falling-out by phoenix.writing

18 Apr

When the elevator lurched to a stop, Patrick knew they were in trouble. Obviously, it wasn’t good when an elevator you were in yawed in an ungainly manner and the lights flickered—there was always that possibility that you were about to plunge to your death—but the real trouble resided in the two people that Patrick was stuck in the elevator with.

Because if looks could kill, the other man would be stone cold dead by now.

They’d all stumbled a little, and both of them had reached for the blonde woman to steady her. She shook herself out of the other man’s grasp as the lights came up to what looked like an emergency level.

“Doesn’t that just figure. Stuck in a broken elevator with you.”

From the tone of her voice, what the cat dragged in—as his gran would say—would have been a great deal more welcome.

She turned to Patrick and flashed him a smile as she held put her hand.

“I imagine you’re a perfectly decent human being. You can call me Angel.”

“Patrick,” he answered, smiling back at her and trying to work out how to mediate between the two of them so that they all got out of here in one piece.

On balance, he decided that it would be better to not even address the decent human being comment.

“Shall we see if we can get out of here?” he suggested.

The emergency call button, they discovered, wasn’t functional, and Angel pulled out her cell with a growl of frustration.

“You need to move,” she said immediately to the person on the other end. “Can you please call someone who can fix this because I’m stuck in your elevator with the goddamn Antichrist.”

On the other side of the elevator, the other man grimaced, although Angel was frowning fiercely as she listened to the person she had called.

“How am I supposed to know? I’m hardly going to talk to him, am I?  You already told me I wasn’t allowed to rip his balls off with my bare hands, and that’s really the only option that has any appeal.”

The other man grimaced further, and Patrick winced a little in sympathy.

Angel started talking again.  “Yes, please. As soon as possible if you don’t want me hauled off to prison for something perfectly justifiable but frowned upon for some reason in the current law system.”

Yeah, there was definitely a lot of rage there.

“Right. Please do.”

She flipped the phone closed and then addressed herself to Patrick since she was still clearly doing her best to pretend that the other man didn’t exist—if only to prevent herself from being arrested.

“I’ve got a friend who lives in the building; she’s going to make sure the super knows what’s going on and we get out of here as soon as possible.”

Patrick considered and discarded any comments on how sooner would be better in order to prevent murder.  He also wouldn’t call Karen unless it seemed like Angel’s friend wasn’t coming through; she’d been sensible enough to warn the blonde woman off injuring the other guy, so that was a good sign, and Patrick didn’t fancy doing anything that might be considered an act of war when the three of them were stuck in an enclosed space like this.

The other man spoke.

“Is she—”

Angel raised her hand palm out in the classic “Talk to the hand” gesture.  Patrick couldn’t recall the last time he’d actually seen someone do that, but as in all things he’d witnessed thus far, she pulled it off well.  She had a lot of poise, though it was very different—sort of “in your face”—from Karen’s.

“Don’t even think about speaking about Jo in front of me,” Angel growled, eyes narrowed to slits as she glared at the other man.

“Look, Angelica—” He had started to sound annoyed, but she cut him off again.

“No, you look.  You may think I’m joking but I’m really not.  It is solely on Jo’s sufferance that I haven’t pitched you down the elevator shaft and listened for a really satisfying splat at the end.”

Patrick was kind of impressed that all this vitriol was on behalf of someone else; when it had become clear that they were fighting, he had suspected that they were a couple on the outs.

“I didn’t mean—”

“You didn’t mean?” Angel was clearly incensed, and Patrick didn’t think the other man was going to get the opportunity to complete an entire sentence any time soon.  “You didn’t mean?  That’s almost as bad as trying to tell me it was an accident.  Newsflash: your penis didn’t fall out of your pocket and wander over of its own accord to get intimately involved with someone else!”

“I—”

Angel clapped her hands together, clasping them in front of her chest and cutting him off once more.  It made her look even more literally angelic—except that she was smiling in the sort of way Patrick imagined a shark would.  “I know, let’s get a second opinion.”  She turned to Patrick, and he felt a bit like a deer caught in the headlights.  “Patrick, what do you think?  Is it wrong to have sex with someone else when you’re in a committed monogamous relationship?”

Patrick swallowed, not particularly wanting to consign the other guy to his fate because he looked so uncomfortable and unhappy, but not much wanting the avenging angel to decide that he was a prime target, either.  And really, given the question, there was a pretty simple answer.

“Yes.”

She turned back to the other man triumphantly. “You see?  Decent two thirds of the elevator clearly in agreement on this point: you’re an asshole.”

Patrick opened his mouth, not entirely sure what he was going to say except that he didn’t actually know anything about what they were discussing.  Maybe the other man was an asshole, but Patrick wasn’t really ready to make that sort of judgement.

Perhaps fortunately, the other man spoke before Patrick could.

“There are sometimes extenuating circumstances.”

Angel was glaring again, and she spoke stonily.  “No, there aren’t.  You’re an asshole, end of story.”

The other man turned to Patrick, his look appealing.  “Haven’t you ever been in love with someone you thought you couldn’t have in a million years?”

It had never been his intention to declare his life history in the elevator, but Patrick found it impossible not to answer the question.  “Yes.”

The other man was looking only at Patrick now.  “For years and years.”

“Yes.”

“And then, suddenly, things change, her interest changes.  She wants you, and it’s everything you’ve been telling yourself you wanted for years.”

“Yes.”

Patrick knew full well that his situation had not been unique, that he was hardly the first person to feel what seemed like an impossible love from afar, but he hadn’t exactly anticipated being stuck in an elevator with someone who had the exact same story.

“You have got to be kidding me.”

They both turned to look at Angel, and Patrick didn’t think that he was the only one who had momentarily forgotten that she was there.  Her look of disdain was quite pronounced.

“So that’s it, then?  Someone else gives you the time of day and it’s all right to cheat on your current partner?”

The other man frowned.  “I never said it was all right.  But you keep biting my head off every time I try to say that it was a mistake.”

For the first time since she had got into the elevator, it looked as though Angel was actually looking at him.

“She had to watch you kiss someone else in the middle of the street.”

He grimaced, looking chagrined.  “I know.  I wasn’t thinking—and I know that’s not a good excuse, but unfortunately, it’s the truth.”

She huffed a breath.  “I still want to pitch you out of the elevator.”

He sighed.  “I don’t disagree with you.”

“Shit,” she muttered, and leaned back against the elevator wall.  “I liked you better when I could just hate you.”

“I never meant to hurt her.”

“That doesn’t help.”

But from her expression, it actually did—or at least made it hard for her to go back to the vitriol that had started the elevator ride even if it clearly couldn’t fix the fact that he had hurt Jo.

Patrick couldn’t think of anything useful to add, and it grew very quiet, all of them lost in their own thoughts.

The elevator lurched into motion again, startling them, but they were all braced against the walls this time.

When the doors opened, Patrick knew immediately why it was that Angel had been so angry.  He knew without anyone having to tell him that apart from the super and the elevator technician, it was Jo who was standing there—because he saw exactly where her eyes went first, scanning anxiously, and he knew exactly what look was in them.

The other man had broken her heart, and she still cared about him.  And none of them knew how to fix it.

He agreed with Angel’s one-word assessment, he realized.  Shit.

<><><>

Links to Jo, Chris, and Angelica: The Dangers of a Red Shirt, Conspicuous, and Consequences (bonus fic that shows the day after Conspicuous).

Link to Angelica: Tomatoes and Tempers.

Links to Patrick: Cobwebs and Connections and From a Distance and Face-to-Face.

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6 Responses to “falling-out by phoenix.writing”

  1. Parenthesized April 19, 2010 at 2:23 am #

    “Newsflash: your penis didn’t fall out of your pocket and wander over of its own accord to get intimately involved with someone else!”

    Hilarious and such a great contrast to the ending.

  2. juleshg April 19, 2010 at 3:17 am #

    I love Angel. She has made me laugh every time we have met her. I hope we see more of Angel and Jo in the coming weeks.

  3. ingridfnl April 19, 2010 at 11:10 am #

    This was *great*. Awesomely awesome. Her rage is expressed to eloquently. I love that you have used Patrick as someone who overhears their dialog.

  4. jmforceton April 19, 2010 at 9:49 pm #

    How many people have the chance to rage like this? For Angel it’s an art form. Imagine her and Pacino in the same scene.

Trackbacks/Pingbacks

  1. consequences by phoenix.writing « the character project - April 18, 2010

    […] consequences by phoenix.writing April 18, 2010 by phoenix.writing Author’s Note: This is a bonus missing scene between last week’s Conspicuous and this week’s Falling-Out. […]

  2. infinite possibilities by phoenix.writing | the character project - May 16, 2010

    […] be seen (or heard) in: The Dangers of a Red Shirt, Conspicuous,  Consequences,  Falling-Out, The Uses of Math, and Subliminal […]

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