fantasy

Fic: Corbel & Squinch, part 3

Currently at 5,600 words--so, getting there, but got a long ways to go yet. Still, this is now as long as anything else I've written, I think. There might have been some fragmented stuff that was a little longer, but probably not. So I'm feeling pretty good about this, no matter how much I get done past this point.

So now we get a bit of Gabe's viewpoint, because Ian's asleep, and I'm no good at writing dreams.

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Hot buttered toast made everything better.

*


Gabe watched Ian for a while, the lack of tension in his cousin’s body reassuring that he had done the right thing. He knew Ian–knew him in some ways better than he knew himself. And because of that, he couldn’t summon any guilt for tricking him.

They had been fifteen when Gabe accidentally poisoned Ian (and boy, that had been a difficult mess to get out of. They’d only managed it by lying through their teeth and swearing up, down, and sideways that it had only been some bad chicken. If it had been Ian’s father instead of Gabe’s, they probably would have ended up locked in their rooms until they turned twenty-one. But Gabe’s dad knew when to let things go, so they’d gotten off with a warning about double-checking all substances before eating them), but that hadn’t been the first lie he’d told him–just the first to be found out. Gabe was ten when he first realized that sometimes it was better to not tell Ian the truth, ever since he’d seen Ian stiffen when faces with being forgotten by his mother. So he lied to Ian on occasion, but only when Ian lied to himself first.

He watched Ian now, reassured by the peace Ian had lacked while awake. All the tension had melted away, made visible by its disappearance. Drugging him had been the right thing to do, although Ian would be mad as anything about it later. That was fine–he would have a right to be so and Gabe would be very sorry, of course, but still. Ian was quite capable of running himself into the ground, forgetting to take care of himself. He thought sleep was optional, and his body was too cowardly to correct his misapprehension. If Gabe hadn’t drugged him, he probably would have stayed up all night, miserable, and collapsed the next morning.

After tossing a blanket over his slumbering cousin, Gabe collected their mugs and carefully washed them out. No harm in being careful, after all. Then, despite the late hour, he picked up the phone.

"What?" His dad sounded ready to wreak havoc, given any provocation. This would have to be handled carefully. Gabe took a deep breath, aware that he would have only one chance to ask his question.

"Hey, Da? I know it’s late and an ungodly hour and I’m your least favorite child, but do you know anything about Ian fighting with Uncle Jesse? Besides the usual, I mean." The only answer he received was the sound of breathing. "No? Okay. Well, thanks then. I promise I’ll explain later. You can go back to bed now. Sorry to have bothered you."

"Wait a minute," his dad said just as he was about to hang up, sounding a good deal less aggravated. "Was this recently?"

"Sometime today, I think. Why?"

"Well, Jesse’s been complaining about him the past couple weeks–you know, grades and tuition and how Ian isn’t properly motivated." For some reason his dad seemed to find that thought amusing. "I’ve been avoiding him as much as possible, but he sent me a note asking whether I had any job openings."

"Do you?" That would solve a couple of problems very easily, if he did.

"Like I told him, no. I just hired a couple of guys a few weeks ago. Last thing I need at the moment is a new untrained idiot to deal with." Well, there went that idea. Which was too bad–Ian probably would have done quite well at setting type. "Why? Has something happened?" Gabe stared at Ian’s sleeping form, and wondered how he could possibly answer that question with any honesty.

"I suppose you could put it that way. It’s complicated. And not really my story to tell." He wound the phone cord around his finger a couple of times. "You’ll have to ask Ian, but I don’t think he’s really up to talking about it at the moment."

"Ah. I see. Is he there with you?"

"Yeah," Gabe admitted, "But he’s asleep right now."

"Really? I would have thought–" His dad broke off and laughed. "Aha. I’m guessing he didn’t have any say in the matter. Is that right?"

"Um–" Sometimes Gabe regretted his almost-universal policy of honesty. "Can I plead section two?"

"So you did drug him." His dad managed to sound both amused and disapproving at once. "Gabe, you know that’s probably–"

"Yes, Da," Gabe sighed. "But he needed to sleep. The stuff I gave him is specially spelled so it only works on those who need it. You didn’t see him, Da–he looked like he was about to collapse or disintegrate. Like he might fall apart if I looked at him too hard." This pronouncement was met with silence.

"Just don’t do it again," his father said at last. "And apologize when you get the chance. It sounds like he has enough to deal with at the moment."

"Yeah," Gabe sighed again. "Thank you, Da. Say hi to Mum and Jenna for me."

"Goodnight, Gabe."

"’Night, Da." He hung up the phone carefully, and went back to watching Ian sleep, as he had done many times before. Eventually he settled down beneath the phone, back to the wall, knees up against his chest. Sleep would probably have been a good thing for him too, but he felt the need to keep watch over Ian. In the morning he would be contrite and let Ian yell at him if need be, but right now he was on self-appointed guard duty.



Ian normally woke to the sounds of Thomas hitting the snooze button on his alarm clock and pulling the covers up over his head. As wake-ups went, it was rather irritating. On this morning he was awakened by the clash of pots and the smell of eggs, and for a moment he panicked, unable to remember where he was. But before he had time to open his eyes, his body recognized what he was lying on: Gabe’s couch. He was in Gabe’s apartment, on his ugly couch, because the night before his father had stated his intention of withdrawing his financial support of Ian’s college career.

And Gabe had drugged him. Ian wasn’t sure which hurt more. Although Gabe was currently cooking him something involving eggs, and maybe onions. Which wasn’t enough to get him off entirely, but it did lessen the fault. Especially if there was toast. Hot buttered toast made everything better.
Gabe is kinda scary.

"Specially spelled"... oooooh. Interesting. I wants to know more.
Well, this is technically a fantasy. I wanted it to start out pretty much like our world, and then slowly show itself to be different. Here's the first glimpse of that.

And yes, Gabe is scary. I really didn't mean for him to be that way, but he kinda is. I'm not sure what happened. He was supposed to be the scrupulously honest and responsible one, but you can see how well that went.
When I first stumbled on that mention of magic, I was all like buhhhhh..... but now that I think about how you meant me to be all like buhhhhh...... I realize that it was quite ingenious. Way to go. I like this bit.
Me too. Thanks for pointing out the various typos, which I will go back and fix--eventually. Promise.