By Jo


Part 14:


"Hey, mates, I'd like to stretch my legs after that long drive.  What if I take Wadsworth out

for his evening constitutional?"


"Fine by me, Terry.  He likes being with you."


"And, Eden, might I have the pleasure of your company on this endeavor?"




"Yes, you."  Terry gave her an intense look.


"Oh, well, ok, I guess.  Morgan's asleep."


"Good.  Amalie can get to know Marshall better."


As Terry helped Eden on with her coat near the front door, she said quietly, "You're up to

something, aren't you?"


"Who, me?" he smiled innocently, pulling on his gloves. Holding open the door for her and

Wadsworth, he asked, "Where to?"


"Oh, let's go down to the end of the dock first.  I love it down there."


"The dock it is."


Wadsworth was loose and he went off into the shadows of a tree to do his business, returning

quickly to Terry's side.


"He remembers you well," Eden observed.


"Dogs...elephants...they never forget."


They got to the end of the dock, the wood planks coated in snow, and he held her arm so she

didn't slip.  "And you, Eden, you don't forget either, do you?"


"What do you mean, Terry?"


"Marshall...danger...none of it."


She was silent a long moment, staring out across the moonlit surface of the quiet lake.  "No,

Terry, I don't forget."


"And it's all right there, bothering you."


She moved a gloved hand up over her eyes.  "Sometimes it almost eats me alive."


He slid an arm around her shoulders.  "Does he know?"


"He always knows, Terry.  There's hardly a thought I can think without his knowing."


"This place, it brings a lot back, doesn't it?"


She nodded, letting her hand drop.  "I wasn't sure I'd make it through Christmas Day."


"Ah, that was the sleigh, wasn't it?  Ryan told me about that."


"The damn one-horse open sleigh, bells jingling, snow falling, lap blankets, the whole schmear,

as Christmas-cardy as you could possibly imagine.  And he died right in the middle of it."  She

turned, looking up at his strong face.  "I don't trust it, Terry, not anymore.  I'm happy one

minute and then *poof* kidnappers come, or his liver starts to fail. I feel like I'm just waiting,

marking time until everything that's important to me is taken away."


"That's not a good way to live, luv."


"Oh, God, Terry, I know it!  I know it so damn well!  But it's what I've learned, what I've been



He sighed heavily.  "I know."


"Here, this place, he was dying the very moment I met him.  I should have known better, right

then I should have known better."


"Better than what, Eden?  Better than to give your heart to one of the finest men who's ever

graced this world?"


She made a sharp sound down in her throat.  "He is that, no doubt about it.  That's why the

thought of being without him, I just can't...bear it."


"Doesn't everybody, luv, live with that same thing hanging over them? We're mortals, all of

us, and when we love another mortal there is always the possibility of loss.  We can't let that

stop us from loving, though.  We can't.  Life is nothing without that despite the risk inherent

in it.  And the more people we love, the more risk there is...but the more wonderful it also is."


"I know that, Terry.  Really I do.  And Marshall tells me something similar all the time but's just..."


"You remember too well?"


"I do.  I remember every second."  She turned, gesturing toward the landward end of the

dock.  "Right there, he was half on half off, unconscious, about to die.  I walk past there and

try to keep my eyes fixed on the lake out in front of me, not on him lying there, but even if I

don't look at it, I know it's there and I remember exactly how I felt when I saw him there."


"Granted, Eden, you've had more of that than most, but you're letting it rob you, luv, letting

it steal precious moments from the now you're in."


"Do you think I don't know I'm doing that?  Ah, Terry, no one knows better than I do that I'm

doing that."


"But you can't stop?"


"No, I can't seem to find a way to stop."


"Can you stop because it's better for Marshall if you do, because it's better for Morgan?"


"I don't know, Terry.  It's just so...big...all of it. You'd think a lit professor would be safer in

life, but he's not.  He might as well do K&R for a living."


Terry snorted.  "He probably could."


"That's what Ryan said about Everest.  And you guys are right.  He probably could, but he

doesn't even need to in order to almost die.  He can accomplish that on a fricking Christmas

card sleigh ride!"


She was quiet a while again then said, "I almost didn't marry him after that."  When he

cocked a brow she went on.  "Yeah, I was afraid to keep on keeping on with him at that

point.  I thought I'd be better off, you know, just stopping it all."


"And what changed your mind?"


"Edith, my darling, wonderful, Edith.  She helped me focus in on what it would be like for

him if I left him standing at the altar.  She was right.  I was thinking more of my own pain

than of his."




"And what?"




"And am I still doing that?"


"Um hm.  It's a very human thing to do."


"I'm very, very human," she sighed.  "But you're right.  It's my projection of future pain that

I guess I focus future pain."


"And Marshall, does he have any present pain?"


"Present pain?  What do you...oh, yeah, well, my projections give him a lot of present pain."

She closed her eyes.  "They really do, don't they?"


"You'd know that better than I would, luv."


"You know, Terry, something else has been bothering him, too."


"What's that, luv?"


"Well, he spends a lot of time here talking with Luke about blindness, trying to help Luke

adapt, you know.  He's a born teacher and he's really good with him, but Luke talks a lot

about seeing, the loss of seeing, because he's only recently become blind."


"And that bothers"


"Did he ever speak with you about the 'punctures'?"


"Punctures? Ah, yes, in Tuscany.  I was by the pool and he came out and joined me.  I'd been

star gazing and he asked me if I thought they looked at all like punctures.  Is that what you



"That's it.  Did he explain about that?"


"He did and he said it really disturbed him because it brought home to him he didn't know

what seeing was.  Said he'd had to let go of that in order to be who he is."


"It was a year ago Christmas, Terry, just down the lane, and here we are again and now

Luke keeps talking about how come Marshall doesn't understand what seeing is."


"Ah, I can see...understand...why that would bring it up for him.  It's a different world, Eden,

and I can't begin to fathom what it's like for him.  I try to imagine it, but it's not possible.

Seeing  You can't explain it."


"He's tried so hard to grasp it, even the barest bit of it, but he can't.  I can see on his face that

it's bothering him again more than it has for a while.  Last year he even had me drive him back

to that spot where it happened and he got so frustrated because he couldn't understand."


"Thanks for giving me a head's up on this, Eden.  What, um, if we walk a bit out in that field

so Wadsworth can run around?"


"Good idea.  Throw a snowball and he'll try to catch it."


Terry did and Wadsworth opened his mouth, chomping down on it, sending ice crystals flying,

then shaking his head to clear them away.  Terry laughed.  "What a sight!"  Then he thought

how Marshall had never seen it. 


Eden was stomping her feet in the cold.  "I guess we'd best be going back in," he suggested.

"Eden, I don't know what to say, luv, to help much with your projections.  All I can offer is

what Edith seems already to have said.  Focus in, if you can, on what he's feeling, what's

bothering him, how your projections affect him, more than on yourself.  I'm not about to say

that's an easy thing to do, but love finds a way, you know.  Love puts the beloved first.  That's

the way of it and I know you love that man with all your heart."


She smiled up at him, her cheeks and nose bright red.  "Terry, you're a good friend and I owe

you absolutely everything."


"Ah, Eden, the two of you have given me more than I could ever ask."


"Mutual admiration.  Let's leave it at that.  I need hot cider."


"Maybe a cuppa," he grinned.  "Something hot, for sure."


Back inside he hung her coat for her and she plopped on the couch beside Marshall, sticking

her cold hands up under his sweater.


"Ahhh!" he cried.  "Cold!"


"Tell me about it, husband.  I nearly frozed my tootsies off out there."


"Well, give me your feet, woman."




"Hmmm what?"


"Just trying to figure out how to keep my hands up your sweater and maneuver my feet into

your lap at the same time."


"Pretzels do it."


"I'm not salty enough."


"But tasty," he grinned.  He heard her boots thump on the floor, quickly followed by a pair of

cold feet on his lap.  Taking them in his large, warm hands, he began to rub them, smiling when

she sighed contentedly. 


"Better, wife?"


"Much better, husband."


"You saw the lake, Terry?" he asked.


"Sure did."


"Tell me about the lake...about what you saw."


Terry sucked in a long breath.  "It's very calm tonight, Marshall, no movement but a slight

lapping at the shoreline.  No boats, no animals, just a big, flat surface with the moonlight spread

all over it like a silver blanket.  Trees off to the left are bare, just dark branches against the

dark sky.  Air was still, too, crisp, quite cold.  Snow lying on everything, even the dock, making

it all bright despite the night.  I could see Wadsworth's breath, like little cloud puffs coming

out of his mouth.  Eden's and mine, too."


Marshall smiled with his lips together.  "Thanks, Terry.  You're good at that."


Terry cleared a sudden thickness from his throat.  "So, you and Amalie had a chance to talk?"


"We did, indeed.  We shared comparisons of the Lake District.  She's very fond of it just like

I am."


"Are you?"  Terry took her hand.


"We haven't had a chance yet to get into Wordsworth and daffodils," she smiled.


"Ah, no.  I guess we've done lava and broken columns instead."


"We will.  I'll get you there and have my wicked way with you in the daffodils yet."


"Wicked, eh? I like the sound of that."


"Very, very wicked."


"The wickeder the better."


"Wickeder?" she laughed.  "That's not a word and you say that in front of a college professor?"


"It's all right, Amalie," Marshall grinned.  "I know all about wickeder."


"And I taught him," Eden smirked.


A sharp snort of a laugh burst out of Marshall.  "She did.  She really did."


"So...are you ready for bed, my love?" she asked in a provocative voice.


Terry laughed really loudly and Amalie clapped a hand over his mouth.  "See you in the

morning," he managed, mostly muffled.