Love Knots

Chapter 10

Half an hour later, they were in Ambrose’s sitting room and Wyatt found it to be much more comfortable than his own. Although both were richly furnished, Ambrose’s rooms had a much homier feel than his own. In the sitting room was a large cherry wood writing desk and there were several matching bookcases filled with books on just about everything he could imagine.

Ambrose had been quiet, watching him the first few minutes after they’d arrived as he scanned the bookshelves finding books that ranged from mathematics, science, and engineering to economics, military tactics and history. A lush, light sand colored carpet covered the entire length of the floor through out the rooms save for a few feet in front of the fire place as a safe guard.

Along one whole side of the room were double paned half windows that were broken only by a set of French doors that lead out onto the balcony over looking the palace gardens. Wyatt had to admit that while his rooms were nice, he preferred Ambrose’s rooms much more.

The kitchen staff arrived with dinner while he was looking around, and Ambrose let them in where they laid out the service on the coffee table at Ambrose’s request. Dinner consisted of pork tenderloin with buttered carrots, squash and potatoes accompanied by red wine to which Wyatt arch a brow upon seeing and Ambrose smiled. A selection of desserts was set aside on a small tray on the table and the staff bid them good night, saying they could leave the dishes in the hall for pick up when they were through if they didn’t wish to be disturbed.

*          *          *

After they’d finished dinner, talking about their days, Ambrose was surprised to learn how tired Wyatt had been and wondered if he ought to just wait until another evening. Wyatt insisted on staying however, and after they’d set their dishes out in the hall for the staff to pick up, Ambrose plucked a bowl of cherries with the stems from the dessert tray and stretched out on the couch.

Wyatt sighed, making his way over through the dim sitting room and Ambrose looked up before sliding his feet back, giving Wyatt a place to sit down.

“Thanks,” Wyatt said, taking the offered place with a slight groan.

“Are you sure you want to do this now?” Ambrose asked. “I mean, we can wait for another time…”

Wyatt shook his head. “No, I’m all right,” he replied, and holding his glass in one hand, lifted Ambrose’s legs, stretching them out over his lap once more. “What are you doing?” he asked, looking oddly at Ambrose when he noticed the bowl of cherries on his chest.

Ambrose blinked his fingers at his lips around the cherry and smiled, squirming slightly. “Eating,” he replied.

“I can see that,” Wyatt said and nodded toward the plate of discarded stems. Leaning forward, he reached out and took one from the plate, holding it up to inspect a little more closely and noticed that the irregularity in it was a small knot just off center. Arching a brow he held it up as he looked at Ambrose who was still nibbling on the other cherry though he was looking at Wyatt a little uneasily. “I meant, what are you doing?” he asked. “I’ve never seen this before…”

Leaning up, Ambrose covered Wyatt’s hand with his, carefully taking the stem from him and putting it down on the plate again. “It’s nothing…” he said. “Just a stupid habit, I guess.”

Wyatt blinked before looking at him curiously. “Ambrose,” he said softly. “I wasn’t asking to be mean. Honestly, I’ve never seen anyone do it. How do you do it?”

Ambrose watched him for a moment before taking the stem from his mouth and setting it aside with the others. Picking up a cherry, he held it out so Wyatt could see the straight stem, and then he popped the cherry, stem and all into his mouth. As he watched, Ambrose’s cheeks shifted slightly, and a few moments later, he reached up to his mouth and drew out the knotted stem, showing it to Wyatt, then, with a sigh, he discarded it to the plate.

Wyatt blinked, slightly confused by Ambrose’s nonchalance over the seemingly trivial feat. “What is it?” he asked. “I mean, what are they for?”

“Nothing,” Ambrose replied again. “It’s just a habit, like I said. I’ve always done it…” He shrugged as he took the stem of a second cherry from his mouth and tossed it on the plate.

“And those?” Wyatt asked, nodding toward the knotted stems that seemed to be carelessly tossed aside at first, but as he looked, he found them to be in a neat, nearly uniform pile.

Ambrose sighed and got up, holding out his hand to Wyatt.

Wyatt arched his brow in question but took the offered hand and got to his feet. Ambrose headed to a small room off the main sitting room, and Wyatt followed.

Opening the door, Ambrose turned on the light to reveal a small workroom with metal shelves on one side and wooden cabinets on the other. There was no carpet here, but rather cold, hard cement. Going to the cabinets along the bottom, Ambrose opened them.

Wyatt blinked at the contents and then looked at him. “I don’t understand,” he said after a moment. “If they’re nothing but a habit, why do you keep them?”

Inside the cabinet, just as Wyatt had said, were dozens upon dozens of small bundles tied together with white string before being stored in neat stacks.

Ambrose shifted uneasily but didn’t say anything.

Going to the cabinet, Wyatt knelt down and reached inside, taking them out a small hand full at a time, looking at them scrutinizingly, thoroughly confused. Turning them over, in his hands before resting them on his leg, he noticed that each stem only bore one knot, all more or less the same distance from center as the ones he’d seen in the sitting room. “What are these?” he asked, looking up at Ambrose in confusion.

Ambrose swallowed thickly; lowering his gaze a moment before meeting Wyatt’s questioning blue eyes. “Wishes,” he said quietly.

Wyatt blinked, looking to the bundles on his leg to the ones in his hands, then the possibly hundreds if not thousands more still in the cabinet. “Wishes?” he asked, still confused as he looked up at Ambrose again.

Ambrose bit his lip and nodded a little jerkily. “T-they’re called l-love knots,” he explained. “There’s always supposed to be two…”

Wyatt blinked, looking over the bundles in his hands and on his leg. “These all only have one,” he replied, looking back at Ambrose.

Ambrose nodded. “T-they all only have one…”

Wyatt exhaled heavily, closing his eyes briefly before looking sadly at the bundles in his hands, on his leg, and in the cabinet again, his heart wrenching with the though of how lonely Ambrose must have been.

“I…” Ambrose said and swallowed. “I started making them a long time ago. I met a boy,” he murmured, swallowing again. “I didn’t even get his name… I only saw him once; but I… I fell in love with him.”

Wyatt swallowed, looking back to the bundles again. “All of these…” he said before looking at Ambrose. “They’re for one person?”

“Yes,” Ambrose replied softly, his voice barely a whisper in the room.

“Wha – Why are you showing me this?” Wyatt asked, looking at him in confusion.

“Because you asked,” Ambrose said softly.

“Ambrose…” Wyatt began.

Ambrose walked over to him and knelt, quickly putting a finger to his lips and closing his eyes briefly. “Please, Wyatt…” he said softly. “You asked me what I wanted… I’m telling you.”

Wyatt exhaled heavily against Ambrose’s fingertip and reached up taking his hand, closing his eyes for a few moments. “Ambrose,” he said softly, his heart wrenching. “I don’t think –”

“Please, Wyatt,” Ambrose said cutting him off. “You said that my answer wouldn’t matter… that it wouldn’t keep us from talking…”

Wyatt sighed and nodded. “And it won’t,” he said firmly. “I’m still here, aren’t I?”

Ambrose swallowed and nodded.

“I just…” Wyatt began and sighed shaking his head slightly. “I just don’t understand what you want from me. I… I don’t think I can compete with this,” he said, waving his hand at the bundles in the cabinet. “If that’s even what you want from me at all.”

Ambrose’s breath hitched slightly. “Wyatt… Wyatt, please,” he pleaded, shaking his head. “I… I don’t want this… I don’t want to do this anymore… I’m tired of waiting. I didn’t even know him… there’s no way to find out what happened to him. He could be dead for all I know. I just…” Ambrose said and trailed off, lowering his head. “I… I want to forget him…” He took a deep breath before exhaling shakily, his body trembling slightly. “I just want…” he began and looked up. “I just want to get on with my life… I can’t wait on him forever… please, Wyatt… I – I want to be more than friends…”

Wyatt took a deep breath and exhaled heavily before nodding. “Okay,” he murmured softly and reached up with his free hand to brush some of Ambrose’s curls out of his face. “We can try,” he said softly. “But you still don’t know anything about me, do you? I’m still a stranger to you.”

Ambrose swallowed thickly and nodded.

“Then we’ll go slow,” Wyatt replied. “I don’t want to push you into anything.” He slid a couple silky curls through his fingers as Ambrose smiled and nodded before leaning up and kissing his forehead gently.  Sighing, he looked back at the love knots in his hand and balanced on his leg before beginning to put them back.

*          *          *

A short time later, Wyatt was stretched out on the couch and Ambrose lay curled next to him on his side, his head resting on his hand where it lay on Wyatt’s chest.

Ambrose sighed softly, closing his eyes as Wyatt idly stroked his shoulder. “Tell me about you,” he murmured.

“Where do you want me to start?” Wyatt asked. “There’s really not a lot to tell.”

“I don’t know… just about you... who Adora is,” Ambrose answered.

Wyatt exhaled heavily but continued idly stroking Ambrose’s shoulder. “My name’s Wyatt Berry Stapp Cain,” he said after swallowing a moment later.

Ambrose blinked and raised his head. “After Wyatt Earp?” he asked curiously.

“Yeah,” he replied, looking at Ambrose in confusion. “How’d you know?”

Ambrose smiled and shifted carefully, sliding one knee between Wyatt’s legs on the couch and using it as leverage to push himself up.

“Where are you going?” Wyatt asked him in confusion.

Ambrose smiled and walked over to one of the bookcases. “I’m surprised you didn’t see this earlier,” he said over his shoulder and soon returned with a book on history, not from the O.Z., but from the Other Side.

Wyatt blinked and sat up curiously.

“Here,” Ambrose said, sitting down next to him and opening the book to a page about halfway through before handing it to Wyatt. “Wyatt Berry Stapp Earp, born March 19, 1848, died January 13, 1929. He was an American farmer, teamster, occasionally hunted buffalo, and was officer of the law in various Western frontier towns. He was also a gambler, saloon-keeper, miner, and boxing referee. He is best known for his participation in the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral, along with Doc Holliday, and two of his brothers, Virgil and Morgan Earp.”

“The O.K. Corral?” Wyatt asked, blinking again.

Ambrose nodded and pointed further down the page. “Yeah, it says that the O.K. Corral was in a place called Tombstone, Arizona in the United States, and the gun fight happened on Wednesday, October 26, 1881. It’s famous because while the fight didn’t actually take place at the O.K. Corral, but at it’s back entrance, it only lasted thirty seconds with thirty shots being fired and three killed.”

Wyatt stared at the page, at the picture of his namesake. After a moment, he snapped the book shut.

Ambrose blinked. “Wyatt, are you okay?” he asked looking at him in concern.

“Yeah,” Wyatt answered, turning the book over. He wrinkled his brow. “This is a book from the Other Side.”

“Yes,” Ambrose replied, nodding slightly.

“How’d you get it?”

Ambrose smiled. “Well, if you look, it was printed in 1935… Thought everyone knew that’s around the time the zones split… Its how we have electricity and the technologies we do have; the cars, the weapons like your revolver...”

Wyatt shook his head slightly.

“Wyatt, are you sure you’re okay?” Ambrose asked, wrinkling his brow and looking at him in concern.

“Yeah, I… I knew I was named for him,” Wyatt said. “I mean, I’d heard the name mentioned from time to time in my family, but… I… I never knew about him. I thought it was just some dumb name, to be honest.” He paused and swallowed before looking at Ambrose. “Can I borrow this?”

Ambrose smiled. “Yeah, sure,” he murmured. Reaching out Ambrose took the book from Wyatt’s hand and slid it over onto the coffee table. “I think it’s neat,” he murmured.

Wyatt smiled slightly snorting softly. “Yeah…” he said in reply. “Yeah, I guess it is.”

Ambrose’s smile widened a little and he shifted, stretching out with Wyatt once more. “Sorry I interrupted,” he murmured, resting his head back on Wyatt’s chest. “I thought you knew, but… well, I just wanted to show you that.”

“It’s okay,” Wyatt murmured, wrapping an arm around him as they settled back into their previous position and squeezed Ambrose’s arm gently before once more starting to idly stroke his shoulder and kissed his forehead. “I’m glad you did.” He swallowed and exhaled heavily. “For so long I just couldn’t understand why my parents named me that…” He paused and rolled his eyes. “I mean, come on… Berry… and Stapp? What kind of names are those, and why would a person have two middle names? It was just beyond me, and I thought it was stupid.”

Ambrose smiled and squirmed, snuggling a little closer. “I like it,” he said.

Wyatt smiled gratefully. “And I like yours, too… Courtney,” he murmured. 

Ambrose blushed, burying his head in Wyatt’s chest and smacked him lightly. “Okay,” he muttered, his voice muffled by Wyatt’s chest. “Enough…”

Wyatt chuckled and gave him a gentle squeeze. “Why?” he asked. 

“Because it’s a girl’s name… I’m not a girl!”

“No it’s not,” Wyatt said. “It can be either.” 

Ambrose sighed and looked up at up at him with a mock glare. “Have you ever heard of a guy named Courtney?”

Wyatt chuckled. “No,” he replied. “You’re the first.” 

“See? It’s a girl’s name… Just call me, Ambrose, all right?” Ambrose asked, turning his face to the side, but not looking up at him. “I’m just used to it…”

“All right,” Wyatt replied, still smiling.

Chapter 9 ~~~~~~~~ Back to Tin Man ~~~~~~~~ Chapter 11

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