06 September 2009

Client Privileges Excerpt #2 - Angsty

This one isn't steamy, except in the sense that it's high summer and everyone's bathed in sweat from the heat. It is, however, nicely angsty, IMO. What do you think?

***

Micah woke from an uneasy doze to the sound of knocking. For a moment he thought he'd dreamed it, but then it came again. But it wasn't at his door. "Bollocks," he muttered. Someone was knocking on Minnie's door and she wasn't home. She'd told him this morning that she would be spending Sabbath and Nativity Night with her friend Jessie.

The knocking came a third time. Whoever it was certainly was insistent and determined. He'd better go tell them she wasn't there before someone downstairs complained about the noise.

Micah rose, his limbs sluggish and his mind still half in dreams. He opened his front door and stuck his head out. "She's not home," he said before he could focus on the shadowed figure.

The person jumped, and turned to look at him. "Sh-she's… n-n-not--?"

He knew that voice, that stammer. "Jonas?"

Jonas nodded. His eyes were huge in the moonlight and his cheeks shone as if wet.

Of course they're wet. Everything's soaked with sweat, Micah thought, but he knew he was wrong. Now that his initial muzziness was gone he could tell that something wasn't right. Jonas was visibly upset and Micah could feel the man's anxiety from here. "What's going on?"

"I… I… n-n-need t-to t-t-talk--"

It was painful watching him fight to get out words that simply wouldn't come. Micah took pity on him and interrupted. "Why don't you come inside?" Micah offered gently, opening the door wider. "You can sit down, try to calm down, and maybe tell me what's wrong. All right?"

Jonas nodded.

Once they were both inside, Micah closed the door. "Sit down. Can I get you anything?" As he spoke, he crossed to his dresser where, in spite of the darkness, he quickly found a clean pair of drawers. He pulled them on. Jonas was distraught enough; Micah didn't want to make him even more uncomfortable by sitting there naked -- although Jonas was in such a state that Micah wondered if he would even notice.

He lit the lantern he'd doused earlier. "Would you like some water? Or I have wine if you need something stronger." He hadn't opened it in the week he'd had it, and he wondered suddenly if this was why he'd bought the bottle in the first place. Had the small gods of fortune seen this coming and made sure he was prepared? Were they that far ahead of him? Of course they were.

Micah looked at Jonas and waited patiently for an answer. Jonas opened his mouth to speak, but as before the words seemed to stick in his throat. Micah again came to his rescue. "Water?"

Jonas shook his head no.

"Wine?"

This time it was an emphatic yes.

"All right. Hang on." He went to the kitchen and quickly returned with the bottle, two cups, and the strange twisted metal device the shopkeeper had given him. "I -- uh--" He held out the bottle and the tool and gave Jonas a hopeful and apologetic look. He was glad to see Jonas almost smile as he took the items from him.

Jonas opened the bottle while Micah watched and made note of how it was done. Micah also noticed how the other man's hands shook. Part and parcel of his tremendous emotional distress.

Micah took the open bottle and poured them both some wine. He was unsurprised when Jonas accepted the cup with both hands.

"Wh-where's J-Je--?" Jonas looked around.

"She's asleep. Don't worry. She won't wake up until morning."

"And M-Mi-Minerva?"

"Staying at a friend's."

"Oh."

Silence fell and extended into most of a minute while the two men sipped at their drinks. Jonas seemed to calm down marginally as the wine entered his system.

"Better?" asked Micah in a soft, calm voice.

Jonas nodded once. "S-some, th-thanks."

"Is there anything else you need?"

"No." There was a pause while he appeared to reconsider, and then he nodded slowly. "I n-need a m-m-miracle." He looked at Micah with an expression so full of pain and longing that Micah's heart ached. "C-can you d-do that?"

Micah shook his head slowly, the tears welling in his eyes a mirror of those in Jonas'. The man's sorrow was like a living presence in the little apartment. "No. I'm sorry. But there is something I can do." Micah took Jonas' wine and set both cups next to the bottle on the nearby table. Then he shifted on the bed to kneel, facing Jonas. "Do you trust me?"

Jonas nodded mutely.

"Take off your shirt." What Micah intended would work better the more skin-on-skin contact they could make.

Jonas did as he was told, and Micah took the shirt from him and set it aside.

Micah was afraid. It had been years since he'd done what he was about to attempt, and that had been under completely different circumstances. He had no way of knowing what would happen, how Jonas' inexplicable ability to overwhelm him might affect the process.

He looked at the man opposite him: pale skin and slumped shoulders; chest and belly that were both a bit soft around the edges. All of it evidence of too much time spent sitting behind a desk and not enough time spent living. But this wasn't about the flesh, the shell, the exterior. It was about all the intangible pieces that made up Jonas' spirit.

Micah took a deep breath and let it out, releasing his fear and allowing it to dissipate into the moist and heavy air. All the time he was aware that Jonas watched him. He opened his empathic senses as he opened his arms, held both out to Jonas in wordless invitation.

5 comments:

jaunthie said...

You're up and posting awfully early for the second day of a three-day weekend. Thanks for keeping the party going! :-)

Maia Strong said...

It's the magic of Blogger. You can set posts in advance to go live whenever you want. ;)

jaunthie said...

Ah, and here I thought you'd just had your morning cuppa extra-early today. ;-)

Karin said...

Oh my. Poor Jonas. I can't wait to read this.

ddurance said...

Major emotion in this excerpt. I like!

Deidre