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Cigarettes and Whispered Words.

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One.

She's only known Roman Godfrey for a few hours but Lynda thinks there's something more to the relationship the upir has with her son than mere acquaintanceship. It's just a feeling, mother's intuition maybe, but it seems clear as day to her. After all, Peter has never shown an outsider the transformation and, by extension, he's certainly never turned it into such a performance, but maybe that's because he's never had such an entranced audience. Roman is towering beside her, his eyes wide, mouth hanging open slightly. She can hear Peter's spine snapping, can hear his agonized groans as his bones reshape themselves but she's heard it all before; the noises hardly make her wince. What she's more interested in is Roman's reaction. His gaze doesn't falter the entire time, even when Peter's eyes pulse out from between his fingers and drop to the ground with a quiet splat.

“Beautiful,” Roman whispers with nothing less than pure reverence in his voice. The wolf has consumed Peter now and is standing in front of them licking at the last bits of pale flesh on the ground. Slowly, Roman drops down to a crouch and reaches his hand out. His entire arm is trembling, visibly wavering as he leans further forward.

“Peter?” he asks and Lynda can see a spark of recognition in the wolf's eyes but then he's gone, bounding off into the forest. Roman stares after him for a few moments before suddenly leaning to the side and throwing up. When he stands back up, he wipes the back of his hand across his mouth and coughs, his gelled hair starting to fall into his eyes.

“That was the most beautiful thing I've ever seen,” he says softly, staring down at Peter's pawprints in the soft dirt.

“I'm glad,” Lynda replies and even though her instincts tell her to send the upir home, she lets him back into her house so that he can rinse the taste of vomit out of his mouth. He stays silent the entire time, obviously lost deep in thought, but he manages to halfheartedly thank her for the glass of water before he takes off again.

She's still skeptical about how good of an idea it is for Peter to be friends with a Godfrey but at the very least, it doesn't seem like Roman will reveal their secret any time soon. The sheer amazement in his eyes had been all the evidence she needed for that.

Two.

A week later, she comes home from visiting Destiny to find Roman's red Jaguar parked at the top of the hill. She finds them outside in front of the trailer, perched in two wobbly lawn chairs that had come with the trailer, passing what she first takes to be a joint back and forth. But as she gets closer, she can't smell any pot; it's just a normal cigarette that they're sharing, switching off with it every thirty seconds or so. It's a simple action and it really shouldn't mean anything but when she goes up to Peter to tousle his hair, she can see that they've both got their own separate packs of smokes; Peter's are in the pocket of his jacket while Roman's are sitting in his lap. There's no real reason for them to be sharing but there they are, seemingly happy with their arrangement.

“How was your day?” she asks them both. Peter takes a deep drag off the cigarette before passing it over to Roman, who plucks it from Peter's fingers with a natural grace.

“Fine,” Peter shrugs, craning upwards to kiss her cheek.

“Same shit, different day,” Roman adds, blowing a smoke ring towards the sky. Lynda chuckles and musses Peter's hair up more.

“I'm gonna go start up supper. Will you still be around, Roman?” The upir glances at her son, long enough for there to be an exchange between them. It's an entire conversation, spoken only through their eyes and Lynda actually takes a step back because she has never seen Peter have that kind of bond with anyone. Hell, she doesn't even know if she's ever had that kind of bond with someone and she's got twenty years on them. For that matter, she doesn't think she's ever shared a cigarette with someone, not withstanding the times where money was scarce and they had to make do with nubs picked off the ground.

“Sure, I'll stay for a bit.” She smiles at them both because words seem to have fled her mind and she makes her way inside. While she's waiting for the water to boil to make spaghetti, she glances out the living room window, her mind racing with innumerable thoughts. Roman is lighting another cigarette from his own pack and he takes only the shallowest of puffs before passing it over to Peter.

Her mother's intuition shivers. There's certainly something going on, something she can't quite understand. But she manages to put it out of her mind long enough to make the spaghetti and at dinner, Peter and Roman seem like nothing more than good friends.

Raising a teenager is undoubtedly one of the most confusing things she's ever done.

Three.

Two days after the cigarette incident, Peter breaks one of the already wobbly lawn chairs. While he's running to catch the bus, he trips over his cat and, arms pinwheeling, falls onto the thing, which immediately snaps into a number of plastic pieces. It isn't a huge deal; the thing was just about ready for the burn barrel anyways. Later that day, while she's getting some groceries, she comes across one that someone had put along the curb for garbage collection. It's a little stained but its legs are solid and all it really needs is a good wash. She shoves it into the back seat and when she gets back, Roman's car is once again parked at the top of the hill. She glances down towards the house and sees them and the sight makes her stop in her tracks.

Peter's never really had a problem with people being in his personal space; she thinks it comes from growing up in a life where sharing a one bedroom apartment was often the norm. But she still hadn't expected him to be so comfortable sharing a hammock with somebody.

By all rights, Roman's legs are probably too long for the damn thing; one of them is dangling over the edge, expensive shoes brushing the ground, while the other is tucked up on the hammock. At the other end, Peter doesn't seem to have the same problem; from her vantage point, Lynda thinks that it looks like his legs are bracketing Roman's body. His arms are tucked underneath his head and, unsurprisingly, they're passing either a cigarette or a joint back and forth. She picks up the chair and drags it down the stairs and even though she's making a hell of a lot of a noise, neither Roman or Peter make any attempt to move. But they don't seem to be talking either; they're just sitting there, almost wrapped around each other, smoking in silence.

“Hey Mom. Want some?” Peter asks, holding the joint in her direction. Now that she's up close to them, she can see that Peter's leg is lying across Roman's thigh. On the other side, Roman's arm is draped around his pulled-up knee and is casually thrown across Peter's shin, like it's the most normal thing in the world. For them, maybe it is.

“I'll pass for now. I brought home a chair,” she says, dropping the new chair beside its older counterpart.

“Thanks Mom,” he murmurs around the joint. “You didn't have to do that. Was my fault.”

“It's fine, baby. Damn thing was old anyways.” She leans over to kiss his temple and, after taking another quick glance at how Roman's long, spindly fingers are slowly moving back and forth against the worn denim of Peter's jeans, she plucks the joint from her son's fingers.

“On second thought, a drag might be nice.”


Four.

As the days and weeks go by, Peter comes home later and later. It doesn't really bother Lynda that much; she knows Peter can take care of himself, knows that if he actually needed help, he'd ask for it. Even with that knowledge, however, she finds it hard to sleep until she hears him bang through the front door, muttering to his cat, kicking his boots off and tromping into the kitchen.

One Tuesday, a week after the full moon, Peter comes home from school on the bus and doesn't leave. He throws his backpack in his bedroom, collapses on the couch and stays there for the rest of the night, staring aimlessly at the tiny television that Destiny had given them. He responds to her questions but otherwise stays silent, scratching his cat's head when the animal jumps up onto his stomach, his eyes oddly vacant. She thinks that she should maybe ask him what's wrong, but Peter's never been one for talking when he doesn't want to. There were times when he was just a kid when he'd go nearly a week without talking, just because he hadn't had anything to say. That isn't the case here; Lynda is sure that Peter has plenty to say. She just doesn't think that she's the one he wants to say it to.

She goes to sleep around eleven o'clock but a loud bang wakes her up far too soon. She grabs for the knife she keeps under her pillow, flicks her eyes over to her alarm clock (which reads 1:37 AM) and kicks off the blankets, slinking over towards her half-open door. When she recognizes Peter's voice, she relaxes but he's got someone with him and after a moment, she recognizes that voice too. Normally, she'd leave Peter and Roman alone (especially considering what she's witnessed over the past little while) but Peter's speaking quickly, his words rushing out and she throws the door open, current state of clothing be damned. She drops the knife on the kitchen counter and continues on into the living room. The front door is still half open and there's a puddle of water leading from it to the couch. Peter is speaking rapidly in Romani, the words flowing effortlessly from his mouth and he's kneeling on the floor, cradling Roman's face in his hands. Roman's fingers are wrapped around Peter's wrists and even from across the room, Lynda can hear him hyperventilating. His waterlogged black coat is on the floor beside him and Lynda knows that she should be telling them both off for making such a mess of the place but she can suspects that there are tears mixed in with the rainwater running down Roman's pale face so she leaves it for now.

Roman.” It's the first English word Lynda has heard Peter say the entire time and she's never heard her son speak in such a tone. Roman's eyes are starting to refocus themselves and the first thing they focus back in on is Peter's face. Lynda doesn't know why Roman is on the verge of a panic attack, why he's soaked, why the only person her son seems to have connected to in this damn town is a teenage upir with enough damn issues to do ten kids. She does know, however, that Peter has this moment under control so, smiling reassuringly at him when he glances back over his shoulder, she retreats back to her bedroom.

She wakes up early the next morning and when she tiptoes out to the kitchen, she sets out three mugs for coffee because Roman is asleep on her couch, one of their woolen blankets draped over him. His long legs are half uncovered and she can see that he's wearing a pair of Peter's pajama pants, even though they are far too short for him. Peter is passed out in their lumpy armchair, still in his clothes from the night before, limbs draped over the armrests, hair dangling in his face.

She takes her coffee back to her bedroom. She's been getting more and more curious about the exact nature of Peter and Roman's relationship for some time but even though her intuition tells her that there's definitely something more than friendship going on, she likes having facts to back up her suspicions and all she has is that her son and his friend are strangely dedicated to each other and have little concept of personal space. That in itself doesn't mean anything.

She decides that it is too early to be contemplating such a complex issue; she needs at least two cups of coffee to really give the situation a proper examination but by the time she gets to that point, she's too distracted by a book she'd been meaning to read to pay it any further mind.

Five.

Roman and Peter leave together around noon but they're back again by one. Roman has fresh clothes on and his hair is slicked back; he looks normal, like the panic attack never happened. Both of them look less vacant and even before Peter shoots a telling look at her, she knows not to say anything. She's good at keeping secrets; it comes with the territory.

She goes back to reading her book until the early evening and then she makes supper (meatloaf this time) and listens to them talking in the living room. They're sitting side by side on the couch and once again, personal space seems to be non-existent. Peter is leaning forward to carefully roll a joint on the low coffee table but his leg is still touching Roman's, from his hip to his knee to his toes.

“Tell me how to say something in your language.” Lynda is pretty sure that Roman doesn't know how to ask for something; he simply demands it. Then again, she supposes that his last name provides the explanation for that. Peter doesn't seem to mind too much though; he simply shrugs and leans back, lighting the joint before slinging his arm against the back of the couch.

“What do you wanna know how to say?”

“I don't know. Anything.” Peter lets his head drop back against the couch and even from her spot in the kitchen, Lynda can track Roman's gaze directly to Peter's neck.

“Gadjo,” he finally murmurs, blowing smoke out of his mouth.

“What's that mean?”

“It means you, dumbass. It's someone who isn't Romani.” Roman snorts and grabs the joint from Peter's fingers, staring up at the ceiling.

“Gadjo,” he slowly says, the word approximating Peter's pronunciation of it. “Okay. Something else.” More and more phrases fall from Peter's mouth, ranging from the useful to the ridiculous to the vulgar. Roman recites them obediently after him, the Romani words sounding strange in his Godfrey mouth. Finally, just as Lynda takes the meatloaf out of the oven, Peter coughs once, having traded his joint for a cigarette.

“Want one to impress the ladies?” She peeks through the gap between the kitchen and living room just in time to see her son waggle his eyebrows like a cartoon creation. Roman snorts again and grins, an actual genuine grin. Lynda hadn't thought that the Godfreys were capable of such displays of emotion.

“Sure. Why the fuck not.” Peter coughs again and despite his apparent confidence, his face seems oddly flushed. It isn't that hot inside the trailer, even in the kitchen with the oven open (oops she mutters, closing it) and when he scratches at the back of his neck, she knows that he's actually embarrassed, even if he's trying to hide it with his raised eyebrows and lopsided smile.

“Me voliv tu,” he murmurs and Lynda nearly drops the knife she's holding. She's heard those words from Peter a number of times, is pretty sure that she taught him them herself. Roman doesn't seem to have noticed Peter's blush; he merely snatches their cigarette from the ashtray and takes a long drag, exhaling the smoke through his nostrils like a dragon.

“What's that mean? Something about sex?” Peter coughs again and his mouth opens and closes a few time like he's a fish drowning above water. Roman is still staring at him and Peter looks no closer to being able to spit the English translation out so Lynda clears her throat so that the upir turns to look at her instead.

“It means I love you,” she says, smiling at him before averting her eyes downward so that she can cut the meatloaf. She knows that she could have lied, could have said that the words meant something sexual but she knows that there's a reason Peter chose to say those words. If he'd wanted to teach Roman a pick-up line or something really filthy, he could have done that; lord knows Nikolai taught him some when he was younger. But he had specifically said me voliv tu and even if it means nothing to Roman, even if it's just a friendship (albeit a rather unusual one) from his perspective, it's obviously not from Peter's side. She knows her son, knows that she has never heard him say those words to anyone other than family.

“Well, I don't think that'll get me many girls, but I'll keep it in mind,” Roman says, sounding cool and casual like always. But still, Lynda thinks she can detect a hitch in his voice, something tiny. It might be her imagination, but she doesn't think so. Nonetheless, she brings them meatloaf and they eat in front of the television (which is showing some stupid infomercial that they all laugh at) and even though she didn't think it was possible, Roman seems to be even closer to Peter than before.

One.

It seems that over her entire life, her and Peter have always lived in places with thin walls, walls that aren't accustomed to holding in secrets. She's overheard women being beaten in the apartment next to them, heard divorces happen and heard a lot of makeup sex, more than she's ever had. But the day before the next full moon, she hears something else, something she's never heard before.

It's relatively late but she can't sleep and she decides to dig through her closet, through the multiple boxes she hasn't bothered to unpack yet. She grabs the nearest one and sits down in the closet, leaning against the other boxes but she's hardly peeled the tape off the one in her lap when she hears voices in Peter's room. The closet directly connects to her son's bedroom; hell, if she looks closely enough, she's pretty sure she can see a sliver of light from his lamp. Roman had popped over just after dinner and she'd left them to their own devices but now she can hear them talking, clear as day and even though she knows she should move away and stop listening, she can't.

“Did you mean what you said?” Roman's voice is low and smooth as glass and Lynda can't help but wonder how many times he's used that voice to get what he wants.

“What are you talking about?” There's a faint squeak of bed springs and Lynda can smell pot coming through the wall.

“Don't act stupid, dumbass. Me voliv tu. Did you mean it?” To Lynda's surprise, Roman doesn't butcher the phrase; he pronounces it perfectly this time, like he's been practicing in the days since Peter said it.

“Oh. Yeah. I mean... sheeit,” he groans.

“Sheeit,” Roman says quietly. He doesn't sound angry or even surprised, however; he sounds remarkably accepting, far more accepting than Lynda expected any Godfrey to be capable of. There's a period of long, anxious silence and it's all she can do not to get up and interrupt it, for the sake of both of them. But then she hears someone whisper and since it's Peter who says huh? afterwards, it has to be Roman.

“I said me voliv tu too, fuck,” he says loudly and his voice is followed by a noise that sounds suspiciously like a fist slamming into the wall.

“Bullshit,” Peter growls, a little bit of the wolf making its way into his voice. "Don't lie to me."

“I'm not fucking lying," Roman hisses in return, obviously unused to people not believing him. "I'll fucking show you." There's another loud squeak that she thinks sounds an awful lot like someone pouncing on someone else and that is when Lynda steadfastly stops listening. She's more inclined to be on Peter's side of the situation; not just because she's his mother but also because she's pretty sure that Roman Godfrey doesn't know how to love somebody.

It's more than her mother's intuition that says this is not going to end well. She has a bad feeling that it's going to end in pain and probably a little blood for everyone involved. But there's only so much she can do. Her son isn't a child anymore; he is a man, who can defend and take care of himself better than she could have ever taught him to. She has to give him the benefit of the doubt, even though every instinct she has as a Rumancek screams to keep her wolf away from an upir.

She trusts her son. She just hopes that he trusts Roman.