Out of their Element

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DocRick
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Sun Jul 02, 2023 8:37 pm

LittleNikki wrote:
Sun Jul 02, 2023 4:11 pm
DocRick wrote:
Sat Jul 01, 2023 6:30 pm
Opening scene of Chapter 40.
Bravo!
That's my hand, by the way, and an old stone wall in my backyard. I saw it the other day and I thought it fit the narrative.
Last edited by DocRick on Mon Jul 31, 2023 3:58 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Tue Jul 11, 2023 8:47 pm

From Chapter 42. Opening paragraphs.
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Mon Jul 31, 2023 2:58 pm

Oh man, so nice to see all these collages now that I've popped back on, thank you so much!! Now that I'm finished working on that side story I'm about to start posting, I've been back with Aiden and Evie and it's been so fun. Realistically it'll probably still be another month or two before part 3 is ready but I'm plugging away at it~
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Mon Jul 31, 2023 3:57 pm

littlest-lily wrote:
Mon Jul 31, 2023 2:58 pm
Oh man, so nice to see all these collages now that I've popped back on, thank you so much!! Now that I'm finished working on that side story I'm about to start posting, I've been back with Aiden and Evie and it's been so fun. Realistically it'll probably still be another month or two before part 3 is ready but I'm plugging away at it~
You're very welcome. I'm happy you like them. The other one I PM'd you for OOTE still needs to be kept between us for now.

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by ROGU3_20 » Tue Aug 01, 2023 3:26 am

littlest-lily wrote:
Mon Jul 31, 2023 2:58 pm
Oh man, so nice to see all these collages now that I've popped back on, thank you so much!! Now that I'm finished working on that side story I'm about to start posting, I've been back with Aiden and Evie and it's been so fun. Realistically it'll probably still be another month or two before part 3 is ready but I'm plugging away at it~
oooh, your done already? AWESOME! i've been waiting for something to read, its been months, I hope you can be able to post it daily once it starts. :D

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Tue Aug 01, 2023 2:49 pm

ROGU3_20 wrote:
Tue Aug 01, 2023 3:26 am
littlest-lily wrote:
Mon Jul 31, 2023 2:58 pm
Oh man, so nice to see all these collages now that I've popped back on, thank you so much!! Now that I'm finished working on that side story I'm about to start posting, I've been back with Aiden and Evie and it's been so fun. Realistically it'll probably still be another month or two before part 3 is ready but I'm plugging away at it~
oooh, your done already? AWESOME! i've been waiting for something to read, its been months, I hope you can be able to post it daily once it starts. :D
The story I'm done with is a side project called Hypnotizing that I started on this board yesterday. I needed that break, and that one is a totally different vibe, so it was a nice change of pace and now I'm working on Out of their Element again. But it'll still be a while, part 3 is sooo looooong heh
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Tue Sep 19, 2023 12:25 am

:)

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Tue Sep 19, 2023 12:36 am

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Tue Sep 19, 2023 4:02 pm

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Mon Oct 02, 2023 4:58 pm

Part 3: Something in the Air

Chapter 43
Evie

There's a breeze coming in through the open window. It's gentle, rolling across the surface of the desk like incoming tide. It ruffles the fur of my plush lion nearby and makes a notepad flutter. The warmth it carries presses against my skin like a blanket, a pleasant pressure on the side of my body. Except I'm in just enough of a precarious balance that it almost knocks me over. I overcompensate, not wanting to slip to the side and tumble eight feet down to a hard surface, and so I fall forward instead and immediately crash against the bridge of my friend's nose. A nose that's over half as big as I am.

"You good?"

The soft, deep voice rumbles through me, and the vibration feels intimate enough to make me blush. I push back against skin and try to regain balance on the massive arm that serves as my perch at the moment. "I'm good," I confirm, putting a hand up to gratefully pat the space between the giant's eyebrows.

I smile at him, even though he can't see me right now, as his eyes are firmly shut. Aiden's currently sitting at his desk chair and is leaned forward so that his chin is resting on top of the table, arms folded in front of his face. I've climbed up onto his forearm and am now sitting mere millimeters away from eyes. Any awkwardness around me getting all up in his face like this has largely disappeared - we’ve gotten pretty used to it now.

I have what serves as a large painter's palette next to me, with a single dark brown color filling the container. One of the many miniatures that came home with me and has sat around uselessly for months is a makeup applicator, and I'm wielding it in my hand right now. As I rub the sponge-like applicator into the makeup, I notice that the huge eye that I'm sitting next to isn't just gently closed anymore. It's forcefully squeezing shut.

"Relax," I say with a laugh, giving the giant another pat, "This'll be fine."

Aiden lets out a long, deep sigh that's muffled by his arms. "How did we even get here?" he laments.

Well, I guess we originally got here almost four months ago, when I first got tricked by a literal mad scientist into becoming three inches tall, and was then rescued by the man who would become my closest friend… and perhaps something more. But as for the makeup, that's just because Moira gave me some eyeshadow to use. The other day I mentioned to her in passing that I hadn't put on any makeup since I became tiny, and she immediately found the smallest palette she had for me to play with at home. It was fun, finger painting my eyelids, pretending to be back in a world where that kind of thing mattered to me. But as soon as Aiden came over to see my progress, I was struck by a most devilish idea.

"Okay, hold still," I say, getting onto my knees as I lean closer to one of the giant's eyelids, sponge in hand. He goes very stiff and his brow is furrowed with concern. "Seriously, relax!" I laugh and I finally touch the makeup to his skin.

"Nnngh…" I almost fall over again as my friend tries and fails to keep from writhing. "I haaaate it."

I pull my hand back and ask, "Does it hurt?" The tool I'm using is intended for foundation and isn't exactly meant for eyelids.

"No…" Aiden grumbles, "It just feels so weird!"

I giggle and return back to my work, sliding the applicator and spreading the brown color just over the lashes. "Aww, poor baby," I coo sarcastically, “Such torture that I’m putting you through…"

"I may never recover," he responds dramatically.

I chuckle again, although I'm also trying to get this done quickly so that I can leave him alone. He's making it very difficult. "You’re so twitchy!"

"What do you–" he scoffs, "You're literally poking my eye!" But I can hear the amusement in his voice now as he tries to keep from laughing and shaking me again.

I finish thickening the line, opting to just make it look more like eyeliner than anything else, and pull away. "I’m almost done," I assure him, "Just gotta do the other side."

He's quieter this time, sensing the end approaching, and I finish my masterpiece. I climb off of his arms and start taking some steps back to admire my handiwork with a big grin on my face. Sensing that I'm off of him now, Aiden blinks open his large hazel eyes and lifts his head off the desk, looking down at me skeptically.

"You look like a rockstar!" I chirp excitedly.

We had set up one of my old hand mirrors onto the desk so that I could see myself, and the giant bends down now so that he can assess the damage. “Oh okay… that's not so bad,” he mutters.

“I didn't put on much,” I say, walking over to look at him through the mirror as well. “And I didn't touch your waterline. No way you'd be able to handle that if this was already too much for you.”

“I have no idea what a waterline is. But thank you for sparing me.”

I look back up at him and can feel all of the butterflies waking up inside me. They sure like to come out these days and flutter around my chest. “Yeah, you look great. It really helps bring out the green of your eyes.”

I notice the slightest bit of color blooming into his cheeks, and as he sits up to his full height he gives me the warmest smile. “Thanks, Eve. Yours looks really good too!”

"Thank you! I never owned much makeup so I’m no expert. We should get Moira to do a better job on you next time.”

“Uhhh yeah we’ll see about that,” he chuckles, “Okay, can I go wash this off now?”

“What, you don’t want to go out on the town like that?” I laugh. “Wait, before you go, can we take a picture of it? Please? You have no idea how good you look.”

He shakes his head in defeat, but he’s beaming nevertheless. “Only if you’re in the picture too.”

“Deal!”

I run closer to him excitedly as he fetches his phone from his pocket and turns on the front facing camera. He leans his head forward, all the way down so that I can stand just beside it. Well, a little bit in front of it too. I could use all the extra size I can get, even if it’s just from perspective.

“Is this our first selfie?” Aiden wonders after snapping a couple of shots.

“I think so!”

“Could we take some more later, without the makeup? Don’t get me wrong, I love what you did on yourself, but you look so pretty without it too.”

Whatever picture he took just then would be featuring me with widened eyes and a redder face. Lovely. Not embarrassing at all. Even though it’s been a week since we both admitted that we were interested in each other, not all that much has actually changed in most of our interactions. I'm still not quite used to this type of compliment.

“S-sure!” I try to say casually, and then in an effort to change the subject I add between snapshots, “Uhh, are these stored on the cloud or anything?”

“No, I never got around to setting that up… Oh, but I guess that’s a good thing, isn’t it? Don’t worry, I’ll be really careful about keeping pictures of you private.”

I thank him and go back to smiling for the camera. We’ve probably taken almost a dozen photos by now, just to make sure there’s a nice one in the batch. I shift my gaze to look at the display instead of the camera lens, and seeing myself on the phone screen… I can't help feeling a little sad. I look so ridiculous next to him. Like a tiny action figure. Or just a smudge on his cheek.

After another moment I start stepping forward, wondering if getting even closer to the lens would help. Sure enough, the closer I get to the phone, the less puny I look. In fact… maybe I could…

I see Aiden frown from behind me, his expression reflected on the screen, as he tries to figure out what I'm doing. I'm walking right up to the device, until I stop juuuust in the right position. There we go. My head's about the same size as his now.

The sight is striking, somehow. Or it would be, if the camera wasn't currently struggling to figure out what to focus on. I'm so close that it can't get a clear picture of the both of us - either I'm a blurry shape in the foreground, or then I move and become clear while he fades into obscurity. Even on a screen it's like we don't quite belong side by side.

"There." His booming voice makes me flinch as his thumb suddenly presses the digital shutter button. He pulls up the picture he just took, right as the camera was refocusing, so that we both look equally blurry. He chuckles, "Perfect!"

I laugh too - it's a little hollow, but not forced. I appreciate him so much.

I get a warning in the form of Aiden’s reflection suddenly growing larger on the phone screen, along with the sense of his sheer mass approaching me from behind, as quiet as a hot air balloon drifting in for a landing. He gently kisses my upper back, a gesture that happens from time to time now - it's the one significant thing that has changed between us. Since I’m on my feet he hardly puts any pressure at all to avoid knocking me over, relying on me to push back against his lips instead. And I do, leaning into him with a more genuine giggle. He’s definitely succeeding in making me feel better.

We’ve been easing into this connection the two of us share. Not rushing it, letting the relationship bud at its own pace, especially since in retrospect it was a bit of weird timing to admit our feelings the day after he accidentally assaulted me. We haven't really talked about that night since. For now we just enjoy the occasional lingering touch or extended eye contact, an affectionate comment here and there, and sometimes his lips find my back or the side of my head. I wouldn’t say that we’ve “properly” kissed yet as I’m still not sure exactly how to do that, and I don’t quite see ourselves as a “couple.” But whatever we are, I wouldn’t change a thing right now.

“Thanks for being a good sport,” I say as Aiden sits up again. “You can go clean it up. You might want to use makeup remover, I still have some in my bag.”

I briefly give him instructions on how to take off the eyeliner and he nods before responding, “Roger that. While I’m at it I should probably go put away some laundry, I've been putting that off… Need anything from me?”

“I’m good! I think I might study for a little bit, actually.” I motion to the Construction Technology spiral textbook that’s already sitting nearby on the desk. I’ve been getting a lot of interesting information from it, surprisingly, and I’m determined to finish reading it.

“You have fun with that,” Aiden says as he makes a face. Classes and studying are clearly the last thing he wants to think about now that he’s on summer break. And with that I’m left to my own devices for a little bit.

I’m glad this is the one textbook I have where I can easily turn the pages on my own, the laminated sheets both stiff and light enough for me to lift and push against. Before getting started, I pause to gaze at the cover for a moment. There in the corner, written in marker, is the name "Evie Ondine" - a relic from a time when I had much larger hands. It trips me out every single time I look at it.

I’m currently working my way through a chapter about prefabrication, and some of the examples are giving me ideas for how to independently package the minis I’m painting for my future business. I now have over twenty of the figurines ready to go and have some more blank ones on the docket - all that’s left is taking product photos and setting up a little packing station and I’ll be ready to launch in hopefully the next couple of weeks.

It wasn’t during such a calm afternoon that I expected disaster to strike.

It happens as I decide to go take a quick note about something I read - I'm keeping some paper nearby for just that purpose. I walk along the binding of the book, and as I step off of the laminated page, I slip on the slick plastic surface. My feet slide forward and the rest of me falls back, and I discover something I’d never noticed before. The wire that coils into a spiral and forms the binding of the textbook curls in on itself at the end. But the little loop extends slightly further than it should into a near imperceptible defect, even to me. And the tip of the metal spiral is very, very sharp.

I feel a sudden hot pain in my left calf. Disoriented, I look around myself, realizing I’m flat on my back now. My leg has passed right over the small knife-like point that was apparently protruding, leaving a long gash in my skin, from just above my ankle to just below my knee. Blood immediately begins pouring out, and I stop breathing at the sight of red quickly spreading onto the desk.

“Shit,” I curse under my breath. For a second the pain disappears as the adrenaline hits. What do I do?

The first aid kit. It’s on the opposite side of the desk from where my living space is, about a foot away from me now, though to me that means over twenty feet. I have to reach it. The pain is quickly returning but I flip onto my stomach anyway, fighting against the growing agony as I crawl forward. I glance over to the side as I drag myself, and I briefly notice the visual timer is actually a much closer target. A spin of that dial is apparently enough to make the thing beep loudly. I've still never used it… No, it’s fine, I just need to get to the bandages. All I need to do is stop the blood, I’ve got this. And I keep lurching forward, not thinking straight, just desperately pulling myself across the table.

I'm halfway there when Aiden walks by, a looming figure in the distance, casually strolling from his bedroom to the kitchen. I honestly hardly take notice of him, so incredibly intent on getting to the medical supplies first and foremost. For a split second he shoots me a passing smile, just a quick glance in my direction in the midst of his chores. But then he does a double take, looking back towards me again and freezing in place. For a second he’s very still, eyes widening as he processes my small figure that’s leaving behind a trail of red. And before I know it he’s rushing over to the desk without a word, flying into action.

Not a moment too soon. I’m in so much pain now that I'm struggling to breathe. I have to stop moving, and I crumble to my side as I reflexively clutch at my leg, which is completely covered in blood. There’s a flurry of movement above and around me - Aiden’s reached the first aid kit and he’s extracting a disinfecting wipe from its pouch as quickly as possible.

“Let me help, okay?” he says softly, tightly, and without waiting for an answer I feel his fingers pinch my ankle. I give in to his sudden authority over the situation, and I shield my face with my hands as the injured limb is lifted up. This is apparently the wrong move, though. The metallic smell of the blood that’s now all over my hands almost makes me vomit in my dizzied state. For a second I’m blasted back to a distant memory. The last day I spent in my house as a family of two. I remember the birthday cake on the floor, red ceramic and a red dress and red liquid spilling over my hands…

I’m snapped back to the present as I’m rolled onto my stomach so that Aiden can reach the back of my leg. And then I feel something cold and I can’t help it - I scream. The stinging of the disinfectant is excruciating. I curl in on myself, pressing my face into the ground, trying to muffle my own cries.

“Sorry, sorry…” Aiden whispers, and just a moment later the wet wipe is replaced by a dry gauze, “Are you able to hold this here? Tightly?”

I roll back onto my side and do as I’m told, clutching the tiny scrap of gauze that had thankfully been cut ahead of time for just this kind of emergency. I realize that putting pressure against the wound is important. Meanwhile my giant friend is moving quickly, smearing antibiotic ointment onto a fresh piece of gauze and prepping the already thinly sliced bandage.

“I’ve got it,” he says, taking over again and lifting my leg up high. I’m flipped back onto my stomach, and I bury my face in my arms as I try not to hyperventilate. He’s able to put on much more pressure than I am, though he’s careful not to crush the limb, and then he slowly begins wrapping the calf up. It’s surely a delicate process for him, my leg not much thicker than a matchstick.

The seconds drag by until finally the twelve minutes of terror are over. Aiden’s finished wrapping the wound and just lets my leg rest on top of his finger that’s sitting on the desk, keeping my foot elevated. I hear him exhale tremulously, and if anything the shaking in his hands is actually getting worse. Whatever forced calm he’d been able to summon in the thick of the crisis is crumbling away now. I’m breathing hard, still lying face down, gritting my teeth. The pain isn’t quite as bad as it was a few minutes ago, but god does this still hurt.

Finally there’s a slight tremor - one large elbow coming to rest on the desk as the giant leans back in. “You still with me?” he asks weakly.

I flash him one tiny thumbs up just to show him I haven’t in fact passed out. And then I slowly flip myself over, ankle rotating against the enormous finger as I keep it propped up. I lay on my back and raise my chin to gaze at him. He looks as pale and breathless as I feel.

“Yes,” I finally answer.

Aiden’s jaw clenches as his eyes pass over the length of me before meeting mine again. “We should get you to a hospital, Evie,” he says quietly.

“What?!” I gasp, my emotions heightened by the pain. “No, no, it's fine! It's not as bad as it looks… See? I can still move my leg fine. It hurts like a bitch, but it didn't hit muscle or an artery or anything like that.”

“But what if you still need stitches or something?”

“I don't. I got really scraped up from how I fell but it wasn't that deep a cut. Look, the bandage isn't overflowing. Maybe the bleeding’s already stopped.”

Aiden still looks doubtful. But I’m not just speaking out of fear - although that's certainly part of it - I really do think this isn’t as serious as it might have appeared. Time will tell. If the bleeding doesn’t stop then we'll reevaluate.

“I got my tetanus shot right before starting school,” I insist, “Let’s just… let’s just give it a minute before we rush into anything. Okay?”

I think I’ve convinced him, at least for the moment. He takes a deep breath in through his nose and now his gaze starts wandering over the surface of the desk. “What happened?” he asks.

With an unsteady hand I point vaguely towards the textbook. Yikes, there's so much blood on the way. No wonder I feel so dizzy. “I fell on the tip of the… the spiral…” I say.

Aiden looks to where I’m motioning and reaches for the bottom of the book’s spine, thumbing the metallic end in question. Without a word he closes the pages and slides the entire thing off the desk, dropping it to the floor below. He takes in just how long the streak of red is that stretches across the desk.

Then he speaks again, and there’s a new edge to his voice now. “Why didn’t you call for me? I was just over there, you were right next to the timer. Why go all the way across the desk instead?”

I look away in shame. I hadn't realized how ingrained my habits were. “I don’t know…”

There’s a long pause. A heavy sigh. “You have got to learn to ask for help, Eve.”

His frustration is all too clear. I haven’t stopped trembling since I cut myself, but the anxiety gets worse at his harsh tone. I grasp at words, trying to come up with an explanation. “I thought I had it, I… I just… I didn't want to bothe–” I stop myself, knowing how stupid I was about to sound.

He fills in the blank anyway and raises his voice sharply, “Alright well it bothers me that you lost so much blood just now!”

“I’m sorry,” I whimper. My leg slips off of his finger and I fearfully curl into the fetal position, facing away from him. “I’m sorry, I’m sorry…”

Aiden sighs, this time not out of frustration but out of guilt. His hand comes closer, not quite touching me but cupping to align with the curve of my spine. His ring finger softly makes contact with the top of my head.

“No, I'm sorry,” he says with a much more gentle tone, “I know this isn’t helping. Now's not the time.”

He leans all the way down, resting his forehead on his hand so that he can be right above me, his face becoming my ceiling. His eyes are closed next to my head and I feel his exhale pass over my feet.

“That just really scared me,” he whispers.

I’m completely silent, still shaking, covered in a thin sheen of sweat, my new makeup smudged and mixing with the blood I've smeared on my face. My leg is throbbing. My mind is heavy with the reminder of how fragile my entire existence is. One wrong move is all it takes. We’re always just one small step away from all of this falling apart.

Another breeze rolls in through the window, mussing our hair, and this time it's anything but pleasant. Right now it just feels cold.
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Mon Oct 02, 2023 5:23 pm

She really needs to stop overthinking and realize she needs him to help her, and he needs her to let him.

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Mon Oct 02, 2023 6:37 pm

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Wed Oct 04, 2023 5:38 pm

DocRick wrote:
Mon Oct 02, 2023 5:23 pm
She really needs to stop overthinking and realize she needs him to help her, and he needs her to let him.
Evie's definitely got a couple of things to sort out!


Chapter 44
Aiden

It seems odd, somehow, that I hadn't owned a magnifying glass before this, considering our circumstances. I guess I never saw a use for it, outside of just wanting to get a better look at her, which didn't feel like a valid reason. But now that we have a new step in our daily routine I finally ended up buying one.

"It doesn't look too red," I mumble, leaning in further and squinting. Even magnified, the cut on Evie's leg is so little - to me, at least. "How does it feel?"

"Still sore… but getting better," she responds from her prone position on the dollhouse bed. I glance at her expression since her face is aimed in my direction, her cheek resting on folded arms. I think she's being truthful, her smile looking far less pained today.

I return my attention to the thin line on her calf, looking for any signs of infection at the top of it, just shy of the back of her knee. Her entire lower half is under the magnifying glass, and it's a little distracting. Don't-stare-at-her-butt, don't-stare-at-her-butt, don't-stare-at–

I shake my head and force myself to look lower now, trying to pinpoint the other end of the cut near the teeny tiny bump of her ankle. I talk to keep myself on track. "Man, there are a lot of tendons that you could have hit and didn't. You really lucked out."

She laughs wryly. "Not sure I would call any of this lucky."

"Yeah, that's fair. Just trying to find the silver lining I guess…"

Once I'm satisfied that everything looks clean, I carefully start wrapping her leg back up with a fresh bandage. It's a slow process, but I've been getting better at it, and propping the magnifying glass up so that I can look through it helps a lot.

"I've been experimenting with putting a little weight on it,” Evie muses, tapping her other foot absently as she keeps her injured leg still for me. “I bet if I tried to use those crutches again I could get around."

It’s been four days since the accident, and I don’t blame her for going a little stir crazy. I tried making tiny crutches for her out of bent paper clips in the beginning, but her leg hurt so bad that it didn’t work out - holding her foot off the ground was too painful, and letting it drag was even worse. It doesn't help that she hasn't taken any kind of pain meds. We considered it at first, maybe shaving off a bit of tylenol from a pill or something. But playing around with drugs seemed dangerous since neither one of us knows what we're doing, and in the end she assured me she could handle the pain.

So she’s been spending a lot of time in bed, and for everything else she’s relying on me to move her where she needs to go. Selfishly I do kinda enjoy that part, if we're being completely honest - the part where I get to touch her more, not her misery at being immobile. Although I’m now all the more paranoid about accidentally hurting her. I’ve certainly been fine-tuning my ability to use a gentle grip, that’s for sure.

But in three days summer classes will start, which means my TA job will resume. I’d like to ask Moira to be here as much as possible while I’m gone, but it would probably still be better for Evie to get around by herself if she can.

I finish re-wrapping the little limb and put the magnifying glass down before responding to her desire to try walking. “Sure, I still have the paper clips handy… Here you go. Just be careful.”

She gets to a sitting position on her bed eagerly, swinging her legs over the edge as she holds a hand out for the makeshift crutches. She slowly stands up, balancing on one foot, and I hover my hands on either side of her, ready to catch her if she loses balance. She holds firm and tucks the metal supports under her arms, looking very determined. Then she takes one tentative step, wobbles, and grows a shade paler.

"Take it easy,” I say, “Wouldn't want to rush into it and make it worse.”

Evie nods and steps back again so she can sit down. She sighs, looking disappointed, a rather heartbreaking sight. I touch my thumb to her downcast face and make an attempt at lightening the mood. “That’s still a whole lot of progress, Eve! I’m sure in the next day or two you’ll be able to make it. Besides, I don't mind having to carry you around in the meantime.”

I purposefully made my tone a little suggestive and she catches on, looking up at me with a smirk. "You just like getting your hands all over me," she teases.

"Like I said… just trying to find the silver lining.” I grin.

She chuckles and wraps her arms around my thumb, giving the side of it a little peck before leaning her cheek against it. It’s enough to send a pleasant shiver down my spine. She closes her eyes and exhales deeply.

“I hate this,” she suddenly confides. I lean in attentively - this is a rare vulnerable moment that I don’t take lightly. “Not this,” she clarifies, giving my thumb a little squeeze, “Just… I thought being small was bad enough. But I guess even then I was taking things for granted.”

“I know, I'm sorry,” I say softly, curling a couple of fingers around to support the back of her head and shoulders. “This really sucks. It’ll pass.”

She just nods and stares off into space. Poor thing. Evie already struggles enough with her lack of independence, but she’s really, truly helpless these days. I’ve moved some of her things right next to her bed so that she can eat and drink and have her phone handy, but anything where she has to stand up she needs me for. Even something as basic as getting dressed or going to the bathroom, I have to at least place her in the right spot for it before giving her privacy. I try to stay nearby all day just in case she needs help, but I can still tell by the quiver of her voice when she calls for me that she feels like an inconvenience, every time. No matter how much I tell her she’s not.

But I’ll say it as many times as it takes. “I know I’m probably sounding like a broken record. But for real, I promise I don’t mind bringing you things or carrying you places. Being able to help you makes me happy.”

Her brown doe eyes captivate me for a moment. As small as they are, they hold so much. There’s an odd expression on her face, one I can’t quite make out, hinting at all of the intricate layers hidden behind her smile.

And yet her tone is as lighthearted as can be. “Can you pick me up then?”

I perk up at the suggestion. “Sure! Where to?” I question, and I shift my fingers to pinch her torso from behind, so that I can start the delicate process of transferring her from the bed to my other hand.

“Nowhere in particular,” Evie says, arms gripping my fingers as she tenses from me lifting her up. When I gently deposit her on my palm, her legs are dangling off the side so that I can let her maneuver them in whatever way hurts the least. She slides herself back, bending her uninjured leg for stability, before she settles in the middle of my hand and looks back up at me. “I just want you to hold me. If that’s okay.”

Seriously now. How the hell is anyone supposed to resist that?

“Of course,” I say, lifting her higher so that I can bring her tiny forehead to my lips. I'm proud to feel her lean into the kiss without any kind of pained flinching. I'm getting better at this.

"You know… I'm really going to miss you when I go back to work," I lament as I lower her back down with a half smile. "I mean, no one else lets me hold them like this."

"Well. That's a shame," she responds with a laugh. "You'll be seeing some of your old students though, yeah? And maybe it'll be nice to have some structure back in your day." I don't say anything, mulling it all over. After a few seconds she cocks her head to the side and adds, "By the look on your face, I take it that's not much comfort?"

"I'm honestly kinda nervous," I admit, "I've been doing this TA thing since I started grad school, but I've only ever been involved with the pretty basic geology courses. This next one's more advanced, plus it's condensed into a summer class… I just hope I don't let anyone down."

Evie's eyes are full of concern, and she runs a hand in a slow circle next to her on my palm. "Remember what the professor told you last semester? Wasn't it, like, twenty students who specifically mentioned to her how much you helped them with the class? Do you know how insane that is, that so many people would go out of their way like that? I literally can't imagine you letting anyone down for anything. You’re your own worst critic, but you’re going to do an amazing job this summer, I can feel it!” She smiles encouragingly and then she shifts towards my ring finger beside her to take it in both hands. "I'm sorry you're stressed about it though, I know I'd be nervous too…"

Ugh, my heart can't take this. Even though she's been dealing with all of her own problems, here she is trying her utmost to comfort me. She always knows the exact right thing to say when I’m down... And I love the way her arms consistently manage to find their way wrapped around one of my fingers… She's such a sweet girl.

“Thank you," I say with a nod, "You’re right, it’ll be fine. Still gonna miss you though.” I bring her back up to my face and just keep her close, the bridge of my nose becoming her chin rest as she leans on me.

"It goes without saying that I'll miss you too," she says softly, "But we’ve got this."

I sigh while doing my best to hold still. I really want to keep snuggling, but I also don't want to monopolize the evening. I eventually straighten up and hold my little friend in front of me to ask, “So, what would you like to do tonight? Want to watch a movie or something?”

Evie glances out towards the living room and she seems a bit distracted when she faces me again. “Mmm, maybe a little later… Can we still go to the couch though?"

I tilt my head as I look at her curiously, wondering at her tone. Clearly something's going on behind those eyes. It's like she's somehow both intensely focused on me and a million miles away. With a cautious slowness I get up to do as she requests, relocating to the nearby couch.

“What’s on your mind?" I decide to ask as I sit back down.

Evie's expression shifts as suddenly her cheeks flush now that I've called her out. “If… if you’re okay with it, I…" There's a pause, and it's starting to make me nervous in turn. Finally she forces it out, "I’d like to try again with… with me laying on your chest."

I blink, eyebrows shooting up in surprise. “You sure?"

“Yeah. You seem pretty awake today, right?"

I bite my lip and can feel my own cheeks flushing, though it's mostly in embarrassment as the memories start creeping back up. "Right…"

“We don’t have to though," she says quickly, and there's a subtle tremble to her body as she redistributes her weight in my hand. "Will it make you uncomfortable?"

The thought of cuddling together is insanely alluring. I'm happy to know I'm not the only one feeling particularly touchy-feely right now. But at the same time, the memories are back in full force at this point, haunting me with a vengeance. I feel sick with shame as I recall her terrified cries and the stress of the conversation that had followed.

“Maybe?” I finally concede, “But I guess I wouldn't mind… trying."

Evie tightens her grip on my finger. “I know things didn’t go well at the time, but right before… it happened, I was really, really enjoying things.”

I smile despite the nerves. “I'm so happy to hear that. Okay. Let me just…”

Holding the tiny girl in my palm as steadily as possible, I lift my legs up onto the couch as I pivot. Slowly I lower myself back until my neck is leaning against the armrest, and then I let my occupied hand rest just above my diaphragm. Using my available fingers, I very carefully help guide my small passenger onto my chest.

“There you go,” I say, “Feel okay?”

“Yes.” She lowers into a lying position, just like she had that night, resting on her stomach as she stays propped up on her elbows. “Yeah, I'm good… Are you though? Your heart rate is really picking up, is this scaring you?”

“N-no. I mean, maybe a little bit, but… I don’t think that’s why my heart rate’s picking up.”

We’re both nervous now, I can see a wave of anxiety pass over her as her blushing expands to her ears. It’s taking an immense amount of self control to keep my breathing slow and steady since I don’t want to jostle her. This is a lot. My body remembers what happened last time. A part of me still sees myself as a menace. But at the same time… her warm little weight lying on me, as light as a flower, it’s just…

I let out an awkward breath of laughter. “Sorry, it’s just kinda intimate.”

She nods and lowers herself all the way down until her chin is resting on her arms. She manages a weak smile as she looks straight at me. “That’s what I like about it, though.”

As usual, her smile elicits mine. “Yeah, me too.”

“Is this the kind of stuff that you would fantasize about?”

Ah. I wasn’t expecting her to bring that up. We haven’t really talked much about my “fantasies,” I'm far too self conscious to bring it up myself. Doesn’t exactly help that she’s right on the money… If my heart wasn’t racing before, it certainly is now.

“Yep,” I admit, “This is exactly the kind of thing.”

Evie hums to herself with an absent nod. “I can get behind that…”

Something about the way she says it gives me another pang of embarrassment. “Did you think it’d be something… worse?”

“I don’t really know what to think, to be honest. I’m still not sure I understand the appeal.”

I’m starting to fidget nervously as I gaze just past her. Maybe this was all a really bad idea. I don’t even know if this counts as cuddling, and instead it’s bringing up all sorts of guilt and fear and awkwardness. My fingers find their way to the little woman lying on me, mindful about touching the leg that’s uninjured. Taking a second to ground myself, I grasp her tiny foot between finger and thumb, softly running the digits over the minute bone of her ankle and up the curve of her calf. To my surprise, she sighs contentedly at this. It gives me the strength to speak.

“I-I can try to answer whatever questions you have. It’s sorta hard to explain, and there are a lot of different facets to it. Um…”

I take a deep breath. And I try to push past the embarrassment. Communicate, Aiden… Talk to her…

“So… I guess one of the first things that I realized when I was younger was this... Sometimes life feels like it’s out of your control. When you’re a kid, you’re at the mercy of your parents and the other adults in your life, they’re the ones who have the ultimate say on everything. They decide what school you go to, what’s for dinner, who you get to hang out with. If your parents are in the military, you might have to move around a lot. If you have a friend who’s going through something shitty, you’re just a kid who can’t really do anything to help them. Even as you grow up you realize that your ability to make a difference is so limited.

"So the thought of having a tiny friend was almost a way of… coping. Having a secret companion, someone I could actually protect and take care of when it felt like everything else was spiraling out of control. I just found the idea incredibly comforting.”

I glance down at Evie and she’s looking at me with wide eyes. “Whoa. I never would have thought of something like that.”

I’m suddenly struck by the irony of what I just said. If anyone’s life has spiraled out of their control, it’s hers. Maybe on some level she can relate.

“Reality’s a little different,” I say, and my finger starts making its way from her leg to her shoulders, trailing up the side of her body. “Try as I might, it’s not like I’m able to take care of you as well as I’d like. I can’t protect you from everything… clearly."

I pause. I'm certainly focusing on some of the deeper realizations I've had about the kink, without quite addressing the more simple aspects of this too. Might as well be fair so I add, "But hey, if nothing else, I also can’t help thinking you look really, really cute like this. So there's that too.” I pat the top of her head as I manage a smirk.

She smiles in response but otherwise doesn't address the latter comment. She seems to deliberate for a moment before she says in a low tone, “Don’t underestimate how much you do for me, Aiden… I’d be completely lost without you.”

I can see how hard it is for her to admit that and my heart aches. It’s such a paradox. Loving her this little. Wishing I could restore her. Wanting her to be happy. Wanting her to be mine.

“Hey, don’t sell yourself short,” I say encouragingly, “Considering everything you’ve been through, you’ve been handling yourself incredibly well.” I shift my hand so that I can cover the entire length of her with it, like a quilt draping over her back. “And I’m happy to always be here for you whenever you need me. Okay?”

Her smile widens. Then she leans forward to press her lips against the floor beneath her, and despite there being a shirt in the way I can feel the kiss on my chest. A pinprick of warmth seems to bloom at that tiny point of contact and spreads across my entire body. “Thank you,” she says affectionately, nuzzling her cheek against me.

Alright, maybe laying here together wasn’t such a bad idea after all. We’re both clearly feeling more refreshed after that talk, and Evie lifts her head. “I think I’m ready to watch something now. Is it alright if we stay like this?”

I beam at her and press my fingers into a gentle hug around her body. “I’d love that.”
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:12 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Fri Oct 06, 2023 5:29 pm

Chapter 45
Evie

I’ve been staring out the window for a very long time. There are residual raindrops from the storm last night still clinging to the glass. Rays of light are beginning to shyly peek out from the clouds. The streets are empty as far as I can tell, almost eerily quiet.

There are subtle sounds in the apartment behind me. Occasional magnified footsteps, a waterfall running in the sink, the distant buzz of the refrigerator. But I just keep my eyes on the window as I sit upright on my bed. There’s a tree within eyeshot, its foliage level with the second story where I am. For way too long last night I was watching a bird trying to take shelter from the rain in those branches. The wind kept knocking the poor thing askew as it continually shook water from its wings. It fought hard to wait out the storm, but it was just so vulnerable and helpless. Eventually it flew off to look for better shelter. I hope it found some.

I can tell that the footsteps are heading in my direction now, but I’m too busy staring to acknowledge them. Finally there’s the sound of the chair creaking behind me.

“Need anything?” Aiden asks softly.

I shake my head. “I’m good, thanks.”

One massive hand floats over to my side as the giant lightly touches my arm with the back of a finger joint. “Talk to me. What’s up?”

I finally turn away from the window to smile up at him. “Sorry. Just didn’t sleep great, I guess. I’m fine.”

He sighs, and the smile he gives me in return is sympathetic. “When’s the last time you were able to get much sleep?”

I laugh wryly. “How long ago did I hurt myself?”

“About a week.”

“About a week.” I shrug. “The pain at night’s getting better. Hopefully no thunder tonight and then I’ll be totally rested tomorrow.”

We chat for a little bit longer before Aiden leaves to get me some breakfast, and I decide to sit facing his direction now, away from the window. I watch him with interest, his too-large body traversing vast distances with such ease. We’re stark opposites of each other in that regard. But I’m glad to have him around. I look forward to being able to climb into his hand without any assistance, or walk along his shoulders in a light massage while we watch a movie, or just be able to get up from the bed and write him a note like we normally would. If the universe ever decides to give me a break, I promise to myself to never take that kind of thing for granted again.

I’ll be seeing less of him today, though. Summer classes are starting soon, which means my roommate will be going back to work. Thankfully he won’t be gone all that much compared to a normal semester where he’d also be taking classes himself, but he has orientation today and it’s scheduled to take up most of the day.

Thankfully Moira’s coming. I’ve been looking forward to it - I haven’t seen her in quite a while now since she’s been so busy with work. We’ve been texting and talking on the phone a little bit, but it just hasn’t been the same. We’ve already vowed not to let this much time pass without hanging out again.

Oh hey, speak of the devil. I sit up straighter at the sound of a knock at the door. Aiden lets her in and I can tell she’s trying to suppress her bubbliness as she crosses the room with him. She looks so adorable, her strawberry-blonde hair half pulled back with a summery ribbon. I beam at her, as tired as I am, waving excitedly. Our voices climb up in pitch as we reunite.

Once we’ve all caught up a little bit, Aiden talks Moira through our setup, showing her where he keeps various new supplies since my injury. We spend some time explaining the best way to lift me up, finger and thumb just under my arms, so that my leg is spared when I need to be relocated. Mo practices with some hesitation, and it takes a little bit of time but she’s able to transfer me onto her palm without issue. I go ahead and stay there as she finishes talking to Aiden and he finally heads off to work.

Once it’s just the two of us, Moira turns back to me, setting her hand on the table’s surface and crouching down so that her face is level with me. Now that she doesn’t have to think as much about logistics for the day, it seems like she’s finally taking me in.

“Aww, Evie…” she says quietly, “Your poor leg. It’s such a big cut.”

I smirk and gesture at my heavily bandaged up calf. “What are you talking about? It’s less than an inch long.”

She rolls her eyes. “Hardy har. Are you okay right now, can I get you anything?”

“Maybe just a change in scenery?” I admit with a wince. “I don’t even care where.”

“Sure!” she chirps, carefully getting back to her feet while moving her arms as little as possible, “Let’s go down by the ottoman for a bit?”

It’s only a couple of feet away, but to me it’s akin to going to a different room in the house, so I welcome it anyway. Moira sits down and rests her hands with me in them onto the ottoman. She makes no gesture to take me off of her though, and I gratefully linger in her palm.

“How have things been otherwise?” she asks me avidly, “I can’t believe it’s been over three weeks since we’ve hung out.”

“I know, I’ve missed you,” I answer with a smile. “Um, I’ve been pretty good I guess, up until the injury.”

“So you and Aiden have been doing alright then? Ever since…?”

Oh, right. I’d called Moira on the phone just after Aiden accidentally grabbed me in his sleep, but we haven’t been able to talk about it since. I haven’t even told her about our trip to the lab yet. I nod and say, “Yeah. It was just an accident, we’ve been figuring things out. Things have been… great, honestly.”

I can already feel myself blushing a little bit as I squirm inwardly. I also haven’t told her about just how close Aiden and I have been getting. I’m still not completely sure what it will all amount to, and I don’t know if I feel ready to talk about it yet. Thankfully she doesn’t pry.

“I’m glad to hear that. You two are handling all of this like champions. Although - and please don’t take this the wrong way - you look really exhausted, girl.”

I shrug, still feeling awkward from the previous subject, and I try to brush aside her concern. “It’s hard to sleep with all of this bandaging. But it’s healing. I’ll be just fine.”

“Hang in there… I can actually relate a little bit. It sucks when you’re trying to recover from something, but said thing is keeping you from getting the rest you need. It’s a vicious cycle.”

My eyebrows shoot up at this new fragment of information. “Oh? Have you dealt with any injuries before?” I ask curiously.

“Not exactly. I had a heart condition when I was younger, and sometimes the episodes would happen at night.” She reacts to the sudden look of horror on my face by waving her free hand reassuringly, “It’s all good now though!”

“Moira, I had no idea,” I stutter, still very concerned about the current state of her health. “You’re sure it’s all good now?”

“Oh yeah. I eventually had a procedure done that completely took care of it. But I was struggling with it for years since my parents didn’t take it seriously. Until I ended up in the hospital, and then the doctors were able to see exactly what was happening.”

I’m seeing her in a new light now that I know she’s battled through something so major. I wish I could do something as simple as crawl over to her thumb so that I can give it a hug. But even that would be a struggle right now, so I just try to commiserate. “That must have been so rough.”

“Yeah, it was hard,” she mutters as one corner of her mouth turns up. “Probably not as hard as being inches tall with a busted leg, though.”

I smile up at her weakly. I think we’ve just formed a new level of kinship here.

Her tone shifts as she says, “You know what helped make me feel better when I was going through that?” She turns to the side and uses her unoccupied hand to rummage through her purse before pulling out a small grocery bag. “Baking. I brought blackberries!”

I perk up. “Yeah, that sounds great. You’re welcome to use the kitchen if you like. I just wish I could help.”

“You can!” she says eagerly. “You’ve mentioned one of your favorite recipes was blackberry cobbler, right? I’ve never made cobbler myself, so… can you teach me?”

Despite the fatigue, I straighten up fully with budding excitement. Maybe having a task to do is just what I need right now.

Moira carries me to the kitchen and helps me find a comfortable seat on a bag of brown sugar. Between what she brought and what’s already in the cupboards we have everything we need, and I recite the recipe steps as best as I can from memory. I’ve helped teach Aiden how to make many different meals at this point, but while he was a fairly inexperienced cook when I moved in, Mo already knows her way around the kitchen tools, so she makes my job easy.

“My childhood friend Lynne taught me this recipe,” I say once the cobbler is safely in the oven. “Maybe that’s another reason why I’m so fond of it.”

“Oh, I’m not sure you’ve ever mentioned her to me before,” Moira says as she gets back to standing. “Do you guys still keep in touch at all?”

I tell her the same story that I’ve told Aiden before, that I was good friends with this kid in elementary school, how they were the one who got me into baking and anime. And how the moment they talked to me about feeling confused about their gender and my mom overheard our conversation, I was forced to change schools and never saw my former best friend again. It’s a bit of a downer of a tale, but revisiting Lynne in my mind is kinda nice. I bet they would have gotten along really well with Moira, actually... I wonder how they’re doing now.

My giant friend looks sympathetic. “Hmm. Sounds like your mom was… a little close minded?”

“You could say that,” I mumble. Talking to her about the hard stuff is always cathartic, but I need to be careful. I’m starting to head into forbidden-conversation territory.

“So is mine,” Moira sympathizes. “My dad’s even worse.”

My shoulders slump. “I’m sorry to hear that. You get along with your sister though, right?” I remember her mentioning that her sister was planning to visit in the fall.

“Yeah, we get along okay, I guess. She’s the only family member I still talk to at all.” Suddenly she winces and clasps her hands together apologetically. “Sorry, Evie, I don’t mean to keep bringing things back to me.”

I laugh out loud at this. “Are you kidding me? First of all, I want to be there for you too if you ever need to vent. Second of all, you’re helping me feel less alone in my problems. I literally have no family left... Not that I miss them.”

She nods with relief and says, “Hey, blood ties can be overrated. I personally prefer friends.”

I stay silent and thoughtful for a minute as she starts cleaning up the countertop. The only reason I’m friends with Moira is because Aiden introduced me… because I was lonely. I’ll admit, I still get lonely sometimes. I’ve dealt with various levels of loneliness my entire life, even when I was surrounded by people. The difference now is that I can say with absolute confidence that my only two friends are some of the best people I’ve ever met. That’s something to be thankful for, at least.

“Hey, Moira?” I call out. She looks down to acknowledge me, her big green eyes bright and attentive. From my still seated position, I stretch my arms up towards her face. “Can I have a hug?”

For a second she just blinks in surprise. Then she smiles shyly as she crouches down, until her eyes are level with me on the counter. “That's not reserved for a certain someone?” she asks sheepishly.

My fingertips spread out for emphasis as I say, “It's reserved for the people I really care about.”

She leans in slowly, cautious about doing anything that might hurt me, but she lets her eyes close once I make contact with her face. I lean against her nose and then hug my arms to her cheek, pressing my own cheek against her skin. Her head is markedly smaller than Aiden’s, her features are so dainty, and she smells like lilac instead of cedarwood. It’s a completely different kind of intimacy, but a tender one nonetheless. I feel like the smile that’s on my face is the first genuine one that I’ve had all day.

Soon the cobbler’s ready and we’re back in the living room enjoying the sweet treat. After that we play some conversation games like Would You Rather and 20 Questions, where I don’t need to stand up to participate. Later we watch a Disney movie as we cool off with some iced tea.

My heart soars with gratitude. Even when Aiden was unable to help with my shit mood today, there was Moira, ready to take the baton. I can’t wait to share some of this cobbler with him once he finishes work. At long last I’m feeling like I can see the light at the end of the tunnel despite this injury. I’m finally able to return to my usual mantra - don’t give up, fight back, work harder. Take that, universe.
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Sat Oct 07, 2023 1:57 pm

"Soon the cobbler’s ready and we’re back in the living room enjoying the sweet treat. After that we play some conversation games like Would You Rather and 20 Questions, where I don’t need to stand up to participate. Later we watch a Disney movie as we cool off with some iced tea."

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Sun Oct 08, 2023 5:29 pm

DocRick wrote:
Sat Oct 07, 2023 1:57 pm
"Soon the cobbler’s ready and we’re back in the living room enjoying the sweet treat. After that we play some conversation games like Would You Rather and 20 Questions, where I don’t need to stand up to participate. Later we watch a Disney movie as we cool off with some iced tea."
Aww this edit is so cute!


Chapter 46
Evie

For a second I’m blinded by a patch of sunlight that peeks through the clouds. I close my eyes and sigh contentedly, enjoying the extra bout of warmth on my skin. I love summer.

Oh, right, cards. Focus.

I blink a few times to help regain my vision and readjust my seated position. I’ve never been on something quite like this, a wooden picnic table. I’m used to the wood of the desk back home, smooth and flat and light in color. This material is very different, much more weathered and uneven and natural. It’s actually rather nice to look at, a display of swirling lines and patchworks of colors from where the surface is worn away. The grooves aren’t particularly comfortable to sit on, but leave it to Moira to bring a silk scarf as a soft cushion.

Being mindful of my still-healing leg, I scoot sideways along the fabric to get a better look at the Magic cards. As I move, Aiden pipes up, his hand suddenly swooping in above my head with a pointing finger.

“Watch out for that splinter there,” he says, “See it?”

“Yep, I got it,” I say with a little laugh.

He’s been perhaps a wee bit overbearing lately. I mean, okay… that’s not completely fair. He’s had to look after me so diligently since I hurt myself almost two weeks ago, it’s only natural that his habits now include being constantly vigilant. It’s a good thing. A kind thing. Not to mention the added bonus of him gracing me with his touch even more than usual to help me get around. But something about relinquishing so much control to him is also kinda starting to mess with my head.

Whatever, it’s fine. I care about him, and I trust him. And he had a point in that moment when he told me I need to learn to ask for help. I'm just trying to accept it, since the last thing I want to do is make him upset with me again. I'm already worried about the fact that he might get sick of dealing with me since I’ve been so extra helpless… And to be completely frank, the fact that I depend on him for basic shelter still isn't lost on me. So I keep my mouth shut and follow his lead.

I flinch at a stranger walking by in the distance. The three of us are at a park on campus, a different one from the more secluded spot that Aiden and I would typically visit, and we’re not the only ones enjoying the lovely weather. We’re off to the side, though, at a lone picnic table, with the closest group of people at least twenty feet away. They all look like they’re in their own world too, either laying in the grass and reading, or sitting in a group on a picnic blanket. Even further is a bunch of guys playing soccer. We figured that since both Aiden and Moira are here, no one would suspect anything from them openly speaking to me, because it would just look like they were talking with each other. Mo’s put her purse next to me anyway, just as a way to block me from most views, and it’s open for me to duck into if need be.

Once the passerby is gone, I point at one of the cards that’s on the wooden stand. Aiden plucks it up and winces when he sees what it is. “Damnit, Evie,” he growls before placing the Fauna Shaman in the play area and tapping my lands for me.

“I’ve been getting really lucky with the draws this game!” I say, half apologetically. “That’s my turn, I’m done.”

“Craaaap,” Moira grumbles, drawing a card and then looking through her hand. “And she’s already got her Sneak Attack out and Mother of Runes? Evie’s dominating us this round…”

“Okay… hear me out, Mo…” Aiden says, looking through his own hand. “If you have anything that can help get rid of Mother of Runes, I have Banefire and can kill the shaman on my turn.”

“Umm, excuse me? You guys forming an alliance over there?” I scoff.

“Well, you’re the biggest threat right now!” the taller giant says, glancing down at me with a smirk. I find his choice of words very, very amusing.

“I haven’t agreed to anything,” Moira responds absently as she stares at the play area, deep in thought.

“If we don’t get rid of that shaman, you know we’re both dead when we get back to her turn,” Aiden insists.

“Alright, alright… Nothing ventured, nothing gained I guess.”

Moira spends her turn clearing off most of the board with Wrath of God - yep, that’s an actual card name. It leaves herself vulnerable, but it leaves me vulnerable too.

It’s Aiden’s turn next. He mechanically draws a card, but then he pauses and his eyes widen at what he’s just obtained. The corners of his mouth twitch, as if he’s not sure if he should be smiling or not. Finally he looks sidelong at our mutual friend.

“Umm… Please don’t hate me, Moira…”

She lets out an exaggerated gasp. “What do you mean? What about Banefire?”

“I… I mean, I could do that, or um… well, there’s only one winner in the end, so…”

He places down a card called Roiling Earthquake. It does indeed knock out my shaman, just as he had promised. But it simultaneously damages Moira considerably, enough to knock her out of the game.

“Traitooor…” I hiss.

“I didn’t know I was about to draw that card!”

Moira gracefully sets her cards down on the table, smoothing her fingers over them as she bows out. “Don’t worry. I don’t hold grudges. Not for very long, at least. Murder him, Evie.”

And I do. I have another amazing draw on my turn - Emrakul the Aeons Torn, thank you very much - and between that and my Sneak Attack I completely destroy my final opponent on my next turn. Moira celebrates my victory right along with me, and Aiden takes the defeat with relief, as I’m sure he would have felt guilty if he’d won after screwing his friend over so blatantly. Laughter fills the space between us. I feel giddy, not just from having won the game, but from the lovely weather and the wonderful company.

“Okay, I don’t know about you two, but I’m starving,” says Moira, ducking down underneath the table to rummage through her picnic bag.

“Yeah, let’s eat,” Aiden agrees, and he begins clearing off the table from our cards. I wish I could help clean up, I’m practically twitching from how restless I feel. I remain seated, though. My leg’s doing a lot better, I’m finally able to crawl and hobble around on my crutches now. But I've probably been overdoing it if I'm honest, even though I know it’s best if I just take it easy and let it heal.

We all decided to make a dish for the picnic today - including me. I had tried to think of something that would involve fine detail work and finally landed on steamed dumplings. I had Aiden’s help of course when it came to gathering what I needed and using the steamer, but otherwise I was able to cut and mix the ingredients for the filling and the dipping sauce, all on my own. Despite my leg, I was also able to individually fill each wrapper and fold up the edges into a rather elegant design.

My roommate opted for the much simpler task of making a few different kinds of sandwiches. And as Moira pops back up from under the picnic table with some tupperware of her own, she reveals a variety of salads that she prepped.

“Evie!” she gushes as Aiden opens up the box with the rows of dumplings I made, “That is the cutest thing I’ve ever seen!"

I’m guessing she’s referring to the decorations. Before cooking them, I used a little bit of water to adhere black sesame seeds to the top of the dumplings and created a variety of intricate designs on them, from stars to flowers to hearts. I have to admit, I’m pretty proud of how they all turned out, considering my limited artistic ability.

“Thank you!” I chirp, “They were fun to make. Ooo, I’m so glad you made one of the salads a fruit salad, I didn’t think about dessert.”

I jump at the sudden motion of a massive arm shifting much closer to me, stopping right next to where I’m sitting. Before I can wonder why Aiden just did that, I see a blur of movement in the air, though my view is now mostly blocked. There’s approaching footsteps and I finally figure out that what I saw was an truck-sized soccer ball that got kicked near our table and someone’s coming to retrieve it. I duck even lower behind the arm wall, wondering if I should drag myself into Moira’s purse. But Mo smoothly continues the conversation as if nothing had happened, just to avoid any suspicion.

“Well, this is a hell of a feast,” she says eagerly, and I peer just over the dip of Aiden’s wrist to see a looming figure who’s passing by just a few feet away from the picnic table. “Now I want to do this every weekend.”

My roommate responds nonchalantly, “Well, I don’t have to work on the weekends soooo…” He casually, slowly pulls his arm away now, signaling that the coast is clear. It’s a tricky life we lead, but both of my large friends have gotten good at this whole secrecy thing.

I’m finally able to jump back into the conversation with a laugh, “Uh, I’m going to run out of recipes that I’m able to make myself if we do this too often.”

“Actually, I probably will too,” Aiden chuckles, his hands busy as he preps me-sized portions of food.

“Alright, one picnic at a time,” Mo acquiesces. She’s absently braiding her hair to keep it out of the way, and her eyes are bright with interest as she changes the subject. “So. Any big summer projects for either of you?”

As I’m handed a heaping plate, I exchange glances with the giant who I’ve become particularly close with. We still haven’t mentioned anything about just how close we're getting to Moira, not yet. Quickly I try to scan my brain for any other “projects” for the coming months.

“I’m really close to launching Bitty Forge,” I offer, referring to my mini-painting business. “Just gotta take the product photography and I’ll be ready…”

We slip into this subject for a little while, as I have so much that I've been working on - or at least have been longing to work on, since some of it has taken a backseat while I heal. I begin to eat and my spirits are lifted ever higher. Now I can add delicious food on top of the great weather and company. I just wish I was a little more mobile and the afternoon would have been perfect.

Well, almost. About halfway through our meal, I notice Aiden turn his head in a quick glance before going rigid. At the same time, I hear Moira gasp and both of the giants are quickly reaching for me. I cry out in surprise, the sight of two fast-approaching hands scaring the crap out of me. Mo gets there first and she cages her fingers above and around my body. A split second later, there’s a loud thump and Aiden winces.

“Oh shit! You okay, man?”

I have no idea what just happened. But I hear the unknown voice and can tell it’s approaching, so I quickly shuffle out from under Moira’s hand, ducking just past the entrance of the nearby purse. In the dimmer light I try to catch my breath, still a little freaked out, but I think I piece it together. What I heard was that same soccer ball from before hitting Aiden square in the back. From the angle it was flying at, I don't think it would have landed on me, but he wasn't going to take that chance so he chose not to dodge out of the way.

“Yeah, I’m fine,” he grumbles, turning towards the strangers.

From where I’m sitting I can see the edge of Moira’s figure as she steps away from the table to pick up the ball. “You guys do realize the goal’s that way?” she says, gesturing off to the side. Her naturally friendly tone has a tinge of admonishment to it. Like a sweet school teacher who you’d never want to cross.

The dudes who very well could have accidentally killed me in a different universe are apologetic, and I think they move further away after that since we don’t hear from them for the rest of the outing. Once it’s clear that they're not coming any closer and Moira leaves my line of sight to go hand the ball off to them, I hurry back out of the purse.

“You okay, really?” I call up to Aiden, having to clumsily crawl as I drag my leg behind me so that I can get closer to him. I put both of my hands on his, my eyes full of concern.

He turns to me and smiles. “All good. I was just wanting to play hero and impress the damsel,” he says in a low voice, reaching up to gently stroke the side of my face. “Did it work?”

I roll my eyes but nod anyway, and I reflexively plant a kiss on the back of his hand, forgetting for a second that our other friend is also nearby... She’s just about to sit back down at the table, and I quickly pull my mouth away. When I glance at her she doesn't seem to have noticed anything.

“Thanks for covering me,” I tell her, making sure to show appreciation to both of my friends.

“No worries! Sorry for freaking you out… Uhhh what were we talking about?” Moira asks.

“You were just mentioning that new podcast you’re listening to?” I prompt, and we slip back into conversation.

It lasts for all of another five minutes. Aiden suddenly interrupts with a sigh as he looks past the both of us. “There's a dog coming, no leash…” he mutters, “It's small though - you're safe, Eve. Hey, buddy!”

Moira protectively slips her hand over me again, just in case, as Aiden plays interference with the dog. I’m actually glad that I can’t see the beast from my perspective, I’ve yet to encounter an animal up close but the idea of it is pretty terrifying. I can hear the loud canine panting and cower in my little hand cave. I peer out at Mo and she has an exasperated smile when she looks back at me.

“Different park next time?” she whispers my way.

I nod in agreement. “Different park.”
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Mon Oct 09, 2023 1:46 am

Love your writing.

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Mon Oct 09, 2023 2:51 am

"About halfway through our meal, I notice Aiden turn his head in a quick glance before going rigid. At the same time, I hear Moira gasp and both of the giants are quickly reaching for me. I cry out in surprise, the sight of two fast-approaching hands scaring the crap out of me. Mo gets there first and she cages her fingers above and around my body. A split second later, there’s a loud thump and Aiden winces."


Image

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Tue Oct 10, 2023 5:40 pm

DocRick wrote:
Mon Oct 09, 2023 1:46 am
Love your writing.
Thank you so much!!


Chapter 47
Aiden

I'm very excited about two things today.

For one, Evie's walking has gotten so much better. We haven't been wrapping her leg for a while now, she doesn't need crutches nearly as often, and in fact I could hardly notice any kind of limp this morning. The cut is still quite visible, as I'm sure it will be for a while yet, but after almost three weeks of healing she's nearly independent again. At least, as independent as she used to be.

The other thing is that we have a date planned. An actual, proper date. It wasn't presented that way, but we both know that's what it is. She’s the one who initiated it, actually.

“You know the Laid Back Camp movie?” she had asked me one day, pointing at something she was reading on her phone, “There’s a special screening in our area! Can we go?”

I perked up at the suggestion, having a soft spot for the show itself and for the fact that it was the first anime we watched together. “I’d love to! Except… do you think you can handle it? Isn’t the screen going to be, like, ginormous for you? Not to mention the sound.”

“I’ll bring something to plug my ears with. I think it’s worth a shot!”

And that was that. Now here I am walking around the movie theater lobby with a tiny girl hiding up near my shoulder, within the folds of the hood of my jacket. Not only is the hoodie nice for the theater, where they pump in way too much AC, but it’s easier to talk to her this way than if she were in my shirt pocket. We figured it’d be a little weird for me to pretend to be on the phone here, so we’ve gone back to the simple whispering tactic.

We got here nice and early, which means we have the time to look at some of the movie posters in a rather empty hallway to kill time. I gaze up at what looks like one solid black rectangle, until I notice that there’s a glossy texture on parts of it so that a pair of wide, demonic eyes appear under the right light, with a release date underneath. Freaky.

“What’s your opinion on horror movies?” Evie asks from near my ear. She’s more or less sitting on the base of the hood, which is resting on the downward slope of the back of my shoulder. I can just feel her elbows softly leaning on the skin near neck… Such a nice little spot to keep her in.

“I guess I’m neutral?" I answer quietly, "I don’t really scare easily when it’s just a movie. I tend to poke fun at it, the rare instance I’m forced to watch one. You?”

“I’m… a total scaredy cat. I can handle gore okay, but anything that’s too spooky and I’m a whimpering mess.”

“We should watch one together then! It’s a good time if you just make fun of it the whole time. You’ll see.”

“Nooooo no no no, I’m too scared. Forget I said anything.”

I won’t actually force her to watch anything she doesn’t want. But the idea of a girl fearfully snuggling into you while watching a horror flick is already kind of cute when she’s normal sized. Much less when she’s tiny and burrowing herself into your hands instead. I briefly imagine Evie trying to hide by scurrying down the front of my shirt, and I have trouble fighting back laughter.

“I’d protect you, little one,” I say soothingly, and she nuzzles against my neck in response. I keep moving down the hallway, to the next poster, feeling like I’m walking on clouds.

I can’t believe we’re doing this. I really am taking her out. Somewhere that’s not walking distance from my apartment, but someplace new. The first outing of many, I hope.

We had to drive to get here, which means I was finally able to acquire the new piece of protection to help keep Evie safe in my pocket. Moira has a friend she knows through work who’s really crafty, and I was able to commission what I’m sure sounded like a very odd request. I’d just met up with Mo yesterday so that she could hand it off to me.

“Here you go, try it out,” she said with an eager smile, giving me what looked like a thick piece of plastic about the size of a playing card. It was a roughly rectangular shape, with a top wider than the bottom, and the entire thing was curved through some kind of heat treatment. On the inside of the curvature there were a couple of layers of soft fabric adhered to the hard plastic.

I’d made sure to wear a shirt with a pocket for the occasion. I slid the plastic inside, and the dimensions were flawless. There was now a protective barrier lining the inside of my pocket, so that if the car's airbag ever popped out it shouldn't crush any tiny people inside, while still giving Evie a padded surface to crash into. It would give me a hell of a bruise, but I can deal with that. There's enough of a gap formed by the curved plastic that she would have plenty of room, and the layer of cloth should help it still be comfortable. I can just store this thing in the car, and any time I want to bring her with me on a drive, I can easily slip it in and out.

And just like that, I felt the world opening back up to us. The possibilities were suddenly endless.

We're both buzzing with excitement as we head into the darkness of the theater, and I make a beeline for the back row, wanting to get as far away from the screen as physically possible. I pick out a spot and cautiously sit down, glancing around myself. There's one other couple on the far end of the row, but otherwise we're pretty isolated. I set down our little bucket of popcorn - yes, I got some despite how overpriced it is. It’s a special occasion.

After a few minutes of waiting for people to trickle in, I silently creep one hand up to the hood of my jacket, and without having to say anything I feel Evie climb into it. I bring her around to the front of me, still keeping her close to avoid anyone seeing, holding her just around my collarbone.

"Well?" I whisper, glancing down in her direction. Her face keeps whipping around, this way and that, not just looking around for nearby people but also still taking in the sheer expanse of the theater screen. I wonder what it must be like for her.

"It's hard to even look at all of it at once," she marvels.

"Uh oh. Too much to handle?"

"Nah, since we're so far away it's fine. It's like… watching a projection on a canyon wall, but from a quarter mile away."

"Whoa. Well, just say the word if you change your mind. In the meantime, let's make sure your ears are more protected…"

I reach into my jacket pocket to fish out a cotton ball and hand it to her. It was the only thing we could think of to use - it’s as big as a beach ball in her hands, but she’s able to tear off tiny pieces of it and stuff them into her ears. At least, I hope she’s having success, because the lights suddenly dim further, and as my eyes adjust I have trouble making her out.

“Whack me if you need anything, okay?” I murmur.

“What?”

Oh crap. Didn’t think of this. I glance around furtively before I try raising my voice at all, but a second later Evie laughs and says, “Just kidding, you’re still not exactly quiet to m–”

The boom of the speakers splits the air and I hear a tiny squeak of a yell. There’s a panicked shuffling against my palm, and as the theater screen lights up the room from whatever kids’ movie trailer it’s showing, I can see my friend's small figure nearly tripping over herself trying to climb back onto my shoulder. Instead I quickly lift her higher, up by my ear, so that I can hear her response when I ask, “Should we leave?”

Evie leans heavily against the side of my face, trembling, but I can feel her taking deep, steadying breaths. She has to yell over the obnoxious noise of the trailer. “N-no. I’m getting used to it. It’s just like… a concert. No biggie, I just need a m-minute. The cotton’s much better than nothing.”

I cup her in both hands against me, hold her close, stroke her back with a finger. To be completely honest, this is a small theater and the sound system isn’t that great - for the average person it’s on the quiet side. But again, just like with the size of the screen, I can’t even begin to imagine what the experience must be like for someone so small.

The trailer ends and I hear a softer breath as she seems to unclench. She shifts against me, and it takes me a second to realize it, but she’s giving me a kiss on the cheek. “I’m good,” she says, and the strength definitely seems to have returned to her voice.

I still keep her in my hand for a bit, just to be sure, gradually lowering her to my chest level. Finally as the trailers end and the movie begins, I help her settle onto the armrest. She’s already come around in the past few minutes, having acclimated to the overstimulating environment, and now she’s getting excited again.

I’m distracted from the film as I continue feeling the need to watch over her. When the fireworks begin bursting over the introductory scene, she looks skyward to beam up at me, before pointing eagerly towards the screen, clearly indicating that I should be watching too. I chuckle and look ahead of me, she sits leaning against my wrist, and I’m just so happy to be here right now. My little secret at my side, unbeknownst to everyone else in the room.

We’re about twenty minutes into the movie before I suddenly remember that the popcorn exists. I nudge my thumb against Evie to get her attention before bringing the little tub into view. Well, anytime I think the word “little” I have to temper myself - to her the container is more like a koi fish pond. She straightens up, having also apparently forgotten about the treat until now, and nods excitedly. I put the bucket in my lap and pluck out one of the kernels to hand to her. She gives me a thumbs up and starts nibbling away at it.

I pick at the snack too, but I’m paying attention to the screen again so I’m not sure exactly what happens a few minutes later. Maybe the kernel I’d given her was burnt? Maybe it was mostly un-popped? Regardless, at some point she decided she needed another piece, and instead of getting my attention, she must have tried to reach out from the armrest to get it herself. I feel it more than I hear it, a slight shift of the container in my lap. And I look down to see a pair of tiny legs protruding from the popcorn and flailing wildly.

My breath hitches as I reach down, instinctively wanting to yank her back up by the legs. But in the dark I can’t tell which limb is which and I’m scared to touch the one that’s still healing. A second later, Evie wriggles into a seated position while managing not to sink deeper, her head popping out as if she was sitting in a foam pit. I’m surprised to see that she’s laughing, hard, completely caught in a fit of giggles. I can’t help breaking into quiet laughter myself, relieved that she seems fine.

“Why didn’t you just ask me for more?” I ask through a chuckle, digging a couple of fingers into the popcorn to fish her out.

“I felt dumb for having dropped the one you gave me!” she calls up. “I thought I had it... And now I’m covered in butter.”

My shoulders droop a little as I let out a slow sigh through my nose. She said the same thing the day she got injured. “I thought I had it.” Come on, girl. I know it sucks, but why can’t you just acknowledge your limits? When are you going to feel okay relying on me?

When I met up with Moira yesterday to get the reimagined "pocket protector," this subject actually came up in conversation.

"How’s she doing?" Mo had asked, her expression turning a little more serious.

"Since you saw her yesterday?" I teased. She's been at our apartment almost every weekday to be there for Evie while I'm at work.

"Yeah. She seemed kinda down - at least I think. It's hard to tell sometimes."

I became more serious too, both saddened and relieved to be reminded that I'm not the only one who sometimes feels unsure about what goes on in our friend’s head. "She’s alright," I said, "Her leg’s doing a lot better today, after a couple of days of it getting worse, so she seemed in higher spirits this morning. Of course, if she stopped trying to do things by herself maybe it’d finish healing faster…"

Moira raised her eyebrows before prompting, "Sounds like that’s bothering you?"

I looked away, towards the window of the cafe we were at. "A little. I understand that she wants some amount of independence, this is nothing new. But… refusing to ask for help is part of why the injury was so bad in the first place. She was getting better about calling for me when she couldn’t walk at all, I guess she had no choice then. But now it’s like she’s going right back to her old habits."

I hadn't realized how much this was weighing on me until it all tumbled out. I sighed and leaned back in my chair.

"In some ways she’s gotten much more open with me since she moved in, and in others she’s just as closed off as ever,” I finally muttered, still staring out the window. “After all this time, I just wish she’d be okay leaning on me more. I’m constantly worrying."

I felt a pressure on my forearm and turned to see Moira had reached across the table to give it a squeeze. She had a small, sympathetic smile on her face.

"I say this with love," she gently countered, "Because I know how much you're always wanting to help people. Aiden, you can't solve all of her problems for her."

My jaw clenched as my first thought was, Maybe I could if she'd let me.

But instead all I said was a quiet, "I know."

I gaze down at Evie as she pulls herself out of the popcorn and onto my hand. Even now she's acting so apologetic through her laughter. Almost… deferential. As if I was her superior in some way, not just her friend.

I wonder why we have such a hard time finding the right balance. Should I have a more serious talk with her about it? I’m not sure what I’d say that I haven’t already tried to say. I don't know how much of it is just something I’m building up in my own head, making a mountain out of a molehill. Hell, am I the one fully at fault here? Am I not respecting her enough?

Or could it be that… she still sees me as a threat, on some level? Is she afraid of opening up to me? I'm still not over what happened that night after my final exams - I still have moments where I wake up in a cold sweat, haunted by her screams. Maybe it's the same with her, maybe it affects her more than she lets on…

My chest feels tight as for a second I look away from her, trying to get a hold of myself, and I glance up at the theater screen instead. The character in the movie is looking towards a mountain in the dark, and the music swells as the sunrise peeks over the mountain and lights up the sky, making the valley come to life. The artwork really is beautiful.

Why am I thinking about all this right now? I need to stop overanalyzing every little thing. We’re on what might be considered a first date, I don’t want anxiety to get in the way. I just want to enjoy this.

“Do you want to go wash off?” I ask Evie, “I can take you to a bathroom sink?”

“I think it’s pointless, it's all over my outfit too and I don’t want wet clothes. You just gotta deal with me being covered in oil and salt.”

I grin and lift her to my face to kiss her upper back. I can only imagine what the couple on the other end of the row might be thinking if they notice my movements - maybe that I just have a really weird way of eating. But it's dark, and from the way that I cup my hand around her, I’m confident that I’m keeping her hidden at least.

“Well the bonus is that you taste delicious now,” I mutter, still holding her against my mouth. "Maybe I should keep you right here for the rest of the movie."

“There we go, that’s how we can wash me off! Like a cat.”

“Mmm, careful with your suggestions. You’re tempting fate,” I murmur, choosing not to actually use my tongue but still continuing to gently kiss her frame. Evie has residual giggles, and from the way she writhes against me I think I’m tickling her when I reach her waist. But she’s not pulling away, if anything she's leaning into it.

And with that, I’m right back in my happy place, the anxiety dissipating. After all, the things I cherish about this girl far outweigh the parts that bother me. I adore her laugh. The ways she shows affection. The way she fits in the palm of my hand. I appreciate the sweet moments, and the silly ones - the times where we learn from each other or have fun together or relax in tandem. It’s all so worth it.

I’m a patient guy. Whatever reservations she has, I can wait for her to figure them out. All I can do is reach out my hand and open my heart. It’s up to her to decide what she wants to do with that. And I have every hope that we will find a balance.
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:13 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Tue Oct 10, 2023 11:41 pm

“Well the bonus is that you taste delicious now,” I mutter, still holding her against my mouth. "Maybe I should keep you right here for the rest of the movie."

“There we go, that’s how we can wash me off! Like a cat.”

“Mmm, careful with your suggestions. You’re tempting fate,” I murmur, choosing not to actually use my tongue but still continuing to gently kiss her frame.


---Aiden is a bigger nerd than I thought he was !!!!!!! :lol:

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Thu Oct 12, 2023 3:38 pm

DocRick wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2023 11:41 pm
---Aiden is a bigger nerd than I thought he was !!!!!!! :lol:
Haha how is he a nerd here? Though I mean yes, he is a nerd lolol and so is she~



Chapter 48
Evie

“Hey, Moira?”

I try to time my question for when my petite-but-still-enormous friend isn’t so concentrated on the detail work that she’s in the middle of. She’s been very focused on painting a mug and has just set down her brush to look over her progress. But she shoots me a warm smile the second I say her name.

“What’s up?”

“Do you like camping?” I pause in the middle of my own painting work. This is one of those rare occasions where all three of Mo’s roommates are out at the same time, so I’m hanging out at her place for once. We just had dinner and are getting some work done for our Etsy shops while Aiden’s out with a couple of friends.

Moira leans an elbow on the table as she ponders this. “I haven’t done a whole lot of it. I like being outside, but… I don’t really love the whole tent thing. Why? Is Aiden planning on bringing you on one of his camping trips?”

“No, not really. We keep talking about it as if we’ll do it one day, but I think it’s mostly wishful thinking. I’ve never camped before… I’d love to try it, but it’s probably not a good idea.”

“Hmm, because of the critters and stuff?”

“And the close quarters. Not sure where I’d sleep in a one-person tent. Maybe in a box or something.”

“Well, if you’re going to try camping with anyone, I think he’d be the one to do it with. Even if I knew what I was doing, it’s not like I’m ever able to take time off.”

I feel suddenly derailed by this detail. “Aww, Mo! When’s the last time you took a vacation?”

“Um…” Moira idly taps a finger against the surface of the table. “Trips like the one to Florida don’t count?”

“Nope. Something not work related.” I’ve left the mini I was working on to take a few steps closer to her. I drape my forearms onto hers, looking up at her expectantly.

“It’s probably been years then…” She gives me a half smile and shrugs her shoulders. “I’ve got big dreams. Gotta put in the time so I can reach them.”

“I really, really admire you for that,” I say, and this time I lean forward to rest my chin on her arm too. “But I'm worried you'll burn out. No matter how much yoga and Tai Chi you do. We should all go on a trip somewhere!”

She lets out a little laugh. “The three of us? I’m down.” In a gentle yet playful gesture she reaches over to poke the top of my head. “Though you sure I wouldn’t just be in the way?”

My mouth snaps shut. I can feel myself blushing fervently. Has she figured out that Aiden and I…?

Thankfully I’m spared answering her when there’s an unfamiliar dinging sound that splits the air. Moira gasps, “Oh oh oh! Evie, look! You’ve got an order!”

I immediately pivot, whipping around to where she’s pointing. I have my phone propped up a short distance away, and there’s a notification from the Etsy app that has lit the screen up.

“Oh my god,” I breathe, putting a hand to my mouth. “It’s my first one.” I just made the Bitty Forge storefront public yesterday. I had no idea how long it would take for someone to buy something.

“Really?! Congrats, girl!”

I’m hurrying over to my phone now to open up the app and see which of the figurines was purchased. Gnome bard. Yeah, I was pretty proud of that one. Soon she'll have a new home in Nebraska. My mind’s already busy with the fact that I’ll need to write out a receipt and pack up the mini tomorrow - it’s one of the smaller ones so I’m pretty confident I can do it myself. I’ll have to rely on Aiden to mail it out for me, but thankfully the post office is about a block away from home, the plan is for him to drop packages off on the way to work. Holy crap… it's happening. I can actually make money at this size!

While I’m fussing over that, Moira’s own phone buzzes and she swiftly answers the call. “Hey! You all done with dinner?”

I can’t quite make out everything that he’s saying, but I recognize Aiden’s voice on the other end of the line. I abandon what I was doing and quickly start packing up the paints and materials I’d just been using. Once Mo’s off the phone, she helps me gather up the rest and then escorts me out of her apartment building.

Even though the sun is setting and it's getting darker, I can tell which car we’re heading towards from afar. The glass window on the driver's side starts lowering, my bright-eyed roommate smiling from within. He quickly notices me poking my head out from my usual spot in the purse-carrier, and after a brief glance around to make sure no one's there, he reaches a hand out preemptively as we make our way over to him.

“Guess who got her first sale!” Moira sings, carefully lifting me out of her bag and holding me up, as if displaying a child’s artwork, before she hands me over.

“Oh shit! That’s awesome, Evie!” Aiden’s beaming now as I hop onto his palm, and I feel like I’m melting as our eyes meet and he guides me into the car. I can tell he was about to bring me right to his mouth but thought better of it… We really do just need to tell Moira already. It feels like we’ve been waiting for some sort of event to mark our relationship as something official, but maybe that’s silly.

We say goodbye to our friend, and soon I’m sitting in a pocket, cheek pressed up against the giant’s chest as I snuggle into him and drink in his warmth. I hear a thump outside the thick wall that lines the pocket. I think Aiden's still getting used to the fact that there's a barrier there whenever he's driving.

"Hey," he says enthusiastically, "Would you be down to go out somewhere?"

I glance up. "Right now?"

"Yeah! I want to celebrate you starting your own business. It's pretty amazing, you know."

“Aww thank you. I couldn't have done it without you. And now I can actually earn my keep!"

He sighs softly but jokes along. "Good thing too. I was thiiiis close to kicking you out."

I grin and snuggle deeper into his shirt. "I'd love to go somewhere with you."

“Okay, great! I have just the place in mind.”

He takes me to "Kleine Blume," which is a beer garden of some sort. At least that’s what he calls it, but he explains it’s more like a small restaurant with mostly outdoor seating. I’m a little surprised, we’ve never actually eaten at a restaurant before, always opting to get takeout. But we’ve both already had dinner so a meal can’t be why we’re here anyway. I remain firmly out of sight as I hear the buzz of many titans’ conversations in the distance, until the noise begins to die down somewhat as it feels like Aiden turns a corner. A few moments later we descend, so I figure he’s now sitting, and then the pocket buckles inward as he’s able to touch me through the fabric now that the plastic barrier’s gone.

“Come on out!" He’s speaking openly, even if it’s still at a low volume. I tentatively get to my feet, peering out at our surroundings, vast and open. Me standing up seems to be signal enough for giant fingers to reach right in and pinch me around the torso. I flinch as I grab at his hand reflexively, feeling nervous since he’s picking me up before I got a good look around.

“This place is private?” I ask, but I quickly see that there’s no one in sight in the vicinity. We’re at one of four wooden tables, the rest of them empty. There’s a small building a short distance away - although to me it’s a massive building that’s quite far. The commotion seems to be coming from beyond it, with mostly just soft acoustic guitar reaching our location from some kind of live music set.

“Most of the tables are on the other side of this building,” Aiden confirms, “Plus it's pretty dark. Figured we’d be okay back here.”

He’s right, it’s quickly becoming dim now that the sun has set. The tables in the area are all candlelit, though, which is really nice. The glow that’s coming from the inside of the building makes it a little less difficult to see, too. I’m quickly relaxing at the peaceful feeling of the space.

“I used to come here a lot in my first year of grad school,” Aiden says, watching me with a smile as I explore the width of the table. “It’s a nice place to study during the day, not sure why I stopped coming. Want to get a drink?”

I come up to the sprawling menu and glance over it curiously. There’s a small section for food and a much larger section for alcohol - apparently it's not just beer. “Um, I’m good,” I respond, feeling the thick paper beneath my bare feet as I pad my way along the edge of it. “You feel free to, though.”

“You sure? Come to think of it… You’ve never really shared an interest in drinking, have you?”

I bristle, suddenly feeling a bit uncomfortable, and I step off of the menu. “Yeah, I’m not a fan…” I say evenly, walking towards the candle instead so that I can gaze at its flame. “I have my own reservations about alcohol. But that doesn’t mean you can’t have some!”

There’s the slight creaking of wood below my feet as Aiden leans more of his weight onto the table. “I don't have to get anything alcoholic,” he insists, “And you don't have to talk about it, but…” A fingertip brushes me between the shoulder blades. “You know you can tell me anything, yeah?”

I pivot, turning back towards him like a magnet drawn to iron. Such an odd thing, how he towers above me like a monstrous predator and yet I feel so safe around him… Large swaths of my past are sensitive subjects that I desperately avoid, but this one shouldn't be too bad. I can talk about this.

"Thanks," I say with a smile, "I um… I…"

Well… I thought I'd be able to talk about it. But nothing's coming out.

The candlelight dances in Aiden's eyes as he moves a bit closer and gently prompts, "Did someone you know tend to drink a bit too much?"

"My dad. Apparently," I finally say with a nod. And now that he's coaxed this much out of me, the rest comes more easily. "He didn't get violent or anything, as far as I can remember. He passed away when I was really young so I don't recall much… But I was always told that alcohol was a bad thing growing up."

The giant frowns sympathetically. "I see. I can understand how seeing someone else drinking might be a little triggering then?"

Something shifts inside me. That simple moment of recounting and reflecting gives me a sensation I wasn't expecting. A catharsis, and a determination to move on.

"Actually, not really," I say, "I never saw him do it, I was just told he did. My mom would get angry if I ever got curious about it." I pause and then add, "You know what, nevermind. I want to try it. Let's get a drink!"

"You sure?" Aiden asks again, this time with a budding smile.

"Yes," I reply confidently.

"Okay. I promise I won't overdo it, I'll need to drive back anyway. So if you're not used to drinking, let's get something that's not too strong? Daiquiris aren't usually bad, they're more like dessert. There are a couple of different options here…"

I hurry back over to the menu, still unable to move as quickly as I'd like due to my leg, and now I'm feeling a growing excitement at trying something new. We make a selection and Aiden spots a fellow giant in the distance that he waves over. He hides me in a closed hand under the table so that he can order the cocktail, and then a few minutes later there's a twelve foot cocktail glass on the table.

The fruity scents of the pineapple daiquiri drift down to where I'm standing. "This feels like a tropical summer evening on a beach," I comment contentedly, enjoying a gentle warm breeze that's passing through.

"We just need the sounds of the ocean," Aiden agrees, and he's busy sealing one end of the straw with a finger so that he can extract some of the sugary drink for me. He lowers it down to where I'm standing before glancing up towards the sky. "I wonder if they're going to…"

He trails off and doesn't finish his sentence, but I'm too distracted by the deliciously smelling black tube that is now hovering next to me. I take it in both hands, noticing the dome of a giant droplet of liquid just inside. Stuff like surface tension still weirds me out sometimes, but not enough to stop me from taking a sip from the drop.

"Oh… damn that's good!" I say eagerly, until the burn hits. Wowza. It's not horrible, just very different from what I’m used to.

"Glad you like it," Aiden chuckles, taking a sip of his own straight from the glass. "Let's not have you go overboard now!"

The heat that's now in my stomach tells me I don't think that will be a problem. I look up towards my towering friend, and I realize just how dark it's gotten. I'd only be seeing his silhouette if it wasn't for the candlelight casting a warm glow on his skin. I'm just about to comment on it getting harder to see when it happens.

As if a stage play were coming to life, the entire area gets bathed in gentle illumination. Countless strands of string lights have turned on far above us like a plethora of stars covering the night sky.

"There it is," says my gigantic companion with satisfaction. I feel his eyes on me as I look wildly around at the hundreds of lights above us. They’re so beautiful. Now I definitely feel like I'm on some magical summer vacation. A rather romantic one at that…

We continue to sip away at the treat, chatting avidly the entire time. Aiden tells me a lively story about the first time he got really drunk, off of cheap beer and expensive whiskey, with people he hardly knew. The tale includes multiple park fountains, a group of math professors, and one very territorial pigeon, and by the end I'm laughing so hard that I almost fall over. I don't think I'm actually getting tipsy at this point, just… high off of joy, I guess. This is turning into a great night.

My drinking partner’s currently focusing on his phone, scrolling through his photos to find the one someone took of him climbing out of the fountain. I allow myself to stare at him, feeling my face flush the longer I do so.

Despite spending so much time looking down at me, he still manages to have such good posture, his shoulders broad and strong. The golden lights make his skin look so warm and inviting, as if beckoning me to snuggle against him. For a moment I focus on his face. He has such fine features - I wouldn't call them feminine, but they're still unobtrusive, leaving nothing to distract from the beauty of his eyes. The way the tiny string lights reflect in the hazel make them look like portals to heaven. God, have I always found him this attractive? Or is it because I've come to adore this person more than anything else on the planet?

“Have I ever told you how gorgeous your eyes are?" It's only once I hear it come out of my mouth that I realize I just said that out loud. The giant looks up from his phone to meet my gaze, looking surprised. I didn't mean to say it, maybe I should be feeling embarrassed. But I'm not.

Aiden sets his phone down, the search for the photo forgotten. But as he shifts all of his attention to me it's clear that he’s not sure how to respond, just managing to summon a shy, quizzical smile. That's alright, I can take up the mantle again. I get to my feet and reach a hand up in his direction.

"Can you come down here?" I ask.

He doesn't hesitate then, folding his arms on the table and lowering his head in one smooth motion. His eyes never leave mine, and I almost feel dizzy at the sight of his approach. He's so massive and yet so careful, so conscious of his every movement. I step up to him without any reservation as he tilts his face to settle his cheek against the back of his hand. I reach out to pet the bridge of his nose, one caring stroke before I lean my forehead against it.

"I used to find you so intimidating, at first," I mumble, "That’s so weird to think about."

"I can’t exactly blame you," Aiden says softly.

"Still, it feels like so long ago. Little did I know that I was in the best hands possible. I love spending time with you, Aiden. I could have ended up with anyone… But I'm so thankful it was with you."

I hear his happy exhale, like quiet laughter. Suddenly I feel his finger against my spine, creating a soft pressure that makes every muscle in my back relax. I didn't see his hand approach but I still sensed its warm presence - I've gotten so accustomed to it - and I don't startle in the slightest.

“You’re such a sweetheart," he murmurs, his voice wavering slightly with emotion, “You make me so happy, Evie.”

I pull away from him for a moment, stepping back to better meet his gaze. “Can I try something?"

He inclines his head in response, a curious smile narrowing his eyes. I walk along his face, letting my fingers trail against his nose, until I reach his mouth. I hesitate for only a moment before coming closer… and gently kissing his upper lip.

His reaction is immediate. The soft pink skin is suddenly gone as Aiden inhales sharply and lifts his head back up. He's still quite close, his chin hovering maybe an inch above the table, but he's pulled back far enough to get a good look at me. He looks completely taken aback, as shocked as if I'd bitten him.

I can't help giggling at the flabbergasted look on his face. I've let him kiss me so many times now, but it was always on my back or on the top of my head or something. This is the first time I've attempted to truly kiss him back.

“Could you even feel that?" I ask with amusement.

He breathes in, holds it, breathes out again, still staring at me intently. “Yes," he says, and I notice how flushed his cheeks are. He puts a hand just behind me, cupping it around my frame before breathlessly repeating, “Yes…"

He starts to lean forward again, and his palm pushes against my back. I stumble forward, and my heart starts racing, and his mouth is swooping in. It doesn't feel too forceful, his guiding hand is gentle, and then his lips embrace me in a way they never have before.

I close my eyes, focusing on the physical sensations. It starts out soft and familiar, warm pressure against my cheek, shoulder, arm. Then it moves down and envelops my chest and stomach. Back up, and he covers more of my face now, and I don’t care that my own lips probably feel more like pinpricks to him - I kiss him, again and again and again. In response I hear - and feel - the softest moan. He’s always been careful about not getting any saliva on me, but he’s more passionate this time, and as he moves lower along my body his lips part just enough that I feel a dampness against the hem of my shirt. Warm air passes over my stomach, sweet from the pineapple on his breath. I take all of it in avidly, pressing myself into him, yearning for more.

I had wondered before, and now I have my answer… This is how we kiss. It's not just his mouth against my mouth, it's so much more than that. It’s like a dance where I use my entire body, it's his essence blending into mine. It’s overwhelming, exhilarating, comforting, all at once. After a minute has passed, even though I'm nowhere near intoxicated by alcohol, I feel drunk with the sensation of his skin against my own.

We don’t go on for much longer than that - the giant finally pulls away from me and I slump backwards, landing on the slope of his palm and letting myself sprawl out as I try to catch my breath. Aiden lifts me up, continuing to hold me so close, unable to keep an elated grin off his face. I’m beaming right back. And then we’re laughing, soft chuckles that fill the air and frolic amongst the twinkling lights above us.
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DocRick
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Thu Oct 12, 2023 10:36 pm

littlest-lily wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2023 3:38 pm
DocRick wrote:
Tue Oct 10, 2023 11:41 pm
---Aiden is a bigger nerd than I thought he was !!!!!!! :lol:
Haha how is he a nerd here? Though I mean yes, he is a nerd lolol and so is she~



“Well the bonus is that you taste delicious now,” I mutter, still holding her against my mouth. "Maybe I should keep you right here for the rest of the movie."

“There we go, that’s how we can wash me off! Like a cat.”

I guess I'm just a little more forward than is Aiden. I mean, she made an offer........ ;)

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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Fri Oct 13, 2023 11:20 pm

From Chapter 45

“Hey, Moira?” I call out. She looks down to acknowledge me, her big green eyes bright and attentive. From my still seated position, I stretch my arms up towards her face. “Can I have a hug?”

For a second she just blinks in surprise. Then she smiles shyly as she crouches down, until her eyes are level with me on the counter. “That's not reserved for a certain someone?” she asks sheepishly.

My fingertips spread out for emphasis as I say, “It's reserved for the people I really care about.”

She leans in slowly, cautious about doing anything that might hurt me, but she lets her eyes close once I make contact with her face. I lean against her nose and then hug my arms to her cheek, pressing my own cheek against her skin. Her head is markedly smaller than Aiden’s, her features are so dainty, and she smells like lilac instead of cedarwood. It’s a completely different kind of intimacy, but a tender one nonetheless. I feel like the smile that’s on my face is the first genuine one that I’ve had all day.


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Re: Out of their Element

Post by littlest-lily » Sat Oct 14, 2023 5:32 pm

DocRick wrote:
Thu Oct 12, 2023 10:36 pm
I guess I'm just a little more forward than is Aiden. I mean, she made an offer........ ;)
Ohhhh haha I gotcha. Yeah he's very cautious about making too many moves - part of it coming from a place of respect but part of it from pure paranoia after molesting her in his sleep


Chapter 49
Evie

My boyfriend stands at the end of the bed, a crooked smile bringing a gentle warmth to his face. His brilliant blue eyes trail across the length of my body, hungry and eager. He was just in the middle of getting changed, so he's currently shirtless, every toned and bulging muscle in his upper body on full display. I match his smile from my position sprawled on the bed, marveling at the sight of him. I've always thought that if he just let those platinum blonde locks of his grow out a little bit that he'd easily be able to pass off as a movie star.

And yet he's the one looking at me with quite the lustful stare. "You look like something out of a painting," he observes with a soft, deep voice. "My very own piece of art."

These days the average person might think I'm a little bit underweight, actually. Up until not so long ago I'd been on my feet all day for my job, and I also didn't have much opportunity to eat while working so… I've lost some weight in recent years. Of course I happen to be aware that my man prefers me slender, so I'm pretty careful about my diet anyway.

"You're not so bad yourself, sir," I say, stretching my arms over my head languidly and further tangling myself in the sheets.

He strolls around the corner of the bed so that he can reach me. He sits on the edge of the mattress and lays a hand over my abdomen, fingers splayed. Then he leans in, his head hovering above mine.

"How about you and I play a little game of dress up, hm? You still haven't tried on that green dress."

I laugh quietly at how excited he's getting. "Can it wait until after dinner?" I ask, "It's getting late." I'm trying not to call him out too blatantly on how it was already 7pm when he got home from work.

"Oh... Darling." His fingers grip me a little tighter, digging into my skin ever so slightly. "Are you really going to let me down like that?"

My blood turns to ice in my veins.

*~*~*

I had a nightmare last night. A series of them, really. They're a bit of a blur now, but I can still remember bits and pieces. Our old apartment. The lush, secluded forest. The diner I used to work at.

I wouldn't dare mention anything about the dreams out loud, but they have been haunting me throughout the entire day. For better or worse, though, I’ve been spending a whole lot of time alone today. Aiden had his TA class in the morning, extended office hours in the afternoon, and right after that he's going out for a friend’s birthday. Moira was going to at least be here during the day, but then she ended up sick with a stomach bug. I insisted to my roommate that he should still go out and enjoy himself, that even though my leg has actually been hurting a little worse recently, I'll still be fine on my own. He ultimately agreed but reassured me that he’d be back right after dinner.

Despite making some progress on painting minis and successfully packing up two new orders, I’m struggling. I don’t have much appetite. I startle easily at the slightest noise outside. It feels like an old ghost from my past has settled heavily onto my shoulders, deciding to haunt me relentlessly. It’s probably a good thing I’m by myself, actually.

"Hello, little girl. Are you lost?”

"Heh, come on, stop that. Hey, I'm almost legal now! I’m so excited. Then we won't have to be so secretive on date nights like this.”

“Mmm, but I kind of like having you as my little secret... Here, let me get that for you. Shall we, darling?”

I chase the memory away, feeling nauseous. I toss my paintbrush onto a towel and go to my phone. Just gotta stay distracted. Keep the lid on. The background on the device is one of the pictures Aiden and I took together. Focus on him. This is who I’m with now. It’s nothing like back then. We genuinely care about each other, this is real.

My gaze slips to the picture of myself, standing there next to his face. That's really how I look to the rest of the world, isn't it? So small and pathetic…

Not that he minds.

Tears fall over my cheek out of nowhere. I wipe them away furiously. I haven't allowed myself to think about this particular fear since I first found out about Aiden's kink... Stop it, stop it. I’m more than just my size to him. I know that. Why can’t I trust it? I turn away from the phone.

“Wait, please… stop…”

“Oh. I'm sorry. Is that not to your liking, princess?”

“It… it hurts…”

“Hmm, that’s a shame. How about this then?”

“Ow, ow–!”

“What was that? Don’t tell me you’re not enjoying this. Are you really still so sensitive, darling? Do I need to toughen you up?"

“N-no… no. It's fine. I'm fine.”

“That’s better. There's a good girl.”

I clutch the sides of my head. “Stop,” I hiss out loud. That’s enough. Just because some old memories came back to me in a dream doesn’t mean I can let them dominate me like this. It’s all from so long ago, it’s so far away. That part of my life is over, and I can't let old fear poison my current relationship… I go back to my old mantra. Don't give up. Fight back. Work harder.

I turn on some music, go back to painting. And I continue to desperately shove all of my anxiety as deep underground as I can. I'm fine.

I’m so relieved when Aiden finally returns. I’m feeling pretty exhausted at this point and all I want is for him to hold me. I silently tell him as much, tugging on his forefinger as soon as it comes within my vicinity, and then pushing his hand open so that I can climb into it for him to pick me up. He happily greets me with a warm touch and a soft kiss.

“How was it?” I ask him, “Were things winding down by the time you left?”

“Nope,” he laughs, nuzzling into me with a happy sigh, “They’ll be out drinking for hours yet.”

“Are you sure you don’t want to go with them?”

“I’m sure. I love Diego like a brother, but he can be way too much sometimes. I’d rather be home with you.”

I ask him more about his day and he tells me. With a smile I'm reclining in his hand, my back leaning against the wall of his fingers as I listen and let my mind escape for a little bit. I figuratively walk through his schedule with him, posing the occasional question to lengthen the process.

By the end of it he's holding me a tad lower, and then he looks me over. “You doing alright?”

Damnit. I wasn’t even saying much of anything, but he can already sense that something’s up. “Just a bit tired,” I say evasively.

“Oh... Did you want to get some sleep then? I don’t want to keep you up.”

Aiden’s lowering me further, back down to the desk, and I’m starting to think he might have a point. As much as I enjoy him, maybe some rest would do me good after the stresses of the day. I slide off his hand with a stumble, flinching at the pain in my leg from stepping on it weird. That certainly doesn’t help things. I just wish this damn injury would be over and done with already. The lingering pain has recently been making us worry that it's not healing right, or that it might have some hidden infection after all.

I sit onto my bed with a sigh and when I look back up, I freeze at the sight of the giant’s face. He’s looking just past me, eyes unfocused, with an expression that I’m not sure I’ve ever seen before. Not from him, at least. But it’s clear as day. Disappointment. He was looking forward to coming home and spending time with me. And now I’m failing him.

The heavy ghost of my nightmares tightens its grip on me. I feel a pain in my chest and my breath starts coming in more shallow. I can’t… I can’t let this just…

“I said I’m a bit tired,” I suddenly remark, catching his attention again. He perks up and it draws more out of me. I’m not even sure what I’m saying, it’s as if someone else is in the driver’s seat. “I got a lot of business stuff done today, it was more work than I thought it’d be… Maybe I just need some TLC.” I lay back on the bed, looking up at him suggestively.

Aiden smiles, reinvigorated and intrigued. “Well… I think I can help you there. If you like.”

He brings a finger up to gently brush the side of my face and the length of my neck. I close my eyes and take a deep breath. This is… nice, really. After the day I’ve had, maybe this is what I need after all. And it’ll make him happy, which is necessary. Er… I mean… it’s important. Important to me. Because I care about him. Obviously.

Anxiety continues to swirl at the pit of my stomach. My body starts moving of its own accord. I turn on my bed to encircle my arms around the me-sized index finger and kiss the lines of his fingerprint. His other hand joins in to softly massage my back, and I manage to let out a genuine sigh of pleasure. I’m still holding onto his finger and start wrapping my legs around it too.

Aiden chuckles. “Whatcha doing there, little monkey?”

“Just trying to touch you with as much of me as I can,” I say, clinging to him tightly. The pressure against my back strengthens and I sigh contentedly again.

“How can I make you feel good?” the giant murmurs. His tone is relaxed but clearly edging on seductive.

I’m not quite sure how to answer right now. “How can I make you feel good?” I counter, turning my head to look at him with my best attempt at a smirk.

“I asked first,” he laughs, “If I can help give you any kind of pleasure, that makes me feel good.”

Great. As kind as I know he's being, now I have performance anxiety. Mechanically I take a slow breath, loosening my grip on him so that I can settle onto my back again. There’s a part of me that knows I should stop this. We've never gone farther than kissing and I’m pushing too hard, clearly forcing it. But I can’t really hear that part of me right now. Before I realize what I’m doing, I’ve pulled the hem of my shirt up a couple of inches, revealing a thin strip of bare skin. Aiden follows my cue and carefully touches the space, creating a tickling against my stomach.

I close my eyes. Take the finger between both hands. And I start pulling the digit up. Along the length of my abdomen. Slipping under my shirt. Covering up more of my skin.

“Wait, hold on.”

My eyes fly open, and the pain in my chest tightens. I look up to see Aiden’s brow is slightly furrowed. “You're really tense. Are you okay, am I hurting you?”

“No!” I say quickly, plastering a reassuring smile on. “Not at all, I’m fine. Come on.” I try to pull his finger again but it holds firm.

“Is… something wrong, Eve?” He’s still frowning. Shit.

“No, really, I’m fine! Please. I want you…”

Trapped in a vortex of anxiety, I yank on the giant digit, try to press it against my breasts, anything to get his attention again. Anything to please him. But it has the opposite effect - Aiden pulls his hand away completely. My arms grasp at air for a second, and I shoot up into a seated position on the bed.

He settles his hand right next to the bed and leans in a bit closer to get a better look at me. His brow is still creased, he looks worried. “We don’t have to move so quickly. Clearly you’re uncomfortable, Evie. What’s up? Talk to me.”

Panic is blooming inside me, as much as I’m trying to maintain a calm facade. That quiet, more rational part of my brain is admonishing me. Of course it wouldn’t work with Aiden. He’s nothing like the ghost of my past. What was I expecting? But then the louder, more primal part of me is very insistent.

“I thought this might be part of your… fantasies?” I try, again forcing a smile. “Aren’t you into this?”

His frown deepens, each misguided attempt making things worse and worse. “I’m not into you forcing yourself,” he says plainly.

My hands have started shaking. Every alarm bell is ringing.

“Please… I’ll do anything," I say quietly.

“What do you mean? What's wrong?"

"It’s not... Nothing's wrong. I'm sorry, it's fine. Please just let me–"

I slide off of the bed, reach out for his nearby fingers like it’s my salvation. But before I can reach him he pulls away again, sliding his hand all the way to the edge of the desk. This time when I look up at him, the worried expression also holds an edge of frustration.

"Stop,” he says, “I’m sorry, but… I'm not buying it. Not this time. Can't you tell me what's on your mind? Did I do something?”

I kneel there on the table, fidgeting as I sit back on my heels. I don’t know what to do. I’m not even sure how to begin talking about the complicated emotions swirling inside me. And there’s no way I can tell him why I’m feeling this way, he can’t know about all of those memories that I’ve been fighting all day. But right now, I’m ruining things. It feels like I'm on the edge of a precipice. As if everything's about to fall apart. I'm not thinking straight, consumed by a fear of losing everything. Our relationship, my everyday life, the shelter and care that I so desperately need, it suddenly feels like it’s all in jeopardy.

“I’m sorry,” I gasp, my voice getting weaker by the second, “I'm sorry. Please, I don’t mean to be a problem… I can be better, I just… just… please let me… stay…”

“What? That’s what you’re worrying about right now?” His voice makes me flinch and I struggle to meet his gaze. There’s something in it that’s frightening me. "I don’t understand why this keeps coming up,” he says with growing agitation, “Are you really afraid I’ll kick you out? What, abandon you on the street, is that what you think?"

I shake my head desperately. “No! No, no, no… I… I know you wouldn’t. I know we’ve got this good thing going. Especially since you like me small like this, I didn't mean–”

“Wait,” Aiden interrupts in a low voice. “What did you just say? Especially since I…"

What do I do, what do I do, what do I do.

With one shaky breath… I try. I try to share the thing that deep down has been such a source of anxiety for me since he first told me about his fantasies over a month ago.

“I guess I… Sometimes I wonder if you like me… or if you like the idea of me…”

What?!” I cower at the raised volume, still struggling to look him in the eye. He’s hard to read - he looks confused, shocked, a whole slew of things. But right now, all I can interpret is… a look of disgust. A resentment for me accusing him of such a thing. A sense of betrayal for having taken information that he had been scared to tell me and turning it against him.

I furiously backpedal. “I don't know, I don't know! Forget I said anything. M-maybe I should just go to bed...”

The giant shakes his head, his tone more and more intent. “No, hold on, that's important. We should talk about this!”

“It's okay, that was stupid, I didn't mean it. It felt dumb the second it left my mouth.” I look to his hand, resting a dozen feet away. I start crawling forward to reach it, employing as soothing a voice as I can, “Please, Aiden… Everything's fine. Let's just–"

And that’s when I can tell he’s clearly irritated. He pulls his hand right off the table before I can reach it, leaving emptiness in its wake. “I wish you'd stop that,” he growls, “Just stop… placating me all the time.”

"I'm not… I mean… I…"

It's too much. I stare across the gap at his chest, so far from where I'm sitting near the edge of the desk. It's hopeless. I can't reach him, physically or otherwise. I'm too small… and too weak of a person.

I start to shut down. I kneel there, my facial features smoothing out as I stare into space. I feel numb. Aiden notices my shift in demeanor and moves his chair further back, so that he has the space to lean forward, lowering his face to try to pull in my gaze.

"Why don't you want to talk?" he asks, "Do I scare you? Is that… Is that why you never want to ask me for help? Is the fact that I'm bigger still intimidating? Especially after some of what’s happened - like when I grabbed you, or the time I hit your head?" He's gone back to sounding concerned, but there's a tension underneath.

"No," I say, my tone more detached now, "Those were accidents. We’ve learned from them. You've done nothing wrong."

"Then why? Why won't you lean on me more? Why won't you just… just confide in me? Clearly I must have done something."

"No, you haven't." I let my chin lower, looking past him. "I’m the problem. I'm always just… worrying you'll eventually see me as a… burden…"

His frustration rushes right back in. "Well, stop! I'll say it a hundred million times, you speaking out or needing help doesn’t bother me. You know what's a burden? Never knowing what's actually going on in your head every time you close up like this!"

My face lowers further and my eyes squeeze shut. No matter what my best efforts were… I’ve caused trouble for him after all. Figures. Being vulnerable with someone used to be the problem. And now not being vulnerable with someone is the problem. There's no winning.

With a herculean effort, I keep tears from falling and look back up at Aiden, eyes shining. My tone is harsh with the tension in my body as I ask, "What do you want from me?"

He sighs heavily, looking pained. "I just want you to be honest. I want you to stop bottling up your feelings and just tell me when something's bothering you…" He puts his face in his hands and I can practically hear him gritting his teeth. "God, Eve, you know every last dirty little secret about me. But I feel like half of the times you've opened up to me it's because I've had to pry you open."

"I'm not… I'm not hiding anything." This is the first time I'm blatantly lying. I’m overstimulated and this is me lashing out, as useless as I know it is. Aiden lifts his head, and for several long seconds we’re at a stalemate. We glare at each other in silence, neither one of us knowing how to handle the pent-up emotions that the other has been suppressing for so long.

But even this is hopeless. I’m trying to stare down a man who’s as tall as a skyscraper. Who could obliterate me with zero effort if he wanted to. Of course he wouldn’t, but I don't actually know what he's capable of if pushed too far. There’s no way I’m not going to feel intimidated by the thinly veiled anger of the titan before me. And it’s not like I can walk away from this conversation either. I’m at his mercy and I know it.

Finally I cave. My scowl deepens and I choke out, “I don't know… wh-what you want me to tell you…”

Aiden doesn’t say anything for several seconds. Out of nowhere, piercing the air like the sound of breaking glass, there’s a buzzing sound. The giant tsk’s with annoyance and pulls his phone out of his pocket, but he dismisses whatever it was trying to tell him, and the buzzing stops. I’m knocked off kilter from the distraction when he looks back at me and immediately speaks.

“Why don't you want to go to the police?”

I go very still. Any anger that I was feeling completely vanishes. “W-what?” I stutter.

“Why are you so afraid of getting outside help?” he insists, not backing down in the slightest. “You’ve clammed up every time it’s come up. And you should've seen yourself after we ran into that police officer at the lab.” His eyebrows curve with concern. “Are you in some kind of trouble?”

“N-no!” I yelp, “I'm not… I mean… I'm not in… It’s not what you think…”

“I don’t know what to think!” Aiden’s hands are suddenly back on either side of me. He clearly isn’t sure whether touching me would be a good or bad thing right now, his fingertips hovering so close that I can feel their warmth. “Evie, whatever it is, you can trust me. Don't you trust me by now?”

I shake my head, close to hyperventilating. I stare at the ground and say, “I can't do this…”

“Why not?”

“You think you want to know… they always say they want to know, until…”

“Please. I'm begging you.”

No, no, not those words… I sit in terrified silence. Keeping my head down. Refusing to look at him.

“Just talk to me, goddamnit!” Aiden snaps. The massive hands that surround me land on the edge of the table, causing it to shudder and for me to almost lose balance. I gasp - he didn’t quite yell that, but it’s as close as he’s ever come. I whimper and cower and come no closer to looking at him, only curling in on myself further.

And then there’s the buzzing sound once more. It’s his phone again, receiving another call. He pulls his hands away, sighing with frustration.

“I need to take this real quick…” He takes his phone out again, swiping at it. He doesn’t manage to mask his tension as he answers, “Hey. Everything okay?”

I slowly raise my head with a small shard of curiosity, though my breath is still coming out ragged. This is accidentally providing me with a bit of a break. A welcome diversion. I can’t quite make out what the person on the other end is saying, but it’s a male voice, and rather loud. There seems to be a lot of commotion in the background too.

Aiden frowns, a new kind of annoyance blossoming. “Sorry but I told you earlier, I can't tonight. Listen, man, this really isn’t a good time–” He falls silent as the other voice interrupts him and speaks for a while. “No, I hear you, um… Have you tried calling Steve? Or Moira? Wait, no, she’s sick… Okay, well you’ll just have to get an Uber or something, then, okay? I’m happy to pay for it if it helps. Happy birthday.”

The voice on the other end continues to insist and Aiden looks increasingly exasperated. I slowly get to my feet, and the motion is enough to catch the giant’s attention. “Go,” I mouth at him. His frown deepens, and just in case he didn’t understand, I speak out loud this time. “Go.”

He holds my gaze for a moment. “Hold on a sec,” he finally says, and he taps the mute button on his phone. “You really want me to leave right now?” he asks me, the hurt plain on his face. "Seriously?"

Despite the tears running down my cheeks, I manage one last calm sentence. “I think I need some space.”

Aiden’s jaw clenches and his eyes shine with tears of his own - I don’t know if they’re sad or angry ones - before he unmutes his phone. “Yeah, okay, fine. I’m heading over.” And without even looking at me, he gets up… and leaves the apartment. The door closes a bit more forcefully than usual, the sound reverberating like thunder until everything fades into unnerving stillness.

There had been no point in me standing up. I’ve collapsed right back onto my knees, and then my hands, and then I let my head fall onto the ground. The tears continue to fall, though I’m not quite crying. I don’t make a sound. I just hold very, very still as I slip into a state of unadulterated, mind-numbing fear.

*~*~*

I’m in a lush green forest, hardly noticing the chill in the air or the distant call of birds singing. I’ve been to these woods a couple of times, but we’ve never been this deep before. There’s no sign of even a path, much less any other people, just thick foliage as far as the eye can see.

My boyfriend, if I should still call him that, is on his knees in front of me. His hands are wrapped around my wrists, his head lowered with his brow leaned against my stomach. He’s shaking. Crying.

"Please,” he gasps, “I'll be better… You have to believe me, I'll change… Just please don't do this. Please, I’m begging you…”

My face is covered in tears too. "Brock,” I say dejectedly, “I’ve heard that too many times. I always tell you that it's fine, but... it's not. We can't keep doing this. We have to end it.”

His hands tighten their grip, squeezing me so hard it hurts. And then, in a blur of movement, he’s on his feet, suddenly looming over me. He reaches to his waistband and I gasp as he pulls out a handgun. He looks at me manically, his eyes wide as he puts the gun to his own temple.

"Then I'll end it!” he yells, his cries echoing and halting all birdsong. “Is that what you fucking want?! To have another life on your conscience?! I'll end it right here and now!”

I shouldn’t be surprised that he’s carrying some kind of firearm. But I’ve never seen him pull it out like this. No wonder he brought me so deep into the woods. My heart is racing and my mouth opens but no sound comes out.

Brock steps closer, looking crazed as he breathes hard. "And then? What are you going to do without me? Think about it for two seconds. You have no money. No schooling. No skills to offer other than, what – fucking waitressing?” He takes another step, coming alarmingly close, his face inches away from mine. “And what about your mother's death? Forgot that little detail, did you, darling? Do you really think anyone will believe you if I'm not there to defend you? You think they wouldn't have hauled you off in handcuffs the first chance they had?!”

I’m afraid to make sudden movements but I can’t help taking a step back, and I feel my shoulders hit a tree. Dizzily I begin crumbling to the forest floor, collapsing into a seat. I lower my head submissively, trembling from head to toe. I can’t face him. I don’t know what he’s capable of anymore. My only option is to wait. Wait… and then run. Just have to get past this.

Out of the corner of my eye I see Brock’s arm drop back down. With much more calm, he puts the gun back into its holster, and then he crouches in front of me. I hold my breath, unable to look at him as he puts his hand to my cheek.

"Never forget that,” he says icily, the cold composure filling me with even more dread than when he was yelling. “Without my testimony you're nothing. You've got no future. Come on, baby… don't you get it?”

His hand moves to my chin now. His fingertips press against my jaw as he forces me to look up at him.

“You. Need. Me.”

*~*~*

I have no idea how much time has passed. I’m just collapsed on the desk for hours on end. I have nowhere to run to. No choices at my disposal. It gets darker and darker around me as the setting sun gives way to the night, but I don’t get up to turn the desk lamp on. I just sit there in a heap. Frozen. Paralyzed.

Until I hear a sound. I’m not even sure what I’ll do when I see Aiden again, I haven’t thought through anything at all. But that’s not what I’m worrying about right now. I can tell even before the door opens that he’s not alone.

Operating on pure instinct, I skitter backwards as the key goes into the lock and then I see the silhouette of some monstrous shape that lumbers into the room. I hide behind my bed, peeking over it to realize that my roommate is there, yes, but there’s someone else who’s slumped onto him, one arm draped over his shoulders. And… the other person is huge. I’m not just talking normal levels of huge in comparison to my three inch frame. He looks to be a head taller than Aiden and nearly twice as broad. I duck down behind the bed again, not daring to look any longer.

I hear the two men stumble further in, grunting with effort. Then I jump at the booming sound of the stranger’s voice.

“Oh yeaaaah! I forgot you had a washer an’ dryerrr,” he says, slurring his words, “You ‘member when I’d mooch off of you last year, bro? When our washer broke? Good tiiiimes.”

“Yes, I remember,” Aiden’s voice is both very tired and clearly on the brink of his patience. “Oh, come on, Diego!”

There’s a loud, resounding thump as I guess that the new guy has just fallen to his knees. “I jus’... restin’ for a sec…”

The more familiar giant sighs. “Okay, just… don’t move. I’ll go change the sheets on the bed and help you in. Just stay here.”

“Mmkaaaay. Thanks for lettin’ me staaaay.”

“Don’t mention it. Please.”

There’s the sound of footsteps and I can’t help stealing another glance, this time from past the side of the bed. Sure enough, I can only see the drooped form of this unfamiliar behemoth in the living room now. I quickly hide again - he’s closer than I realized.

There’s a brief shuffling near the couch, I think he’s messing with a cushion or something. And then there’s more noise… it sounds like he’s getting to his feet… and the single thing I was most afraid of happens. He’s shambling towards the desk.

I have to hold a hand over my mouth to keep from crying out at a sudden, brief earthquake that would have knocked me over if I was standing. I don’t know if the titan has kicked the desk or hit an elbow on it or what. But clearly he was drawn to whatever tiny odd things he noticed sitting on the table’s surface, visible even in just the dim light of the street lamps outside. I can hear his breathing and catch the smell of booze, the proximity absolutely terrifying. There isn’t really space for me to get underneath my bed, but I crouch down and press myself up against my hiding spot as I hold as still as I possibly can.

Diego seems to chuckle with amusement and I hear something fall over less than a dozen feet away - one of my clothing shelves, I think. Aiden, where are you? I wonder desperately.

No sooner do I have that thought when out of nowhere I’m knocked backwards. I wince involuntarily from falling onto my butt and then watch in horror as my bed is lifted up into the sky. My breath comes in shallow as I take in the scale of this monster of a man. I can't be much taller than his pinky finger.

I don’t know if it was the sound that I made or if he'd already realized I was there, but… he’s looking at me. There’s no avoiding it, our eyes have met and his are widening with shock. I’ve been discovered. By a very large and very inebriated giant.

Diego blinks a couple of times and wavers slightly on the spot from his kneeled position. Finally he thunders, “What the fuck?” and his free hand is reaching for me, quickly taking up more and more of my vision. I can’t process the nightmare. The built up stress has turned me into a wreck and I’m not in control of my body when I fly into a full-on panic. I scream.
Last edited by littlest-lily on Mon Oct 16, 2023 5:14 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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DocRick
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Re: Out of their Element

Post by DocRick » Sat Oct 14, 2023 8:32 pm

I was wondering when the poop was gonna hit the fan......... :o

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