Thursday, December 16, 2010

Intruder- Conclusion

Henri leaned against the wall near Wiley's bed as I stepped into the small room with a glass of liqueur in each hand. The liquid swished as I walked to him, releasing fumes that tickled my nose.

We didn't say a word to each other as I handed him a glass, each of us taking a sip as if we were breathing fresh air after being trapped under water. It was partially ritual and partially a stalling tactic for both of us, though probably mostly for me. I looked up at him, catching his eyes and trying to give him the faintest of smiles despite everything on my mind piling up and blocking my words.

He was the one to speak first, in a soft grunt. "So she made it back safely then?"

He didn't have to elaborate. I knew who he meant. "Yes." I bit my tongue, saliva washing the flavor of the liqueur remaining on my tongue down my throat.

Henri didn’t ask any further. I watched him as his eyes fell down to his glass with lips pressed together as if they wouldn’t allow even a drop of liquid in. There was always something more to him, but it was so easy to never look further with him because it was exactly what he didn't want.

I perched my own glass against my bottom lip, letting the cool feeling sink in against the delicate skin, before I flat out just asked. "So the intruders."

He moved very little, only lifting his eyes from the glass in his hand to look at me with that old weary expression that seemed to add years to his face. Anna had asked after that look of his. She'd seen it on him in that little amount of time she'd spent with him and she was frightened for him. She had called it a look of "lost hope."

"They didn't have much information to give."

The use of past tense didn't completely escape me, but I pushed the thought away quickly refusing to look at it any closer even as my stomach tightened around nothing but liquid and air. Anna hadn't been wrong about the lost hope nor was she wrong to worry for him. A man without hope who still had the urge to live could only be a dangerous man, one willing to do whatever he could to survive.

Except I had seen it flash across his face when he'd seen his little sister. It had been gone in an instant, but I had witnessed the smallest vulnerability in the armor he wore. In that instant, I saw the true man, the one he hid behind that frighteningly gruff exterior.

So there was hope. He hid it well.

I had been quiet too long. Henri looked up at me again from his glass. "What is it?"

Anna had asked about us. "So are you and him like a couple or something?" A small knowing smile had crept over her face to replace the earlier look of concern she'd had when she asked me about the intruders. "Do you think he'll kill them?"

I hadn't known what to say to her. Anna was a smart woman, but her siblings worked to shield her. Still it hadn't been enough. Some things couldn't be hidden. She'd managed to find us and Henri. She had managed to read him accurately enough in the short time she'd had with him.

I stepped towards Henri, putting the glass down on the small table next to him. We stood inches apart, his hands down at his side, the tips of his fingers holding onto the edge of his glass. His lips parted ever so slightly as I pressed my body to his. There was the soft sound of glass against wood as he put his glass down next to mine before lifting his hands and letting them fall comfortably on my waist. My own arms fell on his shoulders and slid around his neck as we pressed closer together.

We stayed that way for minutes. Who knew exactly how many lives were on Henri's conscious. There were the lives lost in the Revolution. Lives lost most likely at his own hands or the hands of those with him. There were the lives twisted as the ripples of the Revolution spread out across the Wildlands and our territory. And there were the lives that would be lost in the future, the ones snuffed out just from living in the Wildlands.

There was no way a man like him could survive if he allowed himself to drown in the guilt. His want to live was stronger than that.

"You guys're being very quiet over there," Wiley said from the other room. I could imagine him standing in the doorway leading from his main room to the small kitchen as he called out to us. "You aren't on my bed, right?"

Henri and I pulled apart, and I let a laugh go even as I brought a hand up to stop myself. "No. We'll be there in a minute." I glanced up at Henri, my features naturally relaxed in a smile, and was surprised to see him with a similarly relaxed smile spread almost cautiously on his face.

Before Anna and I parted, she had grabbed my hands and look at me with her wide eyes. "Sis--" when I protested, she'd waved her hand, "whatever. Fine, possibly-closest-thing-I'll-get-to-a-real-sister-in-law-that-I-know-I'd-like, just do me a favor. Keep an eye out for him, okay? I know he comes across as a tough guy; he's always been that way even when we were all younger. But..." Her lips had parted as her words faded away, but her eyes had seared their way into my memory. She had looked confused and concerned, certain that she wanted to ask this of me but unable to vocalize why.

That one night between Henri and me was nothing but a memory we never discussed. It existed as possible potential between us. One good thing for the both of us that could come from all this misery.

Sight -->


  1. Hmmm, so Cheryl did fall for him. I'm guessing after all those years, she's probably over him (or at least thinks she is)? And I wonder, did he ever have similar thoughts about her? They have an intriguing relationship, for sure. I wonder what might happen if/when they see each other again.

    Have I mentioned that I really love your shots? You have a great sense for composition :)

  2. Interesting! So at this point they've only spent one night together, haven't even discussed it, yet the chemistry is obviously still there. Anna can see it, even Wiley can see it. And of course we know they do act on it at least one more time, for Paula's sake.

    Cheryl seems to understand Henri, she gets him. She knows there's more and she watches for it, that momentary slip of the facade, never taking anything at face value. But she doesn't push either because she knows that will drive him away. Maybe this is part of what Henri sees in her? She's smart, confident, perceptive, knows when to ask questions and when to keep her mouth shut, and as sexy as they come.

  3. These shots this week are particularly awesome. The second-to-last one is my favourite.

    "She had called it a look of "lost hope."

    You know, I've never thought of Henri that way but I can see it now. His survival urge just seems so strong that I don't know if I realised how resigned he is to this world he's living in. Henri does have that hardened look about him that can age a person (I think we were talking about that with Wiley's profile as well, when we saw what he looks like now).

    Anna is quite observant, isn't she? She seems to know her brother quite well, even after being gone for so long. And she's picked up on the chemistry between Henri and Cheryl.

    I love that we got to hear so much more about their relationship this week. I wonder how Henri feels about Cheryl now, seeing he certainly seemed to care for her a lot back then. I also wonder how much of Cheryl Henri can see in Paula. Being raised by her mother, Paula would have had to have inherited some of her qualities.

    Wow, I hope this all made sense! I'm a total zombie today!

  4. His sister hints at a hidden weakness or chink in the tough-guy armor. Hmm...

    Henri and Cheryl's relationship is so complex and intriguing. There's this sense that they could really make a go of it if things were different. They know things aren't different, but there seems to be this acceptance of each other and a desire to just...take what they can get. It's like Cheryl knew that being with him would be like nothing else she'd ever experienced, and she couldn't pass it up, even if it wouldn't last, etc..

    So good! :)

  5. Van, I think that's exactly what surprised me about this entry. I couldn't really place my finger on it until you said it. Originally, I figured she just wouldn't, that they were always just good friends.

    I'm thinking there's two more entries of Cheryl's story before we get back to Paula's story, and hopefully there will be some answers. (Or maybe they will surprise me again!)

    Also, thank you very much about the pictures. I do worry about them sometimes, but I try not to think about it.

    Illandrya, I definitely think it's one of those cases where it's obvious to everyone but them. I'd bet Wiley teases her from time to time, probably with comments out of the side of his mouth.

    Yes, I think she does get him in some way. At least, she's starting to here. I think she was always looking for that spark that would help her understand, and seeing him with Anna, plus talking with Anna seemed to help.

    Carla, thank you! Haha, I know, Henri with a smile? What? Who knew that could happen?

    Oh yes, exactly. Henri was the experiment that started the Revolution after all, and from what I've seen of him he had to have a strong survival instinct.

    I think Anna is very much like her brother in that way. She is very observant, especially with people, but she doesn't always trust herself.

    How much of Cheryl Henri sees in Paula is a really good question. That's all I will say, but I think we'll have our answer in about two weeks. Hopefully. Cheryl's kind of hard to wrangle sometimes.

    Rachel, yes. I'm pretty sure there are some stories that Anna can tell.

    I'm feeling rather brain dead, or you're just another one that's dead on, and I can't really expand on it. You've hit it dead on. I totally see Cheryl as the person to reach for something she wants knowing full well it might not last and might not always be around.

    Aww, thank you!

  6. I'm very curious as to just how strong Henri is, because he doesn't really give much away, which would be a deliberate act on his half, since not revealing everything would no doubt confuse those that oppose him.

    Another great chapter mate :)

  7. One of the things I thought about in reading this chapter, considering Anna's reaction and the way Cheryl and Henri interact: Cheryl seems like the idealist, perhaps more of a leading figure in the revolution than Henri. And he is the formidable frightening power, the one with the strength to make it happen. She thinks about the people who were killed and who will die but she doesn't seem to be overwrought about it.

    Fascinating characters, all of them.

    and I love those shots. You get an incredible impact from them!

  8. Is it wrong that I am still curious about who, why and how the intruders got there? Not at all surprised that Henri refers to them in past tense. Hope he cleaned up afterwards.

    The sexual tension between Cheryl and Henri is incredible. A tangible thing, sensual and real. If there was a glimmer of humanity that we saw when Anna arrived, I think what is between them is also telling. The fact that they only slept together that one time and still have this

    Makes me feel like he really will try and save her in the present...still could be wrong though.

  9. poida, you're right on track with that. It is very deliberate on his part to not let anything slip so no one knows exactly what he can do. (I think it's also something he's taught Jimmy.)

    Thank you.

    Beth, I agree. I think Cheryl would be more of a true leader compared to Henri. The only difference has been time and place really, something which isn't by either of their choosing. I think Cheryl would make the best leader, had she been able to do something first. Instead, she's dealing with the aftermath of the Revolution which has completely screwed things up.

    I hope that makes sense, I'm still feeling weird, but I know what I mean, lol. No, she doesn't seem overwrought by the lives lost, and that sort of disturbs me. I wondered if I should fix that to make it seem less harsh on her part, but I think she's subscribing here to Henri's mode of not letting the guilt crush them. Maybe she envisions a world where things will be different, and so she absorbs the losses a little easier than she should. But that should really have been more present in the text. (See? Bunk week all around.)

    Thank you about the shots.

    Gayl, nope. I'm surprised that more people aren't holding me accountable for that. I completely skipped over it. Talk about a big writing nono. Like gaping huge! But I wrote it out as best I could and still didn't get any answers from it, plus it was boring and pointless, and so I came to the conclusion that it was unnecessary in Cheryl's story.

    But it's still important. I just don't know in whose story yet. I might have to try playing around with that some more.

    Thank you for the rest. Cheryl and Henri are both hard characters for me to get a hold of. They keep surprising me. I really didn't expect this at all. I knew they'd be good acquaintances, but this seemed so natural.

  10. Cheryl's innate ability to read Henri's well hidden emotions is very intriguing. Also intriguing, Henri's sex life, or lack thereof. I am dying to know if he gets any, anywhere. He keeps things to bottled up, he must get release somewhere, or it is random encounters in washrooms?
    Wonderfully done scene of the touches, the smiles. Subtle, but sizzling. I so want to know more.

    Never has Henri seemed so human.

  11. Thank you, Drew. I'm glad Henri is looking a little more human here. Maybe it's all in Cheryl's head, her strange ability to read him. Or maybe they really do understand each other better than it would seem.

    Hehe, it's a good question about Henri's sex life. I'd imagine that it's something he and Brandon have in common actually. I don't imagine he could go without, though he might forget about it when busy with other things. Still, he does need his release, especially the way he bottles things up.

  12. Oh, of course there's a bit of hope. He'd have to be dead inside if there wasn't, and we know he isn't, even if it might look it at first glance.

    Oh my, this was nice! :D Sexy, and intense and so intimate, and what- sweet? How funny, "We'll be there in a minute." Did she mean be there with Wiley, or be there on Wiley's bed with Henri? LOL! She even got a smile out of Henri.

    Awww!!! *cheesy-grin* :)

    But I have to say, with all that very intense hugging, that I'm *very* surprised it was just that one night so far. (Or maybe I just have no self-control, lol!) I don't know how they can stand all that electric sexual tension! They're on fire with it!!!

    Oh, good point @ Carla, about wondering if Henri sees anything of Cheryl in Paula. I wonder that too.

  13. Laura, lol! I didn't even think of the extra meaning to Cheryl's answer. Sneaky.

    I would have to wildly guess that the self control has mostly been Henri finding ways to discourage Cheryl subtly, lol.