Stuck on You
His first memory is of falling, tumbling end over end in an exhilarating rush that was over far too soon. He didn't even notice the pain of landing because he was too concentrated on the feeling of skidding forward, hoping and hoping there would be another drop off in his future. When he finally came to rest, though, it was in the corner of the container, flush with the frost-laden wall. There was only one other cube nearby, as most of the others had ended up in a jumbled heap right under the Spout-thing. He could just barely hear them, still settling in, the harsh sounds of ice against ice reflecting off of the plastic walls.
His inertia gone, all he could really do was lean up against the wall and think about how much fun the tumble had been. He allowed himself a bit of pride for having escaped the crush of cubes, as well--he was certain he'd have hated being stuck at the very bottom, having to take the superior attitude of those of the upper echelon.
"You'll get stuck like that, you know," a grumpy voice beside him said. It was the nearby cube, whose lower left-hand corner was a bit rounded, as though it had chipped off and been melted smooth again.
"Stuck?" he replied, not sure he liked this chipped cube's tone.
"Yes, stuck," it said in a lofty voice. "Don't you know anything about Temperature States and Melt Physics?" The way it said this made him upset. It wasn't like he'd had much time to learn anything, after all. Still, some things were instinct, he supposed, and he could feel something in the air around him--if he rested too closely to the slick wall, it would want to bond with him. He wasn't sure he was ready for that.
"Is that how you lost your corner?" he said, a bit defensively.
"Isn't that just typical," Chipped muttered to himself. Then, a little louder, it said, "You don't have much room to talk--at least I don't have a mutant edge. I thought there were regulations against that sort of thing."
The frost on the wall dulled any sort of reflection, but he knew what Chipped was talking about, he could feel the extra ice there. He kind of liked it, actually.
"Size matters," he said diffidently, enjoying Chipped's spluttering reaction. He was sure if the temperature in their freezer had been any cooler, it would have actually shed water in indignation. "Calm down there, Chipped," he said. "Think of how much worse it'd be if we were stuck in that mess." He couldn't gesture, but Chipped had to know what he meant. It looked really distracted--at the thought of more rounded corners, no doubt--before it spoke again.
"Chipped? Chipped! Do I look like I've got rough edges to you, you... you... Spikehead!"
He wisely kept silent during the tirade, though 'Spikehead' sounded wrong to him, so maybe Chipped had a point about the name thing.
"Well, what would you like to be called, then?" he asked. "Splutter?" he offered, waiting for the reaction.
"Oh, that's just awful. You don't get to name anything," Chipped/Splutter said disgustedly. "I'm... well. I'd really rather have been spherical--ice absorbs a lot fewer... contaminants that way. So, you can call me... Rod."
"What? You don't think I want to be completely round, do you?" Rod huffed. "What do I call you, then?"
"Whatever," he said. It really didn't matter to him much, though he had to admit 'Spikehead' wasn't something he'd answer to.
"Very helpful, thanks," Rod said sarcastically. "So..."
Rod didn't get to finish his thought, however, as at that moment there was a rush of unwelcome air from the door to the freezer as it was pulled open. He and Rod looked at each other helplessly as they heard and felt the loud thumps of different things being moved around. Suddenly, their container tipped sideways, and Rod slid smoothly across to land very close beside him, almost touching. The air around them felt wrong, and he felt the entire container vibrate as the freezer's motor kicked in, blowing deliciously cold air across the top of their hiding place. It wasn't enough, though.
"Oh, this is bad," Rod said, a twinge of terror in his voice. Rod started muttering something that he couldn't make out.
"What are you doing?"
"Shh, I'm calculating something!" After a long pause, Rod spoke again, not even disguising his fear this time. "We are so screwed. If that door stays open just five more minutes..."
"This is something about Melt Physics, isn't it?" he asked, trying to cheer Rod up.
"Yes, of course it's--oh, funny, Cowlick, that was brain-melting humor right there," Rod hissed.
"Hey, at least you didn't call me a drip," Cowlick said. He liked his new name, it had a nice ring to it.
"Less than an hour old and already he's making puns. This universe hates me," Rod declared.
They fell silent, waiting in trepidation as the door remained open and the temperature around them fell slowly, almost imperceptibly. He could feel Rod next to him, cold and comforting, and he had a sudden urge to try to slide closer. He didn't think he'd mind bonding if it was with Rod--and he didn't think that was just because his alternative was the orgy of dimwitted, unadventurous ice cubes behind them. Cowlick didn't know what to say, though, since Rod didn't really seem to like him very much and he didn't want to alienate the only other ice cube in proximity to him.
There was a wave of awful warm, moist air that dragged across them for long seconds and then the freezer door shut, mercifully.
"Oh, God. I'm sweating, aren't I! Am I sweating?" Rod babbled, tilting his curved corner toward Cowlick.
"You're fine," he said soothingly, and with a rush of frozen excitement, added, "--and even if you were..." his voice trailed off as Rod looked at him strangely.
"'Even if I were...' what?" Rod prompted after a few tense seconds.
"I'd try to um. Rub it off," Cowlick said, wishing the plastic under him were more slippery, so he could turn away. He didn't want to see Rod's disgust at this.
"You'd..." Rod didn't sound disgusted. He kind of sounded excited, or maybe nervous, voice breaking in a way similar to his frantic worry of a few minutes earlier, but different. It gave Cowlick the courage to continue.
"So you wouldn't, you know, have bumps when they froze. The drops. From the sweat." If it were possible to spontaneously heat up with embarrassment and anticipation, he'd be sweating too, right now.
Cowlick didn't say anything. He looked away from the intense look on Rod's face, and when he looked back Rod seemed closer, somehow.
"It still feels kind of warm in here," Rod said casually, but his voice was high and Cowlick sensed that something had changed. "Doesn't it feel a bit warm in here?"
"The freezer hasn't had time to compensate just yet, I don't think," Cowlick said slowly.
"I heard that, um. That pressing close together helps to conserve cold, actually," Rod said.
"That makes sense." Cowlick's voice sounded about four times more calm than he felt. Was Rod...? "Those cubes behind us are probably nice and cozy by now, then," he remarked.
"Well then. It seems a shame to deprive the world of a cube of my caliber, doesn't it?" Rod said, a thread of his former superiority trickling back into his tone. Cowlick focused on the plastic underneath him, trying to feel for a slick spot, anything that he could use to move, even slightly. There.
"So, do you--" Rod started to say, but Cowlick interrupted him by pressing close, edge to edge, side to side.
"Oh, thank God," Rod said, and Cowlick could feel his words now, instead of just hearing them. They were as close as two separate and distinct entities of chilled water could be, and it was glorious. It was like they'd been cast from the same mold; their sides fit perfectly together, and Cowlick thought he would be happy to stay like this forever.
A few frosty moments in time later, Rod spoke again.
"So, what do you think of frozen peas?"
Cowlick's laugh echoed off the plastic walls, and Rod's answering squeal of outrage was like the rush of falling again.