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Beyond Measure

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Session 17
Hostage

5 months ago

Noll groaned, tugging tentatively on the tight metal biting into his wrists. The resounding clinking noise offended the dull ache in his head. It pulsed harder.

What happened?

Something had startled him into consciousness; the same something that was still jabbing him painfully in the side. He imagined Mai leaning down beside him, trying to wake him from his restless sleep.

Go away.

He kept his eyes firmly shut; attempting to ignore her and the nausea rolling in his stomach and wishing they both would leave him alone. He could ignore the jabbing but the chill that had settled in his bones while he was sleeping now kept him wide awake. He flexed his frozen, bare toes, dragging them across the dirty floor in attempt to warm them.

Wait, his tired mind slowly processed the solid mass he was sitting on, the gritty feel of dirt, concrete?

Noll frowned, allowing his eyes to fall open to see... nothing. He made a noise, something between a gasp and a whimper, and opened his eyes wider. The only light in the room seemed to be coming from a tiny floor light angled in the far corner of the room. Its muted yellow light barely lit anything at all, except a crumpled heap of something.

Not something.

Someone.

Even in the dim light Noll could just make out the labored rise and fall of a person breathing.

Mai?

He whispered her name over their bond, barely refraining from shouting out loud into the darkness. When she didn't answer, didn't even stir, Noll had to swallow his mounting panic. If she's unconscious, he told himself, she wouldn't be able to hear him.

Unconscious, he flinched at the word his brain had supplied. Not sleeping.

He squinted hard at her still form but he couldn't see any blood. Maybe she was just sleeping.

Noll leaned forward, tutting at the sudden, sharp pains in his shoulders. His heart leapt into his throat as he realized that his arms weren't by his side, but suspended precariously above his head. And those clanging noises were the sound of the chains rattling. He shuttered.

Definitely not sleeping.

"Mai," he hissed, yanking on the cuffs for good measure. They didn't budge. That would certainly be a bruise later. As he leaned back, the painful jab in his side took precedence over his aching wrists.

A nail sticking out of the wall.

Where were they? It was cold ー underground maybe?

What happened?

He closed his eyes, trying to concentrate over the blood rushing in his ears. His parents, they'd left for Kent and they... He hadn't been feeling well. So he'd stayed behind. He, Lin, and...

"Mai!" he called out again, louder into the darkness. The crumpled figure didn't stir. "Mai!"

He was sure she had been there, remembered her confused questions as he pushed her behind him. To protect her. Protect her from...

He jerked upright, all too aware of the cool pinch of metal around his wrist. "Mai!" He shouted, voice breaking. Had he hurt her? He thought maybe he had given her enough time ー God, why wouldn't she wake up. "Maiー"

"Now now, Oliver, don't be so noisy." A familiar voice chimed in, smooth and confident. Noll jumped as a light flickered to life overhead, illuminating James standing arms crossed over his chest in the door way. He was grinning. "You'll wake the others."

Noll sat in stunned silence, the hairs on the back of his neck rising. He hadn't heard any footsteps. No creaking. Noll bit his lip, had he been there the whole time?

James grinned, mistaking Noll's paled expression for fear. "There's no need to be scared. I won't hurt you," he deliberately paused in his approach, glancing towards the edge of the room where Mai was lying motionless. "Not yet, anyway."

A trickle of fear ran the length of Noll's spine. He sat straighter, ignoring the ache in his hips as he shifted over the hard surface, and glanced at Mai.

But it wasn't her at all. In the darkness, the girl's dirty hair looked like Mai's short brown bob, but now he could clearly see it was blonde. Grimy and laced with dirt, but blonde.

Noll held his sigh of relief. "Where is Mai?"

James smiled, "Exactly where I want her to be ー oh, don't make that face. It's unbecoming."

Noll glared at the butler, hating the look of twisted triumph that crossed his face. The malice behind his smug smile. How had his parents missed it ー how had he missed it?

Go down to the garage and wait for me there. Don't talk to anyone.

Noll remembered James's silky voice as they stood in the hallway of the Davis manor, quiet and steady. Rhythmic.

Hypnotizing.

Noll wished his hands were free if only so he could hit himself. The clues had always been there, right in front of him. He would have figured it out weeks ago if he hadn't been so... distracted. He hung his head, "It was all you."

Besides his parents, James knew more about his personal life than any other person. He knew Noll's habits, his capabilities, his weaknesses. No one else could have served Noll the spiked tea that had landed him in the hospital.

No one else could have known he would be back at the office that day. His return hadn't been broadcasted to anyone but his family. And the staff.

"You know, they told me you were smart." James laughed, pushing off from the wall. "And here I was just beginning to think they lied to me."

Noll glared icy holes into the side of his head, but kept his lips pressed tightly together.

James meandered forward, sinking cross legged on the floor directly in front of Noll. "Enough chit-chat. Let's get down to business, shall we?"

If he really tried, Noll thought, maybe he could kick him. No, his next thought dead panned, he's too far. By about a foot.

So, throw something at him.

Noll, who had been on the verge of chastising himself for being so childish, suddenly sat up straighter. If he sat completely still, maybe, just maybe he could use a pulse of PK to loosen the cuffs. The energy loss would be so minuscule that it wouldn't affect him, just like when he had used it to break that spoon.

Then he would have to deal with James and whoever else was here with them. Suddenly he regretted not taking his sanshou lessons with Lin seriously. There was no way he would make it out of here without using more of his energy.

James smiled. "We are going to play a little game," he said, pulling a palm sized camcorder out of his pocket. Noll told himself it was reflex, not fear that had him turning away from the camera as red light up. James chuckled at the show and placed a small shiny block on the floor between them. "This game is called show and tell. Have you heard of it?"

Noll didn't answer, trying to hide is face from the camera.

"This is how show and tell works, Oliver. I tell," he fisted the fabric of Noll's collar and jerked him painfully forward until Noll had no choice but to look up, "you show."

He let go. Noll had to jerk forward again to keep from impaling himself on the nail.

"This is a 10g aluminum brick. Lift it."

Noll's glare right then would have frightened even Yasuhara, but James just quirked a smile. "No."

"It is in your best interests to do as I say, Davis."

He hated the way the world seemed to blur when James' brown eyes locked on his. He looked away.

"I don't careー" Noll grunted in pain as James took a new approach, taking ahold of his leg and pushing him backwards, into the nail. Noll wrenched his legs out of his grasp.

"Lift it." James's voice had taken on that silky melodic tone.

The command wrapped itself around Noll's thoughts as he realized too late. He felt frozen in his own body as his PK swelled, burning in his fingertips ー and then faded. He glared at the small aluminum block, feeling his consciousness reaching for it...

The block shivered on the floor, vibrating as it lifted two, three inches off the floor. Then Noll shook his head, the block wobbled and thumped to the floor.

The spell was broken.

"You surprised me the first time, but now," it was Noll's turn to smirk at James' slack-jaw. "You're going to have to try harder than that to control me."

The silence that fell over the two was punctuated by a loud bang! Noll chanced a glance upward at the ceiling.

James stood up, chuckling. "I guess this'll have to wait, then." He winked, "You're female friend seems to be awake."

"Don't you dare touch her!" Noll's shout echoed back at him in the small room. He struggled against his chains, shoulders aching in protest.

James ignored him, nodding to someone Noll couldn't see just outside the door. "Keep a close eye on him."

"Yes, sir."

He turned back to Noll, eyes dancing with mirth, "I'll tell Mai you say hello."

"James!" He roared, but he was already gone.

The last thing he heard was the sound of James's footsteps leading away, echoing in the dark.