PART VI: DECISION

by elfin


Sitting on the edge of his swimming pool, Adam flicked the next playing card over the surface of the water.

“I can be so stupid.”  He muttered the words to himself.  Angrily he flicked the next card.  It landed on one of the floating loungers.  “Of all the reactions….”

In a fit of pique he flicked his other wrist, sending the remainder of the pack over the swimming pool, watching as the cards separated in mid-air and landed, spreading out over the surface of the water.

How long had he been telling himself that it didn’t matter?  That when this thing with Jonathan ended it wouldn’t make a difference?  Jonathan had brought out something from within that he hadn’t seen for so long he’d barely recognised it.

Moving to the corner of the pool, uncrossing his legs into the water, he refilled his crystal tumbler from the Bourbon bottle set slightly back from the edge.

When he looked up, Jonathan was standing in the open patio doors, leaning on the frame watching Adam with the ghost of a smile.  The relief on Adam’s face was obvious.

“Jonathan….”

In five days all he’d had was a phone call left on his answering machine reassuring him that his consultant was okay and would be back soon.

“Hi.”  Jonathan moved inside, coming to sit along the side of the pool, at the corner adjacent to Adam, legs crossed, fingers linked over his ankles.  “I….”

Adam wasn’t ready to hear it.  The expression on his face was enough to tell Adam that he hadn’t won this battle in which he hadn’t even been allowed to participate.

“I could ask where you’ve been for the last five days.  But I think I know the answer.”

Jonathan shrugged.  “I wasn’t going to get any peace and quiet at the windmill, was I?”

Adam knew Jonathan was right.  He’d been over there three times himself, and the third time Maddy had turned up as well.  Silence fell between them.  Might as well get this over with.

“You’ve been thinking?”

“Thinking, relaxing, planning.  I’ve got a few new ideas for the show.”  The look on Adam’s face that at the moment told him that the show was the furthest thing from the magician’s mind.  “Okay.  I’ve been thinking over this thing with you and me, and me and Maddy.”  He sighed, meeting Adam’s baleful expression.  “I’m sorry, Adam.”

“You’ve chosen her.”  There was accusation in his voice despite his attempt to keep it out.

“No.  I’m… breaking it off with the both of you.”

Adam frowned.  “Both of us?”

“I can’t chose.  There are feelings I have for you… but I wouldn’t ask you for a commitment and I’m not sure I’d want one from you even if you’d give me one….”  He trailed off.  “And I don’t think I love Maddy.  I thought I did, but now….”  He shook his head.  “Like I said, I’m sorry.”

Adam nodded.  “And professionally?”

“Can either of us work without the other?”

“I need you.”  It was the pure truth.

Jonathan couldn’t help smile at it.  “I need you too.”  He bowed his head.

But still it was over.

Not the professional, magical relationship that had been there for twelve years, the partnership that had created a stunning Magic Show, an illusionist among the best in the world.

But the personal one that had flared from that work gone wrong.

Adam couldn’t believe how hurt he felt.

He sighed, reached out and stretched his arm around Jonathan’s shoulders, pulling him forward, leaning forward himself until their foreheads met over the corner of the pool.  “I will miss you… personally.”

Jonathan smiled, wiping the back of his hand over his eyes, swiping away the tears.  Pulling away gently, he stood up.

“I’ll see you at the theatre tomorrow morning.”  He saw Adam’s nod.  “You’ll find someone to replace me here, you know that.”

He forced another smile, this one less sincere.

But he didn’t even look to see his employer’s reaction.  Instead he left the house the way he’d come in.

Adam threw back the glass of Bourbon he’d poured.  For a second or two he stared at the door out of which Jonathan had left.  Then he dropped his face against the palm of his hand and began to cry.

*

Maddy nodded when she heard Jonathan’s decision.  They were standing in her lounge, the morning following the night he’d told Adam.

He hadn’t been able to face her last night despite coming into London with the intention of telling them both.

He’d returned home straight from Maskelyne Manor, spending most of the night watching the stars from his balcony and wishing, not for the first time, that he’d never started anything with Adam.

“I pushed this,” she murmured, more subdued than he could remember seeing her before.  “I suppose I have to accept your decision.”  She gazed at him for a moment or two.  “Do I still get the wisdom of your brain?”

He nodded.  “Sure.  How could I give up the baffling murder thing?”  It was supposed to inject a little humour into the situation but even to him it sounded forced.

“Good.  Thanks.”

“No problem.”

Like last night, he knew he needed to leave.  They’d see each other again soon but then the ground rules would be known and there wouldn’t be this tension in the air.

He gave her a quick smile.  “I have to be at the theatre in half an hour.”

“Of course.”  She walked him to the door.  “Does… does Adam know?”

“Yes.”

“Right.”  With a sigh she opened the door for him.  “I’ll… see you around then?”

“Absolutely.  Give me a call.”
 

Only after he’d left did she sink into the armchair to think about what had just happened.

Jonathan Creek was the only person she thought she’d ever known who could be asked to choose between two people only to pick neither.

He’d gone from two lovers to none, giving them both up, and for that she felt absurdly guilty.

She guessed she wouldn’t be seeing too much of Adam for a while.

Thinking back to Valentine’s Day, when they’d found Jonathan’s windmill filled from ground to top floor with roses, she tried to think how Adam must be feeling.

She couldn’t possibly have gotten close.

*

Adam opened his eyes gingerly.

God, his head hurt.

His legs were wet.

Looking around it took him a moment to realise he was lying on the hard tiled floor surrounding his swimming pool.

His legs were still dangling in the water.

Next to him the Bourbon bottle lay empty.

He remembered then.

Across from him, the crystal tumbler he’d been drinking from before Jonathan’s visit lay in a thousand shattered pieces around the base of the opposite wall.

He dragged himself upstairs and dropped his clothes to the carpet in his room before stepping through into the en suite and into the shower.

For a long time, head pounding, neck and back aching from the position he’d been lying in, he stood under the cascading water, trying not to remember why he’d drunk an entire bottle of Bourbon and smashed a fifty dollar crystal glass against a wall.

He didn’t hear the telephone downstairs or his mobile a couple of minutes later.

Typical reaction to bad news, he accused himself.  Immerse yourself into a bottle or a woman.

But no woman would have helped last night, would it? he mocked harshly.

No use mocking.  He loved Jonathan.  He knew that.  He’d known for months.  He loved him and was in love with him.

But what use would it have been last night to blurt that out?  What use would it have done to beg him to stay?

Because Jonathan had been right when he’d said Adam couldn’t offer him commitment.  Love him he might, but give up women for the rest of his life he could not.

So it was over between them.

He felt suddenly tearful again and, angry with himself, he brutally quashed his own emotions.  Just another relationship gone wrong.

Only it hadn’t gone wrong.  It had been torn from him.

The upset slowly began to turn to anger.