Sunday, August 10, 2014

Smallest of Worlds

Smallest of Worlds

*Story contains M/M relations*

There were somewhere in and around forty-two dozen reasons that Miles had told himself to man up the thirty-eight dollars and some-damn cents and upgrade to a decent flashlight. When one did maintenance one needed to be able to see for heaven's sake. And the reckonings as to why things never managed to break down in a brightly-lit, warm, safe, cozy setting were just beyond overdone. That was, apparently, just how things worked. Or, for accuracy's sake, didn't work. The accepting of that fact however, gave no comfort when he was standing in the dark jerking his flashlight up and down in his fist like he was trying to get the fool thing off. "Come on, you little bit—"

"Now don't you even."

Ted's voice coming up behind him, out of the blue, right there, as if the man had been skulking through the dark like some kind of sneaky cur, had Miles just about choking on his own balls. The flashlight flew from his hand, skipped twice against something hard, and rolled to a stop with a bright, solid beam shining perfectly out of the end of it. Well, at least the damned thing worked again.

"There's not a soul here to hear me swear, Ted," Miles growled. "And you should warn a person when you're coming up on them like that."

Ignoring Miles' rebuke Ted kept his steps moving and his voice quiet. "You don't know that, there are cameras everywhere. And I thought you said you were going to get a new one of those."

"I also said I was going to win last Wednesday's Lotto but that didn't happen either, did it?"

"I'm just saying," Ted said, easing past Miles with that damn look on his face, that pious, calm, I'm-always-right look, "you being as jittery as you are in the dark, it'd only make sense if you got yourself something reliable."

Miles got the feeling Ted would be smiling. Not all cocky like either. Just one of those slow, easy smiles that said there was more to his words than the sound of them. Frowning at himself, Miles scooped the now-bright flashlight up and aimed it down the tomb-like hallway. "Yeah, well, maybe I like this one, all right?"

"All right."

Surprisingly enough, the voice that had sent him towards roof rafters a few seconds prior now seemed far more comforting than the empty silence and Miles hurried to follow it. "We ought to get some more emergency lighting in here. Dark as all hell, ain't it?"

"Tends to happen without power."

"Ah, ha," Miles replied drily. "Just a bundle of wit today, aren't we?"

"Not so much, I figure."

Miles rolled his eyes and shoved his left hand into the front of his coveralls, digging for one of the dozen or so paper-wrapped squares of his Bazooka Joe, still fully ensconced with the beloved five-panel comics so bad they made Miles laugh out of nothing more than feeling bad for the writer. Like 'em or love 'em he was gonna miss them when they were gone. It just didn't seem right, replacing those crazy kids' anecdotes with something meant to inspire brain-power. Bubble gum wasn't about learning stuff.

"You want a gum?" Miles held one out towards Ted's back and waited for Ted to stop and snag it. Ted never asked but he always accepted. Kinda like their sex life. Not that they ever talked about that there at work. As far as everyone knew, he and Ted just shared the half-house they rented out in Conway for the money aspect of things. Some assumed. They knew better than to gossip on it though.

"So where'd it go out at?" Ted asked, handing back the wrapper so Miles could tuck into his pocket and check it later.

"Down around midway. One of the dolls starting acting like it was about to skitter off its wires, and after giving the audience a right pretty lightshow, she shut everything down tighter than a wedged trapdoor. Probably rats in the wires again."

"Must have been a good chew to shut the whole place down."

Miles snorted. "You musing or asking?"

"Well now, I imagine unless you did the chewing it wouldn't do much good to be asking, would it?"

Ted stopped at a Utilidor access, one of the several that would take the two of them from the underground tunnel backstage and up to the set, and waved Miles in for more light while he tried to set the key in the lock.

Miles shook his head and stepped onto the platform that housed the dolls to the left of the Seven Seaways and shuddered. "Lord, I hate these dolls."

"Miles," Ted scoffed. "They're just plastic kiddies for God's sake."

"They're freaky," Miles insisted. "Beady little eyes, fake smiles, rubber faces ... " Another shudder found Miles from shoulders to toes. "Why the hell somebody would spend a Benjamin a day for each and every person in their household and then waste fifteen minutes of that day in here, I could never quite get a handle on."

"Well, you ain't never dragged around a kiddie, I'd imagine."

Miles frowned his confusion and Ted chuckled. "Fifteen minutes of the sweet and repetitive kind of music guaranteed to sedate the crankiest little bugger, lulled by water travel, star-struck by kids of every nation, and pacified by spinning, swaying, dancing colours? You put that under a nice, shaded, dark cover that'll keep your skin out of the sun and give a body a chance to cool itself right proper, and I figure it does a good job of fitting the bill dead on about naptime when a parent's itching to start strangling something."

Miles snorted, Ted reached for and reset the switch for the emergency lights and all around them darkness became the harsh reality of machinery set up as toys. He spent a few seconds blinking his eyes so they'd adjust faster and followed Ted's direction when Ted began searching wiring. It was always odd to see the equipment like that. Illumination took away the fantasy of depth and world beyond the dancing dolls. Sky became mere ceiling, acreage beyond became painted walls; in an instance an entire world was nothing but a warehouse.

"Sounds like you put an awful lot of thought into that, Ted," Miles pointed at the back of the smallest of a set of three Asian dolls, their perpetual grins wide in their silky kimonos and floral headwear. Only the middle one seemed out of place – tilting to the right with both hat and wig askew, dress dotted with holes where sparks had made the effort to catch and been extinguished by cleverly-designed inflammable material. An exclamatory black mark spread out under the doll, denoting the spot most severely damaged and where the worst of it had probably started up.

"Well, I suppose I have," Ted agreed. Deft fingers made quick work at disconnecting and removing the doll from her stand. While Ted muscled the unit away, Miles began the process of cutting back and capping the damaged wiring so they could get the ride back up and running. None of the wee ones would even notice one doll missing amongst the many. "I guess you not so much then?"

Miles hissed at the marette that refused to set, tossing it back into his toolbox and grabbing another. "Not so much what?"

"Thought about it."

Miles frowned and looked up, completely lost from the conversation. "Kids," Ted clarified. "Thought about kids."

"In so much as I tend to avoid them whenever possible," Miles chuckled, shifting his weight to get into a comfortable squat before lifting his eyes back up and reaching out. "Can you pass me those ... " The look on Ted's face dried the words up on his tongue. "What?"

"Like ... ever?" Ted asked, tilting his head. A small frown wrinkled the skin at the apex of Ted's forehead, an expression neither the skin itself nor Miles was used to. Ted wasn't the frowning type. Even in full out concentration Ted kept a complacent look about him. Scowling was Miles' reaction of choice and he'd often thought that was what kept the two of them so in tune with one another. Like one of those sweet and sour sauces.

Miles sat back on his heels and caught Ted's eyes with his own. "Well I'm not really sure what you're asking me there, Ted."

Ted paused, fiddling with a petal on the hat of the doll almost subconsciously, reaching for and handing Miles the needle-nosed pliers Miles had just been about to ask Ted for before the current conversation had twisted off into what Miles could only imagine was some deep dark corner of Ted's brain. "I guess I'm asking if you've ever thought about … well … a family."

"What do you mean by family?" Miles said slowly.

Ted cleared his throat and once again started working at the floppy petal like it was the reason for the failure somehow. "You know. You. Me. And, I mean, they overturned that law there, you know, back in twenty-ten. So I guess I kinda always thought that maybe ... someday ... baby might make three."

Miles didn't say a word. He just sat there, propped on his own boots, stunned while Ted waited for him to say something. But what did one say when one suddenly had the news that one's lover might want kids? It wasn't something Miles had ever thought about. Up until a couple years prior it hadn't even been an option. Cripes, they could barely afford the electric bill some months—

"Someday, Miles," Ted repeated, in that creepy way that always gave Miles the impression Ted was somehow reading his damn mind. "I didn't say today. I didn't even say for sure. Just ... you know. Maybe. Someday."

Miles sucked in a breath and struggled to find something to say. Sure, he'd been in on all the rallies supporting marriage equality and the right to use words like family and parent and husband and wife regardless of the genders behind them. He'd just never considered that he'd get that opportunity himself. Ted had never brought up the concept of "more". Ever. Never ever. Picturing himself cooing over a crib had been so far from reality that Miles just … well … just didn't.

He took another breath and stood, nodding at thoughts for a second before he finally caught Ted's eye. "You remember when you came up on me in the dark back there, Ted? And I jumped sky high and had to swallow my nuts back into place?"

Ted nodded, not making eye contact, embarrassed and looking like he was ready to bolt from the building and never look back.

Miles walked closer. "And I told you that you ought to warn a person?" He didn't stop walking until they were eye to eye and all Miles could smell between the two of them was fried wiring and bubble gum. "Well, I love you, Miles. That's the God's truth. But you really ought to warn somebody before you come up on them up in the dark. So you don't scare them half to death. You know what I'm saying here, Ted?"

Ted lowered his eyes. "Sorry." He cocked a tiny grin at his shoes. "Sometimes I forget we actually gotta speak to hear each other sometimes. It kinda comes … easy … you and me. When I find something I still don't know about you, it throws me for a bit of a loop."

"I imagine if I knew myself, then you would too," Miles ducked an inch or two to catch up Ted's eyes with his own again. "I also imagine there are about a hundred better spots to discuss it other than here." He waited for Ted's smile and then gasped in mock-shock. "Oh Good God! Please tell me this isn't your way of trying to tell me that you're pregnant?"

He couldn't hold back the grin at the playful narrowing of Ted's eyes or the sideways smirk Ted's smile morphed into. "You're a bit of an ass, you know that, boy?"

Miles sent him a cheesy wink and stuck out his pointer finger in the traditional gun-gesture. "Good thing you like a bit of ass now and again then, hmm? Now," he said, jumping out of the way of the swat he knew was coming before Ted even lined it up. "Let's get back to work before we both get fired. Heaven knows it sounds like we got some saving up to do."

The End

Copyright © 2013 AF Henley

No comments:

Post a Comment