The reason people stayed away from him was not obvious. He was an average looking guy, dressed OK-ish. Spoke well, had average intelligence and was not even suffering from body odor. He was always very neat.
(more) People stayed away from him because he was a little obsessive. He wasn't so bad as to have a full blown OCD problem, but had his ways. Very set ways. He arrived on time, at exactly the same time. He went to lunch at the same time, ate the same cheese sandwiches (not the exact same ones obviously) and had a cup of tea with them.
He sat in the same chair at the same table, when possible. If for some reason someone new joined the company and sat in his chair, he would arrive and fidget awkwardly looking around the canteen. He would get stressed but try to hide it. The panic would be visible on his face.
The new person would usually be informed of the circumstances and would sit elsewhere the following day.
It was on one of these days that he sat at my table. He was a mess. He didn't seem to know how take a bite from his sandwich or when to take a sup from his mug of tea. (It had 'Worlds Greatest Mum' on it for some reason)
I felt bad for him so I started a conversation. Something to take his mind from the wrong chair.
"Look at the size of that cookie!" I said, pointing out the size of a cookie on the paper. It was some world record beating waste of food.
He looked puzzled but smiled.
"They'll need a very big glass of milk."
He smiled again and finished his sandwich, he left.
People look, people always look, and he's vain, and he's grown used to the pampering stares and his reflection in glassy eyes, and he is content. Up above them all, curled in vermilion velvet, with heavy lids hiding dark sets of eyes, he feels them. He feeds off their(more) reactions; he eats their fear, their devotion, their worship, their prayers, their murmurs. It sustains him. So long as he is relevant, he shall live and flourish in the dark. Like a luxurious weed sprawling over a flowerbed it's ruined, he reclines.
And then they show up.
Them, with their eyes of stormy skies and scalpel swords, unpoised and unpostured and so utterly rude in the presence of an Entity such as himself. So ignorant, so unaware. It makes him want to burn, and the ichor in his veins turns to the black magma of a melting asteroid falling through a mantle of air. And he is larger than them, and stronger than them, and far more powerful than this insignificant human. But they hardly pay attention to him, looking around the room as though he is the least interesting thing inside.
One of the devotees whispers and points, and they turn their attention to him. He breathes it, satisfied with the sweet taste of fear and awe and--
No. This is different.
This is bubbly and magnificent, almost spicy, almost sweet, almost sour, and it's bitter in its novelty. He can't place it but for them. They look at him, regard him, and they are almost equal to him though he's twice their size and millions of times their power.
He looks away first, and he isn't sure why.
The researcher eventually loses their focus on him, but he feels traces of their thoughts. He wants them to come back.(less)
Lila's fingers were soft on my back, walking over the curve of my spine and tracing the history of my scars.
"I've never seen any animal like this," she said. "A bearcat or puma could've made these scratches, but..." A light, brushing touch over the divot carved out of(more) my left buttock made me shiver. "I could swear this was human."
I rolled over to look at her face, her hands skimming my waist. "How much did Goro tell you about my childhood?"
She laughed. "Tell me? Goro doesn't tell anyone anything if she can help it. I saw them bring you in, torn and bloody scrap you were."
"Scrap, pfagh. You couldn't have been more than a toddler!"
"Ah, but a very precocious one." Lila took my hands in hers. A poisoner by nature, hers were still soft where mine were rough and hard from my weapons training. "It wasn't your size, my wee scrap, but your skin, torn and chewed by vicious animals. You were alive only because the weather was so cold your blood had frozen, keeping you from exsanguinating."
"That winter was very hard on everyone. We were cut off from the mainland by storms and shifting ice, and our normal traders never came through with mid-winter stores. The elderly starved rather than take food from the babies, but the children starved soon enough as well." I closed my eyes and could see only the dense grey of eternal snow in my mind's eye.
"Have you every heard of the Wendigo?" I asked her.(less)
"Look at the way the light moves over the water...."
The lecture theatre was hot and I was tired. I knew that the technical bits were as important as the field work, but I just had no interest today. Some days I could muster some enthusiasm for the weekly lecture o(more)n lighting but the early morning was taking it's toll on me. We had agreed as part of the end of year project to do a Wedding theme on a beach. It was Meg who came up with the idea and for lack of any better or alternative suggestions, we had just rolled with that one. What that basically translated as was my little sister shivering in a wedding dress lying on the rocks as the sun rose over Shingle Strand near our house. She had been a reluctant model but I couldn't do it all myself and we each had to do forty frames before re-grouping and choosing the best ones for the exhibition. I had become fixated on an early morning shoot and figured it might earn me some much needed credits before the end of the year. I hadn't been doing so well on the written assignments so I needed all the help I could get.
Getting my reluctant sister out of bed at 4:30am this morning had been no fun and the strand was arctic. Her skin was goose-pimpled and anaemic looking with the cold and she had to pinch her cheeks to get any blood to rise to the surface. On hindsight maybe early morning was not the best plan. The sun had refused to rise over the sea and the dusky blue of the early morning phased gradually into a misty grey. She looked more like a corpse bride than anything else. (less)
"This is a really nice room," Masayoshi said, back pressed into the headboard and both feet barely brushing the mattress. He grinned and gripped Gotou's hair tighter as Gotou shifted them both, the headboard knocking back against the wall.
(more) "Hadn't noticed," Gotou growled, and bit Masayoshi's shoulder.
Masayoshi thumped Gotou's back with his other hand. "Don't leave marks," he groaned, and gripped Gotou's hips tighter with his thighs. "Don't- no biting-!"
Gotou's mouth was hot on Masayoshi's shoulder. "You're wearing a tuxedo tonight anyway," he murmured, soothing the newly-reddened flesh with his lips. "No one'll know but you and me."
"No biting," Masayoshi repeated for emphasis, and Gotou nipped at his neck just to be a dick about it. Masayoshi yelped and he grinned, then proceeded to lick the sweat off of Masayoshi's jaw. "Gotou-san," Masayoshi said, just the faintest bit breathless.
He was pinned to the wall and Gotou was moving just enough to drive him crazy, but not enough to push him over the edge, not yet. He dug the fingers of his left hand into Gotou's shoulder and held on, and Gotou had the audacity to laugh at him. "Stopped paying attention to the room now, huh?" Gotou murmured.
"You jumped me as soon as the door closed," Masayoshi protested, his eyes sliding closed and his focus moving inward. "That's not fair, I wanted to look around first."
"Complain, complain," Gotou shifted their position and drove in Masayoshi harder, and Masayoshi yelled out in surprise, then looked startled when Gotou covered Masayoshi's mouth with his own in a deep kiss. "We're in a hotel, other people can hear if you start yelling like that, 'yoshi."
"Don't care," Masayoshi said, his eyes closed and his head tilted back. "Feels too good to care."
It had been three years since their disastrous school trip into the mountains, and Yosuke would have been more than okay with never seeing the scenes of those crimes again. Honestly, it was a little too early in the year for a camping trip, but when he'd asked Souji(more) how he wanted to spend Golden Week, this was what he'd suggested.
They lived together in the city now, attending a university that was a little below Souji's level and a little above Yosuke's. Yosuke hadn't been back to Inaba since he'd graduated from Yasogami; Souji visited more often, usually just day trips to see Dojima and Nanako. This was the first time they'd been back together, and the town was different enough to seem strange and a little unwelcoming. Or maybe it was Yosuke who had changed.
The trip up the mountain seemed shorter than it had when they were in high school. Souji pitched the tent while Yosuke unpacked the rest of their supplies, rolling out the sleeping bag on the dirt for the time being.
Night came more quickly in early May than it had in mid-June; Souji was still struggling with the tent when it got dark. "Should I start cooking?" Yosuke asked.
"I thought we didn't want to repeat anything from the school trip," Souji said, grinning slyly.
"My cooking ability is slightly higher than Mystery Food X, if that's what you're implying," Yosuke shot back. He sat on the sleeping bag, then leaned back to look up at the sky. "Partner, come over here."
Souji set down the tent pieces and padded over to sit next to Yosuke, then looked up. It had been too long since they'd seen the stars without the city's light pollution. Souji reached over and covered Yosuke's hand with his.(less)