Afraid to Love: Louder Than Words

By Black Rose

Silence speaks louder than words.

Squall hasn't spoken a word since he came in. It's the last day of the week and neither of us have any meetings; just paperwork to be caught up on, reports to be typed and filed. He shut the door behind him when he came in, laptop under one arm, and neither of us have broken the silence since.

He pulled a chair around to sit beside me. We bumped into each other beneath the desk and I moved over at first, to give him room, but his leg followed mine until I stopped bothering. We've sat there ever since, his knee just lightly touching mine; it's unobtrusive and oddly comfortable.

Afternoon sun is slanting in filtered stripes through the blinds and the only sound is the clatter of our respective typing - his fingers on the keys are faster than mine but he pauses between things longer, thinking out what to write next. He's talked on the phone a few times, on the Garden circuit - I know, because the rhythm of his breathing changes from slow and steady to a more staccato rhythm slotted around the words he's silently mouthing into the transmitter pressed to the bone of his jaw. I can tell when whoever's on the line makes him exasperated by the tiny puff of a sigh and the frown creasing his brow when I glance over sidelong to see what he's doing.

When a report or memo irritates him the keystrokes of his typing turn heavier, sharp and abruptly fast. When he finishes one it's a quick and almost triumphant tap of the keys to save it, each one sent off with a satisfied flourish.

The hours of the day have stretched on, defined in the rhythm of the keys and the occasional rustle of papers, or the clatter of a pen against the desk. Once, when I reached for a pen that had rolled just out of reach, his hand intercepted mine. His fingers crept through my own and he tugged my hand back to him; his lips brushed the ridge of my knuckles, just lightly, the exhale of his breath warm against my skin.

He let me go without looking up from the words scrolling past on his screen and I didn't say anything, but my pens have developed a tendency to roll towards his side of the desk.

It isn't until the afternoon light turns a heavy gold with approaching dusk and I've worked the pile of things in front of me down to the last few reports that I clear my throat and break the silence. It feels almost wrong to do it, my voice too loud in the confines of the office. "So what are you doing here?"

He glances up then, blinking at me in almost owlish surprise. "Told you," he says, as though it should be eminently obvious. "My office was too quiet, so I came in here."

I let the smile that's been hovering on the edge of my lips all afternoon break free. "Of course," I agree amiably. We turn back to our work by silent agreement, my papers crinkling a counterpoint to the click of his typing, his elbow resting solid and warm against my own.

// Of course. //

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