10:45: THE GYM
"There you go. One more rep. C'mon… I know your energy's flagging, but push yourself. This is the last time. Almost… almost. Good. You can let go, I've got it." The trainer said as he replaced the barbell in its supports. "That was great work for a first session. You should be proud."
"Yeah. I'll be… proud once I can… breathe again and I'm… not in so much pain…" Evan panted in response.
"A hot shower'll take care of the worst of it. Trust me, once you get used to working out two or three times a week, you won't feel it unless you really overdo and I won't let that happen."
Slowly, with muted groans and a few grimaces, Evan lifted his achy back off the weight bench and moved into a sitting position.
"I'll believe that when it happens. Thanks, Jacob. I may not look much like it right now, but I appreciate you taking the time to get me started."
"No problem. I'm here for both of you now. You have a long way to go to catch up to Boris, but you'll get there."
"Is it okay if I ask exactly how far?"
"You can ask, but neither one of us will tell you." Boris teased lightly as he entered the room. He extended a hand as he neared the other two men. Evan moaned quietly once more, accepted the offering and levered himself onto his feet. "Go wash and dress, little one. Lunch is in an hour."
Evan nodded and trudged off, mopping his face. Boris waited until he was well out of earshot before fixing Jacob with a stare the other man understood well. Boris had asked a question when the trainer arrived earlier that morning and a response was now being demanded.
"Yes, I'd recommend a thorough physical. You know I always do, just to be completely safe. He seems to be in reasonable shape, though. Strong, determined and his breathing looks good. He could do with more good food and a regular schedule of cardio and muscle building… but all in all, not bad."
"I'm taking care of the nutrition."
"I suspected as much. You've never done this for anyone. He must be something special."
"He is. Very much so in fact, but none of it is my doing."
"Despite the erroneous belief of centuries of alchemists, one does not create gold, Jacob. It can be refined, just as rough gems can be shaped and polished… but nature is responsible for their inherent beauty and value. So it is with Evan. Come to dinner three weeks from now and you'll see for yourself. Just a small gathering… twenty or thirty guests."
"Only in the Hamptons is that considered a small party. I should be able to be there."
"Good. I'll look forward to it."
"Since you're not dressed to exercise…"
"Just a short physical therapy session today. Knees, back… you understand."
"You're the boss. C'mon over and sit and I'll get started…"
"That was so good, Boris. The best yet."
"It pleases me to see you enjoying your meals. If you're finished, we have a few things to discuss."
"Yeah, I'm done. What's up?"
"First of all, Jacob has recommended a complete medical workup before you continue your training. Considering the tension between you and Hank, I'm assuming you wouldn't want him to be involved."
"I'm not sure he'd do it, even if I *did* ask."
"True. So… Miss Casey or Miss Kadare?"
"They probably feel the same way. Either that or they don't wanna be in the middle, which I wouldn't blame them for."
"On the contrary, I have it on good authority that both ladies currently believe Hank is acting… well, like a horse's hind quarters."
"Huh. If you say so. I trust your sources, whoever they are."
"As well you should. Of the remaining two, who would your choice be?"
"Yeah… Divya may not be on Hank's side, but she can barely stand to be in the same room with me either, so it better be Jill."
"As you wish. I'll contact her in the morning. However, you might want to invite young Divya in for a conversation at some point. I think you'll find you've misjudged her."
"I believe so. How much will be up to the two of you to discover. Now to the next point I wished to bring up. After dinner tonight I want you to take some time and make a short list of the subjects and hobbies you most want to explore. Over the next few weeks and months we'll take them one by one and see which ones you have an aptitude for and what you might want to dedicate yourself to studying."
"Outside of math and architecture, you mean."
Boris 'mm-hmmed' and sipped his coffee. Evan shook his head, rose and moved to the balcony railing. "Months… wow. Every time I think I've got a handle on the time-table for all this, it punches me in the gut all over again. It's not like I didn't know what I was committing to. When I said yes, I was in my right mind, I swear. It's just so completely…"
"And you're frightened of what the changes might bring?"
"No, I'm not. I should be, but I'm not. See, the thing is that this is only the third day and somehow… I trust you so deeply. It's hard for me to give that to anybody at all and I've never been able to do it so fast. My heart says there's nothing wrong, that it was only a matter of time before it happened, but my head… my head doesn't get it and it's telling me I'm in trouble and…"
Boris moved swiftly to Evan's side and silenced him with a hand on the shoulder and quiet words.
"When you created the origami rose…"
"It is. It's about that. He didn't just drill it into me, okay? He set it in cement then etched it in the cement with acid. 'You can only believe in us, Evan. Only Pop and Hank. We're the only ones who won't screw you or let you down.' It pounds in my brain sometimes…"
Abruptly, Evan turned to face his new mentor. "How did you get through all that noise and shut it off? How?"
"You tell me. Think back to those first moments and work out the answer."
Evan was silent for a long time, staring into Boris' eyes and fighting the soporific effect of the now-familiar fingers on his scalp. When it came to him, the truth was shocking and unsettling, but he spoke it without hesitation.
"You took control. Right off… you just took control. Then you showed me I could take it back. God, you… you trusted me first."
"Very well reasoned. Shall we walk in the gardens again?"
"Yeah… I mean yes. Please."