Sabah Nur likes hearing Unveil speak, how her voice fills the room they’re sitting in is not unlike an opera singer captivating the entire audience. He was the only one with her, but he was on the hanging on the cliff of her every word. He had never felt this way before. A tension and tightness in his chest. He doesn’t know what to say around her.
He can barely taste the flavor of the rum that she spoke so highly about when he hears her taking. She bought the bottle from the Barbados as a symbol of goodwill, as a thanks for finding her.
She also had believed that what the X-Men stood for was nothing more than horrible, she believes in the touch and companionship of others. She was so desperate to find someone else like her, she was so alone before meeting Sabah Nur, and she reckons he felt the same way before her. Lost and insecure. She saw how his entire demeanor changed upon finding her, his harsher gaze turing soft. His crimson eyes are no longer filled with that eternal longing. They both spark joy in each other. That type of childish, first sleepover, first best friend, type of joy.
Unveil sits in front of him, arms and legs bare, but her body covered in thick black velvet. Her legs are close to her chest, and her glass is on the rug. She and Sabah Nur have left the couch untouched for the majority of the evening, preferring to sit on the floor. Sabah Nur is lying on his side his arms beneath him, with one leg tucked under the other. The rug underneath them is fur, it felt real enough to be actual tiger hide. Unveil tangles her fingers in it.
“Murshid,” she says, afraid to offend, “Is there something wrong with your drink?”
The ice in his glass is melting, streaks of condensation are on the side, it’s watering down the rum. It’s contraband and hard to come by in New York, people don’t waste alcohol in this city, so she doesn’t know why Sabah Nur isn’t drinking his.
“No, it is fine, Unveil.” He replies, lying. He can’t even taste the alcohol when he licks his lips. There’s no trace of even having tried it. “I am too distracted to enjoy it.”
“Something on your mind?” She reaches out to her own glass and takes a sip. Her eyes are a murky brown, too hard to read. “We are supposed to let ourselves be open in order to love, aren’t we?”
She knows Sabah Nur all too well. He is a slave to his own morals, and his own ethical code. So he answers, he has no option but to do so, he must practice what he preaches.
“You are.” His tone and his eyes are firm, locking onto Unveil, but he’s not examining her, like most men do, he’s admiring her face, the softness of her aloof smile. “I have not been a very good listener this evening, because of you.”
He sits up to continue talking. “It’s not just the mists that you expel that are intoxicating, but so is your personality and those words that you utter so effortlessly.”
Unveil smiles wider, there’s rarely a moment where her lips are pressed into a frown. “Murshid, you are far too kind to say those things.”
“And you would be absurd to not believe me.” Nervousness raps around in his head, a rabbit in heat trying to escape. None of it shines through his external veneer.
She gets up, legs numb from the lack of activity. She is so deeply flattered by Sabah Nur, she can feel the flutter of a thousand butterflies against the back of ribs. She waltzes away from Sabah Nur, and she feels his eyes watching her move away. There’s no need to escape the conversation, Unveil wants to escape this dreaded silent mood with some music.
“Let us put on some music then, shall we?”
She finger through a dozen or so records set at rack at the side of the room, pulls one out. All the text is in Arabic, and she only knew a few words of it from Sabah Nur, but she stills places it on top of the record player, and places the needle half an inch away from the edges. Though she cannot understand the words of the music or the words on the record label, she knows this is a song that he likes. In the two months they have spent together, they’re closer than either could have ever expected.
They are beyond the practices of kisses and sex as intimacy. There is so much more to the personal connections of people than that. To truly be intimate with someone: you have to learn how to decipher them. The language of love is not a written one.
Music plays, it’s jazzy and slow. Sabah Nur was there when this song was recorded, it was in a cafe shop in downtown Cairo. He remembers the song clearly, hums along to it before he gets up off the floor. He picks up the glass filled with rum and places it on one of the wooden tables to either side of the couch.
“Great choice.” He says, eyeing how her black velvet dress looks against her dark mahogany skin. The trail pools on the floor. She’s a sight for sore eyes, beautiful beyond comparison.
“I like to think, I know you better than you know me.”
Unveil offers herself with a smile as he approaches her. She’s much shorter than he is, and their height difference borderlines comedic more than romantic. Her hands are extended, and he is swooped up by them, placing his arms around her, stretching them so that they’d wrap around her comfortably.
She places her head on his chest to rest, as if she hadn’t been lounging the majority of the night with him. He stretches his arm even more to pet the back of her head. Her hair soft beneath his touch. A simple action sends shivers down her spine.
The song isn’t meant to be danced to, most songs aren’t, really. It’s meant to be enjoyed in the background. That’s why Sabah Nur usually played it at the Gilded Tomb. Yet he savors the song with the unusual silence between him and Unveil, he’s never listened to it like this before. They sway off beat to the music, for a moment or two, before the song stops. The record skips once, twice, and then a new song starts.
They part, half dazed.
“I haven’t heard this song before.” Sabah Nur says, intertwining his fingers with hers.
Unveil laughs, “It’s because you always skip it, Murshid.”
“We should listen to it then, over another glass of rum.”