"Darling Guillaume, grace me with your presence for a quick moment?"
The man beckons, inviting warmly with a graceful tone you've come to recognize as a safe place. "Yes?" you speak before reaching him, the sound of your voice somewhat faint to him as you turn to enter the kitchen, your response lingering in the hallway.
The windows are open. The air is fresh, clean and cool. The breeze is swimming in, tugging ever so gently at a lock of the man's hair, golden strands hovering for a moment before falling back into place.
You are seventeen years young, your skin is tight around your neck and your wrists feel no pain. This is your apartment. There are fruits on the counter, some of them you don't remember buying. That's because you didn't.
The red grapes- next to your preferred white grapes- are his. There are also slices of watermelon in the fridge, along with some strawberries and a small jar of cherries that seems to never empty.
He hardly ever bakes anything and when he does, it's always something that can be eaten cool. Nothing too warm for him, though you've seen that hot chocolate is an exception to that rule. He loves fruit and cold drinks, has a terrible sweet tooth and is absolutely shameless about it. He smiles often and when he laughs, you feel he is the very embodiment of joy.
You brush a lock behind your ear before he turns from the counter quickly to face you. You both have similar hair; his is a few inches longer, curls less than yours, and is a visibly lighter shade than your dark mane. Yours is shorter, curling inwards as it rests on your shoulders.
The man gazes into you; he is never afraid of eye contact. You aren't either, but given that you consider him in many ways a stranger still, it's slightly unnerving, and gives you the impression that he has a certain power that he well knows cannot be subdued. Confidence some would call it.
As for ****** similarities, there are some, not that they're very pronounced. You both have light eyes, but yours are a deep blue with chestnut and chocolate overtones, often appearing emerald green under certain lighting; much more earthly than his- an almost unnatural, true green that shines harlequin under dim lighting, like a cat's eyes glowing under the moonlight.
He seems particularly happy right now, and you can't tell if his cheerful demeanor (though not unusual) is him being in an especially playful mood today or a hint of what's to come. That is to say, another lesson.
"Hold this egg for me, will you?"
You do as you're told, looking around in an attempt to distract yourself while you wait. You don't know what you're waiting for exactly, but you assume it will only take a minute. The kitchen is illuminated completely, very bright. It's a lovely day, sunny and perfect for a walk, you think. Maybe you'll go out later.
You hold the egg for exactly five seconds before realizing the man is staring at you- smiling beautifully with what some might mistake as bedroom eyes; but you know better.
"...What?" you ask, your voice small suddenly. A smile slowly tugs the corners of your lips and you resist, both out of embarrassment and stubbornness; you don't want to submit so easily. It's quite noticeable- you couldn't hide it well, but he isn't offended in the slightest. You are, after all, so very young. He expects you to have this kind of- rather charming- behavior, and accepts it fully.
He speaks quietly but with sparkling, eager eyes, like he's about to let you in on some grand, fascinating secret, and you are reminded of a dear friend.
Being a memory you visit often, it takes half a second to remember it clearly- your best friend- running towards you, tie bouncing on his chest. He wears his school uniform, it's lunchtime, and he is eager to tell you how he's found the perfect spot to relax (or study, if needed) during this hour. "You both make for a funny sight, you know!" you'd have friends tell you often. You weren't very eager to admit it then, but it's true. You can picture it now- tall, lanky, grinning class president next to short, grumpy, quiet you. Ah, the memories.
You've both been busy, settling into lives completely independent from the help of your parents. You make a mental note to call him when you have the time.
You stroke the egg with your thumb, gazing at it intently. There's something the man wants you to know and he's not going to give you the answer on a silver platter- it's not that easy, you've learned that by now. He's played games like this before where he begins a conversation suddenly- often starting with an odd, seemingly-out-of-place question- with the intention of teaching you something.
He is strict in his belief that answers should not be given but found, and if one wishes to teach something, one should guide the other to help them understand, but never lead the way. Leading would result in the thought that lessons are a destination- and that isn't the case at all. To simply give you an answer is a sin to this man, and maybe this is why you've learned so much with him.
You want your answer to please him. Yes, and that may be difficult- because at this point, there is simply no way for you to know what the correct answer could possibly be.
No matter. You'll have to work with what you have at the moment. That being, not much.
To that, he smiles with his eyes. You don't know it, but he's very happy with your answer. Partly because he never asked a question in the first place, and your attempt to answer something that has yet to be asked is, in his opinion, a sign of a good student- one willing to learn.
"Mm. It is." He takes the egg from your hands, holding it a few inches away from his chin and observing it for the entirety of two seconds before turning his gaze to you.
His face betrays the look of a father determined to put his son on the right path; a look that says "I will not let you go until you have understood".
But he's too gentle for that. You know he'd let you go if you ever spoke of wanting to stop a lesson. Not that that's happened before. He's always so tactful that you never have reason to feel uncomfortable around him. You appreciate it; you're not terribly tolerant of tactless people, even if you do feel quite guilty about it, especially when they do seem to be trying. C'est la vie.
He is silent for a short moment, his voice replaced by the distant laughter of children playing outside. It's then that you notice the cherry.
The single red fruit, small and unassuming, sat just behind him on the counter, closer to the window than him, and you wonder for a moment if he was planning to eat it before calling you to talk. You're vaguely alarmed at the thought, for cherries aren't something he will eat often, and you've noticed that they seem to be reserved for what appear to be private special occasions- he will sometimes eat a single cherry while deep in thought, staring out the window (you've caught him people-watching a few times like this), and you wonder if he was thinking about you this time, and dropped the cherry to have some sort of urgent talk with you.
However, that doesn't seem to be the case, so you push the thought aside, unconsciously replacing it with one of your favorite memories of the man-
"Cherries are dangerous," you recall him explaining one day, "they are toxic in their excessive sweetness. Eat no more than two a week, or you'll be taken by the cherry man!" You never forgot that conversation, although it’s whimsical charm wasn’t the reason why- it drilled itself into your memory the moment you realized two very interesting things.
The first being that by "cherry man", he meant the Devil, and the second being more of a doubt than anything else- cherries are not that sweet. His argument would make more sense if he was talking about cake, for example. Whenever this memory surfaces, there is always a vague sense of confusion and wariness hidden just under the more pleasant feelings you prefer having. Nevertheless, the general sentiment in his words is that excess can be detrimental to the soul. "Greed is a terrible sin, you know." And this is why the cherry jar never empties.
Oh- goodness, he's waving his hand in front of you. You blink a few times, responding with a rather ungraceful 'Huh?', blushing slightly from the embarrassment.
"Where did you go?" He's chuckling as he asks, and you can feel the warmth on your cheeks.
He smirks with a small "hmph", before giving you a proper smile, pausing to let you come back to him fully before continuing, egg held up in his hand:
"What is the egg now, Guillaume?"
You look at it, held between his middle, index finger and thumb. What is the egg now. What a strange question. Of course, it isn't as strange coming from him; you don't think you'll ever get used to his odd lessons, but his behavior when teaching you things nobody else would is something you've come to expect by now.
What is the egg? It isn't an elephant, it isn't square. There are many things it isn't, sure. You search in your head for a possible answer, one he'll deem correct, 'till you decide on-
-a dishonest one.
For someone who's not very tolerant of tactlessness, that sure was, well, tactless. Why did you say that? Insincere and blurted out without any thought. He takes notice immediately, and you wordlessly apologize profusely, combing your fingers through your hair and avoiding eye contact.
He's much older than you. He's also wise- wiser than most people his age, you think. Whatever the man wants to teach you, it's obviously something he already fully understands. The fact that he knows more than you however, does not mean you are below him; he never wants you to do anything for the sake of pleasing him and what you've done just now is exactly that. He can, however, sympathize- he's a perfectionist himself and understands the desire to do things right. There is a time and place for everything though; an order, and what you've shown now is good intention misplaced, which is a potentially dangerous thing.
He has no concerns regarding the acceptance of chaos when it is necessary,
that isn't the problem. The problem is that your dishonesty is chaos in a situation that warrants order.
"I don't want you to try to please me, Guillaume. I welcome incorrect answers so long as they are entirely honest."
There is a pause, and he sighs before remembering just how young you are. He realizes you might have accepted him as a parental figure or mentor of sorts by now, and it's an honor, really- you're a bright boy and he enjoys your company very much.
Your accepting him as a parental figure however, does not give him the right to scold you; no, that would horrible. If you will learn, it'll only be because you will allow him to teach you. He must never force his way into you.
"Look at me." His voice is firm but gentle.
You hesitate for a second, but whatever you were feeling is gone the moment you notice his expression- warm and inviting; "try again" it says. You are willing to now.
"You can see the egg, can you not? Surely it isn't nothing if it's still a part of your reality. You see an egg, and that still makes it one."
He hides it behind his back, and you are confused at the action but eager to understand. You give him a questioning look and he smiles before giving you an answer.
"What is the egg now?"
With a question, anyway.
You think long and hard, silently focusing all your attention on the creases of his shirt. You stare at the man's chest for a full minute and a half, determined not to make the same mistake again. You will answer honestly, yes; but you will also impress him- and possibly yourself- with a good answer.
The subject isn't exactly new or difficult for him, you're sure. He will sometimes leave the house and not return for a day or two and when questioned, responds with an inconclusive "Mm. Studying." You still aren't sure what that means and you feel it's best not to think too much about it, but surely it has something to do with these lessons of his, no?
He's obviously studied this before, you think; you are operating on a much lower level than him and have a vague awareness of this. It just isn't as pronounced because the man insists on treating you as his equal. As far as he's concerned, you are both students capable of learning from each other every day. You hope to one day teach him something, and not by accident, as it tends to happen. Soon, perhaps. Maybe now.
You look up at him with a determined look on your face, satisfied with your conclusion.
"An idea. The egg is an idea-"
You barely finish saying your answer when he's already questioning your reasoning. You'd be nervous if you didn't already know that his bluntness wasn't the result of annoyance, but of curiosity. He is eager to teach, yes, but he is more eager to learn. After all, a good teacher hasn't accomplished much if they haven't learned anything from their student.
New ideas need to exist. In conversation, one should always aim to walk away with new information, a new perspective. Sometimes this information is given to you, other times you must take it; something he's given you is the ability to think more critically. He's all but trained you to do so. It's much easier now to get into this mindset than it was when you first met the man. You're glad to have had the chance to practice this sort of thing at all; you don't think you could have done it with anyone else.
"Because there is ultimately no way for me to know if the egg still exists."
There really is no way to be sure.
The egg isn't a part of you any longer. You can no longer see it, or touch it. You can't hear it, either. It isn't there anymore and having seen it being hidden, all that there is now is the suggestion of it's existence.
Your answer was truthful and concise and you feel nothing else need be explained. When you search the man's face for any signs of contentment, you find none. No, what you find is something quite different. An absolutely luscious smile, and those bedroom eyes.
His voice turns low and he speaks clearer- a calm tone of voice that would make anyone submit if he asked them to.
He's challenging you. Both begging and demanding you to win.
"But I know the egg exists. I am telling you it does. Am I lying?"
His voice could be very seductive sometimes. Especially at times like this, when daring you to step further into his world.
His world. One that was always bright and pleasant and hid something underneath- a barely audible humming that you've managed to ignore until very recently. If there was such a thing as feeling a lack of light despite there physically being none, you felt it every time the man dared you to chase him into his labyrinth.
There was just something very visceral that would bleed through sometimes; in his eyes, his hand gestures, in his voice.
"It doesn't matter." you tell him, your words quick and blunt.
He is amused. Shocked, even. You push away the rising bravado before it fully shows; don't want to jinx it now.
Eyebrows raised, he gives you an impressed "Oh?" and you continue, clarifying to back up your risky (despite yielding good results) answer.
"Assuming you are holding it in your hand right now, it's still an egg to you. By the mere act of touching it, it becomes a part of your realm of understanding; it exists to you, right now, as what it is- an egg."
You can't see it of course, but he's mindlessly stroking it with his thumb now, much like how you did at the start of this conversation. Both his hands are behind his back, resting on the counter he leans on. He listens intently.
"...You tell me it still exists, but that doesn't change what it's become to me. It stopped being an egg the moment you hid it from me. No matter what you know to be true, that reality isn't always going to be a shared one.
You have an egg, I have an idea."
There can be many correct answers, he thinks. He doesn't believe in there being a single, ultimate truth about anything. If the self is all one can know, why is one's understanding of the universe not considered a reality in itself, one separated from what most consider the only reality? Your explanation follows this concept and he's thrilled tha
This is fanfiction, but you don't need to be in any fandom to understand and enjoy this, I've made it accessible enough for everyone to understand; the fandom bits in this aren't crucial to the story, so everyone can enjoy it (although people in the fandom might enjoy it differently, but that goes without saying I guess).
It's daftpunk/label au for anyone who wants to know.
Guy-manuel and Crydamoure are the characters.