Bird. It had to represent the word "bird," Daniel decides as he strips off his clothes. Which doesn't make any sense--a man living inside a bird.
He slides under the covers carefully, because Jack is already asleep, and has been for hours. It's late. Or early, Daniel thinks as he squints at the clock. Very early. He didn't mean to stay up so long, but the damn bird thing...maybe the bird ate the man?
It makes no sense. He lies on his back, stiff and sore as a result of hunching over his laptop all night. He frowns and rearranges the pillows, tugs on the blankets, trying to relax, hoping the answer will come in his dreams. But when he closes his eyes, all he sees are the runes flashing inside his eyelids. Translated runes are in blue, untranslated runes in red, maybe-translated in orange, complete translated phrases in chartreuse. There were complete phrases like, "When a man takes a wife, he must provide for her, keep her fat and happy, and live inside a bird."
He sighs, because he knows that can't be right, even though he went ahead and color-coded it chartreuse anyway. It could be a parable, except that most of the tablets he has translated so far encompass the most basic lifeways of a people long gone from P3X-9944.
Daniel decides to stop dwelling on it so he can get to sleep.
Shifting onto his side, he edges toward Jack, drawn to his warmth. Jack is still sleeping soundly, curled up in a tight ball. That someone so long could fold himself up in such a way always amuses Daniel. He moves closer and closer, until his chest presses against Jack's back, then draws his knees up so Jack's ass is firmly ensconced in his lap. Jack is naked. Daniel likes that, likes having all that skin to press up against. He also likes to think that he can still smell his sweat on Jack's body, even though they showered after making love earlier in the evening. As he lays a gentle hand on Jack's hip, he listens to the soothing rhythm of Jack's breathing and begins to relax.
But still, a bird? Figuring it out wasn't going to save the world, and Daniel knows that--which doesn't keep him from ruminating about the phrase. Could it be "living among the birds"? A way of saying that a man had to keep birds once he got a wife? Maybe she expected fresh eggs every morning for breakfast. Or songbirds. She wanted to listen to songbirds once she was married. Living inside a bird. Dwelling inside a bird. A bird-shaped cottage? In honor of some sort of great bird god?
Daniel's right hip is beginning to ache, probably from the stumble he took while recording images on the walls. He straightens a leg, seeking a comfortable position, reluctant to unwind himself from around Jack. The image of the rune is still in his mind, color-coded in bright, cheery green. Bird. It was definitely "bird."
Bird-brained, that's what Jack would tell him. He smiles and presses a kiss against the nape of Jack's neck. Jack's hair tickles his nose, and he rubs at it with a knuckle, sniffing. He wonders if something is in bloom, if his allergies are acting up. It is definitely springtime despite the chill air. Birds nested in the springtime. Maybe the man was supposed to build a nest for his new wife--not literally, of course, but a new dwelling, so they could live like birds.
He wonders if they stuffed worms down their children's throats.
Sleep. He's waiting to drift off into sleep, because this isn't important at all. But there are runes and ruins and birds flying his head. And his hip hurts, just a little achy kind of hurt, but it won't abate, and it makes him restless. He shifts again, easing onto his back, his hand sliding off Jack's hip. He contemplates getting up to take some aspirin. He scratches his shin with his other foot, thinks it over some more, and decides against it. He wriggles toward Jack again, so that their bodies are touching.
It could simply be a typo. The writer didn't mean to chisel "bird" at all. Perhaps a pretty girl in short robes distracted him, or maybe even a pretty boy in short robes. Carrying a bird.
Or maybe people of P3X-9944 really did live inside giant birds, warm and cozy, surrounded by feathers, like a living down blanket. Daniel rubs his nose again. A down blanket would probably make him sneeze. He thinks about getting up to take an antihistamine.
He opens his eyes, stares at the ceiling, and wonders whether he switched off the coffee pot.
He finds that his hip hurts less if he brings his right knee up. Like a seagull on the beach, one leg tucked up. A giant seagull, large enough--
A hand reaches down between Daniel's legs and grabs hold of his balls, startling him.
"Daniel," a gruff voice says, "Do you think you could stop with the moving around?"
Daniel freezes. "Jack? Did I wake you?" His is pitched a touch higher than usual.
"Yes." It's a succinct answer, said in a low growl. The hand tightens.
Daniel allows himself to be pulled onto his side, so he is face to face with Jack in the dark. "I'm sorry." To demonstrate how sorry he is, Daniel kisses Jack's sleepy lips.
Jack grunts, as if he is considering Daniel's apology. His hand is still between Daniel's legs, and he is caressing Daniel's half-hard dick with his thumb.
Daniel drapes one leg over Jack's hip, leaning into his touch. Hands on Jack's chest, he kisses Jack again, and this time Jack's lips aren't quite so sleepy. "I want to live inside a bird with you," Daniel whispers against his cheek.
After a moment's hesitation, Jack answers. "Okay."
Touched by the fact that Jack understands, Daniel pushes Jack onto his back and stretches out over his body. Jack sighs, either in surrender or contentment or both, spreading his legs and opening his mouth.
Somewhere, a bird begins to sing.
|Summary:||It's bedtime for Daniel.|