Summary: Elijah chats with his sister Hannah via webcam in hopes she'll accept his new life with Sean.
Word Count: 2,819
Author's Notes: As we said at the completion of our main story, we plan to continue writing in the Sanctuary Universe, following Sean and Elijah as they begin their life together.
“I can’t believe you did this,” Elijah told Sean.
“So you’ve said,” Sean responded with a smile.
It was true, Elijah had expressed the same sentiment when the satellite company had come to erect the tower, then again a week later when they’d come to set up the system, as well as at least a dozen times in-between, but he couldn’t help himself. It wasn’t as if Sean was doing this for himself. He liked the isolation, preferred being cut off from the outside world. Sean wouldn’t even have a phone if Tilda hadn’t bought him a cellular and paid for the service. There was only one reason he would arrange for internet service at the cabin. He’d done it for Elijah.
“But it’s got to be expensive.” Another concern Elijah had voiced many times during the past two weeks.
Sean gave him the same reply he had before. “I can afford it, Elijah. If a time comes that I can’t, we can worry about it then, but in the meantime, I want you to enjoy it.”
“I know you did this for me, Sean, but it wasn't necessary.”
“Necessity had nothing to do with it. I know how much you miss your sister and your friends.”
“But we have the cell now,” Elijah countered.
Sean shook his head. “I have never seen anyone so reluctant to accept a gift. Are you telling me you won’t like being online again?”
“Of course I will,” Elijah admitted.
“Then let me do this for you, Elijah. This is your home now. I want you to be happy here.”
“I am happy here," Elijah protested, "and I like the cabin just the way it is.” He realized that he really meant it. All the trappings Pedar had provided had done nothing to make him feel like more than a guest at the brownstone. Sean’s presence there was what made the cabin feel like a home. It was being with Sean that made him happy there. He didn’t need anything else.
”I like being with you. You don't have to pay me for it.”
As much as he wanted Sean to know how he felt, remembering his words to Pedar made Elijah hesitate. He knew that any comparison to Pedar would hurt Sean, so he said nothing.
“So do I,” Sean told him, “but I think I’ve been out of touch long enough. If I’m going to start writing again, I’ll need to do some research, see what’s going on in the world.”
Even though he didn’t really believe that, Elijah gave in. “It’s awesome,” he said, catching Sean in a hug. “Thank you, Sean.”
Obviously pleased, Sean's face spread into a wide grin. “And there’s one more gift.”
“No, Sean,” Elijah objected, “the internet access is already too much. You shouldn’t be spending any more money on me. It’s not right.”
Sean looked sheepish. “Well...this doesn’t really count as more, Elijah.”
“How do you figure?”
“Because it’s all part of the same gift. You see, I decided that if I was going to get the satellite hookup, I wanted to do it right, so I had them set up a wireless connection.” When Elijah didn’t interrupt, Sean went on. “My laptop is an older model, without wireless capabilities, so I bought a new one. I don’t know enough about computers to choose the right one, but my editor, Karen, is a real computer expert, so I asked her to do some research for me. I told her you were into music, movies and photography, and asked her to check into which programs she thought you’d enjoy using, and what kind of computer power you’d need to run them. After she called with the specs, I had a laptop built to order.”
“You bought a new laptop for yourself,” Elijah said. “That’s great, Sean. So you’ve decided to stop writing your books in longhand?”
Sean shook his head. “It’s obvious I’m not making myself clear here. I ordered the laptop and all the programs Karen recommended because the new laptop is for you, Elijah.”
Elijah’s eyes widened. “You bought it...for me?”
“Finally, the light dawns,” Sean said with a smile. “Of course for you. And it’s even got a webcam, so instead of using the keyboard to chat with Hannah, you can talk with her face-to-face.”
“I don’t know what to say, Sean.”
“You don’t have to say anything, Elijah. You just have to enjoy it.”
Two weeks later, on a brisk Saturday morning in October while Sean was across the lake visiting with Tilda, Elijah sat in front of his new laptop, ready to make his first web call to Hannah. He’d been going over in his head all the things he wanted to say to her, but when his sister’s face appeared on the laptop’s 17.5” screen, the first words out of his mouth were, “You went blonde!”
“I needed a change,” Hannah told him.
“I like it much better than the red.”
“Thanks. You look good, too.”
“I am good. It’s the country air and exercise.”
Hannah frowned. “Who are you, and what have you done with my brother?”
Elijah grinned. “It’s still me, Hannah, just the new and improved version.”
“You do look healthier,” Hannah admitted.
“I feel healthier. I’m eating better now, no junk food. Sean’s a great cook and he’s teaching me how to cook, too. I even stopped smoking.” He glanced over at the bed and smiled. “And I’m sleeping through the night now. I hardly have nightmares anymore.”
“That’s great,” Hannah said without much enthusiasm.
Now Elijah frowned. Something was definitely wrong here. “What’s going on, Hannah?”
“Look," she began, "I told myself I’d try to be supportive, but living out in the middle of nowhere, taking nature walks, that isn’t you, Elijah.”
“It is me,” Elijah insisted. “It’s who I am now, and I like living here, but I’d be happy living anywhere Sean is. Why can’t you just be happy for me?”
“I would be if I thought this was what you really wanted, but what do you know about this man you’re living with?”
“Dammit, Hannah,” Elijah bristled, “stop calling him this man. His name is Sean, and I know everything I need to know. I love him, and he loves me.”
Hannah’s expression softened. “You said Pedar loved you,” she said gently, “and that you loved him.”
“I only thought I loved Pedar,” Elijah told her, “but I know he never loved me. Being with Sean showed me what real love is.”
“But is it really love?”
“Hannah—“ Elijah protested, but she cut him off.
“Elijah, listen to me. I don’t want to hurt you. I just don’t want you to make another mistake.”
“This isn’t a mistake.”
“I’m not saying you don’t care for him—for Sean—but he helped you when you needed it, took care of you after Pedar beat you. Are you sure you aren’t confusing love with gratitude?”
Elijah wanted to be angry, but how could he blame Hannah for asking that question? Hadn’t Sean voiced that same concern to him? Hadn’t that mistaken belief almost kept them apart?
“It might have started out like that,” Elijah admitted. “Sean took care of me, but he never took advantage of me, not even after I told him I was gay. He was worried about the same thing you are. It’s the reason he didn’t tell me he was gay, so I wouldn’t feel obligated and try to pay him back with sex.”
Hannah nodded. “I’ll give him good guy points for that, but if Sean thought it might be true, how can you be sure it isn’t?”
“Because I know how I feel. Living here with Sean, I got to know him really well. He’s a good man, the most honest and caring man I’ve ever met. When I first got here, I couldn’t stand being touched, and I didn’t think I’d ever be able to have sex with another man, any man, without thinking about Pedar. Sean was so patient with me, so kind. He never pushed me to tell him what happened, but I finally did, and I felt better. Then one day, I realized I wasn’t afraid anymore. Maybe it started out with me being grateful to Sean, but it would take more than that for me to spend the rest of my life with him. I fell in love with him, Hannah. I love him in a way I never loved Pedar.”
“And he fell in love with you?”
“Yes, he fell in love with me, but he was willing to let me go until he was sure it wasn’t just gratitude that made me want to stay with him.”
Hannah didn't look convinced. “Don't you think it's odd that he's made all these improvements since you got here?”
“Improvements?” Elijah echoed. “What do you mean?”
“Come on, Elijah. When you first wrote to me, you told me Sean didn’t even have a phone. Now suddenly he’s got a cell phone and he's arranged for internet access?”
Elijah shook his head. “Not odd. The cell phone was a gift from Tilda, and Sean arranged for the internet access because he knew how much I missed talking to you, Billy and Dom. He did it so I’d be able to get in touch with you whenever I wanted.”
“Or maybe he knew they were the perfect bribes to get you to stay.”
“If you believe that,” Elijah said coldly, “then you must think even less of me than you do of Sean.”
“That’s not fair, Elijah.”
“No, Hannah, what’s not fair is—“ The sound of movement had Elijah’s head turning in the direction of the front door. “Oh God!” he cried. “Sean! Wait!” But Sean had already gone back outside. Elijah rushed out after him and found Sean standing on the porch, leaning against the rail and looking out into the distance. Stopping in the doorway, Elijah asked, “How much of that did you hear?” he asked.
Sean hesitated, then admitted, “I came in just in time to hear your sister's opinion of me.”
“Fuck, Sean, I’m so sorry for what Hannah said. You know I never thought you were trying to bribe me, right?” When Sean didn’t answer right away, Elijah felt a tightness in his chest. Stepping out onto the porch, he said in an anxious voice, “Please, Sean, tell me you know I don’t believe that.”
Sean nodded. “Of course I do, Elijah, but Hannah believes it, and that’s what matters. Look at it from her point of view. Her brother finds a cabin by chance, and a month later he tells her he's in love with the man who lives there, someone he barely knows. You can't blame her for being concerned.”
Elijah let out the breath he'd been holding. Sean didn't doubt him. “I do know you, Sean," he said, "and if Hannah knew you like I do, she’d realize how wrong she is about you.”
Sean turned around to face him. “Then maybe it's time she got to know me.”
“You want to go to New York?” Elijah asked in surprise.
Sean smiled. “No. I think Hannah should come here for a visit. Why don't you invite her here for Thanksgiving?”
“That would be awesome, Sean, but..."
When Elijah didn't finish his thought, Sean asked, "What is it, Elijah? Don't you want your sister to come here?"
Elijah bit his bottom lip, embarrassed that the problem concerned money. "Of course I do. It's just that...I’m not sure she can afford the plane fare.”
"Is that all?" Sean chuckled. "You tell Hannah that if she agrees to come for a visit, I’ll be happy to pick up the tab.”
Elijah was at the rail in an instant. He threw his arms around Sean's neck and planted quick kisses all over his face. “Thankyouthankyouthankyou!” he said, the words coming out in a torrent of emotion.
“Hold your thanks until after she says yes,” Sean said with a grin. At the sound of Hannah’s voice coming from inside the cabin, he suggested, “Since she's still online, why don’t you ask her now?"
"Shit," Elijah swore, "I forgot we were still connected." He went back inside and sat down in front of the laptop again.
Hannah looked out at him from the computer screen, her face a mixture of relief and exasperation. "Dammit, Elijah, you scared the hell out of me. Why did you run out of the room like that?"
"I had to go after Sean," Elijah explained. "He heard you say you thought he was trying to bribe me to stay with him."
Hannah shifted uncomfortably. “I’m sorry.”
“I'm not the one you should be apologizing to," Elijah told her. "I don't understand you, Hannah. You haven't even met Sean and you've already made up your mind about him. Why would you do that?"
"Because I'm worried," Hannah explained.
"Worried about what?" Elijah wanted to know.
"That things are moving too fast. You lived with Pedar for three years, and only a few weeks after you left him you moved in with someone else. I've got nothing against Sean, Lijah. I'm just afraid you're jumping from one relationship into another without giving yourself time to think things through."
“I did nothing but think when I got here. The first couple of days I was pretty out of it, dizzy and nauseous from the beating. Sean wanted to take me to the hospital, but I wouldn’t let him because I was afraid they’d call the police and Pedar would find me. So Sean took care of me. For days, all I did was rest and think about my life. I knew leaving Pedar was the right thing to do, but I had no idea what I was going to do next. I would have been on my way as soon as I felt better, but the garage didn’t have the parts to fix Dom’s car so I couldn't leave."
"I'm sure it was for the best. It gave you more time to recover."
"You don't get it, Hannah. Me running off the road right here, and the garage not having the parts. It's like it was all meant to happen because it gave me the time I needed to get to know Sean, and to fall in love with him."
"And was it meant to be for Sean, too?" Hannah asked.
"I think it was. He was in a relationship for ten years, then a year ago his lover died from cancer. Sean was living out here all alone, cut off from everything and everyone. He was hiding from life, and suddenly I showed up on his doorstep. Sean said my being here forced him to start living again. And he realized it was okay to love someone again." When Hannah still looked skeptical, Elijah tried, "The only way you're going to be convinced is if you meet Sean and get to know what a great guy he is, so that's what's going to happen."
Hannah looked surprised. "You two are coming to New York?"
Elijah had expected his sister had come to the same conclusion he had when Sean had suggested they meet. "No, you're going to come here. Sean and I want you to spend Thanksgiving with us."
"I don't know, Elijah."
"I know you don't have classes. Did someone else invite you for Thanksgiving?"
"No, but Thanksgiving is the busiest travel day of the year, and air fares have gone up again. I'm not sure I can afford--"
"Sean offered to pay for your ticket," Elijah cut her off, "so you have no excuse. And I swear, Hannah, if you say the ticket is another bribe..."
"I wasn't going to say that," Hannah swore, although it was obvious she was thinking it. "Tell Sean I appreciate the invitation and the ticket."
"And you can also tell him that I won't be giving this relationship my blessing until I'm sure he's the right man for my brother."
"Nice to know you're still looking out for me, Sis," Elijah said with brotherly love.
"Somebody has to," Hannah replied sternly, then her face broke into a grin.
Elijah grinned back at her. "I love you, Hannah."
"I love you, too, Monkey."
Elijah was still smiling when he found Sean out back in the garden. "Hannah says thank you for the invitation and the ticket."
Sean looked at him quizzically. "I suppose she thinks my paying for the ticket is another of my devious bribes."
"It doesn't matter what Hannah thinks," Elijah told him. "Once she gets here she'll realize she was wrong, and by the time she leaves she'll love you as much as I do." He wrapped his arms around Sean's waist and hugged him tightly. "This is going to be the best Thanksgiving ever!"