Breaking Up is Hard to Do
This story takes place on the Sunday Night after Hell Night, the Fifth Year of the Addergoole School
Channing didn’t really want to go back to her room, but after the demons and nightmare creatures that had been roaming the halls, she wasn’t sure where else was safe. Sure, the halls looked benign and normal today, but Rand had looked benign and normal right up to the point where he’d tried to beat her into submission.
Where else was there? The Store would only entertain her for so long. Rand liked hanging out at the arcade, so that was out. The library terrified her, and she hadn’t yet figured out how to get into some of the neater places she’d heard people talking about.
Nydia had gotten all weird this morning, and was suddenly interested in the creepy guy, Dysmas. And Rand had really kept her away from most other people. She was only beginning to realize now how much he’d isolated her, chasing off other people with his overbearing attitude, demanding all of her free time. She’d thought it was kind of neat, how much time he’d wanted to spend with her, and kind of sweet, when he said he couldn’t sleep without her next to him. Now… now she wondered how she’d been so blind. How could she have missed how controlling he was being? Picking her meals, telling her what to study, criticizing her clothing…
“There you are, baby. I’ve been looking all over for you.” And there he was, the asshole, coming towards her with his daddy-knows-best face on. “It’s not safe to wander the halls alone, you know that.”
“It’s not safe to wander them with you, either, Rand cy’Solomon,” she retorted, before she could think it through or stop herself.
“Oh, babe, don’t be like that. I just got a little worked up, that’s all.” He murmured something under his breath, and reached out to touch her split lip. Dr. Caitrin had offered to heal it all up, but Channing had told her no. She wanted the reminder, both for herself and for this asshole in front of her.
She shied away from his touch. “Stop it, Rand. No more make-it-betters. No more touching me. No magic. I don’t want anything of yours touching me.”
His sweetness-and-light expression turned sour. “It was just a little slap, Chan-chan. Stop being so fucking melodramatic.”
“Melodramatic?” Her anger was rising with his every word. “Melodramatic? I’ll give you melodramatic, you miserable excuse for a boyfriend. If you ever lay a hand on me again, I’ll break all your fingers with a baseball bat.”
She was spouting off in anger. She didn’t know how she’d go about breaking all someone’s fingers without them wiggling out of the way. She didn’t expect the way Rand turned pale, and then red, or the sputter of totally incoherent rage that came out of his mouth in response.
“You fucking bitch!” He grabbed her forearm with one hand and a huge handful of hair with the other. “Someone’s got to show you the way things really are around here, and, lucky me, I get to do the honors.” He yanked, hard, forcing her towards him, and began walking. “Things could have been nice. If you’d just have gone along yesterday like a good girl, then everything would have been sweet. I would have taken good care of you.”
Channing was horrified to find herself laughing, despite the tears of pain streaking down her face and the terror making her heart pound. “Like a good girl. Jesus, Rand, I’m not your child, I’m not your little wifey, and I’m not your pet!”
“You will be. You’ll understand the way things work around here, and you’ll shut up and submit like a good pet. This isn’t your happy little suburban life, Chan-chan. This is Addergoole, where it’s eat or get eaten. And guess what?” He stopped abruptly and shoved his face into hers. “I don’t intend to spend another year getting chewed on. It’s your turn now.”
He’d gotten her nearly to his room, she realized. Dear god, he wasn’t sane right now. He was off the deep end, and, once he’d gotten her behind a closed door, god only know what he’d do to her. Show her ‘how things really were around here.’ Teach her ‘how to be a good girl.’ She started to struggle in earnest.
“It’s a little late for that, don’t you think?” he sneered. “We could have done this the easy way, but no, you had to get all feminist and shit. Do you know what it feels like when someone breaks your fingers, bitch? Well, do you?”
“Rand, I…” He wasn’t talking to her anymore, wasn’t seeing her, it seemed but, wherever he was, it didn’t have a door to his bedroom to open. He’d stopped in the middle of the hall, his grip slackening, but not enough for her to escape.
“There’s this snapping sound, like a twig breaking, and somehow you hear it before you feel it. But then you feel it, like a shockwave up the arm, and the whole fucking thing hurts and you think you’re going to puke.
“And it seems like nothing’s going to hurt worse, ever, there’s your pitching arm, useless with that damn broken finger. And then it happens again, and you remember you have ten fingers.”
God. Channing stared at him, at the one pinkie that had always looked a little crooked, now wrapped around her forearm. Someone had… someone had done that to him. Broken all his fingers? At least two. No wonder he’d tweaked. No wonder he was rough with her. Maybe, if she was just gentle enough to him, she could make this work out. Didn’t he deserve that much, a second chance?
“Rand,” she tried again. If he’d just calm down, maybe they could talk things through. “I’m sorry, I didn’t know.”
His attention snapped back to her. “Know what? You don’t know anything at all, you useless little bitch. But you will. I’ll show you what it means to be properly Owned around here.” His hands tightened on her and he reached for the doorknob.
Panic surged through Channing, and she struggled futilely against his hands. Oh, gods, her fingers. Her hands. There was nothing to reason with in that madness. All he wanted to do was hurt her, and keep hurting her, and why? Just because he’d been hurt? Fury surged over the fear. How could he? What twisted world made this okay in his mind?
“Don’t you fucking dare.” She broke the words like his fingers, as she dug her heels into the carpet.
“Dare?” he yanked on her arm. “I’ll do more than da-a-aaarreee.” His voice raised up in a keening whimper. “Whuh…” He wasn’t tugging on her anymore. He was staring at her in terrified horror. Terror? She was the one that should be terrified. He’d hit her, yelled at her, and threatened her, and he was scared? Where did he get off? She bristled.
Bristled. She could feel the bristles, like goosebumps turned up to eleven, tugging at her skin, like they were poking through her skin, a million skin-ripping little incisions. The adrenaline-fueled rage faded, as she stared at Rand, wondering what he’d done to her.
He pulled his hands away from her, slowly. They were bleeding, pierced like he’d shoved them onto a bed of nails. He was swaying woozily, too, staring at the streams of red. “The hell…?”
“The hell?” Channing thought, for a moment, that she was getting as lightheaded as Rand seemed to be. It sounded like the complaint was coming at her from both sides. “Channing, are you all right?”
“Rand’s bleeding.” She turned to see who was talking to her, but the hallways spun for her. Her whole body was on fire with pain. Only her feet didn’t hurt. “I think I’m dying.”
“No, sweetie.” Luke, it was Luke, the PE teacher, his wings filling the whole hall. “You’re not dying, you’re just Changing.” He muttered something under his breath, and the last of the rage bled out of her, like the red droplets falling on the carpet. “I’m going to pick you up. Try not to freak out too much, please.”
“Okay…?” His hands didn’t hurt as much as she thought they would, and he was a lot stronger than seemed reasonable, scooping her up like a child. “Changing?”
“Changing,” he confirmed. “And looks like you gave this twit what he deserved. Jasfe tlacatl Rand cy’Solomon the-fucking-moron.”
She winced, glad he was holding her, out of Rand’s reach. “It’s not his fault,” she tried weakly, although she wasn’t really sure anymore that that was true. “He just got a little angry.”
“Are you his, then?” Luke asked softly. “Come on, Rand, you’ll need Caitrin to look at those hands. You don’t know, Channing could be poisonous.”
“I’m not his!” She twisted to look at Rand, angrily glaring at both of them. “That’s what started this whole stupid mess. He couldn’t just be happy dating. He had to get some sort of patriarchal concession out of me. And couldn’t take no for an answer.”
“Stay calm, please, Channing. You start to bristle when you’re angry, and, like I said, I don’t know if you’re poisonous and I’d rather not find out the hard way.”
“I’m calm.” She was, despite the pain, despite the memory of Rand’s hands on her. “I just know that we’re done, he and I. And it makes me a little sad.”
He nodded, and began walking towards the nearest stairs. Peering over his shoulder, she could just see Rand, limping along dejectedly. “It’s never easy to let go, even when we know we should.” He chuckled, and she was surprised to see a genuine smile on his face. “With those spikes, more true of you than most.”
She blinked at him, and then giggled as she got it. “Like a dog biting a porcupine?”
“Biting off more than he can chew, yeah,” he chuckled. Channing found herself laughing with him, as Rand sulked behind them to Caitrin’s.
Copyright © 2009-2010 Lyn Thorne-Alder & Elasmo. All rights reserved.
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