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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 9 - Henry

Grabbing my car keys, I picked up the couple of bottles of wine I was taking with me and headed outside. Brunch was still a good couple of hours away and I wasn’t due to be at the folks’ place until then but I didn’t care. I had to share my news with someone or I was going to go nuts keeping it to myself.

Getting the role of a lifetime was one thing but almost missing out on it because I had been too engrossed in a computer game, well, it still gave me chills to think about it now. After speaking with Zack (Snyder, the director) I wanted to call everyone I knew with the news of my good fortune but of course I didn’t, given that the hour was so late.

This meant that I had to wait several hours. I did briefly consider sharing the news with my Warcraft team-mates but that wasn’t right. Aside from it meaning I was going to ‘out’ myself and lose the anonymity I craved, news like this had to be shared with the people I loved first. I could not wait to see the look on my mother’s face.

~*~*~

The closer I got to the folks’ place however, the more I had to wonder about sharing the news. We were having brunch for Piers’ birthday and the day really should be about him. I supposed that was why I was going earlier than I needed to. I could at least share the news with my parents and ask that they keep it to themselves, so that I could share it with everyone else in the next day or so. It was one way of sharing the news of my good fortune and still not taking anything away from my eldest sibling.

I was under no illusion that my brother wouldn’t begrudge me this windfall, or sharing the news with the family but I still decided to go the other way. Growing up in a household with five boys, all very strong and dependent and vying for a top place in the pecking order, we knew what it meant to finally have a moment when you and you alone stood out.

Birthdays had been one occasion where it just naturally came about that, regardless of what anyone else had happening in their lives, the person celebrating wouldn’t be overshadowed. It was something that still held true, even now, despite the fact that we were all older and some of us had our own families.

It hadn’t always been an easy thing to keep to and today it would be even harder but I would give it my best shot. I was an actor for !@#$’s sake; surely, I could summon up the skills to act like a person who hadn’t been given the best news of their lives. If I couldn’t pull this off then, perhaps, I had no right calling myself an actor.

~*~*~

Pulling into the driveway of the folks’ place, I couldn’t see any other car other than Dad’s so I knew I was the first to arrive, as I had hoped. Turning off the engine, I sat there a moment and looked at the house.
My parents called it home and had done so for quite a few years now but for me it wasn’t home, home.

The real family home was back in Jersey, where I had done most of my growing up. It was where I had started school, made life-long friends and still had some family there now that Piers and Maggie had bought the house. It was the one place I missed most when I was overseas filming and I was thankful that my oldest brother and his wife were keeping it in the family.

We had all been surprised when the folks had told us they were moving here to London, giving up the home they had started married life in together some 40 years earlier. Many reasons were given – too big, too far from the kids and grandkids, time for a change of scenery – but we all knew the truth of the move.

With Nik being away so much with the Royal Marines, they had wanted to be close by to help Emma with Andrew, who had been six weeks old at the time. Now with Charlie and Kat expecting their own bundle of joy in a couple of months, it seems their decision was a good one for them to have made.

Allowing myself a few more minutes to wish on old times and memories, I finally hopped out of my car and headed around the side of the house so I could enter via the kitchen. No-one; save strangers, religious callers or salesmen; ever used the front door these days, family and friends alike knowing they have access through the heart of the house instead. It was a nice sentiment.

~*~*~

“Henry! You’re early.”

Putting the wine down on the kitchen table I pulled my mother into a big bear hug, lifting her from the ground, swinging her in a half circle as I did so. This caused her to giggle slightly and slap at my arm to be put down. I did it nearly every time I saw here and this was her usual reaction. She often told me she was too old to be lifted like that and yet I knew she secretly loved it. It was why despite her half-arsed attempt at a protest, I continued to do it.

To look at Marianne Cavill you would never guess she was the mother to five tall and strapping men. Petite was definitely the first word that came to mind when you saw her; never more so than when she was surrounded by her ‘little boys’. It was hard for people to comprehend that she had been the one to give each of us life. Small of stature and frame she may well be and yet each of us big and strapping men still knew better than to get on her bad side.

Once I had finally put her back down onto her own two feet, I offered “I can go home and come back later, if you like.”

For my cheekiness I was given the look that as a boy had scared the hell out of me. “That’s not what I meant and you know it. You are not so big that I can’t still clip you around the ear you know.” I gave her a peck on the cheek, following it up with a smile. I had learned how to get around that look.

~*~*~

“Ok, I’ll behave but only for you. Actually, there is a reason I’m early. I have some news and I wanted to share it with you and Dad, before the others got here.”

“Why can’t you tell everyone; nothing is wrong is there?”

“No, no” I quickly reassured her. “I received the news I had been hoping for, last night, but today is all about Piers. I can tell the others tomorrow. I just couldn’t wait to tell you and Dad.”

“Please don’t tell me that you’re still adhering to that silly rule about not being allowed to upstage the birthday boy? Surely you have all grown out of it by now; you are all grown men for pity’s sake.” Having never had to fight to get the attention of a parent, she never could understand why we came up with the rule to start with.

I grabbed an apple from the basket on the table and took a bite. A couple of chews later I replied “Old habits are hard to break. Besides, with us all having our own lives, it’s harder to get us together like we used to. When we do, it’s usually for a special occasion. I just figure it’s selfish of me to take that away from Piers. I promise I’ll call them all tomorrow to share the news. For now, it’s just you and Dad I want to tell.”

Sensing that I wasn’t going to change my mind, she walked to the doorway that led to the hall. “Colin, your son is here.”

Moments later a voice called back “Which one woman! I have five of them you know.”

Mum laughed and called back that it was me. She then picked up the wine I had brought with me to put in the fridge as we waited for my father to join us.

~*~*~

“Congratulations son; that is wonderful news!”

As Mum was almost squeezing the life out of me, my father stood by patiently waiting for his own chance to congratulate me. Although he wasn’t gushing like she had, I knew he was just as pleased. He had never been one for a great outpouring of emotion and while outsiders might find that standoffish, those who knew and loved him only had to look in his eyes to see how he felt.

It was enough for me now to look there and see how truly proud he was and once Mum finally let me go, he shook my hand before giving me a quick, sharp hug that included a few manly slaps on the back. He then proceeded to head for the fridge in order to get drinks for us to toast the news.

“You can’t sit on this news, sweetheart” Mum continued on, as Dad poured the drinks. “Piers will understand. Birthdays come and go but opportunities like this don’t. I know he wouldn’t begrudge you the chance to share it with everyone here today, while we’re all in one place.”

“Maybe not” I answered, tossing up whether I should continue to justify my decision or just give in and tell everyone. “Why risk it though? It will only end with me having to answer questions all day about my job and who I know who’s really famous, and the rest. Remember when Simon was dating Sabrina? She had me cornered for more than an hour at Nik and Emma’s engagement party after she found out I was going to be in the Tudors.”

Mum screw up her nose. “Thankfully your brother saw the light and got rid of her, so it shouldn’t be an issue now. Why don’t you just share the news and then let them know that any further talk or discussion about your work is off limits?”

“Mare, let the boy be, will you?” Dad piped in, handing me a freshly poured beer. It was a little early for me but I accepted it all the same. “If he doesn’t want to tell them, he doesn’t have to. It’s enough that he told us first. Besides, by the time we listen to everyone else and what’s happening in their lives, we probably won’t even get the chance to hear about Henry’s news anyway.”

Dad’s ideas on humour often came across as blunt so Mum and I let that one go. Besides, he wasn’t half wrong. Between my brothers and their assorted partners, as well as several grandkids, there was never a dull moment when we all got together.

“Fine, I will let it go but I am not going to pretend I’m happy about it. Fair warning; you will have no one to blame but yourself if I accidently let something slip.”

I could do little more than give her a smile and another hug.

~*~*~

Over the space of the following hour, the others started to arrive and that was when the fun began. Aside from Nik who was away on deployment, the rest of the family had managed to make it, along with Maggie’s parents, whom she and Piers were staying with while in town. Added in were a few friends of the family and a handful of kids running around, so the house and backyard was soon full of laughter and cheer. It was one of the things I loved about being part of a big family.

Piers’ and Maggie’s twins; George and William; were happy to sit and play with their phones, at 14 considering themselves too old to play with their cousins. Nik and Emma’s boy Andrew and his younger cousin Matthew, however, were having a great time chasing David, Matthew’s little brother, around the yard. At least until Simon told this son to stop tormenting him, despite David’s laughing and seemingly enjoying himself. This did little more than cause them to up their efforts, much to the amusement of the rest of us.

I loved all of my nephews and relished any chance I had to spend time with them. Living on Jersey, I didn’t get a lot of chances to see the twins but even though they lived relatively closer, I didn’t get to see much of the other boys either, if I was being honest and that’s why I didn’t object when Andrew asked that I sit next to him as we ate, so he could tell me all about the fun he had been having at school with his ‘favouritist’ teacher.

In his eagerness to tell me all about a week full of treats eaten and games played in order to mark some sort of event, I missed hearing exactly what it was that they had been celebrating. It didn’t matter though; I was just as eager to hear as he was to tell about all the fun he was having in her class.

By the time we had finished eating and were just sitting around catching up, it was late afternoon. Mum suggested that we all stay to dinner, given there was so much food left over but almost everyone had made other plans, or they had a long drive ahead and so, one by one, smaller family units and friends started to disperse with promises to call or catch up soon filling the air. It had been a wonderful day.

~*~*~

Thankfully Dad’s remark about not being able to get around to my news hadn’t been wrong and so it was still a secret; at least to most of the family. By the time all the birthday greetings and presents giving had been done, it had been time to sit down and eat, where everyone started talking ten to the dozen. Months apart for some of us meant that there was a ton of news to catch up on.

Anytime I was asked about work I answered in generalities, not giving anything away. Luckily for me the family and most of the friends gathered had known me long enough for my being an actor to no longer be anything special and so we were able to talk about other things too. I even welcomed questions about my love life; or lack of; as it meant I could keep the focus elsewhere.

When all the guests bar the birthday boy and his family had gone home, Piers and I offered to clean the kitchen, given Mum had prepared the meal. She objected of course but we insisted so once a freshly brewed pot of coffee had been made, she took that into the living room where Dad, Maggie, Susan and James were seated. The twins were somewhere in one of the spare rooms watching TV, leaving the adults to talk. The minute my eldest brother and I were alone, the inquisition began.

~*~*

“Ok little brother; out with it.”

“Out with what?”

“You’re hiding something.”

“No I’m not.”

“Yes, you are. You forget I know you Harry. I can spot your ‘tells’ a mile away.”

“Don’t call me Harry, you know I hate it. And I don’t have any tells.”

Flicking a handful of suds from the newly filled sink in my direction, he smiled. “I know you hate it, which is why I do it. You also have tells, whether you think you do or not. Besides, I’ve noticed the way Mum has been giving you squirrely looks all day. It wasn’t hard to see that she was trying to get you to share something with us; either that or you have done something to piss her off.” Dipping his hands back into the sink, he then added “there is also the fact that not more than ten minutes ago, she suggested I should ask you about it.”

I wanted to believe I was shocked she would have done such a thing but who was I kidding? Piers was also right, about the look. Each time I looked over at her, the look was the same as a nudge, telling me to share my news then and there. I had tried to not look at her as often, knowing it would cause me to cave in.

“I told her I was going to share the news tomorrow. Today was about you. It’s nothing that can’t wait.”
Turning to face me front on, my oldest and slightly taller brother looked me square in the eye. “Bullshit, little brother. If it could wait, Mum wouldn’t have been acting strange all day. You can tell me now what it is or I’ll find a way to make you talk.”

Flashbacks to all the dead legs and Chinese burns he had given me when we were kids came back and I wasn’t smiling at the memory. I still had a scar on my left knee when he went a bit too far on a camping trip. The thing of it was, he may be older and a little taller but I had filled out since I was 12 and I figured I could now take him.

In the end I decided to share the news; it was hard to wrestle on a full stomach. Besides, the birthday celebrations were all but over anyway and it was just us, so I figured why not. After getting assurances from him that it would go no further until had a chance to let the rest of the family know, I told him about the role I had I just been offered.

~*~*~

“Ow!” I yelped, rubbing my arm where he had just punched me. I might be bigger in body but he could still hurt with just one punch. “What the hell was that for?”

“That, you daft bugger, was for not sharing your great news with the rest of us earlier. Henry, that’s fantastic news! Why didn’t you want to tell everyone while we were all together? And don’t give me that bollocks about it being my birthday. This news trumps me getting another year older as far as I’m concerned.”

I felt stupid now, as well as having the makings of a dead arm. “Maybe but I didn’t want to have your day be all about me. I will hopefully be offered great roles throughout my career and I don’t want to become one of those actors that always has to be the centre of attention, having everything be all about them, all the time.”

“Hey, we would never let you get away with that !@#$, no matter how big a star you become; you should know that about us already. But you also need to realize that we’re all at an age now when we can share days like this. Its what families do. We’re not 14 and 7 anymore. Don’t you remember Charlie and Kat dropped the news about them expecting a baby at the folks’ anniversary party?”

“I suppose so. It’s done now. I’ll call the others tomorrow with the news.” Picking up another plate to dry, I added “I don’t mind admitting that it has been hard to keep it to myself, even after I had already told Mum and Dad.”

With a cheeky smirk, Piers answered “I’ll just bet it was. What surprises me more though is that Mum was able to keep the news to herself. You’re lucky she didn’t stand in the middle of the table between the croissants and the fruit platter and yell it out for all and sundry.”

I laughed along with my brother. He wasn’t kidding with that comment. Mum often found it hard to keep good news to herself; especially when that news was concerning one or more of her boys. I was proud of her for not letting the secret out. Well, almost not letting it out.

Visions of her being on the phone all the next day, once I had given the ok to share, made me laugh all the more, which meant the dishes took longer than was necessary. It didn’t matter though as horsing around with my brother was the perfect end to what had already been a great day.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 10 – Ally

The rest of the weekend went by without incident and before I knew it, I was back in my classroom. I looked forward to and enjoyed my time off but I was always glad to be back amongst my students. Being of an age where they are old enough to assert themselves and yet still willing to listen to an adult, I found there was never a dull moment in my day.

In each class I had taught in to date, I had always found that most of the children behaved and did what was expected of them. Only occasionally was there one who usually made it his or her life’s mission to see just how far they could push the boundaries. I was lucky enough – or that should be unlucky enough? – to have two such kids in my care this year. Jackson and Andrew were best friends and yet there was still the odd day here or there where they would fight like mortal enemies.

The arguments they had were never too serious and had always been of the verbal variety, usually ending with nothing more than some hurt feelings. These arguments were also usually over just as quickly as they had begun. Unbeknownst to me, the following day was going to bring about one of these events that would not only change how they argued but would impact my life personally in a way I could never have foreseen.

~*~*~

“Ok, class; please take your seats.”

Once all but a few stragglers had sat down, I began the day. “As you all know, the school has been trying to organize a class trip to the zoo. I received an email that’s confirmed the booking and although we won’t be going until the end of March, I thought you might like to know now. Closer to the day we go I will be handing out permission slips for you all to take home to be signed by a parent. One of the reasons I bring this up now is so we can discuss it. Does anyone have any questions?”

Several hands were raised but before I had a chance to call on any of them, Jackson called out “Why are we going to the zoo Miss, when we can stay here at school to see monkeys?” Unsurprisingly, he was looking at his best mate Andrew when he asked the question.

As expected, the class erupted and even Andrew had a huge smile on his face, at least until he realized that the comment had been aimed at him. Before he could retaliate, I called the class to order. “That’s enough, class; come on, quiet down.” It had been funny but as the teacher I couldn’t be seen to condone that sort of teasing, even if it had been in jest. Rather than give it more focus, I tried to move the topic on, take some sting out of it.

“We are going to the actual zoo, Jackson, so you might learn something about the animals there. Which brings me to another reason for bringing up the topic now. I have created a worksheet for you all to work on while we are there.”

All the attention was now firmly back on me, along with several groans of displeasure and looks that ranged from shock to non-amusement. There was nothing like bringing a class together than when they can all relate the same way about a task.

“Isn’t this excursion supposed to be fun, Miss?” Jennifer asked. Normally one of my quieter students, I was a little surprised to hear her be the one to voice this question.

Giving her a smile, I assured her it would be. “Don’t worry; it won’t be just a bunch of boring questions. The plan is that instead of you all walking around from one exhibit to the other, I thought it would be more fun to make it a scavenger hunt of sorts. And before you ask, Andrew and Jackson, this does not mean you get to keep any of the animals that you find and bring them home.”

Even as I had singled the pair of them out, they laughed along with their classmates and soon they were all chatting amongst themselves once more. Turning boring school work into a scavenger hunt appears to have been a stroke of genius and I hoped that they would still be this enthusiastic about it once the day for the trip finally rolled around.

~*~*~

“He actually called Andrew a monkey?” Millie Cahill asked as I joined her for lunch in the staff room.

“Not in as many words. He didn’t actually use Andrew’s name but he was looking directly at him so the inference was there. Andrew actually laughed along with the rest of the class, until he realized that the gibe had been directed at him. It took all I had not to laugh with the rest of the class, especially at the cheeky grin Jackson had on his face when he made the comment.”

“You’re a better woman than I am then, Ally. I wouldn’t have been able to control myself. I had the pair of them in my class back when they first started school and they were a handful, even back then.”

“Have they always been friends? Some days I can’t tell if they really like each other or they’re just enemies who take a break from the fighting every now and then.”

Taking a sip of her Pepsi, she thought on her answer for a moment. “They have been friends for as long as I’ve known them, although I don’t know that they were really all that close in the beginning. You know how it is when you have to start somewhere new. You gravitate towards a group of people you feel safe with and as time goes on, you form bonds with a select few in that group. I guess it was that way for the boys.”

“I suppose so. Moments like today suggest that although they like to make fun of each other, they really are the best of mates. There have been other times though when I thought for sure they would come to actual physical blows. It’s funny; before I came to London, I had always had this vision of English school children as proper little ladies and gentleman, all decked out in uniform, polite and studious. It took a while but now I can see that they are just like any other student anywhere else in the world, and I’m glad that’s the case.”

Millie smirked. “Don’t let the stiff British upper lip fool you, Ally. We may appear prim and proper but deep down…let’s just say perception is a very deceiving mistress.”

“I’m learning that all too well, even all this time later” I chuckled in response as I finished my lunch.

~*~*~

The rest of the day went by fairly quickly as the students finally embraced the class trip, activity sheet and all. We had talked about the visit and the things to expect before we made a start on current school work. For the last hour of the day I had them write a story about what they were looking forward to seeing most on the excursion. I planned on having them write another after the visit, so they could compare the two.

As they were writing, I marked some previous work that had been completed or helped out a student who needed it. A couple of times I had to be tapped on the shoulder as I had been daydreaming. Unbidden thoughts about my upcoming date with Nigel had started to filter in from out of nowhere and I was more than a little embarrassed to have been caught out.

I had never flaked like that before when teaching, most especially not over some guy. Even less so when that guy was one I had just met and I still had mixed feelings about. I was never more grateful that when the final bell rang and it was time for the students to leave. I myself had to stay behind to have a quick catch up with the Principal and only hoped I wouldn’t flake out on her too.

The meetings with Principal Ellingsworth were very informal, more of a chance to catch her up on how I was going, or for me to air any concerns I might have had. They had been mandatory when I first started my tenure as part of the exchange programme but now, they felt more like a chance to sit and have a chat. I really liked Elspeth and so didn’t begrudge her the time I had to remain behind once the school day had officially closed for the students.

With my classroom now void of students, I tidied my desk ready for the following day, packing all the things I needed to take home into my bag and then headed down towards the Principal’s office. I smiled at the fact that I was heading there because I wanted to go, not because I was in trouble and being forced to. Funny how things don’t seem so bad when you were no longer a student!

~*~*~

“Take a seat Alexandria, I won’t be a minute.”

Leaving the door to her office open, I accepted Elspeth’s invitation and took up position in the chair in front of her desk. She was on the phone so although I couldn’t help but hear her side of the conversation, I rifled through my book bag pretending its contents were more interesting.

“No, no; Friday week will be fine. We should at least give some sort of notice. People are more likely to give of their time and money if they have some time to prepare. Listen, I have someone in my office. I will call back in a day or so to finalize the details. Ok, thank you. Talk with you soon. Goodbye.”

Hanging up the phone, I now had her full attention. “I’m sorry about that Alexandria (she always used my full name, never the shortened version I was usually known by). I have been asked to organize a fund-raiser for the school and I have little more than a few days to get the details sorted and invites sent. Being Principal seems to be more about finance than education these days. I am actually starting to envy you teachers.”

I laughed along with her; grateful I wasn’t in her position. I loved my job and wouldn’t trade it for the world. At Teachers’ College, I heard all about the pressures running a school entailed. I loved the teaching more than the admin or money side of things (which was pitiful for all concerned, truth be known) and being with the kids was more important to me than the position or prestige. In realizing this early, I knew I wasn’t going to be one of those teachers who tried to rise in the ranks and eventually be in charge of their own school.

Seems to me it was hard to make a difference in the lives of the students if you were stuck behind a desk or in a meeting with the bigwigs all day, crunching numbers and finding new and novel ways to schmooze people out of their money to keep the school open at all.

~*~*~

A few moments later I asked “I’m guessing a fete or cake stall won’t cut it this time, then?”

“Not even close; not with the amount of money we need to raise. As you know, the library is in serious need of repair. We also need to replace all the books that were lost, thanks to the water damage when the roof leaked during that huge storm last month. But we are not here to talk about my money woes. How are things with you?”

“Great, actually. I believe my class are truly excited about the zoo trip now, even knowing that they will have a worksheet or two to complete. I just hope the weather stays fine, especially as it should be Spring around the time we are going. It would be a shame to get them all fired up to go only to have to cancel because of bad weather.”

She gave me a smile. “I love that you have been here in the UK for over 18 months now and you still positively hold out hope about our weather.”

“What can I say; forever the optimist.”

The chitchat continued for a few moments before I was asked if I had any pressing issues. Happy to hear that all was going well, Elspeth called our ‘meeting’ to a close, needing to get back to her fundraising nightmare. I offered my assistance before taking my leave, which she told me she appreciated but it wasn’t required. As it had been as I approached the office earlier, I also left with a smile, something else I hadn’t always been able to do as a student.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

22/6/20, 11:28 Link to this post Email HeavenLea27   PM HeavenLea27
 
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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 11

The following day started out pretty much the same as the others. The students filed in after the ringing of the first bell and took up their seats. There was nothing unusual about this, except that for the first time since I had started teaching this particular class, I noticed that Andrew and Jackson weren’t sitting together. Even when they had fought before, they still sat side by side. Not today.

In fact, they weren’t even sitting close to each other at all; Andrew was seated at the back of the classroom, Jackson was now a row from the front and off to the side by two seats. Each of the boys had a sullen look on their face and it was obvious to even someone who didn’t know them that something had happened.

Jeremy and Alicia; the regular occupants of the chairs that the Terrible Two were now occupying; obviously knew what was going on as neither of them said a word about having to sit elsewhere. Knowing as I did how each student felt about their preferred seating, this change alone should have set off alarm bells but didn’t.

I briefly considered for a moment about asking what was going on but thought better of it. Although there appeared to be a standoff of sorts happening, so far it was a quiet one. My asking about new seating arrangements would probably only antagonize the situation, so I left it for now. Instead I began the lesson as I had planned, although I never quite took my eyes off either boy, just in case something was indeed brewing. The saying ‘the calm before the storm’ was never far from my thoughts.

Thankfully the morning went fairly smoothly and when it came time for the class to interact as a whole, both Jackson and Andrew did so without words to each other. As the bell rang to signal it was lunchtime, I thought about asking both of them to stay behind, so I could find out what was going on and perhaps sort it out. I didn’t get the chance however, each of them having disappeared before the final note of the bell had stopped resonating.

It didn’t really matter though as today was my day for yard duty, so I would be able to keep an eye on the pair during lunch. I was soon going to find out just how close an eye that was going to be.

~*~*~

Given that the weather was still a little too harsh for the kids to be out in the open for too long a time, the break was held between the assembly hall and an area close to the sports ground that was undercover. Here they could still run around, have fun and exercise and all without freezing or getting drenched in the seemingly ever-present rain.

I still couldn’t get used to this extreme cold as in Perth it never snowed. This wasn’t to say that it didn’t get cold, or that it never rained because it did both of these things; however, only rarely did either of these things keep the kids indoors all day. I made my way from between the assembly hall to the enclosed yard, not being able to help thinking that I wouldn’t have minded being back in Perth right about now, just so I could be a little warmer. The very thought only intensified the homesickness I could never fully get rid of.

On my journey, I spoke to a few of the older kids, helped one of the younger ones tie her shoe laces and even spent a few moments refereeing a handball competition. The odd student here or there was seated alone reading or watching their fellow classmates play and I stopped to say hi to a few of them also. A good number of them weren’t in my class but I knew them from other encounters or various school activities, and had even taught a few my first year, so it wasn’t as though I was picking out random kids to talk with.

I had just arrived to the undercover area when the commotion started. I heard it before I saw it and what I did hear didn’t sound good. Along with fellow teacher Martha Wilkerson; who had been patrolling clock-wise to my anti-clockwise; we rushed over to the far side of the area. We didn’t go so fast as to alert the students there was anything wrong but not at a leisurely pace either. The last thing we needed was for there to be a mob scene.

~*~*~

Once we were close enough, I spotted a group of about six standing in a semi-circle around two boys, who at the moment were circling each other. It was clear from the state of their uniforms and the tousled hair that they had already been fighting and were now getting ready for round two. With more than a little disappointment I soon realized it was both Andrew and Jackson. “Crap” I muttered to myself as Martha and I called for the group to disperse, before each of us grabbed a boy.

I grabbed Andrew as he had been closest, while she grabbed Jackson. Both of them didn’t seem to know or care that the both of us were here, eager to still do their level best to swing out and hit the other. Neither of them was speaking or taunting the other, opting instead to let their fists do the talking for them.

“Ok, that’s enough. What do you two believe you are doing? You both know there is to be no fighting in the school yard.” Martha tried her best to sound like she was in control but she was having no luck. Jackson was half her height and less than half her size and yet it was clear she was having trouble hanging onto him. I was fairing not that much better at my end, hanging onto his mate.

“He started it Mrs Wilkerson. I was only defending myself.”

“Andrew, please stop struggling and tell me what this is all about” I implored, realizing that until we got them away from each other, neither of them was going to yield. To them, doing so would mean conceding and neither of them was prepared to be the first to cave. More so because at this point, there was now a large group amassed and they were continuing to egg them on, growing in size even now.

Jackson finally managed to wangle his way free and came straight for Andrew. In a show of brute strength I would never have thought possible in a child his size, my own captive managed to free an arm, swinging it back in readiness to make contact with the other boy. The only problem was that due to the way I had been restraining him, his swing came back far and fast enough to hit me in the face. The end result was enough to get both boys to stop dead in their tracks, all the fight instantly gone from both of them.

~*~*~

“Miss, Miss; I’m so sorry, I didn’t mean to hit you! Honest. Are you ok?” The horror and sadness in Andrew’s tone was more than evident, matching perfectly the look in his eyes. He looked ready to throw up.

Before I had a chance to stand upright and answer him, Martha had both boys by the scruff of the neck, neither of them resisting her, their fight clearly all gone now.

“The pair of you will be coming with me to see Principal Ellingsworth. I hope you both have a sufficient reason for this behaviour. Striking each other is bad enough but you never, ever strike a teacher. I am more than certain that your parents will be hearing about this.”

Perhaps it was because she taught the year six students and they were older and more independent but I had always found Martha a hard person to read. We were cordial to each other but I doubted we would ever be what you might consider friends. I often wondered about her choice at profession as her demeanour often came off as though she hated children but from all reports, she was an excellent teacher and there had never been any complaints from her students. I knew better than to judge her before really getting to know her better first.

Having said that however, I thought the manner in which she was now not only manhandling the boys, but threatening them with their parents, in from the of the other students assembled, was probably a little overkill. They had to know they were in trouble; she didn’t need to spell it out of them. Despite my instincts to try and save them, I knew better than to contradict her in front of everyone, so I said nothing.

The boys shouldn’t have been fighting, that went without saying but my being hurt in the process had been an accident and nothing more. I could and would never believe that it had been done intentionally. Then again, I hadn’t thought either boy capable of physically fighting each other either; at least until I had seen it with my own two eyes.

~*~*~

As Martha marched the two humiliated boys up to see the principal, I did my best to disperse the crowd. “Ok everyone, time to get ready to go back inside. The show is over. Move along. Not you Will, I would like a word please.”

Young William looked from me to his friends and then back again, the fear on his face evident. He clearly thought he was in trouble for having played some part in the fight between his friends. When the others were finally moving away, I pulled him aside although I didn’t get a chance to ask him anything as he got in first.

“I wasn’t fighting Miss, I promise. I was just watching. It was only Jack and Andrew that was fighting, truly” he gushed out.

Placing a gentle hand on his trouble I tried to alleviate his concerns, doing my best not to take the time to correct his grammar. Now was clearly not the right time for that. “It’s ok, Will; I just wanted to ask you about the fight. You are not in any trouble.” The relief on his face was palpable. “Can you tell me who started it? Do you happen to know what it was about? I thought Jackson and Andrew were friends?”

“They are Miss. I don’t know what they were fighting about. They were already doing it when I got here. Honest, I don’t know. Katie might know because she was with them earlier.”
“Ok, thank you Will. You can go and enjoy the rest of the break, although the bell will be going shortly.”

Not waiting to be told twice, the young boy ran off like the hounds of hell were hot on his heels. I could do little more than sigh and head into Elspeth’s office to find out what was going on.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 12

When I arrived inside, both boys were seated close to the door to Elspeth’s office, although they were still at least three seats apart. Neither of them looked at each other and after a quick glance in my direction, they looked away again, the shame very easy to read on both of their faces. Dorothy James, Elspeth’s assistant, was at her desk keeping an eagle eye on the pair of them so I knew it would be ok for me to go in. As I walked through, I noticed Martha was still there.

“Are you ok, Alexandria? Your eye is starting to look very red.”

“I’ll be fine, thanks Elspeth. It was an accident and he barely touched me. I’m sure I’ll survive.”

“It was no accident, Ally. I saw him deliberately raise his hand to hit you. I always suspected the little monster was a time-bomb waiting to go off and today he proved me right. He deserves to be punished.”

I looked at her like she was speaking in tongues. Had she even been a witness to the same incident as me? I more or less asked that very question. “You saw what happened, right? We struggled, yes, but he was aiming for Jackson who had just escaped your grip. Andrew is no monster and I would hardly think of him as a time-bomb. Sure, he has his moments but he’s no different to any other ten-year-old boy.”

“Most ten-year-old boys know better than to fight; or to hit an adult.”

“That’s enough, ladies” Elspeth finally interjected. “Regardless of his intended victim or the reason for the fight, the truth is young Master Cavill struck a teacher. There are going to be consequences for both his and Master Mapplethorpe’s behaviour today. Before I decide on that I would like to hear your side of things, Alexandria. Then I will listen to each of the boys and go from there.”

I gave my account of what had happened and aside from insisting that Andrew had deliberately struck me, Martha concurred with my view of what had taken place. Once she heard me out, Elspeth decided it was time to hear from the boys themselves and asked Martha to call them in.

“As you wish” she practically huffed as she vacated her chair. “Do you need me for this or can I get back to my class? The bell is about to ring.”

“You can go but I will follow up with you later if I need to. Can you please send Dorothy in with the boys?”

Rather than answer she gave a curt nod and headed out. Moments later Dorothy was being dispatched to watch my class should I not get back in time for the bell, and two very sad and sorry boys were standing before the principal, looking for all the world like she was about to send them to the guillotine.

~*~*~

“Let me see if I understand you correctly Andrew. You were fighting with Jackson in the yard, all because he called you a liar?”

“I am not a liar, it’s the truth!” came back the defiant reply. I could tell he understood that he was in a world of trouble and yet he was most adamant that he not be thought of as a liar. He had protested heartily when Jackson gave his side of the story and did so again now. I couldn’t believe all of this trouble had been over the use of a simple word; not when they had been known to call each other worse things, in my presence.

“Be that as it may young man, you do realize you are in a lot of trouble, don’t you? Not only for fighting, which you are well aware is not permitted; especially on school grounds. You also hit your teacher, which will never be permitted.”

The look he gave me broke my heart. I knew it had been an accident and no serious damage had been inflicted but for him it didn’t matter. He knew full well the consequences of his actions and that he was going to be harshly dealt with for finally admitting to hitting a fellow student, nonetheless he did so in a rush to inform me I wasn’t meant to be hurt in the process.

“I promise Miss Miller, it was Jackson I was trying to hit, not you. I would never do that. You are my favourite teacher. He just never should have called me a liar. I was telling the truth and he didn’t believe me.”

“That’s because you are a big fat liar, Cavill. I don’t want to be friends anymore with someone who lies all the time.”

“Enough!” Elspeth admonished. Time was going fast and we were getting nowhere. “Ok, Jackson; what do you believe it was that Andrew was lying about?”

With a hint of derision and even a little eye roll, he answered “He said his uncle was Superman.”

I looked at Elspeth, who in turn looked at me, neither of us knowing what to do or say. What could we do or say?

~*~*~

All of this drama had been caused because Andrew claimed his uncle was Superman? I was at a loss for words. Jackson knew his friend was full of imagination and often spouted such stories; as he himself was known to do; often encouraging each other in the process to do so. I wondered what made this particular story so different that they would come to actual physical blows over it.

“He is Superman. I promise I’m not lying. And you will be sorry when you find out I am telling the truth.” He was clearly still doing his best to convince everyone in the room he was being truthful. It wasn’t hard to see that at least in his mind, the statement was nothing but fact.

Jackson was about to add something further of his own but Elspeth quickly stepped back in. “I think we have heard more than enough now boys, thank you. Regardless of the reason for the fight, the fact is that you were fighting. Perhaps the time has come to separate you, permanently. I’m sure we can find a different class for one of you.”

In a moment that could not have been choreographed better, the two boys looked as though their world had stopped spinning. Andrew turned to me. “Please, Miss, don’t take me out of your class. I won’t do it again, I promise!”

Jackson too suddenly cottoned onto the fact that one of them was going to be moved, as he quickly came to his friend’s defence. “Me either, Miss. We promise. It was an accident; we were just fooling around, playing a game. Weren’t we Andrew?”

Nodding his head in the affirmative, the shorter of the two quickly put his arm around his friend’s shoulder. Ten minutes earlier they couldn’t stand each other. “Yeah, we were just pretending for the other kids. They were bored so we decided to have some fun. It worked on you too, ha ha...”

It had clearly been a lie thought up on the spot and I was doubtful they would truly forgive each other that quickly, now that they had exchanged blows. The idea of one or both of them being moved from my class must have seemed like a more horrid option than being kept together, hence the show of unity.

Elspeth told the boys she needed to think about the punishment and asked them to go back to class. When they were out of earshot, she asked me for my thoughts.

“I honestly believe Andrew never meant to hit me, he was just trying to defend himself and the way I was holding him back didn’t help. Truthfully, it was a passing glance at best. They never should have been fighting, especially over something as trivial as this but I don’t believe splitting them up will help. In fact, it would probably make things worse, if one of them thought they could stay and the other was being punished by being moved. They have been friends a long time now. This will blow over in time, I’m sure, but forcing them to be in different classrooms might just escalate the problem.”

“Thank you, Alexandria. I will take it all under advisement. I am going to call their parents in, however. I cannot be seen to be playing favourites or letting them slide by unnoticed. They broke the rules and need to have some sort of punishment. Accident or not, you were struck in the process and that cannot be taken lightly.”

I knew she was right and yet I still asked her to not be too harsh. Promising me she would make the decision that had to be made I thanked her and headed back to my waiting class so Dorothy could resume her own job. It was going to an awkward and long afternoon.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 13

In the hopes of lightening the mood of the class, I changed the usual format for our Tuesday afternoons. Despite the show of unity in Elspeth’s office earlier, both Jackson and Andrew were still sitting at opposite ends of the classroom and their sour demeanours seemed to be creating tension with the rest of the class.

Although my eye was now slightly swollen and no doubt becoming quite the sight, not one of the class seemed to want to bring it up, which was probably a good thing. To get everyone’s focus off what had happened at lunch, I decided to get them all started on a little something I had planned for later in the week.

“Who is up for having some fun?” I asked as I walked first down one aisle and then up the other, handing each child one of several different sheets.

No-one answered but a few were curious enough to pick up the paper they had been given to take a look. “This afternoon, we are going to try something a little different.” Before I had a chance to continue, a voice from the front of the class asked “This is math; what’s fun about that?”

Turning, I replied “I’m glad you asked, Oliver. Yes, it is math but with a twist. As you solve each problem, you will be able to color in a square that contains the right answer. If you answer all the questions correctly, in the end you will have a picture.”

My students had never thought of math as fun before but because this involved a little intrigue, along with a bit of art, it somehow felt a little different. At least that was the vibe I was picking up once the murmurs started rumbling through the class. It looked like my plan might just work after all.

~*~*~

Once each student had his or her own worksheet, I headed back to the front of the class, sitting on the edge of my own desk. “Ok, you can begin now but does anyone have any questions first?”

“What’s the picture of?” Simon asked. While Andrew and Jackson were the troublemakers, so to speak, Simon was the class clown and never let a chance go by to have the class laughing about one thing or the other. Normally I would find it distracting to the point of annoyance but today it seemed like we could all use something to break the tension.

“Nice try, Simon. You are going to have to solve the problems in order to reveal the answer. And before you, or anyone else thinks about copying from the person beside you, I have mixed up all the sheets so you have something different. A couple of you might have the same but you’re not sitting near each other and you won’t know this until you’re finished. Now, if there are no actual serious questions, you can begin.”

There was a buzz of chatter as each student went through their desk to locate pencils – colored and lead – before making a start. Within ten minutes the class was almost silent, the only sounds being the scratching of pencil on paper, the odd groan when a mistake was noticed, or even the odd person asking a fellow student if they knew the answer. By the time the activity was over with and results compared, the class appeared to be back to their normal happy and chatty selves.

~*~*~

While the kids had been working on their pictures, I worked on something to replace this activity for later in the week. It was as I was doing this that Dorothy appeared at the door and indicated she wanted me to step outside.

I slipped out quietly, not wanting to distract the kids too much now that they were busy and focused on working quietly. She informed me that the parents of both Andrew and Jackson would be dropping by after class to see me. They were already on their way in to speak with Elspeth and had asked to speak to me also. I was dreading the moment.

As a rule, I loved interacting with the parents about their children, especially when things were going well. It was only at times like this when things were going to be awkward that I started to have trouble. I mean, how do you comfortably sit before a parent and proceed to tell them that their child is having trouble, or is naughty and disrupting the class more often than is acceptable? It wasn’t the case in this instance but I was still nervous. Thankfully, I still had a good 90 or so minutes to think about it.

~*~*~

Before the final bell was due to ring, I asked the kids to pack up their things and be ready to hand in their finished papers. When the bell did finally ring, they each passed their work to me on their way out the door and while Andrew and Jackson both tried to dump and dash, I managed to ask them to stay before they disappeared. The smile that they had only just put back on their faces was gone in an instant.

“It’s ok boys; you’re not in trouble. I just wanted to let you know that your parents are here. I will be speaking with them for a little while and so I would like for the both of you to wait here for now. When they get here, you can both wait outside the classroom, ok?”

Neither said a word, opting instead to simply nod their head. Without further instruction, they each took a seat. They still kept the distance between them but at least they were both now in the front row. It was a start. Not quite knowing what further I should say to them at this point, I went back to my desk and waited for the parents to arrive.

~*~*~

In what felt like forever and no time at all at the same time, the parents finally showed up and so I sent the boys to the corridor. Neither of them looked at their folks, quickly scurrying by so as to not be stopped and chastised. With the door closed behind them, I introduced myself to the Mapplethorpe’s and Mrs Cavill, asking them to take a seat before asking Andrew’s mum if her husband was going to be joining us.

“He’s currently deployed at the moment, so it’s just me I’m afraid” she replied. “Does he need to be here for this too?”

“No, it’s fine; I just wasn’t sure if we needed to wait a few minutes.” What I wanted to say was that I didn’t want any of us to be here either but of course I kept that part to myself. “Has Principal Ellingsworth explained to you what happened?”

Each of the parents nodded before alluding to the fact that they had only been told part of the story, from a third party, and that’s why they wanted to speak with me. Great; no pressure at all then! Before I had a chance to start however, Andrew’s mum spoke up.

“Miss Miller, I would just like to say how sorry I am that my son struck you. He’s never been violent and I can’t understand what made him do this. It’s just not like him at all.”

I gave her a reassuring smile. “I don’t believe it’s like him either, Mrs Cavill. I explained this to Principal Ellingsworth but let me reassure you too; it was an accident. I’m not condoning it by any means but he was actually trying to lash out at Jackson. His hitting me instead was simply a case of being caught unawares and not moving my head fast enough to avoid his fist.”

“Maybe then you can explain to us how it is our son is also being punished, if he was actually the intended victim” Mr Mapplethorpe asked. It made me wonder just what Elspeth had told them.

“Mr Mapplethorpe, both boys had been fighting. Another teacher and I had to literally pull them apart to stop them. Neither of us was there to see who hit who first but it was obvious that they had already hit each other at least once and it’s for this reason they will both be punished. To punish only one of them would be a little unfair; don’t you agree?”

Although I could see the many questions in her eyes and the myriad of emotions on her face, Mrs Mapplethorpe continued to sit their silently, seemingly content to let her husband do all the talking, “Perhaps; I just hope Jackson’s punishment isn’t as severe. Besides, we all know who was most likely to have started this.”

I was going to object to the implication but Mrs Cavill evidently wasn’t about to sit there and listen as her son was made out to be the instigator for this whole drama. “Excuse me? James, your son called my son a liar, which is what this all boils down to. Blaming Andrew for defending himself is not the same as starting the fight. I won’t have you say it is just so you can feel better about your own son being caught. Especially as the lie my son was accused of telling wasn’t actually a lie to begin with.”

~*~*~

Hearing Andrew’s mother confess that his uncle was in fact Superman was the last thing I thought I would be hearing today. Neither of the Mapplethorpes reacted to this so the matter had obviously been cleared up in the office. Despite this however, Jackson’s dad still seemed unwilling to believe that his son was in anyway part of the blame for this whole affair. I on the other hand was hearing this confession for the first time and so my response was completely reactionary and not considered at all.

“Huh?”

Three sets of eyes were on me so quick I barely had a chance to gather myself. “Not to make light of this Mrs Cavill but you do know that Superman isn’t a real person, right? I’m sure as children ourselves we’ve all imagined that we were a superhero, or at least related to one. It’s just being part of a kid. Believing it to be true though is a completely different story.”

She gave me a genuine smile, seemingly not taking any offence at what I had just said. “I’m guessing you don’t know the full story, then?” I shook my head and so she went on to explain. “Of course we know he’s not real. What I meant to say, and what Andrew should have added to his boast is that his uncle is an actor. My brother-in-law has just been offered the lead in the next Superman movie. I’m guessing that Andrew overheard Henry telling me the news last night. I wasn’t even aware he knew; at least until I got the call and spoke with Principal Ellingsworth.”

Well; that certainly explained a few things and shed some light on why Andrew had been so adamant about this particular story, more so than others he had told in the past. Had he thought to mention the part about his uncle being an actor, I daresay all of this could have been avoided. I wasn’t sure what I was meant to say next but as it turned out, Mr Mapplethorpe had no such qualms.

“So, let me get this straight. You son tells half a story and now our son is going to be punished? I won’t stand for it; do you hear me? This is ludicrous. Come on Janet; I refuse to be a part of this folly for a second longer.”

Moments later the Mapplethorpes were gone, Mrs Mapplethorpe grabbing Jackson’s hand as they walked up the hall. That left Andrew seated outside while I sat inside the room with his mum, neither of us sure where to go next.

~*~*~

“You will have to forgive James, Miss Miller. He has always been a hot head. Once he’s had the chance to calm down and think about things, he will appreciate this for what it is; a simple misunderstanding. Our boys have been friends for years and this isn’t the first serious argument they’ve had. I have no doubt it won’t be the last either. It’s just unfortunate that this time it turned physical.”

“It’s fine Mrs Cavill, really. I can understand his point of view, distorted as it is. Truth be told, I was happy to leave it with telling both the boys why what they had done was wrong, getting an apology and moving on. As it turns out, school policy dictates action needs to be taken. I’ve explained my thoughts to Elspeth, so I am hoping she will take that on board when she decides what punishment to deal out.”

“I appreciate that. You can rest assured that I will also be having words with my son when we get home. Accident or not, he shouldn’t have been trying to hit someone at all. I guess his father being away so much is actually taking more of a toll than we thought it would.”

“Perhaps; it could also just be that he knew he was right and was prepared to defend the truth. He left out a crucial part of the information and that would have made all the difference but at the end of the day, he didn’t back down. Not even if it meant he could possibly end up losing a close friend in the process. In an odd way, I almost have to admire him for that.”

Again, she gave me a warm smile. “Thank you. I really appreciate your saying that. I can see now why Andrew says you are his favourite teacher. Hopefully between the two of us we can get him to start focusing his energies into something a little more productive and less violent.”

“He does have a wonderful imagination. All of my class does but he seems to take his to a different level. The stories he tells his friends for show and tell, or he writes for me in class are a real treat. I don’t know what he intends to do when he leaves school but if he ever wanted to be a writer, it would be a natural fit. He’s a born storyteller. I hope I can help to nurture that strength in him, at least while I have him in my class.”

Standing up, she offered me her hand. “Thank you once again. With you in my son’s corner, he might just have a chance.”

I told her she was more than welcome and walked with her to the door. Smiling at Andrew as his mother grabbed his hand, he gave me one in return. I couldn’t be sure but I thought I saw a glimmer of hope that all was going to be well in his eyes. I hoped he was right.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 14 - Henry

“Hello?” I asked into the phone as I walked off the elevator. I had just taken a meeting with my agent and was now on my way home.

“Henry, it’s Emma; are you busy right now or even later this afternoon?”

“No. I was just in a meeting but I have the rest of the afternoon free. Is something wrong?”

“Not exactly; I can explain when you get here but I was wondering if you could have a word with your nephew. He got into a bit of a fight with Jackson at school today.”

“Jackson? Really; is he ok? He didn’t get hurt, did he?”

“He’s fine. His ear might well be ringing for a little while longer, considering the way I just yelled at him but physically he’s ok. A small graze here or there, nothing major.”

Shaking my head, I couldn’t help but smile. Emma was a lot like Mum; short and petite but when she was angry, you damn well knew about it and remembered for a good long while after. Maybe that’s why Nik married her. “I’ll see you in half an hour or so” I finally answered.

After quick goodbyes from both of us, I disconnected the call and headed out and into the afternoon sun, or what little there was left of it. It would seem that I did have plans for this afternoon after all.

~*~*~

“He did what?”

“I can’t believe it myself” Emma agreed, having just given me the details of Andrew’s day. “He must have been eavesdropping last night when you came around to give me the news. When he went to school today, apparently it was all he could talk about. Of course, my little man left out the part about you being an actor, so when he claimed that his uncle was Superman; well...you know what ten-year olds are like.”

“And he and Jackson actually came to blows over this?” I still wasn’t sure I was hearing all of this correctly. It was so out of my nephew’s character to fight.

“It appears so. Miss Miller, the boys’ teacher, and another member of faculty had to pull them apart. I am not at all pleased that he got to that point but to hear that he hit his teacher as well? Accident or not, it’s not good enough. I don’t know if today is the result of his pent-up resentment at his father being away so much, or if he was just standing up for something he truly believed in.”

I put my hand on her arm. Nik had been away for a few months this go round and it was clearly taking its toll; not only on Andrew but Emma as well. “Em, Andrew knows his father’s job is important and that is why he is away so much. Naturally, he doesn’t like it but I know he understands. I had a chat with him about it not that long ago, actually, knowing what he’s going through. I realize it doesn’t help explain what happened today or why but I have to believe that Nik’s absence wasn’t the reason. Let me talk with him again, see if I can’t find out what’s going on.”

“Thanks, Henry. I would really appreciate that.”

“Well, I’m not your favourite brother-in-law for nothing you know” I responded with, adding a cheeky wink. She could only shake her head and smile.

~*~*~

Making my way to the top of the stairs, I knocked on my nephew’s bedroom door, just left of the landing. When I got no response, I opened the door slightly and stuck my head around the corner.

“Ok if I come in?”

Lifting his head from where he was laying face down on the bed, he turned it toward me. When he saw who it was, he put his head back down. A muffled cry of “NO!” followed soon after.

Entering the room all the same I walked across the floor, careful not to step on any of the assorted books, cars and other items scattered about. I had to smile. Andrew was about as neat as his father had been at the same age. Reaching the bed, I perched myself on the edge.

“Had a bit of a rough day at school I hear” I began, hoping to try and break the ice. We had always been close, Andrew and I, never more so than when his father started to spend more and more time away with the Royal Marines. I loved all my nephews but didn’t see them near enough and it was perhaps because I saw Andrew the most that the bond was there. Whatever the reason, I hoped it would allow him to share and maybe yield some answers about today’s happenings.

Turning his head only just enough to stop his voice being muffled, he finally replied “Yes. I got into trouble for telling the truth. Mum always tells me to tell the truth and I did. Now I got into trouble. It’s not fair.”

I ruffled his hair. “I know mate. Listen, why don’t you tell me exactly what happened. Your mum has told me what she knows but she wasn’t there and so she can’t know it all. I would like to hear it from you, if that’s ok?”

“Why? So you won’t believe me and then be mad at me for lying too?” Ten years old and starting to understand that the world wasn’t always going to be on your side, even if you were in the right.

“No, I just want to hear your side. I promise to listen and not judge, and then perhaps together we can see where things went wrong, maybe think of a way to make it all better. What do you say?”

I received no answer straight away but then he managed to turn and get himself seated on the bed bedside me, legs dangling over the side. Still not able to look me in the eye, he slowly proceeded to give me his version of the day’s events.

~*~*~

“...so, when Jackson kept calling me a liar, in front of everyone, I had to punch him. He is s’posed to be my best friend and he never believed me. I don’t like him anymore.”

As he had been telling me what had happened, I could visualize it all in my head and at times it was hard not to laugh. This was of course no laughing matter and in the mind of a ten-year-old, it was almost end of the world drama in its finest but seriously, it was hard to at least stop myself from smiling.

“Ok, so now I know what happened, this is what I think. Firstly, you know it was wrong to listen to your mum’s and my conversation, don’t you?” He gave a sheepish grin. “Of course, it wasn’t really a big secret and I was going to tell everyone soon anyway but I was just excited and wanted to tell your mum, so she could tell your dad because he’s not here to hear it for himself. Next; and most important of all; you forgot to add an important part to your story. Yes, I will be Superman but that is only because I am an actor and I will be playing a role.”

“I know Uncle Henry, I’m not silly. I’m ten now, you know. I just forgot that part, ‘specially when Jackson didn’t believe me about the Superman part.”

I just wanted to hug the life out of him then. Kids knew how to push all the right buttons that was for damned sure. “Sorry, I did forget” I apologized, trying to look contrite. “It was because you forgot to add that little bit to your story that Jackson didn’t believe you. He probably thought you were trying to tell him I was the real Superman, not just someone pretending. Do you think that is perhaps why he thought you were lying?”

“I guess so. He still should have been on my side though; he’s s’posed to be my friend, isn’t he?”

“Sometimes friends can see things in a different way to you. You are not always going to agree on everything, but that’s ok. It’s just part of growing up. It doesn’t mean you can’t still be friends. Imagine how boring it would be if everyone agreed all the time, or liked the same things.”

“Sure, I guess.” He didn’t say anything further for a minute or so but then asked “Do you think Mum is still mad at me?”

“How about we go downstairs and find out?”

Sliding off the bed, he rubbed his fists into his eyes to clear the last of the tears that had been there and made for the door. I stood up and followed him out.

~*~*~

Walking into the kitchen to find his mother working on the evening meal, Andrew went over to her without a word and threw his arms around her waist. Man, he was good! Emma couldn’t do more than put down the knife she had been holding so she could pull him in closer. Looking over at me she mouthed ‘thank you’ before kissing the top of her son’s head. I nodded in reply.

“So, what did you boys talk about then?” she asked as he finally let her go.

“Uncle Henry explained why Jackson didn’t believe me. I left off part of my story.”

“And what about the fighting; did you talk about that too?”

“No. I know it was wrong, but. I will say sorry to Jackson tomorrow. Can I go back to my room now?”

“Sure. You can make a start on cleaning up the mess you have in there. You’re lucky Uncle Henry didn’t trip on something and hurt himself. You might even be able to find that library book you misplaced.”

“Aww, Mum...” he groaned, although he did make his way back upstairs. Not before giving me a brief hug as he passed.

~*~*~

“Thanks, Henry. I really appreciate this. After I gave him a talking to and left him up there, I didn’t think he was ever going to leave his room. He even refused to come down so he could watch his favourite program. I know I had to discipline him but I have to admit, I didn’t like doing it.”

“Hey, not a problem, Em; he’s a good kid at heart. Maybe it is a little about Niki being away; who knows. He could just be testing the waters to see what you will let him get away with. I don’t believe he deliberately set out to start a fight though, especially with Jackson. The pair of them are close enough that I’m sure it will all blow over soon.” Taking a seat on the stool by the breakfast bar, I added “He will need discipline every now and then though. Letting him get away with small things like this will only lead him to thinking he can get away with bigger things. You might not have liked it but it’s better to stop the bad behaviour now while you still have a fighting chance.”

With a raised eyebrow she smiled. “Listen to you, sounding all parental. When did you get so smart, oh wise one?”

I laughed. “Back when I was in boarding school.” She threw a tea towel at me.

~*~*~

Over coffee we continued to talk about what had happened. “Did the principal say what kind of punishment she was going to give the boys?”

“No, she was going to think about it which in and of itself is punishment. The boys will have all night to stew over what her decision will be. She did hint that it would probably involve some time in detention and picking up rubbish in the yard. They are also going to have to think of a way to make it up to Miss Miller, their teacher. After all, she did end up getting hurt in all this.”

“So I heard. Do you think it was an accident, or maybe that Andrew was too eager to get away from her?”

“I’d sincerely like to believe it was an accident. He loves being in her class and I know he adores her; as do most of the class, from what I can gather. Principal Ellingsworth even told me that on hearing that they might be taken from her class, both boys pretended to be friends, saying that all that happened had been nothing more than a joke for their friends, because they had been bored. The idea of being taken from her class was seemingly worse than any punishment they would receive for finally confessing to fighting.”

“She must be some teacher” I mused. Certainly, I had heard Andrew’s stories about her before and how much he loved the class but I had put it down to him just being excited over all the fun activities they had done that week.

“I think she is. Told me herself she was happy enough to let the whole matter go with little more than an apology from the boys. Obviously, the school can’t be seen to tolerate this sort of behaviour so the decision was taken out of her hands.” After a sip of her coffee, she added “It’s odd but this is the first time I’ve met her since she took over the class. Doesn’t look old enough to even be out of class herself but she clearly knows her stuff. Andrew’s grades have improved greatly since he has been in her class.”

“Well, good grades do tend to follow if you like your teacher. I probably would have ended up smarter than I am had I wanted to listen to my teachers a little more than I actually did.”

“I hear you on that one” she agreed with a smile.

~*~*~

After turning down an offer of a home cooked meal, I finished my coffee and made my move ready to go. I called up to Andrew to let him know I was leaving and he bounded down the stairs to come and say goodbye.

“Why can’t you stay for dinner Uncle Henry? Mum is making spaghetti. She hides peas in it but you can pick them out if you don’t like them.”

For the second time that afternoon I ruffled his hair. “Thanks mate, but I will have to pass. I have a few things to do.” Bending slightly as though I was about to share trade secrets, I half whispered “I don’t like peas either. Your grandma used to hide them in my food too.”

He laughed and for the first time since I had arrived, I could see the happy and playful boy I knew had come back. He was going to be fine. “Maybe it’s something they have to learn in Mum school?” he pondered. Emma and I laughed.

“I think you might be right. Now, you’re going to remember what I said about Jackson, aren’t you? About being friends, even if you don’t always agree?”
“Yes. I will tell him tomorrow I’m sorry. He better apologize too but, don’t you agree?”

I just nodded, not quite sure what I could say that would help or hinder. After a quick hug from them both and a goodbye, I was soon on my way again. The last thing I expected today was to be ‘parental’. I hadn’t really done a lot; just listened and offered a few words but it seemed to have done the trick. Of course, I wasn’t stupid enough to believe that this was all it took to be a parent but I still felt rather pleased with myself.

I hoped that perhaps Emma got a little comfort from it too, knowing she wasn’t going to have to raise Andrew all alone while my brother was away serving his country. She had her own parents, and a sister but she was also now a part of a much bigger family unit and we were all there to help where possible. Today it had been my turn; next time it might be someone else she needed to call on. I knew and counted on this fact when it came to things in my own life, so I hoped she knew it also.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 15

Lifting the hood to my navy sweatshirt onto my head, I ambled to the front footpath and after a quick scan in both directions, I decided that today I would run anti-clockwise. There was nothing like a little variety to make things interesting.

Running wasn’t exactly my idea of fun but I knew it had to be done. I wanted to be ready for the more intense training I knew was on my horizon, thanks to my upcoming role as one of the world’s most iconic characters. Learning and memorizing lines was one thing; looking like a sack of potatoes in a wetsuit when it came time to put on the costume was something else entirely.

Filming wasn’t due to start until September but I didn’t want to leave it until a week before I was due on set to start the training, only to find out I had to wimp out on the physical side of things because I couldn’t hack the pressure. I wanted this role so badly I was willing to put myself out there and do whatever it took to get it not only done, but done right.

It wasn’t just my name attached to this project. Letting myself down would be bad enough but to let everyone else involved down as well just wasn’t an option for me. So, with that mindset firmly planted, I decided to take up jogging. I chose to ignore it but a sarcastically teasing voice piped up with ‘Fun times are about to be had’ popped up not long after I started. It would seem that my mind was willing enough but my body was out of practice a little. ‘Think about the S, think about the S’ I chose as my mantra instead.

~*~*~

Starting out slowly, I allowed myself the chance to warm up before I finally hit my stride. I might not like running but I knew enough to not just start out at full tilt. The last thing I could afford now was an injury. Twenty minutes later I had reached the local sporting park. I had planned on doing laps around the track but then I noticed a group of kids with a couple of adults I assumed were coaches of some sort, so I did a U-turn and headed back the way I had just come.

I could have used the track but didn’t want to have to dodge the kids, who were using the oval and the track both. It was seeing them though that got me to thinking about Andrew and what had happened at school yesterday. I hoped he had been able to sort out things with his friend; they were so alike it was a worry at times but they were both good kids and this was hopefully nothing but a bump in the road.

Out of nowhere and for a reason I couldn’t even begin to understand, I found I wasn’t able to ignore the small nagging voice I had had since last night anymore; not now that it was growing. It left me with a feeling that despite not being there or any part of the what happened, I had to apologize too. I didn’t understand why I had this feeling, given that the whole incident had taken place solely due to the actions of my nephew and his best mate and yet…

As I reached and ran past my house going clock-wise this time, an idea came to me. It was probably a stupid one and had the potential to make things more awkward, along with making me seem like an idiot for even butting in but I figured, what the hell. As it turned out, it was going to prove to be the best decision I had and will have ever made, although I wasn’t going to realize this little fact for quite some time to come yet.

~*~*~

The minute I got in from the run, I called Emma. “Hey Em; do you mind if I go and pick up Andrew from school today?”

“If you want to, sure, that would be great. Do you mind if I ask what brought on this sudden desire to do a school run?”

I smiled although she couldn’t see me from her end of the phone. “Umm, no special reason. Although, if I do get there in time, I thought I might see if I can catch Jackson and explain things to him too. It would be a shame if the boys really did stop being friends over this.”

“Are you sure that’s all there is to this?” My sister-in-law could be so suspicious sometimes. She had every right to be as it turned out, as I did have another reason but she wasn’t going to hear about that from me.

“Of course that’s it. If you would rather I didn’t go, that’s cool. I guess I can catch them both when they get home.”

“No, it’s ok, you can go. I really would appreciate it. It will give me a chance to go out and run a couple of errands before you get back and not worry about dragging Andrew along. Thanks Henry, I owe you one.”

“I’ll keep you to that” was all I offered back. She laughed before we each said goodbye and hung up. I went and grabbed a shower to freshen up little. I couldn’t very well front up to the school to meet Andrew’s teacher smelling like a garbage truck.

~*~*~

As I dressed, I thought again about what it was I planned to do. Embarrassingly enough, the more I thought about it, the dumber it all seemed. I really did want the chance to catch Jackson, to see if I couldn’t help mend fences between him and Andrew, if they hadn’t already done so themselves. A small part of me also wanted to go and put a face to this alleged wonderful teacher I had been hearing so many good things about.

Another part was so I could apologize but mostly it was just a need to see and find out what was so special about her. Emma and Andrew both had told me she had been ok about the incident, even going so far as to defend my nephew’s actions, despite the fact that she had been hurt because of it. None of the teachers I had growing up were anywhere close to being that generous, or even seemed to care about us students; at least not as much as this Miss Miller seemed to. I guess what I really wanted to find out was if she was in fact real.

I had no clue as to what I was going to say when I got there, or even how to go about it but I still had a good 40 or so minutes to work on a plan before it was time to go and get Andrew. The fact that she wasn’t expecting me gave me an out, should I change my mind at the last minute and not want to go through with a plan I had idea of. That was a comforting thought to hold onto.

When I was happy with my appearance – neat and casual, not too showy but more than just the track pants, t-shirt and joggers I was more comfortable in – I headed out to my car. Twenty minutes later I was outside the school, sitting in the car and psyching myself up. Anyone would think I was going on a date given the care over my appearance and the nerves I suddenly felt. Once I realized that that the worst that could happen would be that Miss Miller asked me to leave, I relaxed. Hopping out of the car, I made my way towards the school. The final bell rang ten minutes later.

~*~*~

Having found Andrew’s class easy enough, I stood just outside the door waiting for the class to finish for the day. I had already cleared it with Dorothy in the office for me to even be there and not just appear to be a stranger lurking. All I could hope for now was that no-one recognized me, or questioned why I was loitering in the hall.

The last bell of the day rang out and within moments the corridor was filled with little bodies ranging in ages from five to twelve, each in a rush to get their bags and leave the building. I smiled at the memory, knowing exactly how they felt. It was nice to know that nothing had changed in all the years since I had graduated. Watching them tumble out of the classroom together, I managed to snag both Jackson and Andrew before they could disappear.

“Uncle Henry?” Andrew questioned with a worried look on his face. “How come you’re here? Has something happened to Mum?”

“Everything’s fine, mate; I just wanted to come and get you from school today. You don’t mind, do you?”

“It’s cool. Can you give Jackson a lift too? His mum is busy today and he was supposed to catch the bus.”

The fact that he wanted his friend to come along was a good sign. “Sure, I can do that. I actually wanted to have a word with you both anyway, so I can do that as I drive you home. Do you mind waiting for a moment though; I would like to have a word with your teacher first.”

Both boys gave each other a look; as though to say ‘not again’; before staring back up at me, neither of them quite sure whether or not my request was for good or evil reasons. “It’s nothing to worry about. I just wanted to have a quick word to her.”

“You promise?”

“I promise. I shouldn’t be more than five minutes. How about you both go and grab your bags and meet me back here. I should be ready to go by the time you get back.”

“Ok” was all I got from either boy before they headed towards their lockers. I braced myself and after a brief knock, headed into the classroom that was now finally empty, save from Miss Miller herself.

~*~*~

Walking just inside the door frame, I spotted the boys’ teacher at the blackboard, dusting off the last remnants of the day’s lesson. She was humming something, although it was soft enough that I couldn’t quite make out what the tune was. The smile on her face suggested it was something happy. I couldn’t help but subconsciously allow myself to smile also. For some random, out-there weird reason, the song ‘Hello, I love you’ by the Doors popped into my head.

When she finally realized that her classroom was no longer empty, she stopped the dusting and turned fully towards me and despite knowing it had happened, you couldn’t tell she had been hit. The small smudge of chalk dust on her cheek, along with a questioning look on her face didn’t detract at all from the smile she still wore. Something about her seemed familiar and yet I knew I hadn’t met her before today. I still had a hold of the door handle and surmised that a static charge from this was the reason for the spark I felt.

“Can I help you, Mr...?”

Snapping out of my thoughts, I replied “Cavill; but please, call me Henry.”

Walking toward me, her smile seemed to grow. Or it could have just been my imagination. Offering me her hand, she replied “Oh, Andrew’s dad? It’s nice to meet you. I’m Ally Miller, his teacher.” A quick roll of her eyes followed as she quickly added “Well, duh; obviously, as he just left here.”

I smiled in return as I took her hand, noticing how small and soft to the touch it was. Part of me had an urge to hold it longer than was necessary or polite to, but I ignored that part of me, dropping it after shaking. “No, I’m his uncle, actually. My brother is still overseas.”

For the second time in less than five minutes, the questioning look was back. Instead of asking why I was there she simply said “Oh, of course. Your sister-in-law mentioned that yesterday when she was here. Sorry, I’m getting forgetful of late.” She gave a self-deprecating laugh. “You just missed Andrew I’m afraid. Once the bell goes, the kids are all suddenly quicker than Road Runner. It makes me wonder if it’s because they want to get home or they hate my class.”

I laughed with her. A few minutes in her presence and already I had a sense of why my nephew liked having her for a teacher. “I don’t think that’s it. At least from what Andrew is always telling me. He’s only ever had good things to say. I managed to catch him as he was leaving though. That’s why I’m here. I wanted a chance to speak to him and Jackson both, see if perhaps I couldn’t smooth things over between them. Emma told me all about it yesterday. I spoke with Andrew already and he seemed reluctant to stay friends with Jackson. Just now he asked if I could drive his friend home, so perhaps I was worried for nothing.”

“I’m just as surprised as you are about that. Yesterday when I spoke to him, he was adamant he wouldn’t forgive Jackson, angry because his supposed best friend had called him a liar. By lunchtime today they were the best of mates again, acting as though nothing had happened. I cannot tell you how happy I am about that.”

“His mother will be just as happy, believe me. I might still have that talk to them all the same. After all, I do feel a little guilty.”

“How so?”

“Andrew overheard me telling his mother my news. I was just so excited to share with my brother but because I couldn’t get a hold of him myself, I wanted to pass the news onto his wife so she could relay it when they next spoke. I wasn’t aware my nosy nephew was eavesdropping. Not that it is a secret as such; I just wanted family to know before it becomes public knowledge.”

 “Oh; you’re the uncle who will be the next Superman? I didn’t make the connection. Congratulations, that is big news. I can understand why you would want to share it with family first. I promise I won’t say a word.” After a beat she added “Will this be your first movie or have you been in others?”

~*~*~

Well, I’ll be damned; she didn’t know who I was. I could normally tell when someone recognized me and yet they still tried to act like they didn’t. I couldn’t see any of the normal tell-tale signs in Miss Miller. Oddly enough, the fact that she didn’t seem to know who I was didn’t irk me as much as it would have in the past. After all, big or small productions, an actor does like to think that their work is being watched. Rather than focus on that however I simply answered her question, trying not to be too boastful.

“I’ve been in a handful of others, nothing that would be considered to be on the same scale of this new movie. I was also in a TV show, The Tudors. I’m guessing you haven’t seen it?”

As unmanly as it seemed, when her cheeks pinked up a little, I thought my heart skipped a little. I put it down to my imagination, something we Cavills have an over abundance of. Maybe it was just a side effect of all the exercise I had done earlier. “No, sorry” she finally replied. “I never quite got around to it. My eldest sister has seen it several times though and is always telling me I should check it out, so does that count?”

I laughed. “Close enough.” Something about the way she replied with honesty and without having to think about her answer ahead of time was refreshing and I could quite happily have stayed to chat the rest of the afternoon. Her accent alone was charming but that mixed with her easy going and pleasant manner was compelling enough to keep me interested in more. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that luxury, no matter how much I wished for it; not with two unsupervised boys waiting on me. I was also sure she didn’t want to be here any longer than necessary either.

“Well, I best get going. I dread to think what the terrible two are up to while they wait for me. Aside from wanting to talk with them, I just wanted to make sure you weren’t hurt too badly yesterday.” Now that I was closer and despite the slight color of her cheek, I had been able to see first hand under her left eye a spot that looked as though it had met with a hand; despite her best efforts to cover it with makeup.

“We Aussies are made of stern stuff” she responded with a cheeky wink. “It really wasn’t that big a deal. I think it scared Andrew more than it hurt me. If it stops him from fighting again, then it would have been worth it.”

“Even so, I am sorry, no matter how inadvertently I was involved in it happening at all. Here’s hoping it is the last time. And on that note, I really will be going now. Thank you for taking the time to chat, I appreciate it. Let’s just hope that if we do run into each other again it won’t be because of something like this.”

“Fingers crossed. Thank you for dropping by, I appreciate it; it’s nice to know Andrew has a lot of people caring for his welfare.”

She offered me her hand once more and I willingly accepted it. As I had the first time, I wanted to hold it longer than was appropriate but refrained from doing so. Instead I thanked her again and made my way out to the corridor before heading towards my car, both Andrew and Jackson hot on my heels.

~*~*~

As I weaved in and out of the afternoon traffic, I spoke to the boys about what had happened yesterday, hoping they were not only listening but taking everything on board. I didn’t want it to sound like I was lecturing but I did want them to know I was being serious, hopefully getting enough out of the talk for them both to think about doing something like it again in the future.

Once the serious talk was over with, we moved onto other things. Actually, they moved on and I added the odd ‘hmm’ or ‘sure, why not’ every so often. I found I was only half listening, my mind wandering off more and more. Not that they really seemed to notice or care, too busy trying to talk over each other to wonder if I was a part of the conversation or not. It really did seem as though the friendship was back on track.

The traffic was pretty heavy for this time of day and so between keeping an eye on that and thinking about Ally, I wasn’t giving the boys my full attention. I had no real explanation for this, of course. I had spent less than 15 minutes with her and I felt like it hadn’t been nearly enough. I was suddenly feeling like a 14-year-old boy with a crush on his teacher. It was illogical and weird.

I couldn’t even pin this new feeling down to any one thing in particular. She was of average height – give or two an inch – and weight and had looks that while cute wouldn’t normally draw attention, so I knew it wasn’t something physical that had drawn me in. Not to say that she was ugly of course, more that she was unlike a lot of other women I had been attracted to or dated in the past. No, looks were definitely not behind the reason for my desire to see her again.

It was more than likely her happy demeanour, her honesty about not knowing who I was and the genuine way she seemed to care about her students’ welfare that drew me in. Whatever it was, I realized now that I wanted a chance to have more. There was something special about this lady and although I couldn’t pin it down and give it a name, I needed to find out what it was. I started to wonder if it would be weird if I was to ask her out.

~*~*~

I was weighing up the pros and cons of asking out the teacher of one of my nephews for a date when I remembered that I was due to fly to the US in a week. I had a meeting with the producers of the movie, to do paperwork and the rest, as well as a sit down with Zack, so the last thing I should be thinking about was a date. I had been waiting for this opportunity too long to treat it like just a regular job.

A date was simple enough and it could happen but the biggest drawback I could see was that if I did go on the date and found I wanted more – a very real possibility given how I felt now after only being with her for ten minutes – was that the time between now and the ending of filming, my time was no longer my own. Aside from getting myself physically ready for the training ahead, flying back and forth for meetings and the like and then spending a good six or so months away to film, how could I honestly expect to get close to someone?

I was clearly getting ahead of myself and over thinking things. Who was to say that even if she did say yes to the initial date that it would go beyond that? Honestly, I really was letting my 14-year-old hormones kick back in and it scared me a little. Scared as I was though and despite all the reasons I shouldn’t even go there, I still found I wanted to take her out.

“Bollocks!” I muttered as I hit the steering wheel with the palm of my hand. My head was all over the place, when it clearly should be focused on the road ahead.

 “What’s wrong Uncle Henry?” I vaguely heard Andrew ask from the seat behind mine.

“What? Oh, nothing; it’s fine. I just remembered something I forgot to do earlier.” I was hardly going to admit to the boys that I had developed a crush on their teacher in the bare few minutes I had spent with her. Instead I tried to put it out of my mind, at least until I got them home safely. “How about we stop at the arcade on the way home? Your mum is running errands so I’m sure she won’t mind.”

Obviously, both of them wholeheartedly agreed and once I had safely pulled over so I could call Emma and explain what was going on, so she could call Jackson’s mum, I pulled back into traffic and headed downtown. I hoped the sojourn would be distracting enough to help me forget about Ally Miller and this crazy notion that I had that I needed to call her up and ask her out.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 16 – Ally

Stopping at the supermarket on the way home, I picked up the ingredients for a stir-fry as well as some milk and the daily paper. Oh, and some chocolate. Despite there being some at home, I decided you could never have enough of a good thing so picked up a couple of Heath bars.

I knew it was just going to be me for dinner, Lizzie having left a note for me yesterday to say that she was spending a few days with Phil, so I wanted something quick and easy to prepare. I wasn’t a great cook; nor a half decent one; by any stretch of the imagination but even I could throw a little bit of chicken and some cut vegies into a wok, add soy sauce and call it dinner.

My mother would have been horrified to learn that I still had no notion of how to cook a decent meal but it wasn’t as though I was starving. If anything, I could probably afford to lose a pound or three, although that was kind of hard to do when you buy chocolate on the way home from work.

It was only just heading into late afternoon and I didn’t feel like being cooped up inside, so thought about going for a run. I didn’t get a chance to think too hard however, as the phone rang mere minutes after I had walked in through the front door.

~*~*~

“Hello?”

“Ally, hi; it’s Nigel. How are you today?”

I actually smiled on hearing his voice. I had been thinking about our date tomorrow night all the way home from the supermarket and despite my misgivings and unsureness about him, hoped that he wasn’t calling to cancel. “I’m great thanks, and you?”

“Never better; picked up a new client today and it looks like I might just get my chance to actually design a new home, rather than just more office space.”

“That’s great news, Nigel. Maybe this is the start of something big. Who knows, you could have your own firm sooner rather than later.”

He laughed. “From your mouth to god’s ears” was his first response. “No, it will take more than just one client, despite how big a tycoon he is. But it is a start and I’m grateful for it. Listen, I can’t talk long as I have a meeting in about ten minutes. I just wanted to call and confirm tomorrow night is still ok with you for dinner.”

“It is. I made a reservation at ‘Dominic’s’ for 8pm. I hope you like Italian.”

“I do. It’s Erin’s favourite.” When I didn’t say anything, he quickly added “Was. Sorry, I haven’t been able to break the habit of talking about her in present tense. I feel like she’s still here.”

“Please, don’t be sorry. Erin was your wife and you only just lost her. It can’t be easy and no-one expects you to just move on and forget she was ever a part of your life. If it’s easier for you then go ahead. There will come a time when it feels right to just stop and let it go. There is no hard and fast rule that says it has to be now.”

“Thank you, Ally; not a lot of people are as understanding as you.”

“I just call it as I see it.” A moment later I added “So, Dominic’s it is.”

“It’s a date. I’ll drop by to pick you up just after 7pm.”

Not much else could be said as I heard someone in the background call out to him. He gave me a quick goodbye and then hung up. After dropping the groceries off in the kitchen and putting away the perishables, I headed up the hall to change so I could go for that run.

~*~*~

I had not long sat down to eat dinner and was watching a repeat episode of ‘Men behaving badly’ when the front door opened and Lizzie walked in.

“Hey, Liz; I wasn’t expecting to see you at least until the weekend. Nothing is wrong is there?”

Joining me on the couch, she sighed. “Jessica decided that tonight she wanted to spend time with the girls. She knew damn well that I was there to spend time with them and bond a little more. I find it rather amazing that she just happened to pick tonight to grab this urge to be with her daughters.”

“What did Phil have to say? Isn’t he supposed to have them this week? I would have thought he’d put his foot down and tell her no.”

My friend shook her head in resignation. “That’s the infuriating part. He lets her get away with it and she takes it as a sign that he’s fine with her being a !@#$, so she does it all the time. He wants to tell her what he really thinks but she would only end up threatening to take him to court to gain full custody, as she has before, so he keeps his mouth shut. If he didn’t work long hours and have to travel for work so much, he would ignore the threats but he knows the court would side with her. The stupid cow knows this too, which is why she continues to do it. I want to speak up but you know me and my big mouth; I’d only make it worse and, in the end, the one who loses out because Phil will always pick his girls first; as he should. I just wish I could convince him to pack up the girls and leave, somewhere that has no extradition.”

I gave my friend a sad smile. I felt for her, really, I did but it didn’t mean I wasn’t going to try and talk some sense to her. Even if I didn’t have kids and couldn’t sympathise on that score, I knew running would be a bad thing. “that’s just what Jessica wants you to do. All it would take is for Phil to set things in motion and she would end up with both of the girls full time. It’s not right and it’s most definitely not fair but unfortunately, it’s the way the system works. As a lawyer, surely you have seen it time and again.” A little more sympathetically, I asked “I don’t suppose there is any way you can all sit down and work out something fair, for everyone? Surely even Jessica can see it would be better for the girls if things were sorted, rather than being in limbo?”

“Not likely; especially when all she really seems to care about is hurting Phil. I’m sure deep down she does love the girls; at least I hope so; but she’s made it clear time and again she doesn’t want them with her all the time. She’s doing this to spite Phil, keep him from being happy. Messing with me as well is just topping.” She gave an exasperated sigh before continuing.

“The faintest whiff that he is content and has his life in order and she has to pounce in with some ridiculous plan or need. I can honestly see now why he divorced her. The thing of it is though he’s a top-notch lawyer, so you would think he could find some kind of loophole that would give him the full custody. If not that, then at least something to put the kybosh on any of Jessica’s ideas that she’s going to keep winning. I half wonder if there is something but he doesn’t want to use it to hurt her, despite how much she has and continues to hurt him.”

“Or maybe he doesn’t want to alienate the girls” I offered, defending Phil although I had no idea of what was really going on or even if I was getting the full story. “All the back and forth can’t be good for either of them. I know when my folks had their issues and my sisters and I used to dread being in the same room as them. For the girls, watching their parents fight over who should have custody has to hurt. Maybe he is going along with her so that the girls won’t grow up to hate him and want to stay with her permanently.”

“I know you’re right but it still boils my kettle that the !@#$ gets away with so much. I’ll just have to be content and happy with what I get, when I can get it. I love Martine and Ashleigh already like they’re my own and I am almost sure that they’ve taken to me too. As much as I want to hurt that stupid cow, I won’t do it; not when Phil and I have too much to lose.”

“Good decision” I replied, putting my hand on her arm. I wished I could have offered her some more helpful advice.

~*~*~

Changing the subject in order to cheer her a little, I asked if she had eaten. Dipping into my bowl and pulling out an al dente piece of carrot, she smiled. “Yeah, we almost managed to finish our meal before the Wicked Witch of the East End showed up.”

“Well, there’s still a bit of stir-fry left if you’re hungry. I cooked too much, as usual.”

Sneaking a snow pea this time around, she gave me a cheeky grin. “No, I’m good thanks. Now that I’ve tasted yours, I’m full. It does look good though.”

“It is, actually. Normally I forget to add something or overcook the vegies so they’re worse than boiled but tonight, it just all seemed to work. A good thing given I worked up an appetite on my run.”

Getting up from the couch and heading for the kitchen, she returned moments later with a couple of cans of soft drink. Handing me one, she resumed her seat beside me. “What happened to your face? It looks a little swollen on the left and for someone who doesn’t usually wear a lot of makeup you caked it on a little thick. You didn’t get run into again, did you?”

“No” I began with a smile. “You should have seen it yesterday, although even then it wasn’t all that bad. Just a little accident at work, it wasn’t anything too major.”

“So, spill. I need to stop thinking about my woes for a while. Tell me what your ratbag students have been up to now.”

“Just the usual; at least it makes the job interesting. I never know what to expect from one day to the next, unlike being in a regular office job. I don’t think I would ever change a thing, even if I could.”

“I envy you that, you know. I love being a lawyer but some days I think my clients and half the people I work with behave wore than your ten-year olds. It’s all about money or power and who has it, who wants it and what they’re prepared to do to get it. I’ve been considering giving it all away. Maybe I should just move to Australia and become a beach bum.”

I had to laugh. “I could imagine you sitting on the beach for ten minutes, at best, before wanting to crack open the lid to your laptop. I would pay good money to sit and watch you try and just sit there and do nothing for the rest of your days.”

“Cheeky!” she smiled back at me. “Ok, seriously; tell me what happened. And don’t leave anything out. I might be able to help you sue someone.”

I shook my head and chuckled before recapping the incident.

~*~*~

“You really got hit in the face over an incident that started because one boy called another a liar? I don’t know whether to laugh or organize a court date.”

“Laugh; it really wasn’t that bad. Seriously, the way people have been acting, you would have thought I had lost an eye in a knife fight and that Andrew had deliberately set out to hurt me. It was just one of those things. I have to admit though that I was a little surprised when even Andrew’s uncle showed up today to make sure I was ok. That was unexpected, and unnecessary.”

“His uncle showed up? Why; shouldn’t it have been his father who came to see you?”

“Well, his mum did come the day before. Apparently, his dad is a Royal Marine and is deployed overseas at the minute. And from what I can gather from Henry, he told me he felt guilty over it all because it had been his news about the movie role that had started this whole thing.”

“Henry? Movie role? Ally, you’re not making sense.”

I had to smile a little. Seems I had left out information too, in the telling, and I could now understand how easily the confusion between the boys came about. “Cavill, Andrew’s uncle; he told me he has just scored the lead role in the next Superman blockbuster about to be filmed. Although, I guess that bit of information is still be kept on the down low for now.”

When Lizzie looked at me and didn’t say a word, her mouth open, I had to wonder what was wrong. Moments later she still hadn’t uttered a word so I asked if she was ok. “What’s the matter? Are you alright?”

“You met Henry Cavill, today, at school and you’re sitting here all calm like it’s no big deal?” she finally managed to utter.

“Yes. Why, is there is something I’m supposed to know? He seemed like a nice enough man. He was genuinely concerned about the friendship between Andrew and Jackson, which was why he came to the school to start with.”

“Nice? Are you insane woman? The man is a god! Seriously, how is it you are not in a puddle right now? You would not believe how incredibly jealous I am of you right now.”

I still didn’t get it. Yes, he was handsome in a rugged kind of way but even so. “To be honest, I did for a moment think I had met him somewhere else just recently but the thought was fleeting. By the time he had walked across the room I figured I was mistaken. I still don’t know who he is. He mentioned he had been in a couple of movies and a tv show but I don’t believe I’ve ever seen any of them. Is he any good?”

“It’s like I don’t even know you” she complained with indignation, turning her head away in mock disappointment.

~*~*~

Putting my drink down on the table, I went back to eating my dinner as though my best friend wasn’t sitting beside me, judging me, even in jest. I really was hungry.

“You seriously haven’t seen the Tudors?” she finally asked, seemingly back to speaking to me.

“No. Cate loves it and was always trying to get me to watch but to be honest, I wasn’t all that fussed. I like the history side of things in a show like that but I wasn’t keen on the guy who played King Henry so didn’t bother to try and watch an episode. There’s something about him that I can’t put my finger on but it creeps me out.”

“You aren’t the only one. I know a few people who feel the same but that’s neither here nor there. Although the show is about the King and his wives, I think most of the women and even a few men I know turned on each week to watch Henry as the Duke of Suffolk. I know I did. There were even a couple of times I cancelled a date or two with Phil, just so I could stay home and watch.”

“You did not!” I asked. “Is he really that good?”

She actually colored slightly, something she almost never does. “Yes, but if Phil asks, that wasn’t the reason.” She laughed and then added “Truthfully, as good as it was it wasn’t his acting ability that I tuned in for; if you catch my meaning.”

“I do actually. I suppose this means that I will have to make a point of seeing if I can get a copy, so I can see for myself what all the fuss is about.”

“You won’t be sorry, I promise” she assured me. “Hmm, I just remembered...” She never finished the sentence, instead getting off the couch and heading over to the cabinet the TV was seated on. Rifling through the drawers for a minute or so, she finally located what she was after. Putting the DVD into the player, she rejoined me on the couch.

“What are we watching?”

“Just a little something that I am positive will make you weak in the knees.”

I didn’t think that was likely but I didn’t tell her that. I just continued to finish my meal as I waited for the previews and FBI warnings on the disc to finish and the movie to finally start.

~*~*~

By the time the credits began rolling, I wasn’t sure what to say. I couldn’t quite wrap my head around the fact that the clean-cut, casually dressed and polite man who was in my class earlier today was the same as the practically naked, well chiselled guy in the movie. We had just watched a movie called ‘Immortals’ – a movie about gods, humans and some kind of mystical bow – and although some parts were a little over the top, I found I did actually enjoy it.

There was just one sex scene; if you could even call it that; a lot of fighting and a !@#$ load of bloodshed and although not a horror movie, the scariest thing for me was Mickey Rourke’s face. I never thought the man was good looking but now he was just some weird, creepy dude who has had a little more than too much plastic surgery.

Thankfully the image of Henry, often wearing little more than a pair of well fitted trousers, was enough to keep me watching. At one point he was doing nothing more strenuous than sitting on the ground, eyes closed and it made me sigh. Lizzie laughed at me and I pretended not to notice. With the movie finally over, my friend turned the TV off and looked at me.

“So, what did you think?”

“I enjoyed it, actually. Well, all except for El Creepo Rourke. How he still gets movie roles looking like that is something I will never understand. His plastic surgeon must be laughing all the way to the bank for sucking him into getting more than he should have.”

“I was talking about Henry.”

“I know” was all I answered with. Instead of elaborating, I got up from the couch and took my empty plate into the kitchen. Lizzie wasn’t impressed.

~*~*~


---
"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 17 – Henry

Spending time at the arcade with the boys was enough to clear my mind of all thoughts of Ally, for which I was grateful. I don’t know what I thought I was doing, getting all mushy and girly over someone I had barely met and spent less than ten minutes with.

As I pushed her towards the back of my mind, I put the attraction down to being one of those anomalies, a random thing that’s hard to explain but unlikely to happen again for several decades; sort of like Halley’s Comet. It was over now and I could just go about my business. Thankfully I hadn’t rushed in and asked her out already; no harm, no foul.

After calling in at Emma’s and leaving the boys with her, I headed to the drycleaners to pick up a few items I had dropped in the day before. I had intended to take them with me to LA for when I attended the meetings and I knew if I didn’t pick them up today, I would probably forget them until it was too late to do anything about it.

I also stopped to pick up a few things I would need – toiletries, a book to read on the plane, a new set of headphones for my IPod. With each item I grabbed, the excitement about my upcoming trip grew a little more. This time around the trip was a little more than a sit down with the producers and Zack, as well as a few of the other cast members but I was excited nonetheless. I actually had to pinch myself to make sure I wasn’t dreaming.

I had auditioned for Brian Singer a couple of years ago, when he was casting for Superman Returns, only to miss out on the part. Having already missed out on a few other roles in some big blockbusters, I had really hoped to win the role. When I was overlooked and Brandon Routh got the part, I was beyond disappointed. With the benefit of time, I now realized that on learning I had the part in Zack’s interpretation of the legend, it was better than any lottery win.

I wanted the part desperately, which is why I auditioned to start with but it wasn’t until I went back for the third call-back that I realized just how much I wanted it. Part of it was because this was going to be a great opportunity to show what I could do and therefore lead to other big projects. Another reason was because Superman was so iconic and ingrained in folklore that like any boy, I had wanted to be him when I got older. Now as an adult, I was being given a chance to put my own stamp on it. I just hoped it would be a worthy stamp.

~*~*~

I hadn’t been home from running errands long when Stewart dropped by. I was in the middle of putting away the things I had just bought but gave it up to go and join him on the back porch for a beer.

“For someone who is not actually working at the moment, you are a hard man to pin down” he accused with a lopsided grin. “I won’t get another chance this week to see you so I dropped in a couple of times, to see if you wanted to hang out before you head to LA. Only problem was, you weren’t here.”

“I’m only going to be gone for about three days, mate” I joked. I had called him about the role, after speaking with my family, and he must have thought I was heading off to start filming now and not in September. “I just had a few things to do. You know how it is when you have to travel; all the things you need to buy ‘just in case’. I also stopped by Andrew’s school so I could pick him and his mate up. We stopped in at Madigan’s for an hour before I dropped them both back at Ally’s.”

“Who’s Ally?”

“What?”

“You just said you had to drop the kids off at Ally’s. I thought Andrew’s mum’s name was Emma? Hey, don’t tell me you picked up the other night and now you have her name on your mind.”

“Hardly; and why would I leave my nephew and his best friend with someone I just met? I actually meant to say Emma. I guess I’ve been a little distracted today.”

“I can tell. I’m guessing this Ally is the reason. So, if you didn’t hook up with her, who is she then? And don’t give me any bollocks about her being no-one. She can’t just be some rando if she was on your mind enough for you to drop her name like that, and not even realize you had done it.”

Dammit. How was I going to explain this; or why should I even try? I knew exactly what he would say if I told him the truth. If I tried to change the subject or to put him off by saying she was no-one in particular, he would just keep pushing. It was one of the traits he had picked up along the way that I didn’t like but tried to overlook for the sake of friendship.

~*~*~

“I did actually mean Emma. I guess I mentioned Ally instead as I had run into her earlier, when I stopped to pick up the boys. She’s their teacher.” At least all of that was the truth.

He didn’t say a word for a long moment, choosing instead to concentrate on his beer instead and I thought I was ok. That was when he dropped his beer back onto the table with a thud, looking at me with a sparkle in his eye. “Oh, don’t tell me!” he started, giving me a disbelieving look.

I was confused. “Don’t tell you what?”

“Even after all of these years and despite the nightmares of boarding school, you still have a thing for school teachers. Is she hot?”

I put my own beer down, no longer feeling the need to finish it. “I have no idea what you are talking about, Stewart. And I didn’t notice if she was hot or not; I wasn’t with her long enough, for one thing.” Clearly that part was a lie but he was never going to know that.

“I call bullshit. I can still remember what you were like when you were 13. You had a thing for Princess Di, like we all did but while we all just thought she was hot for an older woman, you were more into her as she had been before she got married. I seem to recall you had that picture of her as a pre-school teacher, the one of her in the see-through skirt, pinned to the back of the door in our room. Despite the teasing from the rest of us, you had it up on that door for a good two years.”

Trust him to remember something as embarrassing as that, I thought to myself while I also tried to think of something to say. It was true of course and only natural that we would focus on a pretty girl, given we went to an all-boy school but if I was being honest with myself, I had to admit that I did have a fondness for that particular picture. Hell, I was only 13-14 at the time and it got me through some bad times at school.

“Well, I’m not 14 anymore and I don’t even remember that picture” I flat out lied. “I also barely spent five minutes talking with the teacher, so there is nothing to report back. It was just a slip of the tongue is all. Now drink your beer and let it go or I’ll have to kick your arse.”

My friend didn’t say another word on the subject but he didn’t need to. I could read his mind from the look on his face and his thoughts were almost as clear as if they had been printed with magic marker on his forehead for all to read.

~*~*~

Despite the fact that I was aware we had been drifting apart as friends, I decided to go out and grab a quick bite with him. We didn’t spend anywhere near the amount of time together we had in the past but it didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the time we did spend together when we had the chance. Going out for a meal was just the thing that was needed as by the time he dropped me off home again, things between us were back to where they had been before the awkward conversation earlier that afternoon; a conversation that was but a distant memory.

At least it was for him, if not for me. Just the notion that I had been taken by Ally simply because of a boyhood crush was stupid but I had been pondering it off and on since Stewart mentioned it. I was still thinking about it now as I walked around the house to water the couple of plants I hadn’t managed to kill off yet, comparing Ally to Diana. This was not only weird but a waste of time, give that comparing one to the other was like comparing peas and chocolate.

The only thing that I could see that they had in common that was obvious was teaching and a love of children but even then, the late Princess hadn’t really been a teacher at all, just an aide. Their looks too were quite different. Diana had been tall, leggy and blonde where as Ally was barely average height, had a little more meat on her bones and although still blonde, her hair was several shades darker and a lot curlier. The only two physicality’s that popped out as being similar were the blue eyes; that no doubt could hold a mischievous sparkle with devastating effect; and a smile that could very well bring you to your knees.

Ally was not as physically beautiful as Diana had been and yet she seemed to exude the beauty in her smile, her manner, her easy-going nature; all things I could pick up despite our brief interaction. I was slowly coming to realize that the older I became, these traits were a lot sexier than a perfect face and body that wouldn’t quit and having found them in Ally, I realized I wanted more.

“Jesus Christ, Cavill!” I admonished myself. “Get a goddam grip, man. You are beginning to think like an adolescent girl with a crush and you were only with the woman for ten minutes. I wouldn’t even think about looking over china patterns just yet.” I stopped the watering but continued to talk to the plants, pretending I wasn’t actually talking to myself.

“You don’t know her, you won’t ever have a chance to really get to know her and even if you did, you shouldn’t. Don’t forget you fell for Ellen right off the bat and look how that turned out. Besides, she’s probably already taken and if not, she’s your nephew’s teacher for !@#$’s sake. Why make things awkward when you don’t have to?”

Talking to the plants is supposed to help them grow and yet the rubbish I was spouting seemed to make them wither a little more than the lack of water had done. It was for this reason that I continued my self-admonishment mentally. When the watering had been done, I picked up my keys and headed back out to my car.

Seeing Mrs Picken out watering her own plants despite the late hour, I smiled and was grateful I had stopped talking to myself. I didn’t need for her to think I had lost the plot. By the time I reached my folks’ place, the internal monologue had stopped also, barely.

~*~*~

“Henry, what’s wrong?”

Kissing my mother on the cheek, I closed the back door before grabbing a seat at the breakfast bar. She had been in the middle of doing the dishes but gladly gave it up, seemingly more interested in interrogating me instead. “Nothing’s up; can’t a son come and visit his folks at a moment’s notice?”

“Of course they can sweetie, it’s just a little late in the evening for this to be a random drive-by. Then again, I’ve learnt over the years when dealing with you and your brothers that an unannounced visit this late in the day usually means one of two things; you either want something or something has happened. So, which is it?”

She had me there. It was true; nine times out of ten, these days a visit to the Old’s place that wasn’t pre-organized meant just what she had suggested. Not intentionally of course but we had all grown up and started our own lives and families. Just as unintentional was that in the process of becoming our own man, we had left the parents behind a little. It didn’t mean we had stopped loving or needing them anymore, it just happened.

“You will be pleasantly surprised to know that I am here for neither reason. I just wanted to catch up with you both in case I don’t get a chance to see you again before Friday. I’m flying to LA for at least three days, to meet with Zack and the team. I just had a need to come and see my favourite lady. Is that such a bad thing?”

“Charmer!” she threw back at me, slapping my arm gently. “It’s no wonder you went into acting. Cary Grant has nothing on you, oh son of mine.” I laughed and then she added “speaking of favourite ladies, do you have a new one? If so, when are you going to bring her around to meet your father and me?”

“Nothing’s changed since I was here last, Mum. I don’t have a girlfriend but I still see Gina here or there and you both have already met her. I just stopped bringing her around because I know you don’t like her. The last thing I want is to visit and have the air be all tense and cold.”

I thought she was going to deny the accusation but she actually owned up to it. “Well, ok, I admit it. I don’t like her. You can do better and I just wish you would hurry up so you can get her out of your life. I only want the best for you, son. You can’t fault me for that, can you?”

“No, I can’t. I just wish you would tell me what it is about her that you dislike so much. Saying it’s because she came between me and Ellen is garbage. We had been broken up months before I even met Gina.”

“You are just going to have to trust me on this Henry. It’s mother’s intuition.” After a quick pause she continued quickly; “Ok, let’s not talk about this anymore. I don’t want your last visit for who knows how long to end up in a fight.”

I agreed, getting off the stool to go around the bench and give her a hug before picking up a towel to start drying the dishes already washed. One of these days we were going to sit down and hash out exactly what it was about Gina that she disliked or distrusted so much. It just wasn’t going to be today. I was happy in a way as it really was the last thing I wanted to be talking about right now.

~*~*~

Lying in bed later that night, I was happy I had gone to see the folks. The conversation with Mum we had on my arrival notwithstanding, the evening had been just about chatting and talk of my upcoming LA visit.

When the talk of Andrew’s misadventures at school came up, I tried my best not to let on that I had been to the school myself. As it turned out, they knew anyway, having spoken to Emma about it. All I added to what she had told them was that I had spoken to the boys’ teacher briefly before taking Andrew and his once-again friend Jackson to the arcade on the way home. I knew instinctively that had my mother captured even the merest whiff of my newfound but inexplicable feelings, I would never hear the end of it.

Most especially as Gina had been brought up in the conversation earlier. My mother would have me married off to the Hunchback of Notre Dame before she accepted Gina. I was going to give her no chance to meddle and get things going with Ally, although if I was honest deep down, I wouldn’t have been too disappointed if she had. It was best just not to go there at all and so I had mentioned her only in passing, as though it was just news – nothing more, nothing less.

It was just a shame that I couldn’t get my mind to move on as quickly, now that I needed to finally get some sleep. The last thing I wanted or needed on my mind before I dozed completely were thoughts of Ally Miller and that smile of hers, and yet, there she was front and centre. It turned out to be a long night.

~*~*~


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"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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Re: Swear It Again - Henry Cavill. WIP


Ch 18 - Ally

Lunch at school that Wednesday was a little more interesting than it normally would have been. It would seem that word had managed to spread that THE Henry Cavill had dropped in to see me the day before. I couldn’t understand what all the fuss was about, to be perfectly honest. Ok, so maybe he was good looking in a chiselled jaw, well-toned body and sweet dimply smile kind of way but other than that, he was just a guy.

I had enjoyed the movie last night and if I was being honest with myself, it was because Henry had been barely dressed for a good chunk of the movie, rather than anything the script had to offer. That aside, I knew better than to associate a real person with a character they portray. Long gone were the days when I assumed movie stars I liked or had crushes on were exactly like the characters they portrayed in their movies; the very characters that had made me love them in the first place.

All of that isn’t to say that I didn’t think he wasn’t a nice guy; after all, he did come to the school when he didn’t have to. He had seemed pleasant enough when we spoke but I wasn’t going to go all girly, or swoon at his feet and get starry eyed over the fact that a somewhat famous actor had stopped into my class to chat to me. We had spoken barely ten minutes and you can’t really get to know someone in that amount of time. At the end of the day, he was Andrew’s uncle, nothing more. Unfortunately for me the rest of the female staff at St Luke’s weren’t quite on the same page.

Questions like ‘did you get an autograph’ or ‘is he as handsome in real life as he is on TV?’ popped up, along with the inevitable ‘did you touch him?’ and ‘are his muscles as well defined as they look when he did the naked scenes on Tudors?’ It took all I had not to roll my eyes or look back at them in horror. These were grown women, a couple of them actually old enough to be his mother and yet I felt like I was at a teeny-bopper convention. It would have been sad had it not been so funny.

In the end I answered their questions as best as I could without being too vague. I could tell from their looks that they didn’t understand why I wasn’t more excited but I just wasn’t. I soon learned that he was the only real celebrity that had any ties to the school in some way, so it at least explained their curiosity, if not their questions. Thanks to their never-ending questions, I barely managed to finish my sandwich and get out of the staffroom before the bell rang to go back to class. I had never been so happy to be done with lunch.

~*~*~

Once the final bell had rung and my class finally emptied of students, I started to pack up my belongings ready to leave. I had no sooner picked up my bag when Millie called in and tried to get more information. I did my best to explain to her that I had plans but for someone as smart as she was, she didn’t take the hint. Or wouldn’t.

“Listen, Millie, I don’t mean to be rude but I have a date tonight and I need to do a few things on the way home first. Do you mind if we catch up later in the week about this?” I was hoping that by the end of the week everyone would have moved on.

“The date isn’t with Henry, is it?”

What the hell? “Of course not; the man was here for ten minutes at best and only because he wanted to check in on his nephew. There were no secret plans made for dates or offers of sexual favours in payment for his nephew to get better grades. Honestly, I can’t understand what the big deal is. He is just a man, not some mythical creature with wings who farts rainbows.”

That had not only been a complete over-reaction to a simple question but also uncalled for and I regretted the words the minute they left my mouth. I was just tired of all the interest in something that wasn’t interesting at all and Millie happened to be the one who pushed the last of my buttons. Her face fell and naturally I felt like a !@#$ for being so rude. I put my hand on her arm and tried to apologize.

“Millie, I’m so sorry. I didn’t mean to snap or be so rude. I guess you just hit my last nerve over the whole thing. I was questioned all through lunch (to be fair, she had been on lunch duty outside and so hadn’t been there to witness it) and I’m over it. To be quite honest with you, I really can’t see what all the fuss is about. It’s becoming clear to me though that perhaps he is something special to everyone else. I promise he isn’t the one I’m meeting tonight but should there be a time when our paths do cross again, I’ll let you know.”

With a chagrined look she apologized. “I’m sorry too, Ally, and of course you don’t have to keep me informed. Missing out on the gossip at lunch, I guess I just needed to hear what the others did. He is a big deal, for me at least and it’s not often that the school has a celebrity come by unannounced, much less for something as mundane as a chat with a teacher. I suppose it just comes down to the fact that, despite our ages, we were just a little jealous of you.”

Now I really did feel like a !@#$. “Believe me, I would share the moment gladly had there been one. I honestly didn’t even know who he was until my room-mate filled me in, so I didn’t have a chance to be impressed by him and take it all in, then and there. Had it been Orlando Bloom instead, that would have been a whole different matter entirely.”

Millie’s face started to lighten up a little at the mention of Orlando and it dawned on me then that she was younger than me and still enamoured with stars. I felt a little the same about my football team so I couldn’t really fault her for that. I hoped at least that her smile meant she had forgiven me for my outburst.

“Oh, I hear you on that one” was all she offered, choosing not to elaborate. No doubt this was because she didn’t want me to fly off the handle again. “Well, I’ll let you get going. Sorry again about...well, you know.”

“I do and I’m sorry also. Let’s just forget all about it, shall we?”

She nodded and then together we left the classroom; me carrying a bunch of flowers that had been a present from Jackson and Andrew and Millie closing the door behind us.

~*~*~

When I got home, I had a quick listen to the answering machine messages as I removed my shoes. There were three in total and for a brief moment of disappointment, I thought that perhaps one of them was from Nigel, calling to cancel our date. Turned out two were for Lizzie, the third for me, from Dorothy of all people. After hearing her message, I almost fell over.

“Hi Ally, it’s Dorothy, Elspeth’s assistant. Anyway, I don’t normally do this sort of thing but the young man was insistent so I gave in. Put it down to that smile of his... Anyway, as it’s not school policy to give out teacher’s personal information, I told him I would call you with his, then it was up to you if wanted to return his call. It was Henry, from yesterday. You can reach him on 1234 1927. Ok, bye.”

Once I was over the shock, I had to listen to the message again. I couldn’t believe not only that Dorothy had given in and played messenger but she had taken the time to track me down at home to pass on the message, rather than give it to me at school. Given all I had seen with the reactions from my co-workers, I had no doubt that she had fallen for his charm. It was definitely easy to pick this up from the tone of her voice.

I also had trouble believing that he had gone to all that trouble to start with, in order to reach out to me. I wondered what he could possibly want that hadn’t been covered yesterday and hoped it wasn’t urgent. Then again, I supposed if it was then Dorothy would have said so or he would have been waiting to see me after class again today.

Leaving the machine for the moment, I went to the kitchen to drop off the few things I had picked up on my way home, and put the flowers into a vase of water. I wondered if I should return the call and while I struggled with it for a good twenty minutes, the thing that finally swayed me into calling was my own curiosity. It had to be important for him to try and contact me, right? Grabbing a glass of juice from the fridge, I sat at the table in the kitchen, sipping it for a further ten minutes before I finally managed to pick up the phone and dial.

~*~*~

“Hi, Henry…? It’s Ally; Miller. I’m just returning your call.”

When he finally spoke, it was almost like I could hear the smile in his tone. “Hey, Ally. Thanks for getting back to me. I hope you don’t mind that I called. Well, that I got Dorothy to call for me.”

I wanted to make a joke about it being like high school, getting one friend to pass on messages, but I refrained. “No, not at all, although I am a little surprised. How are you?” Great; I had been reduced to small talk.

“I’m doing well, thanks. Just getting a few things sorted before I head off to LA on Friday. That was why I actually wanted to get in contact with you. I was hoping I could take you to dinner tomorrow night. I’m going to be out of town for a few days, maybe longer and I wanted to see you again before I left.”

Had I not been seated I really would have fallen over. I actually felt my knees relax, almost as though they had crumpled, despite the fact that I was sitting down. It took me a moment to regain my composure and before I knew what I was doing, I answered “Dinner would be nice, thank you.” It was all I could think to say, it not occurring to even ask why he would want to take me out for a meal.

“How does 8pm at the Andover Arms sound? I promise it won’t be too late a night as I have an early flight the next morning.”

“I’ll look forward to it.” Wow, I was really pulling out the conversational guns today!

It was silent for a moment and the he spoke again. “I can pick you up about 7.30ish, if you like.”

“Sure” I answered before giving him my address. This conversation really wasn’t going all that well and I was surprised he just didn’t change his mind about taking me to dinner in the short time we had been speaking.

“Great, I’ll see you then. Bye.”

“Bye” I managed to blurt out just as his phone disconnected.

I couldn’t believe it. Funny how I went from being dateless for months to having not just one but two dates, in two nights if you please! I just hoped that my conversational skills picked up overnight or dinner tomorrow was going to be a little on the awkward side.

~*~*~

“You look beautiful” Nigel commented as he kissed my cheek hello.

He had just stopped in to pick me up for our date and we were now standing in the doorway, ready to leave. Once I had hit the shower to get ready for this evening, all thoughts of Henry and our dinner tomorrow night were replaced with thoughts of tonight’s meal.

Having heard from a friend that the restaurant we were going to was small and family orientated, I still felt the need to dress up a little. It wasn’t every night I got the chance to put on something nicer than a pair of track pants, sloppy shirt and a pair of bunny slippers. Thankfully I had a halfway decent little black dress tucked into the back of my wardrobe.

“Thank you. You look nice too” I replied, noting my small talk skills hadn’t improved while I was in the shower.

“Shall we get going?”

“Sure.” I picked up my purse and followed him out, stopping only long enough to close and lock the door behind me. Five minutes later we were in the car and heading off down the now street-light lit road.

~*~*~

Arriving at the restaurant about twenty-five minutes later, the maître d soon had us seated and was taking an order for a bottle of wine from Nigel. Leaving us each with a menu to peruse, the small talk resumed.

“So, how was school today? Did anything exciting happen or was it all just finger painting and nap time?”

There had been a smile on his face when he asked the question but something about the way he asked gave me pause. I thought I had picked up something different about him as we were driving to the restaurant, compared to the day we met, but I had shrugged it off as being a little paranoid. Now the feeling was back but I didn’t pursue it.

“No, today was a good day. Monday was when all the fun happened. I also happen to teach 4th graders (something I recall I had already told him) so thankfully they’re a little more advanced and can do more than just nap or finger paint. It would send me nuts if I was reduced to just watching them sleep.”

I hadn’t meant for any tone to be infused in my response but it had been there all the same. In all probability it was the fact that I didn’t like my job being reduced to little more than that of a glorified babysitter. I got enough of that from my sister Beth. Nigel must have sensed this as he apologized moments later.

“I’m sorry, Ally. I didn’t mean anything by the finger-painting comment. It’s been forever since I was at school and I forget that it’s more than that. I’ve also had a pretty lousy day at work. That’s no excuse though; I shouldn’t be taking out my frustrations out on you.”

Before I had the chance to ask him about it, our waiter returned with the wine and once he had poured us each a glass, he took our orders. For starters, I opted to go for the avocado Al Forno con Mozzarella while Nigel ordered the bruschetta San Daniele. Not quite decided on mains, the waiter took his leave allowing us to go back to talking.

~*~*~

“What happened at work today to make it so lousy?”

I asked about this as it soon became clear he wasn’t going to enquire any further about my job or the excitement of the other day. I was surprised he hadn’t commented on my still slightly swollen eye and I put it down to my excellent covering skills with the makeup. Although I didn’t like the wine he had ordered, I took a sip to be polite, as I awaited his answer.

“One of our biggest clients has decided to go with one of our major competitors. Some how they got a hold of some paperwork that showed they were being charged a little more than had been on the tenure, so they opted out. Millions of dollars of work that has already been started and it’s all going to go to waste for the sake of a ten-grand slipup.” He snapped his fingers to add emphasis to his point.

“I’m sorry to hear that Nigel. It wasn’t the same client you mentioned the other day; the one who was going to have you design his house?”

“No, thank god! Had it been the same guy I seriously would have given notice today. It’s hard enough stifling my true love to work on something else but to lose out on something this big because of incompetence is too much. I need the job but a person can only take so much, you know?”

This was a far cry from his ‘we’re practically like family’ speech he gave the other day but I simply nodded. I wasn’t exactly sure what he expected me to say anyway. Thankfully our first course showed up so I was saved the effort of having to try and make something up.

~*~*~

By the end of the meal, the happier and more congenial Nigel I had met a few days earlier was back. He still liked to turn the conversation back to himself more often than not but thankfully he had at least stopped complaining, something I was truly grateful for.

Despite my earlier misgivings and aside from his earlier moodiness, I found myself still being drawn to him. Not in an ‘I’m about to give up my life and moon over you forever’ kind of way, but I had seen a lighter side of him and I found I liked it. With the help of a luscious tiramisu, I pushed those misgivings down deep where I could no longer hear them anymore. It was probably why when he suggested another date even before we had left this one behind, I didn’t dither as long as I had the first time around.

He was just tucking into his profiteroles and gave me a look. “I’ve enjoyed our meal together tonight, Ally. You’re great company. I am hoping we can go out again, sometime soon.”

Trying my best not to moan with delight at the mouthful of heaven I was enjoying, I answered “that would be nice. I’ve enjoyed this too.”

“Great. How about tomorrow night? Are you free?”

A sudden urge to say “I’m free!” in a camp voice came to me; thanks to an image of the lovable Mr Humphries from ‘Are you being served?’ popping into my head. I managed to control myself however and instead replied “I’m sorry but I have plans for tomorrow night; how about Friday night or even Saturday afternoon?”

“Are you sure you’re busy tomorrow night? I can get tickets to a show in the West End. Is there anything you wanted to see?”

What was the rush, I had to wonder? That odd sensation in the back of my mind started to tingle but I put it down to a being a buzz from that dreadful wine. “There are quite a few, actually and I would love to go some time but I really can’t break my plans for tomorrow. I’m sorry.”

He didn’t even bother to hide his disappointment or annoyance, instead agreeing to meet up again on Friday night. His look did actually make me feel guilty for a moment and I wondered if I shouldn’t have just accepted his offer and cancelled out on Henry instead. The tingling sensation grew a smidge more.

~*~*~

When Nigel dropped me off later that night, I got the very distinct impression that he expected to be asked in. I wasn’t a babe in the woods when it came to men but I wasn’t going to fall into bed with him either, especially after only one date. Technically it was our second; the coffee last Saturday being our first; but I wasn’t counting that.

Times had changed and now it wasn’t so scandalous if you wanted to sleep with a guy on the first date. Scandalous or not, I still liked to at least try and get to know a man before I took that step. I wasn’t going to hold out for months but I also wasn’t going to give it up just because he bought me dinner first. I did have some class and respect for myself.

For the second time in less than an hour he did nothing to hide his disappointment, perhaps hoping that the hang-dog look would have me take pity on him and change my mind. The warning bell I had felt a little earlier seemed to be getting a little clearer but once more I ignored it. It was getting late and I had had a little to drink so maybe my judgement was a little askew. At least that was what I told myself. Despite this though, if he thought leaning in and pouting was going to make me change my mind, he was going to be sorely disappointed.

“Thanks for dinner, Nigel. It was lovely. I had a nice time.” ‘Spidey’ senses aside, I really had enjoyed the meal.

“As did I and I’m glad we are going to be doing it again on Friday. Is it ok if I call you tomorrow with the details?”

“Sure, I look forward to it.” What was I supposed to say?

“Great.” Before leaving, he stepped forward and gave me a kiss. With his thin lips I had imagined that a kiss from him would be weird but as thin as they were, he seemed to know what to do with them. He even went so far as to try and dip his tongue between my teeth but I pulled back first. I didn’t want to give him the impression I was going to change my mind and invite him in.

“See you Friday” I croaked out in a raspy voice. This kiss had left a little bit of an impression.

“Friday” was his only comeback, giving me a wink. Within five minutes he was in his car and down the road, out of sight. I headed inside.

~*~*~


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"Driver picks the music. Shotgun shuts his cakehole."

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