Chapter 1: Prologue: Meet Jerry
Jerry slowly inhales the smell of the dishroom and lets the scent linger in his lungs. While others would complain about the various smells that all of the cleaning products, steam, and discarded food create, Jerry believes it to be the best smell in the world. It carries the implications of cleanliness and purification, and he savors every inhale that infiltrates his nostrils.
He readjusts his grip on the plate in his hand and submerges it into the sink for much needed moisture. Scrubbing away at it, the stain that mars the white plate stubbornly remains. Promptly grabbing the sink hose, he takes aim and relentlessly sprays the ugly blemish. A little smile lights his broad face as the mark finally erodes. All it takes is a little persistence.
Activity in the room is relaxed as it is currently a “dead hour.” The only other man in the room works at loading other various dishes and pans into a conveyor belt that led into a giant dishwasher of sorts. The monotonous hum of the machine provides a soothing rhythm. The silence shatters when another man hurriedly enters with a manic energy one would not believe capable from his stout frame. This new occupant completely ignores Jerry (which is difficult to do with his bulky frame) and makes a beeline for the man at the machine.
"Gary! Dude! You'll never guess who I just met!" The excitement which radiates off of him manages to take Jerry’s attention away from the pile of dirty dishes before him.
Gangly Gary can barely muster an interested expression as he continues to watch the various dishware with glazed eyes. "Who'd you meet, Ray?" he asks in a disinterested tone.
"Robert Downey Jr!” explodes the other man. “It was totally amazing even if only lasted about ten seconds!"
This news manages to stir Gary out of his disinterested stupor as he turns to look at his friend. "What's he doin' in town?"
"He's filmin' Avengers! The whole cast must be stayin’ here," Ray announces with a leap of excitement. Unfortunately, this news draws no response from his gangly comrade. "You know. That super hero team up movie? The one with all the Marvel dudes? The one that’s been built up to with all these other solo movies?" He bobs his head up and down and moves his hands in a circular motion in an attempt to jog Gary’s memory.
Gary scratches the side of his head momentarily forgetting about the yellow rubber gloves on his hands. “ Is that the team with Iron Man, the Green Hornet, and Batman?"
Ray adamantly shakes his head. "I have no idea what team that would be, but this Avengers movie has got Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, Thor, Black Widow, and Hawkeye."
At the mention of Thor’s name, Jerry's head definitively snaps to attention. His hands steadily grip the edge of the sink as pure adoration spreads across his face. The possibility of seeing the golden god in the flesh fills him with an intangible joy.
Comprehension slowly dawns on Gary’s face. "Oh! That would explain why I saw the Thor guy the other day."
Jerry's eyes widen, and he leans forward so as to not miss any words of this account.
The stout man’s eyes also nearly bug out of his head. "What?! What was he like? Why didn't you say somethin' before?"
Gary just shrugs. "Dunno. He's a big friggin' dude. That's for sure. But he was with some other guy. That Loki guy. Didn't wanna bother him. I think they go joggin' together cause they were wearin' shorts and a tee."
The mention of Loki causes Jerry’s face to twist into a sneer. The intensity with which he loathes and mistrusts the little snaky bastard daring to call himself a god equals the love and adoration he feels for Thor. The fact that Loki is present in the hotel is cause for concern.
"They friends or somethin'?"
Gary shrugs again. "Who really knows. But they seemed really into their conversation so I didn't wanna be a bother to either one."
Jerry’s eye twinges at this revelation, and his arm mindlessly lashes out at the stack of dishes next to him. The resulting crash startle the other two out of their conversation, and they whirl around to finally notice Jerry.
Not daring to move forward due to all of the broken dishes, his spindly co-worker looks at him with concern while Ray just stares wide eyed at the disaster.
“You okay, Jer?”
Jerry stands with fists clenched at his side and stares intently at the floor without actually noticing all the shattered dishes. He trembles with a sense of conviction.
"I'm going to clean this up," grumbles Jerry darkly. "I'm going to fix this mess."
Chapter 2: Early Morning Mischief and Scheming
Alternating POV, flirting (both perceived and actual), and some repetition.
Tom slowly takes in the crisp morning air through his nose. Closing his eyes, he holds the breath before exhaling it back out through his mouth just as slowly. He moves his head from side to side and then opens his eyes again before bending down to touch his toes. Holding himself in this position, he counts to an appropriate number before resuming an upright position.
Running is his go-to form of exercise. He had made early morning runs part of his exercise routine during the filming of Thor. It helped with the lean look that he was going for with Loki, and it was a semblance of normalcy he could cling to as he embarked on the brand new adventure known as a potential Hollywood franchise. Chris had taken to running with him when they were in their own stages of training, and they couldn’t help but turn it into a form of competition. Jogging became not just a form of exercise for the two but also another point of bonding.
Continuing this tradition for Avengers delights him even if the current Ohio air is markedly different from New Mexico. Adding to his joy was the fact that Chris continued to be his running partner. It was just too bad the younger man could not get up on time.
It was almost a running joke how Hemsworth managed to be late to nearly everything save for being on set (as being late to work would damage his fledgling career) and press events (where one could thank his handler). Without bothering to check his watch and fret over how late Chris is, Tom rotates his arms in a circular motion to get all of the little crick and crack sounds out.
He suddenly shivers as a strange chill sweeps over his body. While the cause of this chill could be attributed to the open air structure of the parking garage, a twist in his gut tells him otherwise. He whips around to find no one behind him. Slowly turning back around, he continues swinging his arms around and wills himself to believe it had just been a draft and nothing more.
He does a poor job of convincing himself as he is now tense as ever. He has half a mind to turn around again when he hears the squeak of shoes, and he suddenly jolts forward. The sound of flesh smacking flesh reverberates throughout the otherwise silent garage.
"GAAHHH!" yelps Tom as a hand firmly slaps his ass. He reflexively clutches the offended cheek with one hand and swings around with the other in an attempt to punch his attacker.
His footing is unsure as he lurches forward, and his fist misses the mark as the mystery person quickly sidesteps the blow. Before losing his balance completely, a hand manages to steady him by grabbing his forearm. Tom desperately tries wriggling out of the hold only for his other arm to be grabbed.
"Whoa! Whoa! Calm down. What's all this now?" asks a very familiar voice.
Tom's heartbeat calms down considerably from its frantic beating as he cranes his head back to find Hemsworth’s curious face. He releases a huge sigh of relief before remembering why he initially freaked out.
"You tit!" he exclaims as he shrugs one arm out of the hold and punches Chris in the chest. "What do you expect when you slap someone on the ass without a warning? Try that with Scarlett, and we’ll see what happens to that wonderful face of yours."
Chris smiles that laid back smile of his and laughs boisterously.
The Brit marvels at all of the little laugh lines which appear on his face. Realizing that he is staring, he shakes his head quickly to clear his thoughts. Secretly, he is so relieved it was just Chris that he can’t actually be angry right now. Trying to turn again, he realizes Chris is still holding his arm. The younger actor must realize it at the same moment as he quickly releases Tom and raises his arm in a stretch.
"You ready to go?" he asks Tom.
Tom squints at Chris and assesses the younger man. For someone who probably just hopped out of bed, the Australian seems pretty energized for such an early hour. "Don't you need to stretch first?"
"Did it in the room before coming down," explains Chris as he swings his arms in front of his body.
Tom folds his arms against his chest. "Is that what took you so long?"
The smile disappears from Chris’ face as his lips take a dip. "Actually," he looks over his shoulder as if expecting to see someone, "I met a fan on the way down." He turns back satisfied no one is there. "It was," his eyebrows scrunch together, "interesting."
Tom chuckles and wets his upper lip with the tip of his tongue. "Did some girl ask to see your 'hammer'?" Chris rolls his eyes at the use of air quotes. "Or did she just drool over your glorious arms?" He playfully squeezes Chris’ bicep which is fully exposed due to the sleeveless nature of Chris’ top.
Chris good naturedly lets him get one squeeze in before holding his wrist away in a firm yet gentle manner. "Actually, he was quite enamored with me and thought I was the real thing."
"Oh. Well, you can't blame kids. They seem to recognize us in any guise." He looks at Chris thoughtfully. "I hope you didn't shatter the illusion for him."
Chris' face quirks one eyebrow up. "I didn't think that 20-something year old fans needed that broken to them."
Tom is a little speechless in the face of this revelation. "I… guess… that just speaks… to the power of your performance." He tries to swing his arm back when both men realize Chris is still holding on to his wrist. Chris quickly lets go as if he’s been burned and holds both hands behind his head.
Chris clears his throat and dons a small smile. "Should we get going now?"
Tom nods, and Chris gestures for him to go first. He cracks his head from side to side one last time and then starts up his jog. When Chris does follow, Tom takes note of how his co-star trails him the whole time rather than keep the same pace as usual.
From his stance pressed up against a wall, Jerry repeatedly clenches and unclenches his fists. So much is his frustration that he is blind to pinching pain and nearly broken skin as a result of this action.
His morning had gone from routine to mind-blowing when he ran into Thor on his way to work. He stood in awe of the god, who had a few inches on him, while nervously clutching at his yellow rubber gloves to his chest. The deity blessed him with a slow yet steady smile, and Jerry could only twist his gloves even harder. Even in a simple T-shirt and shorts, Thor exuded a magnanimous aura. Jerry was humbled by how calm Thor was and chalked it up to the god's newfound humility.
Needing something to say, Jerry felt the overwhelming urge to offer his assistance.
"It’s such an honor to meet you, and if you ever need help with anything, I swear that I will assist you in every way that I can." His voice had lowered to a conspiratorial whisper. “Especially with that sneaky brother of yours that I’ve heard has been spotted around here. I’m real good at scrubbing out stubborn stains.”
The tone of the meeting inexplicably changed after that. Thor stared at him with what seemed to be confusion and some other emotion Jerry could not compute. Then he had excused himself and dashed off in a direction he had kept glancing back at during their meeting. Jerry, of course, followed.
And what he had just witnessed upset him. While he knew that Loki exerted some sort of influence over Thor, he had always thought the only bond being exploited was the familial one. Thor nobly clung to their bonds of brotherhood, while ignoble Loki would deny them and only flaunt that card when it was convenient to him. But what he just saw went beyond that.
Whatever happened in that twisted mind of Loki’s, it seemed that he wanted to infect his brother with it. The interaction between the two brothers went to an uncomfortably intimate place. The joking banter and friendly touches spoke of a relationship with no past transgressions.
The slippery sorcerer had bewitched Thor into believing that he was completely harmless. The repercussions for such a tainted judgment would surely prove disastrous in the future. Furthermore, judging by the way Thor had held on to him, Loki was also using his body as a way to enchant him.
Jerry sorely wanted to reveal himself and expose Loki for the snake charmer he was. But continued observance of the duo just showed him how protective and possessive Thor was of his brother. No doubt another enchantment of Loki’s in order to ensure his own safety.
Jerry furiously scrubs a fist through the fuzz of his shaved head. He desperately wants to free Thor from his brother's influence but not at the cost of Mjolnir to the face. It would be best to act when the thunderer was not present.
Taking slow measured breaths, he thinks through his plan of attack and what items will be necessary for success. His mission is clear to him now, but he needs to act fast.
Chapter 3: Unpleasant Surprises
Tom reflects, and both actors receive a nasty shock.
Another early morning crawls by without a sign of Chris. Tom huffs in exasperation at this typical behavior and rolls his head back.
Sitting on the floor with his legs stretched before him, he attempts to lunge for his toes with the tips of his fingers. After a few successful touches, he drops the repetitive motion. Having gone through his usual routine of stretches already, he is properly stretched and is just passing time. With nothing else to do but wait, he leans back on his palms and runs away with his thoughts.
The past few days-off before shooting commenced were as good a time as ever to bond with the rest of the cast. Robert is quick-witted and a riot a minute once you get him going (which isn’t that hard to do). Evans (or the "other" Chris as Tom internally refers to him) has his own brand of self-deprecating humor which is devoid of the sting of actual inner self-loathing. He is also a decent opponent at table tennis and was the one to introduce him to Scarlett. She was even more stunning in person, but he did get a private laugh at the fact that she has to crane her head back to look at his face (his reaction wasn’t as private as he thought as she would elbow him and complain about not having enough wedges so as to not look like a midget next to him). Cobie was also beautiful and lethally hilarious. Jeremy always had the best stories. To round out the cast of funny people in the cast was Clark, who had a sly sense of humor. Meeting Sam for the first time had left him a bit starstruck, and it was great meeting Mark in the flesh as he was sure that any of their scenes together would involve the older actor wearing a funny green spandex suit with balls all over it.
They all get along fabulously, and it does feel like they’ve created a family or at least a very close knit bunch of friends. For the most part though, he tends to gravitate towards Hemsworth. Chris is a familiar face, and it is comforting to have a fellow new kid on the block.
Tom enjoys the time they spend together. It’s not just morning jogs but other little jaunts around town as well as around the hotel. They continue to rib on each other, but it comes from a place of mutual respect and admiration. But what Tom enjoys most are the little wordless moments they share, the moments where they can just revel in each other’s company. Smiles serve in the place of pleasantries in terms of expressing their contentment. It’s during these moments that something unnamable wells up inside of him. It’s warm and happy and tickles whenever Chris smiles at him, but he dares not acknowledge it out loud in fear of hurting his current relationship with his co-star. He’s also pretty sure that Hemsworth is hopelessly straight.
He’s not sure when his man-crush on Chris turned into a flat-out crush with feelings and some longing. Singing all of those praises about Chris’ body during interviews should have been a sign to him. Tom suddenly shakes his head to get rid of this train of thought. With a sigh, he buries his head in his hands. Such thoughts were too heavy for this time of day.
The squeak of footsteps from behind makes him freeze in place until he realizes it is probably just Chris attempting another sneak attack. Leaning back on his palms again, he taunts, "You're going to have to do better than that if you want to tap this again."
The footsteps come to a halt with loud squeak. Curious, Tom starts to turn his head. "Chris? Wha-AHHMMMPH!!"
Before he can turn his head all the way, a hand grabs his hair and viciously yanks him backward into a solid chest. Then that hand lets go to grapple one of his wrists and cruelly twist his arm behind his back. His cry of pain is cut off by another hand firmly clamping over his nose and mouth with a strange smelling cloth.
He tries fighting it off with his other arm, but his captured arm is twisted to a painfully unnatural angle. His legs kick out, and he gasps which provokes the hand over his nose and mouth to press more insistently against his face.
Whatever he is being forced to inhale starts to take effect as his vision begins to go fuzzy at the edges. In a fit of desperation, he goes completely limp.
Jerry relaxes the instant he feels Loki go boneless in his grasp. He lets out a long sigh of relief and releases the god so he can swipe at his forehead. The layer of perspiration he wipes away is a testament to the nervousness and fear he felt, but it succeeded beyond his wildest dreams.
"I can't believe that actually worked," he mutters.
With a burst of speed, Loki rolls over and tries to scramble away. Fortunately, the chloroform has done its job as the trickster’s footing stumbles, and he has to reach out to the wall to steady himself.
Jerry staggers to his own feet and leaps at Loki. He slams him up against the wall, and Loki’s head knocks into it with a solid ‘thwack’. Seeing the unfocused look in his eyes, Jerry grasps his shoulders and throws him down to the floor taking joy in the way he face-plants into the cement.
Loki’s arms tremble at the effort of trying to rise and make another run for it. Jerry puts a stop to that by plopping all 200+ pounds of his weight on to the man’s hips. The dishwasher straddles him and elbows him between the shoulder blades.
Something akin to a sob escapes the god’s mouth, but any more noises he would make are silenced as Jerry yanks his head back his slick black hair and presses the cloth to his face once again. This time when the trickster goes limp, Jerry keeps the rag in place a while longer just for good measure.
Getting up, he takes the note from his pocket and tosses it to the ground along with the rag. Wiping his palms down his front, he looks at the unconscious body with satisfaction. He feels as if everything is lining up perfectly. He kicks Loki in the side so that he is lying face up. The action draws a groan from the god, but he remains unconscious otherwise.
"Won't fool me again, bastard," grits out Jerry with a self-satisfied smile. Bending down, he drags Loki off.
Chris bursts through the door both harried and out of breath with an apology on his tongue. "I'm sorry I was late again! My wakeup call never came and when I woke up-"
He stops upon seeing no sign of Tom. His eyebrows scrunch together at this unusual turn of events, and he turns his head from side to side in search of his co-star. "Tom? Tooooom? TOM!!"
The garage remains silent, and all he can do is wait. Shuffling around in hopes of catching sight of the Brit (he hopes Tom is just hiding behind a car in some attempt at vengeance for the ass slap), he sees a rag on the floor and picks it up with the intent of properly discarding it. Something flutters from its folds, and Chris bends to pick that up as well.
Strangely enough, the little triangular symbol from the movie is drawn on it. Attention fully drawn, he opens it up and reads its contents. Then all the color leaves his face. Never before had two sentences managed to trigger so many alarm bells.
Don't worry. I'm going to fix him for you.
-A concerned citizen
The note crumples as his fist clenches around it. Dread fills his stomach, and he views the rag in his hand as if it were a poisonous snake. Cautiously sniffing it, his nose crinkles as the odor wafts into his nostrils. Whipping his head around, he calls out again in the hopes that this is just a very sick joke. With no response, he races back into the hotel with both items clutched firmly in hand.
Movies the Avengers cast has been in:
Chris Evans and Scarlett Johansson: Perfect Score and The Nanny Diaries
Robert Downey Jr and Mark Ruffalo: Zodiac
Samuel L. Jackson and Jeremy Renner: S.W.A.T
Samuel L. Jackson and Scarlett Johansson: The Spirit
Chapter 4: Nasty Discoveries
Chris finds out what happened to Tom, and some of the hotel staff is introduced and re-introduced.
Chris' clenched fist creates a resounding ‘thud’ as it pounds down on the solid security desk. So wrapped up in his anger, he does not even flinch from the impact. Robert does though.
While pacing around in a frantic, panicked state, Chris remained unaware of the older actor’s presence until he had practically bowled him over. Robert tried making a joke about Chris’ Mac Truck build needing to be more aware of its surroundings, but the barb seemed to die on his tongue when taking a good look at the worry radiating off of Chris. When he asked about his frenzied manner, Chris tensely tells him about Tom’s no-show and also shows him the rag and the note. Robert is quick to mention they visit hotel security, and here they are now.
And they’ve already encountered an obstacle.
"What do you MEAN I'm not authorized to view the security tapes?!" growls Chris. He is distantly aware of how he must look right now (he saw the paparazzi picture of his ‘infamous’ brawl) as he feels every muscle in his body tense up, and he instinctively poises so as to accentuate his imposing height. Every inch of him is ready to attack, but the target is still undefined.
The female officer tenses at his little display, and her eyes widen for a moment, but otherwise her professional mask slips back on. Despite the polite smile, she stares him down with unyielding eyes and says, "I'm sorry, sir, but we're not in the practice of letting patrons watch security tapes without either a justifiable cause or police authorization."
Chris wants to yell about this definitely being an urgent matter. He just knows that something bad has happened. He just needs solid evidence to confirm such suspicions. He briefly entertains the thought of punching a hole in the desk, but then the hand on his shoulder snaps him from such violent intentions.
"Easy there, buddy," Robert mutters. "You're not going to get what you want by throwing a tantrum. It’s not going to help anyone at all."
His initial reaction to this piece of advice is to lash out and tell Robert to stuff it. Then reason whispers in his mind to think about Tom, and he deflates. He needs to keep his focus on solving the mystery of where Tom has gone rather than let his anger dictate his actions. His arm droops to hang limply at his side as guilt gnaws at him for getting so blinded.
Robert picks up on his mood and pats him on the back reassuringly. Then he steps up to the counter and turns his full attention (and all of his charm) to the woman behind the desk. Folding his arms on the counter, he leans his head in and momentarily glances at her name tag.
"Listen Miranda,” he says conspiratorially. “I apologize for my co-worker’s outburst, but he’s just very concerned about another friend of ours." He laces his fingers together and rests his head on his hands.
"I know, I know. ‘Why don't we just call him?’ Well, he’s not picking up. ‘Maybe he’s just dead asleep and acting like a tired asshole by not picking up.’ Believe me, this guy is the definition of a chipper, morning person. To a fault. I’m almost convinced he’s a robot sent from another planet trying to overtake us with kindness.”
Now he props just one elbow on the desk with his head planted on top. "We wish it were just a case of absentminded thoughtlessness, but that’s just not the case. He's a sensible guy, and this is out of character." He starts to dance the fingers of his other hand along the surface of the desk. "So we'd really just like to get some solid answers for our questions. Just help us out in that respect,” he requests as he watches the officer expectantly.
Chris’ jaw clenches as he awaits her answer. He doesn’t want to look at her now that the shame of his earlier reaction has overtaken him. The unnerving silence gets the better of him though, and he finally does look up at her.
She eyes the two warily before shooting a glance behind her shoulder at an unmarked door. Standing up, she closes her eyes, takes a slow inhale, and nods her consent. "Fine,” she agrees as she opens her eyes. “I'll let you check the time frame for when he was supposed to meet you, but it needs to be quick." It takes all of his willpower to not leap over the desk as Miranda waves them over to the door behind the desk.
They enter a room that contains dozens of monitors with various areas of the hotel displayed on each screen. Chris scans all of them in the hopes of catching a glimpse of Tom but with no such luck.
A male officer sits in front of the monitors, and he swivels around upon hearing the door open. His eyebrow rises critically at the sight of Robert and Chris entering.
Before he can question their presence, Miranda gives an order in an authoritative, don’t-ask-questions type of voice. "Dan, I need you to pull up footage of the parking garage from this morning."
He looks at the two actors questioningly as he asks, "You got a more particular time stamp and location?"
"Around 5 near the ground level door entrance," offers Chris immediately.
The officer looks to Miranda who gives him the go-ahead. He turns back to the monitors and types something into a keyboard before wheeling over to another monitor which had been blank the whole time. Chris steps towards the man's side and leans forward anxiously not caring about personal space. Miranda and Robert satisfy themselves by standing behind the two men.
The screen comes to life, and it’s just a long shot of an expanse of wall with a door at the far end of the screen. The door soon swings open, and a black and white image of Tom casually walks through it. The image stresses Chris out rather than provide him with relief. Knowing that he did show up now gives him cause to wonder why Tom wasn’t there when he finally showed up. To further intensify his stress, Tom keeps walking until he is no longer on the screen.
"Is there another angle we could use?" he asks anxiously. He’s got one hand clutched to the back of Dan’s chair and another braced against the desk to keep himself from shoving his face against the screen to examine every single second of footage.
"Sorry, this ain't CSI. It's the only we've got."
Before Chris can bombard Dan with more questions, another person shows up on the monitor. It’s a broad, bulky looking man, but his face was is obscured by sunglasses and a hoodie that is drawn over his head. Rather then let the door close on its own, the mystery man appears to ease it slowly back into its frame. Then he presses himself against the wall and pulls a bottle and a piece of cloth from his pockets. He peers around the little alcove and then pours the bottle into the cloth. Easing around the corner, he takes slow and steady steps towards the same direction Tom had gone in. Right before disappearing off-screen, the man freezes and then unexpectedly rushes out of sight.
Nothing occurs for the next few seconds, and Robert seems like he’s going to make a comment to lighten the awkward mood. Chris stares intently at the screen and is determined to ignore both his co-star and Miranda, who is ready to usher the two men out of the room.
Then there is a sharp intake of breath, and someone is muttering, "Oh my GOD!"
All four pairs of eyes watch in amazement as Tom is thrown back on to the screen. Chris flinches as he helplessly watches Tom meet the ground face first. His fists clench in outrage as the mystery man first elbows him in the back and then yanks his hair back to shove the cloth over Tom’s face.
Silence reigns as Tom goes unconscious, and the assailant continues to abuse him. Then the man drops the rag and the note and drags Tom off-screen. They continue to stare at the screen in shock. The two hotel employees look absolutely dumbfounded. Robert has been shocked into speechlessness (a rare feat). Chris’ jaw clenches together so hard he feels as if his teeth will shatter. His anger and concern mix together to create something nearly palpable.
Gary watches each and every dish, platter, and utensil emerge from the machine with an air of apathy. Good for big, old Jerry that he takes the job so seriously, but Gary just agonizes over the seconds until his shift is over. Though, it was sort of fascinating to watch Jerry meticulously check everything for spots. Fascinating if not a bit unsettling.
Ray bursts into the room with an excitable air not becoming of the overly humid atmosphere. Once again, he ignores every other worker in the room to make a beeline for Gary.
"Dude! There's something brewing on that movie set!” he exclaims with a wave of his hands.
“Like they finally started filming?” replies Gary in a bored tone.
“No, like some sort of drama stuff that magazines would eat up. I mean, there’s some weird hubbub over at security, and considering this place is dead for the most place, it has got to be something connected to that movie.”
Gary shrugs noncommittally. "Probably some actor going all diva or feuding or something."
Ray reaches up to shake Gary by the shoulders. "Come on, dude! Think outside the box!" Gary shrugs him off, and Ray sighs in disappointment. "Whole lot of fun you are. I might as well have talked to the brick wall over there." Ray points over to the sinks where a plump girl is spraying it down.
Gary looks over to where’s pointing. “You don’t even know Tina.”
Ray looks over and does a double take at not seeing Jerry. "Whoa! Where’s the big guy?"
Gary shrugs again. "Hell if I know. Probably on sick leave."
My adolescent obsession with CBS procedural fanfic had some influence on this chapter.
Chapter 5: Dead Ends
Tom finds out what he has to do in order to be released. Chris encounters problems from the police and the studio.
Awareness slowly edges into the corners of Tom’s mind as consciousness descends upon him. He moans and flinches at all of the tightness and pinching he feels. Before he can register these sensations, ice cold water surges over his face and bare body.
His eyes fly open, and he lurches forward in shock. His momentum halts suddenly at a tight pull stemming from his waist. The large intake of air he inhales burns as the majority of it must be sucked in through his nostrils. Sucking air through his nose at the moment is a trying process. His cry of outrage is muffled due to the cloth shoved into his mouth. Any attempt to move it would be useless as his arms are pinioned to his side, and his hands tied behind his back.
"Agh!” exclaims a voice. “I thought that would work!"
Tom's head snaps in the direction of the voice. Standing right in front of him is a mountain of a man with a shaved. One hand idly holds on to the bucket whose contents had just been dumped on Tom while the other hand strokes the mystery man’s chin. "It probably wasn't cold enough," he mutters more to himself than to Tom.
The actor fidgets under his kidnapper’s gaze which makes him feel like some sort of science experiment. After an awkward silence wherein nothing happens, the man sighs in disappointment. Shaking his head, he tosses the bucket aside he before crouching down to Tom's eye level. The shiver which travels through his body is not just from the bucket of cold water and lack of clothing save his briefs.
"You’re probably wondering why you’re here,” he grumbles.
Tom nods his head fervently and makes a noise of agreement. Then that noise turned into a squeal of surprise as the man grabs him by the throat and pulls his head forward.
“Well I don’t really think you deserve an answer,” snaps the man in a low growl. “Just know that I'm trying to do you a favor. I overcame my initial desire to just choke the life out of you,” Tom’s leg flails out in panic as that grip momentarily tightens, “and burn the corpse. Instead, I’m going to help you work through your issues."
Tom's noise of confusion prompts the man to keep explaining with a roll of the eyes. "The self-loathing act is getting old,” he spits as he thrusts Tom’s head back. “Accept your Jotun nature, and we can move from there."
Tom nearly chokes on his gag in his stupor. He scrambles backwards to press himself against a wall.
Misinterpreting Tom’s reaction, the kidnapper sighs in exasperation. “This will only be as difficult as you’re willing to make it. I’m not releasing you until we make a decent breakthrough, and you’ve probably guessed by now that I’ve suppressed your magic.”
The man pinches Tom’s arm with his short, blunt nails, and the Brit cries out at the treatment while futilely trying to pull away. “So start out by wearing your natural skin.” He lets go, and Tom has no doubt that the skin is now paler than usual before it turns an unseemly red. The man slowly stands up and brushes perceived dirt from his knees.
“I guess I might as well tell you that the ultimate goal is to get you to stop weaving whatever lust spell you have over Thor. It’s disgusting the way you cavort about him and get him to respond in turn, and I bet it all stems from your lousy self-esteem issues. So see this whole process as a two birds, one stone thing. You won’t be blurring anymore lines when I’m done with you.”
Tom’s eyes widen, and he watches as the man departs with those final words. The only sounds he hears afterwards are the drumming of his own heart and the air that he sucks into his nose.
“And how do you know this man is responsible?” The cop who asks this question peers at Chris with a world of doubt in her expression.
Chris slowly huffs and tries to reign in his frustration. “He’s got about the same build as the guy in the tape.”
An eyebrow rises with skepticism. “And that’s it?”
“You don’t know what it was like talking to him. It was unsettling, and he outright threatened Tom!”
The officer consults her notepad before looking back up at the actor. “According to you, he threatened your brother, and as far as I know, Mr. Hiddleston is not your brother.”
Chris wants to pull out his hair clump by clump right now. “But he plays my brother in the film,” he elaborates slowly.
The cop’s partner shakes his head from side to side. “I’m sorry, sir, but it’s highly unlikely that the motive for the kidnapping would be anything but monetary based.”
“But you saw for yourself how that maniac manhandled him! What good is a kidnapping if you injure the person you’ve taken?” his voice rises frantically.
“Intimidation tactic,” answers the female cop. “He’s shown you what he can do so that you’ll pay him in hopes of no more harm coming to the abducted.”
“Then where’s the ransom note?” reasons Chris. He feels there is more to this than a simple ransom demand.
“You’ll probably just have to sit tight and wait for it,” responds the female officer. Before Chris can protest further, she continues on to ask, “Is there anything else you can tell us, Mr. Hemsworth?”
Chris’ jaw snaps shut as he detects the hint of annoyance in her tone. Trying his best to calm down, he mulls over what else he can provide them with. He had already recounted his discovery of the chloroform soaked rag and the note. As an addendum, he had tried to tell them about his encounter with the super-fan, but they obviously were not interested in those details. He tersely shakes his head from side to side even as something niggles him in the back of his mind.
She sighs and snaps her notepad closed. “All right. Thank you for your assistance, and we will be on the case. We will contact you in case of any further developments or needed information.”
Chris merely nods his head because he can’t really bring himself to thank them back. He knows with a note written in block letters, a suspect with an unidentifiable face, and a refusal to consider his description of the over-eager fan that he can’t expect much help from them.
The two officers leave, and he feels himself nowhere near calming down. He almost has half a mind to drive down to the police station and insist on getting a sketch artist to draw his description of the fan. Then he hears a rap on the doors to the conference room, and some scrawny intern strolls in without an introduction.
“Mr. Hemsworth? I’ve been ordered by Mr. Feige and other executives to inform the cast that they are to remain in the hotel until further notice. Filming has been delayed and in regards to the incident concerning Mr. Hiddleston, after your statements to the police, you are to remain uninvolved in the situation.”
An eye twitch is the only warning the intern gets as to Chris’ snapped restraint. The young actor finally gets to fulfill his desire to punch a hole through something, and when the intern escapes from the room, he is a blubbering, sobbing mess with breathing comparable to an asthmatic.
The section with the police is completely new from the LJ version.
I've never run into law enforcement, so I don't know if they'd be so dismissive of Chris' claims. You do hear tales of incompetency and indifference every so often.
Chapter 6: Feelings and Reason
Chris and Chris talk. Tom susses out the extent to which he is trapped.
"Jesus Christ," whispers Chris Evans weakly as Robert finishes his account of what he had seen on the security tapes that morning. Evans stares at the older actor with a look devoid of comprehension before turning his head towards the closed doors of the now blocked off conference room. Now the orders from the studio as well as his fellow Chris’ flare-up make a lot more sense.
"You're telling me," Robert murmurs as he glances to the far side of the hallway where Hemsworth was seated. The Australia paints an abject picture slumped over with his head buried in his hands. The anger which had fueled his rampage in the conference room had burnt up and given way to this sad shell.
Evans also looks at Hemsworth with a frown. "He's really taking this personally, isn't he? I mean, he hasn't even bothered changing since, uhh..."
"Some psycho kidnapped Tom," finishes Robert.
Evans swallows at the blunt explanation. "Yeah. Since that..." He continues to stare at his co-star, and determination fills his core. He takes a step in his direction only for Robert to stop him.
"Just leave him alone," he instructs.
Robert shakes his head. "Give him some room right now. You saw that poor intern. Hemsworth’s got all these emotions broiling under the surface, and we don't need to go provoking them right now.”
Evans lips purse, and he pulls away from the older actor. He hears Robert sigh and mutter something like, “Your funeral.”
Approaching the other Chris, he thinks it’s best to keep physical contact to a minimum and settles for clearing his throat. Hemsworth doesn’t stir. “So, uh, how’s it holding up?”
“I don’t know if you noticed, mate, but I’m not the best person to be around right now,” dejectedly responds the Aussie.
“I’ve, uh, noticed that.” He tries a laugh, but it sounds painfully forced even to his own ears. The silence that lapses between them is awkward, and he decides to just go ahead with what he wanted to say.“But I just thought I should come over to let you know that you shouldn’t blame yourself.”
Hemsworth’s head snaps up at this, and Chris is taken aback by how bloodshot his eyes are. The younger actor’s jaw tenses up before he finally asks in a throaty whisper, “But what if it is my fault?”
His confusion clearly shows through as Hemsworth gulps before explaining himself.
“If-If I had just shown up on time for once then that loon would have never been able to grab him. Hell, if I’d just shown up five goddamn minutes late then I would have gotten there in time to beat the asshole’s face in myself!” He bangs his fist into the side of the chair and barely flinches at the sound his knuckles make against the material.
“Don’t do that to yourself,” gently chides Evans. “Don’t live in a world of ‘what if’ and ‘maybe’ because that’s a slippery slope. So what if you had shown up? Maybe the guy would’ve taken the both of you. Or maybe he would’ve seriously injured one of you or worse.”
“No,” says the Aussie sharply. “He was only interested in Tom and claims he’s going to ‘fix’ him which is complete bull because there is nothing to fix. Tom’s witty and clever, polite to a fault, enthusiastic about every goddamn thing under the sun. He’s so damn genuine, and… and…” He stammers off to stare at the wall opposite.
“You care about him a lot, don’t you,” asks Chris softly.
Hemsworth only nods his head ever so slowly and drags a hand down his face. He tips his his head back and suddenly lets out a low laugh uncharacteristically laced with much bitterness. “And I thought Tom’s fans were frightening. Jesus Christ,” he curses and punctuates it by banging his head backwards against the wall twice.
“How—What makes you think this was a fan?”
Hemsworth straightens up and looks at him darkly though Chris knows the intent of the expression is not aimed at him specifically. “You really care to listen to a ‘theory’ that the police don’t want to bother themselves with?”
“I’m all ears.”
The Aussie sighs. “It’s just this guy I met the other day. Real big guy as well as a big fan. Stood there speechless for awhile, and I wondered when he was finally going to ask for an autograph or a picture or whatever it is that fans would like. Then he finally speaks up, and what he offers is to scrub my ‘brother’ out. Like we were in a Scorsese film or something!”
Evans’ mouth works itself open and closed in wonder. “That is extremely unsettling. I don’t think I’d even want to be a fly on the wall of that conversation.”
Hemsworth makes a noise of assent before his hold body suddenly goes rigid. Then his eyes go wide, and he bolts upright from his seat and claps a sturdy hand to Evans’ shoulder. “You’re bloody brilliant, mate!”
The Australian actor races off to god knows where, and Evans has half a mind to give chase but knows from the expression on the other Chris’ face that he’s dead set on a certain objective and to get in the way would be folly.
Tom grunts and pulls as hard as he can until the pressure from the chain encircling his waist becomes too much. His body goes boneless, and he slumps forward in growing irritation. His bound hands grasp backwards for the metal tether, and he fruitlessly yanks on it. Getting another idea, he repositions himself on his back, braces both legs against the wall, and tugs as hard as he can. Nothing gives, and he simultaneously kicks at the wall and bangs his head against the floor in sheer frustration.
He has had enough time since his captor’s departure to assess his situation. Observing his surroundings, he determines he is being held in a garage judging by the car-shaped tarp across the room from him. Also within sight is a wall of various tools that taunt him with their very existence. Filling up the rest of the room from what he can see are two dusty filing cabinets. Light dimly filters through a dirty window far above his head. A single bare bulb hangs from the ceiling.
Attempting to call for help proves fruitless thanks to the wad of cloth tied into his mouth. The noises emanating from his mouth were barely audible much less recognizable as human. Shivers wrack his body as the only garment left on his person is his briefs. This also means he gets to feel every chafe of the ropes and pinch of the metal binding him. His legs may be unbound, but the length of the chain around his waist leading to an exposed pipe in the ground ensures limited mobility.
All that’s left for him to do is think. If this had been a standard kidnapping (strange to think of a kidnapping as “standard”), he would have tried reasoning with his captor. In the case of that failing, he would have told that person who to contact for ransom. Then when he was returned, he would describe his kidnapper in detail and see that person through to trial.
But this was far from standard. This was taking the inability to differentiate between him and his character too far. Having children stare at him in awe was one thing, but this was insane.
For a fleeting second, he thought that if he could just dislodge the gag then he could convince his kidnapper to let him go. He would just slip into Loki and see how well he could spin his own lies. Then his captor plucks that possibility from his hands with the plan to turn Tom’s skin blue. Not exactly the plans of a sane person.
Which was why one of his observations caught Tom off guard. It was embarrassing that his attempts to hide his crush on his fellow castmate could be picked up on by a complete outsider. But then the man implied that Chris supposedly returned the feelings, and Tom’s heart leapt. Then he got a hold of himself by remembering that this man was crazy and was probably reading too much into camaraderie and friendly gestures. And yet…
Tom bangs his head against the floor again. Now was not the time to be wondering if Chris reciprocated his feelings. He needs to escape. That is the priority. With renewed conviction, he starts to carefully finger the chains in hope of finding a weak link.
This was originally going to be a much longer chapter but then I was taking so long to edit the second half and realized the first half worked fine on its own.
The conversation with Chris Evans is completely new.
Chapter 7: Shock Treatment
Chris gets a lead, and Tom suffers.
The chapter where the warning for Toruture finally comes into play.
Miranda sighs from behind the security desk but maintains a calm composure. "I'm sorry, but we have been informed by your bosses via my own boss to not allow any of you to watch the footage again. It is the police’s hands now and is highly disturbing in nature as you already know.” She leans forward and peers around to check that the coast is clear and says her next words in a low tone. “It’s a miracle I didn’t get into any trouble for letting a guest into the surveillance room, so I’m going to ask you to please just leave it. I don't know what good you’d get out of watching it again. You're just beating yourself up at this point, sir." She met Chris' determined gaze with a steely one of her own, and he dips his head in submission.
He takes a breath to compose himself and lifts his head to look at her pleadingly. "The police aren’t taking my claims seriously, but I think I can turn them around with an actual picture of the guy. Just let me point him out, and I swear I’ll be out of your hair."
The stern look on her face remains unwavering. “I’m sorry, but I can’t allow it. Do you know the amount of trouble--"
“Don’t talk to me about trouble,” interrupts Chris, “when someone I care about is right in the middle of harm’s way! I’m begging you! If we get caught, I’ll take the fall. Say that I snuck in or forced the lock or something!” He realizes belatedly that he is leaning against the desk. He backs up with both hands raised in a show of surrender.
The officer’s eyes widen at his plea and then narrow as if considering the idea. “You do realize that with the push of a button I could get a team of people trained to deal with difficult guests to come down and escort you and make sure that you never come within a 50 foot radius of this desk for the duration of your stay, right?”
“And you have to realize that I wouldn’t let something like a restraining order stop me from continuing to try and find a way to help my friend,” replies Chris.
She takes a deep breath and rubs at her forehead. “I can’t believe I’m actually doing this again,” she mutters. She unenthusiastically waves him over. “Fine! Okay. Just- You know the deal."
Just as before, Dan sits inside with all of the monitors. This watches with a scrutinizing intensity and barely gives a glance to the new occupants of the room. But when he does glance, he ends up doing a double-take.
“What’s he doing—“
"He’s determined to look at who he thinks is the suspect." The man clicks his tongue disapprovingly, and his eyebrows rise up skeptically. “Just humor him.”
Chris opens his mouth to object, but she raises a finger to him despite how much shorter she is than him. “Don’t forget. Team of people. Restraining order.” She turns back to Dan. “Just do it.”
Dan looks between the wall of monitors and the two of them before pointing at Miranda. “I’m gonna need you to sit here and watch these then.”
She walks over in compliance while the male employee wheels over to the blank monitor. He gestures with his head at Chris. "Come on. Let's do this."
Once more, Dan enters the necessary numbers according to Chris’ calculations. This time a certain section of the lobby shows up as the screen comes to life. Chris walks briskly across the room when he suddenly stops to turn towards another man who is approaching him. Only the back of the bulky figure can be seen as he approaches the actor, but the sight of the man prickles Chris’ skin.
Chris watches in anticipation hoping the other man will turn his head. No such thing happens, but something tells Chris there is something else about the man turning around that would help his investigation. Soon enough, he walks off-screen, and the other man stands in the same spot for a few moments before following.
Dan pauses the tape and swivels to face Chris. "And there you have it. Nothing."
Chris continues to stare at the screen. "What if we tried another room?”
Dan stares at the actor in disbelief. “I’m sorry but what’s the point. Nothing happened.”
"Just do it," orders Miranda. “We’re never going to hear the end of it otherwise.”
Dan rolls his eyes and shrugs his shoulders in defeat. “What room did you have in mind?”
"Could you pull up footage of the parking garage from the same day and just about three or four minutes after this recording?"
The man types in the necessary information, and the familiar sight of the garage pops up. As if right on cue, the door opens slowly as Chris eases out. He closes the doors slowly and peers around the corner to look at something. Then he walks out and rushes off screen with an impish sort of gait.
They continue to watch as the door opens again to reveal a large man with a shaved head. Dan immediately freezes it and whistles. Chris soaks in his features and feels a mixture of triumph and dread well up within him. He now has a clear face of the kidnapper but is really no closer to knowing where Tom is.
"Well goddamn. The guy’s practically a dead ringer in terms of his build. Sheesh. Givin’ me the heebie-jeebies, and I’m just sittin’ here."
"Oh, God!" suddenly exclaims Miranda. The two men turn and see her staring back at the monitor in shock. "I-I-I've seen that guy before! I swear to god he works here!"
Chris whips back around to the screen and stabs a finger at the black and white figure. "Got you, asshole."
Tom freezes in place as he hears the door creak open. Lifting his head, he sees the silhouette of his kidnapper stooping over as he drags what appears to be a small tub into the room. The man stands and pulls on the light above his head which confirms the identity of the object.
Tom blinks in confusion at the metal tub. Water sloshes over the edges as his captor finishes moving it. He walks back out again only to reappear with two large bags of ice.
Pulling a switchblade from his back pocket, he flicks the blade out, and cuts the bags open. Then he upends the bags over the water, and Tom involuntarily shivers as he watches every block fall into the filled tub.
After this is done the man comes towards him, and Tom scrambles sideways to get away but is stopped by the chain. To his surprise, the man actually kneels on the floor to where the length of the chain feeds in to and pulls out a key. Recognizing an opportunity, Tom repositions himself.
Feeling the pressure leading from his waist lessen, Tom quickly throws himself forward and rolls on to his back. When the man reaches down to him, Tom leans back on the upper part of his body and kicks up as hard as he can. He manages to land a blow to man’s stomach which has him bowling over with a groan. His next kick connects with his captor’s face, and he both feels and hears something crunch.
With a cry, the man clutches his face with both hands and stumbles backwards. Tom’s foot comes back bloody, and he rolls over to get farther away. He manages to sit up and maneuvers himself on to his knees. Getting on to his legs without the use of his arms proves to be difficult, but he does manage it with grunts of exertion.
He takes a deep breath in disbelief and can barely believe he is so close to making it out of here. Just as he takes his first step, he gets roughly yanked back by the tether around his waist and stumbles back on to his backside. His head hits the floor, and he bites down on his gag as a burst of white explodes in his vision.
Fighting it off, he tries to spin around to fend his kidnapper off again. A heavy hand holds one leg down , but he tries to strike out with his other leg. He hears a crackling noise before something shoves into his inner thigh. At first, all he feels is a slight sting, and then his whole body locks up as a current flows through him. He bites down on the cloth between his teeth as he loses control of his body.
Jerry takes delight in watching Loki convulse at his feet. The noises escaping from the god’s mouth would be disconcerting coming from anyone else, but seeing as what he had just done Jerry finds it music to his ears.
He touches his nose gingerly and hisses at the contact. The blood is thick and red on his fingers, and his eyes switch between that and Loki who is now twitching on the floor. His eyebrows furrow together the longer he stares at the sight of his bloody hand.
He preps his taser and kneels beside the god. His breathing is still erratic as Jerry digs his weapon into Loki’s stomach and pulls the trigger. This time his back arches up off the floor, and his eyes squeeze shut as he whines pitifully. When his body slumps, his long legs kick across the floor after nothing in particular.
Watching the very legs which had surely broken his nose irritates Jerry. It also occurs to him that it was dumb to leave them unbound. But then just watching them move about so freely inspires anger in him. Without another thought, he lifts his boot-clad foot and stomps down on Loki’s ankle.
The reaction is immediate. The god’s eyes fly open as his back arches again. His cry of pain is effectively muffled by the gag. Jerry feels him squirming from beneath his boot, and he does not hesitate to lift his foot and repeat the process twice. The third time he grinds down and puts all his weight into it until he feels something crunch. A small pitiful noise comes from Loki’s mouth, and Jerry disinterestedly watches as a tear trickles out of the corner of his eye.
Walking over to one of the filing cabinets, he exchanges his now used up taser for a roll of duct tape. Stretching out a long strip, he kneels by the shaking god and proceeds to wrap his ankles with the stuff. He doesn’t bother to be careful about the ankle he has just injured and squeezes it viciously every time Loki tries to jerk out of his grasp.
"It was stupid of me to forget about your fighting capabilities," admits Jerry as he rips the tape and starts the same process around the god’s knees. "But at least it wasn’t as bad as it could have been if you’d been at your full strength." He touches his nose again and finds the flow of blood to still be just as thick which provokes a sigh of frustration from him.
"But that's enough distractions," mutters Jerry. "Time to show you what I’ve got planned for you."
Loki watches him with watery eyes and still tries to squirm away from him. Jerry kicks the other being into the prone position, grabs the chain leading from his waist, and drags him to the metal tub. Grabbing a fistful of hair, he yanks him up and positions him into a kneeling position right in front of the tub.
Predicting what was about to happen next, the god vigorously shakes his head as much as he can and protests with muffled whines. He tries to plead with his eyes as if that will appease Jerry.
The hotel employee tangles his fingers further into the dark tresses of hair and tugs. "Unless you want me to combine this nice ice bath with some shock therapy then I suggest you stop struggling," hisses Jerry.
Loki goes still, and Jerry immediately plunges his head into the water and holds it there. Air bubbles immediately populate the surface, and he needs to use both hands as the god thrashes beneath him. He yanks him back up, and Loki’s nostrils flare as he takes in deep breathes. Jerry observes him to see if there is any change in skin tone before dunking his head under again. He holds him under longer this time before pulling him back up. Again there is no visible change, and so Jerry repeats the process over and over again making sure to hold him down longer each time.
The god’s breathing is labored with each trip until he finally passes out. Jerry snorts at the pathetic display but figures that he should stop if only because his aim isn’t to kill….at least not yet. He drums his fingers against the edge of the tub and stares at the icy water that he doesn’t want going to waste. Then another idea strikes him.
Walking over to another one of the filing cabinets, he pulls out another length of chain and two padlocks. He locks one end around Loki’s ankles and pulls them so they bend tautly behind his back and locks the other end tightly around his elbows. The god winces but does not awaken which is fine by Jerry. Then he hoists Loki up and maneuvers him into the tub upside down.
Water spills over the sides with the new occupant, and his knees move about violently as the shock has no doubt awoken him. Jerry puts his hand in the water and feels for the trickster’s head. He grabs a fistful of hair and yanks Loki up that way. The god momentarily chokes and splutters as he makes contact with the air again, but Jerry still doesn’t bother to remove the gag.
Loki doesn’t fit perfectly into the tub even with his legs bent behind him. Jerry positions his head to hang out so that there is some sort of room for the majority of his body. Bracing against the tube, he leans into the god’s face.
“The baptism route’s not working so I figure I’ll let you have a nice long soak. Enjoy it while I go fix this,” he gestures at his nose before marching out of the room and slamming the door behind him.
Tom tries to get his breathing under control but is shivering too much for that to be possible. He starts to move from side to side and tries to push away the pain which comes with such a movement. The tub starts to rock with his swaying and with a final push, he topples on to the floor as he tilts the container on its side. Icy water and chunks of ice spill on to him, but he figures its better than taking the impromptu bath for who knows how long.
He tries wiggling towards the door but stops as the pain really is too much at this point. It is still a sharp vicious thing instead of bearable dull throb. His further bondage also makes mobility near impossible.
He presses his forehead to the floor, squeezes his eyes shut, and fervently prays for this all to be over.
Fun story process note: I originally thought of using a shock collar before scrapping that and simplifying it down to a taser. The idea for the ice cold water torture came about when my gas got shut off, and I had to take ice cold showers for two weeks.
Chapter 8: One Step Forward, One Step Back
Chris continues to find new leads as Tom continues to suffer through more agonies.
The chapter where Tom is still being tortured.
Jerry touches his nose again and winces at the pain which still resides in it. After he left the garage, he walked to the liquor store to buy some ice as he had used everything for Loki’s little bath. The clerk gave him a strange look and made a suggestion about going to the hospital, but Jerry waved him off.
On the walk back home, the bleeding stopped. Arriving back at his home, he iced his nose. He would periodically check on it and was pleased to see the swelling had reduced considerably. Breathing his nostrils was a little difficult, but it didn’t seem broken, and he could avoid a hospital visit.
Then he decided to take a nap as Loki’s transformation would probably require more time, and it had been a trying day for him.
When he awoke it was dark outside. He felt recharged and determined to see out the rest of Loki’s treatment.
Stepping inside, the sight before him leaves him momentarily frozen. Beneath the rays of the dim light bulb lays his overturned tub and a shivering, pale Loki. The god’s face is hidden from view, but Jerry clearly sees that his skin is still deathly white as opposed to the cerulean hue he was going for. Strangely enough, he also seems to be attempting to huddle together for warmth. The whole thing leaves him frustrated.
With measured steps that make splashing noise against the floor, he reaches down and grabs the chain still attached to Loki’s waist. He drags him back towards the pipe he had him affixed to, and this motion stirs the god as moans akin to a dying animal emanate from his mouth.
Tugging the chain to make sure he is securely fastened, he pulls the cloth down Loki’s neck and plucks out the other cloth stuffed into his mouth. Then he straightens up, rears back his foot, and kicks him dead on in the abdomen.
The god’s eyes clench shut as he cries out in pain. The sound just further fuels Jerry’s frustration.
"I. Don’t. Under. Stand." Loki’s cries punctuate every syllable as Jerry continues to deliver kicks into his body. "WHY HAVEN'T YOU CHANGED YET?!" This sentence ends with Loki’s scream as Jerry aims a kick right into his manhood.
The trickster tries to curl into himself and takes gasping breaths through his mouth rather than answer him. Dissatisfied at the lack of an immediate response, Jerry grabs the restraint around his ankles and pulls it up viciously. This produces another scream from the god as well as other tapering sounds of distress.
Jerry sighs, grips a handful of that jet black hair, and yanks it up so he is awkwardly half-lifted from the ground. "Answer me," he grits through clenched teeth right into Loki’s face.
Loki slowly opens his eyes, and Jerry is momentarily stricken by how watery they are. Really, the god just looks exhausted right now. "I’m n-n-not who you th-think I am. I’m an actor."
Jerry drops his head in disgust. "Of course you are! The best liars put on the best acts. That’s obvious."
The god adamantly shakes his head."No! You don’t understand! I’m not L-l-loki. My name is T-Tom Hiddleston. "
Jerry kneels in front of him and punches Loki’s stomach. His expression hardens. "If you're just going to mince words then it was pointless letting you talk."
Loki fervently continues to shake the head he has nestled into his chest. "No! I'm trying to m-make you realize what a horrible m-m-mistake you're making!" He lifts his head to level Jerry with a pleading gaze. "Please, if you let me go, I s-s-swear I won't tell anyone." He gulps.
In that moment, he realizes Loki’s eyes are indeed red. Not in the crimson Jotun sense he had been aiming for but red from crying. Looking closer, he spots the tear tracks on the god's face. It surprises him to have Loki looking at him with so much hope and desperation. He doesn’t believe this hogwash about him being an actor, but he does find himself feeling sorry for the god.
He mentally slaps himself for falling for his pretty lies even for a millisecond. Loki deserves this. For Thor’s sake, Jerry needs to continue on. This resolve is challenged as sincerity pours from Loki’s very being. His blue eyes implore him, and tendrils of his dark hair begin to curl as they plaster to his forehead…
Jerry violently shakes his head back and forth as if snapping out of a trance and stares in bewilderment at the little curling hairs. Anger courses through him, and he drives his fist into Loki's stomach again. This tears another ragged sob from the god’s mouth, but Jerry’s past caring at this point.
"You goddamn LIAR! Why did I even bother letting you speak?! Did you think you could trick me into letting you go?"
Before he can protest, Jerry roughly shoves the wadded cloth back into Loki’s mouth. He drags the material dangling around his neck back into his mouth to hold the wad in place and then grasps the traitorous clumps of hair. Terror is reflected in Loki's eyes as he follows the movement.
"You," grunts Jerry, "are slipping." Without further ado, he rips the hairs from his head. Pieces of Loki's manage to make it past the gag, and he knocks his head against the wall in his instinctive jerk backwards. Jerry waves the strand of curly hair in front of its owner's face.
"You’re getting sloppy in your desperation." He knocks the god on to his back and straddles him at the hips. He thrusts down to put extra weight on his injured ankle and smiles grimly at the whimper it produces. Loki squirms under the pressure, but Jerry has no plans to alleviate him of pain anytime soon.
He pulls his switchblade from his pocket and waves it in front of the captured god’s face. Loki’s eyes widen as he follows its movement, and his jaw clenches as the blade pops out. Jerry slowly traces the point around his navel, and Loki tries bucking up again to displace him. Jerry slaps him across the face and places his arm against his collarbone to hold him still.
Whining noises leave Loki’s throat as he inhales rapidly and tenses up. Jerry revels at how the knife rises and falls in synch with the god’s breathing.
“But at least you’ve let me know that more wards are necessary.” He digs the tip of the blade into Loki's flesh.
Jeremy bursts into the suite with a confounded expression. Robert and Evans look up at his sudden entrance.
"What the hell is Chris' problem?" Evans' stupendous glare and Robert's look that practically screams ‘are you serious’ force Jeremy to add, "I mean besides the psychotic kidnapper. Guy was about ready to throw me through a window after I just said, 'Hey!'"
Robert shrugs. "Can't say I blame him." Now it was his turn to be the recipient of incredulous stares. "I mean after all that stuff he pulled to find the bastard, he's still grounded and can't actually act on it. That and the police are still being unbelievably unhelpful."
Jeremy’s eyebrows rise, and he whistles his empathy. "Damn. Can't they at least look him up or something now that they've got a face?"
Robert counts off on his fingers. "One, we still don't know the guy's name. Two, we have no idea where he works because three, this place doesn't have picture ID for every workplace area."
"How about eliminating from the areas of the hotel that do have picture ID?" suggests Evans.
"This isn't some CBS procedural where they have face recognition scanners. And it doesn't help that the cops are being secretive about their ‘process’. This hotel employs over 300 people."
Jeremy whistles again and runs a hand through his hair. "Shit. It's a wonder Hemsworth isn't running around with a picture of the guy and holding it up to everyone's face."
"Speak of the devil," mutters Robert as Hemsworth slinks into the room. The three men quiet down as he enters. The Australian stands before Jeremy with a bowed head.
"I'm sorry that I lost it with you, mate. It was uncalled for." Hemsworth rubs the back of his neck and looks the picture of a reprimanded schoolboy. "I'm not really sure what came over me."
After minutes of stunned silence pass by, Jeremy sticks out his hand and firmly shakes the one Chris offers in return. "It's all good, man. I get it. You're worried out of your mind about Tom, and it seems like nothing's really happening unless you push it." He claps the taller man on the shoulder. "Just know that we're worried too, man, and we'll do what we can to help."
Chris stares at him for awhile before allowing a tired smile to crawl on to his face. He turns to the other two occupants of the room, and they nod in agreement. He allows himself a genuine smile. "Thank you. It means a lot."
"So..." began Evans. "What else have you found?"
Hemsworth sighs, and he rolls his head back. "All Miranda—“
"Girl at the security desk. Real gem", quickly explains Robert.
Chris nods and continues. “All Miranda would tell me was that she’s occasionally seen the guy around and that he's an employee, but she doesn't know where. Then she had to clock out, and seeing as I had probably wrung as much info from her as I could, I let her go.” His shoulders slump, and he leans against the wall. “So unfortunately, we're back at square one."
"So he could be anyone from the dishroom guy to the uh..." Robert snaps his fingers continuously in an effort to conjure up another random occupation.
Jeremy's head tilts to the side. "What makes you say dishroom?"
"Well some guy who worked there came up to me the other day. Big fan." Seeing he has piqued Hemsworth's interest, he add, "I doubt it was your guy. He didn't think I was a drunken billionaire genius philanthropist."
"And this proves he works in a dishroom because?” asks Jeremy as he wants to get to the point.
"Ah. Well he kept apologizing about his yellow rubber gloves and—“
Hemsworth straightens up with wide eyes and bolts from the room. The trio calls out to him, but he is deaf to their voices as he hurries away.
"Wonder what I said," muses Robert.
Chris could punch himself as he hurries down the stairs two steps at a time. All day long, he had been plagued by some detail which whispered at him to be remembered. Now that Robert has pointed it out, he clearly remembers the yellow gloves the man had nervously twisted in his hands when talking to Chris a few days ago.
Now he just needs to find this bastard and wrangle some answers from him.
Knowing that people at the front desk and the security office probably have him flagged, he heads for the bar. After all, there’s nothing suspicious about a stressed out actor getting a few drinks. That and the restaurants attached are closed for the evening.
There are only two other guys at the bar area as Chris takes a seat. The bartender makes her way over and raises her brows in a sign of readiness to accept his order. Rather than get a drink, Chris asks, “This is a really strange question but where’s your dishroom?”
Her brows certainly do raise in response, but she points vaguely behind her. “All our dining areas connect to a central one, but I’m afraid they’re closed for the night. We get to handle our own glasses unfortunately.”
Chris nods along. “And, uh, what time do they open?”
“The dishroom? Uh, I’d say some workers come in as early as four just to get all the machines running and to tackle any room service dishes.” She narrows her eyes at him as if trying to figure him out. “Why are you so curious, sir?”
“I’m looking for someone,” replies Chris as he slides forty dollars across the counter. “Thanks.”
Her eyes widen at the money. “No problem,” she says faintly as the bills quickly disappear into a pocket. “We’re open all night.” She tips her head with a slight smile.
Getting the hint, Chris sighs in relief and orders a soda. It’s going to be a long night.
Tom takes shuddering breaths as his kidnapper finally pulls away from him. He hears the clattering of the switchblade as it tossed to the ground.
Each incision burned. The man made no effort to be careful, and his cuts varied from quick slashes to precise carves. While on his back, marks had been sliced into his abdomen, shoulders, and thighs. Afterwards, he was rolled to his side where his arms and legs received the same treatment. It was an agonizing process which seemed to drag out for hours.
He grunts as the man kicks him to lie on his back again. Tom’s eyes drag open to find his captor still observing him.
"Hopefully that’ll work,” muses the man. "Obviously water’s not the way to go but maybe the opposite will work." He tilts his head to the side and strokes his chin in thought. Nodding to no one in particular, he straightens up and brushes his hands along the front of his pants.
Finally addressing Tom, he states, “But I’ll leave that for the morning. Until then, good night.”
The light is turned off, and Tom watches in horror as the man leaves him alone in the dark. As soon as the door closes, he once again tries tugging at his restraints but bites down as pain shoots throughout his body. Rather than tamper it down, he screams out as loud as he can. He continues to yell and shout and cry out in hopes that someone hears him. He keeps going even as he feels his voice crack inside of him. He fights through the pain to reposition himself on to his side and listens to the sound of his breathing as it echoes through the garage. Tom clenches his eyes shut in an attempt to fight the tears gathering at the corners.
It is a restless sleep he finally succumbs to.
I'm really flattered that many of you continue to wait for updates on this version when a pre-existing one exists.
Chapter 9: Lost and Found
Tom nearly reaches the end of his rop while Chris is more fired up than ever.
There comes a point as he sits alone in the booth that he drifts off to sleep. He doesn’t mean to, but the high emotions of the day have finally snuck up on him and cause him to pass out.
As he sleeps, he dreams, but it is far from soothing. He dreams of himself running continually in place and calling out Tom’s name. It’s dark all around him, and despair creeps up on him inch by inch as nothing changes. Then finally in the far distance, he can make out a figure lying on its side. He picks up the pace until he is full out sprinting. The figure gets more definable the closer he seems to get, and he makes it out to be Tom. He picks up the pace even more, but just as he reaches out to Tom, a shimmering, golden shield springs up between the two of them. He pounds and kicks against it, but it doesn’t give. He yells Tom’s name, and finally, Tom slowly rolls over to face him. The sight nearly has Chris recoiling. Though he appears fine, his eyes have lost their natural liveliness. Those blue eyes stare at him blankly with a chilling hollowness. The man on the other side of the barrier is a sad husk.
“All your fault,” slowly croaks Tom as he gazes emptily at Chris. The Aussie is rooted in place with dread and can only watch as Tom starts to sink into the darkness.
“NO!” he roars as he pushes away the all-encompassing terror and pounds his fists against the barrier. It finally gives way, and he frantically reaches forward to the spot Tom had sunk into and—
He jerks awake and looks around wildly to assess his surroundings. He sharply breathes in and out and observes that he’s still in the bar area. No one else is in the room, and he has been left largely undisturbed though what glasses were in front of him had been taken away long ago.
Scrubbing a hand down his face, he fumbles for his phone inside of his jacket pocket. Seeing the time, he curses and hurriedly rises from his seat.
"Dude! I've never see you so swamped in here."
Gary glares at Ray as he buries his arms into the filled sink. "Yeah, well Jerry hasn't shown up and as weird as he is, he is most definitely a thorough bastard. Almost better than the machine. I almost have half a mind to go knocking on his door to see what’s up."
Ray stares at his friend in confusion and tilts his head. "Who?"
The skinnier man groans. "Come on. You know. Real quiet big guy that’s just always there. My co-worker?"
A look of comprehension slowly dawns on Ray’s face. "Oh yeah! The brick wall."
“Why do you call him that?”
"Cause, dude, you might as well talk to one. I mean, at least you throw me a bone every once in awhile,” explains the stout employee. “Doesn’t help he’s also built like a shit house.”
Gary's mouth twitches upward, and Ray smiles at his accomplishment. “But speaking of houses, how do you know where he lives?”
“He gave him a ride once after our shift was over. Turns out he only lives a few blocks from me. It was real awkward though so I just stuck to taking the bus after that.”
Ray nods in agreement and is about to say something else when someone new bursts through the door. His jaw drops and his eyes nearly bug out of his head as Thor storms into the room. Sure, the guy is disheveled, dressed in a jacket and running shorts, and has his hair pulled back into a bun, but it’s undoubtedly the same actor who portrays the Nordic deity.
The actor sweeps the room with his electric blue eyes and slumps when he can’t find what he’s looking for. When he takes note of the two men, he takes determined steps towards them.
"Do you recognize this man?" he asks as he pulls out a folded up picture of a small black and white face which was fuzzy but could still be made out.
Gary blinks belatedly at the actor in shock before finally looking down at the picture. He continues to blink as he stares at the picture in surprise.
"Yeah," he finally responds, "that's Jerry. He's my co-worker."
During his restless sleep, random images race through his mind. None of it sticks save for the last one. There is nothing remarkable about it save for the peace it gives his weary mind. It is a very simple scene wherein he lounges in his set chair. Hemsworth suddenly shows up by his side all smiles and apologizes profusely for being late. The Aussie reaches out and holds his hand as if it is the most natural thing in the world. Tom holds that hand tighter and returns the smile with one of his own.
Chris gently pats his knee, brings his face closer, and—
Tom’s eyes snap open, and he takes a sharp breath through his nose. He looks around the garage and ascertains that while it’s still dark it is a shade lighter than the pitch black he had gotten accustomed to. Then the feeling of despair settles in as he realizes he was only dreaming, and no one is coming for him.
He takes a deep breath and tries yelling once more. His throat stutters out at the effort, and his cry for help eventually just dissolves into quiet crying.
Evans watches from his vantage point as Chris draws his hood tighter around his head and glances around cursorily before reaching for the handle of a car door.
“Chris!” he hisses, and Hemsworth whips around to face him. “What are you doing?”
The Aussie makes a gesture for the two men who are already seated in the car to please wait as he discreetly walks over to his co-star. “I’m going after the bastard that has Tom,” he explains in a low voice.
Evans glances over at the two employees, and his eyebrows move up in disbelief. “Without backup? At least call the police in on this one.”
“Why? They haven’t believed me before so they’re sure as hell not going to believe me now. I need to do this now.”
“At least let me come with you,” reasons Evans as he fingers the brim of his baseball cap.
Hemsworth decisively shakes his head. “I’m already burning my own ass by defying the studio’s orders. I don’t want to be responsible for burning yours as well.” He drops his gaze to the floor. “I don’t want to be the cause of anyone else getting hurt,” he murmurs.
Evans’ lips purse together. “I just want to help you, Chris.”
“Then cover for me,” states Hemsworth as he reestablishes eye contact.
Evans scrutinizes him for awhile before finally nodding his head. Hemsworth gives him a tight smile, claps him on the shoulder, and then hurries back into the passenger seat of the dingy powder blue car. Evans watches as the car backs out of its space and zooms out of the lot.
“Good luck,” he murmurs.
Chris cranes his neck and periodically clenches his fist as they pass by numerous little houses.
Ray clutches the wheel of his Nissan Stanza and can’t help but periodically glance over at the actor. Gary senses the other passenger’s anxiety. "We're almost there. It's about 3 blocks away," he comments from the back seat.
Chris nods at the piece of information. "Thanks again for the ride. You really didn’t have to. I’ll clear this up with your bosses when we get back."
Ray waves away the apology. "Don’t mention it. Beats washing dishes though, don’t it Gary?"
Chris turns around to other hotel employee. He shrugs. “I guess. Been meaning to look elsewhere anyway. I mean, that place is going to suck even more with Jerry gone.”
The actor tenses at the mention of the perpetrator and is about to say something when the car makes a sputtering noise. The car suddenly shudders to a stop. Ray tries revving up the engine, but it only makes a whining noise.
The Aussie unbuckles his seat belt and flings open the passenger door. "What's the address!?" Gary rattles it off to him in a stammer, and they both watch as the actor races down the sidewalk.
Ray turns back to Gary in astonishment. "Should we go with him?"
Gary shakes his head. "I think Jerry’s lost it, and Thor’s gonna rip him apart. I’m just gonna sit tight right here. You've got AAA, right?"
Ray bangs his head against the steering wheel in the face of this practicality.
The echo of Chris' feet slapping against the pavement are the only early morning noises besides the occasional chirping of a far-off bird. The only sound he hears though is the pounding of his own heart. He occasionally checks the address of each house as he runs.
He skids to a stop and pants heavily upon finally arriving at the house. Eyeing the structure, he decides going up to the front door and simply knocking isn’t the way to go. Seeing the long driveway which leads to the backyard, he cautiously walks down it for another way. The driveway leads to a separate and small garage, and Chris sidles to the side to stand in the backyard. Looking between the house and the garage, he walks over to the smaller structure figuring it will be the best place to find a tool in case he encounters Jerry.
He pushes the door open and gives his eyes time to adjust to the dark. When they do, he sees a car shaped tarp immediately to his left along with some filing cabinets. The wall to his left has miscellaneous tools hanging on the wall, and he spots others scattered on a workbench. As he stepped towards the tools, he throws an offhand glance in the other direction. Then he does a double take and momentarily freezes in place as his eyes widen.
Shivering and crouched on the ground in an uncomfortably awkward angle is Tom. The source of his shivering is from the fact he has been stripped of all his clothes save for his briefs. Chris rushes over to him and accidentally trips over a metal tub in the process. The sound of it scraping across the floor causes Tom’s eyes to slowly open.
Chris kneels by his side, and his voice practically cracks as he takes in the state of Tom’s body. A mixture of horror and anger swell within him at the sight of the strange cuts and absolute pallor of his skin. “What the hell has he done to you?”
Tom’s eyes widen in surprise as it finally seems to sink in that Chris is right in front of him. He blinks several times and tries to say something which is obscured by the cloth in his mouth. Chris quickly pries the gag off, and Tom spits out the one in his mouth.
“Chris, is that really you?” he rasps as Chris unzips his jacket and places it over him. The Aussie smiles at him shakily and nods as he checks over Tom’s bonds.
“In the flesh, mate,” he responds as he notices a discarded switchblade nearby. When he brings it up, Tom goes still at the sight of it and looks at it in terror. Remembering all the strange cuts marking Tom’s body, he slowly places it on the floor and cups a comforting hand around Tom’s neck. “I just want to cut you out of what I can, but I can also try my luck at untying you.”
Tom gulps and slowly shakes his head. “No, use it.”
Chris’ hand rubs his neck soothingly and can’t help but let his hand linger in an attempt to leak some warmth into Tom’s cold body. When Tom leans into the touch ever so slightly, it makes it all the harder to pull away so he can get to work.
Chris cuts off the material dangling around Tom’s neck and flings it away. Then he works at sawing off the tape around his knees. His curiosity is piqued at how it peels off rather easily, but he pushes that aside to start cutting at the ropes around Tom’s wrists.
"Is there anyone else with you?" quietly asks Tom. His grim silence is answer enough, and Tom turns his head to look up at him. "What were you thinking? Do you know how dangerous this ma-AAAH!" Tom jerks forward as his lecture is abruptly cut off when Chris tries moving the chain encircled around his elbows.
Chris’ eyebrows furrow in concern as Tom takes shallow breathes. His eyes follow the length of chain and sees it is also wrapped around his ankles.
“I’m good,” grits Tom. “Just please avoid doing that again,” he jokes in a voice which trembles slightly.
Proceeding much slower and with more caution this time, the younger actor manages to ease it off. Presumably not feeling the strain, Tom unfolds his legs with his jaw clenching in pain every so often. Chris fingers the rest of the metal links binding the Brit and sighs in frustration.
"I have to go and get something to cut these with," says Chris as he begins to pull away.
Tom's breath hitches, and his eyes widen in panic. He frantically shakes his head from side to side. "N-no! Don't leave! Please! He might co—"
Chris moves back towards him and bends his forehead to Tom’s despite the awkward angle it puts him in. He rubs at the older actor’s neck again in reassurance. “I'm just going to the other side of the room. I’m not leaving your sight."
Tom nods wordless, and Chris pulls away slowly. He rifles through the cabinets but finds nothing of use until the last drawer. He quickly pockets it before moving on to the items on the workbench. Seeing nothing there, he quickly sidles behind the car to get to the wall.
His eyes look down for a second as he tries scooting past the tarp-covered automobile, and that’s when he sees a pair of bolt cutters on the floor. “Yes!” he exclaims as he bends down for the tool. Relief floods him as picks them up, but just as he straightens up, the door creaks open once again.
“Rise and shine,” says a voice as a bulb clicks to life. Standing under its dim glow is Jerry with his arms full of lighter fluid canisters.
Chapter 10: Confrontations and Confessions
The conclusion of the rescue mission.
The M/M tag finally kicks in as well.
Everyone has their own reaction to the presence of a perceived newcomer. Chris is momentarily frozen in place, Tom scrambles back towards the wall regardless of his injuries, and his tormentor gasps while dropping one of the canisters. The fluid produces a sharp smell as it pours out on to the floor. The kidnapper hastily backs away from Chris which unfortunately places him closer to Tom.
"Wha- How- Who-," stammers the man as he clutches the remaining canisters to himself. He looks between Chris who glares stonily at him, and Tom who stares up at him in terror. Understanding creeps into his eyes, and the large man vehemently shakes his head back and forth.
"You can't be here!” he yells at Chris. “You can’t take him! I haven't even begun to scratch the surface with this one! Just give me some more time with him, and he’ll be as good as he can be." The man is more fired up than ever, and he gesticulates with over-enthusiastic arm gestures. Another canister goes clattering to the floor while fluids from the other uncapped cans splatter on Tom. He flinches inwardly as the cool liquid makes contact with his skin.
Chris surges forward at his discomfort but abruptly stops as this pushes the delusional man to move even closer to Tom so that the backs of his shoes dislodge the jacket draped over Tom. The Aussie’s eyes snap down to Tom, and his face is awash with guilt and worry. Tom’s return expression is filled with pleading as he knows any smiles he could offer (as weak as they would be) would be false in the current situation. Glancing up briefly, he sees his captor don a grim expression after witnessing their silent exchange .
The man with the fuel growls. "Don't you see it! He's got this unnatural hold on you! Nothing good can come from it." He glares down at Tom. "Let me burn that bridge for you. You’ll probably think this is crazy, but he's enchanted you or something! I mean, I’ve seen the two of you together! You act as if he’s harmless, but I know better." These last two words are punctuated by the man taking both canisters in hand and upending the contents on Tom. The bound actor closes both eyes and mouth firmly shut and curls in some attempt to stop the fluid from jumping into more sensitive areas. His panic rises as he senses himself being moments away from being burned to a crisp.
Chris’ yell has his eyes snapping back open, and he watches as his co-star desperately tries scooting past the car. “What the FUCK are you doing?! You’re the crazy one!" He brandishes the bolt cutters as a weapon as he tries hopping from behind the obstacle. "He IS harmless because WE ARE ACTORS!”
His tormentor’s foot rears back at this proclamation and solidly slams into Tom’s gut. All of the air deserts his lungs, and Tom chokes as his stomach burns. "LET GO OF HIM!" bellows the man above him.
As Tom gasps for air, his watery eyes catch sight of another pair of shoes coming within sight. The large pair of boots near his chest rear back a little as sneaker clad feet comes behind them. A strange thud greets his ears, and he peers up to watch as Chris slams his captor’s head into the wall. The younger man’s face is painted with rage as he grips the back of the man’s shirt and yanks him back. Chris’ large hand grasps the back of the man’s head and once more drives it into the wall. Tom watches transfixed as a bloody face is pulled back only to be continually slammed over and over again.
Chris must tires of this method as he eventually throws the man down on the ground. The man groans disoriented when Chris straddles him and starts delivering blows to his face with the same look of fury and gritted teeth. Tom’s eyes widen as he takes in the display. Shock washes over him at watching Chris’ unbridled fury and strength lash out at an actual target. He’s not horrified in the least. If anything, he feels satisfaction.
“Chris,” he calls out weakly, and it’s no surprise when he doesn’t hear him. He licks his dry lips with his dry tongue and tries again. “C-Chris.” No luck. “Chris!”
He hates the way his voice cracks, but it does the trick. The young man freezes mid-blow and takes in the damage he has dealt. His balled up fist picks the man up by his front just to push him back just as viciously. He gets off the man and retrieves the bolt cutters he dropped in his haste.
Kneeling by Tom, Chris makes quick work of trying to free him from the rest of his bonds. Only the sound of labored breathing and pained moans are heard during this time. Tom keeps his eyes trained on Chris who has his eyes trained on him. Chris’ concentration is so intense it almost seems unnecessary to use the bolt cutters.
Tom hisses when his arms are finally free. Thousands of prickles stab at once contained limbs, and Chris is quick to place a comforting hand around his neck. Tom revels at the friendly touch and closes his eyes at the feel of it.
“Tom? Are you okay?”
He nods his head in response and purses his lips as the prickles start to tickle in the most agitating way. “Just regaining feeling in my limbs is all,” he answers hoarsely.
He feels himself gently being guided into a sitting position, and he moves his legs accordingly. The warmth around his neck leaves only for twin sensations to be felt along his arms. His eyes flutter open again to find Chris carefully massaging feeling back into his arms. “Is this okay?” asks Chris nervously.
“More than okay,” he answers softly.
The corner of Chris’ mouth turns up ever so slightly as he continues the motion. Eventually, the feeling in his arms is close to normal again, and Chris gently strokes his lower legs as he taps the cutters into the ground next to his ankles. “Sorry,” apologizes the man in advance.
“Just do it,” says Tom impatiently. He doesn’t relish the sensations which are about to come, but he would also like to get out of this hellhole he was forced into. He grits his teeth as the chains rattle against his injured ankle. Hisses of pain escape his mouth as the cutters against the padlock force movement against his injury. With a snap, Chris removes the metal and cuts away at the duct tape still binding his ankles. Tom almost has to stuff his fist into his mouth as the tape is peeled off, and Chris’ hands stutter every time a whimper leaves him.
“Shit,” breathes Chris as the tape finally comes off, and he presumably gets an eyeful of Tom’s ankle.
A remark is on the tip of his tongue when the smell of gas and a sudden burst of warmth hit him. Both men turn their attention to the other side of the room where a fire has flared up. It’s quite large as it has already caught on to the tarp and is eating away at it.
Tom’s tormentor turned arsonist is trying to rise from the ground, and when he lifts his head, his eyes lock with Tom’s. The Brit feels his insides freeze over at the look of intense loathing aimed at him. The sight of the lighter in the man’s hands reminds him of the fact that he is doused in a highly flammable substance.
He tries to jerk up in a scramble, but a jerk around his waist reminds him of the final restraint. He feels like a sitting duck."He's got a lighter!" yells Tom even though he knows it’s obvious.
"Fuck," Chris mutters. He jams the bolt cutters into the hole with the exposed pipe, and each successive clang is in tune with Tom's harried heartbeat. "Stupid. Piece. Of. SHIT!" Chris hurls the cutters at the kidnapper which catch him in the face and cause him to drop back down with a grunt.
Tom blinks in surprise at the action which has now seemingly deprived them of a useful tool. "What did you do that for?"
"They weren't going to fit," explains Chris as he reaches into his pocket and pulls out a pair of pliers. His jaw clenches shut as he burrows his hand into the hole and squeezes the tool.
He misses the ensuing snap but doesn’t miss the chain sliding from around his waist. He helps to yank it off and then makes to stand up and relish his freedom. An injured ankle and tingling arms do not do him any favors though, and he grips the jacket on the floor at the effort.
Once again, Chris goes above and beyond the call of duty. He slings one of Tom’s arms around his broad shoulders, thrusts an arm underneath Tom’s knees, and supports Tom’s back with his other arm. With a grunt, Tom finds himself being lifted off the ground. It’s a little awkward as Tom is just as tall as Chris, but the younger actor handles him as if he’s done this many times. Depositing the jacket in the crook of his lap, he wraps his other arm around Chris’ shoulders so his hand can lace together. He allows himself a sigh of relief and marvels at the steady breathing of his friend.
It is when Chris turns them towards the exit that the sigh of relief leaves him. Blocking their exit is his tormentor looking more monstrous than ever. He is situated between the doorposts with lighter in one hand and cutters in the other. Through his bloodied and swollen eye, he glares at Tom with the same angry ferocity as before. Despite the fire’s growing heat, Tom cannot suppress the urge to shiver. In response the Aussie’s grip on him tightens.
Tom’s captor shudders before them. He shakily points the cutting tool at Tom. “This! This is what I was talking about,” he whines in a congested tone. “He’s got you wrapped around his finger, and it’s just sickening! It’s not healthy!” He took a few steps towards them so that he was just an arm’s length away. “He’s going to corrupt and twist you,” he seethes. “Destroy everything that makes you good. I just wanted to stomp out the bad influence. Let me help you,” he pleads while holding out the hand with the lighter.
There is a horrible split second where Tom thinks Chris is going to do it. That he is going to look down at the whimpering damaged excuse of a person in his arms and decide that it wasn’t worth coming all this way for him. He can’t bear to look up at Chris to gage his reaction. The very idea of being left at the mercy of his kidnapper has Tom instinctively drawing his arms tighter around Chris as he shivers.
“NO!” vehemently roars Chris. His throat makes a scratchy noise, and he spits a large wad of saliva and phlegm at the man’s face. In addition, he kicks out with a long leg which strikes the man’s shin and sends him stumbling backwards.
Tom gazes up at Chris and marks the fire burning in his eyes which is not just a reflection of the actual fire growing around them. “I’m not the one that needs help,” says Chris savagely in a low tone. The sentence reeks of condemnation and disapproval.
The man’s posture goes ramrod straight, and his face crumbles into a blank expression. “It’s too late,” he mutters. “You’re far more gone than I imagined.” He walks dejectedly towards the fire and kneels by it while Chris cautiously moves towards the doorway. “So be it!” he proclaims and throws himself into that burning heat.
Tom turns his head into Chris’ chest so as to block out the sounds of the man’s screaming. As terrible a racket it makes, he cannot muster much sympathy. Perhaps some pity but not a whole lot.
He’s pulled from his thoughts as he feels more than hears the sound of Chris’ breathing becoming more labored. Not wanting to be the cause of pure exhaustion of his rescuer, he taps Chris on the shoulder. The Aussie immediately stops in place and looks down at him. Tom can only maintain eye contact for a second before looking elsewhere. “You can put me down now,” he says softly.
“You sure?” Chris asks even as his arms tremble.
Tom nods, and Chris carefully lowers him to the ground. The feel of dry grass meets him, and he shivers as if finally realizing that he is back out in the fresh air. Chris snatches the jacket from his lap and hurries to drape it around his bare shoulders. Tom doesn’t bother trying to put it on properly, and Chris doesn’t force him. The younger man is kneeling by him and such a delightfully solid and warm anchor at the moment. He is aware of Chris trying to avoid staring at all of his injuries in the growing light of day, but as he releases a shaky breath, Tom can really feel each and every harm inflicted upon him.
His ankle is the worst offender as it throbs insistently. The cuts littered all over his body chose to sting at random moments. The bruises blooming on his stomach start to ache as he breathes with lungs which scream at him for the air he tries to greedily suck in. Even the slap to his cheek lingers like an unwanted kiss. And all of these brought on by one man who is undoubtedly departing this world. A man with such conviction and determination…
The feel of Chris’ hands on his shoulders snap him from his revelry. “What’s wrong?”
Tom’s eyes widen in disbelief as if the answer should be obvious to him. “A man just killed himself! And all b-because of m-m-me and some delusion!” But that’s not the heart of it. “And rather than feel sorry for his state of mind, I’m glad he’s gone.” He gulps at this admittance and feels moisture gathering at the corner of his eyes.
Chris wraps his arms around Tom and brings him close for a gentle hug. Tom buries his face in the other man’s shoulder and lets his unbidden tears fall. Circles are rubbed into his back, and he wishes he could draw his knees to himself. His own arms wrap around the younger man’s body. Before all of this, he would have loved to be enveloped by this body just for pure titillation. He would have sought all sort of friendly touches and hugs in hopes of receiving something like this. But now, the solid bulk holding him is pure comfort. He clings because he knows this is a onetime thing and afterwards, Chris will barely be able to look at him. He holds tighter so as to remember the feeling.
He mutters something into Chris’ shirt and feels his friend question him. The vibration of Chris’ body gets Tom to back up as well as withdraw his arms. Tom’s lips lift into a bitter smile. “There seems to be one thing he was right about.” Chris’ face falls, and the arms by Tom’s side tense. “I mean, we hold ourselves so easily around each other. More so with each other than with the rest of the cast. You’re one of my best friends, and obviously you feel the same. But I can’t… I can’t…” He means to confess his true feelings here and now. Even if it loses him Chris, he needs to let him know that from this point on he no longer feels the tenets of platonic camaraderie for him. But he can’t form the words.
But then words aren’t necessary. As if reading his mind, Chris gently cups his face and brings his mouth forward for a kiss. On Chris’ end it is quite simple and chaste, but Tom feels many messages being communicated through it. Promises of devotion and security are relayed through the massage of Chris’ lips on his. He makes a noise in the back of his throat, and just as Chris is about to draw away, Tom brings his hand to draw Chris closer, and he deepens the kiss. Chris’ hands snake from his face to grasp his neck and small of his back respectively. When they both finally draw away, they are both flushed and panting with hands still lingering on the other.
“How long?” whispers Tom. His voice trembles, and his eyes water once.
Chris gives him a small smile. “I can’t quite say when it started. For all I know, it might’ve been that first time we met at Ken’s house or those countless training sessions we had together. But I know when I knew for sure.” He licks his lips nervously, and Tom’s eyes follow the movement as his lips subconsciously mirror it. “It was the day we filmed our fight, and you had that tear trail down your cheek. At that moment when you looked so vulnerable and shaken, I just thought, ‘God, I hope I’m never the cause for this man’s tears.’” He brings a hand back up to swipe at the tears that trickle from Tom’s eyes. “It seems that I’ve already failed in that respect.”
Tom’s laugh comes out in a sharp bark rather than his gentle giggle, but the smile stretching his face is genuine. A weight seems to roll off his back as gives Chris a quick peck before going back to nestle his head on that broad chest. He feels the jacket go back over his shoulders and then those large arms bring him even closer before enveloping him once again. A warm head nuzzles against his, and it’s a perfect fit.
Sirens blare in the distance, and a small crowd starts to gather from across the street to watch the thick smoke curl into the sky. The soft pink and orange of the sunrise still lingers, but neither actor takes notice of these things.
Just an epilogue left
Chapter 11: Epilogue
“You ready?” The question is asked softly, and a hand gently grips Tom’s shoulder. The Brit sighs in satisfaction at the gesture but keeps his eyes focused on his healed ankle. He continues rotating it as his physical therapist had instructed him to.
The bed dips as Chris sits next to him. That large, solid hand remains on his shoulder. “Does it hurt anymore?”
Tom shakes his head. “Not even a twinge,” he sighs. He finally tears his eyes from the limb and looks over at his co-star. He bites his bottom lip worryingly and pats Chris’ thigh. “But I’m still nervous about my return to set. Specifically the more action oriented ones.”
The hand on his shoulder squeezes him again in reassurance. “I’m sure Joss isn’t going to have you leaping through windows and jumping off buildings on your first day back. They’ve probably planned accordingly. You know, a nice meaty monologue or some banter with Robert and then the stunt-double kicks in from there.”
“But what if I do have to hit the ground running?” counters Tom. “What if they expect all these things from me, and I’m unable to deliver? They’ll claim I’m not ready, and probably force me out as they should’ve seeing as I’ve already halted production enough.” His eyes have wandered from Chris’ as he says all of this in one long exhale.
As he finally inhales, the hand from his shoulder unlatches to grasp one of his hands. Glancing down to marvel at the sight of their fingers intertwined, Tom slowly looks back up and is momentarily taken aback by the intense expression in Chris’ icy blue eyes.
“You’re going to be brilliant as always, and they’re not getting rid of you,” soothes the younger man. Chris continues on as Tom is about to throw up another objection. “And even if they do, you’re not going alone.”
Tom can’t help his gasp, and his eyes widen. “Chris! While I appreciate the solidarity, that is an extremely brash–”
“While I understand,” interrupts the younger actor, “that this is a business, I would never agree with a decision that ultimately has you tossed out to heal on your own. I’m with you from this point on.” Beneath the earnestness of this declaration, Tom senses Chris’ continuously underlying guilt for not having been there in the first place to prevent this whole mess. For his part, Tom holds no grudge as he had appeared and stuck with him when it mattered.
He smiles at Chris and gives him a kiss. When he pulls back, he presses his forehead to Chris’. “Has anyone ever told you how stubborn you are?”
Chris smirks in response and grasps his neck to kiss him in return. “So I’ve heard,” he replies softly when he pulls back.
Tom takes in a long breath and holds it in before exhaling. He squeezes the hand holding his own. “There’s something else… I’ve had some trouble getting back into character. I mean, I still understand Loki, but every time I start to slip in, I start th-thinking about Jer—”
“That man barely deserves a passing mention much less a second thought,” interrupts Chris with a hard edge to his voice.
“He’s dead, Chris!” snaps the Brit as he lets go of Chris’ hand and scoots away. “And I happen to think that deserves a lot of thought.” He faces forward and lets a long, tired sigh escape from his mouth as he fiddles with his own hands. “Thought which has still failed to produce any sort of… I can’t feel anything resembling…. At first, I just told myself that it was shock but now…” Tom closes his eyes at his failed words and bows his head. “I’m just glad he’s gone,” he quietly confesses.
He expects to feel the dip next to him even out as Chris draws away from him in horror. Instead, an arm draws around his shoulders and pulls him closer as a forehead presses to the nape of his neck. “I feel the same way,” states Chris. “I would have probably taken him out myself given the chance.”
Tom shivers inwardly at the words being murmured into his neck. He knows them to be true. Chris would have kept pounding the man if he hadn’t stopped him. It sends an oddly comforting chill through his body, and he begins to trace the shiny white skin on his thighs which serve as a reminder of Jerry’s cruelty. A broad hand places itself over his, and he opens his eyes to look at the sight. A kiss is pressed into his neck.
“So if he’s dead and gone, so be it,” murmurs Chris. “That’s one less person on this earth who will hurt you.”
Tom fully turns towards Chris and drapes both arms around the younger man as his head once more finds purchase on those broad shoulders. Chris’ arms wind around him as well, and they simply remain in this position in silence.
Mindful of the time, Tom readjusts his head to peer at the alarm clock on the nightstand. He jumps at the time and abruptly disentangles himself while trying to stand.
“Oh, Christ! We need to get going,” he proclaims urgently as he runs a hand through his straightened hair. Chris glances at the clock, and his shoulders slump forward in a groan. Tom grabs his arm and playfully tugs him to his feet. “Come on. Let’s be professionals. I am determined to cure you of your habitual tardiness.”
This seems to push a button as Chris looks at him guiltily before looking down at his shoes. Tom reaches out for his hand and brushes a thumb over those thick fingers. The gesture has Chris tentatively peering up at him. “Though you do appear just exactly when you’re needed,” assures the Brit. Chris slowly smiles at him, and the pair of them leaves the room hand in hand.
Thank you all so much for your comments and kudos! They were very much appreciated.