It was simply an aperçu, had in passing, as happened on the subway every day. Make accidental eye contact, look away, move on.
Only it didn't work that way this time. It was absurdly like that commercial for something - was it vodka? - that he'd seen on television. Two attractive strangers exchange looks through train windows and fall instantly in love, followed by the frantic attempt not to lose each other before it is too late. Only in this case, he was in the same subway car with the attractive stranger, instead of ones traveling in opposite directions.
On the surface he was unremarkable, no different from the other hipsters so prevalent on the 2 in Brooklyn. Short, slight, dressed in hipster chic jeans, boots and plaid shirt. He had the obligatory messy hair, facial scruff and black horned-rim glasses.
The polar opposite from Sean, a clean-cut business man in charcoal pin stripes and power tie. But that old saw about 'opposites attract' was, Sean knew from experience, so much bullshit. Been there, done that, had the broken heart to prove it.
His gaze kept going back to the young man despite himself, though. He had an iPhone in hand and appeared to be absorbed in it, but twice Sean caught him glancing at him from under lowered lids. He was interested, too.
At the next stop, the woman seated beside the young man got up. Another aperçu, and Sean was on his feet and pushing through the press of commuters boarding and disembarking the subway car. His view was temporarily blocked as he struggled like a swimmer against a rip current and a sudden, strange panic seized him that the stranger had joined the people getting off the subway and he'd never set eyes on him again. Real life, as he well knew, wasn't a television commercial.
The subway doors closed, the train lurched into motion, and Sean grabbed a slick metal pole to steady himself. Finally the crowd dispersed and he could see again. It was absurd how relieved he felt at the sight of messy dark hair and hipster chic. And how elated by the battered leather messenger bag occupying the empty seat. He could be wrong about why it was there, but he didn't think he was. Well, he thought, starting to move, he'd simply have to put his theory to the test.
"Is this seat taken?" he asked over the indecipherable static that was the conductor announcing the next stop.
Luminous blue eyes met his and a smile lit a face that was, beneath the scruff, beautiful but undoubtedly masculine, delicate but not at all weak. Unremarkable on the surface. Had he really thought that? The last word on earth that described him was unremarkable.
"No, it's not taken," the young man said, lifting the messenger bag onto his lap. His voice was soft and beautifully modulated.
Sean sat down. "I'm Sean." He held out his hand. No beating around the bush; they both knew why he'd taken the seat.
"Elijah." Elijah's hand fit perfectly inside his. Sean had the queer sensation that it was like some mystical, magical key that had at last found the right lock.
Neither spoke until the train started to slow as they approached the next station. Then Elijah said, "This is my stop."
It wasn't Sean's. But he got off with Elijah and never looked back.