Story: Radial: Unravel
Challenge: FOTD: Cantrip; Marmalade #15 - Remote Control; Fudge Ripple #21 - Guilt
Word Count: 767
Summary: Milos gives the beldame back the picture he found, but as usual it's fraught with risk whenever she's involved.
Notes: Follows on from I've Got Your Back and comes after Lodestar/A Fresh Start. And apparently this is my 100th piece. O_o
“Why do I have to go in there?”
“Because you’re the one who found the picture, and you need to learn to deal with these situations.”
“I’ve not recovered from last time. You can avoid anything she throws at you, you should do it.”
Alex’s face was impassive. “Just get in there.”
He stared at the door, turning the photo over and over in his hands. “But—”
Alex rested one hand on the door handle. “Just—” His other hand pressed against the small of Milos’s back, “—get in there,” and shoved.
There was a moment, one brief, terrifying moment, where he thought Alex wasn’t going to open the door. The fact that he did open it was probably even worse. He clattered three steps over the threshold, trying very hard and almost managing to hold in the yip of pain at the pressure against his bruises, before tripping over his own feet and only stopping himself from going flying by crashing into the wall instead. Painful and undignified. Could it get off to a better start?
The radio that bounced off the wall inches from his face said no, but it could easily get worse.
He turned slowly, ignoring the screaming protest of his ribs, to see the beldame standing in the middle of the room with her hands at her sides and a murderous expression aimed directly at him. His heart plummeted into the pit of his stomach. “Hi. Uh. I have something for— Fuck!”
He wasn’t quite fast enough to avoid the remote control that clipped his cheekbone. From outside he thought he could detect the faint sound of laughter; he ignored it, keeping his eyes on the woman and praying she didn’t try to repeat her earlier tricks... The room might not be big enough for determined flinging, but he suspected it was just perfect for a quick game of Milos Pinball.
The way her stare settled on him, then flicked around the room again, didn’t help matters either. He tried again. “Look, I found this, and...”
The remote grazed over his upper thigh and skittered into the corner; he could guess at where she was aiming and it didn’t make him feel any better. Neither did her expression, which spoke volumes on how she felt about missing.
“Please, just listen to...” He paused again, the unspoken question of when he’d actually manage to finish a sentence being overrun by the unnerving realisation that her lips were moving, although no sound came out, and her stare was now locked on his face. “Can you please just—” He halted at the rattling sound, his mouth dry. What now? Almost everything else was nailed down: the bed, the drawers; and what wasn’t was secure in other ways, like the TV behind the glass...
Which was rattling in its frame. Whether it was fear or the aching of his battered body, he felt sick. Death by flying TV garnished by glass shards; another way he’d never expected to go. This was beyond the ridiculous now. Killed by a woman who was doing nothing to make him think she was better off alone—
He finally lost his temper. “Stop! Is it because of my ears? My skin? Is it because you’re a bitch?! I only wanted to give you this fucking photo!” He stalked up to her, brandishing the tattered picture, and tried not to think about it being the only thing between him and a smashed-in skull, if it worked at all.
To his immeasurable relief, the TV stopped rattling as she stared down at his hands and reached out for the creased and torn image with a gentleness he no longer expected her to possess, tears welling up in her eyes.
It was the distraction he’d been hoping for: all her attention now on the picture, he bolted back for the door, hoping that Alex didn’t think it would be great fun to leave him in there. It wouldn’t surprise him if he did.
It opened just as he reached it. He stumbled through and almost into Alex as a high, keening wail started up behind him. She wasn’t entirely silent then, and he wondered if that was supposed to be a relief instead of a crushing feeling that caught him in the throat and chest.
“Interesting,” Alex muttered, staring through the porthole window in the door. Milos could only glance in, then away, from the girl slumped to her knees clutching the picture to her chest. It was clearly important to her.
So why did he suddenly feel so bad about giving it to her?