I'm trying to fight the writer's block -.-;
A/N: Oneshot, somewhat inspired by Greek mythology. Bonus - more about the characters under the story. Brought to you by "Warmer Climate" by Snow Patrol. A title of this story is also a tiltle of one of their songs.
SOMEWHERE A CLOCK IS TICKING
He woke up lying on a sofa – still in his clothes, but covered with a blanket and with a little pillow under his head. Nothing special here except for the fact that the room he woke in wasn't familiar to him and he had no recollection of the fact how he had got there. For quite a while he stared at the ceiling, still unfamiliar despite his desperate tries to remember anything, and after some time he succeeded in remembering his name and recalling most of the events of the previous – as he assumed after careful consideration of the matter – day. However, none of his newly "regained" memories would explain what he was doing in this place.
He blinked, squinted and tried to look around. His glance moved here and there, sliding over a low table standing next to the sofa, long shelves stuffed with books and papers and over other pieces of furniture cluttered in the room that seemed too small to hold them all. His eyes picked on small details: a comfy-looking armchair standing next to the sofa, his neatly folded jacket lying on the armchair, the old-fashioned style of the furniture, old and seemingly worn-out covers of the books in the shelves, little figurines standing on one of the drawers and many other things, all of them being little, unimportant details about which hardly anyone would usually care. Finally his glance travelled to the corner of the room, like a moth attracted by a dim light coming from that place. Taking into consideration what this room looked like, he wouldn't be surprised to see a candle there, however, the source of the light was a little lamp that stood on the desk and next to which somebody was sitting.
He squinted, trying to see the person better, but everything seemed rather blurry – be it because of the poor lighting or because he didn't feel well.
The person, undoubtedly a woman, was browsing through some book and taking some notes, and – to his annoyance – she completely ignored his presence. As she was sitting sidelong to him, all he could see was a part of her face – a straight nose and a curved shape of her cheek – and long, loosely braided hair. His attention was also drawn to what she wore – a loose, long-sleeved blouse in a loveable, vibrant shade of violet.
Surprisingly, there was something disturbingly familiar about her, as if he had met her before, but at the same time something about her felt out of place. Only after catching a glimpse of light reflecting in her glasses did he finally recognize her.
That hairstyle – a braid instead of her usual, tight bun – had tricked him at first, but the woman at the desk was undoubtedly the same person that appeared in his life a few months ago and never left, despite her repeated claims that she would do it one day. Instead she kept coming back (against their own will as she claimed or thanks to some evil fate as he would claim) as they happened to have similar aims in their lives. Taking into consideration this particular situation, he would definitely blame fate.
He shifted and almost immediately he winced, involuntarily letting out a groan, as for a short while it felt as if millions of needles pricked his temples and brain. Making this little noise, willingly or not, he managed to draw her attention, or at least part of it, to himself.
"You awake?" She asked quietly, but she didn't stop working.
She didn't even spare a single glance at him, but he wasn't surprised by it, as he considered her to be one of these women whose heart was made of stone or ice. She always had that cold aura around her, something that wouldn't make anyone think of her as of a friendly person. Polite to the point it was almost appalling and somewhat haughty – that was how he would describe her. She didn't seem to care about anything or anyone (well… maybe except for her brother), yet… he couldn't deny that he was at her place. Was she the one who had brought him here? He couldn't remember.
He moved carefully, trying to sit up, but immediately he regretted it as he felt a sharp stab of pain in his head. He froze. Then he slowly raised his hands and started to rub his temples.
"What happened? I fought somebody, right?" he finally mumbled, staring at her blankly and trying to resist the urge to keep his eyes closed. Maybe the whole world would stop swirling around then, but it wasn't the right way to talk to her. He was ready to bet that she would feel offended. "Who won in that case?"
Upon hearing his words, she turned to him with a completely unreadable expression on her face. Her hand rested on the desk, her fingers tapped on its surface. She watched him for long seconds, slightly narrowing her eyes, but she said no word.
Her reaction annoyed him. He had never liked it when she gazed fixedly at him and he always got a feeling that she could easily see trough him, without any problem reading his mind and heart.
Finally she spoke, breaking that awkward silence he had already managed to dislike.
"Fought somebody?" She cocked her eyebrow, snorting. "Rather something. Precisely speaking a half of a bottle of brandy and quite a few glasses of barely identifiable, nasty stuff. Judging by what I saw when I found you, you had been utterly defeated by them."
As usual, there was something mocking and rather sarcastic about the way she spoke. This time, however, her words didn't lack bits of humour. If not for the situation he would have probably laughed at them.
He expected her to lecture him – the usual stuff about him wasting his life or something along these lines. She always scolded him after all. She would call him an idiot (which he agreed he deserved) and a heartless bastard (which he did not find fully justified as he indeed could be a bastard in terms on getting on her nerves, but, despite what she might have thought, he did have a heart.)
"I won't scold you," she said.
He flinched. It was almost as if she had read his mind. Again.
"Surprised?" For a short while a cold, ironic smile twisted her lips. "You shouldn't be. There is no need for me to scold you, as soon you'll regret getting drunk. Or maybe you already have. Reap what you sow."
She sent a cold glance to him and turned in the chair, focusing on her papers again.
He scowled at her. He'd rather die than admit that she was right (again) and that he had already started to regret. His temples throbbed every time he moved and he suspected that he would feel even worse later. The only good news was that he had managed to sober a bit and, thanks to her words, he remembered almost all events of the previous day.
With a quiet sight he lied down, coming to conclusion that he should be okay as long as he didn't move again.
The room seemed to sink in silence, but after some time he started to distinguish some noises – a rustling sound of turned pages, a barely hearable creak of something he thought to be a nib of a pen and a quiet tapping of her fingers on the desk.
He closed his eyes, but sleep didn't come. He cursed under his breath and tried counting sheep, which unfortunately failed. Finally, he let his mind drift away, hoping that maybe in this way he would be able to fall asleep.
He couldn't explain why he started to think about her.
"When I first saw you, you were holding a box," he whispered. The words just rolled off his tongue before he could stop them. "Later I saw you open it…"
Creaking and tapping stopped.
He didn't open his eyes, but it wasn't difficult for him to imagine her sitting at the desk, with her hands resting on its surface. He was almost sure that she was staring blankly straight ahead.
"Are you trying to suggest that in this way I brought misfortune to you?" She said in a flat voice, seemingly not pleased with what he had said.
His eyes snapped open.
"Misfortune?" A crooked smile curved his lips. "Not in the least. I'd rather call it a change."
A change for him, but could other people who had met her say the same thing? This girl seemed to have a talent for discovering things that others would prefer to hold in secret forever. More than once had she got into trouble, unintentionally causing trouble to others as well. And just like mythological Pandora, she would undoubtedly find a way to release evil to this world. He always found it ironic that Pandora indeed was her name.
He eyed her for a while.
Her hair partially covered her face, so he wasn't able to read anything in it. What was her reaction to his words?
"I opened it, too," he added after a while. "I opened my own box and let my demon out."
He couldn't believe he was telling her that. Her of all people. Alcohol fault? It must have been. He felt like an idiot confessing such a thing, but at the same time it took a load off his mind.
"What demon?" She turned her head slightly, glancing at him over her shoulder.
"Should it be obvious?" He laughed bitterly. "My past."
He wondered if he should explain her that for him digging into past was like opening infamous Pandora's Box. He didn't know the whole myth – he only knew that when Pandora had lifted the lid of that cursed box, all evil had been unleashed to this world. He also knew that in his case it worked almost in the same way. However, unlike hers, his box was filled with hatred, grief, sorrow and poor attempts of changing something he had always considered to be his fate.
He gave her a brief glance, wondering what she would say.
She cocked her eyebrow.
"Was getting drunk supposed to help?" Her voice dripped sarcasm.
He scowled at her, regretting telling her about it all. He should have known that she would not understand.
She, however, was not finished talking yet.
"Or maybe… you opened that box of yours, saw something that scared you and closed it immediately." Her dark eyes bored though him. "And then you decided that the best way to forget would be to get drunk."
He gaped at her for a few seconds and then he looked away. What she said about his reasoning… It was exactly what he had had in his mind back then. He'd rather escape problems than face them.
"You're doing it wrong." She stated.
He glared at her. "Not that I don't know about it."
"I'm not talking about drinking." She snorted and pouted her lips. She started playing with the pen, but dropped it on the desk. She didn't pick it up, letting it lie there.
She took her glasses off and put them on the desk. Then she stood up and paced toward the sofa. She took his jacket, put it on the table and sat in the armchair.
His eyes watched her, following her every movement.
"You keep repeating Pandora's mistake," she explained and darted an oblique glance at him.
"What mistake?" He stared at her blankly.
"She opened the box, because she was curious about what was hidden inside. As soon as the lid was lifted, all of the evils, ills, diseases and burdensome labour that mankind had not known previously, escaped from the box. Terrified, she quickly closed it, unintentionally trapping one more thing inside." She glanced at him. "Pandora didn't know that at the very bottom of the box lay hope."
He watched her for a while, not really sure what to think about her story. Why did she even tell him about it?
"Do you think that there is hope in every single box?" He furrowed his brow.
"You'll never know until you open them." She replied. "Do you really hate your past that much?"
He clenched his jaw. Were words enough to express his feelings? He hated his past with passion. He hated it so much that he would gladly forget about it, as it always made him feel weak and miserable. And in the end lead him to pity himself.
"I do. I hate every, single day." He moved his eyes to his hands.
"Really?" She didn't sound convinced. "And what about these spent with your sister?"
He flinched and gaped at her. He hated it that she was right again.
"See? You've never hated every, single day." She tilted her head and narrowed her eyes.
He looked away.
"Do you think I'll ever meet her again?" His fists clenched. "Do you even believe that I'll be able to find both of them, her and your brother?"
He looked at her expectantly, demanding her answer.
She watched him. For a short while he almost could see some emotion on her face.
"If you ever doubt it… if you ever doubt that you can find them, you won't find them," she whispered and than quickly, as if being afraid that she would change her mind if she spared it even one thought, she reached out her hand and patted his arm.
Completely surprised with her gesture, he didn't react at first. After a few seconds, he raised his hand slowly and covered her hand with his own.
She flinched and quickly took her hand away.
"Just prove that you're worth your name and take good example of your namesake." She added after a while.
He almost laughed hearing it.
"Are you trying to suggest that my futile attempts to find two people whose names we don't even know are not unavailing enough?" His voice dripped sarcasm. "What do you want me to do? Roll a huge rock up a steep hill and watch it roll back down before I can reach the top of the hill?"
He didn't find the whole idea particularly amusing.
Her opinion, however, must have been different. She looked away, covering her mouth with her hand.
He blinked and knitted his brow. Was it only his imagination or did he really saw a smile on her face?
He was ready to bet that she tried to hide laughter in this way.
"Actually, I thought about something else. He tried to trick gods, which he partially succeed in, and even managed to imprison Death…" she explained.
"But in the end he was severely punished." He cut in, shuddering. "No, thanks."
"Be smarter and more cunning than him?" She suggested. "Gods will not catch you then. Besides, it's not gods that we have to face."
"And that's what scares me," he replied.
She eyed him, but said no word. She didn't have to, as they both knew that dealing with humans could be the most dangerous thing in the world.
He eyed her, thinking about what she had told him.
"Actually… Why did they name you Pandora?" Once again words rolled off his tongue before he could stop them.
She looked away; her face suddenly saddened.
"Maybe because my mother believed that I brought misfortune to her?" she finally uttered, still upset.
He felt like an idiot in that moment. Only after hearing her answer did he realize how little he knew about her. Her past, feelings, motivation – he knew nothing about them. He was ready to accuse her of not understanding him, but… Did he really understand her ?
He reached out his hand toward her and she caught it. Her fingers clutched on his so tightly that he could feel pain, but he didn't free his hand. Time passed, but she didn't take her hand away.
Neither of them said any word. The room sank in silence, but surprisingly there was nothing awkward or uncomfortable about it. Quite the contrary – it was as if in some mysterious way they could communicate without any words. For the first time he could feel that there was some bond forming between the two of them.
He watched her from the corner of his eyes. She looked completely different from her usual self. Wavy hair framed her narrow face, softening her features. Her eyes, not hidden behind the glasses, appeared to be bigger than he had thought. Even her lips looked different, finally not pressed into a thin line. And, quite surprisingly, she looked much better in the blouse she was wearing than in those classy, elegant, always-so-gray suits he usually saw her in. She wasn't a beautiful woman; he wouldn't even call her pretty, yet there definitely was something about her – it was the first time he noticed it.
His lips curved into a warm smile at the thoughts. He had never expected that he would ever start to think about her in this way. Despite himself, he admitted that maybe one day he would even learn to like her.
"Time to go to sleep." Her voice broke through his ponderings.
He flinched hearing it. He wondered what she would say if she knew that he was thinking about her. He watched her from the corner of his eyes.
She stood up, paced towards the desk and turned off the lamp. Then she headed toward the door to the other room.
"Hey, Pandora…" he whispered.
"Yes?" She stopped in the door and turned to him.
"Get yourself a pair of contact lenses and throw away the glasses." He smiled at her. "You look much better without them."
He doubted that any other woman would take it as a compliment. She, however, was not them. She gasped. It was to dark to see her face clearly, but he was ready to bet that her eyes widened and her cheeks turned red. She stood in silence for a second and then she turned back.
"Go to sleep, you idiot," she muttered loud enough for him to hear it. "Not only you're blind drunk, but you're starting to have problems with your eyesight and talk rubbish."
She left the room, closing the door behind her.
A vague smile played around his lips. Indeed, he must have been drunk to say something like that or to think that she could look pretty. It also could be that some strange magic had worked here, making him think in such a way. Or maybe he indeed thought what he had said. He'd let her believe in what she wanted.
He closed his eyes and that cursed box in his mind opened again. At first, following his old habit, he wanted to close it, but then he remembered Pandora's words. He hesitated. He couldn't deny that he was afraid of facing his past, but at the same time, for the first time in his life, he thought that he couldn't escape from it forever. Finally, somewhat reluctantly, he made a decision.
Carefully, he skimmed over his old memories, trying to avoid some of them and looking for that special one that had to be there according to Pandora's words. Finally, he found it – his hope hidden at the bottom of the box, buried under tons of nightmares, some of which he would gladly forget. The memory burned brightly, like a star on the night sky, inviting him to remember.
("I'm looking for a man."
At first he thought he misheard something. The voice belonged to a woman, but he didn't recognize it. He stopped fighting with a lock in the door to his apartment and casted a brief glance at her.
The woman was as thin as a rack, average-looking and definitely didn't look like one of these women who looked for men because of profession they had. He could be wrong, though.
"Wrong address, sweetheart," he replied and focused on the lock again, hoping that she would soon disappear.
Finally he managed to open the lock and was about to enter the apartment when the woman spoke again.
"The man I'm looking for is my older brother. I was told that you could help me to find him."
He froze with his hand on the doorknob, saying no word at first. Finally, he opened the door and with a quiet sigh he entered the apartment.
"Go in," he said without looking at the woman.
Pacing toward the living room, he heard the door close. He didn't need to look back to know that the woman followed him – he could hear a quiet sound of her steps.
In the living room, he slumped into an armchair and offered the other one to her. She sat down, clutching her fingers on some small box she held in her hands.
He watched her for a while, trying to guess what kind of person she could be. He briefly noted some details about her look: an elegant, gray two-piece, long, dark hair drawn into a tight bun on her neck, an oval face without any trace of make-up and a pair of quite pretty, dark eyes hidden behind glasses with awful, thick, plastic frames. She was self-confident and somewhat haughty, and didn't seem bothered by the mess he had left in the room. Even if she was bothered, she didn't show it. In fact he could read nothing in her face.
"Why me?" He asked.
"Because you are the best." She adjusted her glasses, but her facial expression didn't change.
He almost started to laugh after hearing it. What a manipulative woman she was – she must have known that he was far away from placing among the best, but it didn't stop her from trying to play with him in such a way.
"Nice try, but you'd better try again." He smirked.
The woman said no word. Instead she eyed him, as if she wondered what to say.
"Well?" He cocked his eyebrow.
"My brother… I've never met him," she finally uttered. "Neither do I know his name nor do I know what he looks like."
It sure explained why the girl had been sent to him – no sane person would accept such a job. He, however, never considered himself sane. Unknowingly (at last that's what he wanted to believe in) that girl picked his interest. He only hoped that she couldn't read it in his face.
"If you know nothing about him, how will you know if I've found the right man?" he asked.
"I'll know it," she replied. "I'll know it the moment I'll see him. I'll recognize him immediately."
A faint smile crossed his face. This girl… She was the same like him.
"Do you have anything that would help me with looking for him?" He eyed her speculatively.
She opened the box she held and took out some papers.
"Here," she reached out the hand with the papers. "My mother's letters."
He moved his eyes from the box to the sheets of paper in her hands. He couldn't explain it, but for a short while he felt that his life was about to change.
"What is your name?" he asked while taking the letters from her.)
September 8 - 12th, 2009
A/N2: You got enough hints to guess the man's name, I think. If you didn't, ask me and I'll tell you.