Challenge: Pumpkin Pie #12 - Fearsome Creatures
Word Count: 893
Summary: David's modifications are put to the test.
Notes: The other half...
Sitting privileges were revoked. For a while he thought breathing privileges would be revoked too; the belt returned. What felt like two days - could have been more or less, he’d lost track entirely - were spent with his jailer standing a few inches from his back and a semi-constant pressure around his neck.
He ignored the aches and pains and occasional garrotting. The machines were almost complete again, despite his best efforts. Some gift, he found himself thinking with increasing frequency, curses streaming through his head as he bit back the urge to scream and shout and smash the damn things to pieces.
“You work remarkably quickly with the right incentive,” the man whispered. It was all David could do to suppress the shudder. “I’m impressed. Perhaps we should have tried this sooner.”
His hands shook as he replaced the panel on the last glossy form. “It’s done.” The words were ragged and caught in his throat.
The belt tightened. “You had better be telling the truth.” For a brief, painful instant the leather pressed closer and David gasped, splaying his fingers against the monolith. It offered absolutely no comfort whatsoever. The belt slackened and he took a deep, desperate draught of air. “The consequences would make everything that’s gone before seem... pleasant.”
“It’s done,” he repeated with a conviction he didn’t feel. “I swear.”
“Then we’d better test it, hadn’t we?”
“Wait, what—?” He turned, almost strangling himself in the process, and stared up with horrified eyes. “You want to—”
“Is something wrong?” The words were as smooth and cold as ice. “You did swear, please remember.”
“No, but—” His mouth opened and closed helplessly.
“We can test it on you if you’d prefer.” He snapped, jerking the ligature like the leash of a dog. “And I think you know we’ve got no need for you now.”
David wrapped his arms around himself and lowered his gaze.
Sensing his victory, the man smirked broadly and with another jerk of the belt led David to one side, seemingly pleased with the newfound obedience of his prisoner. “Bring in the bear.”
David watched from under his lashes as a hint of movement in the shadows indicated that some of the guards had shifted. Humane tests on small animals in the privacy of his own penthouse had been one thing, but this on big animals was terrifying. He wished desperately that he wasn’t going to witness this.
The loud bellow made him jump violently, lurching backwards and away from the sound instinctively; the soft chuckle from beside him did nothing to alleviate the sudden crushing sense of dread that descended upon him. He watched with heart pounding as the two guards edged into the light, struggling with something that didn’t seem to recall any images of bears he’d ever seen.
Because, he realised with mounting horror, that it wasn’t.
The enormous man clearly had as much intention of entering the room quietly as David had at the start. Unlike him, however, they were visibly struggling to contain the thrashing, tattooed human. “What the hell—?!”
“This,” the voice behind him was soft, calm, almost amused David realised with disgust, “is what happens to those we hire who do not fulfil their obligations. I think you’ll agree it’s a fitting test subject? The most fearsome creature imaginable: man.”
“You can’t do this!” He yelled. If the man being led into the centre of the ring heard him, he made no indication of it. “It’s barbaric!”
“And you were more than willing to go along with it when it suited you. When it would save your life.”
He grit his teeth, biting down the comment with the painful realisation that he was right. His chest hurt. All he could do was watch, and it was all his fault...
The guards bound the man’s hands and feet, although how they did it without injury David couldn’t tell, then retreated with an alacrity that gave away their real feelings on the matter. He looked on, immobile even when his captor dropped the notched end of the belt and stepped forward to one of the towers, sliding up the control panel in just the way demonstrated to him that indeterminable time before this nightmare. The fingers moved over the same controls, the same hum filled the room.
David was sure he felt his heart break.
The light, when it came, was brighter than before, a blazing arc that seared itself upon his retinas. He couldn’t look away, hands balled into fists that only trembled slightly, as the man let out a scream that scraped at his eardrums. Surrounded by the light the big man thrashed around, falling to his knees, bound hands jerking up towards his face. Blood, to David’s horror, began to run from his eyes, nose, ears; he doubled up, retching like he could bring up his empty stomach. His noises went ignored.
The light faded, slowly. It took David a long time to bring himself to look at the remains of his handiwork. He sincerely wished he hadn’t.
A hand gently patted him on the back. For a moment, dazed and head pounding, he thought it was a comforting gesture. Realising who owned the hand cruelly shattered the illusion. “You’ve done wonderfully, Mr. Deor. I’m very proud of you.”
David began to retch again with renewed fervour.
Challenge: Pumpkin Pie #13 - Full Moon
Word Count: 98
Summary: David can always find a way to cause trouble when he really wants to.
It was a full moon when, security more lax now they considered him a pet rather than an asset, David was able to abscond from the building.
It was a full moon a whole month later when they tracked him down to a narrow alleyway and administered a kicking that almost killed him. His own fault, again: he’d stolen a vital component before he’d gone; unsurprisingly they’d wanted it back.
They didn’t find the smaller chip until the third assault. They shot him, left him for dead.
He liked to think he’d caused as much trouble as possible.
Challenge: Pumpkin Pie #14 - Costume
Word Count: 398
Summary: Cas passes his opinion on David's story.
Cas stared at the man in front of him thoughtfully. The ghost stared back. Despite the expressions and emotions that had passed through his eyes and across his face as he recounted his story he looked impassive now, accepting of his fate.
Almost. The wanderer’s striking eyes kept drifting toward Cas’s heavy canteens.
“You want to live.”
The ghost started, as if he wasn’t aware his gaze had drifted, then smiled slightly. “I don’t care any more.”
Cas unhooked one of the leather bags and threw it the short distance between them, noting that the man’s hands moved to catch it before he even seemed aware of its trajectory. “Drink and then decide.”
“Decide?” He barked a short laugh. “I don’t think I’m deciding anything. That’s in your hands now.” He picked up the canteen anyway, taking a deep draught from it without shifting his stare from Cas’s face.
“I believe you.”
“Well that’s comforting,” the ghost said, taking another swig. The ghost - David Deor - a hard habit to break now he’d become so used to snarling the word in his head with every dead end. “What now?”
“I don’t kill you.”
“Oh.” Deor thoughtfully recapped the carafe and leaned forward towards the mercenary, holding it out without any apparent fear. “So torture or being returned, I guess.”
“Yes.” He picked it up and hooked it back onto his belt. “I can’t lose you. Bad for business.”
“I can imagine.”
For the first time since landing on this godforsaken ball of sand, Cas felt a genuine smile tug at his lips. “It’s a shame. I like you.”
Deor looked at him from under those long blond lashes like he was trying to disguise his surprise, and failing. “That’s a bit of an... inconvenient thing to admit, isn’t it?”
“Probably.” Cas shifted his weight from side to side. The guns clattered; he barely noticed their noises any more but Deor twitched like a startled rabbit. Hardly a surprise. “You’re genuine. No costumes. No lies.”
Again that half-smile, like the ability to form a full one was slowly dying. “No point in lying, is there? It won’t save my skin. No one—” he paused, looking away for a moment, pointedly away from the carcasses around what remained of the oasis, “it just felt good to finally say it.”
Cas stared thoughtfully at the ghost. “I imagine it did.”
Challenge: Pumpkin Pie #15 - Trick or Treat
Word Count: 310
Summary: All good things come to an end.
It started like an abrupt dust storm. Both men jumped, Cas reaching for his pistol, David pressing feet firmly into the sand in preparation to bolt. The click of weapons on the opposite side made both pause, turning slowly to face the sound.
“Nice to see you, Mr. Deor.”
David let out a wordless moan, apparently paralysed.
Cas growled. “Don’t point that at me.”
The man raised an eyebrow. “As your employers, we give the orders, not you.”
David found a scream as a sharp report split the air. Cas fell sideways, eyes glassy. Blood pooled in a crimson halo.
“Cheaper than his fee anyway,” the man told the still screaming David, rolling his eyes at the lack of coherent response. “Very handy, took him a while but he led us to you in the end.”
Too late, David found his flight response. A second shot, this one to his leg, put paid to his escape. Guards moved to his side, grabbing him unceremoniously under the arms and hauling him towards the settling storm which was starting to resolve itself into a light air transport unit.
“So much easier to convince them we want people dead,” he sighed, giving Cas’s inert body a kick as he passed it and ignoring David’s incoherent howls and sobs. “They’ll do anything for cash. They’re easy to deal with,” he added, smiling broadly at his captive, “promise a treat and trick them.”
David’s response wasn’t all he’d have liked. The sobs had run out of voice. All he did now was gulp, his chest hitching, tears cleaning tracks down his cheeks. Absolutely no entertainment value.
He sighed heavily. “Put him in the jet. I’ll deal with him later.”
David offered absolutely no resistance. Like he’d reiterated to the mercenary, another death on the long list attributed to him now: it was his own fault.