Status: In Progress

The Majesty of Choice


When Gerard and Patrick follow the source of the screaming, they come upon a rather strange sight. There’s a man, who Gerard can’t make out in the dark, dangling from a tree branch by his feet. He’s squirming and trying to pull himself free but he can’t seem to lift his body up enough to reach the ropes binding him. He looks much like your classic damsel in distress, only slightly less damsel, and slightly more numbskull given the way that when he squirms, he looks like a very energetic slug.

“Well I guess this is what you get when you leave your hometown,” Patrick says.

“We should help him shouldn’t we?” Gerard asks.

“What kind of a person are you?” Patrick says, looking offended and stomping right over to the dangling man with determination.

“Sir, are you aware that you are currently dangling upside down from a rope?” Patrick asks.

“Are you aware that you two just fell into a fucking trap?” the man replies, and Gerard really wishes he knew what this guy looked like, but it’s hard to tell when he’s both upside down and it’s pitch black. He also wishes that Patrick hadn’t been so impulsive, because even though it makes him sound like a bad guy, Gerard doesn’t know this man. Why does he have the obligation to help him? And then he remembers his decency and he sighs as he walks over also.

“See now, that would make the fact that you are dangling from a tree make more sense,” Patrick replies, before turning around to see two very burly looking men coming out from behind two very large trees.

“At least they’re not ogre’s,” Gerard shrugs.

“But they are every bit as ugly,” the man, who’s currently spinning to face the other way replies.

“Is that helping this situation in anyway?”

“Not really.”

Gerard, who seems to be the only one concerned with the fact that two large men, larger than Gerard at the very least, are looming over them with looks of devilish intent on their equally as uninteresting faces. Gerard says this as they are two of the most unassuming faces he’s ever seen. All it takes is a blink for Gerard to completely forget every feature on either ones faces.

“May I ask why it is you two have this man tied to a tree?” Gerard asks.

“Funny man wouldn’t sing us a song,” one of the men says, the one on the left.

“Funny man?” Gerard asks, before turning to the man tied to the tree, “Wait, are you an elf?”

“Well duh,” he replies as he turns steadily back to look at Gerard.

“Elves don’t have preservation rights,” Patrick murmurs, “this is technically not illegal.”

“Well that is not a decent thing for you to be doing to your fellow creature,” Gerard says, and Patrick is in disbelief that Gerard is about to reprimand this very large, very stupid, very unwelcoming looking bully.

“He’s an elf.”

“And you’re a jerk,” Gerard says, “what other facts do you want to state?”

“I’m Pete by the way,” the elf says as he circles around again to face Patrick. He holds out a hand, as if to shake, but he rotates again the other way before Patrick can take it.

“I’m Patrick. The idiot with the big mouth is Gerard.”

“Nice to meet you,” Pete says as he spins toward Patrick again. “And nice knowing you.”

“Yeah you too,” Patrick says as Pete spins away.

“I’m not being killed today,” Gerard says, “this is the first time I’ve ever left town without my mom. Oh my god it’s been like ten years since I left my home, and the last time I did leave my stuffed animal drowned. Poor Mittens. He was so young. I’m so young. I’m not old enough to die. I’ve never even seen the world, I can’t die. I’m having a crisis here.”

“There are better times to emotionally breakdown, Gerard. Right now we’ve got to stop the big men from killing us and our new friend here.”

“I think it’s a little premature to start slapping labels on this relationship quite yet, don’t you think?” Pete says.

“Well given the circumstances I figured you could use a friend,” Patrick replies, and this conversation seems far too casual given that the two men looking at them now are cracking their knuckles like they’re about to fuck some shit up.

“Fair enough,” Pete says.

“I just feel like there’s a good reason I buried that memory,” Gerard says, “because if you repress a memory, there’s usually a good reason for that.”

“Oh my gosh, you’d think the existential crisis could wait for when I’m not suspended from a tree. This is such an emotional rollercoaster to go through with two people you’ve never met. Sorry about your shit, but can you focus on it another time?” Pete asks, and Gerard decides that he likes him, even though he’s having an inner panic attack about the fact that he is actually doing this. He’s actually here.

It’s not really about any stuffed animals, though to be fair, Mittens was a damn good bear, it’s mostly about the fact that he’s probably going to die, and there’s no guarantee that Brendon is going to take the curse back, and there’s no guarantee that they’re ever even going to find the guy. Gerard is just really in a deep vat of turmoil that he didn’t think twice about before jumping into.

“So,” Patrick starts, looking at the big men, “can I just, like, bribe you to leave us alone? Because obviously, we pose no threat, between the three of us, I’m imagining that we total to about a third of either of your heights, and I’ve never fought anything. Well I won a thumb war once, but it was on a good day. I mean, I trouble to kill flies sometimes because they’re not doing anything wrong, you know? They’re just annoying. So please just don’t swat us like the flies that I never managed to actually kill.”

“How much money you got?” the bigger of the two says, by maybe a few inches. Gerard’s not sure because it’s too dark out, but he’s pretty sure that with the height difference between himself and these men, he can actually see the nose hair in their noses.

“Not much, but like, probably enough for drinks, or maybe a night out to the theater, so that instead of tying a guy to a tree, next time maybe you can just go see a play.”

“Yeah,” Pete says, “I promise you they’re better singers. And dancers. The only thing I’ve got actors beat on is sense of fashion.”

“I highly doubt that,” Patrick says, and he would look at Pete from head to toe, but he’s upside down at the moment so he actually looks at him toe to head, and it’s not impressive whichever way you scan him.

“Right, I’ll take it,” the bulkier of the two says, because calling him shorter isn’t the proper term, because he’s not short by any means, he’s just shorter than his half-giant friend of his.

“Really?” Patrick asks, “that bargaining worked?”

“I’m not an animal,” he replies.

“I wasn’t implying you were. It’s just, I’ve never bartered before, I didn’t know it’d be that easy,” Patrick says, looking triumphant.

“I knew I brought you along for a reason,” Gerard says.

“Can we save the flirting for later, please just someone buy me my freedom,” Pete says, turning away from them once again, though he’s starting to spin a little slower which is something.

“No, I’m not the guy he wants to be flirting with,” Patrick says and Gerard hits him, as Patrick busies himself in the pocket of his bag. Patrick pulls out a wad of bills and he makes out to toss them at the big guys. One of the men steps closer which makes Gerard takes an enormous step back, because he doesn’t trust this situation at all. It’s best to be somewhat skeptical when you make a shady deal with two very large, probably armed, definitely stronger men in the middle of the night.

The guy sorts through the money that Patrick has just given him, and Gerard is astounded by the fact that it looks like he’s counting it. With the expression on both of their faces, he’s very surprised to learn that they can count.

“Alright,” the bigger one says, “seems fair. Have fun with him, but he ain’t too much fun.”

“Well I’m not an item to be purchased,” Pete says.

“Don’t talk too much, things are going our way,” Gerard whispers at him. Gerard has to fight not to speak his mind, because in his eyes, this doesn’t seem fair in the slightest. There’s no logical reason for why they should have to be paying these two big ugly brutes for them not to tie this elf to a tree. Pete’s a person like everyone else, there shouldn’t need to be a transaction exchange between anyone for him to have the right not to be tied to a tree, but the world is imperfect and ugly sometimes.

“So uh, are we good then?” Patrick asks. “No hard feelings for anything?”

“Yeah, I think we’re good,” the bulkier one says, looking to the big one to see if he agrees, and when he does it seems like a well enough situation for the time being.

“Well, uh, nice meeting you,” Patrick says.

“Not really,” Pete says, rotating away, and Gerard hits him, which makes him start spinning in the other direction completely.

“He’s joking,” Gerard says. “He’s an elf, he does things like that. They’re all about their jokes.”

“Right,” the big guy says, and then they just start walking away. Gerard’s not really sure how deals are made in the world outside of his hometown, but he thinks that if this is how most of them will go, it might not be too hard. He may not die after all. Gerard is firmly aware that this will be an anomaly in his life, things being this easy, but he doesn’t want to be so negative about the fact that this is working itself out neatly.

“Well that was less bloody than I was expecting,” Pete says. “Nice to meet you. Wish it could’ve been under other circumstances but thank you for the help.”

“That wasn’t all your money, right?” Gerard asks.

“Nah, it wasn’t even half of it,” Patrick says.

“I’m not even worth all of your money,” Pete says, sighing.

“I only just met you,” Patrick replies. “Maybe next time I’ll offer more, but just be thankful that a stranger bothered saving your life.”

“Time to get you down,” Gerard says, reaching into his backpack, and hoping he does have something that will help get this poor guy down.

“Please do it carefully,” Pete says as he keeps spinning, and it would be funny if he didn’t look like he was about to pass out from the blood rushing to his head.

“The sharpest thing I have is my wit,” Gerard says, after scouring the pockets of his bag for a knife that doesn’t exist.

“See this is why you need me,” Patrick says, reaching into his own bag which he’d set on the ground.

“Again, I ask for you to be careful.”

“Well I’ll grab him and you cut the rope,” Gerard says, knowing that is not a good plan, but it’s the only plan that he’s got.

“This is going to end badly,” Pete says somberly, and the two of them roll their eyes as Gerard takes his position by stopping the guy from spinning. Gerard holds onto him with the best grip he can, but it’s not easy because Gerard’s only tall enough to grab the guy by his shoulders, and coupled with the fact that Pete’s still upside down, it’s not much of a mystery of how this will end. They’re both going down.

“Ready?” Patrick asks, looking at the rope, which is tied around the bottom of the tree, and strung over a branch a little way up.

“Nope, but do it anyway,” Gerard says, and Patrick only has to cut a small part of it before he weakens it enough to a place where the rope snaps. Gerard and the man who he literally just met topple down to the ground with a thump and an “oh fuck.”

“That hurt,” Pete says.

“Patrick, next time you’re catching the guy tied to a tree,” Gerard says, pushing the guy off of him and brushing himself off, knowing that he’s going to be soar and bruised everywhere from this later. It doesn’t help that Gerard bruises like a peach.

“Well given the unlikeliness of this ever happening again, fair is fair,” Patrick says.

“Oh man I’m dizzy,” Pete says, pulling himself into a sitting position and then rubbing at his temples. “Thanks for not letting me die or anything.”

“No problem,” Patrick says.

“Speak for yourself,” Gerard groans, standing up.

“He complains a lot, don’t mind him,” Patrick says, offering their new acquaintance a hand. Pete looks up and takes it and they get their first real look at him when he’s not upside down.

Gerard immediately snorts out laughter when the guy stands up because, this is just far too tragic for Patrick.

“What?” Pete asks.

“The first elf we’ve ever met, and you’re still taller than Patrick,” Gerard says, still grinning.

“I resent that,” Patrick sighs, but even he can’t deny that it’s true and kind of amusing. But that doesn’t mean he’s happy about it.

“It’s a first for me too,” Pete says. “You’re human?”

“Yeah,” Patrick sighs.

“That’s really unfortunate,” Pete nods, looking down at him, literally, and looking quite happy with himself for not being the shortest person for the first time probably ever.

“Well uh,” Gerard says, “it’s been nice saving you and all but we really should be going.”

“What? Wait you’re just going to leave?” Pete asks.

“Yeah. We’re in somewhat of a hurry,” Gerard says as he and Patrick start walking back through the woods in the direction that they hope is correct, but they got a little turned around with this interruption.

“Where do you have to be in the middle of the night that’s so urgent?” Pete asks.

“That’s a really good question,” Patrick replies, “even I’m not too sure on the answer.”

“We’re trying to get to Giantville,” Gerard says.

“Why the hell are you trying to do that?” Pete asks. “You know how big Giants are?”

“Well presumably quite large,” Gerard says, “I mean, they’re called Giants, after all. It’s in the name.”

“Well maybe I can help,” Pete says, “I kind of owe you one for saving my life back there.”

“I’m not going to ask you to do that,” Gerard says.

“Well I’m not asking; I’m offering my help. I might be able to help you out with some stuff, you know. Like I’m quite the people person.”

“Why do I doubt that?”

“Okay maybe I’m not that great with people, but I know this part of the woods really well. The least I can do is offer you a shortcut back to my town. It’s on the way to Giantville, so I can offer you a bed or something for the night,” Pete says.

“We know where we’re going,” Gerard insists.

“Really?” Pete asks, “then I’m sure you’re aware of the fact that you’re walking in the wrong direction.”

Gerard pauses, and looks around. Come to think of it, he does remember being here a few minutes ago. Patrick huffs and rolls his eyes as Gerard turns around to look back at Pete.

“We would love your help,” Patrick says, “or at least, I would. Gerard is too proud to admit that he doesn’t know the right way to go.”

“I’d have figured it out,” Gerard groans.

“Yeah, soon as we got back to Frell, you’d have figured it out,” Patrick says.

“Like you could do any better,” Gerard shrugs. “But if Patrick thinks it’s a good idea, I won’t protest.”

Pete grins and starts leading them in the other direction while Gerard regrets every decision he’s made in his entire life, especially the ones that he’s made today. Then again, in his defense, Gerard is walking a line between life and death, and he should be thankful that he can’t see it, but imagining it doesn’t help ease his mind any more than knowing the exact date of his death would.

Gerard shakes his head dejectedly to himself, thinking about all the things he won’t be able to do if he dies. But then again, when he thinks about it, there’s a longer list of things he can’t do if he continues to live this way. It doesn’t quite even out the inevitability of death, but at least Gerard’s not sitting around doing nothing to help himself. At least this way if he dies, he’ll have lived a little.
♠ ♠ ♠
There are few things more amusing to me than Pete as an elf. What a mental image.