Jack & Nosturi

11/11 yeah apparently drunk writing makes all my character relationships queer-platonic

Nosturi’s eyes contained a depth of sympathy I would never understand. He looked physically pained for my transgressions. He reached out and lay his soft, graceful hand on my shoulder, and it struck me for a moment the differences between us. Him slight and pale and beautiful, I tall and dark and striking. I bore his touch upon my shoulder and simply breathed for a long minute.

“I will add to this number if I must,” I said. “I do not care. That is something I have realized about myself, crane-masked man. I do not care. But there is one I do not wish to kill.”

“You must hold onto this,” he said gently, his fingers squeezing my shoulder. “I did not mean to strip you of your humanity, Jack. I only wished to help you.”

I laughed, a cold sound that I hardly recognized. “You did none of this, my friend.”

Looking askance again, I found his eyes and realized how worried his expression had become. I felt my own stab of sympathy. Nosturi took the burdens of the world unto himself, and he suffered for it. I wished, in that moment, to ease the suffering of another. Perhaps as some twisted recompense for the four names drifting through my mind.

“Nosturi,” I said quietly, and his eyes cleared as he turned his attention wholly upon me. “Nosturi, you must tell me how to make him forgive me.”

He shook his head slowly. “You cannot make him forgive you. You must not strive for such goals. You are not a god in his eyes, Jack. You are the man he loves above all else.”

“Still?” I asked, and the word threatened to choke me.

“Still.”

I did something I think neither Nosturi or I expected; I crumpled sideways and I lay my head on his slender shoulder. I knew instinctively what the crane-masked man would do and he did not disappoint. He leaned toward me and engulfed me with his slight form, gathering me close and holding me against him. I huddled inward in a pathetically fetal position, and I admit that I wept quite openly, the sobs wracking my body as Nosturi held me. But I knew above all else the god would not judge me, would not demean or deride me for this open display of weakness.

His hands tightened on my ribcage, pulling me closer and closer to him. I did not resist—instead I allowed my body to be pulled inward, until our chests rose and fell against each other, until I smelled the soft, pungent scent that defined him. Ocean water and sea foam and salt on skin—that’s what he smelled like. I breathed it in off of his skin and it felt like summer, being held against him. I felt his hair feathering against my face as I exhaled and I buried my face into where his neck and his shoulder met, almost overwhelmed by the weight of compassion I felt radiating from him.

Being embraced my Nosturi broke the burden of emptiness that had entrapped me. I wept into his white tunic, gripping his body against mine, feeling the rough plaster of his mask brushing against the top of my head. To be utterly helpless felt strange and welcome, and it took a solid few minutes before I felt ready to draw myself away from his presence.

I did, finally. I pulled away from the scent of summer and I sat sullen against the trunk of the tree and again stared at the dirt between my feet. I had my feet against the ground and my knees bent.

“For all I’ve done, I still thank you for bringing me here,” I said finally. “You have changed me. And in spite of everything, I believe you have changed me for the better.”

Nosturi nodded, a slow and solemn gesture.

“But Nosturi,” I said, and I felt myself so close to breaking. “I must know how to have him at my side again.”

He nodded.

“Apologize, Jack,” he said, his voice soft and consoling. “Apologize and mean it, and he will know. The world cannot keep apart such souls as yours, who were meant to be together.”

At that moment he looked away from me and I followed his gaze to Kurki, still standing beside Drex and staring off at some unseen destination while the demi-god of metal spoke. I think I understood, then—a fraction of their connection, of their separation, of their pain.

“That’s all?” I asked. I felt like some base vermin, crawling from the cellar to the light.

“I cannot know,” Nosturi said, turning back to me and tilting his head again. “I cannot know these things. They belong to you. You must own them and know them yourself.”

I rocked back and rested my back against the tree, frowning as I studied the valley before us. Overhead, the storm grumbled and tossed a desultory smattering of raindrops down upon us.

“That’s the problem,” I said. “I cannot know how he will react.”

“You can,” Nosturi said. He looked at me for a single, intense moment longer. “You must look into the eyes of another, Jack Immortal. You must feel what they feel. And then you will understand.”

I narrowed my eyes at him, and nodded. I thought I understood.

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