Not Everything has to Mean Something

Not Everything has to Mean Something

He had positioned himself in the one place in the tavern from which he could observe the door without standing out. Yet, a cursory scan of the room would make him instantly obvious to seeking eyes. The art of being simultaneously unobtrusive and obvious was a skill only mastered by assassins and prostitutes, but it came in handy for these meetings.

Nursing a pint of beer, he monitored the traffic through the entryway out of the corners of his eyes. He would know his target when he saw him and, no doubt, he would be noted at the same moment. He never minded waiting. Quiet time for himself was a rare treat in his profession. Besides, the man he was waiting for was worth every moment.

When he entered, he came through the door with his chin up. It was his posture that would normally have made him forgettable. It was a brilliant little trick, making oneself seem humble and bored. And if Elian hadn’t been so familiar with his face, he would have overlooked his entrance entirely.

For a moment, their eyes locked. Elian dipped his head slightly, a gesture barely perceptible as a nod, and the other man moved to the far side of the tavern, taking a seat where the two could easily make eye contact without drawing attention.

Elian went back to his drink, seeming engrossed in some poster on the wall beside his booth. But he was actually admiring the other man on the edges of his vision. Domerin Lorcasf was the very model of perfection. Tall, muscular, but lean and sinewy. Not one of those body builders with muscles exploding beneath the skin, desperate to escape. Domerin’s was a subtle strength, easily hidden by the fancy suits he usually wore in public. Today he was dressed in a weathered old pair of jeans and a button-down shirt that looked as though it had seen better days. If Elian hadn’t known he was looking at the heir to the Assassins’ Guild’s throne, it would have been difficult to convince him.

It was a testament to his skill that a man whose face was so well known could still venture into public without drawing attention. Then again, it was the very nature of their profession and, if he hadn’t had skill, Domerin wouldn’t have sat poised to take the guild’s reins.

Elian finished his beer. Across the room, Domerin nursed a bottle of his own. They made eye contact precious few times. Elian tucked stray locks of hair between his ears three times. He traced his finger across the rim of his empty glass. He tapped his fingers impatiently against the tabletop five times. Not all at once, but each time he made certain the other man was watching.

He left his empty glass along with a generous tip on the table when he returned to his room. 305. He hadn’t been there five minutes before Domerin joined him. He entered through the window, of course, the way any self-respecting assassin entered a room he didn’t want others knowing he’d been in. His movements were so silent, Elian wouldn’t have noticed, had he not been watching for them.

“You demolished that beer like a man in need of solace.”

Domerin snorted. “As would you, if you had to sit through the same inane meetings I endured today.”

Elian grinned. He didn’t have to ask what the man was talking about. News of the Master Assassin convention taking place at the guild hall this week had been on the front page of every newspaper and the tip of everyone’s tongue for a month. And, of course, masters from far and wide were eager to size up the man who would soon be their leader. The competition, as they likely regarded him.

“News from away?” he asked innocently.

Domerin shot him a dark-eyed glare. “That would have been bearable. Have you ever tried sitting at the head of a room while all of its occupants discuss your ‘abilities’ in great detail, all the while pretending you aren’t there?”

“Once or twice,” Elian murmured, though he couldn’t exactly speak in detail about those occasions.

“It seems no one is particularly interested in my physical qualifications. The skills I’ve mastered will apparently have no bearing on my ability to lead. No; instead, they want to talk about the signs. The signs.” Again, he snorted. “As if the stars dictate anything a man does. And what do the spirits say? They wonder. Am I truly the chosen of the dragon? But don’t the eyes give it away? Yes, there must be something about my eyes.”

“You do have a fantastic set of eyes, darling.” His teasing earned him another glare.

“Hours of discussion without one relevant statement. I felt like a first-year initiate, again.”

Elian chuckled. “You know how the guild is run; mysticism keeps the masses in line.”

“The masses, certainly. I thought the masters would be above all that nonsense.”

“They were once foolish, before status raised them above the multitude.”

With a soft growl of frustration, Domerin threw himself onto the bed, bouncing Elian’s corner perch several times. “Why do they insist on assigning meaning to everything? I thought they were going to force me to strip so they could search for birthmarks.”

“I would be more than happy to undertake that search,” Elian replied as he shifted, propping himself on one elbow beside his companion. When Domerin narrowed his eyes, Elian chuckled again. His pale fingers slid down Domerin’s dusky cheek, continued across his neck and downward until they caught and opened the first button of his shirt. “When weapons are prohibited, words become powerful. He who speaks the most powerful words rises above his fellows. Each wants to be the master who recognized your true potential, so that you will shower them with rewards when you rule.”

“Then none of them know me very well.”

It was Elian’s turn to snort. “Not at all, darling. If only they had eyes like mine, they’d see the truth.”

Domerin’s brows furrowed. “What the hell is that supposed to mean?”

Elian kissed him then, his hands sliding over Domerin’s newly exposed chest, bringing the conversation to a halt. “Not everything has to mean something,” he murmured, his lips close to Domerin’s ear when they parted to breathe.

They said little else that evening. Elian even pretended to sleep when Domerin donned his clothes and took himself back out through the window.

This is the first time I picked the weekly prompt. Did you like it? ;) Check out what my writing partner came up with for this one!

Over at Ithilear, Beth Alvarez has done the prompt “Obsession!”

This will be the last prompt before I depart on Christmas vacation. If you’d like to participate, send a link to your response and I’ll feature it when the blog resumes from hiatus. Don’t forget you can use any of the previous prompts as well.

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