Chapter Eight: Hold

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"What the hell was that?" was the first thing Damian could say upon entering the coffee shop on Wednesday.

Alexander flinched. "Would you care to meet me in the back, sir?" He disappeared from the counter and went into the dark hallway.

Damian followed him. "Sorry about that," he apologized. "I guess I got a little excited."

"It's fine," Alexander said quietly. "Just--don't yell about that kind of stuff. I told you about that."

"I know, I know. It's the first time something was different, though," he said excitedly. "This is a real breakthrough."

"Yeah, and you only had to almost get yourself killed to get to it." The tone of his voice said joke, but there wasn't anything humorous reflecting in his eyes.

Damian couldn't get a read on his expression. "Yeah, but that's not exactly new for us either. What do you think triggered it? The slow-mo, that is."

Alexander paused to think. "I have an idea."

"Okay." Damian waited for further explanation, but nothing happened. "And that is?"

He motioned for the other to follow him. "Come here." He led Damian toward the back room. He opened the door and stood in the same place he had the other day.

Damian observed carefully. "Uh, okay? What next?"

Alexander scanned the shelves. "Now, we wait."

He frowned. "That seems counterproductive."

"Do you have a better idea?" he offered.

Damian shut his mouth and took residence in the spot next to Alexander. They sat there in silence as the time passed.

A minute went by.

Then two.

The urge to speak up pressed against Damian's vocal chords, but he was too committed to seeing what Alexander had up his sleeve. There was a solid chance it was nothing, but still a promising chance that is was something.

Another minute crept by.

There was something very anxiety-inducing to Damian about the mystery quake happening whenever it damn well pleased. It always seemed to throw a wrench in his plans.

Almost as if the force of nature were a mindreader, the first rumble came.

Alexander didn't do anything.

So Damian kept his mouth shut.

The second rumble followed in a timely manner.

Then it started to get more frequent. The items on the shelf rattled, but they hadn't started falling yet. Alexander took this as his opportunity.

He reached out and grabbed Damian's wrist, just as he had yesterday.

Almost instantaneously, the sound of the metal racks quieted down. The rocking of the items slowed down to an almost methodical pace. It was just like time slowed down for everything but them.

Damian scanned the shelves in awe. "What does this mean?"

Alexander only shook his head. He took his hand off Damian for a second. The tremors resumed at a normal rate.

Damian hurriedly reached for Alexander's wrist.

Time slowed again.

"I don't understand," was all he could say.

"I don't either," Alexander answered. "But we figured something out. That has to count for something. Come on, let's go." He took Damian's hand with his other hand and repositioned it so he was the one holding his wrist now, careful not to lose skin contact with him.

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