A visit to a missing friend reveals a reason for concern...
|TITLE: Random Scene 3
GENRES: Gay/lesbian/GLBT, drama, emotional, psychology.
SUMMARY: A visit to a missing friend reveals a reason for concern...
WRITING STATUS: Completed.
WRITING DATE: Circa 2001.
LENGTH: 3800+ words.
CONTENT WARNINGS: Mild adult language, adult themes.
COPYRIGHT: This story and all characters, unless otherwise stated in the Disclaimers, are copyright © tehuti_88 and may not be used or distributed without permission. The reader is free to print out or download a copy of this story for offline reading as long as the author's copyright information remains upon it. Please do not distribute; if you wish to share this story, send a link to this page.
DISCLAIMERS: Various cult names were taken from nonfictional sources. Be aware that much of this fiction is about criminal Satanic cults, and is NOT what I think about Satanism as a valid religion (the same as a story written about a criminal Christian cult should not be taken as criticizing Christianity as a whole). Although this story may make use of actual locations and names, artistic license has been taken as this is a FICTIONAL story. Please take note that this story was written around 2001 and that my writing style and understanding of the mythology I created may have changed vastly in the meantime.
ADDITIONAL INFO: NA.
RELATED STORIES: "Lucifer" (novel), "D Is For Damien" (novel), "Minot" (novel), "The Three D's" (short stories)
AUTHOR'S NOTE: This short story ties in with the novels and other short stories listed above; as such, it might not make much sense out of context. This was one of my earliest written GLBT-themed works that I showed off publicly, and I was somewhat hesitant to do so back then. As you can see from the title (or lack thereof--to this day I haven't thought of something appropriate), it's merely a scene from an unwritten novel, not an actual story in its own right, but since the novel won't see the light of day for years (if ever), I decided to write this. My inspiration came after reading about an incident involving diver Greg Louganis. Necessary background info, since, as I said, this is merely one disconnected scene: The main characters here are Det. Max Kristeva (see "A Crack Of Light"), his partner Det. Chance Devetko, and Stan Brooks, an old friend of Kristeva's and now Devetko's boyfriend (Kristeva introduced them). The other names mentioned are Will, Brooks's ex-boyfriend, and Natalie, Kristeva's wife. Lest you think Kristeva's rather emotionless, to-the-point reactions here are kind of unwarranted, please see "A Crack Of Light" for some explanation; he's really not that big a jerk--to sum it up, he's been through some rather similar things himself. As police partners, Devetko is the more levelheaded and rational one while Kristeva is more emotional and intuitive, and can sometimes even be downright aggressive; meanwhile, with Brooks and Devetko, Brooks is the more cheerful, outgoing, "dominant" one while Devetko is more introverted and reserved. In this scene, all these roles end up reversed. This is taken from the unwritten novel Magic City and, similar to the writing process for "A Crack Of Light," it ended before I could have Brooks outline exactly what had happened to him; for some reason it's just incredibly difficult to put into words. If GLBT (that's "Gay/lesbian/bisexual/transgendered") themes turn you off, I suggest reading something else. An error--I'm pretty sure Kristeva and Devetko--and Will, for that matter--would have to be buzzed in to get to Brooks's rooms (he lives in a really posh apartment complex or some such), though I wasn't aware of that at the time.
* * * * *
"IS STAN THERE?"
Kristeva lifted his head absently and looked across the desk at his partner. Devetko leaned back in his chair with the receiver pressed to his ear, drumming his fingers on the desktop. He frowned on hearing whatever the receptionist on the other end said, murmured, "Thanks," and pressed his hand against the phone cradle to hang up. He started dialing again.
"What is it?"
"I haven't heard from Stan for a few days. That's not like him. Kim says he took some time off from work. I'm going to see if he's at home..."
The day was going slowly so far, which was strange considering all the things that had been going on recently. Kristeva turned back to his notes but kept his ear open. He'd known Stan Brooks longer even than Devetko; he'd introduced the two of them. Which was why he found himself sharing Devetko's concern. Brooks, take time off from work? The only time Kristeva remembered him doing that was when Devetko was in the hospital following a shooting. At that time he'd stayed by his side almost the whole while. Dev was fine now. So why would he be absent from work?
Devetko sat with the phone pressed to his ear again, his look growing darker with each passing moment. After a minute or two he hung up again, standing and picking up his suit jacket and coat.
Kristeva lifted his head to look up at him questioningly.
"If he's at home then he isn't answering the phone. I'm going to go over there and see if he's okay."
"Hold on." Devetko stopped and looked back at him when Kristeva got up as well. "I'll come with." He tossed a set of keys and Devetko almost dropped them. "You drive, since my head feels like it's got M-80s going off in it."
Devetko nodded and they headed for the door.
* * * * *
Kristeva stood in the massive lobby staring up at the ceiling and barely listening to his partner talk to the manager at the front desk. The place was done all in shades of marbled white and pale gray; it made his eyes hurt. At least it wasn't stuffy. Devetko rejoined him and they both went for the stairs. Brooks lived on the fourth floor, but there was no way Kristeva was riding the elevator.
"Well?" he murmured as they took the steps two at a time.
"I guess he's here, hasn't come out for quite a while; I can't think of why he wouldn't answer the phone."
"Maybe he's got the ring turned off."
Kristeva knew what he was thinking. What if he gets an important call? He'd never turn the phone off.
As they were both in good shape they were only slightly winded by the time they reached the fourth story, finishing the stairway and walking down the hall toward the far end. Devetko didn't pause to look at room numbers; he seemed used to the place. Kristeva was about to ask him how it compared to his own when he slowed and approached a door on the left, reaching out and knocking a few times, then waiting.
He came up close and stopped as well, looking up at the ceiling and chewing on the remains of a sucker.
Devetko stared at the door as if willing it to open. When no response came immediately he knocked again, calling out, "Stan? It's me. Are you all right?"
They both looked at the door this time. After a moment they heard movement inside, a brief pause, and then a rattling sound. The door cracked open a bit abruptly, then went wider. Kristeva cocked his head to see inside past Devetko. Brooks's familiar face peered back out, and he offered a smile, but there was something forced about it. Both of them noticed the shadows under his eyes.
"Stan?" Devetko said, sounding puzzled.
"Hi, hi." Brooks opened the door wider and increased his smile to match. He wore a T-shirt and boxer shorts, looking much different from the business suit he wore every day to work. "I was just dozing and didn't hear you guys come up..."
"Kim says you were taking some time off from work? Is everything okay?"
"Yeah, sure. Just not feeling well. Flu or something." He briefly put a hand up to his mouth to shield it and said, as if joking, "Careful, you might catch it."
"I tried calling and there was no answer--"
"That's because I turned the bell off...sorry about that. I thought I might get some sleep but it didn't work out that way..."
"Why didn't you call me? Do you need anything from the store? Medicine or something?" Kristeva felt like reaching out and squeezing Devetko's arm. He was starting to sound like a worried mother.
"No, no, I have plenty...I'm sorry, I really should've called. I haven't been thinking straight lately." His smile grew rueful and he shrugged. "Sorry."
"Can we come in?"
"Oh. Sure. I'm sorry! Come in. The place is kind of a mess..."
The two detectives entered the apartment, looking around them. Contrary to his word it wasn't a mess, though it wasn't as immaculate as it had been the one time before that Kristeva had been there. He could tell from Devetko's face that this was something unusual in itself. There was a pillow and blanket on the couch, both rumpled as if they'd just woken him up. Judging from his slightly unkempt appearance, Kristeva guessed this was in fact what had happened.
"I have to keep setting the timer," Brooks said, and when Kristeva looked at him, he nodded at the TV. "So it turns itself off when I fall asleep. Can't focus on any of the programs lately."
Kristeva glanced down at the phone to see if it had in fact been turned off. He couldn't see any little lights on it at all. Peering at it more closely he saw why and bit the inside of his mouth to keep from saying anything. He turned away from it and glanced around himself.
"You're sure you have all the medicine and stuff that you need?" Devetko pressed.
"Yeah, I'm sure. Don't worry about me. I just didn't want you to get it too. I really should've called but I never thought of it..."
Kristeva wandered from the room while the two talked. He vaguely remembered the layout of the place from the last time. Like the downstairs, everything up here was in white or pale gray; he wouldn't have been able to stand living here, it was too aseptic for his tastes. He knew Brooks and Dev, though, and knew that aseptic suited them just fine. While he wandered he kept one ear open on their conversation; mainly Devetko continuing to ask after Brooks's condition, and Brooks continuing to offer reassurances and apologies. He felt like shaking his head. Those two were so predictable.
Their conversation faded as he went down the narrow hallway leading to the back of the apartment. He found a door prominent on the left and opened it, peering inside. The bed within signaled this was, of course, the bedroom; and he started to turn around and shut the door when he noticed something. He opened it wider and looked inside more carefully, trying to figure out what had been wrong. It didn't take him long to realize it wasn't what he'd seen, but what he hadn't seen.
The bedsheets were missing.
He frowned, puzzled, and glanced over the bed. The mattress was bare except for the pillows, which had been tossed to the side almost neglectfully. Why would Brooks be so random, even with mere pillows? It seemed at least a little bit odd. And the sheets were nowhere to be seen.
Keeping his thoughts to himself, he pulled the door shut and looked to his left, at the end of the hall. Another door here. A look inside informed him this was the bathroom. Or rather a bathroom, as this place probably had a hundred of them. He glanced it over disinterestedly. Nothing much. It, like the bedroom and the den, was a bit more unkempt than he'd expected, but nothing out of the ordinary. Except...maybe the shower. Out of the whole room, that part was immaculate and sparkling clean. In fact it was still wet, drops of water running down the wall and glass. He put his hand out over the tub and felt the heat still rising from the bottom. He rubbed the humidity from his fingers and left the room.
Out in the den, he could hear the others still talking. "...I actually never missed a single day of school to the flu, now here I am missing work..."
To his left now, opposite the bedroom, was a third door. He cracked it open, expecting a closet, instead to find a laundry room. Apparently they had their own washing machines in this place. He snorted at the thought and then noticed a laundry basket sitting atop the dryer. Here were the missing sheets, all bunched up and tossed haphazardly into the basket and left there. He wondered why they hadn't been washed yet. If Brooks was too sick to do it himself, he did have maid service which could take care of it. Come to think of it he hadn't seen the maid anywhere in here yet. Not that he had any idea how maids worked.
He approached the basket and for no particular reason--or was there a reason?--poked around through the sheets. He supposed it was the detective part of his brain that would never shut off. Annoying, sometimes. He faintly heard Brooks laugh about something, then turned up the edge of one of the sheets to see the other. Something dark was there.
He frowned again. The sheets, like everything else in this apartment, were a bland, pale, washed-out color. Nowhere near dark.
He reached in and pulled out the bottom sheet, unwrinkling it. His eyes scoured the surface. There was a dark stain here, dried, but distinctive.
Suppressing any thoughts he might have had, he looked the rest of the sheet over. There was a second stain near this, but he couldn't be certain what it was. He didn't theorize. Aside from a smaller, matching stain on the top sheet--which must have been on the bottom, closer to the bed--he found nothing else, and shoved them back in the basket.
Bed not slept in. Still-wet shower. Stained bedsheets.
He allowed himself to connect those three thoughts, but still didn't allow his thoughts to go any further. He left the laundry room, shutting the door behind him and heading back up the hallway toward the den.
It seemed almost too bright out here now that he'd left the dim back rooms, and he shielded his eyes. Brooks was still protesting that Devetko had made him a mug of broth, but Dev would hear none of it. He pressed the mug into Brooks's hands just as Kristeva entered the room, and Brooks nearly jumped on seeing him standing in the doorway.
"Oh. Max." He gave a guilty smile. "I was wondering where you went to...aren't you guys still busy looking into all these weird suicides?"
"Yeah, we are, but not too busy to check in on you. You doing all right?"
"Hm?" He looked up from taking a sip of the broth, then waving at his tongue, hissing at the heat. "Sure, Max. Just a little queasy lately. Nothing too big."
"Well...no...not really. Fever and all." He shrugged and pressed a hand to his forehead. "Not so bad now, but it was pretty uncomfortable in here before...it feels too hot in my room, so I've been trying it out out here."
"On the couch?" This from Devetko, who was in the kitchen, pushing things around on the counter.
"Yeah, the couch...like you've never done that before? Not even once?"
"I didn't say that..."
"Well, judge not, lest ye be judged."
"Looks like it hasn't been helping much." Kristeva signaled at Brooks's eyes and it took a moment for his friend to understand. He set down the mug before he could burn himself.
"Oh. No, I guess not. I haven't really slept for the past few days. Just watched boring movies. I'll doze off every so often, but wake up again later on...you know the drill."
Kristeva nodded. Devetko came back into the room with what looked to be a bottle of cough medicine, carefully looking over the label. "Taking a lot of showers lately?"
Devetko looked up at him, raising one eyebrow. Brooks just stared at him as if caught off guard. After a moment his shoulders relaxed and he sighed.
"Yeah...felt all icky just lying around here. Can't stand that."
"Hot showers, not cold showers?"
"I know...but I guess I'm just used to hot ones."
Devetko sat down on the arm of Max's chair and started trying to pry off the safety cap.
"You haven't done your laundry yet."
"Max." Devetko looked up at him again and his expression clearly said, What are you GETTING at, Max? with just a hint of Would you please knock it off, the man is sick already tossed in for good measure. Kristeva didn't meet his eyes, but instead stared at Brooks. After a moment Devetko relented and looked at him also. Brooks stared back with the same deer-caught-in-headlights look. He blinked.
"Uh..." A slight pause. "N...no, I haven't gotten around to it. Gave Cecilia the week off and didn't feel like doing it myself."
Kristeva didn't break the stare, though he got the feeling Brooks wanted him to. The three of them were silent for a moment before he went on.
"If you're not using your bed, how come you had to take off the sheets?"
Another blink. Brooks's face had gone white. Devetko stared at him, then glanced back at Kristeva. Now his own expression had changed. What did you just say to him, Max?
"Ahm..." Both of them looked at him again. "...I...no...real reason, I guess...I just didn't want to forget to wash them later on..."
The detective nodded at Brooks's arm. "Where did you get that?"
Both Devetko and Brooks followed his nod and Devetko stood up, his eyes widening. Kristeva assumed he was wondering how he hadn't noticed it before. Brooks wore a bruise around his right wrist like a bracelet. He covered it with his other arm, suddenly looking self-conscious, and gave an embarrassed smile.
"Well...this is going to make me sound stupid."
Kristeva shrugged and smiled back. "We all do sometimes."
"The thing is I...kind of slammed my arm in the door." His face went red. "I was putting out some garbage and I wasn't paying much attention to what I was doing, and the thing just decided to shut on me...it hurt like hell."
Kristeva glanced toward the door after Brooks had done the same. "Has anybody paid you a visit?"
"Max." Devetko again. Then, in a voice meant so only he could hear, "Why all the questions, Max?"
Kristeva waved him quiet and though Devetko looked ready to retort, he bit his lip and said nothing. Brooks stared down at his hands and laced and unlaced his fingers.
"Yeah," he said quietly, after a long while. "Just one."
Now Devetko looked at him with some surprise. "Who?"
"It was...he was an old friend of mine. Um...ex-boyfriend to be more accurate. I wasn't expecting him to show up. He didn't stay very long anyway."
"Why didn't you just tell me?" Devetko looked hurt, but Kristeva could tell he was more confused by Brooks's behavior than offended.
Brooks shrugged but didn't look up at them. "I thought you wouldn't like to hear it...y'know how unpleasant that stuff can be sometimes."
"You know I don't care, I trust you. Why did he come by anyway?"
"We just got into a little argument...nothing serious. Like I said he didn't stay long. We...we never really got along very well even while we were together, so I guess that was for the best and all..."
He trailed off and didn't bother saying anything else. The three of them sat in awkward silence. Kristeva felt it would have drawn on forever, had he not had anything to say to end it.
"I found blood on your sheets, Stan."
Devetko looked at him, then at Brooks. "Stan?" he asked after a moment. Brooks didn't look up at him.
"Dev," Kristeva said, getting his partner's attention again. "See if you can find any aspirin in the kitchen and maybe make me one of those broths. This headache won't go away."
Devetko stared at him before getting up with a silent sigh and leaving the room. The kitchen was open to the den, but partly separated from it by a wall with an opening over the counter, so they could both see in or out. He watched Devetko go inside and start looking around before turning back to Brooks. He locked his fingers and leaned forward, elbows on knees.
"Who was it and why did he show up?" he asked quietly.
"Will," Brooks said, still not looking up. "I was with him about a half a year before I met Chance. He just wanted to know who I was with and if we could get back together. I told him no, sent him along."
The long pause again. The sound of the microwave humming came from the kitchen.
"That bruise on your arm looks like a handprint."
Brooks's other hand went to cover it up again. He seemed to be shrinking in on himself.
"What happened, Stan?" Kristeva kept his voice soft and nonthreatening. "When did he stop by?"
A few moments passed. The microwave continued humming.
"A few days ago. Just like I said. He wanted to know if there was anything still between us. I told him no."
"When did he cut your phone line?"
Brooks finally glanced up at him, briefly meeting his eyes before casting them down again, as if judging to see if he really knew. His fingers fiddled.
"He...he got angry when I told him to leave." Kristeva could tell the adjective was an understatement. "Slammed the door when I opened it to let him out. I said I was going to call you guys--the police--if he didn't get out. He took out a knife and cut the line when I picked it up. That's all."
Devetko reappeared in the doorway; though he was behind him, off to the side, and Brooks didn't acknowledge him, Kristeva could sense his presence. He didn't come into the room, but the detective could see him standing with aspirin in one hand and a steaming mug in the other when he peered over his shoulder. He was in turn staring at Brooks, the look on his face not quite confused, but not quite blank either. He didn't speak.
"What'd you do when he did that?"
"I...went to use the other phone. In my room."
The silence again, stretching on, only this time not even broken by the sound of the microwave. It pressed itself against his ears and he felt his head throb, but ignored it as best he could.
"What did he do, Stan?"
It was more of a comment than a question.
Brooks's eyes started wandering, over his hands, his knee, the floor, to the bottom corner of the wall and back again. He gave a shaky sigh.
"I didn't really expect him to do anything, you know. He's always been kind of a coward..."
"I just wanted to use the phone. To call you guys."
"What did he do?"
"He..." Brooks paused a moment, now twisting a bit of cloth at the hem of his shorts. "...I...went to get the phone and he came up behind me. I thought maybe he'd just hit me or something. I didn't think he'd do anything else." He shifted his foot. "He came up and...put his arm around my neck."
"What else did he do?"
"He let go of me after a minute...I couldn't breathe when he did that...then he...grabbed my hair and...put the knife to my throat."
Kristeva kept his head cocked at an angle to be able to see both Brooks and his partner, if he shifted his eyes. Devetko still stood off behind him. He nodded again.
"And then he put his arm around my neck again and started dragging me."
Brooks still stared at the floor, but Kristeva could see the shame and embarrassment in his eyes.
"Toward my room..." The detective waited while he wiped his eyes. "I tried breaking free but...I couldn't breathe very well, and I guess when he's mad he's stronger than I am..."
"What happened in your room, Stan?"
He was crying openly by now, wiping his eyes ineffectively. His words came out choked and broken.
"He..." He swallowed. "He pushed me down."
Devetko stared at him from the doorway.
"...And he twisted...twisted my arm behind my back."
He covered the bruise again and stopped talking, chest hitching.
Kristeva sat and waited. He knew from experience how long something like this could take, and not just from on-the-job experience. Brooks continued staring at the floor with tears dropping to his knees. He didn't offer anything else.
"Did he rape you, Stan?"
Brooks squinched his eyes shut and pressed the heel of his hand to one. He wept silently for a moment or two before tentatively moving his head. He tried to speak.
Movement. Kristeva glanced up as Devetko came past him, striding fast and purposefully. He set the aspirin and mug down on the coffeetable without breaking his step and reached the couch Brooks sat on. A second later he sat down beside him and put his arms around him. Brooks pressed close and buried his head against Devetko's shoulder, sobbing brokenly. Kristeva sat and watched silently while the detective tried to comfort him. The pained look in Devetko's eyes matched Brooks's own.
"...I...shouldn't've...opened the door..."
"It's not your fault," Devetko murmured, rubbing his arm.
"...Shouldn't've...turned my back..."
"It's not your fault. It's not your fault."
"...I should've...just listened to him..." He trailed off again, racked with muffled sobs. Devetko rocked him gently, his own eyes wet. Kristeva sighed and put his fingers to his temple to try to still the throbbing there. He had to keep himself from going over to comfort his friend, had to keep the feelings down, else he'd never be able to stop them. He'd been in this exact same spot himself, many times...knew he would be again. Usually Dev or Brooks or Natalie would be there to help him through it. But this time it was the other way around.
"...I couldn't stand it...had to take a--a shower...but it didn't w-work...no m-matter how h-hot I made it...I know I sh-shouldn't have...I'm sorry..."
He sat and listened to the mantra that had seemed to mean so little when he'd first been told it, over and over again, and had to keep himself from saying it lest he find out he didn't believe it at all.
"It's not your fault...it's not your fault..."
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