Kilbourne didn’t find the moment all that funny, but me? I couldn’t help laughing. In fact, I pretty much got lost in the laughter for a long time. I couldn’t help it. It was just one of those… things. Larabee had always considered my aversion to spandex irrational—though I still maintain that his obsession was far more irrational and abnormal than my aversion was—but now I had a real reason for it. The man who’d “created” me was allergic to the stuff. It suddenly made sense.
And it was still funny as hell to me.
I distinctly remembered wishing him a long, painful death from spandex—and it actually could happen. He could die of anaphylactic shock. Sure, it wasn’t exactly the worst way to go, and it was more because of the lack of oxygen, but it was still pretty damn awesome in my mind.
The rest of the world was scared of Larabee’s costumes because of their bright colors and blinding designs, but they could kill the monster. The monster was allergic to spandex.
And yes, it was funnier than it should have been. Um, by a lot.
“Stop laughing, and let me go.”
Clayton gave Kilbourne a look, but that just set him off again. He’d doubled over and actually gotten to the point of rolling around on the floor. He couldn’t help it. It was hilarious to him. After all these years of hating spandex, after wishing Kilbourne a horrible death by spandex, to hear that the man was allergic to it? It was just… priceless. Absolutely priceless. Clay couldn’t pull himself together. He couldn’t stop laughing. He couldn’t do anything at the moment. He just kept laughing like a lunatic.
It felt good to laugh. After all they’d been through, after everything that had gone wrong, everything they’d suffered and screwed up, laughter was nice. Especially here and now. Yes, it was a bit crazy, too, and he knew that. He couldn’t help thinking it was insane, but it wasn’t going to stop, either.
“Moore! This isn’t funny! You have to let me go!”
Clay put a hand on the floor and looked at Kilbourne. The man’s blind panic and obvious fear made him very comical in appearance after the threats and terror he’d inflicted, and that made Clay crack up all over again. He shook his head. “Allergic to spandex…”
“You think this is a joke?”
“No! And that’s what’s so funny!”
“Clearly you were a flawed sample. A specimen that should have been disposed of. If I had been allowed to continue my work, I assure you that you would have been,” Kilbourne grumbled, trying to loosen his bonds. The spandex, treated with Larabee’s special ooze, didn’t budge.
Clay smiled grimly. “Yeah, and again, why would I untie you after that?”
“Because you’re not a killer, Moore, and this will kill me.”
“Please. You don’t even have hives. No skin reddening. No respiratory distress. I think you’re lying,” Clay said, sobering up a little with that realization. He no longer found it funny—not if it was a lie. Then it wasn’t funny at all. Well, maybe a little, but not enough to make him act like he’d been exposed to nitrous oxide. “That actually kind of sucks, did you know that? I kind of liked it when you were allergic to spandex.”
“I am allergic, damn it! Get this stuff off of me!”
Clay rolled his eyes. “The act was funny for a while—a bit too funny—but it’s over now. I’m not amused. Stop trying to fool me. I’m not letting you out of the bonds. I want my answers, remember? I am sick and tired of you manipulating me. I won’t let you do it again. I want to know why you created me, everything you were trying to do, and why I can do what I can do. That’s just… I don’t know, common courtesy? Yeah, pretty much.”
“Let me go!”
Clay sighed, picking himself off the floor. “No. I am not letting you out of there. Fuss and squirm all you like—I know I’d be doing it if I was tied up in spandex because I can’t stand the stuff. Makes me shudder. Then I want to vomit. Especially if Larabee’s wearing one of the—oh, there are not words for that kind of horror. I kind of think that you deserve to see it. I know it broke Brady easily. He spilled everything so fast, and that wasn’t even the worst of the costumes, honestly.”
“I am not joking, Moore. I am not trying to trick you. I am allergic. Let me go. You can have whatever answers you want, but if you do not get this stuff off of me, you’ll get nothing because I’ll be dead.”
“Hmm. Then I guess you’d better start talking because I’m not that stupid. I’m not letting you go.”
Kilbourne continued to struggle in his bonds. Clay leaned against the desk and watched him, sick of this part of the game. He knew better than this, and so did Kilbourne. It was just wasting their time, and Clay didn’t feel like wasting his time. “Is there a file, maybe? A journal or something? I mean, you keep notes on your experiments. You’d have to. It only makes sense to—unless, of course, you believe that the scientific method isn’t worth following. That wouldn’t surprise me. You’re not sane, for one thing, and you seem rather full of yourself, too. So either way, you would do that.”
Kilbourne glared at him. “Should have made you… with better ears… you idiot.”
“My ears are big enough, and I’m not going to fall for the allergic lie, okay? Is there a file or not?”
“Won’t tell you anything unless you untie me.”
“This is such a fun impasse, isn’t it? Not really, but since you’re going to be stubborn, I guess we both will be. No. I don’t know how else to say it, Kilbourne. I’m not letting you go.”
The other man slumped forward in the chair, and Clayton frowned. Huh. Maybe he really was allergic to spandex.