Ailin slipped the first button loose,
letting his hands sweep over Garreth's lapels, gentling, as he
moved to the second. “Everything all right?” He dipped his head
a little more, still peering closely but yet unable to get a
look at Garreth‟s face.
Garreth only shook his head, one sharp
negation back and forth. Ailin couldn't tell if it was an answer
to his question or an indication that he shouldn't ask it again. Garreth's thick gold hair hung down, tangled from the wind,
obscuring his eyes, and the light in the hall was chancy; all Ailin could see was the tight twitching in the muscles of
Garreth's jaw, the firm, slightly downward set of his mouth.
Some deal gone wrong, perhaps, or a ruling
by the Mayor that didn't go in his favor. Whatever it was, it
must have been serious. Ailin didn't think he'd ever seen Garreth so troubled that he couldn't speak; in fact, it was when Garreth was the most troubled that he
did speak. Not one to keep
things stoppered up inside, this one.
Ailin loosed the last button of the coat,
slowly slipping his hands between it and Garreth's jacket. He
leaned in close as he smoothed the heavy wool from shoulders set
rigid and tense. Garreth was chilled and he smelled of sweat and
horse, so Ailin knew that he'd ridden; but he also smelled of
pine and leather and violent autumn skies full of thunder and
fire, and it somehow made Ailin feel better to have Garreth
here, regardless of the queer mood in which he happened to have
His hands had slipped the sleeves to
Garreth's elbows and Ailin paused, giving Garreth's arms a quick
squeeze inside woolen warmth. “Tell me,” he said, soft and close
to Garreth's ear.
A slight shiver ran through Garreth and a
long, deep breath swayed him a hair closer, a ghost of a touch
of his chest to Ailin's. He tilted in, almost as though he meant
to lay his head to Ailin's shoulder; he only dipped his nose to
the hair that was curling damp at Ailin's nape.
“You smell nice,” was all he said.