Anyway! I wrote up a bunch of stories for a first-line contest yesterday, and I thought I'd post them here! The contest was:
Give me a first line, and I'll write a story using it, starring the characters from A Little Weird.
I got some great responses, and some fabulous stories! I put stars next to my very favorites, the ones that were more than little snippets. I was pretty pleased with all of them, though; the way they came out, how they show off the characters, etc. Some of them took some creativity to make work. ;)
Contest lines with credit where it's due, and just so you aren't confused, most people gave me more than one line. ;)
luciatea gave me:
"When I eventually looked over my shoulder, I immediately regretted using the last of the bread to feed the ducks." Ty took a breath to continue, but Kel interrupted.
"What?" The single word was almost accusatory. Brown eyebrows drew low over blue eyes. "Why?"
Ty hated being interrupted, he really did. He gave Kel a vaguely annoyed look. "I was getting to that."
Kel interrupted again. "Were you -- no." Kel leaned across the booth, scarred hands resting lightly on scarred wood. "Tell me you weren't going to try and hit the guy with the bread."
Beside Ty, London started to laugh. She curled against Ty's side, her feet propped on the bench seat next to her.
"Of course not!" Ty protested. Kel's expression grew a little less appalled. "I was going to toss it at him, in pieces. I figured the ducks would chase him off!"
It was a sound plan. Better than hitting someone, which, despite his height and muscle, Ty knew he'd fail at. Those geese, though? They were scary.
"You were--" Kel stopped, jaw clenching. He lifted one hand, finger pointed, then let it drop again. "You--"
London was a puddle of giggles. Mostly, Ty thought, at Kel's impotent disgust.
"I'm not a fan of violence," Ty said with great superiority. "And it would have worked!"
Kel shook his head, glancing toward the ceiling for an instant. London just kept laughing.
"It was midnight in Berlin, and I was soaking wet and covered in feathers."
Ty chuckled, popping a bit of brie cheese into his mouth. The firelight licked over all three of them, laying spread out on the carpet in the living room. London was naked as she told her story, staring into the flames as if entranced. The light turned her hair bright as a copper penny. Brighter even than it normally was.
Kel sat cross-legged opposite Ty, quietly spreading brie on a piece of fancy bread and drizzling honey over it. He set it in front of London, then started on another. His scars were hidden by Ty's T-shirt and too-big pajama pants. Shadow pooled in the folds of cloth.
Kel spoke. "Feathers?" It was a gentle question, with an amused lightening of his blue eyes.
"It was a costume party," London said absently. "I went as a chicken."
"Not like an eagle or a hawk or something cool? A chicken?" Ty smiled and reached out to brush the backs of his dark fingers against her warm, pale skin.
She glanced at him. Bourbon-colored eyes were shadowed. "Chickens are cool. You don't eat hawk eggs or eagle McNuggets, do you?"
Kel chuckled, drawing her gaze. She took the next bite of bread, cheese, and honey from him, and picked at it with unpolished fingernails. "We were at this bar." She paused, then continued. "And we'd just toasted midnight." She stopped again. For an instant, she looked like she might go on. Her face had the carefully neutral expression Ty recognized, the one that said frantically, she didn't care, she didn't care. Her breath escaped.
Ty glanced at Kel. Their gazes met: concerned striking wary as they both realized this wasn't quite what they'd been expecting.
London spoke. "I thought I saw her."
"Who?" Ty asked gently.
"My mom." London ate most of her bread and cheese in the stillness, while Ty and Kel both waited for something else. She licked honey off her fingers and stood, stepping over the platter to the fireplace. She tossed the last bit of crust in and watched it burn. Then she turned as if the moment hadn't happened, and looked at them. "Ty, it's your turn. Truth or dare?"
“That’s a unique tattoo you got there kid.” Thumbs bit into Valerian’s trapezius muscles, working on a knot of tension.
"Yeah," he said idly, leaning back into the strong hands of his newest boyfriend. "Got it in the Navy." His gaze tracked the chef as the man moved through the crowd, leashed and graceful and deadly. "I swear to God, he looks familiar."
Brady's hands moved off him as Brady settled back into the chair at the table. The pub was hopping, mostly a late-twenties-and-up crowd, though a group at the bar skewed the age range a little. They weren't what interested him, though. What interested him was the interracial couple in the back corner, the one the chef kept returning to.
The chef came out of the kitchen again, holding a flower made out of ice cream. He presented it to the redheaded woman with a slight frown, which softened when she lit up and gave him a peck on the lips for it.
There. Right there. That was the weird thing. Her boyfriend smiled indulgently -- or maybe even fondly -- and didn't seem in the least disturbed. Maybe the chef was her boyfriend? And he swore he knew the chef. The movements just seemed so familiar...
"You here with me? I was thinking we could head back to my place. Maybe stay the night."
"Yeah," Valerian said absently. Then, as the words sank in, he turned to Brady with a smile. "Yeah! I'd totally be up for that."
Someone yelped. There was a flash of motion. By the time Valerian looked up and over, the chef was standing amid a swirl of people, holding a chair in one hand and a man's arm in another. He tossed the chair away with an easy flex of muscle and escorted the man to the door, the man's arm twisted up for leverage.
"He's gotta be military," Valerian said, almost to himself. "He moves like military." That was what had been bugging him all night. But what military man worked as a chef in a pub, offering ice cream flowers to other guys' girlfriends?
Brady's hand landed on his thigh and moved upward. "Valerian? Now that you've solved the mystery, think we could do something else?" The threat was clear in his tone: they needed to do something else, or Brady would find someone else to do that something else with.
Valerian whipped his head around, offering a bright -- and lecherous -- smile. "Of course. My place, you said?"
Prying the lid off was the second most difficult thing about it. Kel stared at the little white lid, sitting insolently on his nightstand. It gloated back up at him, the black and red writing hidden, pressed against the wood. The bottle gaped open. His lamp shone light down into the bottle, casting an orange glow to one side.
He'd seen puke that color, once. When they hadn't eaten in three days, and Commander Jefferies had started vomiting. He'd died a day later. The rest of the unit had made it out.
Kel tried to banish the images, but they rose again. He didn't know where those men were, anymore. He was glad they couldn't see him now.
Little white pills lay in the bottom of the bottle. He stopped looking. Stopped thinking. Shook one out into his palm and tossed it into his mouth, swigging it down with stale water from a glass. There. Done. For the first time in over a week, he'd sleep tonight.
The most difficult thing was admitting he needed the pills.
Historically he would not be the first to practice bloody deceit. Okay, maybe it wouldn't be so bloody -- not like when London shot his HALO character -- because it was only Mario Kart and no one bled in Mario Kart, but it was still deceit.
Ty crowed as London's motorcycle spun on an oil slick and his car went racing past on-screen, leaving her in last place as he crossed the finish line. "Oh, yeah," he said, pumping the air with both hands. "That's for that banana peel last round!"
She turned to stare at him, bourbon-colored eyes filled with ire. "I can't believe you did that."
"Payback, baby." Ty grinned. "Payback."
Sitting on the couch behind them, Kel glanced up from his book, then shook his head and resettled more comfortably. "I will never understand your video games."
The hourglass stood on the shelf of the rundown store, dust greasily coating the shape of the cylinder nipped in at its center. London stared at it for several minutes, memory nagging at the back of her mind. It haunted her, like a cobweb she couldn't quite brush away.
"Miss? Can I help you with anything?"
It was the third time the shop keeper had asked, and each time he sounded a little more distressed.
"No," London said, shaking her head. Hair swayed across her back, swishing against her shirt. "Thank you."
Reflected firelight licked at the glass, there and gone again, held forever in her mind. Her lips parted as she inhaled, tasting smoke that wasn't there, feeling a shadow of the terror that had overwhelmed her then.
She stepped back. Turned away. Turned back. Reached out with fingertips, brushing them lightly over the concave belly of the antique. No heat. No smears of soot. Her fingers trembled, and she turned away again, diving out of the store, out into the cool, fog-filled morning. She leaned against the store window, taking deep breaths, feeling the monster turn and roll inside her.
She opened her eyes. Ty stood there, glancing from her to the store and back again. "Everything okay? You vanished for a minute there."
She straightened, summoning up a false, bright smile. "Sure." A quick glance through the window showed the hourglass, still crouched on the shelf. The monster rolled again. Remembered flames licked over the glass and were gone. "Let's go..." She stopped, made it a point to strengthen her voice, to hide the tremor that wanted to emerge. "Let's go get some matches. I think we're nearly out."
“I feel like I’m cheating,” had been what he’d said just before claws dragged across his body, rending flesh as well as cloth.
"For the love of God," Ty shouted at the computer screen, then yanked his headset off and tossed it across the booth.
London looked up from where she sat, flipping through pages of quarterly reports, wearing her jogging clothes. The pub was quiet, not open yet. Other than the owner, Julia, doing inventory at the bar, and Kel prepping in the kitchen, they were alone. "You die?" she asked idly. "That's what happens when you cheat."
"I wasn't cheating!" Ty protested. "I said I felt like I was cheating!" He glared at the orc war still going on and the spreading pool of digital blood his sorcerer was lying in. The game really did have amazing graphics. Was that a severed hand? Nasty.
London spoke as if quoting someone. "Generally, when you feel like you're cheating, you're cheating."
Right. She was quoting Ty. He glared at her. "No, London. Generally, when you feel like you're cheating, you're cheating. Because you cheat."
Kel slid into the booth beside London, putting three plates on the table. "Is that why she's so good at Scrabble?"
"Nah." Ty pulled one plate closer. It looked like... orange. And... chunks of... stuff. "She's just scary good at Scrabble."
Kel pulled that plate back, then pushed over one that had a hamburger. Ty smiled and picked it up in both hands.
London didn't even argue as she tucked into some kind of cheesy pasta and vegetable thing. "Oh. Well." She took a bite, chewed thoughtfully, and said, "I don't know why you died, then. But at least you died honestly."
"The first time I saw Kel, I was a girl."
Kel cut in before Ty could continue, a puzzled look on his face. "You were? I don't remember that. I think I'd remember that."
Ty grinned at the confusion written across rugged features. "Sure, man. You don't remember it because we barely spoke. You were like, catatonic, still."
Kel kicked back in his chair, frown deepening, beer cradled in both hands. "Just not friendly."
"You can say that again." Ty turned back to Deepika, elbows on the patio table, enjoying the rare San Francisco sunshine while he waited for London and Bill, Deepika's husband, to return. He could tell Kel wasn't comfortable with them here: no one had planned on running into Ty's co-workers at lunch. He ignored it. Deepika and Bill didn't care that he was polyamorous. "Kel was working as the busboy, still. You've never seen anyone look as rough as he did. Unshaved, kinda smelly, eyes flicking this way and that like something was after him."
"Wait," Deepika laughed. "Go back to this part where you were a girl?"
Ty smiled and spread his hands. "Trans march. I was with a friend. I made a hot woman, if I do say so myself."
"I think I do remember that," Kel said thoughtfully. "You looked like a drag queen."
"What?" Ty twisted, affronted. "I did not! I had a great rack!"
"Ty," Deepika said dryly, "you do know that a great rack doesn't make a hot woman, right?"
London spoke up from behind him, nearly making him jump. "I sure hope not."
He reached around, grabbing her around the waist and hauling her into his lap. "All's I need is two handfuls," he said with a grin, and she laughed.
"Good thing! What are we talking about?" She settled more comfortably, but didn't move off his lap.
Bill came around the other side to sit next to his wife, putting the tray of food down on the table.
"When I first met Kel," Ty said.
"Oh, right." London sipped her frappuccino through her straw loudly, then continued. "When you were a drag queen."
"I was a girl!"
When Ty was three, he didn't die. He doesn't even remember not-dying, actually, but he's heard the story enough times that when his mother launches into it, he can almost recite it with her.
"--pneumonia like you wouldn't believe. Poor baby had to stay in the ICU for two weeks, and him crying almost the entire time." His mother clucks and looks at him.
He offers a smile, though it hurts his swollen eye to do so, and glances at London to make sure this isn't freaking her out. She seems calm enough, flicking a lighter on and off absently.
"That's when he got so obsessed with video games. It's probably my fault, but I had to keep him occupied somehow."
With a still-healing larynx from the mugging, Ty can't say much. He manages to wheeze, "And I thank you for it every day, Mom." Then he leans in and gives her a kiss on one rounded, soft cheek.
"And," London says, with that look in her eyes that tells him she's feeling a little lost in the conversation, "he didn't die this week, either."
Ty's mom looks at London blankly for a minute, and then smiles. She's as good at running with unexpected statements as Ty is. She's where he learned it, after all. "No, London. Thank goodness, he didn't."
Why is it that people who give sanctuary will offer it to anyone? The thought flitted through Kel's mind and lodged. It stopped everything for just a moment. He tightened his grip on London's hip, where he held her steady before him. Even the smell of her sex couldn't quite distract him.
Damn. He froze, suspecting Tyrone was doing that thing again. That thing where Tyrone peeled the layers back to see right down into peoples' souls. It shouldn't have been possible. He'd been so careful to hide the edged memories that had risen up, triggered by castoff lines in a movie that had been darker than any of them had suspected.
Naked, London stepped out from between his hands. He let her slip away, refusing to meet her gaze when she knelt in front of him, mirroring his posture. He took a breath. Then another, to center.
Tyrone stepped into view, still dressed in the slacks and button-up shirt he'd worn to the theater. The crisp yellow cooled his dark skin, bringing out otherwise invisible flecks of gold in his oak-colored eyes. "What was that? In that moment. When you hesitated."
The urge to argue rose, automatic. Then, as if she could somehow read into his soul, too, London stroked his bare arms, studying him.
He almost said, "Nothing." Almost told the lie that would end things quicker than any safe word. He didn't want to talk about it. Not here. Not now.
One of London's fingers traced the scar that rode his collarbone, and he flinched before he could stop it.
"Kel." Tyrone's voice came out a deep rumble, strong and immovable as stone. It brooked no argument. "What's going on in that head of yours?"
It was a long moment before Kel wetted his lips and admitted roughly, "I just was thinking that... that people who give--" He couldn't say 'sanctuary.' "--shelter will usually offer it to anyone." He looked at Tyrone, trying to pull up the shields that seemed to fall away whenever they started doing this.
"Don't," London said softly but firmly. Her fingertips brushed the scar again. This time he didn't flinch.
Tyrone watched him, thoughtful. Kel didn't squirm. "You think not everyone should get shelter?"
He gave a ragged shrug. Memories haunted him.
"You had a bad night," London murmured.
Tyrone's hand settled on London's shoulder and she fell quiet, looking up at him. Kel studied the way the semi-darkness softened her lean body. He couldn't do this. He was here for sex, and if they wanted to get into some sort of soul-baring--
"Think about my voice," Tyrone said. It was solid, confident, wrapping around him and making the rest of the world back away. "And nothing else."
Kel closed his eyes for a moment, focusing. Training his thoughts on Tyrone and London and letting the rest go.
"Now, why don't you give the lady a kiss." Tyrone had come behind him, knees landing with soft thumps on either side of Kel's hips, hands settling on his shoulders, sliding down his biceps. London leaned forward, and with Tyrone solid behind him, Kel brushed his lips across hers.
"The man slowly caressed the inside of his thigh, crawling higher and higher, but It was a shame really that he'd grown bored of this scene, if only love was as easy as simply setting eyes on the person that would become yours forever." Julia looked up from the novel, black eyebrows rising. "Is that what it's like?"
London reached over the bar, plucking the book out of Julia's hands and flipping it around to scan first the cover, then the pages and -- finally -- the back. "Not that I've ever seen." She closed the book to look at the cover again, her finger holding the page. Submissive Love. She twisted to look across the empty pub, to the only other person inside. "Ty? You've been to BDSM clubs and dungeons. Any of the guys there looking for love?"
Ty leaned away from his computer, stretching his arms over his head. His long-sleeved T-shirt drew tight over his pecks, sleeves pushed up against the corded muscles of his forearms and cloth seeming even whiter against his dark skin. Eventually, he turned to look at them. "Only in the Biblical 'knowing' sort of sense. At least, that I saw."
London shrugged and handed the book back to Julia, who looked crestfallen.
"Damn," Julia said, closing it with a sigh. "Well, at least the sex scenes are still pretty great."
London smirked and popped a nut into her mouth. "You should try it for real. They're even better than on paper." And she winked.
The spell slammed into him, making his ears ring and blood pool in his mouth, this caster was strong, terrifyingly so but he would not die here, he had someone to go home to.
Ty yelped and slapped his laptop shut. "What? Nothing. What the hell are you two doing, sneaking up on a man like that?" He glared over the back of the couch at his lovers, both of them sweaty from their run.
"We didn't sneak up," London said, while Kel just smirked. "We just walked in. You were totally absorbed in your... what is that?"
Ty ran his hands over the top of the laptop possessively. "Nothing."
"Biggest nothing I ever saw," Kel drawled lazily. And then, quick as a blink, he was over the couch and yanking the laptop away from Ty.
"No!" Ty shouted, curling around it in a football huddle. London landed on his back, one arm wrapping around his neck. She did something and he went sprawling to the floor on top of her. His grip on the laptop slackened, and Kel yanked it away.
"No fair!" Ty shouted, trying to get up and completely failing. She had her legs wrapped around his hips, one arm nearly choking him when he tried to rise. "Unjust use of martial arts!"
London laughed delightedly.
Kel sat calmly on the couch, just out of reach, and opened the laptop back up.
"You -- let -- go--" Ty grunted, flailing against London. For someone who was five inches shorter and at least seventy pounds lighter than Ty was, she was disconcertingly good at keeping him down.
"I don't even know what this is," Kel grumbled, frowning and scrolling. "It looks like... you're writing a book?"
"No," Ty rasped. "Online collaborative writing. Would -- you -- let -- go?"
London ignored the request. "Read it, Kel."
"Hang on," he mumbled, fingers pecking one at a time over the keyboard. He spoke as he typed, and Ty groaned. "His... cat... would... miss... him... terribly. It... gave... What's your character's name?"
"I hate you."
"Buddy it is. Buddy... enough... hope... to... try... once... more... Sadly... he... failed... again... because... he... refused... to... learn... how... to... defend... himself. Luckily... his... girlfriend... showed... up..."
London started laughing. "I like it!"
Ty relaxed against her, giving up. "You're such assholes."
"Kel, kill him off, would you? His girlfriend wouldn't save him if he was calling her an asshole."
Ty heaved a sigh and listened as Kel butchered his story. Luckily, his online friends already knew to discard anything that didn't sound like him.
Still, he was never going to live any aspect of this down.
"Ahh!" If anyone commented on his not so manly scream just then, he'd clobber them, but for now all he could do was stare at the....thing, that had once been his antique gargoyle statue but was now standing in front of him as a man in all his naked glory. Ty whipped around, glaring up the climbing wall to the lithe figure at the top. "London! What did you do to Goliath?"
She paused in her climb to twist and look down. Her hair spilled in a fall from its pony tail, shimmering in the warehouse lights. "What? You said I could re-decorate."
"I didn't mean removing the best part of our security system! And what the hell is this?" He gestured to the now-male statue, taking in the entire, nude thing with one sweep of his hands.
"That's like... the new Goliath." She smiled. Even with her near the ceiling, he could see it. "But Ty, don't be too upset. I had his cock molded from yours."
Ty whipped back around to look. That was... both awesome and disturbing. "That doesn't make up for removing Goliath!" The heat had left his voice, though.
"Relax, lover. I put Goliath in the bedroom, where he can watch over us while we sleep." London eyed a rock no bigger than her pinky, then heaved upward, caught it, and swung ever higher.
Ty thought about the seven-foot gargoyle now standing sentinel in their bedroom. That was... also awesome and disturbing. Best girlfriend ever.
As he watched Earth slowly disappear through the window, Kel began to regret his decision to leave it behind. He pressed his head back against the head rest, staring hard at the eternally-on "no smoking" sign above him.
London leaned across his lap, staring avidly out as they ascended. "I love this part," she breathed, almost worshipful. "Watching the ground fall away and feeling gravity fail to push you back."
Kel stared at the exit sign above him. He felt more than saw her look at him, a smile at the corners of her mouth. "Don't you like flying?"
Kel wet his lips and spoke without looking at her. "The last time I flew, I was heavily medicated after a breakdown. Before that, I was on my way to kill someone. Before that--" He stopped. She really didn't need to know.
His knuckles pressed against his skin, grip tight on the armrest.
"Well," Ty said from London's other side. There was a smirk in his voice. "This time we'll help you join the mile high club."
London made a little noise of approval and curled close to Kel, her fingers threading between his.
Kel gave a small huff of laughter.
There's an Author Extra as well that became a story of it's own, that I'll post sometime soon. So much new stuff! I also finally got the website updated, and I'll start re-reading what I have written of "A Little Queer"... hopefully next week. Probably not today. So much to do!