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Buttercream #10; Guava #21; Papaya #2

Author: Regret
Rating: 18
Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: Buttercream #10 - Bonnet; Guava #21 - Been There, Done That; Papaya #2 - Wouldn't You Like To Know
Word Count: 3,786
Summary: Milos's sneaking skills need upgrading - they only lead to more work, and encounters he'd really rather avoid...
Notes: Follows directly on from Best Dress / A Walk In The Woods / Talking To Myself. Aaaand I could have picked a better time to post this... I was trying to deal with the name conflict, until it was pointed out it wasn't that bad and I could just leave it alone. :p

He’d never had to sneak into the house for the same reasons the others had. Never because he’d been out late with a girl, or because he’d spent far too long in a club and missed curfew by a mile. That meant spending time with other people, and Milos had learned long ago that aside from the select few he could count on the fingers of one hand, the only person he could stand to be around was himself. And sometimes he wasn’t even sure about that.

But the thing with sneaking was that it only worked if you weren’t caught. Just lately he’d been falling at that one final hurdle.

“What are you doing?” This was no exception.

Milos froze with his hand on the door handle. “I, er.”

Robin eyed up his young charge, particularly the expression of guilt, and sighed. “What have you done now?”

“Nothing,” Milos said slowly, trying to work out just how much he could say without being shouted at. It was true, to a certain extent: he’d only done his job. He just wasn’t sure how well he’d done it. And he hadn’t even asked for I.D.

Robin’s golden eyes narrowed, but didn’t shift from his face. “You’ve hit someone again, haven’t you?”

“No!” Although it might almost be preferable—

Robin shrugged and Milos felt himself shiver beneath the stare. “Whatever you’ve done, so long as it’s not that, I can’t be too angry. The client was extremely happy with the service so I have to thank you.” Wait, what? “They said they’ll be sure to use us again.”

“Uhh.” He could feel his eyes widen to the size of saucers. “You mean, that was—”

Robin’s ever-mobile eyebrow shifted upwards. “Why, was there a problem?”

“No.” He shook his head for emphasis, fingers tightening on the door knob purely to steady himself. Relief had never been such a welcome emotion. “No problem. Glad they’re happy.”

“Hmm.” How one man could pack such a wealth of meaning into one sound was beyond Milos’s comprehension. “Good work. And there’s another delivery today, if you want it?”

Milos glanced at his watch without seeing the time; he wouldn’t turn it down. Each delivery carried a reward in the form of a cut of the profits. More deliveries, better pay. Hardly rocket science. He didn’t even have to worry about getting changed. “Sure. What do you need me to do?”

Robin rested a massive hand on his shoulder. “Come with me.”

* * *

He stared down at the woven box and tried to find the words to express how uncomfortable he felt. He failed. “You’re sure you want me to do this?”

Robin nodded. “You did a good job before and James wants a second delivery as soon as possible.”

“But I—” He took another stab at trying to articulate the problem and again it proved too difficult. He could tell him, sure, but trust was hard enough to win; the thought of losing it again made him want to retch. He settled instead for staring at the ceiling, shifting his weight from foot to foot. “Is it safe? I mean, won’t it be conspicuous if I go again?”

Robin smiled, but the smile reminded Milos of the one worn by the dark-eyed man in the park: purely for show. “You know well enough no one looks too closely at people around there. Too dangerous.”

I know it is, he wanted to snap. He settled instead for switching his gaze to the back of his hands, examining every prominent bone. His skin tone alone made people look closely at him and Robin knew that perfectly well; the ears were just the self-conscious icing on the cake. “If you’re sure...” Because God knew he wasn’t.

The older man nodded and held the box out towards Milos. “It’ll be quick, another simple drop off. You’ll be fine.”

Nodding with no great conviction, Milos took it and tried hard not to think about the contents. “Yeah.” The word sounded as uncertain as he felt but if Robin noticed he made no mention of it. “And I’ll be back before it’s dark.” That came out with more force than he intended.

Robin’s impassive expression never changed. “Take care.”

* * *

It felt strange to be walking the same streets in harsh daylight that had been bathed in the golden glow of the previous evening. The layout was the same but it might as well have been a different city. If he’d felt vulnerable in the half-light he stood out like a sore thumb now: the sun wasn’t kind to a nervous dokkalfa whose sole wish was to become invisible. The usual rules of city living were inverted here, where the chances of running across someone who might take an untoward interest in the bulge in Milos’s satchel were far higher before the evening.

He couldn’t stop himself from tapping an incessant tattoo on the bag.

The Capri was just as easy to find as before, not quite the awful shade of brown he’d been expecting but close, one of those incredible sixties colours that no one in their right mind would buy now. The space in a ten metre radius—or, at least, as far as he could see in the twisting streets—was completely deserted. He was briefly thankful for it, until he realised that deserted was a bad thing: deserted meant no one to deliver to. Still, Robin wouldn’t mind too much, he was sure. It wasn’t his fault. He could try again tomorrow. Better yet, someone else could try tomorrow.

“There you are.”

The voice was far nearer than he’d like, and heart-sinkingly familiar. “I have your delivery,” Milos said mechanically, unwilling to turn around and face the smirk he didn’t need to see to know was there.

“You wouldn’t be here if you didn’t,” the voice laughed.

Milos closed his eyes and began to count back from ten.

He only made it to eight when a hand clamped over his shoulder and scared the breath from his body. “What’s the matter, kid? Anyone’d think you were afraid of me.”

He took as long as possible to turn around, focusing on the placement of his feet rather than think about the hand still resting on him. He was right: the unhealthy-looking grin was still there. Still made him feel sick. Best not to look at it; best not to think about it. Losing control was not an option. He turned his attention to the bag and its contents instead.

He could feel the stare shift from his face to his hands as they withdrew the box and rested it on the Capri in the same place as before. The clipboard came with it; this he pressed to his stomach like it could protect him from the man only a couple of feet away.

The man in question—James, who’d had as much inclination to tell Milos his name as he’d had to find out the teenage alfa’s—laughed. “Still with your little clipboard, kid? You’re determined, I’ll give you that.” The hand slid from his shoulder to reach for the board and its hanging pencil.

He almost refused to hand it over. The temptation to demand I.D. again, backed up with the threat of the pistol strapped against him and hidden by his jacket, then take his name and go to the police was almost overwhelming.

Logic prevailed. They had a knack for awkward questions he didn’t want to answer: what he was doing with an unlicensed gun, why he was delivering something so very illegal; why didn’t he report it ten years ago?

He passed the clipboard to the waiting hand.

James signed his name in that unreadable script he’d used before and grinned another foul smile at Milos that made his skin crawl like it could escape without him. “Happy now?”

Milos nodded once, sharply, and held out his hand.

The cheap plywood skimmed his skin, no more, when the human let go of it. It skittered from his fingertips and hit the concrete with a clatter, not even having the grace to sound like it weighed as little as it did. “Oops,” James smirked.

The obvious lack of sincerity set Milos’s teeth on edge just as much as the thought of having to lean down to fetch it sent his pulse racing. He was half-tempted to just leave it, retrieve it later when he thought no one was around; great idea, except Robin would go spare: too much sensitive data and Milos’s apparent carelessness could easily be the one thing to tip the scales against him. He dropped into a crouch, trying to keep his eyes on the human in front of him and reach for the board at the same time. Easier said than done. He lowered his eyes for one second to glance at the board as he reached for it.

Fingers knotted themselves into his hair. It came as no real surprise, just a frustrated, impotent fury. He winced, gritting his teeth, as they dragged him upwards and back until his legs were pressing against the bonnet of the car again. The metal had willingly accepted the day’s sunlight and his leathers did almost nothing to protect him from the heat; he’d be damned if he’d let this psycho see his discomfort. “What do you want?” Just as long as the question distracted him, he could start to move to unzip the jacket.

The toothy grin, inches from his face, made him want to retch, and the breath didn’t help. “You already know. Full repayment of your debt.” Another step brought James so close every exhalation brought their bodies sheer centimetres from touching. His free hand brushed the satchel from his shoulder and grabbed the alfa’s chin; both knees pressed between his legs and prised them apart.

Milos tensed, and the smirk grew to impossible proportions. If he could have reached up and sunk his thumbs into the bastard’s eyes he would. So much for nonchalance: his right arm was trapped between them, hand gripping the zip hard enough he thought the metal might bend. “I already paid.”

“No, you paid half.” He hadn’t realised there was enough space between them for another step but there it was: his arm was completely immobilised by the other man’s body with the zip only halfway down. He could feel both their heartbeats against his skin. “I want the other half.”

“Should’ve thought about that before you shared me with your friend,” he spat, ripping his arm free with enough force to pull muscles in his shoulder. “You’re not getting anything from me. Debt’s paid.” He shoved at James’s chest with one hand and made a grab for the gun with the other.

Unsuccessfully. “You came armed, kid?” James grabbed both his wrists in hands that still seemed too large and yanked them downwards, pressing them against the hot car. “You’re that scared of me? I’m hurt.”

Milos hadn’t realised how much he was shaking until he was forced into stillness. Screaming was futile. No one would come, unless it was to watch. Screaming hadn’t worked last time either, it had only earned him a fist to the mouth and a knife against the throat. His pounding heart and uncontrolled terror rendered him breathless, hardly a help. No chance to move his arms, legs too far apart to be of use and this bastard pressed hard against him; he went for the only weapon he could still use and smashed his forehead into James’s face.

It hurt more than he remembered. The grip on his wrists never faltered. James barely shifted. Milos could feel the laugh through his chest, the movement shaking his body. “Really, kid? At least you’re gonna put up a fight this time.” Hauling both Milos’s wrists upwards, he wrapped one hand vice-like around both of them—the alfa swore loudly, to his attacker’s apparent amusement; he couldn’t headbutt him again without hitting his own hands instead—and leaned back only far enough to start fumbling with the buttons on Milos’s pants.

Milos began to thrash around, struggling to bring his legs together despite James’s presence, to jerk his hands free, even bucking his hips on the tiny chance he could dislodge the fingers already twisting around his zip.

“You’re that keen to get started?” James laughed again. The treacherous leathers, so awkward to undo when he was tired and ready for bed, unzipped without difficulty under the human’s touch.

“Leave me the fuck alone,” Milos hissed, arching his back against the searing heat of the Capri. “You think Robin’ll deal with you after this?”

“Yeah. I do.” Zip fully lowered, he reached instead for the one on his jacket and slid it down until it hung open, exposing the gun in its holster. The catch gave way just as easily for him. “Nothing’ll change for me. You, on the other hand...” He tugged the pistol free and hooked it under the edge of his T-shirt, raising it to expose Milos’s stomach, grinning with obvious appreciation at the taut muscles and trail of stark blond hair it uncovered.

“I can change everything for you.”

James froze, jabbing the muzzle into Milos’s stomach. The alfa tensed too, not just out of fear for his safety. The new voice with its icy tones sounded familiar and he couldn’t place why. He couldn’t even see its owner: all but one shoulder was obscured by the man in front of him. His heart made a dive for the depths of Hell.

“This is none of your business,” the human forced out, his eyes never leaving Milos’s face. “Go and I swear nothing’ll happen to you.”

The laugh carried with it a level of threat far beyond anything James had yet mustered. “You couldn’t hurt me if you tried.”

“How about you fight fair and then we’ll see how that goes, eh?”

“You think I’m an idiot, don’t you?” Milos watched, wide-eyed, as James’s head nodded back and forth, apparently involuntarily. “Unfortunately for you, I’m not. I know full well what you’re holding.”

Milos grunted as his hands were jerked higher. “I’m only holding him.”

“And you’ve only got one hand, I see.”

This sarcasm-a-thon was all well and good, the alfa decided, but since his hands had now gone numb he wished they’d hurry up and get it over with. Preferably in a way that didn’t involve more pain for him.

The hand, digit by digit, unfolded itself from Milos’s wrists; the gun remained where it was. He flexed his fingers and winced as pins and needles exploded across his palms. “See?” James said, directing his words at Milos rather than the unseen man.

Milos balled one of his tingling hands into a fist and punched the human in the face. “I’ve got two,” he growled, yanking the gun from his other hand and shoving it back into the holster. Bad enough to be forced into this situation, now some complete stranger was one sidestep away from seeing his underwear. His relief that it wasn’t as bad as it might have been if he’d arrived any later was rapidly surpassed by boiling fury; he punched him again.

“Oh, so now you decide to put up a fight,” the stranger drawled, kicking James in the back of the knees.

James hit the concrete backside-first, fingers laced into Milos’s shirt; the alfa was dragged down too, letting out a startled, half-vocalised uagh and crashed into the human’s legs, knocking the wind from him. Adrenaline made up for the inability to breathe. Milos grabbed both James’s knees to push himself up with, only slightly losing his balance when the grip on his clothes tightened. The stare the human levelled at the alfa in his grasp made what breath he had left catch in his throat: it promised pain on a far greater scale than he’d inflicted before—and Milos had no intention of ever letting this pathetic excuse for a human hurt him again.

He drove another fist into James’s face.

“About time too.”

Milos looked up with his fist raised to punch again, eyes narrowed and mouth open to retort. No sound came out. The only thing he could manage to do was stare up at his new client and wonder just what the elusive Mr. Jaska was doing standing in front of him with a gun.

Jaska shrugged. “If you’re just going to sit there...”

The alfa scrambled to his feet, wiping his bleeding knuckles across his shirt while trying not to look at them. James rose more slowly, never moving his gaze from Milos. Smearing a line of red across his face with the back of his hand, he said thickly, “you think you can get away with this?”

Fear and anger had a brief war in his chest. Anger won out. “You thought you could get away with it, why can’t I?” He yanked the zip of his pants back up. “Fair’s fair.”

For a brief instant he thought the human was going to lunge across and hit him. The sharp tut from behind must have done wonders to remind him just what was happening. “I will reclaim my debt, kid. Be sure of it.”

“You think I won’t be ready?”

The grin was as bloody as his nose. “You weren’t this time.”

Milos concentrated on closing his jacket rather than responding. Whether the other man took it as a dismissal or a sign of weakness Milos couldn’t tell, but whichever it was it worked. James turned instead to Jaska.

Milos looked up through his eyelashes in time to see James stab a finger at the dark-haired man, who responded with nothing more than a smile. “I don’t know who you are, but if I see you again I’m gonna fuck you up. Got it?”

Jaska yawned theatrically, one hand in front of his mouth, the other still holding the gun stretched above his head. “Grow up.”

“What?” The word had a threatening edge as sharp as the knife Milos remembered digging into his skin.

“I said, grow up. You might be able to intimidate him,” he stabbed his own finger at the dokkalfa, “but it won’t work on me. I couldn’t care less. Believe me, I’ve tried. If you even try to harm me, I can bring the might of Hell down on your head. Do you understand me?”

To Milos’s ears the words sounded just as showily empty as the yawn. They must have had some power he wasn’t aware of: James took a hurried step back away from Jaska and almost into Milos with a short curse.

“The same goes for him too. You’ll leave him alone.”

The alfa started. Jaska was staring right at him, black eyes devoid of expression. James slowly turned his head to fix the younger man with an expression of deep disgust. If only it had been there five minutes ago, before he started trying to strip him of his leathers... He felt a twist of revulsion in his stomach that perfectly matched the one on James’s face. “I’ve already been there,” he said softly, each word another stab in his scarred chest, “I don’t need to return. From what I hear, he could have anything.”

“Get away from me!” Milos swung his fist at the human’s head, furious and uncoordinated. It was avoided with ease.

“Gladly.” To add insult to injury, James looked him up and down, then spat at him.

The alfa forced himself to lower his hands to his sides, forced himself to remember that this was hardly the worst of James’s fluids he’d ever come into contact with; all the while he wanted to scream and wipe away the liquid trailing slowly down his cheek and dripping onto his jacket. It was apparent from the satisfaction in his face that his attacker already knew how shaken he was, but he’d be damned if he’d show it now, after everything.

At least Jaska looked just as sickened. Even after James took Robin’s basket and left he remained where he was, staring with those unfathomable eyes at Milos. It was almost as uncomfortable as being anywhere near the recently-departed man. Almost. But there was something in this man’s eyes that set him on edge without really understanding why.

He made no move to clean up the saliva.

Time, in this kind of situation, seemed malleable. What was probably only a few seconds stretched out before him like a motorway: dull, straight and interminable. It came as a relief when Jaska finally spoke, because Milos’s left hand had gone numb to protect itself from the nails digging into his palm. “You’re just going to stand there, aren’t you?”

“Yes.” It seemed the simplest answer.

Those black eyes rested on him for a moment longer before sliding away in apparent boredom. When he re-holstered the gun Milos let out the breath he didn’t know he’d been holding. He might have one of his own tucked away but the presence of ones he wasn’t in control of made him nervous—and not without cause, in his opinion. “You can go.”

He suspected he should be bristling in anger at being so summarily dismissed, but instead it came as a dull relief. Thinking for himself, after everything, seemed like more trouble than it was worth. A direct order lifted the self-imposed burden. “Thank you.” Only when he was in the process of wiping the result of James’s sudden contempt from his face with his jacket sleeve did he think to ask, “but why did you help me?”

Jaska’s eyes narrowed. Milos realised with an abrupt sinking feeling that for whatever reason, that was probably not a question the man wanted to hear. “I had my reasons, and you don’t need to know them. But be sure, I didn’t do it for you. I think you lot should just fuck off back to the forests or,” he looked Milos up and down with evident disdain, “wherever the hell you’re from.”



“I’m from London.” He knew that normally he’d have taken umbrage at the tone—and not unreasonably, he thought: the man was obviously racist—but exhaustion was starting to seep through his body and the adrenaline that had done such a good job of powering him through the previous experience was ebbing away. “Nowhere exotic. Just... London.”

The dark haired man stared at him like he’d finally taken leave of his senses and, perhaps realising that Milos was only waiting for him to say something, waved one hand in the direction of the winding alley. “Just go.”

The alfa nodded. It would be a relief to get home.


Runaway Tales



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