Disclaimer: I don't own anything from the book Christine by Stephen King, or any TV or movie spinoffs, and I'm not making any money from this fic
Summary: Dennis drags his best friend back
Warning(s): Spanking; spoilers for the entire book Christine by Stephen King; violence; swearing; AU
Author's Note: Wow. I didn't think I could do it, but…twenty fics. Twenty different fandoms. And this is the last one. (I didn't plan this fandom. I just finished reading Christine and felt really bad for Arnie).
I've enjoyed this variety, so I think I'll repeat the exercise and do another twenty fics with the same sort of idea.
At first, Dennis wasn't sure what to think when he was told Arnie had tried to call him. His first thought was to call his best friend back, but what could he say? What would they talk about? Christine? Leigh? His parents?
Even in his mind, Dennis shied away from that topic.
Dennis had just finished his physiotherapy and he was…well, bored wasn't exactly the right word. That would imply he had nothing to do; and between worrying constantly about what Christine was doing and Arnie's change…he had more than enough on his plate.
He could pretend he hadn't been told. No one would know. Not even Arnie, or the malevolence that drove Christine. Dennis could take a step back, effectively allowing his best friend to drown without so much as offering a hand to pull him out.
But his conscience wouldn't be clear on it.
Dennis sat on his bed – there wasn't much else he could do – gnawed on his lower lip and thought. Except he wasn't thinking. He'd made his decision. Now he was choosing how to go about it.
Would Arnie be with Christine? It was late enough that Dennis figured if he wasn't, he'd be in bed. Asleep. But maybe that was for the best. If he woke up Arnie, his friend might be more likely to listen to Dennis.
So long as the phone didn't also wake up his parents.
His decision made, Dennis grabbed at the phone next to the bed. He fumbled and nearly dropped it, but even though his fingers were slippery with sweat, he managed to bring it to him and dial.
The sound seemed abnormally loud in the quiet of the hospital room. Even though he wasn't actively doing anything wrong, Dennis still kept glancing at the door, half-expecting his doctor or one of the nurses to be framed there.
It was Arnie who answered, the trace of sleepiness in his voice making him sound younger than he truly was. "Mom? Dad?"
Dennis felt a pang that, at being woken up, Arnie's mind would immediately jump to those closest to him. Did his parents know he still cared, underneath the calluses he'd grown? "It's Dennis. I need you to come to the hospital."
"Dennis?" Alarm made Arnie's voice alert and Dennis couldn't help but wince.
He didn't want Arnie awake and alert. He wanted his best friend still half-asleep. Less likely to let that damned car influence him. "Just come to the hospital." His voice was harsh, nearly sharp, but he didn't try to change the tone. If he pushed enough, Arnie wouldn't be able to form a defence. He wouldn't be able to counter. And maybe, just maybe, Dennis stood a chance of getting his friend back.
"Okay, Dennis." Arnie sounded confused but agreeable. "I'll go by the garage and get Christine. Be there as soon as I can. Just hang on, yeah?"
"Yeah." Dennis didn't try to talk him out of picking up Christine. He couldn't antagonise Arnie before his friend even got there. "I'll see you."
There was no response, just a barely audible click as Arnie hung up the phone.
Dennis set the headset back in its cradle and settled back to wait.
Dennis had only been dozing when he became aware he was no longer alone in the room.
Squinting as he became aware after yet another dream about that car, Dennis felt his heart stutter and then begin pounding harder and faster in his chest, as though it was a rabbit being hunted. Maybe it would stop altogether.
For a second, he didn't see his friend standing there. Instead, what he saw was a skeleton, bones stained a dirty white and with empty eye sockets, wearing nothing but a filthy back brace. Then Dennis blinked and Arnie was back to normal; at least to what passed as normal for him these days.
Looking at Arnie, faced with the demon his best friend had become, Dennis didn't have to ask if Christine was parked outside. Arnie looked like an addict. His body shook and he kept glancing towards the door, even as he took the last few steps needed to bring him next to the bed. "What's wrong?" He twitched as he spoke, casting constant glances over his shoulder.
If Arnie, or the force driving him – whatever the origin of that force might be – hadn't been so distracted, Dennis would never have been able to act. He grasped Arnie's wrist, closing his fingers tight, and pulled his friend forward and off balance. Arnie stumbled and fell, landing across Dennis' stomach.
The air came out of Dennis' lungs with a forceful gasp. Arnie seemed dazed. Confused. He started to push himself up, but Dennis leaned on his back and the movement was halted. "Dennis? Let me up."
The weight of his friend across his stomach left Dennis out of breath, but he didn't dare move Arnie to a more comfortable position. Raising his hand to shoulder height, he brought it down with a smack that had almost his full strength behind it. The result was the dull thump of his hand hitting the seat of Arnie's jeans, a slight sting in his palm and a tiny yip from his friend.
The next smack was harder. Dennis knew Arnie hadn't been spanked by his parents, even though Dennis had shared with his best friend the few times his own father had taken him to the woodshed. But Arnie wouldn't break; and going soft on him wouldn't bring the desired results.
By the time Dennis slapped the top of Arnie's thighs, his palm stung more and was beginning to redden. Apart from that first yip, Arnie hadn't made a sound. Hadn't moved a muscle. He just lay sprawled across Dennis, his body relaxed.
Dennis remembered George telling him about LeBay. How their father had beaten Roland until he cried and still, it had done nothing to change his behaviour. He slid his hand under Arnie's stomach, undoing his friend's jeans and pushing them down to mid-thigh, leaving his white boxers in place.
There wasn't any evidence of the swats Dennis had delivered so far. Arnie lay limp and passive across his stomach, not moving and barely breathing. Then Dennis slipped his fingers into the waistband of Arnie's boxers.
His friend reacted instantly, rearing up like a thing possessed and throwing his hand back in the same movement. "Let go of me, you shitter!"
The sound of the word, so unlike the language his real friend used, made Dennis' jaw tighten and set. Arnie continued to writhe around on him and then dug his nails into Dennis' wrist, gouging deeply into the flesh.
Dennis bit his lip hard, but a slight groan still escaped his clenched teeth. Arnie's fingers weren't flesh anymore, instead the dirty-white of a skeleton. Blood ran down Dennis' arm, trickling onto the white bedsheets, staining them crimson.
The body across his lap was now a skeleton. Dennis swallowed back the acid taste of fear, lifted his hand once more, and brought it down on the bony backside.
His hand didn't meet the hard, solid bone, but found flesh that yielded. The squall was entirely Arnie's as he collapsed back over Dennis, his nails pulling free of skin as he brought both hands in front of him, clasping them together as if in prayer.
An engine revving in the distance made Dennis pause. Arnie squirmed unhappily across him and Dennis stared at the back of his friend's head. "Who are you?"
Arnie breathed deep and then let it out in a sobbing gasp. "He's too strong for me, Dennis. I can't…I don't know how to hold him back."
The sheer desperation in Arnie's voice made Dennis wince. Forcing away his stab of sympathy, ignoring the little voice that pointed out, This isn't helping him, he lifted his hand. Brought it down firmly at the top of Arnie's unprotected right thigh. Repeated the swat on his left.
"Dennis…." Arnie's voice was nearly a whine. "That stings."
The car, Christine, was revving even louder now. Like the buzzing of an angry hornet. Dennis slapped Arnie's thighs again, harder, and his friend jumped.
After a few more smacks, Arnie's voice changed again. "Let go of me, you shitter!"
The voice changed, but Arnie's body didn't. Dennis took that for a good sign and tugged Arnie's boxers down to join his jeans.
Arnie whimpered, but only clasped his hands tighter. Dennis lifted his hand.
Headlights gleamed through the window.
"You can't have him." Dennis didn't realise he was going to speak until his mouth opened and the words came out. "He isn't yours. He isn't LeBay's, either."
"Does that make me yours, then, Dennis?" Arnie asked, a trace of amusement in his voice.
Dennis considered the question seriously, even as he began to swat Arnie's now-bare bottom. "Yeah," he replied, as Arnie's bottom and thighs began to pinken under the firm smacks. "They can't have you. She can't have you. You're stronger than he is."
"No. I'm not." Arnie's voice was high and almost breathless. His body shuddered and shook as his breath hitched, indicating tears weren't far off. "Not…alone. But if you…claim me, it would be a stronger claim than either of them have."
Dennis hesitated, his hand resting lightly on Arnie's bottom. Somehow, he had the feeling that they were teetering on the edge of something. He'd started it by pulling his best friend over and continued when he'd begun spanking Arnie. "You're my best friend, Arnie," he finally said. "You'd better believe I have a stronger claim to you." He lifted his hand and brought it down in a smack that was much harder than before.
Arnie jumped, letting out a hiss and throwing his hand back. "Dennis, please don't…."
"Please don't what?" Dennis demanded, swatting his friend's sit spots. "Please don't hold you accountable? Please don't spank you?" He began focusing more swats to Arnie's thighs.
"Please don't…let me go…." As if those words signalled a dam bursting, Arnie began to cry. "I'm scared." His voice was a whisper; a mere breath of air. "I'm scared of her, Dennis. Please…help me."
Dennis let his hand rest on Arnie's lower back. The headlights were gone. Maybe they'd never been there at all. Certainly, all he could feel was Arnie. His best friend. No longer the stranger so obsessed with his new car. "You aren't going back to the garage, Arnie. I'm not going to let you."
"I can't stay here the whole time."
Dennis delivered a harder smack to Arnie's heated backside and heard him sob. He landed a matching one on the other side and felt his friend slump limply across his stomach. "You might not be here all the time, but I'm going to expect you to only see the people I'm okay with. You check in with me." He delivered a full circuit of smacks and then began rubbing Arnie's warm red bottom. "Have you got it?"
"Are you going to spank me again?" Arnie asked, his voice shaky with tears.
"Yeah. When it's necessary. When you forget who has the strongest claim on you." Dennis firmly patted Arnie's backside. "Are you going to get up?"
"Maybe…not yet," Arnie admitted quietly. "Feels safe. And I'm so tired."
"Okay. Then go to sleep," Dennis murmured. "I'll wake you if anyone comes."
A soft snore was his only response.