|Primary Characters:|| La Cour, Fischer
|Description:||Set right after the ending of the series. After Fischer’s left for the Hague, La Cour has a feeling something’s wrong. He goes to see his friend. He turns out to be very understanding of Fischer’s situation.
Allan Fischer heard his plane be announced, picked up his hand luggage and walked towards the gate. Walking at his usual pace hurt. He was still in pain after the beating. When the case was over at last, there had been no time to try and get over what had happened. Besides, what was there to do?
At the hospital, he’d been told that he had some broken ribs, but no internal hemorrhaging. They had wanted to keep him for observation, in case he had a concussion, but he hadn’t been able to spare the time. His new job was waiting for him in the Hague. If he’d postponed the trip – what would he do? He’d promised to see a doctor when he got there, but he was already making up excuses to get out of it. As long as he didn’t have any other symptoms than a dull, persistent ache, it wasn’t necessary. He’d suffered similar injuries that hurt almost as badly.
He displayed his ticket and hurried along through the narrow corridor. An air hostess was smiling in welcome. When he had passed her another one showed up to show him to his seat. It wasn’t next to the window, but that didn’t matter. He’d been to the Hague before.
The worst part had been saying goodbye to the boy. He was beginning to feel that they’d drifted apart, especially during his time in jail. How did you explain to a little boy that his father wasn’t a criminal at all, and had still been doing his job from inside the prison walls? He wasn’t even completely sure his ex believed in the under cover work. It would suit her better to assume that he’d ended up in bad company. That his true nature had manifested at last.
Throughout the course of the journey, he was deep in though and hardly noticed that the air hostess walked by with refreshments. Neither did he listen to the old woman in the seat next to him, who was trying to start a conversation. In the end she gave up and turned towards the passenger on her other side.
When the plane began to approach the airport in the Hague, he looked up, surprised at how short a time that had passed. Was that all? He didn’t recall the journey being that short. Or had he lost track of time while he was brooding? In any case, it was time to go through the familiar check list. Seatbelts on, no smoking. Even so, it was hard to recall each item on the list.
At last he was inside the terminal and after a long, tiresome security check, he was finally through. The long line of taxis crept by and the one at the head of the line picked him up. He gave the address to the hotel where he’d be staying to begin with, until the flat would be available. Why the last tenant was still there, or if perhaps the flat was undergoing repairs, he hadn’t quite realized. In any case, a hotel room would do as well as anything else.
“Sir. Hotel Alexander.”
He tried to figure out what was a reasonable tip for the driver, but gave up and pressed a banknote into his hand. The man cast him a surprised look, but smiled and thanked him profusely. Clearly too much, but what did it matter? The pay would be much better now and he was the only one dependent on it. Even with the alimony for his boy, he did alright.
He checked in and tried to find a smile for the polite receptionist who was smiling blindingly at him, but he wasn’t quite successfult. After going through all the formalities, he followed a young man in a uniform towards the lifts.
They went up to the fifth floor and the man unlocked the door to him. His listing of all the conveniences was lost on Fischer, but he remembered to hand over a banknote. The young man smiled gratefully and disappeared, after closing the door behind him.
Fischer looked around, and suddenly he felt empty inside. What was he doing here? What was he supposed to do now? He left his bags where they’d been dropped off and sank down on the bed, exhausted. After his release from prison, sleep had eluded him. The beating at that gang’s hangout hadn’t exactly improved matters either.
In the end, he tried to undress. Something as simple as removing his shoes turned out to leave him even more exhausted. Once he’d removed the jacket, the shirt and the pants he didn’t feel up to continuing. He stretched out on the bedspread, still in his underwear, staring at the ceiling. Though he was completely worn out, he couldn’t sleep.
In his mind’s eye, the images were spinning. At the moment he didn’t feel up to worrying about Johnny and Gaby. Finally he must have fallen asleep after all. Some time in the wee hours he woke up, screaming, his clothes stuck to his skin. The room wasn’t even very hot. The air conditioning didn’t just hum, incessantly, it made it feel as windy as a spring day or rather a late autumn day, before the frost.
He sat up, hugging his own legs. His chin rested on his knees. If he closed his eyes, the memories flickered by like a movie inside his mind.
On his knees, before his cell mate. Lying face down, with – Not being able to get away. If he complained, if he tried to defend himself, months of work would be lost. He might have been able to fight to gain respect, but his instructions had been clear: Never attract too much attention. Don’t overplay your part. No excesses, nothing that might arouse suspicions.
At the time, he hadn’t even hesitated, though this was the last thing he’d expected and something he hadn’t been able to imagine, even in his worst fantasies. But the job came before everything else. Besides, refusing would have meant blowing his cover placing his life in danger.
Afterwards, he hadn’t been able to tell anyone. Not his contact, not Ingrid, not anyone. How did you explain that he’d become his cell mate’s bitch?
The thought of his son made his eyes fill up with tears. The one thing in his life that mattered. If the boy were to find out what his father had done – his life would be over. What boy would still respect his father after he found out he’d sucked another man’s cock?
Back in Denmark, the remaining members of Unit One were packing up their things. Their work was over. No matter how much they’d achieved, it hadn’t been deemed enough. The cost had been too high. Perhaps it had been a political decision, not a financial one, but at the end of the day, it made no difference.
It was time to return to their old jobs or the new ones they’d been assigned as compensation. With the exception of Ingrid no one would be promoted, but they had all ended up with something roughly the same as before.
Thomas La Cour studied his colleagues for the last time. Two of them were already missing. Gaby would be at Johnny’s bedside at the hospital, hoping against all odds that he’d recover. La Cour would visit her later on.
Fischer – despite everything, La Cour was more concerned about him, than Gaby. Something wasn’t right. He hadn’t ‘seen’ anything, but he still had a feeling that something more than the beating or Johnny’s condition was bothering Fischer.
Ingrid looked at her two remaining colleagues. Ulf would most likely be dropping by later on, but other than that, only La Cour and IP remained.
“Good luck to you both. I’m sure we’ll see each other again.”
“Yes, I’m sure we will.”
IP:s friendly, lazy face was split by a grin. He held out his hand to shake Ingrid’s.
La Cour started, then held out his hand too. He shook Ingrid’s rather solemnly, then turned to face IP. When IP pulled him into a bear hug, he couldn’t help smiling.
“We’ll definitely see each other again. Besides, we”ll go out and have a couple of drinks before we go, won’t we?”
Ingrid shook her head. She was already late for a meeting. It was purely out of nostalgia she’d returned here to say goodbye to La Cour and IP. Officially, she’d already started her new job.
“I’m afraid I can’t. But I’m sure we’ll see each other soon anyway.”
“Right. That’s too bad. What about you, Thomas?”
“Sure. Helene is away on a job, so I don’t have any deadlines.”
“Nice. Say hi to the kids for me, Ingrid. And your mum. And Ulf.”
She didn’t think it would be any use sending greetings to IP:s ex wife or any of his numerous girlfriends. At the moment, she didn’t think he was seeing anyone, though she oculd be wrong about that. She considered dropping by Jan Boysen’s morgue, but decided not to put herself through that, when she didn’t have to. They’d be in touch later, off duty, as it were.
La Cour and IP left together. They put their belongings in their cars, and continued on foot. They were so close to the centre of Copenhagen, they didn’t need to drive. If they ended up staying late and if they had a little too much to drink, they could always return in the morning to pick up their cars.
Soon they were in one of IP:s favorite places, enjoying a cold beer. It seemed to IP that La Cour was a bit subdued so he made a toast to the future. They’d be moving on. Continuing their work somewhere else.
“How are you? Not looking forward to the new place?”
“What? No. I’m alright.”
“What”s the matter then? You look a little down. Trouble with Helene?”
“Not at all.”
Suddenly, IP remembered all the times La Cour had ‘sensed’ a threat. Was something about to happen? Ill at ease, he glanced around the bar.
“You didn’t ‘see’ something, did you? Are we in trouble?”
“You mean right now? Tonight? Here? No, not at all. It’s just that – I’m worried about Fischer.”
“About Allan? Why? The doctors did say it wasn’t as bad as it looked, right?”
“Yes. But – I wasn’t referring to the physical injuries.”
“I see. But I’m sure he’ll be alright. He’s a pro. Though – you don’t think he needs to se a shrink or something? After everything that happened?”
La Cour shrugged. He wasn’t sure what he was saying. It was just that he had a hollow feeling of something not being right with his colleague. He shouldn’t be sitting alone in a hotel room, in the Hague, without anyone to talk to. Helene wouldn’t be back until four days later. He wasn’t due at his new job until just over a week later. There was no reason not to go to the Hague to make sure Fischer was ok.
“I have to go now. It was really nice, but – like I said, I have to go. I hope I’ll see you again soon.”
“Leaving already? Oh. Well, good luck then. I’m sure we’ll see each other again soon.”
IP held out his hand and shook La Cour’s, solemnly saying goodbye. That was the end of this time in his life. It was a little sad. They’d been working together for a couple of years. He’d miss the old Unit One. But police work was police work. It had a certain charm, no matter where you were or who you were working with. Besides, you never knew who you’d run into.
La Cour called and inquired about a ticket to the Hague and was told there was a flight only three hours later. There was one seat available, in first class. He shrugged. After all, it was only money.
After dropping by the flat where he tossed a few odds and ends into a bag, he went to the airport. When his flight was announced, he went to the gate. The air hostess watched him, wondering at the distrait look.
Fortunately, Fischer had told him what hotel he’d be staying. He’d been there before, on his earlier visits to the Hague.
The taxi dropped him off outside the hotel and not until then did La Cour begin to wonder if he shouldn’t have called ahead to make sure there was a room for him. Besides, it was far too early in the morning to drop by for a visit if Fischer had managed to fall asleep. Though somehow he doubted that his colleague – ex colleague – slept well at night.
Even from the start, when he’d learned about what part Fischer had played in the investigation of the criminal organization, he’d been concerned. He knew what a excellent cop his friend was, but still – the risk was far too great. The risk of being found out – and as it happened, that was only too real – was too great.
In any case there was a room, and he was able to book it without any trouble. He’d been down here quite a bit too, here in the Netherlands, as well as in Belgium and Germany. Even if he didn’t speak Dutch, he was fluent in English and German, and was able to get by quite well in French too.
Upstairs in the room, he waited. He was even able to get a few hours of sleep. When he woke up, he made himself presentable and went downstairs to have breakfast. Fischer was nowhere to be seen, and again, La Cour felt that twinge of concern that just wouldn’t go away. Something was wrong. He couldn’t wait any longer.
He walked up to the front desk and asked for his friend’s room number.
“Yes, sir. Mr Fischer is staying here. Is he expecting you?”
“No, but I’m an old friend of his. Could you ring him and tell him I’m here?”
“Certainly, sir. Just a moment.”
La Cour waited while the phone rang. He was hoping nothing serious would have happened to his friend. At least someone seemed to pick up and he heard the desk clerk explain.
“Yes, mr Fischer. A friend of yours from Denmark. Mr La Cour. Can I tell him to go up? Very well. You can go up, sir. Mr Fischer is waiting for you.”
La Cour rode up in the elevator. Fifth floor. He was on the ninth, but he’d arrived late and he hadn’t booked ahead.
Outside Fischer’s door La Cour waited, wondering what was waiting inside, then raised his hand and knocked.
He opened the door and saw his friend. The light from the window left his face in shadow.
“Is it my boy? Did anything happen to him?”
“No, not at all. I don’t have any news about him.”
Fischer nodded and returned inside his room. La Cour followed, still filled with foreboding.
They sat down on the couch. The silence was beginning to get oppressive. La Cour studied his friend’s face. It was obvious that Fischer got no sleep. They eyes resembled deep wells, and the skin of his face was tightly drawn. The lines around his mouth spoke clearly of his distress.
Fischer took a deep breath, then began to speak.
“Why did you come here?”
“That’s what you wanted, wasn’t it?”
Fischer broke off and kept watching La Cour with those eyes, it hurt to look into.
At last he nodded.
“Yes, but you shouldn’t have.”
“Of course I should. Just tell me what’s wrong so I can help you.”
Fischer laughed. It wasn’t a happy sound. It sounded more like a sob.
“Help me? No one can help me.”
“You don’t know that.”
La Cour put his hand on Fischer’s arm and left it there. Fischer snatched his arm back, as if he’d been burned.
“You shouldn’t have come. I don’t want to break up another marriage.”
“Never mind that. I love Helene, but this is about you and me.”
He leaned closer and looked into Fischer’s tense face. Fischer made a sound of distress, but this time he didn’t pull back. When La Cour pulled him closer, it was obvious how tense he was, but he didn’t resist.
Their lips met and for a while they didn’t say anything else.
A little later, they looked up and their eyes met. By now, they were lying on the bed. La Cour traced the outlines of Fischer’s face. The latter slumped down, but it was as if a little of the tension had left him now. His gaze wasn’t quite as dark anymore.
“Now tell me everything. It wasn’t just the beating, was it?”
“No, why should that bother me? I’m more concerned about Johnny. Did you hear anything?”
La Cour shook his head. He’d be very much surprised if there was any truly good news about Johnny Olsen. The doctors had said that there was no chance that the former footballer would fully recover. However, they did seem confident he would survive.
“What happened? Was it in jail?”
Fischer’s gaze evaded La Cour’s. Suddenly, the tension was back.
“Allan? What happened?”
Once again he made that distraught sound.
“How can I look my son in the eyes now? Can you tell me that, you, who think you have all the answers? Can you understand this too? No, you can’t.”
“If you tell me what it is, I might be able to answer you. You’d be surprised at what I can understand.”
“You have no idea. What I had to do in there – you wouldn’t be able to guess half of it. Tell me how I can look face my son now. Now that I’ve sucked another man. When I’ve been his whore? Yeah, I thought that would shut you up. What do you have to say about that? Huh?”
La Cour nodded sadly. This was exactly the sort of thing he’d feared. In any case, he wasn’t surprised to have his fears realized. So that was it.
“I’m really sorry. But it wasn’t your fault. I told them this was too dangerous. They shouldn’t have exposed you to such risks.”
“It worked, didn’t? And now I have this fancy EU job as a reward. As compensation.”
“I told you you wouldn’t have a clue. This – what we did – this is nothing – compared to what I’ve -”
“This has nothing to do with that other stuff. You and I -”
“Yeah? We love each other. As if that matters now.”
“It will. I can guarantee it will.”
“You can guarantee – How? What the hell do you know about feeling like this? Like some filthy piece of trash, thrown on a garbage heap. Disgusting. Worthless.”
“More than you think.”
“What does that mean? Did you ‘see’ me on the floor with his dick in my mouth? Huh? Is that what you mean?”
“No. I mean I know what it feels like. It’s exactly as you say. You’re dirty. Disgusting. Worthless. Cheap.”
“What do you mean?”
“Allan – when I was a teenager, I had a stepfather. He – used to beat me. My mother knew about that, but – there was something else – something she never found out about.”
Fischer bit off the sharp comment he’d been about to voice. For the first time since he’d arrived in the Hague, he stopped thinking about what had happened to him. La Cour – a victim of sex abuse? That had never occurred to him. It still surprised him a lot. His friend and colleague had always seemed to be an utterly stable and emotionally sound person. This – changed his whole perspective.
“I had no idea.”
“No, how could you? I’ve never told anyone. You’re the only one who knows. My stepfather died a few years ago. No one else knows about it.”
“I’m sorry. Then you do know.”
“I think so. Sometimes – he came into my room and got into bed with me. My mother wasn’t well. She took medication that made her sleep heavily. In any case – I couldn’t tell anyone. There was nothing I could do. At the time, I thought there was something wrong with me. I was almost grown up. Fifteen, sixteen, seventeen. How could I let him do that to me? Then when the visions came – I thought he must have sensed there was something wrong with me. Some built-in defect that made it ok – to do what he did to me.”
“You know that’s not true.”
“I know that now. Besides, I think these visions – I got them because of what happened. But I haven’t exactly analysed the phenomenon. I’ve just tried to accept the visions and hope they’ll be doing some good. Because they have been useful at times, for work.”
“You could say that.”
La Cour recalled, filled with shame, how he’d allowed his concern and feelings for Fischer to take over, to the extent that he’d risked Gaby’s and Ingrid’s lives, so they would save Fischer, before it was too late. It was unforgivable of him. No life was worth more than another. He’d been fighting his feelings for his colleague. They had come as a complete surprise. Despite his experiences, he’d never had sexual contacts with members of his own sex. He’d never doubted his status as a heterosexual. Not until he’d realized how he felt about Fischer.
“And now you know the rest of it – my feelings for you.”
“Yes. For a long time, I was hoping I was just confused – because – for a long time now, I’ve felt the same. But I never thought – Besides, I was hoping this was just – that we were just very close friends. But then – I couldn’t deny it any longer. I thought – because I could feel this way, I thought -”
La Cour watched him encouragingly. In the end, Fischer was able to finish the sentence.
“That somehow he was picking up on that. That I’m bisexual – and that he took that as an excuse to – He might have thought that I – wanted it. Maybe I was giving him the impression -”
“I don’t think so. I’m afraid he’d have expected sexual favours regardless. Happens a lot in prison. Didn’t you know that?”
“Yes, but I – never thought it would happen to me.”
“No, you don’t, do you? I’ve spoken to many young men who have been through the same. None of them did anything to encourage the perpetrator. Unfortunately, it’s just the law of the jungle in there. The rights of the stronger take precedence over those of the weaker.”
“I guess you’re right.”
“Allan, you mustn’t blame yourself for that happened. No one could have avoided that, without giving up the operation. That was what I was trying to make them see.”
“But I wanted it. I wanted to nail those bastards. No one forced me to take on the job.”
“I know. But they shouldn’t have exposed you to such great risks. Oh, well. There’s nothing to be done about it now.”
“I’m not infected with anything. If I had been, I’d never have -”
“No, I realize that. Besides -”
La Cour smiled a little shyly.
“This wouldn’t have been a risk anyway.”
Fischer considered, then nodded. No, what they’d done wouldn’t do any harm even if one of them had been infected with something. It wasn’t unti now that what they’d done began to sink in. He had, of his own free will, made love to another man. If his ex knew, he might as well say goodbye to his son right away, but despite that, he wasn’t sorry. Though it was the last thing he’d expected, it was, just like La Cour had told him, what he wanted. He didn’t feel up to disentangling all the reasons for his actions. Knowing that La Cour was here with him and that they had each other was enough. Even so, he felt guilty. He hadn’t wanted to jeapardize another marriage because of his selfishness. This was like that time with Ida all over again. Even if he and his ex didn’t get along, she had every reason to blame him.
“I’m sorry. It was selfish of me. What will happen now?”
“What do you mean? Do you regret what we did?”
“No, but that’s exactly why I’m sorry. For Helene.”
“You leave Helene to me. That’s nothing for you to worry about.”
“No, don’t think about her. It will be alright. So, how do you feel now? How about some lunch?”
“Yeah, maybe. I just haven’t been very hungry lately.”
“I was afraid of that. Come on. When are you due at work?”
“What day is it?”
“Then Monday. Monday morning.”
“That leaves you a couple of days to get yourself back together again. But you really should get some professional help. You shouldn’t have to bear this on your own.”
“You’re helping me. I’d never be able to tell a stranger about this.”
“I see. How can I blame you for feeling that way? I never told anyone until now. But it wasn’t good for me. I just kept getting worse.”
“So how do you feel now? After you’ve told me?”
La Cour considered. He wasn’t used to being the one to answer questions. Usually he was the one to ask the them and others replied.
“Yeah, I do feel a little better. As if what I told you isn’t about me anymore. It all happened years ago. Really. You know how old I am.”
“But you work out, right?”
La Cour stared at his friend – and lover. What was that tone about? Was he joking? He took a closer look and saw that Fischer was actually grinning and that was a definite improvement. Then the meaning of what Fischer had said hit him and he blushed.
“Yes. As it happens I do, but -”
“I was just teasing you, but it’s true. You look great.”
“So do you. I mean it.”
This time it was Fischer’s turn to blush. It was obvious that La Cour was serious. Somehow that made what they’d done more real. More official. They were having a sexual relationship. Two men. Bisexual. So, that was how it was. He couldn’t wish it was any different, except when it came to what happened in prison.
La Cour stayed until Monday morning. When Fischer took a cab to his new office, La Cour left for the airport. There was still no rush; Helene wasn’t due back until later that day, but he might as well be there when she arrived. Pick her up. After all, he had something important to tell her.
If Helene was surprised to see him waiting for her, she didn’t give any sign of it. She looked pleased and hugged and kissed him warmly. He picked up her luggage and walked ahead of her towards the exit. When he’d put the luggage away, he got into the driver’s seat.
“How was your trip?”
“It was fine. I think I was able to help my patient, but I guess I won’t know for sure until later. I have a good feeling about it though. What about you? Did you go and get your stuff from Unit One yet??”
“Yes. Ingrid was there. We all said our goodbyes. IP and I went out and had a beer afterwards.”
“That’s nice. I’m sure you’ll run into each other again soon.”
He was wondering if he should have bought her something after all. A flower. Some chocolate. Maybe something more personal. Except that would have been too obvious. Too traditional – ‘sorry, darling, but something happened while you were gone’. He couldn’t do that. Such a cliche.
He didn’t say anything else until they were back home again. Helene took off her coat and put it away, then gave him a book she’d bought for him. A pang of guilt made him tense up.
Helene studied him closely.
“What’s the matter? Have you read it already? Or wasn’t that the one you wanted?”
“Yes. It’s was kind of you. Thanks a lot.”
“Ok, then why don’t you tell me what’s wrong?”
He took a deep breath, bracing himself.
“Alright. Helene – you see, I – went to the Hague and saw Allan.”
“Oh. That’s nice. Or -”
“I was worried about him. He seemed so – as if something wasn’t right. Something other than the beating.”
“Let’s sit down.”
“Are you sure you’re alright?”
“Of course I’m fine. Really fine. And the babies too.”
Helene pointed at her growing belly. Again, La Cour was struck by his conscience. His timing really was terrible. How could he do this to the woman he loved? But emotions never showed up at the right time. He’d learned that long ago.
He couldn’t help putting his hand on Helene’s belly. There wasn’t any activity now, but he knew that some nights there seemed to be a three ring circus in there.
“How are you really? You don’t look very happy. Go on, tell me about it.”
Her words echoed inside his head. Exactly what he’d told Fischer.
“I – Helene – I’m sorry but -”
She studied him even more closely, and at last, she nodded decisively. He should have known she’d see right through him.
“I see. So that was it. You slept with him?”
The sad look in his eyes was reply enough. From her personal point of view, naturally this was bad news, but she couldn’t help being curious. For some time now, she’d guessed that her husband had stronger feelings for Fischer than was usual between two colleagues. It had been plain to someone with her trained eye. At the same time, she thought she could detect equally strong feelings for herself. If that wasn’t just wishful thinking. Not even psychologists were immune to that sort of thing.
“Right. Alright. What about the two of us?”
La Cour hesitated. He knew he was asking too much, but he was hoping they might still be able to find a solution that didn’t tear their lives apart. No matter how much he loved Fischer – Allan – he loved Helene too.
“I – hope that nothing will change, except for the fact that I love him too.”
Helene focused on that last word. It was amazing how easy it was to cling to a hope. She was well aware that this might not end happily for herself, but even so her husband’s choice of words were comforting.
“You mean that you’d like to carry on as usual?”
“I love you.”
“As much as you love him?”
“Of course. Probably more. It’s just that -”
“Yes, alright. So I noticed. Right. Well, we’ll try it like this then. So, where are you going to live?”
“Here with you, if you’ll let me.”
“Of course. What about Allan though?”
“I don’t think we can live together, at least not right now. Helene – I shouldn’t be telling you this – but -”
“You know I’m used to keeping my patient’s secrets. The question is can you give away one of his?”
“I don’t know, but this is something else, something about me – that I – I’ve never told anyone before, but -”
“Now you’ve told Allan and you’d like to tell me too? Or do you feel obliged to tell me because you told him?”
“No, I’d really like to tell you too. I only wish I’d been able to do it earlier. It’s just something I – normally I just repress it.”
“Oh, is that it? Right. Go on then. Just one thing – you don’t mind if I fix us something to eat in the meantime?”
“No, wait. I should be doing that. You don’t have to -”
“Sweetie, I know you can fix up something really tasty once i na while, but I don’t think that would work right now. It will have to be me. But feel free to assist me. Set the table and so on.”
He waited while she was cooking. In the end, they sat down facing each other, and had dinner together, just like before. He couldn’t believe he was still here, as if nothing had happened. Helene seemed to be in a reasonably good mood, except for looking a little tense. Though he hadn’t had all that much, he was soon tired of eating and pushed his plate away. He couldn’t keep her waiting.
“Right. Well, when I was a teenager -”
He told her what he’d told Fischer, but with Helene he went into more details. Suddenly, he felt not only as her husband, but also that boy who hadn’t had anyone to confide in. He wanted to throw himself into her arms, figuratively speaking, and be told everything would be alright. That nothing had changed.
When he’d finished his story, he could tell she was shocked. Too late he realized that in her delicate condition, she might not be able to take so much emotional upheaval. He could have kicked himself.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t be laying all this on you.”
“Of course you should. You should have told me a long time ago. I see. I’m guessing something similar happened to Allan. But not when he was a child. While he was in jail? No, don’t tell me. You don’t have to. Hm. This explains a lot.”
But she didn’t go into any details about what explained what. La Cour was lightheaded with relief she hadn’t thrown him out, outright, or taken her bags and gone to her parents.
“I’m sorry to be doing this to you.”
“Your timing isn’t all that great, but other than that – Just answer a couple of questions. You’ve already answered some of them, but I have to ask you again. I’m not just your therapist.”
She smiled wryly. He was ashamed to have put her through this kind of dilemma.
“Whatever you like.”
“Excellent. Right. Do you love me? No, don’t answer right away. Don’t just tell me what you think I want to hear or what you think you should be saying. All I want is the truth. Can you do that?”
“Yes. And yes, I love you. Of course I do. Just as much as before.”
She studied him closely, but what conclusion she arrived at, she kept to herself.
“I see. Next question. Do you love him?”
“Yes, I think so. It was a complete surprise, but I can’t keep doubting my feelings anymore.”
“Right. This thing with – men – is that something you’ve been into all along? Since you were a teenager?”
“No. This is the first time. I never thought I’d be able to -”
“No, actually, I would have been really surprised if you’d had any relationships with men. I mean, you’ve hardly had any with women. Like I said, what you told me explains a great deal. Oh, one more thing. I’m sure you’ve considered the risk of infection?”
“Yes, of course, and anyway things never went that far between us. Even if he had been infected -”
“I see. But you are sure he isn’t?”
“He told me he’d been tested. Yes, at least he was sure about that.”
“Good. Then that’s nothing to worry about it. Right. I think we’re cool. We’ll work this out somehow.”
“Really? You’re not going to leave me?”
“No, why? I know you. We’ll make it work. Alright, I have to admit this wasn’t exactly on top of my list of favorite things to happen right now, but – I care about Allan too. I trust the two of you, so sharing you with him is something I’m sure I’ll get used to.”
“I don’t know what I’ve done to deserve you. You’re -”
“Absolutely. You’re not so bad yourself. Did you really think I’d let you get away, now that I’ve finally caught you? Never. As long as you want me, I definitely want you. Ok. Unfortunately I have to drop by the office for a while, but I’ll be right back. Tonight we can go out or – whatever you like. If you’d like to call Allan, go on, I don’t mind. Besides, I’m glad you were there for him. You did the right thing. With him feeling the way he did, almost anything might have happened.”
“You’re talking about suicide?”
“That’s one possibility, yes. I can imagine others, almost as bad. But now I think he’ll be feeling better soon. Of course I agree with you. He should seek professional help. Those feelings of guilt towards his son might lead to serious problems in their relationship. Try to use your influence there.”
He pulled her close, kissed her and realized that nothing had changed, on his part or hers. Everything was like before. It was odd that this should be possible, but he wasn’t about to question his luck.
After a few months, Fischer invited his ex wife and his son to the Hague so they could see his new home. There wasn’t a lot to see for a little boy, but seeing a new city where everyone spoke a different language might still be a bit of an adventure.
In the evening, after the boy had fallen asleep, Fischer forced himself to tell his ex about his new relationship.
“You don’t waste any time, do you? It’s that Ida, isn’t it? Well?”
“Then who is it? Your colleague? Gaby or whatever her name is?”
“This – this will seem strange and unexpected and I don’t quite understand it myself either – but – it’s a man. An ex colleague.Thomas La Cour.”
“Is this a joke? What do you think you’re doing? It’s not the least bit funny.”
“No, it’s no joke. It’s the truth.”
“You can’t be serious. I really don’t see how you can joke about something that sick, but – if you imagine you’ll get to see your son after this -”
“Can’t you hear what I’m saying? It’s true. I’m sorry if you can’t accept it, but – our marriage is over. You already have a new man in your life -”
“And you thought you’d try it with a man too? What’s wrong with you? Some kind of mid-life crisis?”
“I was hoping you’d be able to understand, but – well, at least I’ve told you. I didn’t want you to hear about it from someone else.”
“Someone else? Does the whole of Copenhagen know about it? Really. I’m taking the boy home with me and – you can’t see him as long as you keep up this madness. Do you realize what harm you can do to the boy? At this sensitive age? I should have known you weren’t to be trusted, after you slept with that Ida, but I didn’t have any idea you’d let your son down this way. It’s unbelievable. If it wasn’t for the fact that he’s asleep by now, I’d get a hotel room. I just can’t understand this. Were you like this – all along? Our marriage – was that just a joke?”
“Don’t do this. I’d never do anything to harm him. He’s my son and he means more to me than -”
“Then why are you acting like this? Until you see sense, I’m not letting you see him. Stay away. Who knows what else you’re into? Are you on drugs? I really didn’t expect this from you.”
It was just their concern for their son that made them keep the noise down enough so the neighbours wouldn’t complain. In the morning, his ex took the boy and left. She told Fischer not to come to the airport and see them off.
While his son disappeared out of his life, Fischer sat by the window, looking down on his new hometown, without really seeing anything. He had wanted to be honest with her, though their marriage was over. Now – once again he was feeling like he had the first few weeks out of jail. Repulsive. Naked. Ashamed.
That evening, came to with a start, standing in the bathroom and realized he’d been pressing a razor to the skin on the inside of his lower arm for so long both arms had fallen asleep. He dropped the razor and it fell clinking to the floor tiles.
Blindly he made his way back to the bedroom, where he sank down on his bed. One thought was uppermost in his mind. La Cour. He had to hear his voice again. The phone went on ringing until a woman’s voice answered. Fischer almost hung up again, but his conscience struck him. Hoarsely, he gave his name and asked to speak to La Cour.
Helene replied in an even tone, then handed the receiver over to her husband. Her husband. His lover. This was too complicated, but right now he wasn’t strong enough to do the right thing.
“What’s wrong? Has anything happened to your boy?”
“She said – I’ll never see him agian. I told her – about us. She -”
“She reacted negatively? I’m sorry. But after she’s had time to think this over, I’m sure she’ll -”
“Didn’t you hear me? She’ll never let me see him again.”
“I’ll try to get a ticket for the next plance – just hold on -”
“No. That won’t be necessary. Stay with Helene. She’s due any day now, isn’t she?”
“Yes, but -”
“Stay. I’ll be alright. Really. I mean it. You can’t let her down like this. We can see each other later. When it’s over. Children are more important than anything. Don’t come here. It’s ok. I should have expected something like that, but I just wanted – I felt she deserved to know the truth. I’m the one who wrecked our marriage. She has good reason not to trust me.”
“Listen – I’ll be there as soon as I can. Promise you’ll keep in touch.”
“Sure. Tell Helene – I’m sorry. Do you think she can forgive me?”
“Of course. Don’t worry about that. Would you like me to -”
“No, I’m ok now. I’m sorry I called you like this and disturbed you. I – love you.”
“I – uh – love you too.”
When La Cour had hung up, Helene watched him, an unreadable expression on her face.
“That seemed to be really hard for you. Was it that difficult to say?”
“You’re here with me. It just felt odd to -”
“It’s nothing to be ashamed of. There’s a name for -”
“I know. I just don’t want to be reduced to a psychological term.”
“Why not? A word’s just a word. Besides, I think I might be poly myself.”
La Cour couldn’t help smiling. Suddenly, he realized what an odd couple they were. Not just because of his other relationship, but also, even more so, because of their knowledge of psychology.
“What’s so funny?”
“You and me. We’re an odd couple, aren’t we?”
“Make that unique. Has a much nicer ring to it.”
“Well, unique then. We’ll make a really unusual family.”
“That’s good, isn’t it? Who wants to be like everyone else? You worry too much. Anyway, I don’t mind if you go out there to comfort him. I probably won’t give birth for another week or two.”
“We don’t know that for sure. I don’t want to be too far away when it happens.”
She began to move about, gingerly, and her face twisted in pain. La Cour was hoping it wasn’t his fault.
“What’s the matter?”
“Maybe it will be a bit sooner than that.”
“Is it time?”
She waited a while, then relaxed a little.
“No, not for a while yet. Are you sure you don’t want to go to him? I’ll be alright. You’re not much of a lover if you leave him hanging after what his ex did.”
She must have heard most of their conversation. It felt good. He hated to keep secrets from her. Right from the start, they’d agreed to be as open as possible when it came to their relationships. Again, it struck La Cour how incredibly lucky he was that he’d met a woman like Helene. Allan’s ex was completely different. Narrow-minded, intolerant, vindictive. He really would go down there as soon as he dared. He wasn’t going to leave Allan alone with his pain and loss.
His eyes strayed back to Helene. He couldn’t wait to see their children. The ultrasound had revealed that one of the babies was a little girl, but the other one was still keeping its secret. It wouldn’t be long now.?