Shadow of the Templar: Frantic
On timeline: after the flashback sequences in With A Bullet, before The Morning Star
Nate is almostbut not quiteas innocent as he looks.
The light in the supply closet was out, the door closed. One of them had knocked a box of something off one of the shelves early on and now some kind of little plastic things crunched and slid under their shoes, turning something that had already been critically awkward into a weird, gasping, fumbling mess. If Nate hadn't been pushed back against the back wall, his narrow shoulders pressed hard against the painted concrete between a pile of Rich's old dead printers and the overloaded shelves, he probably would have already fallen down at least twice.
The only reason he didn't fall down now was the knee jammed between his thighs likelikeNate didn't know what it was like other than a bicycle seat, which was the weirdest thing to be thinking right now, but if he stopped thinking then he'd probably make noise and the rest of the team would hear themone hand was flat against the wall under his arm for more support and the other hand was roaming around under his sweater and Nate was so flustered and distracted that he didn't even care about his scars right now.
And oh, God, the confident mouth on his, that overwhelming devouring heat, the scrape of stubble and the occasional clumsy clatter of teeth against teeththe offhand mastery in it was likelikelike getting conquered, like the enemy general riding into a fallen city following a year-long siege, and Nate had no idea where that had come from but he couldn't stop thinking, because of the noise, the horrible potential of noiseright on cue he heard a burst of coarse laughter from outside the closet and the buzz of voices, and very clearly he heard Mike say, "Where's Nate?" and Sandra answer, "I don't know."
"Oh God," Nate squeaked, falling out of the kiss just long enough to say that, and then there was a soft laugh and that mouth captured his again and his sweater rode up on that wrist until almost all of his chest was bared to the steaming air and that knee lifted another couple of riveting inches and Nate's eyes rolled up into his head.
"Nate!" Simon said, right outside the closet door, aggravated. "Dammit, where is he, anyway?" Simon asked, and Sandra repeated, "I don't know." Rich added, "Want me to go look for him?"
Nate whimpered, the sound dying lost in the back of his throat. The supply closet didn't even lock any moresurely they'd looksurelyand just as the leg pressed up against him swept his mind away again, just as everything started to come to a frantic, boiling head, someone pounded on the closet door, one-two, one, one-two, one...
"Oh God get off," Nate squeaked, pushing frantically at the chest pressed against his, but it didn't move, it wouldn't"Yo!" Johnny called from outside, and there was another knock, one-two, one...
"Ih-it's okay," someone murmured in his ear, his voice a rotten, giggling sing-song. "They nuh-never get here in time"
Nate flailed bolt upright in bed, tangled in the covers and panicking, fighting to get free and failing. A shriek bubbled up in his throat, half-choking him, but by some miracle he came fully awake before he could actually scream and wake up his mother.
Swallowing the panic and the scream alike Nate scrabbled for the bedside table and his glasses, folded up by his alarm clock. He fumbled them onto his face and checked the time, still breathing hard. Just before three in the morning. The world was fast asleep. He took off his glasses again, dropping them in his lap, and scrubbed his fists into his eyes like an overtired toddler, slowly getting his rapid breathing and his rabbiting heartbeat back under control.
Eventually he managed to fight back against the terror, quelling it, calming. In his fear's absence, he became aware of his exhaustion, instead; he was still so tired, but the nightmare lurked in the back of his mind, ready to pounce on him again if he fell back to sleep. He knew that it wouldit had, in the past. Moving slowly now, Nate patted his way blindly across the bedside table until one hand landed on his cellphone. He fell back down and brought the phone under the covers with him, wincing away from the light of its screen as he woke it up.
Message one in his voice-mail box, almost three months old now: "Hey, Nate," Sandra said. Other voices gabbled on in the background. "Simon's birthday is coming up here in a few weeks and we need to get our asses in gear on thatanyway, come to my place an hour early this Saturday and we'll hash things out before Simon arrives, okay?" The old message was already doing its work, the dream's weird power fading in the light of sheer everyday normality. "If you've got any ideas on what to do, tell me then. Talk to you tomorrow. Bye-bye." Click.
Message two, about a month old: "Specs," Simon said, raising his voice to be heard over the rumble of road noise. Nate shut his eyes, the cramp in his chest starting to relax. "Templar. Sorry to bug you when you're already busy, but I just wanted to remind you that I need the goddamned Brewster file back tomorrow or Upstairs will have my ass. If there's anything you still need, now is the time to Xerox it. ... that's all, I think. So, uh, how about them sports teams?" Click. Nate smiled, just a little, already starting to drift off back to sleep.
Message three, three weeks old: "Yo," said Johnny. "Got your message, that's fine. Honda gives you any shit about it, you tell me, I'll kick his ass." There was a longish pause in the message here; by the time Johnny's growly recorded voice added "You take care, okay?" Nate was already asleep again, his cellphone slipping from his ear to land on the pillow beside his head.