Written for Sam’s Challenge #9. Prompt: Small Town Saturday Night. In the OWNMO universe.
Elliot, chin perched on the back of his hand, stared out the open window. The strong shafts of light from the west illuminated his face, giving him an unearthly glow. He hadn’t yet noticed me, standing in the doorway. His back, unlit by sun and covered in black wool, disappeared into shadow, giving the impression he was part of the shadow.
I shifted my wings, pulling them tight to my body.
The shushing sounds of my feathers reached him wherever his thoughts were. His head snapped around. He stood so fast, the stool he had been sitting on fell to the floor. A blush worked its way up his neck and covered his face.
I walked in, putting a slight swagger in my gait, then leaned against the high counter. “Evening, Elliot. Got anything for me?”
His stared at me, his expression blank. Then his eyes widened and he swung around. Too quickly. He must have stepped on the bottom of his robe, because after one step instead of moving forward his was flying towards the counter. At the last moment his arms shot out and he caught himself.
“Okay, there El?”
His face was red as the sunset in the west. “Yeah. I uhm. Stupid robes, too long, and I…” His voice trailed off into incomprehensible muttering. I put my bag on the counter for Elliot to put the letters in. “There’s a lot for the lowlands this time. Something must be happening.”
“Hmm? I hear one of ours is missing. They’re organizing. I’m surprised you have been enlisted to join the hunt.”
He stopped sliding letters deftly into the bag at that. “Me? Enlisted?” He snorted. “No. I am so bad at everything they stuck me in the mailroom.” He resumed packing my bag, and the blush faded from his face. That wouldn’t do. Not one bit.
“Well, my gain. And here I thought they put the nicest looking man in the mail office for my benefit. A bright shining light in a dark, dull life of flying back and forth, over and over.” I heaved a melodramatic sigh.
The blush was back. He looked up at me, his lips twitching. “Sorry to have to tell you this, Andner, but no.”
He slid my bag over to me. If I left now I could make it to the lowlands before first light and be back on my way. That would be safest. He looked at me, waiting. The sun no longer lit his face, and anything akin to light came from his bright eyes.
“Tell me.” I leaned forward so that mere inches separated our lips. His eyes were large and bewildered.
After a moment, thick such that few things could dissipate it, he licked his lips, deep red in the darkening room. “Tell you what?”
“What is there to do around here on a Saturday night?”
“Um.” He inched closer. I doubt he even knew he did it. “Well, um. The monks taste their ale. For quality.”
“Is that so—“
The door slammed open. A young man ran in, looked around, then dove out the window.
“What in the wor—“
Another man ran in. “Was Chris just in here?”
Elliot laughed. “Yeah. He went out the window.” Elliot pointed to the opposite window.
“Thanks!” The man left out the door and ran in the direction Elliot had pointed.
“What was that?” I was irritated the spell had been broken, but my curiosity easily overcame my ire.
Elliot chuckled and shook his head. “That was Brother Christopher. And then Brother Oren. They spend their Saturday nights… well I’m not sure exactly what they’re doing. As I was saying, most of the brothers ensure the ale’s quality is high. Would you like to join us?”
I sat back, my wings fidgeted on their own volition. “Won’t I stand out?”
“At first sure. Just tell one of your silly human-angel mishap stories, have a couple drinks. You’ll fit right in.”
I didn’t want to leave. Not yet. Elliot’s looks had started lingering on my mind long after I picked up and delivered mail at the monastery. “Okay. But if it’s awkward, I’m holding you responsible.” I grinned at him, so he knew I wasn’t serious.
He came around from behind the counter. His smile was neither awkward nor flustered, but happy. Just happy.