Chapter Title: Hitchhiker
Chapter Rating: PG-13
A/N: This will be a very, very dark story. Because that's what I like writing, and because there is a stark contrast between Flaky and Flippy that I will exploit to the extreme. I am working on other stories, mainly Crying Dead and Blurred Lines! Chapters will be out within the next four weeks.
Disclaimer: I do not own Happy Tree Friends.
Flaky wasn't the type to stop for strangers on a dark stormy night, in fact she wasn't the kind of person to do much of anything dangerous or risky. With all her phobias and anxieties she found it difficult to do anything outside of normal routine, so when she pulled over on the side of that pitch-black road and unlocked her passenger door she had to stop and ask herself:
What the hell?
The hitchhiker didn't ask any questions, he simply opened the door, knocked the mud off his boots, and dropped his backpack on the floor. Flaky decided not to say anything either, pulling away to drive through the pouring rain. Maybe she was having some sort of mental break, or maybe it was the stranger himself; there was something different about this guy. An air of calm discipline she'd never seen before, a confidence she lacked utterly.
Looking from the corner of her eyes she could see his handsome profile, his dark eyes downcast, with lips pursed in thought. To her the silence was awkward, but it didn't seem to bother him at all. He's probably done this a million times, she thought, but I've never done this, what do I say?
"H-hel-llo." She stuttered, inwardly berating herself.
He looked at her as if noticing her presence for the first time, "Hello." He replied quietly. "Thank you for the ride, it was difficult walking out there." His voice spoke volumes of just how exhausted he was. Flaky felt awful for even considering leaving him.
"S-sure, no problem." Wanting to keep the conversation kindled she continued, "What are you doing o-out on a night li-like this?"
He shifted uncomfortably, averting his tired eyes. "I got lost in the storm." Flaky wondered if she had asked something too personal, but she had only wanted to know why he was just walking out there. Surely he would have wanted to seek shelter somewhere.
She spoke again, doing her best to steady her voice. "Where are you headed?"
"I," The stranger struggled with the words, "I don't know, I don't have a place to go really." He sounded almost ashamed and Flaky regretted asking.
"Oh, well you can stay with me." Mentally she slapped herself, what was wrong with her tonight? Letting a complete stranger in her car, her home, for the night too! "Uh that is I-if you want."
He looked completely taken off-guard, staring at her with wide unbelieving eyes. "You don't want to do that."
Flaky gave him an odd look, "Why wouldn't I?" She asked carefully sensing something amiss. It seemed like such a weird thing to say, she had offered after all, how would he know if she wanted to or not? "It's scary out there, I c-couldn't just let you go like th-that."
The smile he gave her was worth the offer of spending the night, she couldn't help but blush. "Flippy."
"Huh?" She questioned, still dazzled by the charming grin.
"My name," He helped, "is Flippy."
She laughed embarrassed, "Nice to meet you Flippy, I'm Flaky."
The rest of the drive home was mostly filled with rain platter and the occasional rumble of thunder. The storm had receded by the time Flaky pulled into her wet driveway. Feeling suddenly very nervous Flaky turned off her little jeep, and slowly exited the safety of her car. Her guest was already waiting for her, his comely face looking rather concerned. Maybe he was just as scared as she was about staying with a stranger, somehow she doubted that, but it made her feel slightly better to think it.
"You don't have to do this, really I'm fine now that the weather is better." He sounded anxious and it made Flaky worry all-the-more.
She bit her lip frowning, "It's okay, I mean I offered, just stay and rest for one night. I'll cook some dinner, and you can get a shower. It wouldn't hurt anything." That she knew of.
Flippy relaxed with her assurance, and Flaky took that as a queue to open the front door. Her house was dark and quiet, hesitantly he followed her inside shutting the door with an audible click that made Flaky jump. Quickly she found the main switch, lighting her quaint living area. Pink was her favorite color, and that clearly showed in how she decorated her house. The only furniture piece was a checkered pink and white love seat, with matching rose colored lamps and carpet. There was a white brick fireplace she used for heat, and a TV was mounted above it for entertainment value.
Flippy looked extremely out of place, with his army jacket and tan camouflage pants, but still was very handsome. Flaky blushed, her cheeks turning a brighter red than her hair color. She had not realized in the dark of her car how attractive he was, with his light green hair shading his dark emerald eyes. Tall and lanky he towered over her by a good six inches. "Umm well the bathroom is upstairs, down the hall to left, and there are some clean towels in the cabinets."
He shifted his pack to the other shoulder looking down at himself sheepishly, "Sorry I'm so dirty," He carefully took off his leather boots by the entrance. Something glinted from the inside of one of his shoes, but Flaky pretended not to notice. "I'll go get cleaned up."
She watched warily as he disappeared up the stairs and down the hallway. As soon as she heard water running she timidly went over to his boots. The shiny object was partially hidden, but Flaky knew its shape. It was a knife. Curious she gingerly grasped the handle and pulled it from its hiding place. There was a click when she pulled and another knife slid out from the toe of the shoe almost cutting her hand. Flaky squeaked in surprise, dropping the original knife. Both splattered with blood, dark but still moist.
She took a shaky breath, not liking this new development at all. She reminded herself though, the blood could have come from anywhere, perhaps he had killed an animal for food, or maybe it wasn't blood at all, but what else would it be? It reeked of that awful copper smell. No, it had to be blood.
With shaky hands she replaced the deadly object into concealment, watching in frightened fascination as the clever contraption pulled back into the sole of the boot. She shuddered goose bumps lining her pale arms, her fine red hairs rising. Who was this guy, and why did she feel the need to bring him home? What had gotten into her tonight for her to act so radically? She covered her face trying not to let panic set in, maybe when she uncovered her eyes those boots would be gone, and therefore he would be gone also. But they were still there when she timidly opened her eyes, lying ever so still by her front door. She could feel her throat constrict painfully as she reached for her inhaler from the inside lining of her jacket, breathing it in gratefully.
In a daze she stumbled into the kitchen, unconsciously reaching for a carving knife. The feel of it was only a small comfort, she had no idea how to use it in a serious situation. What was she going to do, what was she doing? Her eyes traveled down to the barbed item clutched carefully to her chest, what was she thinking? She needed to make dinner, not worry about whether or not she'd need a kitchen knife to protect herself. There was no solid evidence against the stranger, besides she had a tendency to over react about everything.
Flaky nearly screamed when somebody cleared their throat just a few feet behind her, she turned, the knife still in her grasp. Flippy was standing there in a cleaner version of his old uniform, his green hair damp with shower water. For a moment they were both at a stand still, Flaky staring wide-eyed at Flippy, and Flippy staring intently at the deadly object she held.
Something changed in his demeanor, there was an emotional shift in him that alarmed Flaky. "Umm I was just going to ch-chop some v-vegetables." She took a slow step back towards her refrigerator, his eyes stayed transfixed on the knife and he stood so very still. Another step and she attempted to open the fridge door, but he was right in front of her. "W-what…"
She tried to shrink away from his presence but he held her wrist in an iron grip, "I'll chop the food." His voice was low, and his breath heavy. Terrified she found herself frozen as he reached around her his hand searching for a moment before pulling out some bags of vegetables. The carving blade was gently removed from her possession. "It's the least I can do after all the trouble I've caused." He explained laying out the produce on her cutting board. She watched with an unbelieving expression as he went to work on his unfeeling victims, the knife practically flying across the board. Flaying and dissecting, every flick of the wrist was smooth with practice and skill.
She wanted to look away, the very thought of someone wielding a simple kitchen knife so cunningly made her throat tighten, but the act itself was mesmerizing. It was only some vegetables after all, however her mind kept imagining the vegetables being replaced with squiring, screaming creatures. Flaky watched until he finished with his slicing and dicing, his attention suddenly turned upon her petrified form. She didn't like how his eyes roved over her for several seconds, a glint of malicious intent shining from his angelic face. "What did you have in mind for the main course?" The way he said main course made her think he already had her in mind.
"Umm w-well." She attempted to stand, her shaking knees buckling beneath her. Using the refrigerator door for support she peered inside, "I have some salad dressing, if y-you want some." Her offer was met with a confused frown. "What?"
"You would use salad dressing as the main course?" The cruel gleam of his eyes was replaced by a puzzled stare.
Her hand trembled as she held the white off-brand dressing out for him to see, "It's not the m-main course, but it goes on the sal-salad, which is the main course."
"Salad?" His lightened green eyes traveled down to the massacred vegetables as though realizing their purpose for the first time, "Oh. So no meat?" He asked hopefully, the air around them decreasing in intensity.
Flaky giggled, feeling more confident to speak with his sudden change in demeanor. "I don't eat meat, just soy, fruits, and vegetables."
She received a horrified look, "You're a vegetarian?"
"Yeah," She answered feeling suddenly self-conscious as his face grew incredulous. "I don't like to kill things," It was her only explanation beside the fact that dead things scared her, and she couldn't for the life of her imagine body parts in her freezer.
Flippy turned away, carefully laying the forgotten kitchen knife down on the cutting board, "I really shouldn't be here," He whispered reiterating what he had mentioned earlier.
Why did he keep saying that? Was it something she had said? Perhaps she had hurt his feelings yet again. "I have tofu, if you d-don't want a salad." She quickly rummaged through her freezer, picking out a package of frozen tofu. "Here it won't take long to cook."
Flippy moved so she could have access to her stove, but he continued to look away, eyes both trained to the tile floor. "You don't need to do that, I'm not really hungry anyway. I think I'll just go to sleep."
For a moment she was hurt, but there was a catch in his voice that made her pause. Almost as if he were trying to restrain himself from saying something else. Shrugging she replaced the food back into the freezer, "Alright I'll show you the guest bedroom then."
He followed her past the kitchen and back up the stairs, it was nerve-racking having him so close with her back turned. He could do anything and she wouldn't have a clue until it was too late. Of course she wouldn't have a clue what to do in the first place, so maybe it was better not to see it coming after all. "This is it," She said pausing to open the last door in the hallway, it slid smoothly on the oiled hinges revealing a small dark room.
There was a familiar hiss that made Flaky smile, "Tilly! My kitty, there you are," She turned the light switch to ON spotting her fluffed cat backed in the farthest corner of the room. "What are you doing silly?" Tilly didn't even act like she recognized her, hackles raised and ears flattened. "That's so weird," Flaky commented looking back to Flippy apologetically, "She has never acted like this, I'll get her out of here."
Slowly Flaky approached the snarling feline, feeling for the first time, since she took Tilly home, uncertain. "Come on Tilly, what's wrong with you? Who's a sweet kitty?" She attempted to coo Tilly out of the corner, but it was no use. Frustrated and tired Flaky moved to grab Tilly by the scruff and drag her out, however Tilly lashed out claws extended scratching Flaky's reaching arm. "OW! Tilly! Come back here!"
Her usually docile cat ran out of the guest room as though it were on fire, scrambling in panic when she saw Flippy at the door. The cuts were shallow, but still enough to draw blood, three lines of red marked where Tilly had hit her. Flaky felt nauseous at the sight, the smell making her feel faint. "I am so sorry about…" She was cut off by Flippy's intent stare, his seemingly-glowing eyes memorized where the blood oozed from her wounds. His breathing was heavy, and there was a ghost of a crazy smile on his lips. "Fli-flippy?"
Quicker than she could follow he grabbed her wrist raising the bleeding arm to his face, he breathed in the scent deeply exhaling slowly. "Delicious," He whispered.
"Fli-flippy, let go, p-pl-please. I th-think it's time w-we all-l went to b-bed now."
"Yes, of course." Shakily she pulled away edging her way to the exit, he did not try to stop her so she took courage and fled, forgetting to close the door behind her. What the hell was that? She ran to the opposite end of the hall into the safety of her bedroom, slamming the door with more force than she intended.
Her heart raced as she leaned against the door, surely she had imagined the whole thing, surely she had not been stupid enough to bring a psycho into her unsuspecting home. Surely he would leave in the morning without another incident…
Maybe he would be gone by the time she woke up and she could pretend it had been a nightmare, nothing more than a figment of wild imagination. She could move on and forget any of this ever happened…
Tired blue eyes shut tighter with the first rays of sun glaring hatefully through a crack in the curtains. "Ugh," She shifted to a more comfortable position reaching for some covers…reaching, reaching. One eye creaked open. She was on the floor next to the door. A wonderful smell was wafting through the bottom of the door, cooked food. Fried bacon? But she didn't have any bacon, unless… The night before came rushing back to her, the handsome stranger she picked up, the knives, vegetables, Tilly.
She dressed quickly into some clean clothes, a red sweater with black stretch pants. Combing her hair and pulling it back into an unruly ponytail. Cautiously she made her way through the hall, going down the steps one at a time. The smell of bacon and eggs became stronger, she paused frowning outside the kitchen entrance peering around the corner. Sure enough Flippy was washing some pots and pans, a neat stack of bacon sizzled on a plate with a pair of sunny-side-up eggs.
On the dining room table was some cooked tofu with a peeled orange. An odd combination for breakfast but she smiled at the gesture. Usually she ate some oatmeal if she had time. Flippy turned to look straight at her, a shy smile lighting his face.
"Good morning," He offered, she guiltily stepped out from her hiding place blushing furiously.
"G-good morn-ning," She replied, pulling out a chair next to the table, wondering why he was still here and where he had gotten his bacon and eggs.
"I hope you don't mind, I ran to the store to grab some grub."
The whole situation was so strange she was truly at a loss for words, how did one go about these kind of things? She shrugged as if to say it didn't matter, but really it did. The idea of a dead animal being in her fridge made her feel queasy. He sat across from her, leaning to hand her a fork, which she grabbed careful not to make eye contact or touch his hand. "I imagine this is very weird for you, I just wanted to make up for my behavior last night. I wasn't myself. It was kind of you to pick me up and offer me a place to stay. I'll leave right away if you want."
Flaky choked on her tofu, not having expected him to spring this conversation on her so soon. She had just been trying to adjust to the current circumstances. "I um, w-well, you d-don't have to g-go." She stopped to gather her thoughts, "Do you h-have a p-p-place to stay?"
He chewed the rest of his bacon before answering, "Well, no." He looked sheepish for a moment, "I just got back from a tour of duty actually."
"Oh you're in the A-army?"
He suddenly became very interested in a piece of egg that was refusing to be forked, "Of sorts." He eluded.
Flaky averted her eyes feeling very guilty; he was a veteran, no wonder he had acted so strangely. She could not begin to imagine the horrors he must have seen on his tour, and she had judged him to be a lunatic. "L-listen, if you want y-you can stay u-until you f-find a place to live." It was the least she could do after all, where else could he go? She couldn't kick him out, what would it hurt for him to stay?
Mentally she cringed at that question. Perhaps he really wasn't acting like himself last night, he had been in a new place, with someone he had never met before. He seemed okay now anyway.
"Don't feel obligated to let me stay, I am perfectly capable of taking care of myself. I know how to survive in the wilderness-err it's not a big deal." He added hastily seeing the horrified look she shot him.
Their conversation was interrupted by a resounding thud at the front door. Flippy tensed grabbing the butter knife he had just been using on his eggs. "Uh I'll go get it." She stood quickly making her way to the front door not wanting to think anymore about his little overreaction than she had to.
A chilly breeze blew through the open door making Flaky shiver, the sun was peeking out shyly from behind some angry storm clouds. A cold wet day it was. Bending down she picked up the noisy offender from her doormat, it was the weekly HTF newspaper. Carefully she unfolded the package, her eyes growing wide with alarm at the front headline.
Triple Homicide On Wilton Road
Three bodies were found in a ditch along side
Wilton Road early Sunday morning. The bodies
have yet to be identified, but appear to be covered in slash
marks, with one decapitated. Sheriff Splendid
says the HTF Police Department is doing
everything in its power to find the killers and bring
them to justice. HTF has not had a murder
of this scale in its history…
Flaky stopped reading…Wilton road, that was where she had picked up Flippy last night, wasn't it? She wracked her brain for a moment thinking. She was coming home from work, she had taken the shortcut because of the rain. It had to be Wilton Road. It felt as though someone had hit her with a brick, the knives covered in blood, his jumpy behavior. Inwardly groaning she mentally slapped herself, here she was jumping to conclusions again. The paper had said "killers" as in plural, as in two or more. Flippy was only one person, probably one very innocent person and here she was judging him again.
She threw the paper in the trash on her way back to the kitchen, it would be on the news later anyway. She just hoped it had not been anyone she knew. Flippy was busy washing his plate when she entered, her breakfast was still on the table, cold and mostly untouched. "Who was that?"
"Oh n-nothing, just the m-morning p-p-paper." She answered, feeling guilty to have even considered Flippy guilty of anything other than burning her tofu. "Hey, so, t-tonight it's m-my friend's b-birthd-day and I'm giving her a-a p-party."
He paused to turn off the water he was using to wash his dishes, "Here?" He seemed startled by this announcement. "Did you want me to leave?"
"No! I just…" He was watching her apprehensively, he obviously had the wrong idea. "I just thought ma-maybe you could m-meet some p-people, and I n-need help decorating."
The smile that lit up his beautiful face made Flaky flush a bright crimson, "Of course I'll help, whatever you need."
"G-great, I'll g-go get the p-party favors." She left and Flippy could hear her excited steps up the stairs. Once he was sure she was busy he went into the entrance hall stopping in front of the trashcan. Picking up the discarded newspaper, he read.