Inspired by a particular event (1). Aided by the Wii game Super Smash Bros: Brawl. Written on crack. Plagued by random.
M/M slash, mild language, insanity, fluff, and lots and lots of feathers.
Thousand Feather Smash
The glass doors of the entrance slide open merrily for us as we walk into the drab winter evening.
"I'm so happy!" he exclaims into the air, swinging the two shopping bags in his hands up high and leaping like a jackrabbit. "I have four new pillows for tonight!"
Why must a fair-weather comrade like me be subject to his public parade of eternal embarrassment? Why must the street from the departmental store to his house be so damned wide and conspicuous? Why?
"Shut up, Adam," I snap at him. "Nobody needs to know about your stupid pillow fetish." Now I drop my voice, in a bid to save him some face in public. "And it's your bloody fault your mum threw out all your old ones. They're so musty I can smell them all the way from the door of your room!"
Adam catches up with my pace laughing, and shakes one of his pillows in my face. "You're just jealous," he says, his grey eyes sparkling in such perverted self-indulgence. "Those are brand new goose feathers in there. And there are four sackfuls of them. Those two you're holding are mine too — I'm just being kind and letting you feel them for a while . . ."
"What the hell is there to feel?" I hiss. "They're shrink-wrapped and packed into a shopping bag! And I have no intention whatsoever of stealing your harem of bed companions at all."
"You're just plenty jealous," he insists. A cool gust of wind tousles his mop of black hair and a dopey smile curls up his face, as though he is thinking of all those unmentionable things he may do to his new pillows tonight.
My best friend is one disturbing pillow freak.
I mean, who else in the world at the glorious age of seventeen still has a bloody barricade of those things around the edge of his bed every single night? Who else in the world treats them like a potential padded coffin or fortifications of sandbags in whatever war-related dreams he is having? Who else in the world will be so adamant over their plushness or even the freaking origin of their feathers?
Who else, in this wonderful world of both peace and violence, will not be aware of the one and only proper use of pillows?
I pause in my steps in the middle of the street.
He must know, I realise at last. If he is to remain my best friend — if I am to continue shaming myself by going with this ridiculous habit of his — then he must know.
I switch the shopping bag in my left hand to my right as we both continue walking down the cobbled street, and dig inside my coat pocket for my Swiss Army knife. I flick out the plain blade, yank one of the pillows out of its shopping bag, and slice the blade clean across the top edge of its wrapping.
Adam hears the telltale crinkling of plastic, and turns around really quickly. "Steve," he breathes, his eyes wide. "What — what are you doing?"
I wrest the pillow out of its safety prison, and a whiff of organic cotton fills my nose. "Giving your new harem the justice it deserves," I say matter-of-factly. Then I slam the pillow square into his face.
He utters a satisfying "Oof!" and stumbles sideways, winded. His body crashes into the arm of a wooden bench at the side of the street, and freaks a crowd of preening, pudgy pigeons into sudden flight. Hail the king of Piazza San Marco!
I whoop in jubilation.
Said king grips the bench for balance as a string of royal swearwords tumbles out from his mouth. Now he glares at me with a vehemence I have never seen before. Ooh.
"You are abusing my pillow," he snarls.
"Oh, so what if I am?" I taunt to him sarcastically, clicking the blade back into my knife. "This is what pillows are for, milord. For attacking, not for defending."
"You are abusing my pillow," he snarls again.
"Not when it's in my hands," I point out, and give him my best evil laughter. Now that I, the king's advisor, have revealed my treachery, I hoist my weapon up high and brace myself for some imperial mayhem.
But to my bloody disappointment, nothing comes. Nothing at all!
I curse under my breath. That stupid laggard. That anticlimactic retard. If he thinks pillows exist only for him to snuggle up against, then I am so going to prove him damn wrong!
So I slowly circle the bench, and give my pillow a purposeful shake while he continues to glare at me. The few other people in the street, probably unnerved by this dramatic display of ours, scatter and leave a five-metre radius around us.
And a bloody fitting arena it is for some massive ego-bruising. On my part.
"You're a wimp, Adam, do you know that?" I tell him, deliberately raising my voice. "You don't even know how to manipulate something so harmless into a weapon fit for decent battle." I plunge my fist into the flesh of the pillow, and throw him a malicious smirk. "Who knows - next time when you get drafted, you're going to treat your rifle as a back-scratcher and nothing else!"
"I am not!" he yells. Hell hath no fury like a softie scorned, and — yes! — he attacks.
He pulls a pillow out of his shopping bag and, in apparent defence of his pride, smashes it across my face with all his might. I crash into the nearest wall, howling, but still smarting more from the impact of the bricks than of his pillow.
"Half-hearted bastard," I hiss at him, forcing a snide grin as I swipe my dishevelled hair out of my mouth. "Now you're shooting blanks!"
It takes him some three seconds before he realises what I am talking about, and he struggles to tear the annoying wrapping off his pillow. In the midst of this perilous task of his I launch my pillow twice at him, and send him staggering backwards a few steps at a time.
But finally he manages to peel off the wrapping, and hits me back in the stomach with his pillow. I reel from the impact gasping, but cannot help but lick my lips in satisfaction as well. Sweet retaliation! This is going to be one hell of a lesson. This is going to be so embarrassingly exciting.
In no time we are right in the middle of the street, locked in a violent melee of cotton cases, brilliant swearwords and head-on collisions with miscellaneous walls and other public obstacles — all the while swinging the bulky shopping bags of backup firearms from our elbows.
But too soon stray feathers start to fly out from the strained edges of our maiden weapons — and I have to pause our battle, though not without a perverse laugh and a finger straight into the sky.
"This," I declare to Adam, through the floating drizzle of white feathers, "is the pure essence of a pillow fight!"
He stares at me. His eyes are shining wild and silver, and his own pillow is limp in his hands with all the remaining feathers squashed towards one end.
"This," he repeats slowly, "is a pillow fight?"
I glower at him. "You fucking lagger!" I yell, and swing my damnedest into his nose. At the impact the stitches of my pillow suddenly come free, and hundreds of feathers pummel him right in the face in a beautiful explosion of pure white.
He reels from this goosy outburst, spluttering and coughing like a fox choking on its fowl lunch. "What the hell, Steve!" he cries, pointing at the burst pillowcase in my hands. "Look what you've done!"
"I have shown you the greatest act of violence of all childhood!" I announce to him grandly. I stride over to the wrought iron lamp-post nearby that marks the centre of the pedestrian street, and raise my arms towards the sky. "The sensational climax of all sleepovers. The magnificent swan song of all their volunteering cousins. And yet the most gentle, most awe-inspiring snowfall of every single winter ever!"
To my emotive speech comes a resounding smack at the side of my head that sends me staggering off my imaginary pedestal. Through the rapid flurry of December snow that comes with the attack, I spot Adam standing nearby, holding firmly in hand the case of a second deceased pillow.
"Daughter of Eve," he intones in a strange, husky voice. "Today you shall die."
I whisk out my trusty knife again. "You sorry excuse of a faun!" I yell at him, and slash my last pillow into freedom.
So we stage a brawl of even greater proportions than before, chasing each other down the street and trailing an obvious path of feather litter. He attacks my face, I home in on his legs, and we both slam each other hard in the stomach, until we both gasp in sheer agony and sadistic exhilaration. It is so incredible, doing this in public. Stress relief to the max!
"Truce! Truce!" he finally cries, collapsing against a second lamp post at the T-junction leading to the main road. His cheeks are bright pink as he clutches on to his pillow, wheezing and gasping. "I can't take it anymore — I need to . . . I need to rest . . ."
"No way!" I snap at him. "There's no such thing as a truce in pillow fights!" Now I notice that his ammo is very nearly depleted — his next attack, if any, will be weak, and so I have the upper hand! Oh, the thrills of knowing thy enemy.
I raise my dwindling pillow and smash it gleefully into his face. White feathers blast out from the busted seam in my pillow, and drift away like the remnants of a fireworks display.
Away — and straight into an old lady hobbling in our direction.
The villain boss!
The old lady sways on her little feet, uttering a surprised "Oooooh . . ." as she teeters and circles around dangerously. But then she raises her skinny arms — the bulky shopping bags she has in both hands swing her back to balance — and finally she stops.
Now she glares at us through her gold-rimmed glasses, and presses her little brown handbag hard against the side of her red tweed jacket, as though daring us to steal her purse. Then, it seems, she sees Adam's pillowcase.
"Young man!" she chides at him loudly. "What on earth do you think you're doing?"
Sudden death! Sudden death!
"Er," he tries to explain. He throws me a dirty look when he sees that I have my pillow tucked behind my back, and I give him an angelic smile.
He turns back to her and tries again. "Er. I . . . I was . . ." But his eyes widen suddenly, and then he punches his pillow into the air with a triumphant whoop.
"Today is International Pillow Fighting Day!" he yells, and then bursts into crazed laughter for some ten seconds.
The silence that follows this is . . . awfully loud.
Feathers cascade down around him like drifting snow. Passers-by along the street stare at him. A stray cat beside the curb arches its back and stares at him. I suppress my urge to clap at his brilliant improvisation and just join in the staring. And the old lady . . .
I look around. The poor old dear is now some ten metres away, her eyeballs almost spooked out of their sockets, and her hands clutching her handbag tight against her breast.
"Young man," she calls shakily. "Do you want me to call your parents?"
Adam and I burst out laughing in unison — him, probably to continue his madman charade, and I plainly at her question. But she freaks out again at our outburst, and scurries away down the main road with her shopping bags and handbag — and her purse inside it safe as ever.
"Che," I grumble, shuffling over to Adam. "She's no fun."
He turns to me with a smug smile. "Don't I learn fast," he says.
"Yeah, yeah," I mutter. "You're so awesome. You're the absolute best. And whoever knew there was this thing called an International Pillow Fighting Day —" At that last word I swing my pillow from behind my back, and slam it up his chin in a second delicious eruption of goose feathers.
As if on cue, the street lamps around us flicker on all at once. And right under this lamp at the junction, he is suddenly bathed in aurulent light like a godly figure cast in floating fluff.
I collapse at his knees, my own weapon dropping uselessly into my lap. "Icarus," I wail up to him, raising my arms in mock despair. "You fell."
"Shut your bloody theatrics already!" he yells. He hauls me up with a handful of my collar, and now I see that his lower lip is quivering with emotion. "How dare you kill my pillow again," he whispers.
"Your wings," I try to correct him.
"My pillow!" he cries defiantly, and drops me like a scalding kettle. His arms raise his own sorry pillow high over his head, and bring it down hard onto mine in one final smash. It dies an instant death like its previous acquaintance, and buries me in its fluffy innards of gold-washed snow.
"You're the worst father ever," Adam snaps bitterly at me, throwing the burst pillowcase onto the ground.
"So I am, so I am . . ." I settle at the foot of the street lamp, the iron of the post chilling my back though my coat and shirt as I try to catch my breath. "Feathers can't make us fly, my dear child."
"Asshole! Now you say that!" he cries, stamping around angrily. All the feathers are now wet and grey on the damp, dirty cobbles. "I have no more pillows left! I have no more money left! And it's all your fault!"
He strides over and stands beside me, all miffed and tetchy like a little boy with his candy stolen. For a long while he just stays there in that manner — then he squats down and starts groping my legs.
"What the fuck?" I gasp, more surprised at this than shocked, and try to shove him off. But he jams a hand into my jeans pocket, pulls out my wallet, and sprints back up the street to the glitzy departmental store before I can clobber him.
– – –
Now he sits down on the bed with his arms folded, sulking like a baboon separated from its clique. His eyes keep shooting death rays towards me — but every time I see him doing that, I just collapse into more laughter.
Earlier, we had dashed all the way back to the departmental store — he had dashed, and I had chased him — but when we reached the Bedroom Furnishings section, there was only one miserable, scruffy runt of a pillow left.
"The pillows!" he had cried, clutching hysterically at his hair. Then, to the perky salesgirl standing nearby: "Where are all your pillows?"
"Oh, weren't you here just now, sir?" she asked him brightly. "Our 'Sale of the Hour' promotion just ended, you see, and the offer was a thirty-percent discount on our organic goose-feather pillows."
No flower ever withered as spectacularly as he did then. Like — fwoosh. Instant death.
But the salesgirl — bless her helpful little heart — went on, and with a killer smile no less: "You should've seen those dear old ladies just now! They were practically knocking into one another with their walking sticks just to snap up the pillows!"
A chuckle escapes from the corner of my mouth as I relish this very recent memory.
"You're named after the first man on Earth, Adam," I say, shrugging off my damp coat and tossing it over the back of his chair. "And then what happens? You get beaten by a bunch of old women."
"A bunch of wrinkled old women with walking sticks."
"And I bet that old lady you freaked out just now was one of them!"
He suddenly leaps up and launches himself across the small space of his room. "I said shut up, Steve!" he grabs a handful of my collar and yells into my face. "Which part of 'shut up' do you not understand? Huh?"
"All of it!" I yell back.
"And why do you bloody have to tell me about pillow fights?" he continues raving, ignoring me completely. "It's thanks to you that I only have one pillow left for myself!" He points at the last sack of feathers we have ended up buying. "Now how the hell am I supposed to sleep tonight?"
"By growing up already!" I yell at him again. Finally, a chance for him to learn the sleeping habits of a perfectly normal person. Next up shall be a glass of warm milk before bedtime. And no more cookies!
He lets go of me in disgust. "One, Steve," he snaps bitterly, swivelling around and back to his bed. "One mishandled, manhandled pillow to pass the night with, when I could've had four brand new ones . . ."
"At least now you know what a lagger like you has been missing in your childhood," I gloat, flopping down onto his mattress. "And it's 'womanhandled', more like . . ."
"So says the person who started this whole damn thing!" he cries. His gaze pierces into mine, the grey of his eyes dancing wildly in pure outrage. Or is it scintillating in anticipation of a dramatic onset of tears?
"Oh, Adam," I simper, blinking at him in unabashed innocence. "Please don't cry."
And sure he doesn't, to my utter disappointment. (Though I have no wish to mollycoddle him later like a nanny fussing over a little girl who lost her dolly pram in the park. A pram with a darling pillow instead of a baby doll, in this case.)
But neither does he reply me. Now he only goes over to the chair at his desk, and rummages through the pockets of my coat. Finally he whisks something out from it, and turns back to his bed. I catch that something in his hand flashing in the light.
My Swiss Army knife!
I can practically hear the blood draining off my face like a flushing toilet bowl.
He — he — he's going to kill himself! He's going to slash his wrists! He's going to slice his neck to ribbons! Ah, I am scared of blood! No!
"By the pricking of my thumbs," he murmurs. The blade slides out of its sheath with a happy metallic sound.
"No, Adam!" I shriek out loud. "Don't do anything foolish!"
I leap up and try to snatch the dangerous thing away from him. But he twists his body to one side — and I miss spectacularly, crashing into a sprawling heap on the floor instead.
"Adam!" I cry again, frantic as hell as I whirl around to look at him. "Don't you kill yourself! Don't you kill yourself over a stupid thing like a pillow —"
His tall frame looms over me, silhouetted in the ivory haze of light from the ceiling. I see no details of him except his eyes — glowing red and murderous in his shadowed face — and the menacing glint of the sawtooth blade he has extended from the knife, now held high over his head.
Oh, how wrong I have been. How bloody wrong.
"A-Adam," I stammer to him, my voice weakening to that of a mouse. "I . . . you know, they'll d-definitely bring in new stock tomorrow. Really! I'll — I'll go buy ten of them for you when the store opens tomorrow morning! Or . . . or I'll go home right now and bring you all the pillows I have in my house!" I kneel down before his feet and look up at him hysterically. "I swear, Adam! I swear I will!"
He ignores my pleas. But he turns the blade slowly in the light and looks at it, as if he is wondering how best to carve my flesh with it.
I burst into nervous tears, trying in vain to hide my face behind my arms. I am going to be murdered! I am going to be murdered by my best friend! And my last words are about nothing but pillows! Is there any fate stupider than this?
"You are going nowhere," he says softly.
This is it! I am going the way of all the geese that sacrificed themselves for the pillows in all the departmental stores of the world! Little naked goslings in heaven, here I come . . .
From somewhere behind me comes the sound of something sharp plunging and tearing into something like fabric. Probably my fragile skin.
I let out my last keening lament. My beauty, destroyed just like this! Oh, how lovely a way to die . . .
But now I feel a ticklish sensation at my ears. A soft, fluffy caress for a second, then no more. Then something falls and brushes against my nose, and I find myself blinking stupidly at a feather.
I stop cowering on the floor, and look up to where the stabbing sound came from.
Adam is motionless by his bed, in a dramatic gesture somewhat like a discus thrower's. A massive storm of white feathers flutters down all around him and onto the bed and floor. And the knife, still tight in his hand, is embedded deep into his last pillow.
"Eh?" I squeak.
He grabs the pillow with his other hand, and drags the blade down through the pillowcase. Even more feathers ooze out from inside like soft gore, and spill onto the bed into a pile. He tosses the blade onto the floor, and tears the case right into two.
"Eh?" I squeak again.
What the hell is he thinking, really? Has his madness reached the seasonal peak? Is he really just reluctant to mar my skin after all? Or has he finally decided to end his creepy fetish once and for all?
But he says nothing, and only holds the ripped case upside down while shaking out all the feathers. When the case is empty he throws it to the side, and turns to look sharply at me. Then he yanks me over to him by the collar, and his hand starts tugging violently at the rim of my shirt.
"Eh?" I try to squeak, but my voice dissolves into a whimper at the sensation of his hands on my body, and everything inside my head starts ricocheting. They still do, a few long seconds later, even when I realise what he is doing.
He's molesting me! He's bloody molesting me!
As if to convince me further, his hands are now pulling at the edge of my jeans. I thrash violently against him — him, a ravishing psychopath in a pillow famine! — but he throws me onto his bed and pins me down by the hips with his knees, as a fountain of feathers spurt into the air above us from the impact.
"Adam!" I cry at him, while his hands continue wrenching at my clothes. Hell, why am I so astounded and agitated and angry and abashed and amazed at them all at once — "What the fuck are you doing? What the —"
He starts shoving feathers into the neck of my shirt.
"Gah! Stop doing that! Stop it! Stop it!" I burst out laughing, while still trying to resist him. His hair is tickling my face and his fingertips are tickling my chest and the goddamned feathers are tickling me all over! "Damn you, stop it! And get off me already!"
"No way," he pants, and shoves some more.
"Fuck you!" I scream at him wildly, then dissolve into even more laughter. I struggle and scrabble at the front of my shirt he is holding me down at, and suddenly realise that he has tucked the entire rim of my shirt into my jeans.
And still he stuffs the rest of the stupid goose feathers inside my shirt, with a berserk smile high on his face.
Then it hits me.
"Adam," I hiss to him, holding him off with both arms and trying my damnedest not to laugh. "I am not a pillow."
"Fuck yes you are," he snaps irritably. He finishes cramming whatever feathers he can reach, and pats the puffy mass of fluff now between my torso and my shirt. I giggle and splutter again as he swipes his fingers along my sides and tries to shift all the feathers to the front.
"Fuck, no!" I throw my head back and laugh out loud. Damn it! Damn it! I can't stand it anymore! I'm losing!
"Fuck yes." He bows his head and gazes straight at me, his smile suddenly turning wider and oh so evil. "You killed my pillows. Now you shall be my pillow."
Then he freefalls —
His body crashes down hard onto mine, and I let out an "Oof!" like his before, even though the thousands of feathers inside my shirt does cushion his weight somewhat. But before I can yell or even breathe properly, his arms slide under my body to my back, and then I feel him rub his cheek against the side of my neck.
"No, Adam," I moan softly under him. No! I am not going to be crushed to death by a serial molester I mistook as a friend! No bloody way! "What the — what the hell?"
Now he slides down onto the bed beside me, and squeezes my padded body like he will to a giant bolster. "Shut up, Steve," he murmurs. "It's time to sleep."
"But the lights?" I point out weakly.
So he gets off the bed to switch them off. I leap up gleefully in the dark, and try to escape my feathery doom as a prisoned pillow. Genius! I am a bloody genius! Score one to —
Adam pounces onto me again.
"Bedtime, pillow," he mutters lowly, rubbing his face into my neck as I squirm. "You're staying here tonight."
"No," I protest to him. "I'm not your —"
But he curls his leg over my hips, and nuzzles even more into my neck and my shoulders and my face, as his hands slide along the feathers and I laugh — and his face feels so . . . so strangely warm . . .
I lie back and sigh. Damn. I was supposed to just buy his stupid pillows with him, and now what? I'm stuck in his overly friendly arms as one! Gah, why didn't he just kill me earlier?
"Why did I ever say anything about pillow fights at all?" I moan to myself in the dark.
"Too late . . ." I hear him mumble. Then I feel his lips trailing down my face, and I yelp in terror.
Bloody hell! Does he always do that to his pillows? Does he do other unmentionable things to them as well? Is that why his mum threw out all his old ones? Is that why they all ended up smelling so bad?
. . . Or has that always been part of his agenda? Is that why he let me become his best friend in the first place? Am I going to get violated in his bed tonight with a mountain of feathers between us? No, no, no!
I wail and scuffle in his arms like a hamster in a clamp. Owned! I am so owned! I am so owned! I am so —
"Buu," he murmurs against my neck, kissing me just under my ear. And oh, how it tingles. "You're moving like a hundred-percent organic pillow. You're so cute."
I can feel his smile on my skin — and it is so darned pleased and contented like a child with his favourite toy — and then his hands push against the shifting feathers again and I break into a smile myself, and . . .
And I stop resisting, because I feel so exhausted all of a sudden.
Somewhere outside the window, I hear an owl hoot in lusty approval.
"Pervert," I mutter, flushing. Then, wondering if that comment is for the owl or otherwise, I add, "You and your bloody perverted goose fetish."
"Mmm," Adam replies. He rests his head on my padded chest, and says nothing more.
Score one to first man.
I sigh to myself, and lay a hand on the back of his head. His hair feels tousled and warm under my fingers and it still doesn't feel quite right, however much both our plans for tonight have changed into something utterly ridiculous like this.
But it's not too bad. At least, it doesn't seem too bad. It doesn't feel too bad. At least, I don't think it feels too bad. And he —
He begins to snore.
So maybe, just maybe, I will be spending the night here after all. Here, in his room, with him right next to me. Sleeping. And snoring.
And probably drooling.
I close my eyes, grumbling. Bastard. If he bloody drools on me — or on the feathers, yuck — I'm going to kill him. I'm going to kill him before he can fight those stupid old ladies over the organic pillows in the departmental store tomorrow . . . I'm going to kill him before he even wakes up tomorrow . . . and then I'm going to . . . and then . . . and then . . .
. . . and then I see a thick blanket of snow everywhere. Feathers falling from the sky. Street lights, all burning gold. Dancing old ladies in the background. Flying cats, strumming on lyres.
And then, right in front of me — him, in a flowing white garment, an exomis. Golden sandals on his feet. Golden laurel in his hair. Golden bow in his hand. Brilliant white wings spreading out from his back. His eyes — a lovely, lovely blue — sparkling as he raises a hand to my face.
"Daughter of Eve," he says to me, with a divine smile. "You're so cute." Then he leans in, and all I feel is gold. Splendid gold.
(1) There IS an International Pillow Fighting Day that was begun a couple of years ago. One of the fights took place in New York City in March this year, and the one photograph I saw of it just looked so . . . so delicious.
Ah. The ending is so silly. And I really tried my best throughout the story to make the narrator sound different from — with reference to another recent fic of mine — Rubin. But do tell me what you think, anyway.