[Rated M for language, violence, strong sexual themes and innate fanficy-lingo]
I've decided to post some of my drafting drivel here just for the honest hell of it. For those who read my last one-shot, Brooms don't work on carpets, you'll likely recognize the names of the characters in this one. What you probably won't recognize is the setting, tone, character traits and everything else, however. As mentioned in my last submission, the characters in Brooms were not fully-developed at that time, they were essentially Guy A and Guy B with a few names and other features tacked on. Kade, Cal (Caliban) and other mentioned characters are a part of a future urban fantasy writing project of mine called Cadaver. The chapter submissions here are for my own personal banking and digest.
There are elements of the story that are not fully explained. This is because this is not a stand-alone story, it is a part a brainstorming and practice draft for a much larger story that is not fit for submission on fictiopress at this time. If that is going to bother you, then this is not for your perusal.
Also, to note: I do not have a beta or second set of eyes, this is a slightly polished version of the raw copy, I can only do my best with it.
I'll be adding chapters to this short story regularly. I'd look forward to a minimum of five chapters total, most likely.
Caliban hadn't been as reluctant to go as Kade had thought. He finished his drink and threw on his coat and shoes as instructed. They'd been to the movies many times, but this outing felt awfully different. It wasn't that it was a date, because that was not what it was at all. It was just a spontaneous outing to help clear Caliban's head, and admittedly Kade's as well. It was different because Caliban was different now, or "evolved", anyway. Kade was used to sitting across from an over-bundled slump of a boy on the bus, and walking beside a lazy-footed shortie down the street. Caliban walked with strong, brisk steps now, and he was almost as tall as Kade as well. He'd shot up several feet in his Severed form and it was still alarming to stand next to the Daemn because of this.
They picked a movie and killed time, wandering around the mall, window-shopping and stopping at the food court. Things they had done before, many times, but just different now. It was not that Caliban had become a different person, just moreso that he had come out of his shell (quite literally, in a way). He acted like the reasonable being Kade had always pretended he was, only this time the laughs were real, the reactions were real, and the inflections were real.
His laugh was the most thrilling reality. Kade had never heard Caliban laugh before. Caliban always had to repress it prior to Severing. Every time he heard the ringing chortle Kade wanted to do everything in his power to prolong the gleeful sound so that it didn't fade away, like he was afraid he was never going to hear it again and Caliban would fall listless and void of any emotion, like he used to be. It was difficult trying to learn that the sound could be procured again and again, and that Kade could be the cause of it, the latter point only serving to make Kade's heart swell.
If they were on a date Kade figured it would be going well. It wasn't a date though, and that was a damn shame.
Caliban still showed no interest in dressing in anything that actually fit him. Kade's pokes and prods at shop windows did nothing to rouse the other male's interests. Still with the baggy jeans and heavy, large hoodies. He did get hot enough to take the sweater off though, and walking around in baggy jeans but a decent-fitting plaid button-up shirt looked a bit more normal.
"I don't understand how you're still all over the giant suffocating clothing," Kade said over his mall meal (Chinese-style beef and pork—he was ignoring his rice). "And the flat moppy hair. I thought when you came back in the new form with all the piercings in your ears and such you might have actually developed some sort of style."
"The hoodies are my style," Caliban said simply, sliding his fruit smoothie back and forth between his hands on the table. "And the piercings are a staple of the SS."
"Really? Why is that?" Kade asked.
"Cadavers can't have piercings, the form will reject the metal," Caliban explained, pointing to the ring (that Kade found god-awfully adorable and had previously gotten his fill of ogling) in his lip. "Same with tattoos, the skin won't maintain the ink. Unless the piercing or the tattoo was already done before the Daemn possesses the body. Our forms accept these modifications though, so we put them in place. I suppose you can say it is a 'culture' thing—it sounds like something a mortal race would do."
"Well you guys are technically a mortal race," Kade said. "Seems about right to me. That sort of thing is common with some Naturae anyway, but what I want to know, then, is if you have a tattoo or not."
"I do, it's on my wrist," Caliban said, rolling up his sleeve to show Kade.
It was just several thorned lines that form a mock bracelet—nothing special, until Caliban turned his arm over, to show that the ringlet was actually drawn shattered on the other side.
"I get it," Kade said.
"I do, yea, it's a…symbol of your fucking off from the Unseen and being yourself, yea?"
"That's a very ineloquent way to put it. Chew your food too."
The trip back to the dorms went too quickly for Kade's liking. The movie had been excellent, a very decent comedy that Caliban got a kick out of, mainly because he was allowed to actually have kicks now. They spent the walk and bus ride home yapping about it and other things incessantly, to the point where Caliban said that Kade had to come and see some silly video he had found online. Kade had seen the video before, but he'd pretend he hadn't to appease him. Plus it was an invitation to spend more time with Caliban. It was so nice to have the Daemn being amicable with him again, having fun.
They spent a good while in Caliban's room, laughing and drinking some juice and soda pop Caliban had. They ended up watching several webisodes of series they had long neglected in all the chaos of that year. They couldn't catch up on everything in one night, but it seemed they were both keen on making up for lost time again tomorrow, and any time they were able to after that.
Things were normal again, between them, despite the lack of normalcy around them. It was the last thing Kade had ever expected to be anything close to "normal" at such a time, but it was. It was better than that.
Caliban was tinkering around in his dorm kitchenette when Jude rung Kade's phone again. Kade had been rocking back and forth on Caliban's bed patiently with his second can of Coke in hand, and sneered at the flashing screen on his cell when the tone went off.
"How is that any way to greet someone when they call you?"
Kade groaned and hung his head, tapping his cell against his ear impatiently as Jude, on the other end, began prattling on to scold him.
"So, where you at? You wanna do dungeons?" Jude finally asked, off her tangent.
"I'm over with Cal right now actually, so probably not, I don't think I'll be on WoW tonight," Kade said.
Jude's low, husky voice suddenly shrieked a shrill gasp, forcing Kade's head away from his phone again both in surprise and eardrum irritation.
"Yes! Yes yes yes this is finally happening!" Jude cried. "My OTP is finally becoming a reality!"
"What the hell is an OTP?"
"Nothing—so what did you guys do all day? Did you go out? Are you GOING out? Like dating-wise? I need to know if this is legitimately canon or not."
"I'm hanging up the phone now, you're starting to sound like Internet again. I told you to stop doing that, the Internet-talk thing."
"Wait wait wait wait, hang on and listen!"
Jude hushed her voice, which in turn prompted Kade to hunch forward, involuntarily listening carefully to the mad woman against his better judgement.
"Don't blow this, okay?" she said. "It's not like before, he's Severed now so…a whole bunch of doors are open!"
"Yea I know, I…yea," Kade sighed, hanging his head. "But I don't think we feel the same way we used to."
"What? You don't like him anymore?"
"No, no I like him more now…I don't think he cares for me anymore though."
Kade lowered his voice and shook his head, keeping an eye on the room door.
"He's upset about a lot of stuff, got a lot of pressure on him, I'm probably the last thing he's thinking about, if he's even thinking of me at all," Kade said. "And I don't blame him. Even for me…now isn't a good time to try and start something with him. I can't do a relationship right now, stuff is at stake, etc—you know."
"God that blows, you blow—you both blow," Jude whined. "Gotta be all logical and mature and shit."
"It's not as bad as you think, you should try it some time," Kade snorted.
"Harr—well I'll leave you to him then," Jude sighed. "If you change you mind about the dungeon runs I'll be on. Bye."
"Who was that?" Caliban asked, appearing in the doorway.
"J-Jude, Jude," Kade stammered, Caliban startling him.
He fumbled with his phone and tucked it into his jeans' pocket before draining what was left of his can of Coke.
"What did she want?" Caliban continued, taking a seat at his desk with a new mug of lemon water.
"Wanted to know if I wanted to do dungeons, just nosing around, being Jude-like," Kade said.
"She's very interested in the two of us as an item," Caliban said simply, tapping away at his laptop nonchalantly. "She ships us."
"Wha—wait what does that even mean?" Kade blurted. "Furthermore, you know that?"
"We talk a lot more than I think you realize," Caliban said. "So yes, I know that she's getting nosey and prying with us. She spent the better half of last week trying to coax me into talking to you again since I had shut you out."
"On…that point…," Kade began, winging his hands nervously. "Why did you, uhh…shut me out…last week?"
"Because you're an idiot," Caliban replied.
"Big shock, but if I'm an idiot why are you giving me the time of day now?" Kade asked, eyes narrowing. "Am I suddenly not one somehow?"
"No you still are, you always were, I knew that when I first met you two years back," Caliban said. "You get progressively less stupid as time goes by but your basic foundation is 'idiot', but not long ago you had significantly more bullshit than normal in your make-up."
"And that's because?"
Caliban cast a glare over his shoulder at Kade. The look immediately sent the gears in Kade's head into motion, but they never produced a reason for the venomous gaze.
"Jae," Caliban finally groaned, seeing no hope of realization in Kade's expression.
"OH! Oh…him," Kade chuckled nervously. "Yea that…yea that was…okay I guess I can see your point. But that's all done now!"
"I know, I just needed time to let the aftermath stew and simmer," Caliban said. "One big, violent fight properly finished and five days or so to let the tensions die out is fair, I think."
"Very fair, yea, but I would have appreciated it if you could have stopped to explain why you were cold-shouldering me all the time and 'accidentally' cross-checking me into lockers," Kade huffed.
"You don't learn unless you're taught a lesson, or so I've found," Caliban shrugged.
"Well you're a mean teacher and I don't like it."
"No cares, Kade. None."
Caliban was right though. He was usually right, about most things. Kade knew he hadn't made the wisest decisions in the three years they had known each other. Hell, one of his pinnacle moments of pure stupid had brought Caliban into the known world. He wondered if that was Caliban's root problem with him—that Caliban had been given this second existence purely because of Kade's stupidity, and could never shake that Kade was a complete idiot since. Or maybe Caliban was secretly happy that Kade was a little dumb? Kade would have asked, but it was one of those strange questions that wouldn't receive a proper answer, or so he suspected. Either way it wouldn't make a difference to Kade.
Jude and Caliban talked though, about them, as a couple? It really made no sense to Kade why Jude, a self-proclaimed super lesbian, cared so much about the relationship status of two men. Then again, putting aside Kade's confusion over these "ship" and "OTP" terms, he doubted Jude's intentions were purely perverse or merely observational. Jude was his best friend for all the nonsense the socially-challenged Necroid had brought into his life, and she was Caliban's good friend too. She knew how Kade felt about the other male, that was why she was pushing him into these messes constantly—wanted to see him with Caliban, wanted to see him happy, and perhaps Caliban happy in turn. But if that were true, that would mean that, maybe, Caliban still had feelings for him.
Before Caliban has Severed, when he was still an outwardly emotionless husk with his true sentiments holed up inside him, the two had talked. They'd shared a dorm as they had the first year they'd met, Kade still stuck as his charge then. They were something like friends at that time, and it became impossible for Kade not to develop affection for the hopeless creature. They had talked, very briefly, about said affection. Caliban had admitted that he thought, perhaps, that he felt the same for Kade, or the meta-physical demon-being equivalent. But it couldn't work, and their feelings weren't strong enough to warrant any effort in trying to make it work. They settled on friendship, rocky as that friendship had become just earlier that year, what with the chaos enveloping the world they once knew.
Kade wanted to stay logical and abstain from starting anything with Caliban. He'd been adamant about that on the phone with Jude, there was no sense in changing his mind, even if the shimmer of hope that Caliban still felt fond of Kade made his heart race with foolish optimism. Maybe things could work between them after the twelfth-hour showdown that awaited them. If Caliban felt like Kade did, even just a bit, he'd probably agree.
Still…Kade needed to know, then, what Calibam did, in fact, think of him, especially now that he was Severed. It was a tricky topic to bring up though, mainly because an awkward silence had fallen over the room, and the lump in Kade's throat was jarring his words.
"Can we talk? Really quick? Like, really quick, about uhh…us? And…stuff."
Kade sighed and put a hand to his head, turning his gaze down to the carpet.
"What do you want to talk about?" Caliban asked, turning in his chair to face Kade.
"Maybe do a re-visit on what we talked about last year," Kade offered.
"Then…you want to discuss the matter of us, as an item," Caliban said immediately, putting on a dull tone reminiscent of his unSevered days. "You want to talk about that despite there being simply too much happening right now to even attempt such a thing."
"Yea…yea…that was what I was thinking," Kade said sadly. "But in that case, I mean…what if all this shit wasn't going on? Would that make a difference? As in…would you…want to…if it was a better time?"
Caliban's brows furrowed, violet eyes dropping to inspect the toes wiggling in his socks a moment before her swivelled his chair away, facing his laptop again.
"I don't know how to respond to that," he said. "It's obvious that you would, if the timing was indeed better. If I said I wanted to as well then this is silly, there's nothing stopping us besides the circumstance and then we're just teasing each other until we become so miserable that our friendship collapses. If I said I didn't want to, though, then I would be lying."
"So you do, then—rather, you would, if you could," Kade said, sitting up straight.
"We technically 'could' right now, but we're obviously choosing not to," Caliban said, voice gruff.
"And that bothers you, you said," Kade added.
"You don't think it's better if we ride this giant mess out first?"
"In my several centuries of mortal observation I've found that couples who create blockades out of otherwise manageable obstacles end up falling apart anyway," Caliban said. "That's what I was on about. We're trying to make an agreement not to be together because we think it'll be a problem, and that it's better to let it go for now. But I can't help wondering that maybe making the choice to remain in a neutral, friendly but non-romantic relationship when both of us clearly want the latter affection will drive either of us or both so far up the wall that the friendship will crumble anyway."
Caliban fidgeted with his glasses before lacing his fingers together tentatively, elbows propped up on his desk, staring at the bright laptop screen.
"I'm just considering what is worse," he said. "To break apart by exterior circumstance, the incoming battle, the matter of Kraysil, all of that, and enjoy what little possible bliss there is before that, or part ways by interior means with no forseeable mending in the future and the joys of friendship faltering as we naturally become more miserable and frustrated."
"That's all…really broad," Kade said, knocking his knees together, restless now. "No offense but…you're kind of making it sound like this decision is a bad idea."
"Maybe it is," Caliban said simply.
"So you're serious then?" Kade gawked. "You…want to try, despite everything going on right now? You don't actually think that us not being involved is going to drive us apart, right? I mean…come on, I wouldn't…I wouldn't be like that."
"Maybe you wouldn't, but maybe I would," Caliban said.
"When you say 'maybe' fifty million times it loses its uncertain meaning, you know," Kade snorted.
"I've been at your side, like it or not, for three years now, that's a long time to spend with someone, regardless of what I am or…was," Caliban said rather coldly. "This is the first time in that span that I'm finally able to communicate myself effectively. I'm being absolutely serious. The only reason I have not made a better effort to be with you is because I've been busy and unsure of how you felt about me post-Severance, and when you do the stupid things you do it frustrates me even more than it once did because my feelings are there in the forefront now."
Kade, dumbstruck, reached out and placed a hand on the back of Caliban's chair, then forced the seat to rotate and face him, Caliban swivelling with it.
He was staring vacantly at his hands, cupped in his lap, pressing a thumb against one of his palms.
"So…," was the best Kade could say in response.
His heart was beating faster than his brain was processing information. He'd had no idea, no clue, that Caliban had felt this way, as seriously as he did. Was this even a real profession? Was Kade just completely mishearing everything Caliban had said, inserting his own wishful interpretation instead?
Caliban looked up from his hands, directly into Kade's green eyes. No cringes, no winces, no hesitation at all. He always did that, Caliban was never afraid to look a person in the eye when it was time to do so. Kade was not as strong—he grimaced and averted his gaze to the floor immediately, heat rushing into his cheeks.
"So," Caliban said, with the hint of a mocking snicker as he repeated Kade's syllable.
"I…I still don't know," Kade said, pushing a hand back through his hair. "There's just…so much going on right now Cal. So much…I'm afraid something really bad could happen if we try, I just don't…"
Kade fell silent as one of Caliban's hands cupped his cheek, fingers wrapping into his thick, red locks. With little coaxing, Caliban brought Kade's eyes back up to his, then placed a second hand upon his other cheek. Kade was sure his blushing was burning the other male's fingertips as they remained pressed on his skin.
"Kade," Caliban said, very simply, with no real expression.
Just the name, his name, to secure his attention, to give reassurance.
The weight in Kade's heart broke off and fell, letting his feeling ascend on light wings. His hands shook a moment, excitement overtaking him. His eyes closed and the room around him disappeared, pushing himself forward in a rush of passion until he and Caliban's lips had met.
It was not a soft first kiss between them. That would have been appropriate a year ago or sooner. This was 365 days twice-over of saved affection on both their parts, confirmed with each other. There was no sense in being shy when emotions ran this high. Kade could only express himself the way his most basic self knew how: seizing the opportunity with unbridled passion—a hard, lustful kiss that Caliban eagerly accepted and deepened as their bodies came closer together.
And then a buzz, followed by an 8-bit melody, broke the moment.
Kade's phone was going off in his pocket.
They paused mid-kiss and let their lips drift apart, just slightly, a swirl of warm, collected breath fogging up Caliban's glasses for a moment.
"You should answer that," he said, somewhat winded.