Obsession Revisited

Obsession Revisited

Domerin’s smile faltered and he rushed to replace it with a false approximation. His partner was sensitive to his moods these days, especially those remotely negative, and he wasn’t in the mood for another argument. For months Kail had gone on about the Winter Solstice Ball in the capital, so enamored with the idea of attending he could barely contain himself. Now that Domerin had tickets, Kail asked the same question every time the topic came up.

“Will Crescent be attending?”

It sounded innocent enough, but Domerin could read the look in Kail’s jade eyes. Cool and calculating rather than curious.

“He usually finds a way to get invited, yes.” Domerin chose each word with care.

The way Kail harrumphed as he turned, tilting his nose upward, set Domerin’s nerves on edge. He dropped the fake smile and the polite tone, unwilling to tolerate such behavior from his own partner.

“And what does it matter if he does? If someone’s willing to pay him for an escort, then-“

“So that he can spend the entire night hanging around you?” Kail exclaimed. He set a recently folded table cloth into a cupboard, but left it hanging open when he turned to offer Domerin an incredulous stare. His jade eyes were wide, his lips twisted with disdain. “If he’s going to use someone’s money that way-“

“Obviously he is not going to take advantage of whoever hires him.” Domerin heard the exasperation in his own voice but couldn’t bring himself to care anymore. How many times had they had this exact conversation? Kail often used different words, but the heart of the topic never wavered. “Would he have such a formidable reputation if he were that foolish?”

“But you have all those stories,” Kail scoffed as he closed the cupboard. He lingered, as if the hard, unyielding wood could offer him more comfort than his boyfriend. “All those nights you spent together at the ball with Rilan an Valia…”

“Those stories are from years where I took Crescent to the ball. So of course he spent the whole time with me.”

He watched Kail heave a great sigh, his shoulders rising and falling as he pushed away from the old cupboard. He wouldn’t be reeled in by the same dramatics the man always used, and he’d lately been on the lookout for new ones. How long had the man been acting like this? Had he only just noticed or was it a recent development? His gut leaned toward the former and that bothered him most.

“What’s wrong with you, Kail?” He demanded, hands in front of him, palms turned upward as if in surrender. “I thought you wanted to go to this ball. Now you’re acting as though it’s a death sentence.”

“It’s not that, Domerin, really. It’s… I just… You took Crescent to that ball so many times and I practically had to beg for just one year.”

Domerin bit the inside of his lip and counted slowly to three before he let himself speak. “When I lived in the capital, I was required to attend every year I wasn’t on active duty elsewhere. Those are the rules for the Queen’s Division and you know it. But when I transferred out here, I started having to request tickets and they give out a limited number every year, so that members of the division from all across the country can attend. I’ve been so many times, I didn’t want to take a position from someone else. And you never said anything about it until this year.”

It was enough to gain him a contrite look, but not enough to end the conversation, it seemed.

“You must miss it there.” Kail gave him a tentative, searching look and continued when the statement earned no response. “All the hustle and bustle of important things every day all around. “It seems like nothing ever happens here.”

“Do you want to move your main office to the capital?” He asked Kail the same question every week. And every week he got the same answer.

Kail heaved another sigh, turned his eyes skyward and shook his head. “It would be a lot of effort, not to mention the cost, and the people I might put out of work.”

“I can do my job here. It’s the same job, Kail. And if the queen wants me, she can call me in. I’m less than a day’s drive away and even faster by train.”

Kail bit his lip a few times, as though searching for holes in Domerin’s response. “You really don’t miss anything back in the capital? Nothing at all?”

If anything’s out there listening, I swear, just give me the patience… “So what if I do? My life is here now, with you. Why would I move if I wasn’t happier with the end result?”

The question hung in the air for several seconds before Kail finally swayed across the room and wrapped his arms tentatively around Domerin’s shoulders. He didn’t hesitate to draw the man close, he only hoped this was the last time they had to quibble over something so foolish.

“I just want this trip to be perfect,” Kail murmured into his chest. “But I don’t want it to remind you of all the things you miss. All the things you can’t have because my business is here and not there.”

“Sweetheart, I keep telling you that’s not going to happen. I don’t mind working for a slightly quieter department. All my friends are still my friends. It’s not like I was tied to the restaurants and cafes of the capital. There are coffee shops aplenty here.”

“Yes, but, Crescent isn’t…” He stopped, every muscle in his body tense. Domerin wasn’t sure if he had sighed, but the tensing of his own muscles must have given him away. He drew back, sidestepping his partner and stalking toward the hallway.

“Domerin, wait! Please! I’m sorry, I-“

“You aren’t sorry. You have to get over this obsession.”

Kail caught up to him just outside the bedroom and clutched his arm. “It’s not an obsession. It’s just a small concern.”

“Gods, Kail, small? You talk about him every day now. It’s like he lives in the walls. Crescent plays no part in our relationship. How many times do I have to tell you that?”

“I can’t help it.” Kail’s eyes grew glossy, glistening with unshed tears. “Try to see it from my perspective. You were with him such a long time! How can I help comparing our relationship to the one you had with him?”

“What relationship? Crescent was my friend, and he was never anything more than that. We slept together. It was passion and lust. It was fun, but it was never serious. I live with you, Kail. I picked up my entire life so that I could meld it with yours. Why doesn’t that count for anything? Why are you so worried about someone I never actually dated?” Of all his past relationships, he never expected his long-running friendship with Crescent to be the one that drew concern from his current lover.

Kail’s jutting lower lip trembled and Domerin pulled away again. He didn’t have the patience for tears. Not today. But Kail’s fingers only tightened, dragging him away from the door. “It means everything to me, Domerin, it does! But the only reason you never did the same for Crescent is because he never asked.”

It was a blow. He couldn’t pretend it wasn’t. But he swallowed and tried once more to maintain his fraying patience. “And you’re scared he’s going to now that I’ve made it clear I’m with someone else? Someone I told him I want to spend my entire life with? Is that what all this is about?”

“N…no, I-“

“Because Crescent was never that kind of person. He was never the commitment type. And he certainly was never the kind of person to disrespect my relationships when they got serious. He’s not going to come crashing in on the wedding to make an objection just before we kiss.”

Kail swallowed hard and Domerin could tell he had been thinking it, dreading it, trying to find some way to prevent it. Where had all this come from? Crescent had been nothing but kind and respectful when he visited.

“Sometimes, I’m just not sure I can live up to his legacy,” Kail admitted softly, eyes cast toward the floor, forehead leaning against Domerin’s chest.

Domerin set his fingers beneath Kail’s chin and lifted it gently. “There’s no legacy to live up to, sweetheart. You’re what I want and he’s not. So stop obsessing over some bizarre comparison I’m not even interested in making.”

Kail drew a deep breath and, this time, he nodded. He threw his arms around Domerin’s midsection and Domerin held him close. He prayed that this reassurance would be enough, that Kail would finally forget about his former companion and go back to his bubbly old self. And he knew with dread certainty it was only a matter of time before he had to say it all again.

*********
The task this week was to choose a previous prompt and re-write it with the same character in an alternate reality. I chose Obsession, which I originally wrote with Domerin. In that case, the obsession belonged to him, in this case he’s dealing with someone else’s obsession. I always like these character exercises that make us re-imagine our characters in different contexts.

Check out what my writing partner did with this one.

And if you’d like to participate, leave a link to your response in the comments and I’ll feature it next week!

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