Wednesday, December 21, 2016

Airing Out Old Laundry - Shirley and Fred

The scene in this blog happens right after the group rp that created this blog:

Mayor Fredrick Sewid knew the moments the words came out of his mouth the reaction it would cause. She always did this! In their 80's, both of them, and still sniping. Well .. he believed he had damn good cause! And after the Autumn he'd had ... he wasn't going to just let it go this time.

Mariners On the Beach Hotel wasn't as lovely with the beach closed as it was other times. It was December and cold. He left the Formal shortly after she had, using their bathroom while it was still relatively empty and left. Of course, no one noticed him turn right instead of left, as if he were going home. He could walk Alexandra blindfolded.

The hotel had a back door, which Fred utilized. As the city of Alexandra had booked the room FOR the mayor of Cedar Point, he knew where she was ... the top floor. The suites. Nothing less than the best for Shirley Douglas.

He took the stairs. That was part of the exercise that kept him in suck good shape at 80 years old. He moved to the door and knocked.

Shirley had changed from her dress into her nightgown. She heard the knock and pulled on her robe and tied it up. She stepped into her slippers and went to the door with a sigh. She knew who was knocking. She opened it with a tired expression "You know my reasons. Do we really have to hash it out AGAIN?" Hello wasn't required, she was cutting the crap. She did however step aside to let him in.

Fred walks in when she steps aside. "Yes." he announces, curtly. "You're still in denial, Shirley." he accuses her. "Why?" he demands, as he always does. It's almost a once or twice a year ritual for them ... if she comes to the cook off, that is. She's missed one or two. Usually when their Winter fight was particularly bad.

Shirley sighs and throws up her hands walking away from him "What do hope to accomplish here Fred? Honestly."

Fred watches her. "Honestly? I want honesty." he sighs and ... for the first time comes right on out with it. "That's my daughter." he'd always said he didn't want kids ... and was always careful ... but apparently .. not careful enough.

Shirley closes her eyes and folds her arms across her body defensively. Slowly, she turns to face him, eyes brimming with tears "You didn't want children. You told me that. I wasn't sure at first but Elliot wanted he married me and we raised her together. Roberta loves him. He was good to her. He wanted her... more than he wanted a wife even. I can't take that from them. I didn't even know until you told me you were colour blind."

Fred looks at her, even with her eyes brimming with tears. "I was what? 32? Just beginning my political career? No, I didn't want kids. I wanted to focus on Alexandra." he blows out a breath. "Not that I ever got the chance to change my mind." he complains. "To this DAY you deny it. What do you think I want now? To take her to the zoo? Bring her to council meetings? Those days are ancient history now, Shirley." he blows out a breath. "Not fair." he tries not to sound petulant.

Shirley wipes at her face as tears spill over "Fred I didn't know... for years. Would have been fair to either you or Roberta after a lifetime missed for both of you? Yes she's your daughter... but she's also Elliot's. The odds were in his favour when I found out I was pregnant. I'm sorry."

Fred sighs and moves closer to her. After a moments consideration, he moves to put his arms around her. "I don't want ... her that way, Shirley." he sighs deeply. "I just want to know for SURE that the woman .... " he pauses. "That you really did have my child." he sighs. He'd cared about her ... so much.

Shirley tenses up at first, resisting his arms and then sinks into them "Of course I had her....your....I didn't know...but if I did I still would have. I'm sorry I didn't know for so long." She turns her face into him, her tears wetting the side of his neck "I lost one before Drake didn't want. I think I just ran to Elliot because he was the opposite and I feel like I was having a baby with someone who wanted one. I didn't even count the weeks to be honest. I just took the safest path."

Fred holds her and sighs. "Maybe I would have changed my mind .. who knows, Shirley." he blows out a slow shaky breath. "A lot of that ... losing you to Elliot ... made me a little .. bitter...." which is the understatement of this AND the last centuries.

Shirley wraps her arms around him "I never meant to hurt you Fred."

Fred clears his throat. "I know that, Shirley. And, considering how I am now ... me NOT raising a child seems to have been a good idea, right?" he tries to joke a little bit.

Shirley leans back enough to look him in the eye "Those experiences would have made you another version of you too. I don't think you can guess how. Do you want me to talk to Roberta? And there's...grandchildren Gwendolyn and Simon ....teenagers....your favourite, I know." she teases, remembering how he had reacted to the young man's sneakers at the formal.

Fred considers. "Tell her, just because ,. she needs to know . things like where she got the color blindness. That doesn't just happen, Shirley. And the kids ...." he sighs. "They may need to know. But it's so far down the line .... just tell them. And tell them I wasn't always ...... Canada's 1st Nations version of Stalin." he isn't joking .. they really called him that sometimes. "And if they WANT to meet with me ... I'd be willing." he offers. "And for YOU ... I'll try NOT to be a monster for those teenagers. I DO have my moments. When I'm more like I was when I was younger." he realizes that not being with her had made him bitter ... suspecting he had a child ... and no one ELSE knowing had made him bitter. A lot of things had made him bitter. Some days ... it felt to him that all he had was Alexandra. And winter ,. his favorite season. Period. Most would agree .. he was easier to deal with in the winter.

Shirley reaches up with one hand and runs her fingers along one side of his brow, down his cheekbone to his jaw and says quietly "'s not going to be an easy conversation for me either. I don't expect Roberta to be happy with me....and Eliot.....maybe I should tell him first before she does....we did stay friends. He married that Keith....good man really, once I got over it all. They make sense together." She laughs a bit "I know you're not such a hard ass as some of your townies to believe. Sometimes I think you want them to think saves you time....and I wrong?"

Fred decides to do nothing but nod in apparent agreement to the idea of her talking to Elliot. If he demanded a DNA test, Fred was ready for that. But the whole Elliot business had rubbed him the wrong way more than once and DID have a negative effect on his idea of homosexuals. Especially closeted ones. But he does smile a little bit at his assessment of himself. "You're right." he confirms. "There's a REASON I never married, Shirley. BESIDES my being an insufferable ass hole ... being an insufferable ass hole ... its safe. I've had a couple periods in my life with nearly unbearable pain. And there's only one person alive today who knows what I was like ... even BEFORE I became mayor. And can still .... reach me." he doesn't bother to mention that is her. Both the periods of pain and the ability to calm him and make him see reason.

Shirley pulls back but takes Fred by the hand and tries to lead him to the bed "Don't worry, I'm just inviting you to of us might break a hip if it was anything else." She jokes "I don't know your story...and I haven't been there for you......but I'm offering now if you want to tell me about your unbearable pain."

Fred chuckles. "We're only in our 80's, but ... I understand." he sits and is silent for a long time. "It was before we met. In the 1950's. When I was in high school." he blows out a breath. How long ago that had been. "It was a woman .. of course. She was like me ... three quarters Aboriginal." he blew out a breath. "You know how it was back then. In the schools. Well hell .... we had one right here in Alexandra." it isn't much talked about, but the Alexandra Academy ... had a darker history few even talked about anymore.

Shirley holds onto his hand if he lets her and nods grimly "Yes...I know. What happened with her?"

Fred holds her hand. "Oh, she got involved with me." he tells her. "She wasn't native to the island and ,.. you know how that sometimes goes around here." he pauses and looks at their clasped hands. "You were not my FIRST love, Shirley." he confesses, still looking at their hands. Then he sighs. "She wanted to fight. I wanted to just .. live. Be allowed to live Forget I spoke anything but English. Just ... get along and LIVE." he clears his throat. "She taught me a little about pride, but ... well ... not enough. As a matter of fact .. I broke HER down. Because I didn't want her to get hurt ...." he blows out a breath. "I ALMOST left Alexandra with her, but ... in the end I stayed here. She went on ..." he clears his throat again ... very gruffly.

Shirley nods "I would never expect that I was. Even though you....were mine." She smiles a bit and then looks pained at his story, or the part of it he's shared so far. She frowns prompting him carefully with his own last sentence as a question "She went on?"

Fred squeezes her hand when she tells him he was her first love. He sighs deeply. "Despite Alexandra's reputation, it's a relatively safe place to live." he motions to the widow indicating the rest of the world. "She .... well ... got into drinking. Trying to deal with .... who and what she was." he shrugs. "Well, from the one letter she sent me, things sounded good, but it was less than six months before she was found dead. Pills and alcohol."

Shirley closes her eyes and shakes her head "I'm so sorry. What was her name?"

Fred takes in a shuddering breath "Iris George." he clears his throat again. "I tried to find her afterward, but you know. Paupers grave. Anyway. I began improving myself. You know the first thing I did when I became mayor was fight to have the Alexandra Indian Residential School closed." he scoffed. "If I had MY way it would have been dynamited. But, I settled on its being re-purposed. You know, it was MY idea to have it become a music school as well as a day school for island kids. Iris loved music." he clears his throat again.

Shirley lets go of Fred's hand and pulls him into a hug. There are no real words of comfort over what he's sharing and she knows it, but she understands him a little better today. "Thank you for telling me. I know it's not easy."

Fred chuckles very softly. "You're welcome. Maybe if I had told you decades ago ... things would have turned out differently." he realizes, belatedly that she may have thought his attachment to Alexandra a bit unnatural.

Shirley eases off from the hug "We can never know. Considering how well we fight, it might have been a disaster if things had gone differently..." She laughs in spite of it being a little depressing to think about.

Fred also backs off, but takes her hand again. "A good point, and no one can see the future. I'm still mayor of Alexandra ... who saw that?" he smiles a little. "And you ... Cedar Point. And a damn good job of it. They adore you there."

Shirley grins "We both have wonderful towns. Do you think if we could go back and tell our younger selves we'd both be mayors they'd ever believe us? " She can't help but laugh. As a young woman she drank hard, partied hard and felt like politicians were people who simply maintained the systems of oppression.

Fred actually laughs. A rare thing in his older life. "We would think they were insane ... or hallucinations." he agrees. He considers politics ... their careers and blows out a breath.

Shirley just looks at him and nods, possibly guessing why he's exhaling "I guess there are a few other things our younger selves wouldn't have believed either."

Fred grins. "Well ... had we stopped fighting long enough to TALK instead of making love, I could have told you I wanted kids ... after being in office a while." he shrugs. "But what do you mean? Besides the school would be closed and I would live HALF this long?"

Shirley giggles "We did seem to have mostly those two modes when we were young." She sighs "Roberta was born earlier than you would have wanted......and I'm glad you're still around Fred. I can't imagine this town without you...." She hesitates "Or the i know we didn't talk often all the years but knowing you were over here has given me comfort many times."

Fred smiles. "Beautiful modes, if I remember correctly. And I do." he nods. "She was, but ... had I known, I would have dealt with it. I don't run away, Shirley. You know that." he waves that away. "Water under the bridge." he glances towards the window and Alexandra. "She is my daughter. Or my mother ... I was born here. I will die here. She has been there ... even with the curse .. I still love her." he grins. "Howso did I comfort you?"

Shirley can't help but blush about the beautiful modes and then she looks melancholy and nods "I know you love this place with your whole heart. I think I took comfort just in the stability of it, yelling at the kids about their shoes, tourists and winter festivals. You'll notice I haven't missed many formals since I became mayor...." She offers. It's said in a teasing tone but true.

Fred nods. "Well, I'm sure I probably no showed SOMETHING in Cedar Point that made me look like a horrible human being." he hadn't, but he demurs anyway. "Cedar Point is important to us. You get those earthquakes. We have a couple of horrible months a year no matter what we do." he sighs. If he could change it, he would.

Shirley chuckles "I was teasing you Fred. We both have our issues to handle. The quakes are......well I don't even know what to say....but at least it's nature not violent crimes." She looks around "We've been civil for over an hour at least. I feel like I should call room service for champagne..."

Fred nods. "Well, we deal with our part. I don't dare shut down the Olin." he grins at her. "Yes, and I am sure I've kept you past your bedtime." he doesn't move, however. It IS nice talking civil with her.

Shirley snorts "My bedtime! You make me sound like an old lady...well I guess I am, not at heart though. I tend to settle in early but I confess I've taken to staying up late watching the YouTubes. They have everything on there. My grandchildren..." she pauses self consciously "...well our grandchildren got me watching some last time they were in town. They send me links of new ones all the time, especially the animal ones."

Fred chuckles. "Same here. Turns out for me it IS true. The older you are the less sleep you need." he notes her hesitation and correction. "YouTube." he shakes his head. "I rarely get into that. A lot of chess and other games. The town has a channel and the school does. Other than that...." he pauses. "You'll have to show me someday."

Shirley smiles "Gladly. I remember you and chess. I've improved over the years. Never had the patience before about 40."She looks like she's not sure how to end the night, or if she wants to. Self consciously she reaches up and straightens his tie, like nervous tidying "I suppose I'm keeping you from home too....."

Fred smiles. "It keeps my mind ordered." he glances down at her hands straightening his tie. "Well, there's nothing for me at home." he tells her. "I've been considering moving into the Greybar building. All modern. Might suit me. But no. The dust bunnies would do just fine without me."

Shirley keeps her hand on the tie and smooths it " That sounds easy to care for if you move. No roommates...." She asks the last one much more quietly "No girlfriends?"

Fred looks at her and shrugs a little bit. "No pets, no roomates and ... " he looks into her face. "No girlfriends. Not for ... a long, long time." he confesses, his own voice growing quieter.

Shirley looks back at him and gulps and then nods "Noted. Not that it's a concern, but I also don't have a significant other....however my track record is a bit of a warning sign." She laughs "So far I've turned husbands into abusive gambling alcoholics, turned them gay or killed them. Not really very good odds from a bird's eye view...'

Fred arches his eyebrows. "That IS something else, Shirley." he admits. "You might want to stop turning good boys bad and just start out with ruined, damaged goods." he half-teases. "You can't make some men any worse."

Shirley laughs "You might have something there Fred. Do you know any takers?" she jokes. There's a twinkle in her eye that hasn't been there for him in years, at least she's been very careful not to let it out until tonight.

Fred strokes his beard. "I might know one man." he holds up a single finger. Then he takes her hand and puts it on his chest. He half smiles and in his mind wonders things he does not yet voice.

Shirley sighs happily at him. She still has her hand resting on his tie and now pulls him gently closer "I was hoping you'd say that." She tilts her head a bit and leans in catching his lips in hers. The facial hair is new since the last time but the rest is a bittersweet familiarity. If he accepts the kiss she kisses him slowly with a deeply longing expression.

Fred accepts the kiss and keeps it slow ... tasting her, smelling her, remembering and savoring. It has been a long time since he kissed her ... kissed any woman ... but .. one never forgets.

Shirley gets lost in the kiss, wrapping her arms tightly around him. After a long time and an "Mmmm....." She pulls back and looks at him "I missed you Fred."

Fred puts his arms around her. "And I missed you." he admits. Pausing he looks into her eyes, and all over her face. "It's been ... decades since I've kissed you." he caresses her face. "What do you want tonight?" Decades ago, he would already be pushing her gently onto the bed. But they are older now. More mature.

Shirley blushes "I don't know how to answer that yet. It's been a long time. I'm not the young wild woman you once knew...."She laughs a little nervously.

Fred grins. "And I'm not that virile young man, either. I know for myself ... I've calmed. Some nights, I would be perfectly happy with conversation. Laying in bed with someone. Maybe watching television or ... something." he caresses her face again. "I still desire sex, but I don't ... need it like I did when I was younger." he considers his words. "You still have an incredible body, Shirley ... but ... I want more than that."

Shirley looks at him with absolute adoration "That makes me feel better. I desire it too... but I don't know if I'm ready now...tonight." She stands up like she might be ready to dismiss him but then walks up to the head of the bed and turns down the covers she crawls in and pats the pillow beside her "You're welcome in my bed for the other things you mentioned....affection is very welcome Fred."

Smiling, Fred stands and faces her. "Some other night, perhaps." He begins to undress. The gold tie, which he unceremoniously shoves in his suit pocket, followed by the suit jacket itself. Under the white shirt is an undershirt. He places it all neatly on a chair and then takes off shoes and socks, leaving himself in the unflattering thermal shirt, but it is warm and the last thing anyone will accuse him of at 80 years old is being sexy and thermal long underpants. He gets into bed beside her. "Yes, I am melting, slowly." he grins. Opening his arms, he asks. "I seem to recall you liked a little cuddling."

Shirley looks at him sweetly and undoes the tied belt on her robe and shrugs it off to the side. Her nightgown is by no means skimpy but it's a pretty floral pattern with lace edging and a soft silky fabric. She scoots towards him and lays down in his arms "I'm sorry I didn't figure this all out sooner. My feelings never really went away...I just bottled them up and tried to forget."

Fred holds her and for a moment, he is in his late twenties and early thirties again. "I understand." he tells her. "I was adamant about what I wanted. I had my law degree ... and was eyeing the mayors office. So I had this timeline I never bothered to share with you. Mayors office, marriage, children." he snorts a little bit. "Of course, had I bothered to tell you, maybe you would not been so afraid to tell me..." he shakes his head. "I never forgot you. I couldn't take care of you, but I COULD take care of Cedar Point." they always sent aid to Cedar Point after their earthquakes in one way or another. Sometimes that aid was more than the Town Leaders wanted, but Fred dug in his heels ... and when Fred dug in his heels ... he eventually got what he wanted.

Shirley rolls towards him so she's sort of side laying on him, slinging her arm across his chest and looking very comfortable. For some reason after all the years and three other husbands, she just fits with this man. His body temperature is just right for her, his scent draws her in, he just feels right. The truth is he always has, she just tried to fit with others where she was making concessions, too many to count and working around the bits that didn't fit. "I know you've always helped. I always noticed and appreciated it. I might not always have had time to tell you properly. Some of those people lost were dear to me. Isabella, Jacks' wife, he was so broken for so long....and the girls. My quirky little friend, the archivist, Cedar Point lost half it's history with his had you know, the chief's daughter...breaking my niece's heart many Fred...too many."

Fred enjoys a closeness he hasn't come even close to allowing since ... since the last time they were together. He nods. "It is like another sort of curse." he agrees. "These earthquakes where people vanish. And for us.... Every single October. Too many. And this year. Brate." he blows out a breath. "It is like Alexandra ad Cedar Point have always been sister cities, even if it didn't become official until 1955." he sighs, but then grins a little. "I know it is considered foolish to believe in the curse but .... I do."

Shirley lightly caresses his chest through the thermal shirt "I was very afraid for Adum, and Megan. I understand your belief.....and the way the land started....maybe...just maybe.And it's no more foolish than me considering some of the theories of the Quake Takers. I read Morgan Wright's conspiracy book. Some of it is marijuana ramblings, but there are some facts that are hard to ignore. They suggest aliens but spirits make more sense to me...."

Fred enjoys the touch, but his mind is on other things. "Yes, that was an awful thing. I saw it from my office window." he admits. "I was glad he survived and, even though everyone thinks I started the Winter Festival early using Adum as an excuse ... no. That boy loves winter as much as I do." he nods. "I've read that book a few times." he admits. "And ... well we're more likely to believe in spirits. Especially me, given the history of the Olin and Alexandra. We still get the occasional ghost hunter or psychic trying to find the truth." he rolls his eyes.

Shirley winces about him seeing Adum get shot but then can't help but giggle later about ghost hunters "Well who ya gonna call?" It's a rhetorical question of course.

Fred scoffs. "Maybe those little ladies could help us out." he suggests. "The mayor before me had the island blessed by a Catholic priest. Didn't help. I had representatives of the 1st Nation here. They ... didn't stay. Long enough to tour and tell me that yes, they feel a presence here." he shrugs. "I suppose I should be happy we're not some kind of Bermuda Triangle. We only have the trouble in October and still have enough crime, like everyone, that it just makes that period of time seem like an annual fluke." he tightens his embrace around her.

Shirley snuggles into the tightening embrace, closing her eyes and smiling with another "Mmmm." Afterwards she sighs "It is odd timing, and so unfortunate for Halloween and the children here. But I'd rather they all be safe of course. This year some of yours came over to us to trick or treat. Very well spoken and delightful, all of them."

Fred kisses the top of her head. "Well, Halloween IS the season of the Dead. So .. it is ... that way here." he grins. "I have been meaning to think you for hosting the children. It just ... did not occur to me to even ask. Sour puss that I am." he caresses her shoulder and upper arm. "Would you object to making that a more ... permanent arrangement? The kids celebrating Halloween in Cedar Point?"

Her nightgown is a bit loose on her and as he caresses her shoulder it slides off on one side. She glances at it and giggles "Still sly I see." She nods after "No need to thank and I'd be happy to. It's always been one of my favourites. I live on a great street....lots of adult out chatting while the kids do their thing. I met your fire chief, Hank Stanley. His grandchildren live down by the school. Hilarious twins and a colicky baby. Poor mother has her hands full over there.....Roberta had terrible colic. I feel for that woman."

Fred chuckles and continues the caress. "Still. I'm not dead, Shirley." he proclaims. He nods. "Ahhh yea. Hank was a good addition. Interviewed him myself. He's had his own hell and thought Alexandra would be safer. And for him, perhaps it is." he nods in reply to the colic, but doesn't say anything, just caresses the arm with his finger. But he realizes ... THAT part .. he isn't terribly sorry he missed. Or could he have handled it. He stops himself. Water under the bridge.

Shirley nods "Yes I saw the burns and he hinted at something. I think he told my neighbour Anna more. She was over on that porch for awhile before they both came my way. Have you read that terrible Scribbler rag? That woman wrote ridiculous things about Anna and her mother's Bed and Breakfast...called it a brothel. That's one thing I won't miss when I retire....the press...ugh!"

Fred nods and sighs. "Rita Potter." he knows exactly who she is talking about. "That paper has more reporters than her. The Lavender, right? A brothel?" he snorts as if he isn't impressed. "They love me." he brags, sarcastically. "Reporters have been calling me just about every name in the book. Basters, insane, crazy, cruel, discriminatory, batty. They mourn my birthday,you know. If I am still alive on January 2nd ... they predict another year of my despotic rule. Apparently I have a shrine to Stalin in my living room." he snorts. "They're the press. Although I'll be damned what they could POSSIBLY say about YOU?" he kisses her forehead again. The years when he adored Shirley fill him. Not as if it was yesterday. More like a month or so again.

Shirley laughs "A shrine to Stalin? Goodness, what do you put on it?" She teases. "A few of the younger reporters get on every now and then about my age. I had my appendix out a few years ago and they went on like I was at death's door. Believe me, I felt so much better AFTER the surgery. But they couldn't do the scopic because of it being an emergency surgery so it adds the the road map now. I'll give you a tour someday if you're patient....not for the faint of heart." she jokes. "Whenever they come at my town though, the businesses, the good people, it just feels personal. I've hired an assistant in the last year who understands all the social media. Louise Telford. She's a cracker with the computer too. So we have a Twitter and an Instagram and a Facebook page now. She gets all that and runs interference with the press."

Fred narrows his eyes. "On an alter built on the bones of any who challenge me." he mock growls, deepening his voice. He listens to her problems and brightens a little. "Oh! A TOUR! How wonderful!" he grins. "They have managed not to cut me open ... yet. But I have had just about every ulcer known to modern science. But nothing that has seriously gotten me. I don't do vacations for the most part. Went to Niagara Falls in 1990. Very nice place." he chuckles. "The press doesnt really understand. We arent the mayor of some place where we don't KNOW people. I remember when quite a few of my citizenry were born .... and a few of their parents." he chuckles. "But social media." he sighs. "We haven't jumped on that bandwagon yet. My first and last assistant died over the summer. She was a tough old broad. Did everything for me. The position remains open. My reputation proceeds me. And when someone needs to speak to the press, I tend to do that myself." he shrugs. "We could be a wonderful tourist town, but I don't want to tempt Fate ... or any other spirit, for that matter. Word of mouth brings in more than enough money."

Shirley looks stern "Ulcers and no vacations.....are you not seeing the connection?" She smiles a little and then looks thoughtful "Come with me to Nova Scotia. I don't really want to tell Roberta and the kids over the phone or by email....I'll do it AFTER the meal in case she wants to toss me out and I need to find a hotel. But it might soften her reaction if you're there.....And I realize what I'm suggesting might not be relaxing..." She laughs at herself.

Fred smiles. "Well ... my doctors think there's one, but ..." he stops as she invites him to Nova Scotia. He looks thoughtful himself. "Well when you're mayor of Alexandra 'relaxing' is a relative thing." he admits, slowly. "Alright." he looks at her. "I'll book a hotel room for us." he shrugs a little. "So ... filial anger or no, you have an option for the night." he offers. Then he waggles his eyebrows. "We could have another round of this wild raucous circus sex." he kisses her forehead and tries to remember the last time he was this obviously playful. Had to be nineteen something. "I have no pranks going on for the rest of the year, so ... I'll try that .. vacation ... thing."

Shirley swats at him "Circus sex?" She jokes back "Well the bellboy confiscated my trapeze....better luck next time." She rolls over and gives him a sweet little kiss and then admits "I'm feeling a little shy about it all...but I'll get there Fred. I'd love to sleep beside you your arms. If you'd let me. I can set an alarm if you have things in the morning..."

Fred laughs. "For me ... this is as good as I could hope for. My bouncing on the bed days are probably long gone." he returns the kiss. "I am too, you know. But I would love to sleep with you tonight." he shrugs. "And Sundays ... are mostly quiet. I don't do as good a Torquemada imitation as some might believe." he grins and lays on his side and holds her. "I might wake early. I always do."

Shirley laughs "Well as the Python boys say, No one expects the Spanish Inquisition." She wriggles out of his arms for a moment "One last bathroom break and I'm ready to snooze..."

She pads across the carpet and into the bathroom. Once the door closes behind her she looks at herself in the mirror critically, pulling at the wrinkled skin at the base of her neck. She pulls up her nightgown and looks at her body with a frown. It sags in places it didn't use to, the scars on her abdomen have always been unsightly to her, first the cesarean - an old school one with a nice big slice through. About 10 years later the hysterectomy scar from almost navel to her pubic line, crossing the other one. To one side is the appendectomy scar, still pinkish, the most recent. She hadn't shared this old body with a man for many years and even then not regularly. Her last husband, Eddy, had never had a strong sexual drive and in the end he'd been too ill for years to even consider it. Before Eddy, Elliot had lost interest in making love after Roberta was born. Shirley always thought it was her long recovery from the birth that caused the rift in their bed, until Elliot came out to her about falling in love with a man. Before Elliot, Drake had made sex just another tool he tried to use to control and manipulate her. Fred was really the last man who'd ever made Shirley feel truly loved and desired in a way that felt safe. Could she go there again? Did her equipment still work? It was intermittent at her own hands but her drive was lowered enough that she just gave up and read a mystery novel instead when it seemed to not want to cooperate. Would he feel the same when he saw this different from the young lithe thing she had known him as. Shirley shuddered and let the nightgown drop back down. She used the toilet and washed her hands quickly. The choice was not one for tonight. She took off her glasses and set them on the bedside table and then made to crawl back into the safety of Fred's arms with a somewhat unreadable expression.

Fred lets her up and lays in the comfort of the hotel bed. He looks up at the ceiling, thinking of tonight and all he had learned. The act that he had put on for so many decades crumbled in seconds with Shirley. Maybe that was a good thing. When she comes back to bed he pulls her close, thinking he may have an idea of her worries. He sighs with true contentment. "You alright?" he asks her, softly. "My hearing is still sharp. The bladder didn't want to cooperate?" he almost teases, because for all he knows that is exactly what her delay was.

Shirley grins a bit "Nope, that still works. No guarantees on the rest..." She only looks half joking now and then rolls to press her face into his chest so his eyes aren't on her. She loves this, being with him. He's not pressuring her for anything so she knows she needs to stop pressuring herself and beating herself up about it. They used to have one hell of a hot time together and it's hard to shake off those memories and expectations on herself.

Fred strokes her hair. "You know." he looks over her head and into nothingness, really. "It can't possibly be what we had before, Shirley." he isn't addressing her unspoken fears, but his own. "We're older. I'm older. But I loved this part. The cuddling and holding each other. I knew I loved you because in my head, even then, I could imagine times like this. Both of us too old to care as much about having sex as we did in our twenties and thirties." he sighs and strokes her hair again, then chuckles. "You'll never run your fingers through my hair again, for one. And the rest?" he sighs. "Hopefully I won't disappoint you ... if we ever get ... there ... again ..." she is not the only one thinking ... a sexual relationship will not be the same as it was 50 or 60 years ago, when they were kids.

Shirley can't help but laugh and turns her face up to look at him "I think we're having some of the same anxiety Fred. I just had a very negative self talk with my naked reflection...silly I know, but I've been afraid of disappointing you...not the other way around." She smiles tearily at him "You old? I guess we missed the growing we just get to be old..." She chokes up a bit "I still love you....I never stopped, try as I might have, it just didn't go away."

Fred chuckles. "Ah .... seems we are." he replies once hes listened to her. He cups her face, seeing the as yet unshed tears. "I could not IMAGINE 60, never mind 80." he realizes then what he said earlier, but in hindsight is fine with it. "I guess it doesn't go away when it's real, eh?" he kisses her shoulder. "And for the record .. we bot look great ... for our ages. We'll be fine, Shirley."

Shirley closes her eyes at the shoulder kissing, feeling a little stirring. Maybe he could help her reconnect after all. She runs her fingers over his bald head "I find it sexy, the smooth skin suits you. And it is so very real."

Fred laughs. "And you can STILL stroke my .... ego." he grins. "I love you, Shirley. I never stopped either." in his case ... he never had another serious relationship and never married ... at all.

Shirley looks happy and relieved "This is not how I thought our yearly argument would conclude. I'm so glad I was wrong." She gives him a cheeky smile and says "Sleep with me Fred....before we discover sex again and don't want to." She gives him a sweet little kiss and then rolls with her back to him trying to pull his arm around her in a sort of prelude to a spoon.

Fred can't help a little cheek. "You know I love it when you're wrong, Shirley." he teases. "Especially this time." he readily spoons and grins. "Go to sleep, Shirley. I'll be here when you wake up."

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