Binding Moonlight

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Status: Finished  |  Genre: Science Fiction  |  House: Booksie Classic

Chapter 19 (v.1) - Chapter 19

Submitted: January 15, 2019

Reads: 11

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Submitted: January 15, 2019

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Clenching his fists at his sides, Robyn wandered the halls of his facility. He was completely alone now and still suffering the side effects of the damn animorph's chemical paralytic. Part of him was angry his friends abandoned him, but the more prominent, logical aspect of his mind was happy his distractions were gone. He could work uninterrupted. In his lab, he had simulations running on most of the computers, viral scans being completed and three cultures incubating. He had high hopes for one culture in particular.

“I'm so bored!” Robyn announced to the empty hallway. The current lab work was automated, and most of the preparations were complete. As soon as he could move after the scratches had healed and the chemical left his system, he started getting things together. He called in a favor from one of his father's military friends, who guaranteed him access to an isolated location for the launch. He trusted the man because his father trusted him.

Robyn couldn't help but smile to himself as he walked back to his lab. He was so close to victory. He almost wished he could be on Deldin as his virus destroyed those alien monsters. He wanted to watch them suffer.

Tapping a few keys on the main computer in his lab, Robyn brought up the programs he needed. The scans and simulations were going well, and the cultures were progressing as planned. The viral strains would be ready for live test subjects soon. Of course, he couldn't just pluck Deldinites off the streets to test, but he was sure he could obtain flesh samples easily enough. Cellier City had plenty of vagrants who would do anything for money.

 

***

 

Theo grumbled to himself as he entered his bedroom and saw Ninaria asleep on his bed. “Don't you have a job to do?” he asked as he crossed the room. She lifted her head and blinked slowly at him, mewling before curling her tails over her nose and going back to sleep.

“Lazy,” he muttered as he knelt in front of his open closet. He started digging through a pile of rumpled clothes of questionable cleanliness, trying to find something suitable to wear for jogging. For some reason beyond Theo's understanding, Adonis invited him to go for a run. He said yes, which was something else he didn't quite understand. He and exercise were not on the best terms. Even though he ate as much as he did, he stayed thin without having to work out. He was, admittedly, a couch potato.

Grumbling to himself, Theo pulled some clothes out of the pile and went into his bathroom to change. Adonis was waiting, so he changed quickly, tossed his clothes onto his bed and gave Ninaria a pat on the head before joining his friend.

“That is what you are wearing?” Adonis asked, one brow sliding upward.

Licking his lips, Theo glowered up at Adonis from under his eyebrows. “It's the best I could do.”

Adonis stared at him.

“Hey. Do I look like I run?” Theo growled as he pulled up his too-big sweat pants.

“I do not know, but if you were any thinner you would be one dimensional,” teased Adonis.

Theo rolled his eyes, walking past Adonis. “Why are you such a jack ass?”

Squeezing his eyes shut, Adonis snarled low in his throat. “You give me a headache.”

With a scoff, Theo turned around and walked backward. “Seriously? I give you a headache? You're the one who, even though we're supposed to be friends, barely says two words to me. When you do speak to me, it's to tease me or outright make fun of me. I try to be nice to you, but you make it really hard.”

It was Adonis' turn to roll his eyes. “I was just...never mind. If you did not want to accompany me, you could have said so.”

Theo backed into the elevator, eyes narrowed at Adonis.

“Theo...” Adonis shook his head, following the brunet. The doors closed behind him. Theo's violet eyes grew large and his brows curved upward. Glancing over his shoulder, Adonis saw the closed doors and remembered Tobi saying the elevator wasn't working.

“Shit,” Theo hissed, jabbing at the door controls. Nothing responded. “Shit,” he repeated.

“It is not a big deal,” said Adonis, crossing his arms and leaning against the hand railing. “We will just have to wait until someone gets home.”

Theo shook his head frantically, his over-gelled hair barely moving. “No, no, no. Y-you don't understand,” he declared, bring his hands up to cover his face as he slid to the floor.

Feeling increasingly uncomfortable, Adonis glanced down at his feet, and then to the doors. “Are you alright?” he eventually asked.

A giggle, nervous and high pitched, escaped Theo's throat. “Uh, no. Not so much.”

“Okay,” Adonis sighed, pinching the bridge of his nose. “What is the problem?”

Theo licked his lips as his eyes darted between Adonis and the doors. “The, uh, space is small. I don't like closed in places,” he muttered.

Perfect. Adonis' shoulders slumped, and he rubbed a hand over his chin, thinking. This was not something he was prepared to deal with. “I am sure someone will be back soon. Try to stay calm,” he told Theo, watching as the boy rocked back and forth, repeatedly thumping his back against the wall.

“Easier said than done.”

Adonis exhaled slowly. “Why did you not tell anyone about your claustrophobia?”

Hugging his knees to his chest, Theo took slow, deliberate breaths. “Because I didn't want them to know. I've got too many weaknesses already.”

“Is there anything you would like me to do?”

“Unless you can get the doors open, there's nothing you can do.”

Pursing his lips, Adonis stepped across the elevator to the car control panel. He studied it for a moment, arms crossed, eyes narrow. The panel was built in flush to the wall and he didn't have the necessary tools to remove the face plate. “Normally this would be an easy enough task, but at the moment there is nothing I can do,” he told Theo, leaning against the wall again.

Theo's breathing got faster. His shoulders rose with each inhale and fell with each exhale. If he didn't stop, he would likely hyperventilate.

As much as Adonis wanted to ignore Theo, he knew he ought to do something. He would never live it down if the kid were to pass out on him. “What would you normally do in situations like this?” he asked.

“I avidly avoid situations like this, so I wouldn't know,” Theo grumbled back, clutching at his pant legs. He was holding himself so stiffly, it seemed like he might crack.

Adonis bit back a groan of frustration and lowered himself into a squat so he could be eye level with Theo. “Well then, what did you do last time something like this occurred?”

The brunet's shoulders leaped upward, the movement more of a spasm than a shrug. “It was so long ago I don't remember.”

“Try.” Adonis scrubbed his hand over his face, hoping Theo didn't notice his irritation. “Or try closing your eyes and thinking of something else.”

Theo glanced up at Adonis. “Are you actually trying to help me?”

Adonis groaned into his hands. “Do I have a choice? The only other thing to do is let you hyperventilate, though I am fairly certain Tobi and Nrekeeka would be less than impressed with me were I to consider the option.”

“Wow.” Theo's eyes grew big and round as he raised his chin. “An attempt at humor? Be careful, you might break something.”

“So you say, yet somehow I'm the jackass,” Adonis replied, feeling the corner of his mouth twitch upward.

Theo's jaw dropped. “Was that the beginning of a smile I just saw?” he asked, loosening the grip on his pant legs.

Adonis felt stupid, but he could see Theo was relaxing because of this inane conversation. “Why would I smile after you insulted me?”

Shaking his head, Theo wagged his finger in Adonis' face. “No! I saw it. You smiled. I never thought I'd live to see the day. Always kind of thought your face was made of stone.”

Dropping his gaze to the beige floor tiles, Adonis shook his head. Theo was too amused by this. “Just because I do not smile, does not mean I cannot,” he answered, his voice heavy.

“Geez, I'm sorry. Did I say something wrong?” The concern in Theo's big violet eyes was more than Adonis was comfortable with.

Swallowing hard, Adonis kept his eyes on the floor. “No.”

Theo reached out, shoving Adonis' shoulder. The man fell back onto his butt with a muffled thump.

“What was that for?” he asked, scowling.

“I know how this makes me sound, but it's okay to emote, you know. Might even help people like you a bit more,” Theo replied softly.

Adonis clenched his jaw, gritting his teeth. “I do not need people to like me. I am here to do a job.”

“Isn't that lonely?”

“Being alone is not a new experience.”

“Maybe not, but it doesn't make it any more enjoyable.”

Raising his head, Adonis met Theo's eyes. “How would you know?” he asked.

Stretching his legs out, Theo flattened his palms on the floor. “What's that supposed to mean?”

Adonis remained silent.

“Believe it or not, I know lonely. I've been lonely my entire life. Just because people are around, doesn't mean you don't feel alone,” Theo explained, an odd thickness to his voice. He swiped the back of his hand over his eyes and flashed Adonis a smile. “Sorry, didn't mean to sound preachy.”

“No, this is my fault,” Adonis conceded.

Theo let out a loud, exasperated moan. Letting his head fall back against the wall, he closed his eyes. “You know, if I say something you don't like, just tell me.”

“Would it stop you from saying those things?”

Theo twisted his mouth from one side to the other. “Hmm...probably not.”

“I did not think so.”

“Speaking of annoying questions, why do you talk the way you do? You don't use contractions.”

The crease between Adonis' eyebrows deepened. “Is this something we need to discuss?”

“Well no, we don't need to. I was just curious,” Theo replied with a shrug.

Curling a strand of hair behind his ear, Adonis exhaled slowly. “If I explain this to you, will you stop asking me such things?” he questioned, hoping to keep Theo distracted as well as get him to refrain from future personal questions.

“You don't have to—”

Adonis cut Theo off with a shake of his head. “If I do not say this, you will just keep pestering me.”

If not for his curiosity, Theo would have been offended. “If it bothers you this much, you really don't have to, you know. I promise to stop asking.”

Adonis knew it wasn't true. Theo was well-meaning but persistent and curious. He also knew he was about to say more about himself than he ever had to anyone just to satisfy Theo. His past and his family were not topics he discussed readily. He tried hard to drive those thoughts to the dark recesses of his mind, never to be broached.

Taking a deep breath, Adonis locked his eyes on a patch of floor just in front of his crossed legs. “When I was young,” he began, his hands curling into fists, “I had problems speaking. I had a stutter, and I often mumbled. My mother and father, two hateful individuals, could not stand to listen to me. Claiming she could not understand me, my mother would hit me. She would hit me harder with every attempt I made until I spoke properly. I had to be careful to fully enunciate each word to avoid her fists. Her abuse ingrained the response in me, so I suppose one would call it a tic of sorts.”

When he finished his explanation, Adonis lifted his head fully expecting to see the same false sympathy he encountered in the past to appear on Theo's face. His heart beat painfully in his chest when he met Theo's eyes and there was no pity there, only genuine regret and remorse.

“I've never heard something so awful,” he whispered. “What kind of parent would do that to their child? Adonis, I'm so sorry.” Theo's eyes brightened with moisture, glittering like amethysts.

Adonis didn't know how to react. He wasn't used to people being honest with him. It was confusing and unsettling. “Why are you apologizing? You never did anything. It was a minor incident compared to later years,” he replied, mumbling the last sentence.

“I'm sorry I couldn't have been there to help. Maybe kept you from having to suffer through such awfulness. I'm just...I'm sorry,” Theo stated, tears making his violet irises shimmer. He gave his head a firm shake and roughly wiped his eyes. “I'm also sorry you have to see me act like a big baby. I can't even imagine what it must have been like for you. It sucks we couldn't have met sooner. I would have been your friend and you could have shared your troubles with me, y'know?”

Adonis stared at Theo for a long while, mouth hanging open in shock.

“Did I say something weird?” Theo asked with a sniffle.

“I don't...I... I’m baffled,” stuttered Adonis, brows knit together.

Theo tipped his head to one side. “I don't understand.”

Sighing, Adonis gave a small shake of his head. “I have never met anyone like you.”

“I'm not sure if I should take that as a compliment or insult,” Theo said, sucking his bottom lip between his teeth.

Waving his hand in a brief, vague gesture, Adonis put his other hand over his mouth. He propped his elbow on his knee, holding his head in his hand. “I have no idea,” he admitted. “Of the few people I've spoken to about my parents, you are the only one who has reacted like this. Why would you care so much? I do not understand.”

Theo's eyes softened as he leaned forward, hands hanging limply in his lap. “Because I'm your friend. I care about you, and everyone else here. I'm even kind of attached to the new guys as well. And I know how it feels to have a crappy childhood and to be alone. I know there's nothing I can do for you now, but I'm always willing to listen if you want to talk,” explained Theo, reaching over and patting Adonis' shoulder.

Adonis had no idea what to say. He stared at Theo with wide eyes, lips parted, and not a coherent thought in his head.

“Did I put my foot in my mouth again?” Theo groaned, scrubbing his hands over his face.

“No. No, I just...No one has ever said such things to me. I am having a hard time with it, truthfully,” Adonis admitted, his voice starting off strong but trailed off into a mumble. He was nervous, and it was not a feeling with which he was accustomed. People being genuinely kind to him was rare enough, but this was something else entirely. This was worrying.

Theo's grin lit up his entire face. “You don't need to say anything. Or do anything. But I'm glad you were able to tell me. It's a good step forward.”

“I suppose...” Adonis scowled in response to Theo's blinding expression. Shaking himself mentally, he rose to his feet and extended a hand toward Theo. The brunet accepted it and Adonis pulled him to his feet as well.

Behind them, someone pounded on the door. “Hey, is someone in there?”

“Tobi?” Theo called back.

“Theo? Hang on a minute!”

Theo cast Adonis a relieved glance and Adonis shared it, but for reasons different than Theo's. The brunet was bouncing on the balls of his feet as they waited for Tobi to open the door, and Adonis wondered just how much longer he would have been able to distract the teen.

“I could have sworn I told you two idjits the elevator was broken,” Tobi grunted as he pried the doors apart just enough for Adonis to help him. Together the two men forced the doors open.

“It was an accident,” Theo gasped, almost tripping over his own feet in his rush to escape the elevator car.

Tobi crossed his arms and raised a single brow. “How does one get accidentally stuck in an elevator I explicitly told you was broken?”

“I was talking and not paying attention to where I was going,” Theo answered sheepishly.

“And what excuse do you have?” Tobi wondered, eyes sliding toward Adonis.

Adonis raised one shoulder in a shrug. “I was not thinking, I suppose.”

Tobi hung his head, chin touching his chest. “Y'know...you two confound me,” he confessed on exhale. “I don't understand how, while you two can barely handle a two-minute conversation, you hang out like you're best friends. It makes no sense. How did you manage to not kill each other in there? I guess it depends on how long you were stuck in there, hey?”

“I do not believe it was any longer than thirty minutes or so,” said Adonis, eyes flicking toward Theo.

“We don't behave that badly, do we?” Theo asked Tobi.

“Some days you give off this vibe like you can't stand one another.”

Theo's bottom lip protruded childishly. “Well, I don't do it intentionally. I like Adonis just fine.”

Shrugging, Tobi's annoyance faded quickly. “Well, whatever. You guys should come downstairs and meet Shelsea.”

“Just as long as you don't bring this up,” Theo replied.

Turning away from the pair, Tobi glanced over his shoulder and smirked. “No promises.”


© Copyright 2019 Kristin Kuffner. All rights reserved.

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