Closed Mending
#31
The door remained closed, but he could hear Maksimov's voice, just beyond it. That in itself calmed Himal, though his mind was still not functioning as well as it might. What could he say to the other man? What could he do with the knowledge that his greatest friend felt he was in love with him? Himal couldn't think.

"Of course not." Is all he can say.
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#32
His tears fell freely, and he thanked something. God? He thanked perhaps Himal, in the form of some other material plane, for having patience. The sound of the lock clicking open was the only sound made, as he fell short of opening it. He was afraid to see Himal's expression. Perhaps his tone was masking a frown, a contemptuous glare or look of disgust...
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#33
Though he heard the door unlock, Himal still hesitated to open it. Now that the moment had arrived, he did not know what he must do. What he must say. Maksimov's letter had been entirely too much, and he could find no way to match it with his own words. It was beyond him, and without these words, how would he persuade Maksimov to remain?

"I am coming in now," he said, gently, and slowly opened the door.
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#34
Ezra stared at the door, but darted away as it opened. He was in a hideous state. Face swollen with crying, like some pathetic babe not yet cut free from his mother's apron strings. There wasn't much to do but stand in the far corner and clutch the robe tighter around himself, with the hope that hell's daggers wouldn't assail him from behind; perhaps only Himal's glare.
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#35
Entering his friend’s bedchambers as quietly as he can, Himal closed the door behind him. This was not the sort of conversation either of them would want any of the household listening in on. Most of the serving staff were meant to be outside, engaged in their own debaucheries, but Himal did not trust any of them not to listen at opened doors if given the opportunity.

He frowned at Maksimov, who was lurking in the corner clutching at his dressing gown. “If you are truly unwell, perhaps I should locate the Doctor?" He  felt immediately that this was the wrong thing to say.
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#36
In Himal's way, perhaps he was being tender. "I am fine." A small hint of frustration as his voice wavered. He was not fine. He had festered under fineness and it was as good as killing him.
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#37
Though based on no professional insights, or in fact anything other than knowledge of the man, Himal would not have said Maksimov was fine. In any definition of the word. He was not about to argue with his refusing the doctor, however. The less who knew about this particular matter, the better. It was not as if a surgeon would be of any use in these circumstances.

"You are right, we have no need for that man," Himal replied. A moment passed, and he frowned. "Yet, why do you feel you must leave?"
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#38
He pushed his weight against the wall and slide down it. The energy to keep upright for appearance draining away. "I cannot bear this burden between us. Upon you... that I have now caused." Longing to look at him, to gauge his expression, but he felt ill just catching the shape of him in his peripheral vision.
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#39
Himal stood in the center of the disordered room, his mind oddly disordered as well, looking at his friend. His, yes he would admit it, dearest friend. If this had been any other day, he would have merely picked Maksimov up off the floor and helped him to his bed. But he himself was the cause of Maksimov's collapse. There seemed only one response which would convince him to stay, and he could not bring himself to say the words. It was too soon.

"There is no burden," he said, a poor alternative. "Please, there is no need to continue with this foolishness." Stepping forward, Himal offered Ezra a hand.
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#40
Himal was so difficult to interpret. Not words, but meaning, feeling. Were there feelings? Ezra took his time, but couldn't resist taking his hand, nor the modicum of relief when he dismissed the idea of the burden. No burden, but foolishness... No wonder he felt torrential periods of tender love, virulent anger, longing, confusion, when Himal so effortlessly left words hanging in the air for no one but deities to accurately interpret.

Ezra stood with their hands held, and tried to read Himal's expression, like so many times before. Despite knowing his own face was swollen with liquor and tears. He still felt the drink, it tipped him from misery into clearer frustration, like mercury rising in a thermometer, "I wonder, at times, if ever you feel anything at all? Love? Hate? Sorrow?" Confrontational words he'd so often held back to accumulate as a lump in his throat. His breathing quick, he felt his hand grab him harder, pulling him close. Feeling all at once the urge to strike him, god forbid, and to kiss his perfect lips, which he did instead. Hard, hot, and imprecise.
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