Wednesday, 1 April 2015

A is for... Alex

Blogging From A to Z is a blog challenge where participants post a new item every day (except Sundays), where every item relates to the appropriate letter of the alphabet.  You can find out more over at

The twin evils of Life and Illness have conspired against me today.  You'd think having time to spare between work would help, but it really doesn't.

Don't ask about my left eye.  You'll get a far longer-winded answer than you'd ever want.

Story: Unravel
Rating: 15
Word Count: 1,476

Scottish highland evening lacked everything that gave Alex a headache: street lights, the hum of traffic and loud, drunken people that weren’t him to name but a few.

Scottish highland evening lacked everything that gave Alex a headache: street lights, the hum of traffic and loud, drunken people that weren’t him to name but a few.

Normally he’d prefer it over anything and everything else, but this time it came with its own headaches, one of which was cursing quietly under his breath a few feet to his left, and the other was up ahead and playing the most fucking irritating game of hide-and-seek he’d experienced in years.

“Shit!”  Something that sounded remarkably like a crunch-and-flail heralded Milos falling over his third branch in ten minutes; Alex bit back the urge to point out elves were supposed to be graceful, damnit.  Not that anything like decency or respect for his partner held him back, no.  It just made it a damn sight easier to catch the so-called Gillie Dhu if it was distracted with its own game of Hunt The Idiot.

Up ahead, a rustle on the edge of hearing caught his attention.  Left, not too distant.  Attracted by the scrawny elf whose bioweapon claws flashed as they caught the sparse, tree-shifting rays of golden sunset, no doubt.


Another rustle, a burst of violent movement.  Milos let out a noise that was only part shriek.  Impressive, Alex thought, sprinting towards the noise with syringe at the ready; he’d expected it to be a full-blooded scream of terror.

And hell, once he shoved past the undergrowth and crashed headlong into the scene, he wouldn’t have blamed him for it.  Whatever it was they’d thought the Gillie Dhu was, Alex knew it wasn’t for it to be some skinny, pointy-eared, downright pretty kid with his teeth sunk firmly into Milos’s bare arm.  Milos let out another short shout, as much frustration as anything, and unsuccessfully tried to yank his arm free while his other hand, claws ready, hovered above the kid’s shoulder.

Alex might bitch at him for not using his government-given defences when he ought, but this time—for once—Milos had a point.  Five of them, in fact, all of which could slice through the Gillie Dhu’s carotid in one simple movement.

“You’re just gonna watch?”

Alex shoved the blunt end of the ‘syringe’ against the Gillie Dhu’s neck and, before he could break free from Milos’s arm, slammed the plunger home to dose the rabid bastard with its full load of anaesthetic.

To his immense relief, the Gillie Dhu dropped like a stone.

He could feel Milos’s glare long before he turned to face him, and he only did that after he made sure the slender creature was still breathing and very definitely unconscious.  “You took your time.”

Alex couldn’t help the smirk that spread across his lips.  An angry Milos was just so much fun, and not as often an occurrence as it could be.  “I thought I’d let you demonstrate your training.”

Milos snorted.  “Like hell you did.”

He returned his attention to binding the Gillie Dhu’s wrists behind his back.  Whatever he was, it was a lot smaller and thinner than Alex had thought.  HEL would have a field day with their newest acquisition, and so would Alex when it came to filing his report: the next time he saw the words ‘likely harmless’ in a preliminary report, he’d insert a photo of Milos’s now-bleeding arm just to prove a point.

“If he’s given me something—!”

“Then I’ll cut your arm off myself.”  Satisfied the bonds would hold and the kid was out for the count and unlikely to wake on the trek back, he hefted him over his shoulder.  The way Milos viewed the move with misgiving, he could tell his partner was again thinking of his transportation to HEL’s headquarters, back when he was a normal dark elf totally unaware of the world he was now neck-deep in.

And so he should.  Alex had distinctly enjoyed undressing him before moving his limp body into the van.  Shame this Gillie Dhu looked like he was going to be significantly less fun.

* * *

Alex folded his arms behind his head, fascinated by the orange glow that blazed along the tree line, and tried to ignore the uncomfortable press of uneven roof slates against his back .  “You really sit like this at your apartment?”

He could feel Milos shift nervously beside him, like he was expecting Alex to chew him out for it.  “Sometimes.”

Why the hell he’d think Alex would object was beyond him.  “You can see anything beyond roofs from your place?”

More nervous fidgeting.  “I can see the sky,” Milos admitted at length.

Alex couldn’t help his soft snort.  “Thought you didn’t like the night sky without a street light or two.”

This time, the fidgeting was accompanied by the sound of Milos slithering a couple of tiles down the roof.  If he did that a couple more times, Alex would be retrieving him from the grass.  “I can’t believe he bit me,” he said at length, glaring down at the livid welts rising along his bare arm, the skin around them turning a blackish purple with suffused blood.  “What the fuck even was he?”

“A Gillie Dhu, according to the file.”  A second smirk spread across his lips, completely unbidden.  “Apparently a bit like you, but prettier.”

For a moment he could swear Milos bristled.  Anyone would think their whole relationship wasn’t built on sufferance.  “Then maybe you can fuck him tonight and leave me in peace.”

“You wish,” Alex said comfortably, returning his attention to the sunset.  “What do you think he really is?  Because I’ll be damned if he’s some Scottish myth.”

Milos took his time in answering, and when he did it sounded like he’d run every word through his head twice.  Alex was very almost proud.  “I know myths are nothing but a spin put on things we don’t understand.  So he’s something I don’t understand.”  He took a deep breath, resettling himself against the cold slates.  “But he’s got ears.  I mean, ears, so he’s obviously alfa, but at the same time he’s short—I mean, shorter than me; fuck, the ljusalfa would think this was hilarious—”

“So you’d say he was...?”

Milos took a deep breath.  “I’d say he was halvalfa, a half-elf.  But...  I’ve never seen one like him before.”

What was it Milos called himself?  Dokkalfa?  The light elves called him svartalfa, a smug term that didn’t just mean ‘black elves’ but carried with it a whole disparaging undercurrent about his height, equivalent to that of humans.   Did they even have an insulting term of a half-elf even shorter than a human?  Alex would love to know.

Even if they did, he suspected the man beside him was least qualified to answer.

“Fucking halvalfa,” Milos muttered, drawing Alex’s attention as he glared at his arm.  Was that finally a flash of tears in his eyes?  If it was, they were through frustration, nothing else.

The best thing to do was draw attention from it.  Change the subject.  “We better get down soon, before night falls.”

Milos dragged his attention from the bite marks on his arm.  “It’s nearly fallen.”

“Then now would be a good idea.”

“Just a bit longer.”  To his amazement, Milos folded his arms over his chest, his eyes dipping closed.  “It’s warm.”

“It won’t be if you sleep,” Alex said, staring pointedly at his partner.  “And if you freeze to death and fall off, I’m not picking you up.”

Milos murmured without opening his eyes, “if I die, you’ll probably get the Gillie Dhu for a partner.”

“If he lives through the process.”

Milos grinned, his eyes still closed.  “He’s bound to, just to spite you.  Only if I die of the cold, mind...”

Grudgingly, Alex lifted his arm above his head.  Without needing any more invitation than that, Milos scooted across.  His body was warm against Alex’s shirt, his neck fitting perfectly against his arm as he lowered it again.  It was all the stupid elf’s fault, of course; it couldn’t be Alex’s fault that they fit nicely together.

He was older; it was all Milos’s fault.

Beneath them, in the half of the semi-detached cottage they’d reserved for their captured prize, an angry howling began .  Above it all and with Milos pressed against him, Alex found himself capable of ignoring it.  He’d tranquillise the Gillie Dhu again tomorrow morning before they set out, but up on the roof it sounded like a world away.

Maybe later, when they relocated to the other half of the cottage, they could set up a noise to distract it.  Bed frames rattling rhythmically against walls usually did the trick—and drowned out the complaints when it didn’t.

Assuming they didn’t fall asleep first, and with the contented sensation of Milos’s body beside him, sleeping didn’t seem like such a bad thing any more...

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