His thumb hovered over the number, hesitating. His breathing unconsciously ceased. He was worried for her, yes, but he was also scared. He was so scared. His heart was throwing a tantrum, his freezing hands shaking for a different reason. Nothing was supposed to matter, but… The moment he pressed this number, it would connect him with ‘reality.’ He did something, and he would have to take responsibility for it. He would have to…
Everything would spiral out of his control the moment someone else knows… But wasn’t it already so? He never had any control to begin with.
This silence was driving him crazy. He started tapping his finger on the floor with his free hand. Tok tok tok. Nervously, he continued the rhythm. He was fucking scared. He never meant for any of this to happen. He just loved her so, so much. She was so beautiful, even more so when tainted. He made love to her. He wasn’t wrong. He had stayed with her like she wanted, so in return he had gotten what he wanted. What he wanted. What she wanted. What they both wanted. What he wanted. What she wanted. What. They. Both. Wanted.
The things they wanted were not that much different.
Maybe no others would have to know about this. He could fix this by himself. Ib wouldn’t tell anyone, so if he kept his mouth shut, no one would have to know. He could sweep this all under the rug. Yes. He would slowly fix this. He just needed to get through this current predicament.
He locked the screen of his phone and got to his feet, eagerly grabbing the doorknob. The cold metal sent a chill along his skin. He blinked and looked down at the knob inside his hand. Just twist, push and go from there. He kept on staring. That guy was whispering somewhere. Open it, open it.
He tightened his grasp on the doorknob.
The door abruptly clacked opened and invited an icy breeze inside. A hooded figure stepped into the darkness of the apartment, shivering from the cold wind that sent her long hair fluttering. With hands shoved deep inside her jacket’s pockets, she pushed the door shut with her shoulder and let loose a sigh of relief, thankful to get away from the chilling temperature outside.
“All right, you oversize baby. I’m here,” she said loudly, pulling the hood of her jacket down as she locked the door behind her. It wasn’t like she was complaining, but the fact that she could walk in to the apartment without having to wait for Garry to open the door for her was mighty odd.
“Hey, can you come over… please?”
“Nnn… what…?” she had still been half-asleep, curling up under her blanket. “Garry… do you have any idea-“
“Please,” he had somehow managed to cut her off with just a whisper. “Door’s unlocked so just come in.”
She left doors unlocked, not that paranoid pussy, not even on purpose; and that was her first clue that something was wrong, and the reason why she had frozen her ass getting here. Someone should be glad she still lived on the complex next to his – and even then, the short walk had been tortuously long.
Garry’s hurried footsteps from the dimly lit living room could be heard echoing into the corridor. He was coming for her. One hand groping for the light switch, she quickly patted down her disheveled hair, or at least the parts that felt disheveled – what she wouldn’t give for a mirror right now. Garry’s cryptic phone call hadn’t really given much of a leeway for a brush through her hair. The light was on, and this. Friggin’. Cowlick. Wasn’t. Going. Away! She slid her handbag down her arm and dropped it on the floor next to her. Giving her hair one last comb of her fingers, she bent down to take off her boots.
“Scarl,” without having to look, she could feel him approaching her through the vibration along the floor. “H-hey… T-thanks… for coming.” His voice was… How should she put it? He always talked with a certain falsetto, but right now there was no hint of it in his husky mumbling.
“Yeah, yeah, save the pleasantries. Give me a good reason,” she said, still untying the laces. “And it’d better be damn good ’cause you did not just yank a girl out of her beauty sleep at six AM Sunday to swat a spider for you.” Oh yes, pathetic as it might sound, it had happened before. As she stepped out of her boots, she noticed an unfamiliar pair of sneakers on the shoe rack, too small to even consider it adult’s, let alone male’s. Before she could put much of a thought in to it, however, a strong hand grabbed her by the arm and pulled her into the apartment.
“H-hey, Garry, what gives?” she struggled to keep up with him, stumbling at places, and it was only because of Garry’s solid grip that she hadn’t planted her face to the floor. It really hurt though. He hadn’t been kidding when he’d said he was unnecessarily strong. “Ow, Garry!” she put up a bit of resistance when he continued to pull her into the living room without a word. “Let go. I can walk on my own!”
“Just come,” was his muttered reply. His hold on her did loosen a bit, but he still firmly pulled her along. They headed past the sofa set and abruptly stopped for no reason – but she passed it off as him finally listening to her.
“Okay, Garbear, explanation. Now,” she snarled in a low voice, unconsciously matching his whispered tone. “What’s with the hush and push?”
His blue eyes traveled from her to the bathroom door, and back to her again, his hand rubbing his mouth – he did that a lot when nervous. She saw his jaw work to tell her something, but no sound came out; his grasp on her arm tightened. “What is it?” she tried to look into his eyes, but he kept averting them with the slightest turn of his head.
“Hm? What was that?” she leant in closer. Garry’s face was pale, his lips quivering as he struggled to repeat the words to her.
“… P-please, g-get her out of there for me.”
For a moment, she didn’t understand what he was talking about. But then, something clicked. She realized… the bathroom door was closed.
She felt so exposed. She wanted to turn the lights off and hide in the darkness again, but the thought that she would be walking towards him pinned her to the spot.
Ib had settled back down into the corner, leaving Garry’s towel on the floor. Her body shook uncontrollably with only his shirt on, but if she could, she would rather not wear it at all.
Garry left. She was glad that he did, but at the same time, she felt abandoned. She remembered the wry disappointment on his face when she had refused his hand. Did he hate her now? She didn’t want that. But what would she do if he touched her again… in places she had been taught to never show another? It hurt and she hated him for that, but she still cared for him so much. He was so important— she thought he cherished her too, so why had he hurt her so?
The sound of the knob turning got her clambering onto her feet with the thought that he might be coming in again. She had wanted to lock the door, but for the same reason that she hadn’t turned off the light, the door remained unlocked. Alarms blared inside her head when the door swung open, but there was nothing she could do but stand there.
To her relief and bewilderment, an unfamiliar lady with long silver hair was standing in the threshold. Her relief was short-lived, though. Next to the young woman, holding the door opened was Garry; the sight of his lavender hair made her heart skip a beat.
Ib tried to collect herself as the marble seeped its icy bite through her thin shirt, prickling the skin on her back. She began to fret the existence of this lady. Who was this stranger that Garry had obviously brought here? Wasn’t it already enough that he had seen her shameful side? Now someone she didn’t know was seeing her miserable state. He knew she didn’t like strangers. They were all monsters with their curious gazes and prying eyes. She wanted so much to just hide behind his tall frame like she always had, but right now… even he was a monster.
Scarlet whipped around, red eyes glaring at him in disbelief. “What the—!” She half-shouted, but stopped herself, grabbing him by the shoulder of his shirt and dragged him to a side, away from the threshold. “What the hell, Garry,” she lowered her voice to a hiss. “What the hell!”
His chest tightened at her angry words, a part of him wondering if something had happened to the little girl since he left her inside. When he had opened the door for Scarlet, he hadn’t dared look. He didn’t want to see that fearful expression on her face again. His cowardly heart was almost painful as he imagined the worst. His voice hoarse and stuttering, he held up his hands, “L-look, I-I-I know this is very bad…” He wanted to calm the blonde down, but she only seemed to get even more pissed off when he failed to give her an explanation. It was hard enough already to keep his mind… functional…; her piercing gaze only served to give him more unease. Someone knew now, and although he had been preparing himself ever since he ended the call, Garry still wasn’t ready. Every fiber of his body was shaking and he just wanted to freak out right now. The only thing that kept him from going into hysteria was… He didn’t know what it was; he just knew he had to stay… sane.
It was a long shot, calling Scarlet here. They had only been friends for a mere two years, and he honestly didn’t know what she would do.
“For goodness’ sake, tell me this is a bad prank!” she growled, fed up with his incoherent stammering.
“Scarl, just…” he ran a hand over his mouth, gesturing at the open door behind her. “Can you—”
“No!” the girl took a step back from him. She held a finger up when he opened his mouth, refusing to listen to another word. “My god, Garry, no no no no no no,” she paused, looking over her shoulder and then back at him. “No! You did not just call me over to clean up after your mess.”
“Please, I-I can’t— she—”
“Garry, Garry. No, I do not want to get involved.” She turned to leave.
“Don’t. Touch me,” she sibilated each word, but he refused to back down, walking around her to block her departure.
“… Look, she’s been like that the whole night, we can’t just leave her be—”
“There is no ‘we,’ and you can’t just guilt trip me into this.”
“She’s… she’s scared… and cold— you know how cold it is in there. I’ve turn the heater up, but I don’t think—”
“I. Don’t. Want. To know. Why did you even call me? Day one I made it clear—”
“Scarlet,” he angrily grabbed her by the shoulders.
They stared at each other, and both went silent – the look of surprise on her face was mixed with the slightest trace of apprehension. He let go of her with a muttered apology. His temper was getting the better of him again, and the last thing Garry needed was another girl terrified of him. He had to calm down. He turned away for a moment, biting his lip, before finding the courage to face Scarlet again. “Scarlet, please, I-I’m…” The thought of Ib made the corners of his eyes stung, and his voice trembled. “I’m not asking you to help me. Just please, please, help her.”
Red eyes narrowed at him with unreadable emotions. He was tempted to look away – they reminded him too much of the girl he had hurt. The seconds quietly ticked by as he stood tensed, as though waiting for a verdict that could end his life.
“Sorry, but no,” she threw her hands up, seemingly exhausted.
His chest tightened. To hell with it. He swallowed and sucked in a breath. “… I know about your father…”
Scarlet tilted her head; wide, unblinking eyes glared at him threatening to shred him to pieces. “How…” she said through gritted teeth.
He stood his ground, his knuckles gripping white. “Please, Scarlet.”
“Low blow, Garry,” the girl hissed. She glanced at the doorway of the bathroom and folded her arms, her head nodding. “All right,” she said in a high-pitched tone. “All right.”
His whole being relaxed as he let go of a breath he didn’t realized he was holding. It was fine that she hated him for this, as long as Ib would be taken care of. “Thank y—”
“So what did you do?”
- Garry knows Scarlet lives in the complex across the street but doesn’t know which apartment exactly
- Scarlet day one made it clear they both keep their dramas to themselves. Granted, she broke it the moment she showed up a drunken mess on Garry’s doorstep
- Garry doesn’t know so much about Scarlet’s father that it could be used as blackmail, but Scarlet doesn’t need to know that