Jump to content

Katya Dee

Author: Author
  • Content Count

  • Joined

  • Last visited

Community Reputation

210 Two Thumbs Up

About Katya Dee

  • Rank

Profile Information

  • Age in Years
  • Favorite Genres
  • Location
    Placeholder account
  • Interests
    Placeholder account

Recent Profile Visitors

4,464 profile views
  1. Katya Dee

    Chapter 17

    Desmond looked completely calm. Gabriel thought that he looked almost detached. “Help me to get him in the car,” he said in the even voice, and Rayhe nodded and followed him into the house. “You’ll need to get rid of that chair,” Desmond said after they were almost inside. “And replace the carpet as well.” “Okay,” Gabriel said. When they got into the house and when Rayhe saw the living room, he was amazed. He expected to see blood on the walls, or even on the ceiling; a huge mess that cutting off someone’s privates would cause (not that Gabriel knew anything about that, but he imagined that it would be a very messy ordeal); maybe even one of the said privates rolling somewhere on the carpet. There was nothing. Well, the chair was messed up, just like Desmond said, and there were several rather large spots of blood on the carpet – and that was it. There was nothing else. “You don’t get any more professional than this,” Rayhe thought after quickly glancing at Desmond. LeVoughn-Senior was wrapped in a huge sheet of tarp and Gabriel wondered where that came from. Finally, he shrugged to himself. It didn’t matter. Desmond and him dragged the tarp-wrapped body to LeVoughn’s car (it took them almost half an hour to get it into the back seat), and after they shut the door, Desmond straightened up and took a deep breath. “I wonder what he felt when he was doing that...” Gabriel thought in spite of himself. “I wonder if he enjoyed...” Desmond shot him a dark look. “I didn’t enjoy that,” he said evenly, and Rayhe just blinked. Did he say it out loud by accident? “And no,” Desmond continued. “I can’t hear your thoughts... I just read you somewhat okay by now.” Gabriel blinked again, and then realized that Desmond repeated his own words. That was exactly the same thing he told Specter on the night when they dove out of Rayhe’s kitchen window, landing face-first in that flowerbed. He hemmed and nodded. “Right...” “I am going to drive his car,” Desmond said. “You can follow me if you want... Or I can walk home, it doesn’t matter.” “I’ll follow you,” Gabriel said. “Don’t want you to get knocked out again by someone else this time...” “Fine,” Desmond said without a smile, and got into LeVoughn’s car. **** ...Desmond parked the car next to some apartment building and climbed out. Gabriel pulled into the spot next to him, rolled down the window, and turned off the engine. “You just gonna leave it here?” he frowned. “Yeah,” Desmond slid into the passenger’s seat. “Let’s go. Stop by the payphone, will you? I need to make a phone call.” “Okay,” Rayhe muttered. He threw last glance at LeVoughn’s car, and soon enough, he was driving out of the parking lot. **** Sam LeVoughn was having dinner while blindly staring into the book he opened half an hour ago. He was still on the first page, and he had no idea what the first word on that page was. It was almost time to go to bed, and Sam dreaded that. He knew that he had to sleep (you don’t really have a choice in the matter; you have to sleep), and he always felt slightly nauseous when he had to do that. The dreams, he thought. It’s the dreams. No, scratch that; those were no dreams; those were grade-A nightmares. They would happen every goddamn night. Sam would wake up around two in the morning, gasping for air, sweating like a pig; he’d lie in bed shaking for a while, and then he would fall asleep again just so he could wake up around six in the morning from yet another nightmare. He mechanically chewed on his food, without noticing the taste, when the phone rang. Sam blinked and put the book down. It was after midnight, he thought. Who would call him this late? “Don’t answer that!” the voice in his head shrieked. “Don’t answer that! It’s probably...” “Hello?” Sam said carefully into the receiver. “Samuel?” somebody said. “Yeah,” Sam said as carefully as before. “Who is this?” “Your father’s car is parked next to your building,” the person on the other end of the line said, and Sam felt cold shiver running down his spine. “It’s unlocked. Look in the back seat. You might like what you find. Good-bye.” “Who is...” Sam started saying again, but the line clicked dead. He replaced the receiver in the cradle and stood there for several minutes, thoughtfully staring at the phone. “It’s unlocked,” he heard in his head again. “Look in the back seat. You might like what you find.” “It’s a trap!” his inner voice shrieked again. “The minute you get anywhere near that car, they will grab you and shove you inside! And this time you won’t get out! It’s a trap!” Finally, he grabbed one of the sharpest knives he could find and went outside. He saw the car almost immediately. It seemed there was nobody inside; the lights were off, the car remained still and silent. Sam carefully made his way towards the painfully (hatefully) familiar vehicle and looked inside through the window. There was nobody inside. He glanced at the back seat. Something was there, all right. Something big, wrapped in some sort of material. Sam pulled the door handle, and the door opened smoothly. He carefully set the knife on the roof of the car and unwrapped the material (it was dark-colored tarp). He stared at what was inside that tarp for several minutes without blinking. Then he darted out of the car, ran towards the nearby tree, fell on his knees, and vomited for what felt like ever. Finally, he got up, went back to the car, and this time, he could look at the demented present without feeling nauseous. He looked at it for probably forty minutes. Then he covered it up with the tarp, grabbed his knife, and closed the door of the car. He went back to his apartment, brushed his teeth, and went to bed. For the first time in years, he slept soundly throughout the entire night; he dreamt of nothing. **** When they got back to the apartment, Desmond told Gabriel to go to bed. “I’ll stay up for a while,” he said unemotionally. “If I feel like sleeping, I’ll just crash on the couch.” Rayhe didn’t argue with him; he just nodded and went to bed. He woke up several hours later. The dim glow of the clock informed him that it was four in the morning. He got up and went into the living room, trying not to make too much noise. Desmond was asleep on the couch and he looked very serious. Rayhe found that funny. Looking serious while you were asleep – that was something only Specter could do. Gabriel kneeled next to the couch, close enough to be able to feel Desmond’s breath on his skin. He slowly ran his finger along the assassin’s jawline and carefully kissed his lips, trying not to wake him up. He caught Desmond’s breath in his mouth, and suddenly, Gabriel craved more. He kissed him again, less carefully this time, running his fingers through the assassin’s hair. Prying his unresisting lips apart was easy. Still asleep, Desmond started to respond to the kiss. Finally, he moaned softly and his eyes slowly opened. He blinked several times without interrupting the kiss. Then he pulled away ever so slightly, his green eyes fixed on Rayhe’s brown ones. “Molesting me while I am unconscious?” he muttered and Rayhe grinned. “Well, you are conscious now,” he said and got on the couch next to Desmond, pulling the assassin closer. Desmond closed his eyes when Gabriel’s mouth started caressing his. He needed this right now, he realized. He needed this after what he’d done several hours earlier. The whole thing still felt like a very unpleasant aftertaste. Desmond had never done anything like that before. He knew that he would never do it again. He also knew that right now, Rayhe could tell how much Desmond needed him; he knew that, and he didn’t care anymore. Let him know, he thought hazily. Let him know... Gabriel was surprised by hunger he found in Desmond’s mouth. Hunger and raw need. That need immediately transferred to Rayhe as well. Kissing him, inhaling him, tasting him... “Oh, God,” Rayhe thinks. “Oh God, I need this so much right now...” Desmond’s arms around Gabriel’s neck, his fingers tangled in Rayhe’s hair, his body moving in sync with Gabriel’s, sending the echoes of his heartbeat into Rayhe’s throat, his fingers, his toes... Rayhe’s mouth slides towards the spot where neck turns into shoulder. He remembers how that spot made Desmond squirm and whimper the first time Gabriel discovered it. He is not disappointed this time as well; the minute he gently bites down on the skin, Desmond gasps and his back arches off the couch ever so slightly. Gabriel wants more, he wants more of him, he wants everything. Desmond’s shirt is in the way, so Gabriel starts unbuttoning it rather impatiently. Suddenly, the assassin grabs his wrist and makes him stop. Gabriel looks at him silently. “What is it?” he whispers after Desmond keeps staring at him without blinking. “Say my name,” Desmond mutters, and Gabriel’s mouth twitches in a small smile. “Desmond...” he whispers, and the assassin finally blinks. “Again,” he demands without letting go of Rayhe’s wrist. “Desmond... Desmond...” Gabriel is kissing him again, and then Desmond’s grip relaxes and Gabriel’s wrist is free, and his fingers are undoing all those buttons on Desmond’s shirt, and finally pulling it off. Gabriel feels completely intoxicated right now. Lightheaded, dizzy, everything is spinning slowly, and somehow, everything is incredibly focused at the same time. It’s amazing. He realizes that Desmond already pulled Rayhe’s own shirt off as well, and now he is working on the button of his pants. “Huh,” Gabriel thinks with amusement, “I didn’t even notice when he took my shirt off...” And then he is pulling off Desmond’s pants, and the assassin slightly lifts his hips to help him. Gabriel is looking at him, devouring his entire body with his eyes. Every single protruding little bone of his, every curve, every single angle. And then he is kissing him again, all of him. Rayhe is greedy right now; God, he is so incredibly greedy... Desmond’s lips are already slightly swollen, but Gabriel keeps kissing them anyway. Then he slides down to that spot on the assassin’s neck again, and this time, he is a lot less gentle. Desmond makes this sound in the back of his throat – something between a sob and a growl – and it drives Gabriel wild. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond,” he keeps whispering. Rayhe’s hands are all over the assassin; his mouth is desperate, so desperate... “Desmond...” Trailing down his chest, whispering in between the licks, bites, and nibbles. “Desmond... Desmond...” The assassin is moaning, muttering something, swearing softly when Rayhe bites too hard. “Desmond... Desmond... Desmond...” It’s not even a mantra by now; it’s a sacred chant. A spell of incredible power. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” The assassin’s entire body trembles when Rayhe uses that spell with him inside his mouth. Gabriel hums the spell and Desmond’s fingers grasp the back of the couch so hard that his knuckles turn white. Hunger, oh God, how can Rayhe be so hungry all of a sudden? “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” The assassin is trying to lie still, he is trying not to shove himself deeper into Gabriel’s throat, but it’s a battle he is losing. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” Gabriel lifts his arm and runs his fingers over Desmond’s neck, before stroking his lips. The assassin understands immediately and wraps his mouth around those fingers, his tongue quick, warm, and unbelievably firm and soft at the same time. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” The spell makes Desmond to bite down on Rayhe’s fingers, and his hips thrust upwards. Gabriel pulls his hand out of the assassin’s mouth, his fingers traveling to the point of their destination. “God,” he thinks. “I need him so bad, so bad, so desperately bad...” He is right here, under Rayhe’s spell, but he still needs him, craves him... Gabriel knows that if he uses the spell at the same time as he finds that one sweet spot of his, it will drive Desmond over the edge, and he doesn’t want that. Not yet, not this soon. So he makes sure it doesn’t happen, squeezing him just tight enough to keep him on the very edge, but not tight enough to hurt him. Desmond immediately understands what Rayhe is doing, and he growls: “Not again!” Gabriel laughs softly and that sends another shiver through Desmond’s body. Rayhe’s fingers searching, rotating. It’s there, it’s right there, he thinks. No, not quite... It’s... “You son of a...” “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” “Oh, holy hell!!” It’s right there. The assassin is almost sobbing now, his hips living the life of their own. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” “You son of a... Oh, God! Don’t do that again... Don’t... Oh, God, yes!” “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” “Oh, God... Ohh... Harder... No, don’t... Oh, yes! Oh, God, yes!” Gabriel needs him so bad, so desperately bad... He finally lets him out of his mouth, but not out of his grasp, and travels towards his face. Desmond is kissing him, hungrily, almost viciously, biting, and sucking, and digging his short fingernails into Rayhe’s back. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” Chanting into his mouth now. The assassin is swallowing every single sound, every single breath; he is sucking all air out of Gabriel. Rayhe doesn’t need air; he is breathing Desmond right now, and it is better than air, oh so much better... “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” The assassin groans when Rayhe finally merges them together, when they are one, when there is no space between them. He feverishly mutters Rayhe’s name, and combined with Gabriel’s spell... “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” ...it becomes something else; a different spell, different chant, different language altogether. A few experimental thrusts, and Desmond is shaking underneath Rayhe, trying to shake off that hand, but no, not yet, not yet... “Oh, God,” Rayhe thinks hazily. “I don’t think I can control myself much longer...” The spell, the power of it is too huge, too incredible, too impossible... Gabriel is no longer in charge of it; he is no longer in charge of anything. The hunger, oh God, that hunger... “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” “I can’t take it anymore...! Oh, God... You... Ohh... I can’t take it anymore! Just... Oh, just let me... Please let me...” Gabriel can’t take it much longer himself, so he releases his grasp, and then he strokes instead. Rhythm, quick powerful rhythm... “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” Rhythm... The same one for his chant, his hips, and his hand. “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond... Desmond!!” “Oh, holy... Hell!!” Everything around Rayhe shifts slightly. He doesn’t know who he is anymore, he doesn’t know where he is anymore, he doesn’t know anything. The only thing he knows is... “Desmond, Desmond, Desmond...” An explosion of white brilliancy beneath his eyelids, ringing in his ears, the wave keeps growing, it’s unbelievable, but it keeps growing. He can’t breathe, he is convulsing, and he can’t stop. Oh, God... The wave slowly, reluctantly, bit by bit, goes down, sending some air into Rayhe’s lungs, giving him back his senses. “Oh, oh, oh... Go...d... I... Oh...” “Des...mond...” Neither of them is coherent right now. It’s all right though. It’s better than all right, to be honest. Gabriel buries his face in Desmond’s hair, and the assassin is trying to wrap his arms around him, but it seems that he can’t even move, so he gives up. “I need him so much,” he thinks while inhaling Rayhe’s scent. “I need him so much, so much, so bloody-unbelievably much...” He is closing his eyes, sleep tugging him down rapidly. He thinks that Rayhe is asleep already; his breathing is somewhat even now. Desmond wants to look at him, look at his face, look at his eyes. He can’t move. He just kisses Gabriel’s shoulder, and then he falls asleep. “Desmond...”
  2. Katya Dee

    Chapter 16

    It was 10:50, and Werner absent-mindedly licked his lips. He’s been sitting in his car for the last hour. He was so eager to get Rayhe on his knees finally, that he left his house a hell of a lot earlier than he planned. As a result, he ended up arriving to the house behind the old Plaza at 9:45. Therefore, he was sitting in his car for the last hour, trying to keep his imagination from running wild. He didn’t want to take care of himself again; he wanted Rayhe to do it for him. That and he was somewhat worried that he might not be able to perform if he managed to come for the third time. It’s been a while (a very long while) since Werner got more than one release in one day, and he didn’t want to strain himself too much. He would hate it if his body wouldn’t cooperate with him at a crucial moment. That would be very bad indeed. Finally, he heard the sound of the engine. He immediately knew that it was Rayhe. Who else would be driving here this late? Werner pulled the keys out of the ignition and got out of the car, his large form giving him troubles as usual, rubbing unpleasantly against the steering wheel. Maybe one of those days, he will start thinking seriously about losing some weight. He was absolutely right – the engine he heard belonged to Rayhe’s vehicle. Werner couldn’t help but smile when he saw that damn brat (well, he wasn’t a brat anymore, to be honest. He was what... Thirty?) to get out of his car, grave expression on his face. You have no idea what’s coming, Werner thought, pun partially intended. Even Werner himself wasn’t quite aware of everything that he was going to do to Rayhe-Junior tonight. Sometimes, he let himself go, let his imagination and his wild side to take over. When that happened, nobody (not even Werner himself) knew what was going to happen next. Werner firmly told himself to make sure that Rayhe survived tonight – there was an accident or two in his past... Werner winced when he remembered one time when he let himself go wild while he was pounding into Sam who was fifteen back then. He was squeezing the kid’s throat (one of the things he liked to do; it made him feel almost high) and then he realized that Sam wasn’t moving (or whining for that matter. Oh God, that whining pissed Werner off every time; all the ‘Please, stop!’ and ‘It hurts too much!’ were driving him up the wall), and when he listened more closely, he noticed that Sam wasn’t breathing either. Werner remembered panic that flooded him. He was running for the office, and mysterious death of his only son (whose throat would be covered with bruises that would match Werner’s fingerprints to a t) would not look good at all. He managed to resuscitate the kid, and after that happened, he made sure that he was in complete control of himself every time he was with Sam. Werner watched Rayhe walk towards him slowly, as if he was forcing himself to do so, which was probably the case. He stopped a couple of feet away from Werner, his posture beyond tense. “Werner,” he said finally. “Gabriel,” LeVoughn-Senior smiled widely. “Where is Specter?” “I had to make sure you came alone,” Rayhe said. “Are you satisfied?” Werner asked mildly. “Yes,” Rayhe said in a strained voice, and Werner almost laughed. Not yet, he thought, but soon. Well, it depends on... Oh, it depends on so many things... “Specter is inside,” Rayhe was saying meanwhile, and Werner blinked. “I used the back door,” Gabriel said when he noticed Werner’s expression. “I left him there a couple of hours ago; had to make sure that the perimeter was clean...” Perimeter, Werner thought. He spent too much time with that kill-for-hire; he is even using his vocabulary. Suddenly, Werner wondered if those two fucked yet. Then he shrugged to himself. It didn't matter. “Shall we...?” he asked politely, and Rayhe cringed. “Yes,” he said stiffly and went towards the house. Werner followed him, his excitement growing with each second. He was seriously concerned about him even making it inside the house; he felt like he was about to force Rayhe down on his knees right here, outside. He managed to get himself under control. Werner made it all the way to the house. Rayhe unlocked the door and walked inside. Werner followed him, and he was about to say, ‘Okay, this is private enough’ and have his way with that brat, when someone said: “Psst!” right above his ear. Werner turned around, dumbfounded, and then he saw some guy whose face he didn’t recognize; some guy whose green eyes were flickering in a strange way that immediately made Werner uneasy. He thought, “Oh, son of a bitch! This is a trap...!” when the said guy sank a needle into his upper arm, and that was the end of the day that started so well for Werner LeVoughn, because two seconds after the injection, he was unconscious. He didn’t even realize that his huge frame went down on the floor like an oversized sack of potatoes. **** Desmond needed all the help he could get to be able to move LeVoughn-Senior into the living room. “And I thought Rayhe was heavy,” he thought while Gabriel and he dragged the unconscious body into the room. “This one weighs more than a decent size whale!” Finally, the relocation was complete, and LeVoughn-Senior was securely attached to a huge armchair. Desmond straightened up and looked at Gabriel, who stood less than two feet away from him, his arms propped on his sides. “Now what?” Rayhe asked, and Desmond was somewhat amused to hear his voice lack any worry whatsoever. “Now...” Desmond said and glanced at still unconscious LeVoughn-Senior. “Did you give him the same drug that I’ve been injected with?” Gabriel interrupted him suddenly, and now his voice sounded darker than before. “No,” Desmond said shortly. “I don’t need his senses heightened; it’s unnecessary. I just needed to knock him out in order to get him into this chair. With his size...” he glanced at LeVoughn-Senior again. “It would be quite a nuisance,” he finished. “What do you want me to do?” Gabriel asked, and Desmond looked at him intently. “I want you to leave,” he said quietly, and Rayhe blinked. “Why?” he frowned. Desmond closed his eyes for a second. “Because if you stay...” “...you won’t be able to look at me the same way ever again.” “...there is a chance that someone might sneak up on us,” he finished. “You never know,” he added when he saw Rayhe’s doubtful eyes. Gabriel nodded slowly. “All right,” he said. “I’ll leave. I’ll be outside if you need me.” Desmond nodded somewhat stiffly and watched Rayhe walk out and close the door. Then he turned towards LeVoughn-Senior and noticed that the man’s eyelids started to flutter. Good, Desmond thought indifferently. He is coming about. It was two or three minutes later, when Werner finally opened his eyes. He glanced around and jerked wildly, trying to set himself free. He couldn’t move a muscle, it seemed. Desmond certainly knew how to tie someone down and completely incapacitate them. “Who... Who the hell are you?!” LeVoughn-Senior asked sharply, staring at Desmond with badly hidden fear. “I am the last thing you are going to see before you die,” Desmond said quietly. LeVoughn saw a blade in Desmond’s hand, and his eyes widened so much that under different circumstances it would be hilarious. “Wh... What are you doing...?” he stuttered. Desmond paused for a second. “I am doing the world a favor,” he said finally, and then the good day was officially over for Werner LeVoughn. **** Gabriel was leaning on his car, smoking slowly. He knew that being “sneaked up on” wasn’t the real reason Desmond wanted him to leave. Right before the assassin said it, there was this tense look in his eyes; the one that said, ‘If you stay, then you will see a monster every time you look at me.’ It wasn’t true, Gabriel thought. He knew what Specter could do, and he knew what Specter was capable of -- Gabriel did a very thorough research on him before finally knocking him out in that alley. He hated himself for succumbing to that idea finally. LeVoughn-Senior told him that he found out “... from a trustful source” that someone had placed a hit on Sam, and that the same someone hired Specter to do it. “If Specter gets anywhere near him...” Rayhe remembered LeVoughn-Senior saying to him in a teary voice. “...my boy is as good as dead!” Gabriel cringed at the words ‘my boy.’ He remembered how many times he saw bruises all over Sam’s arms, ankles, and throat. Mostly, it would be throat. He tried asking the boy what the hell happened, but Sam would tense up immediately after Gabriel asked anything. It would always be something like, ‘I fell,’ or ‘I scratched myself too hard,’ or ‘I got into a fight at school.’ Finally, Gabriel gave up and stopped asking him anything. Then, after Gabriel’s father passed away, LeVoughn-Senior decided to run for the office. Gabriel was surprised – he never thought that someone like Werner LeVoughn would be interested in politics. To Gabriel's utter amusement, LeVoughn-Senior managed to squeeze his enormous form into one of the office’s chairs, and Gabriel hadn’t heard from him or Sam ever since. Then, a couple of months or so ago, Gabriel received a phone call from a teared up Werner. At first, Gabriel flatly refused. He couldn’t help himself; every time he thought of LeVoughn-Senior, he’d remember the man’s leering eyes that kept running all over Gabriel’s body when he was younger and when LeVoughn-Senior still worked as an accountant for his father. He remembered finding the man completely and utterly repulsive; he still felt the same way when Werner called him that one day. So he refused, only to receive yet another call from Werner the next day. LeVoughn-Senior sounded downright terrified. Finally, Gabriel gritted his teeth and said that fine, he’d get Specter out of the way until the end of the month, until Werner figured out how to keep Sam safe. LeVoughn-Senior swore on his mother’s grave that he’d figure something out; that he’d send Sam to the farthest continent he could think of, just to make sure he survived. Gabriel remembered himself thinking that maybe some people did change, in spite of the belief that said otherwise. Werner sounded like he really cared about Sam that time; he sounded like a hysterical father; he sounded like someone who couldn’t bear even a thought of losing someone dear to them. “Well,” Rayhe thought darkly while sucking on his cigarette. “Turns out that good old Werner never changed after all... He is just a surprisingly good actor, that’s it.” Then he received yet another phone call from LeVoughn-Senior. That one happened after Gabriel had Specter chained to a pipe in his house. “You know,” LeVoughn-Senior said, his voice nowhere near the teared-up-father Gabriel succumbed to a little while ago. “I am rather naive... I mean, there is a chance that I just might let it slip off my tongue when I am talking to Julian... The fact that you are the one who placed a hit on Salamander-Senior... Things won’t go well for you then...” He was trying to persuade Gabriel into taking out Specter for good. In other words, killing him. That was when Gabriel lost it and told LeVoughn-Senior to shove his threats up his ass. It wasn’t like he never killed before, and it wasn’t like he was squeamish about blood -- that wasn’t it, no. He wasn’t going to kill Specter because the assassin was the one who became his tool of revenge for Sheila. He would never kill a man who avenged Sheila. That and there was also the fact that he would feel funny every time he looked at Specter; every time he would imagine what his skin would smell like; every time he thought that his mouth was made for kissing, not killing. When it finally happened between the two of them, Gabriel thought that his fantasies weren't even close to the reality. The reality was so much better. He still couldn’t believe that Specter (“Desmond... Desmond... Desmond... Oh God, Desmond...!”) would give so much of himself to Rayhe; that he would get lost in his own little world as much as Gabriel himself would; he didn’t expect Specter to react the way he did... So tonight, after Desmond told (“asked”) him to get out, Gabriel thought that there was no force in the entire bloody world that would make him see Desmond as a monster. He left nevertheless, because he knew it would be important to Desmond. He finished his smoke, wondering if he needed yet another one (it’s been almost an hour and a half since he went outside), when he heard Desmond’s voice calling him.
  3. Katya Dee

    Chapter 15

    Specter's Gamble (chapter 15) Today was a good day for Werner LeVoughn. It started with him waking up at seven in the morning, which usually wouldn’t be a great thing – Werner liked his sleep. This time, however, was different. He woke up from an amazing dream that he was having. The dream involved Werner himself, Sam (the spoiled brat told him plain and clear that if Werner were to ever touch him again, he’d chop his balls off; talk about ungrateful little bastards!), and none other than Julian Salamander himself. The events in his dream unraveled rather quickly, and everything was so vivid that when Werner woke up, he realized that he had a hell of a hard-on – something that didn’t happen too often. Hell, the last time he got a hard-on without Sam around, was five years go. Werner immediately started taking care of the task at hand (literally), and when he remembered his dream (Julian was fucking Sam’s mouth like there was no tomorrow), he came so hard that it took him almost twenty minutes to catch his breath after he was done. His mood skyrocketed after that (naturally), and by the time Werner got to his office, he felt that the entire day was going to be simply fantastic. Everything was fine until two in the afternoon. That was when Werner’s day got even better. He was reading his newspapers -- the glasses kept sliding to the tip of his meaty nose, and he kept pushing them back up – when the phone rang. Werner ignored it at first, figuring that Adele (his secretary) was going to take care of that as she was supposed to. After the phone rang for the eighth time, Werner started to feel annoyed. Then he remembered that Adele usually took her lunch around one-thirty every day. He glanced at the clock and realized that she won’t be back for another half an hour. Werner sighed and picked up the phone that kept ringing. Some people never know when to stop, he thought. “Hello!” he barked into the phone, the receiver looking ridiculously small in his large brown-spotted hand. Werner didn’t like those brown spots on his skin – he was pale, therefore, the spots really stood out – but there was nothing he could do about it. “LeVoughn?” the voice on the other end of the line said, and Werner’s heart skipped a couple of beats when he recognized that voice immediately. “Gabriel,” he said slowly, his mouth twitching with a newborn smile. The piece-of-shit-all-mighty-and-proud-Rayhe finally caved in, he thought with dark triumph. He remembered when the damn annoying brat (all the brats were annoying, including his own) told him on the phone to shove his threats up his ass, and go lick the Salamanders’ boots. “...They can always use a bitch like you!” Werner remembered him saying. “Who is the bitch now?” he thought when he heard hesitant notes in Rayhe’s voice. “LeVoughn...” Rayhe said again and cleared his throat. “Werner...” he said almost forcefully, and Werner smiled. He is using his first name, he thought. That means that he finally got his tail between his legs, crawling to Werner, begging for mercy. “What can I do for you, Gabriel?” Werner purred into the receiver, his groin twitching sweetly at the humiliation in Rayhe’s voice. “I need...” Rayhe cleared his throat again. “I would appreciate it...” he corrected himself, and Werner smiled again. That’s right, he thought. I don’t give a flying shit about what you need. You are going to ask me for a favor, and you are going to do so nicely. “I would appreciate it,” Rayhe continued in the same strained voice. “If you could meet with me... Privately,” he added. “Privately, eh?” Werner thought. “Privacy could be used for lots of things...” Suddenly, he had an impossibly bright image flash in his head; an image of Rayhe standing on his knees between Werner’s legs, sucking him off eagerly, and Werner’s groin twitched again; more powerfully this time. “I don’t know...” he said slowly, as if trying to figure out if he had time for something like this. “Gabriel, I am quite busy lately... Do you mind telling me what this is about?” “I...” Rayhe coughed again. “I have a proposition for you... An offer...” The image started to get more obscene, and Werner had to slightly shift in his chair, since his rapidly growing hard-on (the second in one day!) was starting to make it uncomfortable for him to sit. “What offer would that be?” he purred again, his hand mindlessly rubbing against the bulge in his pants. “I am ready to...” Rayhe took a deep breath, as if he was about to plunge into a waterfall headfirst. “I am ready and willing to give you Specter,” he finished, and Werner blinked. Specter? This was not what he expected, but it was equally good nevertheless. If Werner gets his hands on Specter, and if he is the one who delivers him to Julian... The bulge grew bigger. “Really...” he said slowly. “Why the change of heart?” “I can’t...” Rayhe’s breath hitched in his throat. “I can’t hide anymore...” he finished in a smaller voice. “I am not going to kill him, just like I told you before, but I will deliver him to you. He’ll be unconscious, so you can do whatever you please with him.” Oh, sweet mother... Werner squeezed his eyes shut for a second, his hand pressing harder against his bulge. “All I want is a clean slate,” Rayhe was saying meanwhile. “If you could arrange something with the Salamanders, I would be...” He hesitated again. “Grateful,” he said slowly, and Werner squirmed in his chair. “Tell you what...” now it was Werner’s turn to clear his throat; his voice was beyond hoarse. “Tell you what...” he said again. “I could meet you tonight if you wish... How about eight o’clock?” “I’d rather it be later,” Rayhe said almost apologetically. “I don’t want to be spotted... Would eleven work for you?” Werner smiled. “Yes, Gabriel,” he said calmly. “Eleven would be fine. Where would you like to meet?” “There is a house...” Rayhe sounded like someone who abandoned all the hope. “A house behind the old Plaza... It was my father’s house...” Werner immediately knew what house he was talking about. It wasn’t too big; Rayhe-Senior used it as a guesthouse mostly. Werner almost snorted when he thought of Rayhe-Senior. Condescending old bastard... Always giving Werner those little presents for Solstice, his birthday (as if he gave a damn!), other holidays... Werner always felt like the bastard was laughing at him; showering him with mock pity and fake smiles; pretending that he cared about his “faithful accountant” as he called Werner quite often. Faithful accountant my ass, Werner thought darkly. Rich bastards are always the same. Rich bastards with ‘blue’ blood are even worse. Rayhe-Junior was the same as his father – proud, stubborn, condescending son of a bitch. Well, things are going to change tonight, Werner thought. That mouth of his that used to drive Werner nuts every time that brat opened it (something selfish and sharp would always come out of that mouth), would be finally put to good use tonight. The house Rayhe was talking about was located behind the old Plaza, which used to be the only Plaza until there was a new one. The new one turned out to be a hell of lot more popular, and soon enough, the old Plaza simply ceased to exist. Nobody would come there anymore, so eventually, the entire place closed down. Werner smiled even wider when he realized that the house Rayhe was talking about was pretty much in the middle of nowhere. “Nobody would hear him scream,” he thought and closed his eyes when the pressure in his groin became too much to handle. “Yes, Gabriel,” he said rather quickly, eager to finish this conversation already, so he could take care of his bulging business. “I know the place. I will see you there at eleven tonight.” “Werner,” Rayhe said and the shadow of old steel in his voice was back. “If you are not alone, the deal is off.” “I will be alone,” Werner said sincerely and he meant it. He didn’t want to share Rayhe’s mouth – or ass for that matter – with anyone else. Maybe later, but not tonight, not for the first time. “I’ll know if there is someone else,” Rayhe said quietly. “I will be alone,” Werner said again. “Gabriel, I have to go. I have business I need to attend to...” Urgent business, come to think of it... He noticed a small wet spot forming on his pants, right next to the zipper. If it gets any bigger, he would have to change his pants. “Eleven it is,” Rayhe said and the line clicked dead. Werner quickly walked into his private bathroom (he would run, but unfortunately, his weight prevented him from doing so), and locked the door just in case. He was done taking care of business five minutes later; it was somewhat quick, he had to admit, but the minute he imagined Rayhe on his knees, he simply couldn’t help but erupt into his hand violently. He washed his hands after he was done panting, made sure that everything looked normal – his clothes, his hair, his face – and went back into his office. Just in time too, because the minute he sat down, there was a knock on his door. “Yeah!” he said loudly and the door opened slightly. “I am back,” Adele announced. “Is there anything you need, master LeVoughn?” “Not at the moment, Adele,” he smiled at her. “Everything is under control.” The secretary nodded and shut the door. Everything was under control indeed, Werner smiled. He managed to come hard twice, and it’s not even five in the evening yet. This was definitely a very good day for Werner LeVoughn. Very good day indeed.
  4. Katya Dee

    Chapter 14

    Definitely 😂
  5. Katya Dee

    Chapter 14

    Desmond lay still on top of Gabriel, waiting for Rayhe to fall asleep. He knew it wouldn’t take long. He was right. Fifteen minutes later, Gabriel was fast asleep. Desmond got up very carefully and got dressed. “Time to pay a visit to Sammy,” he thought. He wouldn’t kill the kid; not right now anyway; not while he was still with Rayhe. Because if he kills LeVoughn-Junior now, Gabriel just might come unglued, and that would lead to inevitable face-off, which would be a very inconvenient thing at the moment, considering the circumstances. No, Desmond could always kill the kid later, after the whole thing with the Salamanders was resolved, and after Rayhe and he parted ways. The last thought made his heart squeeze itself into a very unpleasant, tight knot for some strange reason. Desmond frowned. He didn’t like that reaction from his own heart; he didn’t like it a single bit. He pushed all those thoughts as far away into the back of his mind as he could, and went outside, carefully shutting the door behind him. Back when he was still considering the deal on LeVoughn-Junior (not knowing that it was fake, of course), he didn’t bother to run a check-up on the client, but he did run a check-up on the mark. He knew the kid’s habits and his schedule somewhat well, and he was sure that nothing changed since several weeks ago. And several weeks ago, Samuel LeVoughn would inevitably go for a run in the park near his apartment building every single morning. He’d start running at six in the morning, and he’d come back at seven. It was six-fifteen right now, so Desmond stopped by a coffee shop on his way to the place – he had plenty of time. ...He waited for LeVoughn-Junior at kid's own apartment. The kid’s door was even easier to unlock than Desmond’s was. He was done with his coffee and was thinking whether to light up a cigarette, when he heard the front door opening. LeVoughn-Junior kicked off his sneakers, walked into the room, and immediately froze in his spot when he saw Desmond sitting in one of the larger chairs with his legs crossed, a small smile playing on his lips. “Hello, Samuel,” he said quietly. The kid kept staring at him. Desmond knew that he was twenty, but right now, he looked no older than sixteen. He wasn’t too tall – he stood around maybe 5’9 if not less – and he was pretty skinny, even though he was nicely built. His dirty-blond hair fell on his face in unruly fashion, and his skin was lightly freckled. Desmond expected him to say something like, “Who the hell are you?” but he never did. He just kept staring at the assassin, and there was this weird look in his eyes – some strange mix of fear, desperation, and hatred. Desmond thought that the kid looked like a trapped animal. “I am here to talk about the deal your father and I have...” Desmond hemmed thoughtfully. “It’s a long story...” he started saying, but the kid interrupted him. “Is he here?” he asked in a low voice. He sounded like someone who was about to lose all control and become hysterical any minute. The question made Desmond blink in confusion. “Your father?” he frowned slightly. “No, he is not.” The kid glanced around. “So what,” he said in the same low voice. “You set up a camera or something?” Desmond blinked again. What the... “No, I did not,” he replied slowly. “Why would I do such a thing?” The kid let out dark and desperate laughter. “How else would he be able to get off?” he said, and a cold shiver ran down Desmond’s spine. “He didn’t have the guts to show up here himself, not after I promised to cut his balls off... So he sent someone stronger and younger... But he can only get off if he is fucking me or if he is watching someone else fuck me... So, where is the camera? What’s the deal?” Desmond felt like he was punched in the gut. He stared at the kid without blinking, a flashback looming in the back of his mind, ready to wash over him like a huge wave of disgust. Desmond gritted his teeth and took a deep breath. The wave swayed and disappeared into nothing. “Get the fuck outta here, kid,” Desmond said finally in a colorless voice and closed his eyes. “W... What...?” The kid sounded confused and scared. “You heard me,” Desmond repeated in the same colorless voice. “Get out.” “This is my apartment,” the kid said quietly, and Desmond opened his eyes. LeVoughn-Junior looked scared, almost terrified, but at the same time, he looked very determined and defiant. He looked like someone who had finally decided that he was not going to be kicked around anymore, and if he got hurt in the process, then so be it. “Right,” Desmond muttered and got up. He brushed by the kid on his way to the front door. The kid immediately flinched but didn’t move away. Desmond stopped briefly and looked at him. “Do you really want his balls cut off?” he asked quietly. The kid looked up and gave him a very dark, stretchy smile. Desmond was astonished at the transformation that smile brought. Now the kid looked thirty. “I want them to be shoved down his throat,” he said slowly. “I want him to choke on them.” Desmond nodded and went away without saying anything else. **** On the way back to his apartment, he stopped by the same coffee shop, to justify why he was out this early to Rayhe, in case if he was awake. He bought two cups of coffee and slowly walked towards his apartment building. The kid’s words kept ringing in his ears every step he took. By the time Desmond finally got to his building, he was seriously considering going back and killing the kid for real; maybe it would make those words to stop finally. He doubted that, so he went inside instead of going back. Gabriel was still asleep, so Desmond set one cup on the table, grabbed the second one, opened the window, and lit a cigarette. He was smoking with his eyes closed, forehead pressed against the cold glass of the window, when Rayhe finally woke up. “Oh, hey,” he said in an upbeat voice. “I think it finally wore off...” Desmond turned his head and looked at him. Gabriel was carefully making his way around the couch. He seemed fine. “Told you so,” Desmond said. “It’s almost eight in the morning.” Rayhe stopped and looked at him with interest. “You are fully dressed,” he said. “Going somewhere?” “Went already,” Desmond demonstrated his coffee cup and nodded towards the table. Rayhe followed his eyes and smiled when he saw another coffee cup sitting there. “Coffee in bed,” he murmured. “I could get used to that, you know...” Desmond silently cursed his heart when it decided to beat faster. “Yeah,” he snorted. “I wouldn’t if I were you... This...” he nodded at the table again. “...doesn’t happen often.” Rayhe shrugged and took his cup. “Still...” he said and sat back on the couch, pulling a blanket over himself. Desmond looked out of the window again. “I went to see LeVoughn-Junior,” he said, surprising himself. “Why the hell did I just say this?” he mused. “It’s not like I haven’t lied to him before... Plus, this was not exactly a lie...” Rayhe slowly set his cup back on the table, his eyes huge and almost shocked. Desmond thought that he could see hurt in them; hurt and disbelief at betrayal. He cringed. “I said ‘see,’ not ‘kill,’ ” he said evenly. “What did you do...?” Gabriel asked quietly, his shoulders beyond tense. Desmond sighed and flicked his cigarette out of the window. “He is fine,” he said, walking away from the window. “Well...” he frowned. “I don’t know about fine, but he is alive... Who knows,” he muttered. “He might actually be fine one of those days...” “What did you do?” Rayhe repeated as quietly as before, and Desmond sighed and finished his coffee. “The deal is off,” he said shortly, and Gabriel just blinked in surprise. “I am not going to kill him. The deal is off.” “Why?” Rayhe asked softly. Desmond shrugged. “No reason,” he said indifferently. “He doesn’t interest me anymore.” “What happened there?” Gabriel locked his gaze on Desmond’s face. “Nothing,” the assassin answered shorter than he intended. “Nothing happened. I simply realized that he is not worth wasting my time, that’s all.” “That and I finally understand why Nicholas reacted the way he did back when he was about to kill me...” “Okay,” Rayhe nodded. “What’s the plan?” he asked, and Desmond silently thanked him for the change of subject. “The plan is to solve the Salamanders’ situation,” he said, and Gabriel nodded again. “I mean, until then, we are pretty much stuck with each other... I don’t know about you, but this arrangement bothers me.” He firmly told himself not to close his eyes after he said that. “Right,” Rayhe nodded, his fingers hugging the coffee cup firmer than before. “The Salamanders’ situation...” “Who is Julian?” Desmond remembered suddenly. Gabriel frowned. “Who?” he asked, his fingers still clutching onto his coffee cup. “Julian,” Desmond repeated. “When I was about to take that guy out, the one who drugged you... He said that your little stunt with the spell had upset Julian... Who is Julian?” “Oh,” Rayhe sighed and finished his coffee. “He is a nephew of Salamander-Senior, the one I killed.” “Don’t flatter yourself,” Desmond snorted. “You didn’t kill him; you merely placed the hit. That ain’t the same.” “Well, anyway...” Gabriel shrugged somewhat uncomfortably. “Julian is his nephew... Sheila’s cousin...” he added in a smaller voice. “I see...” Desmond said slowly. “I’ve heard that name before. Not sure if it was the same Julian though.” “Where have you heard the name?” Gabriel asked, expecting the assassin to frown thoughtfully. “From one of my marks,” Desmond answered immediately. “Five years ago.” “Must’ve been a special mark,” Gabriel muttered. “Since you remembered it just like that...” “No,” Desmond said simply. “I remember everything and everyone, no matter how much time had passed. That mark...” he lit another cigarette. “She was covered in bruises and old scars... I asked her why, and she just smiled and said that those were the reminders of how much Julian loved her. She wasn’t sarcastic or anything... She really meant it.” “Her face...?” Gabriel frowned. “No,” Desmond shook his head. “Her face was fine. You couldn’t see anything if she had clothes on...” Rayhe blinked. “You slept with your mark?” he asked in mild disbelief, and Desmond shrugged. “Yeah,” he said simply. “She was willing, and to tell the truth, it made the entire matter simpler.” “Did you still kill her?” “Yeah,” Desmond said again. “A job is a job; just because we ended up in bed together didn’t change anything.” “Huh,” Gabriel said thoughtfully. Desmond glanced at him. “If someone placed a hit on you,” he said quietly. “I wouldn’t sleep with you; I would just kill you.” “Why?” Rayhe seemed to be genuinely curious. The assassin shrugged and turned towards the window. “Because in your case, it would complicate things,” he muttered. Rayhe didn’t say anything to that. “That’s what happened,” Desmond thought bitterly. “That’s exactly what happened... Everything got beyond complicated. I can deny it all I want, but it’s not going to change the fact that this is more than just a good lay... Shit...” he gloomily dragged on his cigarette. “The Salamanders’ situation has nothing to do with this. Let’s face it, I could simply disappear off everyone’s radar; lie low for a while until everything calmed down; I’ve done that before... I am not with him because of the Salamanders... I am with him because I can’t make myself leave... Shit...” How could this even happen to him? He was always very careful not to let his emotions to come through; not to let himself to get attached to anyone; not to let someone to get close enough to him to stir something up deep inside his heart. How in the bloody world did this happen? “Should’ve just killed him when I had a chance,” Desmond thought gloomily. “I could’ve killed him several times by now. Should’ve just done it; everything would be back to normal... I am a moron...” “What’s the name on the apartment lease?” Rayhe asked, and Desmond flicked his cigarette outside. “Anthony Smith,” he said indifferently. “Why not John Smith?” Gabriel smiled. “Because ‘John Smith’ is too simple,” Desmond sighed. “So simple that it might make someone wonder if it’s a real name or not. Too simple is as bad as too fancy when it comes down to my life and what I do. You don’t want to attract any attention; not by anything too bizarre or by anything too simple.” “Golden middle,” Rayhe muttered. “Uh huh,” Desmond nodded. “Exactly that. Golden middle.” He stared out of the window for several minutes, thinking. Finally, he turned towards Gabriel. “There is something I need to take care of,” he said slowly. “What is it?” Rayhe asked seriously. “If you don’t want to be a part of it, that’s fine,” Desmond continued in the same slow manner, ignoring Rayhe’s question. “But if you’d help, it would make the entire thing somewhat easier...” “Liar! Since when do you need help? You know that you are more than perfectly capable doing something like this on your own! It’s like a child’s game to you by now... Well, that would be a seriously fucked-up child we are talking about but... The point is -- you don’t need his help!” “What is it?” Gabriel asked again. “I need you to make a phone call,” Desmond continued, ignoring the voice in his head. “I need you to call LeVoughn-Senior and request a private meeting with him. Tell him that you are tired of hiding, and that you are ready to give him Specter.” “How do you know he’s not going to let the Salamanders know right away?” Gabriel asked calmly, as if he was getting requests like this every day. Desmond’s mouth stretched a little, a smile snaking its way through his lips. “If he is the one who delivers Specter to the Salamanders,” he said in a low voice. “He’ll become one of their favorite pets. That’s too good for him to pass on. He’ll come alone.” “What are you going to do?” Rayhe asked in the same calm voice. “Do you really want his balls cut off?” “I want them to be shoved down his throat... I want him to choke on them.” “I am going to cut his balls off,” Desmond said quietly. “And then I am going to shove them down his throat.” Gabriel looked at him thoughtfully for a minute or two. “Does this have anything to do with your sudden loss of interest in Sam?” he asked finally. Desmond looked out of the window again. “Maybe,” he muttered, and Rayhe nodded slowly. “When do you want me to call him?” he asked. “And where should I meet him?”
  6. Katya Dee

    Chapter 12

    My computer stopped acting funny for a bit (hopefully it'll stay that way), so I can answer comments now! The guy in the house was alone (it'll be explained later but in no way it's a spoiler) because he never shared the information with anyone else. He was the one who got hit by Gabriel's spell, so he wanted to deal with Rayhe personally, to deliver his own payback. He also grossly underestimated Specter, even though he should've known better. As for the door... That was a good question. To be honest, I've never given it much thought. 😥 Desmond was the one who "paperclipped" his own lock, but for anyone else it wouldn't be as simple -- my newfound little loop 😁
  7. Katya Dee

    Chapter 13

    He woke up several hours later because of someone’s strained moan. Desmond opened his eyes and sweetly stretched his arms. God, it felt good to be out of the damn cuffs finally! Gabriel was sitting on the couch, and he looked like the definition of ‘confused.’ “Where are we?” he asked finally. “My apartment,” Desmond got up and opened the window slightly to let in some air. “Good thing that I covered the rent for the next couple of months, huh?” “Your apartment?” Rayhe frowned. “You said you didn’t know any place...” “Yeah,” Desmond nodded. “I lied.” “Huh,” was all Gabriel said. He thought about something for a couple of minutes, his expression even more confused. “How did I get here?” he asked finally. “You flew,” Desmond said seriously. “It was a beautiful sight,” he nodded energetically. Rayhe blinked at that. “You brought me here?” he asked slowly. Desmond sighed. “Yes,” he said patiently. “I brought you here... You are heavy as hell, by the way,” he added. “I thought you left...” Gabriel muttered. “I took the cuffs off, didn’t I?” “Yes, you took the cuffs off,” Desmond nodded again. “And I did leave.” “You came back...” Rayhe looked almost astonished. Desmond sighed once more. “Do you get off on stating the obvious?” he asked. “Huh,” Gabriel said and stood up. “Oh, hey, what are you doing?” Desmond started towards him. “Getting off the couch,” Rayhe said in a puzzled voice. “Why?” “Sit down,” Desmond commanded. “If he pumped you with the shit I think he did, you’ll...” “I am fine...” Gabriel started saying when his knees buckled and he fell on the floor with a surprised ‘Oomph!’ exclamation. “...do that,” Desmond nodded. “What the hell...” Rayhe said incredulously. “What the hell...?” Desmond sighed and pulled him up. “It’s a drug that messes up your motor skills,” he explained, pushing Gabriel back onto the couch. “It knocks you out for a couple of hours, and when you wake up, you can’t walk, and you have somewhat limited usage of your arms. Mostly hits the leg muscles though.” Gabriel frowned again. “I feel fine,” he said slowly. “There is no pain, nothing... And I feel...” he thought for a second. “Fine,” he finished with a shrug. “Yeah,” Desmond nodded. “It doesn’t cause any pain. It does, however, heighten the senses.” “What’s the point of this?” Rayhe shook his head impatiently, the ‘I-am-confused’ expression never leaving his face. “Used for tortures mostly,” Desmond said indifferently. “Some people like to inflict their own pain without any intervention from the chemicals. Power trip of a sort, I suppose,” he shrugged. “And as I said, this drug heightens your senses; everything feels far greater than usual. You can’t move, really, which means they don’t even have to tie you up... You’d be experiencing levels of pain you never thought were possible, and all you’d be able to do, would be screaming.” “Have you used this drug before?” Gabriel asked quietly. “Yeah,” Desmond nodded as indifferently as before. “Several times, when clients requested it...” Rayhe’s eyes darkened a little. “I never participated in the torturing part though,” Desmond finished. “Had a couple of requests like that. Declined them,” he shrugged again. “Too messy.” “Messy,” Gabriel muttered. “Right... When it hit me,” he remembered suddenly. “It felt really cold. Why was that?” “Because it’s usually injected through the icicle,” Desmond explained. “The water makes it kick in faster. I am not sure why. Chemical reaction, I suppose... That and the icicle is actually an old trick. It melts, therefore, there is no evidence left. No needles, no nothing. Convenient,” he finished. “Very,” Rayhe muttered. “How long does it take to wear off?” “Depends on the dosage,” Desmond shrugged. “Usually takes eight or so hours, give or take, but in your case... I am pretty sure he gave you more than the average dose, so it’ll be about twelve hours before it wears off. You should be fine by eight in the morning. Nine, for sure.” “What time is it?” Desmond glanced at the clock. “Five,” he replied, and suddenly, there was a funny expression on his face. Rayhe narrowed his eyes. “What?” he demanded. Desmond sat on the couch next to him. “Remember how I said that this drug heightens the senses?” he asked in a low voice. “Uh huh,” Gabriel said carefully. “You also said that it’s mostly used for tortures...” “Yeah,” Desmond agreed, and suddenly, he mounted Rayhe’s hips. “ ‘Mostly’ being the keyword,” he muttered, leaning forward and slowly licking the side of Gabriel’s throat. Rayhe’s eyes flew wide open, and his back lifted off the couch. “Oh, God...” he breathed. Desmond grinned and nibbled on his neck. “Ohh...” Gabriel looked like he was about to pass out. Desmond kept licking and nibbling on Rayhe’s neck while his fingers started to unbutton the other man’s shirt. Gabriel was making sounds in the back of his throat he didn’t think he was even able to make. The assassin was right when he said the damn drug heightened the senses. This felt like everything was magnified times ten; he had no idea it was even possible to experience something like this. When Desmond pulled off his shirt and started trailing down his chest with his tongue, Gabriel thought that he was going to lose it for sure. “Oh my freaking God...” he muttered, his eyes rolling back into his skull. “Ohhh... Oh my God...” Desmond pulled off Rayhe’s pants and got rid of his own shirt as well, without even bothering to unbutton it. He simply pulled it over his head and threw it on the floor. When his mouth latched onto one of Rayhe’s nipples, Gabriel’s body shuddered head to toe. It felt as if an electric current shot down his spine. He buried his fingers in Desmond’s hair and threw his head back when the assassin did something indescribable with his tongue. Suddenly, Desmond pulled away and got off the couch. “Whe...” Rayhe’s speaking abilities kept diminishing with each passing second. “Whe...” he coughed. “Where are you going?” he managed finally, and Desmond grinned. “Be right back,” he said in a low voice. Gabriel closed his eyes and tried to calm his heartbeat down somewhat. He didn’t want to pass out for real. He heard Desmond rummage through something in the kitchen, and then he heard the fridge door open and close. Finally, the assassin came back and he was holding a small bowl in his hands. Gabriel looked at him quizzically, but Desmond just smiled at him and said nothing. “What’s in the bowl?” Rayhe asked, his voice hoarse. Desmond smiled again. “I know that it’s something that is going to end up on my body,” Gabriel said. “What’s in the bowl?” Desmond slightly turned away, making sure Rayhe couldn’t see what he took out of the said bowl and put in his mouth. “If this is some hot sauce that will make me burn...” Gabriel started saying in a dangerous voice when Desmond lowered his face towards his hips. The only sound that came out of Rayhe’s mouth was a high-pitched yelp. Ice, he thought while his body was getting very close to overload. He has an ice cube in his mouth... The combination of warm and cold was almost unbearable. Gabriel couldn’t tell if it was driving him crazy with pleasure or if it was killing him with discomfort. It was an insane combination of both, and Gabriel couldn’t tell which one was winning. “S... Stop...” he stuttered finally. “I can’t... Too much...Please, stop...” Desmond glanced at him, and when he saw the raw plea in Rayhe’s eyes, he stopped, pulled away, and crushed the ice cube with his teeth. He swallowed the ice, and finally pulled off his own pants. Rayhe was able to hem contentedly when he saw that the assassin was pretty much as ready as he was. Desmond noticed the look and shrugged. “You think it’s easy for me to look at you when you are like this?” he asked, and suddenly, he mounted Rayhe’s hips again, impaling himself on the other man’s body. Gabriel’s head flew back and he screamed, not even being able to think; all he was able to do right now was feel, and all those sensations were driving him insane. After a while, he reached for Desmond, silently praying that ‘limited usage of the arms’ was not going to be too limited. Desmond shot him a warning look and Gabriel muttered: “I... I want you to come with me... And I’m not gonna last much longer...” The assassin nodded stiffly, and closed his eyes when Rayhe’s fingers wrapped around him, stroking in the same rhythm with his own movements. He knew that Gabriel’s body was in overdrive right now, but he was surprised when he realized that he was getting closer and closer to the edge himself. “He is the one in overdrive,” he thought. “And yet, you are going to be the one who comes first...” “Desmond...” Gabriel muttered and the assassin opened his eyes. “Desmond...” Rayhe repeated. He looked like he was lost in his own world right now, which was probably the case. “Desmond... Desmond... Desmond... Oh God, Desmond...!” Hearing Gabriel scream out his name, drove Desmond over the edge. He groaned when the release overtook him, his head falling back, eyes closed, his entire body shuddering. “Des...!” Rayhe howled, and then his back lifted off the couch in an impossible arch, and Desmond could feel his spasms echoing his own. When Desmond could see clearly again, he lowered himself on top of Rayhe who was still twitching with his eyes squeezed shut, his back still arching. The assassin stroke his neck with his fingers. “Easy,” he muttered. “Easy...” Finally, Gabriel’s body started to relax, and he slowly opened his eyes. “Oh, God...” he said weakly. “I think I blacked out for a minute...” Desmond laughed softly. “Yeah,” he agreed. “I think you did too...” “Oh, God...” Rayhe repeated, and buried his face in Desmond’s hair when the assassin pressed his face into his neck. “I never knew that hearing someone scream out your name could do that...” Desmond muttered into Gabriel’s throat. “You surely had people call your name out before,” Rayhe said slowly, and Desmond raised his head. “Never had,” he smiled. “I never told anyone my real name before...” Gabriel just looked at him silently, and when Desmond buried his face in his neck again, he closed his eyes. “Could you get more of this drug?” he asked finally, and Desmond raised his head once more. “I could...” he said slowly. “I wouldn’t use it again if I were you though... From what I’ve heard, this shit is addictive, and eventually you’ll stop enjoying the normal way...” “I wasn’t thinking of using it on myself,” Rayhe said in a low voice. “I was thinking of using it on you.” Desmond felt a slow smile stretching his mouth. “Yeah,” he nodded. “I can get more...”
  8. Katya Dee

    Chapter 12

    “Thank you,” Gabriel said, and that made Desmond blink and look away from the dirty window finally. He looked up and realized that Rayhe was thanking the waitress who took their empty plates and was now walking away. He glanced at the table and frowned when he saw that his plate was gone. “You finished your food,” Gabriel said quietly, and Desmond looked at him thoughtfully. “Right,” he muttered. “I ordered coffee,” Rayhe said as quietly as before. “I’m sorry,” he added after several seconds. Desmond gave him a questioning look. “For asking that question,” Gabriel didn’t look away. “I’m sorry.” “I haven’t thought about that in almost fourteen years,” Desmond muttered with a crooked smile. “It’s interesting how it doesn’t even feel like it happened to me when I think about it now... It feels like it happened to someone else.” He fell silent when the waitress came back to their table, carrying the coffee pot. He watched the girl pour coffee into their mugs, and gave her an absent-minded smile after she was done and was walking away. “How old are you?” Gabriel asked. “Twenty-nine,” Desmond said after gulping some coffee down. “You?” “Thirty-two,” Rayhe sighed. “Old fart,” Desmond said seriously and Gabriel smiled at that. Desmond thought that his smile looked relieved for some reason. “We need to figure out where to go,” Gabriel said after they were done with their coffees. “I don’t want to stay at that place much longer... You know a good place?” he glanced at Desmond. Desmond thought of his apartment and about the fact that thankfully, he covered the rent for the next three months. “Nope,” he said indifferently. Gabriel sighed and set his empty mug on the table. “Well,” he said. “I guess we’ll stay at that house for tonight... I’ll figure something out by tomorrow.” “Sounds good,” Desmond nodded and got up, forcing Gabriel to do the same. He felt a weak tickle of satisfaction when Rayhe’s lips tightened ever so slightly. **** ...It was almost eight in the evening, and they were playing cards again. They picked up a brand-new deck on their way home from the diner. Desmond was on the winning streak tonight. “Read ‘em and weep,” he said seriously after Rayhe foolishly called while having a lousy three-of-a-kind. “Damn,” Gabriel muttered after seeing the assassin’s full house. “Goddammit...” “Pay up,” Desmond stretched his right hand forward. “Come on, cough it up!” “Yeah, yeah...” Gabriel muttered, digging in his pocket. “Hold on...” That was when Desmond’s instincts shrieked at him in full-blown alarm. He had no idea what was wrong, and he wasn’t even trying to figure it out. That would be the waste of time. “Duck!” he yelled, diving onto the dirty floor, handcuffs immediately biting into his wrist. “Duck, goddammit!” “Where?” Gabriel looked around with extremely puzzled expression. The whole thing would make Desmond laugh his head off under different circumstances. Right now, however, he had no sense of humor left. He jerked the chain of the handcuffs, making Rayhe to stumble off the chair and drop onto the floor next to him. “That hurt...” Gabriel muttered, his eyes wide and confused, left hand flying up to the back of his neck. “Damn, what the...” Then his eyes rolled back, and Desmond cursed loudly and desperately. “Rayhe!” he shook Gabriel hard. “Rayhe, wake up, dammit! Rayhe!” Gabriel’s eyelids fluttered and his eyes half-opened very slowly. “Come on,” Desmond muttered, trying to get him off the floor. “Come on!” His fingers ran over something on the back of Gabriel’s neck, and Desmond closed his eyes for a second. It was cold, very cold. An icicle-cold. He half-pulled, half-broke the object out of Gabriel’s neck, knowing only too well what he was going to see. An icicle. “Shit,” he whispered. He used this technique himself more than a couple of times before, and he knew exactly what was inside that icicle. “Rayhe!” he shook the man again, knowing that it was useless, but he tried anyway. “Gabriel, wake up!” To his utter amazement, Gabriel’s eyes peeled half-open once again. “Come on!” Desmond growled, trying to get up. Gabriel slowly ran his fingers over the handcuffs’ ring, the one on Desmond’s wrist. “Go...” he mumbled, his eyes almost closed again, and Desmond felt the cuff sliding off his wrist. “Go, Des...” “Rayhe...” “G...Go...” and his eyes closed for good this time. “Fuck!” Desmond screamed. He looked around wildly, searching the area. He didn’t see anything, but he knew that it wouldn’t last long. If they used the icicle, that meant they were going to be here in less than three minutes. Desmond bit his lip and looked at Gabriel. He lay on the floor without moving. “Fuck!” Desmond said again, a little softer this time. Then he heard footsteps. He ran towards the broken window in the opposite wall. He was running in a crouch, making sure he stayed below the visionary line. He made it to the window just in time and leapt outside when the front door of the house burst open. It seemed like whoever (“The Salamanders, of course! Who else would it be?”) knocked Rayhe out, didn’t even bother with securing the perimeter first. Desmond started zigzagging through the back yard of the house, thankful for the absence of light and ridiculously tall grass. He almost made it to the other side of the street where he knew he would be safe, when he came to a screeching halt. He stood there, under an old oak tree, his hands clenched into tight fists, his eyes closed, breathing fast. He stood there for almost three minutes. Finally, he moaned: “Oh, fucking hell...” Is he insane? Is he really considering going back there for Rayhe? The man abducted him, for crying out loud! So, he was good in bed (“Not just that and you know it...”), so what?! Is a good lay really worth risking his life for? No way, Desmond shook his head furiously. No bloody way would he go back there! Rayhe is on his own. “Go, Des...” he heard in his head. Son of a bitch... Desmond felt like screaming. He didn’t do that, of course. Instead, he turned around and trotted towards the abandoned house he just escaped. He only did it because (“Go, Des...”) Rayhe’s ass was his and his alone. He would be the one who gets to kill him; he would be the one to decide when to kill him; he would be... (“Go, Des...”) Oh, damn it all to hell! Desmond maneuvered around the wild bushes that surrounded the house, and congratulated himself silently for not managing to fall into one of them when he leapt out of that window. That would’ve definitely made some serious noise, not to mention, it would hurt like a bitch as well. He slowly walked towards the same window he just escaped from; his head shrunk into his shoulders, his knees bent, heartbeat so slow that it could qualify him for the best place in the morgue. Carefully, so very carefully, he dared to pop his head above the windowsill, trying to look inside. Trying to see who else was there. He knew that since they couldn't care less about the perimeter, it meant there were at least two of them. At least. Probably, more. He moved beneath the windowsill (“Yup, they just saw you...”), making sure he stayed underneath the damn thing, and tried to listen in. He heard nothing. So once again, he risked popping his head above the sill, just a tad. What he saw made him blink in disbelief. There was one single person. One. That’s it. Desmond immediately tensed up, waiting for a voice to speak up behind him; for the palm to land on his shoulder; for the cold feeling of the gun pressing against his temple – anything. There was nothing. Finally, he decided to risk it some more. He slowly moved behind the sill, getting his head up just a bit, so he could see what the hell was going on inside. There was a man hovering above Rayhe, and he had a “You-Are-Not-So-Tough-After-All” look on his face. Desmond immediately scanned the area with his eyes. Nobody. The assassin slowly shook his head, not believing this. Finally, he crept around the wall and pulled himself onto the windowsill, silently thanking whoever built this house. The windowsills were made out of some interesting-looking rock and not out of wood. The wooden ones would definitely creak like no other by now. “Too bad you can’t hear me right now, Rayhe...” the man was saying. “Your little stunt with the spell had upset Julian, you know. I am the one who got hit, by the way, so once you are awake, I’ll make sure you get your payback.” Desmond made his way towards the man who didn’t have a clue he wasn’t alone with Gabriel in the house anymore. “I am going to...” the man started saying in a dreamy voice when he was interrupted by an urgent: “Psst!” behind his back. Clearly bewildered, he turned his head and stared into Desmond’s green eyes that were an inch away from his face. The man blinked in confusion for several seconds before reaching for his weapon. Several seconds was enough time for Desmond. He placed both hands onto either side of the man’s head, as if he planned to give him a kiss, and then he twisted the man’s neck in one quick, precise motion. The neck snapped almost immediately, and Desmond carefully lowered the body onto the floor. He still wasn’t sure if anyone was nearby or not and he didn’t want to risk it by making unnecessary noise. Then he lifted Rayhe’s limp body off the floor and dragged him towards the front door of the house. “Holy hell, he is heavy...” he thought, wrapping one of Gabriel’s arms around his neck to balance the unconscious man somewhat better. “He sure doesn’t look like he’d weigh a ton...” ...It took him almost an hour to get to his apartment because he had to make sure he kept away from the main roads and busy streets; therefore, he had to make his way through the dark alleys and back streets, staying out of anyone’s sight. That and the fact that Rayhe indeed felt like he weighed a ton were the reasons it took him so much time to get to his place that was only two lousy blocks away. When he finally got to his building, he was thankful that his apartment was on the first floor. If he had to drag Rayhe up the stairs, he’d probably ended up dropping him. The key to the apartment was long lost, of course, but Desmond didn’t even consider it a bother. He unlocked the door with one of the paperclips he found in one of Rayhe’s pockets, dragged unconscious Gabriel inside, and kicked the door shut. He dropped Rayhe on the couch and straightened up, panting. He sure could use a drink now, he thought, and went into the kitchen. Desmond tutted with great annoyance when he realized that he only had some water in the fridge and ice cubes in the freezer. “Well, damn,” he thought, grabbed several ice cubes, and went back into the living room. He chewed up his ice cubes, enjoying the cold, crushed mess in his mouth, dropped himself into a big chair next to the couch, stretched his legs out, and after ten minutes or so, he was asleep.
  9. Katya Dee

    Chapter 11

    It was almost eleven in the morning when he woke up. At first, he couldn’t figure out where he was, and then he remembered last night. The cook, he thought and started to shake. The cook and his monocle... Desmond gritted his teeth and closed his eyes. “Stop this,” he ordered himself silently. “Stop this right now!” To his enormous surprise, it worked and he opened his eyes. He saw another white door in the corner and remembered what Jason told him last night. There is a bathroom in here as well. Suddenly, Desmond craved a hot shower so much that he became slightly dizzy. He bit his lip and sat on the bed for several minutes, thinking. Finally, he got up, grabbed another chair, and went into the bathroom. To his relief, the bathroom door had a lock on it as well. He repeated the whole ordeal with the lock and the chair before stripping off his clothes and turning on the water. The hot shower felt beyond amazing. Usually, Desmond would wash himself off in the little lake in the park where he slept; the water in that lake was surprisingly crisp and clean, although it was quite cold. Therefore, this shower felt heavenly. He stood there, his eyes closed, face lifted up, enjoying hot water running down his body, feeling like he was being reborn. He stood like that for almost an hour before finally deciding to get out. He grabbed a towel that was sitting atop the toilet and dried himself off, his body almost singing from the glory of the shower. There was indeed a new toothbrush in one of the drawers, and Desmond furiously brushed his teeth, trying to get rid of the shadowy taste of bile in his mouth. He knew that it was only in his head; there was no way he could taste bile by now, but he worked that toothbrush for almost ten minutes before finally feeling satisfied. He put both chairs where they belonged and walked out of the room, carefully glancing around. When he came into the kitchen, he was surprised to find it empty; he thought Jason would be here. Desmond walked closer to the counter and grabbed one of the bigger knives off the rack. He wrapped his fingers around the handle and brought the knife down in a short, stabbing motion several times, testing its weight. Then he imagined stabbing that cook with it, and suddenly, something clicked in his head. That’s it, he thought in astonishment. That’s it! He is going to kill that son of a bitch! The thought almost made him laugh, and he brought the knife down again. “You are holding it wrong,” the voice behind him said, and Desmond was so startled that he almost dropped the knife. He whirled around and stared at Jason. “You are holding it wrong,” Jason said again, and Desmond blinked and looked at his hand. Jason walked closer to him, ignoring Desmond’s involuntarily flinch. “Here,” he said. “Give it to me.” Desmond silently handed him the knife. “Like this,” Jason said and demonstrated the hold. “This way you are not limited to just stabbing, and it also gives you much more flexibility in the wrist. Wanna try it?” he handed the knife back to Desmond who just stared at him in bewilderment. Finally, he took the knife and imitated Jason’s hold. “Yeah,” Jason nodded with approval. “Like that, good. I am going to make coffee, move over, will you?” Desmond stepped away from the counter, his fingers still clutching the handle of the knife. “So who is it that you want to kill?” Jason asked indifferently while working the coffeemaker. Desmond froze. “What...?” he squeezed finally. “Why would you... How did you...” Jason shrugged without turning around. “I know the look when I see one,” he said. Desmond remained silent for a while. “I don’t know his name,” he said finally in a low voice. “He is... He is a cook at Pig Under Umbrella...” That made Jason turn towards him finally. “Tomah?” he said with surprise in his voice. Desmond shrugged. “I don’t know his name,” he said again. Jason slightly squinted his eyes. “Tall, bald guy?” he said, and Desmond’s shoulders tensed up immediately. “Wears a monocle?” “Yeah...” Desmond whispered, his throat tight. “That’s him, all right...” He expected Jason to ask why the hell would he want to do that, but Jason never did. “He is a good cook,” he said instead. “Yeah,” Desmond whispered again. “Bloody brilliant...” Jason turned towards the cupboard and opened it. “He used to be a part of militia force around here for quite a while before he was discharged,” he said after pulling out two cups. “He is well-trained. You won’t stand a chance against him. You will end up getting hurt... Or killed,” he added and filled one cup with coffee. He handed it to Desmond, who carefully set the knife on the counter, and took the cup. “However, there is more than just one way to kill someone,” he said, and Desmond almost spilled his coffee. Is he mocking him? He has to be! People don’t just mention nonchalantly that there is more than one way of killing someone after finding out that some kid wants to waste a local cook. Desmond felt anger pushing the back of his head with short, stabbing kicks. “Don’t mock me,” he said slowly. “I am not mocking you,” Jason said seriously. “Tomah...” he sighed. “He is a great cook, but he is also a class-A bastard. Everyone knows that. The reason he was discharged from the force a couple of years ago was that brutality of his... Long story,” he shook his head and looked at a wide-eyed Desmond. “I am not going to ask about your reason, but I am pretty sure it’s a good one.” Desmond had no idea what to say to that. “You could play it safe,” Jason continued. “And kill him from the distance...” Desmond immediately shook his head, the weirdness of the entire conversation slipping away faster than sand through someone’s fingers. “No,” he said in the same low voice. “No. I want to see his eyes while he is dying... I want him to look at me... I want him to know who killed him...” Jason looked at him silently for a long while. Finally, he said: “I could help you with that... I could teach you if you’d like.” Desmond couldn’t speak for several minutes. “Teach me,” he said at last. **** It was a couple of months later, and Desmond was standing next to the man, who was spread out on the ground, his eyes hazy with drugs that Jason slipped in his drink an hour earlier, his fingers twitching involuntarily. The man looked up and his mouth stretched in a loopy smile when he saw Desmond. “Hey, precious,” he said slowly, his speech slightly slurred. “Came back for more?” Desmond was surprised that he didn’t feel anything right now; no anger, no fear – nothing. He felt frozen again, the same way he felt after he left his Grandmother’s house. He pulled the knife from underneath his jacket, and the cook’s eyes slightly widened. “Wanna play it rough, huh?” he said in the same slow, slurry voice. Desmond went down on one knee. “Look at me, Tomah,” he said, and felt like he wasn’t the one saying the words. It felt like someone else was doing it for him. “Look at me... Because I want to be the last thing you see before you die.” The cook’s eyes went even wider, his drugged-up mind getting the idea of what was going to happen. “Precious,” he said, trying to move, trying to get up, but his efforts were futile. Jason sure knew his drugs, Desmond thought indifferently. “Precious, what are you doing?” “I am doing the world a favor,” Desmond said and brought the knife down. He looked at the blood that gushed out of the slit throat, and then he locked his gaze on the dying man’s eyes. He watched them turn glassy, life slowly slipping out of them, as the cook was trying to say something in a desperate, futile effort. Finally, the man convulsed, one last breath escaped from his slashed throat, and his eyes were death-still, locked on Desmond’s face. Desmond reached out with his left hand and carefully pulled the monocle off the dead man’s face. He looked at it thoughtfully for several minutes, then dropped it on the ground, swung his right arm, and brought the knife down one more time. The tip of the knife smashed precisely into the middle of the dully-shining circle, and the glass shattered almost immediately. Desmond slowly got up, fingers curved around the knife handle. He looked at whatever was left of the monocle for several long seconds, and then smashed the heel of his boot onto it, grinding the remains of the glass into fine dust. Finally, he stopped moving, and simply stood there, frozen expression on his face. “Did it make everything better?” Jason asked him, leaning on the wall, a cigarette clenched between his teeth. “No,” Desmond said unemotionally. “But I feel satisfied.” “That’s good,” Jason nodded. “I could teach you a hell of a lot more if you’d like.” Desmond turned his head and looked at him. “Teach me,” he said calmly. “All right,” Jason nodded again. “On one condition though...” Desmond kept looking at him, saying nothing. “You have to promise me that you will not kill for your own revenge or pleasure ever again,” Jason said seriously. “I promise,” Desmond said in the same unemotional voice. “Teach me.” **** Ever since that night, the nightmare that had been torturing him for the last several months, simply stopped. Desmond never dreamt about it again.
  10. Katya Dee

    Chapter 10

    He never went back to the docks after that happened, and he would have the same occurring nightmare almost every night. The monocle, it would always be the monocle. He wouldn’t see the man’s face, just the monocle gleaming in the moonlight. And then everything would repeat itself with nauseating precision. And then Desmond would wake up, choking on his own scream. He would lie on his bench, shaking, with tears crawling down his face. After a month or so, it started to get cold, and Desmond tried to figure out where to spend his nights until the weather warmed up again. One of those nights, he was pleasantly surprised when an old lady he ran some errands for, tipped him very nicely. He didn’t remember the last time he had that much money. Of course, it would seem like nothing to most people, but Desmond felt rich right then. It started to rain a bit ago, so Desmond decided to treat himself to a mug of hot chocolate and a plate of warm food before he had to find a place to stay for the night. “At least, I’d be full,” he reasoned. He went into a small tavern called Pig Under Umbrella. Desmond couldn’t figure out why in the world would someone name their tavern like that -- it was plain silly, if you’d ask him. The food there was good, however, and a lot cheaper than anywhere else in the city. He walked in, shaking rainwater out of his long by now hair and sat down at one of the tables. One of the waitresses walked up to him. “Hey, Desmond,” she smiled at him. “How are you, kiddo?” He looked up. Her name was LeAnn, he remembered immediately. She looked like she was in her mid-forties, and she had that motherly aura about her. Not that Desmond would know much about motherly auras, but that’s what it felt like to him anyway. Desmond helped her with the trays and cleaning up here at the Pig several times before, and she would always send him away with a bagful of food. “Hey, LeAnn,” he smiled back, brushing hair off his face. “I am okay,” he nodded even though ‘okay’ was as far as the moon from the way he really was. He didn’t feel like sharing his problems with anyone; it was his business only. “Glad to hear that,” she nodded. “What would you like?” “Umm...” he pulled his money out of his pocket. “What can I get with this?” LeAnn looked thoughtfully at the bills in his hand. “I’d say, a pot-roast and some hot chocolate,” she said finally. “And you’ll still have some left,” she winked at him. “Sounds great!” Desmond said enthusiastically. He really felt okay right now, he realized. He knew that tomorrow (or maybe even tonight) he'd feel as shitty as before, but right now was okay, and he was grateful for that. “Be back in a jiff!” LeAnn said and walked away. She really did come back quite soon, Desmond was impressed. The pot-roast was delicious, and so was his hot chocolate. LeAnn came back to get the empty dishes, and she smiled slyly and slipped a bar of chocolate into Desmond’s hand. “You look like you like those,” she said quietly. “Thanks, LeAnn!” he smiled back at her and put the chocolate into his pocket. She lightly tussled his hair and went away, empty dishes piling up on her tray. Desmond was about to finish whatever was left of his hot chocolate when he heard someone say: “Bring that cook out! I wanna see the man who made these! They are amazing!” Desmond silently agreed with that; he had no idea what the person was complimenting, but the food was delicious, and he wouldn’t mind seeing that great cook himself. So he turned his head towards the swinging doors of the kitchen, and when he saw the cook, he froze. The monocle gleaming in the moonlight. The smell of burnt oil and old fish. That impossible pain ripping him apart. Desmond threw some bills on the table (later, he was amazed that even then he remembered to tip LeAnn), jumped up, and ran outside as if someone was chasing him. He didn’t make it too far from the Pig when his stomach convulsed, and Desmond folded in half, vomiting so violently that for a second he thought his stomach was literally going to turn inside out. He fell on his knees, smashing his palms into the dirty pavement, blindly staring at the pot-roast that he enjoyed less than half an hour ago, and suddenly, a thought shot through his mind. “Oh, God... He is the one who made it! His hands touched my food...” That made him throw up again, as violently as before. He was hacking and coughing until nothing but bile came out. Finally, he was able to get up and walk away. The rain was coming down hard now, and Desmond threw his head back and opened his mouth, desperate for some water to wash the taste of bile off his tongue. It helped somewhat; the taste wasn’t gone completely, but at least now, it wasn’t as strong. He just kept on walking blindly through the rain without any particular point of destination in his mind. Finally, he realized that he’d better find some relatively dry place to spend the night. He glanced around and saw that one of the houses had a small front porch covered by the awning. There was also a bench there. Desmond made his way towards the bench, making sure that he didn’t produce any noise. He’d hate to be kicked under the rain again by the house owners if they happened to notice him. He carefully sat down on that bench and was somewhat relieved when he realized that the awning protected him from the rain pretty well. He pulled the bar of chocolate out of his pocket, thinking that those hands definitely didn’t touch the candy, and the thought made him queasy again. He gritted his teeth and pushed those damn thoughts away. The wrapper came off with the soft creaking complaint, and Desmond sank his teeth into the dark, bittersweet goodness. He was so cold that he kept shaking uncontrollably, but at least now, he was protected from the rain. He pulled his knees all the way up to his chest after he finished the chocolate (the candy was gone in less than two minutes) and tightly hugged himself with both arms. He tried to get some sleep, but he was shaking so bad that he knew almost immediately that sleep would not happen tonight. “You’ll catch pneumonia like this, kid,” someone said suddenly, and Desmond jerked so hard that he almost fell off the bench. For one dreadful second, he could’ve sworn that he saw the monocle reflecting raindrops, but then he realized that it was just his imagination. The man who spoke to him didn’t wear a monocle or even glasses. “What the fuck do you care,” Desmond muttered, his voice shaky from cold. The man hemmed in a somewhat amused way. “Well, considering that this is my house that you are sitting next to...” he said, and Desmond felt like screaming. Now he’ll have to get out of here... Goddammit! “Fine, whatever,” he said tightly and got off the bench. “I am leaving.” “That’s not what I meant, you dipshit,” the man laughed softly. “What I meant was, you can wait for the rain to pass inside where it’s warm.” Desmond’s eyes immediately narrowed. “Uh huh,” he said darkly. “In your bed where you’d fuck me senseless, right?” The man hemmed again. “Don’t flatter yourself, kid,” he said. “You are too scrawny for my taste... And too young. How old are you? Thirteen?” “Fourteen,” Desmond muttered. “Close enough,” the man shrugged. “I like my fuck-buddies to at least have a driver’s license.” “Then why would you invite me in?” Desmond was longing for some warmth; longing to get away from this blasted rain even if just for a few hours, but he didn’t trust this guy. “What if I rob you and kill you in your sleep?” The man laughed as if Desmond just told him the most hilarious joke in the world. “You could try,” he said finally. “I wouldn’t recommend it though,” he added. “As for why am I doing this...” he shrugged. “I don’t know. I guess I am trying to repent,” he said in a softer voice. Desmond bit his lip. He felt like he was one of those dogs that had been abused and now snarled at everyone who was getting too close for comfort, expecting them to lash out for no reason. The man shrugged. “I am getting cold,” he said. “If you’d rather spend the night on the bench, be my guest.” He started to walk towards the front door when Desmond said tentatively: “Wait...” The man stopped and half-turned his head, one of his eyebrows raised in a silent question. “I...” Desmond cleared his throat. “I would like that...” he finished quietly. “I mean... To come inside...” “Okay then,” the man nodded calmly as if Desmond just told him something he already knew. He opened the door. “Get inside,” he said when Desmond was just standing there, fear and mistrust rooting him to the ground. “Get inside,” he repeated with impatience now. “I am cold.” Finally, Desmond was able to move, and he followed the man into the house. **** Desmond kicked off his wet shoes and winced when he realized that even his socks were soaked. “Great,” he thought gloomily. “This is just great...” The man went somewhere and came back a few minutes later with some clothes in his hands. “Here,” he handed clothes to Desmond who just looked at him in defiance. The man rolled his eyes. “You are going to drip water all over the floor. Just go into the damn bathroom and put these on. They should fit you just fine. Might be a little too big, but oh well.” Desmond took the clothes from him very carefully, as if he was afraid that the guy was going to attack him. “Where is the bathroom?” he asked in a hoarse voice. “First door on your left,” the guy pointed towards the small hallway. Desmond went there, perfectly aware of the fact that the man was following him. He was so tense that his shoulders ached. “Here,” the guy said and Desmond whirled around. The man was handing him a towel. Desmond took several quick steps back. “I am not taking a shower here!” he said and hated the shadow of fear in his own voice. “Wipe your hair with this,” the guy rolled his eyes again. “It’s wet.” Desmond blinked and didn’t move. The guy put the towel on the counter next to the sink, his face indifferent, as if he didn’t notice Desmond’s reaction. “And wash your hands,” he added. “They are filthy, and in case if you want to eat, you’d better clean them.” Desmond blinked again and the guy walked out of the bathroom, closing the door after him. Desmond pulled off his soaking-wet clothes and used the towel to wipe all the water off his body. Dry clothes felt heavenly. He furiously wiped his wet hair with the towel, trying to get every raindrop out. Finally, his hair was as dry as it could possibly get right now. Not completely, of course, but now it was rather damp than wet. He thoughtfully looked at the towel, trying to figure out what to do with it. Finally, he hung it on the top of the shower curtain rod and spread it out, making sure that it wasn’t crumpled. His hands were indeed filthy. Dirt and dry blood from the scrapes that he got after slamming into the pavement earlier, made them look caked with something disgusting. Desmond washed them thoroughly, and after he was done, he wiped them on the same towel. He turned off the faucets and took a deep breath, trying to get rid of that tension. It worked but only partially. Desmond turned off the lights and walked out of the bathroom. “You hungry?” The man was fiddling with the pot on the stove. “I got some spaghetti left over from a couple of days ago.” Spaghetti was fine. Anything would be fine. Anything but pot-roast. “Yeah,” Desmond said in a small voice. “Thanks...” ...After they finished eating, the man said: “Second door on your right.” “Huh?” Desmond looked at him with confusion. “That’s where you sleep,” the man said, and tension was back in all its glory. “You can lock the door from the inside if you want. There is a bathroom in there as well, not as big though. So if you decide that you need a shower after all, go ahead. There should be a toothbrush in there somewhere too. Look in the drawers. My name is Jason, by the way,” he added and got up, grabbing both plates off the table and putting them into the sink. “I am...” Desmond stared at his own hands. “I am Desmond,” he said finally. “Good night, Desmond,” Jason nodded and went away. “Turn the lights off when you leave the kitchen, will you?” he said before disappearing in the same hallway. “Yeah,” Desmond muttered. ...He did lock the door before going to sleep that night. Then he thought for a second and shoved one of the chairs against the door as well, making sure that the back of the chair was firmly propped against the doorknob. After doing that, he collapsed on the bed (God, he couldn’t even remember the last time he slept in bed!) and he was out before his head hit the pillow.
  11. Katya Dee

    Chapter 9

    They smoked in silence for a while, and then Desmond asked suddenly: “How many people have you killed?” Gabriel looked at him, his expression almost the same, but his eyes got a little darker. “Why?” he asked. Desmond shrugged, cigarette resting between his fingers. “Curious,” he said. “Just wondering how much of a badass you really are.” “Right,” Rayhe hemmed. “Okay, I’ll answer... But I get to ask you a question as well.” “Sounds fair to me,” Desmond shrugged again. Gabriel dragged on his cigarette. “Four,” he said finally. “And as I said before, one was an accident. How much of a badass does this make me?” Desmond moved his hand in a ‘Meh’ gesture, and Gabriel laughed at that. “My turn,” he said, and the assassin nodded solemnly. “What was the name of your first sexual experience?” Desmond stared at him, his cigarette forgotten. Gabriel shrugged. “I answered your question,” he said. Desmond looked at his hand and blinked when he realized that his cigarette was about to die. He puffed on it, making it to come back to life with soft red glow of the tip. This was not the question he expected. Gabriel waited patiently. “Tomah,” Desmond said finally. “Did you enjoy it?” Gabriel asked almost jokingly, as if he expected to hear ‘Well, duh!’ answer. Desmond almost said that this would be the second question. “No,” he said shortly instead, and Gabriel fell silent. “I am glad I didn’t,” Desmond said after a minute. “Otherwise, I would never do it again.” Rayhe didn’t say anything to that. “Let’s go find some food,” he said after several minutes of silence. “I am hungry.” **** They were sitting in the back of some small diner, their handcuffed hands resting on the bench. Gabriel was working his plate thoroughly. Desmond, however, didn’t feel hungry at all. He ate nevertheless, figuring that he’d rather eat now than get a hunger-induced headache later. Gabriel unknowingly had woken up the old nightmare; something that Desmond locked in the back of his mind somewhat successfully ever since it happened. He chewed on his food mechanically without even noticing the taste. He didn’t even know what the hell he was eating. Gabriel glanced at him several times, but he never said anything. Desmond kept chewing his food and staring blindly outside through the dirty glass of the window. **** It has been almost three weeks since he came to this city. Three weeks since he killed his Grandmother. Now he wouldn’t call it an ‘accident’ every time he thought about it. He killed her, plain and clear. He was surprised with himself. He thought it would torture him a lot more than it did and he felt no guilt whatsoever. None. He wasn’t frozen anymore. He wasn’t warm and fuzzy by any means, but he wasn’t frozen anymore. That was a good thing. The bad thing was that he couldn’t find a job. He would do pretty much anything to be able to get at least some money – he would help unload moving trucks; he would work on the docks whenever big cargo ships came into town; he would clean restrooms; he would even do someone’s laundry once in a while. But he couldn’t find a permanent job and it was driving him crazy. One of those nights, when he was done with yet another cargo ship (he had to unload a hell of a lot of boxes, and those things were heavier than they looked), his back ached, he was hungry, and he was tired as hell. He was on his way to his usual sleeping spot (which was one of the benches in the nearby park; Desmond couldn’t afford his own place, and the weather wasn’t too bad right now, so he figured he’d crash on that bench until it started to get cold), when he heard footsteps behind his back. He knew that he was walking rather slowly (try unloading those boxes for six hours and see how fast you’ll be able to walk) so he stepped aside just a little, to let the person behind him to get ahead. He was startled when whoever was behind him didn’t get ahead but grubbed his elbow instead. “It’s dangerous for a kid like yourself to be out on the docks all alone when it’s so dark,” the man said, and Desmond tried to pull his elbow away but he couldn’t. The man’s grip was extremely tight. “I...” Desmond stuttered. “I work here sometimes...” “Oh, really,” the man said in a tone of voice that made Desmond extremely uneasy. “Just what kind of work do you usually do, precious?” ‘Precious’? What the hell... “I unload cargo ships,” Desmond muttered, trying harder to pull away. He glanced at the man. He was tall, heavy-built, and he was bald. The thing that confused Desmond somewhat was the fact that the man was wearing a monocle. Desmond hadn’t seen anyone wear a monocle before. “Oh, really,” the man said again and gave him a toothy grin. “I would never guess... You are too pretty to unload cargo ships, precious...” There was that word again. ‘Precious.’ Desmond wildly glanced around, but there was nobody around except for Desmond and the creepy guy with the monocle. “You look exhausted,” the man continued. “How about a nice hot dinner, hmm?” “I... I have to go home,” Desmond said quickly, fear growing rapidly inside his chest. “My dad... He’ll come looking for me...” “Now, now,” the man almost purred. “No need to tell lies... If you really had a father or a home for that matter, you wouldn’t have to unload cargo ships, would you?” “Let me go,” Desmond said, jerking backwards. “Let go!” The arm on his elbow tightened its grip. Fear inside Desmond’s chest started to transform into blind panic. “No need to be rude,” the man said with reproach when Desmond tried shoving him away. “Oh, you little brat!” he screamed when Desmond’s teeth sank into his hand. He slapped his face so hard that Desmond’s head flew back. He screamed out, and the man immediately pressed his palm against his mouth. “Shut up!” he hissed. “Shut up or I’ll break your neck!” Desmond recognized a real threat when he heard one, and this was exactly it. He would break his neck in a heartbeat. All the panic started to make him nauseous. He forced himself to stop screaming. “Good boy,” the man whispered. “Now do what I say and everything will be just fine...” “Please,” Desmond almost said, but he clenched his teeth at the last second. He is not going to beg. He would not beg even if the bastard really decided to kill him. He would never beg. The man was breathing hard now, the smell of his breath making Desmond even more nauseous. The gleam of the moonlight on the man’s monocle somehow made the whole scene seem almost surreal. The man pushed Desmond behind some barrels that smelled like old fish and burnt oil, and shoved him facedown on the old tarp-covered table that dock workers sometimes used to set their lunch boxes on. Desmond started to thrash violently when he felt his pants being yanked off. “No, no, no, oh hell, no...” he thought, his panic reaching its boiling point. “Stop it,” the man said in a strained raspy voice. “Stop or I swear, I will break your spine...” Desmond was at the point when he couldn’t even understand the meaning of words. It was pure animal fear that was driving him now, therefore, he thrashed even harder. The man grunted and slapped the back of his head so hard that Desmond’s ears literally started to ring, and everything around him became duller somehow, as if the world was suddenly wrapped in a thin layer of cotton. He stopped moving (not because he was afraid that the son of a bitch would really break his spine – he didn’t care right now, to be honest – but because he became so disoriented and half-unconscious that he simply couldn’t move) and the man stroked one of his buttocks as if praising him. “Good boy,” he whispered. “Now relax and enjoy it...” His thick, lust-filled laughter sounded as if it was coming from afar. The world immediately regained focus when Desmond was impaled by the bald monocled son of a bitch. The pain was so great that everything around him exploded into violent-red for a few seconds. Desmond screamed like he had never screamed before. This was much worse than whatever his Grandmother used to do to him. This felt like he was being ripped apart from the inside. “Stop!” he screamed, tears streaming down his face. “Oh God, stop! Please, stop!” He didn’t care about begging right now. He would do anything to make this stop. This was unbearable. “Stop...!” His scream was muffled by a meaty palm pressing once more against his mouth. “What a glorious ass you have, kid...” the man panted. “Oh, God, what an ass...!” Desmond had no idea how his mind was able to handle this much pain. Why wouldn’t it just turn off for a while? Why wouldn’t it let him to black out into blissful nothingness? Why was everything so goddamn focused? The man started to move faster, one of his hands still covering Desmond’s mouth, while the other was digging its fingers into one of the slim hips. Right when Desmond thought that this couldn’t get any worse, he was proven wrong. Now that the man’s strokes became faster, they were also getting deeper inside him, and that hurt even more. He felt like he was about to choke on that dick; that it was about to emerge from his throat. He couldn’t even moan anymore; he only whimpered, tears running down his face like water from a broken faucet. Finally, the man groaned something unintelligible, and Desmond could feel him erupt deep inside his body. Revulsion shot through him, making him shudder. The man immediately misinterpreted that. “I knew you’d like this...” he muttered with weak laughter. “Oh, God, kid... What an ass...” He pulled out with a wet, slurping sound, and the hand was gone from Desmond’s mouth. “I’ll start coming to the docks more often now, precious,” the man said in a low voice and stroked Desmond’s thigh. “See you around, kid.” He left, and Desmond just stayed on that table for an hour or so before he could move. Finally, he shakily got up, pulled up his pants, and limped towards the water. He took off his clothes and dove into the dirty water that was splashing lazily near the docks. He knew that the water here was filthy with all the waste and other crap, but he couldn't care less. He stayed in that water until he was shaking from cold so bad that his teeth were clanking. He climbed out, put his clothes back on, and limped towards the park. He made it there in forty-five minutes, give or take, because he couldn’t walk without stopping every several steps he took, and sometimes, even collapsing on his knees. Finally, he made it to his usual sleeping bench and fell down on it. He couldn’t even cry now; he felt blissfully numb. Sleep was more merciful to him than his own mind. After ten minutes, Desmond was asleep.
  12. Katya Dee

    Chapter 8

    “I didn’t even touch you,” Gabriel muttered when both of them were coherent enough to speak. Desmond opened his eyes slowly and looked at him. “Mmm?” he asked lazily. “You came...” Gabriel whispered. “...so hard... And I didn’t even touch you...” Desmond smiled without baring his teeth and closed his eyes again. “When the angle is right, I don’t need to be touched,” he muttered and felt a light peck of Gabriel’s lips on his own. “And the angle was ideal,” he finished when the kiss melted in his mouth. Gabriel lied down next to him, his arm wrapped tightly around Desmond’s waist. They lay like that until Desmond started feeling sleep pulling him down. He grabbed onto Rayhe’s fingers and was about to give into heavy weight that seemed to be pushing on his eyelids, when Gabriel spoke once again. “Specter... Hey, Specter...” That made Desmond smile and he slightly opened his eyes. Gabriel was looking at him intently. “What’s your name?” he asked, and Desmond just looked at him without saying anything. “Your actual name,” Gabriel said. “The one you were born to...” Desmond remained silent, his eyes suddenly alert. Finally, Gabriel let out a small sigh. “If you don’t wanna tell me, it’s okay,” he muttered. “I understand, I...” “Desmond,” the assassin interrupted him. “Desmond Alexander Rae.” “Desmond,” Gabriel repeated after a few minutes. “Desmond,” he said again, as if tasting the name, figuring out how it felt when it rolled around his tongue. “Desmond...” he whispered, and for some reason, hearing him say his name, made Desmond scoot closer and entwine his fingers with Rayhe’s. “That’s a great name,” Gabriel muttered and dove into the crook of Desmond’s neck again. “Suits you.” “How so?” Desmond muttered sleepily and he could feel Gabriel shrug. “Just does,” he said simply and Desmond nodded slowly, sleep tugging him down for real. “Take the cuffs off,” the assassin muttered sleepily. “Mm-mm,” was Gabriel’s reply. “Asshole,” Desmond whispered and smiled when he heard weak laughter. Right before he fell asleep, Desmond thought: “I could break his neck very easily right now...” It was true. No matter how relaxed he was right now, it wouldn’t take long for him to get that deadly speed of his back. He’d be out of this shitty abandoned house in less than ten minutes; with breaking Rayhe’s neck, getting out of the handcuffs, and getting dressed combined. Instead of doing that, he just sighed deeply, placed his right hand on Gabriel’s shoulder, and surrendered to the sleep that took its revenge immediately. He’ll worry about it tomorrow when the sun is up and when he is bitchy enough from the lack of cigarettes. **** ... He made it all the way to the front door when he heard her hissing: “Don’t you dare talking to me this way!” ...and then the buckle bit into his back so hard that he lost his balance and ended up running into the wall face-first. Desmond involuntarily cried out when his forehead collided with a rough wall, splitting his eyebrow. He could feel the warm trickle of blood running down the side of his nose. He tried turning around but the belt struck again; that fucking buckle hitting almost the same spot it hit several seconds ago. The pain was so bad that Desmond’s vision blinked into complete blackness for a moment or two. “You, worthless, useless piece of shit!” she hissed, and Desmond knew that she was about to bring the belt down again. He was right. “I wasted my life on you!” The buckle bit into his shoulder blade. “I was hoping that you would turn out to be someone useful!” This time the buckle hit him right on the spine, tearing his shirt, making him howl in pain. “But you are useless! Completely useless! You are a waste, you shitty worm! If I kill you right now, it’ll make this world a better place!” Another bolt of blinding pain erupted in his body. “Someone so useless doesn’t deserve to breathe in the air!” Somehow (Desmond had no idea how), he was able to turn around, and his Grandmother’s face turned white from loathing. Desmond was almost shocked. He had no idea she hated him so much. Why in the world would she hate him so much? He never did anything to cause this much loathing. She brought the arm down again, and the buckle ripped the skin off his collarbone. “Next time it’ll take my eye out,” Desmond thought and that made his body move finally. He lifted his arms, and his hands caught the damn buckle right before it smashed into his face. It seemed like Desmond was right – she was aiming for his eyes. For someone in her late sixties, his Grandmother was surprisingly strong. She yanked the belt with maddening force, and it made Desmond’s palms to bleed, since he was holding onto that buckle. He managed not to let go, however. “Why?” he asked in a breaking voice. “Why do you hate me so much?” “Let go!” she growled and yanked the belt again. Desmond gritted his teeth and wrapped the belt around his wrist. He is not going to let her do this anymore. Partially, because he couldn’t stand the thought of enduring any more pain, but partially, because he was afraid that she would actually kill him. “Why do you hate me so much?” he repeated through his clenched teeth. “I have never done anything to you! Why do you hate me so fucking much?!” “Because you are nothing but a useless disappointment!” she snarled. “Just like your mother! My whole life I wanted her to become someone important, someone useful, someone who matters! Instead, that stupid useless brat ended up getting pregnant and having you! And then I was the one you were dumped on! After she decided that having a bastard child at sixteen was not as much fun as she imagined! Stupid bitch didn’t even know who the father was!” Desmond was so startled that he almost let go of the belt. The only reason his Grandmother couldn’t get it back into her possession, was the fact that it was wrapped around Desmond’s wrist. “She died...” he stuttered, and his Grandmother howled with insane laughter that made Desmond shiver involuntarily. “No, you useless piece of shit!” she wailed. “She didn’t die! Although that would be a much better alternative! She should’ve died! I should’ve killed her myself, but I didn’t have the guts! She ran off, Desmond! She ran off because she couldn’t stand being around you! Maybe she is dead by now, who knows! Oh, God, I hope she is dead!” she cried out with feverish glare in her eyes. “Let go of the belt! Let go right now! You goddamn brat! Let go of the belt!” Suddenly, Desmond became very calm. So calm that even pain didn’t matter as much. It was still there, still hurting him; it just didn’t matter as much. “No,” he said calmly. “I am done with you. I don’t know if you are telling the truth or if you are lying through your teeth right now, and it doesn’t matter. If you are telling the truth, then don’t blame this shit on me. I didn’t ask for anything. If you hated me so goddamn much, you should’ve just put me into an orphanage. I am leaving, so shut up, and let me go!” “You are not going anywhere!” she hissed, her eyes two mad slits. “Yes, I am,” Desmond said as calmly as before, and suddenly, he pulled the belt so hard that she let out a shriek of surprise. She wouldn’t let go of her end, so she ended up being dragged towards Desmond. “I should just use this on her,” Desmond thought indifferently. “But I am not going to.” “Stop this,” he said and she spat in his face. Desmond flinched from this new humiliation, and his hand acted out of its own will when it flew up and slapped his Grandmother on the face. “You...” was all she managed to say, and then she finally let go of the belt just so she could sink her fingernails into his face. Desmond screamed. It felt like she was trying to claw his eyes out. He tried shoving her away from him, but it didn’t work. “Stop!” he screamed. “Stop!” That was when he grabbed her by the neck and started squeezing his fingers around her throat. Later, when he thought about it (he thought about it until his head was about to split apart from headache), he was trying to figure out if he just wanted her to stop clawing at his face, or if he simply wanted to kill her. He didn’t know. All he knew was the fact that soon enough, her fingernails stopped trying to rip his eyes out; her hands grasped his wrists, trying to peel them away from her throat; her eyes were getting hazier and hazier; and her breathing sounded like the worst asthma attack in the history of the world. Then Desmond blinked and unwrapped his fingers, staring at her bruised throat, as she collapsed onto the floor in a lifeless heavy heap. Desmond stared at her, waiting for her to start breathing, to come about, to get off the floor, to lunge at him again... She never did. He stood there for almost two hours, and then finally, he went into his room, changed his ruined shirt, ignoring the screaming pain on his back and his face, grabbed a bag, took all the money that he had hidden in his drawer, and went into the kitchen. He knew where his Grandmother kept her money. She never believed in banks and such, therefore, she would always hide money in the freezer, behind frozen turkey and old beef. Desmond pulled a tube wrapped in a white cloth from the freezer, the damn turkey brushing against his hand and making him jump. It felt like some undead creature... “It’s her! She is right here, and now she is going to kill you for sure, because you can’t do anything about it! You can’t kill someone twice!” ...from a bad horror novel decided to pull him into that freezer. Desmond shuddered and slammed the freezer shut. Soon enough, he was walking towards the train station and he felt like he was that turkey. He felt completely frozen. **** He was jerking and moaning in his sleep, and when someone’s palm touched his face, his right hand automatically lashed out and grabbed somebody’s soft throat. “Desmond...” he heard a whisper and his fingers immediately relaxed. He opened his eyes, realizing that he was sweating like someone who had a fever. Gabriel was leaning over him, his forehead greased with a frown. “Same dreams?” he asked, and Desmond sat up, letting his cuffed arm to twist slightly behind his back. “Yeah,” he said finally. “What are they about?” Desmond closed his eyes. “You are nothing but a useless disappointment! Just like your mother! I wasted my life on you! You goddamn...” “I don’t remember,” he said shortly. “If you don’t want to talk about it, then just say so,” Gabriel said calmly, and Desmond turned his head to look at him. “I don’t want to talk about it,” he said evenly, and Rayhe simply nodded without saying anything. He gently pulled Desmond’s arm , and the assassin slowly lowered himself on top of him. He was almost afraid to fall asleep again. Finally, his eyes closed and he let himself to relax enough to be able to turn the reality off for a while. Soon he jerked again, his forehead one tight frown, moans forming in the back of his throat. Gabriel propped himself up on one elbow and carefully stroked his eyebrows with his fingers. This simple act seemed to be enough, because Desmond’s frown smoothed out, and his body relaxed. He let out a deep sigh without waking up, and wrapped his arm around Gabriel’s waist. He didn’t have any more dreams until the sun started stroking the windows of the abandoned house with shameless, sensual heat. **** Desmond woke up because of the light touches that were fluttering all over his chest. He blinked several times, getting the last shreds of sleep out of his eyes, the world regaining focus again. Gabriel looked up, tracing one of Desmond’s scars on his chest. “That’s a hell of a lot of scars,” he said seriously. “Occupational hazard,” Desmond muttered, enjoying the feeling of fingertips on his skin. “How old were you...” “...when you had your first kill?” Desmond finished silently and blinked again when Gabriel said: “...when you got your first scar?” The assassin was silent for a minute. “Four,” he finally said softly and Gabriel’s eyes widened just a little. “I spilled orange juice on my Grandmother’s newspapers,” Desmond continued. “She hasn’t read it yet. That one is on my back though,” he finished. Rayhe didn’t say anything to that. He just sighed and sat up, his fingers never leaving Desmond’s chest. “Desmond,” he said finally, and Desmond was almost startled to hear his own name. It has been a while since the last time anyone called him by his real name. Gabriel glanced at him when he felt the assassin tense. “Specter...” he said slowly. “Would you rather I call you that name?” Desmond bit his lip. It felt bizarre to hear his name, but at the same time, it felt... Good, somehow. “Desmond is good,” he said finally, and Gabriel nodded. “All right then,” he said slowly. “Desmond...” he sounded as if he was trying to carefully choose the words for whatever he was about to say. “Last night... I don’t want you to get the wrong idea, okay?” There was that tension again. Desmond had no clue why all of a sudden, he felt almost hurt. It wasn’t like he miraculously found his mate last night. It was good, yes, but it also didn’t mean anything more than just getting laid. Why the hell did he feel this way when he heard Gabriel say ‘the wrong idea’? He was about to say something when Gabriel spoke again. “It didn’t happen because I was trying to manipulate you somehow,” he said, and Desmond frowned in confusion. Manipulate? What...? “To make you change your mind about Sam LeVoughn... In fact, it had nothing to do with either one of the LeVoughns...” “To change my mind?” Desmond repeated dumbfoundedly. Was that what this was about? He was afraid that Desmond would see it as some manipulation trick to save the kid’s life? “Well,” Gabriel shrugged. “I didn’t know if you’d think that, and I figured...” “Rayhe,” Desmond said with a snort, trying to ignore the fact that right now he felt incredibly relieved. “You are good, but you wouldn’t be able to manipulate me even if you tried.” Now Gabriel looked like he was trying to hide a smile. Desmond’s eyes narrowed in suspicion. “What?” he demanded. “Nothing,” Gabriel shook his head immediately. “Nothing my ass,” Desmond said. “What is it? You look like I just told you an inappropriate joke at a funeral.” “It’s nothing, really...” Gabriel shook his head again, but his eyes darted towards the handcuffs for a second. “You, asshole!” Desmond said in a low voice. “That was different!” “I didn’t say anything,” Rayhe protested. “That wasn’t manipulation!” Desmond raged. “That was...” “...a misunderstanding,” Gabriel finished quickly and got up, forcing Desmond to do the same. “Come on, get dressed. Let’s go get some smokes.” Desmond glared at him but said nothing. He put on his pants and buttoned up his shirt. That was when he realized that he had to take care of a very basic need. “Ummm,” he said. “What?” Gabriel looked at him without a smile this time. “I need to...” Dammit! “...take a leak,” he finished tightly. “Okay,” Rayhe shrugged, and Desmond just stared at him. “What do you mean, ‘okay’?” he said. “I am not doing it in front of you!” Gabriel frowned, clearly confused. “Why?” he asked. “Why?” Desmond repeated. “Because this is...” he struggled finding a word for a second. “Private!” he finished finally. “You nearly came down my throat last night,” Gabriel said with the same confused frown. “And now, all of a sudden, you fret about something like taking a leak in front of me?” “That was different...” Desmond closed his eyes for a second. “This is...” he struggled with the word-choice once again. “Humiliating,” he said tightly. “What is so humiliating about a normal bodily function?” Gabriel frowned even more. “Goddammit!” Desmond hissed through his clenched teeth. “It just is, okay? Pissing in front of someone is different from almost coming into their mouth, okay?” “I would hope so,” Gabriel nodded, and Desmond felt an urge to kill when he saw that ‘Whatever-You-Do-Don’t-Smile’ expression on Rayhe’s face. “Just...” Desmond took a deep breath. “Take the damn cuffs off!” “Either you piss with the cuffs on or you piss your pants eventually,” Gabriel said, and Desmond knew that he meant it. “I am going to kill him,” he thought furiously. “God-fucking-dammit! I am going to kill him right now!” That reminded him of the gun he had in his possession last night. He glanced around. Gun was nowhere in sight. Well, shit. “I have both guns,” Gabriel said, and Desmond tried to stop himself from more teeth grinding. “I knew that eventually you’d be tempted to use it on me, and...” he shrugged. “I am getting tired of repeating this, Des... I am not suicidal.” Des... Desmond froze in his place. Nobody ever called him ‘Des.’ His Grandmother would only call him ‘Desmond,’ and as for the rest of the population... It was either ‘Specter’ or ‘Phantom.’ “I promise not to look,” Gabriel said solemnly, and when Desmond gritted his teeth again, it actually hurt this time. “When I actually do kill you,” he said. “It will hurt... A lot,” he added. Gabriel just nodded, as if agreeing with him wholeheartedly. The whole ordeal wasn’t incredibly bad, to be honest. And it wasn’t as humiliating as Desmond thought it would be. It wasn’t a pleasant experience by any means, but Rayhe was right when he said earlier that it was just a natural bodily function and nothing else. After everything was taken care of, both of them rolled their sleeves down to hide the handcuffs, and went outside to find the nearest smoke shop. In the bright light of the day, Desmond immediately recognized the area. To his enormous surprise, it was the very same smoke shop he was on the way to when Rayhe knocked him out. “My apartment is two blocks from here,” he thought in amusement. “We are bloody neighbors!” The thought made him laugh, and Gabriel looked at him with a silent question. “It’s nothing,” Desmond said. “I just remembered something.” Gabriel shrugged and pushed open the door of the smoke shop. They bought two cartons of cigarettes, and the man behind the counter just raised his eyebrow slightly when Rayhe reached for his right pocket with his left hand due to the hidden handcuffs. Gabriel’s face was completely indifferent, as if he was doing this all the time, and the man shrugged to himself and took the money out of his hand. His face all but said out loud, “Everyone is a freak in a way.” They left the smoke shop and neither of them noticed a man behind one of the shelves who was hidden in the shadows. The man watched them with great intensity, and after they were gone, he pulled a phone out of his pocket and punched in the number. “Hey,” he said into the phone several seconds later. “It’s me. Your day is about to get a hell of a lot brighter...”
  13. Katya Dee

    Chapter 7

    Gabriel grabbed his bag and ripped it open. “You just had to say it...” he muttered while rummaging inside the bag. “Say what?” Desmond frowned. “About Salamanders showing on my doorstep within the next two hours,” Gabriel grumbled. “Right,” Desmond snorted. “It’s my fault...” Suddenly, Gabriel left his bag alone and walked closer to Desmond. “Specter,” he murmured, and Desmond blinked. They were standing really close to each other now. So close, Desmond could feel Gabriel’s breath on his face. “What?” he asked suspiciously. Gabriel leaned in even closer, and Desmond was almost positive he was about to kiss him. “What the hell...” he thought in defeat. “We just might die because of this stubborn jackass... Might as well...” He parted his lips ever so slightly, and when Gabriel murmured: “What hand do you shoot better with?” Desmond just blinked like someone who had troubles understanding simple questions. “Huh?” he said finally. “Left or right? What hand works better with the gun for you?” “Right...” Desmond muttered, feeling completely bewildered. What does this have to do with... “Okay,” Gabriel breathed, and suddenly, there was a soft ‘click!’ of handcuffs, and a second later, Desmond felt cold metal hugging his left wrist. He jerked backwards, but he was too late. He stared at the handcuffs with disbelief. “What the hell!” he finally said, anger boiling up inside his chest. Anger and something that suspiciously resembled disappointment. “Are you completely out of your mind?!” Gabriel handcuffed them together. Desmond’s left wrist was securely attached to Gabriel’s right one. The assassin jerked backwards again, but as a result, he almost fell down, dragging Gabriel with him. “I would be out of my mind,” Gabriel regained his balance and yanked Desmond back up on his feet. “If I didn’t ask which hand you can shoot better with. For me, it doesn’t matter. I can use both hands equally well, but I didn’t know about you.” “What are you... Why are you... What the hell?!” “No time,” Gabriel muttered and dragged him towards the bag that was sitting on the table. He shoved a gun into Desmond’s hand, grabbed one himself, and dragged the still resisting (mostly, by pure instinct) assassin into the kitchen. “What the hell...” Desmond said again, thinking that he wouldn’t mind unloading the gun into the damn bastard’s head right about now. Then he decided against it, thinking that it would be a stupid move to make, since the intruders were almost inside, and the bastard’s dead weight would just slow him down. That and he wasn’t sure if the damn asshole took the spell off the kitchen window yet. “I am not going to let you out of my sight,” Gabriel said quickly and took the safety off with a dry click. “You can bitch about it later. Right now, aim and shoot, that’s all.” Bitch about it?! Desmond was about to burst into a string of brilliant obscenities that were burning the tip of his tongue, when the front door flew open, and Desmond shut his mouth and did exactly what that bastard told him to do. Aim and shoot. To be honest, this was his only choice right now. “Not bad,” the bastard muttered after several bodies dropped on the floor. “Now go!” Desmond didn’t have any time to even open his mouth, let alone ask something like, “Where the hell to?” Gabriel dragged him towards the window, and for one horrible second, Desmond thought that the bastard completely forgot about his own spell, and that both of them were going to endure shitload of pain for whatever was left of their lives, when Gabriel kicked the glass, and Desmond realized that the spell wasn’t up. “You, son of a bitch!” Desmond thought furiously while being dragged out of the window. “You were bulshitting me this whole time! There was no spell on the damn window!” “There was a spell,” Gabriel muttered after they ended up diving into the flowerbed face-first. “And no, I can’t hear your thoughts. I just read you somewhat okay by now...” “Yeah?” Desmond spat out a daisy. “Then read this...” “No time,” Gabriel hissed and jerked him up. Desmond was prepared to start running, and he blinked so rapidly that his eyelid started twitching, when Gabriel just stood there instead. “Move it, asshole!” he growled softly and jerked the handcuffs. “Wait,” the bastard said tightly. “Wait!” “Wait for what?!” Desmond almost exploded. “For them to blow you a kiss?!” “Just shut up and wait...” the bastard looked at him. “I am not suicidal,” he said quietly. Desmond gritted his teeth but stopped talking. They stood there for several excruciatingly long minutes. Finally, Desmond heard shouting from the kitchen, followed by quick footsteps. He glanced at Gabriel who stood very still. “What the hell is he doing?” Desmond thought desperately. “What the hell is he...” Then there was someone by the window. “Over here!!” the man shouted wildly, and Gabriel suddenly gripped Desmond’s hand tightly, as if he were drowning. Desmond instinctively wrapped his fingers around his (“That damn bastard! I can’t believe he...”), trying to figure out exactly how much time he might have left in this world. If the Salamanders get them, then probably a few days. Those are going to be very painful days, Desmond thought almost indifferently. Suddenly, there was that oh-so-familiar dry zapping sound that made Desmond wince, and then there was an agonizing shriek of pain. “Now we run,” Gabriel muttered, and they did just that. “Damn it all to hell...” Desmond thought while zigzagging through dark streets, the ring of the handcuffs digging into his wrist. “There indeed was a spell... How did he do that? He didn’t even move! Oh, damn it all to hell!” Finally, after what seemed like forever, they stopped running, and Desmond tried to figure out where in the world they were. “Where... are... we...?” he said, trying to catch his breath. “Not... sure...” Gabriel admitted. “Great...” Desmond straightened up. “Take off the damn cuffs! This is idiotic!” “No...” Gabriel shook his head although it was hard to tell in the dark. “I’m not gonna let you hurt Sam...” “I won’t...” Desmond started saying, but Gabriel interrupted him. “Yes,” he said. “You will. To make me miserable, admit it...” Yeah, he was right, Desmond shrugged to himself. “So what...” he said, his breathing is somewhat okay by now. “You are going to keep us chained together for how long? Ever?” “No,” Gabriel snorted. “Until I figure out how to keep Sam safe, that’s all.” “Forever,” Desmond said dryly. “Let’s move,” Gabriel sighed. “This is an old neighborhood. I am pretty sure we’ll find an empty house around here somewhere... Just for this night.” Desmond didn’t say anything; he just followed him silently. He’ll get out of these damn handcuffs on his own, he thought darkly. This son of a bitch is going to fall asleep eventually. Desmond will definitely be out of the bloody handcuffs by the time the sun comes up. And then... Oh, sweet mother... “Then I am going to introduce him to brand-new, wonderful levels of pain... I am going to...” “This one is empty,” the bastard said thus jerking Desmond back to reality. He blinked and looked at the house in front of them. It wasn’t just empty. It looked abandoned. “Well,” Desmond thought melancholically. “At least there is no need to worry about the owners coming back in the middle of the night...” They walked inside and Gabriel carefully called: “Anyone here? Hello...?” They were greeted by silence, and Gabriel exhaled with relief. “One less worry,” he muttered. Desmond followed him into what used to be a living room silently (not like he had any choice), thinking that he should just go ahead and shoot this bastard point-blank right now. For some bizarre reason, he didn’t want to do that. “That’s because I want to make him to hurt a hell of a lot later on,” he thought furiously. Yeah, that was the reason. What else could possibly be there? They stumbled around in the dark and finally found something that resembled an old mattress. “That’ll do,” the bastard said almost cheerfully, and Desmond just gritted his teeth when he was dragged down. “Here...” the bastard dug in his pockets for a minute and shoved something into Desmond’s hand. “I don’t know about you, but I am hungry.” Desmond frowned and tried to figure out what it was that he was holding in his hand. A bar of chocolate, he realized finally. He almost told the damn asshole what exactly he could do with his bloody chocolate, when his stomach grumbled. “Dammit!” he thought and ripped off the wrapper. The chocolate was gone in less than three minutes and Desmond regretted that fact. He threw the crumbled wrapper on the floor and wished for a cigarette. He didn’t have any on him. He gritted his teeth again. Pride is pride, he thought finally, but cigarettes are different from anything else. “You have any smokes?” he asked gloomily. “Dammit...” the bastard muttered. “I forgot!” Well, shit. “We’ll get some in the morning,” the asshole was saying meanwhile. “I still have all that money I got from you during the poker game.” “I am going to kill you,” Desmond said dully. “Now?” the bastard sounded genuinely curious. Desmond was really tempted to actually do it now. “Shut up, Rayhe,” he said through his clenched teeth. “I am going to sleep, so try not to jerk this damn chain too much.” “Hey, Specter...” the bastard said softly and Desmond turned his head to look at him. He was as close to Desmond’s face right now as he was in that kitchen, a bit ago. Gritting his teeth was starting to hurt Desmond’s jaw. “What?” he sighed. “Now you are going to ask me what side I sleep better on? Or if I snore?” “You don’t snore,” the bastard said with a chuckle. “I heard you sleep.” “What the hell do you want?” Desmond asked tiredly. “Just bloody say it already or shut up, so I can go to sleep. Unlike you, I don’t find this whole situation so amus...” The word he was about to say, was ‘amusing.’ He never finished the sentence because Gabriel leaned closer, and this time, he did kiss him. Desmond was so startled that he froze. Then he started to get more and more pissed off. “What the hell...” he pushed the bastard away with his right hand. “What the hell?!” “I am sorry about earlier,” the bastard didn’t look or sound even remotely uncomfortable right now. “I had to get the cuffs on you and it seemed like that was the only way I could do it without you resisting it.” Desmond stared at him without blinking, his anger reaching a very dangerous mark of ‘Red.’ “Shut up,” he hissed finally. “I swear, if you say anything else, I’ll blow your fucking head off!” “Oh, Specter...” the bastard sighed and locked the fingers of his left hand on the back of Desmond’s neck. Then he pulled him towards himself almost forcefully, and before Desmond could even think about reaching for the gun for real, he was kissing him again. “That’s it,” Desmond thought. “That’s it! I am going to kill him right now! Right bloody...” That was when he realized that not only was he kissing the damn bastard back, but also that his fingers somehow ended up burying themselves into that goddamn soft-looking hair of his. He cursed silently at his traitorous fingers, and then thought, “It is soft...” Gabriel pulled away just slightly, enough to mutter: “I wanted to, but we really didn’t have any time...” This time, it was Desmond who pulled him forward. “Shut up already,” he thought, and closed his eyes when Gabriel’s left palm cupped his chin, caressing his jawline with the thumb. Gabriel’s mouth tasted like the chocolate bar he finished several minutes ago, his tongue gentle and very dominant at the same time. Desmond didn’t care. He let him dominate his mouth, pulling slightly on his hair. Oh, that damn soft hair... Gabriel moaned into the assassin’s mouth, and it made Desmond shiver. “That would be the good way,” he thought and breathless laughter escaped his throat. “What?” Gabriel pulled away just a little. “Just thought of different ways to moan,” Desmond muttered and pulled him closer again. Eventually, they ended up collapsing onto that old mattress, their handcuffed hands locked on one another. Gabriel’s mouth was nibbling on Desmond’s neck, and when it got to the spot where neck smoothly transforms into a shoulder, Desmond moaned louder than he expected himself to moan. “Ohhh...” he breathed. “God...” Apparently, that was pretty much the same as opening the floodgate, because the minute Gabriel caught Desmond’s reaction, his mouth became incredibly hungry. Desmond desperately clutched onto his fingers , when all the nibbling, and biting, and sucking started to make him lightheaded. Then, quite a while later, Gabriel finally unbuttoned his shirt and was fiddling with his belt buckle. “You know...” Desmond muttered breathlessly. “If you take off the damn cuffs, it’ll be even better... And easier...” Gabriel undid the buckle and the zipper, and was now pulling off Desmond’s pants. The assassin lifted his hips to help him with the task. “Nope,” Rayhe said contentedly. “The cuffs are staying on...” he glanced at Desmond. “I am kinky,” it sounded like he was smiling, but it was difficult to see in the dark. “Bastard...” Desmond muttered half-heartedly, and then his head flew back, hitting the floor behind the mattress, and the next thing that came out of his mouth, sounded like, “Ohmyfuckingodooohhh....” Oh God, that mouth of his, Desmond thought hazily, trying his best not to buck his hips into the back of Gabriel’s throat. It was a difficult task. Velvet... Warm melting velvet, that was the only thing floating in Desmond’s mind right now. Gabriel’s right arm was stretched upwards, due to the handcuffs, and Desmond wrapped his fingers around the other man’s hand, digging his fingernails into his palm. Gabriel’s left hand was almost as good as his mouth -- fingers rubbing, and stroking, and massaging, and... “Ohhhgoddd...” Desmond howled when mouth and hand combined did something indescribable. His hips were slowly getting the mind of their own; Desmond couldn’t control their movements anymore, it seemed. “I am...” he tried to speak, but it was as difficult as controlling his hips right now. “Ohhh... I am... Ah, God! Gab... Gabriel, I...” Familiar tingling sent a wave of coiling heat into the pit of his stomach. He started to feel the tightening that usually made him slow down, but right now, he wouldn’t even think about slowing down. The meowing sounds started to tickle his throat, and right when he was about to burst into a scrambled string of unintelligible obscenities, he felt strong fingers wrapping around his base quite firmly, and then the melting velvet was gone. “Wha...” he muttered weakly, trying to raise his head. “No... Don’t... Don’t stop... No... Please...” He was begging and he didn’t care. Gabriel traveled back towards his face, placing light, open-mouthed kisses on his chest, those fingers still squeezing him firmly. “I want this to last longer,” he muttered right before he started to dominate Desmond’s mouth again. Desmond closed his eyes, tasting his own scent on Gabriel’s tongue, running his fingers through that goddamn soft hair. The heat reluctantly crawled away from the pit of his stomach, and now Desmond wasn’t shaking as badly as he did several minutes ago. Gabriel took it as a sign to finally let go of him, and his fingers unwrapped. He stroked the assassin’s face with his fingertips and muttered: “Specter... Hey, Specter...” Desmond slowly opened his eyes and looked at him questioningly. “Have you done this before?” Gabriel whispered, and Desmond regained enough control to be able to snort. “What do you think?” he asked in a low voice. Gabriel kissed the corner of his mouth. “I mean,” he whispered again. “Have you had this done to you?” “What do you think?” Desmond repeated. “I don’t know,” Gabriel muttered. “That’s why I am asking... I don’t want to hurt you...” “Really,” Desmond hemmed. “I’m sorry... The whole head-cracking-handcuffing-electrocuting-me thing must’ve confused me...” “That’s not... Ugh...” Gabriel breathed and buried his face in the assassin’s neck for a second. “I am...” “Yes,” Desmond interrupted him softly. “I’ve done this before... It’s been a while though,” he added. Gabriel raised his head and looked at him. “I don’t want to hurt you...” he said again and stopped speaking when Desmond grabbed his left hand and wrapped his mouth around two of his fingers. “Oh my God...” he said a minute or so later in a low voice. “Oh my God...” “Mmm?” Desmond asked, slightly opening his eyes. “Do you have any idea how you look when you are doing this?” Gabriel muttered, his eyes locked on Desmond’s face. “Mmm,” was all Desmond said before closing his eyes again. Finally, he let Gabriel’s hand out of his mouth. “Should be good,” he muttered, and Rayhe nodded, his mouth immediately latching onto Desmond’s neck. Fingers trailing down his chest, stroking very lightly, running over his hip, making his back arch off the mattress... “Tickles...” he mutters, and Gabriel laughs softly into his neck, making him shiver. And then there is that sensation that he remembers so well, intrusive at first, almost to the point of uncomfortable, but uncomfortable doesn’t last. It dies away rather quickly, and is replaced by the need to “Move, move, move, goddammit!” Move he does. Rocking his hips, impaling himself, rotating, those fingers searching, until finally... “Oh, holy hell, yes!” Meowing sounds again, but this time Desmond is not sure who is making them – himself or Gabriel. Because the minute Desmond’s hips buck wildly upwards, Rayhe starts to shake, as if the mere sight of the assassin’s out-of-control body is about to undo him. Desmond is trying to say that it’s okay, that he should be fine now, that he is so bloody ready, but he can’t speak because this feels so... “Ohmyfuckingod!!” ...good that speech becomes an issue. Finally, he mumbles something incoherent, and to his enormous surprise, Gabriel understands him perfectly. Then the fingers are gone, and then there is that feeling again, uncomfortable, intrusive (“Oh-shit-oh-shit-oh-shit...”), and his breath hitches in his throat. Gabriel freezes immediately, his back rigid, eyes wide. He lifts himself up on his arms, almost smashing Desmond’s palm with that bloody chain, frown on his forehead. Desmond takes a deep breath, his body relaxing, remembering, and finally, welcoming. “Move,” he whispers but Rayhe doesn’t. He still has that worried look on his face. “Move!” Now there is urgency in Desmond’s voice. “Specter, I don’t...” “Goddammit!” Desmond has no patience for this right now, so he slams his right hand into the small of Gabriel’s back and throws his own hips upwards at the same time. That results a surprised yelp from Gabriel, a flash of pain laced with pleasure for Desmond, and incoherent mumbling from both of them. And then – finally! – he moves. Slowly, so mind-blowing slowly, his hips rotating, searching for the right angle. He knows he found it when Desmond’s body does that out-of-control thing again. Rayhe reaches for him with his left hand, but Desmond immediately bursts into a furious ‘No!’ Gabriel looks down at him, startled. Desmond tries to speak. “If you...” he gasps. “If you want me to last longer than this... Don’t do that... Because if you do... Oh, God... I’ll be done for...” Gabriel nods slowly, and then his hand caresses Desmond’s neck instead. Then, after decades of slow rocking, after the eternity of ‘oh-my-God-don’t-you-stop’s, after all breath is about to be gone for good, the rhythm changes. It becomes faster, jerkier, more and more uncontrollable, desperate somehow. Desmond’s eyes roll all the way back into his head, eyelids fluttering, lips trembling. The only thing he can mutter right now is: “God-God-God-God...” ....and he keeps on saying that, he doesn’t even know that he keeps stuttering it, spitting it out, his breath is nothing but a series of sobs. Then finally, he is done for, and his body convulses, his back flies off the mattress, lifting Rayhe’s body along. His left hand is a blind puppy looking for its mother. He needs to grab onto something, it doesn’t matter what. He grabs onto something so hard that he thinks his joints are about to pop. And then Gabriel makes this incredible sound in the back of his throat, and then both of them are nothing but two broken, convulsing puppets, twitching, and sobbing, and spasming... Desmond realizes that he is holding onto the chain of the handcuffs for dear life, and slowly unwraps his fingers, thankful that he didn’t grab onto Gabriel’s hand instead. He would hate to break it. Rayhe’s head is buried in the crook of the assassin’s neck, and his mouth keeps kissing the side of Desmond’s throat. Then they just lie there for a while, silently, holding each other, wrapped in a blissful bubble of “I-Don’t-Give-A-Damn-What-Happens-Right-Now.”
  14. Katya Dee

    Chapter 6

    Gabriel came back three or four hours later, and Desmond just hemmed when he saw a hefty-size bag on his shoulder. He didn’t say anything and kept watching the guy whose facial expression could not possibly get any gloomier. “Wanna play cards?” he asked finally, and Gabriel looked up, startled. “Sure,” he said slowly. They sat at the table, and Desmond noticed that Gabriel kept that bag of his close to him, within reach. They played for a while, and then after an hour or so, Gabriel said: “Raise you forty,” and his hand immediately tugged on the strand of his hair. Desmond just rolled his eyes. How stupid does he think he is, really? “Fold,” he said shortly and threw his cards on the table. He only had two pairs anyway. Gabriel glanced at him. The assassin shrugged. “You are not the type to forget things,” he said with a sigh. “You were perfectly aware of the fact that you were pulling on your hair. I am not that dumb, you know.” “I was hoping you’d think that,” Gabriel grinned and opened his cards to him. “Son of a...” Desmond said slowly when he saw nothing but a pair of tenths. Gabriel laughed softly. “Yeah,” he nodded, swiping the decent size pile of bills off the table. “I figured that you’d think I am luring you into a trap...” “Dammit!” Desmond said loudly, but he couldn’t keep himself from grinning. “Was risky but I was willing to try it,” Gabriel said. Desmond lit a cigarette. “What do the Salamanders have to do with this whole thing?” he asked suddenly, and Gabriel just stared at him. Finally, he sighed and absent-mindedly shuffled the cards. “It’s a long story,” he said slowly. “I have time,” Desmond said melancholically. “Until the end of the bloody month.” Gabriel smiled weakly at that. “When you were asking what LeVoughn had on me...” he glanced at Desmond whose face was serious. “Ah, crap... I guess I’d better start in the beginning...” “That works,” Desmond nodded solemnly. “Four years ago...” Gabriel said slowly. “...I’ve met this girl... Sheila, that was her name...” Desmond’s eyes narrowed ever so slightly. “I know it sounds ridiculous, but it was goddamn love at first sight,” Gabriel’s mouth twisted in the bitter smile. “One thing led to another...” he shrugged. “Before I knew it, I told her that I wanted her to be my mate...” he closed his eyes. “She said yes, everything was great... The problem, however, was her family...” Desmond blinked. “Hold on,” he said slowly. “Sheila... Salamander?!” Gabriel glanced at him again. “Yeah,” he said, and Desmond shook his head. “Hold on,” he said again, thoughtful frown crossing his forehead. “She died in some bizarre accident, didn’t she? I remember reading about it in the papers...” “She died,” Gabriel said softly. “Not in the accident though. See, the Salamanders family and my family...” he tugged on his hair again, this time completely unaware of it. “They had a hell of falling out. I don’t know why; the whole thing happened long time ago... Apparently, they hated each other for generations. Sheila didn’t give a crap about that, and neither did I... Her father, however, felt quite the opposite.” The picture started to contour itself slowly in Desmond’s mind. “So after he told her to stop seeing me, she told him that he could go to hell for all she cared,” Gabriel continued. “He was not the type of a man to take that sort of talk, not even from his own daughter... So, soon after that...” he tugged on his hair again, almost desperately this time. “He threw her down the well... The dried-up well,” he added in a softer voice. “I don’t know if she died instantly or if it was because of the shock or maybe, because of blood loss...” he shrugged. “After that happened, the only thing I wanted to do was to kill that son of a bitch...” he glanced at Desmond again. “The reason I am telling you all this is because...” “You hired me to kill him,” Desmond said calmly. The picture was bright and clear now, all the puzzle pieces falling into the right places. “Yeah,” Gabriel nodded. “I knew that there was no way in hell I would ever be able to get that close to him... I would sell my soul to be able to strangle that bastard myself, but I knew I couldn’t. Therefore, I hired one of the best assassins this world has known... Specter... You,” he glanced at the assassin again. “That’s LeVoughn’s card, isn’t it?” Desmond asked as calmly as before. “He knows that you are the one who hired me.” “Yup,” Gabriel nodded melancholically. “How?” Desmond narrowed his eyes. “I was trying to figure out who you were, but even I failed. How in the bloody hell the dumbshit politician was able to figure it out?” “He worked as an accountant before he switched to politics,” Gabriel said with an eerie smile. “For my family. Therefore, he knew about the money transfer...” “Your family...” Desmond repeated thoughtfully. “The Salamanders and your family had a hell of falling out generations ago...” Suddenly, he frowned even deeper and looked at Gabriel with stricken eyes. “You are...” Gabriel nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “My last name is Rayhe.” Desmond stared at him without blinking. “You are bloody royalty!” he said finally, and Gabriel snorted. “That was a very long time ago, and I am not royalty,” he said. “I am a dinosaur, that’s what I am... The last one left. I felt obligated to tell you,” he sighed. “Because apparently, the Salamanders know about the fact that I have you here. LeVoughn is not the type to keep useful information like that to himself alone. He told them...” he twisted his mouth. “Of course, they immediately informed him that they prefer seeing you dead rather than alive.” Desmond cocked his head to the left. “Why wouldn’t you kill me?” he asked with genuine interest. “I mean, with amount of blood that I have on my hands, you’d be doing the world a favor.” “Because I am not going to kill the man who sent that son of a bitch to hell,” Gabriel said in a low voice. “That’s how LeVoughn was jerking your chain,” Desmond hemmed. “If you keep me alive, he’ll sell you to the Salamanders. They would be ecstatic to get both of us.” Gabriel didn’t say anything to that. Suddenly, Desmond laughed. At first, it was just small laughter, more of a giggle, really. Disbelieving and astonished. “Oh-Hell-No!” sort of laughter. Gabriel frowned and looked at him. “What?” he asked. Desmond started to laugh harder. Gabriel waited patiently. Finally, the assassin was able to calm himself down, and he wiped his eyes with the sleeve of his shirt. “Oh my God, do I feel stupid now!” he said with feeling. “Why?” Desmond looked at him. “This whole time, I was trying to figure out how in hell was LeVoughn-Senior able to find out that someone placed a hit on his kid,” he said. “It was bugging the hell out of me...” “He has his ways?” Gabriel offered, and Desmond almost started to laugh again. He restrained himself. “He has his ways, all right,” he nodded. “There was no hit!” he said with great energy. “This whole thing is a glorious set-up! Don’t you see? He makes a fake deal with me, and I never checked it out thoroughly because I never accepted it completely; then he gets you to ‘keep him away from my baby until the end of the month’; you fall for it, of course... And now, he has a fantastic shot at being favored by the Salamanders, because if they find out...” he started laughing again, and this time he didn’t bother restraining himself. “Sam is his only son,” Gabriel said quietly. “He would risk his life to get on the good side of the Salamanders?” he asked mostly himself. “Right now, you are probably thinking how come he didn’t get this idea sooner?” Desmond asked him in a shaky from laughter voice. “He probably did,” Gabriel muttered. “He didn’t want to risk it before; not until now.” Desmond finally stopped laughing completely. “Why now?” he asked in somewhat normal voice. Gabriel smirked. “Because the balance of power had shifted,” he said with a strange glint in his eyes. “Reagan is the strongest one right now. No better time than today.” Understanding flashed in Desmond’s eyes. “That’s right,” he said slowly. “The Salamanders are related to her, aren’t they?” “They are not related,” Gabriel stared outside blindly. “She is the twins’ Godmother.” “Ah, yes,” Desmond muttered. “The twins, I almost forgot about those two... Of course, LeVoughn didn’t want to do anything risky while Claudia was still on top... Cowardly piece of shit...” “Now, with Reagan at her strongest, the Salamanders get even more power,” Gabriel said evenly. “If he is on their good side, he’s golden.” “Not if I get to say anything about that,” Desmond murmured. “I accept that deal.” Gabriel blinked and looked at him, frowning. “What deal?” “The kid,” Desmond said with serene look in his eyes. “The deal was for me to waste the kid. Fake or not, but I am going to do it.” “No!” Gabriel got up. “Not him! Not Sam...” “Why do you care?” Desmond frowned. “The bastard deserves it!” “The father, yes, but not the kid...” Gabriel sighed. “Look, I know that kid, all right? I’ve known him since he was a toddler... He practically grew up in front of me... I’m not gonna let you kill him.” “I remember you saying that whatever happens after the month is over is none of your concern,” Desmond said calmly. “That’s because I figured he’d be safe,” Gabriel nodded furiously. “Look, Specter, I am not going to let you kill him, all right?” “And you are going to stop me how, exactly?” Desmond narrowed his eyes. “You have to take the spell down, the sooner the better, too. You don’t really have a choice now, Rayhe...” Gabriel flinched at the use of his last name but didn’t say anything. “I am not going to be a bit surprised if Salamanders show up on your doorstep within the next couple of hours... After you told LeVoughn to go lick their boots, you pretty much gave him the permission to turn you in. Now, I don’t know about you, but I hate being played. And I hate being used even more. Maybe you don’t give a flying jack about either, kudos to you then! Take the goddamn spell off so I can finally leave this shithole. And after I leave, you can go ahead, sit on your ass, and wait for the Salamanders to show. I guess you are suicidal after all.” “I am not going to let you kill him,” Gabriel said in a low, dangerous voice. “I am not letting you out of my sight until I am positive you won’t harm him. If you want to slice and dice LeVoughn-Senior, be my guest! Hell, I might even join in! But not Sam.” “All right,” Desmond agreed immediately. “I am not going to kill the kid. I promise.” Gabriel just sighed at that. “If I actually believed you right now, you’d be disappointed, wouldn’t you?” Desmond laughed out loud even though he started to feeling quite enraged. “I would be,” he admitted. “Listen...” Gabriel rubbed his forehead with his palm, as if trying to get rid of the headache. “I am going to...” He never finished that sentence, because suddenly there was some weird humming noise coming from behind the front door. It was very soft, almost like a sudden breath of the wind, but both, Desmond and Gabriel, knew that it wasn’t the case.
  15. Katya Dee

    Chapter 5

    Desmond woke up with a muffled moan. He sat up, trying to calm down his wild heartbeat. Damn, those dreams again... He hated them. He got off the couch and went into the kitchen. It was day fifteen of his imprisonment, and by now, Gabriel was convinced enough for him not to do anything dangerous or stupid, so he didn’t cuff him for the night anymore. Desmond was thankful for that. He rummaged through the fridge, and finally found a bottle of beer. He twisted the cap off and was greeted by a soft “Pshhh!” of the open bottle. He lit a cigarette and reached for the window, dying to feel the wind on his face. He remembered about the spell at the last second, and pulled his hand away so quickly that he spilled some beer on his shirt. “Shit,” he muttered and sat down on the chair. Those dreams were coming back much more often now. Desmond wondered if it had anything to do with the fact that he was stuck in this damn place. The ‘vacation’ feeling was gone by now. It was replaced by restlessness and annoyance. He hated the fact that he was trapped inside this bloody house; hated the fact that there was absolutely nothing he could do about the situation; he hated feeling so goddamn helpless. Sometimes, he felt like he was about to give up and say that fine, he’d leave the damn kid alone, that he’d tell the tycoon to find someone else (he didn’t even accept the deal yet, to be honest), but every time he was about to say it, he’d just grit his teeth and say nothing. Pride, he thought bitterly. It was that damn pride of his. He would never ask anyone for anything. He would never beg; not even to save his life. “Shit,” he muttered again and furiously sucked on his cigarette . The lights in the kitchen went on and he looked up, startled. He realized that he was so caught up in his thoughts that he didn’t even hear Gabriel walk into the kitchen. That was bad; that meant he let himself to relax way too much during the past two weeks. If his skills get any duller... “What are you doing?” Gabriel asked with a small frown, blinking at the light. “Drinking beer and smoking,” Desmond answered evenly. The guy was starting to get on his nerves again, with all his calmness, politeness, and everything else. “It’s four in the morning,” Gabriel said after glancing at the clock. “I know,” Desmond nodded. “I woke up.” “Those dreams again?” Desmond looked up at him, startled. Gabriel shrugged. “I can hear you moan in your sleep quite often,” he said. “And not in a good way,” he added. “A good way?” Desmond snorted and finished his beer. “What the hell would be a good way?” “Never mind,” Gabriel said a little too quickly and went to the fridge. Desmond blinked. Did he just hit on him? Moaning in a good way? “Are you kidding me?” he thought. The guy almost cracked his skull open; kept him chained to the goddamn pipe (which he still does occasionally); electrocuted him with some magic shit, and now he is hitting on him? Desmond looked at him while he was busy with rearranging the fridge, it seemed. It wasn’t that he was bad looking, Desmond thought. On the contrary, he was quite attractive. Suddenly, Desmond caught himself wondering what his hair would feel like. “Looks soft,” he thought and blinked again, more rapidly. “Oh, hell, no!” He lit another cigarette and looked at the empty beer bottle in front of him. “Bloody hell on ice! I need to get out of here as soon as possible... No, sooner than that! Dammit!” Suddenly, he felt like he was about to just yank at that window frame, to knock himself out again. He decided against it almost immediately, however. He shuddered the second he remembered that pain. “How much longer do I have to be here?” he asked sharply, and Gabriel finally straightened up and looked at him, the small frown back on his forehead. “Until the end of the month,” he said slowly. “I told you that already.” “Right,” Desmond muttered and stabbed his cigarette in the ashtray. “Good night,” he said and got up. “Gonna try and get some sleep?” Gabriel asked. Desmond gritted his teeth. One of those days, he is going to break his neck, he thought. For all this – the imprisonment, the damn politeness, his bloody perceptiveness, and his goddamn soft-looking hair. “Yeah,” he said and walked out of the kitchen. He collapsed on the couch and closed his eyes. Sleep was out of the question; he’d just lie here until the sun was up. It’s this whole situation, he thought. That’s what it was. That and the fact that the last time he got laid was quite a while ago. He thought about that. It was some girl that time; she was a green-eyed redhead, and she was very easy. He remembered her saying that one of her boyfriends was a Walker – he could walk between the worlds. Desmond sometimes wondered what that would feel like. Anyway, she said that after his last trip, he told her a wild story about some world, where apparently, same-sex love was frowned upon. Persecuted, even. Desmond remembered telling her, that the world in question was probably under-populated, which made sense. You don’t want the entire race to die out, therefore, you make certain rules. No, she said back then, her freckled skin smooth against Desmond’s body. Her boyfriend told her that the place was, in fact, overpopulated. Desmond remembered frowning in confusion at that. “Why would they care then?” he asked, and the girl shrugged. “Some say that their God forbids it,” she said, and that confused Desmond even more. “God?” he repeated. “Why the hell would God even care about that? God is a sexless, indifferent, and vengeful bastard; he doesn’t give a damn about humans!” The girl laughed softly, her warm breath in Desmond’s hair. “Different God, love,” she said. “Their God is different from ours. They call him the Savior or something like that...” The Savior... Desmond snorted. Different God, indeed. The God he knew was anything but the Savior. The whole concept still didn’t make much sense to him. “Why would it matter?” he remembered himself saying. “I mean, a mate is a mate. When you find one, it doesn’t matter what gender they are... It’s the same as...” he thought for a second. “It’s the same as making everyone to have the same hair color...” “That’s impossible,” the girl sighed. “And stupid...” “My point exactly,” he nodded. “It’s like saying that if you are blonde, you deserve to die...” The girl giggled at that. “Redheads are the best,” she purred, and Desmond laughed. “Well,” she shrugged. “It’s true...! Oh, and they also have some bizarre ritual when it comes to the whole mate thing...” She frowned slightly. “From what he said... Apparently, you have to, like, go through some sort of a process, and you have to sign a piece of paper...” “Well,” Desmond shrugged. “Rituals I can understand... Maybe it makes everything that much more important and sacred, you know...” “No,” the girl giggled again. “Noah... My boyfriend... He said that he managed to score with some woman, who was taken...” She frowned for a second. “I forgot what the word was... ‘Marred’ or something like that...” Desmond just shook his head. Different world, different craziness, he thought. He was thankful, however, that he didn’t have to live in a place like that one. Sure, this world had its problems, but when it came to finding a mate, it was nobody’s business but yours and your mate’s. Well, the immediate family’s too, he thought. But that was different. Family affairs had nothing in common with God or laws or whatever the hell else could pop up on the horizon. “Do you have a mate?” he asked, and the girl just rolled her eyes at him. “Would I be here with you if I had a mate?” she asked, and Desmond shrugged. “Everyone is different,” he said. Usually, when you found your mate, you’d stay with that person until the day one of you died. Nevertheless, everyone was different. Some people would have countless liaisons in spite of having a mate. Desmond never understood that. If you think you found your mate, why would you need to screw someone else? Different strokes for different folks, he figured. “No,” the redhead was saying meanwhile. “I don’t have a mate... When I find one though, I am going to become the definition of ‘purity’!” and she laughed softly. “Do you have a mate, Tony?” Desmond never told anyone his real name. With his line of work, that would be ridiculous and suicidal. “No,” he said to the girl. “I don’t have a mate.” “I don’t think I ever will,” he added in his head, but didn’t say it out loud. That seemed to be good enough for the redhead, because her sun-kissed body somehow wrapped around his, and after that happened, Desmond didn’t give a damn about different worlds or crazy traditions. Desmond sighed deeply and buried his head under the pillow. Dammit, he thought bitterly. Why wasn’t he one of those who only cared about the opposite sex? Up until now, he considered himself to be one of those lucky ones -- the ones who were fine with either gender. The best of both worlds, right? Right... Except, right now, he didn’t feel lucky at all. He muttered, “Shit,” under his breath again, and closed his eyes. To his enormous surprise, he actually fell asleep, and when he woke up in the morning, he realized that he had a blanket over him. He could not remember getting under the blanket last night. Desmond gritted his teeth and thought that if he kept going at this rate, he was not going to have any teeth left rather soon. He eased up on teeth grinding, and concentrated on the task at hand. Get out. Now. “I suppose killing him is not an answer,” he thought gloomily. “The damn spell, that’s the problem...” He sighed, and was startled beyond belief, when the phone rang. “Who’s jumpy now?” he thought miserably, and closed his eyes again. He heard Gabriel walk towards the phone and saying, “Yeah,” after he picked it up. Desmond half-heartedly listened to one side of the conversation, thinking about his options. Sudden surprise in Gabriel’s voice made him open his eyes. “What?” Gabriel said in astonishment. Huh, Desmond thought. Probably has something to do with the Guardians again. “Wonder why he cares so damn much about them,” Desmond eyed him thoughtfully. “No!” Gabriel said heatedly, and Desmond slightly narrowed his eyes . Right now, Gabriel looked pissed off. “No!” he said again and threw a quick glance at Desmond. He frowned, walked into the kitchen, and closed the door. Desmond could move quietly when he wanted to, it was one of his skills. It didn’t matter if the floor was creaky, or even if it were covered with crunchy foil paper – Desmond wouldn’t make a sound. He slid towards the kitchen door and listened intently. “What do you mean, plans changed?” Gabriel was saying. “I don’t care! I told you before, and I am going to tell you again – I am not killing him! What...? No, that’s not the reason and you know it! Uh huh, so you think that blackmailing me is going to work wonders, right? Well, think again... You know what...” Gabriel hissed suddenly. “You can shove it up your ass! Go lick Salamanders’ boots; they can always use a bitch like you!” That was the clear indication that the conversation was over. When Gabriel stormed into the room, Desmond was stretched on the couch under the blanket, in the same position as he was in when Gabriel went into the kitchen. “Trouble?” Desmond asked casually after Gabriel slammed the phone down. The assassin watched him press both palms into the table, his back rigid. “I don’t know,” he said finally and turned around. “I need to leave for a few hours.” Desmond sighed. “Fine,” he kicked off the blanket. “Let me eat something first.” Gabriel slowly shook his head, and Desmond felt a prick of annoyed anger beneath his eyelids. “I swear to God, I am going to...” “I am not going to cuff you,” Gabriel said, and Desmond blinked without finishing his thought. “If somehow, you manage to get rid of the spell, then so be it. I don’t think you’ll be able to though,” he added. “I’ll be back in a few hours...” Desmond narrowed his eyes. This was new. It seemed that Gabriel didn’t want him to be incapacitated in case if something happened while he was gone. “Who would be able to take off that spell?” he wondered, and then the last phrase of the conversation he heard a minute ago, popped up in his head. “Go lick Salamanders’ boots...” Salamanders? What in holy hell did they have to do with this whole thing? The Salamanders family was one of the oldest and most powerful families around. Not just in this city, but pretty much all over the world. Desmond felt a very unpleasant cold shiver running down his spine when he realized that the Salamanders would be perfectly capable of getting rid of Gabriel’s spell. Apparently, the Salamanders want him dead, which explained the overheard conversation. Desmond wasn’t surprised. Considering the fact that Specter was the one who successfully wasted Salamander-Senior three years ago... Desmond still wondered about that case once in a while. He had no idea who hired him. Usually, it was not difficult for him to find out who was hiding behind an anonymous order, but that particular case was nothing but a dead end. Whoever ordered the hit was insanely good at covering their tracks. Desmond got his payment perfectly on time after the job was finished, and when he tried to do his usual research on the client, he came out empty-handed. Finally, he gave up on trying to figure it out. Whoever hired him had their reasons to go to such lengths to remain anonymous. After all, if you hire an assassin to kill off one of the most powerful men in the bloody world, you might want to take certain precautions so nobody finds out that you are the one behind the screen. Desmond watched Gabriel leave, and after the door was shut, he went into the kitchen to get some food.
  • Create New...

Important Information

Our Privacy Policy can be found here. We have placed cookies on your device to help make this website better. You can adjust your cookie settings, otherwise we'll assume you're okay to continue..