Posted June 20, 2021 at 12:00 pm

The rain was coming down hard now around the house. They'd left their shoes on the mat, and in the red glow of the room they'd left the bird thing half-unwrapped on the floor. The clock radio was on, but only pushing a wordless static.

Hawk sat on the edge of the bed, which put him at the right height for Numair to kiss him as he dropped his shirt onto the floor at his feet. He'd already discarded his pants, and Numair was untying the cloth that served him for an undershirt, his high-waisted jeans half-turned down around his hips.

As the bottom of the undershirt came free, Hawk reached forward to put his hands around Numair's bare waist--but as soon as he did, Numair flinched, and grabbed his wrists. Hawk let go, and also pulled his face gently back from Numair's.

"Okay--"

"Ah, sorry," Numair whispered.

"Okay, hang on." Hawk sat back. "You keep jumpin'. What am I doing wrong?"

Numair looked somewhat embarrassed. "No, no, it's nothing like that," he said quickly, without really looking at Hawk. "I'm just, er. New at this."

"Oh," Hawk said with some surprise. "But...ain't you like, three hunnerd years old?"

"316. But that's not that old for a spirit, you know," Numair said, and then added, a bit more quietly, "It's about twenty-two." He let go of Hawk's wrist, and continued, "Let's just say there are consequences for being able to see emotions and leave it at that, mm?"

"Like what?" Hawk wanted to know. Numair didn't immediately answer, so Hawk took his hand gently. "Mari, I don't wanna accidentally hurt you or nothin'."

Numair drew his hand away. "It will sound foolish."

"Try me," Hawk said wryly.

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