Well Nigh Impossible
Sharon Maria Bidwell
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Copyright ©2013 Sharon Maria Bidwell
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"Christ, Ship, will you look at that?"
Nigel's voice brought Colin back to the present. Alarmed Nigel had caught him staring, Colin needed a moment to absorb details. While the other man remained mesmerised by the scene outside, Colin had grown entranced with the sight of Nigel so he had to force his eyes to obey and look away.
On any normal day, the view would consist of a packed car park, vehicles circling for space, people pushing empty shopping trolleys into the store, full ones out. Not so today.
Colin reviewed the scene in time to see the source of Nigel's comment -- a flurry of blazing balls. One of the larger fireballs hit the street a block over, and both men flinched back. The building shook but held ground.
"Do you think we should go somewhere?"
Not wanting to leave, Colin felt relieved when Nigel said, "Where? If we were in London, we could head somewhere like the underground, I suppose. Isn't that where people went during the war? But here?"
Sure's was part of a new shopping estate operating a short way off the M25 at Junction Nineteen.
"The motorway will be manic. There will have been accidents, if traffic is moving at all. We'll never get out of here by road and on foot --" Nigel shook his head "-- too risky. We probably should have left with the others." Reports of looting had stirred Nigel to order staff to board up the place, but no one seemed interested in stealing the "sure deals" on offer. Shortly after the preliminary meteorite shower, when the fiery orbs started to drop, most of the staff left for home, not waiting for nor asking permission. Not that anyone would have taken notice of a refusal.
Nigel definitely hadn't intended to stop people leaving. The phone lines were down, and it was next to impossible to get through on a mobile. For all anyone knew, some of the satellites had suffered damage, been knocked out of orbit, or goodness knew what in this crisis. Anything could have happened. The networks were at least jammed, with everyone trying to call someone or to cry for help. People weren't thinking about their jobs. Once the shock wore off, when they were able to think coherently again, their thoughts drifted to those they loved.
Misfortune had a way of showing people what mattered most in the world. The only reason many of the staff hadn't struck out immediately was none truly understood what to believe. Eventually though, everyone in the store had left to try to make their way to someone they cared about. The sorrowful truth was Colin had no one. Did Nigel?
"Why didn't you? Leave, I mean, with the others?"
Nigel shrugged. "Nothing for me. My parents live too far away, and I cannot get through on the phone. Why take the risk? You?"
Nigel grimaced. "The only two bachelors in the shop, I guess."
"Singletons," Colin said quietly. Nigel didn't respond. For some minutes, both men simply gazed out at the unbelievable scene unfolding before them.
Nigel referred to him that way sometimes, when they went for a quiet drink after work, during times when they downed more than a couple measures of alcohol. Colin liked hearing his nickname fall from Nigel's mouth, seeing he couldn't do anything else with that mouth, or tongue, or any part of the man. When Nigel used that tag, even an innocent drink seemed intimate and relaxed. There couldn't be a more informal occasion than sharing Armageddon, so maybe he shouldn't feel astounded to hear Nigel call him Ship now, but he was. Surprised and a little sick. As pleasant as the endearment was in any circumstances, he wanted to hear Nigel calling it out in ecstasy.
"You sorry to have no one at a time like this, or glad?"
Colin was sorry about one thing. Nigel knew Colin was gay, but he didn't know how Colin felt. Nigel had no inkling that the person right beside him loved him deeply.
Should he speak out, reveal all? If he couldn't take a chance now, when could he? The words Colin yearned to say remained in his mouth, gluing his lips shut.
The... storm, for want of a better description -- albeit the heavens chucked down fire in place of rain -- moved off. None of the fires spread far. The two men seemed to exist in a moment of peace, a portent saying nothing of the tempest transpiring inside him. To speak or not to speak?
Should he choose to die silent, the truth trapped within?
Should he take the risk and have his feelings spurned?
A "thanks but no" he could handle, but Colin entertained no wish to meet the end with a look of disgust or hatred the last thing he saw on Nigel's face. Those who thought being gay a life choice were clueless. Meeting the right someone was as difficult, if not harder. So was rejection. Too much conjecture involved, or at least, so life had taught Colin.
"Ship?" Nigel asked again.
"Sorry." Colin forced out the word, but he couldn't be certain whether he replied to Nigel's question, for not being able to answer, or apologised for his feelings. For not telling Nigel of them, or, or, or... He didn't know what.
Today had started like another of those days darkened by a reported apocalypse written on some ancient calendar or scroll of which no one had ever heard. Only yesterday, everyone laughed over the possibility. The staff made up stories, expressed wishes, choices, what they'd choose to do if today truly were the big finish of existence, their last night on earth. Colin couldn't even remember what he'd said here at work, but later he and Nigel had changed their answers when sitting alone in the pub. Their conversation burned brightly in his mind now, and forced him to a decision he'd likely regret.
He grabbed Nigel's arm, spinning him around. "You said... last night you said if it were the end of the world that you'd want to try something different. Something you'd never tried before."
Nigel blinked at him.
Colin swallowed hard, looked down. "And I... I said I'd want to make love to the person I cared about the most." He'd meant it last night, drunk. Well, tipsy and even somewhat inebriated, he'd had enough sense to laugh it off right away. He wasn't laughing now.
Slowly, Colin lifted his gaze to stare into Nigel's face. A moment passed before realisation dawned in those dark eyes.
"Oh!" Nigel said sounding surprised... but he made no attempt to push Colin away.