So you've found your way to my story… poor you. Warning, if you're looking for stories to satisfy your Matthew Reilly cravings whilst waiting an epically long time for a new scarecrow book, you're probably in the wrong spot. I cannot possibly attempt to write anything in the style of the impeccably talented Mr Reilly. Indeed, I suspect this story is truly a butchering of an incredible character but hey, my privilege as author, woo! I won't take up too much of your time but I feel this story does need a little explanation. I'm probably just projecting my own issues onto the poor scarecrow but hey, he just seemed too good and strong and perfect, made me wonder what he was hiding. Besides, the vulnerable, emotional side of him is hot too! If slashy themes (but no actual slash…yet.) offend you, please don't read this story. Feel free to hate it, but I'd appreciate it if you didn't flame me as I have enough self-esteem issues as is. One last note, this story is mostly cannon, set a while after Hell Island, only detail that I added that is hinted at but not blatantly stated is that Book and Juliet Janson are a couple, there's definitely chemistry between them in Area 7. Okay, I guess I can't really stall anymore, so on with the show. Read on at your own peril, it may be total trash, but (reasonably nice) reviews would help me improve! :p
There was no room to deny it anymore, Shane Schofield was frightened. He felt such an explosive need to let this out and end all the lies and the hiding. He'd been psyching himself for weeks, planning and replaying this scene in his mind until it drove him mad. But all this couldn't change that one small fact, he was terrified.
"What's eating you?" The soft voice of Buck Riley Jr. interrupted his thoughts. Schofield turned, surprised. Book II, as he was affectionately known, stood in the shadow of the doorway to the small backyard that was Mothers. Shane hadn't even heard him approach.
"Come on, I've known you long enough to know when something bothering you. Now, talk to me." Book said more insistently when Schofield didn't reply. He felt so powerless, overwhelmed. The perfect opportunity had presented itself, the one he had been waiting for but now, when it really mattered, the man who could singlehandedly destroy a submarine or save the world from nuclear bombardment was utterly stumped by two small words.
Because saying it out loud would make it so irrevocably real, and he wasn't sure he was ready for that. Hell, it was only recently that he'd allowed himself to acknowledge these feelings in his mind. They'd always been there, a mixture of confusion and disgust, unnamed, like a festering wound spreading bitterness and self-loathing until he just couldn't take it any longer. Saying it out loud might bring some small measure of relief but it was fraught with dangers more difficult than any he'd ever faced before. Torn between the immensity of the task before him and fear of his present situation becoming the rest of his life, he stayed silent until Book said slowly "Okay. Why don't you come back inside? Have a drink; I'll introduce you to Marietta, Juliet's friend. She's had her eye on you all evening." He teased good naturedly.
"What. No." The reaction was harsh and instinctive.
"You know, it's been a year, she wouldn't mind." Book continued gently, misinterpreting his abnormally angry response as outrage on his dead girlfriend's behalf. "In fact, I think she'd probably encourage you to keep on living."
Schofield turned away, almost laughing. Of course Book wouldn't understand. Nobody would understand because he was the Scarecrow, and the Scarecrow could not possible be… this. He almost cried tears of frustration. He was totally screwed and totally alone in this, his secret, shameful problem.
But it's not meant to be a problem! A frustrated voice in his head replied. Why can't I see that? Why can't they see that? "Why does this have to be so damn hard?"1
He didn't realise he'd said that aloud until Book inquired; "What is?"
Schofield could hear the notes of concern lacing the other man's slow deep voice. He wouldn't be concerned if he knew, Schofield thought bitterly, he'd be disgusted. And secretly, Shane thought he'd have every right to be. Could he do it? Actually confide in this man, this supposed best friend of his. God, he wanted to, needed to. He turned to face Book with courage and desperation welling up inside of him and before he'd had time to think, rationalise and realise this was a terrible idea, it finally came out. "Book," he said, staring at his friend with newfound intensity but shaking hands.
"Book, I'm gay."
Even to himself, his voice sounded soft, almost lost on the night breeze but Schofield knew Book had heard because his face said it all. Predominantly shock, but there were other emotions there that Schofield did not want to read. The few seconds that followed felt like an eternity. Nothing had changed physically, the evening was still falling, the air was still cool and the lights of the party still glimmered through the window, and yet, everything had changed. Book broke the now awkward silence with an exhaled,
"Um, yeah, whoa."
Eloquent as ever, Shane cursed. "Ah fuck, this isn't your problem. Forget I said anything. Don't ask, Don't tell and all that shit." Burying his hands in his pockets and unable to meet Book's eyes, he turned to get the hell outta there. He was stunned when a hand caught his shoulder and a gentle voice said, "wait."
That certainly stopped him. The small unexpected contact offered acceptance, even if he couldn't voice it and with it, Schofield was flooded with relief. Shane turned back bashfully, normally confident movements awkward. Unsure of what to do with his hands or where to look, he stared resolutely at the ground and fidgeted until Book spoke again.
"I'm sorry, that probably didn't help." He paused. "So, you're gay." His voice cracked a little on the last word as though his tongue was having difficulty twisting it around his teeth. "I'm cool with that and everything but you can't honestly tell me you didn't think I'd be surprised. After all, you and Libby were pretty serious. Are you sure, you know, about, being gay?"
The glare he received was answer enough.
"Shit, sorry, probably wasn't the right thing to say either." He backpedalled. "It's just; I'm having trouble understanding where Libby fits into this picture."
With that statement, fresh waves of guilt assuaged Schofield.
"She was a beard."
The confession was sharp and painful. Book nodded but offered no reply. Then, without a hint of judgement in his voice, he asked flatly "Did she know?"
"She suspected," Schofield replied, still staring at his feet. "But we never talked about it." He looked up sharply, straight into Books eyes, "I loved her, I really did. I would've married her, would've done right by her. Just, wasn't attracted to her." He could hear the attempt to justify his actions in his voice and even to his ears it sounded pathetic.
"So, you into any guys I know?" Came Book's surprising reply and before he could help himself, Schofield felt laughter bubble out of him.
"You don't want to be having this conversation with me."
"No your right, I don't." Book was laughing too. "But I'm really glad you told me. This can't have been easy on you. And most importantly, you need to know that you're still the scarecrow and I'm still your friend and the same goes for everyone in there," He jerked his head towards the window, "when you're ready to tell them. I love you man." He said somewhat clumsily. "In a platonic sense of course so don't go cracking on to me or anything." He added hastily.
Shane Schofield was stunned. He couldn't believe it all, the relief, the acceptance, the easy camaraderie. This had all gone much better than he could ever have anticipated.
"Don't worry," he snuffed a laugh, "you're not my type. And, thanks." He said simply.
"You know, your dad knew." He added as an afterthought as they moved towards the house.
"Really" Book II replied. "Come on, I think you need a beer." He said, clapping the other man's shoulder and smiling.
1. Okay, I might have semi borrowed this line, if you know where it's from then you're as much a loser as I am!