THE St. Louis Speakeasy
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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Wed Feb 24, 2010 11:16 pm GMT 
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For once Lin was grateful for his bad back as he watched Danny wander about the small room. It was surprising how much one man could hide in such a small space. Lin wouldn't have guessed how much money had rested over his head as he served customers, but it hardly came as a shock. As Danny, kneeling beside the bed, pulled another burlap sack from between the floorboards, piling it beside the first sack and the old box, Lin merely raised the glass of bourbon to his lips.

"Ich hab' nicht gewusst," he murmured, "Dass du so viel Geld hast." There was no accusation, just a simple observation.

Danny blinked, glancing back. "Ach, naja. Ich werde das nie verwenden—willst du es?" He held out the bag. "Ich hab' ja noch mehr davon. . . Ich brauche's nicht."

Perhaps it was the influence of the bourbon that caused Lin to tighten his grip on the glass until his knuckles were bleached and the scattered scars from old bites and cuts shown white on his fingers—a moment later and he lessened his grip. "Nein, ich will dein Blutgeld nich' nehm'n."

"Ja, ja. Ich wünsche, du würdest."

Lin snorted, taking another swig. "Du solltest es besser wiss'n." He turned and started out of the room, muttering over his shoulder, "Schließ ab bevor du gehst."

He didn't bother to look back, though he could picture the expression on Danny's face almost flawlessly. The way the younger man was frowning, worried, ears slightly folded. Instead, he kept his eyes forward, expression blank as only his own footsteps accompanied him down the worn stairs and into the empty speak and the backroom beyond. He listened silently as Danny finished packing and by the time Danny was done, Lin had finished the first glass and had poured a second. Even after Danny had long since left, Lin remained—the only change was the slowly decreasing amount of bourbon in the bottle at his side.

Also. . .damit hat sich's, he thought as he finally stirred. God only knew what time it was now, how long he's sat in silence with the echoes of Danny's footsteps in the empty bar. He'd given Benjy the day off, though he wasn't sure why. It would still be another half hour before he got heavily to his feet, feeling the creak of his bones as he did so. Mein Gott, ich bin so alt. . . Viel zu alt schon. He sighed lightly, opening the backroom to see the familiar old bar—but something seemed changed in it now. There was a weariness—a deadness—in its air. Some of the life had leeched from it now, with Danny gone. Not even a day gone. . . He shook his head, closing his eyes and trying not to think. A moment later, he was grabbing his coat from the rack and locking the door of the behind himself.

The streets were cold, the snow having collected in drifts on the side of the road, and what was still in the air whipped mercilessly at his face. Lin didn't bother to turn up his collar; this was preferable to the memories and melancholy saturating his thoughts at present. Memories of happier—or at the very least, simpler—times. The first trip into the city with Danny beside him. He'd been so nervous for the boy, unsure as the whether or not the boy had ever seen a town. Thankfully, Danny had been fascinated despite all but gluing himself to Lin's pant-leg. Genauer mit dem Kolonialladen, he remembered as his eyes fell on Jackson's General Store. His footsteps slowed and he frowned. "Ich brauch' 'ne Kippe," he muttered lowly under his breath, as though defending his motives behind slipping into the store.

He was slow to make it to the counter, his mind too lost in the memory of Danny's curious browsing of similar merchandise. He paused for a moment at the small burlap sack of oranges—oh how Danny had begged for one, tugging at Lin's sleeve until he finally relented—

"What'll it be, Mac?"

Lin blinked, and the shopkeeper was already impatient by the time he muttered lowly for a pack of Camels and laid his money down. He opened the pack with still-numb fingers, tapping out a cigarette and holding it between his lips as he fumbled for the silver lighter in his pocket. It took him longer than he remembered to light it and he drew in a slow drag when he had managed it.

He lingered for a moment longer before stepping back out into the cold, rubbing his hands together and feeling all the older for the ache the motion amplified, It was cold enough now that he debated going back to the The Dragonfly. Yet, the knowledge that, beyond the shelter from the cold, he had no reason to return kept him walking in the vague direction he'd started in, the ember of his cigarette brighter than the scattered streetlamp-stars. The dull slap of his footfalls were the only company after the silence and the memories. The thoughts. Danny seemed to have finally moved on now, had finally moved out, to a more suitable place. After all, he was a grown man now, had been for sometime.

Lin could never be entirely certain why Danny hadn't moved before, though he thought that, maybe, it was because he needed Lin as much as Lin needed him. Of course, Lin would deny it but he'd realized, watching Danny pack, that he needed the boy—needed him so he wasn't so alone, so he could still feel useful. Have some purpose. Without Danny to see to, it would be like it had been sixteen years ago. The endless days wandering, entirely alone for the first time in his life. No one waiting for him. He pulled the coat closer, bowing his head against the wind. He had Han, perhaps, but the man had his own ward to care for, his own duties and very little time to spare it seemed. It hadn't bothered Lin before—not like this. Right now, he couldn't bear the thought of stopping, or of going back.

So he kept going, as he had all those years ago.

The night was late when he finally stopped, hands numbed from cold even within the supposedly warm confines of his pockets, and his toes were no better. It was a long moment before he realized where his feet had taken him without his knowledge. Han's.

He took a drag from his dying cigarette, debating wearily if he should bother to disturb the other man, or simply keep walking.

(Dvorak gets first dibs... OOC here, complete with translations of the German.)

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If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 12:45 am GMT 
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He hated nights like these.

The call had come in nearly four hours ago, moments after he had sprawled out on the sofa to sleep. He'd put Jet to bed already, but the boy's sleep had grown increasingly restless after the nightmare that had been the past few months, and he hadn't wanted to wake him. Actually, leaving the house at all was not easy these days, not when his thoughts were so often caught up in the welfare of his ward. But the matter would not wait. It was a poor family, the father crippled in a factory accident and scarcely able to work, though he himself was not the patient. His little girl was four years old with weak lungs, and was prone to illness; this time, Han had stayed with them until her fever broke, and then, refusing to accept payment, had begun the weary trudge homeward.

It was dark tonight--or rather, the darkness between the streetlamps seemed to last forever as he passed along their outskirts like a lonely shadow. So fleeting, transitory. There was nothing at this hour, it seemed, that was not stilled in night silence, save for the wind of course. The streets themselves were empty, deserted, eerily still, and Han was just passing through on the way back to a warm apartment and what was left of a night's sleep.

As he walked, it was very difficult not to allow himself to sink too deeply into his own thoughts. It was the times like these, the quiet times, when the war came back to him. Maybe that was why he fought so hard to stay busy, to keep constantly moving, so as not to give himself time to remember. But now, he could feel as clearly as though he was living it--the biting cold on his face, breathing into his hands, stamping his feet on one of the few dry patches of packed earth in the trench. The frigid water that washed hourly through his boots. The smell of mud, blood, excrement, reeking death from all across No Man's Land. The broken, twisted remnants of men that had writhed and screamed and bled under his helpless hands.

He passed a rough hand briefly over his eyes, as though to rid himself of the haunting memories. If only it was that simple. But he would be home soon, and he'd make himself a cup of tea, possibly spiked with something a little stronger. He would kick off his shoes, shrug off his overcoat, check on Jet, and lie down on the couch in darkness until he managed to fall asleep. And then he'd drag himself up at six the next morning to begin the whole damn ordeal over again.

Han missed having time for himself; he missed having time for Lin. Which was funny, as he'd never really had time for either, not for what seemed like years. But he'd managed to make time even so, to convince himself that things would ease up at the end of the week, or that he would find a new assistant capable of drastically reducing the doctor's own role in the everyday task of running the clinic itself, which seemed to take so much time. Cleaning, organizing, answering the phone, other such mundane tasks. And just this once, he might have been willing to admit that he had taken on too much.

His own thoughts were an absorbing preoccupation--thoughts, worries, memories. As such, he scarcely noticed the figure on the street until he was only a matter of yards away. He started in shock, breath catching silently in his throat, heart pounding as he was torn abruptly from his own recollections. Then, however, he managed to regain something of his composure, stepping forward and squinting in the darkness with a slight frown.

". . .Lin? Is that you?"

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 1:30 am GMT 
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Likewise, Lin did not notice the approaching figure, too far lost in his own swirling thoughts that looped in and out of each other and seemed to center on a feeling of acute feeling of having lost something, having lost his way. The thought nearly made him laugh--a foolish young man's thought. He was forty-one after all. What a time to have a crisis of faith. Another drag, another thought, another sigh.

He hardly jumped at the voice; on the contrary, it was almost as though he hadn't heard it. At least, until he let out a soft 'heh'. "Ja, bin ich." If he had been surprised at all that Han was out on the street, at night, as well, there was no sign of it. But then, it was always difficult to tell with Lin.

He released the smoke in a breath, watching as it curled up to the dull orange light of the streetlamp. He dropped the cigarette and ground it out with the heel of his shoe.

"You're out late. . ."

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:34 pm GMT 
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For a moment, doubt had overtaken Han's mind--that perhaps in the darkness and as a result of his own exhaustion, he'd been mistaken, and that it wasn't Lin at all. But then that familiar voice and responded, and he'd relaxed with a tired smile as his measured steps closed the distance between them. The distraction of company dulled the ache in his knees and feet from a day with no time to sit down.

"House call," was his matter-of-fact reply. It was accompanied by a faint, compressed smile as he breathed in the lingering scent of Lin's cigarette smoke along with a lungful of biting chill air. "Not all that unusual." Removing his free hand from the warmth of his pocket, he placed it lightly on Lin's arm just below his shoulder. No gloves, of course; he might have owned a pair once but had long since lost them. "Listen. . . are you on your way back? Do you want to come inside?"

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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 2:43 pm GMT 
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Lin's look was almost blank, a touch cynical, when he looked over to Han, nodding lightly at the explanation. Of course it would be a house call that would have him out so late. Han's face, the man he could always count on. The weight on his arm was reassuring somehow, and he relaxed his tense muscles. Some of the cynicism leaked away and his expression softened before he looked back out at the darkened street.

However, the invitation caused the tension to return, drawing out some thought that barely formed. He hardly wanted to go inside. Jet was inside and it was too much to see the boy now, with these memories in his mind, still so fresh. "Jus' walkin'," he answered, voice steady, as though there was nothing wrong. "I shouldn't intrude on th'boy. He must be sleepin'."

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Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:02 pm GMT 
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He nodded slowly and let his hand fall. Lin was right, of course; Jet needed his rest and they shouldn't run the risk of disturbing him. So why was it, then, that in place of any sensible relief, all he could feel was disappointment? It was hardly rare for him to lie awake at night gripped with quiet insecurity that somehow Lin would slip away, would disappear from his life, and that he wouldn't notice until it was too late. And tonight, the distance between them felt like a yawning chasm.

"You're right, I suppose." But the doctor was not about to give up that easily. "Listen, I'll duck inside, check on him, and drop off my bag. It will only take a minute, and then I can walk you home."

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"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Fri Feb 26, 2010 3:22 pm GMT 
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"If ya want. I can wait." The same level voice, no excitement, no happiness. Blank. A poker-face and a voice to match. His hands were returned to his pockets then, and nothing more was said. He almost felt as though he had nothing to say to Han now, suddenly felt so different from him. Felt so much older, as though it was a young man's game, to have a lover at all. Before, it had been different. Common ground then, and with that gone now, it felt more like a collapsed bridge and if he spoke. . .he'd have to say it all.

Bring mir nach Hause, he thought absently, and it was the only thing to cause a brief twitch of a smile at the corner of his lips, almost too small to be noticed in the dark around them. Bin ich wirklich der alte? Ich fühle sicher so.

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:11 am GMT 
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A moment's hesitation followed, Han's eyes searching Lin's face in the darkness. He was hoping for some sort of indicator as to what Lin actually wanted, though he knew it was useless. Even in the best lighting, more often that not Lin was positively impassive.

"Alright then. I'll see you shortly, then."

As he turned away, fishing his keys out of his pocket, he allowed a trace of irritation to flicker across his own face. Perhaps it wasn't Lin's way, but would it really kill him to be straightforward every now and then? It wasn't that he minded walking Lin back to the Dragonfly; he wouldn't have offered otherwise. But it would be nice to know whether this was something that Lin actually wanted, or whether he was merely accepting out of a sense of obligation. It wouldn't have come as much of a surprise to learn that in truth Lin was utterly ambivalent, and had accepted merely to humor him.

The door swung open into the darkened ground-level apartment, and Han slipped inside, flicking on the hall light as he did so. He left the door slightly ajar, a silent and subtle invitation for Lin to come wait inside if he decided to change his mind, then set down his doctor's bag on the seat of one of the kitchen chairs. The whole flat was just the way he'd left it when he'd rushed out hours earlier, his half-empty cup of coffee still resting on the counter nearest the phone. It was long since cold, and he paused just long enough to pour it out into the sink.

The door to Jet's room was closed. He cracked it open just far enough to slip inside, and his overcoat rustled softly as he did so. From the sliver of light which spilled into the room through the still-open door, he could just make out Jet's sleeping form, and he could hear the quiet rasp of the boy's breath. Crossing the room, easing himself warily across the aging floorboards in silence, he stopped to kneel at Jet's bedside, as though in prayer. The pale, gaunt face was turned towards him, and he was relieved to see that there were no traces of blood around his mouth. He looked exhausted, but not at ease, perhaps haunted by nightmares or the pain of his own illness. Han sighed quietly, and raised a hand to brush the hair back from Jet's face before leaning in to kiss his forehead.

All in all, the stopover took just longer than five minutes. He'd left on his shoes and his overcoat, and as he left he shut to bedroom door and turned off the kitchen light, making his way back to where he had left Lin waiting. By this point, he wasn't even sure he still expected to find him there.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:34 am GMT 
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Lin merely watched him go, remaining silent though his thoughts were anything but now. They hissed like snakes now, pushing at his skull and causing his head to pound. He sighed, pulled the pack of cigarettes free again. It was the last thing he should be doing at the moment, he knew, eyes lingering on the cracked door to Han's apartment. He should go in, instead. Warm up, sit, maybe talk a while—or at the very least, rest. Somehow none of that seemed in the least appealing, though it would have at one time.

Years spent with Danny, who could be surprisingly less than talkative when the mood struck him, had taught him to read people—possibly even better than Danny could—and he could see the frustration linger about Han, could easily make out the irritation the other man attempted to hide. It was that that kept his feet in place when all he wished to do was move as he thoughts began to catch up with him. Even the cold wasn't enough to keep them at bay now, but he owed it to Han to stay.

And so he waited.

And so he was still there when Han would emerge again, though with a new cigarette held lightly to his lips, his fingers nearly frozen into position around it. He had turned his gaze to the distance again, and God only knew what thoughts were running through his mind now. Memories of Grant, of Danny—how alike they had seemed at times—the question of what he was going to do now.

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Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 11:54 am GMT 
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The door swung open again, and for a moment Han hesitated, silhouetted in the doorway as thin golden light spilled out down the steps. And then he flicked off the light and shut the door, carefully locking it. To say that there was a spring in his step as he descended the steps was not strictly true; more likely than not, it was just the effect of gravity which gave him the appearance of renewed energy. Even so, it was not the measured, weary trudge which had taken him inside.

Lin's presence was a relief, of sorts. Had he returned to find only the wind skittering bits of debris across an empty street, Han wouldn't have been able to help but take it badly. His motivations were, perhaps, more selfish than he'd care to admit. His work kept him busy, and he'd been plagued with guilt every time he'd gone four days, five days, a week without seeing Lin. And now he was doing penance. Not that it bothered him.

He said nothing as he approached, trusting that Lin would break the silence if he felt inclined to do so. But he did take Lin's free hand, slipping his fingers through the other man's.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:05 pm GMT 
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He noticed Han before the other man reached him, and yet there was no greeting, hardly an acknowledgment. No more than a silent tilt of his head. He wasn't entirely certain of the reason himself, now, for this self-imposed silence. Perhaps this was what Danny felt those times he went days without a word. . . He lifted the cigarette for another slow drag.

Though the surprise wasn't seen when the younger man took his hand, it was there, and surely Han could sense it. Perhaps catch the smallest of falterings in Lin's breath, the way his heart trudged towards pounding heavily. A moment later, however, it was ended as he pulled his hand free, replacing it his pocket and starting to move, his feet feeling as though they were slogging through quicksand.

At a loss, now, for reason and words, he could only walk silently, hoping that Han would follow and give him some scant amount of comfort. His presence, now, would be enough but Lin wouldn't ask any more of the man.

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:19 pm GMT 
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It wasn't the silence that was irking Han. Although it was not his first choice, he'd grown accustomed to it, and had grudgingly come to accept it as just another facet of Lin's personality. After all, aside from a bit of commentary about his work habits, Lin had never tried to change him, and it was the least he could do to return the favor. It wasn't easy, though, to bite his tongue and allow the silence to fall thickly over them once again.

No, what bothered him was how quickly Lin had pulled his hand away and begun to walk. He did his best to force the annoyance down, of course, since it really was just a trivial thing. And besides, it was cold; he didn't really blame Lin for not wanting to linger. And so instead he shoved his hands into the pockets of his overcoat, bringing his shoulders up to keep the wind off the back of his neck. He exhaled a stream of compressed air from the side of his mouth and began to walk, lengthening his strides in order to catch up.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 12:28 pm GMT 
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A flutter of relief--Han hadn't turned and gone back inside. He closed his eyes briefly and the look on his face might have been likened to that of someone in prayer. His fingers clenched in his coat pocket, and he wanted nothing more than to reach out to Han again, but something still the desire. He couldn't find the strength to move his arm more than what was required to life the cigarette to his lips, leaving his thoughts and feelings just as tangled as before.

The silence pervaded and he half wished that Han would speak, so at least one of them was talking. So there was something more than just this thick silence around them, so he could breath properly. As it was, however, they were half way to The Dragonfly before anything changed. Lin pulled the pack of cigarettes free, and extended them to Han, a peace offering and small atonement for his silence. Still, he couldn't quite bring himself to look at the other man.

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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Ahoy!
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:12 pm GMT 
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At first, the gesture took Han by surprise. He had been keeping pace with Lin, beginning to regret that he had pushed the issue of coming along when, instead, he could already have been warm and asleep. Not to mention the growing suspicion that Lin might have preferred to be let alone. He'd compensated by trying to keep his presence as unobtrusive as possible, figuring that he would say goodnight at the door of the Dragonfly, turn right around, and walk back.

The gesture, however, prompted him to glance over at Lin with an expression of mild bewilderment at the unexpected offer. And then he relaxed into a faint, tired smile, murmuring a quiet thanks as he accepted the pack and extracted a cigarette. He set it between his lips, fishing into his pocket for matches with one hand while he returned the pack to Lin with the other. And the way he let his fingers brush over the other man's, while subtle, was not accidental in the least.

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"Because studies have shown that dvorak's a genius" - Dass
"On a side note, dvorak, looks like the Pope is recognising your authority in Sainting people. Can only be one person representing God on earth at a time" -TFP


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Amicitia concero omnis
 Post subject: Re: Ein leeres Haus
PostPosted: Sat Feb 27, 2010 2:28 pm GMT 
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The touch softened Lin further and with the sudden contrast of warmth against his cold fingers, he felt weariness. He sighed quietly, drawing his hand back--but only to dip it into his own pocket and then press it back into Han's, pressing something cool and smooth against the other man's palm. He was still silent, but he could feel the resolve to stay so decaying.

His steps were already slowly and the exhaustion was beginning to show through his shield, the fact that he shouldn't have been walking in the first place. A dull ache in his back and pounding in his head.

_________________
Play it across the table
What if we steal this city blind?
If they want anything, let 'em nail it down.
— Carl Sandburg


Det tog 25 år att ens komma så här långt och jag ser en framtid där jag kunde bli något stort...

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