"You're mine, Riki," a voice breathed into his ear. "Forever."
Suddenly, he felt his arms bound to his body. Lifeless metal locked against his skin. Uncomprehending, he began to struggle against the constaints. His eyes forced open and he glanced down at his bonds. Strong arms wrapped around his chest and soft platinum wisps played at his face.
"No!" A cold room, dark and uninhabited. A single light in the middle, by a familiar face. "Never. Never his. What does he have that I don't?"
"You'll always be mine."
"You're free now, Riki. He can't control you."
"Forever mine. . ."
The shuffling of feet slowly pulled him to the edges of consciousness. A soft thud and click, then silence. He felt a presence looming over him, and then soft pressure against his lips. Guy. Keeping his eyes closed, he waited for the footsteps to recede and fade into the hall.
If he saw Guy now, he would never be able to. . .
Riki felt a churning in his stomach as his awareness caught up with him. Lazily, he opened his eyes and pushed himself up on the bed. It still hurt, but not as greatly as he had expected it to. Not after four years.
Tentatively, a questing hand reached out to the table and began its search for his watch.
*Reconsider. I do this, and it will be beyond the point of no return. I'm throwing everything away.*
But his hand did not pause, and his mind watched calmly as he sent his signal to Katze.
There was nothing to save anymore.
Slowly, he stood and surveyed the room. Empty bottles, strewn jackets, yet otherwise bare. Everything else had been readied. Riki sighed and eased himself into a chair. The last three days had been spent mostly talking. Guy working out their plans, and Riki. . .Riki working out his own.
*I've been sitting behind enemy lines, consulting with the leader. And now. . .now I turn neutral.*
//We can leave, Riki. Now that you're no longer tied to him, we can leave altogether. We'll say good-bye to everything; to Tanagura, to the Slum. We're free. We'll start over, and this will all become a nightmare from the past.//
//I have to take care of something first, but then, we go, and he'll never come near you again.//
And he had spent the three days listening to promises of the future, and silently rejecting them. Would they work? He'd never know.
*You thought your enemy was Iason, Guy, but you made yourself blind to the reality. The enemy is me. Iason will not touch us now, but I. . .I was the traitor all along.*
And now, his betrayal was final, and Katze would soon come to ruin the golden mold of Hell they had crafted.
But Guy had been right about one thing. Iason would never see him again. No, he would keep the memories of the blonde strands in his fingers, the warmth of the arms around him, the whisper of the voice. He would lock them away, and keep them forever secret, and never have to remember or think of Iason's reaction if he were to see him now.
It would be over. Iason would harbor no further qualms over setting him free. And of all the things Iason had done to him, truly setting him free would be the one Riki wouldn't be able to bear.
*I was stupid. I wasn't careful enough, and my pride had not been able to protect me. And now I have nothing left. No mind, no pride, and no heart.*
Now, the blue eyes would appear only in his thoughts, etched into his memory. Cold and clear and devoid of all emotion, as they had always been.
He closed his eyes, and Iason's gazed back at him, unfeeling and empty. There was nothing in them, just as there had been nothing in Iason.
He had lost himself to nothing.
And maybe one of these days, his feelings would fade to such, as well.
He reeled over, suddenly and helplessly, and a sob rose in his throat.
*Enjoy these tears, Iason. They will be the last I ever shed for you.*
Footsteps echoed in the hall, and Riki quickly dried his face, composing his expression. Katze entered the room and walked to stand before him.
"I thought it would be something like this."
*Like what?* he wanted to ask, although he knew that was not what Katze meant. *How did you know, when I myself had no idea?*
"Indeed, you're such a hopeless case."
*More than you know, Katze. Hope was lost years ago; there is no hope for hope.*
"Who's the mastermind? Is it Guy?"
*Was it Guy? No. My mind is the pivot now.*
But enough. Enough playing games, enough avoiding questions, enough toying with semantics. He had called Katze; now he had to face the facts. And in facing the facts, he had to face the truth, and give the truth. No lies. "How is Iason?"
*It does not matter. I should not care. But how I wish I could say I didn't.*
"Go and see for yourself."
And there his mind died. He would never be able to go back, if only because he would never be wanted. And the thought encased him, and the words came out of his mouth without design, and then he was in Katze's car, riding to Dana Bahn to make his treachery complete.
*I'm sorry, Guy. I should have said something sooner. But I couldn't. And I can't. I'm the faulty link in the chain. I can't go through with what you ask.*
*And why not?* his mind asked him as it had asked a hundred times. He didn't know. He couldn't return to Iason or to captivity, but he couldn't live out his life with Guy. He wouldn't be able to live knowing that. . .
*Knowing that I betrayed him for Guy.*
That was it, wasn't it? He had been foolish--he had been foolish to not follow Katze's advice and leave a long time ago. He had been foolish to think that his return would solve his feelings, and foolish to believe that there was an answer to them. He had gone back to the man who had framed and massacred his friends, a sadist, manipulative and selfish; he had gone back to a man who had risked his own position and social well-being to please him in his forbidden demands. If the former were true, he had tied himself to a monster; if the latter were, he had laid out his heart and soul to a glimpse of what could never and would never be. He should have forgotten about Iason, and gone when he could still save himself. And now, it was all ruined.
*I'm sorry, Guy. I could have left him for myself, and should have. But I will never be able to deal with leaving him for someone else.*
They had arrived. Riki began to climb out of his seat when Katze's hand on his own stopped him. He glanced back at the man to see him nod shortly and give his hand a tight squeeze. He nodded in response, and made his way to the tunnels of Dana Bahn.
And then he heard something. A scream, blood-curdling and unbound, which he had never heard before, and yet sounded so eerily familiar. Guy. Awkwardly, he stumbled in the direction of the shriek, and came upon a door. A locked door, with Guy on the other side, with Guy and his farewell and the chaos of knowing that he was entirely lost in the situation on the other side. He beat against it frantically, and at last it slid open and revealed what he had never hoped to see.
And before he could react, he felt the familiar arms close about him, and a face nestle into his hair, and the soft strands against his cheek.
And he wanted almost to cry out of joy, at the sheer unexpectedness of a gesture so simple and so sweet at the hands of a man he had not thought capable of either trait. It occurred to Riki that this was the first time Iason had embraced him, the first time he had held him with no lechery or lust in his intentions, the first time he had ever expressed. . ..care? And his mind crossed to the enemy lines once more, and reminded him of the many dreams he had had of Iason and himself, together, involved in nothing but the other's presence, and--
And then he remembered.
*He doesn't know, does he?*
The thought numbed him, and everything became simply another dream, another deceptive illusion. Abruptly, tremors rocked the walls. Riki was jarred from Iason's arms and was able to see inside the room and to the purpose of his coming: Guy. Guy, who now lay unconscious, bruised and mangled, in the middle of the room.
His only friend. His only friend, whom Iason had left in a bloody mass of the floor.
"Why?!" he cried, his mind receding into him. He had been foolish. "You promised not to hurt him!"
"It is an inevitable retribution," Iason murmured back, but his words were lost on Riki as he produced a silver ring in his hand.
And nothing made sense. Iason had known. He had known, and he had. . .
And something in Riki's mind, something he had always known, yet had tried to leave Iason despite of--no, *because* of--made its way to the surface of his comprehension. Iason loved him. And the new clarity, the intense irony of the situation, the irony he had tried to avoid because of how utterly tragic it was, raped him of the meager remnants of his will, and he collapsed within himself. And with his pride now gone, he stopped caring about the consequences of a consequent situation, and begged. He had lost; his final possessions, his beliefs, had all been robbed of him. But Guy could still recover. He had betrayed him, and it was his responsibility to help his escape. He couldn't do anything about it--he was wholly and painfully helpless-but Iason could. So he pleaded and prayed, and Iason's words came, if possible, as a harder blow than any he had felt so far.
"Do you love him. . .so much?"
There was pain--pain!--in Iason's eyes, but he was not capable of registering or caring anymore. He couldn't face having caused it, and he couldn't face Iason, and he couldn't face the fact he was likely going to die in a moment--and he couldn't bring himself to mind. And then Iason was carrying Guy down the hallways to the exit and Riki was following, and his thoughts leveled out.
He hates Guy, Riki realized. Probably more than anybody in the world. But he's doing it. For me. Because I asked.
Another memory, another thought to bring him agony in later years. But what else could he do? It was over. At least that part of his plan remained consistent.
The building trembled, and debris began to dislodge from the ceiling. A slab fell, and Riki was knocked to the ground. Suddenly, the heavy weight above him was lifted, and he felt Iason pick him off the ground like so much a toy and resume his way to the doors.
Which were closing. Slowly, almost unbelievably, the gates were beginning their trek to the hard floor.
Riki felt Iason move, and was suddenly thrown through the entrance. He picked himself up gingerly, and looked around. Guy was lying beside him, and Iason sat by the shut gates. He almost laughed, but the weakness in Iason's voice stopped him:
"Are you all right?"
A stupid question. It wasn't important. They were all safe.
And then his eyes traveled the distance, and locked on the torn flesh, the red blood soaking into the cloth, the bone showing through the meat and muscle.
He didn't need to ask, or to think. It was clear.
In all the three days, in all the planning and listening, Riki had thought that he had gone through all the possibilities. He had seen himself dying, had seen Guy dying, had seen them both shot by the police or captured and brought before the law. But it had not occurred to him that something might hurt Iason. Nothing could hurt Iason.
And he wanted to rush over, to throw himself to the floor in apology, to somehow express the heavy feeling of lead filling his stomach and threatening to explode in his heart. Instead, he heard words, telling him to go, to leave, and he obeyed. This had to have a light at the end of the tunnel. He would perhaps awake, in the desolate room he had hidden in with Guy, or maybe even with Iason, and would see that it was a dream. But as he slowly pulled Guy away from the fallings rocks and cinders, he realized that he was leaving the dream. Sitting against a steel door that suited it perfectly, disfigured and destroyed and ultimately unattainable.
His eyes closed, and when they opened, Katze was peering into his face, worriedly. He was saying something, but Riki couldn't hear him. He had only one thing left to take care of, only one final responsibility, and then. . .
"Help Guy," he managed.
"Don't pass out," Katze was saying, helping him off the ground.
"Haven't got time for that. Still inside. . ..Iason's. . .still inside."
One final responsibility, and then, everything else was free.
Katze's face contorted angrily. "And you just left him there?"
And then the anger turned to disbelief as he understood, at practically the same time as Riki, his next plan of action.
Riki opened his mouth, and heard an explanation come out. Iason had helped him, had helped Guy. . .
But it was a lie. It had nothing to do with Guy, and it had nothing to do with Dana Bahn. It had to do only with Iason and Riki, and some remote part of Riki had a long time ago decided on one thing: Iason. And having decided, it could do nothing but continue, and he offered only petty excuses as he stood, walked back through the flames and the dirt, and came to stand before the enemy he loved so much despite the hatred in his heart.
"Bet you're bored on your own. Thought you might want someone to talk to. Tell me if I'm a nuisance and I'll shut up. It's not my style to flirt, but I can at least curl up by your feet."
And because his mind had been following little, if any, rationale, he realized that now that he had come to his decision, he did not in the least know what to do. He had, in any case, come here for Iason. His purpose was to make Iason feel better, no matter what he had to do.
Yet that wasn't true. He had come for himself, and everything from here on in would lead to the same source.
*I do love you, Iason. I don't know if you are human enough to accept my type of love, but everything I do now comes from my heart. I betrayed you before, but this you can trust.*
He sat down and reached for the cigarettes he vaguely remembered Katze giving him. "You want one?"
"Could do." Iason's voice was soft, drained of its strength, but still the voice he knew and still the voice he loved. "Not bad to have a last smoke with you."
Gently, he lifted a cigarette to Iason's familiar lips--perhaps too familiar. He carefully lit the tip and watched the blonde man inhale slowly. Setting down the lighter, he brought the end of his cigarette to Iason's. "This is our last deep kiss."
Iason regarded him steadily, and it seemed to Riki that he understood, after all. He sighed--partly in content, partly in regret--and leaned back into Iason's shoulder.
This wasn't at all as important as it should have felt. It didn't matter, in the long run. They were going to die, but in the end, was it really any worse than their living? Above all, Iason had seen his love for him. He knew, and Riki was happy.
Riki breathed another and drank everything in. The blue eyes gazing into his own, the pale locks framing the stoic face, the protective feel of the arm around his shoulders. It was another memory, another thing to be locked away with the rest. But nobody would open the safe again, now, and it would never haunt him as it could. It was another memory, but as he prepared to store it within him, there seemed to be nothing wrong with blending the memory and the dream.
There's no time for us
There's no place for us
What is this thing
That builds our dreams
Yet slips away from us?
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Who. . .?
There's no chance for us
It's all been decided for us
This world has only one sweet moment
Set aside for us
Who want to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Who. . .?
Now touch my tears with your lips
Touch my world with your fingertips
And we could hide forever
And we could love forever
Forever is all today
Who wants to live forever?
Who wants to live forever?
Who. . .?
Who waits forever anyway. . .?
- "Who Wants To Live Forever?"
Sarah Brightman, Brian May