LEARNING ABOUT STEEL
Silver wants to know more about Steel - including if he knows how to laugh.
An established relationship story.
Written: February 2013. Word count: 2,300.
Author's Note: // either side of words indicate when the characters are talking to one another telepathically.
Silver was bored; actually Silver was very bored; actually Silver was extremely bored; actually Silver was more bored than he could ever remember being; actually Silver was beyond just being bored - he was . . . Well, he couldn't think of what he was; he just knew it was more than boredom he felt.
For the first time since he'd persuaded, seduced, enticed, all but bullied Steel into his arms, into his bed, into his apartment and into his life, he realised he understood the human term 'be careful what you wish for'.
He'd wished for Steel; he'd wanted Steel; he'd pursued Steel; he'd invaded Steel's personal space at every opportunity; he'd paid attention to what Steel said; he'd irritated Steel; he'd tried to make himself invaluable to Steel; he did what Steel told him to do without question; he'd been everywhere Steel had been. And finally when Steel still hadn't got the message he'd backed him into a corner (literally) aware of quite how dangerous it was to physically trap a man who could tie lift cables with his hands, and had told Steel how he felt about him.
And when Steel had just stood there, his face impassive, his grey, steely gaze steady, the only indication he had even heard what Silver had said a slightly raised eyebrow Silver had kissed him and had gone on kissing him until he had felt Steel's lips move under his and felt, just for an instant, Steel kiss him back.
And with the kiss he had thought, he had believed, he had hoped, he had expected things would change. And in one way they had; they now shared an apartment and a bed, even if more often than not in the early days of their - whatever it was they had - Silver had woken up alone because as Steel had pointed out so very calmly he didn't sleep, thus what reason did he have for staying in bed? It was logical, it was highly logical, just like Steel - but it wasn't what Silver wanted.
He'd turned to Sapphire, telling her how he didn't like waking up alone, seeking her advice, after all she and Steel had been working partners for as long as Silver could remember, she must know Steel better than anyone. Her laughter when he suggested that she knew Steel better than any one else, didn't really give him any encouragement nor had her simple 'well tell him you donít like it'. However, given he hadn't any other ideas, he had tried following her advice and had told Steel he didn't like waking up alone.
Steel had merely blinked and said 'why didn't you tell me' and since that day apart from a handful of times when Steel had been suddenly sent on assignment or once when Silver had found Steel just standing in their sitting room staring out of the window at seemingly nothing and had offered Silver no explanation, Silver hadn't once woken up alone. More often than not Steel wasn't actually in the bed, he would be fully dressed and sitting on the bed, sometimes with his feet up, leaning against the headboard, sometimes he'd be sitting on the side of the bed, very occasionally he'd be sitting in the bedroom chair or standing leaning against the wall, but he was always there.
At least he was physically, because once the excitement and pleasure of getting Steel for his own had faded, Silver realised that for a great deal of the time Steel didn't seem to be emotionally with him - something which given the man of steel seemed to have few if any emotions Silver guessed he shouldn't be that surprised about.
It was just that he'd expected more; he'd expected to know more about Steel - and he wasn't talking about the things he knew that no one, not even Sapphire, apart from Them knew. And whilst he knew that knowing the things he knew about Steel, knowing the truth about his temperature, about his strength, about his mental powers, about just what he could do, about just how powerful he was, about how vital Steel was to Them, was a huge thing to know, that it showed a level of trust beyond anything Silver had ever known, a level of trust that in all honesty surprised Silver (because Steel hadn't had to have told him, he could have gone on controlling his body temperature and sheathing his claws and not letting Silver know how easily he could read his mind), he wanted something else.
He wanted something small, something personal - which he knew sounded crazy because knowing that Steel's normal body temperature was far lower than humans and their fellow elements considered normal, knowing quite how strong Steel was, knowing about the strength of his mental powers was very personal. But it wasn't personal in the way Silver wanted.
He wanted to know what Steel liked; what books he liked; what made him happy; what made him sad; what films he liked; what his favourite colour was; what music he liked; small, normal things - things he could share with his fellow elements, unlike all the other stuff he knew about Steel. But he didn't know any of those things, he didn't even know if Steel had favourites of anything - because Steel had never said and Silver somehow had never found a way to ask. He'd talked to Steel of books he liked, of films he'd enjoyed, about music, colours, food - all the normal things and Steel had listened politely but hadn't responded.
Now they sat in their apartment Steel was reading a book, but his face gave no indication as to whether he was enjoying it, and Silver was just watching Steel and realising how bored he was. Suddenly he blurted out without even thinking about it, "Steel, what makes you laugh?" Even as he heard himself say the words he mentally cursed himself; of all the things he could have asked, he'd asked such a weak, insignificant question. And yet as Steel paused, even closed and put down his book and looked at Silver, Silver suddenly realised the question had suddenly become the most important and significant question he had ever asked.
To his surprise Steel was silent for some time and as Silver watched he saw a frown crease Steel's forehead. Finally, just as he thought he might scream, shout at Steel or do something completely stupid and lash out at him, Steel spoke. "I do not know," he said slowly.
Silver blinked in surprise; then irritation raced through him. "Or," he said knowing how sarcastic his tone was, "is it like eating, you don't."
Again Steel was silent for some time; again a frown creased his forehead; again Silver thought he might scream, shout at Steel or do something completely stupid and lash out at him. And then Steel spoke. "I do not know," he said slowly.
Silver felt his mouth fall open as he stared at the man whom in one way he knew so much about and in another way knew nothing at all about. For a moment he wondered if Steel was teasing him, but he instantly dismissed it. Then he wondered if Steel was lying to him, but again he dismissed it; one of Steel's more irritating traits was his complete and utter honesty about everything - even things most civilised people would tell a white lie about. "You don't know if you can laugh?" he said finally.
Slowly Steel shook his head. "No. At least not in the way you know laughter."
Silver swallowed; okay, in a way he guessed he had suddenly learnt something about Steel, but it wasn't quite what he'd had in mind. "Do you know what laughter is?" he asked and again silently cursed himself.
To his surprise Steel's lips actually twitched upwards in a vague approximation of a smile as he stared at Silver. "It may surprise you to know, Silver," he said, surprising Silver further by reaching across the gap that separated them and taking Silver's hand, "that I know what lots of things are, even if I am unable to . . . Experience them."
"Do you love me?" Silver blurted out and shook himself as he began to wonder what had happened to him, why he was behaving like an idiot.
Again Steel's lips twitched just a little. "I trust you, Silver. I have told you things, shared things with you that I have never told or shared with anyone else. I have let you see me as I really am not in the way the rest of our kind see me. And," he added, now taking Silver's other hand, "I did so against Their wishes."
Silver stared at Steel as he felt his mouth fall open. "They told you that you couldn't tell me the truth about yourself?"
Steel shrugged. "They advised very strongly against it. They said you were too . . ."
Silver waited for a moment before asking, even though he wasn't certainly he wanted to know, "Too?"
For the third time Steel's lips twitched upwards and Silver was fairly certain he even saw a hint of amusement in the steely eyes. "Too much like your name and that you were too flighty, too fanciful, too . . ." Steel again trailed off.
This time Silver didn't push him. Instead he asked, "So why did you tell me? Why did you let me see who - or what - you really are? Why did you trust me?"
Steel's cold grip on Silver's hands tightened just a little and as Silver watched, he could see Steel trying to answer the question in a way Silver would understand. "Firstly," he said slowly, "my what you would call 'instinct' but for me is so much more. Secondly, because I know that you," he paused and frowned, "love me," he said the word 'love' very slowly as if it was something he didn't really understand.
Silver however didn't interrupt; he was held captive, not just by the cold, strong grip Steel had on him, but by Steel's eyes, his voice, what he was saying, by the fact he was leaning something about Steel, something far more important than what his favourite book was. "And whilst you are flighty and fickle and very much like your name - as we all are - you would never betray or hurt someone you cared about."
Silver blinked. He realised he wasn't only just learning something about Steel but he was also learning something about himself. Was he really so . . . He wasn't sure what the word was. "How did you know that?" he asked and then wondered just where his mind was that afternoon.
For a fourth time Steel's lips twitched upwards, this time even more than they had done the three previous times and now Silver was certain he saw the steely gaze become softer as amusement touched Steel's eyes. So Steel could laugh, well he could get amused, but maybe he didn't realise; maybe he called it something else.
Then the amusement faded from Steel's eyes and his lips ceased to turn up as he just stared at Silver. "I do trust you, Silver," he said quietly. "And for me that is as close to what you call 'love' as I believe I am capable of getting, do you understand what I am saying?"
Silver stared at Steel and thought for a moment before nodding very slowly. "Yes, Steel, I think so. Steel just went on staring at Silver; Silver could feel a faint tingle in his mind which he had learnt to recognise as Steel deliberately probing his mind and his thoughts.
The tingle increased as Steel's eyes became even greyer and his hands even colder; for a moment Silver tried to pull back physically and mentally as he sensed Steel was probing far deeper than he'd ever probed before. //Do not try to fight me, Silver. Just relax; I promise I will not hurt you.// Silver tried to relax; tried to do as Steel said, but as the tingle increased even more, as coldness touched his mind he again tried to pull away. //Trust me, Silver; trust me as I trust you.//
Silver shivered under the coldness of Steel's hands and the coldness in his mind, but suddenly the coldness in his mind faded and was replaced by a pleasant warmth that came with an array of colours and he realised he was seeing Steel's mind; seeing inside the man of steel; seeing things even he didn't know; learning new things; discovering quite how much Steel trusted him and yes, loved him.
He gasped softly not from Steel's now icy grip, but from the message he was getting: Steel not only trusted him deeply, he cared for him and he was showing Silver quite how important Silver was to him. He showed Silver the man he had been before Silver had captured him and the man he was now. And he saw that Steel did indeed have a sense of humour, that he could laugh - he just couldn't laugh outwardly, in the way Silver and others laughed; it stayed within him.
//You taught me this,// Steel said softly, //just as you taught me so many other things; things I never thought I'd want to know or experience. I know I am not all that you would want me to be; I know you think you don't know me; I know you feel I am not emotionally involved with you, but I am, Silver and you do know me.//
And in that instant, Silver knew Steel spoke the truth. And he knew he'd never doubt it again.
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