Beastly Awards 2016: original stories for 2016’s winners.


Every year, my group of friends and I hold the Beastly Awards — an awarding ceremony made by us, for us. Nothing that particularly serious. For last year’s prizes, we added mini stories starring the winners in their respective categories. This is my half of the contribution. XD



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MOST LIKELY TO BECOME PRESIDENT AND VICE PRESIDENT IN A POST-TRUMP AMERICA
[Nikita Tetenko, Kelilah Thomas]

Nick threw the door open.

Loosening his tie, he marched to his seat and promptly sat down. He grabbed the first document from the pile of paperwork on his desk and began to work, attempting a feat of 800 words read per minute.

“Hurry it up, Ms. Thomas!” he called out, not taking his eyes away from the roundaboutly worded appeal in his hands.

“Nick, we’ve literally just gotten inaugurated ten minutes ago.” Kiki entered the room and closed the door behind her. “Don’t you want to join the celebratory party?”

Nick risked a pause and looked up at her in disgust.

“It is never too early to save America,” he stated; the look in his eyes that of a period.

Kiki lifted her hands in surrender. “Okay, okay. So what do you want me to do, Mr. President?”

The freshly inaugurated and yet utterly stressed president ran his hands through his hair, ruffled it in poorly disguised exasperation.

“I don’t know?? Maybe get me a cup of tea or something–“

“Nikita Tetenko,” Kiki interrupted.

Nick glanced at her out of the corner of his eye.

“I am not your secretary. I am the vice president of the United States of America.”

Nick had to halt and put down the document.

The chill in her voice was so imminent and menacingly sharp-edged it encapsulated the entire room.

“All right. You’re right. Sorry. It’s just— shit.”

He fiddled with the presidential nameplate boldly engraved with his name. Nobody told him how much heavier it seemed when looked at from behind. Nobody told him how cold the metal felt until he was close enough to have it in reach.

“It’s just. Fuck. There’s just so much to do. The immigration chaos. The deep-rooted racism. The overturned same-sex marriage ruling. The killings, drugs. The indigenous appeals. Healthcare. A lot of things just went wrong. The unemployment rate, the declining economy. The bombings. The homeless on the streets, all these poor pushed further into poverty! All the hate–“

“I understand.”

Kiki sighed. The frozen tension dissipated into the air and the atmosphere regained its silent warmth.

“There’s a shit ton of work to do if we want to salvage this country from whichever pit it’s fallen into. But you need to be calm and rational about this. You’re not a hero; you’re a president. And you need to ask for help. That is what the people expect of you. That is what they elected you for.”

Nick let his head fall to the desk and rest for a count of three. Then he sat straight up, and took a deep breath. Exhaled.

“Okay. Thank you,” he said, inwardly appreciating whoever wrote Article Two of the Constitution for establishing the importance of a vice president to a president’s sanity.

“Then will you please inform our Cabinet members that we’re having a Cabinet meeting later this evening? Tell them to at least remain sober enough to function, or I’ll have to kick them out of their positions immediately.”

Kiki rolled his eyes. “Understood, Mr. President.”

She smoothed down her blazer and turned to leave.

Nick picked up the document and resumed work, attempting 1,000 words read per minute now to make up for lost time.

As Kiki was about to exit the office, her hand hovering on the doorknob, she stopped. Silently, she turned around and said, “One thing.”

“What?” Nick said, glancing up at her.

She looked at him. Eyes shot, hair mussed up, tie loosened and coat unbuttoned like something out of a fetish-specific erotic fiction.

“Aren’t you, like, Canadian?”

LL.



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MOST LIKELY TO KILL A MAN WITH JUST THEIR THIGHS
[E
stefany Encalada]

The Beastly Manor had been breached.

“Has anyone seen my bat?!”

“Can someone go to the kitchen and get the knives?!”

“Just where the fuck are the guns in this place?!”

“Guns– you think I designed this Manor as a fucking fortress of war?!”

The black-clad man continued his approach. Having just effortlessly gone through the gate that had held off every intruder that foolishly dared (until this day), his gait was steady as he slowly made his way to the front door. The hood he wore on his head bathed his face in shadows; the surveillance cameras remained fully functioning, but useless.

Every step of the intruder on the pavement brought a new harrowing wave of commotion to the room, until Estefany decided she had had enough.

Standing up from the chair she had been passively watching them from, the chaos all but dimmed into a curious, but tense murmur. All eyes landed on her.

Estefany, silently, bent down– and began to take off her boots; slowly, undressing each foot. She adjusted her tights, smoothed down her skirt, draggingly easing upward until she stood straight up, leveling everyone with her piercing gaze. She clicked her tongue.

“Don’t worry,” she said, her mouth barely opening to form the words.

“I got this.”

When the intruder rang the doorbell –- yes, dared he did –- Estefany took her time to walk to the door, swinging it open for him.

Poor guy barely had the chance to open his mouth to deliver his spiel — before he was finding his head engulfed by black-clothed thighs, he’s falling to the ground, his face getting pinned to the flooring with hard, unforgiving muscle.

The man struggled in vain; yet, Estefany sustained her hold until she felt him still.

The entire room dared not to move, frozen in stunned silence. It was only when Estefany stood up, patting down her skirt and inspecting her tights for rips, when the ice broke.

“Is…. Is he dead?”

“Never mind that! Holy shit, we need to get you a costume–”

“Can someone get Marvel in on this??”

Becca was already on it.

. . .

Krystal quietly slipped away from the window from where she was peeking in at the fiasco. She forgot to tell them she ordered pizza.

LL.



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MOST LIKELY TO GET ABDUCTED BY THE DEMOGORGON
[Carl Sun]

It won’t stop.

Carl tossed the seventh bloodied wad of tissue off to the side of the road; he fumbled for another one, quickly plugging it into his nose before anything came out.

He winced when a gust of cold air hit his cheek. It still stung, and he could swear the imprint that was distinctly a hand’s was still there when he last looked in the mirror. Add that to the lack of functionality of his left eye from not being able to open it, as well as the blood that just would not stop consuming what few tissues he had left — well, it wasn’t a very pleasant walk home.

And yet he really couldn’t complain, since honestly, he had no one to blame but himself. Yes, it was a party. Yes, he was drunk. Yes, everyone was drunk. But that still did not give him the right to grope anyone’s ass just because he thought it was a nice ass.

A shadow flitted through the trees on his left. He was blind to his left side; he did not notice.

He was nodding to the music, a newly refilled drink in his hand, when he saw it. That ass. The person that was attached to the ass had their weight on one leg, one hand on the hip, conversing with some other person he didn’t bother looking at because ass person had on the tightest pair of pants he had ever seen in his life –- and it was, in all honesty, a sin to look away. With the temptation that high and his sober-reliant rationality that low, he never stood a chance. The game was over when he gulped down his drink, resolve fully fueled, and walked over.

He picked up an almost inaudible growl from somewhere to his right, but there wasn’t anything there but road. He furrowed his brow and continued walking.

In that split second when his fingers were cupping the beautiful curves of that heaven-sent ass — the perfect balance of pert and fluffy, firm and pillowy, cotton and candy — it truly was like the entire world had found its peace. That was, until the ice broke. Until ass person was jumping, someone was shrieking his name, and a hand was coming down on his face.

He could hear footsteps behind him. Well he meant “footsteps” liberally, for the sound was less like a human being walking down the same road as he, and more like ten-kilogram sacks slowly getting dragged over the moonlit asphalt. He increased his pace a little.

Knocked to the ground, hand hovering over an angrily red, quickly swelling cheek, he looked up at his attacker. It was Rain. And it had every right to be Rain. In an engagement party –- in his own engagement party –- a slap of this intensity was the lightest punishment a man could hope to receive, for groping an ass that did not belong to the person he was engaged to. The impact of her hand was a feather, compared to the weight of the tears spilling from her eyes when she told him to leave.

He pulled out the thoroughly soaked tissue clump from his nose and tossed it away. A bit of blood dripped to the road, some getting on his shirt, before he was able to get another square twisted and plugged there in time.

His hand reached up and gingerly felt the swelling in his left eye; Nick really was not one to hold back, even as he was already leaving. Of course ass person had to have been Neihana. Of course it couldn’t have been any other person with a nonviolent partner.

He saw a dark figure dart across his peripheral vision. He really was tired. He didn’t even know where he left behind his glasses in his drunk, stumbling haze. He might have even left behind the prospect of marriage, as well. Would he even have a relationship to return to tomorrow?

He looked at his palm; he could still feel the elasticity of the mound against his hand, the feel of the fabric hugging the curves in a show of erotic unsubtlety.

He tried making caressing motions to recreate the feeling — when a grating, high-pitched scream from a few meters behind had him jumping and scrambling to turn around. His heartbeat deafening to his ears, he frantically looked around to search for…. whatever that was.

There was none.

What greeted him was the same winding road he’d just been on, dark and wide, littered with occasional patches of light from the unevenly distributed streetlamps. There was not a single living, sentient being in sight that could have made that sound.

Carl swallowed, trying to force his irrational fear back inside. He took a deep breath, then turned around, shoving his clammy hands into his pockets; he resumed walking with slow, trembling steps.

And then the same high-pitched shriek came again, only louder, nearer, somewhere directly behind him, probably even right behind his ear in its shivering clarity– and he took off in a run.

The wind resisted against his face as he ran, ran as fast as his legs could take him, as fast as he’d ever run in his life. He could hear the asphalt crunching under his shoes; amplified by the silence of the darkness, it was the only sound that could be heard in the suffocatingly tense air –- until it wasn’t.

His frantic set of footsteps was joined by another; something louder, something pounding heavier and stronger until it got closer, and closer, and closer— until its tormented shrieking overpowered even the beating of his own heart, and he could feel its gnarly breathing on the nape of his neck even as he was running as fast he could, with tears streaming down his face in open fear….

He made the mistake of turning around.

Carl’s last thought, as the open-mouthed mass of darkness descended upon him in a wave of unspeakable terror that would be the last sight he would ever see, was:

‘I should have at least squeezed that ass when I had the chance–‘

LL.



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MOST LIKELY TO HAVE A SHRINE FOR HARAMBE
[Greg Frantzen]

It was May 28, 2017.

Everything was quiet. Melancholy lingered in the air like traces of an invisible fog.

In the eye of the pin-drop silence, walked Greg. A basket of bamboo shoots and bananas in one hand and embroidered white candles cradled in the other, Greg continued his solemn pace with lightly trembling shoulders, almost as if every step could not help but bring pain. His hood was pulled back, and the look on his face was one that could only be described as ashen. Teeth gritted, lump high in his throat like he’s holding back a scream. The entire manor held its breath.

Reaching the end of the hallway, he halted. The basket was set down on the floor. He took his time, gently placing and arranging the candles on the opposite sides of the table. Then, he knelt.

On his knees, he took the bamboo shoots and bananas and delicately spread them over the tabletop; he let out a little smile, he knows he loves bananas. He pulled out the lighter from his back pocket and started the lighting of the candles one at a time, pausing to mumble a prayer for each wick lit up in fire. With every candle dancing in flame, he set down the lighter on his lap, gave the plush toy on the side a little pat, and closed his eyes.

Only when he had gathered his resolve did Greg lift his eyes, to look at the familiar picture looking back at him. Right in the center of the table in gilded frame.

A sob choked in his throat. Shrouded in smoke and the arbitrariness of the flickering candlelight, his black fur only served to look more magnificent that day. The black ivory of his eyes dug deep into Greg’s heart and he could do nothing but plead back his apologies in mournful quietude. He never thought it was going to be easy.

Greg clasped his hands together, and prayed.

He prayed, until the last of the candles puffed out its last, dying breath. Until he found himself surrounded by the darkness –- a darkness that would not have come close to the darkness of the betrayal he must have felt on that day, on that fateful, tragic day when the entire world let him down.

He stood up. His fists were clenched at the sides.

In a final moment of anguish, in the silence where if you listened hard enough you’d hear the droplets of tears meeting the floor in a kiss, Greg took his dick out.

LL.



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MOST LIKELY TO SUCCUMB TO THEIR EVIL SIDE
[Rain Cuevas]

Knock, knock.

Rain sat hunched at her desk. Eyeglasses sitting on the bridge of her nose, glinting with the incandescence of the usual fluorescent lamp, the pen in her hand continued its rushed pace.

Knock, knock.

The ink flowed on the paper. A sprint to keep up with the sentences her mind let out in frenzied barks. Like a tyrant with a hit list. A race to make it in time.

Knock, knock.

In hindsight, she really should have done this a month ago. Or a week ago. Or on actually just about literally any day that wasn’t the day right before it’s to be submitted. She pondered the point of buying a 750-peso planner that wasn’t going to be used anyway.

Knock, knock, knock.

Her fingers reached up and tangled themselves in her hair, kneading at the scalp to try and rid a bit of the pain. Seriously, whose idea was it to write a 10-page, single-spaced essay in four hours?

Knock, knock, knock.

Her pen tapped on the paper. She was stuck. Where was her usual bullshit when she needed it?

Knock, knock, knock, knock.

It was hard to concentrate. She leaned down to write a sentence only to have to white it out because it made no sense, even by her half-assed standards. This wasn’t going well.

Knock, knock, knock, knock.

The tapping got louder. A frown etched on her face. The clock was ticking. There was no way to transition this idea into the next idea. She didn’t even have a next idea.

She gripped the pen tighter in her hand; she could feel the ridges of its plastic digging into her palm.

Knock, knock, knock, knock, knock,
knock, knock, knock, knock, knock,
knock, knock, knock–

“ALRIGHT THAT IS FUCKING ENOUGH.

It happened fast.

The black of her pupils dissolved into a blinding red.

She rose and turned around in a furious stomp, the force of it knocking the lamp off the desk and sending the chair flying. Scores of blood red thorns crept up from her fingertips to the crook of her elbow; they engraved themselves into her skin, billowing out steam with the heat of newly branded flesh.

She held out her arm, teeth gritted, upper arm gripped by the other hand for control, palm stretched out front and shaking, markings glowing with the fury of a bloodied sun– and fired.

Black flames. Tinged with red.

A deafening impact.

In seconds, the door was blasted through. What remained was a doorframe licked with black fire.

Rain panted. The thorns slowly dimmed into black, receding to the tips of her fingers. The only sounds that could be heard were the sound of her deep breaths and the fire crackling as it ate up what little wood left.

She let her arms fall to her sides.

Moments passed in silence. Then, a face –- very cautiously –- peeked in.

Rain glared at him through steady chest heaves, trying to catch her breath. Her little brother, in a show of amazing sense of danger, miraculously alive. Hair singed, clothes blackened, probably traumatized for life, but alive.

“What do you want?” she spit out, rage downgraded to slight annoyance in her mildly drained state.

Little brother fiddled with what’s left of his shirt, trying to look anywhere but his sister’s eyes; they were still dauntingly, unnervingly red.

“I—“ He cleared his throat. “Mom told me….? To, uh…. get you? Uh, dinner’s ready…. and stuff….” he trailed off, scratching the back of his head.

Rain stared at him. He was just about ready to bolt off.

After a while, Rain sighed.

She turned away from him, picking up the fallen chair. “Just tell her to save food for me. I have something I need to finish.”

Little brother nodded at her back and actually bolted off.

Righting the chair and setting the lamp back on the desk, Rain looked at her palm. It was still warm. The last wisps of steam still remained.

She almost killed her own brother.

She smiled.

LL.



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MOST LIKELY TO SLAY EVERYONE WITH THEIR DANCE MOVES
[Len Fabrigar]

Crash!

THAT IS THE THIRD ONE I SWEAR TO FUCKING GOD–

Shiela rushed to contain Tonio before he went and clawed Len a new one.

The ceramic shards lay scattered on the floor; water seeped into the wooden flooring, the prized tulips were crushed beyond salvation. As Shiela held the ballistic Tonio by the shoulders, she glanced up to look and see what Len had to say about this.

Len hit pause and blinked at the mess.

“Oh,” he said.

Shiela felt a shiver run through Tonio’s entire body. Then, he stilled.

One.

Two.

Three–

And then Tonio was kicking Shiela’s shin and shoving her to the ground–

With a high-pitched battlecry, nails primed and sharp like feline claws, he lunged himself straight at Len’s throat.

Len stepped aside and Tonio hit the wall.

Shrugging, Len picked up his speakers and left the room, letting the clacking of his heels fade behind after him.

Tonio sat on the floor, visibly trembling with rage. Shiela carefully lifted herself up from the ground and limped over to him.

She bonked him on the head.

“Okay, first of all, what the fuck. That fucking hurt,” she spoke slowly, gesturing to her shin showing the early symptoms of a bruise. “And second, calm the fuck down. It’s just a vase.”

Tonio clenched his fists, enraged anew. “THAT SON OF A FUCKING BITCH–

“Did that vase mean that much to you?” Shiela looked over at the pale purple shards glistening on the ground in a haphazard array. She could see they were once emblazoned with strokes of gold.

I FUCKING LOVED THAT VASE. I CHANGED THE WATER EVERY DAY. I PICKED FRESH FLOWERS FOR IT EVERY WEEK. I’M GOING TO FUCKING KILL–

Shiela let her hand fall to his head and lightly pulled on his hair.

“All right, all right. We’ll get you a new vase, a better vase.  You pick the colors and the design,” she said.

“And I’ll also talk to Len for you and tell him to get his shit together.” She squatted down to look at him in the eye. “Okay?”

Tonio looked away. “Okay.”

He clicked his tongue.

“Bitch doesn’t even know how to dance.”

. . .

Shiela picked up her mug and took a sip.

Two weeks later and Tonio still refused to speak a single word to Len, dedicating himself to the cause of avoiding Len’s presence entirely. Not that Len was any better, since Shiela had yet to hear a single ounce of apology from him. He did dance his way to three (expensive) broken vases, the little fucker.

Shiela set the mug down on the coffee table.

She really liked that mug; it was her favorite. She remembered having to peruse the entire convention venue trying to look for the perfect mug to buy, and then happily waiting an hour to have it printed and packaged for her taking. She didn’t like hot drinks though, so she only ever used it for cold cocoa, but she loved it so much she insisted on only washing it with the soft side of the sponge ever since -– all to preserve the clarity of the DMMd characters printed on its outside. Two years later and it was still as good as new.

She smiled.

She was about to resume writing her review when she realized she had forgotten her hard drive in the bedroom. Clicking her tongue, she stood up from the sofa and vacated the room, taking her laptop with her.

She bumped into Len on the way out; they exchanged nods.

Len entered the room after her. He looked around for a moment, then decided the TV table was the perfect height to prop his phone on. He set the speakers down beside it, fishing in his pocket for his iPod and plugging the aux in the port.

He stepped back and cracked his knuckles and rolled his shoulders, letting the joints relax with a pop. The goal was at least 250 likes.

He pressed record, and hit play.

The suave pop music filled the air. The smooth vocals, the steady beat.

Len let his fingers drag upward his abdomen, let them circle around his head, pulling at his hair as he gazed at the camera with half-lidded eyes.

“I’m comin’ at ya,
‘Cause I know you got a bad reputation.”

His hands roamed his body like a lover’s hungry caress, tilting his head back to expose the curve of his throat as he swallowed.

“These friends keep talkin’ way too much,
Say I should give you up,
Can’t hear them, no, ‘cause I….”

He swayed his hips at the camera like a prostitute with a quota on a Friday night.

As the music built up to the pressure of the chorus, he planted his foot forward and demonstrated small thrusting motions to the thrumming of the drum.

“–And boy, got me walkin’ side to side.”

With eyes closed and lips slightly parted as he exhaled short, heated breaths, Len thoroughly lost himself in the thrill of grinding his hips against an invisible man’s crotch; he stuck his ass up at the camera as far up as it would go, shaking and gyrating it as lasciviously as he taught himself how to.

Turning around, he squatted with his thighs spread far and wide. He licked his lips.

“And boy, got me walkin’ side to side (side to side)–“

Moving one foot behind at a time, he started backing up -– his hands on his thighs as he twerked away from the camera, letting the beat of the song guide the movements of his ass as it jiggled in rehearsed scandalousness.

Backing up, backing up.

Until his thighs hit the edge of the coffee table.

Until he felt his ass touch the mouth of a mug sitting on the table.

Until the mug was toppling off the table.

Until he felt lukewarm liquid splash on his legs, and he turned around.

Shiela arrived at the scene with Ariana riding out the last note and her mug shattered on the floor in a puddle of cocoa.

Len blinked at it.

“Oh,” he said.

Shiela gently placed her laptop and hard drive on the ground.

She stood up, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.

She smiled.

Then, she lunged.

LL.


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BEST BROMANCE
[Peter Gibson and Anil Patel]

Peter tossed him his burger.

He caught it in the air, drawling out a “Thanks.”

Peter sat down beside him on the bench and started to unwrap his own. “What are you even doing here?” he asked, his voice as lifeless as it comes.

Anil feigned a look of absolute shock at the question; honestly, it would have been believable if his cheeks weren’t ballooned out with the giant bite he just took.

“What, you mean I’m not allowed to visit my very best friend in the whole world?!” he exclaimed, managing to get out the words in between chunks of bread and meat.

Peter rolled his eyes. “You seriously just skipped a whole day of class. Just to visit me. In Pittsburgh.”

It was hard to believe, but it really was typical Anil.

Anil swallowed. The familiar grin was on his face as he slung his arm around Peter’s shoulder, dragging his head closer. “Don’t sweat it, don’t sweat it!”

He took another big bite, his legs swinging to the rhythm of his own humming.

Peter sighed. Lifting his burger to his face, he gave up and let his head fall onto the shoulder of his best friend.

In spite of himself, he let out a smile.

Really, what was he going to do without this warmth that felt like home?

LL.



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COUPLE OF THE YEAR
[Neihana Waitai and Nikita Tetenko]

Neihana pushed back the goggles to the top of his head, shifting to lean against the table.

“I think it’s a pretty straightforward deal,” he said, putting down the beaker emitting the odd purple smoke. “Why are you hesitating?”

Nikita had his feet planted by the door, torn between considering his proposition and making a run for it.

“Look,” he started, eyes darting around the room to find an object to focus on. “I appreciate the offer. But I’m a writer, not a prostitute.”

A smile flitted across Neihana’s lips. His pristine lab coat billowed behind him as he made his way to Nikita in slow, deliberate strides. The wind seemed to follow him as he walked, coating him in an ethereal blur so entrancing Nikita didn’t notice him approach, until he was seeing his reflection in his eyes.

Nikita’s feet leapt alongside his heart and he attempted to back away; he felt his back hit the cold door.

Amused at the uncertainty in his shifting eyes, Neihana exhaled a soundless chuckle. And Nikita finally had something to focus on then, as his attention was pulled to the motions of Neihana’s fingers starting to leisurely take off his gloves; his eyes followed them, the slow drag across his palm, the white latex stretching against his slender fingers, emphasizing the knuckles, the nails, the inward curve of his middle finger, until the glove gave in to the tension and came off with an audible pop. He swallowed.

Neihana moved to take off the other, the tone of his skin a mesmerizing contrast against the stark white of the glove. His fingers lightly brushed against his wrist as he slid them under the edge of the garment, slipping it off in a slow, tantalizing, borderline erotic crawl;  a gasp stuck to Nikita’s throat– as the sight of this man undressing the back of his fair hand, as he could feel his gaze boring into him in the unsettling silence, was almost too sinful to explain.

Regretfully aware of the dryness in his mouth, he glanced up to find Neihana looking straight at him, his lips dancing with the ghost of a smirk. He tossed the gloves to the side, eyes never leaving their destination.

“It’s quite simple, actually.”

He took a step forward. He reached out and felt the nape of Nikita’s neck, lightly, felt him shiver under the tenderness of his touch. He let his fingers glide over his shoulder, down the length of his arm, feel the texture of his skin as he fit his hand in his.

“You move in to my house, all expenses paid. All bills, taken care of. You let me take care of you. You respond to my every whim,” he murmured softly. “You become mine, Nikita, and I’ll get you what you want — I’ll get you published.”

He raised Nikita’s hand, let it brush against his coat as he slid it upward his abdomen, upward his chest, letting it rest against the curve of his lips.

His knuckles, he kissed them, tenderly. His fingertips, he kissed them. Tenderly.

The small of his tongue slipped out from his mouth and he dragged it along the length of the trembling fingers in his hand, tasting them, letting them press against the underside, as he left not a single one of them unravished.

He flicked his tongue across the tips of his fingers, once. And then he pushed them inside his mouth.

Unable to look away from the complicated emotion in the irises of Nikita’s eyes, as he struggled with the pull between doubt and acquiescence, Neihana savored the feel of his fingers filling the space in his mouth to the brim. Savored the taste, the texture, his tongue swirling over, under, and between the digits with unrestrained abandon. Savored the way Nikita’s nails dug into the roof of his mouth, as he sucked — sucked, earnestly, lecherously, the abused fore and middle fingers, as he felt the space tighten, as he felt them being pulled deeper, deeper–

He slipped the fingers out, grabbed Nikita’s waist as he suddenly pulled him in.

Flush against Neihana’s chest by surprise, Nikita had no time to react but to stay still. His eyes, wide open. “Mr. Waitai–”

He was about to push him off when he was pulled tighter, hips snug against the other’s as he tried to find the right moment to breathe. The warmth enclosed him in. He felt Neihana lean over, the beat of his heart resonating within Nikita as if they shared one body; he felt him press his lips against his ear, breath hot, wet.

You let me fuck you for a year, and I will make all your dreams come true.

His lips dipped to Nikita’s throat and he started to lick. Leaving behind kisses where his lips traveled, bite marks, wet spots where he sucked with the intention of leaving an impression, a trail of indecent breaths to map out his footsteps amidst the planes of Nikita’s skin.

“Mr. Waitai, nh, please– I just came here to–“

Nikita tried to shove him away, but found his arms to be paralyzed by the surreality of the situation. The manuscript felt heavier in his bag than when he left that morning.

He knew it was not right, he knew he promised himself that he would succeed only by his own efforts. He knew that even his hesitation was a direct betrayal to the dreams he laid out for himself. But the glare of an empty wallet was blinding, and the electricity and water bills were not something he could solve with a grammatically correct paragraph. The world picks favorites; he just happened to not be one of them. But what could he do?

Neihana sucked at a sensitive spot at the juncture of his neck, and Nikita let out a strained yelp before he had the thought to cover his mouth. Neihana smiled against his skin, tracing a wet line to his collarbone, where he nipped and ran his tongue along the line of the protruding bone. His hand dropped from Nikita’s waist to grip at the curve of his hip, and Nikita felt the other sliding down his spine like a glide from a choreographed routine — until it found its place to rest, hungrily pressing against the small of his back.

Nikita felt himself acquiescing, losing himself to the haze of Neihana’s touch; an equestrian learning to choose to let go of the reins. But then Neihana’s hips grinded upward, a slow, delicious burn, and the undecidedly unwelcome pressure on his groin jolts Nikita back to his presence of mind, and this– this just could not be happening–

He forcefully pushed and turned his body away from the grasping hands, managing to turn a hundred and eighty degrees and get his fingers on the door handle, before a hand was slamming on the door beside his face.

Escape denied and body tense with apprehension, Nikita risked to slowly turn around. But the look that greeted him was…. not one he was expecting. If he had to describe it with a metaphor, he’d say Neihana’s eyes at that moment were firm and sharp as they were; yet, a tinge of sadness peeked from the edges, arms waving wildly in the air like they’d been ignored for too long and had had enough. But it was gone as quickly as it appeared, and Nikita remembered his much more urgent circumstances.

Nikita straightened his shoulders, cleared his throat. He might still be uncertain about the scandalous proposition, but he found his pride was too big to take this kind of humiliation sitting down. “Mr. Waitai, I’m sorry but your offer is uncalled for. I am a struggling writer, yes, but I am a struggling writer with dignity and moral stan–“

Neihana raised his knee between his legs, and Nikita came to a complete stop.

“So you say,” Neihana said, lazily grinding his thigh over an erection, one that had been made painfully obvious with a single nudge, “Mr. Struggling Writer with Dignity and Moral Standards.

All the words Nikita had planned to say got caught in his throat, and the only response he could muster was a quiet whimper carried by the wind.

“I really cannot understand. I’m giving you a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity here. This could be your only chance. Why do you hesitate?” goaded Neihana, with slightly gritted teeth. 

“Is it really that hard–” he rode up his thigh in a particularly hard grind that had Nikita gasping for breath, “–to give yourself up to me?”

Neihana let him go then, reveling in his intoxicated state of panting and half-lidded eyes pointed to the ground.

A picture of smug fixed itself on his face; he lifted Nikita’s chin, making him look at him with his parted lips and the slight dusting of red on his cheeks.

“Nikita Tetenko–” he said, brushing his thumb over the softness of the writer’s bottom lip.

Through the glassiness, Nikita managed to pin his focus on him, on the image of his lips moving to mouth his name.

Neihana looked at him, and it was almost as if the earth’s gravity took a vacation leave to shift its efforts within the confines of his eyes. The lonely tinge of sadness –- melancholy, he mused –- was there again, and Nikita could not look away even if he tried.

“–be mine.

And deep within his consciousness, Nikita felt the last string break. The last thing he saw before he closed his eyes was the landscape of a clouded blue sea.

He let himself meet him in a kiss.

LL.



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BEASTLY PRINCE AND PRINCESS
[Greg Frantzen and Shiela Tamparong]

“So?”

Shiela shifted in her seat, and the satin flowed over the curve of her legs with the calmness of the waves in the night-lulled sea. The crown sat still on her lap as she glanced to her right, awaiting his answer.

Greg looked up from his phone. Askew on his head, the crown glimmered and reflected a myriad of colors in the light as he turned to face his princess.

“Uh…. what?” he muttered apprehensively. The way she was lazily fiddling with strands of her hair was impossibly cold.

“So.” She let the strands fall, cascading over her shoulder with a flourish. “We’re prince and princess again.”

Greg slowly reached up to his head and skimmed a finger over the cool crystal– “Um…. yeah.”

A sigh.

The princess took the crown in her hands; the white translucence of the quartz gleamed ever beautifully against the color of her skin. Like figure skaters amid an ice-capped lake, the light danced on the jagged crystal in short bursts of color as she tilted it from side to side in mild scrutiny. Her fingernail traced the embedded onyx stones — a smooth, inky black mirroring the depths of the mysterious seas.

It really was beautiful, this crown of mystical white and black; the Manor had outdone itself once again.

But this was not the crown that was meant for her.

“But isn’t it cool though?” Greg interrupted.

She brushed the bangs out of her face and turned to look at him.

“I mean, Nick’s been king for forever. I’m never going to be able to kick him out. And…. being prince is not so bad?”

Another sigh. Shiela lifted the crown and gently placed it to rest atop her head, smoothing the hair around the edges, brushing every strand into place. Her shoulders, straight. Eyes unyielding in their impenetrable gaze.

“Does it look good on me, aking prinsipe?”

Greg’s eyes darted from the glimmering white crown snug against her dark hair, to her finger lightly tapping on the velvet-coated armrest, to the sultry silver fabric pooling on the floor by her feet. “Ah, um…. I guess?” he said.

Shiela smiled. “Not good enough.”

Greg jumped and almost dropped his phone when she stood up; the satin glided on the floor as she walked, the cape trailing behind her in wispy billows. She went to a halt in front of him. She smiled, again.

And then she was pulling him by the tie and looking into his eyes — and in this moment, with her forehead pressing lightly against his and the breathtakingly slim measure of space between their lips, Greg was unsure how to proceed.

“That’s defeatist attitude, my prince.” Her breath felt hot on his lips and Greg was tempted to pull away. But he dared not.

“Zoe was dethroned as queen by someone who has only been here for two years. This was supposed to be our year, Greg. I was supposed to be queen. And you were supposed to be my king. But some fucker thought it was okay to steal my crown– just because he’s having so much fun fucking the king behind our backs.”

Her grip on his tie grew tighter as her voice dimmed into a spiteful whisper.

“This isn’t an awarding ceremony anymore. This is a battle. And so fucking help me, we’re going to win this.”

She let go of the tie with a shove and Greg had to take a few moments to blink and catch his breath. When he looked up, the smile was back on Shiela’s face.

Her hand lay outstretched before him.

The strength of her resolve was so pure it drew him in, and, despite his initial hesitation, he found himself taking her hand.

She grasped it lightly; giving it a little squeeze, she motioned for him to stand.

Slowly, she led him to the center of the room where they stood before them: the tall seats engraved with gold and upholstered with blood red velvet — taller, bigger, emblazoned with more dignity than theirs could ever reciprocate.

The thrones that were supposed to be theirs.

Shiela lightly pushed on Greg’s chest, sending him stumbling onto the throne intended for the all-too-coveted title of king. With his crooked tie and wide open eyes like he’s only just realizing he shouldn’t be there, Shiela had to laugh.

“You look good there…. King.

“King?? I’m not–” Greg started, moving to get up–

“Yes. Not yet.” Shiela pressed on his shoulders and shook her head, an amused smile on her lips.

“But you will be king. And I–” she leaned over and adjusted his tie, smoothing it down to presentability, “will be the queen.

She wordlessly fixed his hair and righted the crown on his head to precision. Then, gliding her hand to the back of his neck, she dragged him forward and leaned into his ear:

“Overthrow the monarchy with me?”

A shiver ran through Greg’s body as he whispered his “Okay.” 

He felt her smile against his cheek.

Pulling back, she didn’t bother masking her glee as she walked to his side. She softly sat herself on the throne’s armrest, leaning her body to the shoulder of the Manor’s future king.

You see, Shiela was never a princess. She has always been the queen. And she will get what she was destined for— no matter what it takes.

Queen Neihana better watch his back.

LL.


All art by my friend, Zoe Pascoe. Check out her shop here. 🙂

Children,
it’s okay to choose yourself over the world.

The world does not care about your existence. It has spun long before you were born, and it will continue to spin long after you are gone.

In a limbo where nothing is permanent and everything will either leave or was never truly there, your self is the only thing of certainty you are allowed to have.

And never will I hold it against you, for valuing yourself over the fate of the world.

– “Ours”

LL.

Numbness.

It’s feeling the need to cry but lacking the willpower to let the tears flow.

It’s hearing snippets of conversation but never comprehending the words.

It’s lying on the floor, unable to do anything but concentrate on the way you breathe.

Breathing in, breathing out, breathing in, breathing out;

A constant cycle of living and dying and living and dying and living and dying and surfacing with nothing.

The ability to see, hear, smell, taste, and feel the world.

But the inability to experience it.

– “Numbness is….”

LL.

People have this magical version of love they hold in their minds. We see it in movies, in books; yet, I think the root is that…. as humans, we like to believe that we are not alone. That there is someone in the big world who can be the half to our own — someone we can call “ours.” So we attach ourselves to people. We make friends. We honor family. And in a deeper level, we try and reserve the deepest, most complicated emotions we have, and we call it love. But the thing is, romantic love is perpetuated by the poetic notion that it exists on a different plane than platonic love. It does not. We just like to believe it does, because if we don’t, it will cease to be special. When we say we are deeply in love with someone, we just mean that we are deeply attached to them, that we pinned all our hopes on them, that them leaving would be devastating because we’d have to reconstruct our entire worldview in a way that isn’t anchored to them. The concept we built for romantic love is an ephemeral fantasy; we can fall in love with anyone if we so wish, if we try hard enough to project our dreams in their person until we can no longer see a future that does not involve them. But we don’t. Because we are sentimental human beings, and if we believe a fantasy is real, then it has no choice but to become real.

– “Love”

LL.