Title: "A Creature of Habit"
Rating/Classification: PG-13, angst-ish/sap-ish, Emmett pov, slash, second person.
Summary: QAFImprov #15, must use: milk - sunflower - supple - enhance. Written in about a half hour, this is a true improv. Emmett + memories of Hazelhurst + childhood lessons=ficlet.
Your mama used to make you drink one tall glass of milk every morning and one tall glass at night. The only difference was that she'd warm it up before bedtime and you always hated that...snuck the sweaty glass down the back stairs and to the kitchen so you could get a cube or two from the ice box and cool it down.
If you think about it, that pretty much set the tone for the next decade. You sneaking down the back stairs and having things the way *you* wanted. Things. People. Mostly people. Swinging on the porch swing with the preacher's son, pretending to talk religion as all of Hazelhurst walked past you on a Sunday afternoon and then meeting him after midnight in the Brewster's barn. You stole a cube or two from the ice box, then, too...watching it slide, melt, drip, down the stretched supple line of his spine before you stretched beneath him in the hay.
He told you that you tasted like cracked sunflower seeds...nutty brown and crunchy on his tongue and you laughed and laughed. You laughed all the way to the bus station because you were going to go north and become a star.
Mama cried when you said "good-bye" and told you to keep drinking milk and to behave yourself. You promised you would, swishing your wrist dramatically and reminding her that milk did a body good. You don't think she realized you were gay until the Greyhound pulled away.
You wrote her every week for the first four months you were in Pittsburgh. Her only reply in all that time was a copy of The Bible. She underlined the parts about Sodom and Gomorrah and various things in Leviticus. Maybe she'd finally figured out that religion wasn't what you'd been getting from Bobby Ray Hawkins. So, eventually, you stopped writing, stopped trying.
But you never stopped drinking one tall glass of milk every morning and one tall glass at night. George used to laugh and ask you how you could have a sensible habit like that and still want a new ass at the same time. You laughed, waving your hands, and told him, "Honey, I'll always do what I can to enhance this fabulous Emmett Honeycutt you see before you today!"
George is gone, of course. And your habits, both sensible and outrageous, remain. Which is why you find yourself up, at two a.m., after Babylon, still riding high off a little E and something fruity with an umbrella in it, and pouring soy milk into a glass.
Half-awake and yawning, Ted leans on the counter and simply watches as you stick the glass in the microwave for a minute, do a little dance as the seconds tick down, and then reach into the freezer for two cubes of ice.
"You could just drink it cold to begin with, you know," he laughs, softly, scratching his chest.
"I could," you agree, downing the milk so quickly that the ice doesn't even have time to melt. The cubes clink in the bottom of the glass and you fish them out with a triumphant smile. You watch them slide, melt, drip, down the stretched supple line of his spine before you stretch beneath him in bed. "But old habits, my dear Teddy, die hard."
He hoarsely tells you he loves you, and agrees..."*Very* hard."
In the morning, you're going to write your mama a letter and tell her "thank you" for making you into the man you are today, for teaching you the values of routine and health...and love. And even if she doesn't reply, you'll never stop trying. Not this time.
July 21, 2002.