There will be discussion of sex in this chapter but nothing graphic. Just warning you.
I sat in the car, just starin’ at the Laroche’s house. I was kinda afraid to go in. You’re ready for this, I told myself but part of me was a bit scared, no matter how ready I was. This was a big decision–but, I knew, the right one. And today was the day, the right day. After all, Dr. Laroche had been spending more and more time at the house since Henri turned seventeen. We barely had any time alone anymore (well, we were alone in a room but not the house) so today, the day Dr. Laroche was busy at the hospital, was the day.
Might not get another chance for a while, and you don’t have a while, I told myself, turning off the car and steppin’ out. It was shortly after my own seventeenth birthday and the awareness of time was pressin’ down on me. So today was the day. And I was ready.
Mostly ready, I thought as I unlocked the door and went inside. I had been given my own key so Henri wouldn’t have to come and get the door if his dad happened to be gone. “Hey Hen!” I called, and heard him respond from upstairs. I looked up the stairs and replied, “Do you need anything? Anything to drink or eat?”
After getting his answer I got us a couple of bottles of pop, and a bag of pretzels. I headed up the stairs, heart poundin’ pretty heavily. I had bought some sexy underwear just for this occasion, as well as some condoms. Well… not so much the condoms. I didn’t buy them, I just stole them out of Duncan’s dresser. No way could I ever go into a store and just buy some condoms, the underwear was embarrassin’ enough!
“Hey sweetie!” Hen grinned when I went into his room. I put the pop and pretzels down then stretched out on him, kissing him.
“How are you feeling today?” I asked, as he ran his fingers through my hair. I hoped he was okay. He sounded fine when I called, but if he wasn’t feelin’ very good then… well, today wouldn’t be the day.
“I’m fine,” he answered and I breathed a small sigh of relief. “You look nice today, what’s the occasion?” He ran his hand down my back and I shivered.
“You,” I said, snugglin’ up close on him. “Can’t I dress up nice just to see my boyfriend?”
“Of course,” he replied, kissing my forehead. “I just feel bad that we can’t go out or anything. That shirt looks good on you.”
I had planned on leadin’ up slowly to the moment, have some food, watch a movie, then go for it–but he was feelin’ pretty excited already so I decided now was as good a time as any. “Really? I’m not so sure.” I slid out of the bed and looked down at the shirt. “I think it’d look better on your floor.” I tore it off and let it drop, and it took all my willpower not to look away from him. Goosebumps rose up on my bare skin.
Hen whistled and at up. “I thought that was supposed to be my line,” he said, holdin’ out a hand. I took it and he pulled me back into bed with him. “I do agree. It does look better on my floor.” He slid his hands up my arms and under my bra straps. I sucked in some air and nuzzled him a bit. He had seen me without a shirt before, and even without a bra (he had a pretty good seventeenth birthday) but for some reason it felt like this was my first time being semi-naked around him.
His lips found mine and then trailed down my cheek, onto my neck, and then onto my shoulder. I shivered some more and pushed my hands up his shirt then took it off of him, letting my hands go over his familiar chest. Upper bodies, yes, but we had never done anything below the waist so my hands shook a bit as I reached down. As soon as my fingers reached his pants, he jerked back then moved my hand away.
“What are you doing?” His hormones were ragin’ wild but he also had a hint of confusion. He wasn’t expectin’ what I wanted to do.
“Hen, I want to go to the next level,” I said, looking into his eyes. “I’m ready. I want to be with you.” I touched his cheek then leaned in to kiss him again but he just pulled back.
“I don’t think we should,” he said, lookin’ down.
I just stared. I had not been expectin’ that. I wasn’t even sure if I heard him right. Maybe he misunderstood me…? “I want to have sex with you,” I said.
“I know,” he said, shoulders hunching over. “But we shouldn’t.”
Okay. I did hear right, apparently. “Wh–why not? Your dad’s not home. We’re alone.” I wrapped my arms around myself, shivering now more from being upset.
“I know but we shouldn’t. We–we can’t.” He met my gaze then winced. “I want to. I’m… I’m sure you know how much I want to.”
I nodded, since he was feelin’ just as hormonal as me. “So what’s the problem?” I asked. “If you want to, we’re alone, we’ve been together for years. And we don’t… have much… time left together.”
His arms went around me, holdin’ me tight. I closed my eyes and pressed against him, breathin’ in his scent. But just when I thought he had relented, he gently pushed me away. “I know, darling, but we can’t.”
“You don’t want to have sex with me?” I whispered.
“No! I do, and you have to know I do. Believe me. I do. I really… really… really want to, um, make love to you.” His eyes darted down to the cleavage shown from my bra but then he blushed and looked back up. “But th-there’s a big difference between what we want to do and what we should do.”
“I know. And I’m sorry.” He took his hands off my arms and reached down to the floor to grab my shirt. “But we can’t.” He handed me the shirt but I didn’t take it, I just stared at him in complete disbelief.
“Why can’t we?” I asked. “Is it something I–“
“No! You’ve done nothing!” Since I wasn’t taking the shirt, he put it on me; at least, he put it over my head. “Sen, it’s not as easy as that.” He put his fingers under my chin but I jerked my head back, not exactly pleased with his touch right now.
I angrily pushed my arms through the sleeves, pulling my shirt back on. “Then explain to me why it’s not so easy!” I snapped.
“Because it only takes one time,” he mumbled.
I frowned, then realized what he meant. “I have condoms!” I dug into my pocket and held one of the wrapped objects out. He just stared at it. “You can, uh, wear a condom.”
He reached out and closer my fingers around the condom. “No, it could break,” he said. “Condoms aren’t a hundred percent safe. Nothing is a hundred percent safe.” He pushed my hand back and I just held it close against my body.
“You could… p-pull… out b-before…” My body started shaking. I didn’t understand. Hen didn’t want to have sex with me.
“Oh. Jeez.” Hen let out a strange sound and got up out of bed. “I d-don’t know if that’d be possible. I………..” He then mumbled something so low I didn’t hear him. I made an inquiring noise, and he blossomed into a shade redder than a tomato. “IdontthinkIcouldlastverylong. Okay?! I want you. I really want you. I more than really want you. I would not last long if we did–that–and I am not going to risk it.”
“Even with a condom?” I got up out of the bed as well. It was difficult gettin’ my head wrapped around the fact that I was just turned down by my more-than-hormonal teenaged boyfriend (who wanted to have sex) for sex.
“I’m not risking getting you pregnant!” he half-shouted.
“Well, so what if I do get pregnant?!” I demanded, going towards him. “What’s so wrong with us having a baby? I’d–I’d like that. You could be a father. I’ll… I’ll take care of the baby, I’ll be a good mother, you know I would.”
His hands settled on my shoulders. “I know you would be, darling, but that isn’t the point. Any child I might have would have a large percent chance to have what I have.” I looked up into his face as it hit home why he was so adamant not to risk it. “There may be a small chance the baby would be healthy, but there’s a bigger chance our baby would… die… before he or she is thirty. Like me, like my mother, like my grandmother, like everyone else who’s had this.” He pulled me close, burying his face in my neck. “As much as I want to make love with you, it just takes one time and nothing, nothing, is a hundred percent safe.”
I leaned against his body, tryin’ not to cry. He was right. Stupid blasted Watcher, he was right. “It’s not fair,” I whispered into the side of his head. “It’s n-not just because I w-want to… I mean, it is k-kinda because I want to. I just… want to know… what it’s like being with the person I truly love.”
He pulled me down onto the edge of the bed, still holding me. “You will, one day,” he replied quietly. “After I’m gone, you’ll find someone else.”
“No!” I tried to pull away but he held on tightly.
“Yes,” he said firmly. “You find someone else. Not right away, if you don’t mind, at least give it a couple months.” He smiled but I just glowered. “You’ll find someone else eventually and he’ll love you, and you two will make lots–“
“If you say lots of babies, and that I’ll die an old woman warm in my bed, I swear you won’t live long enough to die of your illness,” I growled.
“Never let go–“
“SHUT UP!” I smacked his arm, tryin’ not to smile. He was grinning broadly at me and I scoffed. “You’re a brat.”
“I made you smile, though,” he said, pushing a few strands of my hair away from my face. “But honestly. I want you to be happy, okay? After I’m gone, when you’re ready–please be willing to find someone and love them.” He kissed my hands and stared intently at me.
I looked back in his eyes and didn’t want to make the promise. “On one condition,” I said.
“If you start quoting Jack Dawson on your deathbed, forget it. The movie makes me cry enough as it is, if I have your last words going through my head I’ll never be able to see it again in my entire life.”
Things started goin’ downhill after that. He was real bad during the winter and I was almost afraid he’d never make it to his eighteenth birthday, but he did get better–barely. He was very weak and could no longer go out for very long at all. No more dinners, no more movie theater, no more long walks. No more trips to the stables which annoyed him since he liked seeing the horses as much as I did.
One day when he was feelin’ real good, I got permission from Dr. Laroche and brought Ducky into town. She was very quiet and patient as I helped Henri onto her back and I climbed up behind him, and we went for a slow walk around his block.
“Thank you… for this…” he breathed out when we got back to his house.
“You okay?” I asked. He just nodded, smilin’ as he patted Ducky.
“More than… okay… right now…”
That was the second-to-last time we were outside together. The last time was a picnic in his backyard, the night before his eighteenth birthday. We stayed up a bit late, watching the stars and snugglin’ and kissin’. The next day he blew out his candles and became an adult. A very handsome and very sexy adult, as I told him.
“Not as… good as… you’ll look,” he said, kissing the side of my head.
Dr. Laroche told me it was probably the aging up that pushed Henri because after his birthday, he mostly stayed in bed. Dr. Laroche and I moved the big screen TV up into his room, the DVD player, and all the game systems. We even put in a mini-fridge. There was also a cane to help him get to the bathroom when he needed to but as the summer went by… soon even that was too much effort for him.
“Watcher, I feel like… an old man,” he grumbled as I helped him into the bathroom one day. “Damn…”
“I could give you a bath,” I offered with a smile. “Will that cheer you up?”
He stuck out his lower lip in that oh-so-familiar pout. “Yes,” he said, still pouting.
I gave him baths occasionally. The first time I helped him, I thought I’d feel like a pervert or somethin’ but I never did. I enjoyed carefully washin’ off his body. The one time he was too tired to do anythin’ and I washed–that–it didn’t even occur to me until after that I had touched… it. Of course these times weren’t exactly the most saintly of events, as we often kissed a lot and twice he’d pull me in with him. I explained my soaking wet clothes as I had slipped. I wasn’t sure Dr. Laroche ever believed it, but he never said anythin’.
For my eighteenth birthday I spent most the day with my family then Mom, Dad and I went to the Laroches. We went up to Hen’s room with the cake and they all sang happy birthday. I leaned in and made my wish. I knew it wouldn’t come true, but there was always hope. I wish Hen and I could have more time together. I blew out the candles, and became an adult.
For a second it was like time was suspended and then the wave hit. I staggered slightly then stood up, hopin’ nobody noticed. Mom was busy cutting the cake and Hen was reachin’ out for me. I quickly went to his side, curling up against him.
“You’re so beautiful,” he said, nuzzling me. I just held onto him tightly so I wouldn’t drown. Because things had now changed. Things had changed a lot.
It was as if… as if everything was all electrified. I felt like my hair should be standin’ on end. It was like everything had been blurry before but now everything was all sharp and clear. I could feel everyone even more now and more than feel what they were feelin’, I could practically see it. I felt every little thing Hen was feeling, how it was all connected, and why it was connected. I could feel it, see it, and I knew it would take barely anything to push it, to manipulate it. Everyone in the room was like that, except Mom who was even worse. If I thought I was close to mind-readin’ before, now it was even more so.
For instance, Dr. Laroche. I now understood him in a way I never had before. Part of him was feelin’ a bit pleased at what was goin’ on, and seeing his son happy. He was a bit worried about our relationship and how it would effect me after Henri died. Part of his mind was also on his wife, and I was pretty sure he was wonderin’ how she’d be reacting to everythin’ going on. And his arrogance. I now understood that, too. He had to be arrogant. He had to be confident. He could never stop, never once doubt his abilities because if he doubted them–he might not find the cure for Henri. All the time I knew him, that arrogant feelin’ I constantly got from him, it was there because he was forcin’ it to be there.
Mom… oh, my maternal daddy was just… it was awful. It was if his being was invading mine. So was Grandma’s. It was like she was right there.
They were practically part of me. There was a connection… I could almost see it… but I couldn’t see it. I had to be careful, though. It would be easy, SO easy, to reach out and tip people one way or another. I was almost scared to speak, to move, to think. When Mom handed me the cake, our fingers brushed as I took the place and–(worried about Henri, hope it’s okay Hal and I are here, was the party too much is it overexerting him, how will Sen handle it when Henri is gone, was it the right thing to do, how could I stop it, it would be wrong not to let her be with who she wants) OH Watcher, could I read his mind?
“You all right, sweetie?” Mom asked.
“Y-yes,” I whispered, taking the plate. “Yes, I’m all right, th-thanks.” No, I couldn’t literally read the words he was thinking but because how clear it was what he was thinkin’ and way, it was as good as. Oh Watcher. How was I going to deal with this?
As the weeks went by, I learned how to deal with it. I put up low level shields, blocking out most the intensity. It took some concentration but it was worth it to be able go about my life without bein’ invaded by everyone. I wanted to try blocking it even more but didn’t wanna risk blacking out. Then again, maybe I could do it now that I was older.
Even though I technically had the rest of the school year to go, I gave up tryin’ to do any schoolwork. It took a lot of thought and that took away from my shields, so I told my maternal daddy that I wanted to just spend my time with Henri. Which was mostly true, since that’s where I was most the day anyway.
Winter came and went, and Hen got worse. Spring came, and he got even worse. He slept a lot and when he was awake we mostly just held hands and watched a movie. Sometimes I’d kiss his forehead. He was too tired and too weak to use the bathroom properly anymore so now he had a bedpan which he complained loudly about.
“How can… you stand this?” he asked one day while pouting as I took away the pan since Dr. Laroche was taking a much-needed nap.
“I love you, that’s how,” I replied, whisking out of the bedroom to dump it out. Somewhere inside me it registered as gross but overall it didn’t bother me. I loved Hen and besides, Dr. Laroche needed as much sleep as he could get. If I couldn’t do something as simple as cleanin’ out a bedpan than what kind of girlfriend was I?
Hen was still pouting after I scrubbed my hands and got back in the room. “I don’t know… why… you stick around…”
“If you’re going to be an idiot about it, I can leave,” I said, sitting next to his bed and crossing my legs. “I love you. Get it through your thick skull, okay?”
He just kept pouting. “I’m… sorry… about me being… like this.”
“Don’t apologize.” I reached over and took his hand. It felt so light and his skin was so translucent it was easy to see his veins. He had lost so much weight, whenever I touched him I was worried about breaking him.
“You’re… amazing, Sen…” he wheezed out. “So… strong…”
I just smiled and carefully put his hand against my lips. “I’m only strong because you’ve given me the strength.”
“So that’s… where my strength… went…” His smile was faint but at least it was there. I leaned in and very, very carefully kissed his lips. “I love… you…”
“I love you too,” I said, holding his hand in my lap. “And I always will.”
Two weeks later, he slept almost the entire day I was there. Just before I was going to leave, he started crying in pain. Dr. Laroche came running, took one look, and then called for an ambulance. As I helped him get Henri downstairs, his feelings and thoughts were very, very clear.
The hospital would not be able to help this time.