PLEASE READ: I originally wrote this fanfiction as one whole thing, but I decided that it was too sprawling and the central focus - the scene on the balcony with the song playing - was weakened by the sheer amount of the build-up. So I decided to keep the two parts separate; this is the PREQUEL. You don't have to read it, but I think you'd gain a greater understanding of 'Mrs Robinson', and there would be more context. It also gives you an insight into other things; Meg's new boyfriend, how Herbert and Dan started dating, etc.
Anyway. A while ago in history we were watching Forrest Gump - because apparently our education is moot in the lead up to Christmas. And Mrs. Robinson by Simon and Garfunkel started playing, and one of my friends Ross started singing at the side of me. And something about the sound of it made me really sad, and yet really happy. So I searched it, and now it's all I listen to. This is a fanfiction based on that. If you can listen to the song whilst you read this, it might add to the ambiance. :)
DISCLAIMER: All characters belong to the amazing Mr. H.P. Lovecraft, great Stuart Gordon, exceptional Brian Yuzna, demi-god Jeffrey Combs, and equally wonderful Bruce Abbot. And then little old me did the writing, but I'm secondary, of course. :)
Prequel to Mrs Robinson
Herbert West would, in less than half an hour, be receiving an award.
It wasn't his first; it wouldn't, similarly, be his last. Ostensibly it was for his great achievements and breakthroughs in the laboratories of the Miskatonic Medical School. But Herbert thought otherwise; he suspected that it was some kind of bribe by the Dean Alan Halsey; something to tempt him out of his experiments concerning the dead and their imminent revival. He knew what the Dean thought of him; that he was inimical, an egoist, too wrapped up in his own world to care about anyone else.
And it was partly true. He wasn't an ego-centric maniac, but he would be the first to admit his hostility. He was a schizotypal scientist; and he wasn't going to change that to conform with the rest of society. He didn't want to: Dan was fine with him. That's all he cared about. Anyone beyond Dan Cain was inconsequential, unless they got in his way. Then he cared about them.
He did something about it. He always would.
Dan made an adjustment to his tie; he didn't need to, since it was already perfect, but he tweaked miniscule aspects of Herbert's appearance anyway. His tie, the sleeves, invisible creases near the lapels... Herbert let him, watching the grin he was trying to conceal, his excited eyes. He smiled, shaking his head. Dan looked up at him, beaming proudly with twinkling eyes. He looked just as he had the first time he'd met him in the morgue. Neat, handsome, serious.
"You're more worked up about this than I am," Herbert noted, one corner of his pastel-pink lips rising. His brown hair was combed back, though there was always a certain amount hanging near his pale left eye. He regarded his giddy friend with affection, an emotion he reserved for him alone. Dan pulled him into a sudden hug, Herbert groaning as his feet left the floor and he felt his chest being compressed painfully. Dan squeezed him for a further moment and let him down again, the people around them flicking certain glances that could be sized up with a few words; shocked, confused, disgusted, 'What the fuck', and so forth.
"I'm so proud of you," he explained, almost short on breath despite that fact that his chest was completely fine. Herbert shook his head, but he was still smiling. They were with a crowd of people who would be directed to their seats near the front, ready to reach the stage of the large auditorium to accept their awards.
"This was inevitable, Dan," Herbert sighed; Dan was about to interrupt, but Herbert continued, his voice acquiring a note of deep scepticism. "Besides; this was probably that fool Hill's idea, in the first instance." He scoffed; Dan noticed, again, the same expression he had used when claiming, mockingly, that Hill's ideas on the location of the will in the brain were 'interesting'. That scorn that should have made his face less attractive. Dan smiled. It didn't. Of course it didn't. "He hates me. He's jealous."
Dan shook his head, smiling. He wrapped an arm around Herbert's shoulder. He turned around, someone shouting his name behind them. He smiled, greeting the caller. Herbert bit his bottom lip, staring poisonously ahead.
Megan Halsey hurried up to them, giving Dan a casual hug and looking at Herbert uncertainly. He smiled at her a little evilly but could feel Dan's dissapointment. He immediately rearragned his features so they resembled something less of a mixture of a scowl and glare.
"Congratulations on the award," she offered, giving Herbert a quick pat on his shoulder. She was still wary around him; Dan told her that he was 'so sweet', but she had yet to see evidence of this side of Herbert's nature. She held with everyone else at the medical school with the exception of Dan; Herbert had no humane instincts in his bones.
At least he was pretending to be amicable. "Thank you," he returned, nodding once. Dan sighed, wiping his forehead, looking ravishing in his own suit, tall and dark. He turned to Meg, her pale blond hair curled lightly and her blue eyes warmer now they held him in sight.
"Where's your new boyfriend?" Dan asked, trying to find him in the crowd.
"Oh, he's probably with daddy," she dismissed, waving a hand. "He says he'd like to meet you...both of you," she added, taking a quick look at Herbert. He was staring carefully at Dan, so she turned away again, not sure that he was listening to her. "I talk about you a lot. He says he used to be in the Scouts when he was a kid...that you knew him..."
"What's his name again?" Dan asked. "Jamie..."
"Jack," Meg answered. "Jack Bretton. He said you used to call him 'Bobby Blue', or something like that."
Dan's eyes lit up with recognition. Meg nodded, glad that he'd remembered him from his Scouting days. Herbert's face accrued a certain hue of jealousy and Meg stood awkwardly, her short floral dress reaching above her knees.
"You should come over to the house after the ceremony," Dan said. Herbert said nothing, making no argument and no invitation of his own. Meg bit her lip uncertainly, regarding Herbert's icy face. Dan misunderstood her hesitancy, laughing airily.
"We won't make out in front of you for Christ's sake, Meg," he laughed, hugging Herbert to him gently. She laughed, though somewhat uncomfortably. She'd known about Dan and Herbert's relationship before they had. It was obvious Dan liked Herbert, and she could tell that Herbert returned his ardour; he acted differently around him, going out of his way to be kind and sensitive. Dan told her that he thought he was in love with Herbert but that he was being stupid; she disagreed supportively, coecering him to tell his friend how he felt. She knew if they started dating it would be awkward for her, since she had never really gotten along with the smaller man her good friend had chosen to room with, but it wasn't about her, and she had to accept that.
The same night she persuaded Dan to tell Herbert how he felt, the two became an item, although this secret was exclusive to the three of them alone.
"We'll be there," she said, thanking them and congratulating Herbert again, and she was moved along by one of the faculty and disappeared behind the crimson curtain.
Minutes after her swift departure the crowd of recipients assumed their seats near the front of the hall. Herbert was aware of Dan waving to him from the edge of the room and he smiled, amongst people he didn't like and waiting for an award he didn't particularly want. Still, he persevered. He quoted scientists and physicians to occupy his time and when it was his turn to accept the small silver trophy, he rose, elegantly, and accepted it gracefully. The audience clapped after a brief, gaping pause, and Herbert didn't know whether he looked intense and aggravated or sardonic and taunting. Dan was unhelpful; when he asked him that night, he simply kissed him and said that he'd looked 'as beautiful as always'. But he took the compliment readily.
When the prize-giving drew to a close the hundreds of people in attendance moved to the next hall, a larger room filled with long stretches of tables sporting fine delicacies and foods, with seating places set out accordingly. Herbert realised that there were seating placards and groaned. He decided not to eat and moved through the crowds to find Dan. He wasn't the tallest of men, and a lot of people pushed into him violently on their way to the food tables; but he felt that several of the shoves were intended.
In the end, he couldn't find Dan. It was dark outside, and the stars flecked the sky with supernal beauty. Sighing, Herbert found himsefl alone on the stone balcony, large and surrounded by an elegant metal raining reminiscent of the stonework in Romanesque structures, not in columns but rather as you'd expect to see in a sprialling staircase.
He placed his hands on this rail, staring down at the grounds, at the thick vegetation and the car park; two things that clashed so violently there was no ground in the middle for compromise. The music was playing loudly out here, and there was silence as the music changed. He inhaled, the air cold and refreshing in his mouth and on his neck. He listened to people below, milling about, people laughing and kissing.
They'd all die. All of them would die eventually, and eventually even their memories would face. Each one would be insignificant. And the world would finish, reposing in its charred, crusty repugnance, and none of this would matter. This was just a moment in time, in Forever. It would pass.
Herbert laughed, almost at the point of crying.
Why the Hell did he feel like crying?
He was pondering this fervently, ripping apart internally, when the music finally changed. He exhaled, the centre of his forehead aching, all the oxygen rushing out of him.
He grasped his head, waiting for the worst.