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Sandman XI

The Elephant in the Sound Room (IC)

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It had been an all nighter for the two infatuated lovebirds. Elizabeth Skillman and Eddie Ozan had been together for almost two months. Their love of music had grown beyond that, but still included it. They found they made perfect music together in more ways than one. Though some things were not clear between the two. She thought he was a lot older than he was. That perception was about to change. It was 4AM and she had a bit of the restlessness. She gave him a peck on the cheek and crept out of bed, slipping on a nightgown. His apartment was small, but big enough for one room to fit a music studio in one room. They had written some songs together she wanted to go through and try out a few vocalizations. Though when she was leafing through the papers, she didn't find the songs, but something that looked like a stack of report cards? Some that were dated this year. An they had his name on them. A shot of realization went through her brain. He wasn't as old as he said he was. He was most likely seventeen or eighteen. Oh lord, she thought, what am I doing? Maybe this was some kind of joke he was known for. She aimed to find out. Creeping back into the room and sitting on the bed that they had laid together in last night, she softly whispered into his sleeping ear, "Eddie? Eddie wake up."

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Things were going pretty well for Eddie Ozan, even if his life was stagnating slightly. He was finishing High School, he had a job, and he had a girlfriend. He knew she wasn't the one. Not only was she a good deal older than he was, but he just wasn't ready for that journey in life yet. But he didn't think that really mattered. They'd never even talked about it. Not really. She seemed happy enough, and so was he. For now, his life and his relationship were both status quo.

"Eddie? Eddie wake up."

The comfortable bubble that sleep had formed around Eddie's consciousness suddenly went, "pop!"

Eddie mumbled something unintelligible, before finally managing to articulate something while rubbing his eyes. "Yea? What is it Liz? That cat howling outside again?" He pulled his hands away from his face, and propped himself up on an elbow. He looked at her with tired eyes. She could see his exhaustion, and yet he smiled at her anyway. It was a harmless smile.

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That smile, Eddie could do no wrong by it. "No, the cat has been uncannily quiet tonight," Elizabeth said with a quiet but mirthful laugh, "It's something I found in the sound room. You remember those songs we were working on?" There was a long pause as she looked him in the eye and lightly stroked his under chin. It was like she didn't want to tell him what he possibly already knew. She didn't want this to be. Though she had to know the truth. "I found something that I probably shouldn't have found. Well, when flipping though the files I found this." She pulled out his latest report card and laid it in between them both. She sounded a bit worried, "Eddie, these aren't songs. I hope there's a good explanation for this." She smiled and looked at him looking for answers that she wanted, not that she needed.

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Either he was still waking up, or Elizabeth just wasn't talking sense. Either way, Eddie was confused, "What do you mean?" he asked her, looking puzzled. "That's my report card. I stopped showing those to my parents ages ago. Besides the fact that I don't even live with them any more; I'm eighteen now. I don't even have to show them." He felt like he was still missing something. Yea, it's definitely the lack of sleep. He thought, rubbing his eyes again. "Or are you talking about my 'C' in Trig? I don't think I'm getting it." The end of his sentence trailed off weakly, like the end of a song.

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Oh God, Elizabeth's heart and mind swam, I've been sleeping with someone who's not out of high school. She didn't want to believe this. Was it a nightmare? She looked to Eddie confusedly. "I... I didn't know you were that young," she said as he turned away from him with her head down. Her voice trembled, "Eddie, I have something to tell you." She swallowed, "Something to ask you actually." She sniffled and rubbed the tears out of her eyes then turned to look at him, "How old do you think I am?"

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Eddie was waking up now. He was starting to understand what was going on, and he didn't like it. Oh boy...

"Liz, I thought you knew how old I was." He now understood that it wasn't his report card that she wanted him to explain. "I didn't mention it because I thought you knew. I might have bought alcohol at the club when we met, but that's because I work there, not because I'm over twenty one." Eddie's expression soured. He was telling the truth, but he wasn't sure if it would help. "I have that fake ID as more of a formality than anything else. It's to protect the Millennium if anyone catches me. That way they can say I had presented a fake. It's just part of the agreement we have. I mean," He floundered, "I'm pretty sure I don't look twenty-four."

Her voice trembled, "Eddie, I have something to tell you." She swallowed, "Something to ask you actually." She sniffled and rubbed the tears out of her eyes then turned to look at him, "How old do you think I am?"

"Honestly?" The covers fell away from Eddie's shirtless shoulders as he shrugged them, "I never thought about it. I know you're older than me. That much was obvious before just now." He explained. "I never really cared. I didn't see why it should matter. We like each other. Isn't that enough?"

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"I'm so sorry," Elizabeth sniffed, "I should have been more aware." She thought for a few split seconds, using that brain she was given. Did the age thing really change how she felt. Sure she was, like, tenish years older than him, but her heart told her that she had fallen. "I think we should lay everything out on the table," she said sitting cross-legged in front of him, "if... if we are to know each other then we should at least." She sighed, "No, wait. It shouldn't matter should it? If we really cared for each other, loved each other, then this wouldn't matter. None of it would matter." She leaned down and softly kissed his cheek. "Eddie, please forgive me. I'm very confused at the moment." She laid back down and looked at the ceiling. It was quite awkward the emotions going through her.

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Eddie had been half sitting up, leaning up on his right elbow. He smiled a small happy smile when he received her kiss. "Liz," He addressed her softly, his smile widening. "It's okay. Get some sleep. We can talk about this in the morning." Eddie laid down next to her once more. He rolled over, pulling the covers back over his head as he did so. "'Night." He would soon be asleep once more.

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Elizabeth smiled and wrapped her arms around him, resting her head on his chest. While she didn't show it, the thought of loving someone ten years younger than her was eating her up in side. While she slept, she thought about this. Well, less sleep and more restlessness. Could this happen? She was blissfully happy until she found out his age. Did it matter that much? The morning would come later. Right now she held tightly to the one she loved.

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When Elizabeth finally relaxed enough to make an effort to return to sleep, Eddie welcomed her. He placed his arm over her shoulder so that she might more comfortably rest her head. He had some doubts about this discussion, and knew it wasn't the last he would hear of it. But for now, he was content enough to drift back into the comforting folds of sleep.


The next morning, the light of the sun poured through a crack between the window shade and the sill. The solitary beam of bright light cast across the bed where both Eddie and Elizabeth still lay. Though the light encroached on the sanctuary of the darkened room, the exhaustion of the mid-night interruption ensured that they slept for a while longer.

It was a great way to spend a Sunday morning.

Finally, after hours of groggily fighting off consciousness, Eddie woke. He gently slipped out of bed, so as not to wake Elizabeth, and made his way toward the small kitchen his apartment held, "Hrrmhh. Eggs." he grumbled as he walked down the hallway rubbing sleep from his eyes.

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Elizabeth woke to the smell of eggs and bacon cooking. Eddie wasn't the best cook, but she loved when he did so. She could have done the works herself, but Eddie's cooking was simplistic. She slipped on a night robe over her nightgown and walked to the kitchenette area to find Eddie working away at the stove. She smiled to see such hard work. Sitting down at the small table in the impromptu dining room, she greeted him, "Good morning."

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"Hey," he returned, "Sleep well?" Eddie scratched at the frying pan in front of him a few more times, further scrambling the eggs within.

Laying the spatula on the counter with the end propped up over the pan, he turned, and picked up a plate from the counter. He slid it across the table to her. On top was a knife, fork and napkin. He rounded the table, greeted her with a kiss, and flicked his fingers in the shape of a gun towards the nearby entertainment center which came to life. There was some soft music playing, able to be heard just above the crackling of the food frying on the stove, but not too loud to impede any conversation. "You like Ulrich Schnauss, right?" He asked with his hand resting on her shoulder. "Coffee? Juice?"

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Elizabeth yawned and nodded her head when Eddie asked about sleep. She smiled when the music flipped on, she loved this song. It reminded her of a winter's morning with a thick snow on the ground. "Juice, please," she said lightly. Looking at the eggs and bacon, she took a bite. The thoughts were still stirring in her head. She was planning what to say and how to say it. She took another bite. She had given speeches to some of the strictest people in the world and yet she couldn't come up with the words to say something with her feelings. She took another bite. The food was gone before Eddie had gotten back with the drink. He could see something was on her mind, even though she was trying to disguise it.

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"Jeez," Eddie laughed, "Inhale your food much? I'm glad you liked it." He suffered no delusions about his cooking. It was relieving to see that it was at least edible by others. Eddie placed the glass of OJ in front of Elizabeth. "Here you go." His face fell slightly, when he saw that she was still bothered.

With a sigh, he took a seat at the side of the table. "I suppose I owe you an apology." he looked down at his hands, "There's more than one reason I didn't mention my age. It's not just because I don't think it's a big deal. While that is true," He glanced up at her to affirm this, "I was a little selfish as well. Recently, there hasn't been much going my way, except for the Album." He tossed his head towards the sound room to indicate the record he was working on. "And even that's been coming slowly. I knew you were older than me. But not by how much. A good deal, I guessed, but I didn't know. I still don't. I thought that if I said something about it, if I had asked if it felt weird dating someone so much younger, I thought that you would suddenly have a problem with it. Then I might lose you, and on top of everything else..." Eddie hesitated, "Well, let's just say that that would really suck." Eddie shrugged, "I'm sorry. That's all I got. Take it, or leave it."

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Elizabeth nodded happily and took the orange juice when it was given to her. She sucked it down as there was still food that needed to go down. She didn't remember the last time she'd eaten so nervously. She had reason now. She sat the cup down and looked to Eddie with a smile. Though the smile quickly faded when he started to speak. She listened attentively. She could hear her heart beating like a drum. And then he laid it all out on the table for her. The string of fate was in her hand now. She sighed with a tremble. "Eddie, I must get this off my chest. I am 27. I know You're, what, seventeenish? Please know that I do love you. The... the thing being is that while I love you very much is that I could get in trouble very much for what I'm doing now." She looked down covering her face but not her mouth, so she could be heard. Her voice still trembling, "I don't know what to do in this situation. Please forgive me. I wish I could go back to last night and unfind those papers and be blissfully unaware and happy. But now..."

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Nine years? Yikes.

Love? Also yikes..

Super hero or not, BD, one of these days there's going to be a bullet you can't dodge. Let's hope it's not today.

"Wait, wait." Eddie cut her off before she said anything he couldn't respond to. "I'm not seventeen. I'm eighteen. I may be a senior in high school, but I've always been old for my grade." he said simply, "legally there's nothing wrong with what you're doing." He put a heavy stress on the first word. "I won't pretend to speak for any other regulations you live by, but at least in this case there's no dumb, arbitrary, outside law that says you can't do what you want. Nothing has changed except for the fact that we both now know exactly how old we each are. To me, it still doesn't matter," Eddie shook his head, dismissing the issue. "I mean, you don't look like you're twenty-seven," Eddie fixed her with a shrewd look, not bothering to mask the compliment at all. "So it's really your decision." Eddie pulled her hand away from her face and looked her straight in the eyes, "I know I'm younger than you, but that doesn't mean I'm an idiot. Well, not most of the time. If I've learned one thing, it's this: No one can tell you how to live your life. You've got to make your own choices. You've got to decide for yourself if you've made a mistake or not. Whether it was worth it or not. And given the chance, whether you would do it again, or not." Eddie smiled at her encouragingly. Expectantly.

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Eighteen? So he's not a minor? Elizabeth's heart went from her stomach back to her chest as Eddie spoke. When he pulled her hands from her eyes, there was a slight, but happy smile. "Oh Eddie, I'm so sorry for putting you and me through this hell." She stood up and hugged him, greeting him with a deep kiss. Those few seconds felt like an eternity, but it felt like a reprieve. When the kiss slowly tapered off, she leaned her head on his shoulder with something of a contented sigh. She still held on to him, wanting to say more words, but she was caught up in a moment of bliss.

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"Hell?" Eddie asked as she lay her head on his shoulder. "Please, I've been through worse. You probably have too." He reached up to stroke her hair. "Besides, it's really not a big deal. We just had a fight. People do that, you know?" For a few moments, Eddie sat holding her. He was content. He was happy.

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