
“You say he wouldn’t have left if he didn’t want to…did you ask him to stay?”
Escher shook her head.
“What if he was hurting Escher?”
“And you’re going to keep hurting until you fix it with him” Ludivine snapped, “You’ve been nothing but depressed about this guy not loving you back since you arrived. Newsflash Escher, people don’t travel around the world to find people they do not care about. You’re luckier than you’re ever going to know and you’re throwing it all away right now”
She finished, breathing heavily from her rant.
“I’m going to have a shower, if you’re still here when I get back I’ll know just how selfish and immature you really are” She hissed.
Frank sat in the café he had visited the day before. The same man glowered at him from behind the coffee machine but Frank didn’t think that any stares could make him feel worse than he already did. He didn’t know why it was this hard for them. Nothing was ever easy for he and Escher. Just once he wanted everything to fall into place. Perhaps it wasn’t supposed to. Was this just some higher power’s way of telling him it wasn’t supposed to be, that they were never meant to be together, that they had bent some cosmic rule until it snapped and blew up in their faces.
He groaned and laid his head down on the counter.
“You find her?”
Frank’s head flew up at the gruff voice.
“Sorry?” He asked the old man.
“Somebody with a face like yours can only have romantic problems” Spyro replied gruffly, obviously a little uncomfortable with the conversation.
“Yeah” Frank muttered, taking a sip of his coffee, “I was basically told to fu…go away, after I travel all the way here to find her”
“She asked you to leave?” Spyro asked.
Frank nodded and finished his coffee.
“Well then why is she outside looking for you?”
Escher was hurrying down the street, looking all around her, everywhere but in front of her. She bounced back from something solid but two hands she knew so well held her and stopped her from falling.
“I thought you were going to let me go” He said slowly.
“I was” She replied, her voice heavy, “I thought you have to have wanted to leave if you were willing to”
He shook his head.
“No, no…I’m not willing to leave Escher, if I could have it my way I’d stay here with you forever”
“But we both know you can’t”
“Can I walk you to the airfield?”
He grinned and slung one arm around her, the other reaching for his bag.
The plane was waiting when they got there and Frank turned to her. Taking a deep breath she reached out and held his hands.
“Frank, I want you to know something”
He nodded, urging her on.
“The only time my life has been anything close to perfect is with you in it Frank. But I need to be sure. I’ve spent my life rushing into things”
“Give me a chance,” He said quietly, squeezing her tiny hands gently, “If you won’t come with me now, meet me somewhere. We’re back in Europe soon”
“In June” Escher said with a smile, “Trust me, I know your tour back to front, I helped plan most of it”
He grinned sheepishly,
“Come to one of the shows”
“Which one would be the easiest for you to come to?”
“I…I don’t know I…” Escher stammered,
“Fine,” Frankie said determinedly, “I’ll leave a backstage pass under your name at every concert we play in Europe. Just give me a chance and come to one of them. If you don’t, I’ll leave you alone, in peace”
Even as he spoke his mind was screaming. Screaming that he was making a promise he couldn’t keep, screaming that she would run again, screaming for him to shut up and kiss her and drag her onto the plane with him.
Escher bit her lip and was saved from answering when the pilot called out to Frank, telling him the plane was ready to go. Frank turned back to her.
“E…” He whispered and she smiled wanly, lacing her fingers with his.
She stood up on her toes and placed a chaste kiss against his lips.
He stared into her eyes, trying to decipher the meaning behind that one word. Finally, he nodded and hugged her close one last time.
“Remember,” He said quietly, “I’ll leave you a ticket at every concert”