Hello, everyone – current and new readers alike!
TOKoR has lived as a roleplay since 2010. By far, it's been my favourite thing to write, and that's why it's graduating to a full story.
The full details are in my profile, but the short of it is: The Other Kind of Roommate is being rewritten on its exclusive website. Those submissions are on its way as a separate story; this version – soon to be called TOKoR: First Draft – will get as many updates as were written before this big change.
I hope to see you in Version Two! Thank you to everyone for the fantastic support!
"Just shut up..."
Definitely. Xander was definitely going to listen if Alex asked for the seventh time. But at least he'd stopped trying to kill him. He'd worn himself out, what with all the exhausting ass-kicking taking its toll. But that only went so far. His voice was still going strong, the little bastard. He'd screamed for twelve hours, fourteen minutes and six or seven seconds - not that Alex had been counting or anything - and he still had enough breath to bitch at him for another three. Days, that was. Xander bitched for days. And for what? Coffee?
It's not just fucking coffee, you asshole. It's Starbucks. Alex's mistake. Again. The only fucking thing I ever ask you for, you cheap son of a bitch.
He'd seriously considered just handing himself in. Sure, the Agents had already more or less explained that getting the guy out would involve a saw, a drill, a chisel, his left temple and a grave, but it was starting to sound pretty good given the alternative.
I swear to God, the first chance I get, I'm grabbing a knife and stabbing you in the throat. You owe me.
Yeah, Alex owed him a coffee and a soul. They were in the mail, or something.
You think I won't wait? I can wait, you bastard - I can wait all fucking night.
Of course he could. Xander didn't sleep. Yet another surprise Alex had stumbled on.
I want my latte!
"Shut up," Alex said again.
The screaming started. At least the neighbours couldn't hear that.
His place was a mess. It usually was, but now it was dangerous to walk around. Glass was everywhere. Alex had told himself he should've never bought that mirror. Now there were shards of it stuck under his skin from when Xander had thrown his fist against it. He would've taken them out by now, except that his 'friend' was watching. Halfway through picking it out with tweezers, his hand would magically spasm, and then he'd have a field day trying to stitch his finger back on instead of just slapping a band-aid on it. That was fine. It barely hurt now. He was just worried about the mess.
The table? Smashed in two. Alex had landed on it with his hip. The chairs? Shattered. He'd been thrown against them, taking the blow with the exact center of his gut. The desk was gone, the shelves had cracked, the dresser was busted... He'd be picking splinters out of his clothes for weeks, if he was given that kind of privilege. Sometimes, it was easier to take a few pricks than try to dodge any of Xander's attacks.
You got lucky.
Alex agreed. There was a certain threshold of control Xander couldn't cross, and he'd made it halfway there simply trying to get back to Starbucks. That'd kept him from doing any permanent damage. It hadn't stopped him completely. Alex had overpowered him - it was his body anyway - it's shared - and, for some reason, he'd thought that was a good thing. He should've drawn it out, made sure the guy was too tired to take control of his arm and start beating him with it. He felt bruises along the side of his jaw. They were the least of his worries. His toe might've been broken.
Don't forget the bottles. There's bottles fuckin' everywhere.
If Alex drank, Xander went away. Or something. He shut up, at least. It was practically the only time he'd get any sleep, but he had to fight for that, too. Whatever it was that happened, Xander hated it. He'd struggle almost as fiercely as he did for his coffee if it meant getting away from any form of alcohol that could've been around. Naturally, he'd been getting better at it. Alex hadn't had a drop in days. It also meant he hadn't slept in days.
You wanna sleep?
Caffeine would keep him awake.
One thing, Xander spat. One fucking thing is all I'm asking for.
His jaw really did hurt. He must look terrible by now.
"Shut up, Xander."
He got up. His feet responded. That was a relief. That meant he didn't have to stab himself on the bottles that'd been smashed just to make his life more difficult. He hunched over what was left of the mirror, over the one piece that hadn't exploded when it'd been ripped from the wall and slammed to the ground. It worked, mostly. He had to keep turning his head if he wanted to see another part of it, but it worked. He counted that as a point for his side.
Alex's face was mostly intact. His head was roughly oval and the punches had been at the side of it, so for the most part, he looked alive. There were circles under his eyes, though. His skin should've been darker, more olive. That probably had to do with the fact that he hadn't gone out since the Starbucks incident. He could barely remember what the sun looked like.
It's yellow, it's round -
"It's a figure of speech."
It's bullshit, is what it is.
Brown eyes, brown hair, cut short and kind'f choppy. He'd done it himself. He didn't trust Xander around barbers. Around anyone, frankly, but especially not people with shit that went snip-snip. It was fine. It was acceptable. He'd learned not to be picky about a lot of things anymore, especially not about how he looked. So long as he didn't come off as deranged, half-starved or completely insane, he was great. Plus, he was in good shape. Xander wanted to make sure whatever punch he threw hit hard, so Alex was on a very strict work-out schedule that, to this day, he'd never missed out on. That was the only thing Xander was good for, keeping him alive.
I'm taking this body once you're fuckin' out.
That meant Xander had to keep him away from the Agents. At a very early age, Alex had learned to run. As equally early, he'd found out about his special talent. Aside from the crazy demon in his head, he meant.
Someone's coming. About the noise. I'll scream.
"I'll make you coffee."
I don't want it.
"Just shut up. Please? For once."
Bitch, let's see you make me.
Alex's arms twitched again. Xander was still too tired. He could feel the little guy get even angrier and sink deeper into the back of his mind - or wherever he was - and sulk. Good. That was something that'd keep him quiet. He'd need the silence to come up with another excuse for why the sounds of the apocalypse had been streaming out of his apartment for the last hour and a half.
"Xander, I'm serious."
Xander didn't say anything.
The third and final thing Alex had learned when he was young: no answer was almost as horrible as getting one.
Fantastic. Just... fantastic.
Gwen sat down smoothly at her computer with the nice warm cup of coffee she'd just finished brewing, breathing out a pleasant sigh as the warm aroma filled her nose. Gently, she swiped away the dust on the keyboard of her laptop, the black squares and white letters gleaming up at her like new through the cloud of gray particles. The screen shone at her with it's own inner light, a stark, mechanical brightness compared to the warm glow of the sun drifting through her window. Upon it there was a blank document, the small cursor blinking and waiting for her hands to fill the page with words.
Excitement coursed through her veins as her bright blue eyes regarded the screen with a familiar look of determination, her hands settling upon the keyboard like spiders poised and ready to attack. A romance novelist, Gwen Stewart had experienced success not only in the small circles of the genre but beyond to the mainstream. Not the typical trash that others wrote, there was something unique about her series of books that touched the hearts of not only romantics but those who were more interested in more cerebral plots. The Nightshade series of books were her first books ever published and had instantly boosted her to higher status within the written world. Of course, there were those who didn't like her writing and she wasn't exactly famous at all, compared to others who had become household names, but she'd reached success and gone beyond the expected formula of the genre she had chosen, touching in the fantasy and the horror as well.
It had been several months since she'd published the last book of the series and now her editor was looking at her, expecting her to dish out something just as fantastic. For 6 months after however, Gwen found herself sort of burnt out on the old success. After staying with the series for 5 long novels, she found it hard to break away from those familiar characters and the world they called home. But it was done and the story had reached a final conclusion. If she continued it, it would only be dragging it on needlessly. And besides that, she was a bit tired with it and needed something new to focus on now. Something fresh.
It was easier said than done however and she struggled to find the Muse that would vault her into that pleasurable world of writing again. Part of it was the shadow of Nightshade hanging over her still, but it was also the pressure of her publicist waiting with open arms and a "Gimme! Gimme!" expression on his face. For months she remained silent, sidestepping his calls politely with promises that the idea would come to her eventually and finally it had. At the beginning of this week, she'd felt a tickling inside of her, an idea that started to form. For the past few days, she'd avoided her computer or even thinking about it as she played with the idea and let the story develop, characters fleshing out in her mind and growing more solid. Now, she was ready to start, unable to hold it off any longer.
With her hands on the keyboard like this, it felt so good, like shaking hands or greeting an old friend. Her fingers tapped upon the keys wildly, the spiders' legs dancing with a light mechanical clicking sound, only pausing once or twice in the frantic beat to press the backspace when she wanted to alter a path. She didn't even stop when she took a sip of her coffee, working with one hand busily flying across the keyboard making up for the lost companion but unable to stop the flow.
"His heart pounded heavily in his chest as he watched her she jogging along the winding path. Sunlight glistened upon her blonde hair turning it into burnished gold that flickered and winked as she passed in and out of the shade of the trees that lined the path. Her muscles bunched within her calves and shoulders as she bounded upon the crumbling asphalt, her sneakers barely making a sound except for a light tap to account for her lithe frame. Other runners and bikers had passed by every day as he read upon the bench, but he'd paid them no mind. Nothing but shadows surrounded him, vague concepts of flesh and bone and blood. But she'd been different. She'd-"
Gwen jumped in her seat as a loud and heavy crash came from next door, her heart trying to break through her chest with a battering ram as her bright blue gaze stared wide eyed at the wall to her right, her body rigid and frozen as she stared and waited for another sound. Slowly she calmed herself and shook her head in distaste and turned back to her computer, biting her plush full lips for a moment before settling back into the groove. Several moments later however she was interrupted again by the sounds from her neighbors house, breaking glass heard muffled through the walls and the voice of her neighbor saying something unintelligible in an angry tone.
Groaning, she ran her hands through her long, wavy brown hair trying to return to her work while the Muse still tickled inside her mind and the words still flowed from her fingers. But ignoring the racket from next door was a lot harder than she thought and she found herself slowing until her fingers were no longer moving, just waiting for the damned idiot to shut up. Finally, she just sat supporting her chin in her palm staring at the words upon the screen and occasionally casting an annoyed glare at the wall separating her apartment from the man who lived next door. With a bitter sigh, she picked up her coffee cup and started to drink the still heated liquid when another large bang and a yell startled her. Except this time when she jumped, she was holding something and hot coffee splashed upon her keyboard and laptop screen.
"Shit!" she said in dismay as she set the coffee mug aside and hurriedly tried to clean it up, her hands moving frantically to pick up an old sweater close by and starting to dab the keys to pick up the moisture. It was only a few seconds later when the liquid seeped below the keys and deeper into the computer, that the screen suddenly went blank before her eyes. "No! Nonononononononono!" her efforts became more frantic as she tried to restore the computer to health and failed miserably. With an exasperated breath she sat back in her seat and looked at the darkened screen in despair. It was only then that she became aware that the sounds from next door had died down and she gritted her straight teeth angrily. Now? NOW he decided to be quiet? After it didn't matter any more and a whole 6 pages were lost?
Rising from her seat, she walked into her bedroom and put on a blue, close-fitting sweatshirt over her white tank top, and then with determination in her eyes and her chin set stubbornly she left her own apartment and stalked over to the door next to hers in the dimly lit hallway. Pounding against it as hard as she could with the side of her fist, she waited for him to answer. After several moments of silence she pounded some more even harder this time, muttering under her breath. "Come on, you fucker," she whispered through gritted teeth before pounding impatiently again, seemingly taking some of her anger out upon his door.
When the door opened, she didn't even wait to look at him before vaulting right into her rant. "Listen, I don't know what problem you're having and I'm sure they have medication for it but you need to..." Her voice dwindled and the rage blazing within her eyes faded as she got a look at his face. "Jesus..." she murmured, her gaze fluttering over the swollen bruises. It only occurred to her then that the sounds she heard could have been from a struggle. "What happened?" Casting a furtive look beyond him to the room she couldn't see because of his body obscuring her vision, she whispered, "Do you want me to call the police?"
Yeah. That about summed it up.
Alex felt his mouth twitching. Xander, stop.
I'm sorry, I can't hear when you say it in your head. Wanna talk a little louder and share it with the class?
Alex ignored him. He'd pay for it later. Right now, it was time to focus.
"Ah... No. No, it's fine. Everything's fine. I was just - uh..."
"Yeah. I mean - I was renovating."
Like a fag.
"Parents... coming... stopping by... You know how it is," Alex said. "Gotta keep the place clean, right?"
I bought it, at least.
Had he seen this girl - woman, sorry - before? Just about everyone in this building had come by to scream at him at one point or another. Their faces blurred together after a while and he couldn't guess at anyone's name on this floor. She could've moved in yesterday or been here for years. Well - if it was years, that wouldn't make much of a difference. He'd only been in this room for two months, and he was lucky if he got to stay another week. Paying extra on his rent (minus the deposits, which were gone by now) was only going to take him so far. He'd started looking for a new place. He'd put in a few offers, too. Based on their proximity to Starbucks, he'd done a pretty good job of narrowing his choices down. It was a tie between two a few blocks apart.
Should he say something else? It wasn't like he'd been expecting her to vanish, but she wasn't moving yet. Not that he'd given her time to reply. People didn't go away half a second after a lame-ass answer, especially not when they were freaked enough to want to call the cops. So, what? More explanation? Yeah, that'd work. 'Hi, thanks for coming over to make sure I wasn't getting killed. Sorry for making so much noise, but I'll be sure to keep it down the next time my psychopathic brain-buddy decides to beat the shit out'f me. No, don't call the cops and don't call the nuthouse. I'm great. I'm golden. Go away.'
Alex knew what Xander was trying to do. Seriously, stop it.
Great. He wanted to negotiate. Well, at least this meant he wasn't in such a pissy mood anymore. Maybe Alex'd get the mirror chips out of his hand after all. But he wanted to do it now? Right now?
Xander sensed the panic. He very smoothly replied, Fuck yes.
He'd been putting up with this for years. He knew almost everything there was to know about what Xander could or couldn't do. The only thing he had never been sure of was whether the guy could read Alex's thoughts or not. Emotions, definitely. If Alex started thinking about how much his toe hurt -
Ha, ha, ha, ha, ha.
Or if he started thinking about how long it'd been since he'd seen the sky -
Holy shit, man. The sun's not that great. Stop crying about it.
Or if he remembered how long it'd been since he'd had a civil conversation -
He didn't know. Maybe Xander could hear his thoughts or maybe it really was only feelings he picked up on. The fact of the matter was that, when Alex needed to directly, clearly communicate with the guy, the only thing he'd ever respond to were spoken words.
"I'll be right back," Alex said. Then he pulled his head back into his room and closed the door.
No, he wasn't being creepy. It was all his head. His crazy, crowded head.
So - that's a 'yes' to Starbucks?
"Are you gonna shut the fuck up?"
Oooh. That's gonna cost you a Swiss Chalet.
"Swiss Chalet is garbage," Alex muttered. "I'm not -"
"Just shut up," Alex hissed. "Five minutes - five tiny minutes - is all I need."
"Just keep it together until she's gone," Alex said. "You think you can manage that?"
Don't get that shitty chicken sauce. Get the gravy. Mmm, gravy.
There was not going to be any Swiss Chalet.
"Let's call it a 'maybe'," Alex mumbled. He opened the door again, casually smiling, which he already knew had come out as a wince. "Hi. I'm fine. I'll keep it down. Is that it?"
Immediately something tingled on her skin as the man, her neighbor, began to speak, the words coming out in a broken uneven mess as if he were using them for the first time with another person around and searching frantically for the appropriate tone. What would otherwise seem like a man caught off guard by her beauty and thus been amusing to watch, instead made her feel suspicious, especially with the excuse he came up with. Something just didn't feel right here but she couldn't put her finger on what exactly was wrong with the situation.
Even as she waited patiently and more of his story was revealed, her eyes widened and then narrowed at different parts, skepticism painted upon every smooth feature as it bloomed into being upon her face. Thinking over the noises she'd heard, she was still trying to search her memory for any other voices because she was almost certain now that he wasn't in there alone and was covering someone else's ass. This suspicion was confirmed a moment later when he excused himself for a moment and then retreated back into his room, quickly closing the door behind himself. Nosy as she was, Gwen moved her head closer to the door and heard his voice, muffled through the wood, whispering angrily at someone. The other person might have been too quiet for her to hear, but the tingling started up in the silence between his words, so bad that she scratched her forearm light and quick to get rid of the vibrational itch.
As she heard the door knob turn she stepped back into her spot about a foot or so from the door as his face reappeared in the space between door and frame and he uttered a curt, succinct explanation that urged her to leave. However, despite how weird this was and the feeling in her gut, Gwen was still pissed off by what he'd made her do to her computer. He'd basically stolen a blissful 90 minutes of her morning and destroyed her laptop. The least she could do was return a bit of the favor and waste some of his time. If there were people in there beating on him who might be angered by the delay she was creating, all the better.
Folding her arms and lightly scratching her arm again, she gave him a level look. "Renovating, huh?" she said with doubt dripping from her voice. "Is that how you got that black eye? Or did that happen before you decided to break shit and knock down walls for mommy and daddy's visit? Does Arthur Crags know about this? If you haven't told the landlord what you're doing, you can get your ass sued. I'm not saying I'm a snitch, but just letting you know, it means more than a simple eviction if you're caught doing work on these apartments without permission." A light shown in her eye then, hinting at her plan to give the landlord a call after she was done here, even though she doubted her neighbor was really renovating at all. Even if he was, Mr. Crags was not the type of man to allow that in his building and it filled her with a sense of delight to imagine him coming up here blustering and angry, shouting abuse at this man who'd wrecked her morning.
With a sigh her eyes left him and she looked at the floor for a moment before training her eyes upon him again. "Look, if you're going to be doing any more "renovating" I'd appreciate you letting me know so that I don't end up wasting my time. I'm very busy and I don't have the patience to come over here to reprimand you every time I need to get something done. So just cut the shit out and let people know before you decide it's "hammer time" or to give yourself punching lessons or whatever. Other people live here besides you."
She took a breath and from the look on his face she could tell he was practically dying for her to leave and she'd finally run out of things to say. Gwen gave him one more warning look and turned to walk back to her apartment.