Celeste didn't even have time to celebrate being remembered as her shy, younger self; there was a little man on the table who had just lost his marbles from this new information.
“Are you SHITTING ME? Are you out of your MIND AGENT LATIFF?!” Senior Agent David Neilson was no longer sitting, oh no; somehow, even with his size he still managed to sound intimidating. Celeste actually flinched, and she just knew Alex did, too.
“Wait David, just hold on—“ but Neilson just went on like he hadn’t been interrupted, and he didn't take too kindly to being called by his first name, under the circumstances. It was almost like Celeste was back at the bureau again.
“You adopted the extra human because you KNOW HIM? What, did you have some sort of fucking fling together, back in the day? ZIP IT! I don’t care if the two of you were engaged—there is no excuse for your emotions and your past impeding on your work like this! And taking so long to get here… You were in deep before, but now…” Neilson took such a deep breath that his eyeballs seemed to bulge, and this was when Celeste couldn’t take it any longer. She was embarrassed, she was shy, but most importantly, she was pissed. She’d put up with Neilson for years, but she just couldn’t take it any longer. She straightened up and marched over to his section of counter top, using her new-found height to tower over the small David Neilson.
“Look, you over-pompous windbag; I’ve had about enough out of you! Do you know what I went through to get here? No, of course not—you’ve got your head so far up your ass that you weren’t paying attention to the work by all the ‘little people’, and I think that should change! Do you even know what the process of those chemicals are? There’s a reason no one wanted this job; I was the first human test for this, did you know?!?!? It HURTS!” Her voice was getting louder, strained, and it was bordering on tearful, but she plunged on: “All of those skin cells multiplying at that rate, even spread out over a couple of days, was EXCRUCIATING! Like healing from a third degree burn! Do you want to know why I “took so long getter here”? I was in the IC ward for 3 days, because the agency didn’t account for the extra size difference between animal test subjects and humans, and what that would mean for the cell multiplication! But of course, you would know this, because you are a POMPOUS, overbearing, self-important PIECE OF—“
Celeste froze where she was, at a very close distance to Agent Neilson. He had his back pressed against the suitcase, and for the first time, Celeste actually saw a glint of fear in his eyes. But the sound hadn’t come from him.
Shocked at her anger, Agent Latiff turned, pale-face to the door of the bathroom, which had just closed very slowly.
Alex was no longer on the counter.
Celeste’s eyes snapped back to David’s, the last of her color draining from her face.
“Oh God…” She whispered. What have I done?
Poor Alex had been frozen in fear during the start Giant’s rant – but thankfully, it hadn’t lasted long. He’d shimmied down the lamp chord and darted for the bathroom door as soon as he could. It was a decision he was sure he’d forget, but he was at a loss of what else to do; this was a far worse situation than normal. Not only was he with a new giant, but an insane one, as well; one who knew about his past, and he would have no more of it.
Plus, he was quite sure that this giant wasn’t registered for two humans; maybe, if he could get himself found, he’d be returned to the shop…
Thank God for cheap hotel doors, he thought, pushing at the lightweight (in comparison to what it could be, at least) bathroom door.
But his actions had not gone unnoticed, and Alex fell to the ground in front of the door, petrified with fear.
Celeste walked as quickly and quietly to the bathroom door as she could, cursing herself for her carelessness.
Yeah, I’ve always wanted to swear Neilson out, but what on earth possessed me to do it NOW?
She dropped to her knees in front of the door, her hand to her mouth.
“What the hell was I thinking…?”
David, for his part, was at least staying quiet, though out of fear, a newfound respect, or from just being plain miffed, Celeste didn’t know. Celeste removed her hand from her mouth and touched it to the door.
“A—Alex…?” Saying his name out loud hurt. She’d started making progress, but then she’d blown it, and now he was running scared… but Celeste was determined to not make the same mistake again.
Alex jumped at the sound of his name, and crab-walked away from the door at such a speed that he tripped over his hands and fell on his butt.
“L-leave me alone!” He squeaked. “You’re not her—you’re not Celeste Latiff! There’s no way in hell! You…You… Monster! Go away!” He slammed his hand over his mouth with a loud clap. His big mouth had gotten him in trouble before. And now he’d seen the bad side of the…being…that was on the other side of the door, and he was horribly shaken. But at least now, he knew what to expect. Normally, seeing the worst actually helped, but not this time. On the other side of the door, the giant spoke with an older version of the shy girl’s voice.
“Please…Alex… I’m so sorry…” Alex couldn’t see it, but Celeste had her forehead leaned upon the door. “I’m sorry you think I’m a monster… I’m s—“ Her voice choked up again. Alex hadn’t had to say it; it was plain to see in his eyes. But hearing that word out loud, directed at her, had been like a slap in the face. She took a deep breath, and tried again. “It’s horrible for the beings on this planet to call humans pets, just because of their size difference. I wish… I wish you could see past this size difference… What’s awful is that, if it wasn’t for my size right now, I wouldn’t have yelled at David just then. But… please, Alex, it really is me…” Her hand went back to her mouth, and she turned and looked at Neilson, who just shook his head. She’d messed up, bad. Now there was no taking it back. But as Celeste started turning away from the door, she heard Alex’s voice, low to the floor.
Her head snapped up so fast that she almost gave herself a concussion against the door frame. A million stories ran through her mind, but she stopped. Knowing his name hadn’t convinced Alex; proving that she knew information about him wouldn’t gain his trust. So what was left? She closed her eyes tight, and took a deep breath.
“In high school, Sophomore year, there was a huge food fight. Principal Jay banned gum at the school for three weeks because it was stuck all over the walls afterwards. After graduation, there was STILL a set of initials under the table, written in gum: ‘JB’, courtesy of the starter of the fight, Jack Benhim. None of the staff ever figured it out.” There was a pause at the other side of the door. After a moment, however, Celeste heard footsteps, very small, but audibly moving to the side within the echoing bathroom.
“I… I can’t get the door open.”
Celeste leaned backward in shock. Behind her, David’s jaw had gone slack, his mouth hanging longer than he was tall. Celeste turned back to the door, swallowed hard, and reached her hand up to turn the knob.