A/N: Crack. Pure and total crack. And a sequel to "For Want of a Button."
Most of all - I'm sorry.
His story was not so different from that of his brothers. He knew his place and stayed in it. Except on those rare occasions when he slipped through and left the yeoman's share of the work to his closest neighbor.
He was Button Number Three. His was a place of honor coveted by all other Shirt Buttons. To be anointed Button Number Three meant leaving the top of Shirt open just enough to offer a glimpse but not the entire picture. Button Number Two left too much to the imagination, Number Four not enough. And Button Number One was scorned for being too high (and mighty some of the other Buttons gossiped to one another in the dark of the closet.) Five and Six lived in those nether-regions whispered about but never discussed in polite Button society. It was rumored to be hot there, stuffed as they were inside The One's trousers. But Button Number Three lived in the fresh air, the sunlight reflecting off his mother of pearl surface.
Button Number Three held it all together. He got all the attention. He was the last put in place, the first freed from confinement when Shirt was done for the day. Shirt took all the credit for the stares they garnered but Button Number Three knew he was the one they were all looking at, the one they all admired for doing his job so gracefully and so well.
Except - Tall Man looked at him with burning in his eyes. Tall Man's touch was rough as he shoved Button Number Three through his hole, impatience making his fingers clumsy. Tall Man tried blaming Button but he would never snag on purpose. The One never had trouble sliding him through and settling him in place. Tall Man could learn from The One on how to treat Buttons with the respect they were all due.
Button Number Three loved The One to whom they all belonged. He was jealous that Shirt was in contact with The One in ways Button never could be. Shirt got to cling to The One, caressing his skin and showing off his muscles. Shirt got to see all of The One. Button Number Three spent the majority of his time looking at Tall Man's hard stomach. And because Tall Man refused to wear a real Shirt, there were no Buttons for Button Number Three to commiserate with. Maybe if Tall Man wore a respectable Shirt once in a while, he'd treated The One's Shirt and Buttons with more care, with honor rather than as a barrier standing in the way of what he wanted.
The air was charged with something like static the fateful afternoon. Tall Man was staring at Button Number Three in such a way that if he had skin, it would be covered with goosebumps. There was a familiar fire in Tall Man's eyes, a fire Button Number Three had seen time and time again. Nothing good came of that look. It meant Shirt would be discarded roughly, in haste and thoughtlessness. There were rumors of what occurred between The One and Tall Man after Shirt was tossed shamelessly aside but none of the Buttons could confirm the stories. Number Three suspected Five and Six knew more than they were saying but they kept their secrets sewn up tight.
Button Number Three's view of the ride in Car was obscured by the seat belt but he knew instinctively where they were headed. He was going home. The One's work day was over. Shirt would soon be in the hamper with his brothers, waiting until he was refreshed and hung lovingly back in the closet.
Number Three could feel the heart racing under him. He hadn't seen enough coffee go past him to account for the speed of The One's breathing or heartbeat. He suspected Number Five and Number Six knew the truth about exactly how and why The One was reacting, but Number Three wasn't in a position to inquire.
He was momentarily free to see their house when Car came to a screeching halt. But all too soon, Tall Man was looming over him, manhandling The One and straining Number Three's hole. Number Three could see that Tall Man's breathing was equally fast, his Shirt stretching and relaxing to accommodate his reactions to The One. Button Number Three did not enjoy being squished up against the hard planes of Tall Man's back when The One draped himself there. What was The One doing? He did not need to be encouraging the brute-like behavior of anyone who had no respect for Shirt.
Tall Man shoved Shirt up against the closed door, attacking The One with his mouth. Shirt hated it when that happened. It made him wet and he would begin to wilt. Shirt liked standing tall and proud but Tall Man so often made that impossible. The Buttons knew they would be next. Tall Man would use his work roughened fingers to shove them aside, revealing the treasures that they worked so hard to protect.
But…but this time, Tall Man didn't release Button Number Three from confinement. There was Button Number Three, one moment glaring at Tall Man's ridiculous tee shirt. And the next, the next moment there was only darkness. And steamy air soaking his surface. What? What was happening? Why were Tall Man's teeth showing? Wait! What was he doing?
Button Number Three struggled to slip out of his hole, to give Tall Man access to The One's body. But he was too slow. And his delay was his undoing. Tall Man… the savage… the animal… bit through Shirt, jarring Number Three loose, away from his friends, the only family he'd ever known. Button Number Three was disoriented, confused. He was singular, unbound, unsewn….alone in the dark.
He resigned himself to living within the murky depths of Tall Man. It wasn't a fate he'd ever envisioned for himself.
Neither was he prepared for his flight from the Tall Man's mouth through the air to come crashing onto the hardwood floor. The indignity of landing face down, under the end table, up against Tall Man's ridiculous boots. He'd never been warned that such things could happen. How was this possible?
Shirt lay in tatters. Brother Buttons lay strewn about the floor like tiny victims of a material massacre. And Tall Man laughed…laughed at their demise. Like he'd won a prize.
Maybe he had, Button Number Three thought as the last threads of life left him. Maybe he had been the enemy the entire time and only now, now when it was too late, did he understand that The One was willing to sacrifice them all for what he truly wanted. Because Tall Man was more important than all of them combined. If only he'd understood that sooner. Perhaps Five and Six could have warned them. But it was too late. Too late….