Friday, 19 April 2013

Time Enough' by Echo Fain

At the hotel, he got a knowing smile from the teenaged girl who took his money and handed over the keycard.  Unable to help himself, he played it up by draping an arm over Trev's shoulder with a wink.

Alone with his best friend in a room that smelled of rancid vanilla, Danny put their spacefold bag down.  Finally getting out of his coat, he could feel his muscles beginning to relax with the realization of privacy.  He wanted nothing more than to climb into bed after a hot shower, to sleep a few hours before it was time to move again.

He raided the fridge for its complimentary bottled water.  Trev sat on the bed and watched him with darkened eyes and a bedraggled air.  He looked hungover.  When Danny offered him one of the bottles, Trev pulled back, startled out of his thoughts.  The other man gave a strangely worried smile but accepted the cold drink.

"What?"  The bed dipped with his weight and their shoulders connected.

The scientist glanced over the edge of his glasses and softly smiled, easing the sharp edge of exhaustion.  His voice was ragged and gentle.  "I woke up today on one planet but I'm going to sleep on another, a thousand years in the past."

He let himself rest against the other man.  The smell of damp wool and flesh was comfortable and he drew long breaths, to better savor it.  He turned his face to study his friend in this intimate moment.

Trev went on, his expression one of overwhelmed understanding.  "I've seen your face tonight.  You belonged here.  I don't know how I'll ever live with the truth, now that I've seen it."

It broke his heart.  Danny took a deep breath, looking away from his companion as the tears overtook him.  He choked on his own voice.  "You should get out of those wet clothes."

"Yeah."  The blonde murmured.  "New germs.  New viruses.  Two time-jumps and a lot of rain."

"Don't forget the coffee."  Danny's voice cracked; he tried to grin through a wet sheen, eyes on the carpet.

"The coffee..."  Trev chuckled, pushing their shoulders together with a nudge.  "Oh, bugger, Danny, you could've warned me about the coffee."

They went quiet once more.

Danny squinted at the tears that wouldn't fall; he wanted to wipe them away but couldn't bear the thought of drawing attention.  But, then.  He felt Trev lean in.  Softer than silk, the other man's lips caressed his cheek with a whisper.  There was the brush of cold metal against his temple.

"Thank you."

On his feet, his friend glanced shyly at him, gaze solemn behind the silver-framed spectacles, and then disappeared into the bath.  He waited until the door closed before he opened his own eyes fully again.  He smiled, swiping at his wet face, as he heard Trev discovering 21st century amenities.

Dammit.  How could he feel so helpless in the face of Trev's words?

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