Monday, July 27, 2009
Blind Man’s Bluff
Coffee bw by ~aetherix on deviantART
A/N: Companion piece to Blindsided.
Warnings: No beta means all mistakes are mine and mine alone.
Disclaimer: I own nothing except my sanity, which isn’t much considering said sanity is often in question.
And because he is unquestionably brilliant, there are some things he just knows.
He knows that the number of phonemes in human speech can range from 11 to 67; knows in fact, that to convert graphite into diamond, a temperature of 3000 Celsius and pressure of 100,000 atm is needed; knows still that 95800^4 + 217519^4 + 414560^4 = 422481^4. There are—for sure—many things he already knows, knew, and will know in his lifetime. But one thing he isn’t quite sure of is the way this woman—sitting beside him in this otherwise nondescript café—feels about him.
And so he dares to ask. “You like me?” Simple, direct, and leaving no room for confusion. Her look, which he surmises as upset disguised as shock, tells him that his question is yet again taken as a statement. There are occasions where he’ll exert the effort to correct this error but this moment isn’t one of them.
“Yes.” One word and it’s his turn to be shocked. Of course he doesn’t show it, an odd byproduct of regulating his emotions, his own brand of self-preservation.
“I see.” He says, not because he really sees it, but more to assure himself that he has heard her right.
Something (he’s not sure if it’s his “I see” or something else) creases her brows. Then it hits him: She thinks this is a problem, maybe even regrets saying yes even now. Desperate to be proven wrong, he asks “It shouldn’t be a problem, should it?”
Now that is unexpected. He supposes that she hasn’t been listening to him, lost in an internal dialogue he often wishes he can be privy to. There is something about her that draws him so—her non-linear way of thinking, her tendency to fib her way out of situations – even potentially dangerous ones, her spontaneity – never thinking things through. All these served to heighten his fascination with her.
It is starting to bother him that she is purposely drawing out this conversation. It may have been his fault for not sealing the deal right then and there. But maybe, patience does have its merits, merits that don’t exhibit themselves until cups of coffee have been consumed. Against his better judgment, he finds himself repeating what needs to be said, “I asked if we should consider this thing a problem.”
From her, he gets furtive looks sent his way, done in between sips of her chai latte. She’s hesitating; evident by the way her mouth is forming the words, like her words are caught somewhere between her heart and her throat. For all its strangeness, he still finds the whole thing fascinating.
“Why should it be a problem?”
Aaah, he notes, the Socratic Method. He knows this, remembers her telling him how she has obsessed over this dialectical method. But then again, given her current state of discomfort, he is quite sure she hasn’t been employing said method consciously. Consciously or not, though, he decides to give Mr. Socrates a run for his money.
“Because we’re friends?”
Even to his ears, that sounds stupid. He’s a man and therefore will not hesitate messing up a friendship if it can lead to a possible romance. It sounds callous, he knows, but he’s not apologizing for the way he is made.
“That doesn’t change because I like you.”
“And why should it not?” He asks himself. Friendship is all well and good but he is convinced their being more is a thousand times better. Her commitment to their “friendship” is, if not disappointing, quite insulting to his investments in this relationship.
“What would you have me do?” He poses the question as a challenge. Virtue or not, he has no more patience to spare.
“I want us to remain friends, I think.”
He’s not sure why she’s unsure. He gives her an opening so she can dictate the way this conversation is supposed to go, but she doesn’t take it. He feels frustrated that it is up to him to move things along.
“You’re not sure?” He asks because asking seems to be the order of the day (or night) for them.
“I’m not sure.” This she says with a self-deprecating grin, something he finds charming despite the disastrous turn of events their non-date has progressed to.
“I see.” And this time he really does see it. See that cases like this warrant a more explicit course of action.
She says, “That makes one of us.”
Decided, he makes do with a line so cheesy, it makes the hairs on his head turn prematurely gray. “Maybe it’s better if I show you.”
Before she can react, he grabs her and gives her a kiss. He starts off slow, not wanting to scare her. Feeling her eyes close, he explores and maps the contours of her lips. And as she begins to return the kiss, he hears his breath hitch.
“This shouldn’t be a problem,” he whispers into her lips.
“I see,” she says.
At that moment he realizes, there is one more thing he now knows: that it takes just one kiss to right an ocean of wrongs; that despite an evening unnecessarily filled with cups of cooling coffee, this is where they’ll start building their tower of hope.