Welcome to Wednesday Briefs, where authors post free fiction of 1000 words or less each week. I used this prompt: have your characters Eskimo kiss
At Full Speed, #14
Bruce kept sitting on the closed toilet lid, his hands linked loosely between his thighs. Sometimes he lifted his head, gave Jake a small smile, then bowed his head again. With anyone else it would’ve felt weird, oppressing, a looming presence of upending doom, but Jake didn’t experience any of these feelings, just a safety he’d long forgotten.
When the water started to cool, Jake moved and pulled the plug. “Can you give me a towel, please?”
Bruce’s head shot up, and it took him a moment to nod. He jerked to his feet, took the towel off the rack, and held it out for Jake. After climbing to his feet, Jake reached out for the towel. Bruce had other ideas, though. He wrapped the fabric around Jake’s body and lifted him out of the tub, causing Jake to squeak in surprise. When Bruce stood him on the bath mat, he bent his head and rubbed their noses together in a tender Eskimo kiss.
Jake smiled as Bruce dried him. How was it possible for a man this large to be so gentle with his hands? He was so different from… Jake swallowed and shoved the unwelcome thought aside.
“Okay?” Bruce asked.
Nodding, Jake asked, “Can you get me some fresh clothes? I think I sweat through mine when I had that panic attack earlier.”
“Sure. Anything specific?”
“Shirt and sweatpants, if you don’t mind.”
Bruce’s eyes crinkled at the corners. “No briefs?”
Heat crept into Jake’s cheeks before he replied. “And briefs. Socks would also be welcome.”
“As you wish.” Bruce bowed to Jake, then spun around.
Jake shook his head as laughter bubbled up inside him. Today was a strange day. He’d told Bruce about his past—well, a tiny snippet of what he’d been through, but that counted, right?—and the world didn’t end.
“Here.” Bruce pushed the clothes into Jake’s arms, startling him out of his train of thoughts. “I’m sorry, sunshine, didn’t you hear me come back?”
Even though Jake’s heart had stumbled a beat, it calm down almost immediately. That had to be a first too. After a panic attack, the smallest things could set him off again. But one soothing remark from Bruce and his heart-rate decreased. What the hell was happening?
“No, I was thinking.”
“About what?” Bruce asked as he unwrapped the towel from Jake’s body. He pressed a light kiss on Jake’s left temple before he hung up the towel.
Jake climbed into his briefs and sweatpants, then slipped his shirt on. He walked up to Bruce, the pair of socks clutched in his hand. With a thumping heart, he reached out and traced Bruce’s strong jawline. “I’m still here. You are still here. The world didn’t stop, even though… even though I told you about what happened.”
“Jake, you told me someone almost beat you to death. You didn’t tell me anything about your relationship to that person, how it came that you’re still alive, or where that person is now.” Bruce placed his hands on Jake’s shoulder before he gently drew Jake into his arms. “I don’t want to open old wounds or have you spiral into another panic, but I’d like to know more. I want to know if you’re in danger. I need to know what makes you uncomfortable when you’re around me, so I don’t trigger you.”
A shiver ran up Jake’s spine. “That’s a lot of things you want to know.”
“You don’t have to tell me anything, you know that, don’t you?” Bruce rubbed his nose in Jake’s wet hair.
“But I could tell you something,” Jake forced himself to say. “I don’t know how much, but… I’d be willing to try.”
“Thank you, sunshine. Now, how about you put on your socks and we dry your hair?” Bruce asked.
Jake gave a jerky nod. So much for a calm heart-rate…