5 months ago
James frowned at the girl lying unconscious in his bed.
She looked rather... uncomfortable, lying there with her arms pulled behind her back, tied together neatly at the elbow. He regretted having to restrain her at all, but it couldn't be avoided.
She brought this upon herself.
He would have forgiven her for breaking his desk chair in attempt to open the door (the result of the loud bang) if she had just stopped to listen to him. But she hadn't.
He glared at her, rubbing his cheek where she had managed to cut him. Of course he hadn't expected her to come around easily, but lunging at him with a splintered chair leg as soon as he opened the locked door was a bit uncalled for.
James couldn't exactly blame her for that reaction ー his actions at the Davis manor had more than frightened the girl, but honestly. He hadn't meant to hurt her, he'd just... panicked.
Which brought him to a different problem.
His powers were completely useless on her. No matter how hard he concentrated, no amount of suggestion had affected Mai. She had only blinked those woeful brown eyes at him and backed herself into a corner. In the end, it had taken physical action to subdue her. Just as it had earlier.
James sighed at the memory, brushing a finger over the bruise darkening her temple. How could one person be so beautiful and infuriating at the same time? His fingers trailed down her cheek, over her lips. He wondered what they would feel like, pressed against his...
His phone vibrated then, its incessant trilling shattering the fantasy he had conjured for himself. He wasn't in any hurry to answer it, knowing he would probably have to leave Mai when he did. So he pulled it slowly out of his pocket, turning the sleek device over in his palm as he waited for the sixth ring.
He didn't say anything as he pressed the phone to his ear and fixed his gaze again on Mai. If Belikov could see this...
"James," a deep, accented voice rang out over the line, "how are things?"
"As to be expected," he answered immediately, then paused. Taking Mai had never been part of Belikov's plan, even if it had been James's. "Mostly."
"Where is he?"
"In the basement," James barely contained himself from growling into the phone. Mai was beginning to stir on the bed. He watched her long pale legs slide over the satin sheets, "with Griffith. You should call him, I'm sure he can give you a better update."
"I've already called Griffith."
Mai groaned softly, twisting so that the fabric of her shirt hiked up, showing the general curve of her abdomen.
"He didn't answer."
That couldn't be good. The guards were never supposed to ignore any call. Especially from Belikov.
James swallowed hard, "...I'll check."
"Call me when you've finished."
As the line went dead, Mai's eyes flutter open. Her half-lidded brown eyes scanned the room before locking on James.
"Yes, sir," he grumbled under his breath before flicking the phone shut and letting it drop to the ground. As it landed with a muted thud, he fixed Mai with his most charming smile, "Good morning, sweetheart. How'd you sleep?"
He knew he was supposed to be doing something important.
But instead, his eyes flickered between the abandoned doorway and the blonde girl slumped beside it. It almost felt as if her name was poised on the tip of his tongue but he just couldn't quite remember it. Then again, some part of him felt absolutely certain this girl was nothing more than a stranger to him.
A means to an end.
A flurry of movement forced his eyes to the other corner of the room, hand tightening around the heavy pistol.
There a man sat back on his haunches, blocking the view of whatever it was backed against the stone wall. This man he knew without a doubt. He watched, indifferent, as James swung a fist and an odd strangled sound filled the small room.
The noise didn't bother him. If anything, it sparked something deep within him and it wasn't long before curiosity had him inching forward for a better view of the scene. James growled under his breath as another fist came down, followed closely by a sharp sob.
The closer he got, the easier it was to tell that whatever it was, was human. A boy, nonetheless, who's head whipped to the side as yet another blow connected with his cheekbone.
James shouted then, lurching forward to grab the boy's collar and shake him. "I said enough!"
Shaggy black hair stuck the boy's bloody and bruised face as it lolled with the movement. It was a bit startling to see his dim blue eyes wide open and staring blankly into the distance. He looked half dead.
A wall of vertigo slammed into his chest. He recognized that face; felt the ghost of pain as it spiked across his jaw. He willed his body forward, to throw himself between James and... wait. Was he... watching himself?
With a jerk, Noll became hyper-aware of the secondary consciousness pressing down on him, forcing him to the recesses of his mind. Not his mind, this ー this was someone else.
He struggled with the other consciousness, fighting to stay aware, when he saw James slam his body's limp hand against the stone. Noll cried out in silent fear even as the small silver chain untangled itself from around his fingers and fell deftly into James' open palm.
His vision blurred. It felt like he was being pulled back, yanked out of the air as he ghosted back into his body. He arched back in protest, cracking his head against the wall. The sudden reality of it all; the chains, the pain, the overwhelming feeling of helplessness, filled him with the need to vomit.
"So good of you to join us again, Dr. Davis," James quipped, sounding a little too jovial for Noll's tastes, "did you have a nice trip?"
He managed a grunt, ignoring the uncomfortable ache in his jaw as he righted himself. His legs were beginning to go numb but the cuffs holding his wrists suspended above him didn't give him many options.
James gave a peevish smile, "While I can certainly appreciate that impressive display of cunning and skill, I must ask that you refrain from using psychometry again in the future."
Noll glowered at the familiar man but wouldn't give him the satisfaction of a reply. He'd managed to get his hands on the guards necklace during an embarrassing display of having to use the restroom.
But Psychometry hadn't been what he had intended to use it for.
"For your own safety, of course." James continued, pulling back to get a look at Noll's bleeding nose and bruising cheeks. He tutted, "Damaged property does not sell, dear Oliver. My clients will not be happy with the result of your behavior."
Clients? Noll lifted his head carefully, feeling the blood from his nose drip over his lips. Damaged property? What did that mean?
"Yes, clients." James answered.
Noll jumped. Had he said that out loud?
James went on, ignoring him in favor of studying the golden chain dangling from his fingers, "When Belikov first learned about you and your abilities, he was quite intent on keeping you for himself. But, fortunately for me, he had since decided you're worth more in money than skill."
Money? Did he hear that right? Noll's head was starting its dizzying spin that usually followed a psychometry trip.
"As soon as we're done here, you're being sold to the highest bidder."
"I..." Noll trailed off, his voice failing him. He stared, unseeing at the concrete floor as another wave of nausea hit him.
This couldn't be happening.
Part of him had been waiting for James's list of demands ー for him to announce the price of his freedom. Never had he expected this.
What will happen to Mai?
When Noll looked up again, James was staring at him, chuckling darkly. "Oh, surely you must have had some inkling? You didn't think it was just money we were after? Come on, Davis. I lived in your mansion for months ー if I wanted your money, I would have it by now."
No snappy comment came to mind. No witty remark. Noll just gaped, open mouthed at the former butler, grappling for words, "Your selling... My PK?"
"No." James grinned again, fisting the golden chain in his hand as he stood, "I'm selling you. For your PK. You'd be surprised, the market for what we do is quite extensive and right now, everyone is looking at you. Oliver Davis ー boy wonder, or Doctor Wonder. Whatever it is they call you these days."
James waved a dismissing hand, "but first, you have to learn some manners. Like only using your psychometry when asked to do so."
Noll fell back against the wall, barely registering the pain in his side as the nail broke skin. This wasn't happening... It was all a bad dream. It had to be.
Maybe if he pinched his eyes shut tight enough, he could wake himself up from this nightmare.
"I know it must be hard, so help you resist the temptation," James continued, voice growing harsh as he turned to face the guard, "I'll remind my crew to leave their personal effects at home."
The guard stood just how Noll had seen him, awkwardly in the doorway, and fidgeting with the small silver gun. At James' words, he went slack-faced, eyes glossing over for the space of a second. It was so quick, Noll wasn't entirely sure it had happened at all. "Yes, sir."
"What about Mai?" Noll hated how his voice shook, but Mai's powers were unpredictable ー and directly linked to his. He didn't want to think of what James might do to her.
James stilled. "Mai is no longer any of your concern." He said slowly in a voice Noll could only describe as forced. "She's mine now, Davis."
"She's got nothing to do with this!" Noll barked, pulling his legs in to his chest. If James lunged for another attack, he was ready. "Let her go and..." He swallowed hard, lowering his gaze to the floor. "I'll do what you say."
"Mai's instincts will prove useful once she's trained a bit. Besides," James scoffed with a grin, "I have my own ways of making you cooperate."
Noll glowered, his muscles beginning to shake with the effort to keep his position but he refused to back down. Then his stomached growled loud in the quiet room.
James chuckled. "That reminds me," he said, reaching for something outside the door, "you've been such a good boy recently I thought I'd bring you a little snack." The plastic tray clanged to the floor hard enough to send its contents spilling onto the floor at his feet.
Noll flinched at the sight, still feeling queasy but gazing longingly at the slices of bread.
"Future disobedience will not be tolerated. Bon appétit."
A second later, Noll was once again alone in the room. Well, as alone as they would allow him to be with the guard standing just outside the door. He glanced back at the stupid metal tray, stomach clenching so hard that he almost regretted what he had done.