Fic: Spun

I use Grammarly's plagiarism checker because the button was right next to the grammar checker button and I was curious. They emailed me and offered me a sponsorship of one post if I posted the above link, but that meant I had to go check out their site and try it out. There was a trial, but next time I have the money, I’m going to subscribe. It’s a decent proofreading, which I really do need help with. My writing was in the green on the first scan, but only just barely. There were lots of things it caught that I’m glad to have caught. The nice thing about having an AI system do your proofing is that well... it’s less embarrassing than having an editor or a reader be all... looking at you like...how could you write that word three times.. what WERE you thinking about... And well, one just never explains what one was actually thinking about *grins*. The Grammerly seems a bit pricy, but I think it’ll be worth it.

Now.. onto this story. This story has been written, half written, side written.. so many times. I will come back and visit Yase again. While this name and incarnation are new to me, he is an old and important character. I don’t know if this story will have any meaning to you.. but it was super important to me.

Loves!

Max



Spun
by Nix Winter



The characters in this book do not represent any persons, living, dead, or fictitious.

Copyright 2013, all rights reserved



Not really tall at 5’8”, Yase was still lanky, in a gentle and graceful kind of way.  Blond hair rested in a ponytail. Barely any bangs framed his face. Soft cotton khaki cargo pants and a short-sleeved gray shirt with a picture of the earth hand painted on it washed him with worn down culture that could have been European, in the way that Europe wanted to be Portland because Portland was just good with itself in a way that made the next century look like a lazy afternoon coffee that was just going to happen as it happened. There was work to be done and not enough time for worrying.

Evening light filtered through living green, casting shifting shadows over the marble counter as he wiped it down from the last patron. Indie pop played folksy voices about love and heartache. The heat of the day had mellowed to a sultry memory. The only thing that all memories have in common is that they aren’t right now.

“Yase!” Dmitrii called from the kitchen, his voice deep and mellow with rubbing of Russian on it like lingering of December. “Can you work the evening shift? Tiffany can’t work.”

“Yeah, I can work.”  Yase’s voice was lighter, smoother, American with a disrespectful slow twang that was much more August than December.

“You have no life,” Dmitrii chided.

Setting a bus tub full of dishes down by the sink, Yase turned to give the big Russian a long faced look. “And? There’s one of those anime conventions this weekend. You’re going to do the best business of the summer. You want to work that alone?”

By best business, no one was expecting Voodoo Donut level of business in a two man cafe  with seating for twenty and no liquor license. Pretzel bread sandwiches were good, just not cult classic good. Still, on a really good day, like a convention day, they could manage a few hundred meals. Around five, someone dressed like a large orange fox made of fire upended a vanilla milk shake down the front of his pants and made a joke about sweet and creamy.  It was with the very best display of will power that Yase resisted upgrading the fox with a good bit of chrome to his sassy little mouth.  

Dmitrii smiled apologetically as Yase tied a black waiter’s apron around his waist. “You know, my friend, I have a cabin in the woods.”

Yase’s green eyes snapped open for a moment, shock and trapped rabbit mode fully engaged.

“No, no, nyet. Not for you and me. You’re too skinny for my taste. You and someone.  There is many very nice men at this convention, no? You like Asian men, don’t you?”

“Its not your fault that it’s busy tonight or that Tiffany’s sick,” he said as he picked up four plates. He almost pointed out that he’d had enough of dating. He hadn’t done that in three years, not since Samuel. Okay, that was an oversimplification, but Samuel had been a prize and any contest running after that was like a firefly, bright and shiny in its moment, but nothing like the burning mess left by that love. “I am being particularly fabulous tonight though, so if you want, you can buy me a beer and make me a burger after we close.”

“Sure thing,” Dmitrii said smiling, but really paying attention to the burgers he was already making. “I’ll make it two. You find someone out there in that crowd to ask out.”

Having someone worry over one’s love life irritated, ground against Yase’s soul. Worrying about someone else worrying was a house of mirrors.  “Dima, I really am okay.”

“Da, and you must be tired. Those burgers are going to be cold before  you deliver them!”

“Shit!” Yase was gone then, smiling as he delivered dinners, charming and adorable, a complete tip whore.

“That was a double with bacon and guacamole, with Hawaiian chips for you, right?” He smiled seeing the plate down for Naruto  and delivering Sasuke’s veggie burger with a garden salad. “I’ll bring you both a refill in just a moment. No fighting. The insurance doesn’t cover jutsu. No public displays of affection either,” Yase teased.

Naruto snickered.  

Sasuke crossed fandoms with a “Omae o kurosoooo.”

Yase gave him a wink and went on about his duties. Of all the crowds that occasionally washed up from the convention center, Yase liked the anime crowd the best. Most work related things were... well... working, or doing their best to get laid when noone  was looking. The gardening crowd didn’t go in for late night sandwiches, which Yase suspected, made decent sense. Gardening stuff required sunshine. The annual adult industry convention - those people seemed to have had all the fun they could have in one life already, so they wanted food and they wanted quiet, but they tipped good. The anime folk tipped like crap, but they were full of life. The costumes ranged from professional level gear to probably made the night before by someone with a ten dollar hot glue gun and and great big shiney anime eyes that saw the world differently than much of the rest of the world. Their love of life woke a hunger for life in him though that he wasn’t sure he found comfortable.

Really living carried risks that just carrying plates and smiling didn’t share. It was like the difference between cruise control down a nice straight freeway and competing in street races. The prizes and risks just weren’t the same.

He set the last plate down, set his hand on his hip, and posed like a bishonen for the cute girls in fluffy maid outfits. They giggled. He was half Japanese, after all. He could misuse his heritage for tips and the pleasure of others. It was like a duty to humanity to make the world a better place, or at least try. There was little point in being a bastard to the world, in any case. Being a bastard always came back around.

The bell rang. A pretty blond stepped through the door and pressed his back to it. Said blond was a mix of contradictions. In no way did he look feminine. He wasn’t even a little Asian with the ambiguity that could bring to a Caucasian eye. He might have been a little shorter than Yase, but not by much. His shoulders were broader, but not in a muscle bound way. He was built of elegance and smooth lines. There was, perhaps, a bit of a waist to him because of the way his jacket tightened in and then flared out. He was, however, quite unmistakably Alice, from Alice in Wonderland. Pink lips, breath slightly away from him eyes blue as innocent promise, he pressed himself against the door, as one hand moved to switch the lock to closed. In a voice that was all spring, but no earlier than April, he said, “Someone call 911, please. My battery’s dead and he’ll be here any minute.”

“Who? The white rabbit?” Someone teased.

“The Red Queen? Off with his head!”

The color drained from Alice’s face.

Dmitrii was coming out then, wiping his hands on a towel and looking like a mad Russian bear.  “What goes on?”

It was an evening for fairytales. The old tale or Rose Red and Rose White jumped into Yase’s mind. “Come away from the door. Sit down here in this booth,” he said, thinking that just getting Alice out of sight might be a good idea.

Alice nodded, nearly diving for the seat. A pop echoed in the street, followed by the clattering of glass shards hitting cement and the area in front of the cafe went dark. Chatter in the cafe dropped to whispers like mice sensing a hungry cat.

“Who’s after you?” Yase asked in a hushed voice as he  moved to stand where he could block the last bit of view between the door and the booth.

The door was shook, hard, when it failed to open.

Whispers dropped to wide eyed furtive searching.

Yase turned to Dmitrii. “Call 911.”

“Da.”

The girls in the maid dresses rushed towards the back of the cafe, away from the front door.  

It was hard to see through the small window panes to see who was outside. Between the night and all dark clothes. A hand touched the glass and slowly traced down it, leaving darkness in its wake.

“Holy shit,” Yase said. “Dima! Lock the back door.”




“The cops are on their way,” Dmitrii said as he moved to lock the back door in the kitchen.

Someone dressed as an American combat soldier glared at Alice. “Who’s after you? Is this part of the LARP?”

“No,” Alice said. “I saw... I was going back to my hotel when I heard a scream in the alley. There was this big guy and a girl Alice. She saw me and screamed for help. Oh god... there was blood everywhere. My phone was already dead.. I was on my way back to the hotel to get my other battery, but he saw me and I ran. He’s huge.”

“Maybe someone else already called 911,” the shorter of the maids said. She held hands with the taller girl who was wearing a blue dress, that under the circumstances, looked too much like Alice.  “Did you see anyone else calling 911?”

“No... I just ran.” Alice’s hand shook as he picked up the table knife. “I’ve never seen anyone die before.”

“You don’t know that she’s dead,” Naruto pointed out. “The cops’ll be here soon.”

Forehead pressed against the glass pane in the middle of the door, eyes a glowing green color that had to have come from hideously expensive contacts, the man invited, “A liiiii ssssss.”  Deep and rumbly, so far past December that time didn’t matter anymore, the man outside the cafe drew out the name, making it intrusive, intimate, too dark to be anything other than human, “Ahhh lissssssss.”

Utter silence laid imaginary safety over the cafe.

Naruto snickered nervously, voice and breath both thin.  “Jutsu okay now, Sebastian,” Naruto joked, giving Yase an anime label.

The break in the rising tension didn’t stop Yase’s hair from standing on end.

“His hair’s the wrong color for Sebastian,” a girl, who couldn’t have been more than early teens said, her eyes wide. “When are the cops going to be here?”

Yase stood a little straighter, smiled at her with as much authority as he could find. “Don’t worry. They’ll be here soon. He can’t get in here and as long as he’s just outside our door, he’s not out hurting anyone else, right?”

Her mouth trembled as she forced a smile. “Right.”

The blade came through the glass pane closest to the doorknob with one straight thrust of dark stained steel. Glass clattered in the silence, bouncing into screams and the tipping of a table.

Alice stared up at Yase with wide blue eyes, tears clinging to eyelashes and silver mascara. “I’m so sorry!”

Yase smile back, feeling a kind of hope and freedom  he hadn’t felt in so long. The world really was beautiful and he was glad to be part of it. Time was strange. Years could pass with just one task in front of another and then when there really wasn’t time, the mind could make seconds feel like an afternoon of day dreaming. He could imagine leaning closer and kissing his Alice, imagine touching that soft looking hair, imagine inching fingers closer towards holding his hand, and this so wasn’t the time. He smiled, as reassuringly as he could, with a wink. “Don’t,” he started, but then there wasn’t enough air to anything. It was like his voice just went out on him, like stepping off the edge of a sidewalk when you didn’t know you were close to the edge, and the world just falls away. He looked down at his chest and there was the knife handle. Red spreading across his gray shirt seemed dark as wine. Nothing hurt, but he was irritated that he hadn’t been more heroic, that in the end Samuel had right. He wasn’t a hero. He was just short of actually doing anything good. The rest of the world fell away from him as he turned to look back at Alice, who was staring at him with a kind of horror and desperate dread, a hand slowly reaching out towards him. Slow motion, but he was moving away as fast as that pretty hand moved towards him.

Well, that was embarrassing. You couldn’t get much farther from being a hero than that.

blood on the floor
blue in the memory
tears in the soul
eat me, drink me

He woke with the scent of vanilla cake in the air, sweet enough to be thick on his tongue. His hat kept the light out though and he was sure he liked it that way, quite well, actually.

“Excuse me, sir,” a sweet April voice said, with just a touch of irritation.

He’d never been able to resist the lure of April. He pushed his hat up a bit and stared at the prettiest young man he’d ever seen, with short blond hair that brushed against blushing cheeks, blue eyes like a spring sky, and a determined look that promised a goal, motivation, or at least that the man wasn’t going to be quiet until he got what he wanted. “Yes?”

“Well, you see,” the pretty man said, lifting his jaw a bit. “I seem to be lost and you’re the only person here, that I can find. I’m Alice.”

Yase rolled up, swinging his legs over the edge of the table, sending china sailing off towards the lawn. “I’m delighted to make your acquaintance. Do you, by chance, enjoy tea?”

“I really haven’t time for tea,” Alice said. “I’m trying to save a friend of mine and time is rather important right now.”

“As well it should be,” Hatter said, pushing his hat back up where it belonged on his head. His hair caught his attention and he grabbed hold of his ponytail, bringing it around so he could stare at it. “Red. My hair is red. That’s quite a surprise. One takes a short little nap and wakes up with a different colored hair. That, as far as I remember, has never happened to me before. At least it’s a striking color, very red, red, not some mild color that might be brown, but only looks solidly red in the right light. Has that ever happened to you before? Your hair changing colors while you sleep?”
Alice laced his fingers behind his back and squinted one eye, while studying the color of Hatter’s hair. “I can’t say that it has, but I suspect that some kinds of naps are more likely to get that result than other kinds of naps. What color was your hair before?”

Hatter pulled the end of his ponytail between his lips, eyes glazing over thoughtfully for a moment. “I can’t say that I really remember, so I suppose, it doesn't matter much then does it?”

“I suppose that’s one way to look at it, but I think it’s very important for a person to remember such a thing. Do try to remember?”

“Nope!” Hatter jumped off the table he’d been laying on. He threw both arms out wide and leaned back to look up towards the top of the trees. Above there was the beautiful blue sky. “I have always loved blue. Such a lovely color. Your eyes are just the perfect shade of blue. Has anyone ever told you that?”

“I don’t really think it matters,” Alice said. He picked up a couple of the mismatched, but very fine china, tea cups from where they’d landed. “Eyes matter mostly from what you can see through them, not from what other people see when they look at them.”

“That’s a bit narcissistic,” Hatter complained. “How other people see you has something to do with how a person feels about the world and it colors the world in ways that just can’t be ignored. You won’t want to be alone, no one would?”

“You were alone here,” Alice pointed out, gesturing at the table. The table looked like a party had been had. Cups and cakes, half consumed, nothing matching, many of them on their sides, lay along the length of the table  like a quilt of almost commitments, almost decisions. “They say the way we keep our house is a reflection of our inner being.”

Hatter picked up another cup, adding it to the pile of tea cups that had somehow taken a life of it’s own in his arms. He lifted his chin. Green eyes glared. “So... did you come here to insult me? I thought you were looking for a friend. Perhaps you should be on about your business then! I’m sure I have nothing for you.”

Alice pressed the tip of his finger to his chin and studied the hatter, who the more he picked up cups, the more cups there were to pick up. “Though, really, I am glad there are cups and cakes. Some people don’t have any of either after an accident as bad as yours.”

“I haven’t had any accidents,” Hatter declared and almost as he was speaking looked down at his chest. The formal gray frock coat was a shock at first, but then he remembered it, with the neat dove gray piping around the edges and a silver pocket watch making a bump in the pocket of his crisp black pants. That’s what he was wearing. That’s what he was always wearing. Except that as he was looking, red blossomed on his chest, over his heart, as if his very soul were leaking out of him. He grabbed at the spot, instinct wanted to catch what was falling, but the soft petals and uncivilized thorns of a beautiful red rose met his fingers, driving them back. “I’m fine! There’s nothing wrong with me, Mr. Alice. You should just move along. I don’t see why you wanted to come to my party anyway.”

“You can trust me with your heart,” Alice promised.

“Oh I doubt that,” Hatter said as he jostled to keep  hold of all his tea cups. “The pretty ones are always the most dangerous.”

<><>

Silence held the cafe for another moment. Then Yase dropped. The sound of his skull hitting the hardwood floor echoed. Someone sobbed. Blood spread across his shirt, pooled like liquid and permanent night on the floor.

The dark gloved hand that had thrown the knife worked at opening the, struggling with the lock. “Ahhhhh lissssss... time to come home.”

A girl dressed as a sailor scout picked up the plate her burger had been on and ran to the door, bringing the heavy ceramic down on the man’s hand, hitting him until the hand disappeared back out the door with a snarl. “Sick bastard!”

Alice dropped down by the fallen waiter, quickly checking for a pulse. “I need ice! Get me all the ice you have! Hurry! I’m a heart surgeon. I need ice!”

They stared at him, unmoving from where they’d grouped, as if standing in a herd made them any safer from the mad man outside the door.  

The fox glared. “This isn’t cosplay, ‘Alice’,”

“No, asshole,” Alice growled. On one knee by Yase, fingers on his wrist, searching for a pulse. “It’s real life death. I’m Dr. Arin De Gray. I’m trying to save his life. Get me all the ice you can find and a table cloth. I need to use someone’s phone.”

The door shook hard, wood cracking.

“Move!” Dmitrii shouted. “Get the doctor what he’s asked for! Shouldn’t we be doing CPR?”
“No,” Alin said. “The blade is actually in his heart. I’m not going to remove it until we get him to the hospital.”

“So he’s dead then,” Dmitrii nearly whispered.

“No, I might be able to repair the damage, but I need to keep him cool. This will prevent brain damage until I can get him on a machine that will pump his blood.”

“You can do that?” One of the maids asked, moving forward. “Just put his blood through a machine and... how are you going to repair his heart?”

“Depends on the damage, probably wrap a supporting lattice on it and paint a solution of stem cells. May I please use your cell phone?”

“Sure,” she said, holding it out, the little pink heart charm swinging in the air. `

The door gave under the assault, sending glass and splinters flying.

Sailor scout girl ran to the far side of the cafe, but Dmitrii ran towards the hulking, blood splattered man. The Russian’s fist hit him like a sledgehammer to the face, driving him a few steps back before he fell backwards to the sidewalk. Dmitrii stood in the doorway, fists double up, ready for the man to get back to his feet, but the police and medical team arrived before the man so much as stirred.

A second medical team arrived almost immediately, moving in with a gurney surrounded by thick blue padding. What conversation happened was rapid and short as paramedics moved the lip waiter to the gurney as carefully as possible, blade still in his chest. The doctor gave directions over the phone as he left with them,  going to the nearest helipad for an air life.

<><>

Stuff happens. I remember so clearly standing there and watching them carry me out, knife still in my chest, my blood all over Dima’s floor. I guess it makes sense that I confabulated it, just put all those parts together as I was waking up. I imagined Wonderland. I imagined Alice. I imagined watching them take me away.

Sure.

I guess.

I mean... I can hear Dima crying.  I can’t believe he’d cry over me and the blood on the floor wasn’t really that bad. A bit of bleach - clean it right up.

There are lots of things that are harder to clean up.

My god... I loved Samuel so much. Still love. I don’t think one ever stops loving.. maybe.. I don’t know...

It’s stubborn maybe.. just refusing to accept that this or that happened... wanting to bargain and beg and make things different. It’s just - they’re not.

Except.. I guess they are. My god... I so wanted... things to be different. Holding onto some shadow world that never was - well, you can’t hold onto what actually is.

I’m a lucky fucking bastard. Yeah - I *THINK* I thought that while they were carrying me out with a knife in my heart. I know they say I was clinically dead. That there was no brain activity and so I couldn’t be thinking anything, but I think I was thinking about how lucky I am!

I’ve got such great people in my life! People like... they aren’t perfect. I’m not perfect. I’m not the White King... (Well, the White Queen.. in the story, but I’m a guy, so I’d be the White King... It’s my story. I’ll tell it like I want.)  So I’m not the White King. I’m the Mad Hatter. I’m the crazy bastard with a dark history who’s just trying to do the best he can.

It took me a long time to fully accept that change. Samuel isn’t Alice. The White Rabbit is still the main character in his own story.

Okay, so I’m casting the world through the light of Alice in Wonderland, but I’m gonna give myself some slack... I had a knife in my chest when I thought up most of this, or I was waking up in the ICU, recovering from having a knife in my chest, so either way, I think I deserve some slack.

Besides....
I’m the Mad Hatter.

It’s been a couple of months and sitting here in the park, the sun is warm and the sky is blue. Everything just feels fantastic.

I haven’t met Alice yet, but I love the White Rabbit, the March Hare, and the rest of the people in my life that just don’t fit under convenient labels. I’m not convenient. I’m complicated.

Today... it’s a happy complicated.  


Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Christmas Blog Hop

Fic: Tuesday Morning