|Maella Abbey (maella_abbey) wrote,|
@ 2008-03-01 22:12:00
His head pounded, his eyes felt filled with grit, someone was shaking him so that it took a great effort not to be ill, and Yangus was shouting in his ear.
Angelo batted ineffectually at the source of the noise. Surely, he hadn't had that much to drink, had he? No; tempting as it had been to blot out the memory of the twisted thing Jessica had become, their mission to save her was far too important.
"Angelo?" Eight's voice, still far too loud, but better than Yangus's bellowing. A cool hand settled on his forehead. "Yangus and I are leaving after the Kran Spinels."
"I'm coming..." He forced his eyes open; the pale light of pre-dawn stabbed through his skull, the room dipped around him, and he hastily shut them again.
"No." The hand moved to the center of his chest, pinning him effortlessly. "You're sick, and the tower they told us about isn't far; Yangus and I should be able to get there in a few days, and we've a chimaera wing to bring us back. I'll have the innkeeper bring in someone to take care of you, and you should be back on your feet in case...by the time Dominico's ready to cast his spell."
"Promise me," he began, but what he wanted - promise me that if Dominico fails, you won't kill her - was a promise Eight couldn't make. "Whatever happens, I want to face her with you."
"Of course. You'll be fine by the time we get back, anyway," Eight said, and Angelo was too sore and weary to begrudge the obvious lie.
He closed his eyes, dimly aware of Eight telling someone to see he was given the best care possible, and while Eight never raised his voice or blustered, Angelo thought it would take more spine than they'd thus far seen in Arcadia to defy that tone. Perhaps Eight hadn't been lying, after all.
The thought comforted him, and he let himself sink back into sleep.
Jessica's voice woke him; her voice, and when he opened his eyes he saw her face, though shadowed strangely by the glow from the sceptre she still held. The light didn't reach him, didn't reach the walls; he had no idea where they were. It was enough that Jessica was there, and herself again.
"I won't kill him."
She sounded angry, but under that was weariness, as if she'd been having this argument - argument with whom? - for a very long time. Angelo tried to push himself up, to go to her, but his body was leaden and even his voice refused to work.
You have no choice in the matter.
"I'm not a willing puppet like Dhoulmagus was, Rhapthorne."
But a puppet, nonetheless.
Jessica's face contorted, changed; for a heartbeat she was as he had last seen her, in Dominico's workroom, then her features smoothed back to the ones he knew. "I may not be able to rid myself of you, but I will fight you every step. And I will not murder for you."
You will. Humans break. So easily.
Jessica's eyes widened in horror. Her arm moved convulsively, as if she would cast the sceptre away, but Angelo could see that her fingers were still wrapped tightly around it, and even if she had been able to loosen her grip, vines were crawling out of the wood to tangle around her arm. Her lips parted, the panic in her expression so great that Angelo thought she would beg the unseen speaker for mercy.
She drew a deep breath and closed her eyes. "I won't break for you, either," she whispered.
We shall see.
The vines continued to grow, wrapping around her, binding...no, not binding, caressing, wriggling obscenely across her body, worming their way beneath her clothing. Jessica made no sound, though her breath sounded harsh and unsteady in the otherwise silent room.
Slender tendrils pushed her blouse down, fondled her exposed breasts, stroked her bare neck and shoulders, traced the set line of her mouth. Thicker vines had twined round her legs; Angelo could see them moving beneath her skirt, but it was only when she gasped, body arching in pleasure or pain, that he realized what they were doing to her.
The vines touching her face took advantage, some tangling in her hair to hold her head steady while others forced their way into her mouth, thrusting deep enough that she gagged before they withdrew, only to drive back in a moment later.
Angelo fought the lethargy of his body to go to her, but now it was if he, too, were being held. He tried to scream; his throat ached with it, but no sound reached his ears.
Hands caught him, held him, forced something between his open lips, and he was thirteen again, fresh to the Templars and being "initiated" by a handful of Marcello's most trusted men. He fought, futilely as a rabbit in a snare, while rough hands stripped away his new uniform and explored his body, leaving bruises in their wake.
He kept his eyes closed, focused on staying silent, on breathing and not gagging while their ringleader used his mouth. Then one of them pressed inside him, blunt fingers stretching him open; he couldn't resist a groan that turned into a strangled whimper.
The man whose cock was nudging the back of his throat paused and patted his cheek. "The vice-captain was right about him. He does make sounds just like a whore," he jeered, and Angelo briefly wished he were suicidal enough to bite down.
Then the man behind him withdrew his fingers and pushed inside with one long, hard thrust, and Angelo was grateful his mouth was stuffed full and he could barely breathe, because that was the only thing preventing him from shrieking as the world went dark around him.
The world eventually drifted back, though darkness lingered around the edges, and darkness wrapped heavy and cold in the air around him, worse even than when Dhoulmagus had invaded the Abbey. Across the stone walkway, four statues gazed mockingly at him, familiar faces all; he turned away, to where Eight was studying a worn plaque set into the wall, and a hand fell on his arm.
"Jessica." His spirits rose - thank the Goddess, they had gotten her back, whole in spite of everything - and words crowded in his throat, so much he wanted to tell her, so many things he daren't say. He swallowed hard. "Are you all right?"
"I was about to ask you the same thing." She looked worn and frightened, but beneath it was the steely determination he knew so well.
He covered her hand with his own, wished he could feel the warmth of her skin through his glove. "I'm fine," he said; it was almost true, with her there.
"We're so close."
She leaned against him, temporarily crowding out the shadows, and he turned to take her in his arms. For a moment they stood thus, drawing strength from each other, then the world twisted and vanished around him, and he was falling...
He woke tangled in sweat-soaked bedding, heart pounding in his chest, with barely enough light to make out his surroundings. The inn at Arcadia, he realized after a moment, and all of it just dreams and memories. He rubbed a hand across his face, the despair that Jessica was not truly back with them - yet, he promised himself - tempered by the fact she had not suffered the horrors he had witnessed.
Slowly, he untangled the blankets binding him; he was shaking by the time he was done, and sagged exhausted against the pillows. The light had brightened - morning, then, though he had no idea how many had passed since Eight and Yangus left - but he suspected trying to rise would only find him in an undignified heap upon the floor. He pulled the blankets over himself, vowing to regain what strength he could; he would not be relegated to the sidelines, should the confrontation with Jessica come to a fight.
Still, it took him long minutes to summon the courage to close his eyes, and he prayed that this time, he wouldn't dream.