“Brian, do you have a girlfriend?”
“Did. Did he have a girlfriend, dumbass.”
“He could still have one.”
“Yeah, right, like anybody would stay with him after what he did.”
Brian looked up from his place at the lunch table towards the two men talking at him. He was sure that they had names, but all he perceived them as were Prison Jumpsuit 17 and Prison Jumpsuit 24. He was sure that they had faces, but all he could see was a mess of twisting features that were always trying to provoke him. He wasn’t sure that they had souls. Naturally, then, they thought he would fit right in.
“Leave me alone,” he said softly, his voice neither high or low pitched.
“He told us to ‘leave him alone,’ can you believe that?” 24 asked, before plopping himself down right next to the downtrodden figure with messy black hair and empty green eyes.
“We’re not harassing you, dude, we just want to know if you had a girlfriend before you killed that kid,” 24 continued. Brian twitched, but nobody noticed.
“That’s right, we’re just trying to get to know you better! You’ve barely spoken to anybody in, like, six months now, don’t you want some friends?” 17 asked, sitting down on Brian’s opposite side. “We could be friends to you.”
“There are no friends in here,” Brian replied flatly, his eyes returning to their downwards position. 17 and 24 burst into laughter. It was a harsh, grating sound, one that caused Brian to physically recoil from it. A sudden arm around his shoulder prevented him from moving any further, though.
“True enough, man,” 17 replied.
“Especially not for you,” 24 continued.
“Please leave me alone,” Brian repeated in a small voice. Although he was getting better at concealing his expressions, he couldn’t stop the fear from leaking out through his face and voice. His tormentors took notice of this.
“Sure thing, man, soon as you answer our question. Did you have a girlfriend?” 24 repeated.
“Or boyfriend?” 17 said, a predatory twinkle in his eyes. Brian debated not responding, but he decided to answer their question, taking their word that they would leave him alone if he did.
“No,” he said. 24 grinned.
“Knew it,” 24 said, “dude is way too lanky and awkward for anybody to want to fuck him.”
“He’s got a pretty good face, though,” 17 replied. “Why not?”
“I answered your question. Please leave me alone,” Brian said.
“He was probably too scared to try,” 24 said, ignoring Brian’s request. “Rejections can be tough, especially for people that are already fucked up in the head.”
“True enough, true enough. Why bother trying if you know how it’s gonna end, right?” 17 responded. “Getting turned down would probably push him right over the edge.”
“I’m asexual,” Brian said quietly, his eyes never moving. 17 and 24 paused their banter and stared at him for a moment, before breaking out into boisterous laughter.
“Asexual?!” 24 said incredulously. “I’ve never heard anybody actually call themselves that before.”
“That’s because asexual people don’t exist, bro,” 17 said condescendingly. “That’s gotta be one of the worst excuses I’ve ever heard.”
Brian looked up at 17, his eyes finally emitting a spark of emotion.
“That’s not very progressive of you,” he said lowly. 17 scoffed.
“Asexual is just another word for somebody who needs a good fucking. That’ll snap you right out of it.”
At that, the arm on Brian’s shoulder suddenly tightened, and began to pull him away…
“STOP!” Brian shouted, jumping to his feet. Assaulted by an unbearable feeling of confusion, he looked all around, trying to figure out what was going on.
“W-What…? Where… huh?” he mumbled, desperately trying to clear the fuzziness from his mind. He took in his immediate surroundings. He was in a dark room, all lights turned off except for a dim blue light in the distance. This allowed Brian to get a sense of what was around him. He was standing on some kind of cloth, a large pouch seemingly sewn into the cloth that was right next to him. He guessed that he had been sleeping in that pouch, if the sweat stains were anything to go on.
All around him, reaching up to roughly eight times his height, were strange mesh walls. He could tell that he was supposed to be able to see through them, but the room was too dark to make anything out beyond his immediate surroundings. Brian was thoroughly disoriented, but a rustling in the distance soon snapped him out of it. Suddenly, a strange noise echoed around him.
It sounded like a voice, but it was distant and unnaturally loud. Brian’s fear only increased. He chose not to respond, as he did not want to attract the attention of whatever creature was apparently looking for him. There was more rustling, and a clicking noise was quickly followed by a stronger light illuminating the room. Brian winced at the sudden brightness, and then focused his eyes in the direction of the voice.
What he was met with defied all explanation. Sitting before him, from his perspective, was a living mountain. A woman, far bigger than anything he had ever seen before. Although far away, he could tell that just one of her fingers was nearly double the length of his entire body, and could easily swat him like a fly. Brian’s eyes widened even more, his sleep-addled mind unable to comprehend what he was looking at, and he fell to his rear.
“What are…?!” he stammered, crawling backwards. The woman’s face twisted in confusion and concern, and she spoke once more. This time, though, her tone was much softer.
“Brian? Brian, it’s me, Allie. You know, Allison Starr?” she said quietly, holding both hands up to show that she meant no harm. At the mention of her full name, everything came flooding back to him. This was Allison Starr, the former Chevalier who was supposed to execute him for a crime he did not commit. She chose not to, and had been concealing him ever since.
It’s Allie, Brian thought.
It’s Allie, I’m small, it’s Allie, I’m safe.
At that realization, he flopped over on his back, his heart pounding.
“Allie…” he breathed exhaustedly. Allison smiled in relief, and she moved to undo the top of the pet carrier in which Brian slept. With a quick nonverbal confirmation of permission, she gently picked Brian up and placed him in her palm. She then retreated to her original position in bed, laying him down on one of the pillows. Resting her head on the area right next to him, they soon found themselves staring at each other, Allison waiting patiently while Brian took deep breaths.
“Was it another nightmare?” Allison asked softly. Brian nodded. At that, Allison moved her free hand over him, covering his shoulders to his feet in a cocoon of her skin. She reached up with her thumb and began to stroke the side of Brian’s face tenderly. He closed his eyes and leaned into the sensation.
“They’re getting worse, I’ve never heard you shout like that,” she said. Brian finally got his breathing under control.
“I… I know. Ever since the session… I don’t know how to make it stop,” he replied.
“What was it about? Was it your mother again?” Allison asked.
“It was nothing,” Brian answered, breaking eye contact. Allison furrowed her brow slightly.
“Brian, you said you weren’t going to do that,” she gently admonished. Brian sighed.
“Sorry. Old habits,” he said. “It wasn’t her, it was prison. From before I learned how to stop the other guys from bothering me. A few of them… took it to extremes.”
“I see…” Allison said sympathetically. “Why did you look so scared of me, though?”
“I forgot where I was,” Brian answered. “I forgot what was going on, and I forgot that I’m… small. I was just confused.”
“Oh, Brian…” Allison sighed. “I know that being small must be scary sometimes.”
“Most of the time, it’s not,” Brian said. “Sometimes, though… when something unexpected happens, or when I forget… I-I just get so confused, and…”
“Shhh…” Allison soothed. “It’s okay. You’re safe with me. I’ll never let anything happen to you, not again. You know that, right?”
Brian smiled gratefully.
“Yeah,” he said, relishing the warmth and feeling of security that Allison was providing. Allison beamed, her happiness shining through any layers of sleepiness on her face.
“Anyway,” Brian said, “I’m sorry to keep waking you up with my nightmares. I don’t like to disrupt your sleep.”
“Nonsense,” Allison said dismissively. “What kind of girlfriend would I be if I didn’t comfort my boyfriend when he wakes up screaming?”
At that, Brian blushed slightly and averted eye contact. Allison noticed this, and saw an opportunity to tease him.
“Something wrong?” she asked playfully, already knowing the answer.
“It’s just… hearing you say girlfriend… for some reason it makes me embarrassed,” Brian admitted shyly. Allison wanted to squeal with happiness, as her favorite side of Brian was his bashful side.
“Well, it sounds like you’re going to be embarrassed quite a lot, because I am your girlfriend. I’ve been your girlfriend for a week now, and I’m having so much fun as your girlfriend, and I just love being your girlfriend, and-“
“Shut up!” Brian cried, hiding himself under the cover of Allison’s hand. She giggled, remembering the days when she felt like it was impossible to fluster the one-inch man she had rescued from death.
“I’ve never had a girlfriend before, cut me some slack,” said a slightly muffled Brian.
“Well, how am I doing so far?” Allison asked. She pulled her hand away from Brian, allowing them to look at each other once more.
“…You’re amazing,” he said quietly. Allison grinned like an idiot, her heart on fire.
“In fact, you’re doing too well,” he continued. “I feel like I’m not doing enough in return.”
“Brian,” Allison said incredulously, “a relationship isn’t like a transaction. There’s no law of equivalent exchange going on. We’re in a relationship, and we look out for each other. We care for each other, and we do things for each other. That’s all it is. And I can tell you, this has been the happiest relationship of my life so far.”
Brian’s eyes softened, and he broke out in a smile.
“Okay. Thank you,” he said. “We should probably go back to sleep. What time are you leaving tomorrow?”
“Around 11. I’m gonna meet up with Professor Dawson, then go out to lunch with her. So, we’ll need to make sure you’re covered for lunch as well,” Allison replied.
“Sounds easy enough. What do you think she’s gonna say?” Brian asked.
“About me being a Chev? I have no idea. I just hope she’s as understanding about why I did it as you were,” Allison answered.
“If she truly cares about you, then she will be,” Brian said resolutely. “When’s the last time you spoke to her?”
“Uh… about 7 months ago? It was a little while before they offered me the job,” Allison replied.
“Did she not reach out at all during that time?” Brian continued.
“Well… I guess not,” she answered after a brief hesitation. Brian narrowed his eyes.
“That seems weird,” he said.
“Not really. Like I told you, I was pretty… isolated for a while. Most people had stopped reaching out to me by that point, and taking the job only made it worse. As of now… you’re all I have, Brian,” she said, a gentle smile overtaking her face at the end. Brian reciprocated.
“You’re all I have, too, Allie. Sucks to be us, huh?” he said with a sly grin.
“Mmm… it’s not so bad,” Allison replied, leaning forward and gently kissing Brian on the top of his head. “Anyway, we should go to sleep.”
“Yeah, you’re right. Can you place me back in the carrier, please?” Brian asked, blushing after Allison’s kiss.
“Actually, I have an idea about that,” Allison replied. Brian made a questioning noise.
“For the past week, I’ve been using an app that tracks sleep behavior. It records noises I make while I sleep, so it can tell when I move around and stuff,” she continued.
“Wait, does that mean it’s been catching all my nightmare noises?” Brian asked, a feeling of embarrassment washing over him. Allison grinned.
“I doubt it. I keep my phone on the opposite side of the bed, and I doubt your teeny-tiny adorable voice gets picked up,” she replied.
“The teeny-tiny probably wasn’t necessary, but I’m with you on the adorable part,” Brian responded. “Why have you been doing that?”
“Well…” Allison started, a blush of her own overtaking her face. “It turns out… I don’t toss and turn in my sleep, like, at all. According to the app, once I fall asleep, I’m like a rock. So… I thought, you know, maybe…”
She took a deep breath.
“If you wanted… you could, well, maybe sleep in my hand? If you don’t think it would be safe, then that’s fine, but… maybe it would help with the nightmares? I could keep you safe all the time, you know? Even in your dreams,” she continued. Brian’s eyes softened in the face of her kind proposal. A feeling of immense gratitude and adoration welled up in his chest.
“Y-Yeah… we could try that,” he replied quietly, trying not to sound too excited. Allison beamed, and moved to turn off the light. Soon, the room was blanketed with darkness once more, save for the small blue night light in the corner. Allison gently beckoned Brian into her palm, and once he was secure she rolled onto her back and rested her palm on her stomach. She brought her other hand over Brian, creating a makeshift blanket with her fingers, leaving only his head exposed. Surrounded by Allison’s soft, warm skin, Brian felt safer and more secure than he ever had in his life. He was almost confused as to why they hadn’t tried this before. He looked up at his gargantuan girlfriend, and saw that she was gazing down at him with a tender expression.
“Goodnight, Brian. I love you,” Allison said.
“Goodnight, Allie. I love you too,” Brian replied.
At that, they both closed their eyes and drifted into a peaceful sleep. A new day was about to begin for Allison Starr and Brian Bentley, one that would set in motion a chain of events that had the potential to change everything. Regardless, they slept peacefully. They slept with the knowledge that, whatever might happen, they would be able to face it as long as they did it together.