After leaving the diner I took a taxi to one of the parks, trying to shake off the anger. The hurt. After walking for about forty minutes I got another taxi home, rubbing my forehead, feeling very defeated. Whether Kiley had used me during our year together or not didn’t change the fact she had gone in knowing the prediction and hadn’t told me.
I threw cash at the driver and stormed up to my apartment. “SAM!” I yelled as I shoved the door open, wondering if he had known. “SA–shit.”
Kiley looked up at me from where she sat on our sofa. Sam lounged next to her. Kiley had obviously been crying. I hesitated in the doorway then stepped in, slamming the door behind me; Kiley jumped. “What are you doing here?”
“You left before I could tell you some rather important information,” Kiley sniffled, getting to her feet. “Very important information.”
“What, telling me again that you didn’t use me?” I asked. Sam raised his eyebrows but remained silent. “Well?”
“It’s not your baby. Watcher! I didn’t even realize you thought that until you said those things and left!” Kiley stepped towards me, glaring at me with her puffy eyes. “If I had realized you’d think that it would have been the first thing I said!” She put a hand over her swell. “I’m three months in, and as far as I know you and I most certainly did not have sex in late June.”
She stood before me, nostrils flaring as she breathed heavily. My eyes glanced back down at her belly then back up to her face. Three months. “I th-thought you were… four months in…” My voice squeaked. I felt a bit bad for jumping to the assumption, but after what she had told me I just–how could–I…??
“No. I–I’ve been so obsessed with the exact dates of everything involving this baby, I guess I just didn’t think about the fact you wouldn’t know the dates. That was super stupid of me, sorry. I’m sorry. Apollo…whatever you think of me right now, I swear to you if you were the father I would have called you the minute I found out. I do care about you.”
I looked past her at Sam. He gave me a shrug then disappeared into his room. “I’m not the father…?” I asked, just to be sure.
“You’re not. My–uh, boyfriend is.” She closed her eyes. “His name is Zeus.”
“A Greek god.”
“And the father of my baby.”
I trudged past her so I could sit down, rubbing my forehead. Man talk about a roller coaster. A tiny part of me felt a bit disappointed I wouldn’t be a father but that tiny part quickly dissipated as relief flooded through me. I would have been there every step of the way and done my hardest to be a good father but dang I was glad I wasn’t going to have a kid yet.
“I’m sorry I hurt you. I really am.” Kiley’s words floated around me as my mind kept whirling around the fact she wasn’t having my baby. “As much as I thought you were the one who would give me this gift, I never in a million years would have done it like–like putting holes in a condom. I had sex with you because I wanted you as a person, to fulfill my physical needs, not fulfill some prediction.”
I remained silent, not sure what to say now. Even though she wasn’t pregnant with my kid it didn’t change the fact she had used me in a sense, even if that’s not what she meant to do she still sorta did by not telling me in the first place. I still felt enraged about that.
Kiley sat down next to me. “Apollo, th–there’s something else. Telling you everything was the main reason I came to see you however there’s a second reason too.”
Not right now, please. “What is it?” I couldn’t hide the weariness from my voice. It had all been too much already. What else could there be? Kiley didn’t speak. Finally I looked up and saw tears going down her cheeks. My anger faded a bit despite me wanting to remain pissed off. “What’s wrong?”
“The vision you had,” she whispered, her voice cracking a bit. “Remember? The one you had whenever we screwed?” I nodded, as it was one of the few visions that I could remember, the same as the other intimate visions I had. Then I sat straight up. My mouth opened but no sounds came out. Kiley burst into louder tears. “I don’t know what to do, I’m so sc-scared! I th-thought I could handle it b-b-but last night he… he…”
She gave a loud hiccup then slowly pulled her shirt up like a curtain to reveal dark bruises spread across her swollen stomach.
“I’m so stupid, Apollo.” She fell against me, hands twisting into my shirt as her tears soaked my shoulder. “I don’t know what to do-o-o! I thought, I thought–and he just–I tried to–and he just–“
“Shh, shh, hey shhh, it’ll be okay, you’ve done the right thing getting away from him,” I said, rubbing her back gently. Very gently, in case there were bruises there too. “You’re not going back.”
“What am I g-going to do? I can’t just drop my job! I have no money, no where to go!”
“You’re coming here,” I answered without even thinking. The anger throbbed but I would deal with that later. Kiley needed help right now. No matter how I felt about her, I couldn’t leave her in the dark to go risk that guy getting to her again. “As long as Sam’s okay with it,” I added quickly. “I’m sure we can find a job for you at LWD. Or you could come back to Storybrook with us, we were going to be moving back soon.”
Kiley pulled back to stare at me. “D-do you… mean it? I thought you’d hate me now.”
“I might be pissed off at you–okay extremely pissed off, like seriously what the hell, Kiley?! But you’re still my friend.” I wanted to put my hand on her shoulder but didn’t want to scare her. “I’ll go talk to Sam if you want, yeah?”
She thought for a few seconds then slowly nodded.
Sam of course agreed and before we knew it Kiley moved in with us. We only had two rooms in the apartment so I moved into Sam’s bedroom, giving Kiley the smaller bedroom for herself. Ms. Rutkowski agreed to meet Kiley and after a couple of days hired her as a temporary assistant secretary. Kiley wanted to come back to Storybrook whenever we moved there.
At first Kiley refused our offers of financial help but gave in when she decided she couldn’t ever go back to to her place to get her clothes. “You can pay us back later,” Sam said dismissively. Because of my ‘second job’ we weren’t too worried about spending money on Kiley to help her out. She bought a couple of outfits to tide her over until her first paycheck, and we also bought her some things for her room like sheets and a blanket.
As September turned to October and the autumn weather hit us I began to slowly forgive her. Part of me would always be hurt but I understood her side of things. We talked about it now and again. She told me how confused she had been when she started feeling attracted to me, and how conflicted when we started going out.
She also started talking about her ex-boyfriend. She had met him at a club one night and went to bed with him that night. They started dating and it didn’t take long for her to get pregnant as neither used protection; he just didn’t care whether they did or not. After she became pregnant he started getting angrier. He’d come home drunk, blamed her for every little thing, and then started beating her. When he found out she had made plans to meet with an old friend (me) he hit her in the stomach and that had been the last straw for her.
She remained terrified of him and every time the phone rang or someone walked in the hall outside she jumped and tried to hide, afraid it was Zeus.
October turned to November and the three of us decided to move to Storybrook in December. Sam and I were ready. We were grateful for my brother for the help he gave us but Sam didn’t think he could stand being in the big city another day, and I missed my family too much. Kiley wanted to go too, since Storybrook was farther away from where her ex resided.
By the time we made the move we had found a small place to live. Part of a duplex. Two bedrooms, living room, kitchen/dining area, bathroom, and a small storage/laundry room. Babies allowed.
We finished up our jobs at Lucy’s Wedding Dreams, helping train our replacements. I finished up my, uh, side work in Bridgeport. Ashley was very upset when she found out I’d be moving. She really wanted to experience seeing me have a psychic vision. She tried offering me more money for one and I put the money back in her hands, trying to explain for the hundredth time that my visions didn’t work that way.
Well, she sort of took the news as a challenge and tried to hire me for as many dates as possible. She certainly, er, did her best and after each of our dates I was completely worn out. I guess her idea to get me to have a vision was to be more vigorous. My visions weren’t triggered and by the time Moving Day rolled around I hadn’t had a single vision in her presence. And while I had plenty of visions at home asleep, the one night she convinced me to stay the night and sleep at her place I had zero. Just bad luck I guess.
Of course Kiley grew curious as to why I was never home on the weekends. Not feeling like telling her the truth I just went with the whole ‘lots of dates’ lie (half lie, technically). She gave me a look then bust up laughing. “Okay sure,” she replied, patting my arm. What the hell did that mean?!
The night before we moved I went out for a big dinner with Piotr. It felt good to spend time with my brother, just the two of us. We had grown closer in the months I spent in Bridgeport. I remembered the time Eirene had visited him and how jealous I had felt at the time. Did Arty feel jealous? I hoped she’d be able to have some time with him one day.
“I’m going to miss hanging out with you,” Piotr said after he drove me home. He had come up into the apartment so he could say goodbye to my friends too.
I gave my brother a big hug. “I’m gonna miss you too, so you better come visit me.”
Now seemed the perfect time for him to give me a noogie–like Arty would have–but Piotr wasn’t like that. He just adjusted his glasses and promised to visit as soon as he could.
“Poliwagggg!” Grandpa threw his arms around me, hugging tightly. “I’ve missed you! You look so much older!”
I laughed. “Grandpa, it’s only been a few months.”
“Too long. Your grandfather’s missed you too. Oh, be quiet, you have too. Stop scowling at your grandson!” Grandpa swatted the air. “That is rude.”
I shook my head. I wanted to argue about all my time spent at school but counting the days I realized I technically had stayed a few weeks longer in Bridgeport than any of my semesters at Hunter’s had been.
“Pollo!!!” Angel came running over and I scooped her up in my arms, tickling her. “Pollo, I missed you so much!”
“I’ve missed you too!” I buried my face against her neck and blew raspberries. She squealed and began kicking. “Next month I won’t be able to pick you up as easily.”
“Nuh-uh, you’ll always be able to pick me up! That’s what big brothers do.”
Part of me would never be able to believe the fact my baby sister would be five in just over a month. I had missed out on almost her entire babyhood, toddlerhood. I gave her another close hug, grateful to be back in her life for good now. Grateful to be back with all my family. Bridgeport had been nice. Family was infinitely better.
Sam and I joined the household for dinner that night. Kiley had been invited along but she declined, not feeling up to anything too big after an exhausting day. Her feet and ankles were swollen making it difficult for her to get around and she had ‘freaking constipation’, as she put it. So we didn’t press her to come to my family’s dinner.
Artemis wasn’t there though, as she was taking classes at a fancy forensics college a few hours away. She’d be gone most of the winter break. Still it was great having a dinner with my family. Sam and I talked a lot about Bridgeport and after dinner he took Eirene out for a drive on his motorcycle. Which of course brought up some eyebrows to my amusement. Not to my amusement was after we were done cleaning up and the conversation turned to ideas of what I could do as employment.
“I could see if the firm is hiring,” Dad suggested.
I tried not to groan. “Daaaad. I’ll be fine. I’ll find work.” Actually I already had work. Two dates over the weekend and hopefully soon I’d be going out fairly regularly. I snorted, wondering what Dad would say, of how he’d react. Being back here around my family made me feel a little more than embarrassed at the idea of–of doing this. I wondered how I’d feel on the dates, whether I’d be as okay professionally dating at home as I was in Bridgeport. As long as nobody found out.
The next couple days were spent getting the house settled into and spending plenty of time with my family. I went over every day to play with Angel and Grandpa. I also spent plenty of time making sure Kiley felt okay. She seemed to be doing worse. Really tired, very achy… I kinda wanted her to go see a doctor but she refused.
“I’ll just rest more, that’s all the doctor will tell me to do anyway,” she said, shaking her head. “Besides. I need to rest plenty so I can start looking for a job on Monday.”
“Oh no you don’t. You’ll just have to go on maternity leave soon. You’re due in a couple months. There’s not much point in looking right now.”
Kiley’s face went red. “I’m not gonna be some damn freeloader! Oof.” She slumped back down. “You’re not my boss.”
I sighed. “You’re right, I can’t stop you. But it won’t be easy finding a job.”
“I’m still going to look.” Her eyes glittered angrily over her swollen belly. “What about you? Where are you planning on applying to?”
“Oh, I dunno, I’ll, uh, find someplace.”
My dates went great. The first one wanted the boyfriend deal. Romance, dancing, champagne, me helping her feel like the most beautiful woman in the world. My second date pretty much just wanted the bedroom deal. Either way, they were both happy which made me happy and my wallet a bit thicker. Was that a bit conniving of me? I put half the money in my bank account and spent the other half on food. Really nice food. Thick steaks, expensive spices, gourmet ice cream. Kiley squealed when she saw the carton and ate through half of it before I could even put it away.
Over the next week Kiley spent all her time in bed or on the couch. She grew wearier and achier as each day passed and finally agreed to go see a doctor. Who told her to get plenty of bed rest (and when she told me she added an ‘I told you so’). Sam and I fussed over her to make sure she didn’t want for anything. Often she’d start crying saying how she didn’t deserve friends like us.
I know she still felt afraid of her ex. One time I lost my temper at the landlord and I ranted about him to Sam. When my voice rose, Kiley shrank back on the couch and went very pale. When she began trembling I realized what was wrong. I quickly stopped shouting and retreated to my room to let my temper cool. Once I managed to do that I returned to the living room and tended to Kiley to make sure she was okay without bringing her reaction to attention. A few days later I got mad again but instead of ranting I kept my mouth shut and hid once again in my room. Patient Sam never had to worry about that.
Reeny came over often and grew pretty close to Kiley. I often came home to find the two of them sitting together, laughing about something or other. Though Reeny spent more time with Sam, and it didn’t surprise me when she offered him a job at her garage which he accepted immediately.
“I don’t know as much about cars as Reeny does but I can learn,” Sam explained when I asked him.
So Sam worked at the garage, Kiley miserably lounged in the living room, and I went out pretty much every night. Watcher, the money! I danced, flirted, whispered, caressed, kissed, and screwed my way into more money than I thought I could make doing those things. By the time January began I already had regulars. One of them I went out with on New Years Eve. A woman in her fifties with diamonds on her ears and a desire to feel twenty again, which I was able to do. She not only paid my fee but also gave me extra so I could buy fancy clothes to wear when we went out.
My visions came to me at a fairly regular pace. I always felt afraid when I went on a date, that we’d be out and I’d fall flat on my face shouting about some horrors; thankfully the two times I had visions while on a date they didn’t happen in public. Also thankfully neither time my visions didn’t freak out my dates. The second one seemed very interested and asked me many questions about my visions.
“I knew this happened but it’s so cool to actually see it,” he said, staring intently into my solid green eyes. “How long does this last?”
“Oh, I dunno, random times I guess,” I mumbled, rubbing my temples, trying not to feel too awkward. “The longer the vision the longer my eyes last like this.”
“How long’s been your longest vision?”
“Uh. I dunno. I don’t really time these things. Sometimes it feels like they last hours and I come to after only a minute or two.” I accepted the beer that Randall offered and I took a quick swig. “They’re not all nice,” I added quickly, since the one I had just had was of a beautiful wedding. “Most of them are pretty horrific.”
“What happens when you have a bad one?”
“Um. What do you mean?”
Randall moved closer, his wrinkled forehead wrinkling even more. “Do you do anything about them? Try to warn people?”
“No. Uh, no. I can’t… I mean, I’ve never tried.” I gripped the beer bottle, not liking this feeling. “It’s hard. I don’t know if I can even change what I see.” The memory of Aunt Lumie’s funeral popped in my head. “The only time I ever could actually change something, my vision came too late. Another time I did my best to warn my friend she’d be going through something bad but the warning didn’t work. I couldn’t help my own friend, how can I hunt down and warn perfect strangers?” I gave him a dazzling smile. “Look, that’s not the important thing here. This night is about us, not me.” I touched his arm, wanting the conversation to change.
But he didn’t want to talk about something else. “Maybe you could try to use social media to reach out to these people, to warn them.”
“When I was young I tried sometimes to look these people up, but I rarely hear names.”
Randall stood up to get another drink. “You should still try to reach out. Hey.” He spun around. “You should start a blog. A blog about your visions. I bet you’d get a big following.”
I stood up and went over, taken aback by this sudden suggestion. “I doubt it. People who get followings are the scam artists.”
He clinked his bottle of beer against mine. “Which would make your stories so much more interesting. You should do it.” Randall turned some music on and we danced for a while but my mind was on his words. A blog? About my visions?