(*note: still a slow burn. slowest of simmers. i’m making a stew over here. and a it’s a short-ish chapter. enjoy!)*
A few days had gone by, and I was honestly starting to think that the man on the train had been a delirious daydream of mine after an exhausting day. And today was rounding up to be a similarly draining one, countless last minute requests that kept me on my desk far beyond the time I was being paid for. Unable to say no, and with a relentless need to at all times prove my worth, I wrapped everything up around 6 pm, a few hours later than my usual end of the workday.
Walking out of the office building into the twilight, it was nice to breathe in the air that was on the cusp of fall, chillier and less stifling than the usual humid swirl one had to endure. Thankfully, the wind wasn’t too rambunctious, but I still adjusted the flare of my dress, making sure I won’t accidentally flash anyone and walked over to the subway.
Even though it was a few hours after my usual commute time, the platform for the Q seemed to be bursting with people anxious to get home. I loved living here, getting to do what I love, but I did not enjoy the general pride in being grumpy that most of this city’s residents boasted. I tried my best to weave my way through the crowd to get close enough to the end of the platform without risking falling into the tracks at one unfortunate shove.
The moment the train pushed warm underground air in our faces at its approach, it became harder and harder to keep my feet planted in place and not be moved by the wave of people behind me.As soon as the ding of the opening doors rang out, I felt herded into the train while simultaneously being pushed behind and farther away from it. I was sure I was gonna miss it when all of a sudden I felt a warm hand on the small of my back, a warmer presence behind me and I felt gently guided into the train and firmly held there while the rest of the crowd still restlessly struggled to discover footing and support. The doors closed but the hand stayed, I turned my head around, feeling like I should be angry at whoever wondered it was OK to touch me without permission, and thankful that they had gotten me into the train, *but you can let go of me now, thanks*! The little frown forming on my eyebrows immediately vanished when I saw him.
I should have known.
First thing I noticed was that he had impossibly long and dark lashes. I was immediately jealous. The bottom ones curled out and rested on his skin. I had an incredibly strong urge to reach out to touch him there. Involuntarily, I sighed, and a shiver ran down my body. It was becoming a pathetic habit around him. His hand went wider on my back, as if steadying me, knowing what had just happened, why it had just happened. Another jolt of the train made me lose my balance a little, and he did that thing he does, like someone gracefully molding clay. He moved his hand further across my back, and it moved me along with its flow as it made its way to my waist. It felt like little lightning storms on my skin, wherever his fingers pressed into me, to signal me to move, or stop. And suddenly, I was facing him. I was thankful that he did that, because if I had turned around with the explicit need of wanting to face him and rest my head on his chest, I would have been found the fuck out.
Although I can’t imagine he didn’t know what was going on in my mind, with my face famously unable to hide my emotions, so close to his watchful eyes. While his face gave away nothing. He looked at me as if we were lifelong friends and he was doing something we at all times naturally did. A gentle smile, and a simple nod. I was baffled by the familiarity. I wanted more.
At the next lurch of the train, my hand found its way on his arm, after having kept them strictly at my sides, I realized I’d keep bumping into him and embarrass myself by nuzzling into his chest. So the better course of action was to just take the help he was silently offering. His whole body, a shield, a wall. At the announcement of the next stop, I looked up at him again, knowing it was his stop. Not sure what I was asking, I couldn’t expect this stranger to waste his time just for the sake of seeing me home. And if I was, what would he expect of me? He took a deep breath in, closing his eyes.
I had a moment to read his face without fear of being caught. He was older, definitely, at least ten years older than me, maybe more. The gray was shining in his close cropped beard, I could still see the angles of his jaw line through it. I wanted to feel the jagged edges. I saw the corner of his lip curl, *he knew*.
“Fuck” I muttered under my breath, and I felt his chest move, a chuckle.
*He fucking knew.*
His stop came and went, he stayed. Never saying a word, just moving with me as we let others off the train, and more inside. We stayed together, dancing silently to a tune he knew. I realized I didn’t mind being led by him.
I felt melancholic, dreading having to leave his warmth. He finally looked down at me again, our height difference meant he’d have to fully bring his neck down to reach me, not that I was thinking about that. *Not at all*. I did have to try very hard to not get on my tiptoes and get closer to him.
That little smile was back, the one that made me feel part of something with him. And he winked. HE WINKED! It caught me so off guard, I let out a breathy little laugh as I got off the train. Still feeling his hand on my back, seeing his eyes when I closed mine.