[CW: non-graphic discussions of kidnapping, attempted murder, and implied suicide (it's pretty light-hearted, but better safe than sorry)]
Isaac does not have enough time to knock before the door swings open, and he is quickly swept inside. The door snaps shut behind him, and suddenly he has an armful of Cass. She hasn’t grown any taller than when he’d last seen her, and she has to stand on her toes to press her face against his neck. He drops his bag with a solid thunk, and wraps his arms around her waist, lifting her slightly as he presses his face into her hair. It was damp, she must have showered.
“What took you so long?” She breathes against his jaw.
“I got here as fast as possible, Cassie,” he replies with a huff.
“You took ages.”
“It took me about four minutes.” She leans away from him slightly with a frown. He keeps his hands on her waist, and she keeps hers on his upper arms. “Typically, it takes more than four minutes to get from Chicago to New Orleans, you know.”
“Well,” she shoots him a pointed look. “When I provide you with instantaneous travel accommodations, I expect you to be here near instantaneously.”
Isaac rolls his eyes, but shoots her a grin anyway. “Sorry. I had to pack.” He gestures at the bag on the ground. “I didn’t know how long this might take.”
She hums and crosses her arms. His eyes follow the movement, and then he notices that she was in a peach colored, tea length nightgown, and immediately snaps his eyes to somewhere above her head. He’s a gentleman, goddamn it. Why the hell isn’t she dressed?
“I suppose that’s fair,” she was saying. “Hopefully it won’t take too long. Sorry for dragging you into my shit.”
“Not-” he blinks in the direction of a pale blue clock on the wall that says it’s 1:28 am. “Not a problem at all, Cassie. Happy to help. Really.”
“Right,” she says slowly. “And you’re refusing to look at me… why?”
“Just-” the clock now says 1:29. “Wasn’t expecting you not to be dressed, is all.”
She snorts. “Oh? Sorry to burst your bubble, pretty boy, but it’s nearly two in the morning, and the dress I was wearing is now covered in blood, so I think being in pajamas is justified.”
His eyes snap back down to her when she mentions blood, but she waves him off before he can get any words out.
“Don’t worry, it’s not mine. Mostly. Tea or coffee?”
“What? What? What do you mean mostly?”
She stares at him for a moment, then sighs. “I’m making us tea. Come on.” She starts to walk down the short hallway into her kitchen, and Isaac scrambles to grab his bag and follow her. He takes one step into the kitchen, when she turns around and adds: “You can drop your bag in the bedroom. It’s just across the hall, door’s open.” And then she’s turning back to the tea she’s in the process of fixing, and he’s backtracking out of the kitchen to drop his bag in her room.
Her room is… surprisingly clean, especially for Cass. Her bed is made, but crumpled as though someone had sat on it. A few dresses are draped across the chair in front of a mostly empty vanity beside the window, covered with tightly shut curtains that keep the room dark. The only light came from the en suite bathroom, glowing a soft yellow. Isaac drops his bag by the foot of the bed, and slowly walks toward the open bathroom door. He reaches out to nudge it open wider, and purses his lips when he sees a bathtub half full of dark pink water, a white and pale blue dress, now tinted red, floating gently near the bottom. There’s a hole just above it’s waistline, as though something tore through it. Isaac leans against the doorway, takes a deep breath, then quickly makes his way to the kitchen.
Cass looks up from the mugs of tea she was placing on the table.
“That’s quite the statement. Care to tell me where it came from?”
Isaac walks up to her, slowly, and places a gentle hand on her waist. “There was a hole,” he says, and moves his thumb until it’s about where said hole was. He doesn’t press down, just hovers it there. Cass places her hand on his wrist, and lifts it off of her before pressing his hand between the two of hers.
“It’s been handled.”
“Cass, who hurt you? Whose blood is that? It can’t all be yours.”
She gives a quiet smile, and tugs him down to sit at the table with her. “I will answer all questions after you drink your tea.”
He’s too tired to fight her on this, and silently accepts defeat as he picks up his mug.
“Thank you.” She cups her head in her hand, resting her elbow on the table, simply taking a moment to look at him. Some of her curls are caught under her hand, and squish against her cheek, while a few of the others fall across her face. She’s not staring at him anymore. Or, rather, she is, but she isn’t seeing him. Only using him as something to keep her eyes steady as her mind drifts. Isaac doesn’t mind. This happens quite often, for both of them, and so he simply allows himself to enjoy the fact that she’s beside him, and tries not to let the concern fester in his chest.
The little tunk of the porcelain mug hitting the table brings Cass back to herself, and she shakes her head while sitting up straighter.
“I’m not injured,” she says into her tea, and he knows better than to interrupt her. He merely nods, content to listen quietly now that she’s actually talking. “I mean, I am, but as I said, it’s been handled. Stitched up and everything. Just has to heal. Nothing to fret about.” For this last part she looks up at him, making sure he understands. He looks reluctant, but nods anyway. She gives a tight smile and looks back at her tea. “For the first part, my memory is a bit… discombobulated, but I assume I was kidnapped.” Isaac sits up straighter as though bracing for something, but Cass simply grabs the hand that’s still holding the mug, and he settles. “I assume. I’m not sure. Point is, I was out of the city. Maybe somewhere in Jean Lafitte? I’m not sure how we could’a gotten in. Point is, it was wet, I was freezing, and I was severely overdressed for the occasion. Being hunted for sport in Baby Dolls is not very pleasant.”
“In… Baby Dolls?”
Cass rolls her eyes with a snort. “Heels, Isa. They’re a type of heel.”
“Oh.” He looks down at his lap with a slight grimace on his face.
“That’s what you paid attention to?” She looks amused, at the very least.
He scratches the back of his neck. “Well, I mean, at least I know what being hunted for sport means. The “running in Baby Dolls” image was… concerning, to say the least.”
Cass actually laughs at that. A full, genuine, bubbling laugh that fills the tiny kitchen of her apartment with a soft warmth that matches the inside of Isaac’s chest.
“Touché,” she breathes, lifting her mug to her lips.
“So…” Isaac starts slowly when she puts the mug down, leaning in and nudging a hand against her knee. “What happened? Who was it?”
She lets out a long exhale and leans back in her chair. “My boss.”
He pulls back a bit in shock. “Your what?”
She shrugs. “My boss. I’m pretty sure he was a cannibal or something. I think I knew too much, and he wanted to tie up loose ends. Or he finally flipped his wig. I dunno. Point is, I was out in the sticks, and he was shootin’ at me, then he shot me - very poorly, if I might add, he practically missed - I tackle him, we’re both rollin’ around, and then one thing lead to another and he was makin’ out with his shotgun.”
“Je-sus, Cass!” Isaac runs a hand down his face and slumps in his chair. “You killed your boss?”
“Technically, he killed himself.”
He sits up, and rests his elbow on his knees. “And how’re you feeling about this?”
“Well,” she grins. “I don’t think I’ll have to go to work tomorrow.”
He frowns at her. “This is serious, Cass! We need a plan!”
“I got a plan!” She puts her hands on his shoulders, looks him in the eye with a ferocious expression that he adores so much. “And you’re part of it. That’s part of the reason I asked you to show.”
“Oh yeah? What was the rest of the reason?”
Her expression shifts into something sweet as she says: “‘Cause I missed you, silly! Haven’t seen you in ages.”
He smiles at her, and it manages to reach his eyes. “I missed you too, Cassie.”
“Damn right you did.” She grins as she takes another sip of her tea.
Isaac leans forward, resting his forearms on his knees. “So, what’s the plan?”
The mug hits the table, and Cass leans forward to match his position. “I’m not going into work tomorrow.”
He exhales sharply. “Yeah, no shit. Please don’t tell me that’s your entire plan?”
“Of course not.” She nudges his shin with her bare foot. “When do I ever half ass anything?”
“Anyway,” she drawls. “Here’s the story. My lovely boyfriend just stopped by to surprise me last night. Well, tonight, but by tomorrow it’ll be last night, you get what I mean–”
“Since when were we dating?”
“Since ‘52. Anyway–”
“Cass, I didn’t know you in ‘52.”
“What are you talking about, we met in ‘46?”
“I mean, yeah, and then you fell off the face of the earth 'til '53.”
“Ok, fine. Cutting it close, but we can say ‘54. Happy?”
“Great.” She pauses to take another sip of tea. “Anyway. Boyfriend." She points at him. "Flew in to surprise me. I don’t go into work tomorrow, I call in sick. God knows my boss won’t be coming in, so it’ll be pandemonium. I don’t know anything about that. I’ve been with you all night.”
Isaac wiggles his eyebrows at her, and she swiftly kicks him in the shin. “Ow, fuck, okay. So I’m here to be your alibi?”
“Actually, you’re here to get me the hell outta Dodge. You’re here to take me away to some big city, preferably before the cops ask too many questions. Or find the body.”
“Right,” he says slowly. “It won’t be weird at all that some random guy comes to take you away the same night that your boss mysteriously disappears?”
She hums to herself. “Well, you aren’t exactly some stranger. My coworkers know that I have a boyfriend.”
Isaac sits up at this. “Oh? And who would that be?”
“I thought we agreed that was you?”
“Cass.” He tilts his head at her. “Last I checked, we aren’t dating? Please, correct me if I’m wrong.”
She rolls her eyes. “Well, sure. Yes, we aren’t exactly a typical, white-picket couple, but I needed to get Charlie off my back somehow, and I knew that you’d at the very least roll with it.”
Isaac’s eyebrows pinch together as he frowns, and Cass takes a moment to appreciate just how endearing he looks. “Who the hell is Charlie? Has he been botherin’ you? Do I need to kick his ass, because I will send him straight to God if he–”
“And this is why I said that you were my boyfriend,” Cass says through a poorly stifled laugh. “And no, he hasn’t been bothering me. Not after I said I had a boyfriend, anyway. Though he often attempts to stain your good name by implying that you’re neglecting me.”
“I’m not neglecting you! Oh, I swear–”
“I know, Isa.” She puts a hand on his knee. “I just told him that you were off at uni somewhere up north and that as soon as you graduated, I’d be moving up there with you. This was always gonna be my out. The fact that it’s happening around the same time as my boss’s disappearance? Purely coincidence. Maybe even a sign from God. The perfect time to start over somewhere new. And it’s not like we’re leaving tomorrow– you know how I pack. And they’re gonna be questionings and what not. I’d give it ‘til the end of the week.”
“That…” Isaac exhales slowly, thinking it over. “That sounds like a plan. So, what? You call in tomorrow morning, and we elope by Friday? Saturday?”
She nods. “We start with the call, and leave as soon as attention is off us enough to where leaving becomes more romantic than suspicious.”
With that, she stands, wincing slightly, and brushes her hands down the front of her nightdress. She grabs her mug, and reaches for Isaac’s, but he beats her to it, grabbing it first as he stands as well. She rolls her eyes at him, but allows him to gently pry the mug from her fingers, and place them both in the sink.
“What, you’re not gonna wash them too?” She says from where she’s leaning against the counter.
“Two a.m. is no time for dishes. I’ll wash them in the morning.” He walks back over to her, places a hand on the side of her waist that isn’t injured, and kisses her temple before leaving the kitchen.
“I’m taking the couch!” He calls over his shoulder.
Cass huffs, but continues to smile as she quickly follows him into the hall. “Like hell you are!”
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Loved the Baby Doll scene! Thought it was very endearing. Also, your dialogue rocked on this. Very fast paced conversation, which made it super easy to read along!
Thank you! I think it's pretty obvious, but dialogue is definitely my favorite thing to write, so I'm glad to hear that I did well.
Loved this. The dialogue is perfect and I love Cass' sustained nonchalance. I'll be leaving with some questions (instantaneous travel accommodations?! Yes please) and hoping you answer them in future installments.
Thank you so much! This short story is one of several parts of a larger story, so (if the prompts allow) there will definitely be better explanations of some things in the future. I would definitely stick around if you're interested.
Hey bitch, great story. 10/10 in bookarooskee.