Í Gær / Yesterday
when he goes outside, the cold greets him as it usually does: harshly. there is no mercy in the cold here, it always acts as if it is alive, rather than a simple turning of the weather. if he had to imagine it, he would say that the cold has claws, sliding down his skin, seeking a place to penetrate, to tear at him with finality in such sharp claws. as if it wants to drag him down into it's icy depths for the rest of his life and is simply waiting for him to make a mistake.
the cold makes for a good adversary, yet it seems as if the cold has forgotten where he is, and who he is. he is not a simple man. he is a cimmerian and cimmerians were not like other weak men. before cimmerians were born, crom spit into their guts to give them strength. and even among the strongest cimmerians, ones who who were made in the cold, he was unusual all on his own. what other cimmerian could claim that he was born on a battlefield? no one.
his mother died on a cold battlefield giving birth to him, and it's as if something from there works in him now. he does not blink as the cold drags her sharp nails down his skin, as he stares unblinkingly into the cold grey of the sky. that is all there is in cimmeria: hills crested with cold and snow, jagged black trees, the sky a dull grey at best and a complete blackness that only sometimes allowed the brightest, fiercest stars to shine in it's stead. and unlike every cimmerian he knew, he was different in this also: for he wishes more than anything to see more than this, to see more than the only the brightest stars in the dullest days. everyone else he knew, they could not think of another place beyond crom's shadow, could not concieve of ever being bothered to move their eyes from this wintery, grey landscape that surrounded them no matter how much he asked.
the burning desire seemed to be his, and his alone.
his eyes take in the mountain range before him, the jutting mountains that kept him blocked from another world. ones that seemed bigger than everything else, a challenge in their own right.
his fingers curve upon the knife in his hand, knuckles going white. he should be going back to his task before his father came home, should use the light while he had it. he knows that he will get it done; he has never failed his father before.
he simply aches for more. he aches to pummel his way through the snow, to climb the mountains before him, dig his fingers into the soil, the rock until he is up and over, into the places, the valleys beyond cimmeria.
he longs to leave. to explore.
whatever mood crom was in when he was born, whatever kind of spit he put into his guts, they told him that he was meant to be more, meant to do more, meant to have adventures beyond anyone's reckoning here in cimmeria.
his eyes look down to his hands, and knows that he must go inside. there are tasks before him. his father is without a wife, and it all falls to him to do it.
he looks back up. sees the clouds shift, swears that he can smell something new in the wind, something that beckons to him more than the cold's fingers.
he takes a deep breath of it, holds it. lets it go.
"by crom's breath," he says, "i will go beyond cimmeria. i will have women, wine, all the spoils of a king."
some may call it a child's longing. some may know better: that he is conan of cimmeria, who will become king conan of aquilonia. he has never broken a promise, and he will always mount those hills by the time he is fifteen winters.
FEELING HELPLESS I LOOK FOR DISTRACTION I GO SEARCHING FOR YOU
"you don't need me to help you with this course," luna's voice is steady, calm and has that flint of tone that alexander was starting to recognize as an opening silo to an argument. "you haven't opened up that book the entire time you've been here with me."
caught, alexander isn't quite sure how he should respond to this. he keeps looking at luna's hands, poised in front of him perfectly clasped together, not touching the food alexander had ordered a few minutes ago. he feels as if he's been chastised by this man he's looked up to for months, who he followed onto this campus to know better--even if he would never admit such a thing outloud for fear of what it could mean, to admit to that. he swallows, looks up and tries to say something that doesn't feel foolish (luna makes him feel deeply foolish, sometimes)...
and comes up empty. his mouth closes, jaw clenching with the inability to voice what he wanted to say.
luna is patient, saintly almost, with his silence as it stretches onward.
it takes a few more moments of silence until alexander can finally voice, "no. i don't," he looks up fully, still struggling with what precisely he's feeling, sitting here in luna's kitchen, fingers nervously reaching out to start unpacking the chinese food before him. "you're smarter than-- i..." he feels as if there's something just beyond his grasp for what he wants to say, needs to say. he wants to get there, to stop feeling thrust under a spotlight like this.
luna's fingers touch his own on the bag. alexander freezes at the sudden touch. there are a thousand reasons as to why luna would have reached out to deliberately touch him with the first five being the ones that make him uncomfortable, as none of those ideas are something that he thinks luna shares.
and yet, he can't make himself pull away.
Till we're lost in the heat of the moment
whenever alexander mentions the boarding schools he's gone to, there is always an assumption that such places helped to engender a community of brotherhood, understanding and safety. anyone who has actually gone to such schools knows that such an idea is laughable.
for many people, they eventually made it out with friends, connections, rivalries that mattered in the real world, could always be circled back to, and in a manner, could make something of it.
most boys were not alexander, who routinely found himself sneaking off to other places on the grounds to eat his food alone, who kept to himself whenever he could manage, who's one friend lived elsewhere, and who preferred the company of his nanny to his parents' voices over the line interrogating him on grades.
it was all this to say that to have any semblance of kindness or friendship was sparse and lacking. most contact with other boys in the emotional and physical sense, for him were ones laden with tones of annoyance or purely punitive in nature. his roommate bodychecking him roughly in the hallways, the sports he hardly participated in left him bruised, and the visible irritation others had whenever those necessary social engagements happened and alexander, somehow, failed to miss a social cue, or did not understand the joke being said.
to be suddenly touched by luna ibarra, in his kitchen, in a way that does not feel punitive or laced with irritation is strange. stranger still is that there is a yearning alexander finds in those moments before he bolts from the apartment. a yearning to have that touch spread, to have it linger in a longer way than the few moments he was permitted there, to have a true sense of... of something he has no name for.
So draw me close
two days pass between the hasty retreat. luna texts him, emails him. alexander ignores it, tries to actually pay attention to the course laid out for him. he feels however, his mind starting to wander every few pages. he thinks about what he's left there, about the warmth of luna's hands on his in that moment, on how much he had wanted from it. the words, the emotions are still there, at the very edge of his mind, sitting there, wanting to be understood.
worse, really, is that he misses luna. it isn't the same thing as missing other friends, as missing his parents or missing anything else. it is deeper than that, sticks in the craw of his mind in a way that he can't dismiss the same or push down like anything else.
so when, on day three, luna sends him another text, asking him to meet him for lunch, alexander says yes.
when luna asks him if they are still friends, alexander says yes.
and when luna asks him if he wants to leave for awhile, to make up for time, alexander says yes.