Saturday, December 6, 2008

Time Again by Jade Falconer

“Hi,” James said a little awkwardly, standing in the doorway of one of the primary restoration rooms. “I’m updating everyone’s virus software.”

The museum was a nice place to work. Everyone was a little nerdy, and of course as part of the IT department, James fit right in with the mega-nerds. The archaeology nerds were a little different than the computer nerds, true, but they all got along pretty well. And James got on especially well with Evan. He was one of the main curators at the museum, and James stood just inside the threshold of his somewhat chaotic domain, trying to be as non-invasive as possible.

Evan stood behind a long table, and he looked up as if startled. “James! Hi! Um, sure, go ahead,” he waved at the computer on his desk with a slightly dirty hand. He wiped it on the apron he wore over jeans and a white tank top. “Can you manage? ‘Cause I’m filthy, sorry,” he grinned apologetically. The table in front of him was covered with shards of pottery of various sizes.

“Yeah, I got it,” James said, walking over to the desk. He pulled out Evan’s chair and took a seat, opening the CD tray. “Sorry for the interruption.” He could see that Evan was up to his elbows in it. The other man had such a look of intensity, passion. Not to mention arms to die for. James sighed to himself.

Evan smiled without looking up. “Oh, it’s no interruption. I won’t be using the computer for a while yet anyway.” He carefully set a piece down and picked up another. “Saves me from talking to myself, anyway. How’ve you been?” He set the shard down carefully and took pictures of it with a tiny digital camera.

James smiled brilliantly at Evan as he slid the disc into the tray. “Good. Well. Okay. What about you?” he asked. Even though he was one of the most renowned archaeologists in the country, Evan was very down to earth. James was always happy to chat with him. It didn’t hurt that he was amazingly easy on the eyes. His dark hair brushed his shoulders, and he had full lips that were quick to smile. His eyes were deep brown and expressive. His body was broad without being too muscular, and he looked solid. Evan was probably twice James’ size, and James wondered what those strong arms felt like.

Evan’s hair fell into his eyes and he flicked it out of the way with a toss of his head. “Only okay?” he asked, sounding concerned. “What’s wrong, James?”

James shrugged his shoulders as he flexed his fingers hovering above the mouse. “Nothing, really. Do you know anything about, well, this is gonna sound silly. But, well, reincarnation.”

Evan raised an eyebrow and set down the camera. He turned toward James, giving him his full attention. “Well, I know that many ancient cultures believed in some form of reincarnation,” he said evenly. “I’ve seen a lot of weird stuff, so I’m never in a hurry to discount something.”

“I went to see a psychic over the weekend. I was a little tipsy, but she said a lot of things she couldn’t have known. And then she started telling me about my previous lives. She suggested I get regressed, whatever that means.” It sounded silly now, but he was grateful that Evan didn’t seem to think he was a complete flake.

Evan’s eyes widened. “Wow. I didn’t take you for the mystical type,” he teased. “Hey, if you think there’s some truth to it, it couldn’t hurt.”

“It was fascinating,” James said, clicking the mouse a few times and leaning back in the chair. “Apparently, I have a soul mate that I keep meeting over and over. But I haven’t found them in this life yet.”

“Wow, that’s really interesting,” Evan said. “Did she give you any clues about how to find this soul mate?”

James shook his head. “She just said that remembering the past was the best way to unlock the future, and that he was nearby somewhere.” Then James bit his lip. He hadn’t meant to say it, though he didn’t really hide his sexuality.

Evan only hesitated a moment, then he said, “So you’re going to get regressed then?”

James nodded. “Yeah.” He looked down, knowing he was blushing, then realized the computer was waiting for him to select something. He looked at the monitor again and clicked through the setup. He was relieved that Evan didn’t seem put off by his slip. “My, um, my ex is dating someone new, and it kinda made me feel sorry for myself,” he said, laughing self deprecatingly.

Evan nodded. “Yeah, that’ll do it,” he agreed. “And if you don’t want drama you have to be all happy about it even though you want to slap someone,” he snickered.

“It’s not that. I mean, it’s not like I’m not over him. But I’m annoyed that he found someone before I did, you know?” he asked. He felt like he could trust Evan, even if he didn’t really know him that well. Evan was easy to talk to.

Evan nodded. “You didn’t want him to be over you so quickly,” he said gently.

James pouted. Well, that was uncomfortably perceptive. “I guess,” he said with another shrug. “Maybe, I don’t know. Maybe it’s all bullshit, anyway. Soul mates and that kinda thing.”

“Oh, I don’t know,” Evan said, smiling wistfully. “I think all archeologists are romantics at heart, and I’m no exception.”

James smiled as he closed the completed install window. “I guess that makes sense. But computer geeks aren’t supposed to be romantic.” He grinned a little, and retrieved the disc. “You’re all updated. Thanks for listening to my tale of woe, Evan.”

“Any time,” Evan said. “I mean, I’m all about the past. Do I get to hear about these past lives?”

James paused, tilting his head a little. “Do you really want to?” he asked doubtfully. “I mean it’s all kind of, well, dramatic. If you’re just being polite, don’t worry about hurting my feelings,” he said, grinning.

Evan crossed his arms. “You’d better not get me all worked up about this then leave me in the dark!” he said. “I didn’t peg you as a tease.”

James laughed at that. “If you really want to hear, I’ll tell you, but I’ve got twelve more PCs to update. Maybe, um, when do you get off? We could stop at Starbucks or something.” It was almost like asking him out.

Evan put his hand over his heart. “Who told you about my Starbucks addiction? I’d pretty much agree to anything if it comes with a caramel macchiato,” he laughed. “You have a deal.”

James smiled. “All right. I get off at five PM, ‘cause we geeks only do overtime for more money. Wanna meet there? After five?” he suggested.

“It’s a date,” Evan agreed. “I’ll have to take a quick shower before you want to be seen with me in public.” He nodded toward the bathroom.

James arched an eyebrow. “Oh, I don’t know. You look kind of Indiana Jones like that,” he teased. “I’ll see you there, all right?”

“Right,” Evan smirked. “You know, I have the hat...have fun playing with the computers now.”

James had the momentary vision of Evan in the hat and nothing else, holding a whip. He cleared his throat. “See you at Starbucks.” He slipped out of the lab and made his way to his next stop.

The rest of the afternoon dragged interminably, then suddenly the last twenty minutes flew by. James pulled off his tie, leaving it at his desk as he always did, and fairly skipped out to Starbucks. He lingered outside for a few minutes, smoking a cigarette while he waited for Evan.

Evan wandered up a few moments later, hair still damp where it brushed his shoulders. “Sorry I’m late,” he smiled.

James dropped his cigarette and stamped it out with a smile. “You’re not late.” He opened the door for Evan and followed him inside.

Evan breathed deeply as he walked in and moaned. “Oh, yeah,” he said hoarsely. “I’m so addicted.”

James laughed, although the sound of Evan’s voice was downright hedonistic. “It does smell good.” He stepped up to the counter and ordered an iced coffee, then turned to Evan. “No way I’m gonna remember what you want.”

“Triple venti soy, extra hot caramel macchiato, extra caramel,” Evan rattled off, smirking at James. “Please,” he added to the lady behind the counter.

James smiled. He really did like Evan, but he seemed straight. Anyway, he wasn’t quite ready to take a chance. Not after his last experience. They paid and got their drinks, and found a corner table. “So. Past lives. Are you sure you wanna know?”

“I’m here,” Evan said, sipping at his coffee. His eyes fluttered shut. “Oh, yeah,” he purred. After another sip, he focused back on James. “Okay, I’m ready. Tell me.”