A/N: Betad by Charity ❤️
Morning dawned; a path of light ran across the room from the cap between the curtains. Michael stared numbly at the source of light, he blinked once, twice, a steady ache consuming his existence. His chest rose and fell, he was alive, but what an odd existence it was.
His hand shackled to the railing of the bed, and he existed only so that the monsters could devour his body a little longer. He existed, waiting for the death they would eventually surrender him to.
The beddings had been changed, it was clean and the stench of the crimes of the previous night no longer violated his nostrils. He wasn’t sure he had slept, he wasn’t sure how much time had passed. He ached all over, but he was alive, the pain reminded him of being alive. And then his stomach growled, reminding him of these simple things that staying alive required.
This was hell, he had been here before, but now it looked and felt different. Ricky delayed his suffering, playing with him for the one last time. One of the men had been the same one who had visited the restaurant a week earlier and asked what portion of fish he recommended.
The man had left him a generous tip and all the while the man had just operated as a scout for Ricky. Michael had thought he would have learned to identify the monsters, but they were too cunning at times.
He didn’t know if he would have enough strength to fight anymore. His mood shifted. The fact that Jean was involved in this, working with Ricky, seemed to crush him. Everything that had been done to him the previous night and earlier…. And Jean… He could never have believed, not even in those weak, dark moments of Jean, in those bursts of violence and jealousy. This revenge planned with Ricky… It felt too cruel and cold. Insensitive. Jean knew what Ricky was!
And Ricky’s words kept repeating in his mind: ‘We also took care of Jean’s ex-boyfriend together.’ It was one of many things he had never learned from Jean’s past. The man had been silent about the details of his youth. Jean rarely talked about his family even though Michael had tried to ask. “They’re not worth remembering,” Jean had always stated when he had tried to ask.
The noise from the door startled him, it creaked open quietly. Michael felt his body tense, were they coming back already?
Jean stepped in, carrying a breakfast tray. Michael frowned, watching the man quietly as he closed the door behind him. He scanned the room, knowing Ricky, there had to be a camera hidden somewhere.
Jean closed the door behind him, walked to the window, and lowered the tray on the table before he opened the curtains to allow more light into the room. He then turned in Michael’s direction and seemed to startle slightly when their eyes met.
The flash of insecurity was quickly brushed off as Jean approached with determination. He leaned closer to him, “medicine,” he merely whispered before kissing him forcefully and Michael had no way to stop him.
The man forced a pill into his mouth with his tongue and grabbed his throat. The grip wasn’t so tight that it would have felt suffocating yet it scared Michael.
“Just swallow it down…. It will numb the pain,” Jean breathed close to his skin and licked his cheek. The man grinned and got up and went to get the tray from the table. Michael stared at him, still confused, angry, and scared at the same time. However, he decided to swallow the medicine given by Jean, there was that moment of indifference, why should he care if it would kill him?
“I brought you breakfast,” Jean said. Michael laid there naked with nothing to shield his body with. The blanket had fallen to the floor or left there; Jean wasn’t sure. He saw bruises, bruises starting in his arms, thighs, and hips. The handcuff had been set so tight that Michael could barely move. Jean took the blanket from the floor and gently placed it to shield Michael’s nudity.
”So, I’m not dying today… or is that my last meal?” Michael asked with a pained voice that hardly carried. His eyes filled with both fear and hatred, the pain of this horrible awareness of what would wait.
“It’s not the last,” Jean said quietly.
“Do you know how it happens? Will he shoot me, will he use a knife? Or will you all just rape me until I die?” His voice broke at the end, hoarse from all the screaming and… Jean lowered his gaze and felt his eyes watering as he saw them running down Michael’s face.
Jean knew he had no right to cry, he shouldn’t show his emotions. The monster had its firm eyes on his every reaction, he was sure of it.
He needed a drink, oh how he longed for it, just one sip, surely it wasn’t too much to ask?
“I don’t know,” Jean admitted with a sunken voice. He came closer and lowered the tray on the nightstand.
Michael gazed at the steaming teacup, half an orange, chopped apple, croissant, and a glass of orange juice. It felt ludicrous that Jean was offering him such a beautiful breakfast after the ugliness he had been forced to endure the previous night.
Tears still ran slowly from his eyes. Jean had treated him badly, but he could have never imagined anything like this from him. What had been true between them? And that pill Jean had given it wasn’t Ricky’s idea. How had Jean managed to get it past the monster? Why did he now offer relief when he had been the one to help bring him into this hell.
“Michael, I-” Jean started quietly as he dug the handcuff key Ricky had given him. He loosened his shackles so Michael could sit up to eat if he wanted to. He shook his head and cleared his throat, ”you can sit up if you want.”
Michael turned to his side and moaned, his hand was numb, and sore after a long time in the same position. He rolled awkwardly to his side, closing his eyes for a moment, gritting his teeth as he tried to shift into a more comfortable position.
“Why Jean? Do you hate me so much, that I have to die like this?… When do you and… Ricky? God, I do not understand.”
“It’s not what you think,” Jean said quietly, switching from English to French and Michael looked at him, frowning. He wondered if any of the other monsters spoke French.
“I don’t even know what I think,” Michael gasped, speaking French now as well, ”you told Ricky where to find me.”
”My weak moment, really weak,” Jean whispered looking irritated.
“He’s watching us. There must be cameras here,” Michael said quietly looking at Jean in disgust.
“Maybe,” Jean sat on the bed and brought his hand to Michael’s thigh, caressing him, and Michael tried in vain to escape the touch. Jean brought his hand to his crotch. ”If there are cameras here, he has to see me bring you this discomfort,” he said and Michael closed his eyes bitterly, ”if you hadn’t started the affair with Samuel, we wouldn’t be in this mess.” Jean continued and grabbed a tight grip on Michael’s hair. ”I would have protected you,” Michael let out a harsh, dry chuckle and spat in Jean’s face.
”That’s for your protection!” he spoke. Jean growled and tucked his hair tighter, before slapping his face with an open palm.
”Do you want my help or not?” he asked, ”do you want to die here, or will you be mine?” Michael narrowed his gaze and breathed excitedly.
“Do you think Ricky would let you go, Jean? No, all of this,“ Michael closed his eyes for a moment, ”he doesn’t care about anyone but himself and is willing to sacrifice anyone if it benefits him in any way,” Michael looked into Jean’s eyes again. ”You’re the scapegoat and he’s going to kill us both, I’m sure.” Jean gritted his teeth.
“Maybe, but the most important thing is that he thinks I think I’ll survive. And I’ll survive if you want to survive with me. I saved you once and I’m ready to save you again, but then you will belong to me.” Michael watched the man quietly, tensely. Jean had to be mad, with a divided personality or something.
Jean wanted to be his savior while at the same time he was the one who had gotten him into this hell. He had arranged to get him here only so that he could save him again. At the same time, he was placing his own life at risk.
The truth, however, was that there were too many men, and he alone was too weak. Jean’s help would at least provide an opportunity. Michael was silent, his throat tightening. Ricky was a sadist and no matter the way he had planned his murder, it would hardly be quick. “I want to be free, Jean…” Michael whispered hoarsely. “I don’t want to die, not this way…” Death would mean Ricky would win. He couldn’t let that happen.
”Do you promise me we’ll be together again?” Jean asked hopefully. Michael despised the man’s means; love was dead between them if it ever had been breathing in the first place.
He didn’t know how Jean imagined they would get away, the men held power. Still, at that moment, Michael was ready to seize even that small opportunity.
“Help me,” Michael pleaded, ”I need you, Jean.” It seemed difficult to say, but it was true. He would never forgive Jean for this, but right now the man had to believe he could be compensated for his actions.
Ricky’s games couldn’t go on for long, anymore. Sam knew who the man was, Ricky danced on the edge of the abyss and Michael wondered if the man understood it. For him, though, could it be too late? Oh, how he still thirsted to see the final destruction of the monster. If a man were not stopped, Lord only knew how many more lives he would still devour before his death.
“We, get out of here, together. Trust me,” Jean whispered and planted a new kiss on his lips.
Sam hadn’t slept. Anxiety about Michael’s fate felt like physical pain in his chest. Sam drooped in front of the kitchen table and drank his fifth cup of tea while staring at his cell phone that was placed on the table in front of him. He hoped the cell phone would ring and he would be notified that Michael had been found. Authorities were now also investigating Ricky’s possible involvement and Sam hoped to be informed that the man was still in his home country. It would only be worse for Michael if Ricky was behind his disappearance.
When his phone suddenly started to ring for an alarm, Sam was startled and almost spilled his tea. He had set it the previous morning, to remind him and Michael to leave early to get Michael’s parents from the airport. With a heavy heart, he turned off the alarm and brought his hand to cover his eyes for a moment. His eyes stung, an uncomfortable feeling in his throat that refused to set. Michael had been expecting this day so much. Now that excitement haunted his consciousness. That sparkle in his eyes, his smile, the soft chord of his laughter when…
“It feels so surreal! I’ll finally get to see them tomorrow! I feel both excited and nervous at the same time!” They had been getting ready to leave for work. Michael had planted a warm, enthusiastic kiss on his cheek that Sam could now feel ghosting against his skin.
How unlucky the timing… Sam thought, swallowing bitterly, his lower lip quivered as the tears forced their way from his eyes. Michael’s parents would be just as excited if not more … He didn’t know how to face them. How would he tell them that Michael had gone missing again? He didn’t know what to say, but there was no time to dwell on it.
Sam got up and forced himself into action. With heavy steps, he walked to the bedroom to change. Michael’s t-shirt and the shorts he had slept in, were left on top of the bed. On the bedside table was a teacup left by Michael the previous morning. There was still a third of tea in the cup, they had left in a hurry. It brought tears in his eyes, and another wave of pain gripping his chest, unlike any pain he had ever experienced. “You have to come back. Come back,” he whispered brokenly.
With a heavy heart, Sam arrived at the airport. People started walking out of the gates. Sam raised a sign against his chest: Mr. & Mrs. Wills. He looked broken and miserable and knew it.
The woman was beautiful; dark brown, naturally curly hair, slim and stylish. The man next to him was tall, bulky, but not fat. In the picture Michael had shown, the man’s hair had been dark brown, almost black, but now it was almost completely gray. Sam wondered if Michael’s disappearance had grayed the man faster.
The couple looked around and Sam knew they were looking around in expectation to see their son at long last. His heart felt heavy to witness that excitement on their features and the knowledge of how it would soon crumble before him.
And indeed, the excitement slowly melted to make way for a worried confusion when they saw him and the sign he was holding. The woman was still looking around for her son, clearly not wanting to see what Sam’s face told.
The man reached for his wife’s hand and pulled her alongside him, gently guiding her towards where Sam stood. The woman still held confusion on her features, but the man already seemed to know that the news he would soon hear would pain him. His features had hardened, the joy Sam had briefly seen in his blue eyes, now replaced with worry.
”Samuel?” The man asked and Sam nodded miserably, he lowered the sign to his side.
“Henry Wills,” the man held out his hand and Sam grabbed it, not immediately finding his voice. The man’s eyes were watery and glimmering. The woman still looked around anxiously.
“I’m sorry,” Sam spoke with a hoarse voice, ”he couldn’t make it,” he swallowed. This was not the place to talk.
”Did he have to work after all?” The woman looked at him still not wanting to believe what she already saw in his gaze. Warm-brown eyes, so like Michael’s, were already filled with tears that the woman was desperately trying to fight.
“Maybe we could talk somewhere more private,” Sam suggested quietly.
“No… This can’t happen,” she began to sob, ”tell me that he’s okay!”
People that walked by eyed them curiously. Sam swallowed.
“Tell me he’s okay! I want to see my son!”
”Shh… Evelyn, calm down,” the man gently pulled his wife into his arms.
”I’m sorry, Michael disappeared last night… Police have already been notified,” Sam’s voice was hollow with grief. This was awful. This was a nightmare. The woman began to cry, moaning as if in physical pain, and Sam felt himself fall deeper into that grim reality. The mother’s creeping grief seemed to drag him further down to the horrible spiral of despair. He didn’t honestly know if Michael would come back.
** ^^ ** ^^ **
Henry Wills felt a painful stab in his chest. At that moment, God seemed to mock him. At that moment, his faith faltered, but it was not the first time. During those five years, faith had often faltered but he had managed to come to terms with his God. God tested; however, this test might be one too many for him to get past.
But as Evelyn collapsed, he found the power to put aside his pain for a moment and the feeling that he wanted to throw himself on the ground and give up. He was strong and shared that strength with his wife, who had lost hers. He would refuse to believe that he would never see his son again.
They arrived at Samuel’s apartment. The atmosphere was strange. They were in an apartment where their son had only been a day earlier. In the company of a man whom their son loved and who loved him. The young man was broken, that was obvious. Yet he managed to act sensibly and support himself in a way that Henry appreciated.
They were all silent in the wake of the burst. Sam offered to make tea and they accepted the offer. Five years of longing and now they were so close. Henry looked around, there were a lot of pictures. Grief squeezed his chest. He had wondered if his son would have changed much.
In the picture his wife had grabbed, Michael smiled happily in Samuel’s embrace. The boy had grown up, of course, but he still looked the same as he remembered. Henry’s eyes began to water again.
Tears welled up in Evelyn’s eyes and the woman trembled. She had believed she could finally close her son in her arms, imagined she could apologize and assure her love. Henry put his hand on her shoulder. “Why,” she moaned, ”why…”
Henry pulled her into a securing hug. He could not answer, no words were found.
“He can still be found. Michael will be found soon,” Henry then assured with a whisper, ”he has to be found.”
Police came to visit Sam’s apartment and received confirmation of Sam’s account. Michael was the same boy who had disappeared five years earlier from Plymouth, England.
At the same time, they learned that Richard Larkin had left New York two days earlier. Sam felt that horrible stab in his chest, he now knew Ricky was behind Michael’s disappearance even though it couldn’t be confirmed. They were also told that they had tried to reach Mr. Larkin concerning another disappearance.
It was a meager comfort that the authorities took the situation seriously. Michael’s disappearance five years earlier had been reopened and Ricky’s possible involvement was investigated.
The truth was, that the false front Ricky had created for himself had already started to crack well before Jean contacted him.
Richard Larkin had survived for years, of many crimes, rape, kidnapping, and even murder. It had only been a matter of time before his arrogance would take the best of him and grumble that well-played front, revealing piece by piece all the horrid obscenity behind his surface.