by Wax Jism

Due South © Alliance Atlantis et al.

The ropes are biting into my wrists, and my head is twisted sharply to the right by a lump in the pillow, but I've been in more uncomfortable positions for longer periods of time. Of course, even if I were suffering all the torments of hell, I couldn't do much to call attention to my predicament, since the gentleman who is the cause of it took such care to gag me. He was most fastidious in tying the knots, as well, and the loop around my neck efficiently prevents me from moving. I have resigned myself to wait for something to happen. Staying alert despite the discomfort will keep me occupied.

I scan the room. The hotel is, I believe, of the kind that charges by the hour and the barely muffled sound of a bedpost hitting the wall behind me in an unmistakeable rhythm seems to corroborate this belief. The air is slightly stale, and I detect the odor of mold and spent ... bodily fluids under the overlying reek of cigarette smoke and flat American beer.

You are standing in the middle of the room, disarmed but not helpless as I am. Our captor has given your weapons to his cronies outside the door.

"I was gonna just whack the two of ya," the man is saying, his voice the throaty husk of someone who has spent far too many nights smoking cigarettes and drinking malt beverages when he should have been at home in bed. To my surprise, I see you staring at him with an expression that isn't simply the normal half-threatening, half-cajoling one you tend to employ when dealing with members of the criminal strata. Instead, it's slit-eyed, appraising ... inviting? No, that is ridiculous.

"But...?" you say, flashing a lightning grin at the man. My breath catches inside the gag.

"I might give you a chance to walk out."


"You and your buddy."

"Name your price," you say, as if you already know. Your eyes are still heavy-lidded, but I can see a tension in your body now, the tight coil of an animal ready to spring. Predator or prey, though, I cannot tell. I'm not sure I know who you are.

"You take whatever I give you," the nameless man growls and although his demeanor is still threatening and, no doubt, intended to intimidate, I can see that you are not intimidated in the least. Somehow, incredibly, the power balance is shifting, sliding over to you. He does not realize this yet, but I think he will, sooner or later.

"I can match you, punk," you say, and the grin grows dangerously. "Blow for blow."

"You talk a lot, cop," he replies, but he's already advancing on you and doesn't seem to have taken offence at your attitude.

"Shut me up?" you say, snapping your head to the side in a cocky, insolent gesture that I'm very familiar with. Your grin is still there, unafraid, challenging.

He telegraphs his moves, and I see you tense and step into the punch. I flinch at the sound of knuckles hitting flesh, but you only stagger a little, and straighten up immediately. A smear of blood paints your lower lip crimson and wet. You make no move to wipe it off.

I'm not sure I know where this is leading, but what I do know is that you and this criminal are playing some sort of complicated and dangerous game. The stakes - my life ... your life. I try my bonds again; they will hold. I am not a player in this game. I am helpless. I must stay limp and useless here on this dirty bed while you face this man who doesn't quite know how dangerous you can be.

The neon sign outside the window suddenly flickers to dirty orange life, and the entire scene takes on a stroboscopically twisted air that fits the mood perfectly. I feel as if I'm caught in one of my more surreal dreams. The discomfort in my neck and shoulders belies the impression and I know this is real.

You are still staring the nameless man square in the eyes. The blood from your cut lip has trickled down your chin. You're glowing with a radiant excitement I've never seen in you before.

"Bitch," he says flatly, and you laugh, but it sounds like the shrill bark of a fox. There was always something vulpine about you, and it's all the more tangible now.

"Not your bitch," you tell him with another quick baring of teeth that, this time, fails to become a smile. He swings again, and you make no effort to avoid the impact. More blood courses down your face. "Hey! Stop fucking up my face already. That all you got?"

"Bitch," he repeats, and grabs you roughly by the arm, swivels you around and pushes you towards the bed. Towards me lying limp, waiting for what will come next. Your eyes light on my face, but you don't let them linger on me, and our gazes don't meet.

He's behind you, his large hands coming up to grab the neck of your t-shirt. He jerks it down, tearing the cloth. You choke and cough, but still won't try to stop him. The torn shirt falls to the dirty floor, bares pale, smooth skin that is already marred with the faint purple smudges of fresh bruising. He and his friends were not gentle with either of us when they overpowered us earlier. I remember the dull thud of the blows hitting your chest and abdomen and shiver. The loop around my neck tightens even from that minute movement, and I force myself to relax, to go completely still. Limp.

You're wearing a pair of old, worn blue jeans, a pair I haven't seen before. It was your day off. There's a tear on the left knee, and I can see your skin there, just a glimpse. For some reason, the sight strikes a deep, humming chord somewhere inside me. I have to look elsewhere and instead, notice the way the soft-worn denim hugs your narrow hips. The jeans are low-slung and not particularly clean, and I wonder if these are your favourite ones, a pair you wear at home when you want to be comfortable. I also wonder whether you will ever find them comfortable again.

The thumping of the bedpost in the room behind the wall stops with a final, loud bang, and suddenly, the world is sunk into a deep, unnatural silence. It is as if Chicago has been spirited away, and if I were to free myself of my bonds and walk outside, there would be nothing there but night, and a darkness only pierced by that one feeble neon sign spelling 'OTEL'. As if all of the world is now contained in this cramped, dingy room with its fading wallpaper and water-stained ceiling.

Then he pushes you hard, without warning, and you fall forward onto the bed. Your head hits my side, and I jerk involuntarily. The noose tightens and the world has sound again. Limp, limp, limp. Your face is pressed, for a brief, eternal moment, tightly against my tunic, and I can feel every breath you draw as if it were my own. I hold my own breath until he pulls you backwards again by the hair.

"Hands and knees, bitch," he commands, and you comply slowly and deliberately. I can see you licking the blood off your lips, and my own tongue flickers over the foul rag in my dry mouth, trying to taste blood that isn't there. "Drop 'em first."

You roll over without hurry, and your tardiness garners you a quick, sloppy slap that only makes you grin wider. You seem to have lost any apprehension you might have harbored, and appear to be enjoying yourself with every sense you have. How did I never know this about you? How could I have missed such an integral aspect of your personality?

The way you slither out of your tight jeans makes me suddenly and uncomfortably aware of my own body. The fact that I lack that instinctive grace, for one; also the fact that I am lying on top of my trapped, painfully insistent erection, and have for a while. Limp, I tell myself sharply, and my body obeys, save for that one part, the part that has never obeyed my commands, and never will.

You're naked now and he shoves you over again, arranging you with sharp nudges and half-growled words in the position of his preference. You end up lying prostrate by my side, your face turned towards mine. There is no more than fifty centimeters of distance between us, but if I twist my head as far as the noose will let me, cutting off my air no more than I can handle, I can see the long, naked expanse of your body. And the large man behind you. He is removing his own clothing now, and when he puts a proprietory hand on your bare flank, your breath fans faintly and warmly over my face. Your eyes are wide open, and now they are meeting mine. For just a second, you look lost. The grin fades, and something in your eyes pleads with me, pleads for something I don't know how to give you. You hold my eyes and your mouth moves, and I realize you're saying my name, sotto voce. Then your expression smooths out, and your eyes become carefully blank. You're a stranger to me again, but at least I think I know you after all.

He is touching you - not with violence anymore, but hardly gently, either. He's larger than you, both taller and bulkier, and I suppose some people would call him handsome and admire his broad frame, gym-toned muscles and dark good looks. I can, however, only feel a faint distaste for him, and wish his hands away from your body. Despite your apparent cooperation, this ... transaction and the fulfilling of the terms of your 'agreement' amounts to little more than a rape.

I have never witnessed this act before; neither witnessed nor performed, should I say, although I've pictured it in my imagination on repeated occasions. My powers of imagination are fairly impressive, due to long practice with meditation, self-hypnosis and lucid dreaming, and I can, to the tiniest detail, imagine what it would feel like to do what he does to you now: the difference between the rough outsides and silky-smooth insides of your thighs, the warm, damp tangle of your pubic hair, the core heat inside you...

He pushes his hard, rough fingers into you, and your eyes glaze over and you bite down fiercely on your torn lip ... I have to close my eyes tightly, suddenly. I can't look into your eyes and feel what I feel right now. I wish I were somewhere else, anywhere else, far away from here. I wish I were him. I wish I were you. I don't know what it is I really wish, and I don't think I want to know.

Even with my eyes closed, I'm still frighteningly aware of you. I can smell the blood on your mouth mixed with the subtly overwhelming scent of your naked body. His smell is there too, but it is only the fleeting whiff of something greasy and corrupted behind your spices-and-sandalwood smell.

I feel the bed shifting underneath me, and sands shifting in my mind. I know you, I'm sure of that now, but I don't know myself anymore. You draw breath sharply between clenched teeth, and my eyes spring open just in time to see him twisting your arm behind you as he drives mercilessly into you. You arch your body, throw your head back, and your face contorts with pain. I wince, but my erection throbs dully and yearns for you with the same dumb determination with which a newborn yearns for its first meal.

He is grunting, rutting, still pinning you to the mattress with that painful grip on your arm, but you manage to push backwards, meet his strokes, and suddenly, your eyes widen and your mouth falls open. I am shamed to feel a brief sting of jealousy, as if it constitutes some sort of betrayal on your part that you can find pleasure in this. The pained grimace on your face has been replaced by a look of sybaritic abandon that is both lovely and painful to behold. I am unable to tear my eyes off you.

You're matching him, as you said you would, and he's talking (bitch) saying something (whore) probably profanities (cunt) but I can't hear him. I can only hear your muted moans, the way your breath catches and rasps in your throat. Sweat breaks on your skin, dampening your hair, beading in your hairline and on your upper lip. You bite your swollen lower lip again almost viciously, and it's bleeding, dripping crimson on the dingy bedspread, staining the damp skin of your chin and throat. If I could, I'd lean forward and taste it. Instead, I only taste the rag in my mouth and my own sour saliva. The bed heaves and creaks sickly at each stroke and I have to force myself to stop squirming. It's getting painful to breathe. Limp. Nothing of me is limp now.

I can see your pulse racing under the slick skin of your throat, racing so wildly I can almost feel the hectic flutter of your heartbeat in my mouth, my fingertips, my groin. My own heart races with it, faster, faster, faster--

You seize up, arch your back so hard I can hear the crackle of overtazed vertebrae, and shout something half-articulated, hoarse, raw. When I realize it was my name, I lose the last control I had over my body, and my hips push forward, downward into the creaking mattress, and I climax violently just before I slip into the blackness of hypoxia.

I swim back through thick, dark waters. There is a warm wind in my face, and somehow, it seems to be blowing right into me. I smell fresh blood. I can even taste it. Something moves against me, and my senses crash back into focus. I open my eyes and meet yours. Close, so close to my face. Your mouth is only a breath away from mine, and I still have your taste on my tongue and lips. Blood and spices and the faintest trace of that chewing gum you like.

"I gave you your air back," you murmur softly.

I try moving and notice that I'm no longer tied up like a parcel. I am lying on my back, and you're hovering above me, still not wearing a single stitch of clothing. Now that he is gone – and he is; I can no longer hear his men talking outside the door – mortification catches up with me, and I have to avert my eyes. You chuckle and poke me gently with a finger.

"Hey, you saw all that earlier already," you say, blushing a little, but meeting my eyes without shame. I don't know what you see there, but your face softens, and the smile you have for me bears no resemblance whatsoever to the challenging grin you offered him. In fact, the expressions are so different that I have difficulty understanding how both could be formed by the same set of facial features.

I whisper your name; whisper, because I know my voice will not carry. You smile again, and lean down to cover my mouth with yours again. This time, I have my own breath, and you keep yours. The kiss is soft and gentle, and too brief. You back off and slip off the bed. I lie stunned and silent as you find your jeans and put them back on with an expression of distaste curling your lip.

"Yuck," you say, and throw me a slightly bashful glance. I pull myself out of my daze and rise briskly, brushing the feeling of helplessness off me along with the dust on my uniform. A used prophylactic lies on the carpet next to the bed, but I step around it, ignoring my conditioned response to pick it up and dispose of it. You're in the small, dank bathroom splashing water on your face. Our eyes meet in the cracked and yellowed mirror.

"Did ... ah, he leave?" I ask superfluously, just to say something. You nod sharply.

"Yeah, he's gone. Probably figures he'll be cool now - I won't be making any statements about tonight." You turn away briefly, look at the wall with its fading, peeling wallpaper. "And he'll be right. He's a small fish. No need to make it common knowledge how little it takes to make me spread my legs like the worst slut in Chicago."

"Ray, it was--"

You don't let me finish. "Of course, now he'll be bragging about it to all his scumbag buddies." Quick, lopsided grin. "Everyone will know Vecchio's easy. Too bad for your buddy once he gets back."

I hadn't thought about it from that particular angle, and I have a second of worry before I put it out of my mind. No need to linger on things I cannot change. You're still talking.

"Now all I have to do is figure out how to explain to Welsh how I managed to lose both my guns and my badge at the same time. On my day off."

"And your shirt, Ray," I add. You look down at your bare chest, at the bruises there, and shrug.

"It was an old one. Where'd I put my jacket?"

"It's in the car."

"Damn. Hey, lend me your thing, your, uh..."


"Yeah." I take off my tunic quickly, and you slip it over your shoulders. "Gee, I gotta look like a ten-dollar hooker after a busy night."

"You look like no such thing, Ray," I say in what I hope is a reassuring tone of voice. As a matter of fact, you do look rather disreputable in your dirty jeans and the crimson, too-large tunic, with your ill-used face and wild hair.

You take the three steps that separate us in smooth, quiet strides and let your arms slip around my waist, burying your face against my neck. Your body trembles faintly against mine, and you snuffle and puff warm, moist air over the sensitive hair at the back of my neck. The feeling reminds me of Diefenbaker, and I am abruptly jerked out of the moment.

"Diefenbaker!" I exclaim, and you let go of me and back off, slapping your forehead.

"Damn! He's in the car, isn't he? If he's pissed on the upholstery, I swear I'll-- I'll ... shit, I'll give him a donut and a humble apology, I guess. How long have we been here, Frase?"

I glance at my watch, and to my surprise, it's only eleven-thirty. We've been here barely two hours. It feels like years. I tell you that, and you shrug it off, relaxing again now that you are reassured your upholstery, and Diefenbaker are both safe.

"You hungry? How about some pizza?" I blink at you, but you've already moved on, heading for the door. Amazing how quickly you've put everything behind you. Perhaps you'll mull over what has transpired when you're alone, but for now, it seems you have, as you would say, dotted it, filed it and stuck it in a box marked 'done'. "Come on, Fraser! If I spend one more second in this dump, it'll be too much."

We walk down the hall, accompanied by the sounds of loud and enthusiastic coupling behind paper-thin walls, and emerge into the chilly Chicago night. The wind is coming in from the lake they call Michigan, and there's a hint of rain in the air. You pull my tunic closer around your shoulders and match your step to mine. I feel sticky and uncomfortable - I have to remember to ask you to go by the Consulate so I can change into garments that aren't ... where I haven't...

You turn to me and wiggle an eyebrow suggestively. "You got a lizard in your pants, Fraser?" you ask, and I realize I've been squirming as I walk. I feel another hot blush creep up my face, but you stop me before I can stammer out a single word. "Never mind, I'm just yanking your chain. I gotta change too, you know. These things can get pretty messy. No big deal."

You pat me gently on the shoulder and walk ahead of me to the car. I stare after you for a while, wondering just how easy it could be to let this incident be the beginning of something. Perhaps I should take my cue from you and let it go. Let it be a beginning. Maybe it should be.