Dave and Andronicus: OC Triple B
"Dave." Pant. "Wait." Pant. "I can'tbreak...charact...er" Andronicus was sweating. He was accustomed to the glare of stage lighting and no stranger to a disgruntled audience. This running, however, was something he took care to avoid. The coolness of a fall afternoon did nothing to ease his agony. He marveled at Dave's resilience. He seemed to overflow with energy. After ten blocks of pursuit Andronicus could barely lift his feet. Dave stopped, smiling as always, and waited for him to catch up.
"Beg pardon, sire, but we mustn't lose the trail."
Andronicus was doubled over with his hands on his knees, struggling for breath. His ears perked up at "sire" and he immediately regained composure; royalty never showed weakness to their subjects. He stood up, back straight, and slightly inclined his head towards Dave.
"That I understand, goodman. However, we have not encountered a trail to lose."
"I believe she headed west," Dave observed, looking up at the setting sun.
"We've been heading south."
"How can you tell?"
"You dare question me?"
"Ah, beg pardon. I did not mean to offend His Highness. Let us change course then, Your Majesty."
Andronicus deigned to grace him with a small smile, displaying his pleasure at Dave's subtle peppering of titles. He was one of the few who showed such respect, quite unlike those pathetic fools who polluted the drama club. Their naive "acting is fun" attitudes had pushed his patience beyond bounds. Andronicus dismissed that line of thinking. His full attention needed to be on the woman who had fled Dave's garage without so much as a curtsy. Such insolence.
"Indeed. Lead the way, Dave."
"We're not on a boat."
"Damnit, sire, we should be!"
"Your words ring true, but we are wasting time discussing this. Forward!"
Dave bellowed a battle cry that startled the birds nesting in nearby trees. They scattered across the sky, their dark shadows stark against the striated scarlet and ochre clouds.
"Your Majesty, why are you staring at those pigeons?"
"Those are pigeons!? Flying rats, how dare they invade my vision. I was merely glancing at the sun to determine the time."
Dave shoved a hand into the back pocket of his jeans and pulled out his phone.
"It's twenty till."
"The next hour."
"It looks like a six."
"Twenty till seven?"
"No twenty till six."
"Then why did you say it looked like a six without specifying what it' was?"
"Sire," Dave sighed, putting a hand on his hip, "it's 5:41 PM."
"Then it's nineteen till six," Andronicus said, irritated.
"Well, now it is."
"Dave." Andronicus' voice assumed a menacingly bemused tone, "you speak against me yet again. Shall I condemn you as a traitor?"
Dave groped at his waist, dropping his phone to the sidewalk in the process. For a moment Andronicus saw a gleaming broadsword. Their exchange had set the stage for a duel, one perhaps located at a crumbled sundial some centuries ago. A king's climactic battle with a trusted advisor. Andronicus set his feet apart in an offensive stance. He was ready.
A passing SUV broke their immersion, the driver laying on the horn intending to startle. Voices yelled out "Bro!", "Dude, fight!" and "Shut the f--k up, you idiots," as it drove by. Dave and Andronicus looked at each other, both deciding to leave the match for a later date. There were far more important tasks at hand.
"So, Andro, where should we go?"
"Um," Andronicus said, forgetting himself, "We should probably just wander aimlessly. We don't know anything about her, so we don't know where she's likely to go. Finding her randomly is our only hope."
"Right you are. To the bus stop!"
Ignoring his previous observation that Big Boned Bessie had traveled west, Dave lead Andronicus at a gallop several more blocks south to one of their town's main streets. A public bus was going through the intersection. Dave darted through the rush hour traffic, intent on stopping the bus. Andronicus reluctantly followed him, trying to ignore the cars squealing to halts and the shocked cries from pedestrians. He chased after Dave's camouflage jacket, trying fruitlessly to close the distance. The bus driver had slowed down, thinking he had hit someone unawares. He jumped out of the driver's seat when Dave pounded on the double doors. Not knowing what else to do, the driver opened the doors and let Dave in. Andronicus shoved a hand through as they were closing and pulled himself up the steps, thoroughly spent. He glared when the driver asked him for a fare, gathered his purple cape up and marched towards the back, grabbing a bar when the bus lurched back to life. Dave was already seated and holding a transfer ticket absentmindedly in one hand.
Andronicus collapsed into the seat next to Dave, sweat pricking his forehead. He tried to steady his ragged breathing, to maintain some semblance of cool. Dave was leaning against the side of the bus, looking out of the window with narrowed eyes.
"This bus" he began.
"Andro, I think this bus takes us"
"Yeah, I think it takes us"
"Where?" Andronicus spluttered, frustrated.
"I think it takes us backto my house."
Andronicus wrapped his arms around his stomach and startled to shake, first with a giggle. It grew until a bitter laugh exploded from his throat. It rose in volume and became a cackle. Andronicus claws his hands devilishly, eyes burning with fury. A woman near the front tried to soothe her crying infant and gave Andronicus a dirty look. Passengers seated closer tried to scoot away from the fiery aura they thought to be surrounding the newly born king of destruction. A minute passed and Andronicus wound down, coughing to alleviate his torn throat. Dave glanced towards Andronicus, clearly thrilled at his unraveled sanity, then returned to scouring the sidewalks for his missing princess. Not once did his grin fade.
"Dave, where the hell are we?"
Dave had his arms folded on a railing and was looking across a massive body of water painted vibrantly in hues of red and orange as the sun sank beneath its distant waves.
"I think this is what the commoners would call an ocean."
"I know that," Andronicus snapped as he walked towards him. "I mean, why are we here? I thought that bus went back to your house."
"I guess I was wrong," Dave shrugged, nonplussed. "Well, it doesn't matter."
"What are we supposed to do now?"
Dave gripped the cold and salt rusted railing with both hands and leaned backwards, a portrait of ease.
"Go back to my house. I'm sure Scott and Mark found her. They both know how important it is."
"Anyone could see that," Andronicus stated matter-of-factly, leaning his back against the railing a foot from Dave's hands. "Considering how little time we have to practice."
"We should be getting back then," Dave said, rubbing his hands together. "It looks like the bus is still here."
The fading sun caught the gold embroidery and Swarovski crystals that dotted Andronicus' cape; the effect was dazzling and Dave blinked to clear his sight. As they walked together towards the silent bus, he wondered what Andronicus would pull out for the show. He was sure the audience would be flabbergasted.
The bus driver was leaning against his vehicle, puffing on an unpleasantly fragrant cigarette. He looked up at the duo's footsteps.
"You two aren't getting back on my bus unless you pay double fare," he said. His tone brooked no argument.
"You got any money, Andro," Dave asked cheerfully.
"Tch, as if I would carry something so filthy."
"Are you sure you can't let it slide this one time?" he asked the driver.
"No chance in hell."
"Well," Dave said with a smirk, "I guess we're walking back."
Andronicus cleared his throat. "You expect ME to walk all the way back to your house? My good man, that would simply take hours!"
"Not if we run!" Dave shouted from half a block away.
Andronicus looked back at the bus driver. The bus driver smiled wickedly and shook his head in a "no". Andronicus resigned himself to thinking that all the running might help increase his voice projection. A fleeting thought of pity for poor Scott, who was subjected to the bulk of Dave's madness, crossed his mind as he gave chase. Soon, he was too tired to think of anything.
"Hey, my phone's still here!" Dave exclaimed. Andronicus had convinced him that walking would be more efficient and Dave, energy incarnate, didn't have the heart to oppose him.
"You know," Dave mused, "We probably could have called someone to pick us up. You have a phone, right?"
Andronicus remembered that he did, in fact, have a phone. He could have slapped himself for being caught up in Dave's pace; trying to maintain the strained grip he had on his character while saying center stage had taken its toll that evening. He considered calling him mom but she would have just laughed at him. What was ten blocks to two hours bushwhacking through the suburban jungle anyway? He took in a lungful of the brisk evening air to calm himself.
The light of Dave's garage spilled out of the recently cleaned window and slightly open side door, a warm glow in the still darkness. As they got closer, Andronicus caught a minty scent that was wafting out from the cracked door. He let Dave, who had been demoted to courtier status in light of the day's constant running, lead the way. Stepping inside, he saw that Mark and Scott were still out on the hunt. What he did see made his jaw drop.
Andronicus felt his knees buckle and he dropped to the floor. He lifted his arms toward the heavens, forcing tears out of his eyes to solidify the image.
"WHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYYY!?" he screamed upwards, voice fraught with anguish. He laid one palm against the floor and made a fist of his other. He deliberately pounded the floor, the thud echoing in the wake of his shout.
"Why?" he sobbed, hanging his head.
The haunting sound of Dave's laughter filled Anronicus' ears. Melody rolled her eyes at their reactions and set her cup down.
"When you two are done, do you want to hear our songs?"