Barriers Come Down | 1. Smile

Summary: It became something that they couldn’t avoid — letting their guard down against their will.

Notes: A series of multi-genre ficlets centered on the growing bond of a mismatched crime-fighting duo. Initiated on 23 January 2014.

I: Smile
[Written on 22/1/2014; 475 words]

He would never have guessed that he — the most ungracious, boisterous person of all time with the most blatant disregard for the purpose of all forms of etiquette to boot — could be capable of something so gentle.

The first time he’d seen it, it was as though it’d never happened. It’d fizzled out as quickly as it’d flashed into existence, so quickly that Zion was half-convinced that it just simply didn’t happen.

 Did it happen?

The days, the months, the expanse of time that followed were ample proof.

Nevertheless, it just seemed so unreal, though, that such a smile could manifest itself on Sandor’s lips — a smile worlds apart from his trademark grin of mischief. Modest, tender, warm, and oozing with an almost nun-like compassion, accompanied by a sudden softening of his brazen, copper eyes.

The shift was subtle, but surely enough, the sight became increasingly difficult to elude.

Most of the instances accommodated mere half-seconds. Sometimes, Zion would catch a glimpse of it amidst their conversations. Sometimes, it’d happen whenever the taller boy had his eyes fixed upon a select few things that appeared to enrapture him more than usual (scampering stray puppies were no exception), surveying them silently from wherever he might have been — the change would then take time, settling tentatively over his features, gradual as the first signs of spring.

Eventually, Zion lost restraint before he could even stop himself, becoming daring enough to silently observe the process from the corners of his cold, appraising eyes, having mastered the art of turning away and pretending to be occupied with other things should his friend perk up and eye him with another round of his typical childlike curiosity.

It came to a point where no one could spot it as well as he could… this he’d come to realize a while later. It began to puzzle him, how it was that he’d always be the one to catch a fleeting glance of it before it hid itself beneath another vibrant mask of laughter, jokes, hollers and hoots.

How it was that it didn’t bother anyone else as much as it did him.

How was it that it didn’t intrigue anyone else as much as it did him.

So much that before he knew it, it’d become a habit of his to capture and then commit every single sight of it to his memory — a possibility that he’d deny, and deny, and deny all over again.

Why was he getting so worked up anyway?

… It was getting a bit frustrating that he couldn’t answer the question.

Why did it bother him? Why did it intrigue him? Why was it that he seemed to be the only one who knew, who’d seen this side of him.

It had never occurred to him it might have been because he had let only him.


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