Eh, it's just today's NaNo piece.
Uh...it's disturbing, like most things I write, but I suppose I should put a small trigger warning because there's a scene w/ a heavily implied sexual assault...='(
Anyway, enjoy otherwise!
Oh! And in keeping w/ NaNo 'rules', it hasn't been proofed/edited...so it's *really* rough...
Rick picked up his glass and held it out to Mike, “A toast. A toast to us and to ‘this’ and to wherever all of it’s going.” He smiled and waited for Mike to clink his glass and complete the toast. Mike simply stared at him, frowning slightly. “What’s wrong?” Rick’s smile faltered.
Mike sighed and picked up his glass, taking a sip without finishing Rick’s toast. “Nothing. Everything. I don’t know.” He shrugged and shook his head, pausing to take another sip before changing his mind mid-motion and tipping his head back to empty the glass. He grabbed the bottle to give himself a refill.
“I told you this is all new to me. I’m still figuring everything out. And I told you that I’m not comfortable with…with –”
“With what?” Rick cut him off. “Public displays of affection? Flaunting who and what we are? I get that, man. I really do. But making a quiet, vaguely- and politely-worded toast in a nearly-deserted restaurant in a town where no one knows us is hardly flaunting anything.” Rick smiled again and raised his glass, silently this time. He waited. Slowly, almost grudgingly, Mike lifted his glass and toasted with him.
“Okay, okay, point taken.” He looked down at the table, cradling his glass with both hands. He sighed and took another sip before he spoke again. “How do you do it? Aren’t you ever anxious, or…afraid?” He glanced up at Rick, then looked away quickly, suddenly shy, feeling exposed.
Rick chuckled and reached across the table to take Mike’s hand. “Why should I be scared? I’ve got the captain of the varsity football team here to protect me.” Mike blushed at that. Rick continued. “Seriously, I used to be scared, quite a lot actually. Then I realized all the people that hated me and were judging me? They were scared too; scared of their own feelings; scared of their own fears and vulnerabilities.” He paused to take a sip of his wine. “But little by little, I would talk to them, not as an activist or an agitator, just as a person. They would see that I was just like them: I worked and went to school and paid my bills – mostly on time.” Mike chuckled at that.
Rick continued. “I went grocery shopping, did my laundry, hung out with friends when I had the time. I was just a guy, a normal, everyday guy, like everyone else. And I wanted a normal, everyday life, just like everyone else. Once people realized how much we had in common, a lot of the fear just went away.” Mike looked into his eyes.
“You’ve been very lucky,” he said quietly, almost sadly. “I envy you that.”
“Of course I’ve been lucky.” Rick put down his glass and grabbed Mike’s other hand. He brought Mike’s hands up and kissed his fingers. “I met you, didn’t I? You’re one of the best things that’s ever happened to me.”
Mike looked at him earnestly. “You mean that? Seriously?”
Rick clasped Mike’s hands in his. “More than you can imagine.” He kissed Mike’s palms and cradled his face in Mike’s hands. “I love you.”
Mike smiled. He jerked himself back from Rick, jumped up out his chair and shouted, “BAM! Nailed it! Time to pay up, you loser motherfuckers.”
Rick started and stared at Mike. “What…what’s going on?” He looked around frantically as voices filtered into the room. The previously empty restaurant started filling up – with football players. “Mike? Mike?” Rick’s voice was shaking. “Mike, what is this?” Mike ignored him, greeting his teammates with laughter and high fives.
“I told you!” he crowed. “I told you I could get the dumb pansy to fall for me and to say he loved me. Each one of you bastards owes me fifty bucks!” Mike started to do his famous ‘touchdown dance’. The other players were grumbling, but they all started reaching into pockets for money-clips and wallets. In addition to his voice, Rick himself started shaking; he’d realized, too late, that he was completely surrounded and that all of the guys were much bigger than him.
“Mike,” his throat had dried up and he was whispering. “Mike, this…this isn’t funny.”
“Shut up!” one of the players shouted, hitting him in the back of the head hard enough to make his forehead smack the table. The others laughed. Rick was scared now – really scared – his eyes welling up from fear and pain. Mike sat back down at the table and took his hand.
“Rick, Rick, come on.” His voice was steady. “It’s a joke man. It’s just a joke.” He smiled. Rick’s whole body sagged with relief. He was still a bit wary – the blow to the back of his head had hurt, but he knew football players were a rough sort. He smiled weakly, cautiously, eyes questioning.
Mike’s grip on Rick’s hand tightened. “Of course it’s a joke. This whole stupid ‘relationship’ is a huge fucking joke!” Rick’s face fell. “What, did you think I meant I was joking about my boys here?” He laughed cruelly, jerking Rick forward and slapping him hard across the face. Rick fell to the floor, stunned, too shocked to cry out. The circle of football players around him tightened. He could no longer see Mike, but he certainly heard him.
“Thanks for the money boys, he’s all yours.” He started to walk away laughing but then stopped. “By the way, stop by the bar when you’re done and I’ll buy a round. I’m sure you’ll be exhausted and in need of refreshment.” His laughter followed him out of the room.
Rick didn’t see the fist that broke his nose and knocked him onto his back. Nor did he see the foot that broke the first of his ribs. Hands were all over him. His shirt was yanked over his head, blinding him and trapping his arms. He couldn’t properly grasp what was happening to him; his mind was a jumble of shock and pain and fear.
The fear was crystallized to needle sharpness, however, when he was picked up, slammed facedown onto a table and felt hands tugging at his pants.
He opened his mouth wide – a scream ready to tear itself out of his throat – when a hand clamped down, covering his mouth, smothering his scream. His eyes shot open and he sat up and he saw Mike. He gasped and frantically pushed himself backwards, away from his tormentor. Mike sat there unmoving, a look of desperation in his eyes.
Rick only made it a few feet until the back of his head slammed into a piece of metal. Dazedly, he looked behind himself; he’d hit bars. He stared at Mike in disbelief as he flipped onto his knees and took in his surroundings: they were locked in a cage. He opened his mouth to say something – anything – but no words came out; only confused, animal-like noises.
Mike crawled over to him. Rick flinched as Mike raised a hand to place on his cheek, vividly remembering his recent nightmare. Mike paused, confused at his reaction. Rick grabbed his hand and finished the movement, placing against his face. He whispered, “What happened? I don’t remember…”
Mike smiled faintly, leaning in and placing his hand on the back of Rick’s neck. He pulled Rick forward until their foreheads touched. “I’m so sorry, 'Hansa'.” A tear slid down his face. “It looks like the witch caught us.”
“Now that’s not a very nice thing to say!” The voice came from just on the other side of the bars. They jumped and shouted out in surprise, falling over each other in their haste to crawl backwards, away from the voice and into the relative safety of the back of the cage.
“Hello dear grandson.” Rick could feel her eyes on him in the gloom. “I’m so glad you decided to come for a visit.” Her eyes shifted to Mike. He began to sweat. “And you brought a little friend with you. How sweet.” Her voice deepened into a growl. “How very, very sweet”.
Both boys started gasping and near-retching.
She laughed, her voice changing again; this time a light and airy tinkling. “It’s always so refreshing, seeing the effects of darkfear on your kind. It’s quite debilitating, yes?” They were now shaking as if with fever; Rick sweating as badly as Mike.
“Far, far worse than the simple anxiety inspired by that thing that tried to eat you earlier, yes?” She squatted down, looking at them through the bars. They could see her face clearly; their bodies reacting instinctively, they pushed themselves harder against the bars behind them, as if trying to force themselves through.
She walked around the cage, coming closer to their corner. They scrambled to the middle, holding on to each other desperately.
“You realize this is all your fault, yes?” She ran her hand along the top of the cage as she circled. “That thing was supposed to kill and eat you – both of you! Granted it would have been horribly unpleasant. And it would have lasted quite some time.” She stopped and looked off into the dark, as if thinking.
“It would have been satisfied with your deaths, however, and it would have left when it was done. But that didn’t happen, did it?” She glared at them as if expecting a response.
“Oh, no! You just had to hop into your car like a pair of frightened schoolgirls and drive away, screaming. Leaving that thing behind. Leaving it to attack me!” Her voice had risen to a shriek. Again she squatted down and they saw her face clearly; it had changed. Rick’s eyes grew wide as memory slammed into him and he recalled the face that had been staring in his window. Mike leaned over behind Rick and vomited.
The face that stared at them opened its mouth – cavernously wide – and started cackling. Then a voice issued forth; it sounded like nothing they’d ever heard before. They prayed they’d never hear it again.
“Don’t worry my dears. Don’t worry at all. The thing – that thing that should have eaten you – is dead. Quite, quite dead. It managed to hurt me, though. It hurt me quite badly. And that, my dears, that is your fault. But, like I said, don’t worry. You’ll make it up to me.”
The mouth opened wider and tendrils of darkness snaked out, creeping along the floor of the cage towards the boys. They shrieked and fled backwards. The darkness kept coming. Thick and inky, it poured out of the ever widening mouth, larger and larger tendrils questing about the room.
Rick and Mike squeezed each other tighter and tighter as the darkness finally engulfed them.