The Immaterial Spirit
It was not often that Himal found himself at such a total loss for words as he now found himself. "I am sorry." Himal frowned as he stepped forward to wait outside, turning to consider his friend and colleague, who appeared to be having difficulty now with the foreign English language. Himal had known that Maksimov's mother had died while he was still in childhood, but the rest . . . "I had no idea. Again, I am sorry if I have made you speak of something which you would rather not think of. My intent was only to ease any discomfort. It seems I have only made it worse."
He closed the door behind them, turning to lock it, "No apology." Smiling to himself, "I am eased by you each day, my friend. It does not pain me to speak of anything to you. Come, let us go to yours before it is quite late."
Himal felt himself somewhat arrested by Maksimov's sentiments - breath and thought stopping altogether, a sensation almost entirely unfamiliar to him - and found himself able only to nod in response, almost curtly. Indicating that Ezra should proceed him, Himal began walking in the direction of his own flat; it was not terribly far, not an unpleasant evening for a walk. "I am pleased you feel that way, my friend. I know I am not the easiest to interact with." 

Following this admission of his own failings, Himal glanced over at his friend. The lamps were only just beginning to be lit, and their light illuminated Ezra's face, causing it to glow beneath the dark halo of his hair. "Do you ever find yourself longing for Russia?"
He went ahead without much inclination that he'd noticed Himal's reaction. "I do not find that of you." and wanted to add that perhaps they were both eased by each other, but swallowed that one for now. "Sometimes I recall going to Temple with my mother, it is pleasant memory. Erh, perhaps also that I sound not so foolish in Russian." Scoffing gently, a touch embarrassed to talk about it, but not unwilling.
Himal was still more pleased, far more than he would have expected, when Maksimov confirmed that he enjoyed his company. He had not had many friends he could count in his life, still fewer that remained his friends. He did not believe it necessary to have vast quantities of friends, but it did please him that Maksimov considered him so.

The memory was a tender one, and though he knew that the Temple of Ezra's boyhood would have been different to the Temples of his own, he did think of them for a moment as he approached the front doorway to his own flat. "You do not sound foolish to me," Himal said, opening the door for the other man. "If I were to learn Russian, I am sure I would sound far more foolish."
Before he entered, he looked Himal in the eye and smiled. At that point, not sure what else to say, or perhaps words felt needless now. Instead, he touched his arm, gently sliding his fingers down his forearm to take his hand. Movement unfocused and not quite intent, but motivated by some still covered feeling that had yet to unfurl itself into the material world of his conscious thoughts.
At first, Himal returned Maksimov's smile with genuine pleasure, less guarded than was his usual habit; the smile fading as Maksimov's hand moved down his arm, and then the man forgot himself completely and took Himal's hand in his. In the open, where any student wandering back to the dormitories at night might see them. 

"Maksimov," Himal said, struggling to find a balance between a firm and gentle tone, as he removed the other man's hand. "Are you feeling quite well?" These were not the words he wished to speak, but as he was uncertain what those words would be, they would have to be sufficient.
He could barely register what his own body was doing before Chandan was gently chiding him already, pulling away from his touch. If he'd been thinking at all, he would have not only expected this, but likely not done it at all. He shuffled back from him and went into the apartment, mumbling something about being fine. What a terrible day for displaying his character.

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