He had an unexpectedly reedy voice, though not altogether annoying. When it raised itself, which was a lot of the time, it got strident, almost metallic. It had the rasp of a long-time smoker, hazing out an interesting amount of modulation, particularly for a man. He had quite a bit of expression when he spoke, echoed in his restless face. Spider never tried to hide his emotions.
She had noticed before, when falling into a brown study from sheer boredom, how gnarled his hands were. She plied her usual blunt questioning tactics, and he had paused in his work, eyeing her mutely, one eyebrow arched.
"Hanh?" The nasally twang of the city accent, especially strong from people down by the docks, would get more pronounced the less he went without speaking, almost like he had fallen back on an earlier pattern.
"I said why do your hands look like you stuck them in hornets’ nests."
He had lifted them, hard-ridged from calluses, rough and big for a man his size, with swollen knuckles, and had turned them front to back with exaggerated analysis. "I see no giant hives on my skin, Channon. Have you gotten into my special stash?"
She snorted boredly, then mumbled, "Not that, fuckhead." She paused, scrambling for words. "Your hands don't look like journalist hands," she finally blurted out, burrowing further into the couch cushions, angry that she had been unarmed going against him.
His head had drawn back, the soft flesh under his chin and jaw rounding. He flexed them rapidly several times, watching the large tendons make hollows in his hands. He shrugged, a suddenly guileless smile tugging on one side of his mouth. "What can I say. I like to garden, had a big one back up on the mountain. Working-man's hands."
The gentleness in his tone had further stupefied Channon, who thought on Spider's fondness until he demanded a cigarette, a snap accompanying it. She had thrown the packet sitting on the arm of the couch next to her hard enough at his head to make a satisfying smack, an indignant squall rising from the room as she quit it.
Another time, when he had gone tête-à-tête with a couple of angry animal rights advocates who had been using cheap child labor to clean out their massive animal compound, resulting in them dislocating his arm. He had been steaming for the remainder of the night, futilely trying to hammer out a column with his left hand, when he finally swore and stood, announcing his intention to take a shower. "If I don't come back after thirty minutes, just make sure you take the gun off my dead body so the cops don't steal it. Good hardware."
He had been in the shower swearing up a storm for just under thirty minutes, until he had called for Channon, who balked outside the door. "Whaddya want?"
"Just get the fuck in here, I need your help."
"Fuck no- with what?"
"Wonderful response." His voice had risen above the rush of water in fake indignation. "I'm in genuine need of assistance, and you whine about seeing boy bits. I would already be dead if I had slit my wrists or something."
She had slapped a hand to her forehead. "That's not what I'm worried about, Jerusalem. You're not gonna shoot me, are you?"
"What the fuck are you talking about?" This time his pitch was actual bewilderment. He had obviously forgotten about his earlier remark about a gun in the shower, and as of yet Channon hadn't quite discerned when he was being serious and when he wasn't. Another squall of pain, and then he continued, his voice a little more hoarse, "Would you just get the fuck in here?"
Channon had scuffed in, saw Spider with his arm out of its sling (which was puddle along with his clothes on the floor), and hanging limply by his side. He glanced out from under the patter of water and motioned her over. "Get my back, will you? I can't reach with this fucking arm. Thanks be to those assholes from Backwards Land."
She grabbed the washcloth out of his hand and stepped closer. "Don't do anything stupid, got it?" It was said in something of a business-like tone, no real wariness. He shrugged, throwing up one hand, and turned so his back was facing her. She grabbed the bar of soap off the little shelf it was drowning in, and as she lathered up the washcloth, wrinkled her nose at it. "You still use bars of soap," she stated, mildly incredulous. There were so many more efficient ways to wash, not to mention that bar soap was a stone age relic.
"Yes. Not everyone feels the need to have all of their hair atomic-blasted off their body." The end of his words got slightly muddled, and he cleared his throat.
Channon reached forward and started to scrub at his skinny shoulder blades. "God, you're worse than the cat," she complained as she felt his bones poking through the cloth. Before he could come out with repartee, she asked, "I thought you liked the whole hairless thing."
"What human in their rightful mind likes looking like they haven't dropped their balls? Not that I really care on an aesthetic standpoint, mind you, but I didn't choose this."
"So what... a bunch of natives got a hold of you and shaved you for the potency of your hair, because short white man hair makes a good tonic?" She scrubbed at what she thought was a long wheal of dirt until Spider pulled away, grunting. "That's a scar; do you mind?
"And no. I had a mishap with my previous apartment. I think it spared my eyebrows and pubic hair because it didn't want to render me blind or impotent."
"God forbid." Channon squeaked a finger over his scalp, and found no stubble. "Will it ever grow back?"
"I have no idea." He reached up himself, smoothing a hand over his head. "Probably not. I think it seared the follicles. You done yet, or do you just like touching my body? Because I could accomodate you, if you want-" he had turned slightly, a wicked grin spread across his face.
"Ugh." She slammed the washcloth back down over his bad shoulder, prompting a garbled shout of pain. "No." She headed back to the door, looked back over her shoulder to query, "What do you want for dinner?"
He cut himself short in his round of swearing, grimaced at her, finally said, "I dunno, figure something out," before waving her impatiently out.