“All men are wolves!!”
Sky grinned at Zen’s words as she looked over towards Luciel, hunched over his laptop at her desk. Rather than predatory, she felt that he was scared. Of the agency, his brother, of her…? His frame seemed smaller as he curled in on himself. He was almost unrecognisable as the self-proclaimed God 707 – defender of justice. He looked tired.
“I’m sorry for barging in on your space.” The unexpected words pulled her into the present. “I’ll just stay in the corner, so don’t mind me”. He spoke softly, as if he could lessen the intrusion along with the volume.
“I’m not uncomfortable at all. Just make yourself at home.” Sky spoke in a way she hoped was gentle and reassuring, wanting the warmth she felt towards him to be understood.
“I feel better this way. I’ll just work here.” Warmth not received. “Once I’ve stabilised the security system I’ll research Magenta, and head there right away.” His discomfort was clear in his strained voice, only just audible above the sound of his fingers pounding on the keyboard. “I didn’t want to be alone with you like this, but I guess the intruder left us no choice.”
Ouch, okay then. Sky swallowed a grimace, wanting to hide the sting of his words. Turning away, she kept her face a mask as she reached for her book eager for a distraction from the awkwardness that hung between them. The words swam before her eyes, her concentration eluding her as her stomach churned. Is it me? I…I don’t understand why he’s being like this… I didn’t ask for any of this. Her anxiety spiked “Aren’t you uncomfortable in that corner?”
“I’ve told you before, but this suits me better” his voice completely flat, eyes never leaving the screen. “If you have a sharpie, I’m all for drawing a line of the ground.”
“That’s not a bad idea – at least then you’d be comfortable using half the room.” Sky forced an awkward smile, “How about masking tape instead? Then at least I won’t have to worry about the deposit… Not that it’s even my apartment!” Silence. The awkwardness between them was palpable, making Sky squirm with discomfort. “I-uh can I go outside for a bit? Just to the balcony? I need some air…”
For a moment she thought he’d refuse, or belittle her for already forgetting the multitude of dangers they were up against. However, her rushed words must have belied her anxiety as after a brief pause he sighed sharply, saying “Uh…sure. Just stay low, and be where I can see you.”
Smiling thanks she moved towards the glass door, sliding it open and letting the cool breeze and buzz of the traffic envelop her, grounding her. Crouching down, her gaze drifted over the lights of the city at night. It’s ok. You’re here. It’s now.
“I made you some tea. I don’t know how you take it, but I put honey in to give you energy!” Sky gently placed the mug beside him, out of range of the laptop but still in reach. Luciel’s typing paused briefly and he nodded thanks, avoiding her eyes.
Sky retreated across to her side of the apartment. Opening her own laptop, she resolved to be productive alongside him. She couldn’t help with any of his work, but it felt odd to lounge about while he put in so much effort so close by.
First she checked the emails from the party guests, sending a couple of quick replies in the hopes of appeasing their various concerns. However, this task was completed all too quickly.
Reluctantly she opened her university email and began reading through the papers sent by her professor. This last week she had really neglected her work, and she felt grateful the professor had been so understanding of her “family emergency.” However, she couldn’t expect to slide by much further on that excuse. Slowly Sky felt the world melt away as she became immersed in the paper. As Sky began to follow it along, she felt lighter – the flow of the paper was beautiful.
Stretching, she closed the last page on her laptop. Reaching the stove, she boiled the kettle once again. As she moved to take Luciel’s mug, now empty of tea, she saw no resistance. Taking this as confirmation that the previous mug was not entirely unpleasant, she refilled it with more of the same. As she placed it beside him, he once again nodded thanks.
Sky returned to her nest on the bed, her own mug in hand, as she resolved to further research her work. Brow furrowed in concentration and eyes focused on her screen, she missed the soft smile Luciel gave in her direction.