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#He reminds me of Macbeth
itspileofgoodthings · 3 months ago
Today I am thinking about the fact that when Romeo receives the news of Juliet’s death (“death”) he just shuts down. The words on the page almost seem cold and empty; they have none of his usual flair or fire. And you’re almost tempted to ask “does he even . . . care?” and then you realize that he can’t hold a thought in his head to its conclusion, that he can’t focus on one thing at a time, that he speaks in short fits and starts because he’s utterly wrapped in a dark fog of despair, the likes of which he’s never known before. He can’t be dramatic because he’s ALWAYS dramatic; this hits and hurts him so much more profoundly than anything he’s ever known and words are truly not enough to express the depths of his sorrow or despair. And so he clings to blind and violent action as his instant recourse.
And it’s masterful (and gutting) the way that Shakespeare turns his usual eloquence on its head like that and takes away his ability to put into words what he’s losing. It’s transformative, and not for the better or the more beautiful. In an awful way, Juliet’s death hardens Romeo instantly into a man not a boy: a man of action, violence, and despair. Grief alone has been able to transform him into the kind of man Verona and this feud have expected him and pressured and raised him to be: a man who’s only response is violence. He uses all his remaining wits and strength and purpose to go to her tomb. And there is something about his journey to her that is that of the bird flying home to its nest because there is still something about Romeo that is a boy (only the love twisting into grief in his heart) but there is also something about his journey that is that of a man running straight off a cliff into a pit of snakes, into the arms of violent destruction, because love itself has finally died and nothing else remains.
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delimeful · 25 days ago
you cant go back (2)
warnings: fear, miscommunication, guilt, mentions of theoretical gore/injury, dehumanization, referring to a person as 'it', general angst
For the fourth day in a row, Lady Macbeth had spurned him.
Roman frowned, pulling the strap of his messenger bag over his head and tossing it over the back of a kitchen chair.
Lady was old, smug, and occasionally very cranky, but she wasn’t deaf like Ophelia-- she always came prancing over once she heard his keys rattling in the lock, delighted at the opportunity to smear cat hair all over his pants and get her claws stuck in his shoelaces.
Yet here he stood, catless.
For the past few days, too, she hadn’t been in the house at all when he got home. He’d been downright worried that first day, uneasy until she strolled back in at dusk.
They had an expansive backyard that their younger cats took delight in frolicking in, but their second-oldest cat was a rare visitor to the outdoors. Lady was first and foremost a homebody, and she preferred a warm body to sit on. Their squishy heat-generating human bodies were the only reason she hadn’t assassinated them all in their sleep by now, according to--
Roman cut the thought off sharply, feeling familiar grief pit up in his throat. He shook his head, the motion harsh enough to make his neck twinge. There was no time for standing about and pondering! He had a cat to locate!
A determined jut to his chin, he grabbed what supplies he would need for this perilous journey-- cat treats, a catnip toy, even a tempting cardboard box-- and strode confidently out the backdoor.
For the next half-hour, he wandered around the acres of their property, greeting each of the goats and chickens by name as he checked all the most common cat hidey-holes.
He’d almost given up by the time he stumbled across the old barn, pant legs covered in burrs and the beginnings of a sunburn across the back of his neck. Whatever delightful cat secrets Lady was so busy with, surely he could discover them when it wasn’t the middle of summer.
Just before he could turn around, though, he noticed that one of the doors was just slightly ajar.
Roman felt his brow gradually scrunch up the longer he stared at it. It had been locked up after the last of the old supplies had been moved from it, hadn’t it? The last big storm had proved it wasn’t weather-worthy, his dad had plans to take it apart for timber, ones that had seemingly been forgotten after… afterwards.
Petty inconveniences of getting there forgotten, Roman crept closer on light feet, grip tight on the catnip mouse in his hand. The wind died down at an eerily perfect moment, and he strained to hear beyond those old wooden walls.
Not everything is a grand conspiracy, a voice in his head reminded him, sounding suspiciously similar to Specs, it could simply be someone without housing that took the opportunity for shelter provided by the abandoned barn.
Roman sidled halfway through the ajar door, and froze at the sight of an upright humanoid figure only a few meters away. Something about it wasn't right, instantly putting him on edge. He kept staring, waiting for his eyes to adjust.
(“I’m telling you, these lights were strange even by my standards! Almost… alien.” An unsettling grin that was a beat late.)
The figure’s head was dropped forward, but he could tell even from this distance that it wasn’t human, with shiny purple-grey segmented skin and legs with knees facing the wrong way. It had spiky shoulder joints, but its arms seemed to be tucked behind it.
(Roman had shoved him off the couch, sour about being taken in by one of his tales, and he hadn’t brought it up again.)
Most alarming of all, there were four long, spindly limbs stretched out into the air behind it, seemingly spawning from its back. The legs were spider-like in nature, but shiny instead of hairy, and each one ended in a sharp point. As he watched, he could see the limbs shifting slowly, pairs of them lifting and falling in odd synchrony with the creature’s slow breathing.
(Roman had been freaked out, and his brother had dropped the subject. He should’ve asked, he should have known something was wrong--)
“Miaow.” A plaintive voice called, nearly startling Roman out of his skin.
He tore his gaze away from the (alien) mystery intruder, and felt his jaw drop as he took in Lady Macbeth’s current position. Loafing on the feet of an insidious intruder?!
For shame, he mouthed silently at her.
Lady blinked slowly and continued to purr, unbothered by his accusatory stare. One of those spider limbs shifted again, making Roman swallow nervously. He really didn’t want to see what sort of automatic reaction an extraterrestrial’s stabby-arms would have to finding a cat in its space.
He waved the catnip mouse enticingly. Lady gave him the bland look of a cat who had preferred those expensive feather toys for as long as he had known her. Roman resisted the urge to facepalm.
The insanely dangerous method it was, then.
Putting all his sneaking skills to use, he sidled further into the barn, dropping into a crouch and beginning to creep across the dirt floor as slowly as possible. Each step was carefully placed, almost entirely silent, and whenever those freaky appendages twitched, he froze in place for a full thirty seconds.
The alien’s head remained lax (asleep?) as he drew closer, but Lady refused to entertain his desperate motions for her to leave her ill-chosen bed. At this rate, he’d have to pick her up off of it, and hope that she didn’t complain too much on the way out.
He shifted his weight forwards, and suddenly all four of the arms were still, almost taut in the air. Only a couple feet away, the alien’s head bobbed slightly. His time was up.
Clenching his teeth, Roman made a gamble.
He tossed the little mouse toy directly at the space above the alien’s head and dove for Lady.
There was a whistle, like a whip or an arrow sliding through the air, and Roman made the mistake of glancing up as soon as he had his hands securely around Lady’s body.
All four of the spider limbs had jabbed into the same point, skewering the toy from several different angles. The alien was certainly awake now, and it had four times as many eyes as any one person could reasonably need. Between one heartbeat and the next, those huge dark irises went from staring at the poor mutilated toy to staring at Roman.
Terror shot through him and he gave up on subtlety, throwing himself back as hard as he could and hoping that he made it out of range.
He landed on his back with a whomp that knocked the wind out of him, and flinched as that terrifying whistling sound split the air again, ending in a muted thump. He was so wired with adrenaline that he couldn’t tell if he’d been hit or not. Locked in his arms, Lady writhed and complained loudly.
“Not going anywhere,” Roman wheezed, “you little fiend, con-- consorting with the enemy.”
There were several more whistle-thumps, which was either very good or very bad for him. He rolled to his side, pushing himself up on an elbow and taking stock of himself, braced for the worst.
The alien was still standing there against the central support beam of the barn. Half a foot from Roman’s leg, it's very sharp extra arms had left holes pierced in the hard-packed dirt of the barn’s floor.
“But no holes in me,” Roman cheered weakly, and then shifted Lady to the crook of one arm and flipped the alien off. “Nice try, Space Invader.”
The alien made a deep clicking rumble, but stopped trying to impale him. Instead, it moved to hold all those limbs high up in the air menacingly, ready to stab down at any point. The remains of the toy mouse sat near its feet, cotton innards spilling everywhere like a grim warning.
Roman got to his own feet, wincing at the feeling of Lady’s claws poking into his ribs as she attempted to kick her way to freedom. He took a moment to stare once he was back upright.
The alien’s skin plates had gone completely pitch-black, only the slightest hints of purple between the plates to prove that there’d ever been any color to it at all. Roman was abruptly glad that he hadn’t encountered it in the dark of night.
Its eyes were just as dark, with only the slightest difference in shades of black to indicate the difference between iris and sclera. Despite his artistic eye for color differences, even Roman couldn’t tell where its pupils were. If it even had pupils.
It also was still stuck in one place, despite its legs seeming totally operational. Roman slowly shuffled to the side of it, making sure to keep a few good steps clear of stabbing range, and found that it did in fact have normal arms and hands.
Well. Mostly normal. There were five fingers, but they were all way too long and ended in thick, claw-like points. He thought they also maybe had one or two too many joints.
More to the point, the alien couldn’t do anything with these arms because they were bound together at the wrists and tied tightly to the central support beam of the barn. It was stuck there, and going by the aggressive rumbling it was doing, it knew it.
Roman pulled out his phone and managed to take a shaky video of the alien, circling around it to both get a better angle and prompt it to threateningly twitch those back limbs some more. He knew his sci fi tropes, including the one where the alien mysteriously disappears the moment the plucky protagonist tries to tell anyone about the danger. He wasn’t going to be called crazy again.
Once he was content with the amount of evidence he had, he made the trek back to the house at a near-sprint, the cat in his arms protesting all the way. He burst through the back door, letting the screen fall shut behind him, and finally allowed Lady to walk on the power of her own four paws. She beelined for the screen door, stood up on her hind legs, and rattled it expectantly.
“Absolutely not,” Roman told her firmly, nudging her away. “I don’t know what it is with you and courting death via Xenomorph, but you are henceforth banned from the outdoors.”
If angry little kitty looks could kill, Roman would be as dead as King Duncan.
Shaking his head, he went over to the ancient landline phone in their kitchen, lifted the phone from its cradle, and paused.
Who was he going to call?
He’d had some half-conceived notion of calling his parents, or that infuriating police officer, or even just 911. What would he even say? ‘Hello operator, my emergency is that I have an alien in my barn, I promise this isn’t a prank’? Even the dial tone wouldn’t believe that.
And what if they did get someone out here to verify that there was a real alien? There was little doubt in his mind that law enforcement and then the government would quickly step in, whisking the evil version of E.T. away into some distant Area 51 lab. Roman would never see it-- or get any answers from it-- ever again.
He hung the phone up with a solid click, and turned to face the kitchen.
If he was going to interrogate a hostile alien, he needed to arm himself.
Shockingly, when he returned to the barn, the alien was still there.
He had crept up quietly again, hoping to catch it unawares, but this time it had been staring unerringly at him from the moment he peeked through the door, those smaller, rounder eyes wide open under its main ones.
He pushed the door open further with a dramatic flourish, pretending like he hadn’t been sneaking at all.
“Alien scourge,” Roman greeted, wincing at the crack in his voice. He cleared his throat, ignoring the way the alien’s dark gaze sent chills down his spine. “I don’t know how you ended up here, but I do know that you’re going to give me the information that I need.”
He pointed the end of his weapon of choice for emphasis, and the alien recoiled with a hiss, quickly jabbing out at it with those back arms.
Just as he’d hoped, however, putting vegetable oil on the already-slick plastic handle of the kitchen broom had made it basically impossible for those single-pronged limbs to stab or grab it. He grinned triumphantly, poking the alien with the end of it. The playing field had officially been evened.
“Now, unless you want me to introduce you to the Earth concept of piñatas, you better tell me what you’re here for.”
The alien was entirely silent, watching him with those shiny, pitch-black eyes. Behind it, its spider arms were vibrating with tension, probably in preparation to stab out the moment he slipped up.
“I’m serious,” Roman warned, poking it a little harder and getting exactly nothing for his efforts, not even a glare. “I know what I saw that night, and there’s no way it’s a coincidence that now you’re here. It was an abduction."
He paused for effect, and the alien let out a series of clicks and low, warped sounds that sounded like meaningless nonsense.
"I don't speak alien." Roman frowned. "Tell me what happened. Why were you-- or, your-- your brethren or your shipmates or whatever, why were they taking people? Where did they take them?”
The alien made what sounded like the same exact series of noises. Roman groaned in frustration.
“In-- In English! You understand what I’m saying, don’t you? If aliens are real and have the technology to infiltrate Earth without being detected, they have to have some way of communicating! An insta-translator or telepathy or math nonsense or something!” He threw his arms out in frustration, making the alien twitch.
He paced back and forth for a moment, before coming to a stop in front of the alien again and leveling it with an accusatory stare. “You’re faking it. I don’t believe that you can’t understand me.”
The alien just kept staring at him, flat plates where its mouth should have been, not a single expression visible on its face. It was about as convinced by Roman’s argument as everyone else in his life, which was to say, not at all. He felt a surge of white-hot anger, and levered the broom at its neck threateningly.
“Tell me, right now!” he demanded, stinging tears building up at the corner of his eyes. “Tell me where my brother is!”
He shoved the broom further forwards, and the alien snapped its limbs forwards and knocked it away, startling him into stumbling back. It hissed at him again, stabbing at the ground like a warning. He scowled, swiping at his face with a sleeve, and swung the broom handle at it sharply.
The swing went wide, more than a foot from touching any of it, but the alien showed the closest thing to emotion he’d seen so far, half of its eyes flinching closed in anticipation. Roman felt a sickening twist in his gut, some odd mix of guilt, anger, and vindication, and he turned away sharply.
Not for the first time, he wished he’d been the one that had been taken.
Remus wouldn’t care if the stupid cops didn’t listen to him, if their parents didn’t believe him, if the whole town thought he was insane. He would know how to convince an alien to talk, would threaten to-- to crush its extra eyes or cut off limbs or do something Roman was too squeamish to even think up.
If it was Remus, it wouldn’t matter if he didn’t know what to do. He’d at least do something.
He wouldn’t be going through the motions of life like everything was the same.
Pretending had always been Roman’s specialty, after all.
Roman cast a furious glare over his shoulder at the alien, resentful that it was still staring at him even as he was in the middle of a breakdown, and tossed the broom into the corner.
“I’ll be back tomorrow,” he said, swallowing back the thickness in his voice, “and every day after that until you tell me.”
Threat delivered, he stormed out of the barn and slammed the doors shut behind him.
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ashintheairlikesnow · a month ago
Today, a friend of mine said that he thinks, in some ways, literature peaked with Shakespeare. He then sent me this excerpt of Romeo and Juliet
And when he shall die,
Take him and cut him out in little stars,
And he will make the face of heaven so fine
That all the world will be in love with night
And pay no worship to the garish sun
He then proceeded to talk about how he couldn't get over it, especially since he couldn't remember ever reading anything else quite like it. And it is really gorgeous, I never read the original Romeo and Juliet and I loved this, but it did make me think immediately of An Apology. So I gave him some context for Kauri's story and sent him the poem (and read it again in the process)
I feel like you should know that the impact for me hasn't changed since you first posted it and that your poem is currently being discussed against Shakespeare. (My friend thought it was beautiful, btw)
(for those who don’t know, this is the post Vicky is referencing)
Oh my gosh, that’s such a lovely thing of you to say. I mentioned it after I published the post, but it has been so long since I put much work into writing poetry that it definitely felt like being Kauri trying to force all the thoughts to fit together the way I wanted them to.
It was a really weird thing of trying to write decent poetry after a long time away from the format while simultaneously trying to make sure it read like someone who hasn’t written poetry in a while and so was a little rough around the edges but ALSO not wanting it to read like BAD poetry and it was just. A whole thing. 
That said, I definitely believe Shakespeare had an incredibly rare gift for words and pulling emotions from thin air. I think the same of poets like Rumi, every once in a while someone is born to write in a way that absolutely eclipses almost all the writing around them. And I’m so glad we have kept as much as we have to look back on and get that “people have always been people, and art/writing/poetry/storytelling in general is intrinsic to our existence, but some people embody humankind’s capacity for art in ways that are absolutely mind-boggling.”
(I have like a whole series of thoughts on this about cave paintings for the record but like. I will spare you. Just know that prehistoric art was one of my focuses in college and I have SO MANY FEELINGS ABOUT IT and I think our insistence on everything being for some ritual purpose or a sign of early religion obfuscates the simple fact that people. tell. stories. and. people. love. art. and... I’ll stop now)
Romeo and Juliet definitely includes some of my favorite moments and turns of phrase (although plenty of his other works just absolutely knock me apart too, MacBeth is just... aahhhhhhh, and oh god Hamlet as a portrait of self-destruction in so many ways and the fucking sonnets anyway moving on) and I just. The comparison is so much and I love you for it but I absolutely do not deserve it, haha
Also I’m bad at receiving compliments so there’s that
I will now be hiding under a table
(below the cut is the text of the poem if you want to skip rereading the Kauri piece but want a reminder)
I am built from the hollow air left after your heart stopped beating Your hands still gripped tight to the life they were ending I know you thought of home but I don’t know where your home is The sound of my voice is a green valley that only sends back screaming
Covered in smoke and dust that I told myself smelled like cologne Pathways that remember your laughter silent in the years that followed Have I done enough to build a life you would have enjoyed living? I am built from the hollow air left over when your heart stopped beating
The heat of their hands as inevitable as a river tore down every foundation Their cruelty buried you so deeply that only I remain I don’t deserve the love that should have been yours to receive The sound of my voice is a valley echoing back your screaming
I owe you an apology for walking around inside you Crumbling ruins with my touch and calling it preservation I’m sorry for every blade of grass growing through our bones Am I nothing but hollow air from when your heart stopped beating?
Wildflowers grow inside me from soil windswept over ash Is that life worth everything not quite dead so deep below? Is Kauri Grant good enough to make up for Liam Harker’s loss? In the valley of my body, does anyone but me still hear you screaming?
I owe you an apology and have to hope the life I live provides it I wish I could ask for forgiveness from the shape of you   We’re both ghosts, in the end, mosaic pieces shattered in shadows I’m sorry that I’m all that’s left.
I built myself from hollow air in the shape of a heart still beating The sound of my voice will always carry the echo of yours screaming
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We received seventeen (17!!!!!) Fics for the Second Round of the JATP TROPED Event! These fics were fluff-filled and super fun, and we loved to see how you all challenged yourselves with the theme, tropes, and pairings!
Please try to read as many fics as you can! Take some notes, leave some kudos/comments for the authors, and help us vote on the winners!
Voting will be open until May 14th at 11:59pm EST! Vote here:
Please rank ALL the fics in each question based on the USE of each trope, the theme, the fics overall, and the two bonus polls (best setting + most unique pairing)! Your #1 spot should be the best answer and your last spot the least likely answer for the question. The Best Overall Poll will determine who will be writing in the Final Round! We ask that you please rank EVERY fic, so we can avoid technical difficulties! A reminder that you must include a Tumblr or AO3 username/URL, and you may only vote once, we will NOT count multiple votes by the same person.
Okay, Campers, Rise and Shine! (Rated T) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: When Reggie launches a particularly ill-advised prank war at HGC Ranch, Luke's fully prepared to take it in stride.
When the days start looping, though, he begins to suspect that this might all be a little bit above his head.
In other words, he's at least 78% sure that the time loop isn't a direct result of Reggie's pranks.
Maybe 77%.
Oh, well.
At least he's not in it alone.
(The Groundhog Day meets Gravity Falls meets Summer Camp meets The Author's Own Distaste For Prank Wars AU that no one asked for. Ever. At all.)
Starting To Forget (Just What Summer Ever Meant To You) (Not Rated) [Flynn x Carrie]
Summary: Last summer didn't end on a positive note for Carrie Wilson - she and her girlfriend broke up on the last night of camp, and she's been miserable since. But it seems that the universe is intent on having her fix that this summer. Even if that means she has to live through the same day over and over and over again until she does.
Creative B.S. Was No More, Was No Less (Look Around, You're Gonna Miss What You Found) (Rated T) [Alex x Luke, Flynn x Reggie]
Summary: The midnight men move again
Don't know when
Best friends forever
In trouble again
Here's to you, here's to me
Over the rafters and we're free
--- Over the Rafters, Rick Schiffman
Alex and Luke go undercover on a mission to a summer camp in order to find a talisman that could endanger the camp and all the kids. While there, they bond with the kids and make peace with the fact that they broke up.
While Alex and Luke are away, Flynn accidentally fucks with time.
bitch but like romantically (Rated T) [Flynn x Carrie]
Summary: The dining hall’s exactly the same as it has been for two mornings now, and Flynn doesn’t hesitate to poke Willie twice on the nose and whisper “pancake” on her way past their seat.
His eyes widen and he whips his head around to follow them, excitement glimmering in their eyes.
“Really?” they blurt. Flynn rolls her eyes and nods.
or: flynn gets stuck in a time loop. {for troped jatp round 2}
down by the bay (Rated T) [Alex x Willie]
Summary: Over time, Camp Phantom has simply become known as a selective summer camp: one that took only the kids that Caleb saw promise in. And Caleb wasn’t exactly lying. He really did take only the ones he saw promise in, he simply looked for different traits than others might.
For example, say, hypothetically, a boy who could see the future. Or, hypothetically, a girl who could interact with ghosts. Or, hypothetically, a boy who could summon objects to him with a simple thought. Or, and this is completely hypothetical mind you, a boy who could manipulate time.
Those might be some traits that Caleb saw promise in. Just, like, as examples.
Time will tell (But only if you do it right) (Rated T) [Flynn x Carrie]
Summary: Carrie had been acting a little off for a week or so, but Flynn was pretty much known for seeing something in nothing, and that was probably what they were doing then. If something was going on, Carrie would tell her eventually.
Who knew all it took was a little bit of miscommunication to mess up time itself?
and so it begins (Rated T) [Bobby x Reggie]
Summary: It’s the first day of their second week at Camp Carolling (they’re spending an entire month, and they’re getting paid to be there!) when Reggie gets a little lost in the woods. During this misadventure into the woods, he finds an egg shaped rock, an inhabited cabin that may or may not be riddled with signs, and something that might be magic. He probably doesn't get paid enough to discover magic.
or, when they were thirteen years old, four boys met at camp carolling and eventually became a band that almost became something legendary. now, all four boys are coming back as counselors, three boys in one band and one boy in his own solo act.
so begins the reunion, though it doesn't go how any of them imagine.
Porcupine Day (Rated T) [Bobby x Ray x Rose]
Summary: It’s been fifteen years since Trevor broke up with Ray and Rose and they’re... not fine, but managing. But when Trevor to adds insult to injury and buys the camp across the lake from the one they once owned together, the two camps become locked in a bitter rivalry. With neither side willing to set aside their pride and work out their issues, the universe decides to settle their fates itself.
Day After Day (After Day After Day) (Rated T) [Alex x Willie]
Summary: When Alex met Willie just after their senior year of high school, they spent a wonderful three months dating before their relationship ended in a blaze of glory. Now, four years later, they meet again as counselors at a summer camp. The only problem? Alex keeps reliving their first day together. The day that Luke had declared "Prank Day."
This is not how Alex pictured his summer going.
clocks move faster (it's all we're after) (Rated G) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: Julie likes it when her friends are happy, so when she realizes she's stuck in a time loop, she uses her knowledge to make sure everything works out for everyone... except she conveniently forgets to factor herself (and Luke) into the mix.
Touch of Magic (Not Rated) [Alex x Luke]
Summary: When everything stands in Luke and Alex’s way of getting to be with the people they love, they have to repeat the day over and over until they can get the happily ever after that they want.
The play's the thing (that goes wrong) (Rated T) [Alex x Willie]
Summary: Tomorrow and tomorrow and tomorrow creeps in this petty pace from day to day for Macbeth, but not so for Alex and the production of Hamlet that he is directing and starring in. And while he's stuck repeating the day of the performance over and over, mishaps of all kinds befall the cast.
anything, anything (for another run with you) (Rated T) [Alex x Willie]
Summary: The moment Alex steps foot in Camp Greenwood, he knows that this summer is a bad idea.
He knows it as soon as he sees tan skin, long hair, and a tie-dyed crop top at the check-in table.
the camp counselor/exes/prank war/time loop fic of your dreams (unless you read all of the other troped round 2 fics lmao)
there’s a glorious sunrise, dappled with the flickers of light (Rated T) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: What comes next happens in slow motion. Luke’s foot catches on the last rung of the ladder. Julie watches as he stumbles a step forward, barely catching himself before falling on his face. The ladder clatters to the floor below. The trapdoor, no longer propped open by it, falls closed with a loud thunk, the lock clicking into place. They’re stuck.
“Luke!” she exclaims loudly. “Look what you did!” Julie drops to her knees in front of the trap door, desperately trying to fit her fingers between the wood and the stone to pry it open again. Of course it doesn’t work.
“What?” he snaps back. “I wouldn’t be up here in the first place if it weren’t for you trying to fuck us over.”
or: ex-best friends Luke and Julie, working as camp counselors at rivaling camps, find themselves stuck in a time loop
the daughter of apollo (Rated T) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: (the JATP x Camp Half Blood AU that nobody asked for)
maybe the world isn't ending (maybe it's been postponed) (Rated G) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: Alex runs his fingers through Willie’s hair. “I think it’s best to just leave them to their own prank war at this point. Let’s not forget that time Julie put hot sauce in the coffee pot and my mouth was on fire for an entire hour.”
“You’re exaggerating, Alex-”
“I most certainly am not,” Alex cuts Reggie off.
“Or how about the time Luke tried to put glitter in Julie’s bed,” Carrie joins in, “but got my bed instead? I can appreciate some glitter, but even I know when enough is enough.”
“Suffice it to say,” Willie finishes after they’ve passed around a dozen or so more memories of pranks from the summer, “we’re all done being your collateral damage. Whatever Julie has planned for you tomorrow, Luke, you’re on your own.”
It's the last day of camp and Julie has one more prank planned for Luke. He just doesn't know what it is.
Here We Go Again (Rated T) [Julie x Luke]
Summary: Julie blinked as she stared at the place Euterpe had disappeared. What did that even mean? What journey? Old places and lost faces? What was she talking about? But before she could dwell on the questions swirling around in her mind, the sky full of stars began to move, shifting in place and descending until they were all around her. Julie felt her feet leave the ground as she rose up and up. One star in particular was burning brighter than the others, growing bigger in front of her.
It grew and grew, until the light was blinding and Julie had to throw a hand up against the harsh light. She closed her eyes as the light surrounded her and then she was falling. Falling down, down, down.
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lowfructosecornsyrup · a month ago
📂 Bertie uwu
You know me so well.  ❤
(Here’s a few, since the first two aren’t super creative).
- His favorite food is lasagna.
- His favorite color is gold because it reminds him of himself (“golden” and “a prize”).
- He really likes plays and drama (which is part of the reason he acts so dramatic--it grants him a lot of attention).  His favorite Shakespearean play is Macbeth.
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goodticklebrain · a month ago
POCKET BLOGS: Saye Anything
Hey everyone! Mya here. I’m really excited today to introduce a new feature here on Good Tickle Brain: POCKET BLOGS! As regular readers will know, since 2019 I have been working on my comics with the world’s first, foremost, and possibly only pocket dramaturg, Kate Pitt. (For more on Kate, including the etymology of the term “pocket dramaturg”, check out this Q&A with her.)
Kate is, if anything, an even bigger Shakespeare geek than me, and certainly has a bigger Shakespeare brain. I will often text her a random Shakespeare fact and say “Isn’t this cool?”, only to receive back “YES, and…” followed by a dozen more related facts, complete with footnotes. As I am taking the month off, I thought it only fair to share some of her delightful geekery and expertise with all of you.
So sit back and get ready to peer into some of the most geeky, random, and entertaining corners of the Shakespeare-verse with Good Tickle Brain’s new series of POCKET BLOGS!
Spare a thought for poor Lord Saye. The ill-fated lord’s entrance in Henry VI Part II is often overlooked because he arrives at the same time as Queen Margaret. Margaret makes consistently dramatic entrances across the four Shakespeare plays she appears in and there is an excellent chance that someone is about to be stabbed, slapped, or screamed at if she is nearby. 
In this scene, Margaret enters carrying the severed head of her very dead ex-lover the Duke of Suffolk, and talks affectionately to it while her husband King Henry desperately tries to work out how to put down a major rebellion. 
Saye is in the middle of all this and spends most of his first scene (and he’s only got two) standing around awkwardly while the King and Queen talk to everyone who isn’t him. It can’t feel great to be ignored in favor of someone who is missing his trunk and all of his limbs, and when King Henry finally turns towards Saye it is to point out that the advancing rebels would very much like to turn his head into a tote bag just like Suffolk’s.
Cue the awkward laughter and a messenger running in with the news that the rebels have arrived and everyone present who still has their heels should immediately betake themselves to them and get out of town. King Henry reminds Lord Saye that everyone hates him (because he raised taxes and can speak French) and he should probably join the bravely-running-away royals. 
Lord Saye however, declares that he will stay and face the rebels. He is innocent after all. Why should he flee when he has done nothing wrong? At this point, practiced Shakespearean audiences will be reaching for the popcorn. Declaring innocence never ever (ever) works when attempting to avoid unpleasant consequences in Shakespeare and indeed, Lord Saye is captured less than forty lines later and dragged before the rebels to be interrogated. 
Jack Cade, the leader of the rebellion, accuses Saye of such abominable crimes as printing, teaching grammar to children, and dressing his horse in excessively fancy horse-clothes. Saye is definitely not guilty of the first indictment, as this scene takes place in 1450 and the first books in England weren’t printed until at least twenty-five years later.
Regardless, the rebels continue to hurl increasingly ridiculous accusations at Lord Saye – “thou hast men about thee that usually talk of a noun and a verb” – while he confidently bats them aside by speaking Latin and quoting Caesar’s Commentaries. Not necessarily the best strategy when negotiating with angry men with pikes, but Saye also demonstrates that he can speak eloquently in plain English: 
Tell me, wherein have I offended most? Have I affected wealth or honor? Speak. Are my chests filled up with extorted gold? Is my apparel sumptuous to behold? Whom have I injured, that you seek my death? These hands are free from guiltless blood-shedding, This breast from harboring foul deceitful thoughts. O, let me live! 
Lord Saye’s contention that his hands are “free from guiltless blood-shedding” is equivocal, given that he menacingly indicates elsewhere that he has definitely shed some blood: “Great men have reaching hands. Oft have I struck those that I never saw, and struck them dead.” There were rumors that Saye was involved in the murder of Henry VI’s uncle Duke Humphrey, though Shakespeare depicts that death as definitely Suffolk’s fault.
In addition to being a cunning politician and a huge classics nerd, Lord Saye is also a war hero. Jack Cade contemptuously challenges him, “when struck’st thou one blow in the field?” but Saye fought with Henry V in France. He is now in his mid-fifties and past his fighting days (the rebels mock his palsy) but Lord Saye feels that his prior service to his country should save his life. 
Cade disagrees. Even though he admits, “I feel remorse in myself with his words”, he orders Saye to be dragged offstage and beheaded. The rebels also break into Saye’s son-in-law’s house and behead him too. They then put both their heads on pikes and parade around London smushing the heads together to make them look like they are kissing because the rebels are apparently twelve. 
Lord Saye is one in a long line of Shakespeare characters who appear briefly and die quickly. Cinna the Poet in Caesar, Young Seward and The Family Macduff in Macbeth, Cornwall’s servant in Lear: all of their deaths, like Saye’s, serve to make the bad guys look worse. However, Jack Cade and his crew have already murdered innocent people before Saye comes on the scene, so what does his death teach the audience that they don’t already know? Dramatically, there may be an argument for cutting this scene. Next week however, I’ll explain the extravagantly silly reasons why I am delighted by Lord Saye and think he should be in every production. (Hint: he’s related to Shakespeare!)
by Kate Pitt
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niphredilien · a month ago
☀️ ❄️ 📚 👑 ☁️ for any of findis’ kids
Ooh! Umm...I’ll do all of them ‘cause I can’t choose!
☀️ What makes your OC genuinely happy? A person, an item, their hobby? Where is the place they’re happiest, or most at home? What is the happiest they’ve ever been?
Finvain: She grows flowers in Valinor and tries to in First Age Beleriand (not the best place to cultivate flowers, it must be said). Among her flower garden, she is usually happiest.
Faniel: Sitting by running water or being with Ecthelion (they’re married)
Finrun: Pre-darkening - probably hanging out with the disaster As (look, no-one can convince me Ambarussa, Artanis, Arakáno and Aþumolor (Finrun’s father-name) didn’t hang out together and cause utter chaos)
❄️ What makes your OC sad, so sad that they can’t help but cry all day? How do they cheer themself up? Does their sadness upset any of their loved ones too?
Finvain: Her saddest moment was her death at Nirnaeth as she knew she would be unable to see Morwen again (I have adopted the headcanon - I think I read something about it around here somewhere - that Morwen and Húrin are dear friends who married to have children and have separate lovers and I ran with it)
Faniel: She gets terribly melancholy at large parties. Something about them just reminds her of her family when they were all happy and together and she more often than not leaves big events early to sit quietly by herself (in the winter, usually with some tea by the fire and in summer usually one of her husband’s fountains). Ecthelion or Glorfindel or Turgon are usually the ones who find her and they reminisce about happier days. It defo upsets the others sometimes.
Finrun: He died at Alqualondë without killing anyone so is re-embodied fairly quickly (along with Rinwendë, Curufin’s wife - but that’s another story) and is left in a world with none of his family bar his overworked uncle; an aunt who half-hates him (or at least he thinks so) because Alqualondë; a father who has pushed himself into his work after his wife disappeared into the wild; and a grandmother who has moved to the feet of the Valar. He’s alone and he deals with this by immediately overworking himself to get his cousins to be allowed to be freed (his family would care, if they had been there).
📚 If your OC was given some kind of forbiddon knowledge, what would they do with it? Would they tell anyone? Use it for evil or good? How would it change their outlook on life, if at all?
Finvain: Finvain probably already knows forbidden knowledge. No-one would know, she never tells anyone anything. But she would probably use it for what she sees as good.
Faniel: She would tell Ecthelion and then Glorfindel and then Turgon and fairly soon, all of Gondolin would know.
Finrun: Would probably try and use it to get his family back and somewhat happy - yes, he will do blackmail with this and a plethora of other crimes, he’s getting desperate at this point.
👑 If your OC was made royal (or is royal) how would they use their power? Are they a good leader or bad? Do their subjects like them or is it ‘off with their head’? Do they enjoy being royal?
Finvain: Finvain is very aloof in attitude and doesn’t smile a lot unless she’s alone. She is the epitome of the perfect princess (which really annoys some of her cousins but they can’t do anything about it).
Faniel: Half the time, she forgets she’s a princess and gets reminded at inconvenient moments.
Finrun: Before the darkening, he was fairly quiet (like his father) and doesn’t use his power unless he really, really needs to. Post-re-embodiment, everything’s fair game particularly as he gets lonelier and lonelier.
☁️ What’s something your OC wishes they could forget? Why is this? Or, what is something that your OC has forgotten? (or do both!)
Finvain: Alqualondë. It haunts her at night and (in true Lady Macbeth form) she can sometimes still feel the blood on her hands and tries to scrub it off. Killing was something that Finvain had never thought she would do (she’d barely even hunted before) and yet she managed to kill four Teleri sailors, one of whom she is fairly sure wasn’t yet at the age of majority. She never kills anything again bar orcs (and even then, only in the most dire situations).
Faniel: The Ice. It’s something that terrified her more than what she was capable of at Alqualondë. The Maiar there were like Ulmo’s but corrupted and evil and stole you away at night like the monsters she used to fear as a child. And things out of her control, like frostbite and the ice cracking, it left her world so completely uncontrollable and that is something that terrifies her. It is Ecthelion’s presence that is her biggest comfort when she has nightmares about it.
Finrun: Sometimes he wants to forget he ever had a family. Because then maybe his loneliness would disappear.
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saintobio · a month ago
Ai, I am 100% being honest when I say that your r&j fic has to be be one of my favorite pieces yet. Just everything about it as a whole, even though I am able to recite romeo & juliet and macbeth drunk due to how many times i have read it and will keep reading i already knew how it was going to end, however the fact that you took your time to incorporate modern english, adding changes from the original story and throwing in your own twists making the story even more tragic, aND THE WHOLE TOJI USING MEGUMI’S LOVE AS A PAWN?? I BAWLED MY EYES OUT.
I loved the way you used the characters and as the reader being able to see those said characters in those be in positions (i.e. Satoru as a caring narcissistic prince/older brother waiting in line for power in order to ensure change from the traditional monarchy and tyrant that are their parents, Toji the tyrant coming into power and using any and all available pawns, including his son and his feelings, in order to ensure the downfall of the Gojō family to gain its power as a King, i can keep going but this is starting to get too long lol) It had reminded me why I love with your writing all over again and i hope you could do another historical or royal inspired au in the near future
(this kinda long lol sorry TLDR: me simping on main for your writing)
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once again you have blessed our feeds with your writing, and all i can say is hand in marriage please 😌🤲
stoppp i actually am crying thanks so much for reading r+j !! it’s also my fav piece so far bc i enjoyed the concept + the early modern english it’s nothing like my other fics so it’s very new to me. and plsss ?? i’m so glad to know that you liked it 😭 also when u pointed out all the details i’ve put such as toji taking advantage of megumi’s love (pain) and then satoru trying to pull a macbeth for a good cause lmao i loved reading ur rant i’ll def keep this close to my heart
and NOW ok i was crying but then i checked the memes and i cant stop laughingjfnj THESE MEMES ARE MAD FUNNY ESP THE YUUTA ONES ?? PLSSJD ILY !!
then you decided to hurt me when you added this pic bc now i’m thinking abt how this is megumi when he walked towards y/n’s deathbed on the tenth act and like he just gives up bc the girl he loves is gone and i’m in so much pain god
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anyways thanks again for reading and for sharing ur excitement w me !! <33 i highly appreciate it :’)
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romanartblog · a month ago
I’m not going to lie this lecture was definitely a bit..weird. There was a lot of trauma shared by each of the artists, with no trigger warnings or anything like that. Fortunately most of the stuff wasn’t too triggering for me, but I could image that a lot of people would find this stuff quite triggering. Lots of blood, gore, all that. There definitely should have been a content warning at the beginning of the lecture.
At first Bradley’s work looked really interesting to me. Mostly performative he showed clips of himself in front of luxurious velvet backdrops and projections over him. He spoke about Greek tragedy and said a lot of words that I don’t understand. If I am completely honest the whole thing felt like an attempt to come across as well educated in a GCSE drama performance, which I guess is...fine? I’m not sure, the whole thing just seemed to lack a level of maturity. I felt like Dawson didn’t really know what he was talking about when he was talking about his work, and honestly I don’t know what I’m talking about when it comes to my own work either! But I will admit that and own up to it, whereas it felt like Dawson was just waffling to sound like he knew what he was saying and it just came across like he had no clue. Sorry :/
Karen’s work felt much more thought through and stable. Perhaps because she has a years as a practicing artist under her belt, but her work just seemed really cohesive and like she knew what she was doing. I actually really liked some of the artwork that Halewood showed. One of the notes that I made was “it feels like Lady Macbeth photographed by Dora Maar” and I really do feel like that’s quite accurate. There were also a lot of photos that were quite blurry, kind of like photos that I would accidentally take on a drunken night out. She said that this was to show the difference between lower world life and heavenly beings and I can genuinely see that. I think part of the reason I liked Halewood’s art so much was because of this religious narrative. A very common theme in my art work is religion, it’s something that’s really important to me so it makes sense that this would pique my interest so much. “Angels, angles, anarchy”.
This is where the triggering stuff really kicked in. Quirk spoke a lot about birth trauma, and I have no idea what that means but after he showed his work I’m honestly too scared to google it. The video included a dead rat, someone putting their hands down their pants, someone deepthroating a black pipe, red goo oozing out a pipe etc. It was a lot. That being said, this artwork was clearly meant to be disturbing, it’s very very clear that that’s the intention. So while the artwork was a little bit fucked up, I know that it was supposed to make me squirm in my seat. I don’t know if that’s a good thing or a bad thing. Is art good just because it’s had its intended effect? Or is it just shock value?
Jones’ work was quite odd, because parts of it were quite normal, just little collages of cut up magazines, and then other parts were very odd, like the experiment with the smell of bricks. I loved the collages, I thought they were super cool and quite reminded me of an artist that I studied at A level that I cannot for the life of me remember remember the name of. I’m not too sure how I felt about the bricks. I definitely think it was interesting, but I’m not sure how much I would want to go to see an exhibition on it? She seemed really really nice anyway, and that made me like her art more :)
I’m not going to talk about this that much, but Cook’s work was probably the most normal out of all the work showed but simultaneously the weirdest. I’m not too sure what a lot of it was about, but I know there was a voice over that sounded a lot like Siri just saying random shit. It reminds me of that 1975 song about a man who fell in love with his computer or something. I really don’t have a lot to say about this because it was so bizarre.
Overall a very odd lecture, but definitely worth attending. I’ve always been really interested in what the MA students get up to and this gave an opportunity to get an insight. I had considered doing a masters in fine art for a while, and I’m glad that I’ve been able to see what you actually get up to in it. I have also decided that I will not be doing a masters in fine art hahahahaha
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aegipan-omnicorn · a month ago
More thoughts on “Merry Wives of Windsor, as I’m watching this college production from 2012:
1) Even though I know the comedy bits already, I’m laughing.  You know what the humor reminds me of? The sitcom “I Love Lucy” Seriously. Meg Page and Alice Ford might as well be an early version of Lucy Ricardo and Ethel Mertz.
2) And that’s another thing that’s charming about this play: the family members call themselves by their given names. That’s a big difference from Shakespeare’s other plays, where the principle characters call themselves by their titles. Like I said, in my earlier post: this is one play (maybe the only one?) where there is no lord or duke or king in sight -- just the knight, Sir John Falstaff, and he’s the punchline.
3) There’s a running joke in Shakespeare studies that the happiest married couple Shakespeare ever wrote was the MacBeths. And I will grant, that, at the start of the play, they are a strong couple that love and support each other. But it turns unhappy before the second act. Master George Page and Mistress Margaret Page are also a strong and supportive couple, and the play ends with them still happy. The secret? George trusts his wife.
(oh, and by the way, I went to put this video on my “Watch Later” list, and got the pop up warning that videos for kids can’t be put on any such list.  Who, for crying out loud, categorizes an unabridged Shakespeare play, in the original Early Modern English, as “media made explicitly for children under 12″? Especially when it’s a play explicitly about attempted adultery and sex? Like -- excuse me?! What?!)
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massielandnetwork · a month ago
Important Economic Trends During Anarchy
2021 – Let the Games Begin
12. A Christian Secession – “Double Double toil and trouble”
The Demented Marxists (DM) have the cauldron at the rolling boil stage. A few weekly highlights included Arizona calling out their National Guard because of the catastrophe occurring along their Mexican border but Biden and his merry band of DMs say everything is fine. The DM’s favorite harpy, Dr. Fauci, announced Xi “Masks forever!”. Our military is now politicized with Critical Race Theory (all whites are bad) being used to remove political conservatives, now to be treated as domestic terrorists. Biden has appointed his panel of liberals to recommend expanding the U. S. Supreme court from 9 to 13 justices. Why only 13?
If they are going to make the Supreme Court a source of mockery, perhaps they should increase it to 90. Afterall, the DMs and BLM have successfully eliminated “blind justice” and replaced it with mob rule and intimidation. An illustration of the DM’s definition of capitalism, the BLM Founders have become wealthy shaking down major corporations including sports organizations. When does the Marshall arrive to be the adult in the community and wipe out the bad guys?
With Hong Kong now fully “integrated” into China, Xi is sending large sorties of fighters and bombers into Taiwan air space. Meanwhile, Russia has amassed 80,000 troops along the Ukraine border. The explanation given is that Trump was unpredictable but Biden is known. Does that mean “owned”. Which is more important to these characters, money or power?
Shakespeare Plays. Most of my years in high school that phrase signaled something to be endured in English class. But his writings took on a new meaning when I saw my first live Shakespeare play with professional British actors in a professional theatre. I have been hooked ever since. While I am not a student of his plays, I seek them out because I enjoy them. My preference is his comedies but even his tragedies are enjoyable because Mr. Shakespeare interspersed humor in odd places in them. He knew his audience. He poked fun at everything.
This past week, if not this year, has reminded me of the famous scene in William Shakespeare’s play “Macbeth” where the witches gather around their cauldron to stir up the trouble to be endured by the characters in the play. Those witches are hyper-active today. I can hear them chortling as they chant “Double Double toil and Trouble” while stirring their boiling pot.
Talk about boiling pots, the NBA announces its number of viewers is estimated to have dropped to around one-half of the pre-BLM level. Some former NBA fans have been quoted using a different phrase “Shut up and dribble”. While quite descriptive and clear in its communication, it does not have quite the same ring as Shakespeare’s famous witches’ quote.
Another popular phrase heard in the discussion about the NBA is “Go Woke and Go Broke”. Apparently, the NBA Commissioner is concerned because he said this week that the BLM phase was about over. Do you think he meant his players would shut up and dribble or was he commenting on the fact that the three self-described Marxist BLM founders have become multimillionaires? Woke folks are hard to understand.
In contrast with “Wokeness”, a group of artists in Cuba have created and performed a song that has become amazingly popular. It is called “Patria y Vida” (“Homeland and Life”) and lauds freedom while celebrating George Washington. Can we send the BLM folks to Cuba?
Meanwhile, Portland continues to be a war zone. The police are the equivalent of unarmed rangers and the downtown area is, well, destroyed. Beyond heartbreaking, one church had been feeding 1,000 homeless folks but has been forced to stop because they are spending their money on repeatedly repairing their building from the riots. Is this still America? When do the adults show up and re-establish sanity? No wonder there is a movement in Oregon to merge most of that state with Idaho. The Idaho legislature has voted to consider it. A sign?
1. Keep watching the activity about the fraudulent election last November.
a. The Michigan Supreme Court ruled that the Michigan Secretary of State exceeded her authority when she approved a variety of changes to the state’s election laws. Was the “certified” election in Michigan a fraud? YES.
b. The Arizona legislature authorized recount of 2.1 Million votes in Maricopa County, Arizona is about to start.
c. Wisconsin’s legislature voted to investigate the 2020 election. All the DM’s voted against it. Odd behavior for anyone convinced the election was honest.
d. The Georgia Secretary of State is blocking the review of the Fulton County (Atlanta) Georgia actual ballots by the auditors. Odd behavior if there is nothing to hide.
e. Lawsuits have been filed and counter filed by Mike Lindell, Sidney Powell, and Dominion (the voting machine company). Stay tuned, much more to come.
100 days into the DMs’ coup (am I the only one that feels like it has been 100 years), here are some quick observations of events that will impact our economy:
1. This week it was reported that the rate of inflation in March was 1%. That is an annual rate of 12%. Talking heads reading their teleprompters reassured the public that the rate of inflation was going to calm down as we move through the year. After all, the DM’s are in control using economic techniques refined in Venezuela. What could go wrong?
2. Biden and his fellow DM’s continued to push their twin infrastructure bills. The DM’s have us on a path of massive spending to make the national debt “manageable” via devaluation of the Dollar which the consumer experiences as inflation (rising prices). In contrast the Trump Administration had the USA on a path of rapid economic growth which would thus enable the payment of our national debt. The contrast in pain is enormous. Churchill once said that “Believing you can tax and spend to create prosperity is the equivalent of standing in a bucket and trying to raise it by its handle.”
3. In a truly capitalistic economy, the brake on this run-away train would be applied by the 10-year Treasury. While it continues to fluctuate 1.50% to 1.70%, I do wonder what the rate would be if The Fed was not distorting the financial market via Quantitative Easing (QE) - The Fed buying our government debt. Even in the face of QE forecasts from various sources estimate that by the end of 2021 the 10-year Treasury will be 2.5% to 3.0% and mortgage rates will increase to 4.0% to 4.5%. That is a low mortgage rate but a huge increase over the lowest rate last fall.
4. This week NAR released a study on the land market in 2020 which highlighted that the land and the residential markets were the two real estate segments that did well in 2020. The others suffered significant losses. The residential market experienced significant increases in prices. The NAR report indicated that land prices were more stable but they did not dissect the land market into its different segments. Our database indicates the segments experiences varied greatly.
In the land market, I am hearing the same conversations I have heard just before each of the last four recessions. Environmental regulations have gotten worse and approval times are lengthening.
Remember, higher interest rates mean lower real estate prices. We are in the peak of this real estate cycle. Every previous time I have witnessed bubbles burst, shortage become surplus seemingly overnight. Unsustainable things continue until that unpredictable moment when they stop. In a financial crisis “Cash is King”. Get prepared.
A great piece of land remains The Best investment long term unless the DMs get us to full-fledged Marxism. Capitalism builds wealth, Marxism/Socialism consumes it in self destruction. Pray for a return to honest elections in the USA. God is in control. Men make plans, but God ALWAYS wins as Paul describes in a letter written while he was imprisoned in Rome.
“I want you to know, beloved, that what happened to me has actually helped to spread the gospel, so that it has become known throughout the whole imperial guard and to everyone else that my imprisonment is for Christ; and most of the brothers and sisters, having been made confident, dare to speak the word with greater boldness and without fear.”
(Philippians 1:12-14) New Revised Standard Version, Oxford University Press)
Stay healthy,
April 22, 2021
Copyright Massie Land Network. All rights Reserved.
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eastofthemoon · 2 months ago
Wrote this fic a few years ago, but figure it be fitting for @rotg-hope-week for the Night prompt today.
Title: Cold as Stone
Fandom: Rise of the Guardians/Gargoyles
Characters: Jack Frost, Bunnymund, North, Goliath, Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington, and Elisa
Summary: After Bunny learns some of his lost scrolls are currently at a museum in New York, he, North and Jack go to steal them back. They never imagined someone else would wish to prevent them being stolen.
Author’s Note: So, bit of an explanation with this one. I actually wrote this about 3-5 years ago and it was suppose to be the start of a big trilogy of fics. I got most of part 2 and 3 written but never finished. With that said, part 1 does work as a stand alone story and with ROTG Hope Week theme today being "Night" figure why not just post it.On the Gargoyle side, this does take place before season 3.
Gold paint dripped on the floor as Jamie finished painting around the eye holes of his paper mache mask.  He stuck his tongue out in thought.
“I don’t know,” he muttered as he glanced across the picnic table to Jack.  “I feel like this needs something else.”
Jack looked up from where he had been tickling Sophie with the craft feathers.
“It looks fine to me,” he glanced over his shoulder to where the Pooka sat at the other end of the table.  “Bunny, you’re the artist.  What do you think?”
Bunny wiped his paws from mixing up the paste he’d been stirring.  “Well, ya painted the base black, and gold around the eyes, why don’t ya paint some stars?”
Jaime tilted the mask and shook his head.  “Naw, that doesn’t feel right.  Maybe stripes?”
“That could work,” Jack said as he handed Sophie the blue paint for her mask.  “When is Pippa’s masquerade party?”
“Not till Saturday, but Mom said if we wanted costumes we needed to have the masks done first to make it,” Jamie replied and grinned.  “Thanks again for the help.  I’ve never done paper mache before.”
Bunny chuckled.  “No problem, Mate.  Will admit, first time I’ve done anything with paper mache myself.”
Sophie giggled as she sprinkled the glitter over her mask.  “Fairy princess,” she stated.
Jamie sighed.  “You’re ALWAYS a fairy princess, Sophie.  Why not be something different?”
Sophie frowned and then her eyes widened.  “A fairy queen!”
Jack laughed.  “The girl knows what she likes.”
Jamie sighed and extended his hand.  “Bunny, can you pass me that newspaper?  I want to make some ears for my mask.”
The Pooka chuckled as he picked up a sheet to start tearing.  
“Sure, Kiddo, and may I recommend some rabbit-”  Bunny trailed off as he gazed upon the newspaper and became pale.  His eyes widened and his grip tightened as he read it.
Jack frowned.  “Bunny, you okay?  You look like you’ve seen a ghost.”
Bunny didn’t seem to hear Jack.  “Is this paper current?” he asked abruptly.
“Uh, yeah,” Jamie asked as he glanced over to see what Bunny was reading.   “My mom picked it up this morning.”  He blinked as he spotted the article.  “A museum article?  What’s the big deal?”
Curious, Jack peeked over Bunny’s shoulder to see.  He saw a photo of what seemed to be a rolled up scroll with an egg shaped seal.  
“The newly discovered scrolls are being taken to New York City to be studied and hopefully translated,” Jack read aloud.  “It is currently unknown what language these scrolls have been written in.”  He scratched his head.   “Okay, I’m with Jamie, what’s the problem here?”
Bunny snarled as he crumpled the paper.  “The problem is that they’re my scrolls!”
Sophie tilted her head in confusion.  “Your scrolls?”
Bunny sighed and shook his head.  “Sorry, Kids, but Jack and I gotta go.”  He grabbed Jack by the arm.  “I promise we’ll be back later and I’ll explain everythin’!”
Before Jack could argue, Bunny thumped a foot and a tunnel opened up beneath.  Jack gave a surprise yelp as they dived below and landed in a tunnel.
“North Pole, now!” Bunny declared as he pointed and started to run.  “We’re going ta need North’s help!”
“Hold it!” Jack said as he blocked the Pooka’s path.  “Bunny, what is going on here?”
Bunny snarled.  “Like I said, those scrolls are mine!  They’re Pooka scrolls!”
Jack blinked.  “Pooka scrolls?  But how-”
“I’ll explain once we get North,” Bunny stated as he started to race ahead.   “We got ta get those back before some yahoo does somethin’ stupid with them!”
Miles away from the Bennett household in New York City, in a clock tower above a police station a game of chess was being held.
A large green winged figure stroked his chin as he studied the board and lifted a white playing piece.  He suddenly grinned and moved it forward a few spaces.  “Ha!  King me!”
His opponent, a red wing creature sighed as he rubbed his eyes.  “Broadway, that’s checkers, we’re playing chess.”
Broadway blinked at the board.  “But isn’t there a king playing piece in chess?”
“Yeah, there is.”
“Then why don’t they say ‘King me’?  Shouldn’t that fit the game?”
“He’s...kind of got you there, Brooklyn,” Lexington called out from across the room from where he was scratching Bronx’s ear.
Hudson chuckled from his chair.  “Aye, he does lad.”
“Guys,” Brooklyn chided as he leaned against his hand, “don’t help.”
Angela shook her head amused until she saw the clock.  “The sun’s been set for over an hour, shouldn’t Elisa be here by now?”
Goliath frowned as he gazed out into the balcony.  “She normally is,” he remarked.  
Elisa had always tried to be here when they awoke in the evening and the times she was this late she told them in advance.
Being this late without a word usually meant trouble was afoot.  “We’ll wait another hour and if she’s not here by then, we’ll check her apartment-”
“No need!” Elisa called out as she appeared.  She gave a grunt as she carried two bags of groceries up the stairs.  
“And I could use a hand,” she laughed.  “Think my arms are about to fall off.”
“Here Elisa, I can take those,” Broadway said as he took the bag of groceries from her.
“Thanks, and sorry I’m late, but I needed to snag the paper,” she said as removed the newspaper from under her arm, turned to a page and pointed to an article.  “There’s something in here you need to see.”
Goliath’s eyes narrowed as he took it to read.  “Recently discovered scrolls have been transported to the museum.”
“They were found over in Eastern Europe and being brought here to be studied,” Elisa explained.
“What kind of scrolls?” Angela said as she read over her father’s shoulder.  “Magic?”
She sighed.  “That’s the thing, they’re written in a language no one has seen before, but one thing they are certain is that they’re ancient.”
Goliath scratched his chin.  “And no doubt they would be a tempting object for someone to steal like Xanatos.”
“Or Macbeth,” Hudson said as he turned the tv off.  “I still got bruises over the scuffle over the Merlin scrolls.”
“Which did turn out to only be a diary,” Lexington said as he crossed his legs in thought.  “It’s possible these scrolls are harmless.”
Brooklyn laughed.  “Yeah, maybe they’re just an ancient soup recipe.”
“Be nice if that was the case,” Elisa said with a smirk, but then frowned. “But we don’t know for certain, and they’re going to be at the museum tonight.”
She looked to Goliath.  “And how much you want to be someone is going to try to steal them tonight?”
“Quite high, we best go there to keep guard,” he said as he scratched his chin as he looked to the others.  “Brooklyn, Broadway, Lexington and Bronx, you’ll come with me to the museum.  Angela, I want you to go with Hudson to do regular patrol.”
“I guess we’ll finish the game later, Brooklyn,” Broadway said as he picked up Bronx.
“Yeah, well, I’m starting to think a game of checkers would be more fun,” Brooklyn muttered as he went to the balcony.
“Naw,” Broadway said with a grin.  “I beat you way too easily.”
“That was just luck,” Brooklyn argued as he jumped into the air.
“You say luck, I say strategy,” Broadway replied as he followed and Bronx barked.
Lexington sighed.  “I’m almost hoping something happens so I don’t have to listen to this all night.”
Goliath gave a smirk as he picked Elisa up in his arms.  
“Be careful you two,” he told Angela and Hudson.
“You two,” Hudson replied.  “There’s no telling who can show up for something like this.”
“At this point in my life,” Elisa said with a smirk, “it would take a lot to surprise me.”
North eyed the museum building from their hiding place and sighed.  “I still say we should have taken sleigh.”
Bunny scoffed as he closed up the tunnel they used to get there.  “And risk some yankee spottin’ it?  Not on yer nelly!  We need ta be seen as little as possible.”
“Bah!” North said as he waved his hand.  “You worry too much, Bunny!”
“Ya wouldn’t be sayin’ that if it was your spellbooks bein’ examined in there!” Bunny snapped and then narrowed his eyes.  “On that note, we still haven’t found those maps of mine that YOU lost!”
“I keep saying I am sorry-”
“Hey!” Jack cut in as he shot a blast of cold air at them to hush.  “Keep it down, or need I remind you that place does have a guard.”  
He pointed over the bushes to the security guard that was currently poking his head out the door with his flashlight.
Bunny took a deep breath.  “Yer, right, Jackie.  Not the time for arguin’.”
“Da, get scrolls back and then discuss who is right and who is wrong,” North said and smirked.  “I am right of course.”
“How about you two FINALLY tell me what exactly these scrolls are?” Jack said as he folded his arms.  “I’m still waiting for  an explanation.”
And he had been quite patient, thank you very much.  Bunny insisted on getting North since breaking into locked areas was a knack of his, but hadn’t bothered to explain much else.  Jack had been surprised they also didn’t fetch Tooth and Sandy, but North explained they were already pushing it with three people.
If they had too many people breaking in there was a higher risk they would be spotted by someone.  Slipping in and out was the key, although Jack would like to know exactly why they were going to this much trouble.
Bunny looked to Jack and gave a deep sigh as he rubbed his neck.  “I’ll spare ya the details, but ta put it bluntly those ancient scrolls that those archaeologists found are Pooka scrolls.”    He gave a deep sigh as he ran a hand over his ears.  “I brought with me when I came ta this planet eons ago.”
Jack frowned.  These things were from his Pooka homeworld?  Well, that would explain why no one can read them.  “How did you lose them?”
“I had a hard crash landing,” Bunny explained.  “My ship was already in bad shape when I left my planet and was literally falling apart when I entered the stratosphere of Earth.”
“Many scrolls Bunny had escaped with were lost,” North explained.  “It took centuries for Bunny and us Guardians to locate them all.”  He stroked his beard.  “However, it would seem we missed this set.”
“Okay, but one thing I don’t get,” Jack said as he scratched his head.  “If they fell out of your ship, wouldn’t they have crashed or burned when they landed on the ground?”
Bunny shook his head.  “The case they were in was made from the hardest wood that only grew from my homeworld,” he explained.   “Add ta the fact it was strengthen with spells for protection and it would take a supernova ta actually destroy it.”
Jack gave a low whistle and he looked back to the museum.  “Are the scrolls dangerous, Bunny?”
“In the wrong hands, yes,” Bunny said.  “Last set of scrolls I had gotten back was from one of Oberon’s lot, and that was a pain in the tail.”
“So, we’re going to sneak in,” Jack said as he made a walking motion with his fingers, “and just steal back your scrolls?”
“It is not ‘stealing’ if they belong to Bunny,” North mentioned.  “Besides, we have fake scrolls to switch with.”
“And what’s in these fake scrolls?” Jack asked curiously.
“Something harmless that won’t cause trouble if they somehow get translated,” Bunny said as he stepped forward.  “Now, come on.  Let’s get inside.”
“How do we do that?” Jack asked as he pointed to the guard that was now outside.  “I mean, there’s a strong chance he isn’t a believer and can’t see us, but-”
“Got it covered, Frostbite,” Bunny said as he reached inside his bracer and brought out a small sack.  “Sleeping powder, it’s not as potent as Sandy’s dream sand, but should knock the bloke out long enough for us ta make the switch.”
He handed the pouch to Jack.  “Mind doin’ the honors, Frostbite?”
Jack gave a grin as he took the pouch.  “Does this mean we get to give each other code names?  Because I’m getting flashbacks from that spy movie Jamie had me watch the other day.”
Bunny rolled his eyes.  “We don’t need codenames-”
“I will be Big Yeti,” North declared.  “Bunny will be Big Ears, and you Jack will be…”  He snapped his fingers until a thought struck him.   “Shall be Snowflake!”
“Works for me!” Jack declared as he took to the air.
Bunny gave North a skeptic look.  “Really?  Big Ears?”
North shrugged.  “Would you rather it be Big Foot?”
Bunny sighed.  “I knew I would regret bringin’ ya along.”
Jack made certain the security guard couldn’t spot him as he hovered and landed in a nearby tree.  It was most likely the man didn’t believe in things like the Easter Bunny and Santa anymore, but best not to take chances.
The man had finished scanning the area with his flashlight and seemed ready to head back inside.
“Sorry, Buddy, not tonight,” Jack said as he tossed the sack in the air and struck it with his staff towards the guard.  “Nothing personal.”
As expected, the sack slammed against the guard’s head.  Powder filled the air as the guard coughed and within seconds fell face first into the pavement.  Jack dropped to the ground and made certain the guard was out before turning around to call.
“All clear!” Jack called.
“Don’t yell!” Bunny hissed as he and North climbed out of the bushes.  “Don’t want attention, remember?”
“Yes, yes,” North said as he poked at the door and grinned.  “Da, good!  Guard had not locked the door yet.  Can go inside.”
“What about him?” Jack said as he pointed to the guard.
“Bring him inside,” Bunny said as he opened the door.  “No point leavin’ the bloke out in the cold.”
They dragged the guard inside and set him against the wall, but not before North placed a small gift next to him.
Bunny and Jack exchanged confused looks to which North simply shrugged.   “What?  He is only doing job.  Not his fault he is in way.”
“Fair point,” Jack said with a shrug.  He couldn’t argue against that.
“Alright,” North said as he clapped his hands and then held out the fake scrolls to the boy.  “Jack, go locate real scrolls and make switch.  Bunny and I will go in back and look for any copies they might have made and switch those as well.”
Jack tilted his head unsure as he took the scrolls.  “Wait, how exactly do I do that without setting off the alarm?”
“Freeze the wires,” Bunny said.  “That should wreck the alarm and let ya make the switch.”
Jack folded his arms and raised an eyebrow.  “You’re an expert at this are you?”
North gave a laugh as he swung an arm around Bunny’s shoulders.  “Well, setting alarm on fire certainly does not help.”  He gave a wince.   “Bunny and I learned that from last time we stole something.”
Jack dropped his frown as he tilted his head.  “Last time?”
“Later,” Bunny hissed as he moved down the hall.  “Come on, I want ta get in and out as fast as possible.”
“Da,” North replied and looked at Jack.  “When you are done, meet us back at entrance.”
Jack gave a slight pout and sighed.  “Fine, but when this is over you are telling me the rest of that story.”
“Stories,” North interjected.  “More than one theft-”
“Tell them later!” Bunny hissed.  “We need ta get crackin’.”
“Yeah, yeah,” Jack said as he headed into the other direction.  “Relax.  We already took out the guard, what else could we possibly bump into?”
“This isn’t good is it?” Lexington as he looked over the unlocked doors.  
Brooklyn grimaced as he poked a talon at the sleeping guard.  “Judging by this guy, no, it’s not.”
“So, someone already beat us here?” Broadway replied.
“Looks like it,” Elisa said as she got her gun ready, “and I’m betting they’re still around.”
“Yes, but something is strange,” Goliath muttered as he stared at the small gift next to the man.  
“Why leave the guard a gift?”  He poked at the small note that was attached to the tag. “Especially one that reads ‘Sorry for the trouble’?”
“That is weird,” Brooklyn said as he folded his arms.  “Unless Xanatos is giving free gifts now?”
“Not likely,” Elisa replied.  Still, it was odd.  It was like the intruder felt bad for breaking into the museum in the first place.  Wasn’t likely behavior for the enemies they knew.
Bronx sniffed the floor and gave a growl.
“Looks like Bronx picked up on a scent down this hall,” Broadway said.
Bronx then sniffed the floor again, flicked his ears and proceeded to give a growl towards the hall leading to the left.
“Um...and that one too, apparently,” Broadway replied.
“Looks like whoever broke in split up into groups,” Brooklyn concluded.  “What should we do, Goliath?”
“For now, we’ll split up as well,” Goliath said as he headed to the hallway broadway first growled at.  “Elisa and I will search in this direction. The rest of you check out the other trail Bronx picked up.”
Elisa nodded in agreement as she got her gun ready.  “Be careful though guys.  Hard to say who we’re tracking here.”
“No need to say that twice,” Lexington replied as he took one more glance at the present.  “Still don’t understand what kind of criminal leaves a gift?”
“Only one way we’ll find out,” Brooklyn grumbled.  “Come on!”
Goliath watched the trio and Bronx walk off before he went to follow Elisa into the other direction.  He took one more glance at the guard and the gift before returning his focus to the task at hand.  Something told him it was going to be a very odd night.
Elisa took the lead as they silently crept down the hallway.  It was dark, but that was nothing new for either of them.  Goliath kept close to her as they entered the door to an office, and noticed the door was wide open.
“Bloody Hell,” they heard a voice grumble.  “This is the worst translation attempt I’ve seen.  What does gold have to do with anything?  It clearly meant sun!”
Elisa turned her head to Goliath and gave a nod for him to stay near the door as she entered.  Goliath did so, and stood out of sight of the doorway, but prepared himself for a surprise attack if needed.  He watched as Elisa held out her gun and tried to approach the intruder.
It was dark, but judging by the voice he was a male, and a large one at that.  He might even be close to his own size, which caused him to wonder if the intruder was even human. Suddenly, to Goliath’s shock, the intruder paused and he saw movement above his head.
“What the-” the figure muttered.
“NYPD!” Elisa cried, loud and clear.  “Put your hands up!  Now”
The figure paused and made no movement.  For a second, Goliath thought he hadn’t heard Elisa, but the figure slowly raised his arms up.
“Easy there, sheila,” the voice said and the figure turned around.  “No need ta be shootin’ anyone tanight.”
“I don’t plan to,” Elisa responded, firmly.  “As long as you come with me quietly.”
The figure gave a deep sigh that briefly reminded her of Hudson when the younger gargoyles were exhausting him.
“Look, sheila, I mean no offense,” he spoke, “but I could take ya out real easy if I wanted ta-”
“Actually,” Goliath cut in as he made his appearance with his arms folded.  “You will find that is quite difficult.”
The intruder gave a gasp, but it was more out of shock than fear.  “Bloody Hell!  Yer a gargoyle!”
“Yes,” Goliath confirmed.  So this being knew of gargoyles?  “So if you’ll-”
“Since when do yer lot live in large cities?!” the figure continued.  “Don’t ya normally stick ta the woods or at least small towns where there are fewer humans?”  
Goliath and Elisa exchanged baffled looks as they heard the intruder continue to curse and growled in annoyance.
“Dammit, Jack’s right.  I really need ta get out more.  Gargoyles in New York?! Next ya’ll be tellin’ me the Groundhog is king of England.”
“Look, Pal,” Elisa said as she lowered her gun.  “Gargoyles or not, you are under arrest.”
The intruder paused again, and then Goliath heard light footsteps.  “How about I just flick the light on here, sheila, and I think ya’ll get a better understanin’ of the situation here.”
A subtle click was here as the ceiling turned on.  Elisa’s eyes widened as did Goliath.   They were expecting possibly a pair of thugs, the Pack even, or maybe even Demona.
Neither of them were expecting a 6 foot giant rabbit with bracers and holding a boomerang in his paws.
“There,” the rabbit said as he gestured to himself.  “Think ya’ll find I won’t fit in yer car easily.”
“What are you?” Elisa asked.  “Some kind of mutated rabbit?”
“Oi!” the rabbit replied as he folded his arms.  “I’m a 100 percent Pooka, thank you very much.”
Goliath grasped his head.  This was turning into one of those nights wasn’t it?  Although, on a normal night they would be in the middle of a fight right now, so perhaps this was a blessing.
“Who are you?” he asked.
“The name’s E. Aster Bunnymund,” the large rabbit stated as he pointed to himself proudly.
“E. Aster,” Elisa muttered as she sounded out the name, but then suddenly her eyes widened.  “Wait, Easter?  As in the Easter Bunny?”
“One and the same,” the rabbit stated, “but ya can just call me ‘Bunny’.”
Goliath raised an eyebrow.  He hadn’t been expecting that.  “Correct me if I’m wrong, but are you referring to that story of a large rabbit that delivers chocolate to children on Easter?”
“Yes,” Elisa said as she rubbed her neck.  “But he’s not supposed to be real.”
“Oh, I’m real, sheila,” Bunny replied, “although if ya hang out with gargoyles on a regular basis that would explain how ya see me so easily.  Normally, I’m only seen by people with magic and those would believe I exist.”  
He shrugged.  “If ya can believe in creatures like gargoyles ya tend ta become more opened minded about other things.”
Elisa scoffed.  “I won’t deny that, but I’m still not convinced you’re actually the Easter Bunny.”
Bunny folded his arms and shut his eyes in thought. “What’s yer name?”
“This is Goliath,” Elisa said as she pointed, “and I’m Elisa Maza.”
“Maza, Maza,” Bunny muttered and snapped his fingers.  “Right!  I remember!   Ya and yer sibs use ta leave me carrot cookies as kids!”
Elisa blinked in shock.  Goliath raised an eyebrow and gave an amused smirk.
“Did you?” he asked.
Elisa coughed and tucked her gun away.  “Alright, fine, you’re the Easter Bunny, but that doesn’t explain why you’re trying to steal the scrolls.”
Bunny sighed and ran a paw over his ears.  “Well, the thing is-”
“Bunny, good news!” A large, white bearded man in a red coat declared as he entered the room, while waving some envelopes.  “I’ve checked and those should be only documents-”  His eyes widened as he spotted Elisa and Goliath.  
Then, much to Goliath’s surprise, he tilted his head in confusion more so than terror.  
“That,” the man said as he pointed to Goliath and looked at the giant rabbit, “is  gargoyle.”
“Yes, North,” Bunny replied in a flat tone.  “We’ve established that.”
“I did not think they like to live in large cities,” North asked.
“Apparently, this one does,” Bunny replied.
“I am right here to ask,” Goliath replied in a brisk tone.
Bunny blinked and shook his head.  “Sorry, mate, just none of us expected ta run into gargoyles.”
“And who exactly is this?” Elisa asked and smirked.  “Santa Claus?”
“One and same!” the man declared proudly as he puffed out his chest.  “However, I prefer to be called North.”
Elisa’s smirk vanished.  “You’re kidding?  No, you’re not kidding.”  She glanced to Goliath with a baffled expression and then back to the intruders.  “And let me guess?  The Tooth Fairy is your getaway ride?”
“Course not,” North declared, sounding as if the idea was insulting.  “She is busy tonight, besides Sandman would make better getaway driver.”
“Not helpin’, North,” Bunny growled, darkly.
“Jalapeña,” Goliath muttered to himself.
“Oookkaayyy,” Jack mumbled as he examined the glass case that contained the scrolls. “This should be easy.  All I gotta do is freeze the wires, and pray I won’t set off the alarm when I snag the scrolls...Question is, how do I take the case off?”
Jack scratched his head as he looked over the stand and sighed.  “Guess I’ll have to freeze the whole thing.”  He kneeled as he set his staff down and placed his hands on the sides of the display.  
Jack shut his eyes and concentrated.  He felt the ice leave his fingers and rapidly spread around the case like it was almost devouring the object.  He waited a few minutes and didn’t dare move his hands until he felt the tip of the ice brush against his feet on the bottom.
The winter spirit cracked open an eye. He saw successfully encased the entire stand in a thick layer of ice, except for the very top which had been the goal.  He wiped the sweat from his forehead.
“Hopefully that was enough to freeze the wires inside,” he muttered as he picked up his staff.  “Now for the hard part.”
He placed a hand over the top and shut his eyes.  “Please, don’t ring.   Please, don’t ring,” he prayed before striking the glass case.  The staff struck.  Glass breaking echoed throughout the small room.
Jack froze, expecting to hear an irritating and heart racing alarm bell, but none was heard.
“Phew,” he replied as he looked at the broken glass around him.  “Glad that’s over it.”  Jack leaned over and reached inside the shattered case to pick up the pair of scrolls.
“I wonder what’s written inside these things anyway,” Jack muttered as he turned around.  
Footsteps were thundering down the hall.
Jack froze.  Was it Bunny and North?  He gut told him no.  The footsteps were getting steadily closer and Jack scanned the area.  He needed to hide.
With barely a second to spare, Jack ducked behind a row of suits of armour.  He heard the footsteps enter, along with heavy breathing.
“Great!  We’re too late!” a male voice grumbled.
“Is that ice?” another said and a pair of clawed bare feet came into Jack’s view.
“What the?” Jack whispered as he carefully stole a peek and his jaw dropped.
Three creatures with bat-like wings were standing around the frozen display case, each carrying puzzle expressions.
“Gargoyles,” Jack whispered in disbelief.  He couldn’t believe it.
When he was a boy, his father had told him about gargoyles as bedtime stories.  Jack had been fascinated by them, and had even tried to stay up a few times hoping to see one in the sky as a child.  
Eventually, Jack had technically got his wish after he became Jack Frost.  He had encountered a clan of Gargoyles a few decades back.  The hatchlings there seemed very curious, and Jack was gleeful to play with them.  They were probably the first friendly faces he had encountered in a long while.  However, the adult gargoyles didn’t agree. Jack barely got to say two words before they growled at him and chased him away.
North had told him gargoyles tended to hide in the forest or deep in mountains, but why were they here in New York?  Jack stayed quiet where he was.  He knew he should be planning an escape route, but his curiosity was getting the better of him and, thus, stayed to watch.
The smallest gargoyle scratched his head. “It looks like who or what took the scrolls froze the wires, but I don’t know what could make this much ice at once?”
“A large ice maker?” the blue one joke.
“Heh, funny, Broadway,” the red gargoyle commented as he picked up one of the glass pieces.  “What I don’t get is where did the thief go?  There’s only one door here, we should have run into them.”
The small gargoyle narrowed his eyes.  “Maybe they’re still here.”
“Exactly, what I’m thinking,” the red gargoyle replied.  “Broadway, you look left, Lexington you look on the right side.  Bronx you..” he frowned.   “Hey, where is Bronx?”
“Bronx?” Jack muttered as he swallowed.  “What’s a Bronx?”
A growl was heard from behind him.  Jack gulped and full of dread he turned around to be greeted by a gargoyle beast snarling at him, it’s eyes glowing bright.
“Nice, doggy,” Jack whispered and he inched backwards from the sharp teeth.  “Good, doggy-Hey! LET GO OF MY STAFF!”
The monster dog clung to the staff like a stick and refused to release it as Jack pulled it back.
“Bronx?” Lexington called out.  “What-”
Jack yanked his staff free, but stumbled back into the suit of armor.  It crashed to the floor with an ear piercing clang.  Jack froze as he helplessly watched the helmet roll and bumped into the foot of the one called Broadway.
“Well…,” Brooklyn said dryly as he pointed at Jack, “this just made our job easier.”
Jack narrowed his eyes and he clutched the scrolls with one hand and formed a few snowballs into the other.  “Ha, not likely! Catch!”
Jack tossed a snowball into each of the gargoyle's faces before dashing out of the room.
“Hey!” he heard Broadway curse.  “Get back here!”
Jack didn’t dare slow down as he flew.  He stole a glance behind, and was just in time to see Bronx catching up and leaping into the air to tackle his staff.
“Ah!  Come on!” Jack cried as he yanked hard to the ground.  He shot snow into Bronx’s face, but it was too late as Brooklyn got the jump on him.
“I got him!” Brooklyn cried as he tried to pin Jack’s arms.
“No, you don’t!” Jack flipped backwards, knocking the gargoyle off his balance and into the display case of shields. and went to run again.
Brooklyn moaned, but then grabbed a shield and threw it at Jack.  The young guardian was struck hard and fell to the floor a second time.
“Geez, will you guys, ease off!” he snapped as he rubbed his head and turned around to face them.
“We will when you give back the scrolls!” Broadway snapped.  “ are you anyway?”
“Jack Frost!” the  boy yelled back as he held his staff out.
Lexington frowned puzzled.  “Jack Frost?  Isn’t that from a song?  About nipping noses or something?”
Jack sighed deeply as he rubbed his eyes.  He really did hate that song, even if it gave him what little reputation he had before he became a guardian.
“Look, seriously, I don’t want to fight you guys,” he told them, “but these scrolls belong to my friend and I need to get them back to him.”
“And we need to make sure they don’t fall into the wrong hands,” Brooklyn stated as he stepped forward.  “And since we don’t know you or your friend, we’re going to have to insist we take those back.”
Jack sighed as he created more snowballs and went to fling them.  “So much for this being easy.”
“So, you are protectors of children?” Goliath said, slowly.
“That’s right, Mate,” Bunny replied.  “And these scrolls are mine in the first place, I’m just takin’ them back.”
“Da,” North said as he nodded.  “Bunny lost them many centuries ago when he first came to Earth.”
“Wait, crash landed?” Elisa asked as she raised an eyebrow.  “So, now you’re telling the Easter Bunny is also an alien.”
Bunny shrugged.  “I’ve considered the Earth my home for a long time, but I was originally from another planet.”
Elisa sighed as she pinched the bridge of her nose.  “Just when I thought things couldn’t get weirder.”
Goliath patted her shoulder and looked to the Guardians.  “These scrolls you are taking back, what exactly are in them?”
Bunny sighed.  “Magic that I don’t want landin’ in the wrong hands.”  He ran a hand over his ears.  “My race, the Pooka, were once known as Masters of Time and those scrolls contain ancient spells that can be dangerous if not used properly.”
Goliath eyes widened and narrowed.  “When you say ‘Masters of Time’, do you mean as in time travel?”
“Yes, but we made it a rule ta never physically travel in time, only record knowledge,” Bunny said, darkly.  “We made a strict rule ta never attempt to travel ourselves.”
“Da, but others do not share same opinion,” North added.
Bunny nodded in agreement.  “Yeah, the last time some yahoo manage to get their hands on a Pooka spell, they combined it with other kinds of magic and created a time travelling object that causes nothin’, but trouble.”  He cursed.  “I forget what they called it.  The Phoenix Door?  Phoenix Walk?”
Goliath and Elisa exchanged shocked expressions.  
“Do you mean, the Phoenix Gate?” Goliath asked dryly.
Bunny paused, looked at Goliath and groaned.  “Oh, Bloody Hell, ya seen it haven’t ya?”
“In a manner of speaking,” Goliath replied.
“In any case,” Elisa said as she stepped forward.  “I understand where you’re coming from, but if you take the scrolls the museum is going to notice they’re missing.”
North laughed as he folded his arms.  “Nyet!  Not if Jack has done job properly!”
“Jack?” Elisa asked.
“He means Jack Frost,” Bunny replied.
Elisa sighed as she folded her arms.  “Yes, of course you did.”
North gave a smile as he continued to explain.  “While we were gathering any information or translation attempts here, Jack has gone to switch original scrolls with harmless ones Bunny brought to replace them.”
“Right, so the museum doesn’t think they’re stolen, I get my scrolls back and everything’s aces,” Bunny replied.
“Wait,” Goliath said as he raised a hand.  “You mean this Jack is switching them right now.”  He glanced at Elisa.  “Then the others would have run into him.”
Bunny frowned.  “Others?”
At the exact moment, a loud crash echoed throughout the building.
North jumped alarmed.  “What was that?”
“I’m thinking your friend Jack just met our friends!” Elisa yelled as she ran out.   “Come on!  We better go before they get hurt!”
They quickly ran out of the back room and followed the source of the noise, and it wasn’t long before they heard yelling.
“Lex!  Grab his legs!”
“I’m trying!  Arrg!  But this ice is slippery!”
“Bad doggy!  Bad doggy!”
The group dashed into the room.  Displays were either knocked over or covered in snow.  Patches of ice coated the floor.  Lexington was currently struggling to stand on the ice he was standing on and was gripping a statue for support.
Bronx was proudly holding a staff in his mouth. Broadway was currently holding Jack in a headlock as Brooklyn tried to keep Jack’s arms pinned to his back as he held the scrolls in his free hand.
“Let go!” Jack hissed as he struggled.  “And give me back my staff!”
“Yeah, no, not likely!” Brooklyn said.
North thoughtfully ran a hand through his beard.  “Remind me to give Jack sword lessons.  He relies on staff too much.”
“That is not the issue right now,” Bunny hissed.
Goliath stepped forward and roared.  “ENOUGH!”
The three gargoyles froze and Jack suddenly went limp in Broadway’s hold as he stared in awe at Goliath.  “Another one?  How many gargoyles are there?!”
Lexington ignored the questions as he managed to climb off the ice.  “Goliath, we caught this guy stealing the scrolls and…” He trailed off as he spotted Bunny and North.  “Who are they?”
North stepped forward and puffed out his chest.  “Nicholas St. North!  And this is E. Aster Bunnymund.”
Bunny sighed as he folded his arms.  “He’s Santa Claus and I’m the Easter Bunny.”
The three younger gargoyles blinked in confusion.
“Um...okay,” Brooklyn said slowly and looked to Elisa.  “Who are these guys?”
Elisa shrugged.  “Apparently they really are Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny.”
“I thought they weren’t real,” Lexington said as he scratched his head.
“Apparently they are,” Goliath said as he approached Bronx and took the staff, “and more importantly they called themselves Guardians of Childhood.”
“Well, that would explain this guy,” Broadway said as he pointed to Jack that he still held.  “He says his name is Jack Frost.”
“He IS Jack Frost,” Bunny explained.  “He’s the bloke that makes it snow for the kids and-”
“I hate to interrupt this,” Jack said gasping as he raised a hand, “but losing some oxygen here.”
“Oh, uh,” Broadway and looked at Goliath.  “Should I let him go?”
“Yes, I do not believe they are our enemies,” Goliath said.  “Release him.”
Broadway nodded and let the boy go, but made certain to catch Jack before he plummeted to the floor.
“Air,” Jack gasped.  “Precious air.”
“Can someone please explain to us what’s going on now?” Brooklyn asked.  “I feel like I walked into the middle of a holiday special.”
Bunny sighed as he looked over.  “We’ll tell ya as we clean up this mess.”  He glanced over to Jack.  “Kind of overdid it, didn’t ya?”
Jack narrowed his eyes and grumbled under his breath.  “That’s it, next time your code name is Captain Fluffypants.”
“What?” Goliath asked.
“Don’t ask,” Bunny muttered as he shook his head.
“Well, I’d say it’s passable,” Lexington said as he finished straightening up an armour.  “At least it doesn’t look like a snow storm passed through here.”
“Hey, trust me, if I went into full snowstorm you would know,” Jack said as he finished melting the last bit of snow.
“Please, no more demonstrations,” Brooklyn commented as he massaged his head.  “I got enough of them for one night.”
“Hey, how do you think I feel?” Jack said as he rotated a shoulder.  “I’m going to have bruises for a few days, at least you guys can heal during the day.
“Yeah,” Broadway said with a wince. “Sorry, about attacking you.”
Jack looked up and gave a half smile.  “Ah, don’t worry about, Big Guy.   I’ve gotten into worst scrapes.”  He gave a grin.  “I’ve actually always wanted to meet a gargoyle….although, I much prefer snowball fights to an actual fight.”
Broadway blinked baffled and then chuckled in amusement.  “Honestly, I would too.”
North gave a laugh before looking back to Elisa and Goliath.  “So, officer, are we allowed to go?”
“Legally those scrolls belong to the museum,” Elisa replied, “but I suppose since you’re the original owner they should go to you.”
“Not to mention if those scrolls are as dangerous as you claim,” Goliath replied, “they would be best kept with you.”
“They will, Mate,” Bunny said as he tucked the scrolls into his bracer.  “I’m going ta make these are under lock and key when I get home.”
“Speaking of which, we better get moving,” Elisa said.  “It won’t be long before the sun comes up.”
“Agreed, and it would be wise if neither of us were around when the museum opens,” Goliath replied.
Jack laughed.  “Yeah, can’t argue with that.”  He gave Bronx a pat on the head.  “Although, next time I’m making it snow here, maybe I’ll look you guys up.”
“Hey, we’re always up to have more friends than enemies,” Broadway replied.
The Guardians started to walk away, but then North staggered slightly.   “Wait, almost forgot.”  He slipped a hand inside his coat and handed a small gift to Goliath.  “For trouble we cause, and hopefully next time we meet will be for much happier reason.”
“Uh, thank you,” Goliath replied, unsure what to say as he took the gift.  
North gave a smile as he waved and followed Jack and Bunny out the door.
“This has been a weird night,” Brooklyn replied.
“Yeah...but hey, I rather take this over having to fight anyway,” Broadway replied.
“With that said,” Lexington said as he scratched his head.  “Hardest part will be explaining to Angela and Hudson what happened.  I’m not sure if they’re going to believe it.”
“You’re right, Lad,” Hudson as he folded his arm and leaned against the balcony of the clock tower.  “I don’t believe it.”
“Look, we know it sounds crazy, but it’s true,” Brooklyn added.  “I got the sore muscles to prove it.”
“So, these ‘Guardians’ protect human children?” Angelia replied.  “I have never heard of them.”
“It’s not surprising considering most adults don’t believe they actually exist,” Elisa said, and gave a smirk.  “But, granted, most adults don’t believe creatures like gargoyles exist either.”
Hudson took a deep sigh.  “Fair point, Lass.”  He then glanced curiously at Goliath and pointed to the small gift in his hands.  “And what exactly did this ‘North’ give you anyway?”
Goliath frowned as he untied the ribbon and opened the lid of the box.  He blinked inside, and pulled out one of the items inside.  “It’s cookies.”
“Cookies?” Angelia replied as she took it.  “Why would he give you that as a gift?”
Elisa laughed as she took one.  “Well, traditionally children leave ‘Santa Claus’ cookies as a thank you for bringing them gifts on Christmas Eve.”
Broadway frowned and took one of the cookies to try and grinned.  “Wow, gingerbread!  These Guardians are alright by me!”
“Doesn’t take much to win you over,” Lexington commented.
Goliath put the lid on the box back on and handed it to Elisa.  “You’ll have to save the rest of these for tomorrow.  The sun is about to rise.”
Elisa walked with Goliath over to his post as the rest of the clan took their positions.
“Not quite what we planned,” Elisa said thoughtfully as she tucked the box under her arm, “but at least we know those scrolls are safe.”
Goliath replied.  “These Guardians are unusual, but they are protectors, and therefore they could become potential allies.”
“And that’s never a bad thing is it?” she said with a smile.
“No,” Goliath said and then gave a sly smirk.  “With that said, the next time I see your mother I am curious to hear what else you did as a child.”
Before Elisa could reply, the sun rose and instantly all the gargoyles turned to stone.  Elisa sighed as she let the morning breeze play with her hair.  
“I knew that would come back to haunt me,” she muttered quietly.
“Gargoyles in Manhattan?!” Tooth exclaimed.  “Oh my, I never would have imagined.”
“Which is why you guys really need to get out more,” Jack said as he stretched out on one of the chairs in North’s den.
“Yes, yes, we know, Frostbite,” Bunny commented as he read over his scrolls, “but it’s not like ya knew about them either.”
Jack only chuckled as he shrugged.  “Now that I know they’re friendly, I may drop by for a visit every once in a while.”
“I wouldn’t mind doing that too,” Tooth replied as she giggled.  “I’ve always wanted a closer look at a gargoyle’s fang.”
Sandy frowned, and glanced to Bunny as he created an image of a scroll and a question mark.
“What was fake scroll?” North translated and then ran his hand through his beard.  “I have been wondering too.  You did not tell me what exactly we were switching them with.”
Bunny gave a sly grin and chuckled.   “Let’s just say that if someone did try to steal the scroll, it got switched with something far more practical in my opinion.”
Sandy and North exchanged inquisitive looks, but any further questioning as forgotten as Jack hovered over them.
“Hey, anyone up for a game while we’re all here?” he asked hopefully.  “Think we could use a stress relief.”
“How about a game of cards?” Tooth asked as she sat in a chair.  “Been awhile since we played.”
“Yeah, alright,” Bunny said as he rose, “but no cheatin’ and I’m lookin’ at you Sandy.”
The Sandman placed a hand over his heart like he was offended, but only gave a sly grin which seemed to mean ‘No, promises.’
North himself laughed as he went to fetch the cards and a new place of cookies to share with.  A game of cards was exactly what they needed after they’re long night.
A few days later, Owen Burnett briskly walked into his employer’s office as he carefully carried the wooden case in his hands.
“Here you are, Mister Xanatos,” he announced as he set the case on the desk.  “The newly discovered scrolls as requested.”
“Excellent,” Xantatos replied as he turned from his chair and gently opened the case.  “Ah, the mysterious scrolls,” he said as he put on the gloves before unrolling one to examine.  “Was there any trouble?”
“Surprisingly, no,” he replied as he fixed his tie.  “They were taken and required effortlessly with no interference, not even from Goliath’s clan.”
“Really?” Xantaos said with a concerned frown.  “That’s a bit disappointing, Goliath is slipping.  Oh, well, no matter.  The important thing is that we got the scrolls.”
The scrolls were indeed curious.  Xantaos had studied many ancient languages, but he’d never come across anything resembling this.  
“It’ll probably take some time to find a translator,” he remarked as he held up the scroll and handed it to Owen.
“That is, unless you’re familiar with the language Owen?” he said with a smirk.
Owen, or to be more exact Puck, did have more experience dealing with dead languages than Xantatos did.
Owen took the scroll and glanced at it.  “From what I could tell, they seem to be Pookian.”
“Pookian?” Xantaos asked.
“I believe I have mentioned them to you before, Sir,” Owen replied.  “A race that considered themselves ‘Masters of Time’.”
“Ah, yes,” Xanatos said as he sat, not bothering to hide the intrigue growing on his face.  “They could travel in time, but swore to never interfere, although that’s a bit of a waste if you ask me.”
He leaned forward in his chair.  “Are you able to translate it, Owen?” Xantaos asked.
“Yes,” Owen replied slowly as he adjusted his glasses.  “I am unfortunately not an expert, but I have run into this language before and can give a rough translation.”
“That is currently good enough,” Xanatos replied as he sat in his chair.  “Please, proceed.”
Owen cleared his throat and started to read.  “One cup of carrots finely diced, half an onion and one garlic-”
“Owen, what are you doing?” Xanatos asked.
“Giving you the translation,” Owen explained as he held out the scroll.  “It appears to be a recipe for soup.”
“Soup?” Xantaos said as he took back the scroll.  He had been expecting instructions for a time machine, or maybe in a few spells, but soup was the last thing on his mind.
“Don’t suppose it’s a magical soup?” he said, dryly.
“No,” Owen said as he started to examine the other scrolls.  “And from what I can tell, we also have a recipe for bread and how to properly cook an egg.”
“In other words, it appears we have acquired someone’s recipe cards,” Xanatos said as he leaned back in his chair.  “Are you certain these are real?”
“It is genuine,” Owen replied, “so my conclusion is that this is the scroll that was found or someone switched it.”
Xanatos went silent.  It was a bit discouraging, although it wasn’t as if it took much effort to steal with them in the first place...wait a moment.
“Owen, you don’t suppose the gargoyles knew and that’s why we didn’t encounter them?” Xanatos asked.
“I would say highly unlikely,” Owen replied, “although, it’s possible they ran into the person...or creature that did the switch.”
“And what creature would do that?” Xanatos asked.
“The last remaining Pooka in existence,” Owen said in his ever serious tone, “but I believe most refer to him these days as the Easter Bunny.”
Xanatos went silent again.  “I would assume you’re joking, but I know that’s not in your character, or at least your current one.”
“Do you wish me to inquire and see if I can retrieve the original scrolls, Sir?” Owen asked.
“No, no, don’t bother,” Xanatos said as he rose up.  “We only stole these on a lark anyway.”  He paused mid-step and turned back.  “Although, I will admit I never imagined the ‘Easter Bunny’ to be that much of a trickster.”
“The world is full of many surprises,” Owen remarked as he rolled up the scrolls, and placed them back in the case.
“Indeed, Owen,” Xanatos said as he left the room.  “Indeed.”
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introvertguide · 2 months ago
The Life of Roman Polanski
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The director of our current movie under review, Roman Polanski, is a man that has been surrounded by sadness and controversy. I think that he is a great director and an amazing creator of the visual arts, but he has a major flaw that makes me very glad he is nowhere near me. I think a statement like that deserves some explanation, but know that a lot of my take is based on opinion. I was not alive when a lot of his issues occurred so I base my opinion on news and official record statements. I will try and rely on recorded facts as much as possible and make a point to mention if something is not proven. I also encourage anyone who is interested to find out more because it is a fascinating story.
Polanski started off the in a pretty bad way as he was born in 1933 in Paris during the height of Nazi reign in Europe. He was moved to Krakow in 1937 right before the German invasion and his parents were taken in raids. He was kept alive in foster homes under an assumed identity and was lucky to survive. His mother died in Auschwitz, but he was reunited with his father after the war in 1946. Roman had quite the artistic eye and used it for both photography and filming. He attended the National Film School in Lodz, Poland and started directing short films that gained recognition. One film in particular was called Bicycle. It was a true story of a thief that tricked Polanski out of his money when purchasing a bicycle and instead beat Polanski around the head with the butt of a gun. The thief was found and eventually executed for past crimes including 3 murders. 
After graduating in 1959, Polanski went to France and continued to make short films. He reported that there was a problem with xenophobia at the time since so many Polish people had dispersed around Europe after the war. He went to England and made three movies between 1965 and 1968 that gained recognition in America: Repulsion, Cul-de-sac, and Dance of the Vampires. A young woman named Sharon Tate played a role in Dance of the Vampires and Polanski fell in love. He married her in 1968 in England, and they moved to the U.S. so he could make movies in Hollywood. His first film in the states was a horror film entitled Rosemary’s Baby, one of the highest rated horror films of all time. Polanski had a beautiful young wife, a son on the way, a hit movie with more work coming, and great prospects for life in the United States.
As horrific as his formative years were, I am surprised to find myself writing that this is when Polanski’s life really went out of control. On August 9th, 1969, cult members who followed a man named Charles Manson broke into the Polanski home in Los Angeles and murdered the 8 month pregnant Sharon Tate and four friends that were at the home. Polanski had been working in London on a new film and wasn’t there that night. He says to this day that it is by far the greatest regret of his life. Remember this. It seems that some wires got crossed as far as Roman’s thinking process because his behavior really took a turn.
His films had been dark and violent in the past, but they started to have sexual undertones with more graphic nudity. His first movie back after the loss of his wife was Macbeth, a movie that was rated X at the time for graphic nudity and violence. Polanski later said that he was in a dark place, but the media would find things in his movies always looking for a story. He hated the media after the sensationalism and lack of privacy involved with the loss of his wife and son. Next came an extremely odd road trip sex comedy that was appropriately called What?. And then came his last work filmed in the United States and the film he was probably best known for, Chinatown. I don’t want to go over the film too much since it is the film currently under review for the group, but it is very dark and has an extremely down beat ending. 
And then another crime was committed in Polanski’s life that would haunt while simultaneously erasing any good will the American public had for him. He was charged for drugging and raping a 13-year-old girl who modeled for him during a Vogue photoshoot. It was recorded as occurring at the Bel Air estate of Jack Nicholson. There is no question about this encounter as Polanski was arrested and confessed to the charges. He thought he was going to receive probation and timed served for a guilty plea, but the judge was reported to have changed his mind and was planning to reject the plea and give Polanski prison time for all charges. This would result in up to 50 years in jail and what amounted to life in prison. Polanski would not serve this sentence so he fled the country to France where he would not be extradited. 
The charges are still pending and there is no statute of limitations on rape in the United States, so Polanski is on a list of people that if found outside of certain countries will be immediately sent back to the U.S. to face charges. He has dual citizenship in France and Poland; both countries do not extradite citizens. He went on to make one of his best works, a film called Tess, while in Europe. It was a great success and Polanski was nominated for Best Director. The film ended up winning three Academy Awards (none for Polanski). So it seemed that this acclaimed director would live in France and hope that things would blow over. He settled a civil suit in court with the girl and she went on to marry and says she forgives Polanski. But it didn’t end...
Because the woman was in the U.S. and Polanski was not, she was harassed by the press to speak out and tell her story. She reported that the media did much more harm to her and her family than Polanski did. That is a very strong statement considering the charges. Things finally cooled down somewhat when Polanski married an actress from one of his films, Emmanuelle Seignor in 1989. The couple have two kids together and things were apparently going fine in France. 
Things remained well through the 90s although nothing Polanski did got much attention. It seemed he would simply live out his life quietly in France. Then in 1999, he came out with a film called The Ninth Gate that garnered attention since it starred the very popular Johnny Depp. Polanski was back on his game and he directed and produced a film called The Pianist. It stars Adrian Brody and told the story of a Polish-Jewish composer who survived the concentration camps because of goodwill received from German officers that appreciated his work. It is a masterpiece and earned Polanski the award for Best Director. He could not accept the award in person because he would be arrested, so Harrison Ford accepted it on his behalf and took it to him in France. A strange little detail about this is that The Pianist was also up for best picture, but stirrings about Polanski’s past were brought up by a competing producer to throw the award. There is no real proof of this, but the man said to have done this was quite powerful in Hollywood at the time. Ironically, that man who was said to remind people of old rape charges was none other than Harvey Weinstein. I don’t have proof of this, but it is an interesting story. One of those “I heard it is said that” kind of things from TMZ. 
Anyway, these reminders had people trying to interview Polanski and his wife about the past and he basically said that people needed to move past it. This does not tend to go over very well with the American public or the legal system and Polanski was arrested while in Switzerland and held in Zurich. Public sentiment in America, France, and Poland leaned towards Polanski being sent to America to face trial. The Swiss judge denied extradition and Polanski was sent back to France. There were requests in 2014 by US courts that Poland send Polanski to stand trial since there was question concerning the conduct of the original judge in Polanski’s case. It was believed that Polanski would be given some form of probation, but it also meant he could travel. Polish courts ruled that Polanski had served his punishment and should not have to face U.S. courts again. In 2016, it was presented by Polish officials that no amount of time could account for the crime of rape, but the decision of the lower court was held. 
In 2018, the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences removed Polanski as a member. Strangely, that same year, they offered a membership to his wife (who loudly said no).
So the final say about how to feel about Polanski and his works lies firmly on the individual. Here is all the information about the trial that can keep it nice and ambiguous for you. The judge, the lead prosecutor, and the LA County Deputy DA at the time all admitted bias against Polanski. He would not have gotten a fair trial and would likely have ended up in prison for life. The prosecutor said later in an interview for a documentary that he was not surprised at all that Polanski left and it would have been a media circus. Polanski paid the victim almost a million dollars in civil settlement money and she said she doesn’t want to see any further prosecution. Okay. In 2017, a website run by Matan Uziel was sued by Polanski for libel when it was posted that 5 other women had come forward and accused Polanski of sexual assault. Polanski did not show up in court so Uziel was dismissed of charges. Uziel requested specifically that the cases not be dropped so that Polanski could not try and sue him at a future date. It is true that, in 2010, an English actress accused Polanski of “forcing himself” on her during filming of the movie Pirates. In 2017, a Swiss woman accused Polanski of raping her in the 70s when she was only 15. The same month, another woman accused him of assaulting her in 1975 when she was only 10. Finally, in 2019, a former actress model from France said that Polanski violently raped her at a Swiss chalet in 1975.
So what can you say about the man? His early life was tragedy and misery. The loss of his wife and child was horrific. He seemed like he was in a very bad place in the 70s. I don’t want to give credence to accusation without proof, but it can be sure that he committed at least one sexual assault of an under aged girl. He ran from his trial because he knew it would not be fair, but he was still never held accountable in a court of law for what he did. He has been forced to stay in Poland and France, but he is wealthy with a wife and kids, never seeing the jail time for what he did. And if it is true that he has committed other crimes like this, then he needs to be in jail. But could he ever get a fair day in court at this point? The man is 87 and will likely die soon, likely before any sentencing could occur. Also, how reliable is testimony from any parties about things that happened between 40-50 years ago? Everything he is accused of seems to have happened after the death of Sharon Tate and before his marriage to his current wife, so it seems like his behavior was linked to his state of mind and he is no longer in that state. That may explain things but it does not forgive them.
I don’t know. This is probably why I chose psychology instead of law enforcement or criminal justice. Trying to decide if someone has adequately paid for crimes they have committed is not my specialty. It will be a moot point soon enough because he will be dead. So what do we do with the guy? He has encountered both great suffering and great joy in his life. He as also caused great suffering and great joy. I guess it is more about how he will be remembered at this point. I would be curious to hear what others think. 
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imjustthemechanic · 2 months ago
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The Price of a Soul
Part 1/? - Agent Russel
I am absolutely going to regret starting to post this, but here goes.
An AU: a Russian agent slips Agent Carter a letter that seems to contain a clue to the location of the Valkyrie crash site.  What is Peggy willing to sacrifice in order to bring Steve’s body home?  Her job?  Her reputation?  Maybe even her life?  And what will she do when she learns what her Soviet source already knew - that Captain America isn’t a corpse after all?
Peggy was not at all happy about the situation, but at the same time, she knew she had nobody to blame for it but herself.
After all, she was the one who’d broken Dottie Underwood out of prison and then lost track of her.  That made it, technically, Peggy’s fault that the woman had robbed the Toucan Hotel and Casino in Las Vegas, making off with some two hundred thousand dollars.  Now the mafia was looking for Dottie, along with dozens of corrupt police officers all over the country, all of them getting in Peggy’s way, alternately threatening her, trying to bribe her, and ignoring her… and as if that weren’t enough, now the bloody FBI had gotten involved.
All things considered, Peggy was very tempted to call in to work with a headache.  The main reason she did not was because half the people involved in this fiasco already considered her a potential criminal and she didn’t want to give their theories any support.  But there wasn’t exactly a spring in her step as she opened the door marked Auerbach Theatrical Agency and stepped inside.
It was a sunny morning in Los Angeles, and light was pouring through the big window into the middle of the room, where a blonde in a pink cardigan was kneeling on the floor doing a scene from MacBeth.
“The Thane of Fife had a wife!” the woman lamented, in a shockingly obnoxious mockery of a Scottish accent.  She mimed thrusting her hands under a stream of water and rubbing them together to wash them.  “Where is she now?”
“Good morning, Rose,” said Peggy, to the woman behind the desk.
“Good morning, Peggy,” Rose replied with a sigh. The SSR had gone out of its way to make the supposed ‘theatrical agency’ nearly impossible to find, and yet hopefuls still showed up quite regularly.  When Peggy had left the previous evening, there’d been a pair of young East Asian men, twins, juggling knives.  One of the blades was still embedded in the wall where its owner had thrown it.  Now there was this would-be Shakespearean.
“What, will this hand never be clean?” the blonde went on, refusing to break character.  “No more of that, my Lord, no more of that!  You mar all with this starting!”
“Well, if anyone needs me, I’ll be upstairs waiting for my ten o’clock,” said Peggy.  FBI Agent Russel, here to offer his ‘assistance’ apprehending Ms. Dorothy Underwood – and to keep an eye on SSR Agent Carter to make sure she wasn’t involved in any criminal activities.  They might have at least tried to be subtle about it.
“I’ll let you know when he arrives,” said Rose.
Peggy turned to head upstairs, when a new voice said, “Agent Carter?”
She turned around.  The blonde was standing now.  She was quite small, shorter than Peggy, dressed in a mid-calf beige skirt, and the pink cardigan was over a matching blouse with a single tasteful string of pearls. Her makeup was quite dramatic, with deep red lipstick in a similar shade to Peggy’s own.  Her purse was also bright red, and she reached into it and pulled out a little leather billfold which she opened to reveal a red and silver FBI badge.
“I’m Agent Nadine Russel,” she said.
Peggy should not have been startled – she really should not. She was thoroughly sick of everyone she met being surprised that SSR Agent Carter was a woman, and this Agent Russel probably felt the same… but it took her a moment to regain a neutral expression regardless.  She looked at Rose.
Rose shook her head.  Apparently the woman had simply walked in and started doing Shakespeare.
“I’m sorry,” said Russel with a smile.  “But she asked me if I were here to audition and I couldn’t resist.”
“To be fair, she’s not one of the worst we’ve had,” Rose put in.
Russel stepped forward to shake Peggy’s hand.
“I apologize as well,” Peggy said, as she accepted the gesture.  “I wasn’t aware the FBI employed female agents.”  It made sense, though… if they wanted to send somebody who could tail Peggy anywhere, a man would not do.  They would know from her history that she could get away from them easily.
“That’s how they like it,” said Russel with a nod. Her accent was educated American, non-regional.  Peggy could not have begun to make a guess where she came from.  “Let’s go upstairs, and we can talk.”
In the upstairs offices, the other employees of the Strategic Scientific Reserve were already getting on with the day’s work. Director Daniel Sousa was having a conversation with Agent Sato when Peggy and Russel arrived, and Peggy waited a moment until she knew the men had seen her before interrupting.
“I’m sorry, Daniel,” she said, “but Agent Russel wants to discuss the Underwood case with me somewhere private.  May we use your office?”
Daniel was just as surprised to find that Agent Russel was a woman as Peggy had been, and while there was a part of Peggy that thought he, too, really ought to know better, another part was just glad she wasn’t the only one.  “Of course,” he said.  “Go right in. Ben, let’s go to your desk.”
Benjiro Sato nodded, and the two men got out of the way. Inside, Peggy sat down in Daniel’s chair, leaving Russel to take the one opposite.  It was not intentional on Peggy’s part – she merely entered the room first – but she decided not to change the situation.  It would help to remind Russel, who after all was not exactly an ally, that she was on her home turf here and the other woman was not.
Russel didn’t seem to mind.  She pulled her chair closer to the desk and took a leather-bound folio out of her briefcase.  “This is the most important information we have on Miss Barynova,” she said.  “I was going through it again on my way here…”
“Barynova?” Peggy interrupted, a chill running up her spine.  “You mean Dorothy Underwood?”  In all her own work on and with the woman, she had never encountered anything that might be her real name… only a series of aliases, with ‘Dorothy Underwood’ merely being the one they’d placed on the ‘most wanted’ list.
“Oh, yes, I beg your pardon, her name is Olga Barynova,” said Russel.  “At least, according to sources at the CIA that I’m apparently not allowed to speak to directly.”
The CIA as well?  There were entirely too many acronyms involved in this, Peggy thought crossly.  The more organizations got interested, the more bureaucracy, the more paperwork, the less communication, and the less chance of them ever finding their target. “I see,” said Peggy.  At least that was new information.  She wasn’t surprised the CIA hadn’t shared it with her, but she was a bit surprised they’d been able to find it out.  Her impression of them in peacetime was not good. Perhaps the information could serve Peggy at some point in the future.
“Anyway, as I was saying.”  Russel took out a notebook and sat back to balance it on her knee.  “I was looking through our information and realized that for all you’re the one who first encountered her, nobody has apparently interviewed you about your history with Miss Barynova, which…”  She paused, perhaps searching for words, and settled on the tactful, “seems like an oversight.”
“It is, rather, isn’t it?” Peggy asked.  She remained calm on the outside, but inside her mind was scrambling.  Russel was about to ask her to tell the story.  Peggy didn’t want to incriminate herself because that would only slow down the whole process of catching Dottie and lead to a lot of sidetracks. But she didn’t want to tell too many lies, because lies could be checked, and whatever she said was going to have to be self-consistent.
“Maybe you’d like to tell me what happened?” Russel suggested.
“I would very much like to,” Peggy lied.  “To the best of my knowledge, Miss Un… Miss Barynova came to America in the employ of a man named Fenhoff, who claimed he needed her help with something to do with undermining democracy… I’m not sure of the details.  What he actually wanted from her was help in a plan to take personal revenge on Howard Stark…”
The first half of the story was easy enough to tell… the half in which Peggy had been purely trying to catch this woman and hadn’t been complicit in her presence.  The second half, the part that took place here in Los Angeles, was far more difficult.
“When I left New York she was locked up,” Peggy said. “The next time I heard about her, she’d escaped and had been sighted here in California.”
So far, Russel had been listening, making notes, but not interrupting.  Now she suddenly asked, “what do you think brought her here?”
Now it was time to lie.  “Quite honestly, I think she was following me,” Peggy replied. “When she was arrested at the bank she had taken some trouble to look like me.  I think I may be the only person who ever really tried to get inside her head, and that seems to have impressed her.”  Perhaps Peggy was tooting her own horn there, but she did get the idea that Dottie was somewhat obsessed with her, and that was her best guess at why.
Russel nodded.  “We’re not used to people trying to get inside our heads,” she observed, tapping the side of her own.  “Men tend to assume there’s nothing much going on in there.”
“They do, don’t they?” said Peggy, not amused at all. Of course, Russel was doing the same thing with Peggy now, trying to get inside her head… and she was perfectly well aware that Peggy knew that was what she was doing.  This could turn into a dangerous game indeed, and a distraction Peggy did not need right now.  “Unfortunately, during Miss Barynova’s stay in California I was far too concerned with Agnes Cully and the problems at Isodyne to really have time to pursue her.  By the time I turned my attention to that she was long gone.”
“Do you think she has a long-term goal?” asked Russel.
“I can’t say, honestly,” Peggy replied, and that was the entire truth.  “Sometimes it starts to seem like she’s up to something fiendishly clever and I’m only seeing the tiniest corner of it… other times I think she’s doing all this just for the fun of it.  I do know she doesn’t want to go back to the USSR.”
“No… we have some idea what happens to Russian agents who outlive their usefulness,” said Russel.  “Besides, we’d much rather have her here in the States where we can pick her brains.”
“I doubt you’ll get much from her – nobody else ever has,” said Peggy.
Russel nodded.  “What did you do when you first heard about the Toucan heist?” she asked.
The two women talked for most of the morning, and while Peggy wasn’t sure what Russel thought of her, her impression of the other woman was of somebody intensely focused.  That was not good from her point of view.  The reason she’d been dreading meeting the FBI agent was because she’d thought he’d be a pain in the arse to get rid of – but she’d never doubted she’d be able to do it.  Russel was another matter entirely.  She would not be avoided by going into the powder room, would not be scared off by a mention of ‘ladies’ troubles’.  Nor had she been asking a list of routine questions.  She’d let Peggy lead the way, while she inscrutably wrote notes, keeping her thoughts to herself but attentive and interested.
Nadine Russel was an equal, and the most annoying thing about the situation was that if it weren’t for the situation that had set them up as rivals, she and Peggy would probably have got along like a house on fire.
Finally, around lunch time, Russel checked her watch and closed her notebook.  “Thank you for your time, Agent Carter,” she said.  “I’ve got some more interviews I need to do today, but I will definitely check in with you again.  If you need to contact me, you can do so at this number.”  She held out a blank business card, with the phone number written on it in tidy black ink.
“Thank you, Agent Russel, I hope I was helpful,” Peggy replied.
They shook hands again, and Russel took her red purse and her leather folio, and left.
Once she was gone, Peggy sat back down in Daniel’s chair and pushed her hands into her hair.  Bloody hell, she didn’t need this right now.  She did not.
There was a rap on the door.  “Peggy?” Daniel asked, sticking his head into the room.
“Sorry, Daniel,” she said, and got to her feet with a sigh.  “You may have your office back.”
“Are you all right?” he asked.
“I’m better than I might be, but worse than I’d hoped,” Peggy said, and that much was entirely honest.  “It would be a gift if I could just tell her the truth, but that would create far more problems than it would solve.”
There was a moment of silence.  Peggy and Daniel both knew that ‘more problems’ would involve them getting in deserved trouble for laws they absolutely had broken.  The problem was that there was nobody else they trusted to handle things like Dottie.  The police were corrupt, and the government and big business was, half the time, the problem, and they definitely weren’t going to let the mafia deal with it.  That left only so many options.
“Well, better get back to work,” said Daniel.
“Yes, back to work,” Peggy agreed.
She returned to her desk and dropped her purse on it heavily.  The world was such a mess.  During the war it had been so clear who were the good guys, and who the bad. Now it had become ever so much more complicated.
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mediocre--writing · 2 months ago
Billy tries to explain Shakespeare to Steve for a class but it results in Steve completely missing the point & focusing in on his dirty jokes only. And then the worst part is he starts figuring out how to make dirty jokes in old English, and will not stop.
ok so this reminded me of a poster i found in my grandfathers basement (he was an old english teacher) that had a bunch of shakespearean insults on it
this⤵️ (sorry the pic is kinda wonky it’s technically two pictures together)
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billy is a sweet little nerd boy who enjoys reading and finds comfort in the complexities of shakespeare.
steve, however, finds it to be the bane of his existence.
billy isn’t dumb though. and he knows steve isn’t either. so he devised a plan.
he would show steve funny insults and dirty jokes in the stories so that they’d be more enticing to steve, though it backfired in his face when thats all steve cared about while reading.
some of his favorite dirty jokes include:
PYRAMUS: O kiss me through the hole of this vile wall!
THISBE: I kiss the wall's hole, not your lips at all.
(the wall symbolizes a man, if you’re catching my drift)
(he also probably uses something similar to distract billy) (it doesn’t work)
CHIRON: Thou hast undone our mother.
AARON: Villain, I have done thy mother.
(would now be referred to as a ‘yo mama’ joke)
some random insults he would like are:
‘Away, you three-inch fool’
(he says this to billy. billy looks at him. laughed smiles. then says ‘oh you know that’s not true, sweetheart’)
‘More of your conversation would infect my brain’
(probably said by billy to steve)
‘Aroint thee: go away, rump-fed runion: slut’
(steve doesn’t know what the hell it means but he knows rump is butt and the word slut is kinda funny)
‘Thou cream faced loon’
billy would totally have like a big book of all shakespeare’s plays and a few poems so he would show steve some dirty jokes (they’re highlighted) and hope to entice him into the world of reading.
except steve doesn’t care for that shit AT ALL. because steve “watched back to the future and all he got out of it was ‘the son tried to bang his mom’” harrington wouldn’t care about the context. he just likes the funny bits.
and he’s sitting in english and they’re discussing like romeo and juliet and steve starts saying lines from macbeth and hamlet and other plays and the teacher knows what he’s saying but the other knuckleheads of the class couldn’t give a shit.
but billy (and probably robin) are snickering in the back of the room.
billy’s regretting showing it to steve but it’s also what got him into reading in the first place so there was a method to his madness, it just doesn’t work for steve.
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killrate · 2 months ago
mary x macbeth & mary x erik 🥰
♡ @sanctidente
Mary & Macbeth
vomit / don’t ship / okay / cute / adorable / perfect / beyond flawless / hot damn / screaming and crying / i will ship them in hell 
icons. you know who they remind me of ?? mrs. lovett & mr. todd. overly affectionate woman & man who couldn’t care less & doesnt understand this woman’s strange advances bc they’re just not straight-forward enough.  but like... u know im a goblin for he was a punk & she did ballet 😘 like...... r we surprised ?
Mary & Erik 
vomit / don’t ship / okay / cute / adorable / perfect / beyond flawless / hot damn / screaming and crying / i will ship them in hell 
ughghghhg i love them !! 🥰 this is what what happens... when besties get a lil Gay. It’s hilarious because Erik’s magic basically says “hi sir, you are not allowed to have boundaries” and ??? i guess mary at least won’t be allowed to flirt vaguely. just awkward tension. nice.
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lazy8blog · 3 months ago
Here are a few basic reminders regarding some very common mistakes I see in fanfiction and other amateur writing:
“to” = “toward” (She went to the tree); indicative of giving another person something (She handed the gun to him)
“too” = “in addition”, “as well” (I want to come too); “excessively” (You put too much sugar in my tea)
“two” = “one plus one” (I want two orders of fries)
“your” = “belonging to you” (Give me your staff)
“you’re” = “you are” (You’re still too badly injured for this)
“their” = “belonging to them” (Their picnic was interrupted by the rain)
“they’re” = “they are” (They’re not going to give up without a fight)
“there” = “in that place” (Meet me over there after you’ve finished)
“its” = “belonging to it” (Its color was indeterminate under all the mud)
“it’s” = “it is” (It’s too dark out for us to keep searching)
“past” = “the time before the present” (You can’t change the past); “by” (She walked past the store)
“passed” = “went by” (They passed each other on the sidewalk); “gave to” (She passed the baton to the next racer)
“were” = “a state of being in the time before the present” (They were dating three years ago)
“where” = “in what place” (Where is the sword?)
“we’re” = “we are” (We’re leaving now)
“breath” = “the air in a person’s lungs” (She was out of breath after the fight)
“breathe” = “inhale and exhale”; “respire” (He couldn’t breathe)
“shining” = “giving off emitted or reflected light” (The stars were shining brightly outside of the city)
“shinning” = “climbing an object with one’s arms and legs” (He paused for a moment while shinning the tree)
“staring/stared” = “looking/looked at intensely” (He stared at her in disbelief)
“starring/starred” = “playing/played the lead role in a movie, TV show, or play” (He starred in last year’s production of Macbeth)
“peaked” = “reached its highest point” (Her career peaked in her mid-thirties)
“piqued” = “stimulated an interest” (The title alone piqued her curiosity)
“peeked” = “looked at covertly” (It was supposed to be a surprise, but she peeked anyway)
“cue” = “signal to begin a performance” (They showed up right on cue)
“queue” = “line” (Not even the mayor was allowed to skip the queue); “line up” (Queue up and wait for your turn)
“phase” = “point in a cycle” (His power waned when the moon was in its new phase); “point in a timeline” (Her daughter was going through a rebellious phase)
“faze” = “give pause to” (He thought he’d seen it all, but this was bad enough to faze even him)
“bear” = “put up with”, “endure” (Bear with me for just a few more minutes); “an animal in the family Ursidae” (Don’t leave your garbage anywhere a bear might find it)
“bare” = “uncovered”, “unprotected” (His bare skin gleamed in the moonlight); “to uncover or lay vulnerable” (I didn’t come here to bare my soul)
“piece” = “part of a whole” (Go over there and give him a piece of your mind; I’ll leave, but not before I say my piece)
“peace” = “a state free of conflict” (Only once the Dark Lord is defeated will we be able to live in peace)
Not all of these are perfectly equivalent, but if you’re stuck on which word you should be using, try making one of these substitutions. If your sentence turns into complete gibberish, odds are you’re using the wrong one.
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evermetnotforgotten · 3 months ago
Philia, Philautia, and Xenia
Love between brothers, self-love, and generosity to guests
This is the RP between @card-games-and-pain and myself, where Lee, Lev, Martin and Leon first officially meet. For our reference and yours, as there are fics where this meeting has been referenced (eg. the photoshoot asks). Also it was just… a hell of a lot of fun. Avie is an absolute delight to roleplay with.
Content warnings: implied noncon (fade to black, at the end), torture, blood, drowning, electrocution. A bunch of other stuff referenced as well so take care. This is, uh, almost 30k words, so.
Also features: beatings, restraints, manhandling, failed escape attempts, drownings, Shakespearean back-and-forth, begging, cattle prods, evil kool-aid men, and two whumpees talking over tea… about how totally and utterly fucked their lives have become.
ACT ONE - Martin & Lee
Martin peered through the one way mirror into the interrogation room, at the young man currently residing there. Mid-twenties, dirty blond hair, slender. He glanced to the tripod sitting just on this side of the glass, no doubt set up there to keep everything honest, before leaning against the wall, looking back into the room to study the kid’s behaviour for a few minutes. 
Lee. He wondered if that was short for something… or if it was even his original name. After all, some owners liked to rename their pets on adoption. No one had thought or bothered to tie the boy down - was that intentional? Not that it mattered, really, but Martin was curious. He wondered if little Lee would fold under the threat of a knife… or whether he’d put up a fight. Bite, and kick, and scream. Martin wouldn’t mind having to slap him around a little first. Force him to the ground, before getting started. 
The kid’s - owner was probably the most accurate term, he supposed, by the way the man had talked about Lee - hadn’t had many stipulations. But Martin didn’t want to sabotage a potential new relationship with such a powerful ally. Senator Benjamin Leon himself, ten fingers and and even a few toes in some of the most prolific international human trafficking rings. Martin had to laugh… the people you meet, in this fucking profession. The whisperers of government corruption didn’t know how deep that particular sickness ran. 
With Lev sleeping in one of the rooms upstairs, Martin had plenty of time to enjoy this. And he intended to. He had cuffs, he had paracord, he had the knife in his pocket, and the one in his boot. He studied the boy for a few more minutes, before rolling up his sleeves, and heading inside.
Lee rubbed at his wrists, wondering why he hadn’t been bound for the first time in… how long since he was taken? It didn’t matter. It was since then. It didn’t matter that Lee didn’t know if he’d been this bastard’s hostage for weeks or months, that all his days had blended together with the pain, that he sometimes forgot how it used to be for him - even when they’d been running from America and her corrupt government - what mattered was that he woke up every day and he fought like hell. 
He’d managed to break a guard’s nose the other day, so the lack of restraints was truly astounding to him. Someone was either very stupid or very confident. Or both. Robbins had been coming coming to talk to him lately, (not literally, he’s not that crazy) and now especially his voice was in Lee’s head, reminding him about all the various techniques of hand-to-hand combat.
Lee worked blood back into sore and unused muscles, stretching and cracking limbs throughout. He probably wasn’t as strong as he’d been when they first got him, but he wasn’t a puddle of limbs either. Electrocution at least, tenses the muscles; it’s like its own little workout. Forcing away every whisper in his head to do otherwise, Lee stood up and leaned himself against the wall. He glanced at the mirror in the wall, the epitome of a cliché two-ways really, and imagined himself meeting the eyes of whoever was back there. Really creepy like. Like in all those movies whose names he forgets. 
He jut his chin out, challenge clear. Come get me fucker.
Evidently, he was heard, because the door opened barely a minute later. The man that walked through was not Leon. He was about ten years younger than Leon to start with, and yet seemed so much more aged. He had blue eyes, crystalline. Like Leon. Huh, must be a pattern amongst psychopaths. His shirt sleeves were pushed up, revealing his forearms, which were toned enough. Lee was certain the man was sent to hurt him, and above that he didn’t care who he was. Leon had said they were seeing someone important but Lee couldn’t care less who they were or what reputation he had. They were all the same. 
“You look like a guy who really likes hearing his own fucking voice, even if no one else does, so if it’s all the same to you, monologue now while I’m still in the mood to maybe listen,” Lee smirks, crossing his arms over himself and shifting his weight against the wall to watch the newcomer. “I can’t guarantee I won’t contribute home-team commentary though.”
Mouth on the offensive, body on the defensive, huh? He could appreciate that. The kid had a quick tongue and his wits about him, and the gleaming, cocky, slightly angry defiance in his dark eyes was such a difference from what he’d grown accustomed to. Martin already knew he wanted to see the boy cry, by the time they were finished. Cry, and maybe beg a little. Maybe while that quick voice was suppressed at the source, both of his own thumbs pressed forcefully into the sides of little Lee’s trachea. 
He shrugged, raising his hands in a guilty as charged motion. Turned away from the kid, to pull the door shut. Walked closer to the table in the centre of the room, before putting his palms against the table, leaning forward casually. He could humour Lee, for a little while. Though, he wasn’t sure how long he could hold out for - his body was already thrumming with the promise of a scuffle, and the familiar itch to reach out and take something he wanted. 
“Which kind of monologue are you feeling in the mood for, exactly? I’ve memorised a couple good ones,” he said, smiling softly at Lee. Wondering if Leon would be the type to tolerate such talk in his direction. “Maybe you could give me some advice on which is better.”
“Oh you’re an actor then,” Lee taunted, all the while making rapid assessments of the man and his form. He couldn’t see a gun, which was a relief and it wasn’t; on one hand, he wasn’t here to be executed, on the other, he was obviously confident enough not to need a gun. But he still had weapons. Lee watched his fingers twitch with want to draw them, his faux causal behaviour a little bit too tense. “Will you recite the deranged ambition of Macbeth or the withering insanity of Hamlet? Both seem appropriate. Or perhaps you’ve a monologue all of your own making which showcase all your finest qualities. I’m not fussed.”
Keep them talking Robbins’ voice told him. The best fight is a delayed one. You watch them first, and then you keep them talking, and watch them some more.
Martin watched the darting of a careful gaze across his body. Noting posture, poise, positioning. Dark eyes, so similar to his own boy’s. But while Lev was a tiny bird, playing dead at the first sign of trouble, Lee seemed to be all hissing and fluffed-up fur. So different, and yet both so charming. 
“Hm. ‘Love’s heralds should be thoughts'… I think that one’s my favourite. 'Which ten times faster glide than the sun’s beams.'” Martin held up one hand, pushing it dreamily through the air. Trailing two fingers of the other along the surface of the table, as he stepped to the corner of it. 
“But enough about me. I’m more interested in getting to know you, Lee.” He let the syllable of the young man’s name roll over his tongue in a low tone, a small tilt of the head. Another step. “I’m more interested in knowing what, exactly, you think is about to happen, here.”
Lee scoffed, of course his favourite would be fucking Romeo and Juliet. That says something about a man; Lee wonders if whoever he was saw himself a Romeo or, more accurately most likely, a Tybalt. Does that make him the Mercutio? 
“My first guess isn’t a miraculous rescue.” Lee worked to unclench his jaw as the man got closer. “Considering I’m still here, and you’re laying on the ‘playing with my food’ vibe a little thick. Well, I’m no one’s food, bitch, but I assume the playing isn’t optional.” Lee quirked a brow and shrugged, as if to say oh well. Inevitably, unless he could somehow overpower this man, (unlikely in his current condition and the overall arrogance coming from him that could only be borne of experience) he was being tortured tonight. It was routine by now, everyday, if he got too upset over it he’d lose control and he wasn’t willing to do that. 
When he glared and spat at them, when he bit his tongue or his gag to stop himself from screaming, when he took every blow without protest, that was him in control. Not them. They might be the ones with the power but not the control. 
“Do all psychopaths have a type or am I just especially lucky?” Two more steps. Two more and he’d be in an attack range. Lee didn’t want to be the first to strike, he didn’t have enough experience to be the first to strike. “Or maybe I have a type of psychopath I’m subconsciously attracting. Because you don’t look all that special, Romeo.”
Martin grinned, wide and vicious, at the jibe directed as much at him as it was at the kid’s absent owner. Two insults for the price of one, delivered with gritted teeth and a confident glare. You don’t look all that special, Romeo. Fucking delightful. 
Though he thought of himself as a little more than your garden variety psycho-sadist—maybe he was, maybe he wasn’t, who’s to say—Martin didn’t see the need to disabuse Lee of that notion. He leaned forward slightly, bringing his hand to his mouth, as if delivering a secret. Looking up at the boy through his lashes. 
“You’re laying on the 'daddy, come spank me’ vibe a little thick, don’t you think?” he replied in stage whisper. “You might want to re-evaluate that if you find yourself attracting a certain type. Food for thought.” He took another step, wondering if this would be the one to provoke little Lee into lashing out. 
His blood was running hot, and he knew if the boy didn’t stop looking so fucking delicious, or made one more food-related comment, then he’d really need to find something to sink his teeth into. He was hungry.
Lee hummed, mouth quirking up into a self-deprecating grin. What did he have to lose, Leon played the 'Daddy’ angle pretty hard; Lee would have been surprised if he hadn’t told him about him being in care. But then again, maybe he was just meant as a fresh slate, new torturer new assessment. “I don’t have a Daddy,” he stage whispered back, mimicking the man’s pose. If it put him in a better defensive position what of it? “But still I don’t think everyone with Daddy issues wind up here either, do they?" 
He was more controlled than Leon, that was for sure. Experienced. Maybe Lee and Leon had been each other’s firsts, if this is how an experienced torturer behaved; all cocky and taunting and willing to play. Lee was an English major who was working as a secretary, how the fuck did this become his life? 
Lee watched his hands, twitching a bit more now, excited energy waiting for him to give in. He doesn’t want to be the first to strike. "So maybe you’re right, but I don’t need any snacks from you. I’d rather choke.”
There it was. Didn’t the kid know better than to talk like that? Maybe the Good Senator would beat that kind of language straight from that mouth one day. He noted the daddy issues comment, he’d save that for later. But, for now… 
Martin chuckled low in his throat, looking away and to the side, feigning briefly–and lunged, lightning fast, towards the kid just barely within his reach. Aiming to wrap his hand around that slender neck and squeeze.
Lee tipped his balance to the side, swinging his shoulders profile and shoving the man’s hand up and to the side, clinging to his wrist for just a moment as he brought his knee up and shoved it into his stomach. He was aiming for something else but… balance issues. He swung his foot out instead trying to kick his assailant back.
Letting out a short 'oof’ of breath with the knee to the stomach - a little out of practice, it seemed, from so much play with much more docile toys - Martin changed tacks, reaching down to grab the ankle as a foot kicked at him. He wrenched it forcefully, disabling balance, shoving his other arm up under the kid’s armpit. If this went quickly to the floor, all the better.
Lee crashed to the floor, letting out a bark of pain as his shoulder collided sharply with the ground. Now he swung a fist, as well as jerked his elbow forwards, hoping to collide with an ear or a nose, a throat preferably but this seemed like a man who didn’t let anything get near his throat.
Half-kneeling over his prey, hands still gripping him, Martin felt the crack of a fist colliding with his mouth. He reeled back from the force of the blow, tasting blood, before going in for his own - two swift strikes to the abdomen, a hand coming up to grip and yank at dirty blond hair.
Lee grunted and felt the wind knocked out of him, and then again as he felt the grip rip at his scalp, reflexively his hand scrambled to displace the hold and his legs tried bucking and kicking him off, but they were at the inevitable end. He was beat.
So he did the last thing he could, a fan favourite of Leon’s, and spat in the man’s face.
The glob of spit landed at the intersection of Martin’s nose and cheek, and he grinned, feral. He wrenched Lee’s head to one side, leaning in to growl directly into the ear. Close. 
“Very good, sweetheart, but I think I’ve just fucking won.” His eyes darting down to the boy’s neck, Martin couldn’t help it. He let his full weight press Lee down into the floor, and sunk his teeth into the boy’s exposed throat, biting down hard.
Lee shouted in surprise and pain both, jerking his shoulders up to try and dislodge his jaw. “Fuck you, asshole!” Lee squirmed, snarling, and tried to bite back against the man’s face.
He relished the cry of pain, the thrashing, the boy trying to twist away. If Lee could still form words, Martin wasn’t trying hard enough. He caught one of Lee’s wrists, slamming it into the ground, before biting down as hard as he could. Like a weasel with a rat, latching on, and not letting go until he found submission. He wanted to hear the boy scream.
“You’re crazy!” Lee cursed but stopped thrashing, biting his lip against the pain. “Fucking freak.” 
It hurt. It really fucking hurt. And it felt wrong. The only time someone had ever bitten him was during sex and he wouldn’t be surprised if this was this guy’s version of a lovebite. He knew what he wanted though, what Leon wanted (and got eventually, but he was more creative than this); he won’t scream. Lee stopped fighting too, laying there and taking it instead, yet far from broken. Still playing just using a new strategy.
He felt the switch, the stilling of movement. Martin disengaged, pulling back a few inches. Blood pooled in the ring of marks his teeth had left, running down the boy’s neck and dripping slowly onto the floor. It was probably smeared all over his own mouth and chin, too, but Martin couldn’t give a shit. He did reach up to clean the remainder of the spit from his face, wiping it against his own shirt. He took his hand from Lee’s hair, instead coming down to grip the boy by the jaw. 
They’d landed close to the metal table, and Martin’s eyes flicked up to the sturdy leg of it, before darting back down to the boy. “Good, Lee. That’s very good. Now, put your hands above your head for me.” He reached behind himself to his belt, undoing the loop and pulling the cuffs free. 
He was curious if the fighting would start up again, or if this change in behaviour would last. If the latter turned out to be true, maybe Lee was more similar to his own boy than he’d originally thought. He’d have to ask Leon if he could play with the two of them at once, sometime. See how the two of them reacted to each others presence. The senator had already told him he expected to have a go at Lev, at a later time, and Martin had accepted. But, right now, the man was in a meeting.
Lee kept his eyes averted, or at least he was pretending he was. He started moving his free hand, free of the man’s weight, until he had full motion again. He let him because he thought he’d submitted. Leon clearly didn’t brief him very well. Instead of up towards the table Lee shot his hand downwards to where he knew he saw the handle of a knife. He desperately fumbled with it, trying to draw it from his captor’s pocket or engage it there. Either worked.
Martin smirked, pleased by the downcast eyes, the slightly laboured breathing that matched his own. Just a tad of obedience… that was good. As he felt clever fingers slip into his pocket and curl around the handles of the balisong, however, Martin’s own hand left the cuffs, letting them clatter to the floor. He gripped Lee’s hand, effectively trapping it in with the knife, holding it close to his thigh. 
“Ah—and just what do you plan on doing with that?” Martin tutted. His other hand slipped from the boy’s jaw to his throat, pressing down. Not hard, just in warning… though he made sure to press fingers into the bloodied bite mark. “If you want the knife, I can give you the knife. All you need to do, is ask nicely.”
Lee grit his teeth as pressure was put on the wound in his neck, and tried flexing his hand out of the grip. He hadn’t really thought he’d get the knife out of the freak’s pocket, but it’s the effort that counts right? 
He spat again, this time mingled with blood from biting his lip against the pain of the bite. Lee smiled, sickly sweet and taunting. “Nice enough for you, motherfucker?" 
He wondered if he would fly off the handle like Leon does sometimes, or if he’d just keep up this game of tug-of-war for dominance. When he gets out of here he’ll ask Robbins about the different kinds of psychopath; by then he’ll have all sorts of anecdotal evidence that there are subcultures of them. The thought of Robbins sub-classing all of Lee’s torturers made the younger man giggle.
"Hm.” Martin tried to clear his reaction of any trace that the way the boy had just fucking spit at him a second time was getting to him, just the tiniest bit, but it was difficult with the feeling of the glob of it sliding down his face. Again. His boy would never be so uncivilised. He was starting to wonder what Leon was keeping this kid around for. He was cute, but was that really worth the effort? He’d have to ask him later. 
Martin pulled Lee’s hand from his pocket, the knife with it. He squeezed hard in both places, around the throat and the hand simultaneously, aiming to get the boy to loosen his grip on the twin handles of the knife. He lifted the boy’s head and slammed it back down, once, twice against the tiles.
Lee grunted with every blow to his head, gasp choked off as his air was cut off. He tried keeping a hold on the knife but he couldn’t. Pain exploded from his head and his lungs screamed for oxygen, even his wrist was shouting at him to do something to relieve the pressure against it. He dropped the knife. 
Oh, but he could read his captor like a book, he’d always been good at reading people, and he wasn’t so playful now, was he? How’s it feel to be the one fucked with? 
Lee’s giggling restarted, turning into full on laughter. Perhaps he was insane, who could blame him after the shit he’s been through? But at least he’s the kind of insane that pushes these sadists’ buttons. The annoying kind. Marco said being a little shit was in his genetic code, maybe he was right. Well, welcome to BIO434 - an experiment in just how far Lee can push this newcomer before he loses control.
Watching the knife slip from Lee’s grip, falling harmlessly against the boy’s chest, Martin retrieved the cuffs. He manipulated Lee’s hands over his head, around the leg of the table, before securing them there, cinching tight. He went about unspooling the paracord, too… though it looked as if the kid may actually be done fighting, now. 
Hearing the giggles that escaped Lee’s lips turn to laughter, Martin let his own mouth quirk upward. Was it that satisfying to have landed a bit or two, with fist or saliva? Or was this the boy’s version of freaking out? Granted, he didn’t know too much about Leon’s methods, but maybe the kid had already sustained some kind of TBI. It was an interesting reaction to being manhandled, and choked, and slapped around the room - but sometimes the brain did what it needed to survive. Whether that shield came in the form of lashing out, or shutting down… well. Martin considered himself an artist, or a patron. Not a scientist. 
After winding the paracord around Lee’s ankles, securing them together - more for simplicity’s sake, than any kind of worry - he picked up the balisong, unlatching it, twirling it open. He brought his hand up to grip the boy’s jaw, again. At the very least, if the boy tried to spit a third time, he’d have difficulty doing it without getting it all over himself. 
“Now,” he said, still relatively breathless, but whether from the exertion or the thrill of the fight, he couldn’t say. “Where the fuck were we? Ah, yes. I believe you were telling me about your daddy issues.”
Lee hummed, lulling his head towards Martin and grinning. “Didn’t have a daddy, that’s the issue. Next question Dr.Phil?” He glanced up at his bound hands and then shifted his legs. “I think you’re missing the point of a table. Your shit is supposed to go on top of it, as so many good things do.” Lee winked and smirked. 
He knew that he should be shutting up - torture and all - but he didn’t really want to. Leon got tired of his voice so easily, shoving something or other into his mouth to silence him near constantly. Exercising his right to be a nuisance felt right to Lee. The knife fell into Lee’s gaze, his careful eyes watching how this man held it, what kind of knife it was, the man’s body language with it. 
Comfortable, at ease, excited. Lee thought he found the man’s favourite toy. How… lame. Compared to what Leon does to him, a knife is more on par with what they’d been expecting if one of them ever were captured. 
“Is that a balisong? Hm, nice knife; illegal though.”
Bringing the knife in closer, trailing the tip of it along the line of the jaw, Martin tried to focus himself. He was here to play, not to punish, or whatever the boy thought he was here to do - and not to go too hard. His thoughts flickered to the camera, and how Leon had mentioned he liked to watch. 
He didn’t want to owe a man like Benjamin Leon anything, much less a whole-ass boy. Though he supposed he could just get another one, what with the whole trafficking thing… But this one, for whatever reason, seemed special. He dipped the knife into the boy’s neck, slicing a thin line just above the bite, which was already starting to bruise, slightly. 
“Good guess. Next question, then, because I can’t for the life of me figure this one out - what the fuck is he keeping you around for? Because I keep mine because his fear is fucking delicious, but that clearly isn’t the case for you two.”
Lee hissed at the cut, a knife that close to his throat wasn’t something that sat easily with him, but he didn’t move. “Oh I see, you two met on some fucked up version of eHarmony for psychopaths who like keeping people as playthings. Well, I’m sure you’ll be very happy together." 
He said Leon wanted to keep him around, which means that he wasn’t going to be killed tonight. So, Leon’s probably going to see this sooner or later, he’s ever the emerging director of the worst film of Lee’s life. 
"And it wasn’t a fucking guess, I know knives because I know how to fucking use them. My 'special skill’ to get into university.” Lee grinned sardonically, mockingly. “And I’m not one of his… cargos. I’m not his at all. I’m just a hostage. He wants something from my employer and we’ve refused to give it; why he sees it necessary to drag me along for all this bullshit is beyond me too, but here we are. You, with your knife, me bleeding, and I’m guessing that’s going to be the general theme for tonight so let’s get on with it. But if it’s fear you find delicious, freak, you’re going to fucking starve.”
Martin laughed. I’m not his. Then he threw his head back, and laughed some more. He’d recognised it in Senator Leon’s eyes from the minute he’d met the man - that possessive streak. That need to claim, to mark. To own entirely. He knew it, because he felt it within himself every time he looked at his boy. 
“Oh, you’re his. You’re absolutely his. You may not have realised it yet, but I’d be floored if he doesn’t collar you by the end of the week.” He shrugged. “But what do I know. I’m just a freak and a psychopath.” He sunk the blade into Lee’s shoulder, stabbing through the fine white shirt. Holding the boy down as he did.
Lee gasped and reflexively tried to sit himself up, jerking at the cuffs as he did. His shoulder burned like there was no other and it took quite a bit of effort not to scream. His hands clutched the table leg in an iron grip and his breathing was noticeable forced, but he recovered and glared at the man still. 
“That the best you got Romeo?” 
He didn’t want to talk about how unnerved the laughing made him. Collar you he said, like he was a fucking dog. Is that how he treats the boy he mentioned he has? The simple assuredness in his words as he pronounced Leon’s fucky obsession with him further unsettled Lee but he wouldn’t show it. He wouldn’t.
Watching Lee work through the pain, that sharp tug against the cuffs, the paling of the knuckles, that inhale, followed by a precisely measured exhale, the way he rounded back on him with renewed ferocity… yeah, that was good. Martin drank in every little detail, keen eyes flickering across each and every reaction, and then the scene as a whole. No reaction to his previous words, though. Damn, if the kid didn’t know how to make a guy feel like he was losing his touch. 
Martin sat back on his haunches, idly playing with the knife. “You know, if you keep calling me that, you can’t blame me when I start calling you Juliet. Just the natural progression of this little thing we’ve got going. Though, I love that you’ve taken to it so readily.” 
If not screaming… choking, then. He could really go for a good, slow strangulation. Or, hell, maybe the opposite—two carotid arteries, some pressure and a real quick nap. Slightly more difficult from this angle, without the leverage provided by his own forearms, but still manageable. Watch, as the boy recovered from that. Was that something they experienced in his university, or whatever the fuck the kid had been talking about? Cadets? He’d already forgotten. 
They’d get to all of that. But maybe later. He didn’t know how much time he had left with little Lee, but there was plenty to escalate already, here, without getting too fancy about it. Martin smiled, before putting his thumb over the knife wound, and pressing down cruelly. Adding some of his bodyweight behind it… just because.
Lee moaned at the pain, clenching his eyes shut and grabbing at the table leg again. He tilted his chin up, grinding the back of his head into the floor. 
“I don’t know your name dickface, for all the lectures on respect I get and you didn’t even introduce yourself. Usually a name is bare minimum for the people who tie me up.” Lee chuckled. “And I can take a lot more, trust me. It is going to take more than a butterfly knife to impress me.” 
Lee wasn’t a masochist. He wasn’t, truly. He hated how his breath was shorting out and the pain radiated down his spine. He hated the thrum of his bruised neck and the soreness of the fighting. He hated pain. But he loved watching his torturers be denied their reactions. Sometimes he wins, sometimes he loses.
“Oh,” Martin said, curt, sliding the knife back into the wound, slightly deeper. 
He could do this casual back and forth to a background radiation of torture all day, if that’s what the kid wanted. He’d probably get bored with it at some point, but for now, what was the point in leaving the ice-cream parlour when you hadn’t sampled all the flavours? 
Lectures on respect… interesting. 
“I genuinely forgot. Apologies. My name’s Martin,” he said, giving the knife a little twist. His own personal handshake. “Pleasure to officially meet you, Lee. Tell me—does the old boy get you to call him by a title? Senator in the streets, Sir in the sheets?” He chuckled lightly at his own joke.
Lee’s breath stalled as he twisted the knife, and then he let out a long breath intermingled with a groan. Bastard. 
“Oh I call Leon plenty of things, none of which are what he’s trying to get me to call him. You two probably have the same taste, would you get all hot and excited if I told you what it was?” 
That’d been the new lesson Leon had introduced, still no luck on the no swearing one; call me ‘Master,’ Lee, and I’ll give you a bed for the night. Yeah there’s no way Lee was complying with that request or that stipulation.
Martin cocked an eyebrow - shit, he was a little impressed at the kid’s pain tolerance. There were some so-called 'hardened criminals’ who would be begging him to stop, at this point. He left the balisong in, pulling the little folding knife from his boot, thumbing it open. 
Ha, of course Lee was a mouthy little shit to Leon. He was wondering if the man was as much of a masochist as he was a sadist, honestly. Clearly he was in the habit of taking in feral animals and calling them pets. 
“Hm. Not sure I could say without knowing, first.”
Lee swallowed and examined the new knife. Another fucking knife. Great. Fucking superb. As much as Leon had done to him he’d never fucking stabbed him. Cut him a bit yeah, but this fucker was leaving them in there like thumbtacks. 
“Come closer and I’ll tell you.” Lee ran his tongue between his teeth, wetting his lips. Martin fucking bit him, the mouth is clearly a thing for him.
Martin tutted, waggling his finger. “If I profane with my unworthiest hand–” he pointed down at the handle of the balisong “–my lips, two blushing pilgrims, ready stand." 
Or, crudely appropriated - spit on me again and I’ll bite you again, you little fucker. 
"It’s fine, Lee. You don’t have to say. Would you like to know what I have mine call me?”
Lee quirked a brow at the recitation. He never liked Romeo and Juliet, two children throwing their lives away for the sake of the wars of the older generation - perhaps it is more fitting than he originally thought. 
“Why not? What do you make the poor soul that has to bear your company daily call you?" 
So far, he has not managed to achieve a level of rage in Martin that he’s seen with Leon. He might keep it that way, not say anything too offensive, ride out this torture session till he’s brought back to wherever the fuck Leon is at the moment. Or maybe he’ll file away all these little indicators. Mine mine mine he describes his boy as his, possessive. Possible weak point, if Lee is feeling daring.
Smiling, Martin didn’t give his answer right away. Instead he peered down the length of the new blade, as if examining it for wear. He pulled the balisong, wiped the blood off on the kid’s shirt, latched and pocketed it. Pressed his free palm down on top of the swell of blood, again. He wanted it all over his hands. 
He peered down into the dark eyes that threw challenge after challenge, and probably had a thousand colourful insults brewing behind them at any given moment. The corners tight with pain, the words slightly forced. Fearless. But… if not the fear of him, or the old boy, perhaps he could help instil a healthy fear of God into little Lee. Help sow seeds into that pretty little head, that may blossom into worry of what could be, one day. Tools didn’t need to be physical, after all. 
“No titles… no honorifics. When I cut him, when I beat him, when I drown him, when I tie him down, when I mark him as my own… he calls me by my name. When he screams? He screams my name. He’s just so very… very fucking good for me.” The last few words were a wistful sigh, as he increased the pressure of his hand.
Lee grunted and moaned again as the knife was pulled from the wound, and tried to squirm away as Martin pressed against it, adding another drop of agony to the burning inferno that was his body right now. He was sore and tired and he really just wanted to go home. 
And then Martin started talking about how good his boy was while he did all these things to him. While he tortured him. All Lee thought about was how this kid was probably similar minded to him, how all the shit Martin had pulled today had probably worked on him. 
Lee dropped his voice into a dangerous growl and fixed Martin with a glare that was positively malicious. "Do you know what Leon wants me to call him? 'Master.’ Like he owns me. And sometimes I do it. When I am writhing on the ground, ripping my throat from screaming, I call him whatever the fuck he wants me to call him. I’m not ashamed of it, it’s fucking survival. And yours? Yours doesn’t belong to you anymore than I belong to him, why? Because at the end of the day, if he wasn’t being tortured by you he wouldn’t respect you in the slightest. Your darling little hostage will never be yours, you talk about how 'good he is for you’ and he seems to be on your mind all the fucking time but you know what? When all that is happening, he’s thinking of someone else, something else other than you. You repulse him. He loathes you, and if he had the chance to see a bullet put in your brain I’m sure he would jump at it. Your little obsession is a grand delusion in your head that he wants to be with you, hm? Well let me tell you, he doesn’t. And he never will, no matter what you do to him.”
The smile on Martin’s face hardened during the boy’s diatribe into something concrete, unmoving. The boy could talk, and talk, and talk, and fucking talk, couldn’t he? Yours doesn’t belong to you. That was just a lie. Lev did belong to him. He’s thinking of someone else—of course, he had to admit that was probably the case… but he wouldn’t to think about that. He didn’t fucking want to. 
But no. He couldn’t let this go to his head. Martin watched the boy’s face as the rapid-fire words were shot like bullets. He wouldn’t let this go to his head. 
He doesn’t, and he never will. Oh. Okay. Okay. 
Martin put his hand to his own chin, scratching fingers along the underside of his jaw. He let out a low, solitary huff of a laugh. The predator’s smile reappeared. 
A hand flew out to strike Lee in a powerful slap across the face. Crack. And again, crack. Each time flecks of red from his bloody hand were cast across the boy’s cheek. The sharp sounds rang out, bounced off the walls of the interrogation room. As his bare palm connected over and over again—three, four—Martin hoped that the boy bit his tongue every time his head was whipped to the side. After the fifth slap—CRACK—he closed his fist, and moved his hand lower.
The first punch was delivered straight to the solar plexus. Martin relished the smack and the rush of air leaving the boy. From this angle he could easily kill the fucking kid, and to hell with it, maybe that would be for the fucking best. The second punch was just as swift, not allowing any time for Lee to catch his breath, the same place again, aiming low. The third strike, more vicious still, its target the bloodied knife wound on the kid’s shoulder. He rained punch after punch down on the boy, so many that he quickly lost count, and when he finally stopped to take stock of the state of him, he was panting. 
Martin moved back, brushing away a stray lock of black hair that had fallen in front of his face. He reached up to undo and redo the cuffs, freeing them from the metal table, but not from each other. Then he stepped back, gripped Lee by the paracord around his ankles, and started to drag him towards the door.
Lee watched Martin’s expressions change, slowly boiling over. Now you’ve done it, one part of his brain whispered, exactly what you wanted to happen, isn’t it? another part retorted. 
Being slapped hurt. It burned, and the sound ricocheted inside his head. His ears started to ring after the second slap, which forced his neck at an even sharper angle to the side too quickly. Every time Martin’s palm collided with his face short, breathless grunts were forced out of his mouth. By the fourth, Lee couldn’t even feel his cheek anymore, his whole head just hurt and by the fifth Lee’s teeth bit viciously into his tongue, tearing little abrasions and spilling copper into his mouth.
Feeling all the air pushed out of him - punched out of him - was more uncomfortable than the actual force of the punch itself. But the punch itself was still painful. It hurt in that dull radiating way that just fucking hurts. When Martin struck his knife wound Lee finally cried out, not quite screaming but definitely a shout of pain. He couldn’t catch his breath as punch after punch rained down on him. It was almost like he could feel blood vessels pounded into desolation, bursting open and spilling his blood to the surface of skin, forming the bruises. 
His vision swam and his ear rang from all the blows, so much so that he didn’t even realize Leon- no… no Martin had stopped. Then he realized his vision was not spinning as much as he thought it was, and rather, he was being moved. Dirt and rocks tracked in by shoes of people actually allowed outside ground into his back, and it feel like they were ripping into him, all his nerves screaming out in pain that wasn’t necessarily there. 
His legs were dropped, and Martin didn’t get on top of him again, thank god. He groaned and curled into himself, regaining his breath, his tact, before facing whatever was next. He jerked his head to the side to clear his eyes of blood and hair and felt himself pale. 
A bathtub. It was… it was a bathtub. He could only imagine what was going to happen with said bathtub and he was not too fond of drowning. One shitty foster mom trying to give him a bath too many and all. Still, he bit his lip and refused to beg.
“So, now that we’ve established that whatever you say to me is fucking useless, dear Lee, it’s probably about time that we get this party started. Hm?” Martin turned to wash his hands in the sink, more out of force of habit than anything else. “After all, you’ll say whatever you need to say, in the name of saving your own skin. So all those usual little safewords—stop, no, don’t—and all those other indicators to me that you might be actively dying? Are now just completely off the table.” 
He paused at his own words. Was drowning on the table? He legitimately could not remember. He was going way off the books, here, and he’d let anger drive his movements, but he was finding it more and more difficult to care, and he certainly didn’t care what Lee thought of him. Would the good senator be pissed? Martin searched himself. He searched deep. 
No, yeah, he should probably stop to check. Fucking professionalism. He pulled out his phone, and sent a quick text, before turning back to Lee where he’d dumped him unceremoniously on the floor. He lifted his foot, and brought his boot down to rest on Lee’s sternum. Leaning down with one elbow against his knee.
“Pity for you, really. Because now we either stop when I want to, or when you die.” Martin shrugged, before reaching down to roughly pat Lee twice on the cheek. Admiring, for a few moments, the way it had already started to redden and swell. The little dribble of blood slipping past his lips. So he had bitten his tongue. Excellent. A buzz from his phone. The man must be pushing fifty, but at least he wasn’t one of the technologically inept ones.
don’t brand him, don’t kill him.
Perfect. He was going to give this man a fucking gift basket, after today—first saving his ass in the meetings earlier, and now being so damn generous with his property. Martin reached back to the sink, placing his phone down on the ceramic, before hauling Lee up by the front of his shirt, and dumping him in the tub. Turning the cold water on full blast.
Usually situations involving a safeword are more fun than this, Lee thought to himself. He didn’t exactly want to piss Martin off any more than he already had, so he kept it to himself. For once. It was certainly no fun, but he’s not sure he could have made coherent sounding words with his mouth full of blood and tongue smarting anyways. 
Lee coughed as Martin pressed against his chest, pressure on the recently beaten area not the best for his breathing, but then again, he was fairly sure he was going in that bathtub and that’s not the best for his breathing either. 
Martin pat his cheeks, aggravating the bruising and forcing a wince out of him as he struggled not to squirm at all. He was powerless here, but he wasn’t out of control. Oh no, he held all the control. Martin had definitely been out of control there, he seemed like a man who didn’t often resort to garden variety beatings. He really pissed him off, huh? My words don’t seem so useless, fucker, they seem like they got quite the rise out of you. 
Martin was distracted by his phone for a second, checking it and positively lighting up. Fuck. Fuck, fuck, fuck; that was probably Leon, giving the go ahead. Because all he and and that other kid and whoever else were in this fucking circle of psychopaths were was property, and damaging other people’s property is rude, isn’t it? 
Lee didn’t want to admit that he was scared. Terrified, even, but he was so determined not to show it, or maybe he would. No shame in being scared, Charlie. We’re talking about torture; you shouldn’t even have to consider it. Let yourself be scared. But never let yourself think you’re weaker than them for it. 
Lee really hoped Robbins was right as Martin grabbed and threw him into the basin, starting the water not a moment later. “Fuck!” He shouted, trying to scramble away from the icy water filling the tub already.
Grinning at the exclamation and the little shuffle away from the water, Martin took off his watch, slipping it from his wrist. Putting the one last thing that could get damaged by getting wet aside. Lee had his hands cuffed on front of him, his feet still bound, his eyes wide and a little wild, his white dress shirt rapidly staining with more and more blood - and wasn’t that just a better overall look, for the kid? 
Before Lee could scramble out of the tub, Martin knelt down beside it, grabbing Lee by the front of his shirt up near the topmost buttons. His other hand came down to grip the short chain of the cuffs, holding him firmly in place… 
But no. No, this wouldn’t fucking do at all. He needed to feel his victim squirm. Needed a front row seat to every little drop of misery. Keeping both hands on the boy, Martin hooked a leg up and over the ledge of it, his boot splashing in the water that was starting to pool. He clambered into the tub, shuffling forward until he was looming over him again, one knee planted on either side of Lee’s upper arms. 
“Oh fuck - that’s really quite cold, isn’t it Lee?” He almost had to shout over the thundering noise of the tub filling, though now it sounded like it was splashing against one of his leather boots. With the back of the Lee’s head pressed to the bottom of the tub like this, the water level was already touching the back of the boy’s head. Another minute or so and his ears would start to be submerged. He couldn’t wait for every cocky little comment to be dissolved away. “What, no monologues for me now?”
Lee’s teeth clacked together as his head impacted with the tub, pressed down by Martin’s weight. The man made some remark, but the ringing in Lee’s ears were almost on par with the thundering from the faucet. 
Lee didn’t even try to move, though he felt the water tickle the nape of his neck. He grunted, pushing his head away from the water and swallowing, before letting it fall back into place. He smiled at Martin, sure he made quite a macabre sight, red-stained teeth and bruising face. He had a bit of time to take some extra breaths yet. 
“Thou art a boil, a plague sore, an embossed carbuncle in my corrupted blood.” King Lear, Shakespeare’s greatest creation, as most scholars would say. Lee preferred Hamlet, but the mad king had offered no insults inside Lee’s head, so he was to take a backseat. 
Was he still terrified at the thought of the water slowly suffocating him? Filling his nose and mouth and ears, pooling in his stomach and his throat and then his lungs? Absolutely. And Lee figured he’d get quite panicked when that bridge was crossed - he was being shot at the speed of a bullet towards that bridge, but his few seconds of sanity mattered - but while he still held his wits he was determined to use them.
He… he didn’t know that one. Shit. Fuck. But, not one to let himself be bettered, Martin fell back on pressing forward. Feeling the water begin to seep into his pants. 
"Not your finest, Lee. So, are you ready to learn what drowning feels like? Or was that also on your extra-curriculars somewhere?” He splashed some of the water up onto Lee’s face. 
He was playing, again, starting to get back in the rhythm of it. He chalked it up to being so utterly different to what he grown used to. His boy would proabbly drown himself, at this stage, if he asked him to. God, he needed Leon to see what broken felt like. Maybe the man would have the time and patience to get Lee there.
Lee flinched as the water hit his face, the chill of it sending gooseflesh down his spine and arms. Ironically, Robbins had asked him once to put his head underwater until he breathed in some - not until he almost breathed it in, until he did. Because surprise surprise waterboarding was a fan favourite. 
“I know what it feels like, dick for brains, and it was fucking extracurriculars that got me here.”
Where the hell did the kid go to college? “Ah. And here I was thinking that you’d just gone and found yourself the worst possible sugar daddy to pay your loans…” A poli-psycho with a… god complex? Fixation on boys half his age? Not that he was one to talk, really. “Well, since you’re so used to it, we won’t bother starting slow then, will we? How’s two minutes sound?”
“Fucking superb.” Lee rolled his eyes and stopped resisted Martin’s insistent pressure. The water was getting closer and soon he wouldn’t be able to speak. “Did Leon really not tell you how he kidnapped me? That’s a first he tells fucking everyone.”
“Let me guess—he came to your school one day, and you opened your cute little mouth without thinking, as you are wont to do—and faster than you could say kidnap me, he’d kidnapped you.” The water was just starting to lap at the boy’s earlobes, the base of his jaw. His hair floating in a little halo around his head. Martin looked him up and down, thrumming with anticipation. “Close enough?”
“Mmm not quite. He sent people to kill my professor, who I was working for, and when they tried to kill me for being there my professor killed them instead. Eleven months on the run later and I got caught. What can I say? It happens.” Lee tipped his head up, away from the water. It was turning pink with his blood, wisps floating where his cut had been submerged. “Your thing is far too garden variety. Like all of this. Predictable. The professor guessed every single method you’d use; cutting, beating, waterboarding.”
Interesting. So there were more people involved… good for Leon. If it was an item the man wanted, or information, or hell even to get even with this professor, it would be much easier to play them all off each other. People, in his experience, would let many things happen to themselves. But to their loved ones? A strange line appeared in the sand, there. 
Martin rolled his eyes at the second half of the boy’s comment. “Come on, now. I thought you were a fan of the classics. Would you call good old Bill predictable, after you’d read him hundreds of times? I’m not doing it like this for your pleasure, Lee, I’m doing it for mine." 
As the water started to climb the boy’s face, nip at the corners of his eyes, Martin wound one hand through Lee’s hair, again. Not that he thought he could escape, in any way, shape or form, from this. But because, like he’d said… he wanted it like this. To hold him, just like this. To watch him drown.
Lee closed his eyes and tried to ignore the uncomfortable sensation of water encompassing his face but not cutting off his air. Yet. He titled his head back as much as possible, buying himself a couple more seconds of time. This wasn’t like when he’d practiced with Robbins, doing almost exactly this - minus the whole getting mounted thing - the water slowly climbing his face wasn’t lukewarm and he didn’t have the option to tap out. 
Breathe at the very last second. He did. He filled his lungs with as much air as they would hold and relaxed his head down into a more natural position. Don’t exhale right away, just hold the air. He did that too, relaxing into the water and opening his eyes to stare up at Martin. 
The man was blurred, and the water stung his eyes, but he looked that fucker right in the eyes. The stale air in his lungs was beginning to take its toll, his body yelling at him to get rid of it. 
Two minutes Martin said? Lee’s record was about that. He can do this. 
Hold the air in your lungs for as long as possible. It’s much harder to stay underwater after exhaling. 
Robbins had been holding him down too but with him there’d been Squeeze my hand if you’re truly getting overwhelmed, or the moment you intake water. Clearly, no such option existed here.
Oh. No no no. Martin looked down through the water at Lee. This was far too relaxing for the kind of energy he wanted to maintain. Usually people started to panic and hyperventilate as soon as their face began to be submerged, even mob, but this kid, this fucking college kid? Cool as a bloody cucumber. He could remedy that. 
Martin yanked Lee up by the hair, slapping him across the face once more. A punch would likely have worked better, but he was more in the mood for stingy and humiliating, right now. The sharp sound of wet skin and little Lee’s face snapping to the side, the final breath knocked loose–and he forced his head back down, hitting it on the bottom of the tub with a splash. The water sloshed around, displaced by a thrash and his own movements, so Martin used his other hand to force Lee’s face to the side and properly submerge him.
And now, oh, now there was a little struggle. Not full blown distress, the boy seeming to recover just enough to keep himself from taking a drink too soon, but Martin wondered if he’d managed to rattle some of that control that Lee seemed to have over himself. Because what the fuck kind of professor's courses include primers on how to deal with being drowned? No. That had to be a bluff. 
Martin counted the seconds until the reflexive struggling started to kick in. Thirty… Thirty one… Still decent, nowhere near good enough to see him through the full two minutes. The bubbles of the last of Lee’s half-stolen breath started to leave his lips and break on the water’s surface, and Martin sat and tried to think of that name of the Shakespeare lady who drowns herself in the lake. God, who was it again? Hermia? Olivia?
The slap rocked him, forced his precious air out of his mouth and Lee imagined he could see it escape and leave him. Traitor. 
His head impacted the bottom of the tub sharply, adding a dull throbbing to all the other shit he was dealing with at the moment, his knife wound screaming in pain on top of all that and his neck protesting the movement. His neck protested even more when Martin knotted his hand in Lee’s hair and shoved his face to the side, pressing him into the water. Lee had just enough time to close his mouth and clench his eyes and the water was on him again, and this time he had no spare air. 
His shoulder jerked in Martin’s grip, trying to dislodge it, trying to get the man’s weight off his chest, because this was all becoming too much too quickly. And Lee was still scared, and he was cold, and actively being drowned. His lungs gave out, releasing the air, and for just a moment it felt like relief. Ten seconds later his body was screaming for him to inhale. 
Lee bucked, and jerked, pressing against the grip on his head and trying to push Martin away. Everything ached but his lungs were the worst of all and if he didn’t get relief soon - another minute he thought, another minute that might as well have been a century - he would start breathing water. 
He did. Lee’s body betrayed him and forced him to inhale through his nose, it startled him and he had just enough concentration to hastily swallow and force the water away from his larynx and into his stomach instead. If he started coughing while he was underwater he would take in more water than he could handle. And yet, Lee knew, he was going to start coughing and inhaling water like it was the oxygen his lungs craved pretty damn soon. Too soon.
Martin curled his fingers tighter, tighter, watching the boy underneath him with absolute focus. The squeezed-shut eyes, the knitted brow— cast in a shallow pink of blood. He felt Lee’s muscles tense and clench as they tried to free themselves from his iron grip, and he absorbed every jerk of his body with his own. A leg kicked out behind his back, sending water splashing over the side of the tub, splattering across the bathroom tiles. Sixty-three, sixty-four… 
Around the minute fifteen mark Lee’s thrashing increased in intensity, now convulsive, frantic, mortally despairing, the mouth falling open and the eyes flying wide—and Martin knew the sight and shudder of a man who’d truly started breathing water, when he saw it. He eased back, fisting both hands in the boy’s shirt, one in front and one at the scruff, pulling him up, and out. The violent twist of him as he breached would have sent Martin falling backward if there weren’t so many legs in the way, and he manoeuvered him up and over the side of the tub. 
Water left the mouth in a stream. A wheezing gulp of air, aborted with a cough—and another, and another, and another. He held the boy as his body shook with the brutal force of the mere act of taking in air and expelling water, heaving, hiccupping coughs and desperate little sounds. It was fucking captivating, and Martin had to actively stop himself from pressing in as close to Lee as he would have, were it Lev. Instead, he satisfied himself with the sight of cold skin, and wet hair, and a body that was out of control.
Lee’s abs ached with intensity of someone who’d been violently ill for too long, when the coughing or vomiting took a toll on the muscles and tore at their strength, tore at their resistance. Water and bile both were retched up as he heaved, all too aware of Martin’s arms around his body and yet far removed from it as well. The water just kept coming and coming and coming and it never seemed to end, no matter how much Lee coughed and choked it out of his mouth. 
He’d be really fucking pissed if he dry drowned because of this shit. He’d haunt Martin’s ass, Leon’s too.
As the water finally cleared, and Lee’s starving lungs were finally granted the air they’d been craving for what seems like an eternity, Lee became fully aware of his proximity to his torturer. His throat burned and felt ripped, and his limbs felt like jelly - deprived as they are of movement and oxygen both - and mentally, Lee was exhausted. It was a lot of work making sure you don’t break or go crazy enduring torture, after torture, after torture. 
He relaxed in Martin’s hold, breathless and panting. His head lulled forward, and he had no air to talk with but- "O, what a noble mind is here o'erthrown…” Now he nows how Ophelia felt when she threw herself into that brook.
Chuckling, Martin released his hold on Lee, letting him slouch against the side of the tub. Clambering up and out, he pulled a nearby towel from the rack and dried off his hands. Glancing over at his phone—fucking five missed calls, what the hell had happened in the space of two-ish minutes? Frowning, Martin toweled himself off as best he could. 
“I think it might be your lucky day, Lee.” But Leon wouldn’t be done for another couple hours, at least. What was proper form, here, just dump the kid back in the interrogation room? Probably not the best idea… it was actually really cold, down here. 
His phone started ringing, again. Shit—fine, okay. He’d do the first thing that came to mind. 
ACT TWO - Lee & Lev
Lev woke with a start, to the sound of something slapping on the ground, and the heavy slam of a door. What the fuck, what the hell, what the hell was happening? 
He bolted upright, eyes darting to the front of the room, the little en-suite to the side, before seeing the mass on the floor. Was that… was that a body? Blond hair, and blood—no. Water. His heart racing, Lev wavered between the competing will to investigate, and run the fuck away. 
“Hello?” he called, both hoping and hoping not to receive an answer.
Lee had no energy to shout when he was none too ceremoniously tossed into the new room. Instead he laid there and just breathed - I will never take that for granted again - he decided. Now that his body wasn’t screaming at him - WE NEED FUCKING AIR LEE - it was rather angry at him for being such a smart ass with Martin. 
Though, to be fair what would he have achieved with being docile? He wouldn’t have taken that beating? And the tub. But he still would have been tortured. So, pissing off Martin had been worth it, or so he’ll tell himself. 
And then there was a voice behind him. Young and male and scared, exactly this guy’s fucking type. Lee groaned and rolled over to face the source of the voice. He squinted, blinking to clear his vision and focus in on the kid. Is he a kid? He looks around Lee’s age, but at the same time… he looks like a kid. Brown hair, brown eyes. He looked like a fucking fawn. 
“Hello,” Lee replied, clearing his voice of the rasp. “I’m guessing you’re his… hostage.”
Oh. Oh what the fuck. What the fuck. 
“He… he didn’t.” He did. He had. “Oh… oh my god. Are you okay?” Lev asked, and immediately berated himself for what was probably the worst damn question of the century. Taking in the exhausted slump of the man's—his own age, surely—shoulders, the wound on his shoulder, the way he coughed before talking, the roughness of the voice. The surprisingly casual reply. Lev, shook his head, tried to organise his thoughts in any way he could. 
Martin… he’d claimed someone, another one, someone like him, someone else. Or, he could be mob. Surely too young. Or he could—no, no, he was soaked to the bone, and Martin had… he’d… 
“I’m so sorry. I’m so sorry, I don't…” he stood slowly on the far side of the bed, clenching and unclenching his hands, grasping at words but coming away with only air, realising that he hadn’t talked to anyone that wasn’t Martin in… was it weeks? Months? He kept losing time every time he blinked. When was it that they’d gotten here, again? 
“Um. Hang on.” He walked to the small closet, retrieving a fitted sheet, the only thing in there that wasn’t dirty or horribly frayed. Walked closer, slowly, before holding it out to the man.
Lee grunted and accepted it, pushing himself into a slightly more upright position and peeling off his ruined shirt. He pat himself dry, his hair, and then gingerly prodded at the knife wound, not even wanting to look at the fucking bite mark yet. “What’re you apologizing for?” He looked up at the boy - was he wearing a fucking collar? - and remembered what Martin had said about him and his fear. “Not like you did it." 
His pants were just as soaking wet and he definitely needed to treat these wounds. His chest was… very bruised. But that wasn’t all Martin. So, Martin had dumped him in the same room as the poor kid who he’d claimed for himself. Nice. They could have some nice 'I’m treated like the pet to a psychopath’ little bonding session. As weird as it was… Lee was kind of looking forward to participating in normal society stuff again - knowing full well that this was nowhere near normal society stuff. But, there was someone here that didn’t want to hurt him, and he sees some where he can lay down properly, and blankets, and he missed all these things. Let’s just hope the man opposite him was not so traumatized that he wouldn’t talk to him. 
"You look about my size, do you have any pants I could borrow…? And a first aid kit? No trouble if you… don’t.” His voice sounded… rough. Just rough, in all sense of the word.
Lev averted his eyes as the man started to peel off his shirt. He wouldn’t want to be looked at, after, after… Christ, what had been done to him? Lev took in the awful, heavy bruising all over the man’s torso. It was hard to make out details in the dim lighting of the room, but the marks were so dark and many in number that it was almost impossible to not see it. 
Damn, he’d been looking despite himself. He shook his head in response to the first query - the most that he had in the way of clothes right now was the briefs he was standing in, and the t-shirt on his back. He wished he did have something to give.
As for the second… He thought he’d seen Martin fiddling with one earlier. Hopefully that hadn’t been a dream. Lev walked to the bathroom silently, opening the sink cupboard to rummage under it. A small red bag - not a whole lot there except some band-aids and bandages, and oh, some kind of disinfectant gel.
When he returned, kneeling on the floor in front of the man, was when Lev saw it. His own hand flew up to his neck and he flinched, memories of similar marks and their infliction upon him flooding in. His heart dropped into his stomach.
Lee watched warily as the man crouched and offered him the little red bag. “Thank you,” he said, hoping he could still sound sincere after weeks of pure vitriol being the only thing spewing from his mouth. Before he got his hands all bloody, he extending one out for a handshake. “I’m Lee. He didn’t tell me your name." 
His eyes canvased the room for a fireplace he could dry his shirt and pants off on. Leon was not so kind to not dump his ass, soaking wet, into the basement as soon as they got back ho- back to Leon’s estate. He’d done it before. He’d have to ask him if it was okay if he hung out in his boxers and the sheet first, obviously. At the very least he hoped the kid had a shower he could ring his clothes out in. And rinse himself off. Do you need to rinse yourself off when you objectively just took a very shitty bath but a bath nonetheless? 
He saw him eyeing the bite, Lee hoped it wouldn’t scar. He hoped that Leon didn’t see it and get ideas of his own. Lee covered it with his hand and offered a humourless half-smile. "You could say I pissed him off a bit.”
He’d… Why? How? He didn’t comment further, though he was curious what had happened, he also… Didn’t really need to ask. It was written across the man’s grim expression, his face. Whatever it was, it had been terrible. But, if he’d managed to piss him off, something Lev never had the guts or the energy for… Maybe there was still hope for him. 
Managing to pull himself out of his head, he took the offered hand, giving his own name in return. The hand was cold and still a little damp, and Lev more just… Clasped and held it, than shaking it at all, lest he move anything that might hurt. Because, god, the guy had just been tortured. Violently, it looked like.
The man - Lee - looked around the room. There… wasn’t much, or at least not much he’d been able to find before passing out. A shower, but he hadn’t checked for hot water. No towels, no fridge, no mints or little soaps or whatever normal hotel rooms had… But there was a kettle, and tea, and a small radiator in the corner of the room. He felt like the worst damn host in the world. But before everything, he had to ask. 
“You… Did he…” the first normal person he’d had the opportunity to talk to, and his words weren’t working. Fucking hell. By way of explanation, Lev turned slightly away from Lee, pulling up the back of his shirt to reveal the bottom of the circle branded between his shoulder blades. Hoping that asked the question well enough.
“Oh. Fuck, uh- no. No he… not him.” Lee peeled off his soaking pants and bared his thigh to Lev. Leon’s seal was there, branded into him. “I have my own psychopath. I’m just here on a play date.” He huffed a sardonic chuckle and stood. “Mind if I try and dry my clothes off? I’m not getting new ones for a while.” 
Lee wrapped the fitted sheet around his waist, pulling it tight and giving him the smallest sense of dignity back. It reminded him of freshman Lee; who’d gone to toga parties and whose biggest worry was alcohol related puking. What a boy. 
“The fucker stabbed me, I need to deal with it. Can I use your shower?”
Lev looked over the brand in horror. And sadness. What was worse… That there was another guy like himself, in here… Or that there was another guy like Martin, out there? Play date. That turn of phrase, in this context, made him feel sick. He gestured in the direction of the shower, giving the go-ahead. It wasn’t his, not really. Nothing in here was. Though… It was really nice to have someone ask permission. 
Lev offered a small smile, before moving to the radiator to try and decipher it. Maybe he could get the room a bit warmer, let the poor guy have the bed for a while. He cast furtive glances at the door, hoping Martin wouldn’t come back at any time soon. Hoping he was busy doing… Whatever he does. 
He could deal with the pain. He could. He wasn’t sure if he could deal with another person being hurt in front of him. Lev didn’t want to play out those particular scenarios, so he focused on the radiator. After a few minutes, it started to crack, and warm.
Lee mock saluted, mumbling his thanks and padding into the en suite to take his shower, blessed mercies there was hot water. It relaxed some of the muscles that had been tense and knotted for weeks now, sitting in that fucking chair all the fucking time, or on the fucking floor. He might have moaned, he didn’t know. The shower tiles dyed pink as he rinsed the blood away from himself. 
He may as well do the nasty business of disinfecting the knife wound and bite mark right after his little trip into bliss. Lee shook his hair out and pat himself dry with the same sheet he was using as a cover up. So Martin could afford a big ass manor but not some towels? Dick. He balled that same sheet up and pressed it between his teeth as he liberally applied the disinfectant to his wounds, fucking hell it stun like fire. He only really bandaged the knife wound. Preferably, he would have stitched it up, but beggars can’t be choosers, right?
When Lee returned into the room it was much warmer, and since he’d rung his clothes out, he figured they’d be at least on their way to dry if he put them by the radiator now. Lee smiled though, the warmth was nice and the kid had clearly done it for his benefit. 
“So, Lev. I’m not gonna ask you how long it’s been cause who the fuck knows, right? But uh- how you holding up?” Lee collapsed onto the bed, craning his head to keep sights on his impromptu roommate. “Wanna exchange stories? The professor always said talking about better times keeps morale up in captive situations, or some shit. I dunno, but like, equal ground right? Might be a refreshing change.”
Lev sat down on the side of the bed, the cover dipping slightly under his weight, looking down at his hands. Timing his breathing by the beats of his heart, like he usually did. 
At the casual try at conversation, Lev tilted his head. How did Lee manage to talk like that? Like… He was talking to an old friend. Asking him about about his day had been. “Uh. I can’t, um, think of anything right now…” Nothing that wouldn’t be more painful to think about, than not to. He could tell him about… No. If he thought about how his boyfriend, for very long, he’d definitely start to cry. And Lee… Probably didn’t need a random guy bursting in to tears on him. Not after he’d been fucking tortured. That… Wouldn’t be fair. 
“What do you… Do you have any? Who’s the, your professor?”
“I’m not in uni anymore but the name stuck. He uh- he was my Psych prof and I dunno, I liked his class so I took more of them, all throughout uni. I’m an English Lit major but I have a minor in Psych; just 'cause I had all the credits so why not, right? And… Robbins hired me after I graduated, since I had the two most useless degrees in terms of workforce,” Lee chuckled, sitting up and drawing himself inwards. He hasn’t told anyone this, ever. It’s nice. 
“I was his secretary and his editor. We were… close, I guess? He was a good boss, a stern one, but you learn to read people like that ya know? My partner worked with him as a lab assistant for this research they were doing. Leon was this old enemy neither of us knew about until he sent people to break in and kill the professor, and steal something I guess? I dunno I was out of it during that phone call. But I was still there and so they tried killing me too, and I’m a good fighter but not that good, not then anyways. So Robbins shoots them, perfect shots, like he’d been holding off until they aimed at me. And Leon is a senator, lots of money, lots of people in his pocket, so we had to run. Marco was in the lab and came in and there was all this blood… everywhere. A mess. We stayed underground for a few months, then I fucked up on a supply run and here I am. There’s my story Sir Lev, you’re the only person alive who wasn’t involved that knows it.” Lee grinned but it wasn’t especially humour ridden.
“Robbins knew, that one or all of us would get caught, eventually. He taught me, trained me how to defend myself. Or try to, I’m not exactly a heavyweight. He taught me what to do when I got tortured, because he knew I would be. Your uh- Martin, he’s more on brand with what he thought would happen. Leon is a special breed of crazy. And it sucks, and I’m scared almost all the time, and I miss them. But… there’s a certain amount of satisfaction in knowing that they want something from you and you just refuse to give it to them. Spit in their faces. Literally, in my case.”
Lev listened to the story, the slightly wry assessments from Lee about his current situation, the fondness with which he talked of his mentor and his partner, the way he spat the name of his own… guy. Leon. A special breed of crazy. The description chilled him. 
And now Lee had… Experienced both. Spit in one, maybe both of their faces. Lev wondered what the difference was, for a few moments, before he decided it was probably better just not to know. It wasn’t like it would change anything. Whatever was going to be done to him, would be done to him. No matter if he knew about it first, or not. 
And it sounded like Martin was… Better. Easier. Would Lee think him weak, for being so fucking broken by something… milder? For now he felt compelled to return the gesture with his own story. 
“Mine’s… Uh… Not exciting. I was walking to work, when I was, uh. Overpowered. And then I, he showed up, and… My… My partner used to work with him. My… Graham was hiding from them, like you guys from yours, when I met him.” Already painful, that brief mention. He left that thought alone. He didn’t want to deal with anything that reminded of the fact that he might never see him, again. 
He knew his words were trailing, and he hated how meek his own voice sounded. But he has to try. 
“How… How do you do it? Refuse to, to give it to them." 
Because god knows, he couldn’t. Not that he was being held for information. Maybe that was why he’d… Failed. But Lee was, seemed so much better, stronger. It was a glimmer of hope, that he might be too afraid to reach for, but if he ever had the courage, he’d need to know how. "How can you, what do you do?”
“I stopped thinking of power and control as the same things. God knows, Leon has all the power in our relationship. I’m a hostage, usually tied up, and I can’t do a damn thing to stop him if he wants to do something to me. He took away my no. No, he took away the power of my no. What I can control is how I respond, how I can make them respond. My mind is my fucking own, they don’t get it. I won’t let them. So every time they tell me that I’m something to be fucking owned they’re wrong. They don’t own me, because I refuse to be owned. I like keeping my control, so I bite and spit and swear at them; I kneed your guy in the stomach today, I was going for his dick but alas. And I spit, right in his face. Twice. He didn’t like that too much." 
Lee grinned and glanced at Lev, and knew that he and Lev were very different in the face of torture. There was no doubt. Martin had gone on about how afraid he is, how perfect. From how he was trying to get Lee to respond he had a fairly good idea of what Martin’s perfect looked like. 
"And I embrace fear. Sometimes, Robbins’ voice is in my ear, telling me to do just that. It’s okay to be scared, there’s no shame in it, we’re talking about torture. It doesn’t make me weaker, pain is pain and biologically our brain responds to it in order to ensure survival. What matters in the end is that I refuse to let my fear control me. Unrelated or entirely related, I probably have a lot more practice coping with trauma, I’m one of those stereotypical battered foster kids. Made me good at compartmentalizing. I delight in denying men like that their satisfaction, and I think at this point it’s the only thing keeping me sane.”
They don’t own me, because I refuse to be owned. Lev reached up to touch his—the collar, trace his fingers along the edge of it. The one that he could take off at any point. If he ever fucking tried. He couldn’t help the small slump of his shoulders as the spark of hope snuffed out. He’d never be like that. 
At the mention of Lee spitting Martin in the face, Lev almost let out a laugh of shock. Had he really done that? But then the fear rushed in, lighting up at the top of his spine, and he smothered the laugh. His chest and throat spasming with the competing sensations. 
He’d met this man not even fifteen minutes ago and here he was, smart and brave and speaking so coherently about pain, and biology, and abusive foster care, and survival, and my mind is my own— 
“I can’t,” Lev choked, “I’m not. I’m not gonna survive. I hope you can, but I can’t.” The radiator was blurring, but he’d be fucking damned if he ruined the one nice conversation he’d had in forever. He fisted his hands in the quilt cover, and clenched his teeth.
Ah shit. This is the problem with having conversations with others like him, Lee is acutely reminded that what has happened to them is horrible and they should be broken and survival is not a given. But neither is breaking. 
“Hey, don’t talk like that. You only can’t because you tell yourself you can’t. You know, Martin Dickface out there isn’t totally assured that you totally belong to him either. I said some… I said some things to get under his skin, and it definitely worked. You are never really going to belong to him because… because it’s a partnership; belonging. Like… like I belong with my partner because I think so, and he’s happy to have me and vice versa. I don’t think it’s really ownership when the other person doesn’t consent, I think it’s just captivity." 
Lee was either making a very good decision or a very stupid one. It was definitely a compassionate one, but a decision could have all the compassion in the world and be a bad fucking decision. But he hated how this kid was so sure he didn’t have the strength to survive, he wanted to make him feel better. 
"There’s a safe house, perfect to be completely hidden. Leon and his cronies can’t find it, and he’s got like, the FBI and shit on that. I… I know your reaction to fear and pain is different from mine and so I can’t- I can’t really tell you exactly where it is. Robbins and Marco are there. If you can get to America… it’s in the State of New York. Remember this, Odysseus, 20 years. Under the man pressed to death by stones. If you find that safe house they will let you in if you recite these words, /Like strings of broken lyres, /And all mankind that haunted nigh/ Had sought their household fires./ Okay? You can’t tell him that, please. But- but if you get away, go there. You’ll be safe.”
No. No. Lee didn’t get it. It wasn’t the man’s fault, he hadn’t been clear enough. The safehouse sounded too good to be true, and he’d pray every night to a god he didn’t believe in that somehow Lee could make it out, and back to his mentor, and his partner, and his life… but he knew he had no chance of remembering the message of how to get there. 
He shook his head, more frustrated with himself than anything. It didn’t really matter. It shouldn’t. But when—if he died by the hands of that man, and he hadn’t explained it, this feeling, this disconnect inside himself, to someone who at least seemed to care? Then he would just be the tree, fallen in the forest, no-one there for miles and miles and miles. 
“I’m… I never put up a fuss. Never fight, or tell him no. I just take it, because it’s all I can do, all my body will let me do, is just sit there and fucking take it. It’s in my DNA. It’s something fixed, like I was made for, for him, and…" 
And he knew that he was rambling, and he knew that he was spiraling, hard, and that those words weren’t really his own. But they may as well have been. Because what was the difference? If he was docile, not for obedience but out of fear, or survival, or whatever—the result was still the same. A perfect fucking pet for him to hurt and keep and own. 
"You said you won’t let them in your head. But he’s already in mine. He was from the start. He knew it, he knew it from the moment he met me, that I’d go quietly, that he could tell me to do anything, anything, and I would. And then he put this thing on me, and burned his name onto me, and now—I don’t know. I don’t know who I am, any more. I’m so fucking scared, Lee. I’m so fucking scared of losing myself in here, but most of all, I’m scared that I might already be lost." 
Before he could embarrass himself any further Lev left the bed, walking over to the small kitchenette. He lay his head on the countertop, exhausted, and defeated, and his. And started to sob.
Lee stared after Lev and felt his heart clench at his sobbing. That’s the one thing he’d not allowed himself to do yet. Sob. He’d cried and screamed and stared at the wall for hours, lost in his head and his thoughts, but he hadn’t sobbed. Not for what he lost. He admired Lev for that. 
"It’s called the fight, flight or freeze response for a reason, Lev. You survived. You’re still surviving and you sure as fuck aren’t made for him. That’s bullshit he’s repeated over and over, and you know that and so do I. Nothing I say is going to convince you otherwise if you believe it. I scream too, when I just don’t have any fight left, and do what Leon wants because I’m fucking terrified of what he’s going to do to me. Maybe one day I’ll call him Master without getting the shit electrocuted out of me first. I still don’t want to be with him, and that makes all the difference.” Ew, the last bit was the last line of that Frost poem. Lee hated that poem, it was overdone. 
“Do you really think you can lose yourself? Forever? And not just… put bits away to get from the attic at a better time? Even if you could, Robbins would say that being scared is good, it means you’re human, means your body is still fighting back. I think your name is Lev, and you have a partner named Graham, and you are not his fucking pet, you’re just surviving him treating you like one." 
Something in Lee feels hollow as he says the words. This was his purpose, letting him talk to Lev, Lee realizes. To see what broken looks like. Maybe he’ll say Master on his own. He’s not sure he can last at the pace he’s lasting forever, even for very much longer. Eventually, he is going to stop fighting. But today isn’t that day, and for now he’s grateful, he supposes.
He wished he had that strength. He really did. Lev let the sobs run their course—no use fighting it, that never worked—before wiping his tears on his shirt. He turned to face the other man, again. 
"I’m sorry, you uh, you said morale boosting and this isn’t… that.” His eyes flicked up to Lee’s before he cast them down to the floor again, still really feeling like the tears were coming back at any moment. Hugging his arms around himself. “You can have the bed, if you like. Rest for a bit, if, if you can. I don’t know when he’ll be back… but he’s good at sensing when I’m at my most miserable. And busting in like some kind of… evil Kool-Aid man." 
He let out a delirious giggle at the mental image, and the first joke he’d cracked since this all started. Terrible.
Lee laughed, sharp and unexpected, but it felt good to laugh. It pushed his thoughts to a better, happier spot. "I think you’d do just fine in America. If nothing else remember Odysseus 20 years and the man crushed under the stones. Maybe one day you’ll make it there. Robbins wouldn’t be upset with having more help, but he does get terribly irate at the nuisance we make of ourselves." 
"You know, for four years, whenever I had class no matter what time, I said 'Morning Professor’ and he would reply 'Good morning Charlie, what trouble have you gotten into since last time?’ and every day I would say 'Just a bit.’ And we kept that up for years, even after I gradded and started working for him. So you can imagine the kind of sordid humour we had after we literally had to start running from our own government, and I replied 'just a little bit.’”
Lev smiled at the story, reminded of his own time at uni, and the crazy things that dorm kids often egged each other on to do. 
“There was… a big stormwater drain that ran parallel to, uh, one of the student residence buildings, where I lived. Me and a mate, one time—we thought it was just some trash that someone had dumped, y'know, in the carpark—we found this inflatable mattress? And it was raining, so naturally we had to go surfing, give it a go. But as it turned out… can’t even remember what it was, but the VC was giving some kind of interview in the main, like, court…” Lev shook his head. “Ended up on the local news, but uh, luckily it was too far away to make out faces… the academic board or whoever fucking flipped over it…”
Lee laughed then too, imagining it. “I think I saw that video, it was viral for a while,” he said. Jesus, they had whole histories, whole lives that they left behind because some psychopath with a God complex decided regular toys were far too boring. “Small world." 
Lee stood and checked his clothes, blessedly dry and warmed from the radiator. He slid them on, happy to cover up that fucking brand. "I hope you don’t give up, Lev. I really do. Because I don’t think you’ve lost yourself, because you can still laugh about an evil Kool-Aid man and doing one of the most stereotypical Australian things in the world. So maybe if you keep going you can bring those bits down from the attic - and if you can do that after being so abused, maybe I’ll be able to do it too." 
"And if you ever need a laugh know that I called Martin 'Dickface’ 'Dick for brains’ and then insulted him in Shakespeare in like the span of fifteen minutes.” Lee thought of what Martin’s wikipage would look like - what the nicknames section would like specifically - and chuckled. “Leon doesn’t exactly like cursing so I had fun today. Take what little joys you have in life, ya know? Mine used to be poetry, novels.”
And Lee was right - he could talk. He could joke. He could laugh - and he did, at the mention of Shakespearean insults, and dick-for-brains. Incredible. He owed Lee. 
Flicking on the kettle - because he could, he could do that - Lev took out two cups. Cracked and slightly yellowed, but it was all the little room in… Where even was this? Some kind of mafia hotel? He hasn’t been awake when he and… His captor had arrived. 
“What kind of a miserable bloody boomer doesn’t like fucking cursing?” He chuckled, and then sobered. “Do you… Do you think this was like… A swap? Like… It’s my turn with your, um, with Leon next?" 
He paled at the thought. Swaying on his feet a little, feeling dizzy. This whiplash from normal conversation to the grim terrors of reality was throwing him around. Turning back to look at Lee, Lev raised his eyebrows in question, seeking dark, almost black eyes, and the admirably flippant spark within them.
Lee stopped. He had entertained the thought. Martin got him, and Leon had mentioned something before, about a new business partnership. Having to suck up. Quid pro quo. Lee thought maybe he’d been rented out, lent, but… but Leon doesn’t do something for nothing. 
“I… don’t know. Really, I don’t. Maybe. It’s… possible. But like, Martin would have rules with you. The only time he flew off the handle was when I insulted his fucky obsession with you. Leon didn’t have many with, I don’t think.” 
He really fucking hoped that Martin had fucking limits because Leon didn’t. 
“Martin mentioned that you- you’re afraid. And you said you take it. That’s… that’s actually good. That’s all Leon wants, someone to cry and be afraid and not be a smart ass.”
Yeah… Of course he had said that he takes it. Like a damn… Whatever. Lev could imagine Martin having some fucked up rules, but ones that didn’t really serve to protect him… More to protect Martin’s image of him. His darling good boy. Christ. 
Lev shook his head, tucking a stray lock of hair behind his ear. He raised his chin, swallowing, already terrified - but if Lee could do it, so could he. 
"I’m gonna insult him. I’m gonna pretend to be all good and nice, and then I’ll call him… a… a…” He looked around the room. “A wretched… Coat hanger. And then I’ll say the word Fuck.”
“A wretched coat hangar. I like it.” Lee grinned, and wondered if the kid really would. If Leon comes in here Lee will fight him, for sure. Maybe that counts as leading by example. “And the word fuck. He doesn’t like that at all. He’s got this riding crop, it looks scary but doesn’t actually hurt all that much when you’re smacked with it. Just stings.” 
Lee didn’t want Lev to be hurt more than he already had, but that wasn’t up to him. Maybe if he managed to hold on to some kind of fire he wouldn’t feel so lost with himself anymore. 
“And saying it in your head works just as well, in future. When Martin is being a dick think of the evil Kool-Aid man and how I called him a dickface to his face. Keep my legacy alive. If you’re really pissed spit at him.”
“And Lev, if you get there and can’t do it, don’t beat yourself up about it. You still thought about it. That’s just as good, so your freeze response went off, so what? You aren’t his fucking pet because in your head you’re still his captive.”
A riding crop… that sounded… manageable. He knew it there was no way that would be the worst of it, but a crop had to be similar to a cane. He nodded, taking in Lee’s advice, hoping he could pull it off when the time came. God, he wanted to. 
He couldn’t believe he hadn’t insulted his captor in his head. Had he really not done that… at all? Lev blinked a couple of times with the shock of the realisation. “We don’t even have Kool-Aid here. So I really don’t know why I said that,” he gave a sheepish grin, moving to stand closer to the radiator. Warming his fingers over the metal.
“Yeah the flight was really long, and by your accent I’d say we’re… in Australia?” Lee poured the hot water into the mugs, plopping the tea bags in to steep. “Prison colony. Fitting.” 
Lee didn’t know how much longer Leon had to meet with the parliamentarian, and then with one of his suppliers.
“America is the land of sugar and fat, but not kinder eggs. We were actively on the run from the government and were able to buy a gun, but god forbid you put toys in chocolate.” There was something… very comforting about being able to talk and joke about real-world problems like America’s obesity problem and the politicians refusing to do anything. Damn, if they ever get out of this, Lee would have so many NowThis videos featuring him.
“What the fuck,” Lev muttered, wishing they were somewhere, anywhere else having this conversation… in a cafe, on a park bench, in a dorm common room in the middle of the night, than this… fucking nightmare chamber. 
They drank tea in relative silence. Lev was trying to remember the last time he’d had a Kinder Surprise when he heard the clacking sound of a key in the doorknob. His eyes snapping up to the front of the room, Lev felt every hair on his body stand on end. He looked nervously up at his new friend—his only friend, in here—before whispering what could very well be his last words to the other man. 
“Thank you. You don’t know how much you’ve helped me.”
“Been my pleasure Odysseus.” Lee chugged back the rest of his tea, grimacing at the slight protest of his throat but feeling it warm his stomach a moment after. And then he smashed the mug to the ground, sweeping the pieces, for the most part, underneath the radiator, save a particularly sharp looking one which he put in his back pocket. “You keep that little fire alive, and you’ll get those little attic pieces back." 
Lee sat on the bed, closer to the door and in between whoever was coming and Lev. That shard of ceramic was indeed sharp, he shifted so he wouldn’t cut himself, but if he managed to get one good swipe in with that… that’d be his victory for the day. Well, actually, his victory for the day was probably making that ever so professional and indifferent torturer fly off the handle, but maybe he can do it twice. 
The door knob turned, and then the door swung open.
ACT THREE - Lee & Lev… & Leon… & Martin
Martin pushed the door open, speaking over his shoulder to the other man—"But I really don’t know how you do it, old boy… how the fuck you find the time to deal with all of that nonsense will remain beyond me. There’s something to be said for shaking things up, don’t get me wrong—variety being the spice of life, and all that—but I really, really hope you’ll see what I mean when I say that it’s just… better." 
As if noticing the room’s inhabitants for the first time, Martin’s eyes trailed across the pair of them. Lee on the bed, glaring maliciously… Lev by the radiator, eyes downcast to the floor. He smiled, pocketing the key to the room, opening the door further so the other man could get the same view of the boys as he had, right now. 
"Oh. How cute.” He looked over Lee, giving him a wink, then to Lev. “Did you have a good time, baby? I’m just here to introduce the two of you. Lev, this is Senator Leon. He’s going to be with you for the rest of the night. Say hi." 
Martin waved Leon into the room, grinning at the soft hello, Sir he heard from his boy.
Lee clenched his jaw and grinned sarcastically back at Martin, following the both of them with his eyes alone. At the mention that Lev was going to to go with Leon he grit his teeth and tensed even further. "You don’t have to call him 'Sir’ or 'Senator’ or anything like that Lev,” Lee started, staring at Leon dead in the eyes with that cheeky little grin of his. “Geriatric Fuckface does quite well for me." 
Lee leaned back on his hands over the covers, waiting for the moment either Leon or Martin got close enough for him to slip the piece of glass out of his pocket and try and slice their face with it. "With his new friend, dick-for-brains mcgee, what a lovely couple you two make." 
Leon observed the two polar opposites in the room, his, making a fool out of him with that damned cheek and defiant streak, and Martin’s, who’d sat there, submissive and obedient from the beginning… calling him Sir. Christ, he wished. The name calling made him clench his jaw, Lee knows he’s supposed to call him Master, and he knows his policy on swearing. Leon tapped the crop on his palm a few times as a reminder, not that Lee had ever been that easy. Sigh. 
And yet- Lee was still his, forever and ever. He’d tame him one day but punishing him was just as fun, dominating him in every way possible until they finally reached that point where he would scream or let a few tears loose or start to thrash. It took hard work, but Benjamin had always been willing to pull up his sleeves. 
"Did you leave him without a gag?” He asked his new business associate. “I don’t know if I should be impressed or not if you did. He’s got a great talent for running his mouth.”
Martin glanced quickly to the side at the insults, as if to check whether the Good Senator’s disposition had shifted or faltered at all. Then he frowned, sucking his teeth. “Yes. That may have been an oversight. I usually quite enjoy them… free range.” Or, only trussed up if there was an express purpose for it.
 And maybe that had been an error. He had expected Lev to be out of it, not anywhere near as alert as he seemed now—brown eyes not even downcast, any more, but darting carefully between each of the room’s occupants. He watched as Lev inched closer to the other boy, and… oh. He’d made a friend. Well that was just fucking precious. He wanted to ask what the two of them had gotten up to, in here, what they’d chatted about, if they had. But that would have to wait. 
“Lev. Come here and greet the Senator properly.” He pointed to the floor in front of Leon, gesturing for on your knees. It wasn’t a warning, because it didn’t need to be.
“He’s not free range so much as he’s feral.” Leon watched Lee, and really, why didn’t Martin bind him either? This kid fights all the damn time and he knows how to fight thanks to whatever training he had from high school and Robbins both. 
Lee stood and his expression might only be described as a snarl. “That hardly seems fair, since you flew off the fucking handle and I know you didn’t actually enjoy our time together. Or do you just not want to get close to me again? Come on, I dare you. You seemed plenty interested before, Romeo. What happened? Did I touch a nerve? Did you tell good and very old Leon what happened? How you fucking lost it?" 
Two against one were shit odds, especially because Martin had done a number on him, but Lee was pretty confident that he could get a few hits in, again. Martin had been more challenging than Leon, but Lee had still managed it before. And if he couldn’t piss them off enough that they just wanted to hurt him? Well, he hoped Lev really did call Leon a wretched coat hangar. 
Leon sighed at the cursing. "Watch your mouth you little shit." 
"Oh fuck off, you know you’re never fucking getting me to stop swearing." 
"Your daddy managed it just fine." 
Lee didn’t dignify that one with an answer, just rolled his eyes and stepped more explicitly in between Lev and the older men. 
Leon wanted to know what it felt like not having to go through this struggle every single fucking time, what it felt like to have a boy who bent at your every word and clung to every order. The thought of a boy on his knees in front of him without having to be held or half tortured to death to stay there excited the man to no end. Martin had struck the gold mine and he intended to share, and Leon couldn’t be happier with that arrangement.
"Oh for fuck’s sake,” Martin said stepping closer to the bed, towards little Lee and his big mouth. “If I have to slap you down and drag you from this room again, I will. I could have left you in the basement, but fuck me, I didn’t want you to catch pneumonia. By now you’d have been all delightful and shivery for me,” Martin paused to glance back over his shoulder, “how about that for an idea, keep the boy in cold storage?" 
Martin took three swift steps forward, reaching out with one gloved hand, moving to push Lee out of the way to get to his boy. If Lee hadn’t learned after two stabbings, two-and-a-half beatings and a drowning that Martin Viklund-Reid gets given what he wants or he takes it, well, then he’d just have to show him yet another example of the latter.
Leon took a step forward, a warning for Martin half past his lips "I would not get-" 
Lee darted forward and grabbed Martin’s wrist, jerking it back the wrong way while pulling the man forward into his knee, again. Maybe this time he hit where he wanted to hit. He drew his piece of broken ceramic, jabbing for the man’s abdomen and swiping upwards hoping that the ceramic at least broke skin a little bit. And then for good measure he bit Martin, right in the crook where shoulder meets neck, just as viciously if not more as Martin had done to him, clamping down his jaw until he felt skin give way under his teeth. 
"Close,” Leon finished, watching as Lee hooked his leg around Martin’s knee and pulled back, sending them both to the ground, surely painfully on Martin’s part, since all of Lee’s weight and the hold he had on him landed directly on top of the man. Leon snapped forward, drawing the prod from his belt and extending it to its full size, he ripped at Lee’s hair and forced his head backwards, pressing the prod against his side and turning it on full power. 
Lee screamed, the electricity almost familiar but still agony as it ripped through his muscles and set them on fire, forcing them painfully taut. Leon hauled him off of Martin and backhanded him for good measure. He’d made a mess of his hand, gripping that damn piece of glass, his fingers had a line sliced down their middle. Leon drew back his foot and kicked Lee in the side, once, twice, until the boy finally collapsed under his own weight, panting. 
Even though Leon is pissed the sound of Lee’s screams, the sound and feel of him striking the boy’s flesh is undeniably exciting to him. He glances at Martin, knowing he’d have to make this up to him somehow. If Lee just cost him his prize then he is in for a world of trouble. Just because they’re on a different continent doesn’t mean Leon didn’t have all his fun toys, some of which Lee hadn’t even seen yet.
Lee turned himself over, cheek reddened and mouth parted, panting. He glanced at Martin, and smiled, because yeah, that’s a victory for him. Again in a mocking of Martin’s words earlier Lee quirked an eyebrow and spit at him. “Daddy come spank me, hm?”
Martin was only distracted for a split second by the sight of something white underneath the radiator, but it was enough, more than enough—before he knew it he was on his back, clutching the side of his neck where the little fucker had bit him, and looking down at, yep, a rip in his shirt, and a thin line of red where the kid had just managed to nick the skin before he’d been able to twist away. He brought his hand away from his neck, blood dripping from his fingers, but his own, for once. Fuck. He’d admit to being careless, but the boy had been faster, that time. Resourceful little shit. 
He rolled over to face Lee, grinning at the last of the boy’s screams as he was pumped full of electricity and then stomped to the ground. Martin’s eyes flicked up to Leon’s face, noting the way it was twisted, rage and vengeance lighting up his defined features as he handled the prod. 
Martin went to make a comment, something about being 'fortune’s fool’, to be rudely interrupted with another spray of spit in his face, and his own phrase with it. Martin blinked, before reaching across the floor to offer his reply in the form of a violent lesson on the exact fucking meaning of the words that had just been parroted back to him— 
A clunk, and a cry of pain, and Martin whipped his head up just in time to see the second object, a blur of something large and wooden, spiral through the air and collide with Leon’s face. As cup and coathanger clattered across the floor, Martin turned away slowly… looking over at his boy. Lev’s jaw was set, his eyes determined, and he was reaching into the wardrobe for a second coathanger.
Leon clutched his nose, bleeding after its collision with the cup, and he was fairly certain he had a scratch running down his cheek thanks to the coat hangar, and also looked up at the kid. He thought Martin said the kid was trained; terrified and docile and wouldn’t fucking dare throw a ceramic mug at his head. 
Unless, of course, Lee had influenced him. Again, maybe he should have told Martin that Lee doesn’t stop fighting or talking, and he knows how to do both too well. The kid was a nuisance but when he was strung up and helpless he was fun.
Lee laughed, almost in disbelief - holy shit Lev actually did it - and kicked Leon between his legs, flipping himself over and grabbing the still unbroken cup. Lee launched himself for Martin, the bigger threat, he figures, even though evidently Leon brought the fucking cattle prod, and brought his arm up to bash him in the skull with the mug.
Martin caught the mug coming towards him at speed with a “whoa!” Twisting it out of his grip, grabbing the wrist and wrenching it to the side. He manhandled Lee onto his stomach, staying out of the way of the legs as best as he could, getting kicked a few times in the shins in the process. Martin pushed Lee’s arm up behind his back, drawing some colourful insults from the kid, and then a cry as he pushed harder and the shoulder was strained against the joint. He held Lee there, struggling against the floor, until he started to tire himself out. 
Panting heavily, Martin laughed. “Well I guess we’re even now,” he said to Leon, the man still doubled over slightly from the kick to the balls—but he looked at Lev. His boy’s eyes were wide, but he looked frozen, still holding the second coathanger in one hand. Not quite ready to launch it… wavering in indecision. 
“Come here, Lev.” This time his voice was heavy with threat. Lev’s eyes met his own… and he shook his head, a rapid, jerky movement. Martin’s laugh was low and dangerous. He shook his own head, leaning down to talk to Lee, who was trying to catch his breath. “What the fuck have you done, you feral little rabbit? You know this is only going to mean more pain for the both of you, right?” The bite wound on his neck stung like a bitch… but Martin supposed that was just fucking karma. And his shirt… damn. This was a nice shirt. 
Smiling in his victory, Martin looked up at Leon. “Would you mind having a chat to mine, old boy? See if you can talk him down, first.”
Lee rested his forehead against the ground and breathed, waiting for the oncoming storm. Yeah, he knows this means more pain, but damn, Lev just proved to himself that he could fucking do that. He is sorry though, that he’s going to be hurt. He’d hoped that because he was the one that caused the more damage that Martin and Leon would leave Lee alone, but Lev was the quiet one, docile, or so Lee surmised; what he just did was far more remarkable than him putting up a fight. 
He heard Martin tell Leon to deal with Lev. Lev didn’t even look like he knew exactly how he just did what he did. “Good job, Lev,” Lee called, “don’t let these fuckers tell you what or who you are." 
Leon stepped up to where Martin had Lee pressed into the floor and snapped the riding crop against the side of Lee’s temple. The boy flinched away from it, not seeing Leon switch toys and expecting the cattle prod. He left them where they were and stalked up to Martin’s boy, holding that coat hangar like it would do anything other than cause annoyance to throw it. 
Lev let him get right up close, even backed him up into the door of the wardrobe. Leon can always tell when Lee is afraid, even though he hides it quite well - better nowadays, unfortunately, he’d hoped the opposite would occur - and so when he gets close to Lev, he knows that this kid is terrified. There’s no fight left in him, none at all. The moment Leon confronts him, takes a step just a bit too close, he starts to tremble, stumbling back and dropping his shoulders in defeat. 
"Come now… Lev is it? You don’t want to do that, now do you? Hm?” He tapped the riding crop against his palms a few times, not quite hard enough to make a sound like when he hits Lee but enough to make his point. “Drop your uh-” Leon’s mouth curled into something of a mocking grin, “weapon there, and how about you get onto your knees?”
As soon as Lee was subdued, Lev knew he was done. Despite Lee’s words, the fierce, fiery encouragement, and despite the coat hanger in his hand… The other guy—Leon—advanced towards him, and he and took a step back. Only one step, and he’d already moved into the open door of the closet, which hit the wall with a soft bang and a rattle. He looked up into the man’s blue eyes—must be some kind of trend with these types of people—and the look of delight and wonder in them had him fucking shaking. There was a small dash of blood under his nose from where the mug had clocked him, and a scratch across his cheek. Lev had never felt like such a fool in his life. 
The purr of words was worse. It always was. The little implications and subtle threats of pain to come triggered every system in his body, all of the ones that screamed at him to drop everything and submit. Lev hated it, he hated it, he hated it, and he’d let Lee down. Each tap of the crop against the other man’s palm made him flinch. The guy was really, really, really close, now, and though Lee would have been brave enough to attack with the coathanger… Lev wasn’t. 
Dropping his eyes to the floor the way Martin usually liked, Lev let out a shaky exhale, before slowly sinking to his knees. The man didn’t show any signs of backing off so he could have some room to kneel, and so on the floor like this, he was even closer than before. Lev placed the coathanger on the ground, before looking back up at the man respectfully.
Leon’s breath stuttered in his chest. Fuck, that’s good. Seeing him on his knees, so obedient and fearful of what Leon will do next. Reverent. For is that not what God Himself demanded? Obedience and fear. Even just seeing him like that, even before Leon had gotten a proper chance to have a go at Lev, he knew that one day he would make Lee look at him like that, like he was God and held his fate just the same as He did. 
Lee was pretty, and proud, and one day he would be everything Leon wanted - this he would be this - but if he weren’t Robbins’ brat Leon would have shot him ages ago. And then he would have found himself a boy like this. There were plenty in stock, he’s sure. 
He glanced back at Martin, bleeding and holding his boy pressed to the ground. Fuck, right, he might have to let Martin have a free go at him for that. But for now… Leon grabs Lev by the arm and wrenches him upwards, throwing him towards his owner but making sure he never found his footing, so he landed on all fours instead. 
“Can I hit him?” Leon didn’t know how loose Martin was with his boy, seeing as Leon hadn’t really cared about Lee as long as he was alive and still pretty by the end of it, so he looked up and asked before making the first strike on this boy.
Lev hit the ground with a cry, reverberations sent up through his arms, his knees. Once he collected himself, he glanced up at Martin, into his face. He wasn’t sure when he’d started look for mercy there… but all he found was a cool half-smile that didn’t extend to the man’s eyes. The words level. 
“… Be my guest." 
Lev couldn’t help the look of shock that crossed his face. He turned around to face Leon, eyes on the crop, hands held palms-up as if in supplication. "Please,” he begged, “Please, n-no." 
He wasn’t proud of it, and he was right in front of Lee, but it was all he could do. Maybe if he made a good enough show of deference, the man wouldn’t hit him as hard. As if there was ever a chance of that.
Lee grimaced. It’s not the crop Lev needs to watch, Leon isn’t going to do much more than snap it around, it’s too flexible to do much damage. It’s like he said; the crop doesn’t hurt. 
Leon advanced on Lev as a man with a mission, raising the crop above his head menacingly. Theatrics, Lee knew, just fucking theatrics. Leon halted his arm before the downward blow, his facing morphing into faux sympathy that was so so fake, but if you were desperate enough you might believe it. 
"You don’t want me to hit you with the crop?” He didn’t wait for Lev to answer before he’d dropped the leather all together. “Alright." 
He reared back his hand instead, too quick for Lev to see it, and backhanded him as hard as he could, right across his cheek. Leon grabbed hold of the boy’s hair before he could topple over, using the same hand in the opposite direction to open-palm slap him. The sound was absolutely delightful. A crack that split the air as sure as a gunshot or lightning bolt might. It was satisfying enough that Leon did it again, and then one more, relishing in Lev’s flinching, his willingness to submit.
Leon shoved the boy down, swiftly kicking him in the stomach and rolling him onto his back, almost stomping on his shoulder when he thought he might try and sit up. He rested his boot on the boy’s sternum, toe jutting into his neck. Leon tipped it up, forcing Lev’s chin up to look at him. "You’re a pretty thing when you’re begging, Lev but you still almost broke my nose, and I’m a guest. How would your master feel if I backed out of our deal for that? Hm? What would you say if I demanded you to make it up to me?”
Slapped hard across the face, and again, and again, and again, leaving him breathless. In each blow, he felt the shame of his actions coming back to him. It was much worse than how Martin usually slapped him—with his other hand cupping the other side of his face, still painful, but absorbing some of the force of the blow—no, this forced his neck from side to side each time. On the fourth slap he’d accidentally bitten his lip, and now all four of them were bleeding. A brutal kick, and he was on the floor, gasping. His eyes full of unshed tears, and he tried to keep them that way, but he wasn’t sure if he succeeded. He couldn’t feel his face enough to register if he was crying, or not. 
Lev recoiled at the word master. Because he was just a pretty thing, owned by another man… he should have called the fake out. He really should have. But he hadn’t and it was humiliating. He looked between the two larger, stronger, overall more powerful men. Different, but exactly the same. Wondered if either of them ever heard the way that they spoke. Wondered if, when they got off on this, was it just from causing pain in others? Or was it specifically because the boys—the men they hurt, were helpless to do anything about it? 
But his mind was begging him to answer—it had already been far too many seconds since the question had been asked. He looked to Lee, pinned on the ground but hundreds, thousands of times stronger than any of these sadists. 
“I’d say you should suck each others dicks,” Lev said, slowly, “and then you can both go get fucked.”
Lee’s laugh felt like it was punched out of him. Atta boy, Lev. He pressed his forehead into the floor and his face split into the widest grin, his chest jostled with the force of his laughter and Lee let himself just revel in the shock of the other men. It was almost palpable. 
They hurt Lev, which almost always leads to him shutting down, or so Lee was told, and yet there he was, stunning them all speechless. God damn, he was fucking proud. “That was perfect, Lev,” he giggled, aware of Martin’s weight pressing into his back and not caring. “That was fucking perfect." 
Leon reeled at the little shit’s words. He was under the impression that Lev wouldn’t dare say something so blatantly disrespectful towards him or his owner. He was fairly sure Martin had thought so too. He looked up at Martin, the man had thus had very little reaction to Lee attacking him, spitting at him, mouthing him off, and then his own started mimicking the bad behaviour. Leon wondered if the man truly didn’t care all that much or if his anger was just simmering… building. 
Lee continued to laugh.
Oh. Oh. Martin was torn. 
On the one hand, this business relationship would circle straight down the fucking drain if he didn’t fix this situation very, very carefully. And he’d said his boy’s obedience was perfect and absolute, and maybe he’d been laying it on a little thick when he’d seen the way the senator’s eyes had lit up at the promise of demureness. And then, after meeting Lee, well… he’d quickly seen from where the interest stemmed. 
On the other hand, the utter shock and indignation displayed across the man’s face right now… the way he instantly turned to Martin, his eyes demanding explanation and retribution… was just fucking funny. 
But, no. What he’d have to let drive his next actions, was the fact that he’d slipped up by letting the two of them have the opportunity to talk in the first place. Martin calmly pulled his karambit, clenching his jaw in that little way he knew would make Lev weak at the knees. The flutter of eyelashes, and the eyes darting around the room from his boy, looking anywhere but him, and he knew it had worked. 
Martin looked up at Leon. Don’t make a joke about sucking his dick. "Well. We may have a few… decisions, on our hands. And, since you are my guest, here, I’d like to offer the final say to you. Either I can take that one,” he gestured at Lev with the knife, “to the side for a chat. Just until we can all get calmed down. Or,” he cupped Lee under the chin, lifting his head up. “I can take this one back down to the basement… and let you two have the room to yourselves." 
Martin finished his words with a tilt of the head, putting his neck further in the light overhead. Because out of the two of them, Martin was still the one with the lovebite… Leon would just have to find it in his heart to be gracious.
Leon glanced back down at the kid, cowed at the mere suggestion of the knife, and knew that Lee was probably the cause of his little outbursts, and really, he’d be pretty bloody rude if he didn’t take accountability for that. You don’t just let your dog loose in a park when it bites, and evidently teaches all the smaller, more timid dogs how to bite too. 
Shit, Lee did a number on him. Comparatively, Lev hadn’t said anything worse or even at level with his brat. And from what Lee was mocking earlier, he’d already pissed off the man once during their session together. He had no doubt in Martin’s skills, and even of his honesty he was trusting, Leon was sure that Lee was 100% the problem here, and he wanted Martin to have a satisfying time with him. The point when he does breakdown and cry, and scream, well that moment feels like the most triumphant moment in the whole goddamn world. (It’s usually overshadowed by the inevitable attitude, but oh well; if you want the high you accept the hangover.) 
This one though… Leon toyed with Lev’s head, pushing him this way or that with the toe of his boot, and the boy let him. Staring with widened and frightened eyes, and Leon knew that he would get to the place so much quicker with Lev, and further. It’s a win-win for Martin and him both. 
"Take my dog back down to the basement, I don’t care what you do to him just don’t kill him or mark up his face. And I don’t need him sopping wet when we leave, so either dry him off, strip him, or avoid water all together.” Leon glanced to where he left his cattle prod, and honestly, he had more. “Have that as a gift, he doesn’t scream unless you get creative." 
He’s got a couple videos of him 'getting creative’ with Lee, maybe he’ll show the man before he goes. 
"And I’ll stay up here and uh, have some time with your darling little thing as well. Is that a collar? Nice touch.”
Perfect. No doubt Leon would be satisfied in making sure his boy ate his own words. Words, that had been… Yeah, admittedly surprising. But there was plenty of time to deal with that later tonight. Luckily, he had nowhere to be in the morning. 
Martin was a little miffed at the commanding tone in Leon’s voice, as he addressed him as if one of his henchmen… but he was in a forgiving mood. The old dude’s dick still probably ached from the swift kicking it had had sustained. Martin would be annoyed too. 
He smiled at the mention of his boy’s collar. “Thank you. Had it commissioned.” He looked at Lev, his meeting his pleading eyes, an expression which read no, please, don’t leave me here. It was so fucking cute. He gave him nothing in return, but secretly Martin hoped Lev would act up again, provoke Leon, so later he could sweetly go see how well I treat you, baby? 
But not now. Instead, he brought the blade down to Lee’s throat, pressing in just enough for him to feel it. Guiding them to standing, but not before scooping up the prod, lighting it up for a few seconds as a threat. “You heard 'em, pup - let’s give these two some privacy,” he said to Lee. Shooting Leon a wink.
“Rules, Martin,” Leon called before he left. “What’s your limit for what I can do with him or not?” Leon hoped they were lax, but somehow doubted it. Commissioned collar indeed. 
The boy stank of fear, Leon could practically feel it under his boot, that fast, hummingbird like heartbeat. Breathing fit for the best of terror. It was delightful, delicious, and he hoped he got his fair share of it by the time he was done. 
Lee eyed the cattle prod, breath hitching at the thought of what Martin would do to him with it. Martin was getting a second round. It wasn’t good. Lee figured he wouldn’t exactly be happy with anyone who tried to bash his skull in with a coffee mug either.
Martin tilted his head, thinking. “Don’t scar him up too much. If you want to mark him, please stick to welts and bruises. He bruises nicely,” he addded, talking about Lev as if he wasn’t even there. He wanted most of his boy’s scars to come from himself. 
“Other than that… He’s been caned, whipped, strangled, drowned… And that kneeling position is good for many things. Though, apparently my favourites are a bit old-hat, according to Lee here. 
"Oh, and this isn’t necessary, but I’d love an audio recording.”
“Just audio?” Leon quirked a brow and crouched next to Lev, grabbing his chin with cold fingers and forcing him to meet his eyes. “And uh- tell me about the kneeling position and what exactly I can do, besides the whipping and the caning and etc. of course… noted about the welts, I won’t mark him up.” 
Leon glanced back at Lee, held with a knife to his neck and glaring like he could kill Leon with his stare alone. “And that little shit has cost you some blood and annoyance, which I apologize for. So if there’s anything you want to do to him, he is yours for the time being. There are, ah, ways to make sure he doesn’t bite.”
Grinning, Martin clamped over Lee’s mouth with his gloved hand, knowing he would have some choice words about his next ones. “I’ll text you specifics… but I’d suggest putting that dirty little mouth to use at some point - make him really regret his choice of words, no?" 
With one last glance at Lev’s paling face, and a "c'mon, you - let’s see how creative we can get with our new toys”, Martin hauled Lee from the room.
ACT FOUR - Lev & Leon
Leon grinned and fixed Lev with a cold glare. “I guess that leaves you and I, hm?” He released the pressure on the boy’s chest and hauled him up onto his knees, as rough as he is with Lee even though he knows he doesn’t need that kind of force for this one. “So, you bruise well I hear, I want to see it. Take off the shirt, leave the rest.” He left Lev there, stalking to his discarded riding crop and retrieving it. 
Leon went to his briefcase, full of fun things for him and Lee. He won’t use most of them on this kid, he won’t be able to handle it - fragile thing - but he’ll nevertheless be fun. Moreso fun, even. When he breaks under the lightest of punishments. Finding what he was looking for, the microphone, Leon made quick work of setting it up to record on his phone, placing it on a chair not too far from where Lev knelt. Lee would try and attack him by now, but Lev was just… waiting for him. It sent a thrill of anticipation up his spine unlike any he’d experienced with Lee’s brattiness. 
“So, what did my little Lee tell you about how rules work in my household?”
God… God… What had he done? What had he said? The courage had left as quickly as it had washed over him. With no choice but to comply, Lev lifted his shirt with trembling fingers, pulled it over his head. Folded it, put it on the floor. Glanced down over his already-bruised torso, cuts from the knives, knowing there were marks all over his back from the cane, too. 
Surely there was no way Martin could tell if this other man left scars… There was already so much in the way of his own skin. He knelt there, in his briefs, watching Leon rummage through his case. Already feeling ice in his blood. Or so it felt. 
If there were rules, he couldn’t remember if Lee had mentioned them. He knew the man didn’t like swearing… And… That he wanted Lee to call him Master. Was he the type of man to punish him for a lie? The suspicion of one? He seemed it. 
“No, Sir,” Lev responded quietly. Maybe, maybe, if he got the man talking, he could figure out some way to make this easier on himself. To give the man what he wants.
Leon hummed, displeased. What else would they possibly want to talk about other than the men who’d taken them in as their beloved pets? Ungrateful little shit. “I don’t tolerate filthy language,” he started, spinning the riding crop between his fingers, warming the leather. He advanced on Lev all at once, one step and he was there, and snapped the crop against the side of his mouth. “And if something slips as it so often does with my boy, I rectify the behaviour." 
The second rule he omits for Lev, to call him Master. He’s not his Master and it would be insulting to insinuate he was. "You don’t get to say 'no’ to me, it really is quite insulting, you see? Here I am, taking time out of my busy and, quite frankly, hectic schedule to spend time with you, play with you, teach and punish you, and you would say 'no’ to how I choose to do it? Mmm, no, not happening." 
He started circling Lev, letting the riding crop go loose enough in his grip that it brushed the captive every so often. "I have quite a few rules with Lee you see, he likes to break them. He likes to break rules that he doesn’t even know exist. And I hurt him for it, hurt him in ways you probably can’t imagine. I don’t think I need to have that talk with you, I think you’ll be good for me, hm?” He pat Lev’s cheek almost roughly and walked away, rummaging through his bag again.
Lev flinched hard at the sudden snap of the cane - the crop, damn, the crop - and the sharp blossom of pain at his mouth, and, god, he’d already forgotten what he said, but it had been wrong, hadn’t it? What was the question, again? He’d thought it was 'do you know the rules’, and his answer was no, and– 
Lev’s breathing picked up. He was already frightened, but now he was starting to get disorientated, and at any moment he could slip and make things worse for himself. And Martin knew that… Martin would keep his questions short, his tasks simple - cry for me, bleed for me, moan for me baby - but he could already see he’d find no such mercy, here. And god, that was terrifying, because did that mean that he preferred him? 
He felt his shoulders draw in tight as the man circled, and he couldn’t figure out whether it would be better to keep quiet and just listen, or to stammer out an apology… But then Leon left his side, again, and Lev was left in the middle of the floor, trying to catch his breath. His eyes darted nervously around the room, ears ringing with the horrific implications of the words breaks rules that he doesn’t even know exists.
Leon found what he was looking for, a rather stunning baton that could double as a taser if he so chose. He took it from his bag, letting the riding crop hang from his wrist as he warmed the new interest, and grinned back at Lev. “The first time I ever played with Lee the little bastard tore his throat screaming." 
He found the button, flicking the electricity on for a second, just to show Lev what it was, and then turning it back off as he stalked back up into his space, uncomfortably close. "You broke a rule, in fact you broke two. You swore and told your owner 'no’, and he’s been gracious enough to let us have some time together. And I do intend to make you eat your words, so, we’re going to have to expedite this process, yes?" 
Leon drew his arm back and struck Lev in the ribs, in the centre of an existing bruise.
Lev lit up with alarm with the loud snapping of the electricity - no, he’d, he’d never taken something that - and he cried out at the blow to his rib, doubling over slightly at the middle in reflex, despite not even being sure if he would be he would be hurt worse for it. He tried to straighten back into position as quickly as he could, looking up at the man with wide, pleading eyes. Not sure if he was allowed to speak, but compelled by fear to do so. 
"Please, I’m, I’m sorry, s-sorry, m'sorry, sorry,” he stammered in a long stream, keeping his hands balled on his thighs as he was used to. Trying to convey that he could do as he was told. He could be so good.
Leon’s countenance didn’t change with the begging but internally he was ecstatic at the Lev’s pleading. So quick to bend- but alas, if you stop the punishment because the kid cries you’ll soon have a grown little monster. Leon helped the boy regain his posture, pushing him up with the baton, right in the middle of the sternum, and then pressed the button activating the electricity.
The jab of the rod, and - Lev hit the floor, full of lightning. Pain, in every corner of his body, running through every line in his skin. When he came out the other side he was barely coherent, quivering at the man’s feet. Quite literally - he had his hand curled in the pants leg of the man. Lev let go hastily, hoping the man saw it for what it was. A mistake. 
He tried to mutter further pleas, but couldn’t seem to make them very loud… The scream the baton had ripped from him had stolen his voice. Not wanting to lie on his side with the other exposed, Lev summoned the strength to roll back onto his knees, putting his forehead on the ground at the man’s feet. Palms down on the ground, in a kind of… Display. Of deference. Because Lee could do the whole rebellious thing. But Lev couldn’t. He was too pliable to have a spine.
Leon glanced down when he felt the hand fist his pant leg. Cute. But ineffective, he wanted to play and god damn was this kid’s desperation to be good intoxicating. And then he displayed himself, bowed to him and that was a drug all in itself. 
Even in his best fantasies, Leon never imagined Lee doing this to him. Martin was right, it really was all the better. To have something so close, so reverent of you, so willing to obey and desperate to please. It felt like euphoria, lighting up his every nerve and sending sparks down his spine. It only seemed fitting that the should return the favour. 
“Oh… yes, Lev,” Leon growled, feeling as high as God Himself must when his subjects prostrate themselves for him. He pressed the baton against his back and pressed it on for only a second. There’s no way he handles what Lee handles. But he loved seeing his pain.
Lev let out what he could only describe as a strangled sob as he was shocked a second time, the activation of all of his muscles at once, snapping his teeth together. Once the punishing pulse of it ceased, he slumped, panting, trying to scrape any kind of rational thought into his brain… But all there was, was white noise. Tears rolled down his nose, his cheeks still aching from the slapping. He cursed himself for ever trying to be strong, and he cursed Lee for ever suggesting be might have to ability to be.
“Oh baby, are you crying?” Leon smirked. Already? “You don’t have any smart words about me or your master left? No snide remarks, no crude words? You’re really going to fold, just like that?" 
Leon pressed the baton into the base of the boy’s spine, watching his every reaction as it seemed he was going to activate it again, and then he didn’t. Instead, he lightened the pressure, so it was barely there but surely felt, and then drew it up his back languidly, tracing his back, the curve of his spine as he bowed for him. 
He was everything Leon had ever dreamt of with Lee, and yet… yet maybe the pain was half the fun of it. Deciding to test his theory, Leon let the baton fall to Lev’s abdomen and presses the activate button again. He smiled when Lev screamed, and held it on a few seconds longer. 
"If it makes you feel better, your screams are just as pretty as my boy’s, and that’s saying something. I wonder, who do you prefer to hurt you? Do you want your master back, or are you thankful to get away from him for a little while?”
Lev was insensible. The pain intense, and all-encompassing. He couldn’t answer the question, could barely hear it. But he’d also do anything, right now, anything to make it stop. He moaned, the tears falling freely, shoulders shaking as he cried. 
This was unbearable, and it would have been so anyway - but without the gentle touches in between the pain, the reassurances that he was taking it so well… Being held close, both during, and after… it was worse. Somehow, it was worse. 
He - god help him. He missed Martin. 
“Ple-ease,” he gasped, “please, I don’t, Sir, I need help, I can’t take it, I can’t… Please…” He hated every word, every hiccup, every little whimper of pain in between the syllables… But there was nothing he could do, but beg.
Oh yeah, Leon liked that. That was fucking good. So good. This begging had a different taste to it, not hoarse and finally given in, the end of a rope, as Lee’s was. It was because Lee was afraid of him, wanted this to stop was so so desperate. 
“You can’t take it? Poor little songbird, your screams are just too pretty. What do you need help for, what are you asking me for? Beg me for it, and maybe I’ll give it to you.” He swung the baton into the boy’s shoulder. “Or maybe I wont.”
The crack from the baton sent him sprawling to the side, and it hurt, but at the same moment something in him clicked - Leon wasn’t Martin, and the thought of it was terrifying, and the fact that it was terrifying was worse, but he wasn’t Martin, and Martin would be holding him– 
He threw himself in the direction of the door, stumbling, hoping with everything that he could move faster than the reach of the baton. Fumbling with the doorknob - he’d made like he’d be good enough for the man to forget to lock it. Lee’s words echoing in his pounding head, I refuse to be owned… he flung the door open, slamming it against the adjacent wall, and ran.
Leon sighed. Was it something about him that invited his authority to be questioned? Even after he proved time and time again that he was going to punish them for it, that he always won? When Leon wanted something, he got it, and right now he wanted to make that kid sing with more of his screams. 
Martin told him that Lev didn’t know this place any better than Lee did, it was a meeting ground for all kinds of shady business. So obviously, you don’t want anyone walking in on your business, or for your business to be walking out of here. So he wasn’t worried that the little shit got away, he was more just annoyed that he now had to find, drag, and restrain him, when he’d been having so much fun with the whole prostration, begging bit Lev had had going on for a while. 
Leon walked to his bag, calm as ever, and took out his paracord, retrieving the baton just as coolly and making his way out of the room at a leisurely pace. Lev could run faster than he ever has in his life. It doesn’t do much against a locked door. He did find the kid fairly simply, he wasn’t exactly discreet in his mad dash for freedom, and when he rounded the corner and saw him struggling with a locked door he couldn’t help but chuckle, broadening his shoulders to impose a more threatening figure on Lev. 
“You can’t really have thought that that would work, songbird,” he growled, taking a few more steps towards the captive. “You can’t have expected that you could ever get away…”
No, no, no no no. He twisted the handle again, as if somehow this time it would give, banging his shoulder against it as if that would help. His blood ran cold at the low chuckle, and he spun around, his heart in his throat. 
Eyes searching everywhere, anywhere for a way out of this, Lev came up empty. The hallway in this fuck-knows-where of a building was mostly empty, save for the few doors dotted down it, ones he’d already tried. He was at the end of it, in front of the last locked door. The adrenaline wouldn’t last for long, and this dash down the corridor would have only made the incipient punishment worse. He couldn’t take much worse. 
The man stepped closer, and Lev’s whole body thrummed with the panic of too close, too close, too fucking close. Leon had a good foot on him, and didn’t look like much, but those swings of the baton had been strong. Lev swallowed, waiting for the man to get closer until he would feint to the side, scramble to the other, and hopefully one of the doors down the other end of the hallway would be unlocked. He eyed the paracord in the man’s hands, the baton, the way he was looking at him with an expression of 'get back into line’… And almost, almost fell to his knees then and there. 
Because he couldn’t take this. Not for much longer. He’d break, this time, and he wouldn’t come back.
Oh the little shit was still thinking of running. Fucking adorable. He took a few more slow steps forwards, examining the baton in disinterest, flicking the electricity on and off experimentally and looking up at Lev, cocking his head to the side as if to say Well? 
Lee wouldn’t hesitate, he would risk the electrocution and bolt. Lev was not Lee, and his fear was magnificent. The poor thing looked about ready to collapse, wretched, and tortured half to death as he was. Well, no, he wasn’t tortured half to death, he wasn’t even close. And yet he still had that look to him, that beautiful, pleading look, like he didn’t know what to do with himself besides beg someone else to take care of him. Well, Leon could do that. 
“Try it, I dare you.” He said, raising his eyebrows expectantly. “You and I both know how this ends; you, tied up all pretty and screaming, me, in control, having the goddamn best business deal of my career. Why don’t you make it easier on yourself? Knees.”
Lev flinched at the snap of the electricity, as if already feeling it crackle through his skin. Try it. That wasn’t fair. That wasn’t… he… 
Looking up into those sharp blue eyes, Lev curled his arms around himself defensively. Turned his head to the side, rocking back on his heels until his back hit the door with a soft thump. The stone slab walls a mottled gray… 
He couldn’t do it. He’d known he couldn’t do it. That it was useless, really, to even consider trying to make a break for it. And the words… he scrunched his nose, angry with himself. The words cowed him. Because they always did. His hands came up to feel along the stitching of the collar, a nervous habit. 
Lev slid down the door, ultimately sinking onto his knees as commanded. He tried on the words in his mind—go to hell, go to hell, you bloody coathanger—but they were empty. He grimaced, looking up at Leon, but not into his eyes, unable to bring his own stare higher than the man’s jaw. He fell back on the only thing that usually spared him… knowing that it wouldn’t. 
“Pl… plea…” he faltered, biting his lip, miserable—the words wouldn’t even come, any more. He hesitated, fingers twitching, before letting his hands fall down by his sides in defeat. Waiting for the man to approach.
Leon crossed the rest of the distance between him and Lev, wasting no more time with this foolishness. He delivered a quick slap across the boy’s face and yanked his wrists in front of him, expertly knotting the paracord around them, securing the boy’s arms together. On a malicious streak, Leon pulled just a little too tight, and then hauled the boy back up and towards the little bedroom they’d been occupying. 
The begging wasn’t the same when it wasn’t overtop the sweet scent of pain. Leon wasn’t gentle when as he dragged Lev back, throwing him against the bed roughly and keeping him there with the baton pressing against the side of his neck. 
“Oh calm down,” he hissed, “we aren’t there yet, I just want to show you a little home movie featuring my boy, and what happens when you fuck with me just a little too much." 
Leon fished his phone from his pocket, opening it to the encrypted files and clicking on the videos of him and Lee spending time together. They’ll start with the Pear and work their way down the chronology until Lev got the picture. The senator fisted his hand into Lev’s hair and jerked his head up so that when he placed the phone against the duvet Lev was forced to watch it.
Lev’s eyes widened as Leon tapped the play button. He watched for one brief moment as the image sharpened to Lee, strapped to a chair, looking disheveled… 
Fuck… If he hadn’t already known he didn’t want to watch this by the words alone, Lev had been on the other end of the camera too many times not to recognise a creep’s homemade torture porn from the first millisecond of footage. And from what Lee had already described about the man, his sense of righteousness? This was going to be bad. 
Being on the bed with this man looking over him was bad enough. Lev couldn’t really twist away with the hand fisted painfully in his hair, the way his neck was already straining painfully against the collar. Instead he squeezed his eyes shut.
Leon twisted the hand in the boy’s hair. “Open your eyes or this,” he tapped the baton on Lev’s shoulder threateningly, “goes in your mouth, on.” 
He hadn’t watched this one in a while. He watched himself mount the boy’s lap, watched the bloodied man give way to all encompassing fear as he revealed his toy. And oh, he needs to pull that one out again, Lee’s struggles, his screams as Leon inserted the Pear was just too good not to try and replicate. 
Leon leaned down and ghosted his mouth over Lev’s ear. "I told him it would only be four hours but unfortunately I got preoccupied. Lee held that thing in his mouth for far longer… and by the time I took it out his mouth was a bloody, torn apart mess. He could barely talk, but he had no problem screaming.”
Lev forced his eyes to stay open. Watched, in shock. The way the Lee on the screen, defiant and spitting venom, had instantly caved at the realisation of what the… Instrument’s intended effects were, what it… Where it… He watched, as the item was placed in Lee’s mouth, and… opened. Far longer. Lev wanted to be sick. 
He was next. He knew he was next. His body was already trying to relax into whatever impending sensation was coming next, as if to make things in any way easier for himself. He hung limp in the man’s grip, feeling his body tremble against the covers. His eyes remained open… Leon could make him look at the video. But he couldn’t make him watch it. 
Instead, he surrendered to the overwhelming sadness that he felt, not just for Lee, but for those who had to have been the intended recipients. You don’t just make a video like that to watch it yourself later, though that was probably just… An added bonus for this man. No - the professor. My partner. The people who loved Lee, not the people who loved to fucking torture him, and how worried they must be. If they even thought he was still alive. 
Lev shivered at the breath over his ear. “Why… Why, why would you, why did you do that to him?” As if he could avoid the words Lee had said in the lead up to this particular torture. Lev hated himself for asking, as if on-screen Lee had somehow deserved this… Punishment. As it probably was, in Leon’s eyes.
“On top of the rather obvious shortcomings the boy has? This is only a few hours after I first acquired him and he was under the rather false assumption that he could not be tortured too severely because I wanted information out of him. That was not the case and I needed to prove it. He was not the only person who could have told me where that damn safe house was, but alas, even that didn’t work. So I decided to just keep him, what’s the use of killing good meat, right? Much more satisfying to tame it." 
Leon patted Lev’s cheek, and then got up in favour of rummaging through his bag again. "Though, I suppose, that’s not entirely correct. I had all the toys made far before I got Lee. I just…” he stopped, almost pondering, and then he grinned, “I just think it’s fun." 
He saw the terror in the boy’s eyes, the horror at the brand of torture he favours with Lee - creative - and allowed himself a bit of pride. Martin was a fan of the classics, which were well and good, he beat Lee and sliced him up just as well as he did more experimental sessions, but he’s fairly sure that he’s surpassed some kind of first for Lev, right now. 
"You seem rather influenced by my pet, would you like to try it?”
Lev’s stomach twisted at the simple, laid-out answer to his question. A voice rang out in his head - is he a pet, or a piece of meat? Which is it, fucker? - and that was Lee’s voice, had to be, because it definitely wasn’t his own. But Lee was with Martin, right now… Probably already ensuring some other, horrible thing at the man’s hands… 
Would you like to try it? Lev felt fear curl its fingers, digging in. “Please,” he wept, curling against the covers, trying to bring his knees up to his chest in any way, as if he could protect himself. “Don’t, I’ll – please, fuck, I’ll do anything, just don’t, not that. Please, please, not that.”
“Are you sure? You seem like one that would look so pretty with my Pear forcing your jaw open.” Leon is bluffing, he hasn’t even brought the Pear here, but Lev’s fear is far too lovely to let go. He lets the boy bask in that terror for just a while longer before quirking a brow and shrugging. “Or we could do something different, I suppose. It makes no difference to me, just as long I enjoy it. So, Levy boy how should I use the rest of our time enjoyably? What do you suggest so I don’t get bored?" 
Would he suggest his own torture methods? Leon wanted to see. Was he that broken that if Leon says "tell me how to torture you” the boy would reply with an itemized list? Would he beg some more? Would he offer something else in exchange for a reprieve from the torture? Questions, questions… 
Distantly, Leon wondered what was being done to Lee, whether Martin was hurting him or otherwise. The brat certainly deserved it. He should have asked for a recording of this session too, perhaps Martin remembered. Leon retrieved his riding crop, advancing on Lev in just a few steps. 
“Well?” He let the leather rest against Lev’s lips. “What do you suggest?”
Lev was breathing so hard that he thought he might start hyperventilating and pass out. He went through the laundry list of things which had been done to him—"I can"—god, this was bad, this was bad—"I’ve been cut, you can cut me…“ Lev’s voice was rough with tension. 
Maybe that was something less common, for the man, though from the state of Lee he wasn’t sure. What the hell was he supposed to say? What did Leon enjoy? He scoured his brain for any hints that might give it away. 
Maybe this guy liked to play games as much as Martin did? "He likes to test me on, on the names of his knives. And, if I get it right, he cuts me, once, and if I get it wrong, he gets to stab me with it.. Or he’ll blindfold me, and see if I can guess what he’s using…” he immediately regretted telling this man that. A terrible idea, with a bag of implements he didn’t know. 
Maybe this guy was trying to figure out what he hadn’t done before, so he could be some kind of conquest… but in that case, he had no idea what he could suggest. “Please, I just want to be good. I just,” don’t say it, “I just want to be good, for you.”
Leon was almost shocked, once again, at just how broken this kid was. He was really telling him how to torture him. He was scared to all hell, barely breathing, his voice rough with fear or maybe his screams from the cattle prod. The games sounded fun but rather… niche. Just knives, and as a courtesy to Martin, Leon wasn’t going to use any of those. 
Hmmmm what had he been meaning to try with Lee? Oh, well there’d been that. Maybe he’ll test drive it with Lev. Yeah, that sounds good. 
Leon marched over to the boy and dragged him off the bed, forcing him to his knees and pushing on his shoulders till he was leaning backwards at an angle that had to hurt his knees. “Engage your core,” he growled, “don’t move from this position.” He left Lev there, fishing a blindfold out of his bag and wrapping it around his eyes only a moment later. 
“Don’t worry boy you don’t have to make any guesses,” Leon chuckled darkly. “You just have to stay exactly like that, no matter what. And if you don’t, I’ll make sure you feel it." 
Leon never said he’d play fair, of course. He swatted at Lev’s cheek with his crop, and then his thigh. Wrists in front looked far too comfortable - see, that’s why you do test runs - so Leon untied one wrist and jerked them both behind Lev’s back. Much better. Much more uncomfortable and fuck that was a good look. "Don’t move a muscle, Lev,” Leon reminded - warned - with a smile, while he went and retrieved some of his softer toys. 
He lit the candle away from Lev, and watched the flame for a moment, waiting. And then he crossed the room again and brushed a gentle hand over Lev’s strained shoulders. “Just like that.” He tipped the candle over and let the wax fall onto the boy’s bared chest.
Yeah, that had been a bad, no-good, terrible suggestion. Lev, kneeling in the stress position, the pressure on his already fucked-up knees from, well, being on his knees all the damn time, was already starting to aggravate them. He was usually able to retreat back into himself a little easier with the blindfold, accept the moments of pain as they came, instead of being forced to look at whatever was about be used on him. Or, worse, seeing the look in the eyes of whoever was hurting him, as they… drank his pain. Seeing any shifts of the expression that happened when they were about to inflict something new. 
But like this… Leon… the man could be about to shove that fucking thing in his mouth, anyway, and Lev would be none the wiser until it was forcing him open. Tremors still shuddered through him at the thought… he focused on getting them to stop. His thighs and abs were already starting to ache. Lev hissed at the strike to his face, his leg—the crop, again, it felt like. If this kept up, he didn’t know how he would keep from turning into a flinchy and jumpy mess. It took a lot of energy not to whip his head around to try to see the crop and where it would strike next. But the man left, and Lev took a few moments to breathe through his fear. 
A hand, surprisingly smooth, across his shoulders, and the splatter of something very hot—water? Acid? Blood? No, no, it was congealing on his skin, with the smell of burning, wax—Lev gasped, biting his lip to try to prevent that sound from happening again. Because the pain wasn’t terrible, but if he started fucking whimpering, he’d never be able to recover from his shame.
Leon alternated between pouring the hot candle wax on Lev’s chest, his thighs, he even chanced a drop next to his mouth once. Every so often he would hit him with the riding crop, always keeping him on alert. He let the crop brush against his back or arms, his legs, to see if he would anticipate the pain. And then he would hit or pour the wax on a completely different area. 
It was fun. He was definitely going to do this with Lee. 
“Poor baby, tell me, what did you two talk about in here? You’re a quivering little shit right now, and your owner had you so well trained, what happened? What did Lee tell you? Did he give you hope? He’s always so good with his words, that one. So intelligent. But my property doesn’t need to be smart, they need to be obedient. I applaud your master, I do, I don’t keep Lee without a gag in for more than a few minutes at most, so the fact that Martin lasted an hour? Good on him." 
He dripped the candle wax down Lev’s neck, where Lee had his birthmark actually.
There was no way he could prevent the clench of muscle underneath each tiny brush against his skin. He was struggling, but at least it wasn’t that thing, or the electric prod. 
And there it was… while Lev was pretty, Lee was intelligent. Though he was pretty sure the guy had decribed Lee as pretty as well at some point, so now he just felt like the runner-up in the world’s worst beauty pageant. He would have laughed, had the thought not been so fucked. 
Lev let out a haah of pain as the wax splashed against his neck, running down a few inches, seeping in underneath the collar, hardening there. "He said I could survive this,” Lev responded, voice quiet. You believed him. “He reminded me, that, there are people out there looking for me.”
“Oh are there?” Leon smirked, grabbing Lev’s jaw and delivering a single slap to him. “And where are they now?” Keeping hold of his jaw, Leon slowly brought the flame close and closer to Lev’s face. He wasn’t going to burn him, badly, but the kid didn’t need to know that. 
“If that’s what Lee thinks then I’ll truly laugh. I’ll have to remind him, I gave his Daddy an opportunity to trade places, to protect him. I was refused. Lee doesn’t have shit for all for people wanting to get him back, and I can guess that neither do you. No one who would want such a pathetic piece of meat back, anyways." 
Leon delivered another wave of rapid-fire strikes with the crop, hitting wherever they were going to hit. "Oh, Martin was right, you do bruise quite nicely. And uh- what was the other thing he said, about making you swallow your words?” Leon smirked, tapping Lev’s lips with the crop.
Blindfolded on the floor, body covered with cooling wax, raising welts, electrified to shit, and likely about to be tossed back onto the bed… Lev took the pain of the rapid strikes from the crop, but after they had ceased was when knew he must really have lost it. He started to laugh. 
Because this fucker could kill him. Beat him senseless. Torture him, until his voice was irreparably damaged from the screaming, in whatever way the guy liked. And Lev would still be terrified throughout it all. Because he always was. That never changed. 
“We might be pets, or pieces of meat, or songbirds or whatever you, you feel like calling us. And we might never get out alive… But at least we had someone. At least, there were people who loved us, at one point. But I’d wager that there has never, ever been a person who has loved you. And Lee knows that you’re, you’re,” he could barely continue through the hysterical giggling “-a fucking coathanger, with some kind of-” his voice high, shoulders shaking with the laughter “weird, weird-ass god complex?” Lev swallowed. His face was warm, and he was going to die. He cleared his throat. 
“So yeah, I’ll swallow the fucking words. You can fuck off and die.”
“Oh you’re still doing the defiance thing, right.” Leon wasn’t letting the words get to him, he wouldn’t. It was more just the defiant streak itself that was grating on his nerves and not the words themselves.
“For your information, I had a brother; his name was Daniel, and we were very close. He was fucking brilliant and Lee’s precious professor killed him, shot him in the head in their laboratory.” Talking about his brother’s murder still caused anger to whip in Benjamin’s stomach. “So, I’ve known loss in my life, songbird." 
Leon crouched next to Lev, took his cheek with one hand, almost tenderly, and slapped him as hard as he could with the other. "Robbins took my brother, so I killed his wife and kid, it’s the way of the world, yes?” Did this kid call him a coathanger? Leon chuckled at that, low in his throat but a true chuckle. “Your insults need work, kid. Next you’ll call me a kettle." 
He pat Lev’s cheek once more and stood, seizing his bound wrists as he did and leading him towards the bed. "Martin can deal with the rest of your lip, I’m done being Supernanny for the night.” He tossed Lev onto the bed, still blindfolded and still bound. “But in the meantime we’ll start on the whole… word swallowing business, hm?”
Lev was sent sprawling across the sheets, helpless to stop the forward momentum in any way. His face fucking hurt, that last slap more forceful than any of the man’s previous… He fell still and silent on the mattress, defeated. 
And yet… he’d won. He’d fucking won. And not because he’d avoided being hurt, or shaken the man even a little bit. But because he’d said anything, anything at all. They couldn’t take that from him, not once it had happened. 
And he hoped that Lee could fight it. He hoped they could escape. And he thought about what a huge mistake it had been, to leave them in each other’s presence. 
Take what little joys you have in life 
You’re still surviving 
My mind is my fucking own 
As he heard the clacking sound of a belt unbuckling, and felt the hands roaming down his back, his waist… Lev’s last thought was how he’d be getting wax all over the bedsheets, right now. And how he hoped it stained them forever. 
Lee was sore everywhere, in that bone-deep kind of way, and where he wasn’t sore he hurt. But his sheets smelt of books and his room smelt of books and forest and it was his room. Something smelled very good, like eggs and sausage, and it was enough to rouse him out of bed. Robbins had left him a - his? - dressing gown to wrap around himself when his t-shirt had proved too aggravating against his back. 
Robbins was cooking when Lee stumbled his way into the living room. He wanted a go at those eggs. He had to remember that he had promptly upchucked the first meal that wasn’t a mix of gruel and (was it?) dogfood. “Good morning Professor,” he called into the kitchen. 
“Good morning Lee, what trouble-” someone had opened the first metal door in the underground entrance. Marco knew to use the ground level entrance in the forest, he was out hunting. Robbins was there, instantly, his gun drawn. When and where did he get the gun? He was just holding a spatula. 
“Lee go back into your room and lock-" 
"You fucking English majors and your fucking riddles, you’re real fucking lucky Graham’s read The Crucible!” Someone called out from the foyer, not even trying to open the second door, the one that actually gained entrance into the safehouse. “And your fucking… thrush poem. I don’t remember it. But a robin is a type of thrush, yeah?" 
Lee’s eyes lit up and he pushed Robbins’ arm with the gun down. "I know them, that’s Lev. He was- he was like me, with another man. I told him to come here if he could." 
He was so fucking glad he was here. 
Lee hobbled to the door, throwing it open with a grin. "Hey there Odysseus, your memory is shit.”
- end -
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bisexual-genderfluid-fan · 4 months ago
Okay time for some analysis
Buckle up
1. Quick (Because that is not Pietro)
Not saying he's sus, but he's sus.
Probably trying to manipulate Wanda into resurrecting their parents as well?
Also trying to manipulate her into confiding in him
Where did his accent go?
Telling Wanda outright she's repressing her trauma? Sounds like a SWORD therapist
Trying to anger her, multiple times (makes you wonder, Monica did the same thing)
Hijacking their kids? More likely than you think
2. Agnes
Gonna focus on one scene
- when Vision first sees her in the car, she's teary
- when he touches her forehead, the tears disappear
- and when he touches her forehead a second time, they come back
- either she's completely innocent, or being controlled by an outside force, or an LMD, you decide
3. Vision
Lots of character development here, "he really wants out"
Is his life force tied to Westview?
Why didn't he just die when he stepped out?
When he was talking to Agnes as "herself", his JARVIS voice came back, as well as his old speech patterns (you know the ones)
Also, the tension at the beginning - Vision is finally becoming self aware
4. The Twins (Part 2: Electric Boogaloo)
Speed is modelled after Quick
Wiccan is modelled after... Vision, or Wanda
Leads to - either they are legitimately Vision's kids (HOW?) or they're just Wanda-Pietro clones, in which case she is really round the bend
Their powers seem to be enhanced by being around the older twins, or being inside Westview (we aren't too sure yet)
One thing that points to Vision as father is Wiccan's brain bond, that's what Wanda felt when Pietro was killed, right? See?
5. Wanda
DUDE, this woman is not okay.
Everytime her grief intensifies, she becomes more powerful - either by gaining more power or unlocking more potential. (If you want a list just ask.)
Even though her grief fuels her, she gets pissed if you bring it up... and throws you through a bunch of walls and/or decorations
Getting unstable, and more interesting by the day
6. Hayward
Hayward more like heybitch am I right
So, what if he wants Monica to go through the HEX again, just to see what happens?
So, he's a dick, that mom comment was out of line
If he's tracking the vibranium decomposition progress, he means to collect Vision's corpse, but Wanda isn't letting that happen
"He really wants out" has he communicated with Vision before?
One of the my eyes only files is probably just dirt on Wanda
Bitch boy, I hope he dies
7. Westview
Everyone is becoming more self aware, or they're tuning in to Wandas needs
The way her power was fluctuating before Pietro and Vision gave her a nudge, hmm
Out of everyone, why was Agnes unaffected
Maybe Wanda's and Vision's powers together can keep the town going, but not apart
8. On to the really wild theories, leave now or forever hold your peace
Agnes was dressed as a witch - now I'm not sure how much Shakespeare yall know, but in Macbeth, the witches were his downfall, and his manipulative wife did nothing to stop it. Their prophecies were just vague enough to lead him to his death... and also her cackling, really reminded me of the three witches
After Agnes drives away, the signs on the road say "Rolling Hill" and "Ellis". Rolling Hill was unfamiliar, however, Ellis is the name of the guy who came up with the extremis plot in the comics. You know, that's the movie where Pepper gets held hostage and Tony has to rescue her - are we seeing parallels or not?
So, we tried to see if Agnes has robot eyes (to go with the LMD theory), because Vision now has human eyes, but unfortunately, the only shots I looked at were blurred.
The kick ass bit was funny, you have to admit
If Hayward had stopped and let himself get captured, he would have saved a bunch of people, but he's a dick, so he didn't.
Agnes shouting dead, dead, dead, reminded me of witches too.
Yeah, I think that's all, see you next week
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hth-art7895a-s1-2021 · 4 months ago
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Synthesising Artist Influence for later referencing (PART 2), Categorising specific interests in each artist:
In relation to my last post, this contextual makes sense of my last rant about the importance of valuing each artist by the specifics of their inspiration on my practice and here I can now go into further detail as to why they had notes next to their names and why they are headings here, not all match up exactly, but are grouped for relevancy sakes and not because they are similar, but because they have styles which can correlate and suit said headings by my own estimations. 
The first heading being largely about how they build up an image with characters like that of manuscript painters, and use negative space and fit their images to the frames well beyond just simply making an image to scale, Diego is only mentioned here given that I can’t quite tolerate overtly technicolour art, yet I admire his use of filling the mural with the meat of detail and well execute tonal qualities to give a real depth to each of his painting, reminding me ever more of painterly stacking method of applying depth in medieval tapestries and medieval french manuscripts in particular for their uses of symbolic colours and linings, I grouped the others into this category for the lesser reason that they can all fill a space with intentional figures tightly grouped and well proportioned to the frame and all the displayed objects found in their detail work, Arno not being as relevant but given that he’s known for his portraits and anatomically correct sculptors, I admire the way he overtly frames a head well like a Grecian sculptor  and places with how a body is framed in relation to the open space their typically held in, with large murals with sprawled out expressional realism as to not have them all straight and static within their framing. 
The next subject was about the particular style as a unique point of interest of which favours my influence all the more, Martin being graphical, gothic but sadean and brutal in his depictions of raw carnality and over barbarisms on romanticist attitudes to art, Henri for his take on nightmares and giving a face to irrational yet age old fears of witches and the occult dark arts, playing with as shown macbeth as a classic story of the fear of mysticism and corrupted spirits common to that of folklore and european mythology, much like goya and his late dark period before his death, same with caravaggio yet with theology, taking classical stories in scripture and perverting them heavy darkness and occulted qualities in reimagining these stories as nightmares or perverse fantasies with characters almost phantom like to their dark atmospheres, macabre and gothic but still classically produced and styled. marcel as shown again with repeating correlations in his etching series, although they are themed away from theology and perverse occultisms like martin, with takes on satan to reapers and witches, necro-romanticised fantasies of music and underworld-esque like macabre, and anthropomorphic demons once again by a modernising of medieval and folklore tales.   
The next category being again opinion based given I put mike in with these other artists simply because of his visual style, particular his use of highly graphical works with ink and watercolour which to me are quite gothic in their contrast as one is immediate contrast and with his typical use of colours as connective themes without going pop art in his comics he makes darker subject matter more colourful while still maintaining the tone of the story with simple colour choices to work well with the excess uses of black plays in line weight and details, the watercolour being more munchian in it’s experimental by it’s often macabre figures of reapers and live corpses bathed with moist fogs within the framings, but I don’t feel he’s as important to this subject beyond a surface level within this category, given his work is quite new age gothic and edgy by intention and nature by to me isn’t as naturally dark as the others in this grouping given the fact that the others take an abstractive realism approach rather than a directly illustrative approach like that of a commercial comic artist like mike, I’ll still reference him where necessary I’m sure in future. Having already discussed the tones of everyone besides Umberto, he sits within the time of the modernisms at it’s peak and always reminds me as an American artist of his time to grant wood and American gothic by the tonality of his painting, their not bright by any means but they are still colourful and certainly has a munchian quality to their represented themes of exposure to darker palates and uses of cold colours in offsetting his portraits from a warmer depictions found by even people like caravaggio, but the two have correlations so it to me feels as if his take on modernism is quite atmospheric and experimental with it’s tonal qualities rather than being wholly consistent, this being of course the connection between the two on the last post, especially by my choice to show both of these artists by their take on the classic stable, the depiction of jesus “ecce homo”, umberto’s much darker charcoal and printed works being certainly the most gothic and occultic by my definition when revisiting his works. Should also say that I would have put Edvard in the same category for the same reasons, not that he’s american or completely gothic, but that he arguably holds a chair at the founders table to modernist and expressionistic painting, with deeply emotive and vulnerable macabre as one of his most crucial facets in how he paints figures and their relations to pop culture representation, indicative of mental illnesses and conscious interrogation of humanitarian theology as a painterly philosophy and discipline, of which his previously shown portrait plays with well given it’s relevancy to de facto nihilistic-gothic bohemians at the time and degenerate art as an entirely crucial art scene to modern and provocative changing art attitudes at the time and now etc, again, will be probably be referred as all of these artists will, in the footnotes to later pieces produced within this project. 
The 2nd to last category, won’t explain too much given the artists mentioned and their work evidenced and already having been rambled about, it’s about my fanaticisms with contrast, which is an important satanic principle, mainly dark against light as a moral debate so by the practitioners mentioned, it’s purely visual, but of course conceptually speaks to complex relationships with that debate and it’s relevance to occultic versus christian art stylings within classical stories and their artistic depictions with mixed media so it’s about a visual chemistry with the contrast made crucial above having perfect colour theory and technicolour itself to make an image dramatic beyond it’s static appearance, leaving more space for stories between said contrasts at the things it reveals versus what isn’t scene, as martin, marcel and henri show throughout their works, hiding phantoms and smaller details in darker crevices, without giving you a completely certain picture, allowing for a more creative spin in abstracting the visuals and removing simplified notions of tone to drum up more compositional drama by what is framed between this classically, ever successfully, conflicted couple of black and white and all the in between, with hints of colour not being out of the question either, my work just constantly favours immediate and ever harshly contrasting uses of tone, so I will naturally gravitate to such uses in other historical or harder to come-by contemporary works. 
The last category simply being the most reoccurring which visually appeal to me the most given all that debated when categorising them, and of course when speaking of them here, of which I wrote a buzzword synopsis on another note, which I’ll post after this. Consequently, moving on to part 3.
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