Done Playing (Short Story)
by Darcie Nadel
Antoine's chest is warm and firm against his back. He settles against him, trying to get comfortable in the cramped quarters.
The boat rocks gently back and forth. They're lucky it isn't rough tonight. It'll be easier to hide that way.
Antoine's hand reaches up and gently strokes his hair. His eyes open slowly, turning slightly to look up at Antoine.
"I thought you were sleeping, Julien."
"How do you expect me to do that?"
Antoine simply smiles in response. It's dark in the cargo hold, but he can still see Antoine's gray eyes, an unusual warmth in them. Only for him do they ever appear that way.
He can also see the tense set of Antoine's jaw. Antoine tries to hide it , but he's worried too. The mask is in place for his benefit. It isn't working, but it's a valiant effort.
"What are we even doing?" he asks Antoine.
That smile again. "Running." There's a forced note of laughter behind the word.
He pulls away. Antoine's arms tighten for just a moment before relaxing and letting him go.
"I'm serious, Antoine."
"So am I."
He frowns, staring up at Antoine, searching his face for any sign that he's being taken seriously. The smile remains plastered on Antoine's face, but it's colder now. It no longer reaches his eyes.
He hates it when Antoine does this. Deliberately keeping him ignorant of everything. Looking back at him with that same smile every time. He knows he won't get another answer. This is a game they've played many times before.
His jaw tightens. So does his hand. Suddenly he lashes out, connecting with Antoine's cheek with all the force he can manage.
He stares at Antoine's face again. Antoine closes his eyes for a moment, brings up a hand to gently rub the spot where he was struck. Then his eyes open and the same infuriating expression is back.
His face contorts into a snarl. "Say something!" He hits Antoine's chest. "Show something!" Another hit. "Just...something!" A third hit.
Antoine's hand grabs his wrist before he has time to pull it back. The other hand reaches out to clamp over his mouth. Antoine's grip is painfully tight.
Antoine's face is inches away from his now. The warmth is completely gone now. Antoine's eyes are steel.
"Quiet." Antoine's voice is barely above a whisper, but his ears pick it up easily. The grip on his wrist relaxes, but the one over his mouth stays firmly in place.
"We don't want to be found, do we, Julien?"
He shakes his head slowly. Antoine can be terrifying sometimes, even with him.
"Good." Antoine removes the hand from his mouth.
He stares at the floorboards, blinking back tears. He hopes Antoine can't see them. But he knows Antoine can. Antoine always can.
"Please," he whispers. "At least..." He hesitates, not sure what he wants to ask. He raises his eyes to Antoine, tears still shining. "Tell me what's going to happen."
The smile finally drops a little. The corners of Antoine's mouth slowly relax until the expression is completely neutral. Antoine looks to the side, then up, then down, clearly stalling. Gray eyes finally meet his again.
"I don't know."
His eyes widen. He opens his mouth to speak, but he can't think of anything. This has never happened before. Antoine can't not know. Antoine always knows.
He closes his mouth, leaning forward to rest against Antoine's chest again. He grips the fabric of Antoine's shirt in his fists. Arms come up to encircle him again.
"I'm sorry," he says.
There's nothing for a few moments, only the sound of the waves lapping against the side of the ship. Then the arms around him tighten.