I arrived early and started to walk up to the elevator and decided that I’d better wait downstairs. I sent him a text. It might be better if we’d agreed to meet at my place.
A: Funny thing? I don’t know exactly where you live.
N: I’ll be down. It’s easier to show you than tell you.
He had responded faster than I expected. I wandered around the lobby and found myself staring at the plaque on the statue that took up residence in the middle of the whole place. It was different. But it was the plaque I kept staring at. ‘Atlas made by Nox Sétanta circa 2002’. He was ten when he made this… how? I didn’t understand their magic. But who did.
I heard Nox coming before I felt his presence next to me. He was waiting for me to ask him if he made the statue. The plaque was pretty definitive. I doubt someone would lie about it. I looked up at him with a knowing smirk and then he clamped down his shields and I was thrown out of his head. I flinched involuntarily as I mentally recoiled back into myself. It was like a life line being cut. I slapped my arm like one of the ants in the globe had bitten me and looked up to see if I could spy a hole. “Can they get out?” I didn’t really care, it was just a cover to hide the fact that he’d cut me off.
He was grinning at me and shrugged. He was amused that I didn’t ask the one question he expected me to. “I don’t know. I don’t really know how they got in there, so I guess they can get out.” And his response hadn’t surprised me, I wished I could hear inside his head.
“Why did you make this and why so big?” I asked out of curiosity.
Nox went on to explain ad nauseum. “Dae’lin, my instructor, told me I had to do an art project instead of an artifact of war as I usually did every year for the art of war fair we have in the Academy. I didn’t want to to do it and up until the last day I stalled. It was a quick assembly and it wasn’t even original. I used an art history book and copied it throwing in the glass globe that could sustain life without any assistance. I only had seeds. It rains inside on really sunny days when the sun from outside warms the glass. It’s kinda cool to watch really.”
I listened. I remember doing the same thing when we were younger. He liked to talk. And he talked a lot. Nothing really had changed. And really nothing had changed with me as I asked another question, “So you used science and magic?”
He lit up with my questions but didn’t elaborate just said ‘Yeah’, like it was no big deal. Then he asked, “You ready to go up?”
I was more than ready to go up. But the play on words went straight to my cock. “You have no idea.” But I knew that he was thinking the same thing even if I wasn’t in his head.
Nox made his way to the back of the elevator when we got in. I stood next to him. I could feel the anxiety wafting off of him. I wasn’t an empath and he was shielded so tight I couldn’t hear anything from him. I wondered if everyone could feel it. His hands clamped to the rail and he shut his eyes tight. “I’m guessing you don’t like elevators.” I whispered in his ear. I could smell that familiar scent again and I stared at the spot on his neck I loved to kiss.
His voice was distant as he spoke. “Fear of heights. Among other things.”
I couldn’t delved into his head but I knew I had to distract him from the rising elevator. “Like what?”
He turned his head and opened his eyes “Heights, flying, needles, clowns,” he said and I started into those big fucking brown eyes and so many memories rushed into my head. I could kiss him right now and be back in those moments.
I tried to remember what he said… Clowns? “Clowns?” I asked. “Some tragic circus death? High flying trapeze fall to his death.” I joked.
His smile lit up his face again, “No nothing like that.” Why did he have to smile like that at me. At some stranger?
“So tell me why are you afraid of clowns, Nox?” My voice was low and husky and I saw him respond to it just as I had myself. He was undoing me without blinking. And I seemed to be having a similar effect on him as he looked away from me.
It happened so suddenly I didn’t really know what was happening when he leaned against me and buried his head against my shoulder. I was about to wrap my arms around him but he jerked away. “Sorry.” He mumbled.
I grabbed his waist and pulled him close to me and whispered, “It’s okay.” I pulled him closer holding him tighter against me. “Stop shielding so hard.”
He opened to me, it was just a tiny little opening, I doubt anyone else could have found the hole even if they had been looking. He kept saying the same thing over and over in his head, need to be safe. I had found something important. He never felt safe. His whole body was tense until he buried himself against me. It was him against the world. I could understand that. I sent him my own thought. You are safe. And oddly enough in that moment he was safe. I wanted nothing more than to make it all stop. I don’t know how he disarmed me so easily.
The elevator dinged and a small brunette tapped on Nox’s shoulder and when he looked down at her he gave her wry smile, “Thanks.” He removed himself from my embrace taking my hand and I followed him out the door, “My floor.” He said reassuringly.
The woman clearly knew Nox, and knew him well enough to interrupt a cuddle session. I was a little jealous, “Who was she?” I asked trying to hide that fact, maybe I was a lot jealous. Fuck!
We started down the hall and that was when I noticed all the doors so fucking close together. Not even a step apart. You could open one door from in front of the other. Nox answered me but I barely heard that she was his boss. “Another question.” More important question in my head at the moment, “What’s with all these doors? You live in a fucking closet?” What kinda life was this. Torture! No wonder he hated it here.
He wasn’t shielding from me anymore but he wasn’t revealing anything with the doors and his words only made me more confused, “You’ll see.” He said.
One of the marks on the door started to glow and I looked back down the hall. There was no fucking way I was going to find this room again. He touched it and it opened. I wanted to touch one of the doors see if opened too at my touch, but Nox was ushering me into a studio apartment. I took a step back and looked at the space between doors and then looked through the doorway. “A fucking TARDIS?”
“If by that you mean it’s bigger on the inside – yeah. TARDIS fits.” He grinned at me. I shook my head in disbelief as I entered the apartment. This was beyond sci-fiction.
The toilet flushed and I had a flash of anger. He didn’t tell me he lived with anyone. My head swung to the direction of the sound and the ugliest cat I had ever seen walked out of the bathroom. It looked up at me with yellow eyes and I could feel the thing trying to get inside my shields. Burrowing and digging at my shield, but she got bored and turned away and jumped on to the bed and curled up on a pillow completely ignoring us.
Nox growled, “Fee…”
She stood up showed us her ass and snubbed us with her back. I bit back my laughter. “Your cat alright?” I asked.
“Ophelia is fine, other than being onery why?”
I shook my head and my hair fell across my eyes. His thoughts were louder here. He wanted to push them away. But he didn’t come near me choosing to walk into the kitchen and look in his oven. His apartment smelled amazing. I answered his question, “No reason. She just looks a little mangy.” I said loud enough for the cat to hear and I felt a swat at my shield.
Nox was full of information as always. “That’s just the way her coat is. She’s a Lykoi – a werewolf cat, she doesn’t have an under coat, so it’s all coarse hair and thin.”
How ironic. “A Venatori with a werewolf cat as a pet. I bet that gets all sorts of laughs by your peers.”
Nox shrugged. “My peers don’t come into my apartment very often.” such a lonely life he lived. Did he have any friends? He continued, “Or at all. Drink? I have water, wine, I think I have a beer or two in there from last week and coffee.”
“You’re the one cooking you tell me.”
“Beer?” I wasn’t much of a beer drinker but it would do. And I knew from watching him, that was all he drank.
He used some sort of magic to pop the top of our bottles and then handed one to me. I had so many questions. But I was more fascinated by his preparation of dinner. We were having steak, and whatever was already in the oven.
I leaned against the bar and asked one pressing question. “So aren’t you afraid some Venatori is going to kill you ’cause you are breaking some sort of law talking to me about magic?”
He laughed. A real laugh, nothing hidden about it. “Obviously you know about magic at least enough to know what I am, and that we have magic. So no, not really. Besides you’re a path. From what I can tell you are a telepath.” He said as he applied salt and pepper to both sides of the steak he was about cook.
“So why am I not dead if you know what I am?” That was my biggest question. If he knew I was a path, why was he even flirting with me. And why didn’t he try to kill me before – Venatori kill dreamwalkers and there was no denying I was one to him.
“Why would I kill you? Have you done something wrong?” He asked.
“No.” I said curtly.
“Are you planning on doing something wrong?” He winked at me playfully. And I knew exactly what he was thinking.
“You think highly of yourself and your skills don’t you.” I quipped back.
“I got you to my apartment didn’t I?” Touche.