setting: after Bridges, Sato Voce and Strays
He'd always been afraid of drowning, and yet here he was, in danger of doing exactly that.
He wondered if the agony in his chest was caused by fear or lack of oxygen, and decided that either way it didn't really matter.
He tried to smile at the sheer irony - he had escaped the Navy, and the crushing expectations of generations of Reeds, only to drown in space.
It was deliciously ironic.
Hoshi's voice broke around him, gentle and soothing, completely at odds with his racing heart and labored breathing, lapping softly along his frayed nerves. She was his lifeline.
Willing himself to breathe, he slowly blinked before returning his gaze back to the cause - and the calm - of his personal storm.
He supposed drowning in her eyes wouldn't be fatal.
His eyes reminded her of bruised violets - smudged blues and grays, with a hint of wariness, as if remembering some long buried pain.
She didn't think he would appreciate the analogy. One would not normally think of flowers and Malcolm Reed in the same thought. It would probably offend his masculinity.
She smiled slightly at the thought, and noticed that Malcolm, while still facing her across the table, had shut his eyes tightly against her own. She noticed that his body, normally stiff even when he was supposed to be relaxing, had suddenly tightened, his breath becoming more erratic. She imagined she could see his heartbeat, pulsing at the base of his throat like a little bird fluttering to freedom.
He looked like he was in pain.
Just one word, and his entire demeanor changed. His face relaxed, his breathing calmed, and he opened his eyes and stared into hers.
Had she thought his eyes were bruised flowers? She was wrong. They were
intense as the ocean, turbulent and deep.
Before she realized it, she was drowning.