Well, let's get the humdrum out of the way. Disclaimer, not my characters, just my plot. Look at Disney, and whoever owns Games workshop for things that aren't mine. Let's see, what else....
Yeah, this isn't Door or Air, which I'm working on, but it's something else that I've been fiddling with. Door's Chapter 2 is about halfway through, so expect it soon. Now, onto a little exposition.
This isn't a proper crossover, and it's not quite a fusion either for that matter. It just borrows elements from the Warhammer universes. Specifically, well, if you know anything about Warhammer, you'll recognize the specifics. For the rest of it, feel free to enjoy! This one should be multiple chapters.
It was Friday afternoon, classes had just ended, I was shutting my locker, wondering how I was going to find a date to Junior Prom, watching as Kim and Eric were walking away from me hand in hand, when I had my closest experience with death in my short life.
The cause of this? Knowing my life as you no doubt think you do, you might assume bombs. Maybe death rays. Perchance, a freakish villain bent on world domination. Maybe monkeys. I know I always had my money on monkeys being the ones to do me in.
Instead it was blue haired punkette. A blue haired punkette dressed in what had to be the tightest skimpiest most midriff baring black tube top in existence, combined with a skirt so short that it was probably just a converted belt, mid calf latex high heeled boots, and nothing else.
And considering just how short the skirt was, it was exceedingly easy for anyone who looks to ascertain that when I said nothing else, I meant nothing else.
And what is this incredibly attractive looking model of a decadent and hard hitting sub-culture doing that would precipitate my near death encounter, you ask? Let me tell you.
She had yelled, at the top of her lungs in the most excited, breathless voice laced with passion and desire that had ever graced these hallowed grounds of learning, "Ronnie!" then proceeded to dash down the hall at speeds that could only be considered safe in comparison to experimental vehicles trying to break the ground speed record, tackled me to the floor in a flurry of limbs, and then kissed me with such fervor that I think a rock would blush.
Of course, this wouldn't be enough to cause my life to flash before my eyes on its own: when done so in front of the gaping eyes of the entire school, most importantly my extremely protective, albeit currently inattentive best friend, who is even now frozen and gaping like a fish out of water, then the danger becomes more apparent. Then her eyes narrowed and her lips thinned themselves out in what could either be disapproval for the punkettes brazen attack on her best friend since pre-K, or righteous feminine anger at the attire of aforementioned punkette.
After a good thirty seconds of mental reboot period, I finally did something more useful with my arms then attempting to spell out the alphabet. I put my hands on the girl's shoulders and started my best effort to pry her off of me. Not that I minded what she was doing, per say. At some point during the lip lock she had wrapped her limbs around me like an octopus. Her legs entwined around my hips, bringing hers down on mine in a position that definitely looked and felt sexual in nature. Her hands had meanwhile moved onto full on groping, roaming my body, caressing my hair, teasing at my clothes. She was actually fretting against me, and the friction was causing her to moan into my lips with increasing fervor. I was definitely starting to enjoy this, and that enjoyment was beginning to present itself to the body clutching mine, and that enjoyment was definitely something that she was enjoying herself. However fun this is though, Kim had mostly gotten over her shock of seeing me being assaulted and molested right in front of her. Her face had become almost as red as her hair, and she had begun a slow march to where we were laying with murder in her eyes.
I'm not sure why really. I mean, yeah this is rather unexpected, but I don't exactly go out of the way to get between her and her happy time. I've always tried to be a courteous friend about minding my own business when it came to her dates and boyfriends. Would it kill her to extend me the same right? I mean, yeah, I have no idea who this chick is, or why she's doing this, but hey, I'm definitely appreciating this strange girls efforts.
Finally, I manage to drag the girl far enough away from my face to do that thing I really like doing again. What was that thing called? Oh yeah, breathing. I gasp for air once our lips are finally separated. Wow, was this girl thorough. I think she might have sucked out a filling or two. When I finally gain enough composure to take note of the world around me, the first thing I notice is that we have become something of a spectacle. Quite a crowd had taken note of what was probably the most spectacular PDA in the history of Middleton High. Reactions weren't as varied as you'd think. Guys had expressions of envy and desire, while quite a few had taken note of precisely what my aggressor was wearing and had forgone all effort to hold back the drool pooling down their faces. Girls seemed to be mostly settling on righteous feminine indignation at the outfit the blue haired girl was wearing, maybe mixed with a little envy that she managed to wear it so well and without the faintest hint of self-consciousness.
Speaking of the girl, I made the mistake of looking at her face and meeting her eyes. And what a face and what eyes they were. Eyes so dark they looked black in the fluorescent light gazing at me with such joy and happiness they seemed to shine like something you'd see in one of those Japanese animes. Her lips were full and bruised from where they had been mashed against mine, and trembling ever so slightly, parted with something that was half joy and half lust, and all eager and inviting. Set through her eyelids, her lips, her ears, and even her cheeks were piercings of all varieties: loops, studs, dangles, the works. When she caught me studying her face, she gave a sudden effeminate squeal and latched onto me even tighter, burying her face against my neck and nuzzling me like a playful kitten while exclaiming again, "Ronnie!"
Okay, as fun as this is, I think that I better try and get her off of me. KP was standing over me completely now, towering like a titan of old above my prone form. And like a titan of old, her face promised wrath, terror, and certain doom. I'm just not sure who it was aimed at: me or this strange girl. I increase my efforts to get this squid wrapped around me off, which turned out to be of no avail. I've been in iron shackles softer than this girls grip!
"Um," I finally manage to get out. I might have been able to pry this girl off of me given enough time, but that would involve some heavy contact, and considering just how much skin was showing and just how many people were watching, that could do almost as much damage to my reputation as that time I lost my pants when giving a presentation on the serious issue of breast cancer in health class. "KP? Help?" I'm actually having trouble drawing breath now, even as the bluette continued to ignore the world around her and hummed contentedly into my neck. Actually, she had moved on from nuzzling and was now at the nibbling phase apparently. And she was apparently very good at nibbling. Oh lord, she just blew in my ear. It's a good thing that she was covering my hips with hers, otherwise I'd be reliving the most awkward years of puberty all over again.
"Alright, whoever you are," Kim came to my rescue, apparently deciding that I was innocent in this, and focusing that building head of steam of hers at my molester. "Get off of him!" She put action to words and reached down to help pry her off of me. I know the grip Kim put on this strangers shoulders. It was a pinch on the muscles of the arm, and was painful enough to make even the stoutest of men reflectively let go.
Strangely enough, it did nothing to this girl. She continued to maintain her grip. In fact, she actually moaned, and began to fret herself harder on me. Alright, this is getting way beyond awkweird. If she keeps that up either she's going to burst or I am. Either way, I'm gonna be the one walking home with my jersey pulled low to cover a wet spot on my pants.
"Oh Ronnie," the girl whispered, still nibbling at my ear despite me and Kim's best efforts to get enough distance between the two of us to slip a piece of paper. "I've missed you so much! We all have! We've been looking for you so long, and now we've finally found you! I couldn't stay away any longer; I had to be with you again." She pulled back and looked me in the eyes, her forehead resting against my own. It was a tender and intimate position, and for a second I forgot about the crowd around me, about my efforts to be able to breathe freely again, about the fact that Kim and Felix and Monique and Eric and everyone else was watching us, about the school, about everything. Her eyes, they drew me in, hypnotic and deep and for some reason familiar.
There was something familiar about her, I realized. Something I'd almost forgotten, something at the tip of my tongue.
Kim had been growing more and more insistent in her efforts to free me from this slip of a girl, and had even reached the point where she had her hands wrapped around the bare waist of my molester and had propped her foot against my own hip to give her leverage, when I touched her leg briefly. Kim started, and I waved her back, not looking at her anymore, focusing only on this strange and beautiful and oh so hauntingly familiar girl on top of me. The stranger just kept meeting my gaze, her lips quirked in a half smile, encouraging me, wanting me to recognize her, to remember her, to say her name…
And then I did. I reached up and caressed her cheek with my hand, the other settling on her waist in a feel of remembered intimacy I breathed it out in an incredulous whisper. "Stephanie?"
The smile that grew on her lips was so wide the Cheshire cat would have sued for copyright infringement. Rather than answered she just gave my lips a lick, kittenish and playful.
Kim had looked puzzled when I had motioned her to back off and surprised when it turned out I actually did know this complete stranger. And everyone in the hallway, who had taken to whispering and giggling at the spectacle before them joined her in her third emotion: that of pure shock, when I laughed out loud, wrapped my arms around the stranger, regained my feet and spun her around in pure joy. Stephanie squealed in delight, throwing her arms around my neck and kicking her legs back playfully as I spun her. She was obviously being charming, and obviously enjoying enacting the cliché reunion scene that we were playing out in front of my classmates.
"Great googly moogly! Stephanie!" I gasped out still exhilarated at my discovery. I abruptly set her down, and pushed her to arms length. She released me easily this time, and I held her shoulders as I looked her up and down, comparing this new and startlingly different figure in front of me to my memories of the girl I once knew. There were many, many obvious and very startling differences there, but beneath it all I saw the girl I once knew, nearly four years ago. "Look at you! You look great!" I enthused, forgetting for a moment that we had witnesses. Stephanie giggled coquettishly and struck a pose right out of a playboy pinup. She put her hands under her chin, spread her legs to shoulder length, and jutted her hips out to the side in an exaggerated fashion. She looked like a sex bomb waiting to go off. To go off again, and again, and again.
And that was when my mind finally caught up to me, my memories of just what had happened last time I had been with her, and what she had said a second ago. And just like that, the joy I was feeling froze, reduced itself drastically, and was joined equally by another feeling. Dread.
We had missed you. We had looked for you. We had found you. That was what she said.
Stephanie must have caught the expression on my face. The smile that had been goofy and large and stretching ear to ear like her own had died down to an ember. I tried to maintain it, for her sake at least, but considering the circumstances it must have been little more than a grimace. Her smile remained, but different from the pure joy that she had been expressing before. It was soft, and sad, and understanding. Then it quirked up and became mischievous, a devil may care but you know I won't expression that suited her well. With a flip of her wrist and a sway in her step she closed the distance between the two of us, and pushed me back against the locker. I let myself get swayed without protest, and once I was leaning against the cold metal containers, she stepped up in front of me, turned her back to me and leaned on me, grabbing my arms and wrapping them around her in a prim manner, and then snuggled back against me contentedly. I didn't pull away from this embrace, knowing it for what it was. Stephanie was trying to comfort me, in her own way.
The crowd around us was ginormous by now. Most of the expressions of those who had been here the entire time had settled into some kind of twisted combination of outright shock and outright disbelief. The new comers just had confusion on their faces. Eric was one of those. He had seen the whole thing, waiting for his girlfriend, my best friend, Kim. It was obvious that he had no idea what the heck was going on. Kim on the other hand, had blown a fuse entirely. It was actually quite possibly the funniest expression I'd ever seen her wear. She was slouched over, arms slack, and jaw agape. Her eyebrows were quirked between half raised, half narrowed, and her eyes were squinty as she tried to correlate just what the hell it was she had just seen. Even her hair was mussed from when she had obviously exerted more effort than she thought she'd need for the slip of a girl in my arm and still failed to get her off of me, only for me to willingly embrace her.
The fact that I knew someone that she didn't would have been enough to drive her into crazy protective stalker mode, but the fact that I knew someone she didn't and that the person I knew was female and attractive and apparently very intimate with me was enough to send her needle past the red, through the other end of the pressure gage and all the way back to zero apparently. I think her entire paradigm just shifted.
I didn't mind. She looked so cute standing there in obvious brain melt mode!
Stephanie obviously seemed to agree with me, and I caught her looking at me through the corner of her eyes with a smirk. Oh no, here it goes…
"She's cute!" Stephanie declared, pointing directly at Kim, and then with an innocent look on her face turned to me and asked like a little girl requesting candy from a father, "Can we share her?"
I think the entire room froze at that. Even the watchers who had no idea what was going on new enough to know that whatever was about to happen next was going to be spectacularly dramatic.
I repress a sigh, and almost can't stop myself from smiling. That was just so Stephanie.
Kim had just managed regain enough cognitive functions when Stephanie had dropped that bomb on her, and the resulting EMP wave knocked her right back out. The best she could manage after that was a long drawn out, "Huh!?"
I've been in some pretty strange positions in my life. I mean, I am the sidekick of a teen hero that periodically saves the world from strange demented freaks with delusions of grandeur and adequacy. But that's nothing compared to where I am now.
Sitting at a table in Bueno Nacho, with Stephanie draped over my lap in a provocative manner, alternating between trying to feed me and Rufus nachos, while my oldest friend and her current boyfriend sat opposite us, trying desperately not be freaked out by the girl draped over me.
It's a testament to just how badly this shook her up that Kim still hadn't recovered enough composure to enter either stalker mode, where she tries to pump the girl who was apparently close enough to her oldest best friend to trade spit in the middle of a crowded school hallway for information while simultaneously expressing the fact that she new sixteen forms of kung-fu and weren't afraid to use them on anyone who hurt her best friend, or indignant mode, wherein Kim would blow a fuse over the fact that this strange new girl had just offered to share me in a sexual fashion with aforementioned sixteen forms of kung-fu.
I'd never thought I'd see the day where the girl who could do anything wouldn't have a clue just what it was she was going to do.
I do have to say, that all things considered, Eric was holding up gamely through this entire process. The boy hadn't had much experience with the weird that the rest of us had, and was obviously just doing his best to keep his head above the tide of strange that was now lapping at him neck deep.
Out of everyone at the table, the only two who seemed completely oblivious to the atmosphere were, of course, Stephanie, but also Rufus. Stephanie had decided that Rufus was the cutest thing ever, and she just couldn't keep her hands off the naked little mole rat. Rufus, in response, had decided that Stephanie was the most best and awesomemess thing ever, just so long as the strange girl kept feeding him chips dipped in delicious processed cheese. Stephanie was contented to do so, all the while whispering little praises of cuteness to the happy rodent, constantly running her fingers up and down Rufus' flank and tickling his chin outrageously.
Me, on the other hand, well I was still coming to terms with the meeting of someone who I very truly thought I'd never see again and the implications of the meeting, and couldn't muster anything more cheerful than a somewhat distant look of amusement at the ensuing shenanigans.
Eric was the first to brave the tempestuous atmosphere, and for that I was forced to give him major points in the lines of either bravery, or sheer lack of self preservation. "So, how long have you two known each other?" It was just inane and unmotivated enough to work. The points go to bravery then.
"Oh me and Ronnie met way back!" Stephanie answered easily, either completely oblivious to the tension in the air, or just ignoring it. Both were viable options. She waved her hand in a flirtatious and inane gesture. "We met at camp actually!"
Her voice was bright and cheerful, and that made her comment just innocuous enough that Kim almost missed it. But even at her most distracted, Kim is still good. No matter how scrambled her brain is, she still managed to make the connection. She actually started a little bit, and her eyes widened. There was only one camp that I had ever been in, and she knew well my feelings about it.
"Camp Wannaweep?" she blurted out, startling Eric next to her. Somehow, that had been all that was needed to boot her out of her perpetual loop of discombobulation. Her eyes darted to me, and I can almost see the thoughts behind her eyes. Damn, but that girl never stops amazing me. She had made the connection almost instantly. And now, as I watch, her expression changes from that borderline between confusion about the situation to understanding.
Most people, when they make a leap like that, well I expect them to be wrong. There weren't many clues here, and it'd be easy to think the wrong thing, but there were just enough clues, when combined with an insight into my history and the natural intellectual prowess that Kim had, to get the right answer. Her eyes dart to me, and I give a little half smile, to tell her that yes, she was right.
I hated Camp Wannaeep. Nothing good came from there. It was a place of pure evil and horror.
And yes, the reason Kim had never heard about Stephanie before was that she was associated with it.
Bless her; what she did next warmed my heart. Kim leaned forward, assumed a completely relaxed and interested look on her face, and smiled at Stephanie. But behind her eyes, was a spark of readiness. I don't blame her for that. The last time Kim met someone I knew from the place of evil, they had been a mutated freak bent on changing the cheer squad into likenesses of himself. Kim was now in full mission mode. Mission: protect her best friend at all costs.
This was the first time since she had met Eric that she paid this much attention to me. Who knew all it took was for her to think that maybe some kind of freak from my past was out to get me?
And the funny part was that even though Kim had the right answer, she still didn't know the half of it.
I don't know if Stephanie caught the byplay between the two of us. Maybe she really had noticed it, maybe she didn't. Stephanie, for all that she appeared the ditsy sex-kitten, was far sharper than most would give her credit for. Kim included, I think. Whether she did or didn't, she kept right on with her explanation.
"I loved that camp! It was one of the best times of my life! The fresh air, the woods," Stephanie rambled on, while cheerfully rubbing Rufus' distended stomach with her fingers, the rodent purring quietly at her attention, while simultaneously rubbing herself against me almost as an afterthought.
"The lake?" Kim asked, seeming innocent while at the same time prepping herself for action without seeming too. All it would take is a word and Kim would be over the table between the two of us and on Stephanie like an angry god.
"Ugh, that thing? Have you ever seen it?" Stephanie snorted in disgust, waving her hand in front of her face as though chasing away the odor of something foul. "It was the most rancid thing ever! When it was free swim time, I'd pretend to be sick to keep out of that thing! I wasn't even pretending most of the time. Just looking at that brown sludgy water was enough to actually make me green enough to pass off the excuse." And right there, Kim was hamstrung. Obviously, that wasn't the response she was expecting.
Eric was the one who asked the next question. "I've never been to a camp before. What was your favorite part of it?" He had leaned forward and nabbed a leftover nacho from the pile that Rufus had all but annihilated. He gave a friendly and encouraging smile to the girl on my lap as he bit down on it. Rufus struggled valiantly in order to avenge his stolen foodstuff, but the poor little guy was so bloated that he couldn't even roll over. Stephanie seemed to find this unutterably precious, and started placing nachos laden with cheese all around the little guy, just out of his reach. Rufus would struggle valiantly to reach them, despite the fact that he was already so full he couldn't move, and would give out a plaintive little chirp of despair each time his goal eluded him.
"Well, I'd have to say the best part was the people I met," Stephanie smiled winsomely at the boy across from her, and then reached up to wrap an arm around my head and pull it down into her bountiful bosoms, smothering me with affection. Literally.
This seemed to make Kim grumpy. She absentmindedly bit down on her own food, before mumbling. "Oh? So you two were close then?" Kim seemed to be hovering at the border of an outright glare at me. I can't help but find it hypocritical, just a little, of her, but I don't rise to match it. Honestly, I'm having trouble following the conversation in any meaningful way. Which is probably why I didn't catch the wicked look Stephanie threw at me right before she dropped another bomb on the table.
"Oh yes! I've never forgotten Ronnie. After all, what kind of girl would forget her first?" She closed her eyes and let her face shift into blissful remembrance. Despite the fact that I know she had let that little tidbit slip for no other reason than to get a rise, I don't doubt for a second that the expression on her face is honest. I know Stephanie well enough to know that she truly did enjoy our time together, no matter how many have been between then and now.
Stephanie remembers everyone she's been with, and she treasures each one as though they were the only one she'd ever been with. It's in her very nature to do so.
Eric had a great deal less preconceptions about me, so he takes the news rather well. He'd been mid sip and had snorted in shock and finding out that no, I'm not a virgin, causing the soda to dribble out his nose. He coughs and thumps his chest, his nasal cavities no doubt burning from the carbonated beverage coursing through them. Kim doesn't even catch the innuendo at first, so assured in her knowledge of me that even her superior deductive capabilities miss it out of sheer inertia. She's in mid chew and turning to see what's on earth could have caused Eric to react like that when it hits her like two tons of bricks being ridden by an elephant in the middle of a landslide. Her eyes bulge out of her sockets and she turns to look at me so fast her neck audibly pops. She apparently also tried to gasp in shock, which is a really bad idea when you have a mouth full of half chewed tortilla chips.
As the two of them deal with their food burdened shock, I finally speak up. "You know, Steph, a lady never tells about that kind of thing."
Stephanie's eyes are lidded, and she shifts till she's straddling me, her arms around my shoulders, our foreheads touching and our gaze meeting. The position is familiar, like the one we were in earlier. Just like then, her eyes are captivating, and I find myself loathed to look away. From behind her, I hear a strangled noise that's the mix between a cough and a growl. We both ignore it.
And here it is. Stephanie might put on a face around the crowd, might fool others, but I know her, and I see through her. I know what she's really like, what she really is deep down inside. Beneath that soft and bouncy and oh so touchable exterior, buried in yards and yards of thoughtless yearning for the flesh and its pleasures, is something cold. Something dark. Something hungry. Something ruthless.
It was buried in both of us. The two of us, and the others. The others who now know where I am, despite years of hiding, of denying, of hoping that it was all a dream or a horrible delusion brought about by malaria or something equally improbable.
We were all, so much more and so much less than we appeared.
"But I'm not a lady," she hisses to me, soft and sibilant, with promises of more than I could ever imagine or desire, more and then some. "I'm a woman: a woman who likes the touch of my lovers, the pleasures of the flesh. It doesn't matter who they are, you know that. I like them young or old, boy or girl, it doesn't matter. But you, Ronald," she leans in whispers in my ear, her body flush against me as she does so. Kim and Eric are both frozen and red faced. Eric looks like he's embarrassed. Kim looks like she's about ready to split the table between us with one hand and tear the girl on top of me to pieces. "You were my first, the one who matters the most to me."
"The two most important are the first and the last," I answer back, my voice not a whisper but also soft. I notice my surroundings only peripherally now. The call of Stephanie's eyes are too strong for me to focus on much else.
"That's a lie, and you know it," she corrected me. "The important ones are the important ones. There's no saying which one they will be, but you know them when you find them." Though I can only see it out of the corner of my eye, Kim flinches back at that like she was struck. I pay it no attention. "Come with me," Stephanie both ordered and begged me. Her voice was thick and low and it held all the promise of paradise, all the horror of hell. It stroked the very core of me, and left me purring and wanting for more. "Come with me, and we can go back and meet the others. They miss you, you know. Then we can be together with whomever we want, whenever we want. I'm not jealous, and though I might be greedy, I can still share. Doesn't it sound wonderful? I can make every moment of your life after this ecstasy."
And she could too. Of this, I have no doubt. Poor Eric, he looked so embarrassed to be here at this moment. I don't blame him. He really has no part in this, no idea what he's so close too.
But it's the expression on Kim's face that stands out. I've never seen Kim afraid before, but I think that's what I'm seeing right now. Why would Kim be afraid?
Whatever the reason might be, my attention is on this wonderful thing resting across my lap. Gently, my fingers reach up, and trace her cheeks with their very tips. She moans and goes limp against me. Her eyes are still open, still piercing me as surely as any pointy weapon that has ever existed. My thumbs come to rest on the very edges of her mouth, the calloused pads caressing the softness of her red lips. Her mouth parts, wanting and in desire.
"That was over between us a long time ago," I whisper, and then deliberately close my eyes and bow my head. Once our eye contact was broken, the rest of the world came into focus, crisp and almost painful in its clarity. The rumble of cars passing by our window, the sizzle of the kitchen behind the counter, the bratty whining of children harassing their parents all came tumbling back on me in a heartbeat. It was nearly too much to bear for a moment, and then once more my equilibrium returned. When I opened my eyes, Stephanie again filled my vision. But instead of promise, there was regret and understanding in her face.
I heard a gentle whoosh, and glanced up to see Kim releasing a breath she had been apparently holding. Eric looked confused, but sympathetic. I can imagine what it appeared to his eyes: a parted lover, seeking to rekindle something that had long since gone out. It was close enough to be almost right, but still distant enough to be completely wrong.
"I had to ask," Stephanie told me, and her voice had none of the promise that so often fills it. There was only acceptance there, and compassion.
"I know." I give her a half hearted grin, which she returns. Then, in one smooth and graceful movement she got off my lap and stood next to the table. Taking only a moment to adjust her rather minimal clothing, she turned to the table and smiled.
"It was good seeing you again Ron. And it was nice meeting the two of you, Kim, Eric," she nodded to each of our companions.
For some reason, Kim's response seemed reserved. "It was nice meeting you too, Stephanie." There was something in that voice that sounded almost like compassion. I couldn't imagine what for. Eric just nodded, obviously uncomfortable with the whole situation, and glad it was apparently ending.
Stephanie turned to give me one last look before speaking. "The others are eager to see you again. They should be dropping by soon, once I let them know I found you."
"I won't tell you to say hi for me. I'll save that for when I see them," I smile at her. And with one last saucy look and without a farewell, she walked out of the restaurant and into the darkening late afternoon.
"Ron." It was dark out and I was standing outside my house, gazing at the stars. I had been distracted by my own thoughts, so I hadn't noticed her coming. When I glance over at her, I almost startle. It was KP all right, but I'd never seen her like this before.
She looked delicate. That was the only way to describe her at the moment. I glanced at the clock by the door leading into my house. It was late, or early, depending on how you look at it. I'd been on the hanging bench on the small patio behind my house for hours, so focused on my thoughts that the marching of time had gone by without me taking notice. I was dressed for bed, having been bound for that destination originally. It was just that the impact of the day had denied me Morpheus' respite. Apparently it had done the same for Kim. She was in ruffled clothes, and had the look of someone who had been tossing and turning on a proper bed for sometime before seeking the comfort of the night around her. It was mid spring, and the air held the lingering touch of the chill or winter, mixed with the promise of summer's warmth.
"Hey, KP," I responded. She was clutching a robe around her. Not really appropriate outer wear, but we lived close enough, and it was late enough, that she had probably just thrown it on when she had come to seek me out in the middle of the night. "I bet I can guess what brings you here tonight." I give her a half grin, small but genuine, and pat the creaking bench next to me in invitation. She gives me an answering smile, and accepts my invitation, but then the weight of her thoughts presses the smile away. I look at her, and she looks away, apparently lost or embarrassed about what was going to come next.
"So, what's the sitch on that girl today? Stephanie?" she finally manages to get out. It's just vague enough to not sound like an interrogation, but it still managed to come out as an accusation. It doesn't surprise me. We'd been friends for so long, and shared so many secrets between us, that finding out there was something or someone so important to me that I'd never revealed to her was no doubt a revelation.
I can't help but think it goes deeper than that. As much as I love Kim, and I do love my KP, she's never been quite able to consider me in any kind of "masculine" or "sexual creature" sort of way. The fact that I don't date, and always seem to miss the signals that females send me has no doubt enhanced that fiction to her. For a brief moment, I felt irritation at that, and couldn't stop myself from taking a cheap shot. "You mean besides the fact that we'd had sex?"
She did jerk at that. "I, I didn't think that…I mean I thought she was lying…"
"You didn't think that someone like me would ever actually get with someone? That I'd either die a virgin or end up having to pay for it at some street corner?" I cut her hard with that comment, and I can see it. She was obviously torn between taking offense to my tone and feeling ashamed because she knew that deep down that was something she'd always considered. That her best friend was nothing more than an asexual entity whose entire world revolved around pleasing her and existing in strictly platonic and supportive role. She gathered herself to either deny my accusation or start an argument, and I cut her off. "Don't. KP I've always made it a point not to dig into what you do with your boyfriends. I have no idea what the farthest you've gone with anyone is, and don't particularly want to know. It's always been your business. This," I wave a hand gesturing to the air around me to symbolize the whole sitch, "is my business. I don't believe in kiss and telling, and whoever I'm with and whatever I do with them is no one's business but mine. Not my parents, not god, not the media, not the people at school, no one. Not even yours, Kim." I say the last sentence gently. I'm not trying to make any acquisitions, but this is just one of the things I feel strongly about.
"You didn't trust me enough to tell me?" she asked, sounding desperate to find some reason to turn this back on me. I think she realized that she's being more than a little insensitive about this whole mess. Now she's trying to find some reason to justify her actions today, her responses: some way to be able to justify her misconduct without having to acknowledge it.
"It's not trust. It's just not anyone's business but me and whoever I'm with." I tell her this firmly, and then sigh. Throughout the conversation she had hunched further and further and drawn her legs up to wrap her arms around them. She looked positively miserable. I reach over and put one of my hands on her knees. That made her glance at me out of the side of her eyes. "If it makes you feel better, before today the only ones who ever knew it were the ones who I'd been with."
Rather than calm her down, her eyes widen even more, and her head jerks up. "Ones? As in plural?"
I give her a half smirk. "Stephanie was my first, but she wasn't my only." This causes Kim's mouth to gape. I really am rocking her world today.
"You….You gigolo!" she squawks, and then reaches over and starts smacking me on the head lightly. I start laughing and rolling around trying to protect my head. Her expression is a glare, but not a heated one.
"Hey! Quit it! Quit it! Not the hair, not the hair!" I blurted while waving my hands in the air to try and intercept hers while they were on the way to my head. She had twisted her body so she was kneeling on the bench, and our actions were causing the suspended seat to rock back and forth. Finally, she deemed me punished enough for the crime of having a social life, and sits back with a huff, folding her arms under her chest and pouting. Oh, the fearsome presence that is Kimzilla!
I lean back as well, tossing my arms over the back of the bench, and finding my eyes drawn again to the night sky. It was clear, but you couldn't make too many of the pinprick points of light out: to much visual pollution from the surrounding neighborhood. Kim seemed to notice the way my attention kept wandering, and then broached the second thing that had no doubt drawn her over tonight.
"You know, back when you first recognized her, Stephanie, you seemed really happy." She noted, watching me carefully. "Then all of a sudden you looked a lot less happy. Almost scared." KP had obviously taken my scolding of her jumping to conclusions earlier seriously. Now she seemed almost diffident with her questions. Like she was just making observations, not questioning me. "And afterwards, when we were at Bueno Nacho, when she made that…" she trails off for a second, looking distraught and twitching momentarily before finally settling on her next word, "offer, you looked sad."
I stayed silent, letting the chirp of crickets and the whistle of the wind stay predominant for the moment, before sighing. "Back at Camp Wannaweep, there were six of us." My words had the tone of a confession, and the volume of a whisper. Kim leaned in so she could hear me, her eyes wide and encouraging. This was a new story to her, and she no doubt realized how hard it must be for me to speak of it. I had no trouble recounting endless horror stories of that wretched place, and she had heard them all probably a dozen times by now. That I had never mentioned this one, well she probably rightfully concluded that this was the worst of them. "We were…" I trailed off, searching for the words and then found them, "the geeks, the losers. The lowest of the low. The ones no one wanted to talk to or have anything to do with."
Kim reached up and took my arm from behind the chair and wrapped my hand in both of hers. "You are not a loser, Ron Stoppable!" She said it so fiercely that it made me smile.
"Yes, I kind of am. But that's not important," I cut her off with a grin. "Normally when you're the lowest on the food chain, you kind of avoid the other low ones, you know? The whole try not to get all the people that will get picked on in the same spot so that the bullies have to hunt for you kind of thing. But there was one of us losers who wouldn't have anything to do with it. He went out of the way to get us all together, to make sure we all knew each other, to have someone to talk to, that kind of thing. He was a real organizer kind of guy. Before we knew it, we were all having a great time! Even with all the bugs, and the lake, and the poison ivy, and the monkey…" here I trail off and shudder. There are just some things you never get over. Lousy monkeys….
"Sounds spankin'," Kim grinned at me. The idea appealed to her. Organizing and enjoying yourself regardless of what everyone else might think. That was her save the world for everyone first impulse kicking in.
"It was pretty awesome," I acknowledge, mustering at best a half grin. "Which is why when it all went sideways that it sucked twice as much afterwards." Kim tilted her head and patiently waited for me to continue. She had to have known that it was going to go sideways. If anything good had happened there, then I wouldn't have hated the place as much as I do. "He…well, the thing is…" I trail off, and growl, feeling my emotions heat up at the memory. Anger, fear, shame, regret. There's no way I'm going to be able to express them all so eloquently and so suddenly. I finally settled on, "There was an argument. A big one. Like massive, mushroom cloud afterwards kind of argument. Not between all of us," I add, rubbing one hand through my hair reflectively, mussing it up more than it usually is. "Just between me and him. The other's got caught in the back of it, and when it came down to it they had to choose between siding with me or siding with him."
"And I can guess the reason I've never heard of any of them is because you weren't the one they sided with," Kim concluded. I gave a snort.
"Yeah. They didn't want to have to pick. We were all really close for what little time we had together. But a line had been drawn in the sand, and in the end, they weren't standing on my side of it."
Kim forebode all sense of propriety at that, and she hugged me tightly, trying to offer me comfort for something that happened nearly four years ago. I accepted that comfort gratefully. Who cares if it had been four years ago, it still freaking hurt. I continued while we hugged. "I avoided them the rest of camp. When it was time to go, I wouldn't give them any way to contact me, and then left. The four of them, the ones I didn't have the argument were sad or angry. But the one I had the fight with, the one who got us all together in the first place, well he just told me he'd see me again someday."
"He sounds like a jerk. Kind of like Gil," she told me, her voice tickling in my ear. I shook my head as best I could.
"No. He really wasn't. It's just…" I trail off again, not knowing how to express exactly what he was.
"The argument," Kim murmured, pulling back finally. She kept my arm around her shoulder, and leaned against me. It was a casual kind of intimacy, a sign of our comfort around each other physically. She rubbed her shoulders against my ribs, trying to fluff me up like a pillow while she made herself comfortable. "You want to talk about it?"
She really was trying to adjust to the sudden change of her perception of me. She had asked me if I wanted to talk about it, not just flat out what it was about.
"Not right now," I tell her. She glances up at me and smiles. She knows that someday I'll talk to her about it, and her doubts about my honesty with her were set aside. She'd accepted that there might be a few things I'll not talk about, even with her, but she could make her peace with that.
We sat together, and the calm of the night enveloped us externally.
Internally, things were very different for me. So many things I knew were coming, so many things that I wish I could tell her, confess to her, to beg her to forgive me for, to plead with her to help save me from.
But I say nothing.
How does one ask for help, when one has already promised their very soul to the ruinous powers of the Elder Gods of Chaos? When one had, in a fit of youthful ignorance, sworn themselves body and mind to the forces of annihilation and apocalypse and degradation and wretchedness?
Because that, on that dark night a Camp Wannaweep, was exactly what the six of us had done.
There are cold places in side of me now. Dark places. Hungry places. Ruthless places.
And now, finally after all these years, those places were going to come to light.