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Guerilla Warfare

Chapter Text


 

 

1985.

 

 


 

 

 

Life was very much a game, in a sense.

Very much an elaborate round of monopoly.

 

 

 

So, when Terry Silver moves into the approximately 200 x 200 square foot rented studio apartment space dojo, downtown, in a rundown part of the city, in an equally neglected, frankly, rather purgatorial, grey housing block, to him, it's no different then playing with a dollhouse, involving dollhouse tenants and dollhouse neighbours and the aforementioned monopoly money. Ants in an ant farm. Trapped beneath a transparent glass dome he can look down on with a magnifying glass. It's a makeshift, cardboard cut-out reality, once he's dropped off with a privately hired moving team from the other end of town to the other, cardboard boxes and poverty chairs and poverty training gear and poverty mats involving broken poverty shutters peeking out into the torn-up streets and boulevards of LA where he set the theatrical stage for his revenge. In John's name. Of course, he leaves nothing to chance. Not a thing. Never has. Never will. Acquiring all the details, biographies and private information of all fifty-five inhabitants in the building billionaire CEO Terry Silver intends to nestle himself into once he transforms himself into hard-done-by, humble dojo owner Terry Silver is only a given - he can't stand out, for realism's sake. Effectively shedding his skin like a snake for the occasion. He wants - no - he demands, rather, that he be kept up to date who, what and when mingles around his stage, if anyone's been convicted, if anyone has any hidden secrets, if anyone could vaguely be a bother, if anyone could get in the way of what he plans to do here, surrounded by his props and his figurative opera curtain and swapping through the neatly stacked manilla case files he's delivered is amusing enough on its own;

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Mildred Johnson (67) Pensioner.
Abby Thorton (87) Paraplegic living on disability.
Randy J. Robertson (46) Currently Unemployed.
Jessica Daiyu (34) and Ray Daiyu (36) Immigrants and slopes, no less.
Esteban (55) Consuelo (49), Antonio (22) Maria (19) and Karolina Núñez (15) - more immigrants; oh, deep joy.

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

So on and so forth and naturally; it was hilarious. Perfect.

He chose so well - all lowlifes, losers and salt of the earth.

Terry swaps through the folder, idly chuckling to himself in entertainment.

Prime-time comedy.

 

 

 

In order to appeal to this dopey Italian Reseda-boy, Daniel Larusso, with roots out of Newark, Jersey. Father David Larusso. Mother Lucille Larusso. Terry wanted to invoke some manner of well, how to put this - working class, all-American proletarian charm the boy would naturally relate to. Fall into. Drift to. Feel at ease with. But, first and foremost, just to be on the safe side, he needed to account for all the other inhabitants that would be strutting around on his turf, purely so he'd know what to expect, at each given moment, at each given second. Preferable too, Terry concludes, covertly pulling up in front of his new, artificial home for the next few weeks - and it was an actual shithole, just as he anticipated and planned - regardless, it was strategically sound that he befriend his new neighbours too. To be on the safe side. Make himself an alibi in advance in case the kid thinks of snooping around. Who could ever doubt the persona Terry creates, when there's a quaint granny called Mildred and a disabled, invalid called Abby praising how good, kind and humble (and utterly handsome) the new martial arts instructor that just moved in is after he promptly helped them carry their groceries up to their front apartment doors, ever the gentleman. Daniel Larusso, fatherless, distanced from his mother caring for some ailing uncle or other as his detectives reported back, eager for friends, eager for mentors, eager for protection due to a history of bullying, yearning for acknowledgement and painfully impressionable will practically be eating out of the palm of his hand by the end of the month. Yes, yes. It was better than the final act of a soap opera, Terry grinned to himself, leaning back into the driver's seat of his ghastly, deliberately picked, blue Ford pick-up truck, parking out in front of the building where his plot was to be played out - he and a figurative Toto weren't in Beverly Hills anymore, that's for sure;

 

 

 

Rusted drainage pipes.

Cracked concrete.

Broken windows in the upper stories.

The occasional graffiti lining the front entrance walls.

Patches of grass growing in the sidewalk and a very convenient garbage can.

Some unfortunate looking person pushing their squeaking shopping cart around.

The occasional police siren blaring and echoing from two blocks away.

Metropolitan and slightly dangerous - perfect.

 

 

 

If Terry could order or commission the ideal image of urban decay and delightful mismanagement, he figured he probably wouldn't imagine it as well and as vividly as this, rolling up the sleeves of his pale, grey sweatshirt, (an article of clothing pertaining to a whole collection chosen by his stylists to make him appear, well, on a budget of sorts, as it were) with absolute delight and eying the sparse balconies drying laundry on the upper floors not unlike some third world country, poverty porn watering hole, trying to match them to the folder case of people he received from Margaret, placed on the passenger spot beside him, like an old companion. Apartment A3, A4, A5, A6 - floor A, floor B, floor C, floor D, hoping nobody was missed out from the line-up. The last thing he needed were surprises. He didn't quite enjoy surprises. Once his workers are done loading in his boxes, bags and equipment, including the state-of-the art, purposefully crafted iron pipe, wooden plank training dummy built and designed in such a way as to induce the most pain and most discomfort and once Terry figures he's assessed the situation, the surroundings and the overall area at large, he nods, to nobody in particular but his own thoughts, personally shaking hands with each of his downright baffled workers (one of them practically going pale as he does it - hilarious) just in case someone catches him doing it from the windows, a play at politeness, grabs ahold of the carefully packed up, black training Gi, two sizes too big as is to intentionally show as much skin as possible - terrorize and tantalize - he opens the car door, steps out, skipping over the canalization drain puddle leaking unto the pavement, and heads towards his newly-minted Cobra Kai dojo.

 

 

This was gonna be so fun.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

You had to defect in order to get here.

 

 

 

The year was 1985, the end of an era and a decade, and you found yourself uprooting your whole life, your entire understanding of the world, your geographical region as such and your comfort zone so far - arriving here with your whole life hastily stuffed into two black duffel bags - one for each hand, respectively - carrying only the absolute basics and a few memories along the way that you could turn to for the sake of nostalgia wasn't how you imagined getting to the US, least of LA, but it is what it was. Not the most glamorous of routes. Certainly not anything to write home about - not that you could. Not that it was recommendable. Not that it was necessarily an option right now. You were now, for all intents and purposes, a dissident, an immigrant, a practical runaway and you were starting from scratch. From nothing. From zero. From the bottom up. The sacrifices you made. The adaption. The changes. It was almost a thing of habit for you. Always on the road. Always in transit. This new apartment - scarce in furnishing. A small bed with a discarded mattress. And a humble little kitchen. A tiny bathroom with pale, white tiles. The sink slightly leaking. The window cracked in a place or two. Probably an unruly previous inhabitant. It was home now. It had to be. You'd make it into home, out of sheer, cocksure spite. There was no other home anymore. You had your life-savings in converted currency. All of them. Enough to cover a couple of months of rent in a city with prices that made your head spin. After that, you'd simply seek employment and work, much like everyone else. Not a responsibility you were shrinking from. And well, the neighborhood seemed relatively safe. A bit run down. The streets vast and unfamiliar. But, it beat living in a war-zone, surely. There was an empty, unused studio with a partially finished paint-job on the ground floor but you didn't think much of it. Seems like it had no genuine purpose.

 

 

 

Did anything have any genuine purpose anymore?

You felt so out of place, all you wanted to do is force yourself to fit here.

 

 

 

So, you learned, to distract yourself. For days upon end while soliciting for local jobs. Looking around. Exploring, strictly locally. Discovering where the local stores were. The establishments. The buildings. Everything you needed to know. Never going too far. Feeling slightly anxious due to how far off everything seemed from each other, your world suddenly both shrinking and expanding, relegating you mostly to this one almost miniature condo. Home, home, home you reminded yourself in a firm, unyielding mantra, wanting the title of it all to stick inside of your head. Getting used to the new schedule of time-zones. Your English was passable and at least partially self-taught, but you always wanted to improve just for the sake of it, not denying you might've have been a bit too strict with yourself. You simply needed something to do. Anything. To pass the time. To relieve the sharp, aching loneliness of your sudden new situation. Sitting on the window-sill overlooking the city, reading your phrases out-loud to yourself from a dictionary and attempting to memorize any new term or synonym you possibly could while the coffee kettle was boiling on the stove with your ready-go dinner was waiting for you on the counter (reminder to self to acquire a dinning table as soon as you could), feeling at least partially connected to the reality around you. The people around you, of whom you knew none. Not so far, anyhow. Vehicles came and went. The occasional truck down below, stories down. A van or two. Seemed like someone was moving in. You were only semi-curious. Seemed like a man, with a pair of workers settling him in, with boxes and the occasional knick-knack being carried in. What was that? Training gear? Dummies? Hmm. Peculiar. He shook their hands and by the looks of it, thanked them with a smile, tapping their shoulders with a sense of familiarity. People seemed so friendly and open here, leaving you almost longing. Yearning. Quickly shrugging off the feeling.

 

 

Chastising yourself, suddenly.

You were here to start a new, better life - not to waste time staring, daydreaming or musing.

You gave yourself this unique chance to be able to turn a fresh page somewhere else.

You pulled down the shutters of the window quickly, returning to the task at hand.

Right before glancing down towards a head of jet black shiny hair below.

A man politely shaking hands with his moving team.

Long hair.

Long tied hair.

You looked up several expressions and designations for the term for the fun of it afterwards.

The synonyms you come up with are; mane, locks, tresses and curls.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

A few days after moving in, Terry gets an unplanned phone call;

Already, there's been a mistake.

-"What do you mean they missed one!? Who!?"-

 

 

He practically yells into the landline telephone attached to his measly little office, pacing impatiently up and down, looking through the torn shutters to distract himself from the carelessness of the people he hired to ensure such tasks are done and done properly, holding back his ire out of respect to Margaret on the other side of the call and huffing impatiently, surrounded by taped down boxes and crates he was still unpacking, manually, a painting company leaving its cans littered around the dojo as per his instruction; figured, it's always good, aesthetically, when things don't appear too perfect. When they seem like they could still be worked on. Still are being worked on. In progress, as it were. Ordinary people usually don't do repairs all at once, all at the same time, overnight. It's suspicious. Too immaculate. Too fast. Expeditious. Like their resources are a bit too comfortable. No, no, no. It had to be done in parts. Slowly. Drag it out. Make it seem like he couldn't quite afford to finish so soon, due to funds being momentarily low and he was being an awfully brave boy about it. But, this!? This was an outrage. A whole apartment tenant, and he simply wasn't alerted. He was already in the process of buttering the Larusso kid and his gook teacher up and selling them both some sob-story about opening a new set of Cobra Kai dojos, with a brand-new ethic. Honor, friendship, holding hands, respecting thyne neighbour and all that kumbaya schlock. How John fatally repented before he promptly died. Comedy central. And yet, there was a loose end entirely unaccounted for the whole fucking time. Eluded? Someone eluded him?

 

 

Terry liked his surroundings absolutely known.

Checked and checked and re-checked.

A thing he learned in 'Nam.

Any bush and hole and verge could be deadly.

Neither in water, nor in the rain, or out in the open was there guaranteed safety.

When the enemy comes up, it comes up from underneath you, from tunnels deep down.

Attacking you when you eat, shit or sleep, any time - when you least expect.

The war might've ended, and he was no longer in the jungle.

He was in a housing block, but that changed nothing.

The unexpected was still the unexpected.

A threat was still a threat.

He needed to know.

-"Well, fax it over then!"-

-"Right away, Mr. Silver."-

 

 

The office machine whirs and Terry's beside it in an instant, wide strides, dragging and stretching the telephone cord after himself until he could go no further physically, tilting his head as the white sheet piece of paper prints out, letters, detailing, hissing in annoyance when the wire stops him from making turns around the room - and there it is; date of birth, an ID photo in black and white and all the information therein only for him to, impatiently, rip it out from its slit and with a flick of his wrist look over the document with careful consideration, Margaret still on hold, Terry's tempted to grab this figurative missing tenant by the throat and squeeze for daring to elude his notice, now, when it was so very crucial for Terry to play everything straight and smart lest he mess something up and renders his own revenge plan an absolute failure and the time he took off of Dynatox, wholly meaningless. John didn't deserve that. John deserved perfection. John deserved no mistakes. No loopholes. So, this little lowlife, bastard punk really better --- Oh, oh, oh wait - it's a her. Bea. B. 26 years old. Female. A Yugoslav national, an expatriate, an economic refugee fleeing war. Blonde. Black Eyed. Of a high-school education. No college degree. Hmm, figures. Caucasian. A national minority in her own home country, of Hungarian / Czech heritage. Blood-type AB. No known diseases. Height 5'7 (175 cms) Weight, last measured. 138 lbs (75.60 kg). No known relatives, siblings or family present in the immigrant status process. Unmarried. Childless. Her passport photograph, front-facing, showed a grim somber sort of detachment. No smile. No expression. Technically young, yes, but not appearing her own age. Boring, pale and depressive.

 

 

 

Yet --

What the actual fuck?

Not only another immigrant in his housing block --

But a non aligned, Warsaw Pact, commie immigrant no less.

More or less the type of filthy red they were clearing out in 'Nam.

Man, if only Johnny knew; they could have such a field-day with this bitch.

Maybe. Maybe once he returned from Tahiti. Maybe they could have some fun.

Some pow-wow, for old times sake to alleviate the Captain's depression.

He owed John some manner of amusement.

John didn't deserve to be blue.

Not ever.

 

 

-"The detectives are getting sloppy!"- Terry reiterates firmly, ranting and seething into the handle, grasping the document in his hand and leaving a crease from the pressure his fingers apply. He's angry. Livid. Money's not an issue, no. But, it's the principle that matters. The respect. -"They're getting sloppy and they're being paid too well to be allowing themselves to be getting sloppy! Last thing I need is some narc skulking around the building! Not that it would be too much of a hinderance, but ---"-

 

 

Terry trails off from his fulminations to an ever-patient, silent Margaret.

His eyes get lost on the grainy, low quality image of the tenant.

He quickly changes tact and the subject to something of more interest;

-"How's John by the way? Enjoying himself out in the resort?"-

-"Yes, Mr. Silver. He's made contact and he's sending you his warmest regards."-

 

 

-"Aw, my man!"- He's uninhibitedly jubilant, squinting in glee, instantly lighting up just merely hearing of John's time out in Tahiti at the seaside holiday spa inn Terry had the habit of visiting himself back when he was an up and coming businessman looking for a tropical thrill in the form of sun-tanned, islander, grass hoola skirt cunt. It's brought him pleasure. Proved to be great sport too. John deserved the same pleasure. John deserved the same sport. Furthermore, he needed the same sport. He never fancied seeing his man, his best friend, his rock, his captain down in the slumps. It was a sin. -"What about Barnes?"- Terry presses on, with a piqued interest, wondering what the Bad Boy of Karate, what The Dynamite was up to. He had to snort.

 

 

 

-"Settled in nicely, sir."-

-"Good, good. Better not crash the car too fucking fast!"-

 

 

 

Terry ends the call with an admonishing, teasing joke, slamming the telephone handle shut with a loud thud that resonates from the mismatched walls still yearning for a paint job, referring to the red Lamborghini Snake, Dennis, and now, by extension, Mike Barnes, were given for usage, in-between now, training for the tournament, preparations, staying in his mansion (his people had to drive around town in style, after all) and the actual annual competition and then pleased with the results of his little chat, he hangs up the phone with a prompt goodbye, left alone, in the silence of his office veiled in the drawn-on shutters shadows of a golden dusk reflected by a typical searing Valley summer, in the company of only one document and monochrome image.

 

 

 

Hmm.

A vaguely pretty filthy little Red.

Now he had extra reasons to double or even triple check her.

He's checked everyone; made everyone's personal acquaintance in the building.

Terry wondered if she whimpered, mewled and begged sweetly or not?

How her face looked like crushed and squeezed beneath his foot.

He decides to meet his overlooked neighbour personally.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

A plastic grocery bag.

Milk in a carton.

A fresh loaf or bread.

Fruit and vegetables, on your last savings.

Walking up the stairs, since the elevator was broken - tough luck.

 

 

You head your way, dragging your provision along with you, in both hands for extra balance, bypassing the open studio space, undergoing certain renovations by the look of it, on the ground floor, the occasional sounds of chatter, thudding footsteps, hiya-ing, huffing and puffing echoing from below, through the walls. Sometimes you hear laughter. In the middle of the night, it wakes you up as you jolt to an eerie silence, convinced you've been imagining it. Dreaming it, maybe. Late night classes for the long haired neighbor downstairs? Perhaps. Or perhaps, you still needed to get used to a new enviroment, new living conditions, new people - a new set of everything, and the prospect served to make you excessively jittery. Anxious. Hyperaware. Whatever the case, people speak highly of him, it seems, around these parts, as if though they've known him for years and years, even tough it appeared he moved in a little after you did, in an array of boxes, bags and equipment - having witnessed it yourself from your window. A lovely young man, one of the elderly, grey haired ladies living opposite of you on your floor remarked one morning. Always polite. Always eager to greet everyone. Always helpful. All smiles. All energized. Jerry? Larry? Silver? You couldn't entirely memorize his name for the life you. You wondered if he had regular customers and students at all in this very neighbourhood, or if he struggled at all, much like you did?

 

 

Your thoughts serve to distract you from the long line of steps ahead.

And you sense a presence, at the very bottom of the staircase.

As you're busy setting your grocery bags down to rest;

He's there, the local karate-man, in a zip-up jacket.

A full showcased, white-tooth smile hits you.

And you can't help but sheepishly try and smile back yourself.

He doesn't seem like a bad person - at least not judging from people's stories.

 

 

 

-"Oh, hello neighbour! Need some help with those?"-

 

 

 

He waves from the other end of the steep passageway upstairs, a gesture directed at you, courteously offering aid and taking you off guard momentarily. For a second, you're almost afraid you're about to be criticized or chastised for something judging by the way he's appeared out of nowhere so very suddenly, but something about his disposition and airs as it were puts you at ease - a step forward and he starts approaching you on the stairs when you fail to give him an answer whether or not you want him to carry your shopping bags up to your apartment's front door and once you notice his intent, you quickly bend down and scoop them back into your arms. No, no, no. You didn't know him. Also, you place wasn't in the best of conditions just yet. You honestly did not want him to see. Your lack of furniture. Your lack of decorations. Your lack of everything. He'd only be able to think badly of you afterwards. So, no.

 

 

-"Hi, there - oh, no, no, that's fine. Thank you!"-

 

 

You stutter, quickly bailing out as a politely as possible, hoping that was the end of it - but, he continues.

-"You just moved into the third floor, right? I'm new too! Terry Silver, by the way!"-

 

 

He's close now; close enough to extend his arm and coax you into a friendly, casual handshake, not unlike an officiated, ceremonious introduction, which you sheepishly accept, balancing the cargo of goods pressed to your chest in order to return the act in kind, he grabs your hand first, you notice curiously. He also lets go first as well. So, it was Terry, not Larry. Silly. How stupid of you. You're so glad you didn't mess up his name in front of him and embarrass yourself. His skin is warm against yours and he pulls away as quickly as he touched you, leaving you seriously wondering when on earth did he even ascend up the steps so fast to land himself right in front of you in a blink of an eye, when he was at their bottom just a second earlier - it's like he simply descended from somewhere underneath the hallway when you weren't looking, giving a wide-smile, almost too wide somehow, like someone trying to sell someone something. Mind playing tricks on you.

 

 

 

-"Pleasure to meet you, Mr. Silver."-

You opt to being formal, out of respect.

-"Pleasure's all mine. So, how do you find the city?"-

 

 

He retorts warmly, with a nod through a slurry of mutual pleasantries going back and forth, asking you about your surroundings then and how you were taking to them - incidentally, not a question you favoured elaborating on, especially with someone you didn't even know - although, you didn't blame him. All he was trying to do was be amicable, you supposed. Truth was; you missed home. You missed your old childhood room. Your things. Your books. Your knick-knacks. Your mother's cooking. Your father's garage. Your garden. The freshly-picked tomatoes. The tree lot and verge enclosing your front fence. The red, eight-pointed coffee table you'd always set down your breakfast on, early in the morning. The day-to-day chattering on the neighbours. People you knew, and who knew you, even if just in passing. The birds chirping above your shutters at dawn. You had nobody here. You were just a stranger, exchanging words with another stranger.

 

 

-"Good. Thanks for asking."-

You blatantly lie, forcing a slight, small half-smile. Home, home, home.

Waving him off instead of a goodbye as you turn to leave.

You don't expect he'll talk to you this openly again.

 

 

 

 

 

Except; the next day, there he is again;

-"Good morning. No bags this time?"-

 

 

He peers out from the hallway of his studio in your general direction, wearing his black, v-neck exercise gear, appearing out of breath and energized - all bushy tails and anticipation in the early hours of the day, seemingly drenched in sweat already, as if though briefly resting in-between warm-up sessions and you're instantly caught off guard, Terry being the last person you felt would address you, looking away from him before your eyes can land on the odd patch of skin connecting his exposed collarbones to his neck glistening with moist droplets. Oh. You notice, but you almost feel like apologizing for noticing. God. You had bigger concerns on your mind right now. You were out looking for a job. Interview here. Finding a locked establishment there. Being told to return at another scheduled time at a third place. Being put on hold at a fourth place and flat out rejected at a fifth. And here he was; teasing you.

 

 

-"No. I'm afraid not."-

 

 

You manage somehow, in stride, as diplomatically as possible.

If you had no grocery bags today, its because you couldn't afford any.

 

 

-"Shame. Was looking to help with something."-

 

 

Terry adds through a gentle, amused chuckle, joking, not unkindly, leaning his shoulder on the frame of the dojo doorway, crossing his arms by the time you swiftly bypass him in a hurricane of waving, nodding and well-mannered smiles and place you foot on the first step of the staircase, your heart is almost sinking. Something heavy and painful jolting through you like a knife as you start climbing and then you only wish to get away even faster then before, if that's at all possible. A knife called guilt logs itself into your insides and twists the tender meat there. He wants to help. With something. You hurry through the hallway and unlock the entrance, fumbling around with the key in the keyhole once you're mercifully enough, floors above him and he's safely out of sight, entering your apartment and mercifully closing the door with a deep sigh nobody is there to witness or hear, right before leaning, back-first, on the wooden surface.

 

 

 

And then, he proceeds talking to you every day.

And then day after that.

And after.

And after.

And always.

 

-"Pouring to no end out there, huh?"-

 

 

He addresses you again, as always, and as if on cue, when you run into the building, hiding from the cold September downpour and pushing past your neighbours from the fourth floor just waving Terry goodbye and unfurling their umbrellas to head outside, while you were wearing your raincoat, back from yet another failed job opportunity, not even bothering to cover your head and protect it from the rain, your hair drizzling with droplets, leaving you a dripping, moist mess.

 

 

-"It's horrendous."-

You remark, looking down at the slippery, wet hallway entrance floor, as a way of politeness.

 

 

 

-"Yeah, you look absolutely drenched too."- He looks you up and down with an unusual intensity, and you hope the state of your appearance it's too off-putting, attempting to avoid his gaze the entire time. The thing you learned about Terry in the past few weeks is that he's very adamant - avoiding him is impossible. There's no going around him. Through him. Over him. Under him. This apartment block's like a maze with him around, not unlike the mythical Minotaur guarding the golden fleece in the maze, you find yourself tip-toeing around the hallways, hoping he wont be there, all alarming sweetness and mild-mannered approaches, but regardless, he's always there, popping up from somewhere. Why are you even so keen on avoiding him, was the more important question? He's done nothing wrong to you. You, or anyone else, really. -"Say, why don't you come into the dojo for a few minutes and warm up. Don't be walking up those drafty stairs in that state."- He offers, extending his hand and attempting to usher you inside and once more, you hesitate, his eyes, piercingly blue, you notice for the first time ever, grow even more intense. -"C'mon, I promise I'm not busy. I'm in-between classes. Customers are scarce this part of town."-

 

 

 

His customers are scarce?

Really? That's all you even hear from his whole line.

You hoped that wouldn't be the case for him at all, actually.

A sudden, odd sense of kinship and familiarity washes over you though.

He's having a difficult time after all, just like you yourself were.

You weren't happy about it, far from, but you felt --- well, at ease.

You wished you could almost help somehow, but you needed help yourself.

-"You're too kind but I couldn't possibly intrude."-

You attempt to swerve away from him - except, his arm grabs you, halting you in your tracks.

You're paralyzed.

-"Oh, but I insist. I wont take no for an answer."-

 

 

 

His voice presses, firmer then you've ever heard it before, and well within a moment's notice, you're dragged inside. Again, he's the first one initiating contact and also the first one letting go, this time, his fingers lodged into the wet, rain-soaked sleeve of your raincoat, gripping you through the fabric as you find yourself stepping on the clean set of tiles adjoined to a white training mat you, to the best of your abilities, avoid drying your footwear on, eternally regretful once your shoes stain it just a little after you've accidentally stepped on it, about to say how sorry you are, only to look back up and see Terry right in front of you, staring you down as you take on step back in surprise, and find yourself pressed up against a radiator, admittedly, pleasantly warm, surrounded by all his trophies, medals, framed photographies detailing, no doubt, past tournaments and a vivid, life-sized cardboard cutout of someone you don't recognize, perched up at the very entrance you're standing on. Perhaps a mentor? Some idol or something? The actual owner of this place?  Some Kung-Fu movie star you didn't recognize? Terry doesn't tell, so you don't ask, as he acts bashful around proofs of his own accomplishments. You'd expect more bravado and cockiness from someone like this - more arrogance - pride - instead, all you get is ---- well, humbleness? A down-to-earth disposition as he re-assures that you should stick around five minutes longer, at least until the crisp, September chill from the great, wide outdoors dissipates and you get some colors in your cheeks again. He can't let you go otherwise, he claims. Wouldn't feel right.

 

 

 

 

Wouldn't feel right.

-"Hope that warmed you up sufficiently! See you around then!"-

Some half an hour later, he allows you to leave and waves you off, seeming pleased.

You feel the redness creeping back to your face.

Wouldn't feel right. Wow.

You're flattered, but you try to not show it.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Usually, people ate out of the palm of Terry's hand fairly quickly.

And when they didn't, his fatal flaw was that he tended to take it quite badly.

 

 

 

 

Thing was, he didn't have try that hard to get what he wants, when he wanted it, out of whoever he choose; it's like nature itself granted him with an innate allure that left people feeling weak and on the spot coming into close contact with him and he was self-aware enough to know his looks and physique had a great many things to do with it. People were just naturally drawn to him on all levels, was all. Women, and men, and children and the elderly, and anyone he chose to turn on his likeability factor on for akin to an on-off switch. It was a talent, as much as a gift. One he meticulously honed. Practiced. Worked on. For years and years. Polishing his speech. The words he says. His body language. How to hunch his back to seem non-thretening to a shorter person. How to come off as friendly and amicable, if need be. How to appear soft and gentle outwardly. How to be inviting. Trustworthy. The type of person one would pour their secrets out to. He's developed all these things and more, with no less care he'd apply to the art of the body. And his spinning kicks. His stance. His stamina. That's why it was so offputtingly offensive and almost shocking somehow when it didn't outright work on someone the way he intended. And of course, some people just needed more pressure applied to them. It was normal. Everyone was different. Sure. Okay. Some were more closed off. Some were simply shy. Antisocial. Introverted. Messed up in the head. Why was he fucking freaking out? He's only moved into this shithole recently and entirely temporarily, and he was bothering wasting his time with some random closed-off, idiot tenant? Might as well buy out the whole housing block, evict everyone, her included, dynamite the whole place and bulldozer the entire lot flat once he was done with the Larusso-kid for Johnny and call it a day.

 

 

 

 

Yeah, that was a really good one.

That's what she deserved for being vaguely cold towards him.

Especially when he dialed up his goodie-goodie act so much and wasted his time.

Allowed her to drain off from the rain in his dojo, no less - disrespectful.

Leaving wet, footwear patches on his studio's training mat - disgusting.

All dripping hair and rain-coats, he remembers the big black eyes vividly.

 

 

 

 

'Ravage me' eyes. 'Save me' eyes. 'Keep me warm' eyes. 'Protect me' eyes.

 

He finds idly hyperfocusing then, on her manilla case folder, looking over a copy of her ID picture, irked by the low quality in-between classes where he juggled Larusso and Barnes; Raseda-boy coming in during the daytime, Mike coming in at night as to lessen the chance they'd ever run into each other, so Terry had enough time to ponder stupid, mediocre things a plenty; Reasonable reaction was for her to immediately, well, he didn't know, be taken with him like everyone else renting in this building? Be more receptive? Smitten? Warmer, for sure, young woman that she was, it was simply hormonally sound of her to be. The pensioners from the floor above were. The elderly building's groundskeeper was. Danny-boy was. Even the mailman who tended to bring these losers their loser bills was. When Terry retired back to his life on The Hills, there was an entire city worth of opportunities for him to have his sport. LA's most eligible bachelor, they called him. Playboy, they deemed him. All eyes were on him, wherever he went, gazes devouring him, and he knew it, taking great pleasure that he could pick and choose; be the model of envy and desire alike. But, not for her. That angers him somewhat, as he pulls a pair of scissors from the office desk drawer, taking to cutting through the file, aiming for the photograph, until, in careful snips, he lands himself with a small square containing a face he holds in the palm of his hand. Something comes over him then, when he approaches the iron pipe training dummy he's prepared, in advance, for Daniel Larusso's afternoon 3 PM class.

 

 

 

A (frankly quite amusing and downright hilarious) magazine article detailing the exploits of the 'Bad Boy of Karate' glued to the rotating doll's head for some extra psychological emphasis and mental suggestion - Terry finds himself, placing the tenant's tiny picture over it, briefly, this time around, just for himself. To get his ire out on. And with little to no offer, his clenched fist crashes straight into it, once, twice, three times, four times, through his gritted teeth, leaving a visible crack in the surface of the grainy polaroid.

 

 

 

 

Terry's fist is entirely unscathed - after years of practicing.

But, the picture is wholly destroyed, falling down from the dummy's head, unglued and unsecured.

Leaving on Mike Barnes' growling, angry visage, equally untouched.

Bending down to pick the damn thing up, Terry looks at it.

Really looks at it, feeling a wave of venom brewing in his throat.

-"Oh, hello neighbour! Need some help with those?"-

Embarrassing.

 

 

 

 

Terry repeats his own words directed at her from a few days ago, polished and rehearsed time and time again to appear, well, inviting. Simple. Friendly. Commonplace. How could anyone resist him? It made no sense. Now, deliberately heightening his voice to something of a pitched, mocking growl of disgust as he talked to her still, expressionless picture that he felt was provoking him further with that torn crack going straight over her face after his assault, tilting his head back and forth tauntingly, feeling himself grow downright aggressive. It's this place, - it was making him occasionally feral. Like a caged animal. Truth of the matter was, Terry didn't enjoy when he wasn't outright, most obviously, quite clearly liked, especially by a lowlife nobody who was meant to fawn over him by sheer virtue of being a lowlife nobody. He didn't know what to do with that. He didn't know what to do with being ignored, or being given the cold-to-lukewarm shoulder, no. He could deal with hate. Hate made sense. Lust made sense. Passion made sense. Passivity made no sense. None at all. In his opinion, that's what weaklings and wimps opted for due not having the actual balls for anything else. It was the death of all emotion, conclusively, Terry decides, in wide strides, sauntering back into the office, crushing the torn, damaged, cracked photo he practically crumpled in the fist of his hand, slamming the same drawer open and then closing it back with a resounding thud once he chucked the blasted trinket inside, frustration abound.

 

 

 

Enough.

He wasn't going to be controlled by miniscule, meaningless things anymore.

Not everything in life needs to be perfect, right?

So, what if one person living in this block wasn't all that starstruck with him?

There's plenty of others who were and his objective here always was revenge.

Acquiring divine revenge for Johnny and inflicting pain on the Larusso-kid.

That was it - no more, no less; everything else was just setting the stage.

With that thought, he picks up the phone handle a dials a familiar number.

He needed to get some of his violence out somewhere and now - quick.

-"Margaret! It's urgent! Send someone over."-

High-strung enthusiasm, Terry immediately jumps into the call, with no time to waste.

-"Sir?"-

-"Female. Mid-twenties. Blonde. But, not too blonde. Pale. Dark-eyed."-

 

 

 

Terry wryly describes the order to his secretary with no effort, in one breath, the type of escort he craved acquired momentarily, and urged over to the dojo during his break from across town, halting himself from going into further nuances and detailing, being deliberately somewhat vague, lest he comes off as too particular and too specific for his own good, almost as if talking about someone somewhere, which he didn't want. He didn't want to come off as affected, compromised or controlled, even to himself. One of those vaguely Slavic, Eastern European types, he desires to add - the kind that looks like my neighbour from upstairs - a bit of an accent too, so he can correct her to speak properly and take great pleasure in that teacher-student reward-and-punishment game as well - the specification hanging on the tip of his tongue like a lone autumn grape ready to be savoured and devoured. No tans. No beach-bottle blondes. No fake tits. No fake asses. No fake lips. Not this time. A bit shy. Serious. Reserved. The type of whore pretending she doesn't know what she's doing. He wasn't new to this. Ordering a hooker was like ordering a rare vintage bottle of chardonnay. Nothing to it. But, this time, it felt more difficult then all the countless occasions before; Terry didn't want to vocalize all the way just what he wanted precisely, vaguely beating around the bush, confusing himself as he did. He doesn't recall when was the last time that happened.

 

 

 

All the more reason to fuck someone.

-"Right away, Mr. Silver! Anything else?"-

 

 

 

-"Send over three."- Just one wouldn't do, he concludes on the spot, admiring his own fist. The very same that crashed into the training dummy and the photography just a minute earlier. He needed more today. Much more. He'd needed to get the tension out of his fucking limbs. Sensei Silver deserved a treat from all this grey-pannel, pipes-sticking-out-of-the wall theater play. -"This same address, yes. You're a peach! Just make sure to be discreet about it! The people living here need to think I'm a saint, you know how it is."- He adds with an amused, conspiratorial snort, imagining Mildred the pensioner's and Daniel Larusso's combined shock of indignation if they ever spotted three prostitutes walking out of his dojo together. At least Johnny would be proud of him, though.

 

 

 

-"Oh, yeah? And, Margaret?"-

He's about to hang up, right before he halts, remembers one last tid-bit.

Easily the most important, most crucial part of all;

-"Sir?"-

-"Send someone who doesn't mind a bit of pain."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Your homesickness takes a form that week, and it's shape is the square that forms your small apartment. It's a vibrating, aching thing trapped inside of concrete walls, like that of a heartbeat, squeezed and stifled, until it's impossible to ignore deep inside of your ribcage and in the haunting, hallowed silence of your abode, a kitchen and a living room and by extension, your makeshift sleeping quarters, all connected, with the exception of a toilet. In times like these, you'd ponder on contacts. Friendships you've made here. Connections. Something to pacify and hopefully lessen your pain and internalized distress. Roots that take hold. In the soil, held down by people and new attachments. You search the vestiges of your mind and none of your neighbors have been unkind to you. Not necessarily. Nor good, nor bad. Simply there. Each of them living in their own box. You hear their footsteps in the morning and late at night as you try to scrounge up meals from leftovers, deliberately making things that remind you of home. And listening. They're returning from work. Taking down the trash. Never interacting, though. You find they all avoid each other, much like ghosts, eavesdropping, you get the impression, through the walls, as if not to meet another soul, even if by accident, on the steps that wind up the elaborate floors. In your nerve-wracking reverie, the only person that comes to you mind is the tall dojo owner with the long hair, fastened into a ponytail. He's the only one, you figure, you outright shared a word or two with.

 

 

Your thoughts are on him, as you lock your apartment door.

Heading down, a bit aimless, unsure if you'd spend your last penny on a breakfast.

If you'd rather go unsuccessfully job hunting again and get promptly rejected.

Somehow, you're either that lost in thought, or he approaches that fast --

You really scarcely notice Terry Silver, right behind you, in the hallway.

He's quiet - light on his feet.

 

 

-"Hello, neighbour."-

 

He waves with a smile and there's practically a visibly happy bounce in his stride, chipper and beaming, like there's an odd air-y quality hovering over his broad shoulders clad in a grey sweatshirt, as if he doesn't quite have a care in the world. Also, he really likes that one, huh? The whole hello, neighbour ice-breaker? Also, this meant he wasn't angry about the mishap when you dripped the aftermath of a rain-pour all over his dojo's mat then? Good. What a relief. You wanted to apologize about that yet again, if at all possible and if you ever ran into him, but there he was now, as on cue, his mouth, broadly twisted into a joyful curve elicits a smile from you right back. There's something infectious about him. Something you weird. Something you couldn't quite gage yet. Did he always do this? Approach people like he's he's unimaginably pleased to see them? Even on an ordinary day? Seven in the morning?

 

-"This might sound like a weird request,"- He halts then, with an aura of boyish insecurity, raising his arm and scratching the back of his head speculatively and you borderline freeze, a sudden tension in your chest. What was he going to ask for? -"but, can I borrow a cup of sugar? Not to mooch off of you or anything, of course!"- Oh. Oh. Sugar? Silly you. He wanted sugar? You dared not think it, but an intrusive thought that momentarily struck you was the conclusive purity of that. Why were you so surprised? You couldn't tell, as you guiltily looked down at your own feet, with an amused chuckle, unlocking the door again. Sugar. He was like an idyllic, stereotypical, old-timey neighbour from some impossibly wholesome anecdote or a family post-card.

 

 

You'd never guess.

He was just such a big guy.

Standing 6'3, vaguely speaking.

Towering and muscular - all sharp features.

A fighter and instructor, judging by his profession and all.

Eyes, the piercing type, and here he was, asking for sugar.

 

 

-"Making something delicious?"-

 

 

You try to make casual, innocuous small-talk, wondering if he has a spare ounce of space somewhere behind that dojo where he no doubt sleeps and cooks, guiding him inside, feeling him follow you, thudding footsteps, so heavy and profound on your squeaking, old floorboard now and yet so silent on the hallway just a moment ago, heading for the kitchen, grabbing a lone cup from the cupboard and filling it with sugar from a box and occasionally turning back towards him to keep engaged. Given, it was half-empty, and by sharing it, you left yourself with nothing but a spoonful. He doesn't have to know, of course. You owe him that much. After the little rain-soaked accident. You hope, at least, that he wont be put off by the surroundings you lived in. The landlord didn't bother in maintaining quality furnishings, and as such, you made do as best as you could.

 

 

-"Just to have."- He responds sincerely, a bit bashful. Is that a blush?

 

 

-"Isn't easy sometimes, choosing between rent and food. You know how it is. In a new neighbourhood. A new city."- You're paralyzed then, at those words, but you try not to show it, your cup nearly tumbling out of a shivering hand and unto the floor - a sense of sudden kinship in ever line, every sound and every syllable. Something in your throat is tight. You're almost tempted to cross boundaries. The lizard part of your brain wants to sit him down somewhere and talk to him. Is he struggling too? He must be? He's new also? Where was he from? Was he from far away? No, probably not. He was an American. Looked All-American, if there was a way to look it. If you could imagine a poster-child, he's what you'd visualize, more or less, you figured. Man next door. Acted like it too. Energized and all smiles and an uncanny sort of friendliness and dazzling teeth that radiated an electric sort of cordialness. You hold back, with everything in you and instead, all you muster is;

 

 

-"Yeah, I do."-

 

 

You whisper, reaching forward, handing him the borrowed dosage of sugar.

Your fingers shiver, his eyes dart up; fuck, he noticed.

 

 

-"Isn't a problem if you can't. I apologize. I'll --"-

 

 

Terry's pupils stir like needles, vehemently looking for something in your face, his voice a disturbed current, from it's usual, chipper, pleasant self. You look away yourself. Staring directly at him left you feeling exposed and naked somehow, like you were easy to read to him. What was this? All this man wanted was to borrow a harmless thing and here you were, covered in goosebumps. Also, now was an appropriate time to realize you let him into your apartment. Maybe he should've waited outside. But, then again, you entered his dojo too. So, perhaps, it was only fair. Even grounds. He ventured deeper into your space then you into his, that much was given.

 

 

-"No, no, it's fine. People should help each other out, right?"-

 

 

You go for sheer, borderline corny sentimentality to hopefully diffuse the sudden tense, inexplicable feeling in the air, chuckling again, this time with an atmosphere of slight awkwardness on your part, reminding yourself that this man was still a stranger to you, distracting yourself by staring at a cracked tile in the corner of the kitchen like it was indeed the most important thing in the world. Anything to avoid meeting his eyes. You really believed in what you said, though. People ought to aid one another. People in trouble, especially. People like you and Terrence Silver. Even if it was just with one measly, mere cup of sugar.

 

 

-"Right."-

He re-affirs. It feels like a full-stop. Something on the counter grabbing his attention.

You turn to inspect it.

Ah.

-"Strawberry pie."-

 

 

You clarify bluntly, but not unkindly; just one cut piece left, on a plate full of crumbs. You've been eating the same meals for four days in a row now because it's frugal. Cheaper. No room for wastefulness in the land of opportunity. You were living your own, personal brand of the American dream, clearly. It reminded you of home too. The pie. The sweet sensation of a supermarket bought packet of plastic-wrapping protected strawberries and no shortage of sugar, which you now lacked, condensed together, in a dingy, old oven left behind by your landlord, now formed into a palatable meal that eased some of your homesick loneliness. You could've easily bought a pre-made one, but you wished to prepare one yourself. A ritualistic effort to be closer to something you loved and missed dearly. Something you created yourself. That, and to kill your idleness. You were still very much unemployed. Existing on borrowed time. One unpaid bill away from being on the street and awfully relaxed about it, outside the occasional jitter. Maybe that's how extreme stress operated. One would grow awfully, inappropriately calm.

 

 

-"I smelled you from two stories down."-

He smiles as he speaks, broadly, extremely broadly. He ― what? Smelled you?

-"Oh, sorry."-

Your instinct is to apologize - you hoped it's not against the housing polices of the renting apartment space.

-"I meant that in the best of ways."-

 

 

He re-assures with an odd tenderness as he turns to leave and you follow him out through a tight corridor where you kept your footwear lined up, neatly stacked, lacking a shoe-rack as of yet, arms crossed, smiling yet again, into your own chin. He seemed charming somehow, large as he was, carefully holding the comically tiny, ceramic sugar cup, propped up between his thump and forefinger. Gentle giant? Maybe, first impressions and second impressions and even third impressions could easily cheat. Regardless, of any cynicism, you smiled more in the past few minutes then you did in the last six months, probably. Unexpected, but not unwelcome. Your neighbour had a way of coaxing it out of you, it seemed. At the same time, he radiated an intensity. It was his looks. You tried to ignore it and not look at him too much. But, he must've been a good person too. Seemed like a good person. A truly good person. Rare quality. Sometimes, with certain men, the danger alarm goes off in your head instinctively, not unlike a fight or flight response, and you're instantaneously on your guard like a feral animal in cage, whether you wish to or not. And sometimes, an extra precaution had to be taken, as unfortunate as that may be. You were, after all, here all alone, unaccompanied. Unprotected. In a vulnerable situation. You realized that. Understood it. You were self-aware. You weren't going to pretend that wasn't the case. Pretend like you had it all figured out. Act brash. Act stupid.

 

 

 

-"I'll leave you a slice or two next time, if you'd like. Don't have much else to share it with anyway."-

You blurt out in a anxiety-ridden flash of hurry and fumbling on your threshold, accidentally outing yourself as a loner without a family present with you, before he turns to leave down into his studio; why you do that, you cannot tell, but you feel the urge to do something nice for him. Say something nice to him. Even if you didn't plan on it, exactly. Maybe you just wanted to feed him, really? If he was struggling and all? Borrowing sugar off of neighbours? Did he have all his meals regularly? He seemed well-fed. Healthy. Strong. But, something in his eyes reeled of hunger. Like he wouldn't reject the well-meaning offering of food.

-"I'm honored."-

 

 

His smile is swift, but poignant.

Voice low and deep, particularly lingering on the word honor.

You also catch the shadow of a small bow, head cast downwards, never taking his eyes off of you.

The tiny cup in hand, gesture in motion, he saunters down the hallway before you know it.

What the heck just happened?

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

His silver fork slices into the soft crust of his strawberry Chiffon pie.

Not unlike a blade cutting into tender flesh, the vividly red jam bleeds.

 

 

Usually, despite his strict diet lacking any sugar, Terry Silver feasts, from the bubbling, foaming recliner of his stone tub, greedily devouring the dessert prepared exclusively for him by his on-stand, five star Michelin chef in one of the estate kitchens, as per special request, he retires to his mansion over the weekend, making himself scarce in the dregs he resides in, the cardboard-cutout reality, temporarily, while his little ploy is in the process of unfurling, not unlike a ball of fine thread weaving a web. The sticker note he left on the entrance to the studio dojo promptly saying 'Closed on Saturdays and Sundays. Off on business. See you on Monday, students and new applicants!' - naturally, it was a bold-faced lie, and he wasn't busy at all. He decided when he wanted to be off and when he didn't. He had no superior. No boss. He was his own boss. So, his schedule was clear, at least not in the weeks to come. Instead, entirely naked, basking in the sizzling heat of the scented water, Terry indulges himself to some sweets and an international phone call out to Tahiti, dragging the cord of the decorative, state of the art, vintage, golden telephone. Johnny's livelier now. Livelier then he was when he waddled in, duffel bag and all, looking sour, defeated and down. Now, an enthusiastic chipper tone emanates from the handle and Terry's content to hear it so clearly. Beaming, in fact. Vacation's doing him good. Just as he figured it would've. Nothing two exotic beach-side resort masseuses' in hula-skirts, coconut bras and flowers around their necks can't fix. And Mamona and her girlfriend were experts at their trade. Tested and had his personal stamp of approval on the matter.

 

 

 

-"Now, on the subject of women..."-

 

 

 

Terry practically trails off, twirling the curly end of his wet, dripping ponytail with the tip of a bejewelled forefinger idly, throwing his head back, feeling like a gossipy, perverted teenager swapping raunchy anecdotes with a classmate. Truth is, he wanted to tell someone about her. Maybe make sense of why he was feeling so antagonistically fixated yet oddly interested. Just a bit of chatting. No more. No less. What harm was there in that? Did they not tell each other everything? He's wanked one out to Johnny getting rubbed down to the other day by the girls attending to him on the other side of the line - massage with a happy ending followed by a threesome, or a telephone-sex foursome, more precisely - so, really, Johnny could the same for him. What's shared masturbation between long-time friends? They did it in 'Nam too. With nothing but the endless bush between them and sanity, long, night-time patrols, fingers found more then the cold barrel of a firearm.

 

 

-"What did you get yourself into this time, Terry?"-

John groans with a hearty laugh.

Terry has to laugh with him.

His hand splashes around in the water.

Making waves and chuckling at the newly-formed foam.

 

 

-"Nothing yet. Still on the kiddo's case."- He clicks his tongue, scoffing and snorting at the mere mention of the Italian boy, taking another mouthful of the strawberry pie and swallowing promptly, gulping down the contents of it's sticky, sugary filling like a vampire gulps down sizzling blood from the tendrils of one's neck, slobbering from the chalice of a helpless throat. His cooking staff outdid itself, same as always. Terry isn't left disappointed. He wonders though, how the pie on her counter tasted, rather? Can't outdo an import French chef, that's for sure and the consistency, taste and stricture is no doubt subpar, but he can't help but feel inappropriately curious. Briefly, he fantasizes sticking his fingers into it. Then his whole fist. Then, his ----"But, I do want your opinion and who to ask if not my number one guy, eh!?"- He interrupts his own train of thoughts, high on the sweet taste. High on something else too. He hits a line of coke off of a decorative, copper tray. White power and strawberries. Strictly recreationally - especially prescribed, in precise milligrams, only the purest quality stuff. Gave him a special edge fighting. Gave him a special edge in general.

 

 

 

Terry didn't consider it addiction.

He considered it a little booster, if anything.

Warriors in certain cultures consumed the hearts of a defeated enemies to gain power.

Terry lacked live, beating, bleeding hearts, so substitutes would sometimes do.

Sometimes.

Tropane alkaloid was easier to acquire then an organ on occasion, not that that was stopped him in the past.

 

 

 

-"Hit me. Although, I didn't figure you the type to need advice on that."- John snorts once more, and while he very much appreciated that the staff at the Tahitian resort managed to brighten his friend up so much, he required seriousness now. This was a serious matter. It was the matter of Terry going slightly AWOL. Slightly. Slightly off track from the whole issue of revenge over Daniel Larusso and training Mike Barnes to hurt said Daniel Larusso. To hurt him badly. He wanted some pow-wow and toying around of his own, off radar. He almost felt he needed Johnny's permission to do so. His Captain's greenlight to proceed. He didn't want Johnny to think he wasn't absolutely, full-heartedly, entirely, genuinely, fundamentally committed and devoted to this mission, it's just that, much like a kid in a candy store, once set loose and allowed to roam, Terry wanted more. More. Always more.

 

 

-"No, listen."- Terry's voice is grim now. Low. -"There's a tenant in the building downtown."-

Still thinking he's partially joking, John somewhat teases;

-"You don't say?"-

 

 

-"No, no, no listen, Johnny. Just listen! The building is full of all types. It's amazingly screwed up! Just like I planned! But, she's from one of those commie countries. You know the ones. And, Johnny, oh, Johnny ---"-

 

 

Terry practically stands up in the tub, uncovering his own nudity in enthusiasm, pumping his own fist, as he gets descriptive where the demographics of his so-called-neighbours were concerned. The staged reality. Poverty. Destitution. The dregs of society. And then one diamond in the rough. The worst of them all. A chance for Terry Silver to relive the war. He never quite forgave himself for spending his time in Vietnam mostly learning how to be a soldier, being occasionally hopeless at it. Too young. Too skinny. Too bashful. Too much of everything. Or too little, rather. He learned too late, how to be a fighter. How to be a killer. How to be a man. In need of constant rescue. Constant saving. Constant reprimands. Chastising. Johnny was his hero, yes - his champion and idol, he still is and always will be - but Terry never forgave himself, primarily, for needing a hero at all. For not being able to rely on himself. Save himself. Take care of himself. Not endanger his own unit. By the time he learned how to be a proper soldier and by the time he's awoken his killer instinct, the war was over and they were packed up home and put on the first airplane. Ironic. He was trained for a conflict he never quite managed to fight and participate in, the way he wanted to, all the way, and fuck, now, here his chance was. His chance to make it all right. To fix things. To indulge. Feast. Not quite a VC insurgent or captive, but almost. Close enough. One Red was much like another. Terry could easily make up the rest. He had a vivid imagination. Incidentally, Larusso meant red in Italian, or, of the red, more precisely, as Terry recently discovered or at least liked to believe - and she was red. It was like circumstances were trying to tell him something. It was clear who the enemy was. Terry and John were team-blue and everyone else was team-red.

 

 

 

He takes another hefty bite from the pie, gorging himself.

-"You gave me such a gift."-

He practically breathes into the handle, salaciously.

He finds that his finger is idly tinkering with the tip of his cock.

Below the pressure of the warm water, massaging the tender skin there, only barely.

-"Not only do I get to peg that twerp and his slope teacher who messed with you down a notch, I get a little something extra. Some cream on the side."-

 

 

 

He cackles, eying his own fingers and catching a piece of leftover white pie-topping on his shriveled up fingers submerged too long in hot water and playing around with his own dick, promptly stuffing them into his mouth and licking the residue off. Cream and precum. Christmas came early for Terry. Reminder to self; sweat and train out the calories of this off-scedule dessert treat and delight later, possibly via teaching Dynamite-boy a trick or two. Living in this house, utilizing borrowed cars and an allowance would have it's price, after all. Mike Barnes was not to be a freeloading tenant under his roof. He'd work his privileges off by winning.

 

-"Knock yourself out. But, Terry, don't kill anyone. We're not in 'Nam anymore. Dunno about hiding a body."-

 

John's voice comes through the phone-line and he recognizes it as a amusement interlaced with carefulness. His dear Captain, so prudent, looking out for him - sauntering down the shoreline of a beautiful, tropical beach, no doubt, even as they spoke, telling him not to kill someone. Death was so very final anyway, whereas life consisted of infinite chances. He wouldn't kill Daniel Larusso either. Or that slope called Miyadzi or whatever the fucking name was. He was just going to inflict pain on him. Both of them. Humiliate him. And ensure he lives on in the boy's mind for the rest of his natural life. Most effective way to ensure someone remembers you is to hurt them.

 

 

-"Shame, man. The things I'd do."-

 

 

His voice is sing-songy, rolling his head back again, in a daydreamy daze.

It was such a joy, playing at poverty, pretending to be some nobody.

Pretending not to be able to afford basic bills and make rent.

Borrowing sugar - fuck, borrowing sugar off of someone!

He felt like a two-bit comedy skit and it was perfect.

Pretending to be new in town and struggling too.

Finding a point of relating and utilizing it to the maximum.

Terry was based in Los Angeles for almost two decades now - he was far from new.

Moving out further to the West Coast and following his own California dreamin' after the war.

Overlooking the busy vista from his Glendower estate on Beverly Hills.

LA was his city and everyone else might've been merely living in it.

For all intents and purposes, Terry Silver was Los Angeles.

 

-"Where does my opinion come in?"-

 

John's voice interrupts the golden reverie.

Terry snaps back to reality.

 

-"Huh!? Does now! And always, Johnny! What do you think!?"-

 

Terry practically shouts into the phone handle, his cheek melting into it like a lover's kiss, too hastily, partially fearful Johnny would think his opinion doesn't matter when it was the only thing that did in fact, matter, as he stood from the steamy tub, to his full height, water cascading over his nakedness in the open lobby bathroom, all architectural stone and mason-work, brutalist in concept, one of his assistants approaching from somewhere in the corner as he stepped out of the jacuzzi and tapping and toweling him off swiftly, right before dismissed with a prompt -"Thank you, Reggie."- as Terry eased himself into a red silk floor length bathrobe, telephone in hand, his gaze meeting the small ceramic cup placed carefully beside the stack of towels, lotions and decorative cobalt statues, as a memento. Yes. He's brought the sugar cup home with him, sugar included, managing not to spill a single ounce. He didn't really need sugar. He could order a truck-load by today in afternoon, if he so wished. He simply needed a valid excuse to be able to show himself into her apartment and scope the place out with some innocent, silly strategy, without actually breaking in just yet. It was as he figured; she barely had things. Place was dingy, run-down, but something about the borrowed sugar bothered him. Initial plan was to just flush it's contents down the toilet in the backrooms of his studio dojo once he was out of sight and have a good time doing it. But, he preserved it. People should help each other out, right? Those words came to mind again. He was pretending to be a hard-done-by, struggling karate teacher, with a half-finished working space going through manual renovations, and she cared enough to help him at her own expense. He'd need to return that cup eventually, to maintain his little 'kindly man next door act', but as for the sugar itself, he supposed he could pour it into a tiny glass jewelry box, or something. Lock it. Keep it for himself. Not unlike the fairytale huntsman delivering Snowhite's still beating heart to the Queen.

 

 

He noticed she gave him her last ounce of sugar.

Sacrifice, selflessness, stupidity.

-"Don't kill anyone."-

John vocalizes his opinion with a deep sigh, pushing Terry out of his momentary distraction. An instruction. If they were in 'Nam, and this was a direct command from a superior, Terry would obey, as does he now.

 

 

-"Implying I wouldn't be able to bribe my way out even if I did!"-

 

 

Terry jokes, laughing profusely and sauntering out of the steamy bathroom.

The plate the crumbs of the finished strawberry pie laid on remain forgotten next to the tub.

A patch of crimson, melted syrup lining the dish alongside a stained, scarlet, sticky fork as the assistant diligently cleans it up.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Ever since you were a small child, you understood the meaning of community, togetherness and neighbours, and now, that aching feeling amplified, by the tenfold when the minute you had anything to spare, you had nobody to share it with, but effectively one person as a whole; silly - was it silly to count the karate teacher? Terrence? Terry? But, everyone liked being fed, didn't they? Everyone liked the act of free food? And with the strawberry pie in the oven, glazed with the orange flickering light, you pondered that even in this city, surely, ensuring someone had a spare snack for later wouldn't be frowned upon. And the bigger the city was, the lonelier it tended to get. And LA happened to be a big, big city. Population; 10,354,836 - a rough estimate. You had just one person, out of all of that, you could share the treat you made with. And he's having a difficult time too. Maybe he has no family either. No friends. Maybe he came out here for a new start as well. A new, blank page. Maybe he was lonely too? Maybe a small act of goodwill would've made him feel more welcome in this apartment complex, same way his own did for you? Your feet almost guide you forward as if dragged ahead through some otherworld force, occasionally uncertain if you should turn back, with the hot, steaming pie, covered with a cloth and not make a fool out of yourself. Hoping he isn't busy. Hoping he isn't in class. Elevator perpetually broken, and in disrepair and you head down a flight of stairs, unto the ground floor, briefly bypassing a student heading out of the studio dojo, seemingly drenched in sweat. Short, stocky, no older then perhaps, seventeen or eighteen, dark hair, walking with a slight limp. Or maybe you merely imagine it?

 

 

 

Did he hurt himself training?

You imagine this is a bad time.

And as such, you scurry back up the stairs.

Like an idiot, you cower, somewhere between floor two and three.

Hoping nobody comes out to catch you indecisive, hovering about aimless.

Some ten minutes later, you head down again, determined, pie cooling down.

A certain noise guiding you back, a muffled sound of music from the corridor.

You halt in front of the dojo, and it's wide door, left discreetly ajar.

You mean to knock to announce yourself, the energized track stifling you.

 

 

 

You spot Terry's shapely silhouette doing a jump-kick, twirling and spinning in front of a wall covered with mirrors, not unlike a dance, a radio beside him, on the training mat, plugged into the wall with a long cord, as he matches his stances to the rhythm, cutting through the air with rehearsed, precise punches, long black trousers tied with a sash at the waist and a bare torso, the upper part of his dark robe discarded on a coat hanger, discreetly, shutters on, lining the room with a jagged pattern of the beaming, hazy afternoon sunlight peeking inside, giving the glistening, gleaming surface of his sweat-drenched skin luminescent tiger stripes. What appears like a tattoo gracing his ribs. He reminds you of someone covered in war-paint doing a pre-battle ritual dance. An intrusive thought, which you quickly dismiss as silly. He's rather handsome. Appearing almost self-content as he does his warm-up. You avert your gaze. You want to mutter a 'sorry' to somebody, instinctively, but there's nobody present, but you. You almost wish a neighbour walked by so you could apologize to them, indirectly, instead.

 

 

 

 

 

【We built this city
We built this city on rock and roll】

 

 

 

 

 

The energized, fast-paced lyrics of the song sing in an electric, high-paced, synth-thump. You look away again, as if caught seeing something illicit or illegal. This is wrong. You ought to leave. Leave for the second time total and not come back a third, no. He didn't need your charity and you were being majorly inappropriate. Why did you assume he did? Need your charity, that is? Were you projecting? Perhaps you panic and you freeze up, unable to move, feeling rather awkward and out of place, and eyes sliding around the studio, you catch site of a strange and unusual contraption; not unlike an idol dummy built from iron pipe legs and wooden board planks for arms and legs, now broken and damaged, as if smashed through with a blunt object, maybe - a hammer or something very heavy, a red pattern on the otherwise clean, neat mat, similar to a stain after something accidentally falling over and being spilled. Wait. Is --- is that blood? Actual, real blood? Did someone get hurt during class? That limping boy, from earlier --

 

 

 

 

 

【Someone's always playing corporation games
Who cares, they're always changing corporation names
We just want to dance here, someone stole the stage
They call us irresponsible, write us off the page】

 

 

 

 

 

The words of the song continues, something or other about Marconi playing the mambo and he suddenly halts, from what appears like a celebratory half-dance, half-fighting an invisible, imaginary foe, looking at his form in the surface of the mirror, bowing to himself, catching a glimpse of his own reflection, and by extension - no, no, no. You're seen. You're seen. Your breath hitches violently, music still blaring, only to fall into an abrupt, profound, uneasy silence with a click, with the radio turned off, as your shoulder accidentally thumps into the doorway in fright, his footsteps far too fast for comfort, and before you can even dream of running away with the stupid, dumb pie, the door is flung open only for you to be met face to face with the extension of his wet torso and his stern expression. Two glacial eyes pierce you through and in this moment he seems almost impossibly tall to you and impossibly cold somehow. For a split second, angry, and with good reason, you don't blame him. This comes off like you were snooping. Truth of the matter, it's bad timing, is all.

 

 

 

 

 

And then he smiles - too wide, too suddenly.

A grin that easily covers almost the entire lower half of his face visually.

-"Apologies, Mr. Silver! I brought you a little something! As promised, I mean! I didn't know you were occupied! I would've called in, to announce myself, but I've no telephone number, so, I thought to myself, oh, what the heck, I --"-

 

 

 

 

 

You're blabbering so fast you don't even register what you're saying or how you're saying it, feeling your entire jawline tremble and tense as you do, something, something, telephone number, something, something, extending your hand and offering him the trinket you've brought, hoping he didn't forget your conversation from the other the day and if he did, it would surely paint you into even more of a fool, as his gaze pinpoints the plate speculatively, and then it swiftly attaches itself back to you, something sparkling deep inside of them, a positive disposition and a sudden mellowness and you figure he relented and that he isn't angry he was interrupted while training. Oh, thank God. You hope he didn't have anyone in the backroom he was conducting classes with or something. You exhale then, realizing you've been holding your breath the entire time and running your mouth in sheer, overwhelming nervousness, and also, the starkly obvious, disconcerting fact he was standing in front of you, chest entirely unclad, like it was the most common thing in the world. You don't look. Maintaining your attention firmly on the threshold and the stillness of his feet and your jittery ones opposite of him. Anything, but to further infringe on his privacy and stare.

 

 

 

 

Please, put on some clothes, please, please, please - your mind chants feverishly.

 

 

 

-"This counts as an ambush."-

 

 

 

His voice almost seethes through his gritted teeth, somehow, as he takes the plate from you seamlessly, and for a blip, you sense anger there, genuine wrath, spot it in his stony-faced, eerily composed, untethered visage, right before a thread of chuckling laces itself through his tone and your shoulders drop in relief. Oh! It was a joke! Just a joke. Now you're chuckling right back too, albeit awkwardly. Rubbing your own forearm for comfort. It still aches where you smacked it, in anxiety, up against the closed door-frame. Maintaining your eyes strictly on his face, or lower, on the floor, never in-between, never looking at his body or modesty. No.

 

 

 

-"Oh. Oh? That's funny. Yes, an ambush! Sorry again."-

You snort clumsily, apologizing, realizing how silly you must've seemed.

He turns and gestures to follow him inside and you take that as a sign to obey.

Forgetting, momentarily, the slippers on your feet, you curse yourself.

But, before you can even react and correct the mistake - Terry's already set the plate aside.

Scooting down on the ground, kneeling and essentially removing them for you.

Grabbing you foot and slipping them off, one by one, neatly - you're mortified.

His swift fingers accidentally brush up against your socks and instep.

Your feel the unexpected contact deep inside of your own belly.

You're acutely self-aware of everything around you.

 

 

 

 

-"Do you have another class soon? Don't answer that if you don't wish to."- You're running your mouth again, feeling you're intruding and asking too many questions for the sake of it, purely to avoid falling into silence, so taken off guard that he's personally had to scoot down and remove your footwear because it slipped your mind once more, still feeling the electrical charge of the touch on your feet. It tickles. What must he think of you? He must feel you're stupendously disrespectful and crass. At that point, you almost wish you could fall through the floorboard beneath the dojo mat. -"Was just dropping the thing off! Hope you enjoy it! Bon Appetit!"- You add, finally, referencing the dessert, sincerely wishing he'll find it delicious, but he could just as easily toss it in the garbage can due to be interrupted the way he was. And -- bon appetit? Seriously?

 

 

 

 

-"There was a class, yes. And thank you."-

Is all Terry adds, flatly, in rather peculiar tone, without any details, and yep, you take this as your cue to politely leave.

You angered him.

It's over.

 

 

 

 

-"Oh? Perfect! Wishing for many more for you then!"- Stuffing as many pleasantries into one quick consecutive string of sentences, you turn your back to leave, somewhat crestfallen and equally pissed at yourself as well. This is all your fault. You were on the verge of, well --- not even making a friend, as much as getting to actually know someone in this city, making an acquaintance rather, in this State, as a whole, and now you singlehandedly blew it by being too eager, coming off as too chipper, possibly too willing to please, no doubt giving off the airs of an annoying puppy that wags it's tail too excitedly and salivates it's tongue at the thought of forming a good relationship with just about anyone out here. Desperation. You aren't being nice, you're being desperate. Your mind tells you, and with that, you bid your farewell, waving him off, still trying not to stare at his chest, convinced you'll never interact with Terry Silver in this building again that you'll proceed awkwardly avoiding each other with an occasional nod direct at one another. -"Have a delightful rest of your work day. Apologies again. Really, for barging in like this."-

 

 

 

 

You ramble, and by the time you grab your slippers to head out, he speaks;

-"No such thing as barging in. Everyone's welcome at Cobra Kai."-

 

 

 

 

You barely hear that bit, wanting to leave here immediately, feeling the atmosphere tensing - Cobra Kai? Ah, yes! The dojo's name!

Only to be pulled back, firmly, and stopped in your tracks, your forearm grabbed.

Turning, you come face to face with him, his skin dripping salt.

His grip travelling further up, squeezing right where you smacked the tender flesh into the door-frame.

He noticed that too then, because he squeeze you a re-assuring, friendly pat.

-"Your cup."-

Your ceramic sugar measuring dish in his other hand, between his thumb and forefinger.

The tiny handle delicately balanced back and forth for special emphasis.

 

 

-"I'll return the favour, one time."-

 

 

 

 

He promises, eyebrows raised up high in concern and even as he's saying that, you find your head nodding away mid-sentence, as a negative, taking it out of his hand, trying not to make contact with his hand. Sweat, salt and warmth, he's close and you can practically smell him. His musk. A heavy, piercing thing. Leathery. Metallical. Obscuring the unusual broken training dummy with his form and the stains on the floor. Hey, perhaps he's nervous too. Nobody likes being walked in on when their surroundings are a bit messy. You don't like it either. Who does? His words resonate in your mind; this does in fact, count for an ambush. But, you can't help but feel this place looks a bit disconcerting today. Rowdy student? Looked a bit like a crime-scene in here.

 

 

 

-"Nonsense. You don't have to do that."-

 

 

 

You shove down your embarrassment and chuckle when he retorts, cleanly, simply, with a certain finality, as if though he's not exactly the type to be argued with. -"I will."- waving a hand, dismissively - you don't do things for people because you expect something in return, relieved when he reaches for his robe hanging from the coat-hanger and starts slipping it on, on turn your back to him, quickly, giving him privacy and scurrying out, sidestepping an elderly neighbour practically beaming upon spotting Terry from inside the dojo and taking some time to greet him and chat him up, the subject of music playing and it per chance not being too loud comes up, as you hurry down the hall, disappearing out of sight, managing to catch an apology on Terry's behalf. Something about he sincerely hoping he didn't disrupt anybody and the neighbour kindly reassuring that he did no such things. How did he do that? Connect with people so fast? You lived here much longer then he did and he's only just arrived, and it seemed like people already knew and liked him enough to take time out of their day to stand around and small-talk him. Mr. Popularity. Were you a little envious? Maybe. He didn't deserve to be begrudged for just being magnetic and likeable. You supposed any business-owner was required to have qualities like that if he was to thrive in this crazy city, right? You have no answers for yourself, instead, before you even reach the second floor, you're so exasperated you lean up against the wall between two apartment doors to catch your breath, squeezing the ceramic sugar cup in your hands and holding unto it for dear life, still feeling his finger grazing your instep like a burning mark. His chest. His face. His scent. We built this city, we built this city, we built this city. We built this city on rock and roll. Reminder to self; take off your fucking shoes inside of the dojo next time. Announce yourself first also. Your mind is incomprehensive, dabbling chaos for the rest of the day. Why must you be such a goddamn mess?

Chapter Text

 


 

Cobra Kai built this city.

Cobra Kai was king of The Valley.

 

 

 

That was a fact newcomers to LA either weren't familiar with or were simply too blind to see, and those who dwelled here for a while tended to need occasional reminders. Daniel Larusso moved here from New Jersey at age seventeen with his mother, and for all intents and purposes, he was an outsider and a persona-non-grata in Terry Silver's book, scoring a lucky, beginner's victory. Winning the 1984. All-Valley tournament last year against Johnny's star pupil and failed project of a golden boy was disrespect enough, and even though hurt and insulted on Johnny's behalf more then Johnny himself at times, Terry felt the boy broke an important, sacred turf of sorts. Every city was ran and lorded over by someone. Something. An entity. A firm. An idea. Behind the scenes, on the scaffolds of the set stage. An invisible hand. A gang. A cartel. A mob. A brotherhood. An order. An underground ring. A wealthy set of families. Los Angeles happened to be ran by Cobra Kai. And it would've been, perhaps, to an uninformed layman, a funny notion. A simple martial arts karate dojo - owning a city, until one followed the trail of money, past Johnny and realized it led directly to him, as it's co-founder, Terry Silver, Forbes' man of the year, billionaire, international conglomerate owner. Power behind the power. A stage behind the stage. When he and John returned here, respectively, after the war, the backbone of the whole country felt to have floundered, a loss of morale, belief, unity, devotion - a creed. The 70's were like an end of an era. The end of a simpler time. Opening the first ever Cobra Kai dojo felt not unlike opening a bastion of sorts - a hallowed temple - a place of worship - a place where a forgotten strength preserved. He and Johnny, together, they created something great.

 

 

His dear tenant from floor three, Bea, was also a newcomer.

And instead teaching her a lesson on just who and what Cobra Kai was --

Much like he was in the process of teaching Danny-boy ---- Terry found himself at her door.

Time for him to do some snooping and ambushing all of his own and even the scores.

She caught him, post-tenderizing the brat from Raseda in a lesson in pain.

Dummy broken, blood on the dojo training mat.

He himself, in the midst of being loose and festive over it - not that she knew what he was festive about.

She might've simply concluded the kindly neighbourhood Sensei lost himself in the heat of his warm-up.

Rather then practically high over the agony he's inflicted - Terry didn't appreciate being caught off guard like that - surprised.

Also, the fact that she refused to look at him, in his partial state of sweat and undress bothered him.

 

 

 

 

Look at me. I order you. Look at me - on the verge of grabbing her face, slapping all that putrid, disgusting decency off, both hands on either side of her cheeks and forcing her to look at him and take in his physique in it's entirety.

 

 

 

 

Getting his detectives further on her case, he discovers the interesting tid-bit surrounding her current unemployment and the fact, that as of now, she lived off of nothing and dwindling savings keeping her head, only just barely, above water. Terry could've figured that much all by himself, through the power of sheer observation, but letting himself into her apartment while she was absent, heading out for another shot at finding a job and a way to pay for her bread and butter, using a crooked piece of wire, Terry jams it's tip into the stuck lock, and with a few well-placed turns, easily lets himself inside and swiftly removes himself from the corridor, lest he's caught. Thankfully, dumps like these lacked cameras. Closing the door behind himself firmly shut, he relishes in the place, eyes looking around, taking every detail in on limited time before you return. Fridge, empty, save for a ketchup bottle and a pickle jar. A stack of old books on the floor, lacking a shelf of their own. A blanket thrown over the pullout couch, in absence of a bed. A single framed picture of her family, which he pauses on the longest, looking for similarities in features and analyzing each detail. A single potted plant on the window sill. An emptied duffel bag in the corner. A coat-rack. A closet. A drawer, which he promptly opens. Knick-knacks, nonsense, this and that, and oh - underwear. Ah, yes, perfect. Cotton, comfortable, utilitarian, soft, padded, tops, black, dotted, and right at the very bottom of the stack. White silk laced panties. Jackpot! Oh, so you did own something vaguely resembling a luxury. Without delay or second thought, smiling to himself, Terry brings the satin material to up to his nose and nostrils, audibly inhaling the scent of the detergent used. Clean. Although he wishes it wasn't.

 

 

 

In equal measure, he wishes to pleasure himself against the fabric.

Soil it, and then leave it there for you to find - oh, the disgust on your face ---

At that point, he could've easily stuffed the damn thing in the pocket of his leather jacket.

Called his little expedition a day and headed out before it got risky and dangerous.

Something tantalized Terry, and in that moment, unzipping his trousers --

He allowed to slide down unto the floor lacking a carpet, looking around.

All clear --- he pushes them past his footwear and removes them entirely.

Starting to discard of his own, equally black boxer briefs.

His hardened length springing free, Terry practically cackled to himself.

 

 

 

Taking a hold of your panties, he stretches them somewhat, pull them up, over his legs and knees and tights and over his cock, adjusting himself, teeth biting into his lips, part of him almost wishing to get caught by you in some fantasy, but as things were, he was making haste, endowing himself with your underwear, so small in size, in fact, that he barely managed to get into them and stuff himself back inside, the contact of the lace and the silk tight and almost painful, refusing to stretch further, digging into his flesh, straining against his tip. He could almost make himself cum, just with this alone. Quickly bending down, he pulls his trousers back up and fixes himself, stuffing his own briefs into his pocket instead, for discretion sake, shutting the drawer, making his way out of the flat, wide strides, grabbing the handle, pulling the wire out anew and with some tinkering, managing to crack the lock shut again, a little skillset he picked up in the army. Adrenaline kicking in as he does, looking left and right to ensure nobody would approach, Terry acutely feels a droplet of hot precum run down the virginal pale, tender lacey fabric. For services rendered, he pulls out a hundred dollar bill, letting it drop in front of your apartment's threshold. Any amount of money would help you, he knew, but you'd never accept it being given to you directly, goodie-two-shoes that you were. Holier-then-thou. You'd probably feel somewhat humiliated. Accepting charity and handouts. Being taken pity on. Being demeaned. And he couldn't have you demeaned just yet. But, if the money was an accidental find? Just laying there? For a bypasser to collect? That, you might just accept. Or -- he'd have to try a different method altogether.

 

 

 

Either ways, he couldn't have you financially struggling - that would mean you'd leave.

To another, more affordable city, more affordable State, more affordable flat.

Back to your own home.

And he couldn't have you leaving.

After all, Cobra Kai built this city, and only he would decide who stays and who leaves.

 

 

Hiding behind a corridor wall, tucked into a dead end where an old, now defunct air-conditioning pipe used to run through alongside a rusty ventilation shaft and waiting, in ambush, lest someone else waddles by and collects his money intended for you (forcing him to throw you another one - repaying you for your own undergarment, and for the borrowed sugar, and the pie), it takes a good half an hour until you arrive and your footsteps start thumping up the stairs. It's like an elaborate session of self-denial. No grocery bags. No luggage on you at all. Not this time. He figures you couldn't stock up too much on anything lately, regardless, as he peeks at your form walking by, he's so painfully hard. Painfully impatient. But, discipline --- discipline was key. He slithers his face and his line of eyesight closer to the edge of the wall, trying to not make any noise as he watches you tinker with your keys, halting then, once your gaze gets caught up in the lone bill laying in wait at your door step. Must've been the tooth-fairy, huh? You hesitate for a second. Then two. Then three. At this point, the pressure in Terry's cock builds up like a sudden rush, when you look down the corridor, sheepishly, with that doe-eyed, deer in the headlights look of innocence. Bambi's expression. Quickly grabbing the bill and rushing indoors, slamming the door shut. Feeling victorious, Terry rolls his head back, falling against the wall with a thud and a groan, grabbing himself by the crotch and giving himself a squeeze. The undergarments were fucking sore and uncomfortable, but he could swear, he felt his own cum run down the inside of his own leg at that point.

 

 

No, no, you wont be leaving, even if he personally has to ply you with money or stop you at the airport.

Even if he personally has to drop it down a fucking chimney, this was too fun.

He goes down into the dojo, smiling like the cat who got the cream.

And by the time Mike Barnes comes into class - strategically scheduled as to never run into Daniel Larusso.

Terry changes into his Gi and decides to teach wearing the newfound silk undergarments, feeling inappropriately pleased with his little secret.

Pain and the discomfort of it all is always a good intensifier to add more aggression into the curriculum.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

-"Maybe we should get some food sometimes? Casual. No strings attached."-

 

 

The phone unexpectedly rings and you pick up, immediately hit with a request, right from the get-go.

It's Mr. Silver.

How did he get your number? You don't recall giving it to him or anyone, not that anyone asked.

 

 

-"Uhm..."-

 

 

You mumble, trailing off, uncertain what to say momentarily, slightly confused and taken aback, not unkindly, feeling glad to hear him, glad to be remembered at all, somewhat surprised to be talking over the telephone with him at all, but stranger things have been happening these days, like straight-up stumbling upon a fresh, crisp hundred dollar bill in front of your apartment entrance, no doubt, slipping out of someone's pocket or purse, even though this building was hardly the type of place where people could afford losing such a sum so casually, holding unto every penny for dear life - you figured you could ask around, if anyone was missing any money, but you needed it too, and you weren't close enough with anyone to just casually approach them with a question like that, so you supposed this was a week of miracles, eying the plastic grocery bags on your counter, still unpacked and unsorted. You acquired enough food to last you two weeks with the lucky find, having some change still leftover, and now, to be actually rang up by someone, a perpetually silent landline entirely inactive, you couldn't help but soar a bit.

 

 

But, really, though, where did he get your number? Are you in a phonebook somewhere? You must be. The yellow pages, yes. That's it.

 

 

-"There's a diner across the street. On the seventh. Come."-

 

 

 

His voice breaks the silence, pressing on, the way he says 'come' almost pleading, but bearing enough firmness to feel like an command and you curiously, tentatively peek out the window briefly, dragging the telephone handle after yourself, stretching it, looking outside and down the street he described, towards the small cafe attached to a nearby bodega neatly tucked into between two larger, grey paneled buildings lined with fire-escapes - a flickering, neon sign above it seems inviting. Cozy. Harmless. But, something about this feels rather strange. How would you classify this? Was he a friend? A neighbour? A date? No, surely, not a date. Or was it a date? Probably just amicable chit-chat, really. 

 

 

-"I wouldn't want to take up your time, Mr. Silver."-

 

 

You stutter with a small chuckle, attempting to politely swerve out of the whole offer without offending, nervousness kicking in as you twirl the landline wire between your fingers - he had a way about him - inducing a sense of overfamiliarity. Anxiety. Closeness. Fear. Want. Something. If you had to label it precisely, you wouldn't know how. Terry was overwhelming, in a way you couldn't quite vocalize. But, you liked it. Or did you? You couldn't tell, certain only, that he could be busy and that he owed you absolutely nothing for the small, miniscule favours you exchanged with him.

 

 

-"Huh!? Nah, never, c'mon! I invited you! After all, you fed me, it's only fair I feed you. And call me Terry, okay?"-

 

He presses on with a laugh, giving you leave to refer to him casually.

Terry.

You mouth the letters wordlessly back to yourself.

-"Okay."-

Is all you say, giggling, in good humor. Doesn't relent easily, does he?

 

 

-"How'd you like dessert, if I may ask?"-

You inquire further, catching yourself smiling wide as you clutched the telephone handle.

-"It was perfect."-

He rolls the word like it's a purr.

 

 

 

He pulls up, later that day, as agreed upon, in a blue, roofless Ford pick-up truck, with a slightly damaged front bumper, but he beams so proudly at you from the driver's seat, as he pulls up as you exit the building that you can't help but find it infectious and smile yourself as you approach the car and allow yourself in and scoot beside him, greeting him. He really was humble. And not at all the type to have self-esteem issues due to it, rather, he felt like a self-made man. Salt of the earth. Ordinary yet extraordinary, somehow. A talented martial artist, by the looks of it. Tall. Of a warm disposition. A looker. No less so as he drives, key in ignition, light feet on the pedals, with an impossible ease, wind in the tresses of his dark, tied hair, slight curly around the ends. Hands on the steering wheel, all muscles and veins, peeking out from behind the rolled up sleeves of his jacket and grey sweatshirt underneath. You almost have to wonder how someone like him ended up in this raggedy, old building in the first place, housing mostly pensioners, coupon collectors, families perpetually moving from one overcrowded flat to another, and well, you. Not that you were demeaning the place, you simply had to ponder. So, what was Terry Silver doing here exactly? What was his story? Was he on the run from something or someone? Was he starting a new page? A new beginning? Not that you wanted to pry. It wasn't your place to. If he wished to, he'd tell you himself one day. If he didn't, he wouldn't, and you respected that, but in truth, he was the type of person who could easily find a comfortable place on the front of some glossy, editorial magazine if he put his mind to it, especially upon inspecting his features in the close proximity of two car seats, side by side.

 

 

He was...well, beautiful. In case it wasn't obvious from the mishap at the dojo.

This was to be casual, you sternly remind yourself, as Terry himself has said - just friendly. No strings attached.

 

The blood on the training mat. You think of the blood on the training mat.

 

Limping student.

 

 

 

The image in your mind fades as you share a meal in the aftermentioned diner and simply talk, not bothered by the quiet chatter of the other patrons surrounding you, and then mutually falling into a silence as you eat, oddly comforting and cozy, as the server waitress brings your check and Terry pays for it, pulling the money from somewhere out of the back pocket of his blue-jeans before you even register she's approached your table, smiling at you as he wipes his mouth on the napkin. You smile back, looking down at your feet. He drives out then, after a finished meal, doing the waitress the courtesy of neatly stacking your plates to make their removal easier for her - the simple sweetness of the act, as he makes sure to tip her extra even if he had so little himself - offering to show you around, stopping here there, never having seen someone so enthusiastic about a city, describing landmarks with an uncanny energy and pointing at buildings with the biggest chuckle mid-drive, in movement, swerving left and right with absolute ease, as if drifting through traffic, speeding down on a highway riddled with palm trees, a red sunset opens before you, blending into a purple summer dusk. How did time fly? You were technically out all day and you barely even noticed. Subjectively, it felt like a time-loop of forty five minutes. Time flies, you conclude, when one's in good company. A firmament of helicopter stars and moving satellites up over head dots the indigo of the night sky and all the lights of the city are on as you pull up at the top of a nearby hill, tucked away and comfortable seeming, overlooking LA. You lived here for over five months, yet you never seen this much of your new home. All you knew was the airport. Registry offices. Your flat. The utilitarian few supermarkets you shopped at. Establishments you've asked around for employment. But this --- it was new.

 

 

 

You exit the truck and stand on the precipice overlooking the sight.

-"Beverly Hills."- Terry's soft tour-guide voice is beside you, explaining in simplistic terms.

 

 

 

The distant buzz of cars and sires buzzing beneath a great, big rising horizon, pitch black at night-fall and it's heated, easy breeze - September here still felt like the peak of summer to the point you tended to forget it in fact wasn't - outlined with the walled-off, unimaginable yards of what appeared to be palaces in the distance. The type fairytale princes and princesses could've live in. Towering structures breaking through the shadow of dusk, illuminated by the last rays of a burning crimson line marking the edge of the sky - you're in awe. And so you stand there, saying nothing for a while in his company, until he speaks. How differently you two lived from these people. It was not unlike peeking into an alternative reality.

 

-"This city's polarized. But, beautiful. I can understand how someone could feel lost in it."- He sighs, his tone hovering on the verge of a whisper travelling the twilight air. -"So much poverty. So much wealth."- Terry adds, hands in pockets. -"Maybe one day, if we work hard enough, we could be like them, huh?"- He lets out a small, jovial chuckle at his own remark, tender enough, drenched in a certain sadness, you feel your eyes turning towards and you look at him, face veiled in a partial darkness broken by the spell of the last scarlet rays of sundown, giving off the illusory sense his eyes intermingled with a certain redness - your lashes fluttering as you quickly look away. If we work hard enough. We?

 

 

-"Would you like to be like them?"-

You carefully inquire, wondering if that was his goal coming to LA?

To make it big?

Expand on his dojo?

Open a couple more - have his big break?

-"Life's what you make of it."-

He shrugs his broad shoulder with an odd innocence, expression almost boyish, sharing a wise proverb.

 

 

 

-"I'm content with my situation. I have a roof over my head. A clean, dry, safe place to rest. Food to eat, especially with such kind neighbours --"- He smiles a dazzling smile directed at you, hand reaching up and squeezing your shoulder amicably, as re-assurance, the contact warm, genuinely comforting, not at all the pincers and needles you partially expected, suddenly wishing you could know everything. Everything that's made him, well, so very unassumingly deferential. Modest. Radiating a certain unpresuming aura. -"I've my health! Karate! I sustain myself doing what I love, which is a luxury not everyone can afford! I've both of my arms! Both of my legs! There's no more I could ask for. War changes a man's perspective. You learn to appreciate what really matters. I don't need a Malibu McMansion to be happy!"- He holds up both hands, demonstrating, wiggling his fingers with a chuckle, proceeding to point down at his own legs, and then point further out, into the magnificent vista and all it's magnificent castles. You didn't know what to say. It's rare to find. Someone you agree with. Click with so suddenly. The thing that lingers on your mind the most is the mention of war? Was he in war? Which one? When? How? Did he --- did he fight in one? You had no idea. For a moment, you feel so uncomfortable and guilty for doubting his good intentions and character at all. God, what he must've been through. What he must've seen and experienced. The reference to at least having functional arms and legs and being thankful for it re-affairs that singlehandedly. So, he has seen atrocities if he appreciates something as commonplace as healthy, able limbs? Oh, now it made sense! Maybe he was simply re-adapting into the environment and socialization with people. Maybe that's why he was so willing, warm, helpful eager and friendly? Maybe he was practicing it, like a misplaced, rusted skillset? Building up from scratch, in humble furnishings. Not unlike you. You bite into your lip, taken by a certain heartache at the conclusion, the puzzle pieces falling together. What if you misjudged the man?

 

 

-"But, wait!"--- His stiff, somber, quiet demeanor turns chipper and he jumps suddenly, extending his fingers and drawing an imaginary, invisible circle in the emptiness of air and all the estates, mansions, penthouses, plots of land, buildings and skyscrapers surrounding it. You chuckle. You've been chuckling a lot around him, this is the fifth time you've noticed it already. He was so silly. In a good way. For such a large man, who would've thought? Again, gentle giant. -"If you could pick an ideal place to live, from any of these, which would you choose?"-

 

 

 

-"They're all beautiful, I mean ---"-

You rub your own forearm, surprised at his playful disposition.

Truly not knowing which to pick - you've been content with a small house.

Somewhere, surrounded by a tree lot and a garden of flowers.

-"C'mon! You have to pick!"-

 

 

 

He presses on, almost whining, taking you by both hands, squeezing, bending his back a bit, until he meets you on eye level, eager stare boring into yours -- he's all bushy tails and bright eyes, and you don't have the heart to say no, seeing what a nice day you spent together and how much he's shown you around town at his own expensive, as you indulge him, choosing to play at faux-indecsiveness, pursing your lips and windowing shopping mansions resting in the secure, nestled bosom of affluent neighborhoods only just barely visible from a far-away grassy hill in the company of an old blue pick-up truck parked to the side. It's like you're ten again, at a playground with a childhood playmate, assembling an elaborate doll-house or drawing your dream home on a piece of paper with crayons and pens together, in some faded, old memory from long ago.

 

 

For the first time in practically forever, you figured you might've felt at home here.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

 

“A kiss is the beginning of cannibalism.”
— Georges Bataille. “Erotism: Death and Sensuality”.

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

When John returns from his impromptu vacation to Tahiti - it's like a deity in the flesh came back.

 

 

 

Immediately, the mansion on Glendower Avenue goes into what can only be called a state of partial emergency - Terry has staff members taking the always-welcome guest's luggage before he even crosses over the threshold of the front door, offering to draw him a bath in the jacuzzi, Milos coaxing him with black coffee, another, junior butler plying him a with tray of cool, sizzling, sparkling iced water in a tall crystal glass, the documents and signed deeds of the twenty or so locales for potential Cobra Kai dojos bought for one John Kreese hauled out, like a set of prized Fabergé eggs, maids scurrying left and around alongside the cleaning team, sheets being dried, a room set up, curtains opening, the chef's working overtime to ensure a meal worthy of a king is delivered in minimal time, post-haste -- everything for his Captain's leisure. Johnny, though - Johnny walks in looking like a god. Seeming at least five years younger somehow, which pleases Terry infinitely as he practically runs up to the man across a great, wide hall, shriek-laughing as he does, and pulling him into a hug, admiring his tan, healthy, sunkissed visage once they separate from their embrace. He was so handsome, when he even vaguely bothered to look after himself a bit better. He was handsome even when he didn't, actually. That's the man Terry knew! That right there! That's the man he loved! Big, cocksure grin! Tawny complexion! Fuck - he even smelled good, even after a long flight. Salty, sweaty, musky and of the sea. He could kiss him! Which he does - an unabashed, sloppy kiss to both cheeks which Johnny jokingly, teasing wipes off with a mock, faux expression of disgust, only to erupt into wholehearted laughter. What a change from the downtrodden, defeated man that came to him approximately two weeks earlier.

 

 

 

 

It was like everything in the world was right again in a way.

 

 

 

 

-"Aw, my man! I've so much to tell you!"- With a high-pitched, joyous exclamation, Terry grabs John's arm, throwing his hand over his shoulder and guiding him deeper inside of the front entrance hall, pumping his fist enthusiastically, with gritted teeth formed into a seething smile to the point he felt a vein form itself somewhere on his forehead. But, who cared about that. John was back. John was finally fucking back! -"C'mon! Come in! Welcome back!"- Terry practically shouts in pleasure, guiding John indoors personally and not even allowing him to make the decision on his own. There was no decision to make. He was going to come in, have a drink and actually stay here. He wasn't about to cart his friend off to a hotel or back into the streets. No way. -"Look at you! You look fantastic! Perfect! A new man! Surprised the islander girls didn't keep you all to themselves, huh!?"- They halt. mutually chuckling, in front of a brutalist, massive archway adjoined to Terry's private amphitheatre training stage abuzz that very morning, and every other morning, with the sounds of grunting, thudding and ruckus emanating from the warm-up taking place there and he finally lets go of John, spread his arms to give him space and looking him up and down, taking the sight in, only to be interrupted by a suited up, formally dressed Mr. Dadok approaching them silently, awaiting instructions. -"Milos! Bring out the Gautier Cognac!"- Jubilantly, in high, triumphant spirits, like someone hosting a New Year's festivity, he energetically gives out his special decree. -"This calls for a celebration and a toast!"- Terry snaps his finger with an order as Milos nods, immediately heading down into the dungeoned-off wine-cellars underground - only the best for Captain John Kreese.

 

 

A 258-Year-Old Cognac, World's Most Expensive liquor. A bottle of it sold at auction for $144,525.

They deserved to drink alcohol almost three centuries old.

 

 

-"And introductions."-

 

 

Terry extends his arm towards the training podium, signalling to the young fighter and his sparring partners to approach.

 

 

-"Mike Barnes. Sensei John Kreese."- He formally swaps names between them courtly as the teenager with spiky hair and a grim disposition approaches, almost running towards them, boxing gloves still on his fists, his white Gi on, nodding to John and slightly bowing his head in acknowledgement, John bowing back with a smallest of smirks. This was to be their racing horse, as it were, for the All-Valley tournament and all the various ways that gook and his student would find themselves experiencing pain condensed into an angry, aggressive adolescent. Terry could appreciate a good bully like he could appreciate, well, a good cognac, incidentally, and if Mike Barnes was a cognac, he'd the newly-brewed, burning, cheaper-variety, store-bought, strong type that immediately knocks you out and possibly damages your liver. Not refined, but does the trick. -"He'll be joining our learning curriculum. You'll be doing as he says, when he says, and how he says. If he tells you to jump into a snake pit, you'll respond with 'Yes, sir!' and 'Gladly, sir!'"-

 

 

Terry instructs in all seriousness, wagging a forefinger.

Kid needed to understand John was to be respected.

 

 

-"Yes, Sir!"-

 

 

Mike practically yells, bowing his head yet again, smacking his fists together, only be dismissed.

John snorts, seemingly charmed and amused.

Thanking Milos as he grabs a glass of the coveted liquor from a silver platter.

 

 

 

-"Isn't he a gem?"- Terry's at John's ear and at his shoulder with a smile once Mike Barnes retires back into the training podium, maintaining his day's warm-up, as was his prescribed, obligatory routine. Terry demanded nothing but commitment. Nothing but perfection. Dedication. Putting one's mouth where one's money is. And Mike Barnes had a lot to work off. He essentially lived in a mansion, drove a car lended to him, had an allowance, ate and slept and bathed here, sans charge. This wasn't a charity, though. More like a hotel, really. And hotels in LA charge bigtime. Especially hotels this good. Nothing is for free, is it? -"You wouldn't believe the untapped potential you can fly into LA. Can you imagine he was stationed all the way out -- get a load of this -- Arkansas? In some backwater, hick village. Had various delinquency charges there. Juvie hall, broken family, several younger siblings, living with grandma, estranged parents, all that classical shit. Very eager to prove himself. Very hungry to make a big, fat buck."- Terry describes Mike Barnes' brief biography and situation to a John most focus on the crystal, carved bottle of Gaultier, giving it a speculative stare, almost like he'd prefer a commonplace bottle of beer. Oh, Johnny. Mike Barnes had no such inhibitions. He took and gnawed on everything offered and even not offered to him, precisely because he had an acute hunger to himself. Terry liked hunger. It was like that quote from Scarface; He was a fucking peasant. But, get a guy like that and he'll break his back for you. It was insurmountably fascinating what one could make a desperate person in a difficult, unstable situation do, say or commit to and Mike Barnes pretty much gladly agreed to acting out the job of a mercenary and practically play the role of an elaborate extortionist with a black belt attached to himself. Fantastic. -"Would do anything, even throw down someone off of a cliff. Which they tried, incidentally, the other week."- Terry relays the anecdote down from Devil's Cauldron involving a very haphazard incident involving some climbing rope and a steep gorge and a very unhinged Snake, Dennis and Barnes with particular gusto, feeling his tongue grow sweet in his own mouth, just talking about it. -"Danny-boy wasn't exactly having it."-

 

 

John pretty much laughs at that point and Terry loves the sound of it, infinitely happy the mishaps of his wind-up, toy imps amused him.

 

 

-"Does he have what it takes, though? To be a champion?"-

 

 

Johnny fixes the collar of his brown, sleeveless puffer jacket, the same one he left in, for Tahiti (giving Terry a definite reminder to update his wardrobe at a later date, not that he'd ever agree to that, stubbornly territorial as he was) rolling his eyes somewhat speculatively, and no, no, that wont do. Johnny already had his disappointment in 1984 with the infamous Lawrence incident. No more disappointments. Not this time. This time, everything would have to go according to plan. And everything would go according to plan. Terry snaps his finger Mike's way again. Here and now. Terry would show him. The kid runs over again, like a good wind-up imp. Like a robot. Eager to please.

 

 

Barnes technically lacked a father figure too.

Much like Larusso.

Terry didn't fail to see an amusing assonance in that.

Wasn't Johnny golden boy and biggest disappointment fatherless too, if memory served?

 

 

-"Demonstrate for Sensei Kreese!"- He orders bluntly. -"Snake, Dennis! Bring out the bricks!"-

 

 

The boys run off, re-appearing withing a second's notice with a portable display on wheels, containing a set of training blocks. He wanted John to understand this was a valid investment, the Arkansan Dynamite and the Bad Boy of Karate had an ire to him, best showcased when Mike Barnes bellows a shout, while in stance, legs spread wide, arm extended, hand firm and straight as Terry and John instinctively take a step back, smashing into the cinder bricks, effortlessly cracking through them well within five seconds, on the spot, three at the same time, rendering the stone floor below soaked in a mess of dust, torn residue and leftovers. In something of a time-crunch, that was indeed something. Although, still not enough. Terry had work to do.

 

-"You haven't been wasting your time, huh? I'm impressed."- John mutters as Snake and Dennis take to diligently, wordlessly cleaning up the chaos now standing in the middle of the lobby as Mike dusts himself off and Terry practically beams at his friend's words. He was impressed. Good! Yes! That's what he wanted to hear! That Johnny's impressed! He wants to hug the man and seep up every vestige of praise falling from his mouth like a treasure of it's own. -"You must've been inspired."- John adds them, tone somewhat lower, more suggestive and as if on cue, it's almost like he, deep down, instantaneously knows what's being referenced. Ah, yes. The adventures in his cardboard cutout staged reality he mentioned having fun with over the phone.

 

 

-"When am I not inspired!? Those gooks did you wrong and they have to pay! That's inspiration enough!"-

Terry swerves the facts though, focusing instead, on the subject of revenge.

He didn't understand why he was deflecting exactly.

Especially when he talked about it on the phone himself, on his own accord.

 

 

-"Haven't killed anyone meanwhile, as promised, right?"-

 

 

Now, having discarded his emptied cognac cup, it's Johnny discreetly guiding him away, slightly out of earshot, as the kids sweep the flor and remove the destroyed training blocks, effectively carting the remains away like good, diligent worker ants. Killed someone? Terry wasn't a child. He could control himself. He prided himself on his immense self-control.

 

 

-"Oh, Johnny, Johnny!"- Terry chuckles, positively charmed by the jovial inquiry. -"Not yet. I honor my pledges to you! You know that."- He reassures then, firmly, no nonsense. If John asked him to do something, he would, and if it meant whitholding from extreme violence, he'd do that too as much as it personally saddened him. But, Terry also understood that John wanted to know if he didn't, by chance, murder someone during his absence in Tahiti. More precisely, the infamous tenant. Maybe, chuck the mutilated body into a back-alley trash compartment or dissolve it in a vat of toxic acid sludge at one of Dynatox's disposal facilities. Or even better, preserve it keep it a glass coffin so he can look at it. But, no. He digressed. Terry didn't. That would've been slightly too easy. Also, he knew John had a certain weakness for female kind, even pertaining to those he didn't know at all personally. Some would call it being weirdly chivalrous, even though Johnny would never admit to it. Although, Terry knew it to be true. John was Terry's white knight too. On multiple occasions. He wouldn't allow to white knight him out of having some good, old fun, though, would he?

 

 

-"What have you been dabbling into? I wont have to save your ass again, will I?"-

John jokes, and at this point, Terry can't resist but gossip;

 

 

-"I've the most delightful little tenant. Third floor."-

-"As I've been told."-

 

 

Then, the flood gates open - Terry would later expect a blow-by-blow account of the sexcapades that took place in Tahiti in return for this;

 

 

-"Big, dark 'fuck me' eyes."- He describes licking his lips, having seated himself on the plush, decorative recliner at the edge of the grand hall, still in clear view of the training podium and the boys doing their practice as he practically drags John down to sit beside him, giving them sufficient privacy from eager ears. He didn't need Mike Barnes knowing more then he had to know about his private affairs. -"Great, big tits!"- Terry gesticulates wildly, baring his teeth, trying to portray the hefty outline of his tenant's boobs, momentarily imagining their slight bounce as she walks up the stairs - thank fuck the elevator wasn't functional in that dump and if it was, he'd probably ensure it's disabled post-haste himself - holding up his hands to mimic the outline of two breasts hovering over his own chest as template as John looks away, in almost what appears as partial embarrassment, erupting in a chuckle - what a lovely sound. Johnny was actually a bit old-fashioned, is all. It was both unfathomable, unusual and very endearing to Terry. As much as Terry wanted to get him out of it sometimes, John never pushed past his gruff, old-school, white-picked fence, green-lawn, apple-pie charm. He'd be the type of man you bring home to ma' and pa'.

 

 

-"Remember those stories about Incident on Hill 192? November 19th, 1966?"-

 

 

Terry inches closer then, whispering, so quiet he hears his own breathing right against John.

Oh, man --- he was yearning to share his fantasies with someone, not unlike going to a confessional.

From the opposite side of the amphitheatre, Mike Barnes bows to his sparring partner, and continues training, the mess all cleaned.

 

 

-"You memorized the date and everything."-

 

 

Johnny rolls his eyes, getting up from the sofa, hands on his hips, back turned, distracting himself by looking out a colossal, mural window, and into the concrete sidewalk paving estate grounds - the shaded reflection of the colored glass giving John's whole body a shattered, rainbow effect. The kidnapping and gang-rape of one Phan Thi Mao, from the village of Cat Tuong, in the Phu My District. It was pretty much urban legend among the ranks of the platoon far before he and Johnny ever landed in 'Nam. The type of thing talked about in joints and around the fire during the long night patrols, like a ghost story of the reconnaissance mission. Someone even wrote a book about it later on, or some melodramatic, sappy bullshit like that. But, that was beside the point. It was simply an example. Terry wanted, no, needed, to play that type of cat and mouse game and he envisioned it frequently as of late - his erotic reverie; that one special inhabitant on the third floor, fighting against him, struggling for her life, as his hands rid her of her attire, effectively ripping the material off of her flesh barehanded and then kneading it in his palm.

 

 

-"I wish there was more then just one of me, Johnny. Like clones! I think about it, you know"!- He starts getting descriptive then, standing up himself, approaching John from behind as he stretched out his own neck, left and right, left and right, then circular motions, to get some circulation back into his sore throat. It's like it dried over, just from vocalizing these things. This wasn't the first time they shared their innermost cravings like this. And he didn't even get to the part yet where he stole her underwear yet. Which he was in possession of, incidentally. --"just having a patch of wilderness, letting here loose on it, frightening the shit out of her, chasing her down, capturing here and then just ---"- Front row of teeth dig into his lower lip. And then just ---

 

 

John interrupts him.

 

 

-"Terry, Terry, Terry!"- With a raised palm from Johnny, Terry ceases. -"Look, what type of sex games you get up to is your private affair, man. You're a grown boy."- John's eyes look him up and down, exploring the pale, satin surface of his white training Gi, not without appreciation and kindness, placing his hand atop Terry's own and squeezing slightly in re-assurance. Terry wanted John's blessing, in a sense, to proceed, for a second time now. That bit of physical contact counted as a greenlight from his Captain if ever there was one. -"Had my fair share of that back in that resort of yours and truth to tell you, could use some shut-eye."-

 

 

John mouthed, looking down the direction of the staff quarters vaguely.

As if - as if Terry would ever allow him not to rest in the best room in this damn house.

 

 

-"And here I thought about inviting you to join."-

 

 

Terry chuckles and they fall into a fit of giggles together.

 

 

 

After a hefty supper consisting of Lobster, Stake á la Tartare, a luscious, creamy Béchamel sauce, hard-boiled, spiced Bonnotte potatoes and at least two more rounds of the same Gaultier cognac, swapping tales, watching and analyzing Mike's training expertise, clearing out the rare vintage and getting John comfortable in a spacious chamber all of his in the east wing, away from any noise or disturbances so he could get some proper rest post-flight, burnout and changing timezones, laying on his back in his own bedroom, on a king-sized bed covered in pitch black satin sheets and pillows, Terry has a dream and he remembers it, aware it's happening, acutely as it does, in real time, like watching a live movie unfold; He's sprinting into the bellows of an unimaginable dark forest. A jungle, more like. Pitch black and sunless. The shrieking of demonic Cockatoos and birds of paradise fill the stifled, heavy air and he thinks he spots someone's silhouette running in front of him, away from him, through the shadow of wilderness. He knows it's her, and before he can get close, she's gone, swallowed by the foliage - control slips and the dream fades away into darkness. When Terry wakes, it's three 3AM, and the skyline of the city is shimmering in the distance, a crescent moon far above the vista of illuminated skyscrapers peeking through windowed wall of his empty quarters. Discipline in action, he self-chastises for sleeping on a full stomach and a digestive system working overtime.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Terry has the tendency to disappear places.

 

 

But tonight, he's in your flat, watching a movie with you.

 

 

There's a certain inexplicable, silent ease now, in the aftermath of your date, outing, spending time together, friendly city-tour, or whatever it was. Your surroundings don't weight you down with self-conciousness anymore. Why be so very embarrassed? Unsure? He was like you. An ordinary man. Pushing through life. Making the best of it. Why did you even assume he wasn't? Don't you know not to judge a book by it's cover? And so, you're on your couch. A simple, worn thing, used by no doubt countless tenants prior, a stitching here and there and a patchwork of makeshift pieces of materials covering up the torn, slightly faded surface of your landlord's old paisley sofa Terry's large form practically slumps into, it's leaning portion not big enough for his entire back, so he simply sits there, partially huddled in front of the television set, a plastic table you used to serve him some refreshments on between you and flickering images on the neon, ever-changing screen. Something called Streets of Fire was playing. A random pick, after much remote swapping and channel hunting. Willem Dafoe in a biker's leather jacket and a motorcycle abound as the film's bad guy --- you've so much you wish to ask Terry but realize you don't have the right to. Where you've been? Where do you tend to vanish to for days? Do I have the right to ask? No, I guess not. Who am I to you, after all? What if, he has a secret family somewhere he doesn't speak of? A wife and children? You found it partially unbelievable that a man like that isn't taken by anybody. But, then again, maybe he indeed isn't? Who were you to decide? To distract yourself, you tap his shoulder, offering to pour him more bubbly soda lest you interrupt the movie watching experience with talking, spotting that his cup is empty.

 

 

 

He flinches.

As if outright burned.

The contact is only miniscule, but he visibly shudders.

Your near-constant anxiety flares up and you immediately catch the slight movement.

 

 

 

-"Oh, sorry, didn't mean to."-

 

 

 

You awkwardly chuckle, apologizing, cradling the half-filled plastic bottle of Cherryade in your arms, freezing up momentarily, filling his cup again, never taking your eyes off of him to ensure he's alright, feeling like you've crossed an unspoken boundary. Or maybe hurt him. He shifted like it hurt somehow. The expression of his face reflected that - suddenly surprised, verging on grimness. Maybe sitting on that overly small couch just made him sore and oversensitive? It has in fact, been over an hour of this movie-binge, at this point, so no wonder. You truly wish you could've provided a more comfortable, spacious seating arrangement for him. He gave you such a lovely time out, the least you owed is returning the favour, but so far, it wasn't going very well.

 

 

 

-"Didn't meant to what?"-

 

He speaks up sternly, the hue of the television screen changes and so does the coloring reflected on Terry's face - blue, red, purple and back to blue again, dousing him in an almost sleek, reptilian sheen.

 

-"Touch you."-

 

You clarify, in case it wasn't obvious enough, wishing there was something on the table you can occupy yourself with to distract from the sudden weirdness of an unexpectedly tense atmosphere, like the walls started closing in on you both. This apartment started feeling strange recently, though. First, you find that hundred dollar bill on the threshold, then, your one special pair of silky unmentionables get mysteriously misplaced even though you haven't utilized them in ages, and now, Terry's acting all fidgety too. Maybe he didn't like this flat after all, and it only just registered in his brain?

 

 

-"Well, you did. That's no reason to apologize."-

 

 

His face is steely.

 

 

-"Sorry."-

 

 

You blubber, trying not to look at him --- he was...he was kind of scary sometimes. You felt as if though he was purposefully misunderstanding you. You meant nothing bad.

 

 

-"There you go again."-

 

 

His tongue clicks against his teeth, in displeasure mingled with amusement - he's merely teasing you, you realize. Or is he?

 

 

-"Just seems like you didn't like it. That's alright, I didn't know."-

 

 

You stammer, fumbling with your own fingers to avoid eye contact, standing unsure, at the side of the couch, unable to decide if you should sit back down or keep standing or simply make yourself scarce and leave for the bathroom or maybe hide in a cupboard. You set down the Cherryade and scoot back to your place, slowly, as if though the piece of furniture might just bite, making a small amount of distance between you and him. He touched you constantly, though. On multiple occasions! He even removed your own slippers for you in the dojo. Before you get to a precise conclusion on anything, the scene of the movie changes and the character of Ellen Aim, played by one Diane Lane is suddenly tied up on the bed, antagonized by the villain as she struggles against her bonds.

 

 

Oh.

Oh, no, no.

 

What is this!? Some kind of erotic thriller by genre!? That's not what the TV guide in the newspaper said!

 

-"I didn't know it'll be that kind of movie. Lemme just ---"- You quickly lunge forward grabbing the remote, breathless and exasperated and feeling infinitely clumsy, attempting to change the channel to something safe, trying not to make the evening even more tense, only to be stopped by his hand placed over yours, like a warm, firm blanket, then turning into a claw, grabbing you. Now, he was the one touching you. Gripping you, rather. He's strong. The contact burns.

 

 

-"No, its okay."- His voice is soft, quiet, velvety. -"Leave it on."- He adds tentatively, lowering your fingers unto the table and guiding your movements into setting the remote down. You still can't look at him, eyes wondering here and there and anywhere, expect on the scenes on screen or him. The villain forces a kiss on the heroine and she pulls away, further against the rope. You feel disoriented. -"We're not children."-

 

 

Terry breaks some of the edginess with a chuckle, mercifully.

Indeed - you weren't children.

How...how old was he, though?

You never figured to ask as of yet.

Fact hits you; you never here watching a movie with him, yet you never inquired.

 

 

-"I'm not a prude, you know?"-

 

 

You see his face turn your way in your peripheral vision, his sharp, piercing eyes scrutinizing you, but you merely smile politely, crossing your arms on your lap, briefly look up at him, gaze fluttering and falling back down again around the time the movie villain, Raven Shaddock speaks up again, tantalizingly, teasing the heroine as he says; " You know, you're making things real hard on yourself. You act nice, you and me fall in love for a week or two and then I let you go. Nobody gets hurt. " You really wished you could've changed the channel to Jeopardy or Golden Girls.

 

 

-"Just didn't want to make you feel, well, uneasy, with our viewing choices."-

 

 

You peer up at him once more to catch him staring at you, the blue of his eyes enhanced through the vivid colors on the screen reflected in his irises, making them appear like they're briefly glowing a neon, monochrome ray. The villain bends down towards the tied up heroine on the bed as he smiles, mocking her with his words; " You see, I ain't such a bad guy. I just get excited around pretty girls."  Seriously? What the heck was this film? You really hoped it wouldn't get explicit or you'd change the damn thing on your own accord. It actually wouldn't be half bad at all, but with Terry's presence here, felt everything more acutely, even an accidental choice in movies.

 

 

-"Uneasy."- Terry savours the word. It's neither a question, nor an exclamation. It's just spoken and then held there flatly, going nowhere, lingering mid-air. By then, mercifully, the scene ends and transfers to a woman in a black tong pole and fishnets dancing, getting her miniskirt ripped off by someone in the leering crowd and an action scene in a crowded biker's club. Oh, well, okay, a partial relief at least. -"That sort of thing,"- He continues, smoothly. -"It's not half bad, you see."- Not half bad? That sort of thing? Your breath hitches and you reach forwards you fizzy, red, saccharine cherry flavoured drink, gulping it down to keep yourself occupied.

 

 

 

How did a movie with a rather corny tagline announcement broadcast description like 'It is another time - Another Place - where the 1950s is mixed with the 1980s. In a city where it is always nighttime.' get so weirdly suggestive, risque and sexual all of a sudden? You expected a harmless, cheesy, mindless, style-over-substance action romp released last year, not --- well, this? You should've watched the Incredible Shrinking Woman or something. At least there, to your knowledge, nobody gets tied to a bed by their kidnapper. Although, goodness gracious, seeing as how this evening progressed, nothing would surprise you.

 

 

You look back at him. His lips are slightly parted.

 

-"Have you ever tried, if you don't mind me asking?"-

 

-"Tried ---"-

 

You trail off. You knew what he meant, but you wanted to hear him say it lest you make a mistake.

 

-"Bondage. Getting restrained. Tied up."-

 

-"No, never. Sorry."-

 

You stutter with a performative giggle.

You felt you've disappointed him somehow, just by confessing to that.

A certain dash of boldness takes you over though, and you perk up.

 

-"Have you? If you also don't mind me asking?"-

 

You mumble with a voice that threads lightly, reiterating his question back at him ---

 

-"Yes."-

 

And then he buds in, answering before you can even have time to feel embarrassed.

 

-"I see."-

 

 

Is all you can say at that point. Figures, well, people must really want him, huh? He has an easy time with them. He's already close with half of this housing block and he's been here for no time at all, when one really thinks about and puts down the math. No wonder he's been experienced, looking the way he does. Experienced enough to do --- that. He's really beautiful. Does he know? He must, at least partially. Even though he's humble, amicable and down to earth, someone must've told him before. Did, incidentally, that someone else do the tying up? Or was Terry the one tying up others? You banish these thoughts from your mind. No, no, really. You're gross, sexualizing him like that. This was all the television's fault. His intimacy - it didn't concern you whatsoever. Intrusive thoughts come unbidden before you can ever hope to purge them and promptly banish them back into the abyss; you imagine him as the heroine of the movie. You're the sneering villain in the leather jacket, with the slicked back hair. He's the one laying postrate on the bed, tied up, struggling. You straddle his form, twice your size as he was -- remembering his glistening, sweat-covered, toned torso from the other day in the dojo. You grind and bounce atop of him, riding him rough and hard. You feel the blood creep up into your cheeks and you yearn to shut your eyes in absolute distress and never open them again. No, no! No! Enough! He didn't deserve to be thought of that way. You were being a pervert!

 

 

He notices your discomfort, no doubt.

Even in the dimly lit, halogen, changing neon light of the living room.

 

 

 

-"Don't be flustered. You're with a friend, huh."- His hand is at your shoulder, giving you a gentle, reassuring squeeze and then a pat, being merely one step away from a partial shoulder rub. He...likes initiating it. You notice. He doesn't like receiving. Or maybe he simply doesn't receiving it from you, in particular? Maybe there were people he did like receiving from? Or perhaps, he liked it from nobody at all? Maybe the war had something to do with it? Maybe he was wounded somewhere, and it actually led to physical discomfort to be touched at all? But he still needed contact, somehow, from somewhere? Or maybe you were just overthinking this? -"Being subdued, bound and forced to take it, without a chance to escape is the most exhilarating mental and physical stimuli there is."- Your gazes meet briefly, as he says that, with an almost educational, academic tone, and you try to smile, waiting a few minutes, when a commercial top shop break pops up on TV, taking it as an excuse to quickly scurry into the kitchen and pour some chips into a plastic tray, nearly dropping it in front of him due to how utterly perplexed, distressed and clumsy you feel, especially when he starts helping you and placing the knick-knacks you brought out on the table himself.

 

 

 

By the time the movie finishes up, the end credits start rolling in alongside a jingle, and your Cherryade-fuelled marathon draws to a close, in relative silence by then, nothing unexpected happening anymore, Terry politely bidding his goodbyes with a sweet, warm smile and a wave from the darkened, quiet hallway illuminated with a solitary, yellow, flickering lightbulb hanging on an equally solitary wire from the corridor ceiling, thanking you for a fun time, for the snacks and refreshments and taking his leave before it gets too late, you feel your the pressure somewhere within your hips ache so badly, it practically renders your shaky, shivery legs barely stable, a patch of moistness breaking through your sweatpants, forming a wet dot between your legs on the surface of the fabric. For a split second, you're convinced your period unexpectedly decided to hit you at the most inopportune of moments, right before, quickly heading into the bathroom and locking yourself inside, leaning up against the door nervously fumbling with the edge of your trousers, upon further inspection of your undergarments, you spot no blood whatsoever. Only a fluid, sticky wetness of your aching cunt.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Strategically speaking, when a lion hunts, it tends to separate the antelope from the herd.

 

 

 

 

Out in the savannah, it just so happens the predator never attacks a pack of animals from the front or going for the middle where their numbers were the strongest, instead it tails them, picking off the weakest, slowest ones from the very edge of the collective, claws and teeth bared as they attach themselves into tender flesh and collapse their prey, at first, into the humid, searing dust of the wilderness and then further off, into the jungle. Such was the case with humans too, Terry knew --- if you wanted to make someone into a social pariah or an outcast, just pit them against their support network, plant seeds of discourse, or simply spread rumors. Daniel Larusso was experiment number one. The prototype. He already wasn't on tremendous terms with that slope teacher of his once Terry pushed the finalizing, killing blade in all the way, to the hilt. Now, they were arguing more then ever. Now, Danny-boy was storming off, coming to the dojo visibly upset, learning tricks from another master. Attempt number two was on it's way where you were concerned; not that you were the most buzzing little bee where connections were on the line, but Terry really wanted the final nail in the coffin when he'd kill even the vaguest chance any of the fine people of this housing block would ever speak to you again while you lived here. It's easier to do whatever he wanted to you if you simply had nobody to complain to. If there was nobody to give you advice. Point things out. And Terry wanted it to stay that way too. He didn't want someone acting smart and wise around you. That was his job and his job alone. If you were all insolated, then he could simply swoop in like some sort of prince and get you addicted to crumbs of his attention and then a crumb more, and more, and more or less if he so choose. Like getting someone hooked on Quaaludes. Which was the case in war too; you hit those weakest, most desperate, most eager for advancement, acceptance, favours, payment, have them their betray their own group, and break the entire foundation from the inside.

 

 

 

So, in honor of that lesson lifted straight from manual guide on The Art of War by Sun Tzu, he spends one morning after Daniel leaves class chatting up Mildred Johnson; getting to know the masses further.

 

 

 

-"She's going through something of a grieving period, I understand. A major tragedy. She wants to be left all alone. She told me so personally."- Terry lies, making up stuff on the spot, pulling at the heartstrings, feigning being discreet and respectful towards the subject of the story as he indulges into a fair round of gossip with the shocked residential grey-haired, stocky grandma wearing a pastel floral print pink blouse and matching pink thighs combined with plastic beach flip flops and painted, wrinkly toe-nails of an equally magenta color, who gives out a sympathetic look and says something or other about completely understanding as she casts an affected glance, vaguely, towards the stairs and the ceiling that led to the second floor, and by extension, unto the third one, right before sharing a few pleasantries and carting away her stroller and shopping bag, with Terry's noble, selfless aid, of course. She reminds him of Margaret vaguely. If Margaret was impossibly naive. Not astute. Had the tackiest dressing taste. Hellbent on collecting unconfirmed information from handsome karate teachers. Actually, he had to scratch that, she didn't remind him of Miss Spencer at all.

 

 

 

Then he returns to the dojo and does a few pushups.

 

One.

Two.

Three.

Fifty.

 

Radio's on again, Soft Cell playing.

Terry simply found he can envision scenarios better with some musical backing.

 

 

 

【Sometimes I feel I've got to
Run away, I've got to ---】

 

 

 

The words of Tainted Love vocalizes it's tune as he exercises, echoing in his brain even when the keyboard thumping of the music fades away and somewhere between lunch time and Mike Barnes coming in, Terry stumbles into Randy J. Robertson (Middle name John, as he discovered recently from the man's one time jail mugshots, much to his irritation and indignation) smoking a cigarette with a backwards cap on, while sitting on a bare concrete staircase in his windbreaker jacket that Terry managed to hear the swishing movements of all the way from the corridor, clad in jeans paired with jeans and a puffer in neon greens and neon blues and round Lennon shades, it wasn't hard to spot him, after some amicable conversation and Terry being offered to buy weed (which he did, smoking it in front of him, managing to get it for free, in fact, after some well-placed flattery) Terry also brings up the tragic fact that the tenants of this building have to walk to their respective stories entirely on foot, and my goodness, think of the elderly and the disabled. And by the time he was convinced Randy was high enough, he amps up the pressure, multitasking;

 

 

 

-"Not to rat someone out, I saw her messing with the elevator."- An innocent, almost juvenile school-ground taunt type of accusation, Terry knew, but enough to subconsciously generate animosity.

-"Duh, man, that's so uncool for the infrastructure and the community and shit."- Randy answers haplessly, half dazed, scoffing --- ah yes, a scoff! That was good. A scoff was something indeed.

 

 

 

Back into the dojo it was, class with Mike Barnes.

Push up one.

Two.

Three.

Thirty.

More musical backing for the artist painting a canvas.

 

 

 

【Tainted love (Oh)
Tainted love】

 

 

 

 

 

The next day he meets Abby Thornton, with long, grey, loose hair, a gaunt face and beady blue eyes, impossibly skinny --- and a wide, jarringly multi-patterend hippie tunic leftover from the early 60's (would've been impossibly amusing to Terry if they were the same age or only five to ten years apart), it seemed and equally colorful wide, air pants that could've easily passed for a skirt and the perpetually pink Mildred coming back from the store, Abby on a wheel-chair, aided by her friend.

 

 

 

 

-"Not that I'm close-minded, but I've heard she had a parent in the Communist Party. Or an uncle. I don't quite remember"-

 

 

 

The old women gasp in mutual distress, appearing scandalized.

When they inquire why the staircase smells strange, he says she's been smoking there, as an extra - a cherry on top.

In fact, the ladies seem more horrified that someone, in this case, dear honeybea, has supposedly been smoking a reefer rather then a political alignment accusation that would make Joseph McCarty rise from his grave.

Well, whatever works, works.

So, long as she's all alone.

Gotta isolate the antelope before you feast.

 

 

 

【Now I know I've got to
Run away, I've got to
Get away, you don't really want any more from me
Don't touch me, please
I cannot stand the way you tease】

 

 

Push up fifty five.

Fifty six.

Fifty seven.

Fifty eight.

 

 

 

At that point, he changes the radio station and unto another song cut short by a weather report and introducing a love ballad - everything was a love ballad lately, but if it aided in fucking this bitch up, then so be it, the semantics didn't matter.

 

 

 

The Núñez clan and their numerous children pretty much ignore him even with his best attempts, speaking Spanish among each other.

Well, all except Antonio Núñez, with a sharp, bleached mohawk and a faded Ramones shirt - classy.

 

 

 

-"To stay away from her. Understand?"-

 

 

 

Terry gives out a clear, very simple to follow and obey order with an unflinching, stern tone and not much haggling is needed and they settle on fifty bucks per month, as a definite vow of silence, at the top floor of the building right below the barred-off attic, where the staircase stops in the shadow of a stained, cracked window overlooking the city and the paintjob of the walls changes from an off-color, vaguely creamy white to some patchy, stained type of green, red bricks peering out from underneath the surface, revealing a past layering in the foundations of the blocks; he's a kid with a seemingly agreeable disposition despite of his outer appearance, a piercing in his lip, dangling chains lining his ripped, spray-painted black trousers, dusty combat boots that appear too large for his scrawny frame, a cut-off, sleeveless leather vest lined with badges, studs and patches --- Tony promptly stuffs the money into his pocket, right before checking if it's a forgery or not by lifting it up into the air, up against the ray of light peeking through the cracks in the glass with a prompt -"Got'cha, ponytails!"- Terry controls his need to roll his eyes and stare the punk down by throwing on a deliberate shark-like rictus smile. He's --- he's checking if it's real money? He's checking if a billionaire's money's real money? Fair enough. Terry would check the money of a man standing in the shadow of a locked, cobweb-filled attic as well. But, this guy -- this guy's brilliant. Terry wants to laugh. Everything about this building was so putridly disgusting yet so cheekily precious.

 

 

 

 

-"You her jealous ex-boyfriend or something?"-

What!?

What the fuck!?

Her what!? --- he was LA's most eligible bachelor and he planned on staying that.

 

 

 

Tony flicks the bill, shouting his last piece of idiocy as he runs down the stairs cackling and jumping around.

 

 

 

Piece of crap kid, reminded him of Snake, Dennis and Mike Barnes.

Terry should've thrown him down from the top floor for that nickname alone.

In rage, by evening, he's in the dojo again, working the punching bag.

In swift movements, easily pummeling into the obstacle - gritted teeth.

Angered, remembering she's touched him while they sat on the couch.

Terry doesn't get touched --- Terry does all the touching himself.

When he wants, how he wants and however long he so wishes.

 

 

 

Muscle ache abound, covered in his own salt, he rinses himself off in the built-in shower in the backrooms of his studio with barely enough breathing room to turn around in, a tiny space, more of a disposal closet really, but as the water trickles down his body after a hard day's workout in three separate sessions and respectively working his ass off that people who lived here know to avoid her, Terry thinks of Bea touching his shoulder as he recoils. He imagines himself grabbing her hand and twisting it behind her back, squeezing, effectively cracking the bone, but the unassuming velvet plush of it, such a silly, nonsense contact feels like a small tickle down his spine even now. All the ways she apologized. All the ways the perfect timing of a perfectly suggestive movie coming on in ways not even he himself could've coordinated if he personally walked up to a local television station - to CBS, specifically - and practically bought the whole place out and ordered them to broadcast whatever he picked, just for the gag of it. Fluttering eyelashes when he's asked if she's ever tried anything. Getting tied up. Getting subdued. A stutter here. An awkward giggle there. An almost profound redness in her face when he spoke of his own experiences and tenacity as vaguely as he possibly could without getting too much into the details, yet enough to pique a curiosity. He envisioned a rope around her then, in a perfect diamond pattern, going around her breasts and torso, her hips and cunt and ankles and arms and neck. A silver collar around her throat and maybe her own stolen underwear stuffed into her mouth and taped shut, so he could do to her whatever he so pleased. Her fingers come to mind, and the rope in Terry's head loosens so she could come undone from their knots and touch him again.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Day goes from bad from worse when you miss a transport connection from one end of the city to another, of course, as on cue, the weather worsens well within half an hour, and the skies go from a humid, stiflingly sunny disposition to a thunderstorm with you still on the streets, huddled beneath a bus stop, wondering if you messed up royally or not with not minding the time as well as you should've, even though you were positive you didn't waste a single minute. Going from one establishment to another, inquiring about vacancies, writing down phone numbers and collecting job-advertisements off of store windows, the hours both dragged past the point of insanity and flew exceedingly fast all at once. An hour passes. Then two. It's like you were jinxed by some angry genie, you decide to just head out, under the still drizzling haze of a darkened sky, and head home on foot. You'll make it, you calculate, in a few hours, focusing on your impractical footwear, aesthetics over athletic comfort, and how you'll make it back in the first place without bleeding yourself to the bone, not even noticing the vehicle that pulls up beside you. A window gets rolled down and you take it as a sign to hurry up.

 

 

 

-"Hey. Hey!"- a voice calls out, and you still ignore it, your pace speeding up. Oh. no.

 

 

 

-"You really should notify me before heading out anywhere too far!"- it's like your heart both sinks and leaps at the same time when you recognize Terry's tone and turn around you face him, wrapped in his grey windbreaker jacket, looking at you expectantly, the water droplets dripping over him as he reaches a hand to you - more like drags you back him and straight into the car - a new car, no less, one with a hood, before you can even say something, promptly reaching over and shutting the door on your end when you're too stunned to speak. -"Wha - what are you doing out here? What a coincidence."- you manage, almost stuttering. Too big of a coincidence, actually. -"I was following you."- Terry says with absolute blunt sincerity and you find yourself unable to speak, the rolled up windows fogged up and water-drenched, a distant thunder roar matching the thumping of your heart as he slips out of his jacket and tucks it around you with careful pats, rolling in you into the material, to avoid you getting sick, he explains. God, you were so glad he was here.

 

 

 

-"Why?"- is all you can, and it's really, all you need to say, because honestly, why?

 

 

 

-"Huh!? If you really think I'm gonna let you roam around town all on your own with this bullshit weather, you've gotta be kidding me!"- he finishes off with all seriousness like it's the most obvious thing in the world, clicking the key of his engine and swerving the steering wheel and driving into the cloudy, overcast dusk, straight home, a distant thunder splitting a roaring echo across the horizon intermingled with the humming roar of the engine. The buzzing radio and the weather broadcast predicts a thunderstorm that night. 'Stay indoors', the report advises. The programme then switches to an announcement detailing a highway traffic jam, it's exact location and how to best avoid it during rush hour. The rain drops trickling down the window in cascades reflecting neon signs, flashing lights flickering atop of erected diner signs and the occasion lighting paint the interior of the vehicle a stormy, stifled, chromatic blue - the effect of it sheltered somehow, tucked away, almost womb-like. Your cheeks practically puff up with how wide you smile. He wouldn't let you roam? Really? That was --- well, it was rather sweet of him. But, was it? He followed you. How? Why?

 

 

But, why did it bother you less then it should've? That wasn't right.

 

 

-"What about the car?"-

 

 

You manage somewhat curiously to break the silence as he halts in front of a red stop light that turns into a blinking yellow and then a sharp green; this vehicle was almost identical to the light blue Ford pick-up truck with, perhaps, the sole difference that it served to protect you from the rain and the cold, covering your heads and seats. Well, he was still a business owner. It wouldn't perpetually be sunny in LA. You figured he had to be careful and invest. He drives with immense precision, yet with some form of aggression, practically manhandling the screeching tires like he's driving some glitzy sports car.

 

 

-"Got this from a downtown depot just for the roof. 1982 Dodge Challenger! Owner wanted to scrap it for parts. What a steal! He just wanted me to get it off his hands!"- -

 

 

He smiles at you, a wide, dazzling gesture, full of brilliant teeth, swapping glances in quick succession between you and the road illuminated by the halogen street-lights melting into the dampened sidewalks, eyes twinkling, as if though he actually waited for you to ask, only to enthusiastically proceed describing the haggling process, the price range, it's 100-hp 2.6-liter four-cylinder and how pleased he was with the additional purchase and how he can more effectively transport material for the studio even once the weather effectively worsens. Climate was so unpredictable out on the West Coast, he added. You never knew when it would be a perfect, white summer and when it would rain acid from the sky. Goes on a small rant about privatized companies polluting the environment and tampering with the natural order of things, making season blend into one another and then proceeds sharing a trivia about scientists predicting that by 2050, half a century into the turn of the new millennia, summer, spring, winter and autumn wont exist at all as a concept. They'll all bleed into one universal season. You chuckle at him, growing somewhat mellow and then, all of a sudden, deeply affected. He's made you laugh, when the day so far was so awful and heavy.

 

 

 

-"Thank you, Terrence."-

 

You sigh then, using his full name because it was a worthy substitute for Mr. Silver but still not as informal as merely 'Terry'.

 

-"What for?"-

 

 

He briefly looks at you, wide eyed, appearing baffled.

 

 

-"You were under no obligation to pick me up."-

 

 

You retort, looking out the window next to you, buildings passing in a blur.

 

 

-"You got scared, didn't you?"-

 

 

His voice is soft as he remarks right back at you and now it's your turn to avert your gaze from sight seeing and look at him, feeling your mouth slightly agape. Yes. You figured you did get scared. Was that forbidden? Was that somehow wrong? His expression is unusually tender, brows perched upwards, eyes smiling, lips parted, right before his attention returns neatly to the road ahead and the windshield dotted with water droplets. One of his windshield cleaners seems to be slightly bent, as if worn and damaged.

 

 

-"I missed a street. I took a wrong turn and well ---"-

 

 

You stutter, shivering.

 

 

-"You'll catch a cold."-

 

 

He notices promptly reaching behind his own seat and pulling out a small travel blanket and placing it in your lap as his other hand is occupied managing the steering wheel. With his own jacket already on you, you keep the cover precisely where he's placed it, not wanting to seem like an absolute marshmallow in front of him. Wasn't he himself cold? This car didn't exactly seem to have a heating unit or a heating fan, but it was infinitely more preferable to being outside.

 

 

 

-"How's job hunting going, if you don't mind me asking?"-

 

He inquires with a small half-smile. Oh no. Have mercy.

 

-"It's going."-

 

 

You manage stiffly, it's going nowhere, more accurately, meeting his baby blues in the review mirror. Truth was, you didn't have much to say. If anything, the shame burned that you were idle enough to simply get lost and get picked up by someone all at the same day. Play stupid games, win stupid prizes, you supposed. You wondered what he thought of you? What if he pitied you, or something? You almost wish you did truly get lost. That this city swallowed you up and you were never found again.

 

 

 

-"No luck yet, huh?"- Terry clicks his tongue, furrowed brows, making a turn at an intersection, the road shiny and reflective in the wet, rainy haze, tires screeching and squishing in a splashing puddle somewhere on the concrete. -"Well, I feel you."- He inhales, sharply. -"Was the same when I came home."- His jaw stiffens, a visible vein appearing on his forehead for the briefest of seconds, as if recollecting something particularly foul, his tone still carrying a hint of nostalgia and sadness. -"People turned you down based on your uniform. Didn't even care for your qualifications. Not that I had any. I was barely twenty when I returned. Only a high-school education behind me. College came much later."- You listen intently to his story, taking all in, a certain pressure forming deep inside of your throat like a lump as you listen. He really did have a hard time, didn't he? And barely twenty? Goodness. How young he must've been when he was drafted, or when he volunteered then? How old is he now then? He appeared stupendously youthful. You wouldn't give him more then thirty-two at best. Maybe thirty three. -"That's when me and a good buddy of mine decided to take matters into our own hands and create jobs for ourselves."- Terry's face practically beams up at that point, it proudly radiates off of his face like a miniature sun. -"That's how Cobra Kai happened!"- He loved that dojo so much. You could tell. Just from the way he spoke of it alone.

 

 

-"I'm sorry. That you got treated that way. You didn't deserve that."-

 

 

You whisper with a quiet voice, referring to the discrimination and mistreatment he must've faced.

 

 

-"It made me who I am today."- Terry practically cuts you off alongside your attempts at empathy, with a tone that;s legitimately joyful, like he's talking about something positive and not an unfair hardship and bitter circumstances befalling a young man. -"I deserved it."- He adds, not averting his gaze from the long, flat road ahead, his smile forming a sharp line consisting a bared, jagged teeth. What? Why would he deserve it? Why would he think such a thing of himself?

 

 

-"No, you didn't, Terrence."-

 

 

You find your body instinctively leaning over and then he cuts you off yet again.

 

 

-"Terry will do."-

 

 

He instructs.

Terry.

 

 

-"Listen, tell you what --"- Car comes to a halt right in front of your housing block and he leans his elbow over the top of his seat, with an inquisitive demeanour, the purple grey overcast sky rendering the interior of the vehicle dark. -"I could use help around the dojo. Nothing difficult, I promise. Only until you find something worthier of yourself."- He lifts the palm of his hand to re-assure you as he grips the steering wheel with the other. Something? Worthier? Of you?  What was he, even? He spoke like someone you made up. -"Just the occasional cleaning job."- Terry elaborates, somewhat apologetically, as if though fearing you'd be disappointed. No, no. Not in a thousand years. That wasn't the issue. The issue was something else entirely. -"Polishing the gear, sweeping. Of course, I'd do all the heavy lifting myself."- He doesn't even finish his sentence and in your head, you already reject the idea. You didn't want him to pity or view you like a charity case he had to be responsible for. Also, you knew he had some difficulties somehow. His budget oscillated. One month, he could've been borrowing sugar, another he was buying used cars from depots because the old one lacked a roof. The next month, he could've been borrowing sugar again. You really didn't want to be taking advantage of someone's good nature like that, regardless if your own savings were running dramatically thin.

 

 

-"That's very kind of you."- You mouth, carefully, trying not to offend. -"But, I couldn't possibly."-

 

 

-"Huh!? Why not!?"-

 

 

He appears outraged at that point, mouth pursed, shifting in the driver's seat.

 

 

-"Because you're having a hard time yourself. It wouldn't be right to make it even harder on you."-

 

 

You confess as tenderly as you could. You appreciated the offer, though. You appreciated it more then he could ever understand and an odd heaviness engulfed your heart as you swerved out of the opportunity. Maybe that's why you rejected it. What if you have sort of argument? Some sort of misunderstanding while employed? What if it leads to falling out? What if you never speak again due to it, or simply strain the connection? You'd much rather find another place to earn money at. With a boss and coworkers that were strangers.

 

 

-"Harder on me!? Do you think the dojo doesn't make enough money!? Is that it?"-

 

 

At this point, if Terry could jump up from his seat, he probably would've, you figure.

I mean, that too yes.

You only ever saw one student total - the limping boy.

And you figured you heard another one, in a parallel learning shift.

But, really, that was it.

 

 

-"No, not quite. Just don't want you to make up a job that wouldn't otherwise be necessary just because we're friends."-

 

You escalate the situation, trying to be diplomatic while effectively still telling the truth. Terry never mentioned he had difficulties cleaning before. Nor was the studio big enough to require extra hands, but now, the minute you mentioned unemployment, suddenly, he has a job lined up? No, you didn't want to be advantageous. Clearly, he had some sort of bias. At that point, you bid him a polite goodbye, thank him for the help, ask him if you owe him any payment, which he promptly ignores, staring needles at you as you scoot over into the seat and open the door, climbing out, and unto the rain-soaked sidewalk decorated with a crooked, rusted fire hydrant spray-painted with yellow graffiti, a police siren blaring in the distance.

 

 

-"Friends."-

 

 

He mouths a single word.

As if though he didn't hear a thing.

His expression deathly still.

He appears visibly offended.

You ---

 

 

-"How about your friend invite you on a friendly date this friendly weekend? I'll call you and tell you when. And if you change your mind about the job offer, you can come downstairs and tell me anytime."- You're not sure if you're imagining it but Terry's smile is laced with a seething quality that implies you must've said something to push his buttons a bit. He picked you up. Didn't charge a thing. Offered you a job. And now he wants to spend more time too. All while you're unsuccessfully hunting for work of your own. You couldn't tally by going out on dates as much as you wished to with him, even though, judging by the tone of his voice, it seemed like he would've picked you up anyway, regardless if you answered with a yes, a no, or a maybe. You remember how your body reacted the last time you killed time with him, during the movie night --- with that memory in place, all you can do is nod wordlessly and hope to scurry back upstairs as quickly as possible. Grabbing the glass front entrance interphone door's handle, intending to make yourself scarce.

 

 

-"Oh and ---"-

 

 

His jesting voice stops you though, as he leans forward from the inside of the car, quickly rolling down the steamed-up window, ignition roaring again.

 

 

-"Don't get lost or I'll have come and find you again, yeah? Don't make me hunt you down."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Was this some kind of stupid pride thing?
Her rejecting his offer of aid?
Would she rather take the complicated route and suffer, then make it easy on herself?
Terry never understood the need for martyrdom --- to him, it wasn't noble, it was merely useless.

 

 

 

Stupid --- in the line-up of three S' - Selfless, Sacrificial, Stupid.

 

 

 

Terry wondered why he even cared to psychoanalyze her, but he supposed he'd rather invent a make-belief job, rather then have her going out there, finding one of her own by some chance, some idiot employment at a diner, at a cash registry, managing tables and being polite to idiot customers, fuck knows what else, forming a new circle perhaps, with new people. Maybe new friends. A new environment. Maybe even a lover? Which meant she'd be away from the cardboard cutout reality more often. Away from the building. Away from where he could more easily see. There would be distance. And distance meant independence. Independence meant freedom. Freedom meant slipping away. And he wouldn't have that. No. He wouldn't be robbed of his second chance to live out his own private Vietnam. Not this time. No. She needed to stay put. In one place. In this block, on this address, on her very own third floor. Yes. And desperate situations required desperate measures, Terry always knew that --- if he had to scare her back into place, he would. Fear does majestic things were decision making is concerned. He'd gladly do that, as a sort of investment into him having his own fun. That's where Raul, Tim (who insisted on being called Scar --- which Terry barely contained his laughter on) and some fellow called Billy come in. Very dangerous. Hilarious. People were so cheap to buy and bribe in this neighbourhood, and they agree to play the role of muggers. It would fall under the category of their professional leanings anyway, except, now, someone was paying them to do it, giving them a swift incentive, in a back alley, few blocks away from where the studio dojo is situated, Terry makes a deal in a blind street tucked between a local bodega and some greasy afterhours stripper joint. 'We'll scare her good, man. Have her shitting her pants.' One of them adds with glee, practically salivating at the prospect of a payday. Burly, stereotypical thuggish type. Terry supposed they were scary, in a caricatural way that would give someone's grandma jitters, as they inquire if she'll be alone for the project. Seems like BIlly wanted some pow-wow of a sexual nature. No, no. None of that. That's a satisfaction reserved for him personally.

 

 

 

-"No. She won't be. She'll be with me. Always with me."-

 

 

 

Terry throws them a collective grin, just so the rules of the game are well understood.
She needed to be scared and he needed to seem like the big hero that does the saving.
Maybe throw in a helpful, strategic quip or two on just how dangerous this city is.
Maybe going out alone, the way she did the other day wasn't so smart, eh?

 

 

When that issue is completed, Terry calls up her number to request the date he invited himself upon earlier. Margaret was so lovely as to acquire her phone number some time ago through his own private network sources and the prompt aid of a detective and with some haggling and beating around the bush, she agrees to go out with him again once some pressure and guilt-tripping is employed. Perfect. He practically jogs up to the third floor and picks her up in her puff-sleeved floral pattern sundress going down below the knees and a creamy thin sweater to match --- a small with purse and matching sandals. A bit cheap, but definitely prime-time material for a mugging. As she walks down the stairs and he being ever the gentleman letting her walk in front of him, examining her posterior moving, he images the silken lace drawers he took from her. He images pushing her up a wall. Spreading her legs. Making her wear them, cum-stained and marked as they were. The reverie fades and Terry quickly eclipses her moves to open the glass, front entrance in the hallway for her alongside the car door, throwing on his biggest charmer smile, like a good, neighbourhood boy going on a prom date would. Also, much like a good, neighbourhood boy going to prom, Terry decides to take her to an amusement park that evening, making it something of a surprise. He perhaps, couldn't think of anything more annoyingly innocuous, seemingly innocent and juvenile then the going to the Fairplex, to appease her and put her in a safe, comfortable sort of mood, like a lamb before the slaughter and in his calculations, he's very much correct in his planning and strategizing as he parks the Dodge (acquired promptly, through his collection of cars in the mansion, to have an excuse to go out to find her, if need be, even in the adversity of wind and rain) in a driveway and she climbs out clutching her bag like a small child, mouth agape with the biggest, beaming expression as she looks up at the lights of a Ferris wheel hovering in the distance, juxtaposed against a purple dusky autumn skyline far above. Good. She's happy. Don't smile too much, a proverb says, you might cry later. If Johnny could only see him now - he'd keel over from laughing.

 

 

 

Terry arranged for him to drown in pussy out in Tahiti, as he should ---
And here Terry was, watching people eat popcorn and ride around on carousel ponies.

 

 

The things he did ---

 

 

He'd hurt Danny-boy extra in class next time just to make things balanced in the world again.

 

 

 

-"Oh, man, my parents used to take me to places like this back home in Vegas!"- He goes for an exciting little familial anecdote as they exit the parking lot, his body near hers at all times lest she gets lost or wonders away. -"Pa' was good with the slot machines and ma' was always the prettiest one present."- He chuckles sweetly, hands tucked into the pockets of his grey jacket, wondering why on earth he even said that. He supposed it was to throw in a relatable anecdote. To make her feel like she knows him in some way. But, it was no lie. Morton never went anywhere he couldn't gamble and lose. And sometimes win. But, the wins got far and few between as the years progressed and mother really was the most looked at person wherever she showed up. Beauty and the gambler. Beauty and the beast. Beast and the beast. She even won the pageant award of 1956 for Miss Seasonal Fair, and by extension the Best Elizabeth Taylor look-alike award. She didn't even have to make herself up particularly well to effortless excel at that one. She just had to show up as is. The whole event ended in father drunkenly attacking an Elvis impersonator handling out raffle prizes on stage to the women attending on stage for a supposed set of flirtatious glances the man threw ma's way as pa' carried her off on his shoulders, through the crowd, sequin-riddled, velvet cabaret thematic swimsuit and a showgirl feather headset involved. He had to sit out a few days in prison to sober up after that, for disrupting the public peace. Only reason they didn't have a lawsuit on their hand is because ma' went and personally pleaded with the impersonator not to do it and threw on her most convincing crocodile tears. His family was his family, but his family was also uncontrollable at times. That's why Terry strived to be different. Everything had to be perfection coordinated, maintained and left immaculate. Like clockwork. He even had Mike Barnes doing extra exercises in the dojo and warm-up laps around the block while Terry was absent as of this moment. Not a moment should've been wasted. He could multitask.

 

 

 

Walking through the crowd of cotton candy, people carrying balloons, painted masks, ice cream cones, sprinklers and children between the age of six and sixteen, Terry follows her gaze with his own, gaging what she shows interest in, what catches her attention, her change in expressions from an aura of contentment to curiosity, scrutinizing her. A wall of plush toys comes into sight as her follows the line of her gaze back to it's source alongside the cheesy inscription, written with what seems to be an ordinary marker 'Shooting game! Aim to win!'. Ah.

 

 

-"You like any of those?"-

 

 

He grabs her by the forearm, stopping her, pointing his nose towards the stand inquisitively illuminated by a string of colorful, twinkling fairy-lights. Of course she likes it. The face doesn't lie. She likes silly things.

 

 

-"Ah, no, I can't shoot. Sorry."-

 

 

She shakes her head, seeming a bit crestfallen and apologetic. Terry grins. Oh, he can't help himself.

 

 

-"I can."-

 

 

He throws a glance Bea's way, followed by a grin at her slightly baffled disposition, as he takes hold of her wrist and coaxes her forward, right in front of the little stage positioned right next to the sidewalk and the old man in a vest, wearing a cap behind the counter who hands him a rifle. It's been --- how long since he's held something reminiscent of a firearm, even if only a cheap, infinitely light pellet imitation? Almost twenty years now. Well, more like sixteen, between 1969 and 1985, but that was neither here nor there. He imagines her head, the head of the gooks who kept them captive in the jungle in cages, like animals, and the toy trigger goes off with a click, taking one target can off clean as he perches the weapon up on his shoulder. Then another. Pow, pow, pow. Down they go. In quick succession, resulting in Bea being handed one stuffed bear respectively, and then a giraffe also. Paying for another round, he easily pops town a couple cans more, managing to score big with another bear, this time colossal in size, almost the size of a human. And then, for his own satisfaction and because it was endlessly funny to him, a plush, velvet green snake, with big button sewn eyes, and a little red tongue sticking out. Perfect. Perfection. He'd go for more, if the old man didn't speak up annoying, visibly irritated by the winning stream. Good. As he should. Terry wanted the old man to act out, purely so Terry himself would seem subdued, mild mannered and genteel in comparison in front of Bea, who was clearly eating it all up, with a pale, shivering fawn stare. He wondered if she enjoyed to see him shoot.

 

 

-"Five times maximum! Just five tries! Over the limit!"-

 

 

He dismissively waves them off, half-shouting and Terry's glee is about to burst out of him triumphantly as he tucks the gigantic teddy bear between his armpit and the side of his torso and walks off feeling in his element while she was carrying the smaller bear, the giraffe and the snake, thanking him profusely and expressing her regret that the geezer would raise his voice like that. Who cares? Basic training came in handy, huh? Old man was afraid Terry would win all the toys and probably made up that 'five attempts are the limit' rule on the spot to have a valid excuse to order them away. Amazing. Terry could clear out his whole stand with ease. If Terry wanted to.

 

 

-"People are staring at us."-

 

 

She chuckles awkwardly as she carries her load, purse hanging down her shoulder on a long belt, pride intermingling with obvious embarrassment, trying to maintain her eyes on the asphalt after some fat kid licking an ice-cream, gorging himself as he held unto a parent's hand gawked at them in envy. They did stare. Mainly at him, turning after him in the crowd as he parading his stupid, huge bear around. He had one and they didn't. That was it. Not everyone could be a champion. Maybe someone recognized him too, but that was beside the point.

 

 

-"Jealous of our spoils."-

 

 

Terry practically cackles.

 

 

Keep her distracted a while longer. Until the night is deep and dark and then head home, park your car, make some excuse, stop near that alleyway. Yes. And the perfect distraction comes into sight in the shadow of the turning Ferris wheel and the shrieking, excited children and teenagers riding on it's secured seats. The Wheel of Hypnotism. A big, round disk, inverted red and white pattern, like that of a snail's shell, going round and around, with four poster cuffs for the arms and the legs to fasten the participant on, the handler of the attraction, dressed in a patchwork frock, clown make-up and a fuzzy wig standing to the side, showcasing a thematic, old-timey box embedded in crimson velvet on the inside, containing a set of knives to the bypasses. Terry nearly slobbers at the thought. Tying her up, spread eagle style. Throwing blades at her. -"Wanna try? Seems exciting!"- He cant help but get her attention and draw it away from a candy cart riddled with eager kids, pointing at the wheel instead, amping up the boyish innocence, to avoid drawing suspicion to himself. If he could fake a blush. He would. He holds the pressure in his nostrils until he can feel the blood rushing into his cheeks, giving him a heated sensation. Sure, he was here to get her all relaxed and trusting, like an animal presenting it's neck to it's owner, but nowhere did he agree that he wouldn't have some fun atop of all the extra entertainment he was about to have later tonight. -"Goodness, isn't that kind of dangerous?"- She stutters, uncertain, clutching her plush toys for dear life, alongside the edge of her tiny, decorative purse. -"No more dangerous then aiming a toy gun."- He shrugs, trying for unassuming. -"And I aim a toy gun rather adequately. Even caused a bit of a stir!"- He places his fingers over his grinning mouth, playing a game of bashfulness and humbleness. A game of 'just how much can I convince and finesse this bitch to do if I act pure and holy enough?' Saint Silver. The idea nearly gave him a giggle-fit. -"No, no, I ---"- She backpedals, looking for excuses, taking a few embarrassed steps backwards and waving her head away again. She isn't gonna bail out of this. No, no. He could feel the pressure in his jeans straining just from the thought of fastening her limbs to the wheel. Her apparent fear adding an extra spice to the meat fuckfest dish.

 

 

-"C'mon, do you trust me? Would I ever hurt you?"-

 

 

Terry looks down towards her, his inner voice whispering 'Yes, yes, I would', seeping in the hesitation like wild honey stolen from a beehive, generating what he assumes will come off like a shining example of puppy-eyes to get her to do a thing she wouldn't otherwise do if there was no pressure involved, wondering there and then --- did he have her trust yet? She trusted him enough to get inside of his car. She trusted him enough go out with him. Let him inside of apartment. Borrow him things. Come into the dojo. She even trusted him enough to sit on the couch with him and watch a movie. Yet, she didn't trust him enough to accept a job offer from him even though money was dire. She didn't trust him enough to open up about her life more, on her own accord, even though Terry already knew everything, from the files delivered to him. And now, she didn't seem to trust him enough to merely play little fair attraction circus game. So, what was the truth? Did honeybea trust him or not? Was the trust marginal, or was it profound as of yet? Did he need to work her more? He figured so, yes. She wasn't like the Larusso kid. The Larusso kid was a brat. A child. One could apply to a child with a child's logic. Mike Barnes was a child too. An angry child, but a child nonetheless. Danny-boy's and Mikey-Mike's incentive was oddly similar, when one really though about it. Adults were always a bit more of a challenge, even if young adults, of age twenty six going on twenty seven. One need to be skilled. More cunning. Sleek. And her character was not to offend, even when she was offended, and she would think she offended him somehow by broadcasting she's finding it hard to trust, as such, trying to avoid something like that by simply agreeing. Yes, yes, yes. C'mon. Say yes. His mind feverishly chants in a haze. -"Oh, well, no harm it, yeah? You seem like a good aim. I'll just close my eyes shut when you throw, if you don't mind."-

 

 

Yes!

 

 

-"We can request a blindfold? But, I think those go with a certain age-range only."-

 

 

He manipulates, trying for humiliation and a backhanded comment intentionally hoping it'll work --- and she instantly wordlessly relents, that pride he spotted her having kicking in once more. Oh, spite. She wont wear the blindfold out of spite, because he practically said it's kid's stuff, not even checking with the clown and the clown's assistant to check if he was lying or not. Delightful. As much as he wanted her bound up and eyes covered with a piece of material, her pigheadedness was amusing as she hands off her plush toys, sweater and purse to the knife throwing wheel handler for keeping, and Terry drops off his stupendously oversized bear to the man's assistant, dressed in checkerboard thighs and Bea approaches the wheel, putting her arms up, waiting. Terry can feel himself go hard by the time he's reaching for the belts and straps on either side, a steely brooch fastening the thing to her wrists and then scooting down and securing her legs. Spread legs. In a floral sundress. He sees red by the time the first knife is handed to him after he pays the entry fee of participation. Eight dollars and worth every penny. Terry would've paid eight thousand if he had to. Especially when faced with two almost pleading black eyes, staring right back him, reddened cheeks, a parted pink lip and knees peeking out beneath the hem of her dress. If this was 'Nam and POW camp, she could be his prisoner and he could do this all day for interrogation purposes even if she validly knew nothing. As such, Terry gets in stance, shoulders back, one leg forward, immaculate balance, and he lounges forward, at an approximately fourty feet distance, and he throws, landing the edge of the knife with a thud, right next to her cheek. She flinches, shutting her eyes. Lip shakes. He made his aim deliberately, giving her a tender, apologetic stare, all while planning to aim just between her legs next.

 

 


Next one hits the hem of her skirt, pinning it to the wheel effectively, right between her thighs.

Next hits the edge of the same wheel, another intentional attempt to water down any malicious intent she might get from this, as a subjective feeling.

 

 


Four.
Five.
Six.
Seven.
He cracks a smile.
All of Terry's knives are used up.
The Wheel of Hypnosis is riddled with blades.
She's slightly wiggling in it's very center, up against her bonds.
He'd lick his lips but he knows he mustn't. Control. Discipline. Hold back. Yes. Hold back.
Instead, he envisions her in a corset, like a saloon damsel from a black and white movie, tied to the train tracks in a Western.

 

 

 

When he releases her after a done round, and she stands rubbing her wrists sheepishly, he holds her hand, acting concerned, asking how she took it, as he collects the plushies, her purse and sweater and guides her away carefully. Truth was, there never was an risk involved here at all. Terry was a master at precision. A master at agility. A master at speed. If he'd ever hit her with the knife, it would've had to been entirely on purpose, rather then by accident. Instead, the colossal bear is in his arms again and he sneaks his other free hand around her shoulder as she cradles the smaller stuffed animals. Was she shaken? Was she scared? Frightened? In the light of a great archway, illuminated by golden halogen stars, she peers up and him from under her lashes and smiles. A genuine smile, he'd say. Wrapped in the twinkling haze of the spinning Ferris wheel. Night's young, but moonless.

 

 

 

-"I had a lovely time. Thank you."-

 

 

Terry irked, and offended and flattered and surprised. He expected tears. And begging. And more struggle, instead he gets a prompt thank you a brief, clipped description on what great time this was. What the actual fuck. For a second, he spots a slight shift of movement, hovering on the edge, not daring to touch him (not this time, not after that night) her body moving and then stopping abruptly, as if she was contemplating coming closer to him, uneasy on her own two legs, looking his height up and down briefly, and then perching up on her toes and pinpointing his cheek facing her as if though she --- planned to kiss it and then ceasing, something changing her mind as she exhales, looking up ahead, heading back towards the parking lot crowded with parents collecting their children and heading home, and leaving the Los Angeles County Fairgrounds behind. She wanted to kiss him, didn't she? Put her disgusting, putrid, bullshit mouth on him and ---

 


Nevermind.
This was just the first course - the aperitif.
The main meal was yet to be served.

 

 

 

 

Stuffing the raffle winnings on the backseat, Terry makes up some idiotic excuse about stopping along the way to get some bandaging from a nearby convenience store. He needs it, as he explains, for one of his students. Tends to injure his fist. His skin breaks easy. Not hardened. Accumulated to the fight yet. Technically not a lie. But, also technically not the truth. He wouldn't bandage Daniel Larusso's fists. Daniel Larusso's fists were meant to bleed, because Johnny wanted them to bleed. With some coaxing he gets her to agree to accompany him, which she does, delighted. Gullible. Naive. Silly. Driving no more then fifty miles per hour, eying the said establishment, Terry ponders the would-be kiss. Why didn't she give him one? He deserved one. For his efforts in showing her a good time. Did she imagine him to be the flustered type as well? Shy? Embarrassed? Was she self-projecting? It's possible. Everyone's worldview very much hinges one's self. But, the fact she sincerely, for a split second, contemplated doing so without permission ---

 

 

 

Yeah, she deserved what was coming to her, Red East-bloc fuck.

They don't even properly make it out of the car and Billy, Tim and Raul are already hovering about, waiting - reinforcements are here, apparently.

That keen on earning their money's worth, are they? Must be a slow week pick pocketing around local supermarkets.

Good - Terry Silver appreciated diligent, devoted employees who arrived on the job a few hours earlier.

Sign of an admirable work ethic.

 

 

 

-"Hey there, pussycat. Where you headed with greaseball over here, huh?"- Billy's in their way in an instant, just like Terry instructed him to do, a scratch running down from his eyebrow down to his cheek, a leather jacket and a curly blonde mullet, shaved on the sides, looking like a decrepit, burned-out, lecherous rockstar - a discount, strip mall Billy Idol, prowling the streets of LA at night looking for a fresh victim as he leaned up against the concrete pillar of a street light, right in front of Bea, who lowers her gaze, scurrying to the side, muttering something incomprehensible. Great job. Great interlude. Great usage of insults too. Terry gave them leave to use some. To make all of this realistic and believable. He suggested Greaseball himself for himself. Pussycat too. -"Back from the playpen, are you?"- Tim adds, deeply, gravely voice, casting a sardonic, mocking glance towards the car and it's backseat, riddled with toys, being the burliest of the bunch, heavyset, bulky, entirely bald, Terry picked him because he was easily the most frightening on the eyes. And he was right. She's by his side in an instant, pulling at his sleeve, whispering something about getting back into the vehicle and just leaving. But, Terry's not about to leave, so he stalls, placing his hand on her chest, holding her back. -"We could show you a much better time. Take you out somewhere where real men hang out."- Raul sneers, the handsomest of the bunch, beady eyed, with a wild look about him, the type Terry would've had a one night stand with if he ever encountered him in backrooms of some seedy old nightclub or leather bar, the guy joking at the expense of manhood, regurgitating the words put into his mouth by Terry personally, right before Billy reaches forward and forcefully grabs the belt strap of her purse. Bea shrieks and whimpers. She was afraid now, in ways she wasn't exactly when tied to the Wheel of Hypnosis. The sound's delightful. Exquisite. He'd hope to hear it more often.

 

 

 

Party time.

Now was Terry's time to shine.

-"Give it back."-

 

 

He pushes her shivering, smaller body behind his in a protective gesture he knew she'd melt for and he reaches forward, palm outstretched, requesting it back, voice low, eerily calm, threatening. They agreed upon playing it just like this. Also, Karate was for defense, never offense, or at least that's the lie they sold to children taking up martial arts at preschool. His wind-up imp number one, with the blond mullet cackles, outright refusing to comply, playing back and forth. A+ class performance. Silver-screen worthy. Oscar worthy.

 


-"I said, give it back, punk."-

 


He repeats his demand again, his palm still outstretched, not taking 'no' for an answer, reaching, not planning to move until he's given the thing he wants back, intending to go back and forth and bit and take in her fright and then have them take their leave, as per script, except then something unscripted happens. One of them touches her. Her collarbone, then lower, next to her bosom. Terry doesn't quite register which, or what the motions that led to it were, reaching out from behind his body to stroke her as she shudders and all is blank. That wasn't in the script. Control's gone.

 


-"Or what, big guy?"-

 


Before Billy-boy could ever utter the rehearsed provocation the way he was told to, like a good little robot, Terry was grabbing the hem of his leather jacket, dragging him off into a nearby alleyway, pinching him by the ear at one point, like a scolding teacher dragging an unruly child away, out of sight, into the darkness, away from the curious onlookers on the street, the others following suit and cackling, looking for a fight themselves, three on one, this too was still according to script. So far. You follow in distress, he hears your sandal-clad feet thumping after them, that too, one of the possibly variables and outcomes, which does come true, when you run after them, yelling, voice bleeding dread. Were you afraid he was the one getting beat up? That he was going to be the one outmatched by these three? How little you knew him. How little you actually understood him. Stupid, idiot girl. That was laughable. Hilarious. You really didn't understand who you were dealing with?

 


-"Terry, no!"-

 


It's just that no punches were meant to be shared. No real ones. Just pretend-play. Play-fighting. Make it look convincing for the audience. For you. Except Terry swings his fist so hard into the man's face he falls backwards, head hitting the nearby red brick wall, blood trickling down his nose as he crashes, grunting, with his back against the nearby trash compactor, a steely, resonating thud echoing from the walls. A man can't stand, he can't fight. Then he kicks him too, by the two others are already strewn out on the floor. Not even Terry himself knows when he did that, except that he had two foes down already. He wasn't sure which one of them broke the rules and touched you for certain, but now they were both floored, so it didn't even particularly matter. No mercy. -"It's just a stupid purse! It's not worth it!"- Your hands are at his back, clawing, feebly pulling at him, and he feels your touch as acutely as the pinch of a hundred needles as you beg and plead, the minute there's actual blood on the asphalt, once Billy's down on the concrete, cradling his stomach to defend from direct kicks delivered into his abdominal region. -"Let him go!"- You cry, dragging at the hem of his jacket, crumpling the collar. -"Terrence, stop, you'll kill him!"- Your voice gets hazier then, as if coming from a distance, the bottom of a bottomless black pit. Okay. He'd murder them, but why did they have to break the rules then? Didn't they precisely agree on terms? Weren't they very directly paid and instructed? No grabbing you, no pretend-rape, no. Only rattling your cage somewhat and leave the rest up to him.

 


Kill, kill, kill.

 


Is all the voice in his head chants, like a war cry and it's like he's inside of his own body, yet out of it.
The purse breaks, laying forgotten, in a water puddle, alongside littered trash.

 

 


-"Yo, man, you're crazy! No money's worth this!"-

 

 


Raul scurries up, directly breaking script and nearly ratting him up but Bea never catches it, instead, remaining attached to him like a leech, trying to pull him off the other assailant as the two floored ruffians run off into the night limping, further down the alleyway, disappearing in a labyrinth of buildings all while Billy isn't quite as lucky, trapped against the red brick wall and Terry's own body, he's veiled on until his head slumps and eyes roll back, his face bruised and bloody, tears and mucus welling down a broken nose, until your own body pushes between Terry's fist and his prey, raising your hand in a would-be peace treaty attempt, mouth agape and gaze wild, feral, and by the time Terry realizes you're you, Billy falls over too, wiggles away and practically drags himself into the night like a wounded dog, groaning, tripping right over the muddy puddle and the purse alike, essentially stepping on it.

 

 

-"Terrence, stop, it's me!"-

 


She yells with a cracked voice and for a moment, reality blends away and the madness of the jungle fades.

 

 


-"Stop. There was nothing in that bag that's too valuable anyway."-

 

 

 

Bea's in between his fist and the wall, arms still raised in surrender, re-assuring him, as he keeps his clenched, firm fingers pressed firmly together into a ball of raw, pulsating strength dripping redness from the blood of his enemies, in fact, he feels it trickling all over his face, and into his mouth, warm and metallic, by the time he catches his breath, holding his stance for a moment, then two, then five. Where was he right now? At the Fairplex? Address, 1101 W McKinley Ave, Pomona, CA 91768, he recites it back to himself in his own mind from memory, now, just a couple of blocks away, within driving distance? At a parking lot? In front of a convenience store parking lot between their apartment block and the County Fairgrounds? In a back alley adjoined to it, hidden in the bowels of various buildings and blind streets interlocking? This wasn't the bush anymore. It wasn't a cage. The wilderness. Charlie popping up from the ground below. Was Terry Silver a hero yet?

 

 

 

-"Terrence?"- She calls him by his full name, that silly habit she had. Nobody since his parents has called him that by choice. -"Terry?"- Then she shortens it, hoping it'll get his attention more effective, the way he used it nowadays, voice cracking as she does. -"Mr. Silver?"- Then her tone is a mere whimper and she goes entirely formal, hovering her fingers around either side of his face, not daring to touch. -"Look at me, please. Are you hurt anywhere? Do I call an ambulance?"- Her gaze travels his body, looking for a wound that isn't there, lip quivering as she finds none. Truth of the matter, Terry wasn't even scratched. Bruised. But, he stood there, immovable, finding himself dissociating and being aware it was happening as it was happening, the world reduced to just one color and the color being red. Her face was red. Her eyes. Her mouth. Her body. The wall behind her. Her dress. Her hair. He lowers his fist then. It's red even as she tentatively touches him, through his clothes, swiftly leaning down to collect whatever remained of her destroyed purse and guiding him away, into even more redness, towards their parked car, ushering him on the passenger seat and going around, sitting beside him as she carefully placed the seat belt around him, clicking it shut. Even the bypassers looking at them in worry and fright at the site of a grown man being guided out of an alleyway was red. Scarlet. Crimson. Sanguine. He hungers for more blood.

 

 

 


-"Please, I can't drive."- Is all Terry hears, stiff and cold, eyes frozen forward as she tinkers with the seat and the ignition key, looking up in the front racing review mirror. -"I mean, I can try, but ---"- She trails off, engine humming, as she pulls out from the parking space in reverse.

 

 

 

 


-"Hold on tight. We're heading home. Nice and slow.This is all my fault."-

 

 


That's the last thing Terry hears before all voice and sound turns into a blur.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

You're infinitely glad his dojo is situated on the first floor when you start pulling him out of the car.


He's nonresponsive and heavy and he has to be guided inside.

 

 

 

Not carried, per se, but rather coaxed, taken by the hand, and led, having that blank, thousand mile stare about him, after you make it through the traffic, driving as slow as you can, as not to damage his vehicle or the vehicles of others, besieged by a barrage of sirens and drivers bypassing you and cussing you out as they speed off, you make it back to the apartment in relative safety, only barely avoiding the tirade smacking into the garbage cans outside alongside the fire hydrant, thanking the heavens the distance between the event of the fair and your neighbourhood, respectively, wasn't that far off, or you have no idea how you'd make it back in one piece. Just leave the car, you figured, and get a cab, deliver him home in one piece. But, Terry's not in a good state when you arrive. The front entrance to the dojo is locked and once you request the key he says nothing, merely continuing to stare ahead, biting your lip after repeating the request a few times only to be ignored you reach into the pocket of his jeans, fishing them out yourself, unlocking the thing. You feared, in part, that during the altercation out on the street, they might've gotten lost. Slipped off of his person, and unto the concrete and that you'd have to guide him back upstairs to your place, or simply remain locked outside for the remainder of the night. The studio is dark when you let yourselves in. The shadows peeking in through the shutters a neon variety, from the night lights outside, you spot a passageway leading further inside, to what you assume are his private quarters and office and you head for it, realizing you've never been further then the training area. After passing a quarter containing a desk, a phone and shelved medals and trophies you find what seems like an adjoined little chamber, with a bed and having been entirely quiet the entire time, you speak to him, having him sit down on it, and then recline.

 

 

 

-"Lay down. There we go. Right on the bed."- You tenderly cajole him, giving encouragement, pushing his chest backwards, only barely touching him, as little as you can to be discreet and respectful, a mere wisp of a contact, barely enough to make him understand and register that he should relax his back and rest. That it was a long night, and that he should sleep off his...well, you weren't even sure what to brand it as? Stress? Bad reaction? A trigger? A panic attack? Shutting down his emotions momentarily due to the same stress? Was this a common occurrence for him? Did this happen before and if so, did it happen often? -"Do you want me to call someone? A friend? A relative?"- You inquire carefully, getting no response as Terry's unblinking eyes stare up ahead at the some unfamiliar dot in the clearness of air, his face still covered with the dried up residue of blood that dripped down his cheeks and all over his shirt as your own gaze searches for a toilet and by extension, a washcloth. Maybe if he had someone who could help him? Use a familiar method? Offer some support? Advice? Take him to a hospital? Offer him some medication if he takes any? Maybe that buddy he mentioned? The one he opened the dojo with? He never gave a name for reference though and you never asked. Should you even be here? Who else is going to be here if you weren't, though? You owed him that much. He took you out, and an altercation happened, you couldn't just --- well, what's the word --- bail? It wouldn't be fair. It wouldn't be correct. It wouldn't be right. Maybe he didn't have anyone either? Anyone close enough to call on? Same as you. Maybe you were kindred spirits in that sense.

 

 


-"Are you okay?"- You ask again, to make sure he's lucid, concerned, hoping he'll say something, anything --- you do it as a mere whisper, his grey sweatshirt painted red at the collar, entirely drenched. He really messed those guys up. It becomes even more abundantly clear when you click the lights on. He won. Three on one, no less. You were infinitely sorry that he had to go through that at all, but truly, all they wanted was your stupid bag, not to be guided into a back alley by a Karate teacher and almost killed and well, Karate teacher or not, you never figured he could do, well, that. -"Terrence, why aren't you talking? Are you angry at me? Terry? Sir?"- You switch tact any way you know how, time and time again, hoping he'll react to at least some of the names as you list them, worry radiating through your voice --- by the time you manage to call him sir, it practically cracks and even you can hear and recognize it seeping through your own voice as you lean closer, taking him in. Maybe, he didn't want to speak to you at all? Ever again? That would be understandable. Look at the trouble you caused. Another man would've been beaten up, maybe even stabbed, shot, left for dead. The only lucky thing was that Terry knew how to defend himself and by extension, you. Only once you're in the silent, safe embrace of the empty dojo do you realize just how foolishly lucky you were. What if you were with someone else not as skilled? What if you were all alone? You don't even dare to think of the outcome -"Tell you what, I'll take off your shoes and your jacket and I'll put some tea on and once you're all better, I'll go back upstairs and let you rest."- You try for cheekiness and some nonchalance, partially, to attempt and lighten the mood somewhat, but still no response. It doesn't work. He's simply out cold. You want to panic. You want to wail and cry. The accumulated stress of the unfortunate conclusion of the night starting to flow out of you tensely, in waves.

 

 

 


You gingerly reach for the zipper of his jacket, and move him, like a doll, to fish him out of it.
Then going for his white sneakers, effectively removing them, leaving him in his socks.
Both articles of clothes are almost entirely wet, drenched in red.
Unsure what to do with them, you search for a bathroom.
Once you find one, further down the hall, you leave them there.
For him to wash, clean or simply throw away, at his own leisure, however he wished.
Although, you didn't know how else some of these articles of clothes would be salvaged other the burning them.

 

 

 

 

You discover the kitchen, tiny, no bigger then a hallway, one cupboard, one stove --- and you open the same cupboard to fish for something, anything, to make a hot beverage out of, glancing down the hallway, wondering if it's a good decision to leave him, even for a second, as you fish out a packet of tea. Green. All he has, alongside sugar and salt. A teapot. One cup. Just one. Not two. A box of matches. Does he eat at all? Probably has a meticulous diet, you conclude, as you light the stove, pacing the pitcher on it to slowly boil, hoping to slowly recover him as you decide to run back to the car, collect your purse and the things you brought back from the carnival. Peeking into the bedroom, only to find him, sitting exactly where you placed him, staring up ahead. You decide not to go. Instead, you back yourself into a wall, disappearing down the hall, making yourself scarce for now, finding yourself in an another tiny room entirely. So many tiny rooms. Nothing in it. Just shelves. Shelves lined with books. No windows. No chair. No mats. Nothing. Just books. Tomes and tomes and tomes of them; 'The Basics of Tang Soo Do, Volume 1 & 2.' 'The Techniques and Patterns of Tai Chi.' 'Kumite, Kata and Kihon; The Three Artforms.' 'Healing The Pressure Points Through Acupuncture.' 'Medicinal Properties of Cobra Venom.' - some of the titles that catch your attention first. Figures. Martial arts were his entire life, weren't they? Seems like it was all he occupied his time with, no casual leisure books, even where reading material is concerned, until you reach the end of the shelf and you find another thematic entirely, crossing into the more risque and baffling;

 

 

 

'Yoga and Tantric Sex.'


'Kinbaku-bi - The Beauty of Tight Binding.'


'Hojōjutsu (the Japanese art of binding a prisoner of war)' by Seiu Ito.

 

 

 

Your finger shakes as you pull out the last one, ear careful to listen for any sounds of the whirring teapot on the stove, just one room away or for Terry coming back into his own and getting up from bed, just in case, as you swap the encyclopedia open, landing on a random page, reading an equally random passage from the historical almanac;

 

 

'Kujikata Osadamegki Government Officials Guide of 1742 describes the four tortures to be used to get a confession: Muchiuchi whipping with a bamboo pole, followed by Ishidaki kneeling torture, then the Ebizeme shrimp-tie applied so strictly that bloodflow was cut off to the legs, and finally Tsurizeme upside-down hanging torture.'

 

 

 

And then another, feeling you're unable to look away, like a spectator witnessing a car crash;

 

 

 

 

Morbidly fascinated - fascinated and frightened and repulsed.

 

 


 

 

 

kinbakushi (緊縛師): (noun) kinbaku master, can be shortened to bakushi.


Kinbaku patterns;


Traditional Takate Kote 3 ropes.


Most of the below have multiple variations:
Ushiro takate kote — Foundational form for most shibari ties, capturing the upper body / breasts and arms behind back (when ushiro) in a "U" shape behind the back.
Single wrist binding 片手首縛り Katate kubi shibari.
Both wrists binding 両手首縛り Ryoute kubi shibari.
Handcuff binding 手錠縛り Tejou shibari.
Prisoner handcuff binding 連行手錠縛り Renkou tejou shibari.
Hands behind the back binding 後ろ手縛り Ushiro te shibari.
High hands behind the back binding 後ろ高手小手縛り(簡易型 Ushiro takate kote shibari).
Crotch rope tie また縄縛り Mata nawa shibari.

 

 

 


 

 

 

Okay, alright, questionable literature in a morbid collectionaire's gallery, neatly and precisely hardcover color coded and in perfectly alphabetical order. You didn't understand, but perhaps you weren't meant to understand everything, right? Maybe he was simply fascinated by far East Asian culture? This is what you deserve for being nosey. Snoop around and you're going to find stuff. He who knocks on the devil's door is bound to have them answered. Staring at the words on the paper, feeling your mouth partially agape, no pictures to illustrate the point, but finding no pictures are necessary, you quickly shut the book with a thud, pretending you saw nothing, placing it back exactly where you found it, wondering if this is why he asked you if you liked that sort of thing. During the movie night? During that particular movie scene? He said he is interested. He said he's tried it. Somehow, now, if there was ever a doubt in mind, it all evaporates and you're only left with certainty. Imagining him, caressing the texture of a long, elaborate rope with his fingers, practically kneading and massaging it's outline, as tenderly and firmly as a lover's caress. A sharp, unexpected ring stirs you from your reverie and you practically jump when you hear the phone ringing from what you assume is the office, your heart pounding wildly, you practically run, away from here, away from the library, picking the handle up. You wouldn't otherwise, but there's a faintest hope, there's someone, somehow, on the other end, who knows Terry personally and could perhaps come over and check on him if you request it. But, what if he simply had nobody? What if it was just him?

 

 

-"Yes? Hello. Who is this?"-

 

 

You ask carefully, hoping it's someone you can alert of Terry's current state. Fearing in part, that some onlooker called the police on you two, after identifying you, anxiety bubbling in your throat like a ticking time bomb, ready to go off.

 

 

-"Apologies. Wrong number."-

 

 

The voice of an elderly woman with what you recognize, briefly, as an English accent answers and before you can even contemplate asking for help, she hangs up and the line goes silent.

 

 

Oh.

Strange night, huh?

 

 

 

Your soul nearly leaves your body on the way out, when you spot the silhouette of what appears to be a man, only to realize it's an object in the doorway, more precisely, a cardboard cut out, life sized, of a man with his fists facing forward, with a fierce, snarling expression. Was that the guy? The friend he mentioned? You neglect the though, running back into the kitchen to check on the now steaming hot, piping teapot, grabbing the handle and pouring its contents into the cup with a quick spoonful of sugar, unsure if he prefers it with or without, but seeing as how you borrowed him some, you had to conclude he'd wouldn't object to some sweetening, tip toeing back into where Terry was waiting, sitting down on the side of the bed beside him, holding up the cup of tea and the ceramic plate below it to avoid burning your fingers. As if partially easing away from his numbness, his gaze actually turns you way. His neck doesn't. Neither does his face. But, Terry's blue eyes are on you. You're compelled to speak. You want to explain how someone mistakenly called, but your tongue doesn't comply. -"Thank you for standing up for me."- You manage briefly, feeling like such a fool, partially sorry for the knuckleheads who attacked you. Partially sorry for them. A person was still a person. Just remembering, how Terry's fist kept smashing into one of their faces, repeatedly, again and again and again, until a cascade of tears, mucus and blood trickled down open, fleshy wounds, flabby skin and scarring on a pillar of a limping neck.In fact, Terry's fist was still red and clenched, even now, from the onslaught of earlier. You wanted to encourage him to go wash himself, but you didn't figure he was capable right now and you didn't intend to do it for him. You wanted to keep touching to the minimum. He didn't like it and he wasn't lucid enough to agree being helped into the shower by you. -"We could've left, though. Got in the car and ignored those weirdos.They were just looking to mess with someone, is all."- You chide, but you find you're mainly chiding yourself. Would they have tried to antagonize Terry if Terry was all alone? Probably not. You should've pulled Terry away. Tried harder. Intervened with more tenacity. Called for help. Anything. Instead, you were here, sitting with a scalding hot cup of tea, offering it to him, feeling a bit useless in the aftermath of it all.

 

 

 

 

-"Drink. Just a small sip, if anything."- You scoot closer, carefully, slowly, the matters wires beneath you squeaking and bending slightly, making a suggestion, until you see his eyes move again, reacting to the movement and what you said, landing on the beverage and the white, guzzling steam eminating from the searing drink, a mixture of brownish-green in color, bearing the minty scent of boiled leaves as you come within proximity enough, cup to lip, balancing the thing, enough that with little effort he can slightly bow his head and take a sip, which he does, drinking from your hands. You're content. Yes! He's coming back! -"That's good. That's it. Well done. Deep breaths."- You push him to continue, tenderly, until the cup is only half full. -"Please, say something.Did they scare you? Are you in shock?"- You try once more, desperately, to get through him, setting down the cup on a nearby bed stand. Maybe Terry did get scared? You don't know. Maybe he's more gentle and fragile then you'd assume? It's possible. His physicality and size didn't decide what goes on on the inside. His eyes move again at that point and you wont confess he didn't make you tremendously nervous. It wasn't his fault, though. What he's been through in the past. It could've left him scarred. Troubled. Smaller things, by comparison, have left you troubled, and you didn't dare to imagine what bigger things, fouler things, did to him. Except, then he moves too, shifting on the mattress a bit and the bed, pushed up against a wall you placed him against, leaning with a simple, white pillow anatomical pillow to his back and within a split second, he's pouncing, suddenly grabbing and pushing you down, until he's on top of you. You exhale sharply and whimper, unsure what he'll do or what he's capable of doing, the 'no touch' rule you imposed on yourself discarded for a moment as you feebly start pushing against his chest and bloodied sweatshirt as he interlocks his legs with yours, his weight sinking you further into the mattress. Terry's eyes are fierce. Vividly blue, unnaturally wide, especially when contrasted against the blood on his face. He doesn't blink. You perhaps, never noticed it before, but he doesn't. He's all frozen intensity and there's a cold, uncanny, feral look about him that makes you want to cry for help, hoping some of the tenants, even though they didn't talk to you much, somewhere, somehow, will hear you as he closes his arms around you, trapping you in a vice grip. Instead, all you can let out is a meek plea for mercy;

 

 

-"Terrence, no! You're not yourself!"-

 

 

 

You whimper as he crushes you against his chest, until you can smell him, acutely, a mix of sweat and the bitterness of bold and the salted heat of his body, and for a moment you think he'll do the unthinkable, reprimanding yourself that, no, no, Terry wouldn't. Terry's a good guy. He'd have ample opportunities to try but he never did, so why would he now? You breathing slowing down once he places his head on your torso, embracing you. Tight. A little too tight. Going even tighter when you attempt to wiggle. Did he --- want someone to keep his company tonight? Was that it? You're tense, but you stay like that, forced into this position, for one minute, then two, then five, then ten, hoping he'd get bored and let you go. He doesn't. You're trapped. His body wrapped around you like the snake's coil, constricting from all sides and you find that if you struggle, he'll only strength his hold, his head peacefully perched up on your chest, softly going up and down, in tune with you jagged breathing. Does he just --- plan on falling asleep like this? No, he couldn't possibly. What about when he comes to his senses tomorrow? How will you explain being in his bed, being held by him? Will he even understand? Will he remember? No, no, no. This wasn't right. No. -"You nearly killed a man tonight. Do you realize that? Nearly killed a man and seriously injured two others."- You begin accusingly, trembling, feeling like a parent educating a child, urged to say something, anything, to push the situation along and not just leave at this. Like this. So compromised and confused and complicated. -"And you scared me! You scared me so much. None of this is normal!"- You whine, trashing your feet in helplessness, looking up at the darkened ceiling, at the walls around you, wondering if they're more responsive then the living, breathing person who was their owner. Living here. With all his strange contraptions and strange books. -"I understand they were provoking us for no reason when we were just minding our own business and that they probably deserved a good talking to, but ---"- You trail off then. Desperately uncertain what to say next. But what? What was he supposed to do? Honestly? What? What is a person to do when pushed around? Politely tell them to leave? Utilize courtesy and hope they oblige the kindly request and obey? Employ good manners? Allow the abuse to continue and take it with grace and poise? He gave them two chances to return your purse and they took none of them. Would you have truly respected him more if he simply stood there? Allowed you to be harassed with him being right there? No, no. Your mind was playing tricks on you. It was like you were going insane. Thinking things you wouldn't otherwise thing. -"What you did back there was ---"- So, you try again, a new attempt at reason and sanity, finding you trailed off once more, failing before you even begin, verbally walking in circles, finding no way out. Were you justifying him because he was correct in a sense, or because you were fond of him?

 

 

You couldn't tell. Maybe both?

 

 

 

So, you go silent too, his frenzied, gaping gaze closing shut as you spot him, from the sideline, from the profile of his nose against the fabric of your dress, now stained with blood too as its contents drip from his face and fists unto you, fingers tangled into the material of your dress. Flowers dotted with redness. He's quiet. So is the room, as your gaze wonders relentlessly around it, sleepless and haunted, unable to move, feeling your own ribcage in pain from the pressure applied to the firmness of his makeshift hug. A pile of stained clothes, include his discarded jacket and sneakers lays on the floor, beside the bed, as a reminder. The midnight lights peeking through the drawn on shutters occasionally change, elongated, dimmed shadows and a halo of street lights lining the walls in striped patterns as a lone police siren blares outside and you shake, partially afraid they're coming to collect you two, only to disappear further into the distant buzz of the city's perpetual traffic and it's undercurrent of an echo. There's a framed photograph hanging from a nail in the wall in black and white. Opposite of the bed. And it practically stares down at you and has been, the entire time, perhaps. Korea, 1972. Labelled in hand writing 'A flawless victory and many more to come!' and it's very visibly Terry with someone else you don't recognize. Perhaps, the man on the cardboard cut out out front? Perhaps, yes. Terry's visage is blurred, quality of an old polaroid photograph faded, rendering his face barely visible. His hair seems to be down in the image. More curly somehow. Shorter. All you discern is a ghost of a smile and a trophy being posed with, together, hand in hand, between what seems as friends and your heart aches and inexplicable pain. You don't sleep at all that night. You just proceed being relentlessly held by him until it becomes hard to breathe.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Much like after every crisis, Terry wakes up, metaphorically dusts himself off, and continues operating, akin to a finely-tuned clockwork, as if nothing out of the ordinary took place. Okay, so he might've snapped last night, but who doesn't sometimes snap? Bloodied poverty clothes and bloodied poverty jeans are proof abundant, like something acquired off of a crime scene, and he finds his stained jacket on the floor, beside the bed, alongside his white sneakers, splattered in red, wet and muddy. Even his fist, upon further examination is entirely soiled and sticky, dried up residue stinging when he moves his finger, Terry doesn't feel ashamed for standing his ground. Something gets in your way - bam - down it goes. Except, the fact that it happened in a manner so unplanned, uncalculated, unbalanced, unchecked that irked him so much. The culprit that caused it was right underneath him, fast asleep, laboured breathing in her nostrils. The room's silent. The discarded cup of tea forgotten on the bedside table. She had him drinking from it last night. He remembers, vaguely, holding unto her and refusing to let go, grabbing unto her dress and attire, as he realized, with enough tenacity that the pressure of his fingers grabbing her drilled holes into the floral material of her clothes. His first instinct was to keep ripping and refuse to stop regardless of objections, begging and pleading. Rip off the obstacles. Her gown. Remove her pesky sweater. Her undergarments. Her very nudity, if he could, and feast. Bea has some blood on her too, even. The blood that smeared unto her due to the closeness of Terry's own proximity and he perks up his torso briefly and as silently as he can to watch and observe. On the piece of fabric covering her breasts, heaving up and down, breathing, on her skirt, on her pullover, on of her cheeks. Something inside him coaxes him to dip a finger into his own mouth and clean it off with saliva, or better still, lick it off with his tongue, savouring the sweet, metallic taste of an enemy's blood, but he doesn't. Instead, he just untangles himself from her as silently as possibly and leaves the room, like a shadow, taking his messed up clothes with him.

 

 

 

In the shower, searing water trickling, Terry inspects his own fist curiously.

His own skin smelled like her - disgusting.

 

 

 

Crimson knuckles washed clean by the overhead pressure of the water pipe, if Terry lived in a world of his own design, he'd wash off nothing. Instead he'd wear the blood, like a badge of honor. A medal. War paint. Anything short of pride is overshadowed by wrath, as he cleans his body, carefully, like a prized temple. The thugs in his employ were meant to scare her. He was meant to go back and forth with them a bit, for show, like during a staged match, but he wasn't supposed to pound in someone's face in. That was the opposite of control. That was --- well, chaos? Confusion. Distortion. So, why the fuck did he like it? Furthermore, why did he revile it? Because she caused this? Yes. Because she did. Something about that hand reaching forward and touching her clicked off in his brain like a light switching off, rendering his brain stagnant in darkness. She's the enemy. He reminds himself sternly. You defended the enemy back there. Not for pretense. Not as a joke. Not to fool anyone. Not with an ulterior motive in mind. You did it sincerely. And the raw sincerity of it is what is so putrid. Defending the enemy is as good as conspiring with the enemy. Your strategic is backfiring. Now, she'll fear you for what she witnessed you do instead of worshipping you like a hero and letting her guard down. She'll do the opposite. She might just run. You sabotaged everything. Terry's perfectly still in the tiny shower, not big enough to turn in, playing into his working class, dingy, made-up life, instead he simply stands there, like a body trapped in a cubicle and lets the water pour over him, steaming, his neck thrown back. Breathing in. Breathing out. Breathing in. Breathing out. Relaxing. Stretching his neck in a circular motion. Rebuilding his equilibrium. Within the vestiges of common warfare practices and beliefs, there was something called The Dulcinea Effect. A study on gender-integrated combat units suggests this. A female squad member injured would often see the male soldiers going a bit berserk in response. He tries to logically rationalize the reason behind his outburst. But, she's not your ally. She's your enemy. A reminder squashes his conclusion. Maybe it's simply lust then? Lust, Terry understood. Oh, did he ever.

 

 


When men are aroused, it's supposed to release a hormone that makes them protective and territorial of the object of their desires. (Which is probably where the human literary trait rescue romance dawns from and why it's such an appealing fantasy) That's why it's always good to go for the women first and foremost strategically when wanting to provoke someone unwilling to fight into battle. That's also why he instructed Snake, Dennis and Mike Barnes to do just that with Jessica Andrews and Danny-boy when they dance their little bully-waltz with them. It was like tuning into a live daytime soap opera Terry could personally manoeuvre the outcome of, plot-wise.

 

 

 

 

Miss Andrews and Larusso, they weren't an item --- not really --- opting instead, to remain just friends and proceed going on dates dutch, as hilarious as that was --- the red-haired little Miss Andrews kindly, tenderly jilted him for someone from --- where? Ohio?  Columbus!? Fantastic! Although, how anyone could non-ironically actually live full in Ohio was beyond Terry. Least of all reject someone's advances over someone from Ohio. How humiliating. What a perfect storyline to weave! If it was someone from Malibu or Bel Air, Terry would understand --- more a rational point of view. More of a rational decision to make. A catch was a catch. But, Ohio? Miss Andrews did well. She did excellently, in fact! Just as instructed. Terry adored a good, saucy teenage drama unfolding and she was an actress like no other, unassuming with her little ploy and pottery store and rock climbing which she apparently financed most entirely on her own in the most expensive city this side of the coast, the country, the continent and probably the planet. Her financier must've had very, very, very deep pockets, eh? Terry snorts at himself in entertainment. Nevertheless, even when not claimed and his, seeing the female of the specie antagonized, attacked and endangered is enough to set the male of the specie off. Basic instinct. Yes. Could've been basic instinct for Terry too. He approaches the incident logically and prudently. The brain is just a lump of flesh kept alive by static electricity. It has no sense. It was just meat. If there was any justice in the world, the human brain would be all metal, wheels and cold steel, so these things wouldn't happen.

 

 

 

Wiping himself off with a clean, white towel after his shower meditation is finished, Terry dries himself and takes the black Gi placed on a coat hanger in a special, secured locker, just outside the washroom door. Placed aside, safely and securely, like a holy artifact, Terry dresses up, concealing his nudity, throwing a wry glance towards the silken panties hanging on their own drawer as a memento, right before he shuts the door and locks it back up. He has a class seven in the morning sharp, as early as he can. Whenever Mike Barnes is in, Daniel Larusso is scheduled for the opposite timeline, Mike's morning to Daniel's evening and vice-versa, ensuring they never meet or run into each other in the same dojo, or more precisely, ensuring Danny-boy never runs into Mike and puts two and two together. Not only Terry wants them to. Not until Terry feels he's in dire need of a good laugh and he felt himself in dire need of a good laugh soon, even though it was already funny enough that he was training two rival competitors after the same title, one defending and another attacking. Tournament season drawing near, Mike Barnes has been effectively honed into a good little wind-up toy. He kicks. He punches. He inflicts pain. Most importantly, he follows orders. He, unlike the individual Terry left to sleep on his bed obeys and makes sense and is predictable in his patterns and motivations. Terry says jump, Dynamite-boy asks how high.

 

 

 

-"That's very good, Mr. Barnes!"- Terry shouts his order, throwing in more audible leniency then he ever would've precisely because he had company over today, not caring if he wakes Bea, in the other room, up, digging his fingers into the sash of his Gi, dropping the spice of performative encouragement into an already well-seasoned soup boiling in the pot, as the kid did his 197th push-up as a epilogue to this morning's training. And the 198th. 199. 200. His stance was slightly off for Terry's tastes and there was a punishment to be sustained for that. Or a lesson learned. Some would call his methods draconian, but Terry simply viewed them as needed and necessary. Nobody learned a thing through a Sensei that's tremendously permissive, forgiving or soft. Or fuck's sake --- fond of his students. No, you needed to hate these pieces of shit a little bit to teach them effectively. Mike's muscles would ache. His toes would bleed. He'd battered, bruised and blue. His nails might fall off. But, he would learn. Just like Terry himself has learned. In fact, this was mild in comparison. -"And again!"- Terry pushes on, never relenting, as Mike struggles, groaning and huffing as he attempts to push his body up one last time, sweat trickling down his forehead and unto the training mat, he practically screams as he does that one last push up. Yes, well, adequate. That'll do. Now he'll remember not to mess up next time. And Terry didn't wanna be too terribly cruel, in case she catches him do it. No more screwing up.

 

 

 

-"We're wrapping up here."-

 

 

Terry practically dismisses him, with a wave of hand, as Mike bows his head, backing away with a nod.

 

 

-"And thank you. What a great performance that was, Mike. Tomorrow, same time, yeah? Make sure to rest!"-

 

 

He stops himself, by the time Mike reaches the doorway to his locker to change and freshens up. Courtesy, Terry quips, there must be courtesy. In case she hears. In case she sees. Mike gives him a baffled look, scurrying away into the other run, clearly not expecting any of this and Terry has to snort and by the time he turns, she's, as he calculated, in the frame of the door ajar, about to knock, make a sound or announce her presence, yet seeming as if uncertain if she should. Why, of course. Terry knew she'd witness his little theatre.

 

 

-"You spent the night, huh? Hope you found the bed soft enough."-

 

 

 

Terry acts deliberately clueless and obtuse, focusing on random niceties and the semantics of sleeping arrangements and whether the sheets were good or not, swerving past the events of last night and focusing on the arbitrary quality of the mattress even though he figured she'd ask sooner or later. He hears Mike shut the door on his way on the other end of the studio and his shoulders instantly perk up. Good. They're all alone. Them. Sparring staffs. Knives lining the walls. Sais. And boxing gloves. A million elaborate ways to do harm someone.

 

 

 

-"Yes, thank you. Apologies for staying over. You weren't feeling your best. I didn't exactly have who to leave you with."- Ah, there she goes, all trembling voice and body partially hidden behind the doorway, peeking through the slit, tackling the subject. Terry didn't want to talk about this at all, but felt he had to make an effort to deal with the collateral. He didn't need reminders of his own weaknesses and occasions where he slipped up. But, there's a legitimately sadness when she describes how she didn't have who to leave him with and Terry doesn't know if he ought to be affected or disgusted. He wasn't a stray animal or a pet in need of a sitter. He didn't have to be dropped off with a caretaker. He didn't need her. He didn't need anyone. Terry Silver was self-sufficent with Terry Silver. -"But, I made the bed after myself, and made sure everything's tidy.The sheets might need washing."- She continues almost humbly, refusing to say the word 'stained bloody' apparently, referring to the same bedsheets, tippy toeing out of the room, over the threshold and into the dojo, the sandals she fell asleep with not on her feet. She enters his temple as she should. Without footwear, staring up at him expectantly, like she was hoping he'd notice that this time, she remembered better. She deserved a punishment. Much like Mike Barnes did. Only hers was to be much more severe. -"Hope I'm not intrusive in asking, but..."- There it is, the big question of the hour. -"Do you remember anything from last night?"- And ah, it's root. The nerve. The fibre.

 


-"Yes."-

 


Terry answers simply, feeling his lips purse - it's not lie. He remembers the redness and the wrath.

 


-"What?"-

 


She reiterates, awkwardly scratching her forearm.

 


-"Someone was bothering you."- He tries for a gentlemanly approach and classical chivalry, shrugging his shoulders simply, finding it does miracles with women, even when they deny that it has such an effect, and a great many men too. Kids, even. Especially kids. Danny-boy, for example, fatherless as he was, loved the concept of an older male tutor standing up for him and protecting him. That's how he got under his skin so easily. Fatherless and bullied all his life by other boys and even grown men (not that it wasn't deserved), to have another grown man actually take his side for once and show up for him where nobody else did --- well. It was very much a drug and the brat was on the verge of developing the repressed equivalent of a homoerotic crush on the teacher because of it. -"They were bothering you as well, Terry."- She retorts with worry in her voice, etched in her face, the way her eyebrows perk up, and Terry halts then. Bothering? Him? Someone bothering him? What a silly, inane, unusual notion and conclusion she made there. Of course, she didn't know he actually paid them to pull off this charade and she never would, but something didn't sit right about hearing of oneself in the shoes of someone needing saving so he quickly shoots back with what he assumes would come off as an equally witty comeback; -"Yes and I gave them a well-deserved pounding for it."- He quips, matter-of-factly, trying for nonchalance, like it was the most obvious thing in the world, spreading his arms slightly to drill the point home, employing a dark, grizzly sort of humor.-"Defense, not offense. First rule of Karate."- He manages to add, lying, putting his forefinger up with an academic tone, feeling like he's instructing a first grader with a false rhetoric on how martial arts are all about respecting one's opponent and not attacking until one's attacked, honoring one's foe and yada yada yada, all that bushido bullshit! Truth of the matter was, any form of fighting was violence, even self-defensive violence, and anyone saying any differently was selling some pacifist. True fighting was dirty, unfair and hellbent on winning at any cost. Terry believed in that. Terry believed people should, in layman terms, get beaten up well and often, for any reason, ranging from bumping into you on the street, stepping on your shoe, looking at you wrong or merely because you felt like it that day, in that particular moment and wanted to get out some of your accumulated killer instinct bloodlust. Cruel fact of life. Something Bea didn't understand. People don't respect you unless people fear you. Not truly.

 

 


-"You very much gave them a pounding."- She eclipses him, smoothening the creases on her crumped dress with her hands awkwardly, and for a split second Terry hopes this will be praise. Fawning. Acclaim. A commendation on his skill. Strength. Power. His mouth on the precipice of forming into a smile and seeping up her admiration and finding he wants it and needs it, only to scoff at himself, self-chastising, when her intended meaning takes another direction entirely. Fuck. -"I'd be surprised if one of them didn't land in a hospital with a fractured skull or worse."- Bea adds and he scowls. Why did she give a fucking fuck about these lowlife, nobody, ruffian street hustlers so much!? LA was full of them! They were a dime a dozen. On every corner, alleyway and in every club. It'll hardly miss these three! They were meaningless. Fodder. They took money from him and agreed to antagonize and harass with a woman they didn't even know for a quick buck, and anything else too, for extra cash. If he paid them to rape her, they probably would too, eagerly at that. They deserved every fracture in every part of their collective skulls put together, furthermore, they deserved it for veering off the plan and leading him to personally have to drill someone sense into them with his fist.

 


-"Gonna teach them not to mess with people on the street next time, eh?"-


Terry goes for the distilled, water down version she'll find acceptable.


-"Gonna teach them not to mess with people in my company either."-


He continues, one he notices her expression softening, going for the aforementioned chivalry.
At that point, her lashes are fluttering, her mouth is agape, there's a blush on her cheeks and she's fidgeting in silence.


Success.


Always works like a charm.

 


-"Don't act prudish."- Terry chuckles once he notices he's rendered her momentarily speechless, approaching her and looking down at her, hands on his hips. -"C'mon! You accepted having knives thrown at you! You wont accept some punks getting to in a fight!? Spare me!"- At that point he outright smiles once her expression goes from flustered to baffled. Yes. He's had her do the unthinkable. Terry himself never heard of someone throwing knifes at a person on a second date and he's spent a month of a sex-cruise yacht orgy doing turns from Monaco to Ibiza in 1976. Yet, she said yes. She said yes, because he's assured her it's okay and because he's induced trust in her and for that night at least, he had her compelled to do things that would otherwise, under the light of day, seem outlandish and unbelievable. Furthermore, exceedingly discreetly slipping the clown managing the Wheel of Hypnosis a hundred dollar bill when Bea wasn't looking to skip standard safety procedure and allow Terry to personally have the honors of doing the aiming instead of a trained professional like the clown doing it was an easy job. The things you could achieve with bribery was incredible and infinitely fascinating. Even a clown knew he ought to take the fucking money and shut up.

 


-"I don't need anyone getting killed for me."- She sighs in what appears to be defeat, peering up at him, trying to cover up the bloodstains on her dress with her arms, awkwardly placed here and there and everywhere where the was a red stained patch as if hiding them would mean he didn't know they were there anymore. Hmm. She appeared so vulnerable like this. Like a wounded fawn. -"You seemed so affected afterwards. Like you weren't even there."- She nods her head away, seeming genuinely --- well, saddened, reading her body language and facial expression. Terry despises being pitied. So, why did he want more of it? A morbidly curious thing, like picking at a scab to see how it bleeds once removed, Terry wants to hear how ill he was, how worried she was, all the ways she intended to take care of him, all the remedies, all her ideas, all the rounds of tea she wanted to make for him to rejuvenate him all so he could have an excuse to place his hand around her throat and squeeze the last atom of breath out of her body and shut her up once and for all. But, did he really want that? To shut her up? He rather enjoyed this trite nonsense. Being down on her level. He takes a step further. Another, until they're only inches apart and she steps backwards in response.

 

 


He must regain her trust.
But, did he ever even lose it?
She was still here, talking to him, going back and forth.

 

 


-"So, you'd rather be the one getting killed then? What if I wasn't there, huh? What then!?"- His tone forceful yet firm, and perhaps a bit more bent on reprimanding then he intended, Terry almost feels he's losing balance as the words leave the threshold of his mouth. Why was he getting so irrationally angry all of a sudden? He was the one who put them up to it. Paid them to do it. So, why is he so irked now? Why does the prospect of 'not being there' to stand in the way fill him with so much --- something. So much...he didn't know the word. Why did he even care to find the accurate expression. Ridiculous! -"Do you know what happens to a beautiful girl alone at night?"- He asks carefully, certain she understands the dangers lurking in the darkness. She wasn't a child. Looking her up and down and taking in her form, her dress practically messed up alongside her sweater, he corrects himself, employing even more charm.-"A beautiful woman?"- The confusion turned embarrassment is visible on her voice, he distills the situation when he promptly adds an extra layer to make it more inclusive and general, so she wouldn't think herself too flattered by his words. Don't presume he finds her tremendously easy on the eyes. He's seen better. He's seen worse. Better especially. -"Any woman? Any man?"- Ah, yes --- but, being called beautiful? What a trick. Terry supposed --- she wasn't uncomfortable to look at. She was pretty. Back in 'Nam, his and Johnny's collective commanding officer, Captain Turner always said that the enemy will sometimes send in spies and distractions disguised as attractive honeypots intended to lure you in. Those tended to be the deadliest ones.

 

 

 

She was utterly silent.
Cat got her tongue, huh?
Good - meant he's winning.

 

 

 

-"Don't pretend you didn't like being protected by someone."- He leans his head down slightly in order to meet her eyes better, following them with his own as she attempted to hide them by looking away, his tone low, deep, just above a whisper, barely heard, so one would have to scoot entirely too close to clearly hear him. -"Three big, strong men corner you in the middle of the night and bam --- there's someone stronger still, that can save you from them? Get his hands bloody and dirty for you? Your mind needs that. Craves that. On a primal level."- He smacks his fists together for emphasis and she jumps slightly, finally meeting his gaze, almost as if called out for something. If she lied, basic chemistry didn't. They shared a bed last night. Furthermore, she stayed behind with him, in the studio, because she wished to. She wished to ''help'' as she called it. It was time to cut the bullcrap. She liked him. She liked him a lot. Just like he knew she would. Eventually. Eventually everyone likes him and for all her coy talks of friendship and neighbours and solidarity, she wanted him. She wanted to get fucked by him. Hard. Raw. -"It's how animals do it too."- He breathes, tilting his head to the side. Were humans so different from animals? From a lion? A scorpion? A rabbit? A snake? A cobra?

 

 


-"I want to look after you, Bea."- His finger is beneath her chin as she wiggles away, slightly, not far enough to escape, not realizing she's slowly backing into a wall with each inch, with each step taken backwards. Cornering the prey. -"Don't you think I could?"- He murmurs, not understanding why he said what he just said, nor what he meant by it, except that he did and that now that it was a said, uttered sentence, that he couldn't take back. What did he want with her? What exactly? Take care of her? The way a killer takes care of a victim? Or the way lovers do it? No, no. He wanted to torment. He wanted blood. It was owed to him. The loss of Vietnam owned it to him. There was no sentimentality in this game, was there? Why was he even pondering this? Since when has his certainty and resolve gotten so flimsy? Its this fucking apartment block, its rusted pipes, claustrophobic arrangement, cracked concrete, unevenly painted walls, broken elevator, the buckets lining the mirrors of his dojo and dripping faucets. It was muddying his balance. The cardboard cut-out reality was turning him two-dymensional as well, not unlike Johnny's life-sized greeting mannequin out front. He was a billionaire, by all accounts. He couldn't even count his own wealth, only vaguely estimate it. He could take care of whoever he wanted. In the killer sense and in the other sense as well. Reality's whatever you make of it when you're rich.

 


-"I..."-

 


She stammers, unable to formulate a coherent word.

 


-"You were afraid. You're always afraid."-

 


He practically purrs, remembering her delicious fear from last night. How good it felt, hanging in the air, like a tense, heavy sweetness, her whimpers and her meekness and how she accepted to remain hidden behind his body once he coaxed her beside him, to shield her away. Even now, she was deathly afraid and Terry loved it, as her back unknowingly finally hits the surface of the dojo wall with a small thud and she gasps, only now realizing what has happened, and trying to scoot away, only to hit a corner, trapping herself even more once his body comes between her and any valid exit. She was afraid from day one. She was afraid when he first greeted her. When he carried her groceries up the stairs. When he came in to borrow sugar, playing the good boy next door. When he caught her at the front door of his studio, watching him train, bringing him dessert. When he dragged her inside to dry off from the rain. When she forgot to remove her shoes and soaked his mat. When he had to remove it for her, the second time over. She was afraid as he held her down last night, pinning her to the bed and staying that way for twelve hours, without moving. That's the most acute thing he felt out of the blur and haze of the later part of the evening. That fear. Bottled, fragrant fear compressed into the perfume of her sigh, Terry imagines a bleating lamb at the chopping block, all soft and small, up against the cold butcher's knife. She was always afraid, yes. Ever since he's met her. But, he also figured she wasn't afraid enough. She didn't know him. She didn't know him at all. She only knew a fragment of him and even that fragment was fabricated. If anything, she needed to even more afraid.

 

 


-"You never had anyone look after you. It was always just you."-

 

 


He states the fucking obvious and for the first time, her eyes, perfectly still and a bottomless black, look directly at him, like something about that affected her.

 

He nailed the truth then, not that it was hard to nail.

 

 

 

-"Please, move."-

 


She demands with a voice that bears a firmness he didn't expect as she tries to push past him. He simply rearranges his stance, hands tucked into the black sash of his Gi, eclipsing her anew with just one step.

 


-"I did."-

 


He jokes, unable to hold back a smile. Technically, he did move. He never said anything about moving away.

 


-"Please..."-

 

She pleads, trying to wiggle through again, to the left, only for him to mirror her movements.

 


-"Please what?"-

 


Terry teases, but he never shows it, voice all cold, stern, unflinching, hoping to break her resolve.

 


It doesn't.


Very well then.

 


In the wild — where the otherwise solitary animal’s diet consists almost entirely of other snakes — the stakes could not be higher for a female King Cobra who faces being eaten should she decline his amorous advances or worse still is already fertilised by a rival male. Except, she was no female King Cobra. She was more of a field mouse, really and she was very close to being eaten.

 


-"Let me pass. Move."-

 


She repeats her request, not wanted to budge - oh, oh, courageous little thing.
Terry Silver moves for nobody, didn't she know that?
Instead, he comes closer still.

 

 


-"I don't think there's any space left."-

 

 


He drawls, catching her frozen and trapped between two walls, a corner, and his body, and they stand like that, not saying a thing, or moving, just staring at each other, Terry placing either of his hands, palms outstretched, against the surface of the cold concrete behind her back, trapping her further, from either side of her head, finding himself hyper-focusing on a tiny patch of dried up blood from last night on her cheek, appearing like a scar, patchy, rough and dark red in color and in finding he wants it cleaned, he places his index finger into his mouth, moistening the tip in saliva, never breaking eye contact as her gaze shies away, darting back and forth nervously, caught between wanting to look and not daring to once he brings the wet finger to her and wipes away the grimy residue, rendering it tidy and clean. All good. A good, clean face. He smiles, content at a job well done, Terry takes a couple of steps backwards, admiring his handiwork, feeling himself beam up as she merely stands there gingerly, no doubt trying to contemplate what just happened. Hygiene happened. He didn't enjoy people not being tidy in his dojo. One wouldn't enter a church or a place of worship without being at least partially presentable before a god. Once he finds he's pleased, he speaks up again, newly energized and jovial, even to his own ears.

 

 

 

-"I'm going to empty the car and carry your winnings up to your apartment for you."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

-" It's going to be a warm, windy start to the week in Southern California."-

 

 

 

The voice of the television broadcaster formally announces and it rings true when the morning hue comes cascading in through your window, dust particles dancing in the light, a patch of brightness dotting your couch like so many patches --- you scoff, when it only serves to highlight how worn, tired and old the material is, the mattress beneath it slightly bent and nestled inwardly, as if threatening to cave in on itself soon enough from excessive usage. In fact, as grateful as you were, everything was old here and the sun outside was always here to illuminate that fact quite literally. Perhaps, that's why you preferred the night. Or shutters down. To avoid reminding you of the flaws around you. There is one new thing present, though. You've new flatmates. A comically oversized plush teddy and several others in form of stuffed-animal reinforcements, placed atop of your empty luggage case and duffel bag, standing watch in the corner as you ponder of a place where they'd be more comfortable but finding you've no other momentary alternative --- you actually smile to yourself looking at them. Perhaps, the first new, fresh, unused set of objects you were in possession of ever since you came to America. You've unlocked the door for him last night and he helped you carry them up, bidding his goodbyes and leaving you for the remainder of the day, the touch of his wet finger on your cheek burned into memory. You foolishly, in a sense, thought that he would lean in, lounge and kiss you. Did you want him to? Yes? No? Maybe? You're not sure, but the frustration builds up and you're sitting there tinkering with a shawl. Simple and utilitarian, you wish to be somewhat fashionable and presentable, foreign country or not, but there was no occasion other then the fact that you were trying to tie your wrists together, managing to create a knot and then another over it, to restrain yourself, fingers hapless fumbling and tinkering as you imagine he's the one doing the handiwork.

 

 

 

A shawl. A shawl will do.
Anything will do.
But, you needed to be tied up.

 

 

 

-"Los Angeles and Orange counties can expect sunny and warm conditions with a high of 78 on Monday. Similar conditions are on tap through most of the week."-

 

 

 

The weather broadcast reporter's voice continues from the television left forgotten in the corner of the room and you fail, for the umpteenth time as you stand up, frustrated, lowering your shutters, one at a time, a collective of curtain-less windows lining the block and you wish to avoid someone seeing you, drawing the safe darkness of a barrier down with a thud of a pulled string, you flat is almost entirely black, interwoven with particles of radiance struggling to get through. You sit down and try again and once you barely, somehow succeeded in the endeavor, your hands forcibly pushed together without the scarf coming undone, you start pretending to struggling, laying down on the couch and wiggling. Yeah, you were frustrated. Extremely so. Conflicted too. You don't recall ever...being so affected by another person least of all ardently fantasizing about them. Maybe it was Terry's physicality? The fact that he protected you? Maybe he was right? Maybe it is was man's evolved animalistic nature? Maybe you did want to be relentlessly protected? Was that so very wrong? Yes, it is, when someone's getting bloodied and bruised over it. Maybe, then, it was the fact that he touched you yesterday? Or the fact that you shared a bed and he held you? Maybe that you were close to kissing him on the fair? Maybe the fact that you'd hope he'd do what you couldn't do then and kiss you himself? Maybe it was the literature you found in his library? Maybe you were beyond terrified. But, maybe, you were senselessly aroused in a way where you knew this was questionable and strange and you'll fact agree and concur on that with yourself after you're done pleasuring yourself. Why was that so unusual? We was an unbelievably handsome man; single, living alone. He's taken you on two dates. Yet he barely even touched you. You...respected that, somehow. That there was this easygoing, safe poise to him. But, this morning, you just ---

 

 

-"The valleys and Inland Empire will see much of the same, with sunny skies and a high of 83 degrees. Beaches will see a high of 74 on Monday and mountain communities will see mild conditions with a high of 64."- The broadcaster's announcement voice continues with a chipper disposition as you grab the remote, hands tied, and lower the volume, proceeding to slowly push the past the elastic hem of your sweatpants. Lacking undergarments that morning you know you'd do this to yourself. The deliberately-induced partial hardship of the act stirring you as you manage to massage yourself with one finger and then two, feeling yourself slick and wet already. You had to confess you thought of Terry a lot. Yesterday morning, he was tense and alarming and the night before he was frightening, bloody and violent and in days past still, he was following you around according to his own admission and you liked it. You were either desperate or you need to clear your senses by masturbating this clingy need to justify someone out of your system. So, you rub. You think, unwittingly, of all the literature back in his dojo, and you envision him doing those things to you. Expert hands handling a sleek, beautifully colored piece of rope, drawing shapes and patterns over your skin, rendering you immobile and shut down all descent except your gaping, moist slit all ready for him, punished as described in the eerie, strange passages of the books --- Terrence an old-timey samurai prince administering the chastising with the end of a bamboo paddle and you the transgressing dame with your silken robe slipping off of one shoulder demurely --- all words from the pages in their tiny, neat print melting together in your brain when pressure starts to build deep in your gut and your draw massaging, circular patterns inside of yourself, thinking of Terry's face, his smile, his big hands, broad shoulders and height. His visage covered in blood, snarling, beating, raw and angry, pulsating with an unstoppable force, as your head relaxed on the lean of you couch moves and you open your eyes, disturbed and curious, moaning, eyes turning towards the plushies on the luggage, staring at you with lifeless beady eyes and you stop.

 

 

Wow, what were you --- well, doing exactly?
You scoot up and stop, sweat trickling down your forehead, breath laboured, hands still tied.

 

 

You were never one to...lose yourself senselessly to desire. Life was a long list of precautions. There was never time to not be serious and sometimes you forgot your own age. I'm not old. I'm young, you remind yourself. The toys on the luggage remind you. The fun you had at the fair reminds you. Traversing Europe, from East to West, from one refugee camp to another, buses and trains and boats, dragging luggage and losing half along the way, the road to America was a complicated and steep one and by the time you realized, within a blink of an eye, you were in your mid-twenties, untouched and wanting. You were a virgin by choice because you supposed you never wished to lose it to anybody and life was so ugly, hard and often times riddled with grievances that you had no wish to. Body closed down --- you've heard there's a possibility of that happening due to excessive distress and pressure and it even went as far your menstrual cycle stopping for several months due to it, coming in irregularly at unexpected intervals, stress and fear abound, pondering your next meal ticket and dwindling savings and rent money hovering your head, the bureaucracy upon bureaucracy as your eyes fall upon the television, bright colors and all, the news cast commercial break showcases a line of palm trees and swift sunrise under a peaceful ocean --- happy people in colorful swimsuits smiling on the beach, eating ice cream and watermelon as you breathe in and out, imagining the aroma, laying down on your side on the squeaking old couch, untangling your arms and bringing the shawl up to your lips, inhaling and closing your eyes. You felt you wanted to now. You felt you wanted Terry to touch you. Caress you. Kiss you. You wish he had in the dojo. You wish he had at the fair too. You wish he would've grabbed you and simply taken it, you presume he was far too respectful to do something like that. He just wasn't the type. So, what if he was intense? Was anyone ever perfect? He got in a fight. But, it was for you. When was the last time anyone did that for you? When was the last time anyone gave you shivers and goosebumps? You feared him. You wanted him. You needed him. You wanted to cut him off. You wanted him close.

 

 

 

You wanted to take care of him and be taken care of.
The dripping of the faulty faucet in the sink puts you to sleep in your reverie.
You wake only to the subtle, familiar knocking on your front door.
The shawl is discarded on the floorboard beside the couch.
You already know who it is in advance.
It's only ever one person.
Rubbing your eyes, you shoot up, grabbing the handle.
Terry's at the threshold, smiling, lifting up a plastic back of produce.
The colorful outline of packaged fruit peeks out through the transparent material.
Was --- was that for you? Surely, it wasn't. No. He hands it to you, though, and you barely muster the tenacity to take it.

 

 

 

-"How'd you know?"-

 

 


You breathe, eyeing the beautiful peaches, apricots, yellow Canary melons, lemons and strawberries inside and regret churns in your stomach like a venom. Fruit always reminded you of home --- something about the taste buds and the scent --- and they grew out in the open, in vineyards, in backyards, in gardens, near roadsides, in forests and out in the wild, free to pick from and taste, sometimes, so numerous in quantity that come August, plums and cherries would fall from the branches and practically rot in the grass and out in meadows, filling the air with a saccharine, honeyed sweetness of a humid, late summer, attracting buzzards and bees to the scent with a stick sort of quality you'd accidentally step into, barefoot during playtime. But, here, such things were a luxury --- too hefty for the daily budget of an ordinary consumer. The only plant you had here with you was a lone potted Forsythia, snuggled into a patch of soil and an old pot left behind by a previous tenant --- otherwise known as the Easter Tree you brought over from home, practically smuggling it inside of a backpack, wrapped in old newspaper pages when it was no bigger then a mere sapling, ripped out from the soil of your own yard as a last keepsake goodbye. It stood on your window sill, basking in the sunshine, small yellow blossoms adorning it. It apparently grew in two places on the planet; Eastern Asia and home. But, here Terry was, with a bag full of fruit, his blood-stained jacket clean, crisp --- and so is the grey sweatshirt underneath. No signs of carnage. No signs of violence. Only a bag of offerings. How --- how much did that all cost him? How did he discover what you like? Lucky guess? Or was your memory simply faltering due to the stress of the past few days? It was entirely possible.

 

 


-"Because you told me."- He shrugs with a chuckle, big blue eyes sparkling with mirth - he looks unimaginably young as he says that. -"And also, I was able to smell you making anything for a while."-

 

 


He sets the plastic bag on mangoes down on the living table and you stare at the gift in disbelief. What a strange thing. Telling someone something so mundane, almost unimportant in passing and they -- no, no, not the time to get emotional. It was a present. People get them sometimes. It's normal. It gets worse, though. He produces and brings worth another plastic bag, hauling them in from the hallway. Melons. Strawberries. Oranges. Truth of the matter was, this month's paygrade was a bit shabby and you opted out of certain delicious luxuries you always had the habit of keeping around in your fridge or storage room for refreshment, but here you were, plied with all these beautiful, sweet-smelling treats and watching Terry take an apricot, separating them in the middle and placing each half in his mouth, playing around with the dark, oval shaped seep in his hands. -"Try."- He hands you one too, clean and as ripe and tender as heaven. You never even told him you didn't stock up on your most preferred snacks in the last few weeks - so how on earth did he even know? -"It's a 'thank you."- He explains, with a sort of mellowness, glancing towards the quickly stacked together mountain of stuffed toys to place special emphasis on precisely which event he was referring to, even though you immediately knew, before he even spoke. -"And an apology."- He adds immediately after, nodding, almost bowing his head. -"For the date and it's aftermath."- Extending his hand with the other end of the apricot, taking it apart to two separate halves with his bare hands, he offers you the other piece and when you hesitate taking it outright, feeling you don't need a special apology for anything that happened, he acts on his own accord and practically feeds you;

 

 

 

 

He tenderly pushes it in your mouth, fleshy and dripping.
Wiping off the lone inkling of juice dripping down your chin with his thumb.

 

 

You merely stare at each other as you chew - Terry helps himself to some grapes, never looking away from you. His mouth looks particularly hypnotic eating the late autumn season peaches he digs into afterwards. All you do is stand around and help yourselves in silence, sharing the occasional gaze and chuckle as you feast, with Terry's chair inching ever closer to you with each new fruit tasted. It takes half an hour for him to push his side right beside yours, hip meeting the hip - smells like freshness, musk and warmth. You want to fall asleep in his arms, well-fed and content.

 

 

You talk that morning --- you talk a lot, about everything and nothing.
Terry's an infinitely easy talker - spinning conversation like a silk thread.
He goes from day-to-day chatting about the price-range of local supermarket fruit.
His timetable of classes for that day, all the way to his parents and his own childhood in Vegas.

 

 


-"Well, this is them, in 1951, I think, yeah, 1951, that's correct!"- Terry has a small box of old, yellowed, black and white, immaculately neatly stacked pictures in his lap, compact enough to fit inside of his jacket's inside pocket, checking both sides of a particular family photo for marked and labelled dates as he plies you with images of his parents, embraced, posing in front of a cozy, wonderfully furnished family house with a fencing of live roses and a neatly trimmed verge. They're young. Beautiful. Happy. You can see where Terry got his appearance from. -"This was the year they had me."- He reiterates, pointing at his mother's rounded belly, or the remnants thereof, hiding beneath the vague outline of her Tartan pattern dress. You enjoyed moments like this; him showing you bits and pieces of his past. You showing him yours. Somehow, you felt connected, with an invisible, delicate thread, sitting beside him on the couch, listening about his life, learning about the people who made him. In your efforts, you land then, on a particularly beautiful image, this time in color, of his mother. She has long since passed away, when Terry was very young, alongside his father, but you can't help but wonder about her. Him too, of course. But more about her, rather;

 

 

 


A posed portrait.
Gaze focused upwards.
She too had jet black hair, all in curls.
Strikingly blue eyes, a haughty, sharp visage.

 

 


So gorgeous, it was almost daunting, with a string of pearls clasped around her neck. Terry catches you looking at that particular piece, and a moment silence befalls you both. -"She'd love you, you know."- he whispers, squeezing your hand reassuringly, initiating the contact first. -"You think?"- you ask, not feeling too convinced of it, feeling almost crestfallen for some reason. -"I guarantee."- He reaffirms, his eyes just as poignantly certain as hers, the remarkable family resemblance comes out loud and clear there and then - you realize then you want to be loved by his folks, even though they were no longer alive. -"I don't have too many pictures of my family with me here."- You add solemnly, eyes darting towards the sad looking remains of your purse after the incident in the alleyway, taking a moment to stand up, grab it, unclasp it and fish out a picture from your wallet. An ordinary family portrait and possibly one of the few images you had with you. -"Except for this."-

 

 

 

He takes the photo and examines it, smiling down at it and saying nothing.
You almost expect some sort of comment, but it never comes -- all you have is a reaction; he seems pleased.
The day drags on and the hours pass --- the disposition of the weather itself changed, from peacefully drenched in sunshine to savagely chaotic.
Seems like news weather reports aren't entirely accurate and the wind outside renders the television static - then flickering, then static again.

 

 

 

-"You plug it in and ---"- Terry's fingers effortlessly tinker around with the twisted, old television cable, plugging all the wires into their respective slots and stabilizing the grainy picture with one quick wiggle of the antenna atop of it, giving you a swift, playful smile as he does. You're unsure what you'd do without him. Probably end up saddled researching repair companies and as a result, burdened with a possibly outrageous sum due their involvement with a seemingly minuscule amount of work. He really was a life-savior since your move up here on your own. -"all done!"- He rolls down his sleeves, appearing pleased with a job well done. It's like he simply knows everything about everything somehow.As a reliable jack-of-all-trades, you stand beside him almost sheepishly. -"What do I owe you for the help?"- you always had the ingrained, taught tendency of asking. If you don't compensate people for their aid, they'll never aid you again, you knew, and honestly, why would they - nothing's for free, not even where the kindly downstairs karate teacher neighbor was concerned - also, it simply wasn't right. He had bills to pay too. Instead, Terry just seems a bit taken aback by your question, nodding his head away as a negative, lips slightly parted, eyes wide and wondering, staring down at your already prepared wallet and then back at you, curiously. -"How about a movie night instead? Now that you've a functional box, that is?"- He smiles dazzlingly, tapping the television set, place his hands on his hips afterwards, exhaling in exasperation. He wants a movie? A movie as payment? With you? You feel humbled. Was he certain? Absolutely certain? You want to insist on compensating him monetarily, but his continued grin re-assures you. -"Thank you, I could go with another movie sometime."-

 

 

 

He could go for another movie? Especially after the awkwardness of the last one?
That's all Terry wants.
To spend some time with you.
You were afraid of spiraling, of falling in deep.

 

 

 

 

-"I'll say this again, but --- you took care of me so much already and you've no reason to. I mean, picking me up? Taking me out? Showing me around? Sticking up for me like that? Putting yourself at risk? Offering me a job? Practically making one up for me? Bringing me all these lovely things?"- You're scratching your elbow sheepishly, looking down at the floorboards. It was all true. He really did do all of that in such a short amount of time. He couldn't even pay you a casual visit without accidentally being roped into being a repairman too. Almost like nature itself was playing a fast one on you --- wind tinkering with the antennas, the cables and the signal to ensure he'll be annoyed enough with you that he never speak to you again. Terry Silver was a Karate master blackbelt. He wasn't your private electrician and white knight. Maybe, there was also the fact that if he continued being sweet towards you you wouldn't be able to control your own feelings towards him. You wanted to stop now, while it wasn't too late. But, maybe it already was too late? What then? -"Purely out of the kindness of your heart, and I've no concrete way to repay you?"- You continue, melancholically, crestfallen once more, daring to look up at him, and then blinking and looking away, finding you were unable to endure his gaze. -"I feel so humbled, sorry."- You manage. Were you being melodramatic? Perhaps. But, you just weren't exactly used to being helped. Looked after. Cared for. You yearn.

 

 

 


-"Did nothing for me? What was that in the alley, huh!? Was that nothing!? You dragged my ass back home!"-

 

Terry's mood is all sharp and rage, and he raises his hand, pointing out vaguely, towards the streets, through the window. Outside, an unexpected storm was brewing.

 


-"You think I do this because I want payback, huh?"- He's close now, grabbing your shoulders, looking down at you, seeming like he wanted to shake some semblance of sense into you. -"You know me so little."- He adds. Yes. True.

 


-"I do know you little! That's the problem!"-

 


You snap back, perhaps with a bit more force then you'd like, your heart instantly mellowing upon examining his expression. The gentleness. Thing is, in a short span of time, you came to grow fond of Terrence more then for people you knew back home all your life. So you reiterate, trying to soften the blow of your words;

 

-"Look! I don't wanna be taking advantage of you. Don't want you getting sick of it all eventually. Think that it's a hassle."- You explain yourself, fearing he'll view himself denoted to the role of a bodyguard, watchdog, taxi driver, fruit delivery guy, repairman and advice-giver -"This person always needs help. When will it ever stop!?"- You talk in the third person to drill the point home, but he's close yet again, and this time, you audibly hear him breathe, in tune with the sudden, short-lived warm autumn hurricane outside, dangling the telephone wires left and right.

 


-"You know I like you, right?"-

 


His voice is sultry, a warm, lulling thing, melted caramel transformed into words. You swallow.

 


He --- liked you?


Liked you back?

 


-"Terrence..."- You stutter clumsily, fumbling, remembering he prefers a shortened version, going for his nickname of choice, even though you yourself rather liked Terrence. Made him sound like an old-timey gentleman. Which, to you, he was. -"I'm sorry. Terry."- But, then, upon correcting yourself, your voice cracks. You cannot momentarily comprehend what you've just heard. Oh god, oh god, you want him. You wanted him so badly right now. You were fantasizing about him on your couch before he knocked on your door, but now --- now you were practically aching, your own body betraying you yet again. -"Why? What do you like?"-

 

 


-"What's there not to like?"-

 

 


He whispers, low, sultry, taking a step closer, his hand sneaking up your shoulder, around your neck, to your ears, your cheeks and you burn.

 


-"I'm a single man. You're a single woman. In an awfully big city..."-

 


Your foreheads nearly touch at that point --- another half inch forward and they lean on another. He has to practically bend his body to maintain eye contact with you on your own height compared to his own.

 


-"Don't you wish it felt smaller?"-

 


He murmurs.
And god.
God yes.
Smaller.
Tiny in fact.
As small as a city can be.

 


-"Do you? Answer me."-

 


He reiterates with an order, eyes piercing into yours from close proximity, scrutinising you.

 


-"I do."- You say, pleading, all sincerity pouring out like a flood. You couldn't lie to him. This city was too colossal. Too lonely. Too loud. Too dangerous. Too isolated. Too crowded. Too much of everything. And you were just one you amidst it all. -"Constantly."- And before you even finish your word, your lips connect, slowly. Slow enough to grasp every movement. Savour it. Languid, The wind keeps beating against the shutters, sunshine and a searing, humid storm mingling. Your silk scarf still forgotten in the shadow of your couch. The same old programming playing on your now fixed box --- volume down.

 

 

 

LA had only two people living in it.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Terry doesn't understand why he's done that;
Shown her his parents personal photos
Furthermore, why did he accept viewing hers in return?
He's willingly taken them over, upstairs, to her dingy rat hole, in a box in his jacket's pocket.
Especially when nobody's seen them in almost two decades --- nobody with the brief exception of John.

 

 

 

 

But, here he was, a weekend retirement to his estate under some idiot excuse which she believed, about driving to Pasadena for dojo supplies, A new mat for a certain hallway. Extra weights. Extra bandages. Terry's private payroll detectives are working overtime. No such thing as a Saturday or Sunday for those employed with Mr. Silver's checkbook, files and files of supplies come in at a rapid pace. Folders. Most envelopes and parcels. Snapshots. Pictures. Photos. Spontaneous. Bea dragging up the groceries. Bea pulling up the shutters of her windows on the third floor in the mornings. Pulling them down in the evenings. Bea throwing out the trash into a nearby compactor down the street. A hazy blur of her rushing down the stairs. Tying a shoelace on the steps. Adjusting the collar of her coat in the crowd. Taking public transportation. The nitty, gritty and the grimy. He had requested that she be followed and documented; every hour, time of the day, every situation, every breath, every everything, and the results delivered to him post-haste. He supposed the best way to defeat one's enemy is to know one's enemy first and as such, he's dedicated an emptied chamber in the mansion's east wing, cleared of all furniture, all useless things, purely to stashing his findings. His war room. His planning room. At first, it contained merely the bloodied, crumpled, torn biographical file ID photograph he trained on with the iron pipe dummy and then promptly discarded in the desk drawer of his studio office; mangled and damaged and slightly sad looking, much like he face on it. That was the jist of his collectionaire's gallery. He pins it to the wall, tidily, like a memento, slipping a pair of rubber gloves on, the elastic band snapping over his wrists. He wants to be clinical. Like someone handling something hazardous. Professional deformation, he supposed. Then come the others, joined the day-to-day mundane activities of his neighbour, Terry has images of Bea walking a park, scurrying inside of the building from the rain, eyeing the discount aisle at a local bodega with a shopping basket and silently bypassed by another tenant in the lobby hallway. They don't talk to her much and now he has it immortalized in vivid polaroids. One photo lines the wall. Two. Fifty. Eighty. If you were going to invade his privacy by muddying his perception enough to have him share his intimacy in the form of his family's old photographs, then he would invade your own privacy right back to tip the scales of balance back into his favour by covering an entire freed up room in his household with your images. That's what he spends the weekend on. He trains here. Does his push-ups here. Exercises here. Wallpapering the stone block outline the room personally. A decorative, ornate sticky tape dispenser by his side on a tiny coffee table, alongside a silver, carved box of nails, Terry's hard at work, like a grand tactician drawing out his next course of action.

 

 

 


Bea's face is staring at him from all sides; a provocation.

 

 

 

-"Margaret. What's the count?"-

 

 

 

He rolls up his sleeves when his secretary appears behind him discreetly with a stack of papers and a notebook.
He doesn't even look at her outright, instead, admiring his handiwork as she clears her throat.
Reading out a number.

 

 

 

-"Two thousand, five hundred and eight five total, sir."-

 

 

 

Miss Spencer's clipped tone announces, reading out the complete count so far from a printed piece of paper --- and perfect --- that sounded perfect ---his people did a perfectly immaculate job compiling these over time --- Terry's gaze still transfixed on a wall of images in his war room, he hears her clicking heels walking away from him, putting distance between them, growing further and further away, only to stop abruptly on the threshold of the chamber, heavy velvet curtains drawn on deliberately on the colossal, state of the art barred windows.Terry wanted darkness. Asked for the staff to grant him his request. To have privacy. To be undisturbed while in here. Not seen nor heard from. Nothing to distract him or bother him or steal his focus. Nobody comes in and out unless with a personal permission from him. -"If I may take the liberty,"- Her voice is tentative and careful, but firm. -"Would you like me to arrange some entertainment for you and Mr. Kreese this evening? Call someone over? Sir, it's Sunday afternoon."- She requests, a steely, professional resolve hiding something else and Terry knows that sound lacing her words like he knows his own fist. She's worked for him for so long now and Terry never misses it. Was she --- worried for him? The thick rimmed spectacles of her reading glasses conceal her expression partially, but Terry can tell she's worried. Spending the weekend? In here? By choice? There was nothing to worry about. He choose to do just that. Things were going perfectly according to plan, really. Daniel Larusso was practically sauntering around his dojo with a Cobra Kai Gi, no less. Fell out with that old slope of his. Jessica was playing the honeypot as expertly as she always did. Snake and Dennis were amped up the pressure to made him sign the application document as far as a week back. Mike Barnes was working full steam ahead with Johnny under this very same roof and Terry occasionally slipped in here, into his den, as leisure time. He's gotten under her skin this week. They've kissed. They've kissed like schoolchildren, yes, but they've kissed. He takes it painfully slow because it needs to be slow to be believable. The five components of any story; the characters, the setting, the plot, the conflict, and the resolution. A character he already had and it was the downtrodden, humble, overly-protective, slightly unhinged (as a new addition of traits after recent events, as unfortunate as that was) Karate teacher from downstairs with thin pockets a heart of gold. The setting was a run-down, one star-tier renting apartment accommodation he'd only ever allow his own enemy to live. Now, he'd be in the plot section. Yet, to think he could've taken her in that same apartment right there and then, after that stupid, idiot kiss was unbelievable. So, why didn't he? What the actual fuck was he waiting for? This wasn't an actual union. It was a ploy. A ploy! A ploy! A ploy!

 

 

 

 

-"No, thank you Margaret. I'm perfect entertained."-

 

 

 

He quips back, stretching his neck, left and right, left and right - he was composed. Who's to say he wasn't? If he said he was, then he was.

 

 

-"Are you absolutely certain, Mr. Silver?"-

 

 

 

She presses --- she tended to sound like a mother scolding a child sometimes.

 

 

 

-"Margaret, are you trying to get me laid?"-

 

 

 

At that point Terry removes his gaze from the photo wall and chagrins at her, partially amused, fixing the sash of his silken white velvet Gi. He knew her game. She did this whenever he fell into his workaholic tendencies up in the offices in Dynatox's buildings downtown --- she'd ring someone up from the exclusive black book of escort services and she'd get someone to relax him a bit. Or several people. Mixed company. Men and women and everything in-between. Whatever she decided he needed most for the occasion. Sometimes, he'd ask for it himself, like in the case of Bea's look-alikes, in pairs of three. They were actually professional submissives dabbling in the realm of taking punishment and taking it well. -"Yes, sir."- And just as suspected, her voice unabashedly confirms all his suspicions, without flinching one bit. Terry has to chuckle in amusement, dismissing her as she explains John and the boys will be joining him for supper in the main dining hall, seven o'clock sharp; her heels click another round of thumping staccato on the surface on the stone floor and she shuts the spacious, brass door discreetly with a thud. He never actually fucked his dear little neighbour yet, Margaret's offer to arrange some recreational, wellness sex to sharpen his focus and de-stress him has him reminded and it's a reminder that doesn't sit well with him. Instead, he's angry. Bitter. Heinously enraged. Murderously cold. Somewhat impressed. How has she eluded him for so long? It's never taken too long for him to get people into bed. Even when not paid for, it was always easy. Things were always easy when one was Terry Silver. Now, it was like dancing around a sentient wall that kept shifting, transforming and moving whenever he himself moves along with it, eclipsing him as he attempts to eclipse it. Was she simply frigid? Maybe she didn't like men at all? Oh, no, no --- that was untrue, she wouldn't be a disorganized, flushed, fluttering mess if she didn't --- he could practically smell acute, liquid desire on her, pushing her legs together around him, fumbling with her fingers, looking away from him. Her body language and her actions gave her away entirely. Scratch that. Was she scared? Due to some past experience? Also, what past experience? How many people had her little cunt? One? Two? Fifty? Did the Reds just share communal coital resources and the means of production with the whole neighbourhood? What? What was the answer? What was it!? Furthermore, how many people did she kiss before? The thought of her lips grazing someone else's --- someone's neck and hips and hands left a burning, acidic reaction in his gut akin to nausea. Anger and arousal. Maybe she simply needed to be locked into a chastity belt and then a cage and have the key thrown away. Yes, that's it.

 

 

 

 

He produces a black pin point thin marker from the table.

A board of pinned images, documents, notes and scribbling lines his work space.

Dots connected, here and there, with thin red string.

Dates and maps of movement and a charted outline of her daily activities, entirely miniscule.

Like following a mouse trapped in a maze.

 

 

 

 

【 THE STRATEGY AND GAME-PLAN;】

 

 

 

 

The words written in a thick, black font await and Terry underlines them for special emphasis, filling the blank space beneath on a dotted paper stamped to the makeshift detective board.

 

 


 


Befriend. (Check) ✔
Get close to her. (Check) ✔
Endear. (Check) ✔
Have her put her guard down. (Check) ✔
Induce trust. (Check?)
Annihilate. (Getting there)
No mercy. (Endgame)
Profit? The fun of it.

 

 


 

 

 

 

Taking a step back to look at his own strategic work decorating the wall, Terry smiles. The major portion of his work was done. It was a pattern he used for all those he deemed were painted black in his book. Danny-boy. Her. Observing his outline, though, something seems to be missing. Technically, back in his cardboard cutout reality, he was going steady with Bea. He? In a relationship? An item? With someone? Someone like her, no less? Terry Silver, in his actual, real life, didn't do relationships. He was notoriously known for it. A playboy. LA's most eligible bachelor, gracing the articles of gossip magazines more often then he didn't. He had his people that he appreciated and was devoted to. Margaret, Milos, Snake and Dennis had their uses, John was the focal point of his world, his best friend, his everything --- but, to actually be in a relationship? With someone? He always figured that one day, he would simply, if need be, choose to arrange a strategic marriage for himself that's beneficial, mutually, for him and the person he's arranging it with, not unlike a merger of two companies into one. He'd have his team of lawyers drawing up outlines, legal clauses, terms and he'd parlay with his spouse-to-be, not unlike buccaneers, privateers and pirates discussing arranging their accumulated loot. Something to bring him to new heights. Increase his revenue even more. Maybe an heiress. Someone in ownership of hotels and conglomerates and titles and something that can add to the Silver name. Not detract from it. His parents always instructed him to marry up, if something like that ever came to pass. Always up. Never down. Money is love, they'd say --- and love is money and that's a creed Terry held to. Marrying for --- well, attachment --- was a messy business. His parents loved each other. Despite their many differences --- including their beliefs, ethnicity and respective economic backgrounds --- ma' Irish family lived in an old, patchy roadside house, surrounded by construction scaffolding and a perpetual desert city in bloom and pa's brought an intergenerational wealth from overseas, a crest of their own, a pedigree, a family business and at least several argentinium silver menorahs that all on their own cost a smaller fortune, and for all intents and purposes, they loved each other too much and they happened to be the most uncoordinated, haphazard, irresponsible, unstable people he knew, bankrupt, up to their necks in dept, casino loan-sharks and mob extortionists on their back, clawing at each other and dead before their time, leaving him orphaned as a teenager in the aftermath of the debris that were their collective lives together. But, the grieving that for that was done a long time ago. He left his boyhood behind when he packed his bags for the first plane to fight a war ten thousand miles away from home. Terry took that as a learning lesson.

 

 


Johnny loved someone too - he loved Betsy.
And after she's died, he wasn't exactly the same anymore, really.
He had his adventures, of course, like any man, but his heart was colder, a bit different.
And for all of Terry's many attempts to give him a helpful nudge out of his infinite grieving, John simply never got over it.
Terry wasn't going to deny he was in fact, bitter at the memory of Betsy. How dare she?
She ruined John, cast him into a lifetime of contemplation and regret.
His poor, sweet, brave, brilliant John.
Who deserved the whole world.

 

 


Who he could hear training their champion in the lobby just outdoors.
Terry didn't want that happening to him as well - not now, not ever - that amount of emotional mess.
He didn't want to be like his parents either, even though they were his parents - Morton and Myra were models on how not to behave.
He wanted to be clean, sleek, pedantic, functional, immaculate as a diamond, all sharp edges, and transparency.
To love too much was to be a fool and Terry Silver was never anybody's fool.
So, as such, he adds another line written down in black marker.

 

 

 

 

 

【 PERCAUTIONS;】

 

 

 


 

 


The note says, outlined several times, one after the other;


Loss of control.
Going too overboard too fast (again).
Allowing her too notice things she isn't supposed to notice.
Focus.

 

 


 

 

 

He scribbles it down on the board, ball point pen going right over her photographs and face, scenes in a store, scenes on the street, a blur of her visage on the window and he practically seethes, gritted teeth as he does it. He wanted the pictures to come in all ranges; comely, ugly and mundane all alike. No posing it. Not glitz. No glamour. Just as his target was. Entirely bared. Natural. Entirely true. The pressure in Terry's jaw tightens just looking at the unimaginable wall of photographs as the sounds of thudding and clamour echoes from the lobby in the heat of Johnny training with Barnes. All's well. But --- why did Margaret imply she should ring up someone --- one of his usual arrangements? Did she assume he was tense? Did he seem tense? Did he seem burned out somehow? In need of churning off some steam? Funny. Terry didn't feel it. Did he? No. He felt just fine. Why would he not be fine? His neighbour wasn't an actual prospect --- she was just, well, a game, really. Some veterans had Vietnam war reenactment festivals where they pretended and Terry too, in a sense, pretended. Was that forbidden? Not allowed? Bea wasn't his type. In fact, she was the opposite of his type in every regard. Unemployed, hunky, pinko, immigrant nobody. His hand practically smears down a line-up of several images --- polaroids pinned together into a cohesive whole as he adds another reminder, in haste, something deep within him, against all better judgement, logic and sanity feeling he'll need this as a side-note;

 

 

【 TO AVOID AT ALL COSTS;】

 

 


 

 


He writes, feeling his fingers shake in cold rage;


The collateral of an emotional reaction being involved.

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

 

“Beauty is desired in order that it may be befouled; not for its own sake, but for the joy brought by the certainty of profaning it.”
― Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

You sprint through the forest and he chases after you.

 

 

A mere roadside stop, in the shadow of an intersection highway on the outskirts of the city, on a rolling hill at a downwards angle, his blue vehicle parked in the shadow of a line-up of massive oaks, traffic bypasses your little getaway in the forest, the roaring, buzzing commotion from the asphalt lost in the quietude of the wild tucked away from sight, all jagged rocks and colossal stones beneath a carpet of dry branches, copper autumn foliage crackling beneath your feet, sunlight illuminated dust particles in the air as you run and giggle like children. Around and around. Not a building in site. Not a travel motel or a diner. Not a parking lot. None of the solitude of your apartment and it's four grey panel walls, although, even solitude felt easier to muster when you could expect someone coming along any day. He's spent a weekend in Pasadena to acquire some gear for the dojo, returning with a truckload of boxes, wall paint, brushes and coveralls, taking to a break, as he said, to catch up with you --- and there was an odd sense of relief and joy to Terry's return even if he was gone for all but two days. Your mouth moved on it's own, you found, like some mechanic, automated thing you couldn't control, muscles twisting upwards into a grin and you don't remember when was the last time you smiled this much, shrieking laughter filling the mildness of the air. Or when you played tag with someone last, not counting childhood. Your heart pounds with adrenaline and giggles as his head pops up from behind the trunk of a tree, teasing you --- ring around the rosie -"Did you know I was a track all-stars champ in high-school!? You'll have to do better than that!"- He snorts as his eyebrows shoot upwards as he attempts to grab you, reaching forward from the bushes, taunting, of course, it was obvious he was deliberately letting you slip away to prolong the game and you wanted him to. You lungs fill up with oxygen and you can barely breathe as you push your body to it's limit, but does it really matter? You were spending time again.

 

 


-"C'mon! Run! Run! Run!"-

 

 


He smacks his palms together practically shouting like a coach giving advice, tailing behind you through the tree lot, large hands occasionally catching up and sliding around you waist, grabbing, squeezing and then letting go on purpose, tickling you as you ran, clever fingers sneaking up and done your spine in motion, a delicious sort of ache filling your chest in an attempt to giggle and breathe;

 

 


-"Terry, I can't!"-

 


You yell back, nearly stumbling on your own feet and head first into the foliage.

 


-"Faster!"-

 


He pushes on, halting you suddenly once he catches up to you and spinning you around to face him at full force as you catch your breath, your eyes pinned to the outline of his chest hidden behind his sweatshirt, his jacket long since forgotten on the passenger seat of his parked Ford. His smile vanishes then somehow as he bends his head down slight while you dangle in his arms left to right, his mouth a firm line, Terry delivers his line through a hiss.

 

 


-"Pretend you don't want it."-

 

 


His expression is a hard, firm line on his jaw, an upper low of teeth digging into his lower lip for a second as you feel your own lips part; Pretend you --- don't want it? His embrace tightens, the material of your own clothes sticking to through a thin layer of sweat as you gasp, breathing through you nostrils and parted mouth alike as you cease to giggle.. You can smell his sweat too. The sharpness of musk and salt. -"Have you ever played like that with someone?"- He prods on, his face lower towards you even more until you feel his form entirely bending inwards, to you. -"Played at force?"- He whispers and you spot something in his eyes sparkling.Pretend play? As in, chasing around, like a cat chasing a mouse? Making love and making it seem unwilling? -"No."- You stutter with good humor, chuckling as you do, feeling yourself pulled closed into his torso. -"Do you not like it, or ---"- He presses expectantly, his breath close enough to smell --- you swear you catch the faintest hint of tobacco, even though you're certain he doesn't smoke. Perhaps, it was simply the dryness travelling on the fall air. A distant fire. The heaviness of the city. Chimney tops, exhaust pipes and smog. -"No, I just never ---"- You lower your gaze then, feeling self-concious. Goodness, he doesn't know. -"Never what?"- Another push that's met with your silence and his furrowed, confused brows shoot up in surprise.

 


-"You don't say?"-

 


He quips, dragging his words out, rendering your heart into a pounding mess.

 


-"Never?"-

 


Terry's tongue caresses the word and it practically drips and you manage to look at him finally.

 


-"I'm sorry."-

 


You manage to apologize as well.

 


-"No, don't be."- He stirs you a little in his arms, his tone warm, comforting, his chest emanating softness. -"Hey, look at me!"- Terry's forefinger finds its beneath your chin when you try to wiggle away a second time and you find yourself looking at him, the top of his head illuminated by autumn sunshine, reflected from the sleek, jet black outline of his hair, like a halo.-"I'm still learning myself!"- He adds then, bashful, an odd redness gracing his cheeks and you giggle. Him? Still learning? Perhaps --- although you didn't quite believe it. He was either too humble or merely saying that to make you feel more at ease. In the company of a likeminded individual and you, in a sense, appreciated that. He was also a good guy. A good man. You envisioned him as the type who could technically had his share of fun if he so desired, but simply chose not to, deliberately, out of respect towards himself and others. That was a rarity. An unbelievable sort of specialness. His gaze his heavy, though. Piercing. Two dark hooks. -"Did you know that Taoists believed sleeping with virgins lead to immortality? That chastity was a device that allowed ascendance into heaven? Interesting bit of trivia."- His warmth dissipates again and you feel the heaviness of his words, lulling and hazy, he could say the strangest things which such conviction you'd believe them too. You've been standing held by him surrounded by the wilderness in the shadow of an oak lot and you haven't even noticed. He made everything sound so --- unique somehow. He had a strange way of, well, complementing people. Of saying nice things. Of flattering them. Buttering them up, as it were. It was both charming and unusual.

 

 


-"There's this legend that the first Emperor of China became immortal after sleeping with thousands of virgins."- Terry's voice continues and you feel him softly rocking into you, back and forth, the firmness in his jeans up against the soft part of your belly and you briefly look down and back up feeling yourself flustered. You'd slither free if you could, but you buck slightly, testing the strength of his arms and they don't intend to let you go. A silent alarm goes off in your head and you speak, unwittingly, the first stupid thing that comes to your mind disguised as a joke, to alleviate the sudden tension. Please, let me go, you wish to plead. -"Well, you're in luck. Maybe you can become immortal too, huh?"- You stutter, tone laced with a nervous, cheeky giggle that sounds slightly silly and dumb even to your own ears. What --- what was this conversation all of a sudden? Immortality achieved through collecting chastity? What?

 


-"Maybe I could."-

 


Terry doesn't even laugh along with you.
Instead his face is dreadfully still.
Expressionless.
He doesn't blink.
Like he means every word he's said.
The forest around you appears darker somehow --- deeper.
Where did the sunlight go suddenly?

 


-"Maybe you could struggle while I take it from you, huh? Would you like that?"- You feel his lips graze the lobe of your ear as he whispers, one hand freeing itself from grasping your waistline and he's reaching between your hips, cupping and massaging you tenderly as you gasp at the unexpected contact, his hand big enough to hold you whole. Struggle while he takes it from you? Your mouth goes dry as he applies more pressure to the place where you thighs touch and you find you cannot lie. Pretend? There was no pretending to be had here.The distant shriek of a bird somewhere high above the branches up ahead resonates across the inlaid valley and you practically feel the sound send a shiver down your spine.

 

 

 


-"That would be really difficult to do. Pretend I don't want to."-

 


You confess, shuddering in his embrace, feeling uneasy by the sudden stillness of everything.

 


-"I'm going to help you."-

 

 

 


If there was a way for verbalized words to smile, they would've in Terry's mouth the second his fingers lounged forward and nipped at the collar of your shirt, and lower, tinkering with the top button idly, right before he pulled, hard, forward, ripping the material open at the front, with a full row of buttons flying down into the grass, leaving your brassier to peek through from behind the now creased fabric as you arms shoot up, instinctually, to cover your own indecency and the slightly outline of your exposed cleavage, the surface of voice led up to the scrutiny of his hyper-focused stare. He was looking. Oh, so he was serious? He wasn't joking? You could've swore that he ----"Terry, no, you're scaring me!"- You titter, trying to diffuse the situation yet again through joking as you're let go, stumbling backwards, looking around for the buttons as if though you could ever really find them again, attempting for lightheartedness, partially terrified and partially wanting.

 


-"Good."- He retorts sternly, advancing forward, practically stalking, slowly, not in a hurry at all. -"A manhunt should be scary."- Terry shakes his head, placing special, exceedingly heavy and poignant emphasis on the word should, pursing his lips, nostrils slightly flaring, stretching his neck left and right with an audible crack of his muscles and the flesh underneath, nodding his head like it was a commonly known fact as he rolls his grey shirt sleeves up, one at a time. There's a vein that pops up on his forehead. The type that matches the ones riddling his forearms, all blue and protruding on pale skin, the longest organ pumping blood, his indigo capillaries and vessels, matching his eyes.

 

 

 


You swallow and you run, instinctively, cradling your own torso and you tattered shirt.


Something scares you in his demeanor and you aren't certain if you're about play a very convincing game or ---

 

 

 


So, you sprint, not guided by physical speed as much as the precipice of the valley headed down, into a gorge, trees lining your descent as you gasp and practically fall, from one step to the other, branches and leaves flying beneath your steps with the warm-drum thumping of Terry's weight behind you, sharp bushes getting caught into the hem of your trousers, your ripped shirt, your hand, not unlike fingers trying to catch and stop you. If Terrence was a forest --- blood drawing from you tiny scratches and you feel their burn, imagining him right behind you, advancing, determined face right at your back, about to catch you, and then when you reach the end of the cenote, at the bottom of the forest and turn to check, Terry simply isn't there. You're all alone and the woods are suddenly empty, quiet, devoid of all activity as your eyes dart left and right and everywhere, looking for him. Where did he go? And When? You could hear his footsteps behind you just a moment ago no less acutely then your own heartbeat, heavy and loud. You fingers shake as you try to fix your shirt in a makeshift manner and cover yourself up, only to fail, deciding to quickly, in an unseemly, haphazard way merely tie the ends of your shirt into a knot, right above your bellybutton for practicality's sake to cover as much skin as humanly possible, crossing your arms on your torso for extra protecting, legs dancing in place nervously. Thing was, it was hard to gage just when Terry was jesting and when he wasn't. Perhaps you didn't have the same sense of humor, but this wasn't exactly the reaction you've anticipated when you'd have him discovering your sexual expertise was very much close to zero. You supposed you were expecting pity. Some sort of avoidance. A tirade of acceptance. Instead, you got the hunger and you could still feel it etched into your waist where his bruising fingers used to be.Maybe you shouldn't have revealed yourself at all like that. You really don't want to stay here long. The autumn days meant evenings creeped in faster, and you could see the purple outline of twilight creep into the horizon through the trees as you decide to walk, forward, hoping to find him and convince him to head back to the car. -"Terry? You there?"- You decide to raise your voice into the nothingness and call after him once you see no sight of him and your voice echoes back to you. Goodness, he didn't decide to ditch you, did he? Panic awakens in you and a pressure in you throat pulsates, tickling clockwork, so you call after him again, hoping to be heard. -"Where are you!? Where'd you go?"- You're turning around in circles, the forest a blur, yet still nothing. No answer.

 

 

 

So, you advance forward, starting to feel a bit forsaken and abandoned, unsure of where you're going or how to get out of this confusing, twisted maze, guided only by the hope you didn't lose each other and even now thinking of alternative ways to call for help for the both of you if you indeed did, stepping carefully through the grass and nearly yelping when you spot a lone snake slithering through the labyrinth of rocks beneath your feet, dark scales and grey chevron patterns glistening from the soil, camouflaged, choosing to move faster then, avoiding all critters and anything venomous that could harm you, looking around, trying to spot him behind a tree somewhere, in the bushes, in the distance, anywhere, deciding momentarily to turn back from where you came from and do a full turn back to the vehicle and wait for him there, a decision made even firmer when the silence of the forest was cut through with what sounded like a bark, growling, and then a far away ruckus. A --- a dog? Maybe it was a hunter heading off of the trail of Angeles National Forest park? Someone taking a stroll in nature? An elongated moan howling and you freeze with the stark, horrid realization --- a wolf? Where was he!? Where was Terry!? Was he okay? Gasping in anxiety up head up --- up the hill, stumbling around and practically climbing up on your hands and knees, unable to maintain balance, only for the howling to get louder, closer, until you can hear the sweat trickling down your forehead and you instinctually hide, back-first against the stump of a tree, hoping to be out of sight and out of mind, your fingers protectively clenched up against the bleeding, stinging scratches you've accidentally earned getting caught unto a thorny berry bush by accident while pretending to be hounded by Terry. You want to call out to him again but you fear that whatever animal, hound, dog, wolf was out there would be attracted your way, so you bite your lip, hugging your knees closer to you for comfort, hoping to make yourself smaller and more compact --- more concealed, feeling it shivering beneath your teeth until your body grows cold and rigid. When did this become hide and seek? And furthermore, when did hide and seek become so very stress-inducing? Then that thing howls again. And again and again. By now, you practically crawl away from the shadow of the big oak and you move, scurrying, as quickly as possible, out of the thickness of the wilderness, eyes still darting for a way out, until your heart nearly leaps into your mouth and your stomach clenches when you spot Terry, practically twirling into your eyesight from behind a tree, head thrown back, Adam's apple bobbing, lips pursed yet again, eyes shut in delight as he howls, almost as if mocking you.

 

 


He?

He howls?

It was him?

He howls and then he cackles; a crude, unhinged sound.

 

 


-"Who's afraid of the big bad wolf?"- He practically saunters with a sing-sony tone, grin abound, all teeth, fingers tinkering with his own belt and zipper as you step backwards. He scared you. He scared you so bad. This was no reason to smile, or play around or recite the song from the three pigs. -"Big bad wolf, big bad wolf ---"- Nonetheless, Terry continues, repeating, chanting and you'd get angry at him, if he didn't lounge at you, capturing you, practically tackling you into the ground, wrestling you down, weight pressing into you as your head slumps backwards, into the bed of leaves, teeth digging into the side of your neck as his burrows his head in before you can resist, a shriek emanating from your lips as he bites down hard enough to break skin and draw blood, fingers hastily untying the knot of your already ripped shirt, hands sliding up your brassier, tearing it at the thin midsection, revealing you enough to cup you, nipples and all. Pretend you don't want it --- his words come to mind and you attempt to hide you face in the grass in embarrassment, a feeling of being flustered and overwhelmed as he undoes your trousers, pulling them over your knees, and further down, alongside your undergarments, rubbing, licking and kneading you with an appreciative, audible humid, inhaling your scent. You can't pretend. Oh, you can't. You can't. You can't. Somehow, his hands reach up to your neck and squeeze, choking you, forcing your attention and eyes back to him once you find your passage of breath cut off aggressively as his fingers work you hard enough to have you slick, his eyes unblinking, immovable, frozen and needle-like as he strokes his himself, up and down, his length rigid in his own hands. -"I want to lick you clean when it's done."- He coos self-satisfied, his fingers dip into your wetness, dripping and loose until he slips inside of you with ease and a grunt --- his size fills you to the brim and you spread your legs wider to receive him, bucking into him until there's comfort, ache, sharpness. There's pain, soreness, satisfaction and a sense of fullness as he ruts. Terry goes rough and hard and you wiggle, but he has hands everywhere, it seems. In your mouth. In your cunt. On your nipples. On your neck. Breasts. Hips. Palm over your mouth. Arms holding down yours. Legs, tangled with you own, squeezing a bit too tight, past the point of pain. You feel yourself leak, the aftermath of it running down the inside of your legs. His mouth is sucking away at your wounds your earlier. Every scratch. Every torn piece of skin. Attaching himself to it like a vampire. Kissing and lapping up the remains, leaving new scars in it's stead. New bruises. Hickeys. A mosaic of red, blue and purple.

 

 

 

 

-"And I want to taste the blood."- He continues with a heated, needy murmur, making due of his promise, not referring, you immediately know, to a mere cut on your wrist here or there.
Lips leaning down to the rope of blood trickling down your slit and he practically envelopes you whole, in his mouth, devouring.
The shadows of the trees are long and heavy by then as you moan, eyes rolling back, the roofs of the pines above you fading.
You're unsure when Terry finishes exactly, but when he does, laying down beside you ---
His teeth, his smile, his chin, the tip of his nose and his mouth are all red.
He looks like an animal that just feasted on another.

 

 

 

 


-"They also say,"- He begins, trailing off with a small growl, his tongue licking clean his front row of pearly whites as he speaks, eyes cast upwards, tucking his cock shiny with cum, blood and sweat back into his jeans and zipping himself up promptly --- he licks and salivates over his own teeth, but he leaves his organ drenched and visibly hard, you notice --- laying on his back on the ground and wiggling to fix himself up, right beside you, chest heaving, close enough where your bodies could touch. Dusk begins to settle in the forested valley and the sky above you is red, grey, purple and blue, a distant pheasant's call breaks the silence with a rowdy shriek and you find yourself shivering at the bottom of the hill, right above where his car was still parked, hidden and tucked away from sight, away from the highway, Terry's arms enveloping you and you find yourself sinking into them, still shocked with what has transpired. Baffled. A bit lost. A bit content. A bit of everything. A bit restless. A bit exhausted. Terry's voice is ambrosia and a pale, barely visible half moon slides through the branches. -"That once the Yellow Emperor ascended into immortality, he transformed into a serpent. A dragon."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

-"I fucked her!"-

 


Terry announces himself over the phone, all hushed tones and whispers, barely holding his laughter back.

 


-"Terry?"-

 

 


John's confusion comes in loud and clear over the phone, and he reiterates, with more firmness.

 


-"Yesterday; I've fucked her."- He's jubilant, victorious, and he practically wants to shout his achievement into the handle and do jumps around the office, but his voice is deliberately low, hushed, lest someone overhears. Lest she somehow overhears, resting in his backroom bedroom, her own apartment upstairs locked, he's brought her back home and he's had her sleep over. He turns on the perpetually unused television in the office, clicking the remote on, landing on a random channel and upping the volume slightly, not enough to wake or disturb her but high enough to mask whatever was said. -"Licked her cunt clean of blood."- He adds with a chuckle, remembering how it tasted, collapsing into his raggedy old rotating chair and doing a twirl of joy, nothing like colossal, leather-bound desk armchairs at Dynatox, but nonetheless, he's having fun and he's feeling content. He and John, they made a habit of this; regaling each other with sexual exploits. They have, ever since the war; visiting the same establishments and putting their dicks into the same hookers, sometimes staying in the same room as the deed happens. Sometimes joining. Privacy becomes unimportant when any day could be your last. Vietnam had different social rules for them. A different conscience. -"What the actual fuck, Terry?"- John snorts and then subsides, as if pondering something for a moment, halting with uncertainty and gruffness. Oh, John. Sweet, speculating John. -"Blood!? What did you do!? Do I need to come over?"- Always ready to hide a body even if he denied that was indeed the case. No. Terry didn't kill anyone, Terry merely deflowered someone and it was hilarious and so painfully antiquated, because he secretly hoped he could look up her past sexual partners and keep track of them as well, maybe pay them a visit or two or five, but as things were, he was denied the explicit pleasure, and now he found himself in equal measured peeved and in equal measures delighted. No --- no enemies to be had? Nobody to track down, corner and drag across the concrete?

 


-"Stuffed my cock inside of her, Johnny, what else is there to do!?"- Terry relaxes into his seat, blunt as can be, twirling the telephone cord with his forefinger, feeling his brows borrow from surprised laughter. Another re-run of Dynasty is playing on the screen. -"Ever rolled around on the grass while doing it?"- He asks John, leaning into his own work table, striving to speak even quieter, with more discretion. -"Frolicked?"- He giggles then, because honestly, Terry has fucked everywhere. On yachts. On planes. In Siagonese Brothels. In Korean brothels. Brothels in general. On islands. In the water. In his bed. In other people's beds. On gala events. In exclusive clubs. But, he has actually never fucked anyone in a forest before, no. Reminded him something the Hippie Flower Children would've done back in the days when he and Johnny were returning from the war and it's partially made him scoff in disgust and amusement --- all Terry really lacked was a guitar, a brown suede vest with frills, a seashell headband tied around his forehead alongside dandelion wreath and the image would've been complete. -"You make more sense when you do rounds on the whole masseuse entourage."- He hears Johnny chuckle from the other side and Terry has to snort along with him. He was right. He really was right. Terry, as he was, never really did casual --- well, encounters, for the lack of a better word. He doesn't remember having them. He doesn't remember his first time either other then the fact that it happened in a backdoor whorehouse with some gook 'me love you long time' slut and that it was done well within a minute after she fucked their entire platoon, one at a time, him included. He remembers weekends in Monaco in a gentlemen's club and he remembers leather bars in downtown LA back in 1979, but he doesn't remember having someone down in the foliage, like an overly-eager teenager would've done it with another overly-eager teenager. Nature was --- distasteful, for the lack of a better word and in his own mind, he'd most rather clean it out, total it, and make space for something else.

 

 


She had scratches and bruises on her arms from branches digging into her skin.
Forests were and infestation, like a virus, and they deserved to be removed.

 

 


-"I was the first, Johnny."-

 

 


He breathes, barely willing to share the secret, like it was a potent, covert thing.
Tongue briefly massaging his teeth and gums in his mouth, savouring an aroma long gone.

 

 


-"Tasted like strawberries in spring."-

 


-"Okay, Twig."-

 


The call ends and Terry throws his head back in the chair with the brightest, widest smile he can muster until he can feel the muscles of his own cheeks burning, turning left and right in the rotating chair, the programming still playing on the television as he idly turns his cheeks in it's direction, still grinning; " You've made a prostitute out of me!" The character of Claudia digresses, throwing a crystal champagne glass, shattering it on the spot, decked out in sequins and crocodile tears in equal measure, eyeliner leaking down her cheeks, smearing her visage. "I taught you how to use sex for gain. And it apparently upsets you." Cecil retorts, fixing his golden cufflinks with a scoff. "It disgusts me." She shoots back and a silver-screen fight ensues. Just the type Terry enjoyed the most. The volume of the show tuning out all sound. "How naive you are for a bright young woman, Claudia. Don't you know that if you want something in this world, you have to pay for it?" Terry has to giggle in absolute delight at that line. Truer words have never been spoken in a daytime soap.

 

 

 

Then comes the subject of employment.

 

 

 


Terry decides he'll do what he does best --- be the change he wants to see in the world.
So, he invents a thing, like an entrepreneur does.

 

 

 

The store is really just a cover-up, not unlike a mob front with a pizza restaurant right above it, but Terry doesn't care as he buys out rent space and has his people furnish it and arrange it well within a few days, and even that is a deliberately elongated timeline, to be more convincing and realistic, intentionally having them make something of a ruckus on the ground floor of their apartment building, to ensure it's known they're present and to get everyone's attention. Hers especially. He wants her close. Nearby. That much was established. Not getting any smart ideas and wondering off somewhere else. To the other side of town. Another street. Another block. Another neighbourhood. With another landlord. With another boss. The idea of her having a boss that wasn't him honestly filled him with a type of rage where he could easily imagine himself regurgitating the lining of his own insides, mucus, blood, sick, vomit and shit included, especially after he's put his cock inside of her. This was a matter of good form, keeping what you've fucked at arms length. No, no. She must stay right here, where he can observe and see and keep everything in order, and fuck, if that meant he had to, among others, be in ownership of a fucking local variety supermarket offering discounts and coupons, then so be it. Sometimes you had to be a clown in a clown circus act in order to fool your audience. Terry Silver, CEO, co-wonder of countless dojos across The Valley, joints and parlours and private gyms and private islands and mansions and villas and estates retreats and a collection of sports race cars and Aston Martins and immaculate, priceless suits and shoes, artwork and personally commissioned jewelry --- and now, a bodega. He is embarrassed, yes. Pissed off. Begrudgingly amused too, that if someone wanted to play detective and snoop through his legal documents, with enough tenacity and fine-combing they'd eventually find out he owns something called, very simply and obviously The Cornerstore. Funny how if the FBI wanted to find some more dirt on him or Dynatox, they'd assume, that with an innocuous name like that (and a reputation such as his own), it's undoubtedly a cover up hiding something larger, but Terry was entertained that the establishment was precisely what it seemed; entirely mundane and utilitarian and nothing to it, just one desk and one cash registry and two shifts total. No third shift, no, no, no. He wasn't about to have her nights occupied. He should be the third shift.

 

 

 


Her hours had to be flexible --- he wasn't about to let an imaginary job take up all her very real time.
Pay had to be believable --- not too small, but not too big. Not too big or small for her tastes, anyway.
Terry owned hair conditioner, lotions and aftershaves that costed more daily.
It would be preferable if she depended on him.
Her make-belief managerial colleagues were not to exhaust her.
He needed her ripe and prim and energized, good enough for at least a few rounds.
Get the pesky idea of employment out of the way once and for all, keep her somewhat occupied.
Although he failed to understand why he simply couldn't take care of her himself.
Just pay for what she eats, and where she sleeps and what she wears.
Up on The Hills, it was a common thing and he witnessed it daily.

 

 

 

Young men were gigolos; young women were mistresses.
If Terry was an Emperor or a king, Bea would be a courtesan --- a concubine.
In his actual life, away from the cardboard cutout reality, he was a king, in a sense.

 

 

So maybe she was his concubine, in a roundabout way?

 

 

Concubine? Enemy? Slave? Property? Foe? Project? Amusement? A way to kill boredom? A way to play at war? What were they?

 

 

 

He convinces her to apply, coaxes her, much like one coaxes a child, and her job interview is staged, the obligatory waiting period is staged, the one conducting the interview is staged, and being accepted is staged, but she is happy. Relieved somehow. A certain veil of fear and anxiety drops and she's, well --- what's the word? Happy? Yes, happy. She needed to be tricked into being helped. He could simply be honest. What a concept. He wished to be honest. But, she simply wouldn't take kindly to aid. If he played the role of a sincere man and merely came out and said that the truth, that he is a man of means, and that he'll arrange an employment for her --- take care of her in ways a man should take care of a woman if he was to consider himself a man at all --- she would've struggled and wiggled in his grasp, like a captured snake, still slithery and slimy from its own afterbirth. Terry hated to admit it, but she vaguely reminded him of Johnny in that regard. Was he imagining it? Was it offensive to conclude that? Offensive towards Johnny and unfairly flattering towards Bea? Johnny was incomparable after all, but Johnny too had to be tricked and pushed into things. Pushed into getting into bed with beautiful women Terry procured for him. Pushed into trying beautiful men --- because life was simply too short for limitations and arbitrary sexual prohibitions. For holding back. Into trying Terry himself, once upon a time. Pushed into moving into the mansion. Pushed into revenge. Pushed into being given money, no strings attached. Pushed into being helped just for the sake of it. Pushed and deceived into having his life made more pleasurable for him. Why did life have to be difficult when it could be easier? Terry never understood this stupid martyrdom complex. Out of all the roles he played, the role of the benefactor was always the most complicated role to play, be it sincere or fabricated. He remembered acquiring the Glendower Ennis House mansion fifteen years back, and the first thing he did when the paperwork and legalese were through was to ring up Johnny and tell him "Come live with me. There's so many rooms, we'll never lack for space. Not like in the cage." and Johnny simply shot him down saying "It's your home, man. Not mine. Enjoy it. You've earned it."

 

 

 

 

Thing is --- John's earned it too, by the tenfold. He's earned it more then Terry has.

So, why wont people allow Terry to help them?

 

 

 

Regardless, he spends, in layman terms, the next few days in coitus sans interruptus and the days melt into making the Larusso boy's fists bleed, training himself, training Barnes, bandaging the scratches on her arms and fucking her. Battle, blood and banging. He was her superior's superior without her knowing. The person handing out her fictitious salary. He comes to her, to her apartment, third floor, as much as he wanted her to be rid of the ghastly place and come down to him, logistically, it was better she be away, lest she doesn't see, hear or witness too much of what went on there. She noticed too much as is. His literature. Stains on the mat. So, he visits her. He pretends to be a good boy. More chaste then a choir singer, only hinting at experience to entice her. -"Wanna try?"- He suggests ropework and knots one time, deliberately batting his eyelashes as innocently as he could. -"I do."- He confesses, scooting closer, hands touching hers --- he initiates lest she does it first.-"I mostly read about it in books."- Lies upon lies upon lies and fuck he can't help himself, referencing his own library collection - the lies just come pouring, word after word. You learn about a person's patterns, habits and very individuality through sex the best and to see what they're like when you give them power over yourself all while still secretly holding the reigns of command --- of course, as suspected, she fumbles around with the rope, making sure it's all loose and dangling, as to not hurt him, apologizing profusely, fluttering her lashes and refusing to look at him properly, which is a ludicrous notion all on it's own, rubbing and massaging his wrists, and the whole affair is more aftercare before any aftercare is even necessary then actual fucking. He could laugh and laugh and laugh until his heart bursts. Part of him wants and needs to pretend he's this tender, fragile thing made out of glass purely to be able to witness this entertaining, deliriously funny spectacle for even longer and lap it up like a cold drink on a hot summer's day. Terry the tender. Terry the clueless.

 

 

 

-"I can be the big bad rich guy and..."- On another occasion, downtown, driving around in the Ford, after being hilariously bypassed by a chrome purple Lamborghini manned by some new money hick roaring their engine right beside them near the stoplight, much to his chagrin, Terry makes the suggestion on instinct; what if he came to you, suited up, polished, dazzling and sweet smelling? A man of the world. Of course, he could call up Margaret; instruct her to acquire some suits for him. Expensive enough to be convincing, but downplayed and unassuming enough to look like something realistically acquired second hands somewhere in a specialized discount store --- something a struggling Karate teacher's salary could validly achieve and handle on a budget. Home invasion of the debauched capitalist taking whatever he wants wherever he wants. Something in him has been stirring and it's this little bug called sincerity. You make him want to be sincere and tell the truth or at least play at it. He tests the waters, the same way he's tested them when he acted all cheeky, goading you to pick out which mansion you could live in if you had your way, like a child forging an imaginary scenario from a dollhouse of cards. To see how you'd react. Prodding, teasing and joking, spewing some rhetoric about the streets of LA being paved with money. This is the promised land. All one has to do is pick it up where it grows; it's 1985 and there's gold on the searing asphalt. One day he too can drive a Purple chrome Lamborghini with you on the passenger seat, he weaves up an artificial daydream --- one day. Nevermind the fact he owned a Rolls Royce and an Aston Martin and could buy any vehicle in existence. He wants to see what you'll say. If you'll yearn. Everyone has a price. Everyone can be bought. Why should you be any different? Why are you any different? -"I don't need any of that. For the first time since I came here,"- Sped past by the tacky, tasteless race car, you brush against his elbow briefly, as he manages the steering wheel, trying to hide his distaste for the driver up ahead. -"I have someone to hope coming back home to."- Your voice hits his ears like a ricocheting bullet splitting the sound barrier and for a second, Terry's focus is away from the road ahead and oncoming traffic. All he can do is listen, transfixed.

 

 

 

-"My life is no longer an empty apartment that isn't even mine. I have someone to care for."-

 

 

 

He nearly hits a concrete street light pole that day and he escorts you back home and returns to the dojo bitter.

Usually, he manevours the city's rush hour expeditiously and with no difficulties.


But now, he's lost control --- again. Over mere words.

 

 

He calls again, dialing the private mansion number connected to John's over quarters.
He does this every now and then, not unlike a secret correspondence, keeping each appraised of progress.
Keeping each other appraised of everything from two different parts of town.

 

 

 

-"Terry, I'm gonna say something you ain't gonna like. But, pals, right? Brother to brother?"-

 


Johnny's voice comes in loud and clear after being made aware of every anecdote, every action, every movement, every word going in and out of the dojo; revenge and personal matters alike. Terry finds he needs someone to speak to and John was the only one who ever understood and ever cared to listen. The rest were always 'Shut up, Silver!' this and 'Shut up, Silver!' that --- but, while Terry would usually find opening up distasteful, humiliating, demeaning, talking to Johnny was like talking to one's second self, one's reflection, one's conscience and one's insides. Back in the old days, in the jungle, during the long patrols in the bush, they'd confide in each other just like this and the habit never quite went away. This wasn't quite the jungle either, but the shutters in his office were down and the red light from a nearby motel sign flickering, peeking through the slits was no different the blood solstice moon over the grasslands of Suoi Thau. The night is neon and crimson.

 

 


-"Hit me, Johnny."-

 


-"Maybe you like the poor girl?"-

 


Terry hangs up the handle and shuts the phone down before John can even properly finish the sentence --- not liking what he hears, loathing it.

 

 

Terry sits there in silence, mute, office painted a muffled, tinted scarlet, he waits a couple of minutes.
Calling the same number again - almost as if waiting near the phone.
John answers on the very first ring.
He knew to expect him.
He knew him so well.

 

 


-"When you and Betsy, and I'm asking purely academically ---"- Terry leans his elbow on the desk, rubbing the wooden surface, only slightly, idly, over the place her fingers grazed his skin on during the car ride, like a phantom itch he needs to scratch, but, there's nothing there. Only Terry's own flesh, nerve endings and the bone beneath. -"Yeah?"- John's patient voice awaits, anticipating the question in advance somehow. Wise, intuitive John. -"How did you know?"- Terry continues, threading lightly, tip toeing around the core deliberately. How did he know that --- how did he --- he wasn't even certain how to formulate his own question and that irked him more then the purple idiotic, inane, kitschy Lamborghini, leaving him with the hope John will finish his own words for him and fill the gaps and he does. -"Kicked her boyfriend's ass in an behind a diner one time. Got myself all bloody over it. Should've seen him, though. Fucker. Could've easily killed him."- John chuckles fondly from the other side of the line, talking about his ingenue, recollecting what sounded like something of a nostalgic moment and anecdote, long gone, interlaced with an odd melancholy. Terry never exactly asked for the semantics of why Johnny connected to who he connected and how such things came to be way before they've met in the army, mainly because he felt envious and fatally enraged over anyone who wasn't him having a past with him, yet, it's assonance at it's rawest and he doesn't like the parallels or the similarities, even at their vaguest. Fighting someone over someone else. Terry thinks back to the night in the alleyway, after the visit to the fair. He remembers the same type of redness hovering in halogen shades over the walls of his office. Remembers the rage. Remembers the mess. He arranged for something he himself got angry over, blending and shifting, forming shapeless patterns in sanguine. -"That was about it for me. Only reason I didn't do anything too stupid was because of her."- John adds, an honorable finality and certainty Terry envies to no end in his voice, and the line stands clear. Quiet. Static. Terry tries to compare stories to see if control was still there. Still whole. So, John knew he and Betsy were --- when he found himself pummeling her then boyfriend to a bloody pulp? Ah, yes. John was always a hero. A warrior. Always something special and dastardly about him. Even before Vietnam. He was a man who crossed and obliterated obstacles. To John's Her.

 

 

 

-"It was different for me. I wanted to kill her too."- Terry confesses to wanting to remove both the obstacle and the person on the other side --- his own Her no doubt fast asleep on the third floor.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

He gifts you with a bracelet for your birthday - a little something he brought over from Korea.
A present to celebrate a new job found.
He simply knows, as always, everything there is to know about you.
Your favoured food and your date of birth and your shoe size, for all you know, without you having recollections of telling him.
Or maybe you did --- words pour out in his company, or they halt abruptly and you sometimes cannot tell.
You cannot tell what you shared with him and what you haven't.

 

 

 


But, the gift is more of a symbolic thing, then something of actual value, as he explains, but no less precious to you, bought off of a street-vendor somewhere for a dollar and fifty cents total, an upward of over fifteen years ago, when he was a young man, away from the line of duty. Terry enjoyed the aesthetics of it then, as he did now, elaborating as he clasped the silver metal thread of two snakes coiling around each other, tails entwined, little blue pieces of glass in their carved sockets instead of eyes around your wrist. It was a keepsake. Something to immortalize the momentum of him visiting, dwelling and studying there for a few years, tucked away all these years in some jewelry box in a lone drawer somewhere in his backroom dojo office. He said it stayed there, in that very box and that he simply carried it with him here and there and everywhere, and now, it was with him in his studio, and by extension, on your wrist. The iconography of two vipers in love for a Cobra of the Cobra Kai. And now it was yours. It was gorgeous. -"You like that, huh?"- He asks sweetly, leaning over to your ear, his hot breath gently caressing your lob as he presses as small kiss over the back of your hand. It was just and him, out on a park bench somewhere, but this really was the best celebration you had...well, possibly ever. He kisses your lips. You're happy. Content. At peace. The bracelet really is oddly detailed and bizarrely beautiful. Perfectly snug and flattering against your skin, almost as if measured. -"It's an ouroboros."- He continues, tracing the carving on the metal with a forefinger, over the snake biting it's own tail. -"I could've been twenty or twenty one when I bought that. After I got deployed home. Had a stop in Seoul. I had a teacher and a master there."- Terry's eyes briefly light up as he speaks and you spot the shadow of something innocent behind his baby blues. You tried not to ask about the war. Where he's been before. Where he's been afterwards. The timelines of this and that. Instead you collected snippets of stories in your own mind, silently, mentioned here and there in passing, trying to piece together a mosaic of his life. You didn't wish to induce hurt by prodding and prying. Bring forth ugly things from the past. What if it pains him still, you wonder? Surely it must. Such things never go away. -"Thank you for bothering at all. I'll treasure it."- You manage, not daring to look up at him, only for his finger to reach beneath your chin. Something about his gaze is tantalizing. Seductive. Eager. Needy. You wanted to go home with him. -"Bothering? It's never a bother. Maybe we can acquire you a ring to match next."-

 

 

 

-"No, no, no need for that, angel."-

 

 

 

You dissuade him, hands hovering mid-air when you stop yourself from instinctually touching his first, and in holding back, a nickname and endearment slides off from your tongue like a slithering, unstoppable thing and you find he's looking at you funny, like he didn't expect that one and truth to tell, neither did you. An angel. You just called him an angel. -"That's a new one?"- Terry's eyebrows shoot up and scoots further away on the park bench. You notice. Touching and closeness, like magnets repelling and attracting one another. -"What is?"- You act bashful, pretending not to know what he's talking about in good humor. You never talked about things you'd call one another. If you'd call one another things at all. You were simply Bea. He was simply Terry. Terrence. Although, you had the weird, uncanny sensation, sometimes, that he deliberately avoided saying yours. Did he simply not like using it? Did it --- not sit right with him? -"The name."- He reiterates, placing special emphasis on the word. -"Oh, sorry. Just a sweet thing. Would you prefer something else?"- You stutter and something in your heart clenches. He had the tendency of playing hot and cold, hot and cold, hot and cold. He gave you gifts and took you on dates and felt happy for your new job and he shared your bed and he touched you, but you felt that the minute you'd reciprocate in any significant way, he'd pull away, unassumingly, like some feral, wild thing territorial over it's own personhood. You have to remind yourself then, not to analyze him so much. He was a human being. Human problems. -"C'mon, now, I'm hardly an angel!"- He shrugs his shoulders playfully, hot again, as opposed to cold, and he lounges forward, fingers tickling you, attacking your sensitive pressure points that erupt in jitters as you squirm and shudder, laughing. People jogging and doing strolls around the park grounds look at you and the noise undoubtedly coming from your general direction. When you first came to this country you were baffled by how much people smiled even if they seemingly didn't feel it. Smiling out of courtesy. Habit. Just because. Smiling to hide their true feelings. Now, you could've been worse or better then all of them combined, disrupting the public peace and shrieking so much that it practically echoes down the neighborhood. It doesn't feel wrong, though. Terry brings it out of you. Tenderizes and drags out emotions, knot after knot, that you didn't know where there. How strange. How unusual. How --- good.

 

 

 


The pedestrians at Hermosa Vista park stop to look at you for a moment.
A line-up of skyscrapers behind your very backs, close enough to touch --- a picture on a postcard.
Children chortle and make a commotion on a nearby playground, laughing, and you have along with them.

 

 


-"Terrike!"- You slip up, feeling silly as you did, howling with a joyful roar, partially on purpose, partially accidentally, and he halts, beaming. -"What's that?"- An inquisitive, twinkling voice hits your ears and you can't bear to look at him. First hand embarrassment. -"Little Terry. Dear little Terry."- You explain, briefly, clipped. -"In Hungarian."- You add finally. -"And Terrikém is my dear little Terry. How's that?"- You shoot back, juxtaposing calling him angel with something even more different. Truth was, you haven't heard you mother tongue spoken in longer then you can remember and in the idle hours of the night you'd think on it. Ponder it. Think of words. Nicknames. Sentences. Endearments.Whisper them back to yourself lest you forget how to speak.You give everything of interest, everything you even vaguely, remotely care for a name.The neighbours who avoid you. The streets. The stores. The articles stacked up on aisles and shelves. Points of interest around town. And him too. -"I'm 6'5! Anything about me small, huh?"- He's in your face, faux-intimidating you, his lips hovering on the edge of forming into a smirk, and at first you'd assume he'd be a couple of inches shorter, your perception cheating you. He was much bigger then you'd assume with a vague guess, and his fingers are on you once more, pulling you close and tickling. You buck. -"No!"- You shout and cry out in a cackling laughter, grabbing unto his shoulders for balance.He twitches, and the sound of mirth suddenly dissipates. Terry pulls back. You sit there in silence, bodies barely touching looking at the park around you in mutual quietude. A mother pushing her stroller. Someone jogging. Someone walking the dog. A pair of teens listening to their Walkman's and giggling. The world seemed the move in slow motion. Maybe it was just the momentary stifled awkwardness in the air. You finger idly caresses the outline of your newly-gifted bangle and then you speak, unable to hold it back anymore. -"Don't get offended if I ask,"- You stutter, not looking up at him, merely listening to him breathe, in and out, in and out, legs spread on the park bench that appeared too small for his frame. -"But, does touch bother you? As a concept? You can choose not to answer."- You whisper, clipped and measured, as tenderly as you can muster, noticing this before. Terry initiates physical contact, but shies away from it himself. You wonder if it hurts him? Brings him discomfort? You never wish to push, and you could be happy, you figure, without ever touching him at all, if that's what brought him ease. In whatever way he --- he allowed you to care for him. Although he was more then touchy. Back, during your stroll in the forest.

 

 

 

 

You still had markings on your neck, pale pink, teeth bites.

-"No. What gave you that impression?"-

 

 

Terry remarks, giving you the widest, warmest, gentlest smile you've ever seen him with.
Boyish, kind --- for a second he really looks like a Terrike --- a little Terry.
Reaching forward, he brushes against your wrist.
Touching first yet again. Always first.

 

 

 



You feel as if though he's just lied to you - maybe he's lying for a reason? Maybe he lies so you wouldn't feel uncomfortable? Uncomfortable that you've touched him again? Actually, no, lying was such an ugly word. Maybe it was just polite avoidance? He was one of those gallant types, that couldn't, or perhaps didn't dare express themselves with absolute blunt honesty in fear of hurting someone's feelings. Maybe you simply needed to protect his integrity instead of him?

 

 

 

 

 

-"It has a special clasp you open it,"- A dazzling, honeyed smile grazes his mouth, so very close to you, you practically feel it's radiance on your cheek as he speaks, quietly, fumbling with the snake infinity bracelet, turning it slightly to find it's mechanism and show it to you, fingers caressing the metal material of the bangle and the skin underneath.-"and close it with."- He adds, clicking it locked and then unlocking it, your flesh riddled with goosebumps. You wondered if this was how his body reacted when stroked? Was it good for him? Did he shiver? Was his first instinct to recoil? Was there ache in the act? Pleasure? Disgust? Fear? Uncertainty? Maybe he was thrown off by the endearments you called him? Maybe he was less performative where affections were concerned? Perhaps --- he was a gruff, military type still, deep down, and you never even noticed. Perhaps, that's why, these names didn't come so easily to him? What? What was it? The simple glass bejeweled eyes of the serpent biting it's own tail shines dimly on the autumn sunlight and you're left with even less answers than before. All that remains is Terry's kind, velvety voice instructing, looking at you curiously, with a chuckle, his whole arm thrown over your shoulder facing him and the wooden park bench seat; -"You can't remove it otherwise. There's a method to it."-

 

 

 

 

You semi-expect an old Korean folk legend or an urban myth to go along with the piece of jewelry.
It always does with him; he feels full of stories, practically overflowing with them one way or another.
Somehow wise beyond his years, like a sage, it's sometimes difficult to gage his years, feeling young and old at once.
There's none here, no tales; it's simply a tourist-trap souvenir he acquired once upon a time in passing.
Somewhere far away, for a dollar and fifty cents total, as a keepsake.
And now it rests snug on your wrist.
Clasped closed - firmly.
A metal ouroboros snake coiled around your hand.
That, and the lingering, ghostly trace of his touch you dare not return.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Takes six days to him to have her understand how to properly make a fist.
Something others learn in six hours, or even six minutes.
With Terry's patience as a Sensei --- six seconds.

 

Mike Barnes had to demonstrate on the spot.

 

 


And it's this idle thing almost, non-committal - unspoken. A professional deformation guides Terry Silver to, unthinkingly, sitting on the park bench beside her, as you two always do, dates in diners, dates out in the middle of nowhere, dates under a tree like a pair of leprechauns or homeless vagrants, deliberately hunched in his grey sweatshirt, tinkering with Bea's hands, adorned with a snake charm he gifted, as per some default, decade-old urge, place your fingers into the right position needed to deliver a blow, admiring the size differences, the warmth of your flesh and pulse, the tenderness of your joints and the softness of your skin. You unclasp your palm, talking about your day, imagining him to be playful, and he does it again, listening to you intently. Then several times more. He both craves and reviles the touch and the minuscule rituals behind it, but by the end of the makeshift outing, he finds himself holding your hand, by his own personal initiation and choice. It isn't the hand of a fighter. His hands are the hands of a fighter, but yours ain't and in thinking of all the ways he could hurt you, Terry also envisions how tremendously easy it would be. Back in Vietnam, whenever they'd capture someone --- enemy personnel --- they'd have to go on an elaborate tirade just to get a vague confession out of someone. Hurt them. Torture them. Everyone took a turn. Everyone had to learn how it's done. Everyone had to learn the art of extraction. Terry didn't like to remember, how as a soldier, he wasn't adept in much. But, he was, oddly enough, adept at pain. Captain Turner said that he didn't have talent for much, but goddammit, he had a talent for that. He could still quote the old fuck. Like a puppy loose from it's leash, overly eager to bite. Now that was both offensive and pride-inducing somehow, even at the time. Twig was good at torture. Or at least, far too willing to lose himself to it, against all expectations and norm. He'd stutter and act bashful and shy, but he'd still do it. Hook them on conductor pins and wires attached to fingers and bare nipples and electrocute them until their mouths watered and they shat and pissed themselves from the impact and keep them like that, in their own filth, for weeks, gangrenous and maggot riddled and drenched in sweat. But, with her, pain would be so easy. Just looking at her fist, observing the soft, pale particles of flesh, he could do as much as dig his nail into meat a bit harder then usually and she'd help and bleed, like a bleating lamb. Her hand, against his.

 

 

 

 

The bangle always present; a late 18th century Korean Joseon Dynasty antique.
Kim Sun-Yung's memento to him and Johnny, his only American students at the time - Terry had no use for it.
Of course, he respected the knowledge acquired from him, but he wasn't about to be marked like an eternal acolyte or apprentice.
He was a master now --- he intended to treat himself as a master, and not be limited a piece of jewelry.
She, of course, thought it was some trite, poultry idiotic marketplace trinket.
Terry was perfectly content with keeping it that way too.
Let her be weighted down by the damn thing.

 

 

 

Not him.

 

 

 

It still marked her as his target, though --- like the red x on a piece of timber ready to be felled --- that much he liked. She wouldn't even be able to unclasp it on her own, unless he told her how, which was an equally entertaining prospect. A makeshift slave's cuff? Maybe. He supposed it also endlessly amused him that she was convinced it was worth so very little when it was probably, for all intents and purposes, unassumingly priceless. Her smaller hand in his as he fixes her fist idly, Terry can barely hold back from laughing at her naivete and the sheer difference in sizing, her versus him.

 

 

 

Thing is, the contrast is stark and he doesn't fail to notice, from both an academic standpoint and the standpoint of carnal desire, like some analyzing whether their prisoner of war would be easy to crack or not and on the scale of vulnerability of one to ten, she'd be a fifteen --- if he had her for fifteen minutes back in the war, out in the jungle, no laws or regulations or MPA, she'd be deconstructed in about two, rough estimate --- physically speaking, she's, compared to him anyway, the most oddly brittle person he's met in a long time, both to his perverted pleasure and baffled realization. Bea's skin bruises easily. It reddens, after the most meaningless of strokes. He realized after he's fucked her for the first time, and before. Just looking at her, he somehow knew. She walked out of the encounter in the forest ripe and battered and bitten and bruised. Every contact leaves a mark or a trace. An imprint of him he delights in. Does it pain her? Good. As it should. But, then again, why does it? She could hurt herself easily. He could hurt her easily too. He enjoys that he could. He adores it. Other could hurt her just as easily and now that's something he doesn't enjoy at all. That's his job. He feels selfishly attached to his job. He breaks wood and bones and glass with his bare hands with a single bruise on him after the deed is done and for her, sometimes, a mere prick of a needle or an accident scratch is enough to swell her up and bleed profusely. The branches scratching her skin, which he bandaged and re-bandaged until they were faded and no more. Differences in constitution. Big and small. Why is it so fascinating? Yet so worrisome? What if someone else hurt her when he wasn't looking, although he was looking near constantly? Cut her? Raped her? Someone who wasn't him? Someone --- like the punks in the alleyway? This time around, punks he hasn't paid off. 

 

 


He's been seeing Bea, for some odd couple months now, while in the midst of playing and indulging in his little theater of revenge for John and this unplanned thing becomes more then he's bargained for. Sometimes, climbing down to the ground floor of the dojo from your apartment stories above in all her silly warmth and excitement, Bea come to him (after his nonexistent, staged classes) and she merely spends time with him, occasionally tinkering with a training prop shyly, and then apologize in the middle of the act, uncertain she's allowed to. She saw this dummy before, and he's spotted fear in her eyes then, when she, irritatingly enough, spotted the blood of the training mat. There's some of that fear leftover still, struggling to suppress itself effectively, but Terry notices. Terry notices most everything. He makes it his business to notice. She never wants to offend. Even when he pushes her touches away, she's saddened and confused, and she makes the matter more miniscule. Scoffs it down. Today, she made yourself busy prodding the decorative gloves of the iron-pipe training dummy he's specially designed in his parade of suffering for that blasted kid and something within him freezes, mid-conversation. -"Oh, how cute!"- Bea remark, endeared. -"Look at his little hands! You gave him hands!"- She smiles, amused and touched by the most mundane, commonplace of things. Amused by the wrong things. The wrongest thing possible. Terry can't help but smile back at her - how is she even possible? Sometimes, he feels she's made up. Just like he's been made up ever since he moved into the apartment housing block. Terry the groveling. Terry the economically challenged. Terry on a budget. The Terry who drives a Ford pick-up truck and an old Dodge Challenger. Terry the bankrupt.

 

 

 

Most hilarious bit is --- she wasn't, Margaret's background check, albeit late, was thorough and precise.
So were all the files collected by his detectives and private investigators.
She was clean --- too clean.
Well, not counting certain compromising bits.
Certain bits Captain Turner would spit in disgust in, at the mere mention of.

 

 

 


-"Nobody learns on that. It's not the usual part of curriculum. Come over here."-

 

 

 


He lies with ease, ignoring the fact that Daniel Larusso's and by extension, Mike Barnes have been training on the contraption for a while now (suffering on it, more like) instantaneously separating her from point of interest lest she harms herself somehow, not awfully keen, at least in this occasion, on the highly ironic sight of Bea, of all people, being right beside for what doubles as a torture device as he guides her away and asks about her day, how work at the store is going, how she settled in, if the people he hired to act as colleagues are treating her well, and then proceeds talking about his own. To him, martial arts as a mastery always came from a place of pain. Suffering. Even under Captain Turner, their first lessons were agony, on a bamboo doll not unlike this one. Then, during their captivity, rumors flew about the stories of the Hỏa Lò Prison and the punishment known as 'fighting the iron man'. The very iron man you stood beside and touched. He then remembers, Korea, after the war, and how learning there too, was all pain. All torn knuckles. All bandages. All broken ligaments. So, why did he land with someone so soft then? Why did the thought of her being cheeky and kicking into the dummy by accident make him want to scream? Why was he standing by the shutters, chatting to her, trying to maintain his sanity, covering up her hand by instinct, to protect her from the very air around her? He should hurt her himself. He wanted to. He needed to. Was this not to be a war? If it was a war --- would this count as a ceasefire? A stalemate? Then, he languidly places her fingers into a fist again.He licks and kisses the very shape he's created. He's allowed to touch you whenever he wishes. She isn't. Why? Because he makes the unspoken rules and she merely follows and obeys, in an equally unspoken manner. Hiding in the very crook of her neck, inhaling her scent, undressing her.

 

 

 


Terry finds he doesn't like her in this dojo.
She could discover too much here. He doesn't like her here.
Not unless he's inside of her - in any other context it upsets and annoys him.
He coaxes Bea off into the backroom instead, feeling he could do anything in there rather.
Anything from tying her up to fucking her within an inch of her conciseness.

 

 

He's been training her to squirm less in his arms, even though he was very much conflicted --- he enjoyed the squirming.

 

 

But no, around the tools of his trade, he finds himself, like never before, almost wanting to opt out of it and changing the subject indefinitely. If she, figuratively, by some wild chance, ever learned anything here, not that she would, because he'd personally talk her out of it, unsure why he'd do something so idiotic, when practically speaking, being someone's teacher was surely the easiest way to hurt them, but regardless, Terry concludes, somewhat amused with himself, he'd simple give Bea a stack of pillows filled with goose feathers and let her kick into that for the remainder of your studying. Make up a whole nonexistent technique just for her alone and nobody else. Make it sound as plausible and believable as he possible could. He was good at that sort of bullshit. Selling snake oil. Selling The Quicksilver method. The Gis Method, for all he cared. He made that up, on the spot --- bullshit upon bullshit, John would laugh his heart out at that one and keel over from absolutely amusement --- laying on the mattress with she leaned against his shoulder, right there and then, the asspulled term lifted off of the Korean word for feather, having a blatant inside joke with himself. Light as a feather, silly as a goose? Was that it? Have her learn absolutely nothing on purpose. Spare her, at least that suffering. Why was he sparing her any extra suffering? There were different kinds of suffering he could, instead, pass unto her, like the Sensei he was. More pleasurable kinds. Pleasurable for him, of course. Maybe, more devious kinds. Maybe the most devious thing he could do to her is ensure she's defenseless and weak and vulnerable and stupid purely so she'd have no chance against him or anyone else for when he decides to unleash something upon her. A man has no knowledge --- a man has no way to manoeuvre the world and all it's dangers. A man is naive --- a man is destroyed. A man trusts --- a man is destroyed. Or in this case, a woman.

 

 

 

He puts her fingers into a fist once more in his state of post-coital bliss, toying with her.
She eyes him curiously and he removes the pillow from under his head.
Places it up against the weight of her face, as a shield.
It was soft and safe enough for her, surely.

 


-"Try and tear into it."-

 


He commands, almost eager.


-"Why? What are we doing?"-


Bea questions, uncertain, sitting up from beneath the covers.


-"Huh!? Just do it! Now!"-

 


Impatient, Terry reiterates, and obeying, the fixed position of her fist moves.
Delivering, admittedly, the lousiest punch he's ever witnessed, even from a non-trained beginner.
She's actually bad at this - naturally really bad - so then, why on earth does he beam?

 

 

 

 

The force of her impact is weak, wobbly, uncertain and hilariously easy to disarm, just as he knew it would be, from a technical point of view and from the moment he's met her, just via observational experience, nearly slipping and knocking into the wall the bed was pushed against instead of the actual target, but he smiles like the cat who got the cream, against his better judgement, almost beside himself, for some reason he cant quite name, nearly howling out in laughter at the contrast of Mike Barnes coming in yesterday, at agreed hours, and in an especially sadistic, petty streak, Terry making him run twenty laps around the dojo building despite landing a perfect stance, perfect deliveries and perfect knowledge of everything that's been taught to him for the past three months or so. Instead, here he was, pulling her in a celebratory naked embrace for no reason at all, feeling your skin on his, beaming practically, when he noticed your somewhat shy, embarrassed disposition. Oh. That won't do. He wasn't teaching her and the question was, well, out of the question, not that you ever even suggested it, but he was going through a flash of teacher's delight nonetheless. Cobra Kai was about no mercy, so he was trying to ignore and control, with all his might, the fact that he was showing a shameless quantity of it to her. Not for long. Not for long. Not for long. Reminders in his head chant. Not for long. He deserved his fun. A cat plays with a mouse, tapping it with it's paws before eating it. A cat does the same with a bird. With anything it catches. Funny how in nature, it was acceptable to play with one's food, but in human society, it was frowned upon. Why? Terry found it rather exhilarating. Or Terrike, as she called him as of late, found it exhilarating.

 

 

 

 

Offensive --- the most offensive name he's been called in a long time. More offensive then Twig?
To imply he was anything small and juvenile and weak and ---
Terrike. Terrike. Terrike. No. He was Terry fucking Silver.
It was perhaps, as putrid as being called angel.

 


-"What!? Are you kidding me! That was amazing!"-

 


In high spirits, Terry raised his voice, elated - momentarily taken aback that he wasn't acting.
The punch was shabby, but he feels the joy deep in his entrails, pulsating and churning like raw energy.
What the fuck was happening to him? Why was he feeling triumphant?

 


The bracelet on her wrist jingles, and it's akin to the bell signifying the final round after a fight.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

-"Do you know his finger size measurements?"-

 

 

 


An older, colorfully dressed man behind the counter asks you with all the politeness in the world, surrounded by illuminated glass shelves and racks on your weekend day off from the store --- you came here in hopes of finding a gift. A counter-gift, as it were, purchased from your first advance salary, only to find yourself faced with thousands of options, big and small and simple and rock bedazzled and decorative and minimalist. The vitrine in front of you covered in a protective, transparent window and a cabinet riddled with several holding cases, securely locked and padded. Rings, rings, rings. You tried imagining Terry's fingers, sleek, long and all knuckles. You couldn't possibly gage his ring size. You couldn't possibly ask either. Not without giving him a hint of what you were about to do and have him talk you out of it. You didn't want to be talked about anything. You wanted and needed to get him something too. -"No, sadly, I don't. Sorry. It would've ruined the surprise."- You acknowledge, sheepishly, smiling a bit awkwardly and scratching your elbow, clutching your wallet. -"But, he's tall! A very big man. 6'5! Not sure about the weight. Does that help for reference?"- Shrugging your shoulders, you try your best, giving some vague describing to aid everyone along, only for the salesman to scurry behind a counter, toting a pair of keys for one the glass cases. -"We'll need a very wide circle for that."- In remarking, he disappears for all but a second, only to reappear, clicking one of the boxes open and showcasing a velvet embedded display box to you, containing some twenty odd pieces. -"Maybe this?"- He surveys your expression. No, no. That wasn't it. You didn't want it yellow. -"Which material, incidentally? Gold?"- He perks up, eager to please. Eager to sell you a more expensive variety too, by the looks of it. -"Silver."- You mumble, correcting him, not averting your gaze from the display, giving each piece a bit of your research and scrutiny. Silver for silver You wanted it to be silver for Silver. It's in his name. Blue eyes, pale face, dark hair, silver would've work like a charm on him. -"I've some lovely bands you might be interested in."- The salesman's assistant quickly switches out the gold display for another one, locking away the previous. You're looking again.

 

 


-"Wedding bands?"-

 

 

 


You hear one of them offer from workshop warehouse, and you have to stutter. Oh goodness.

 

 


-"No, no, not wedding bands!"- You shoot up immediately, hoping they didn't get the wrong impression, that you were some bride-to-be surprising her groom when that wasn't the case at all. You were simply shopping for a gift with a reasonable price, was all. Nice to look at and economic. -"Something simple, though. Elegant. Tasteful!"- You try to deescalate the situation and do give them some extra details to work with. Yes. Simple. Elegant. Tasteful. All the things you figured Terry was even though he probably wouldn't agree or see it that way if he was ever described back to himself that way. Around LA, you've seen far less deserving people wear and flaunt their jewelry loudly and proudly. Their neck-chains. Their bracelets. Their earrings. Bad people, screeching the tires of their race cars and littering and harassing women on the streets from behind their steering wheels and then speeding away, cackling and laughing, like it was a mere prank to them. Terry was Terry. He was humble and good and kind and the occasional oddball, but his heart was in the right place. If anyone deserved a small piece of silver adorning their fingers, and many, many more; things of delightful that shimmer and sparkle, it would've been him. It brought you a weird sort of contentment. Imagining yourself in a large possession of money. Buying him --- these beautiful things. .-"Alloy sterling silver containing 92.5% by weight! I think this would be a prime pick for a gentleman. Good for any occasion. Very versatile piece of jewelry."- The elderly salesman holds up a special one, tag and all, with gloved hands and you eye it from behind the counter. Truth was, you couldn't afford much, as much as that bothered you, rent due and bills due and living due, but you wanted something timeless. Something pretty. Something unassuming and practical. Almost as if catching your hesitation, the man speaks up, not unkindly, more as a mutual understanding; -"On a budget too."-

 


-"May I look at it?"-

 


You inquire, carefully, accepting the ring once offered to you --- a sleek, pure piece of silver, even from all sides.

 

 


-"It's beautiful."- You whisper to yourself, carefully turning it left and right, checking for the manufacturers code on the inside of the band, clasped between your thumb and forefinger --- lacking in decorations, but still possessing enough of a carving to be noticeable, you gaze down at the soft inlaying of texture dotting the sides. It reminded you of a pattern of leaves and vines. All the parks you've sat in. All the forests you strolled in. The autumn foliage. Maybe it could remind him of all those times. All those moments. You smile to yourself, slipping it on your own index finger and it dangles, spaciously, on your hand, so big that if you moved your arm downwards, it would simply slip off and fall beneath the counter, yet it could easily sit snug on his hand. You could just as easily replace the size. It said so, on a notice stamped to the workshop wall, printed on an ordinary white sheet of paper. We do exchanges. Not the highest end establishment, by the looks of it, but the personnel was kind and helpful and just down the neighbourhood, because admittedly, you didn't wish to go far, lest you get lost again and alert Terry, ruining the surprise entirely. Ted and Sons. A corner store jewelry store, down the block, a few buildings away from where you were. -"I'll take it."- You announce, and at fifty dollar a piece, you feel you got a good bargain. Not any purified, massive silver signet with a brand name. Not anything tremendously heavy. But, you figured it's precious, as it was wrapped and packaged up, boxes and gift bag included, you feel proud of what you got. First salary. First present. First roots. That evening, it's you inviting him to a diner, personally walking down to the dojo, to find him there, lights off in the studio, even on a Saturday evening. He just lived down there, didn't he? Right where he worked? Well, you were the same.

 


-"What's this?"- He stares at the small, plush colored, pale box you fish out of the gift bag, frills and all. It looks double the tiny in his hands. -"I've gotten a gift for you!"- You hand it to him from a cross the restaurant table, ketchup and mayonnaise bottles in the very center, alongside a flask of salt and pepper.. A down-the-street variety establishment, just like you liked, non-pretentious and relaxing. The jukebox is the corner, some mellow track playing --- the padded shoulder blouse waitress with big, bleached hair and blue eyeshadow brings you your order of pancakes and cream. Terry orders tea. Ordinary green tea, the type you found in his dojo that night. -"Please, open it."- You coax on him once you spot his fumbling and sternness, practically clapping your hands in your seat like a giddy child once his fingers clasped the box open, observing what was hidden inside. -"It's not much --- but I figured; for all the presents you gave me. A little something from me as well. From the first actual salary I made here. Can you believe it?"- Talking over the jukebox music, you speak in high spirits, leaning over to him, elbows propped up in front of you. The people at the bodega were kindly. Amicable. Endearing. It's like all of them were centered and poised to help you and you couldn't really believe your luck. You worked in convenience stores and retail before. You worked the cash registry before as well. Stacked up shelves. Cleaned floors. Way back. Back home. But, you never felt quite so welcome there. You couldn't remember a code for an article the other day and your colleague tapped you on your shoulder and said 'It's okay, sweetie, I'll do it.' Sweetie? She called you sweetie? Where was the candid camera hidden waiting to catch you off guard? -"I thought we weren't exchanging gifts, Bea."- Terry admonishes firmly, box still in hand and you snap back into reality.

 


-"I know, but you deserve something nice too. All the fruit you bought me. The lovely bangle! All those dates! All your help! All those times you drove me around!"- You stand firm yourself, jiggling the snake charm bracelet hidden beneath the outline of your long sleeved shirt for emphasis. Your present wasn't from a far off place or any exotic stall out in the world, but it was given with the warmest of intentions, as corny as that sounded, even to you. Every good deed deserved a good deed of it's own and you had to wonder if he had anyone at all to give him any gifts in the first place --- not that you wished to presume. But, if you felt good receiving, surely, he did as well? -"I'm not the jewelry type. Hard to train in. Gets in the way."- He slips the ring on his finger, the index one, and your heart both drops and soars when the size turns out to be fitting, wiggling room comfortably snug here and there as he turns his own hand, looking at the piece of jewelry, examining it carefully, with still eyes. -"Can get caught into your opponents clothes. Scratch their skin. Make them bleed."- He remarks flatly, tightening his fingers into a fist, ring propped up on his knuckles. -"By accident."- He then adds, stare sparkling back at you --- yes, you figured as much too, how it could not be very practical for someone very much into sports. That's precisely why you wanted the ring smaller in size. His glare impossibly blue in the dim diner string of fairy-lights hanging from the ceiling, in warm hues of gold, yellow and orange. He turns his arm, and the outline of the silver band reflects the shade of neon amber shadow sparkling from overhead. He appears like he was born to wear gorgeous things. -"Shame. Looks beautiful on you, Terry."- You manage, eying your pancake, and tinkering around with the cream on the side with your fork, knife on the side, you chip off a mouthful and dig in, chewing and trying to focus on your dessert, wiping the side of your mouth with a paper napkin. He was allowed not to like the present and you were full prepared for that, but you were at ease knowing you got him something nonetheless. -"If we had --- well, more money to waste, you could wear it like that always."- You chuckle, breaking the odd silence you've both fallen into as you eat, envisioning him like some emperor of old, lines and lines of gold and silver chains over his body. Rings and necklaces and precious gemstones. Lounging in a Turkish bath, smoking a hookah.The image makes you snort.

 

 

 

-"Would you like that, huh?"-

 

 

 

He's still pinning you down with his stare when you look back at him, and he's still examining his present.
Terry's tone is inquisitively playful, something strange lurking beneath the surface.
Would you --- like that? Of course you would.
Having disposable income to spend on lovely things is something everyone would enjoy.
Not excessive things, just the occasional piece of joy, like today, here and now.

 

 

 


-"Yes."- You shrug your shoulders, confessing, gobbling down your chocolate cream filling as he takes a tentative sip of his tea, returning to exploring the surface of the ring, tracing the lining with his leaf pattern finger. You knew he'd like that one. -"Would you?"- You ask with a smile, trying to discover, indirectly, what sort of gifts he'd enjoy, if he could figuratively have anything in the world and any budget to accompany it, but there's no response, instead, he chuckles himself, tone low. -"You picked silver on purpose."- Terry remarks decoding your little ploy. Was it that transparent? Ah, well, you figured it was. No harm done. It was a good laugh. Silver for Silver. You feel proud of yourself regardless. -"Yeah. A little inside joke. Hope you don't mind? The man at the shop couldn't recommend it enough!"- Your plate is clean and you set it aside, beaming in your own little space, caught only by the intensity of the way he looked at you. Terry doesn't blink. He doesn't blink as the blue eyeshadow, busty, middle aged waitress chewing a gum, with the nametag that merely says "Sheryl" silently comes over to remove the dishes from your table. He doesn't blink when she leaves either, fixing her uniform's apron, rushing to deliver another order. He doesn't blink when the song on the jukebox changes either. He is unflinching. Cars and pedestrians cut through the fierce, blurry violet of the dusk gathering outside. Inside, everything's golden. -"You want to make a tycoon out of me, huh? Like those Beverly Hills bigshots?"- He speaks up then and there it was, his odd sense of humor again, his lips suddenly crack wide open, and his teeth flash, enveloping his cheeks. Before you could even brush him off with a joke of your own, saying that's not at all the case, his hand extends forward to you, bending your way, and he's serious, dark and stern all over again, his voice domineering. -"Kiss my ring finger. Now."- Terry commands and you practically gasp, flustered, looking around the diner to check if anyone's seeing this. You're tempted to reach over and push his torso backwards, playfully, but you stop yourself. -"Terry. We're in public!"- You can't help but giggle, brushing him off, looking for the people behind the bar. -"Kiss it. They don't mind. They work on commission."- Terry's brows shoot up whenever he's being giddy, playful and sarcastic, and now's no different, his hand still held in place. He really expected a homage paid to him, huh?

 

 

 

 

 

You quickly scoot down, looking around, pressing a swift smooch on his knuckles, smiling and feeling the blood creep into your cheeks.
It's done well within a second.
He doesn't look pleased.
You stiffen.

 

 

 

 

 


-"Now do it with more conviction"- He orders and his eyes change yet again; it reminds you of the eyes of someone looking for a fight --- reminds you of his eyes in the alleyway that night --- instinctually, you gulp, freezing up for a moment and then leaning down, slowly pressing your lips to the cold surface of the silver ring, holding them there for a few seconds, the mist of your warm breath fogging up the surface of the metal and before you can even contemplate lifting your head up, his voice admonishes from above you, his voice partially swallowed by the jazzy, slow remix emanating from the jukebox radio. -"Again."- He coaxes, and you repeat the motion, swearing, in your anxiety, that the entire diner was watching you. Observing with great interest, when you lift your mouth back you and face him, they're all minding their own business, occupying themselves with their fries, entering and leaving the toilet, placing their orders and chattering out on the parking lot. You feel dazed. -"Good girl. Master deserves a proper kiss."- Terry's tongue caresses the words and you stare at him, not believing what you've just heard him say, feeling your mouth partially agape. Master? Good girl? Intrusive thoughts line your mind, and you see yourself laying at his feet, in front of an impossibly grand, daunting leather rotating office chair, as he lounges, cross legged. Then he suddenly, out of nowhere, changes tact, admiring his ring again and the imprint you left behind on it. The visions fades and you shudder. -"My family used to sell things like this,"- His expression is suddenly soft, mellow somehow and he's tapping the trinket on his finger, with the nail of another. His family were jewelers? That's --- well, that's new. Unexpected and yet not. So, why was he living in the same block as you? Did he fall out with them? Did they disown him for some reason? -"only bigger."- He explains with an odd hint of pride, practically beaming on his tall forehead, biting into his lower lip and something in your gut shrivels up, feeling suddenly uneasy and uncomfortable. Did he want it bigger too? -"How much did it cost? Were you ripped off?"- He scrutinizes you and you have to protest at that point. You couldn't possibly tell him that, no, no, no. -"You can't ask that, silly!"- You laugh awkwardly, watching him pump his own hand around the ring, shapely and riddled with veins, just the way he did when he was demonstrating how to properly make a fist the other day, and then your heart stops, as if someone who's just read your mind, he guesses, immaculately so.

 

 

 

 


-"How much? Fifty, sixty dollars? Give or take?"-


-"How'd you know?"-


-"I've an eye."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The prisoners were ushered in as collective and assigned numbers and having them prepared for execution was no uncommon occurrence. It hardened the troops, Captain Turner reminded sternly. It was a rite of passage. How men become men. How soldiers ceased being green. Prepared them for what really waited for them out there in the jungle, where the enemy would show them no more kindness if the situation was reversed. These weren't people anyway. No reason to feel sorry for them or be weighted down with a guilty conscience. By a thing called mercy. Along the barrage of the occasional captured Vietcong, Soviet collaborators, Eastern Bloc defectors, Reds of all denominations and persuasions, civilians suspected of subterfuge and anyone remotely suspicious, would be met with the other end of a bullet today. Made an example of. Didn't matter of they were men, women or children. Death is the great equalizer. So, the numbers started being called out, accordingly and Terry took a group effort at easing up the trigger with each and every one, as instructed.

 

 

 

 

000456 - shot.

000457 - shot.

000458 - shot.

000459 - shot, after a failed attempt to run.

000460 - shot.

000461 - shot.

 

 

 

Recognizing a battered and bruised face though, marked under serial number 000462, seeming as if though she took a serious beating earlier under interrogation, the sudden act of familiarization in the crowd was achieved almost through a haze as the firing squad prepared to mow down the next line-up, her included. The girl --- the young woman. It was Bea. She smiled at him like one friend smiles to another, Terry realized, there and then, attempting to lower the barrel of the assault rifle, finding his arm frozen in place, holding his stance, looking for someone to help him, Johnny, Ponytail, anyone. Nobody to save him this time. The barrel lit up through the explosive flare of the bullet rounds and she was shot dead --- aced, on the spot, in a cloud of entrails and splattered blood matter, her lips still curled up in blissful satisfaction, almost as if happy to die. Her face mutilated and a putrid thing to behold, dotted with the gruesome aftermath of crossfire. Someone patted him on the shoulder from behind, alongside the words; -"Well done! Look! It's Twig's first kill!"-

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

Terry wakes up in cold sweat --- he never makes a sound. Never flinches. Never despairs. Never stirs or trashes around. He simply opens his eyes and the nightmare fades away, as if though it was never there in the first place --- an expected, routinely, almost mundane thing --- and he's surrounded by the darkened, midnight walls of his dojo backroom bedchamber, a small storage, for all intents and purposes, with no more then a mattress that could easily double as a futon, if need be, right in the middle of his made up persona's life --- existing in sparsely spartan accommodations befitting a hardened, down-to-earth Sensei's life; Danny bought it, Bea's bought it, the whole apartment block's bought it, so clearly, it was convincing enough --- police sirens blaring outside, even in the dead of night --- they always do in this hick part of town --- clicking of the rain droplets thudding on the shutters drawn down, the lighting flashes through the slits, momentarily illuminating the whole studio in hues of flicking, disappearing neon; Terry has trained himself not to react to bad dreams. Not to be controlled by them. It took him a great many years, but he meditated on the fear and he learned to handle it and take it for what it is with some manner of self-awareness and introspection. It was merely the fleshy thing called a human brain misfiring. He was never a fan of the stereotypical representation of a nerve-wracked war veteran plagued by nightmares who wakes up in the middle of the night screaming. He even told so John himself. And as such, he took measures to teach himself to be above that model of behavior and overcome himself, his own limitations and not be controlled by the things of the past more then he needed to be. The nightmares still happened and as much as he loathed he simply couldn't erase them entirely, he simply didn't react to them. Saw past them. Instead they came and they went and he moved on with his life, compartmentalizing, brushing himself off and staring up at the ceiling, pitch black. His arms rest on his torso. He's flat on his back. Terry sleeps neat. Tidy. Every body part where it should be. Legs stretched out, side by side. Down here, he lacks space to be decadent. His head resting on a solitary white pillow. Old habits die hard. He still rested like a soldier in a bunk bed. Even back in the mansion, he'd catch himself doing so and then he'd throw himself into a bout of decadence on purpose. Uncover his nudity shamelessly, throw his own limbs around. Order the black satin linens brought out, and a hundred pillows to follow. He was Forbes' Man of the Year now. He was no longer a scared ghost traversing the jungle. That Terry Silver was gone. He'd never have to return to Vietnam or hear of it, unless it's through Dynatox disposing 2000 metric tons of nuclear radioactive building blocks in the very heart of Ho Chin Minh fucking city.

 

 

 

But, tonight, he dreamed of her. He's killed her in his own dreams, and a smirk of self-satisfaction spreads over his mouth and then fades. Then it returns. And fades again. Like his own expression isn't certain how it should react in the moment. He's dreamed of himself too; a younger him. A greener, stupider, more incompetent him, and he doesn't feel like receiving the vision with gusto. He purged that kid out of system a long, long time ago and let a greater instinct take over. That kid was a mere a garden variety hatchling. A mouse. Twig was a sniveling, cowardly weakling and she was an odious cretin --- they'd be good together. Good together? He didn't appreciate her invading his nighttime reveries like that either, without his consent, even if it was indeed in a context of carnage, spilled brains and all. A patch of yellow hair drenched in muck and gore. By his own hand, no less. He gets up then, much like he always does when something as miniscule and laughably irksome as nightmares occur, stepping out of bed in his own nudity and stretching his neck, his back, his fingers, his arms and legs. Naked Tai Chi. Watching himself vaguely reflected in the glass shielding the framed image of him and John holding a trophy, the distant sound of a roaring thunder intermingled with the traffic outside, wind humming out on the streets. This city never slept. If Terry slept, he slept like a snake, eyes open, always prepared to strike. After a routinely midnight exercise, he quickly dresses himself, over layers of salt and sweat and observes his silver ring. Cheap trinket, right beside the tiny nightstand table. If a piece of jewelry, if it could've been called that at all, could have eyes, it would no doubt look at him and stare as he grabbed the damnable thing and placed it on his index finger, tightening his hand into a fist. Silver for Silver? Distasteful. Diamonds for Silver, more like. He owned so much jewelry --- actual jewelry --- it was impossible to account for it all. His house on The Hills had a safe of it's own, like opening the password-protected, iron-clad gates of the underworld and all it's riches; cases and cases of Bvlgari's Blue Diamonds set in platinum, 33-Karat Ascher-cut Krupps pieces, a 40.42-Carat Marquise piece, 26 oval-shaped pigeon blood Burmese rubies, 114 icy green jadeites, the giant Pearl from China is more popularly known as the Beauty of the Ocean. It was instantly considered as the most expensive and the most significant man-made Pearl in the world. Discovered in Mongolia, this Pearl tends to glow solely just in the dark.Terry could list off his personal belongings like listing off the periodical table. Truth was, he was born into wealth. His parents wealth, before they squandered it all away. He was raised on such things, and after their loss of assets, he build himself into even grater heights from the ashes. Such quality things pertained to him.

 

 

 

 

Here he was now --- saddled with a fifty dollar local variety unpurified, unbranded silver toy.

Coiled around his finger, the thin, leaf patterned band offers a dim shine and Terry scoffs.

Leaves --- he wasn't some granola bar hippie --- it's like she was making these choices deliberately.

Purely to incite the type of murderous rage in him that would serve to wring her head from her neck with his bare hands.

 

 

 

 

With that thought, he steps out of the dojo, out of the studio, out of his makeshift apartment --- the tenants leaving the corridors enveloped in darkness in case of an electrical cut, nobody bothered to click the lights on, but Terry walks in strides in spite of that, one step, then another, the fifty five more, footsteps thumping along the staircase, occasionally illuminated by the distant flash of lighting peeking through the hallway windows, painting the walls into an electric blue hue, the walls roaring and shuddering with the impact of the oncoming storm --- the third floor is clouded in a heavy darkness, water droplets leaking into a plastic bucket strategically positioned at the very end of the foyer to collect the moistness seeping through the damaged ceiling from the fourth floor as an act of environmental ingenuity. He was on the shittier side of LA, clearly. Silence. Your door, shrouded in blackness, Terry stands in front of it, twisting and turning the ring on his forefinger idly --- and then he knocks, with a full fist clenched. Pounds, more like. Again. And Again. He could easily kick down the door, if push came to shove --- no, no, he still has a role to play in this imaginary life, before the All-Valley tournament --- a mantra to himself --- for Johnny, for Johnny, for Johnny --- always for Johnny --- so instead, he's listening, your apartment is quiet and you're no doubt fast asleep, except, he hears the careful squeaking of the floorboard beneath the weight of your feet as you teether to the entrance door, alongside a muffled, uncertain 'Who is that?", swearing he could spot the outline of a careful eye in the spyhole, chain unhinging and clanking open as you squeak it ajar, peeking out towards him. Your mouth is agape in the darkness, right beside the lock, a doe gaze peers up at him, framed with drowsy, reddened eyebags, still riddled with the sand of sleep. Serial number 000462 --- shot. -"Terry? Are you alright?"- Your voice cracks and practically vibrates at a shivering, uncertain frequency, partial relief that it's him who's knocking and not some unwelcome visitor. Silly. Opening the door at night. Maybe you were expecting him? Maybe you were already conditioned to subconsciously know that nobody in this building would approach your door at any time of the day or night because he's already made fucking sure they'd avoid you like the plague or simply develop a silent, polite aversion to you as a concept. They all thought you were a no good, weed-huffing, elevator-tinkering, trash-littering, weirdo, manically depressive commie with a suspicious, shady past who came to this good, clean country from fuck knows where. Hilarious. If you ever had a visitor, it would be only one person and one person alone. He's trained you well. -"Why are you here this late? Something the matter? How bad is the storm? Anything damaged anywhere?"- You whisper huffing and gasping, black gaze flickering at him, almost as if you were more scared of the bad weather, rather then him. She thinks you're a good, salt of the earth man; you worked your magic --- a voice in his head cajoles.

 

 

 

 

Drip, drip, drip --- the leakage on the ceiling echoes down the passageway.

 

 

-"I don't sleep much."-

 

 

 

He leans his hand over the frame of your door, watching you acutely, poor, sweet, hard done by Terry Silver would try to sound apologetic, but he loses the thread of humbleness from his tone for a brief second and merely states the obvious, catching himself in the act far too late only to have you chuckle, seeming somewhat amused at yourself as you stare at him through the door held by the chain. It was offensive he had to be on the ground floor while you had to be on the third, like a pair of chaste eunuchs, separated by walls. Really, if anything, it was Danny-boy's fucking fault in the first place, for coming to train in the dojo and costing him a good, proper lay, all night, every night. And all day too. Kid effectively cockblocked him. But, business was business. Revenge was revenge. Pleasure was pleasure. Everything had it's time and place. -"Me neither."- She admits sheepishly with a tiny half-smile --- and why? Why doesn't she sleep? He frantically reacts on instinct the minute she unlocks the door chain he gripped with his fingers for dear life, like he intended to rip it out of it's handles, to allow him inside and practically flies into her apartment and into her, body against body, shutting the door behind him with a bang. Why was he here tonight? To fuck? Possibly. To hurt her? Possibly. To cope with his nightmare? Possibly. To enjoy the voyeuristic, perverted act of telling her what he dreamed of? That too, was a possibility. -"Touch me."- Instead, he breathes out of nowhere, practically ordering and gasping his words all at once, advancing forward and backing her further into the flat, observing her surprised face, bathrobe clad body and a meek posture, only reaching half way to his torso with her height or lack thereof; she neither says anything nor does she obey his order. She's been periodically touching him here and there and everywhere, either by accident or unknowingly, only to pull away and apologize when she'd notice it wasn't very well received. She noticed and she wasn't supposed to notice. Terry was territorial of his space and bodily autonomy. Johnny once said it's ironic for someone who fucks as much as he did. Sex had nothing to do with intimacy, though. It was simply sort and a release of fluids. Sport. When his playmates had their limbs bound and mouths gagged and eyes blindfolded, they'd be as good as sacks of flesh, devoid of all senses. Dolls with cocks and dolls with cunts. Gaping holes to be fucked. Not entirely human, in his eyes. Unable to perceive, unable to touch. Unable to touch him. Just the way he liked it too. Control maintained. The skin and deeper tissues contain millions of sensory receptors. Without them, one wouldn't be able to sense and respond to the environment. They register what's happening on the body's surface and then send signals to the spinal cord and brain. Other receptors are more complex. The Meissner's corpuscles, for example, are enclosed in a capsule of connective tissue. They react to light touch and are located in the skin of one's palms, soles, lips, eyelids, external genitals and nipples. It's because of the Meissner's corpuscles that these areas of the body are particularly sensitive. It encapsulated one's entire being; so to let just anyone touch him, for any reason ---

 

 

Violation.

In honor of that, he grips both of you hands until your knuckles whiten.

Squeezes, crossing the subtle threshold of pain signified by your yelp, forcibly bringing your wrists closer to him.

Terry has agency in that moment, coaxing the movement, where it goes, how it goes, taking command and reign of your fingers.

 

 

 

-"Touch. Me."-

 

 

 

He seethes, teeth gritted, hissing both words, backing you into a wall, then a window, then a door, then your purgatorial, ghastly couch that doubled as a bed, cracking old mattress beneath your collective weights as he pushes himself atop of you, still gripping your hands that resisted, shaking as he dragged them closer. Closer to his torso. Chest. Shoulders. -"But, you don't like that."- Bea mutters, apologetic, hint of an accent in the way she says don't, refusing to budge the way he wanted. Always with the fucking apologizing. Always with noticing things. Okay; he was a self-acknowledged hypocrite and he was very content with that. People had no business noticing his things. He wasn't an open book even when he poised and played himself as one. Also, she could dream of him. Why the fuck did he have to dream of her? There was to be a natural pecking order. When you were on the top of the natural pecking order like he was, you could do and undo rules and regulations at will and then invent new ones on the spot if you so choose. -"Touch."- He repeats, firmer, anger seeping through. He didn't fancy repeating himself. He releases her arms, but only so she could do as she's told. Like a deer caught in the headlights, lips parted, eyes laced with fear and desire, shuddering slightly against the rumbling of thunder, suddenly turning her face luminescent, pale white blue and green, her fingers float, slowly --- annoyingly slow --- starting at his neck's outline, further down his arms, back to his chest, his chin, his face, like something fluttering over fire, avoiding getting burned by the flames. What's wrong? What the fuck was wrong now? Was she afraid of actually placing her skin against his now when it was demanded that she do? -"Don't hover. Touch."- He corrects lowering his face closer to her own until their noses nearly touched --- so close, in fact, he could see the reflection of himself in her eyes, black and bottomless, they had no luster and no end. Merely pitch, flat, with him in them, distorted. He wondered if she could see herself, in equal measure, reflected in his own. His entire family was blue eyed. Mother. Father. The entire Silver clan, as it were. Johnny was blue eyed too, a gruff, grim, creased, handsome face. But, the enemy's eyes were black. Black as night. Black as the jungle foliage. Black as grime. Finally, her fingers merely graze him, the tip of their touch merely caressing. Ah --- a half-touch. Finally. But, that wasn't his endgame. He perhaps, figured, that if he sampled you and fucked you, in every way a person can be fucked, and messed with you properly, had his fun, and if he allowed you to touch him, stroke him, caress him all over, much like a curious, inane child sticking it's hands into the marmalade jar, the novelty of the act would fade away from his mind and system, and he'd stop dreaming of you, clearing his thoughts and by extension, his palette. It's just that, this whole monotonous, idiotic setting was throwing him off. If you met him in any other setting or circles, maybe a member of the catering service carrying an entree of hi drinks, as unlikely as that was, he would've devoured you by now and called it a day. Holding back and acting is good for only so long. Prolonged, it becomes a mental hindrance.

 

 

 

It slips into a man's dreams and nightmares.

 

-"You can go harder. I'm not made out of glass."-

 

 

 

He remarked through a chuckle at one point, attempting to artificially encourage you and push your descent forward, holding back his annoyance and attempting not to be unkind lest he throws you off, noticing your fidgeting little hands trying to adjust themselves properly on his chest almost as if though you were afraid you're applying too much pressure. Too much pressure? On him? With the size of you? Compared to him? Comical. The very fact he had to refer to a mere, ordinary, commonplace touch as something harder was hilarity of the highest order. He could snap you in half like it was nobody's business. Even the proletarian Terry could, least of all the real one. He doesn't think he's seen anything quite as cute and endearing in his life. And he wanted to laugh. Terry Silver wanted to laugh. That deep, roaring, unhinged laughter that tended to overwhelm him when things went particularly the way he always meticulously, carefully planned, step by step. When stock market prices plummeted or jumped in his favor. When a business rival bankrupted his own company or was found dead under mysterious circumstances after a tragic Heroin overdose. Little things that made his life more wholesome. Little things he could predict and control. Unlike what you was happening here and now and in general - all his desire to laugh instantly receded back into his throat, leaving him stifled. Confused. Thrown. A bit uncomfortable too, if he was honest with himself. Like he wanted to crawl out of his own skin. Shed himself.

 

 

 

-"You are to me."-

 

He was - made of glass to you? Glass? Made of glass!? He didn't follow.

 

 

 

He re-winded those words to himself several times in his own head until they started sounding reasonable and making sense, reminding himself over and over and over that you weren't the lying type - she wouldn't say things like that purely to manipulate or play someone because it wasn't in her nature - and he was so close - so close to breaking his own role. Discarding the mild-mannered, woobie Terry like a half-smoked Cigar. Breaking her low-grade attempt at fondling which was almost offensive to the art of it. Just flipping her over, on her belly. Grabbing her by the neck, the sensitive nape of her hair, turning her head backwards, in spite of the impractical, painful contortion of the position. Making her look at him. Really look at him. Look at him so deep until she starts to notice the reality of him staring back at her from behind the gleam in his eyes and have her rethink just how fragile he really is. Do something to her Anything? Everything? Placing the cheap silver ring she gave him into her mouth and forcing her to swallow it and then regurgitate it back in painful, bloody gulps. He wasn't even sure. Why was he being so irked? This whole experience was meant to toy with Bea's brain, not his. But, there was just something about your comment - he couldn't believe it himself - but Terry Silver found his ego somewhat hurt. And nobody hurts his ego, not even unintentionally.

 

 

 

-"Me? Glass?"-

 

 

 

He smiles, practically giggles, feeling the rumble in his throat rise like bile --- the rain is beating against the window and he slides his hands, full palms around her neck and applies pressure. She grabs him, fingers and all, by instinct, eyes suddenly widening. What's wrong? Was he not Terrike anymore? Little sweet Terry? Or whatever the fuck she called him? Whatever made-up gook name you applied to him? Sweet little Terry doesn't choke people. Sweet Terry simply nods and smiles in a loving, darling manner. He rubs his groin slowly, rocking into the side of her thigh as he does, the arousal in his jeans stiffening due to the sight of the dread forming on her visage; she moans, still thinking this was some game among lovers and a sleepless midnight tryst, like some cheap Cinemax afterhours special. Truth was, he felt it in his nervous system, twitching in delight. He was close to strangling her. Actually strangling her. To death. Loss of control. Loss of control. Loss of control. To distract himself from a murderous impulse, he on a whim, remembers another piece of trivia to diffuse himself with; About snakes being a ectothermic reptile which means it is unable to regulate its body temperature using internal biological mechanisms. A snake’s internal body temperature is affected by the temperature of its environment. For this reason, snakes live in underground dens where the soil acts as insulation against both extreme heat and cold. These dens are usually burrowed tunnels made by chipmunks, mice, and other small creatures. When a storm moves into an area that brings heavy rain, these underground dens and burrowed tunnels will begin to fill with water, essentially flooding the snake’s home. This will drive the snake to leave their den and seek dry, safe shelter. This shelter will usually take the form of a home, shed, barn, or other man-made dwellings. A snake will also take shelter under large piles of debris left behind by a damaging storm. Funny how he related. You cheeks puff up from the lack of air, his fingers clench up and then --- he releases, rolling over on the couch and as much flimsy space it offered. Don't kill anyone --- Johnny's voice reminds, through memories. That, and the fact that if one happens to find a snake in their home after a storm or hurricane, there are many ways to handle the situation. The most important step is to not panic.

 

 

 

-"We never discussed how to signal stopping."- Catching her breath, in and out, in and out, Bea speaks up suddenly, trying to be helpful, with a small voice, rubbing her neck. It'll bruise by tomorrow. -"A safeword, I understand. I never had a chance to ask."-

 

 

Bless her soul --- she learned a term.

 

 

 

A safeword. She was a clueless, idiot innocent who was a virgin until yesterday, which in on itself was baffling enough and now she was talking about safewords like it meant something to him, misunderstanding and wrongly assuming that his hands around her neck just a moment ago meant her submission. What did she know about anything? In all his dabbling in the world of sadism and masochism, Terry didn't practice safewords, as unorthodox as it was. Whoever came to him, usually knew what they were up for. They knew the risks. They took it nonetheless. They could choose not to. But, of course --- the answer was more often yes than no. It wasn't sex as much as it was a depraved slaughterhouse, and he spent a big portion of the 70's, after the war, inhibiting a barrage of questionable establishments, some illegal, some wholly risky - everything from secretive fighting rings, bloodsport, sex romps, orgies and sponsored manhunts, living a life befitting Dorian Grey. In fact, a lot of it would make Dorian Grey blush like a schoolboy with scraped knees. He'd stop with his ministrations on others, on observation, when they were spent, or not at all. He was somewhat notorious in those circles. High end exclusive private clubs and underground joints, where the rich and elite came under masks and pseudonyms, like vampires having an undead ball, with participation and membership fees that would put any Encino Oak country club or any golf restort to shame. Nothing was for free. It was a billionaire's game. He found it hilarious how he was pondering all these thoughts with the damnable plush nonsense toys from the fair staring at him from the corner of the room. Felt degrading and a bit odd. But, this wasn't bondage and he wasn't Bea's newly-minted dominant, like two teenagers experimenting something they barely understood. Domination was coordinated, meticulous, planned and precise. This was something else. This was him losing his fucking mind and cracking at the seams. He recollects Johnny's words about him --- perhaps liking her. He tried not to dwell on it the minute it was said because even Johnny could make mistakes sometimes. He loved Johnny but Johnny was human too, and Johnny needed to be convinced to do a great many things like for his own good he otherwise wouldn't do, like the issue of having revenge. Or it could be that high levels of dopamine and a related hormone, norepinephrine, are released during attraction. These chemicals make one giddy, energetic, and euphoric, even leading to decreased appetite and insomnia – which means one actually can be so “in love” that one can't eat and can't sleep.

 

 

 

 

Past midnight, and Terry was wide awake and so were you.

Your breathing normalizes --- grows serene.

He slumps it out on the couch.

His feet practically dangling from the side.

How the actual fuck did you manage to sleep on this shit?

You'd get sore and stiff and wake up in pain and --- and why the fuck did he care?

 

 

 

-"There's no safeword."- He mouths, entirely honest this time, staring up at a darkened ceiling once again, listening to the wind howl, reminding him of monsoon season, the floods. -"I stop when I notice you had enough."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The sky is pink.
A gradient of purple and blue blurs the vista.

 

 

 

The sand is wet after the storm as you carry your sandals in your hands, dangling them back and forth idly, in a slow stroll, careful footsteps minding themselves, not to step into a discarded tiny piece of shimmering glass or a sharp sea shell hidden beneath the foam of the quiet, incoming tide, white and sizzling on your bare, naked toes; still warm, even at dusk, even at fall, a tender, seaborne wind creeping beneath your sweater, the easy, pale fabric dotted with patterned holes breezy on your skin and the dimness of the red, bleeding sundown reflected on Terry's face as he looks on forward somewhere towards a gull's distant call and the odd camper's fireplace sparking up ahead, dotted by the sound of someone's laughter and a stereo playing in somebody's parked car, as he walks right beside you, long limbs matching your paces and stretching themselves in the sinking mucky dunes, noticeably, to accommodate you, stepping over puddles on the beach, the occasional ripped material of an old, colorful parasol flapping on a salty gust, crushed cans and cigarette buds swallowed by the serene waves of the ocean. Even with the littered trash left behind, it manages to be --- well, oddly beautiful. A forgotten, broken bike on the beach. Someone's lost suntanning towel. A cracked plastic flip flop. A crumpled up ice cream paper package. A group of teens with battery lights, pointing the rays at each other, shrieking and laughing the concrete beach promenade. -"What a mess they've made."- You whisper, as a way of commenting, observing Terry's face. Focused. Impassive. Peaceful. Hazy. -"Sorry. For ruining the vista."- You kick a coke bottle barefoot with a crack echoing into the twilight gathering on the skyline perimeter, staring down into the sand and the imprint left behind, his feet right beside yours in the marking washed away by the water. -"For our little walk, I mean."- You add briefly, elaborating. -"Don't apologize. Not your doing."- He mutters, turning to you with a small, clipped smile. -"Irresponsible people. Irresponsible habits."- He adds simply, shrugging his shoulders, appearing snug, cozy and comfortable in his grey zipper jacket, the sheen of his slicked back hair reflected crimson against the sunlight --- a radiant autumn dusk halo --- the breeze toying with the end of his tightened, tied tresses, rendering them to appear even darker, perhaps, against the contrast of light. Pitch blackness. Smooth. Silken. Shiny. -"We can go somewhere cleaner next time."- You fumble around with your words, finding some regret in wanting to come out for a stroll. He stirred something in you. Where you wished to endow him with good things. Only good things. -"Just that, I enjoy simple places like this, well, when it isn't dirtied or littered."- You manage, skipping over a piece of wood, serving to, no doubt, erect a nearby tent. -"Greens and blues remind me of home a bit. Greens more then the blues. Not enough of that around our flat, you know. We're a bit bricked in, as it were."- Not that you were complaining about your accommodations or anything, but you had to admit that the monotony of it could wear down on you sometimes.

 

 

 

 

-"Yeah. Tell me about it. I've a window facing the wall of another building, if you believe me."-

 

 

 


He snorts in discontent, a feigned scoff of disgust twisting his face - you have to giggle.
-"Wake up and breathe in the smog! Venice Beach!"- He does a playful twirl, light on his feet, spread arms, encompassing the whole vista, teasing, voice raised, hopping from one leg to the other. Sometimes you had the odd impression that Terry had a distaste towards certain parts of the city. Sure, nothing was perfect, but still. Perhaps Terry simply disliked the pollution? -"Don't say that, silly."- You brush it off, looking down towards your feet covered in wet sand as he walks backwards, facing you, falling into a light jogging rhythm.

 

 

 

 


-"So, do you miss it? Home?"-

 

 

 

 


His arms in front of him, bent at the elbows, his lips curl into a soft smirk and you instantly wish to swerve and avoid the question, feeling a certain unease creep in --- it's not easy to talk about a warzone. Youth in the sand chase around each in bikinis and daisy dukes on the beach promenade at dusk, throwing around a volleyball. You didn't wish to an eternal downer. -"Hey, now, don't pretend you don't!"- So you perk up with false contentment, evading him, changing the subject. You really preferred to listen to Terry talk rather then talking about yourself.

 

 

 


-"Vegas is just drive away. Several hours and that's it."-


He quips, amused, bobbing his head --- several hours. God.

 

 

 


-"Goodness! That's a lot!"- You gasp and laugh, the salt of the ocean in your nostrils. You could never quite get over the sheer distance of everything around here. Ten hour drive and they treat it like a casual, commonplace thing --- no different from a fifteen minute trip down the block. Back home, you'd cross through several countries and international borders, at least. -"To you, maybe, Europe."- He prods at you, slightly bowing his head, teasing, idly twisting the ring you gave him, like it scratched him, eyes twinkling knowingly and it's like he gages you changed the subject unto Vegas, distances and his own home deliberately.

 

 


-"Of course I miss it."- You gulp heavily, shaking your head. No use in avoiding the topic that much, make yourself sound like you're hiding some big secret when you're not, scooting down to place the sandals on your wet feet, sludging about, feeling yourself growing cold from the chill on the beach wind - the air is nippy, biting somehow . -"But, there's nothing there for me anymore, Terry."- You admit with a profuse sigh. You had no actual family there, expect a mother you contacted regularly. Someone you could send a part of your paycheck to now that you had what to send. You hoped, one day soon, she could come and join you here and cease being alone. 

 

 

 

 


-"War changes people. Changes places too, huh?"-

 

 

 


He mutters, turning around and walking beside you again --- you don't know what to say to that.

So you say nothing at all.

 

The truth didn't need to be decorated or added to, it simply stood right there, as is, on his lips.

 


-"I know there's a great many things you don't talk about and I respect that. Really, I do."- He murmurs, walking at leisure next to your shoulder, slowly, silently, down the beach, the sky turning red and indigo, the sound of crashing waves pierces the atmosphere. -"When I came home, everything changed too. The old order of things was dead and done for."- Low and quiet, he continues, as you try to envision what the old order of things was for Terry Silver. A green lawn, once upon a time, and a white picked fence, perhaps. You shiver. That was the old order for you as well. Funny how your experiences, you felt, related, even when you were so very different, grew up so differently, on different sides of the global hemisphere. Different souls. Different blood. He could've very easily be telling your own story back to you. -"Everyone was angry and cynical and everything was polluted and grey."- You hear him unzip his jacket as he speaks, tucking his jacket over your shoulders, squeezing and adjusting it slightly, once he notices you're cold, staying in the same grey old sweatshirt he was most always in, to some variation or the other. All you can do is stare at him, mouth agape at the gesture. Wasn't he chilly? No goosebumps line his skin. -"Me and Johnny ---"- His tongue caresses the name. His friend, huh? The one he spoke of before? The protagonist of all of his stories. -"We were the only ones who felt like we made sense in the whole mess. Us and Cobra Kai."- A hint of pride in his tone, you spot him fix his broad posture, beaming slightly. He always beamed talking about his dojo and his companion and comrade. -"Giving a disillusioned generation of men in a twilight of an era something to believe in. Somewhere to belong. Something to fight for. Someone to lead them, perhaps."- There's a gravitas in Terry's words and you feel it hit you, somewhere in your gut, and deeper still, your very entrails, churning inside of your like liquid fire. Ten thousand miles away, your country and home was rapidly dissolving into shattered, collapsing states within states fighting weekend, ten day wars, with a new warlord, new general, a new paramilitary commander and a new self-proclaimed territorial dispute for every month of the year, birthing new borders and extinguishing old ones. You knew all about the twilight of an era. You were living it out in real time. The sea wind from the west is heavy in your nose.
-"I understand where your heart's at."- Terry's fingers graze your forearm covered by his own jacket. -"The home I grew up in no longer exists either."- He finishes off and you wish you could give it to him. Pre-Vietnam America. The home he grew up in --- you were unsure what that looked like, but you figured he deserved it. But, you couldn't give it to yourself, on your own end, either, so it was a moot point. All you can do is apologize for no reason to fill the wordless gap and try to not make this stroll tremendously heavy-handed. Heavier then it already came to be. -"Sorry, Terry."- You change the topic again.

 

 


-"Is that the friend you mentioned? Johnny?"-

 

 


You inquire, remembering the framed photo in his dojo, that night, after the incident in the alley, after you barely drove him home.


In the state he was in.

 


-"John Kreese. Captain of our division. Salt of the earth man. He's from San Fernando, incidentally!"- The enthusiasm in his manner of speech immediately noticeably skyrockets, and you have to wonder what type of man this John is when Terry as he was, refers to him as a salt of the earth man. Some kind of saint. -"You know, he saved my ass a couple of times in a real tight spot or two. I owe him my life. Without him, doubt I would've made it."- He continues sweetly, and it's as you suspected; You were content, in a way, that he had at least one good person in his immediate circle he could rely on.

 


-"And what a good deed he did."- You whisper, your gaze meeting with Terry's, and you spot his eyes blinking. Blinking again. Then again. Then stopping, abruptly. So, he actually does blink.

 


-"I should introduce you sometime!"-

 


He shoots up, his stare unflinching once more.
You stutter.

 


-"No, goodness, I couldn't possibly ---"- A sudden nervousness hits you and nearly stumble into the sea water, right over the strap of your sandals trudging on a rare patch of dry land, distracted by the teenagers behind you blasting their radio. -"Not that I don't want to!"- You correct yourself, feeling like a feeble, nonsensical idiot when what he offered was genuinely polite and nice of him and you were about to shoot him down for no reason --- having you meet with someone who's his, it was so pleasant unexpected --- attempting to regain your composure, tinkering with your bracelet, crossing your arms over your torso, hugging the jacket closer to yourself, making you wish you had somebody here to introduce to him as well. -"It's just that I ---"-

 

 

 


-"What?"-

 

 

 


Terry's arm grabs your elbow and his expression is suddenly cold. Impassive. Questioning.
He holds you like that for ten seconds, just standing, and you think you feel the ruffled aura of aggrievance form on his brow. He appears vexed.
You didn't mean it like that --- so you might as well come out say what you felt bluntly, so no more misunderstandings would occur.
But god, did you not what to, even though you felt the topic brewing and hovering above you both.
Ever since he mentioned he served in Vietnam.

 

 

 


-"Geopolitical differences."- You gulp and wow did that sound stupid said out loud, and you feel you have to reiterate and explain with more details, because Terry's stare starts getting awfully serious at that point and you feel a chill crawl up your spine like a spider. Was he angry? Was he upset? What if he simply never thought about that before now and you were breaking the news to him, although you somehow doubted he didn't know. Did it never occur to him or something? Surely, sharing one's bed and going steady with someone coming from a place with a name like Socialist Federal Republic of... would be a cause for concern for someone who fought in Vietnam and now, he wanted you to meet another veteran. What if this John Kreese simply put, couldn't stand your guts? -"You ever think about how we'd be on opposing sides? And we, technically, still are? I mean, if you read the news and all."- You're choking on your own words, speaking quickly, as quickly as you could to get as many words out as you possibly muster so you could get to the point of your argument and have him ease up the vice grip you felt he was having on you, fingers pressing down on your flesh, his occasional roughness seeping through, face stony. Please let me go, please let me go, please let me go --- your subconscience pleads. Maybe you watched too many action blockbusters with a vague, ambiguous Eastern Bloc, Iron Curtain villain with a heavy accent. Maybe life wasn't exactly Rambo, First Blood. Or Invasion U.S.A. -"Listen to me."- He grips you ever firmer, with both hands now, pulling you close, head bending to your eye level. -"You're mine and when someone's mine, they don't belong to any country or creed but me. You understand?"- Terry's voice is hardened, dauntless and true, seething and dragging and dragging until you feel the spit get caught in your throat. Were you imagining this? What he was saying? It felt fictional. Made up. Your lids are heavy and burning. Evasion, evasion, evasion --- you change the topic yet again, for the third consecutive time, so he wouldn't see you sob up. You turn towards the water while he's still holding you --- the night falling around you is deepest indigo blue, blending into the Pacific expanse.

 

 

 

'You're mine and when someone's mine...' --- his words echo in your head like a chanted mantra. A prayer. Mine, mine, mine.

 

 

 

-"You know, I never saw the ocean or the sea until I've left home."- You confess, breathing in the tangy sharpness of the seafaring oxygen, remembering how landlocked you used to be, from all sides. It's only when you packed your bags and decided to leave that you started sighting seas, here and there, on your way to America. -"Now, it's all I consistently see, everywhere."- At that point, the waves are pitch black as is Terry's face as he fiddles with his ring finger again. There's comfort in the fact he wore it at all. No moonlight in sight, the illuminated, distant fishing pier of Venice Beach the only light-source offering respite.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Terry Silver came from old money, unabashedly.


Old money that went bankrupt and destitute somewhere along the way, but old money nonetheless.

 

 

 

So, to find himself on a farm, of all places, was ludicrous, somehow, on some subconscious level which he wasn't accustomed to, once the putrid reeking of cow manure, mud, compost and livestock sharply hit his nostrils. Sure, he trudged through jungles, and marshlands, the identical military bunker beds of base camps and dead man's row, but this was so wholly unexpected, that in pulling up with his blue Ford at the outskirts of a rural farmstead only about an hour's drive from city limits felt a bit surreal. Did she ---give him the correct address? Was he at the right place? Did he get lost? No, no. He doesn't get lost. He knows precisely where he's headed. Furthermore, was this at all necessary? Also, why on earth did he agree to this? It's like, the minute he's met you, as irritating and positively enraging as your overall existence and misplaced biographical folder was, he fell roped into a cascade of progressively more nonsensical, bizarre instances and events, to the point where he was here, trying to avoid stepping into literal shit, sidestepping chunks of hardened soil and grassroot. He feels like in some idyllic Norman Rockwell painting, obligatory turkey cutting and all, when he passes by a wooden welcoming sign on the entrance and finds himself standing in line with a barrage of everyone else. Apparently --- people paid actual physical money for the pleasure of picking strawberries. With baskets. In groups or alone. Simulated rustic experience or some shit? Was there a good buck in that? Was it a viable business venture? What was the annual revenue on that!? Was it some sort of untapped market he simply wasn't made aware of!? Wow. The wonders of free market Capitalism. Clearly, one could sell anything to anybody. Nevertheless, an elderly couple and their brood of unruly grandchildren man a wooden stall and hand out picking equipment. Optional gloves. Optional scissors. These people reminded him of Mike Barnes' family. There she is. Bea arrived, dropped off, via public transport, as a way of surprising him. Always needing to make things more complicated for herself. He clenches his fists as he walks beside her as she picks out a basket for herself and pays for it. First of all, he couldn't believe he was here, reliving her little homecoming, nostalgia fantasy. Second of all --- the humiliation? The inane madness of it? The time wasting? Were you doing this deliberately, to push his buttons? If his parents could see him now, they'd bawl and laugh until they fell over from their seats. This wasn't Sunset Boulevard anymore.

 

 

 

 

He was --- at the Higgins Family...farmstead. That's what the welcoming sign said.
What the fuck was this? Amishland?
Little House on The Prairie!?
The Brady Bunch!?
Bullshit.
Did he walk into some elaborate trap? Trick?
Man, it could've been worse --- it could've been raining.

 

 

 

 

 

Terry looks around himself, speculatively, almost as if expecting something unexpected any second --- an ambush around the corner --- maybe the press catching wind of this somehow --- but no --- she merely guides him out on the bush field of berries, on a plot away from the other pickers, the fruit in question somewhat offensive looking, judging by it's imperfect shape, ranging from small to smaller, not at all like the dazzling, large, A+ class cocktail strawberries served in creamy punch bowls at the Carlton Ritz. These are rather tiny. Not all of them entirely ripe. Some of them wholly green, in fact. But, sufficiently fragrant, by the smell of them. The farm owner's brats are shrieking and making a ruckus a few plots away, trudging barefoot in the mud and Terry decides there and then that if he ever sired offspring to carry on the Silver Dynasty there would be strict rules and discipline in place. Bea quickly pops a strawberry into her mouth and smiles at him. -"Aren't you going to wash that first?"- He has to remark, sneering, trying not to crinkle his nose at the insect-ridden, untreated, untested, unsensitized food. Her shoulders were somewhat exposed, the sun up ahead jarring, leaving an already visible patch on her skin. Cover yourself, he's urged to command, that's my skin and I wish to flay it. Don't want it damaged beforehand. Intrusive thoughts abound. She hummed in delight, biting into the strawberry and he found himself hyperfocusing on her mouth chewing and taking in the juices. Surprisingly, not an unpleasant thing. Not an unpleasant sensation. Which by itself, was unpleasant. According to the files collected and compiled by his detectives she was a bonafide country girl, case and point, if he had to place Bea into a certain category. Into a certain type. Psychologically overanalyzing, that explained the whole doe-eyed impression that she was somehow --- well --- lost. Lost and waddling straight into the cobra's nest, but Terry digressed. He never picked a thing in his life, but he scoots down and begins copying your actions, placing one strawberry after the other right into the wicker contraption nonsense. Easy enough. Although he figured homegrown berries would've been immaculately round and more picturesque to look at, surely. -"I have a basket like this back home."- She remarks with a small, melancholic smile, looking up at him from her work. -“I've been meaning to get myself one, I just haven't had the time."-

 

 

 

 

 

 

The joints in his chest contort and it only barely feels like pain when you speak of the things you miss.

He almost wants to seethe and retort with a prompt We have baskets here too like an envy ridden serpent.

We have baskets and strawberries and strawberry pies and whatever other nonsense you can come up with.

Why? Why did he have that urge?

Maybe you like the poor girl? --- Johnny's words come into mind and he dismisses them immediately.

Idealistic, romantic, honorable Johnny.

 

 

 

 

 

 

Thing is, not counting John himself, who was above all scrutiny, reproach or even being perceived, Terry had a specific type and that type was money. Clear, precise, blunt and straight to the point. Before 'Nam, and before meeting him, his parents always told him he should connect himself to even more money and climb the ladder up, never down. Relationships between people of starkly different classes were a disaster, they explained. Unbalanced. Uncoordinated. Unlikely to survive. Care is not enough to live on. One has too much and the other one has too little or nothing at all, and so they gnaw at each other, in petty, miniscule, small ways, until there's nothing but resentment left. It was simply bad economy. Funny that, because it's as if though ma' and pa' were describing themselves. Ma' was the one who had too little and pa' the one who had too much. Maybe that's exactly why they've said it and relayed that lesson unto him. Because they knew from their personal example. So, to like her was stupid and illogical. A chemical reaction in the brain and loins, yes, maybe. Especially when met with the shimmering, shiny lining of salt and sweat on her neck and forehead. But, liking?

 

 

 

 

No.

No?

No.

 

 

 

 

He asks and she talks about the last time she had naturally picked strawberries like this. Not acquired in a supermarket, frozen, picked from a convenience store cooler. She talks about all the things she'd make. Something called Kompot. Homemade jams. Juices. She talks about the raspberry bushes back home, in her own backyard and how they'd grow produce by the bucket-loads. How this is the first place she ever came to, in search of something reminiscent of home, when she settled in this side of the State. Terry drifts off --- trying to ignore the fact that his jeans and designer sneakers were muddied and dirtied. He envisions his mansion surrounded by a colossal garden. He thought about Bea, coming into the mansion with a full basket, face slightly red from exertion and the sunshine. She'd go to one of the kitchens and make waffle cakes with strawberries and cream for him. On her way back from the gardens, she'd would pick a few roses and lay them out on the table next to Terry and he'd reach out to her wrist, pulling her towards him to settle her down onto his lap before tucking into the delicious meal she's made for him. And he didn't even eat sweets. He tried one of the strawberries after you washed it for him, using one of the farmer's faucets. The taste was rather good, and he indulged in a few more before driving you back to your apartment, quickly excusing himself with some other bullshit notice of how he had to be somewhere else. Get more paint for the dojo. Whatever lie.

 

 

 

After seeing you off, he headed to the mansion, with a basket of strawberries in the passenger seat next to him. You had --- strapped the seatbelt around it, so it wouldn't fall off onto the floor, or somehow tumble out of the car mid-drive. Why was that endearing to him? Silly, yet endearing. Why would he care what happened to them, he could order ten full baskets, twenty, fifty, hell a whole truck loads of strawberries. He could buy out entire plantations and factories of produce and call it a day. He wipes his silver ring off from dust and mud, polishing the metal with the already filthy outline of his sweatshirt. With the gates opened, he parked up outside the front entrance. Milos was at his side querying whether the vehicle needs to be checked to which Terry declined. -“Should I have the bath prepared, Sir?”- Milos asked, noting the state of his clothing. -“Thank you, Milos, yes. I'm looking to purchase a wicker basket, finest money can buy. Make some enquiries.”- Terry agreed as Milos opened the front door for him. -“And fetch Reginald. We need to discuss some additions to the east wing gardens."-

 

 

 


Giving out his orders, John's at the foyer front door, leaning to the side, arms crossed.
Dressed in his Gi, from what seems like the aftermath of training the Barnes boy.
Slacking; that's what you've made him do and that was unforgivable.
He spent the afternoon roleplaying a Beverly Hills hillbilly.
With the All-Valley Tournament just two weeks away.

 


-"You look like you just crawled out of a foxhole."-

 


John quips, not unkindly, looking him up and down with a grin.

 

 

 

A few days pass of going back forth between the apartment studio dojo and the estate and measuring lines are drawn out, plots dug, precise parameters shoveled through at his behest and exact specification next to a handful of hundred saplings of the finest import Argentinian strawberries shipped over post-haste off of the slopes of Buenos Aires, Terry was standing amidst it all, sleeves rolled up, feeling like some grand tobacco plantation handler his own father would envy as he was directing the workers, here and there, cigar in his mouth and the smoke filling his nostrils. Thing was, he had an exact vision in mind and he wanted it executed to perfection - something new and exciting stirring inside of him for days now, and rendering him unable to rest, waking up, instead, in the middle of the night in his silky bedside bathrobe, to wonder the premises of his estate's grounds and ponder which spot out of the dozens he could choose from would be best for what he had in mind. He imagined Bea, more often then he would've thought, after your mutual little agricultural farm adventure approximately a week ago. He still couldn't get over it. It's one of the stranger things he's done lately, and he's done plenty of strange things. He wondered what it would be like, to look out the grand lobby window and see you standing amidst all that green, waving to him with a smile in a sundress and a ribbon-decorated hat, accompanied with your filled basket of spoils. In theory, it felt akin to a bizarre fever dream or the illustration on the front of a post-card wishing the best of season's greetings, and that alone was stupid and inane enough - so, then, why was he fixated on this nonsense?

 

 

 


Now, he was something of a pragmatic.
A realist and a cynic, as it were.
But, he recognized pleasure.
Pleasure as concept.
And this gave him pleasure.
Why - he couldn't exactly tell or know.

 

 

 

But, when Terry Silver set his mind to something, he got it, and well, while there was a great many things Bea didn't know about him yet and she undoubtedly figured he was someone more similar to herself just the way he wanted her to, in his beat-up facade blue truck and his jeans and grey sweatshirts, the plan always was for this here, this house on the hills to become her next home (And jail? Place of execution? Dungeon?)and he desired for it very much to feel like a home once he eased her into the whole entirety of everything, one step at a time, lest he scares she off too soon. A true home. He yearned to hear her say it. Home. He wanted her to whisper it. Scream it. Moan it. Orgasm it. Get fucked on every surface of every piece of furniture in every room, balcony and hallway. With all the trinkets and trappings you'd relate to and well, if that included a plot of strawberries and bushes of raspberries, that too, she would get. Terry smiled to himself, content, instinctually wishing to cackle out-loud almost as if concocting some colossal plan (and he was), huffing on his Cohiba as he observed his heart's desire come into fruition bit by bit, dragged out of his reverie by Milos' gloved hand tapping his shoulder from behind, easing close in his immaculately polished shoes amidst the freshly dug-up soil. It better not have been someone from the company - he already made it clear, to his agents, he was taking zero calls today. Never told them he'd be overseeing the planting of strawberries though. -"Pardon me, sir - it's arrived."-

 

 

 

Was all he said, and Terry instantly knew the context.
Clapping his hands in enthusiasm as he was presented with a previously placed order.
At the price-point of 50.000 dollars, imported from Sonora, in Mexico.
A handcrafted, painted basket of intricate, weaved design.
He examined it from all sides like a rare vintage vino.
Yes, yes - this would do just perfectly!
Bea owned nothing like this.
He was certain of it.
He should know.
He has broken into her place enough times.

 

 

 

 

Along with his placed order came a card from the indigenous peoples living in the communal rain-forests of the region that did the artistry thanking, indirectly, for the item placed, as it allowed their after-mentioned village thrive and survive off of the commission, apparently, and he almost felt uneasy. Jittery. Awkward. A bit bemused, actually. The feeling akin to having a gallon of oil spilled on his suit on the steps of a courthouse after a hearing by an enraged protester carrying a 'Silver handcuffs for a Silver bastard!' cardboard sign (a most amusing pamphlet, admittedly) rushed over him - a thing, which has in fact, happened before. A rather peculiar memory back from 1979. His mouth placed into something of a firm, sour grimace as he hastily pushed the card into the back-pocket of his beige golf-pants, unsure what else to do with it. He was self-aware, yes. This would be the manner of demographic Dynatox would devastate the most (Why on earth was he using the term 'devastate'? Co-operate with. Coexist with! Yes, that was the proper marketing phrase.) and he instantaneously pushed the musing out of his mind, controlling himself, thanking Milos, who was on his way, through the garden in disarray, and instead, steering into an equally baffling thought in his attempts to avoid the other as fast as he could. In Terry's mind, she was entering the house and handing him a freshly-picked batch of fruit she grew entirely on her own. Joyful. Smiling. Sunkissed. Covered with the warmth of salt and glistening sweat. Just like during that day on the farm, the annoying chatter of the unruly brats filled his ears, playing in the field around your skirts. The old farmer's brats.

 

 

 

 


Except, they looked like him - they looked like you too.
What the fuck was going on?

 

 

Johnny, the Barnes-boy, Snake and Dennis collectively observe him and the newly planted garden from one of the balconies, post-training exhaustion, like they were wondering so themselves.

 

 

 


 

 

 

-"Thank you for coming with me last week. I thought you wouldn't like it and I was hesitant to invite you, but I'm glad you agreed anyway. It means a lot to me! More then you can imagine, Terrence."- She says to him over the phone a few days later, hitting up the number to his rooms in the Glendower Estate, not even realizing just where she was calling exactly --- and there it was again; Terrence. He gave it to her --- the landline numbers --- because he was eager to hear her even when not in a role. Just as a way of checking up on her and ensuring she doesn't slither away somewhere while he wasn't looking. Not that she didn't have his payroll detective staff keeping an eye on the building at all times. He needed to hear and know. Even when slipping out of one skin and right into the next. She had no idea where she was dialing, but sounded chipper regardless. Sweetly endeared and he had to chuckle back, almost a magnetic response. Sprawled out on a bed she never slept in before, he was smoothing a spot next to him. Emptied, his hand was caressing the outlines of silk, wishing she was laying right there. Maybe he could start his --- project --- once he moved her in? Maybe that was more practical? In between these walls, a private neighbourhood, in a gate community. He had a full proof dungeon below the mansion's foundation, and nobody would ever come looking for her here. Was easier to deal with, rather than surrounded by an apartment complex full of nosy pensioners he practically had to bribe off to have them minding their own business. And yet, she was again, referring to him by his full birth-name, as was her usual habit. Fuck sake. He didn't have the heart to tell you nobody alive ever calls him that anymore.

 

 

 

 

At the same time, he wanted her to choke on his name and drown in it already - gurgle down every syllable and letter at once.

-"Listen to you, huh! Hesitant! Agreeing! Not liking it! I was glad to come!"-

 

 

 

 

Terry practically eases into the handle with an argumentative tone, ready for a debate, both lying and telling the truth - and the truth was, he did enjoy it. He really did. But, it also made his goddamn skin crawl like nails on a chalkboard Well, it was certainly preferable to Little Terry. Falsehoods and sincerity intermingling and blending into one. He didn't expect to derive pleasure from such activities, least of all, have a replica of events planted in his own backyard - a project most favorable that was growing and developing with positive results, but he did, and now pretending wasn't necessary the way he was outright preparing to, as a way of habit. You giggle back as a response and he rolls his head back into the pillow in satisfaction, casting a glance towards the basket placed unto his work table by the staff, awaiting it's new owner.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

-"A gift. On the way back."-

 

 


Terrence explains simply as you find yourself gawking, eying the beautiful, heavy wicker basket he's brought back with him from a trip to Boyle Heights to order more brushes, paints, nails, layering and buckets for the dojo's renovations, staying in a motel until he got everything necessary, ensuring you had his room's phone number, to stay in contact. He wanted to hear your voice, always, he explained. Where you were. What you were doing. If you were okay. Merely ten dollars a piece on some seasonal discount of home appliances and indoors decor, reminded of you talking at the farm the other day, he couldn't help himself but walk out of Home Depot with a little something, even though you couldn't quite believe the quality of the piece. It seemed immaculate, intricately woven and decorated. What a find, for such a small price. Sometimes, it seemed, one found the greatest treasures in the most unexpected places, huh?

 

 


-"Terry."- You mouth in wonder, gasping still, even after five minutes within being surprised with the wonderful item. A most precious thing. Sure, you had one back home, but it was nothing like this. This was more of a work of art, really. Something entirely too special. -"You're drowning me in presents."- You shake your head, holding the wicker basket, carefully, like it could break or get accidentally damaged if you mishandled it or simply looked at it the wrong way, because truly, he was drowning you; first the plushies, then the bracelet, now this; you were really happy whenever he was back from a mini business trip, to acquire the occasional knick-knack, tool or repair material for the studio, but rather, the very fact he remembered and noted the very things you said to him in passing, through stories, anecdotes and memories you shared with him idly, making small-talk and conversation you didn't even assume he'd catch notice of too much --- he cared. Terry, he cared. He listened. You could barely breathe.

 

 


-"Tell you what,"- He approaches you languidly, gently taking the basket out of your hand and setting it aside, right on his dojo office work desk. The shutters are down. The studio still bears the slightly stale scent of a class passed, approximately half an hour ago. Dust particles, the sharp aroma of sweat and a buzzing radiator line the air, rendering your head slightly dizzied. Heavy. Pleased. Safe. -"Since you've always been so worried about the economic aspect of "I give, you take", you can make it up to me."- He speaks up sweetly, playfully, more of a purr then a whisper, as he leaned back on his table, surrounded by a shelf of paperwork, endless case files, old boxing gloves, protective sparring helmets, the occasional decorative knife or blade, a glass case containing a sheathed, locked up Japanese sword, trophies, accolades, framed photos and medals, sitting, legs spread. He cups himself, through the black fabric of his Gi, fingers noticeably squeezing his own bulge, teeth digging into his lower lip, growling and moaning.

 

 


-"How?"- You gulp audibly, already knowing the answer, averting your gaze swiftly with a sharp intake of breath, yearning to apologize for accidentally looking, still reeling from the aftermath of the surprise, a warm feeling floating around in your gut. Butterflies. You were a thing with him. Why were you wanting to apologize for looking? Even now? Silly. Sometimes, he was too much and you felt you couldn't quite look at him even if you wished to. Your cheeks on fire by the time he pulls his length out from somewhere the layers of dark material, stroking his cock in front of you, maintaining firm, unflinching eye contact. There it was again. The absence of blinking. Was the --- was the dojo even locked? Should one of you check, just in case? What if one of his students walk in unannounced? -"Get down on your knees."- He orders and you obey, slowly sinking unto the floor in front of his desk, until you're sitting on your own legs neatly folded beneath you, resting your hands on your thighs, looking up at him. You played games like this constantly. He'd say a thing and you'd obey. He was Sir and you were Sir's. You were learning. He was teaching.

 

 


-"Lower."-

 

 


He commands, piercing you with his eyes from where he sat on the desk and you lowered your head in a bow.

 


-"Lower."-

 


Terry's voice is a hiss, and wondering how you could get lower still, you sink unto your belly, practically laying prostrate.

 


Arms beside you neatly.

 


Just like he previously instructed you.

 

 


-"Good."-

 


He hums in appreciation.

 

 


His bare feet after practice practically hanging right above your head.

 

 


-"Do you want me to ---"- You whisper, heated, wanting to be of service as well as obey, thinking he might wish to be pleasured. That he might want your mouth around him. Kissed. Stroked. Caressed. Held. Embraced. To help him get off. Thank him. Smother him. Thank him some more. Instead, you're met with nothing but a hard, blue stare, once you peer up at him with your mouth partially open, scooting back down until you feel your belly lay firmly into the hard floorboard underneath you, catching him watching you intently. His fingers vigorously massaging his own cock, as his hips bucked back and forth, in a rhythm of leisure. He appeared --- angry? Perhaps frustrated? Yet not. There's something uncanny about the image. Terry in a black Gi, partially open around the chest, a patch of sweat-drenched on his skin, masturbating himself in his own office, with a wicker basket, forgotten, right beside him, while you were practically laying on the ground. He seemed --- unnatural somehow. Out of touch. Impossibly distant. Like there was a sudden disconnect. Fiercely --- fiercely beautiful. Dear, sweet, odd Terry. -"No, just stay like that."-

 

 

 


Is all he says and you listen.

 


You loved him.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

-“The lover strips the beloved of her identity no less than the blood-stained priest his human or animal victim.”-
― Georges Bataille, Erotism: Death and Sensuality

 

 

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

-"Lobster Frittata! Just the way you like it!"-

 

 

 

 

 


The table is set and Terry's voice beams with pride as he extends his arm towards the decor of the dining table, all Qing Dynasty Porcelain, crystal liquor decanters, silver forks, knives and spoons, ceramic salad bowls and ceramic dessert plates to match, massive, hand-forged, gold-plated wine coolers, Bohemian cut Baccarat champagne glasses, monogrammed, neatly folded silk wiping cloths, and a piece that brought him particular satisfaction, left for special occasions only; antique table chandeliers and candelabras, finely cut, resembling two snakes coiled around each other's bodies --- everything deliberately detailed, planned and carted out to impress, ushering his long expected guest in --- William 'Willie' Cole is 1,47 m and his appearance is eerily reminiscent of Danny Devito, but that never stopped the man from sauntering in, hands in his pockets, with an air of particular all-importance which Terry was both amazed and amused by, feeling himself appear like a giant beside the regional court judge residing over his case. The stocky, portly man, now off-duty, out of his officially mandated black robes, dressed in corporate, grim grey, and a blazer slightly oversized, as Terry assumed, to cheat the eye and make him appear bigger somehow, a pair of infinitely entertaining crocodile leather shoes abound beneath the get-up, to, perhaps, break the monotony of the outfit, the floor clicks fervently underneath his hasty steps, with Terry guiding him through, into the illuminated dining lobby, smartly dressed himself. Johnny too. Formal introductions made, before they're even properly seated, gasping and out of breath, Willie practically digs into the Frittata laid out in front of him, on his usual spot, as per dutiful habit, gripping the utensils, his lobster shears and seafood fork, and beginning to tinker with the task of opening the red-boiled crustacean like it was a chore and not a pleasure. They did this every now and then, after all. Almost monthly, by now. Terry was yet to meet a man who took to the adventure of being bribed with such a disgruntled, begrudging attitude. It was kind of funny, actually.

 

 

 

 


-"I'll keep it brief, because fuck me if I want be to seen walking in and out of here."- Willie talks fast, rolling up his sleeves, like someone being chased or like he has somewhere else to be. Run a marathon maybe. Guilty, faux-conciencous and a glutton to boot, he eats and complains. John practically chuckles at the sight. Terry chuckles at John chuckling. -"The hearing's scheduled on Monday. You already know that."- He reiterates firmly, wagging a meaty finger riddled with gemstone encrusted signet rings. Terry could appreciate that much, twisting his own ring, thin, simple and silver. -"Show up. Testify. Say your peace. Don't be a smart-mouth! Of course, they'll have the place under lockdown from the media and the fucking paps, but, important thing is; I'll stall."- Willie rolls his eyes in disdain, referencing the moralistic peanut-gallery that gathered around during every hearing, every session every everything that had to do with Terry and Dynatox in particular. Greenpeace and Save The Whales type associations. -"And you'll stall."- Mr. Cole instructs, eyeing him from his side of the table, long enough to seat a company of twenty five with ease, now seating only three. Terry at the head of the table, John from the left, Willie from the right, gorging himself, served in advance, ahead of everyone. He had the tendency to come here and eat. They'd come to an understanding and then he'd promptly leave. It was a simplistic arrangement. Like feeding a rabid dog and setting him loose. Terry could appreciate when people were easy to figure out and made sense like that. He could work with that. Through that. Around that. Whichever. -"Your lawyers, they'll also stall."- He adds, practically dragging out the word 'stall' for extra emphasis. -"We'll prolong this for as long as we can and when the fucking ruckus they'll brew up dies to down, we'll just"- With a hand gesture to demonstrate, William purses his lips in a wry grimace, pulling his elbow backwards, in a profane manner. -"Swoosh --- under the rug! Capiche?"- With that, Willie's immediate attention is on desecrating the lobster again, until one of the servers approaches, handing him his black leather office briefcase and as if reminded of something, Willie perks back up.

 

 

 

 

-"Because, look at this shit!"- Annoyed scurrying around inside a case of paperwork, placed on the table, right beside the fine China, which makes Terry's skin crawl in particular distaste, he pulls out an old newspaper article, front page and center, by The Los Angeles Times, dated to the June of last year, 1984. -"Look at this shit from our last case!"- Putting the blasted thing up and showcasing it, in particular, to John, reeling in amusement, arms crossed over his chest in his chair, slumping backwards in his tuxedo, Terry remembers that day well. He nearly got egged by an unruly crowd on the courthouse steps, as such, re-reading the bold, black print makes him crinkle his nose as if though something particular foul got caught in his nostrils. Terry despised, how in that particular moment, faced with his own photo in black and white, suited up, leaving with his team of lawyers, he immediately thought of Bea. What would've happened if she accidentally stumbled upon an older tabloid periodical? The voice in his own head chastises him, scolds him like a child. Demands to know why he even gives a fuck? He should feel proud of his accomplishments --- all of his accomplishments. Even those lambasted by the media. These were serious matters in his real, actual life, and whatever was going on back there was just fun and nonsense, is all.

 

 

 

 

 

Terry envisions her sitting at the table with them, opposite of him, smiling sweetly.
Sequin-riddled, polished and glittering, there's gemstones around her neck, in her ears.
Sparkling so brightly in the dimly lit, intimate dining hall, he practically can't see her from the luminescence.
Lifting a glass to toast him, the vision fades away, he's left with nothing but an empty, nonexistent fourth seat.
He starts twisting his ring even more fervently, looking for a nonexistent itch he could scratch.

 

 

He wonders how she'd react to the food here tonight. If she'd like it. If she'd be shocked by it. Dazzled. Taken. Awestruck. If she'd ---

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

TALL AND SMALL JUDICARY COURTHOUSE SCANDAL!


Unprecedented: Dynatox CEO Billionaire Tycoon Terrence Silver 

pardoned  on bail by Regional Judge William Cole


Environmental protesters Union in an uproar.】

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

 

Willie sets the newspaper down on the table, practically slamming it, breaking through his reveries, John cackling in his seat with unburdened delight (which Terry appreciated --- John didn't laugh in such a long time) and Margaret is instantly by his side to collect the periodical off of the dining set. Ever the insightful Ms. Spencer. -"Oh, thank you Maggie, you're a peach."- Willie chides, using a nickname she holds back on rolling her eyes at from behind her spectacles, while he's too busy gurgling a glass of Dom Perignon in one big, hurried gulp too notice and downing his sour expression along with it. -"They called us Tall and Small! Fucking hell. Like the Looney Tunes! Unbelievable!"- Shaking his head in disbelief as he continued his ministrations of the lobster, Terry always found it particularly amusing how Willie Cole was more then ready to accept bribery and indulge in corruption, but it was like he was perpetually and consistently surprised, time and again, why people didn't seem to respect him or his line of work too much. Almost like nothing was for free, indeed. The lobster he was eating came at a hefty price. So did off the records donations and untraceable sums of laundered money drilled into his overseas bank account and the occasional all expense paid vacations from one particular Mr. Silver arranged for him and his family. You get perks, you lose the respect. You get some, you lose some. A natural pattern of life. Luckily for him, Terry never much cared what others thought of him, if anything, he got fuel out of any sort of energy, even negative. It fuelled him, with an almost vampiric, sizzling satisfaction. Until very recently, unforgivably enough, due to her. He never felt --- well, shame. Not in concept. So the churning, burning discomfort in his chest came as a novelty. What if Bea saw? Before she was meant to see?

 

 

 

 


-"What about the referees?"- John speaks up, gruff, somewhat impatient, leaning over the table perched on an elbow, steering the topic elsewhere. Terry could only hope that Johnny didn't notice how momentarily distraught he was for a brief blip before it faded back into his facade of an amicable, friendly host. He didn't like when people noticed, not even when those people were Johnny himself. -"What fucking referees?"- Willie speaks up, practically choking on his chow, seemingly forgetting for a second. -"For our tournament."- John clarifies, serious and no nonsense, tinkering with the bow tie of his tuxedo, loosening his white collar, leading to Willie to react with a prompt "Oh, yeah!" --- Terry could barely talk him into wearing one for the occasion. John was convinced it made him look like a glorified, high-end bouncer, which couldn't be further from the truth. Terry has met many men unworthy of their expensive suits. John wasn't one of them. John was worth more then all of them put together. Had more worth in his little finger.

 

 

 

 


There's someone else Terry yearned to see in an expensive dress tonight.
But, she was back in the apartment.
Waiting on him.

 

 

 


Thinking he was merely off to sign some legalese for the upcoming All Valley and in a sense, it wasn't a lie.

 

 

 


-"Look, boys, dunno what sorta Bruce Lee, Way of the Dragon shenanigans you've been getting up to and I don't care to find out."- Willie raises his hand, shaking his head, wiping his mouth with the silken serviette, causing Johnny to raise his eyebrows. Terry's hand discreetly touches the side of his torso under the table to calm him down. Cole was a bit blunt, something of a buffoon and rough around the edges, but he was helpful, in his own idiotic, bullshit way. -"I talked to the tournament manager."- He clarifies. -"Talked to the organizer."- He clarifies some more. -"Talked to the janitorial staff for all you know."- He shrugs his shoulder simply. -"They're in accordance."- He sets down the napkin, tinkering with the embroidered part of the initials --- T.S. in neat silver needlework.  Willie Cole was needed for this operation, because if the authorities ever got involved with what they intended to do to Daniel Larusso through Mike Barnes on the All Valley tournament and if someone, per chance, got hauled in for questioning and faced legal consequences or scrutiny from the committee, the judge could just bail them and push their case and file to the button of the desk drawer, figuratively speaking. All people need was some encouragement that someone in power would have their back while they looked the other way. -"They'll ignore your, whatever you call them,"- He spins his hand around in thin air, trying to remember what he was about to say, with furrowed brows, conjuring the words out of nothing. -"Illegal kicks. Kicks to the groin. Kicks to the belly. Kicks to the head."-
He lists them all off in vaguely layman terms, waving his hands dismissively.

 

 


John scoffs.

 

 


-"Just don't kill that kid out there, and you're okay."- Willie instructs with a chuckle, sucking the juice out of his side dish consisting of steamed clams and mussels with a hefty slurp. He was clearly enjoying himself and that's all Terry ever wanted. To have him enjoy himself enough to be suggestible for cooperation. -"You don't want reason for another lawsuit on your hand. He is a minor, after all. Harder to brush things away when they're minors."- Cole sighs with what seems like earnest regret in not being able to cover up a public murder of a very seventeen year old Daniel Larusso even figuratively speaking and Terry nearly laughs.This is why he loved the guy in particular. He was so nonchalant and casual about actual homicide. He was Terry's type of man to conduct business with. Direct. Candid. To the point.-"You've more then enough of lawsuits on your hand right now."- He quips. -"Same goes for Dynamo boy. Dynamite boy --- Torpedo Boy --- whatever the fuck you call him."-

 

 

 


Willie Cole points at Mike, referencing the kid's incidents landing him in juvenile detention centers in the past, now sitting at the edge of the hall with a plate of Foie Gras, looking like a polite, silent boy scout in his little suit, with Snake and Dennis right beside him, appearing very all-important and grim. Snake appears particularly prideful, his button up shirt carefully tucked in, fingers pushed inside of the outline of his shiny, statement belt buckle for all to see. -"Hey, it's Mike Barnes, man!"- The Dynamite boy himself corrects, visibly irked, brows furrowed, like he was looking to argue a regional judge on the spot and he didn't doubt he would. Another reason why Terry enjoyed Mike as much as he enjoyed Willie. They both had spunk and it amused him. -"Yeah, yeah. Three stooges."- Willie dismisses him too, and by extension, Snake and Dennis alongside him with a wave of his hand and Mike has to relent, especially when John turns around and chuckles at him, appearing genuinely charmed by his bad boy antics. As long as Johnny was having a good time ---

 

 

 

 


-"A doping scandal is always on the table, though, told Terry so myself. Worked at the 1976 Olympics with anabolic steroids in Montreal. No reason why it wouldn't work now."-

 

 

 

 


Willie continues, speculatively, playing around with his utensils, only to be interrupted by John himself.


Although, Terry had to admit, something about the fact his judge was non-ironically suggesting planting narcotics on Daniel Larusso was ---


Well, a prime-time joke.

 

 

 

 


-"No. It's about the pain."- John grumbles, low and dangerous, clearly not keen on the drug planting idea, as hilarious as it sounded in retrospective. Sweet, honorable John. -"Suit ya'self, Rambo."- Willie Cole shrugs his shoulders simply, not even wishing to argue as he pours and downs another round of Dom Perignon. Willie might've seemed hotheaded, difficult, mouthy and argumentative, but really, he was just here to do as he was told and paid to do. Easy to control. Unlike some.

 

 

 


-"Mr. Silver?"- One of the suited up staff members approach him, bend down, carrying a plate on an entree, with a fork, and Terry instantly recognizes the treat, skipping the main course entirely and going straight for the dessert. His house. His rules. -"A Marquise strawberry pie."- The butler announces, setting it down in front of him, alongside an extra wiping cloth and Terry eyes the creamy torte. He's been fond of these lately. -"That will be all, Charles. Thank you."-

 

 

 

 


Terry swiftly expresses his gratitude, dismissing his aid, eying the thick, scrumptious, blood red syrup seeping from the edges, just like he previously requested from the cooking team.


-"What? No Macallan straight on the rocks?"- Willie prods, eyeing the cake speculatively and again, Terry's skin crawls. He despises when people notice stuff. -"Your dietary regimen changed since last time. What gives?"-

 

 

 

 

 


Terry inexplicably pushes the plate away ,an inch out of sight, before even having a single bite.
He doesn't want it looked at.
Perceived.
Smelled.
Desired and yearned after.
The ring on Terry's finger feels stiff - the cheap, silver one in particular.
He's hidden it in plain sight, surrounded by at least three other rings, bigger and incomparable in size and luster.
Terry hoped they would've served as momentary distraction from the one gifted by Bea.
But, then, he finds himself, consciously twisting it yet again, unable to help himself.

 

 

 

 


-"Do you know why the men of Cobra Kai hold up such a strict, meticulous routine, Willie?"- Terry inquires, leaning back into his chair, snug and comfortable, staring and his fruit ridden, sugary morsel on a plate, feeling John's eyes on himself and knowing they're there without even looking. This was a lesson they knew very well, the two of them. Ever since Vietnam. A lesson on self-denial. A lesson on discipline. -"Of course, you wouldn't know."- His gaze meets Willie's, holding him down, relentless. He wasn't about to be lectured about food under his own roof. -"You're a pencil-pushing courthouse crook. You're not a warrior."- Terry smiles idly, just men having their men's banter, nodding to the butler bringing forth an ashtray and a cigar cutter alongside a box of Cuban Cohibas. Lighting one, leisurely, after offering one to Johnny making himself busy with his newly-poured glass of whiskey, Terry crosses his legs.

 

 


-"Oh god, here we go."- Willie rolls his eyes, holding up his own glass as well. -"Pour me a drink too. One of your Bacardí's."- He requests of one of Terry's boys, doing rounds around the table with plates and entrees, plying him, John and their guest with aperitifs. -"I feel like I'm at a Vampire's ball or something whenever I come here!"- Willie shivers and shudders in his seat, visibly distraught, when Charles comes up behind him, holding a bottle of vintage, cinnamon-scented, deep golden Spanish Bacardí, straight out of the cellar, silent as a grave.Terry has to smile, in absolute delight. Needed to give that kid a raise. -"Your people, they just keep popping up behind me. Giving me a heart attack."- Poor Mr. Cole was slight put off? Good. Excellent. Perfect.

 

 


-"We keep such a regime, because it serves to sharpen the senses, you see."- Terry continues simply, drawing out intricate, wavy patterns on the surface of the white truffle creamy top of his pie, finding himself writing out what appeared to be the letter B. -"Make you a more efficient combatant."- He adds, remembering the lessons from war. How they trained themselves, under instructions from Captain Turner, to ignore hunger. Ignore the need for sleep. The need to bathe. The need for basic comforts taken for granted at home and just keep on marching, for days and days, until they were more like machines. Robots. -"If you're always just a little bit hungrier then you should be. A little more exhausted. A little more craving. A little bit more in pain ---"-
Terry tilts his head, leaning on his elbow, pushing himself closer to his bought off district attorney judge.

 

 

 

 


Man has never been to war.


It was written all over his body - pudgy, soft, weak --- his whole power was merely contained in his ceremonial gavel.

 

 

 

 


-"Your killer instinct is always just a step away from having you unhinging your opponent's jaw."- He seethes, clenching his fist shut. Fuck, why was he saying all of this? Even as he was pronouncing every word, syllable and line, he found himself at a loss. Why the overexplaining? He could merely tell Will to fuck off and state he liked the fucking pie because he liked the fucking pie and because he hasn't had enough of a good thing since 'Nam, even though it's been almost two decades and call it a day --- but, no. He continues, and it's like he momentarily lost control of his own mouth and what came out of it. -"Gives you a sort of motivation, edge and power you can never achieve by strengthening only the body."- Sharp intake of breath, it's like the whole hall darkens. He's just admitted to the fact they starved themselves deliberately to go berserk. -"It's more of a state of mind honed throughout the years."-

 

 

 

 


He leans back, content, fork easing into the cream, and on cue, the dessert bleeds, just like Terry liked it.
Remember his ma's words about not playing with his food now flies out the window.
Propping it into his mouth and smearing the topping, it tastes delicious.
Just like Bea's might've, if he actually tried it, that time she brought over a plate.
No --- he threw that one into the trash compartment behind the dojo the minute she left and he still hasn't gotten over it.

 

 

 

 


-"You're always out there looking for your next meal to devour."- Terry eats, neatly, careful, precise, measured chunks, as if to savour it and ensure it lasts longer, and while Willie clearly doesn't recognize he's talking about something else entirely and not the wartime preservation of food and why he occasionally gorges himself to keep sane, John does, and looks at him tentatively from his seat, sipping his liquor glass in silence, his collar partially open at the neck and his bowtie entirely undone. -"In the ring and outside of it."- Terry adds finally, bloodstream full of syrupy red sugar and he thinks of Bea. Feeling himself irritant. What was she doing right now? Was she asleep? Was she awake? Was she alright? Did she double check to see if her front door is locked? Was she warm? Was she tucked in? Was she dreaming of him? If she wasn't, then why wasn't she? Either ways, he ponders on going strawberry picking with her the other day and what a baffling, bizarre, sordid, unusual, laughable, embarrassing --- oddly pleasing experience that was. Given, if he had to choose, he'd rather be there then here, because you were somehow less annoying then his judge, surely, even though this had to be sorted through tonight, so his little scheme would be effective, but still ---

 

 

 

 


-"Interesting way of saying you keep yourself starved, cranky, horny and sleepy on purpose."-


Willie jokes, cracking down the point to it's bare essentials; it was no less true, though.

 

 

 


-"Indeed."- Terry hums in appreciation, his plate now almost entirely clean. His fork stained crimson. He thinks of the crimson, leaking patch between her legs, by sheer aesthetic association. Inviting, pale thighs part, and the pink outline of her cunt is soft to the touch as she's stained in him. Sticky patches of cum and virgin's blood as she lays sprawled upon of the forest bed, above a carpet of dry autumn foliage, after he's licked her clean. -"Except, once in a while, dear Willie, a man has to indulge."- Terry adds, licking his fork idly, then setting it aside, tidily, for his staff to remove and he returns to his cigar, tapping his fingers on the mahogany red table impatiently. He wants this fucking evening to end already. It was getting tedious and dull past Willie's explanation that he will in fact stall the trial and that he has in fact talked to the referees and the committee at the All Valley, to ensure Barnes can put Danny-boy through as much pain as humanly possible without getting himself disqualified after the first foul kick. That's all he really needed. His breath bearing the scent of tobacco and strawberries. He finds himself twisting his ring anew. -"I can see that."- Willie chuckles. Now it's his turn to be amused as he vaguely looks around the hall. -"If anyone indulges, Silver, it's definitely you. Looks like Caligula's pleasure palace in here. Never ceases to amaze me."-

 

 

 


Caligula's pleasure palace, huh?
Stale joke.
Terry doesn't bother snorting.
Neither does John who makes himself busy with a stake --- classic and traditional and wholly John.

 

 

 


-"Speaking of indulgences; like, what's that?"- Willie does the unthinkable then and notices yet another thing. Terry twisting the ring. As if on cue, he immediately ceases, neatly placing his hands down and stopping, feeling himself caught red handed, not realizing, perhaps, for long he's been doing it or if anyone else, well, with the except of John, who was a safe party, would notice. -"Got engaged while I wasn't looking? You're twisting that thing an awful lot, babe."- Cole quips yet again, playfully nudging him with an elbow. The unsolicited physical contact Terry can muster through slightly gritted teeth, but the word engaged gets lodged somewhere in his brain like a foreign object, a needle or a piece of sharpened steel, jogged into his flesh, laying there, painful, irksome and almost impossible to momentarily ignore. Engaged? To --- to Bea? -"It's like a tick or something."- Willie cackles and within a senses of evasion, Terry feels his own lips quirking up too, mirroring him.
Willie Cole reacts to the wordless smile, all teeth.

 

 

 


-"You don't say!?"- He smacks his hands together, about to get festive as the butler picks up the emptied lobster entree from in front of him, now all claws and no meat. -"Who is she, you bad boy!?"- Willie questions, partially joking, partially not and Terry, for the first time in a very long time feels himself stiffen. Attack posture. Frozen. He usually takes to teasing so well and gives rebuffs with equal amounts of teasing, but today, he feels on edge. Now, in particular. John catches it. Their eyes meet. -"Please don't tell me it's Christie Brinkley, because if it is, you'll get your chef to cart out another lobster --- that's some fucking news!"- Willie references a past conquest and it takes Terry a second to remember just who that was, overtaken instead, by the fear the judge of his case could somehow read his mind and call him out Bea's very existence. -"Well? Who? What? Is she an heiress who looks like a dog? Because, I can be charming!"- Willie keeps on pushing and with the table clear, and him not being able to be further from his mark in guessing, Terry merely stands up and buttons his blazer up.

 

 

 


That signifies dinnertime is over.
The master of the household has deemed it so.
His people move accordingly, like pieces on a chess board.
-"We're done here. I've places to be, William. You're dismissed. I'll call on you when I need you again."-

 

 

 


Terry announces and his staff, placed around strategic corners around the hall, waiting for his order, take that as a sign they should start clearing out the cutlery, the food remains and the table setting at large. William Cole has been bribed, previously, with a suitcase of money arriving via private currier to his address, now with a lobster dinner, the transaction was over and done with, they sat, they ate, they made small talk and now it was over. Terry didn't intend to spend a minute longer with this performative charade then he needed to to acquire what he wanted, and now that they had terms, they were finished here. Terry also usually has to lie he has places to be even when he didn't, or have Margaret do the lying for him, but this time around, he yearns to get out of his suit, change his clothes, remove his excess jewelry, all except one piece, remove the scent of cologne, get in his Ford pickup truck and drive down to the dojo. John understood, while he was staying up here with the boys and training them for the upcoming tournament event. Hell, John knew. John knew he'd be staying at the old Cobra Kai studio going through faux remodelling in order to put a cover over Danny-boy's eyes, but also because he had business of a private nature there which he'd rather not talk about with the likes of Willie Cole who was taking the notice and standing up from his seat, still cackling like a fucking hyena.

 

 

 


-"Bailing out your ass and you don't even want me to meet your squeeze!?"- The district attorney judge yells after him, admittedly in good humor, as the staff escorts him out. Willie can take a joke. -"Call me wounded, yeah?"- The laughter emanates through the lobby and Terry, for some inexplicable reason finds, that tonight he cannot. Removes the silver ring and places it into his pocket. He doesn't want it ---- well, leered at. He and John walk out to the balcony, watching the man waddle out to his car, amicably saying goodbye to Margaret, Milos and the staff bidding their farewells and Terry feels exhausted. In ways he was never exhausted before. These dinners. Parties. Get togethers. Gatherings. Talking about women. Talking about men. Talking about both. They're usually so invigorating. Fun. Tonight, they left him riddled with hate and it doubtlessly shows on his expression too, because the minute they're alone, Terry lets him facade drop, his fingers in his pocket, ring where the piece of jewelry she gave him was too, hidden away from sight. -"Do you want me to intercept him in the drive-through and ---"- Johnny offers, chuckling, in good nature, even though Terry knew he meant it entirely seriously. He'd entirely willingly beat up a local, corrupt judge for him, short notice. But, the night was young still. All Terry was contemplating how he could still validly drive out to the studio and lie to her he's signed to documents early, purely to have a believable excuse to be with her. -"Nah, Johnny. He served his purpose. He always does."- He remarks as William Cole speeds out the driveaway in his sleek, black, classical Chrysler, opting for a show of down to earth wealth and all-American, respectable, upper middle class values while accepting bribes in millions. Fat fuck. Fat useful fuck.

 

 


Not even ten minutes pass, and in a change of clothes, Terry speeds out the same driveaway as well.


In the opposite direction.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Searing, stifled autumn night and you've been sweating bullets.

 

40 degrees Celsius, or rather, 104 degrees Fahrenheit - the heat for this of year is abnormal.

 

 

 

 

The buzzing AC unit on the third floor almost perpetually broken or in malfunction, you endure, undoubtedly, much like every tenant on this level, spending the night having frequent trips between your pull out couch doubling as a bed and the toilet, taking turns refreshing yourself in the dripping faucet sink and tossing and turning in a sleepless, heavy, perspired conundrum that seems to drag unto infinity and beyond, simply refusing to come to an end --- the trips to the bathroom so frequent, you cease clicking on the light --- layers of clothes becoming more and more scarce as you find you can barely endure them in close proximity to your skin and it's burning sensation. A thin, breezy, cotton dress serving as a nightgown replaced by only your undergarments. Your undergarments replaced by merely your underwear. Soon enough, your underwear is discarded too, itching and tearing into your flesh, overheating you by proximity --- brassier and unmentionables laying useless at the foot of your mattress and you're unclad and nude, coiled into a thin white sheet concealing your modesty, no longer attempting to even pretend you're ignoring the ruckus on the street --- shutters down, you can't see anything from the third floor, but the vague, hulking outline of blurred buildings and the dim lights peeking through the slits, but you can hear, as clearly and as audibly as ever; Someone's blaring music from their stereo. You really didn't want to be listening to Madonna at these late hours of the night or much of anything else, as for that matter. You weren't a grump. You just wanted to slither into a slumber, feeling yourself somewhat on edge when you were alone. Alone without him. The shriek of youth coming and going from the local night clubs riddling the area like so many distant lights in the nooks and crannies of your block. High heels clicking on the pavement in a hurried pace. Someone breaking bottles on the sidewalks of your neighborhood, out on the concrete. Screeching of tires. A distant cackling laugh. Then a cry --- a spat between a couple arguing out in public, as much as you could decipher by the sounds of it, fancying yourself an eavesdropping idle gossip, hoping the exchange will become uneventful enough that it will naturally lull you away. It's two in the morning and you haven't even attempted to shut your eyes and have even the briefest, vaguest, smallest, most humble, short lasting of naps, feeling yourself stifled by the lack of moistness in the atmosphere and the sheer ruckus circulating your apartment complex. You cannot rest. Seems like the city itself wont let you. Does summer ever end in LA? Does another season exist in concept? Or will it simply continue, prolonging and prolonging past it's own expiration date, until it exhausts you, draining your last droplet of sweat and resolve, like an overly arduous, demanding lover? In moments like these, you worry for him, even though you know he's more then capable of protecting himself. Far more then ordinary people are. Far more then you'd ever be, that's for sure. You've seen that much, first hand, after returning from the funfair that one time. Pity anyone who crosses him --- but still, you can't help yourself. Surely, even the strongest people needed care? Someone to eagerly await their return home? Someone to worry for them? You wish he was back. Safe. Sound. Tucked between four walls. Away from the streets. Away from the noise. Closer to you. Even the demons inside of your head remind you that he's not in danger by any means. You choose to believe them.

 

 

 

 

 

Your potted Forsythia slumping on the window sill.

The shadowed outline of branches pitch black in the darkness of your room.

It wont bloom again until spring, between March, April and May.

Even though you've yet to be actually embraced by a true fall.

Least of all a winter and then an autumn.

Home, home, home - your mind instinctually chants.

It does so whenever you forget yourself for but a second and find yourself in need of reminders.

 

 

 

 

The thought of home leads to you to him, by association; Terry's not by your side tonight, or in the dojo studio floors below, securely locked in his absence. He's away on business. Upcoming tournament season and signing a contract of participation for two students he's been training, with the official committee behind the event. That's the jist of what you got. And you respect that. You leave him to it consciously and aware. To pursue his passions. All the things he loves. Sometimes, though, you fear attachment. You fear the profound, aching sensation in your chest when he is gone and how deep it could get still. When he hops into his truck and simply drives away. You dare imagine what it would be like if he simply drove away, in an unknown direction and never came back? Perhaps, there's a worse then being lonely in America is getting attached to someone in America thinking you've been putting down roots, much like your pet plant, only to have those same roots ripped out from under you, mangled and wounded, dragged after the person who does the abandoning. Maybe you're just paranoid? Maybe this has no basis and the excessive heat of LA has been doing a number on your overall rationale. You comfort yourself with that thought when you find yourself having another impromptu trip to the bathroom, barefoot on the cracked marble tile floors --- your own nakedness oddly comfortable and toasty in the heavy, impenetrable darkness sizzling under high temperatures. The methodic, rhythmic dripping of the droplets from the steel pipe of your lavatory is consistent and as much as Terry has been singlehandedly fixing things around this apartment, free of charge, you occasionally don't have the heart to ask him for more. In fact, you don't wish to. He notices things on his own and he cannot be talked out of not doing a thing because he simply doesn't take 'no' for an answer. But, nevertheless, he's not your personal repairman. Or your worker. Such things aren't and shouldn't be for free. No. He's your ---- the reverie vanishes, and you wash your face, drenching and tapping your cheeks generously in a handful of cool liquid, keeping your eyes closed for a moment, enjoying the sensation, before blindly reaching for the nearby clean towel you knew, by habit, was there for you to use, to wipe yourself off. It was unbearably searing to the point where you had the impression, subjectively, that there was no air left to breath, only a molten, heavy mass in your lungs replacing the oxygen, leaving you painfully dehydrated.

 

 

 

 

 

You were told this side of the world would be, but never this much. You hold your eyes closed for a moment to let the refreshing sensation hit you, and it's like the noise off of the streets has vanished. A sudden silence befalls the neighbourhood and your flat and you're content. Finally --- you'd perhaps get some sleep.

 

 

 

Lifting your head to instinctually look into a mirror hanging right above you and by extension, your own face, your breath gets hitched your throat and you gasp, suddenly tugging at your chest and the surging of dread squeezing you when you spot a lone figure behind you, jet black like a spider, right at your shoulder, smiling at you, immovable. When on earth did Terry come in!? How did you not hear him!?

 

 

 

 

-"God! You scared me to death!"- You stutter, panicking and gasping, nearly falling against the sink in shock and surprise, momentarily losing your sense of direction, feeling your legs go jittery, barely able to contain the balance of your upper body. -"What are you doing here?"- You stumble over your words, sounding perhaps a bit more pushy then initially intended, swearing you didn't hear a single sound, footstep, creaking of the door, the floorboard or anything even though you listened on, with keen, idle interested, to the whereabouts out on the street just below your building, just a second ago. You didn't even hear him pull up with his car at any point. The heat was getting to you. He said he could be back any time, and that he'd allow himself in with the spare key you copied for him, but it's like he materialized out of thin air and simply appeared behind you. How could a guy as big as him be so --- well, quiet? Unnaturally quiet? Maybe it's a learned habit he had. Almost like he's heard you thinking of him just earlier and missing him. He's still smiling. -"I'm back early,"- He remarks blatantly, with genuine sweetness, looking you up and down. At this point you figure to remember you're entirely naked and that even now, it was far too warm. If you could find a way to temporarily peel your skin off, you genuinely would've. -"Is a man,"- He drawls leisurely, approaching you, and you cross your hands over your chest, seeking to cover your nipples and blossom, feeling suddenly indecent and irresponsible that you didn't cover yourself sooner, even though this was your apartment. -"not allowed to be back early?"- Jeans, grey, thin jacket and some old polo shirt with a ruffled collar he managed to appear inviting in, the same attire he left in, now in some dire need of cleaning and ironing --- your ring on his index finger, warming your heart with its presence --- you forget your momentary discomfort at your own lack of clothing and you tentatively embrace him as a greeting, exhaling all your accumulated stress. Hands unsure still, hovering yet not, never quite able to tell when he wanted full contact and when he didn't --- so you opted to be gentle, even though your heart was still wildly thumping and pounding from the unexpected encounter. He smells exquisite, though. Some vague, lovely cologne unfamiliar to the senses. You practically have to stop yourself from huffing and inhaling the tempting fragrance.

 

 

 

 

Musk? Deep cinnamon? Tangerine? Sandalwood?

Maybe he acquired a deodorant at a road-side supermarket on the way back, seeing as he was always meticulous on personal hygiene, but goodness, did it smell divine.

 

 

 

 

-"Why didn't you dial me from a payphone?"-

You nuzzle close to him, and then separate, looking up worriedly.

You wish you knew when to expect him, for no reason, other then to expect him.

-"Payphone."- He chuckles for some reason, like what you said was amusing as he shook his head.

What was wrong with a payphone all of a sudden?

Was everything alright?

 

 

 

What? Did you say something funny?

 

 

 

-"Call this an ambush."- He practically growls, trapping you close to him by holding you around your waist, nipping at your neck, biting down playfully, grazing your skin, proceeding to the lick and peck the same spot, as if to soothe you. Ah, everything was alright. He was just being playful. You've missed him too. More then you ever dared to admit lest you have him concerned. -"Last I recall, I still owe you one from way back."- He explains with mirth in his tone, referencing you giving him such a fright by surprising him at the dojo back then, while he was training, brining him some pie. Yeah, understandable. Retaliation was due. Within a moment's notice, you lose balance of the floor beneath you and he lifts you up with ease, like you weight nothing, carrying you, by your waist, back to your couch, setting you down, bare and exposed as you were, underneath him, practically swinging you down -"Terrence!"- You shriek on instinct, accidentally calling him by his full name again, not intending to be as loud as you ended up being, hoping nobody heard you or that nobody was disturbed by you on the floors above; He's hulking above you, pining down your wrists with his hands, showcasing a line of teeth. He must've drove for hours. How was he not tired? Was he not hungry? Sleepy? Where did this man get the energy? -"It's late. Lets not play. Let me go!"- You giggle, snort and wiggle in his grasp, trying to get away, trying to catch your breath, still reeling from the shock he gave you. -"Huh? Sure!"- He tilts his head to the side, as if taunting you somehow, mockery lacing his lips, stretching out into a puzzled half-smile. Terry tends to grin when he teases. Terry also tends to grin when he plays. By the looks of it, at the moment he was doing both and you have to smile too, endeared. You understood, somehow, that this was his odd, roundabout way to show he was happy to be back. -"Only if you can free yourself."- He admonishes, challenging, pushing you further into the mattress and you feel yourself sink, his grip like iron and you push, grunting as you do, playing along. He liked these games. You did too. Tonight, you'd merely much rather ask him how things went. if he signed everything he need? Did he stop at some roadside place to eat?

 

 

 

 

Did he manage to rest at all? Did everything go smoothly? Instead, you're here feebly fighting against him and going nowhere. -"C'mon! Give it your best push!"- He practically shouts and you're mortified and amused, fearing the neighbours will file a complaint against you. You were just feel vaguely irked by the teenagers on the street earlier, but Terry was very much like them sometimes, all mania and an overabundance of liveliness that was hard to replicate, vibrating with energy even in the dead of night, it practically sparkles in his eyes, blue, sharp and needy. You indulge him, giving it another measly push, even worse then the last. You weren't that strong. -"Harder."- He grits his teeth, digging them into his lower lip, head advancing towards you. You obey. Something about his persistence goading you forward. -"I said harder! Like you mean it!"- He growls, his breath close enough to smell. Strawberries and tobacco. Was he a secret smoker or something? He didn't have to hide it from you. You really didn't mind smokers. You weren't one, but you had no qualms against them. Peculiar. If anything, you'd only just be worried about his health, really. You've noticed it before. The faint aroma of smoke on his mouth. -"Best push! My ass!" - He chides once you fail to free yourself from his grip and he looks at you with genuine amusement, like you losing a figurative show of power gave him particular satisfaction. You --- frankly enjoyed  that he was vastly tougher then you. Admired it, even. Compared your respective frames when you thought he wasn't looking, averting your gaze in the middle of your exploration, not wishing to leer. Someone so beautiful shouldn't be leered at. Someone so beautiful didn't deserve it. Someone so beautiful should be appreciated and doted on. You tried to imagine how your palms would have looked, placed against each other in size for reference, so you could view the differences and be amazed by them time again, never entirely over the sheer novelty of it. You never wanted to outmatch him in the first place, instead you melted into him, content to stay there and be as you were.

 

 

 

-"Poor pet. Too weak. Can't free itself."-

 

 

 

 

Pet?

Pet.

The moniker makes your head dizzy.

Pet.

Pet.

Terry's pet.

 

 

 

 

A low, heated grumble emanates from his chest and he almost speaks in the reminiscent of a baby voice, taunting yet again and you have to look away, hiding your nose, half of your face and eyes into the outline of your arm forcibly pinned down as you feel him ease himself down over your body ever close, until his lips were grazing your neck and earlobe. The things he said sometimes. Truly. -"You know,"- His voice, now entirely close, too close, to the point where you can feel him practically resonates, speaks, with a particular drawl. -"You were on my mind the entire time."- He whispers. -"On the drive there. On the drive back. The entire time in between."- His voice is velvety, as is his tongue, dragging himself along the outline of your ear, around and around, drawing patterns in your skin, humming as he did --- his saliva burns. -"Right here."- For emphasis, you feel his forefinger tap against the side of your head, next to your temple and you have to let out an audible gasp, once you're sharply, suddenly let go of, your hands momentarily loose, only to find yourself flipped on your belly before you can even say something back to him, his full weight above you, pressing down against your back and spine, leaving you open to his control. Your hands trapped yet again as he holds them prisoner, as he keeps them detained, with just one arm of his own. -"And I don't appreciate not being able to focus."- His breath is in your ear again, the same one he's marked with his spit, and you figure the trip to the other side of the vast center of town to the headquarters of the All Valley committee must've drained him somehow, if his tone was dripping with frustration as much as it was. Pity wells in your gut. You only ever wish to help him, but sometimes, you refrain from asking. You don't understand why, exactly. You didn't know anything about any competition and tournament, except well, the amateurish basics. You hoped well, as stupid and childlike as it sounded even to you inside of your head in that moment, that he and whoever he was sending to represent him, won something. If not, that was okay too. So long as he wasn't terribly sad or distraught.

 

 

 

 

This must've been very important to him though, in fact, it undoubtedly, undeniably was.

To the point you avoided talking about it, out of respect, unless he himself brought it up, like it was a holy, taboo subject you'd rather not tackle.

If the dojo was akin to a temple, where you took your shoes off to worship, then surely, the sport of it was closer to a religion.

 

 

 

 

 

-"If you were ever attacked,"- He breathes, with a seething hiss, pinning you down, grabbing you by your wrists even harder, applying his full weight as he looks down on you, reeling. -"that would not be proper form."- All instructions aside, Terry offered, too kindly, a few days prior, to demonstrate a few tips and tricks on how to protect from a would-be attacker out on the street, some back alley (like that fateful night, back from the funfair), some seedy club (not that you ever visited any), or anywhere really, but the impression was to be had that he enjoyed the would-be role of an attacker far too much of his own good, grinning, as he nips, with one swift motion, at your neck, revealing your collarbone. An oddly subdued gesture, seeing how he was already balls deep inside of you, spreading your cheeks apart, to find your cunt. -"What if I was some punk, huh? How you would you protect yourself, huh?"-

 

 

 

 

Terry's palm covers your mouth before you can respond.

The answer didn't even really interest him whatsoever.

What interests him is that he squeezes your lips shut.

Gritting his teeth at you, through a smile, pumping himself.

In and out, in and out, huffing and growling as he goes rough and hard.

Simulated rape and all, this training session demanded you get him off of yourself.

But, thing is, he never instructed you how, he just preached and preached deliberately.

Knowing fully well you could do nothing; he was bigger and stronger and faster.

And he lounged himself right at you, collapsing you on the bed, even further.

Ripping away at your dissent with his fingers and his teeth alike.

 

 

 

 

-"Wow, I don't think you would, now would you? You'd get fucked, is all."-

 

 

 

 

He waves his head dismissively at you, finding he rather likes to talk down on you, grabbing a fistful of your breast as he does, kneading at the supple flesh and the exposed nipple, seeming to enjoy the little whimper you cry into his hand judging by the crude, shameless cackle he lets out, the delectable sound of it vibrating on your skin covered in goosebumps, he finds himself thrusting even further into you as a response, almost out of some sort of spite. -"You'd get fucked and you would've wasted your class, my precious time and your money's worth. And for what, hmm?"- You feel something in him snap then, as he roleplays himself, gleefully, and he pops his drenched cock out of you, edging and denying you, playing around, his arms clasping around your neck in a headlock as he pushes you down on your belly --- deeper, always deeper, until you could image your own couch swallowing you whole --- straddling your ass and just holding you like that for a second so the gravity of the situation sinks in. Now, if this was some seedy neighborhood. At night. And if Terry Silver met you like this, supple, soft backside against his groin --- -"Can't hear you! For what?"- He asks with a sneer, your mouth free and all you can do is gasp and whimper as he removes on his hands, maintaining the chokehold, spreading you and nestling himself into a hole he already worked previously, with his fingers and tongue. Stretched out properly. Anal gymnastics. He did intend to pound you and you couldn't even answer him properly. Disgraceful. Disrespectful. But, you were on occasion too stunned and too awestruck and shy to say a single word back, even the obligatory 'yes' and 'no', least of all anything heavier. He grabs the back of your hair, pulling upwards, bending your spine like a bow, the acute, jolting pain in your scalp burns once he enters you. Sometimes, you didn't know what to respond to him. You yearned to surrender and do as he asks of you to the best of your knowledge, capabilities and abilities. You weren't what they called a brat. You didn't figure you knew how to be one and you were entirely fine with that. If anything, you close your eyes and you meet his prodding with an obedient silence, held, twisted and bent, ready to let him please himself. You've missed him. His arms. His scent. His limbs. His body. His closeness. So, you meet him with utter silence, feeling him reel, not with the intent to irk him, but because you wanted to focus, sense and discern every part of him. From the tip of him, to the chest pushing down on you. Sweet Terrike.

 

 

 

 

He wanted to play-fight?

Oh, he was going to play-fight you.

He slides off the simple brown belt tucked into his jeans.

Utilizing the firm, unyielding material to tightly fasten your hands.

Trapping them, right behind your back in an elaborate knot, only to grab your tresses again.

Even harder this time, until he can audibly hear you tear up, sniffle and snivel.

 

 

 

 

-"It's. Almost. Like. You. Want. To. Get. Disarmed. And. Taken. By. Me."-

 

 

 

 

He bounces himself atop of you, rubbing himself on your cunt from behind, placing emphasis on every single word delivered with a special roar of it's own as he uses your hair as reins, at one point, twirling it's length along his full fist, to deny you what little wiggling space you still had, leading you to rapture. -"Actions tend to speak louder then words."- He hisses, audibly chuckling, no doubt, at the state of you. He always was a fan of proverbs. You found it charming. You couldn't manage to muster the willpower to speak, due to a potent cocktail of the heat in the air, your own fatigue and the pressure building up in your gut. So, he decided for you. You were thankful for it. -"I'll take that as a yes."- He growls and speeds up his pace, riding it out, heavy and relentless atop of you, practically looking like a shadow as he drilled into you mercilessly, pleasure and pain intermingled as you spread around his length and girth snugly, expanding for him, the very adjustment a pleasant ache that sent shivers through your system as you moaned into the pillow positioned against your mouth, muffling yourself deliberately, fearing someone will hear as the onslaught continued, rocking you up and down on the old, raggedy squeaking couch that moved along with you and him, violently scraping along the edges like it was pleading for mercy, thudding on the floor from the force of Terry's impact to the point you dreaded it might just collapse beneath you any second, rocking a thumping staccato that resonated through your apartment. His hands let go of the belt claps your hands behind your back and instead, he's cupping your breasts, both palms full, squeezing them hard, contorting against you as his hips worked you, kneading your bosom, biting down the back of your neck like an animal mating in heat, holding your there, with his teeth, rutting you so hard you're almost entirely convinced you'll go to work with a bow-legged limp tomorrow during your afternoon shift, until you feel yourself ticklishly whimper into the same pillow, coming undone, closing your eyes, taking a moment to catch your breath and come to your senses, taking everything that has happened, and then suddenness it was over it, pleasure at its finality. Terry's weight is above you, body impossibly heated in the stifled apartment, he embraces you from behind, undoing the belt and it's buckle tying your wrists and tossing it to the side, right off the couch, with a clamorous jingle. You hear him breathe. Low rumbles. Then he rolls around. dragging you with him, until you're snugly positioned atop of his chest as he holds you there, his cum dripping down your leg. There's something peculiar about his expression, leaned against the couch mattress he nearly destroyed just a second ago. Like he's contemplating something. Both triumphant and deep in thought. Tresses impossibly sleek. Tight. Like it could be only slightly painful to be in bed like that. His strands dragging against the soft skin of his hairline --- even now, he appears immaculate. A lining of sweat shining his brow. His neck. His cheeks. His chest. Practically dripping in it, he glistens in the sheen of his own salt. It has it's practical uses in sizzling tropical weather like this, his hair being pulled back, but you almost wish to suggest he make himself more comfortable somehow. Take the tension off of his head.

 

 

 

 

 

-"Do you ever pull your hair down?"- You dare to ask, in a small voice, carefully, laced with breathlessness. -"Never saw you like that so far."- You add, hastily, stuttering. -"I mean, not even when you sleep."- You manage, suddenly less courageous once his eyes pierce you. He stares at you, for a brief moment, as if looking through you, and instead, somewhere else entirely, beyond your own person, into the quiet darkness of your flat. Instead, he merely takes your hand and places it against the side of his head, against the gelled up surface of his mane --- you touch him. You ask no more. You're just glad he's back home with you.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Nobody has cooked for Terry in --- well, forever.

Sure, he had his chefs and staff and personal kitchen attendants that saw to his every need back at the mansion.

But, merely the act of preparing edibles, because one desired to, with no compensation, other then the pleasure of it --- that was new.

 

 

 

 

 

He did remember a time, now long gone, when Johnny would've cooked for him, post-war, before Terry had Dynatox, before had his first million made, hell, even before their first, co-joint venture in Cobra Kai was even a thing, and they were in between that awkward period of drifting back into the world and getting accustomed to civilian life again, they'd attempt to recreate the old army stews that served to feed them out in the bush, during the long patrols, the nights out, back at camp, a mish mash of everything that didn't look too nice on the eyes or even tasted well where the buds were concerned, but instead simply served it's purpose to keep the bellies of the platoon filled, maintaining energy for the marches onward, ensuring they don't starve. Survival food once the canned rations and the MRE's ran out. While they were still partially unsure if they were soldiers or ordinary people or neither. That's the only thing Johnny did know how to make, as much as Terry appreciated the gesture and found himself haunted by it. Before that, there was his mother.

 

 

 

 

Terry recalls his her cooking like a mosaic of tangible denigration. His earliest childhood meals consisted of Beef Stroganoff, creamy pies, jello, chocolate tortes, muffins, gelatin molds, salty and sweet alike. Sour cream. Shrimp. Fondue. Casseroles. And meatloaves of all kinds. Fudge cake. Aspics of any variety. Anything and everything one can possibly image. Terry has tried everything in this period of his existence, and it led him to develop a naturally polished taste for food which he could indulge in easier when he made his first bigger buck. But, then, as his father started practically bankrupting his family with his gambling habits and driving them into more and more debt, The old eating rituals of the Silver family started slowly reflecting that on the daily, where Sunday Lobsters got replaced with Frozen Tv Dinners and Import Clams and Caviar and O'deuvers were interchanged for Canned Spam, and then Canned Spam got replaced with with Boxed Macaroni and cinnamon toast with sugar.

 

 

 

 

They were poverty meals. Quick make-do meals.

 

 

 

 

They weren't bad meals per se, but they were certainly meals way below their usual extravagant palette from before. His mother had an all-new set of kitchen appliances in sleek matching baby blues and beige of shades and colors (her personal engagement present pick), including and a collection of Teflon pans with sheer, glass covers and pots that cost a fortune back in '52, bought during better days, and she was the absolute envy of the neighborhood housewives who wished their own husbands would grace them with such a fine, lovely, useful gift. A radio broadcast commercial even interviewed them on it, pinned them as the young, ecstatic house-couple of the year "With the finest kitchen aesthetic this side of The Strip", but not so many years later, Myra, his mother, not only had this glorious, borderline unpractical, colossal kitchen, lavishly antique furniture, a picture perfect house going to waste and branded, expensive knick-knacks any young blushing bride would dream of, she and her family were reduced to eating Frozen Pizza out of imported, decorative floral fine China with ceramics bought over from Morocco and drink over-condescend, cheap bottled sodas out of tall, green crystal glasses made only for the finest of champagnes for a company of thirteen. Their lives became staggeringly ironic. Polarized. They were like old-money aristocrats feeding on scraps after their fall. It rendered Terry into an overly slender young man who couldn't adapt to the change. Twig. He became a Twig. He became that thing. Lanky, skinny, slightly malnourished and weirdly tall for a boy his age, towering over nearly everyone in his squad with little to no effort, standing at 6'3 before he even hit age eighteen. He shudders in distaste as he sits. Irregular dieting habits turned him scrawny, rendering him wobbly and weak. It rendered ma' depressed to where she lost her passion for cooking. Turns out, it's easy to over-cook separate twenty meals a day when you've this huge budget and huge set of ingredients to play with, it's much harder to do when you create something out of nearly nothing. Not quite as romantic anymore, is it? Go figure. As for Morton, his father, he was barely at home anyway, his nights and days spent in casinos, and clubs and joints and custody and jails. The cooking ceased entirely.

 

 

 

 

And now, Bea was cooking for him.

He's on alert.

Silently taking in his surroundings.

Fist clenched on his thigh, one verge away from a fighting response.

 

 

 

 

Terry sits at the humble, round dinner table for two stiff as a board, remembering Captain Turner's words about never taking food from the enemies. Never eating what the locals eat back in 'Nam ate, sticking their own base camps, own cafeterias, GI designated bars. Never breaking bread with your foe. Fuck them, but never feast with them --- you feast with your own or you starve. The chairs are somewhat mismatched and the wooden desk top is visibly worn. He's somewhat internally distressed by the state of it, all patchy and neglected. No doubt, by sheer disregard of a previous tenant or the landlord himself. So, Terry distracts himself observing you tinkering at the small counter. Back turned to him while you handled the stove and the pot on it. A ray of sunshine peeks through the tiny kitchen window. Vaguely obscured by an equally tiny kitchen curtain. Everything appears so tiny, like a miniature dollhouse. Especially compared to his evening spent back home, on The Hills. He feels like he's waddled into another reality, distant and remote from the one he came from in comparison for the lavish, delectable setting arranged for Willie Cole of the Grand Jury. The plate she places in front of him feels miniscule too, so does his steaming coffee cup. A fork, a spoon and tiny holding cups of salt and pepper she appears proud of. She appears small too, small enough to place into his pocket. She should be in my pocket, he tells himself, and she should live there. So he can zip his pocket shut, smother her and keep her there forever, until she's no more. His food is done and he eyes it speculatively, trying not to show his disposition. Chunks of what appears like cut red bell peppers, cooked rice and a tomato sauce mashed together to create a cohesive whole, he smiles and thanks her politely while she explains it's called Güveç, an oven-baked meat and vegetable stew Mediterranean concoction similar to Ratatouille. -"If you don't enjoy it or find it's not your cup of tea, you can always leave it. I won't get offended."- She remarks casually, off-handed, smiling sweetly and Terry's confounded once she turns her back again, returning to the counter, the mark of his teeth from last night grazing her neck, the jagged, pink pattern of his bite visible on pale skin, slightly purple around the edges, like it'll bruise. A makeshift branding sign that says 'mine'.

 

 

 

 

He hesitates, for a second, wanting to be cruel, wanting to be cold and callous on purpose and reject the breaking of bread.

Instead, he doesn't, taking ahold of his fork and eating, slowly at first, something in the back of his mind telling him she might've put crushed glass into his meal.

And then once he finds it's --- it's surprisingly good, he continues, clearly his plate and receiving seconds, finding that something deep in his gut slumps in pain at the prospect of rejecting her meal.

Terry is transported, viscerally, into another time, watching her hips serenely sway against the surface of her credenza; He's a kid again. It's 1955. He's at home. Mom and dad are alive.

A certain anger and resentment churns in him like venom, he finds he has to say something mean or he'll burst. -"It's not bad."- He remarks, trying for deliberate meanness.

Instead, it comes off much milder then he would've hoped and he curses himself once he hears her chuckle, amused and clearly touched. Fuck. Fuck. Fuck.

No, no, it was meant to a backhanded compliment, fuck --- breathe. A man can't breathe, he can't fight --- a familiar, known mantra.

 

 

 

 

To distract himself of his attempt to regain control over the situation he thinks of his own enlistment and switch to army meals and cafeteria dailies at age seventeen, and how e was almost grateful for it and humbled an institution of any kind would wish to feed him after being alone, orphaned and left to his own devices without a family to care for him for an entire year after Morton and Myra died - what he ate during that time is almost a blur, even to him. A great many scoffed due to the supposed rancid grossness of the taste of the army meals, but young Terry didn't mind as much, as memory served. The fact he was so putridly humble enraged him, in retrospective. He was used to it by now. He liked it, in fact, at first anyway, before the war happened to escalate way too much and most everything became void, but his desire to live. A polite young man, he'd thank the chef every day and he'd make himself say something nice and complementary, upon returning his allotted plate and cup and he earned the reputation of being something of a sappy little sweetheart around camp. Some poor kid from a poor family probably. Their kind is always overly eager and overly kind, ready to take a bullet for their country in return of literal bread scraps and a duffel bag to sleep from, little did they know it was quite the opposite and that there was a time when Terry was used to the very best imaginable. Here, at least the meals were regular, though. There was control and order. Here, at least he could be certain the soldiers would be served a breakfast, a lunch and a dinner, a guarantee Terry didn't have in the outside world and that was oddly comforting at the time, for him. He tried fairly bizarre foods during his time in Vietnam with Johnny; frying a snake and drinking it's blood. The original Cobra Kai initiation ritual. They ate off the land, tried insects and hunted animals and did whatever was needed out in the wild. Did some pretty unsavory things, if it meant to ensure a meal. He's literally seen it all. Either ways, he's been through the highs and the lows. He's done it all. But, what he's never done is having someone he was supposed to hate feed him and feed him well. That too --- was new. Unexpected. He envisioned himself like an animal, cornered against the back of a cage having her approach him with a tray of food, trying to tame him somehow --- observing her as she joined to eat with him while he had his third fill. Third? Unbelievable. He barely touched a thing while dining with Willie --- not counting the Marquise strawberry dessert.

 

 

 

 

He reels, feeling he's been enjoy himself a bit too much, so in his head, he seeks ways to detach himself.

Appear above it somehow, the wheels in his brain working overtime.

Sinking into the sight of her hips, standing up occasionally.

Dressed in a nightgown, tucked beneath a bathrobe.

Soft, fuzzy slippers on her feet, waddling.

Her breasts beneath her clothing.

Her arms and her legs.

He says the first thing that comes to find for the sake of collateral and then wants to flip over the table the second it's uttered.

 

 

 

 

-"Did you ever contemplate having children?"- Terry says simply, flat out, bluntly, entirely out of the blue as he made himself useful with helping her wash the dishes in the tiny, dollhouse sink, like the good, humble, sweet, saintly man he was pretending to be, sleeves rolled up, up to his elbows in lukewarm water and foam, his silver ring in his jeans pocket, away from the detergent, performatively, so she'd see, But --- children? Seriously!? Really!? This was some bullshit. You were playing with his mind. This whole domestic nonsense setting was taking a toll on him. Why did he care about offspring in the context of you? For all he was concerned, people like you shouldn't breed in the first place. Like this country needed another lowlife bringing in her anchor babies. Worst of all --- he hasn't washed the dishes since his army days. -"Children?"- You peer up at him, tentatively, lashes fluttering, gripping the soaped up yellow sponge, halting for a second, as if contemplating the question. -"Yes. Children."- He reaffirms, firmly, finding that just a second ago, he blurted this out in instinct, but now he was genuinely curious, somehow fixated. It wasn't on your biographical record file Margaret or his detectives delivered him. He couldn't just snap open a document and read the information on a physical copy, printed neatly in black and white. It wasn't right there with your height and weight and blood type. Your shoe size. Your place and date of birth. The mere basics that make a person. These are things his payroll people couldn't discover. He couldn't just ask one of the neighbours he bribed off to stay away from you. He couldn't ask the coworkers he strategically positioned to act as your colleagues. He had to ask you personally. That's why, when collecting intel, the most effective method was to personally inquire and gather through basic conversation and bonding. Checking one's bureaucratic presence only did so much. -"I mean,"- She trails off. -"Yes? And no?"- Giving a vague answer, he's displease. At least the 'yes' came before the 'no'. That was something. He deals in absolutes, though. It's either a yes or a no. Maybe doesn't exist as a concept. It's merely the lack of either. Right there, in between. No man's land. -"I'm fresh off the boat, as they say."- She shrugs, chuckling at her own expense. -"Only just landed a job."- She continues, cleaning a plate off. -"My savings are long since depleted."- A sincere admission Terry long since knew. -"I'm just getting a hang of this country, bit by bit."- Was she, though? -"I'd say there's time. Not in a hurry."- Interesting. -"I still had to rely on a dictionary to get by for a lot of things six months ago, if you believe me."- Another thing Terry was aware of, judging by her accent and the frequency at which he wanted to correct the way she spoke, just to see her get flustered in embarrassment. -"There's things I ought to do first."- Like what? -"Get my driver's licence. Maybe get a better place. Cleaner. Greener."- How quaint. Little people and their little lives.

 

 

 

That was both an answer and yet not.

Was he making her nervous? Asking what he asked? Maybe. Probably. Undoubtedly.

 

 

 

 

-"How about you? If you don't mind me prying?"-

 

 

 

 

She counters his question with a question of her own, her voice hushed and careful, like she was afraid of offending him somehow, distracting herself, very obviously, with scrubbing down a cooking pot in the sink. Him? Offspring? Of course, well, he figured, that one day, perhaps, merely out of practicality of some sorts, once the time is calculated and right, he'd sire a second him, mainly out of necessity, so all that he was and all that he owned, all that encapsulated the Silver Dynasty wouldn't get scattered into the four winds and get dragged off by executives, chairmen and greedy charities posing as benefactors. He imagined he'd pick someone, some worthy womb and design himself a second self. He'd even name it Terrence Silver, after himself, as a way to prolong himself in his own image. That was the ideal. The ideal case scenario, one which he wouldn't even contemplate if Johnny had children. If he did, he'd simply leave all he owned, all his assets and belongings to them, but seeing as how he didn't, perhaps one day, he'd have to foster a lineage exclusively his own --- but he couldn't just say that, because she surely wouldn't understand, so he opts to being politically correct. Tug at her heartstrings a bit. Lie without lying, and in shrugging his shoulders too, mimicking her, he merely retorts with a prompt; -"Never thought I'd live long enough."- Terry throws her a deliberately blissed out half smile as he admits, referencing the war and he how he figured he'd leave his bones there. -"Until I did."- She looks at him, worried, concerned, rinsing off the remaining dishes. He knew she started using the odd contraceptive ever since their trysts began. He noticed. He notices everything. His detectives followed her, snapping photographs, spotting her making the discreet purchase. He used condoms too, like a good boy would, a demonstration of trust. A silent, unspoken language broadcasting he was a reliable man. A responsible man. Even though the very idea of hiding her pills or dotting his rubber full of holes at needle point was particularly amusing to him. He imagines himself back at the mansion with her. Discarding all contraceptive measures and ensuring Bea's organism was all free of it's influence for him, and he didn't intend to take no for an answer, embracing her from behind in the master bedroom of his estate's east wing corner, whispering into her ear in the early dusk shadows peeking in through the window as a sullen, grim Milos drew on the heavy velvet curtains and showed himself out with a curt nod - something about having her raw starting from then and moving forward. She turn and peer up at him, eyelashes fluttering and he reiterates with a smile he could feel burning into his cheeks -"I wanna knock you up. Now. Tonight." - He was blunt as can be. He wasn't about to pussyfoot. Bullshit around the facts. Act coy. No. Some would call it obsessive, but if he managed to achieve the deed tonight or one of these nights and have her conceive at least within the following week, in nine months time, ideally speaking, either around or precisely on the date of July 16th, which was the World Snake Awareness Date; something about the precise assonance of that almost made Terry laugh in delight.

 

 

 

 

But, no --- she was entirely unworthy and inadequate. Fantasizing about this was an inane folly.

 

 

 

 

The vision fades and he snaps back to reality, washing the dishes.

Thanking her for the lovely, delightful breakfast.

Kissing your cheek goodbye at the front door, coyly, like a chaste Boy Scout would.

Heading down into the locked, secured dojo for a scheduled class with his residential Reseda punching bag.

After that morning he acquires a special leather-bound schedule notebook he traced your period in --- there's a million ways to destroy someone, Terry decides and he ought to keep all his options open.

Although, he still cannot reconcile why he can't get the piquant taste of your food out of his mouth, like blood sticking to the tongue.

 

 

 

 

Terry makes a habit of going upstairs to eat with her, finding he oddly enjoys it, being down on her level and the next time around, he once more observes her cooking for him , seeping in the fuel it provides him greedily, this simple act of service as she handles the blade on the counter, slowly and carefully, the occasional small, tiny cut an occupational hazard --- he almost anticipates it. Hopes for it eagerly deep, deep, deep down. Waits for her to injure herself, needy, curious eyes scrutinizing her as he stands beside her, watching her, offering to make himself useful while he actually waits for the opportune moment to see her hurt herself, in the most miniscule, insignificant, petty of ways. Then it happens. The cold, sharp edge grazes her flesh. He almost rolls his eyes back in delight. He holds up her finger as she apologizes profusely for no reason whatsoever, trying to make do with rinsing off her wound, but he doesn't let her --- no, no, no, he wants to admire her own handicraft --- holding her wrist firm and in place, preventing her from moving, transfixed with the singular dot of redness perched up at the tip of her finger. The result of cutting onions intead of using a blender. He's never seen bleed with such distressing beauty before --- and he's seen blood - he's seen so much of it. Terry wants to be the kitchen knife that jabs into Bea's forefinger while she's busy and occupied cutting vegetables on a wooden board as a dinner for him and he feels her hiss of pain like a jolt in his abdomen. He envies a cooking appliance. That's a new one. It's new and humiliating. He's by her side in an instant - he does that often nowadays, hating her for it - inspecting the brilliant ruby dot protruding from the puncture, washing the red jewel away under the mild, slow pressure of a water faucet. Another appliance he feels jealousy of. He feels jealous of anything she touches - any inanimate object. Wrapping her hand into a paper towel sheet, he holds her like that, never too hard, rather, like a piece of ceramic décor about to crack. He wants to lick away the pain. Wrap his tongue around her finger and proceed living there, like a newborn hatchling snake basking under the sun.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The bodega you work at is as simple of a store as a store can be.

 

 

Cozy. Accepting. Pleasant. A second home, really. Friendly. Too friendly, at times, but you jot it down to your own paranoia and past bad experiences in retail coming to light and causing you to project and having you almost go out of your way to seek errors when there were none. Stacking up shelves in the fruit section and manning the cash registry during peak hours, only to have your smiling, helpful coworker willingly take over, the minute there's more then three people in the store even though you can very well handle it on your own, you wait for the crowd to clear and you try to make yourself useful --- should you mop the floors down, just to maintain a level of cleanliness? No, no. Too soon, you should do it before closing your shift? Should you check the diary product refrigerator? Oh, it's already been filled up. Does the snack aisle need sorting? It's been sorted long before you've even clocked in today. Strange. It's like all your work is done for you before you can even get to it. Either it's you who's slacking without realizing it, or your colleagues are working at whirlwind speed with impressive diligence, the routine of which, you're yet to fall into. But, you will, you tell yourself. Because you want to do good. Be good. Sometimes, you simply get the impression there's no work at The Cornerstore. Not for four cashiers total. Maybe two. But, hardly four. You, one perpetually polite Holly, an equally happy to aid senior manager Cynthia and Leslie, who peculiarly enough, worked the storage, lifting crates and stacking boxes on her own. Not that you judged, but you noticed the stark lacking of male personnel to help with the heavier stuff. Just for the of you women, huh? Was there a labour shortage you weren't aware of? Was the pay simply not enough for local standards and you were too enthusiastic about your new place here to even contemplate that?

 

 

 

-"Here's the kickback; it's not that dudes don't get employed,"- Holly explains on one occasion, shrugging her shoulders, discreetly, chuckling in her conventionally bubbly manner, sounding genuinely amused, hovering about, compiling a list of items, vaguely needed to be provided by your suppliers by the end of the week. Five crates of Bud Light. Twenty separate packages of detergent. A hundred packages of Marlboro in total. A whole contingent of ice cream for the rapidly emptying cooling box, among others. It was still so hot outside frozen products were disappearing and being bought off like crazy. She was the one conducting your basic training so far and she showed an infinite amount of patience as you stared at her immaculate handwriting. Hypnotically, unusually corporate, if you knew anything at all about what counts as corporate. Almost like a printed font caught in the tip of a ball point pencil. You never saw anything quite like it. -"it's just that the owner,"- She leans down, closer to you, whispering, looking left and right, as if hiding from someone or checking if someone's there, standing watch in the hallway, even if it was just the two of you and an empty store. No customers. The rest of your team somewhere in the back. -"he thinks we girls handle the workload with more efficiency. We're just better with customers, you know?"- Okay. Alright. She clicks her white platforms together on the floor beneath the counter and she continues scribbling.

 

 

 

 

She says the 'we girls' part with a particular dash of pride --- she was, well, oddly precious. You couldn't begrudge her a thing or anyone here. It does tend to surprise you, though.

 

 

 

 

-"I mean, if he thinks so, then we must respect that. He's the boss!"- You concede as politely as you can, trying for a small, weak joke that elicits no laughter --- whatever the owner's hiring policy was, was...admittedly, none of your business and the less you knew, the better --- staring, instead at her writing, feeling slightly mesmerized by it, accepting her swift, jovial explanation, not wishing to argue. Everyone here was really sweet. Genuinely so. Not a bad bone in them somehow. You'd never guess so by first appearances alone and you feel ashamed for stereotyping unjustly. Holly looks like she belongs on the cover of a 1985. swimsuit catalogue or as the head runner of some American beauty pageant. Tan, to the point of being bronze, contrasted by a puffing mane of big, staggeringly overbleached hair, her smile is dazzling, perfectly white, matching her starkly blue eyes. Funny how she, in a very roundabout way, reminded you of Terrence himself. Like she could sell people thin air, and they'd very gladly pay actual money for it and buy it in bulk. Both of them a white, clean, kindly summer personalized. Maybe it's simply how people in this city were like? Beautiful, larger then life, friendly and kind? You, in a strange sense, admire her, somehow. -"No, no. You see --- it's true. Really is."- She reiterates, lifting her gaze up from her log book, stare pinning you down with all seriousness, like she was really convinced of what she was saying. Not a hint of humor on her tongue.

 

 

Cynthia was another blonde. Older, by the looks of it, in her mid-fourties, sharp reading glass abound, hair perched up in a wavy bun clasped behind her with a decorative pin, checking the logs and books detailing all orders, purchases, payouts, salaries and monthly necessities in the humble, stacked up backroom, behind the cash registry, slightly hidden out of sight, leggy and naturally elegant, even beneath her blue, store apron. You had the impression she belonged in some big, glossy office, working for some big, important boss. She spoke like it too, articulate, seemingly educated and poised. She felt vastly overqualified for this position somehow. Did she get laid off at a previous place of employment and simply --- landed here? Via some unfortunate chance? In retail? Was she too building herself up anew somehow? Just like you? Just like Terry? You wondered how tremendously, unbelievably polarized this city was, if people like this landed in a small downtown convenience discount store, tucked away between several buildings and various run down apartment complexes, with no that much traffic to begin with? You're the only one you felt actually had any actual, logical business being employed here, immigrant, nobody, just starting out. You wondered if they ever noticed that much?

 

 

-"You need to be more amenable with her."- You hear Cynthia whisper to Leslie, on one occasion, down in the storage, in-between an aisle of boxes, while you were down there, collecting several Coke packages to haul upstairs, and into the refrigerators to make up for the sudden lacking. You had no idea who they were talking about, but their tones were clipped --- hushed. To the point. -"He demands it, as per instruction."- Cynthia places special emphasis on her words, and you're feeling guilty even accidentally eavesdropping, but you can't help yourself. What does that even mean? Was there some interpersonal drama happening between one of them you weren't aware of? The only way to avoid it would be to walk around with plugged ears. Which was smart. Keep your head down, earn your bread, step on nobody's toes and be good. By He, incidentally, you assumed, they were referring to the owner of this place, although you were yet to actually see the man. Was he a strict person? The sheer usage of the word 'demand' in particular made it sound like he could've been. You don't know. You were yet to meet the man at all. Or see him around this place. Or spot his car parked up front. -"What? Even more?"- Leslie chides in a slightly irked tone, crossing her arms over her chest. -"Always more. Do you want to provoke his anger?"- Cynthia reminds as you scurry back upstairs, not wishing to hear more then you validly should.

 

 

 

Leslie was the non-talkative of the bunch. Short haired. Also blonde. Keeping to herself.

 

 

But, provoke his anger, though?

 

 

What sort of man was he, exactly?
The overbearing retail boss cliche --- well, no workplace was perfect. That was okay.
But, you were grateful for everything regardless, you just make a decision there and then ---
To stay out of the guy's way and simply do your job and do it well.
You --- you took this job seriously and wanted to maintain it.

 

 

 

 

 

You wanted to be good for this place.

Useful.

Make a small, but safe, stable life here --- not rock the boat.

 

 

 

 

The television overhead, hanging from one of the shelves next to the counter is perpetually on a nature documentary, but you don't mind. You tried changing the channel, but the signal is dodgy, so you maintain it in place, letting the hours pass, remembering the conversation you had yesterday with Terry, about the, well --- children. You try to envision the future. Perhaps, one day, if the tournament he was preparing for leads to fruition at the end of this season, you could have enough money to invest in yourselves. You didn't make millions manning a cash registry, by any means, but you made enough to feel at ease --- and he's a good man. An oddball of intensity, at times, but you feel his heart is where it ought to be. Nobody was perfect. You weren't perfect either. He could make a good father. A good spouse. Your heart aches at his words. Him being convinced he wouldn't live enough to actually have a chance to produce offspring. Oddly enough, you felt similar. Age twenty two, when you stuffed your passport and whatever belongings you could into a single duffle bag, you didn't figure you'd live long either. Maybe that's why life put you together in the first place? To mend each other? Dispel each other's curses? Did Terry believe such things? You did. You stare at the clock on the wall, counting the minutes until you can see him again. Thinking about him. His gifts. The basket he brought you. All he did for you. Maybe you'd be --- well, perhaps you could be good together?

 

 

 

Perhaps.

 

 

11:36 PM
11:41 PM
11:46 PM
11:50 PM
11:54 PM
11:59 PM
12:00 PM

 

 

 

 

At the end of his usual class, he comes into the store personally, unexpected. You practically jump out of your skin, subdued, happy. He waves, right from the entrance, with a small smile, dragging the red, plastic shopping basket as you perk up, from behind the counter. -"Terry!"- You lift your hand to wave, packing someone's bagged cans of instant soup and counting their change. -"Hello! Hi!"- You greet him, only for him to disappear behind a stack of coffee shelves, and your eyes dart, looking around for him, assuming he'll do a turn around the store and return with a full basket. He does. No less then some odd thirty seconds later, once the other customer leaves, with a prompt goodbye, the bell at the entrance filling the air with a dinging clamour. -"Doing some shopping?"- You ask, lighting up, wondering what he's getting, eyeing his load. -"Your classes all done for today?"- You inquire and before you can even hope to get a response, he dashes past you, making straight for the glass entrance door where the 'open' sign stood on a piece of carton, promptly turning it to 'closed'. Your heart drops in a sudden elated panic. What was he doing!? -"Terry!"- You cover your mouth, waddling away from the counter. -"You're closed for today, I'm afraid."- He shrugs his shoulders nonchalantly and smiles, propping up the basket unto the counter with one arm. You're mortified, if anything. -"You can't do that! My manager!"- You seethe, concerned, hoping Cynthia wont pop up around the corner to reprimand you both. -"Your manager what? She'll nothing. She's not even here."- Terry lifts up the palms of his hands bemused, in faux defensiveness, and you really don't know yourself if she's here or not or if she simply went out for a smoke break out the back entrance. -"No. She'll reprimand me."- You press on once he comes around the counter, embracing you from behind, stopping you from wiggling away and returning the carton back to it's initial state, kissing the spot where he bit down on, still slightly stinging from the night before, when he came home, unexpected. -"She won't. I won't let her."- He whispers into your ear, reaching for his shopping basket. He? Wont let her? You really hoped he won't tear into poor Cynthia the way he did the guys in the alleyway. You tense up. Stiffen. -"I'm just a well meaning customer, here to buy some ---"-

 

 

 

 

Terry maintains firm eye contact, emptying his own shopping basket, item per item, stalling his words, elongating.

 

 

 

-"Things on a discount."-

 

 

 

He adds, ambiguously enough, as you curiously gaze over the items he collected, placing his groceries of choice on the counter instead of you, with a particular amount of pride. Wipes. Several packets. No diversity or concrete utility. It was on a discount, alright, but it wasn't anything he'd get much usage from in any valid way. Sometimes you had the impression his habits were unusual, but you tended to let it go, not wishing to make him feel called out on uneasy. Maybe he simply didn't know how to shop. How to maintain a daily routine. Maybe Terry forgot after the war. Maybe during the war itself, his habits became muddled. He merely stares at you, appraisingly, intently, as you stamp off every item, packing it into a plastic bag for him while his arms sneak around your waist, holding you, tenderly kissing the back of your neck, right over his own bite mark. You shiver. Fearing your manager will come around the corner any minute. You knew your coworkers were good and kindly and that they would never chastise you outright, but you didn't want to risk it or push your luck or take advantage of their sweet nature. -"Listen,"- Terry speaks up, voice eager. -"I want you to meet someone very important to me."- He continues, never taking his eyes off of you and you feel instantaneously anxious. -"Johnny will be coming into the dojo one of these days to check on our mutual student, and well ---"- Terry trails off and you gulp. -"I'd like to introduce you."- The store is suddenly stifled, the liminal space between aisles giving off the impression of being heavy and haunted. Even more so then it was before. Why did you feel --- well, so irrationally anxious? You hand him his bag. He doesn't take it. Your hand merely hangs their, neither here nor there, in the air. His expression is impassive. Expressionless. His fingers are tapping the surface of your work board. Methodically. With a rhythm of their own. Starting with his forefinger, middle finger and all the way down to his smallest one. His silver ring was right there, where it always was. He really wanted you to have you meet, huh? Okay.

 

 

 

 

-"You'll come."-

 

 

 

 

It's not a request or a statement of the optional variety kind, instead, it felt like an order, somehow, packed into a velvety, honeyed, sugar-dripping tone. Like you couldn't quite wiggle your way out of this. Alright. You'll come, you wouldn't say no, for politeness sake, but still --- Terry's eyes are deadly blue. Still. Pinning you down. His hands sliding down your hips. Fingers tinkering idly with the sash that tied your work apron to your torso. Would this Johnny guy like you at all? Did he consent to meeting you? -"You sure he wont mind?"- You have to ask, chuckling, trying to hide how uneasy you were feeling. -"I'm certain he has busier things to occupy himself with, you know?"- Then you dial up the excuses, hoping one of them will feel valid enough to Terry's own ears to stick. What about the tournament? What about the preparations? What about the student? Surely, work was plenty? Surely, there were things far more important then meeting you right now? Surely, it could wait. Surely --- God, where was Cynthia? Where was Holly? Where was Leslie? Where was everyone? The nature documentary on the tv keeps playing above the counter, detailing the feeding habits of snakes and how eat warm-blooded prey, including rodents, rabbits, birds), while others eat insects, amphibians (frogs or toads), eggs, other reptiles, fish, earthworms, or slugs. Snakes swallow their food whole. It would really be stellar if the TV could be fixed or merely checked so you'd collectively had a larger variety of channels to choose from. You couldn't imagine that the sight of gerbils being swallowed whole by desert kingsnakes was a tremendously pleasant sight for your regulars. Just from a marketing point of view.

 

 

 

-"Hey! Johnny's a real friendly guy."- He grips your thighs, squeezing, falling for none of your attempts, smiling tenderly .-"He's as mellow as sunshine."-

 

 

 

 

You concede, purely so you could get back to work and not anger your colleagues, staring at the 'We're open' sigh wrongly facing your way, instead of the opposite direction.
Maybe this John Kreese was as mellow as sunshine?
Who were you to judge?
People could be anything --- how could you know before meeting them?

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

-"Seriously? You own a convenience store?"-

 

 

 

John practically doubles over on the passenger seat of Terry's Ford, staring at him in something that could only be called disbelief as they make their way down, through a maze of gated communities, lofts, immaculate lawns, penthouses, private estates hidden behind perfectly trimmed verges and into the heart of the city --- the day is sunny and the buildings keep getting smaller and smaller, until they're transforming from tolerable to disappointing as Terry drives John, personally, to the set up rendezvous between them and Bea. One can tell the exactly moment they leave The Hills behind. It's not because the highway is suddenly flat. The Alluvial plates beneath his screeching tires easier to muster and manage. It's once the traffic gets thick. Harder to navigate. Lanes and lanes of cars riddling the vista. A sudden crowd. Smog-filled, clouds of exhaust pipes, sirens, drivers flipping each other off through windows rolling down, like a stampede of animals preparing for a rut. Rush hour. Terry enjoyed the adrenaline. -"Sure! I own a lot of things, Johnny!"- He shrugs it off, as casually as he could, because it was no bragging. Not to Johnny it wasn't. It was simply stating the truth. He did in fact, own a lot of things. Owning one thing extra seemed like a miniscule affair. -"Own half of Bel Air! Own a company! Own office space in the Aon Center! Own half of the beaches in Malibu! Own a private island in the Pacific! Own a resort in Aspen! Own a villas in Europe! Own a yacht! Own cars! Now I own a convenience store too! It's business, my man!"- He lists things off from the top of his head while he makes a sharp turn, running into a green light, passing through smoothly. -"Revenue means business!"- He grips the steering wheel, throwing a quick glance at Johnny, smiling as profusely as he could at him. He'd never dare ask Johnny to pay rent for the space of the Cobra Kai dojo he used for years, but that didn't mean he didn't play landlord with others. Not everyone was Johnny.-"Wake up! It's the 1980's!"- He practically shrieks those words, to the point a taxi driver in the lane opposite of him, parked for a smoke break gives him a funny look. Schmuck. -"We're expanding, baby! High five!"- He cackles, with unabashed loudness, raising his free hand up from the stick shift and stepping on the gas, waiting for Johnny to accept the gesture. Takes him preciously five seconds before he does, seeming confused.

 

 

 

What was so confusing?


Terry needed a piece of revenue to make his plan more effective.


So, he did what was momentarily prudent to do; he acquired piece of said revenue.


It was stupendously affordable too, incidentally. Dirt cheap. Like everything in his pretense neighbourhood.

 

 

 

-"Yeah, but --- never imagined you as a small grocery owning type. What's next? A lemonade stand?"- John shakes his head, chuckling, but still deep in thought, looking up ahead, towards the road, like something wasn't exactly computing even now, even though he very well explained the steps of his plan weeks and weeks and weeks in advance. Including during this exact drive. Terry, well, he felt he enjoyed to own anything and everything. Regardless what that something was. A Beverly Hills Mansion. Or a singular needle lost in inside of a haystack. Didn't really even matter. -"Well, Onassis started out with groceries and peddling discount detergent too and look how far he got!"- Terry jokes, feeling himself particularly impish today. High spirits. -"You just made that up, didn't you?"- John smiles, his voice a low grumble. Ah, how well he knew him. Couldn't even fool him with made-up trivia. -"Hell yeah, I did! But, it's a good one, isn't it!?"- He doesn't even try to pretend he wasn't lying playfully, pulling up, away from the thickness of traffic, a few blocks away from where his studio dojo was, to stay conveniently out of sight, parallel parking between two other cars, tucking himself away, finding they need a moment, especially once he spotted the atmosphere in the vehicle hanging a bit sullen. -"C'mon! C'mon, Johnny! It'll be fun!"- Terry smacks his forearm vehemently, finding himself almost whining. Why didn't John believe it? That it was going to be entertaining? That it was going to be amusing meeting her? When did he ever drag him along for anything that wasn't?

 

 

 

Everything about it was the very definition of fun.

 

 

 

-"Don't you wanna see what I've been hunting!?"- Terry leans down, closer, seething, unable to hold his grin back, trying to tempt him, one fist clenched on the steering wheel, one in John's brown puffer jacket --- perfect and convincing for the occasion. Hunting was a good word for it. Because he has been hunting. Nice and slow. Scoping out the territory. Getting to know the prey. Building the trap. Luring the fawn in. Making friends with it. Taming it. Tenderizing it. To the point where it would walk into the net of it's own accord, willingly, content to be there, convinced it's confines are a lover's bed. The hunter, a benefactor. -"It'll be just like the good old days!"- He reiterates, hissing, digging his teeth into the flesh of his lip, inhaling sharply, thinking of 'Nam. -"We always showed each other our prey."- Terry adds finally, recollecting how they'd occasionally hide out in patrol dens for days sometimes, tucked away, camouflaged, nestled into beds of shrubbery, leaves and jungle foliage --- green snakes out in a green hell --- signaling to each other when they were about to shoot unsuspecting VC down. Showing each other, through a language of their own, who's about to kill who. Who's about to hit a new score.

 

 

 

-"Yeah, but that was then and this is now."-

 


John quips, his mouth a stiff, firm line, looking away, down the pedestrian crossing riddled with palm trees.


Avoidance, huh?


Sometimes, John lacked a vision for the dramatic.

 

 

 

-"Think about it!"- Terry holds both of his arms up, trying to get him to visualize. -"To set the stage for the Larusso kid, I had to mess your old space up a bit."- He explains, feeling himself tilt his own head slightly, pondering all the paint buckets, newspaper pages serving as protective lining and the overall ruckus he had to endow the place with to make it seem like it's going through a visible transformation from what one Sensei Kreese used to maintain, for years, in the same spot. -"Make it seem like I'm starting fresh. Re-branding Cobra Kai! Honor, Zen-pacifisms and all that bullshit! Have it be believable! Man, I had to lie to him and his gook teacher and convince them you're dead!"- Terry giggles at that one, finding it hilarious how he did so at the peak of John's vacation out in Tahiti, but the taste on his tongue as he does it is bitter. He doesn't enjoy saying such things about Johnny, even if it is as a means to an end. Didn't feel right. Somehow, deep down, Terry simply assumed Johnny would live forever and everyone else would simply drop dead around him. -"And the idiots actually bought it!"- The rumble in his throat is low. He wasn't entirely sure about the old man. The old man was hard to gage. But, the kid? Man, the kid ate that shit up, just the way Terry knew he would've. -"All the these things are crucial for a good game."- He places special emphasis on the word crucial, dragging that son of a bitch out as far as he could without developing a twang. -"Staging is crucial for a good game! Otherwise, there's no game!"- John smiles at that point. There it is. That's what Terry was looking for; a smile. Ultimately, this was all to make John Kreese smile. Even if it meant getting someone to bleed for it.

 

 

 

His hands are up again, in a deliberately bombastic gesture, like an announcer presenting a circus act.

 

 


-"Silverscreen, my man!"-

 

 

 

He shouts in high spirits, not high enough to genuinely disturb someone around the neighbourhood who could hear --- the elderly woman pushing her stroller down the street clearly didn't hear him, so that was a good sign. He was too close to hi cardboard cutout, faux-reality apartment complex for comfort and he didn't want to risk the wrong person watching getting the wrong impression. Like this, any onlooker from any window in any flat or building anywhere around them would merely see what he was trying to present anyway; two good friends, in a good mood, off to meet someone, in this case, Bea. Nothing compromising. Nothing left to chance on the silverscreen of life. His real life or the pretense life he was playing at.

 

 

 

-"That's why the whole store business was, well, unavoidable."- He turns the ignition key, finding they've strategically stalled enough. They needed to arrive at the agreed time. Not too quick. Not too slow. He didn't want to appear too eager. Being a bit late was acceptable. Make her wait. Why shouldn't she? He was in an exalted disposition today, back from the scheduled trial hearing with Willie Cole, panning out in his favour. She could wait, yes. Not too much. He was going to be vaguely merciful today in ways he wouldn't be on others. -"Didn't want her going elsewhere for employment. Was more practical like this. Keep her close. At arms length."- He explains, rushing down the street, between two lines of parked vehicles on either side of the narrow street. In that moment, he can't reconcile why there's so much dread in that line. What if Bea did go elsewhere? What if she left elsewhere, just a day before he moved in? What if he never met her? Why was he quietly panicking? -"Then, when I'm done with her, I'll just have someone remodel that whole building for me and I'll turn it into something else."- He gulps down his discomfort and continues vocalizing his potential plans. Maybe turn it in a renting property? One with actual prestige? Transform the whole neighbourhood. Make it his. -"That, or I'll have it bulldozed. Call it a day!"- Terry meets his own gaze in the front review mirror --- he seems amused, even to himself as he envisions evicting all the rats living around him, serving as his neighbors. Her included. Bea having nowhere to go. Bea being homeless. Bea relying on him. Bea pleading. Bea with her suitcases on the pavement. Bea helpless. Bea all alone, with nobody in the world, but him. He feels himself stiffen in his own jeans. A pleasant itch he cant scratch at the moment, while driving. -"This city could use a clean-up!"- Terry cackles.

 

 

 

-"You sound like you're in deep."- John's voice grumbles, looking at him, leisurely, lazily, through half-lidded eyes. -"What do you mean!?"- Now, it's Terry's turn to be confused. Too deep into what!?

 

 

 

-"Sounds like you're investing too much."- Johnny reiterates, that cocksure, awfully pleased grin refusing to leave his face. Was this another insinuation he actually liked that commie? He figured Johnny would've known and understood his taste, and by extension, his principles, better then that by now. If they weren't who they were to each other, Terry would have given himself the slight liberty to be offended and healthily irked. Maybe even annoyed. -"I always invest my all, Johnny."- He grows suddenly serious, no nonsense, no joking, no fooling around, no nothing. Terry did invest it his all. Did he not invest his all into the project that was Daniel Larusso? Did he not take weeks and weeks and weeks and weeks off of his work? Just for setting the stage? Preparing his theatre of pain? Pretending her was someone else entirely, to get the boy relaxed? For revenge? Did he not fly Mike Barnes out from rural buttfuck nowhere to double as their champion for the All Valley? Did he not employ Jessica Andrews to act as a honeypot, make-belief friend? Did he not have Snake and Dennis working overtime, harassing that kid past the point of criminality? Did he not have them collectively rob that idiot store Danny-boy and the slope were about to open? When did Terry Silver ever half-ass a thing? Terry Silver never half-assed anything. Devotion doesn't half ass. Devotion delivers.

 

 

 

When he waged war, he waged war the way a war ought to be waged.


No bars held back.


He went everything or nothing --- betting all he had.


Maybe he was, as ironic as that was, similar to his old pa' in that regard.


Except, unlike pa', he'd win.

 

 

 

-"Yeah, but your own handpicked staff --- doubling as cashiers..."- John trails off once they pull up in front of the dojo, and by extension, the supermarket in question, leaning his head back into the seat, exasperated; judging by his expression, it appeared like he was unsure whether to look lost or baffled or both. Beloved, confounded Johnny. Couldn't believe Terry named his cornerstore The Cornerstore and merely called it a day. Terry found the banal simplicity amusing, though. -"It's so good! Isn't it!?"- Terry's heart signs from joy, looking at his pet project, and the window store right out front. Bea didn't even need to go far to clock into her shift. Just down the building and then back up. Just the way Terry liked it. Never too far. Never too far out of sight. Miss. Holly Hearst is working the registry this afternoon, it seems, as per timetable --- her silhouette seamlessly sliding across the transparent veneer of the bodega. She's been on Dynatox's team for several years now, just like her father was (Terry never had anything against nepotism and employing members of the same family --- if anything, he's encouraged it --- found it does miracles for the company's morale. Likeminded individuals who know and already trust and like each other, all on the same team.) and her promotion was due. Once Terry found he had no other ways to test her, or prolong her moving up the corporate ladder, he's sent her, like a diligent little worker ant, with her full consent, on this little expedition, alongside two other colleagues from the same branch. The agreement was, if they played this game well for him, bonuses were due. He respected his employees. His people were his people. They knew him. Knew his temperaments. Knew the rules of his ploys. Knew how to cooperate with them. Knew he rewarded cooperation like an emperor rewards a vassal. -"The blonde over there --- has a PhD from Harvard! Chief Marketing Officer for Dynatox! In her seventh year!"-

 

 

 

Terry points his finger at the well-endowed Ms. Hearst with a smile once he spotted Johnny's interest.


Ever the gentleman, Johnny never openly expresses when he likes a good thing.

 

 

 

They head into the dojo, playing their airs smooth, and she's waiting there, wearing a simple, pale yellow sundress, seeming understandably stiff, hands neatly clasped in front of her. He's barely talked her into this meeting. He noticed her survival instincts. Like something deep inside of her telling her there's danger afoot. He has to --- well, begrudgingly admire that. She wasn't entirely stupid. They meet here because it was time for Johnny to transfer from the Glendower mansion down here, where the action was, now, when time was running so very thin and train the Barnes boy together to sheer excellence. Also, because Terry got a molecule of satisfaction of introducing Johnny to Bea on a makeshift battleground represented by the pale, clean dojo mat, all three of them properly barefoot, once he and Johnny remove their shoes, neatly, and leave them at the entrance, Terry's stomach nearly lurching in rage as he recalls that one time she stepped inside, shoes and all. He had Reseda boy bleed his fist on this very mat. He had the Barnes Boy sweat his guts out on this mat. If she dropped dead on this mat, it would be a perfectly fitting assonance. That's why here, in this place, it's perfect. It's perfect to meet.

 

 

 

-"Ma'am."-

 

 


Is all Johnny says, once they're all in close proximity of each other; close enough to shake her hand.

 

 


Ma'am.
Ma'am?
Ma'am!?

 

 

 

John's tone is clipped, quick, utterly simplistic, and Terry almost holds back shooting him a look. Ma'am? Oh, dear, sweet Johnny. A chivalrous knight to everyone. Even those who hardly deserved it. Why was the outrage smaller then it should've been, though? Terry doesn't feel it in his bones, churning, like he initially thought he would. There's no seething. No hissing. No eye rolling. No sarcastic quip. He wants to force his tongue to produce venom and his eyes to produce lightening, but nothing comes of it. The ma'am moniker sounds natural. This is not how he assumed two people he shared his bed with, at one point in time, would've met. He refuses to deem both Bea and John lovers, on an equal footing --- on sheer principle. John didn't enjoy being deemed his lover. He was an old fashioned guy. Had trouble accepting that side of himself as much as Terry pushed and prodded. Meanwhile, Bea wasn't a lover. Terry didn't consider her one. She was --- more of a project, really. A voodoo doll he could stick pins into. Nonetheless, he didn't imagine this encounter, respectively, like this. Ma'am? Amazing. Polite soldier boy Johnny. Cute. He deserved to be spread on a piece of warm, sizzling toast, and eaten, like fine, creamy butter, that's how wholesome he was. Funny how he told Bea he'd be as mellow as sunshine. He didn't figure it would...well...come true?

 

 

 

 

Not that Johnny was bad. Johnny was never bad. Johnny was the best man he's ever met.


But, he didn't figure he'd be...sunshine in the context of her.


It was meant to be veiled irony and a veiled threat.


Not an actual promised coming true.


Why was everyone misunderstanding Terry's strategizing!?


He thought this meeting would incentify Johnny to express the desire to join.


To join in on his little Vietnam war recreation --- not call her Ma'am!


Was he sarcastic when he did that? Terry doubted it.

 

 

 

Shit sounded real.

Ma'am!?

Terry didn't even call Margaret Ma'am and she was an actual Ma'am. He's only ever done it when he wished to tease.

 

 

 

-"I prepared a gift for you. Just something small. Nothing too spectacular. It's my habit. Would you accept it?"- Bea speaks unsure of herself, in a small, whispering voice, eyes downcast, extending her arm forward, revealing what she's been clutching in her hands, reaching out to give Johnny a small wrapping in a tiny box which he tentatively takes, appearing almost awkward as he does, nodding wordlessly. He knew John Kreese well enough. He's known him for almost two decades now. Was that --- was that the look of guilt on his face? It was! It was guilt! It was right there, written on his brow! Was it because she was a woman!? What was with this weakness of the female sex!? It was an equal opportunity world! Man and woman were equal opportunity animals! But, Johnny, Johnny always had that fatal flaw where he was convinced they were the fairer, gentler gender. He couldn't help it. Also, what's this whole gift business!? Terry didn't account for it! Nobody told him! Why didn't someone in the convenience store alert him!? Did these people have no loyalty!? Where did the gift come from!? What was it!? Was it something she's made herself!? He turns his back for all but a few hours, and the uncontrollable and the unexpected happens. Then, if it can't get more baffling, they sit in for a dinner she prepared too. Down there, in their very own dojo, tucked behind the studio, at the table, in the center of his humble backroom living space.

 

 

 

Terry's stiff, baffled, shocked, confused, momentarily lost, going through all sorts of collateral as he eats his food.


He feels like he's a nine year old, after a parent teach meeting, witnessing his father read through his grade report card.


A single C- minus in a line-up of straight A's, his father blamed him for the oversight for years, even though he was a brainy kid.

 

 

 

-"When you fail at something,"- Pa' would wiggle his finger at him, bejewelled in weighted down in rubies. -"you can't make excuses, boy." - His tone was hard and rough --- but, educational, almost as if viscerally, in a roundabout way, talking about himself in the third person and not Terry at all. Morton Silver only ever used the term 'boy' when he was threatening, mocking or reprimanding someone, made all the more severe by his Trans-Atlantic twang he held to stubbornly, way past its fashionable usage in day to day speech. There was no abstract gentleness in the word boy. No respite. No peace. Boy was cruelty. -"It can only ever be your doing."- His father's voice reminded that day, taking him into the study, for a talk, adult to adult, cigar in his mouth, playing with a stack of cards, twirling an ace in his fingers, looking like he belonged on a Technicolor movie poster. The original Silverscreen. -"A man takes control. You want to be a man, don't you?"- He asked and Terry remembered the question for the rest of his life, deciding there and then that yes, he did want control. Father wasn't abusive. No. But, father instilled what was important in him. After that, Terry Silver never had anything but straight A's in his life. He maintained control. His family might've been falling apart around him, but he was always a star pupil. He had control and he kept it.

 

 

 

Now, it slipped out of his grasp --- not by much, but by enough to matter.

Johnny walks out of that dojo liking Bea.

Like a pleasantly forged acquittance likes another --- Johnny doesn't tell, but Terry notices.

What if Terry feels the same way? What if Johnny's right? No, no, perish the fucking thought.

But ---

 

 

 

 

-"So, what'd you think!?"- Terry catches up to him, asking, out of breath and eager, once their meal is finished, they thank her for a well put together effort, Johnny shakes her hands again, placing her gift in his pocked, unopened, like he wants to get the thing out of the way and Terry pretends to walk out to see him off. Johnny supposedly needed to do a couple of drives back and forth to acquire certain boxes and items and nonsense for the dojo. To make this whole charade about him teaching her more believable, more fluid, more complicated and as such, more realistic. Terry, just a concerned friend seeing how off and borrowing him his own car. Truth of the matter was, everything was set in motion and Mike Barnes to be haul ass out here to --- become a regular. Earn his paygrade. Give it his last best effort out here before the tournament. But, beforehand, Terry wanted and needed to know. What Johnny thought? What he was really thinking? About her? Away from prying eyes and prying ears after Bea retires into the kitchen, cleaning off the dishes and putting every back where she's found it, pretending she was Doris Day. -"I'm too old for this, Terry."- Johnny waves his hand, opening the car door and having himself a seat, in front of the steering wheel. -"Felt like I'm at Tressy's little tea party."- He adds with a chuckle, infantilizing the whole event. Was that more avoidance veiled in humor? He --- he pitied her, didn't he? Felt sorry for her? Didn't want any significant, lasting, irreversible harm come to her, didn't he? Terry wanted to share this delicious morsel with him, for old times sake, Johnny pitied her. No, no, no. If she was a man --- he wouldn't think like this. If she was a man, they'd take her out in the forest and hunt her for sport and show her the true definition of "No Mercy." and John would have no qualms, but as things were ---

 

 

 

 

 

This war re-creaction Terry was to fight absolutely alone, wasn't he?

Bummer.

Had to have fun all by himself then, huh? So be it.

Shame they decided to work on the Larusso project together when there was another equally good one just behind them inside of them building, but, ah well.

 

 

 

 

-"C'mon now! You've never been too old for a thing a day in your life!"- Terry grabs the vehicle door in outrage, both hands, not buying this bullshit one bit, feeling his nails dig into the painted blue metal. He'll pry it out of him. The truth. One way or another. -"Tell me what you think!"- Terry pushes, demanding, in a hushed tone, not to be overheard out on the street. John looks at him then. Really looks at him. Gives him a tender, acerbic little half smile. Key in the ignition. Motor roaring. There's resignation in John Kreeses' voice, a brief, quick shrugging of shoulders that translated to 'do what thou wilt, 'tis the survival of the fittest' --- enabling and yet the lack of it. -"Hey, man, whatever you do, don't lose your soul."-

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Your bath is not big enough for the two of you, so you bathe Terry.


Heck, it's barely big enough for him alone, with long limbs and all, hanging from the side of the tub.

 

 

 


The quiet radio from the other room plays some sweet, melancholy, mellow track, occasionally interlaced with a sudden choire of energized instruments. A classical symphonies station on 88,1 MHz - just the way Terry requested it. You didn't figure he had a taste for such music, although it didn't surprise you. He always appeared oddly refined and polished. Like he didn't quite belong in a life like this. In a place like this. Someone could dress him up as a prince and he'd fit right into the role. Would fit him like a glove. Your sleeves are rolled up to your elbows as you apply gentle pressure to the soaked sponge, rubbing it over his back, tapping him, trying to be as non-invasive as possible over the outline of bumps and sore muscles, going for the reminiscent of feather touches, you still remember the occasions he flinched away from you, and those memories return now, somewhat unbidden, as you careful dab the foam soaked heated water over his skin, checking for goosebumps and any signs of discomfort so you could take that as an unspoken, physical cue for you to stop, droplets leaking down his flesh as you apply only the lightest of pressure, trying to recollect if he allowed his friend, John, to touch him, at any point doing your introductions and get-together. You cannot seem to recall. Did he only flinch from your touch? Did he flinch from everyone's? -"How do you imagine it went?"- Is all you say instead, hovering behind his shoulders, seated on the side of the tub, one hip forward, a tile covered wall behind you, cannot see Terry's expression. You can only hear his voice, energized, enthusiastic, while his body was entirely still, up to his waist in water. -"Went swimmingly!"- Terry speaks up, leaving you wondering if that was meant to be a pun. You chuckle to yourself. -"Told you he's as mellow as sunshine. Would I lie?"-

 

 

 

 

He looks over his shoulder with a smile. No, you supposed he wouldn't. -"Maybe he seems a bit gruff at first glance, but don't be misguided by first impressions."- He shrugs then, turning forward again, splashing water over his own chest, cleaning himself. John was pretty, well, nice. Old fashioned, polite type. You liked him. You hoped the feeling was mutual, at least. -"I was a bit intimidated by him too when we first met too!"- You spot Terry's grin spread out from the corner of his face, puffed cheek to puffed cheek and you have to smile yourself. John was a prefer topic of conversation for him, huh? That was --- it was oddly beautiful. -"Back in --- when was it."- He pondering for a second, a deep rumble in his throat, as he thought on it. -"1967!"- He practically jumps in the tub, seated as he was, like the year had particular meaning to him. Exactly eighteen years ago. -"He was this cool, older kid!"- Terry beams as you wash him, and you listen, content. -"A good soldier! Excelling at every course during our basic training!"- He regals you and you wonder, idly, what Terry was like, back in those days. What was he like? What were his habits? What was he like as a person? -"The buff, big type!"- Terry keeps describing John, but oddly enough, never himself. A habit you vaguely see yourself in. -"Had a sweetheart back home waiting for him!"- Did Terry? -"And hoo, did I wanna be like him!"- But, what was he like? -"Actually! All the guys wanted to be like Johnny and I don't blame them!"- Admiration seeps from Terry's tongue like honey - as sweet as the tune playing from the station. You recognize Brahms' Hungarian Dances No. 4. vaguely. The Poco Sostenuto. Was it unfair you liked it only because it was Hungarian? You figured not. You have to chuckle at the assonance and the accident of it, though. -"Look at us now --- thick as thieves!"- Terry's voice beams, talking about his friend.

 

 


The bathroom is full of warm steam.


You sit there, surrounded by white, humid must, the odd shampoo scent in the air.


Soap and lotion intermingling into something saccharine and sweet.


Terry almost sounds like a kid talking about John.

 


And you imagine he borderline was one, during the war, if your calculations were correct.


He even talks about him, like one child talks about their playground hero --- there's a heavy pang in your heart.


You feel a certain sadness you can't place, a certain gravitas.

 

 

 


-"Send him my warmest regards. Tell him I had a lovely time."- You whisper, tilting your head to catch a glimpse of his gaze and when he looks over his shoulder again briefly, you do. You did have a lovely time. Nothing you feared came true. John Kreese, did in fact, not despise you, by the looks of it. He didn't take you out back like a sickly dog and snap your neck on the spot, no. Perhaps he didn't fight in the war with any political sentiment in mind --- maybe he was simply drafted? Regardless, it was actually a pleasant gathering. You're so positively relieved you're almost exhausted. Exhausted by your own worry so far. Now that the worry was gone, there was nothing to replace it. You crave a hug. For being so paranoid and silly. -"And that I'm glad you've a friend as good as him."- You add, truly feeling so, dabbing the sponge in warm bathwater yet again and continuing your massaging. He's been training hard nowadays and he could use all the relaxation he could get. -"When you first see him again, of course."- You explain, by instinct, forgetting yourself, once you deem his back sufficiently clean, reaching for the tresses of his hair, still tied, into a firm, slicked back tail. You tug tenderly at a wet, dripping lock of hair, biting your lip once you realize what you did and you curse yourself inwardly. You wish to say you're sorry, but before you do, the profile of his nose appears in your peripheral vision. His head has moved. He's on alert. You didn't mean to touch him. You simply felt cleaning one's hair was the natural progression in the ritual of bathing.

 

 

 


He, perhaps, needed someone to take care of him.

 

 

 


-"Want me to wash your hair too?"- You lean forward, towards him, thinking that, what the heck, you might as well ask. Only to get no response. His body appears to be stiff. You avert your gaze, from his limbs in the water. His hair appeared to be --- well, important in certain ways. What were you thinking, most everyone who has hair finds their hair important, one way or another, so no, that wasn't the appropriate verbiage to use. The appropriate verbiage was 'touchy subject'. Terry's hair appeared to be a touch subject. When you kindly recommended he can take his hair down in bed, to sleep with more comfort, he feel into an odd silence, just like this one too. -"Oh, I'm sorry."- You stutter, putting your yellow bathing sponge down, your voice too small, even to your own ears. The music from the radio halted, instead, replaced by the distant buzzing of a weather announcement. You're momentarily distracted. -"You don't like it down."- More of a statement and a reminder to yourself, rather then anything else. Well, you must respect that. It was really your fault, for touching it at all. Except, Terry's hand reaches backwards and you observe it's movement, mouth agape, as he's reaching for the hair tie holding his tresses firmly in place, at the very nape of his neck, tugging and pulling it down in a leisurely, in a slow, subdued motion, wordless, not even bothering to turn your way in the slightest. He was so lively earlier. Just a second ago. Now, the bathroom was chillier then a graveyard. You sit on the edge of the tub, frozen, watching the wet curls spread across the upper portion of his back. First time you've seen them that way.

 

 

 


Terry put his hair down.

 

 

 


-"Does this mean I can?"- You ask, voice hushed, observing his head nodding slightly in a confirmative gesture. You still can't see the expression of his face. The reflection on the water beneath him offers no clear clue, murky, covered in a soapy, foaming residue. He's faceless. -"Alright. I'll be gentle."- You reach forward, announcing yourself audibly, to avoid surprisingly him, carefully, fingers touching his strands for the first time, feeling the slightly heavy, rich, pungent sensation of dried off oils on him, slick and slithering beneath your touch as you caress him, covering your nails in a stick, fragrant, musky, aromatic grease by closeness of proximity, dragging your fingers forward to find his scalp, figuring his circulation and blood-flow could use some aid after the pressure of an immaculately slicked back hairdo staying in place for possibly, weeks, slowly kneading the tender flesh there, until you feel the outline of his neck stretch backwards in enjoyment, eyes closed, mouth slightly agape, you take the wash basin from the edge of the tub, filling it with water, letting it trickle down his head and his back, washing out all the remaining gel. His locks gleam, even now. Jet black. Heavy. You tried to envision how it would look like dried off, clean, without any additionals, in it's relaxed state. By the looks of it, it appeared like, through texture alone, Terry's hair was actually naturally wave. That --- surprised you, to be honest, as strictly straight as it always appeared to be.

 

 


-"We had a friend."-

 

 


He speaks up, tentatively, sounding a bit lost. Friend? We? Who? Who's we? Him and John?

 

 


-"Yeah?"-

 

 


Is all you say, uncertain, tending to the ministrations of his hair, putting careful effort into your work, encouraging him to continue.

 

 

 


-"We called him Ponytail."- Terry's voice is firm, distant somehow. -"He died. He was nineteen."- You halt, abruptly, when he speaks up again, suddenly understanding. -"Terry..."- You trail off, unsure what to do and what to say. You feel like such a fool. Such an idiot. He --- did he wear his hair the way he did because of a friend? He did, didn't he? That's why he was so sensitive about it too. You wish to embrace him and apologize. You had no idea. -"His body was never recovered for a proper funeral. He stayed exactly where he was shot. Neck deep in VC territory."- You spot Terry tinkering with his silver ring below water, twisting it left and twisting it right, as he spoke, sounding far away and like he was trying not to sound affected, in fact, he felt one step away from chuckling even though his words didn't reflect it --- a coping mechanism. The thin, patterned silver dimly gleams underneath a layer of foam. -"Had this slicked-back, jet black wisp of hair,"- Terry describes, as if describing himself in the flesh. -"Right here, in the back."- Then, a finger reaches over his shoulder, emerging from the bathwater, and he points at his own hair and the fuzz of dark baby strands lining his neck, trying to get you to visualize, no doubt, portraying the stark similarities. Once he lowers his hand, you're stunned into silence, listening to the water drip from the bathroom faucet, mutely. You're humbled. Struck. There's a strange nobility to that. A strange sense of honor.

 

 

 

 

You lower your forehead, barely grazing the edge of his shoulder, and lean it against him, staying like that, finding he's letting you.


You say nothing. Neither does he.


Sometimes it's better to say nothing.


The bathroom is quiet.

 

Laced only with the echo of a distant, slow oboe and cello duet playing from the radio in the other room.

 

 


Terry turns and drags you into the tub with a splash that floods the tiles, pulling you in, cloathes and all, embracing you fully, naked skin against drenched fabric, his hair entirely wet and entirely loose.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Terry loved to see people for what they are.

So, he fueled them, much like one fuels a furnace, to reveal their truest selves - the sparks.

 

 

 

 

And Bea was what he'd call a goodie-two-shoes; a laughably sheltered little thing - impossibly inexperienced for his tastes, then again, there was seldom a person alive who wasn't impossibly inexperienced for his tastes; she was eager though, wide-eyed and shivering. Lips parted, two rain-soaked, honeyed buds ready to receive, Terry started downplaying himself for her ever since he moved into this godforsaken building block, reading her right from the get-go, unsure why he'd wish to have her relate to him, except that he rationalized it's a force of habit. Not everyone needs to know everything. And how else does he get one to open up to him and lay themselves down unless he presents himself as a kindred spirit? She didn't resonate like someone who's done what he's done or seen what he's seen, but then again, that was a given. Some pleasures in life belonged to a certain class of people and yachting during a non-stop orgy consisting of thirty people in international waters for a full month in the Mediterranean didn't seem like the type of thing the tenants of a run-down, concrete downtown building where his supposedly rented dojo studio was located would experience in their lives. Bea included. So, Terry did what Terry does best. He adapted. Mirrored her Tried to become more like her, even while spilling his secrets to her, letting her wash his hair, seeing it pulled down, finding he actually liked laying forth the dark and gritty about him --- having it be witnessed. He became something familiar and safe to her. Not so much a stranger.

 

 

 


There he was, in a dingy, ill-fitted, purgatorial apartment once more, two stories above his, making out on her dreadful couch like some inane fifteen year old just discovering what first base is. Making out. Just thinking it felt wrong, meanwhile, participating, even though he found he genuinely enjoyed it and looked forward to each unsure, anticipating peck of her lips on his and her practicing tongue moving aligned with his own as he squeezed his knuckles and curled the toes of his feet, holding himself back with everything he had, momentarily, from grabbing you and fucking her within an inch of her life, only for his hands to relax, cold and flat as can be. He must be patient. Disciplined. He opens his eyes, strategically, admiring her expressions. She was enjoying this too - of course she was. Languid and blissful, a patch of redness graces Bea's cheeks, eyebrows perched upwards, she's relaxed. He closes his eyes quickly before he can be caught staring. He hums in appreciation as way of distraction; a deep, throaty sound to encourage her on. He likes it. Likes it a lot. Bea fumbling on his mouth and trying to figure out how to coil the tip of her tongue around his, reacting with a frustrated, needy, shy little whimper that involuntarily makes him smile and has his cock twitching in delight. He's getting hard at her struggling to kiss as well as she'd like. There's a trace of roundabout sadism to this. Even the whole murky setting has it's perks. Terry had the intentional tendency of inhibiting seedy places for sexual encounters to give himself an erotic rush. The adventure of going to some back-alley dump, greasy storage warehouse basement for a quick, dirty, rough, bloody, illicit fuck. But, this was different. He never went to one to kiss someone. Or be slowly pecked on the mouth rather, time and time again.

 

 

Feeling she tries so very hard and fail so very often.


Getting preciously irritated with herself.


He wants to devour her for it.


Instead, he speaks;


Into her mouth.


Mumbling.

 

 

 

-"Mmm, I haven't had a kiss this good in a while."-

 

 

 

Terry whispers, separating and then connecting his mouth to Bea's softly once more once the words were uttered in the shadows of a dimly-lit, sordid apartment room - one space containing a kitchen, a living room and a hallway; a way of complementing her. Making her feel special. Unique. Yet still retaining a hint of experience and mystique she can feel curiously allured by. The fantasy of a more experienced guy who knew what he was doing. In a while, he said. Yes. Implying he's done things, except, not a long, long, long time. Maybe not since 1971. He wants to snort at the thought because it was particularly hilarious. Yet, as a seduction tactic, it's splendid. He feels she's encouraged on his lips and she's kissing with a hint of ardor now, smiling into the contact, as if pleased and happy. Positive reinforcement does miracles psychologically. If Terry said the truth and confessed the contact technically wasn't particularly impressive and in fact, as mundane as a teenager's first hand-job on the bleachers,she'd retreat, cram up shut and never open again. Never feel this level of comfort. She'd feel inadequate. And he'd take months and months to try and have her where he has you again. And he doesn't want that. He wants her willing right now, enthusiastic and joyous. He just never figured that this role as the hard done by, working-class, friendly-neighborhood Karate teacher downstairs as a role would also include him pretending he's sexually shy. Him. Sexually shy. Out of all the games he has played over the years, this one had to be the most baffling one. How did he get here? Not a question he asked after he woke up from a coke-bender in Prague in the hotel he picked Milos up from back in 1976, yet he did now. 

 

 

 

Terry Silver? Sexually shy? Incredible. Too late to pretend he was a virgin now, just like you were, when he's found you.

 

 

 

-"I want you to touch me,"- He pretends to stammer with a trace of velvety saliva still hot on his tongue, playing at being flustered himself, tenderly taking her hands and placing her fingers over his crotch, maintaining firm eye contact to signal that he's looking for her approval and certainty, only to be met with a flutter of eyelashes. Looking up. Looking down. Then straight at him. The down again. He knows Bea's habits and reads each like one would an open book to the point of being able to predict her. He places his hand over hers as he has her cupping him and he gives you a little squeeze. -"right here."- He assures, in case it wasn't obvious he wants his cock caressed. -"Is that okay?"- He asks, as kindly as he can muster, like a teacher would with a student in the beginning phases of training, and she nod, not removing herself as he guides her up and down, through his jeans, massaging himself and holding her hand, with enough consideration that she doesn't flinch and enough roughness that she can't slither away casually, earning a small whimpering out of her at one point. A whimper. For merely touching him. Through his clothes. Terry wondered how she would've sounded like after she came for the fifth time then? Or after he poured hot vax on her bare back and ass? After he flogged her? Teased her? Tied her up? Would she cry? Shriek? Beg? Undoubtedly. Had to. Would feel like a natural progression from a whimper.

 

 

 

-"How does it feel?"- He inquires in a low, hushed tone.

 

 

 

-"Good."-

-"Describe it. Be descriptive."-

-"You're big. Firm. And ---"-

-"And?"-

-"And I hope it feels good for you."- How quaint and sweet.

 

 

 

 

She hoped that her stroking him felt good? Precious. It did actually. In an inexplicable, roundabout way. Maybe the fact he would've been ejaculating over someone else's face by now and then promptly slapping them and yet here he was, Bea fumbling with his zipper on a couch. After months and months of knowing him. Was this how ordinary people did it? Was there always this much deliberation and hesitation in the act? Terry wouldn't know. Terry never was quite ordinary. To him, sex was always sex. Paid for or otherwise. Mechanics. What the body can do. What it can endure. Foreplay the oil that makes the machine work more effective and push it to it's limits. Or getting off, plan and simple. Not unlike getting out some pent-up aggression or working up a sweat. Accumulating experience. Accumulating notches. Not unlike collecting accolades, trophies and medals. At one time, Terry felt he should try every type of person just for the sake of it. Women and men and everything in-between, and blondes and brunettes and redheads and those without any hair whatsoever, gym gods and models and masseuses' and the maid and the maid's twin sister, the hot secretary, the young chauffeur, a Contessa, the Contessa's husband, reliable escorts, the staff at a five star hotel resort, Olympic gymnasts in pairs of three, import hookers, domestic hookers, all shapes and sizes and Margaret and Milos and John. So what was sex to to Bea? Precaution? -"It feels amazing."- Terry ups the stakes and adds an extra dash of the positive reinforcement spice to this boiling soup, even though he'd very well like her impaled on his cock by now. And then she kneels, entirely of her own accord, not being directed or influenced in the slightest.

 

 

 

 

Oh.


On her own, huh? Interesting.


The one thing she didn't need instructions for. Kneeling.


He figured that much too, but it was no less breathtaking to witness it.


Her hands carefully placed on either of his knees, she's between his spread legs.


Looking up at him expectantly, as if on cue, eyelashes flutter again, once, twice, three times.


Not unlike on a licitation, going once, going twice, he's sold, just unsure on what he's sold on.

 

 

 

 

 

Especially when her face comes up to his crotch and before he knows it, she's inhaling his scent, eyes closing, with genuine appreciation judging by her visage, nuzzling in between his thighs, like she's trying to find a place for herself within his hips, whining and sighing as she kneaded his bulge with the outline of her cheeks, nose and forehead, her arms sneaking away from his knees and further up, to the V where his torso would've met his abdominal region. He wants to order her to describe his aroma back to him, but he doesn't wish to distract, wishing to watch the labor of all his work and mental coaxing come into fruition instead, like witnessing an experiment come to life. Terry's held and he he can't quite register what's happening. Positive reinforcement - is this what it did to Bea? This wasn't quite sex, but it was almost chaste, yet not. If anyone, per chance, walked in on you right now, in these shabby, dingy accommodations, they'd figure he's about to get his dick sucked, but the affair was dry, separated by fabric, clothes, unbidden, spontaneous, anger-inducing, good, bad, on her own accord, pressing a kiss to the hem of his jeans once and looking back up at him, sitting on the couch. What's this called? Foreplay? If this was foreplay, it's probably how nuns at a convent do it. But then, why did it feel so --- so raw? Was she seducing him right back? He was supposed to be the one seducing. Did she even realize she was seducing? Was that what she would brand it as? Probably not. His hand twitches and aches to grab her by the hair, hard, and demand to know what the fuck it was she was doing exactly? And then he yearns to make her beg and push his cock into her mouth. Don't lose your soul, don't lose your soul, don't lose your soul --- Johnny's words come unbidden.

 

 

 


Instead, all Terry says is, -"That's new."-

 

 

 

 

Sultriness intermingles with a genuine, well-meaning chuckle and he's irritated, even to his own self, that this time around, he's not lying. He's honest. It rendered him sincere. This rendered him sincere. How dare she? He's aching in his briefs which aren't even close to being anywhere near removed yet. This situation - this faux-life he was leading for revenge's sake was affecting him. He really didn't recall when was the last time someone kissed his cock and smelled it like it was something delectable, worshipful worthy of eating without being commanded to do so, or paid for it, rather. Maybe it happened. Maybe it didn't. It was honestly a haze. If he couldn't bother remembering, then logically, he figured it simply didn't. Much like right now was a haze. Somewhere in the atmosphere of a nightstand lightbulb paper lamp painting the room a sickly, womb-like yellow, her eyes glisten up from the foot of the squeaking couch up at him and his hand, pitifully, instinctually reaches down to pat and caress Bea's head, collecting himself, so he doesn't take a fistful of her tresses like he originally wanted to. Tenderness. Not rehearsed and not acted. He's tender because he's simply tender. He always found it hilarious how that's what his name means. Ironic too. Tender, good and gracious. He only ever was tender, good and gracious towards his people or when he was playing games. So, which one was it now? He loathed how he had no concrete response for himself. -"Do it again if you wish."- He pushes her a step further, not wanting to end it at a remark such as 'that's new' as if it's something unusual, weird and bizarre he can't classify - a dirty rag he wishes to throw away, carried in the tips of his disgusted fingers. He does want more. He wants her to roam her own maze while he watches and sees where shes goes and what she does. Giving up control? No, no, he wasn't. He just wanted to witness. Be a voyeur over her own reactions and decisions. Yes. That was it.

 

 

 


She smiles sweetly and bend down to kiss the outline of his zipper again.


Terry figures it would be an appropriate time to blush - one would expect a blush now.


Before he can ever force himself to change his own coloring, like a chameleon --


His cheeks are already burning, ire and desire intermingled into a potent cocktail.

 

 

He comes up with a bright idea --- the most stellar of fun; pretending to submit to her.


To gage just how she'll act when handed any vestige of power.


Or at least, he imagines it.

 

 

 

 

 

He imagines it while paying her an impromptu visit to the supermarket, during peak working hours --- even a poor man needed to fill his fridge on occasion --- he owned the fucking place, after all, there was nobody would could stop him and he could show up to do some make-belief shopping whenever he wished --- he acts like he's hunting for these fabled discounts she always enjoyed so much, justifying his presence here with a round of browsing to maintain himself believable. Terry tailing behind her with an eager, soft smile as she showed him around, while he was pretending to understand what the big fucking deal was between all this vast array of yogurts Bea was eyeing most speculatively, almost wishing he could just drop his charade there and then and simply buy the whole chain of stores for her and all the milk products they had to offer, alongside this pigsty he roped himself into owning so you wouldn't flutter away, like a butterfly. Then it happens. Some lowlife punk dares to graze Terry's shoulder with his own, bypassing him with his old plastic basket filled with cornflakes. Pathetic. Terry was on a mission of maintaining his facade for her. He hated to be interrupted by outside influences, no matter how unavoidable they were in a public space.

 

 


-"Watch out! Greaseball!"- the man remarks at Terry in annoyance, walking away, straight in the detergent aisle before he could even gage the actual size of Terry. He always walked around a tad bit hunched nowadays, deliberately, to appear less imposing to the common plebians of this block. But, no. That's not what took him off guard. Not even the fact Terry wanted to fist-punch him right there and then and he merely held back in order to avoid breaking out of his role. -"Hey, sir! Don't call him that!"- Bea shouts after the man, now gone, sounding hurt and somehow still polite regardless - what an odd mix - then proceeding to quietly, discreetly apologize to Terry in his stead and continue silently re-assuring him, that he is in fact, not a greaseball, once she's finally found the precious diary product she's been looking for, now 20% off. Finally. The fabled yogurt he was acting to be in search for. Is this what the economically impaired do on a daily basis? No matter. Terry doesn't stop thinking about the peculiar exchange for days. In the dojo. Out and about. Everywhere. She stood up for him. Nobody has stood up for Terry since even in a laughably small, nonsensical way since, well --- John Kreese. He isn't sure what to make of that. What should he make of that? He needed saving in 'Nam, but he hardly needed saving now --- what was this craving all of a sudden? 

 

 

 

Talking a walk with her down the street is riddled with an unexpected desire.

 

 

 

As of late, Terry is looking and even hoping for a confrontation.


Not because he craves violence and to appear strong in front of her (although, that too).


He's taken to developing the strangest of thoughts these days - very intrusive thoughts.

 

 

 


He takes to his preferred ritual of dancing around with some warm-up kata, in the middle of his studio, admiring his own kicks, moves and spins in the reflection of the erected wall mirrors and he gets distracted, mid-training, the way it seldom happens, especially considering he's been so very adamant in maintaining strict mental self-control all these years. For some reason, he tends to imagine her, tying him up, in tight, firm knots. Supposedly so firm, he cannot wiggle free for the life of him. And he struggles and struggles as she panics, attempting to help and save him. She's all sweetness and comfort and re-assurance. It's all going to be fine, Bea whispers, caressing him. The rope-work will come off in no time. And she coos and fusses him and drips her honeyed words all around him, embracing and holding him, right before climbing him in his state and simply taking him. You finish and free him and he falls apart in her arms. Last Friday, he waddled out of one such reverie, after having came undone in his own workout attire. He supposed there was something in the act of being stood up for, even in a wholly mundane setting. He figure he had a thing for being stood up for ever since Johnny first started sticking up for him, during their army days, when the older guys would use him for being the scrawniest out of the bunch. Then later too, when he started pulling him out of tough situations. Carrying him out of minefields deep in the wilderness and rigged rice fields of the northern valleys on his literal back. Regardless --- he...he daydreams of the enemy, of her, restraining him, gently ravaging him and then pretense-saving him? Caring for him? His foe? Rescuing Terrike? Little Terry? He understood fetishes and yearnings often had their root in the taboo and he embraced his own taboos well and often, but this?

 

 

 

Now, during his walks around the park, like some bankrupt nobody -

He almost wishes he had a purse on his own person that someone could steal so she could yell after the burglar and save him some more.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

-"I...never done something like this before."-

 

 

 

 

You whisper, stuttering in precariousness eyeing the line of old gymnasium rope Terry has handed you. An orange, dim lightbulb in the backroom of his dojo stifles the atmosphere, making the world small after he's fished out the piece of equipment, supposedly used for training, handing it to you --- this came out of nowhere and yet not. Terry has expressed his desire for this before. During that one night. Having a TV binge. Saying how it's not half bad. You run your finger through the texture carefully. It's course. Hard. Firm. Just like his resolve to have you try. At least try, he admonishes. -"That's alright. You can practice on me. Everyone has their firsts! Nobody was born knowing it all."- He re-assures, giving you a gentle look, neatly folding every article of clothes he takes, one by one and you avert your gaze from his body by minute his fingers reach for his belt and zipper, torso entirely unclad. You've seen it before, but you always do, as a force of habit. He's disconcertingly beautiful. So much so, that at times, it's difficult to look at him. -"Terry. Are you sure?"- You mutter, focusing on the rope instead, wondering if it'll dig into his wrists. Leave a bruise. Leave a mark. How his skin would react. How he will react. -"Don't worry. I'll guide you. I'll teach you everything you have to know."- Terry coos in a manner that screams trust, now entirely nude, yet standing in front of you with full confidence, not a jitter in his limbs, not a hint of uncertainty in his tone or bearing as he scoots back, unto his small mattress, sitting, legs spread, tapping the space next to him. Your eyes are pinned to his face. Deliberately. You don't wish to look down. You can't. -"C'mon. Come here."- His voice is smooth, velvet, somehow even more painfully soft in utter quiet of his living space. The words resonate, heavy, full and you advance forward, slow steps. Momentarily lost to the point you realize you're entirely dressed.

 

 

 

Well --- well he never requested you undress yourself.

So, you didn't. Was this what taking charge was like?

Not following orders was definitely strange.

You'd misplace the basic steps of what you were supposed to do.

Especially when you scoot down next to him, as instructed, unsure what to do next.

 

 

 

-"You'll tell me if it gets uncomfortable, right?"- You manage, placing the rope into your lap, not entirely wise on what to do with it next or where to begin, re-assuring him even though, comedically enough, you were well aware it was you who needed re-assurance by the looks of it, only to find him chuckling at you like you just said something particularly funny, looking you up and down even though there was nothing to see. He was the naked one. Not you. His eyes bear the intensity of a scanner. You get the impression he can see through the fabric. Through your skin. Through your burning cheeks and the raging bloodstream underneath, essentially flaying you alive. He treats his own nudity like the most comfortable thing in the world and you envy him in a sense. You envy that level of confidence. That level of self-relience. In one's appearance. One's physique. One's body. He appears proud of himself and he should be. He probably worked on his body for years. He had much to be proud of. You'd feel proud too, if you were him. If you looked the way he looked. If you were built the way he was built. Meanwhile, you feel embarrassed. Shy. Uneasy. Even fully covered. How did he do that? -"I'll moan it."- Terry smiles, joking and you momentarily stop breathing once he leans back slowly, towards the wall and the singular pillow gracing his sleeping arrangement. Terry's dojo bed has no pillars or columns on either sides, merely a tiny portion of steel reinforced pipes from the below the structure of the actual mat. He spreads his arms. Intending to be fastened to them. Well, it was far better then your couch, that was for sure. Your couch would barely serve for the task he wished you to complete at all. -"Now, the wrists."- He instructs, spreading himself, holding himself in place, demonstrating how he wants to be tied and you gulp. Scooting even closer, until you're practically leaning over his body, tinkering with his hand, adjusting it to the best of your abilities, his breathing close enough to hear. In. Out. In. Out. You're not much of an expert in tying anything, least of all a person, so you make the simplest of knots, around the wrist and attached to the pillar. Nothing complicated. You can't do anything more complex.

 

 

 

You try. For his sake.

 

You wish to bring him pleasure.

 

 

 

-"That's it. Drag it through."- He guides you with patience, head nuzzled into the pillow, leaning on his cheek, head turned, observing your handiwork. You're self-concious. You're certain he can do better. In fact, you're positive. -"A little more."- He tuts you along, like someone encouraging a puppy. -"Perfect."- And then he croons, once his wrist is securely fastened. Sure, he could wiggle out, but for the most part, hand was acceptably firm and in place. -"Very well done. You're a natural."- Terry's blue eyes are satin. Caressing. Glazed over. Impressed seemingly. You look away yet again. You made the firm decision that you'll be looking away from everything you can for the remainder of this evening because you couldn't stand the intensity of his gazes. -"Now the other."- He guides, his professional deformation obviously seeping through and he takes a mentor-like approach. You appreciated it. You weren't about to pretending you didn't require help. A whole lot of help. All the help you could get. -"Tighter."- Terry's voice turns firmer then and once he notices hesitation, he speaks up again, with the airs befitting a drill instructor. -"I said tighter! I don't want to be able to move."- He practically growls, sending a chill down your spine. -"The key is, restraining someone like you never intend to let them escape again."- Even firmer, until it's practically a hiss. Truth is, you wanted the knots deliberately wobbly, but his stare pins you and your fingers freeze in place. You feel chastised. -"If there's wiggle room, you need to make the knots smaller. More frequent. Until it digs into their flesh."- His expression is strict and impassive as he explains it to you and you never saw a man, or rather, never visualized a man tied up, or at least, partially on the way to being tied up, be so intimidating. Wasn't it supposed to be the other way around. You chuckle at the thought. You weren't tremendously scary. Far from. You were just --- you. -"Make them feel held."- He adds, with more warmth this time and that was a nice way to put it. Being in bondage was like being held. So, he wanted to be held then? Despite of being touch-averse? He wanted it. Something in your heart aches more profoundly then you can describe. Terry Silver wanted to be taken care of. You wanted to take care of him. Treat him with softness. He's seen enough gruesomeness, you figured. Too much of it. You think about to his story about his friend --- this Ponytail guy --- Terry wearing his hair the way he did in his honor. To keep his memory alive. 

 

 

 

You never heard a personal anecdote with quite so much gravitas before.

 

 

 

-"It's still too loose. Try again."-

Terry tugs his wrist with a scowl, shaking his head. You obey. Untying it, attempting to re-do the knot.

-"I want you to be comfortable."-

You almost whimper, figuring he was misunderstanding you. You weren't trying to be inept or annoy him. You were trying to be gentle.

You wonder if he was ever --- in the context of war, was he ever restrained?

He must've been, and you're scared --- you're scared of triggering something bad in him.

Triggering something awful if you're not careful enough. So, be careful enough, your subconsciousness tells you.

You intend to. You have to. For his sake. That's all you want. Terry. Comfortable. Sure, he was the one who requested this, but ---

 

 

 

 

-"I don't want to be comfortable! I want to be fucked!"-

 

He practically yells, wiggling impatiently.

 

 

 

Once he's fastened, he tugs himself once more, dragging both wrists forward, left and right, testing their strength, flexing himself, flexing his muscles, his chest arching forward, teeth digging into his lips and nostrils flaring, testing your ropework and if it'll suffice --- eyes reflecting something fierce, while you merely sit there, legs folded, hands in your lap, staring at the clean, cotton, pristine fabric of the mattress, trying to ignore the fact that he's been aroused the entire time you were tying him, or at least, fumbling about, trying to get it right for him. Could a cock be intimidating? Because his --- his, well, was. Full, thick and uncut, it stands poised between his thighs, from a bush of curly black hair, his flesh all pale and pink. Terrence was huge. So much so, he daunts you. It's tantalizing. Then he suddenly speaks up, his face darkening with malicious intent, commanding you. His gaze is almost black now. Entirely pitch. The blue, crystalline, light hue in the entirely gone. You're facing two jet, pitch orbs --- bottomless. With no luster. Did he notice that you accidentally peeked at him for a split second? Did he notice you were momentarily intimidated?

 

 

 

-"Good, now ride me."-

-"What?"-

-"I said ride me."-

 

 

 

You blink and you tentatively listen, shy fingers reaching for his member and touching it, feeling it stiff and warm beneath your touch. Terry takes a sharp inhale of breath, nose crinkling, lips sneering as you give him a couple of strokes, smearing the precum of his shaft over his length, getting him moist. You discard you clothes too. One at a time. His eyes are feral. Like they wanted your flesh in his mouth. Positively sharp once you slowly, tenderly sit on his legs, preparing to position yourself over him, touching yourself, feeling yourself loose and wet with each rub, right before you take him into your hands and push himself, inch by inch inside of your self, seating yourself on him a small sigh, feeling full, moving a bit, up and down, stirring him with your hips at a leisurely, hazy pace, balancing yourself by gently applying pressure to his chest with your fingertips. You close your eyes. Anything to avoid Terry's stare. -"When I say I'm not made out of glass, I mean it!"- He growls once you moan, still going slow, clearly displeasing him, feeling the pressure building up in your belly. Not made out of glass? Admittedly, you've been riding him with a measured pace --- unrushed and relaxed. Steady. Never rough. Never harsh. He was glass too you. Your precious glass heart. Terrike. -"Look at me. Look at me!"- His words are harsh, unrelenting, laced with gasps and you open your eyes, face to face with his expression, focused, unflinching, unblinking. Like he hasn't stopped looking at you for a single second. -"Do you belong to me?"- Terry asks, like it wasn't the most obvious thing in the world. You see the irony in that. He was the one tied up at his own behest and yet he was asking you if you --- what? Belonged to him? -"Do you serve me?"- He adds, elongating the 's' in serve like snake's hiss. You realize the answer is obvious. You cared for him. You'd do anything he requested. -"I do."- You whimper in an almost matrimonial way, throwing your head back, eyes momentarily falling on the silver band gracing his finger. -"Are you my little robot?"- He prods on then, as your pace intensifies. His...robot? -"Terry..."- You stutter. Momentarily confused.

 

 

 

 

-"Are you?"-

He doesn't relent. He never does. He demands an answer out of you. Drags it out with pincers.

-"Yes I am."-

You give a response. In honest.

-"You're what?"-

-"I'm your little robot, Terry."-

 

 

 

-"Perfect. You are, aren't you? Ready to roll out and do whatever you're told. Such a good thing."- Terry coos, chuckling momentarily, as you grind him. -"Mhm, even Johnny likes you, and Johnny doesn't like much of anyone."-

 

 

His voice is a low, melodious, warm rumble, like the undercurrent of cave, and before you can even begin to ponder why he just brought that up ---

 

 

You feel a hand --- it's caress on your behind and your eyes suddenly jolt open again and you practically jump, realizing he's got his hands undone while you're impaled on him, giving you an unhinged, toothy smile, lounging from where he was laying and practically collapsing on the mattress with a profound squeak, his full weight pressing into you, one of his arms still partially attached to the steel bed frame, like an animal gnawing to get free.. When --- when did he get loose? You drifted away for all but a second. Enjoying yourself. Enjoying him! Hoping he enjoyed you too and --- now his face was just inches above yours, looking down at you, feral, like you were something he intended to eat. His whole demeanor shifting around it's own core. -"Do you realize how ecstatic I was when I discovered there was nobody else before me?"- You can smell his breath on your tongue as he speaks, chewing each word like it was candy, gulping down in all it's sweetness, you feel your mouth agape. He was ecstatic? You figured he'd irked. See it as a hindrance to his sexual pleasure. -"That you're a little virgin? Unmarked territory?"- He scoots down, over your neck, inhaling you, sniffing audibly, saying the word 'virgin' like it was something salacious. Something that melted in the mouth. -"That I can teach you everything you'll ever know?"- His one available around clasps your waist, pulling you closer to his torso and he practically beams, with a teacher-like pride, practically ripping through the remains of the shabby ropework around his wrist with a single forceful tug --- the material snapping.

 

 

 

-"Terry!"-

 

 

You shriek, looking away on instinct, taken aback by the suddenness and the vigor it splintered with. He practically snatched the cord apart, barehanded, with seemingly endless.

 

 

Your...bondage really didn't do anything to him, did it?

 

 

Served to contain him as much as a mere hair-strand would've --- your tongue goes dry.

 

 

 

He's strong.

 

 

-"Told you not tie them so loose! Because if you do, someone can easily wiggle loose! And we don't want that, do we now? Sensei knows best."- Terry chides with a smile, flipping the tables on you from an experimentation and an amenable lesson in the basics of bondage to --- this? Tilting his head and you know he's correct. You simply never figured he'd actually frighten or surprise you like that. You attempt to hide your face in the sheets, hoping to regain your composure. -"And I have you now!"- His hand grabs your chin, fingers big enough to envelop your whole jawline, he squeezes your cheeks, pushing your lips together, until you feel the taking an awkward, distorted shape resembling the number eight, maintaining the forcibly open as he positions himself above you, face to face, puffing his own mouth up with accumulated saliva. Did he ----"Say 'aaaah'."- He instructs, like a dentist, pursing his lips and allowing a rope of saliva to trick down from his mouth into your own. The contact is slippery. Warm. Slightly foamy in it's texture. He taps the lower part of your jaw, forcing it shut. -"That's it, 'aaah'. Receive my gift."- Terry giggles. -"Keep it closed. Swallow."- He instructs with an almost educational poise to him, holding your mouth, palm of his hand over you, until you do gulp, his essence going down your throat. His eyes appear maddened.-"I thought about a moment like this for so long."- There's a deep, content rumble in Terry's chest. Infinite pleasure. Triumph. Victory. Straddling you, yet appearing so tall above you, like an impossible archon, slightly teasing you, the sheen in his hair enveloped in a sickly, haunted yellow of the reusable lightbulb gracing his bedroom. The world has a flaxen, mustard-like tint.

 

 

 

-"Do you think of me, Bea?"-

 

 

 

He asks you then, saying your name in a small, playful, baby voice, brows shooting up in faux-concern, fluttering his lashes.

Before you can nod your head yes, he hits you with an onslaught in the form of yet another question.

His spit still searing in your mouth.

His cum running down your thighs.

 

 

 

-"Thinking of me is one thing - a good start - but, do you dream of me?"-

 

 

 

 

Terry's velvety, soft voice was in your ear, worming it's way into your mind, warm breath caressing your lobe as you lay together on the bed of the private backroom of his dojo, adjoined to his office, the chamber utterly dark and locked, his arms squeezed around you in a crushing, vice-grip, practically hoisting you up and pushing you up the wall where the mattress was placed, where he lay just a moment ago, with no wiggling space for escape, legs interlocked with your own, barely leaving you leverage to breathe - you have been here, some odd seven hours now, rough estimate, he making sure you wouldn't leave once you were inside and most of what he did in the time thereafter was talk to you. How you've been in all his thoughts ever since he's first laid eyes on you. How you occupy every waking hour. How you're in front of him always. How he feels you in the tension of his fists, and your scent in his sweat and in the strain of his toes, and the ache of his muscles and in the coursing of his blood during an adrenaline rush.

 

 

 

In his dreams too, he claimed, almost with a tender accusation.

 

 

-"Do I -" he trailed off in a hush, enveloping you like a spider in a net "appear to you as you sleep?"-

 

 

 

He asked sweetly, with a hint of menace, your mutual nudity right now the least of your problems --- something insidious beneath the surface as his arms compressed around you even tighter, igniting a dull pain in your very bones, proving the point that he wouldn't be pleased with a negative as an answer, leaving you with the impression Terry Silver could easily strangle you to death and crack your spinal-cord like a Boa toying with it's prey before devouring it whole depending of what you say to him, only to immediately afterwards, continue, his tone laced with a threatening, playful chuckle. -"Because, you are in mine. Always. A l w a y s .You're all I ever dream of. And that's not very nice of you, is it? Invading someone's dreams like that. Presumptuous capital offense. If you didn't already belong to me, I'd kill you for that alone, but as things stand, it's only fair I should haunt you as much as you haunt me and give you no amount of respite, release or rest. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever. Ever! You deserve no such mercy."-

 

 

Kill you?

 

 

You ---

Was he roleplaying right now or ---

Amusing himself and you? No differently to throwing knives at you at the funfair fortune wheel you were tied to?

No, no.

He wasn't.

This was something else. He was having bad dreams with you in them.

 

 

 

Terry hissed in anger and it was almost like the very air in the room became incredibly stiff and tense when he began rocking into you with a low, feral growl every time he repeated the same word into oblivion until it stuck like an echo in your mind, his hardness pressed firmly against you when his hand clasped your neck and grasped it harshly, kneading the soft flesh there with his thumb, breaking off the already stifled flow of oxygen entirely, leaving your eyes to jolt in panic, the world around you spinning, everything around blurred and hazy, convincing you, as staunchly as never before, that he would literally cuddle you and choke to death all at the same time, all while nobody even know you were practically kept as a hostage here for days and days to no end. You knew you it was prudent to be tender and careful when tying him up lest it triggers something within him, even though he assured you it was absolutely fine. That's why you always treated Terry with so much fragility. You were worried the lack of fragile care might brings back some bad memory. Something that haunted him. Something he dragged home from the jungle. Something best left behind in the past. Something best not stirred awake. Something that ---

 

 

 

 

-"You know what I dreamed last night? You were running."-

 

 

 

He added, ice cold, suddenly on top you, eyes facing you. Oh, no. You were running. No, no, no. You were right then. Maybe you should've been even more cautious.

Maybe tying up a war veteran wasn't that prudent in the first, no matter how much he may insist. 

 

 

 

 

-"We were having such a charming, quint little walk through the jungle and then you had to go ahead and run. Don't you know you should never run from an armed man, huh?"-

 

 

 

 

Oh, no, this was bad. It was very bad. Sometimes, it was impossible to rationalize and convince Terry that dreams were just dreams and that they sometimes meant nothing, being absolute chaotic nonsense most of the time, but he always convinced they were direct reflections of one's hidden subconscious intentions, a controlled prophetic environment of one's psyche, and it was a Herculean task to dissuade him - ironic thing was, you really did think of running, but you didn't know how. You thought running right now, rather, when he seemed so odd and off-putting. Tucked him into bed and call it a good night until he sleeps his strange mood off. His forefinger and thumb squeezed your cheeks, his gaze sharper then a needle, forcing your mouth open once more as he accused, always accusing, letting his saliva drip into your mouth and intermingle with your own, repeating the motions of earlier and much like before, you eagerly swallow. He wanted you to always think of him. Always dream of him. Always carry him inside you. Through your bodily-fluids. On your tongue. Between your thighs. Everywhere. Your mind is hazy with fear and desire. Dread and yearning. Ache and horror. Putrid; like honey riddled with maggots. You wish you could erase every vestige of PTSD-fuelled nightmares from his mind forever alongside everything that ever troubled him.

 

 

 

 

 

A deep, appreciative hum from the back of his throat filled your ears.

Followed by a spit-coated kiss as he was swallowing the contents of your mouth.

Practically drinking from you and making you repeat the motion yourself.

Deliberately performing acts difficult to scratch out of your brain.

He promised you as much and he always kept his word.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

-"Fifty-five. Fifty-six. Fifty-seven."-

 

 


Mike Barnes heaves and counts down the number of his push ups, body drenched in sweat pumping itself up and down with Terry's legs extended, in graceful comfort, perched atop of his student's back, no differently then a living, breathing footstool --- he's oddly relaxed today. Mere days before the tournament. Sitting on an indoors dojo bench, practically lounging, his lower body wobbling with Mike's struggled, laboured choreography of warm-up. Boy needed to be kept in shape. Prim and proper, like a well oiled machine about to be set loose and Terry deserved to relax, so he does, notebook and pen in hand, like a teacher would've, he's supposed to rate his progress. Grade it. Like in elementary school. Johnny deserves, in equal measure, to relax also, and he does just that, tinkering away in the office, post-class, paying no head to Terry's raised voice of incentive, especially when Barnes slows down somewhat, no doubt, in exhaustion. There was no exhaustion in this dojo. Only determination. Pushing past the limits. -"Louder, Mr. Barnes! I can't hear you!"- Terry's dictatorial, tone firm, unyielding and Mike speeds up again, with a newfound ardour, counting himself down at a meticulous, even pace. -"Fifty-eight! Fifty-nine! Sixty!"- Kid practically growls. Good. A perfect toy soldier. The agreed norm was a hundred. -"Forty more. At the same pace."- Terry instructs, as a reminder, scrubbing over the paper of his notebook idly. Hearts. He's been scribbling hearts. -"They're just fist pushups."- He chides. They really were just fist push ups. No big deal. -"Not like I asked you to do them with one arm tied behind your back!"- Terry's half way between a cackle, a roar and a sneer, remembering his own training, in the army, and Captain Turner doing just that. Johnny excelled at it, of course, but Terry didn't. Terry would just slump on his stomach, down in the mud and --- he didn't wanna think about that shit. He didn't know who that guy was anymore. That was someone else. Not him.

 

 

 

 

He doesn't wanna grade this shit either. It's kiddie fodder, even though it'll serve it's purpose.


Instead, he's partially amused that his folder is riddled with nonsensical doodles.


Hearts and his name and Bea's name and his name and hers entwined and attempts at drawing.


The odd poem or two --- he's been hard at multitasking, taking turns managing Mike's training regime with Johnny.


And writing while relaxing his bare feet on the boy's back.


His eyes read through the lines he composed idly.

 

 

 


 

I want live inside of your throat.
The throbbing lump in your neck.
So when you utter my name.
And your trembling vocal cords vibrate.
I can come undone hidden inside of you
Shaken and stirred by every resonating sound.
Of your moist tongue delivering the syllables.
That make up who I am and what I'm called.

 


 

 

A poem. A sonnet. He hasn't written anything actively since --- since, well --- since 'Nam, most likely. Some eighteen, twenty years or so? Terry's momentarily lost, looking at the filled sheet of paper, partially admiring it, partially baffled by it, his legs bobbling in tune with Mike's movements. Once the kid reaches a hundred, as agreed, wiping himself off with a towel, his white Gi drenched and wet, stretching his arms and neck further after Terry tucked away his notebook somewhere in his office desk, discreetly, so it wouldn't be seen by anyone, not even Johnny, Mike gives him a nonchalant smile. A little way too friendly for Terry's tastes. He pretended to be this kid's father figure, friend, mentor, cool dude financier, but there always had to be that divide between them. Mike Barnes was simply a wind-up toy serving a purpose. -"What? The woman not here today, Mr. Silver?"- Mr. Dynamite, or Dynamo as Willie Cole wrongfully called him, shrugs his shoulders, trying for cavalier bonding. Terry wasn't Snake or Dennis. Mike was very presumptuous to talk to him all buddy-buddy, like they were pals and he was even more presumptuous to mention Bea. Terry wasn't --- no, he wasn't jealous, no.But, he's in his student's face well within a second. -"The woman?"- Terry repeats, feeling the venom on his own tongue, eyeing the kid's expression bleed away from a playful, relaxed one to something tense, anxious, reflected in his slouching posture once he realized he made a mistake. -"Yeah, your uh...girlfriend?"- Mike corrects himself, eyes darting left and right, trying to ease the blow. Girlfriend? He's never thought of Bea as a girlfriend. That mohawk kid he bribed called her the same thing so Terry simply assumed it's a term kids would've went for, naturally. But, in his context, girlfriend sounded...like something for the common masses. It sounded grossly juvenile and grossly not encompassing the fucking point. In the circles he moved in, it was always lover. Mistress. Paramour. But, Barnes wasn't wrong. She was a woman. His woman. Terry didn't want his things looked at least of all perceived, even in vague passing.
He never bothered making formal introductions. Why should he?

 

 

 

 

Mike Barnes is a temporary robot and she was supposed to be ---

 

Sport?

A game?

Prey?


His woman, as Mike just called her?

 

Was he envious of making introductions, to anyone who wasn't John?

 

 

Why should he introduce her? She was his. He could decided who he shares her with and who he doesn't. Nevertheless, he doesn't bother explaining himself. Instead, Terry's fist rams itself into the wall, right next to Mike's squinting face. John hears the ruckus from the walled off office and makes a grunt of protest signalling he wished to know what was happening out there. What was the commotion. -"Rest easy, Johnny! Mr. Barnes was just warming himself up!"- Is all that Terry yells back, essentially lying on the spot, as Mike scurries away. Lesson learned. Terry's thirty four years old (officially -- after the army, he wasn't quite so sure anymore, the records getting muddied), going on thirty five, even though many found it hard to gage what his age truly was, the guesses ranging everywhere from forty, late thirties, mid thirties and as ridiculously low as late twenties, which amused him to no end. Mike is nineteen. Funny how Bea was somewhat closer to age to him then she was to Terry himself. He didn't like that. He didn't even like the idea if the age difference is perfectly balanced, on each end. He didn't like anything in connotation to her. The fact that people could even perceive her existence was irritating.

 

 

That same night, spending a long night overdue down at the dojo, honing Barnes, he dreams of Bea, wrapped in a gossamer velvet of another reality.

 

 

She's slowly floating with him on a murky, overgrown lilypond bay he instantly recognizes as the delta of the Mekong river, and the surrounding jungle perimeter and the call of a distant Cockatoo, instead of a boat, she's on a bed made out of silk, tucked in, cozy, safe, going downstream, nuzzling into his arms, her fabric softener bearing the curious scent of perfumed lavender. She promises him you're safe and warm and he believes her as the yellow water grows faster and Terry realizes she's about to hit a waterfall and an ambush deep in the heart of the bush. He wakes up that morning and cold sweat, enraged, and bleeds himself deliberately while having a warm-up session in the dojo, swearing he can't get out the scent of lavender out of his nostrils until he realizes she's been washing her sheets and drying them off three floors above. The metallic scent of sweat and flowers intermingles.

 

 

The next day, reuniting with her, a single thread hangs loose from her knitted autumn sweater.

 

 

That too, Terry notices, and every time she wears it, like that time walking on the beach, seeing as how it's her favorite as he deciphers by questioning you via some pleasant small-talk, he covertly and discreetly gives himself the mission of tugging at it a bit more as he sits beside her, supposedly idly, but it's no accident, no. He's on a special mission. A task. Black ops. If he can't bring himself to harm her right now, only play at it, as maddeningly, ludicrously, perplexingly, haunting and profoundly baffling that may be, he must harm something she cares for, or he'll go mad. He's patient. One tug one hour. Another tug five minutes later. Another tomorrow. Another after that. The hem of her sweater is looser and more disheveled each time, he realizes and thinking strategically he knows it'll come undone from usage sooner or later and she'll have to discard it. It's not even cashmere. Clearly, it's giving your collarbone a slight, irritant rash. Why should he care? And why should he have pity and mercy? Something needs to die.

 

 

 

Terry never throughout about smog as a concept until she sneezed one time.

Another sneezed again, and again.

 

 

 

Now, he felt like Don Quixote, battling a windmill giant; windows closing, him gifting her with a fan, in a long line up of nonsense gifts to hopefully distill the air enough that it helps freshen her up, him insisting on walks in nature which brought him personal displeasure, him bidding her not to go out, him leaving the cardboard reality, staying away from her for but a few hours and even that by demand of business and gazing out to the skyline of LA blurry and foggy and wondering if he'll be forced to wipe the whole city, like something cleared out with an eraser, because she sneezed a couple of times? He's on a phone call with Hong Kong and he finds himself rushing through the conference, not caring what Patrick from the Administrative branch of Shenzhen had to say, hanging up prematurely and getting back to her with an box of anti allergen vitamin pills Margaret ordered for him on the spot. Terry's thoughts are on the red of Bea's nose.

 

 

 

 

She carry groceries alone up the stairs of his rented, cardboard reality too. Like that first time. When he's first approached her. He's hit by nostalgia, even though it was not so long ago.

 

 

 

 

The flat where he pretends he's something he's not. All acting. All faking it. The rush he feels when he sees her struggle, though, is no theatre, he does it on instinct, neither losing control, nor gaining it, fully aware in the moment as he rushes to her to grab the plastic bags from her arms, like some small town neighborhood hero. Something about him, in that moment, is hyperaware. Hyperaware of Bea's struggle. Like an animal up against a wall. How small her hands are. Especially compared to his own. Those hands can't carry anything. Shouldn't carry anything. He's filled with violence, like a canal overflowing, at the nameless cashier daring to hand those little hands anything to drag back home, after work. Thoughts of blood and carnage subside when he spares her sweet little fingers and places the groceries inside the heart of her apartment, feeling his own beat with triumph.

 

 

 

 

That same night, his fingers leave marks on her skin and he notices.

Terry doesn't even have to squeeze in particular, or at all, to receive a patchwork of fingertips.

 

 

 

 

Her pigmentation is such that it bruises too easily by nature, like a springtime peach with it's fuzzy, sweet flesh begging to be bitten and tasted, letting the delectable juices seep through it, prone to being damaged under the slightest of touches and he tries, particularly hard, akin to a new student learning something unknown, how to minimize the impact of his own strength, low, and then lower still, until he's holding her like you're a mere feather, afraid he could harm her with how very much he wants to devour her - this was, something, he of course knew and noticed since the very begining and he was gleeful for it, but now he fears he'll destroy her with the power of his need. Afraid? When was the last time he was ever afraid? Of destruction, no less? The destruction of her? If he could hover her in the air, he would, but Terry learns gentleness and she's bruised no more. He is content. He hasn't been a student of anyone or anything for such a long time, but he tries.

 

 

 

 

Finnicky about food, he sneaks items of a better quality into his fake-real life.

 

 

Terry cannot be pleased or feel truly at ease with the contents of her ridiculously tiny fridge, checking their contents sneakily, their expiration dates, the factories and firms producing them and even packaging them, and whether or not they're good enough. Whether they have the potential of ruining her stomach. He should know. He owned Dynatox. He knew everyone who dabbled into the questionable. There he is, tossing a carton of eggs into the trashcan with a scoff because the coloring of the outer layer of the curst started seeming suspect, only to replace it with an entirely new set; Kadaknath chickens eggs, the rarest of it's kind. Specially brought over from the mansion in secrecy. Bea makes an omelets for herself and him and scoff it down with delight and just watches her. Her cheeks have a nice coloring. A healthy, beaming blush. What if he could make her live for a hundred years and keep her just as chipper?

 

 

 

 

He enjoys hurting people during sex, his nerves fidget as he tries not to; not her. Why not, though?

 

In fact, he takes to licking and loosening her, moistening her cunt with his tongue, slowly and languidly, taking his time, so she's wet and comfortable enough for his size - slick and dripping. First time he's ever been concerned about it. He's a bit too big for her. He's still proud of his manhood, of course, but fitting Bea with him is imperative as he sinks into her, inch by inch, cooing and soothing her whenever you whimper or moan, holding her face as he does, tempted to crush her beautiful skull, following every reaction, every change in expression, feeling the velvety warm wetness envelop him to the hit and nestling inside of her like he belongs there and rocking into her with a sleepy pace. Terry once flayed a piece of someone's skin off of their back, mid-coitus, discarding all sex etiquette, in 1981 - he remembered the date like it was a national holiday, now, he's made himself cum by the time he's gotten inside of Bea properly, watching her eyes flutter close with him still inside of her. He's had some 1590 partners total and counting, but this felt like the first time he's ever done it and he doesn't understand why.

 

 

 

In the aftermath of having her, Terry wants to trap her in a glass dome green terrarium and make her live there --- he ponders it while she sleeps on his shoulder.

 

Surrounded by nature and grass and freshness and all that bullshit, like a small butterfly that might die overexposed to the radiation of a loud city. He also wants to tie her up but he makes do by tangling her in a mess of sheets and materials that ought to be kinder to her skin then commonplace chains and ropes. Seeking creative ways to subdue her, using the black sash of his Gi on one occasion, to fasten her hands behind her back. He researches rope of the silken variety. The type which Sultans used to strangulate and garotte disobedient concubines or bring pleasure to their wives with. Only the best threadwork for the most fragile of necks. Only the best threadwork for someone who's his. Terry ties her up like one ties a decadent ikebana of orchids; careful not to bruise or harm anything needlessly, no matter how badly he wanted to. When he's done, Bea's not unlike a bouquet of flowers and he smiles, admiring his handicraft.

 

 

 

 

He dreams of her again, a mere two days before the All Valley; he dreams she's left the cardboard-cutout reality with him.

Now that his business was concluded here. Not that she knew that. He stalling and staying in this apartment complex longer then he needed to.

 

 

Terry dreams of home. She's there with him. Address says 2607 Glendower Avenue and the built-in, state of the art, stone-work fireplace is merrily crackling, illuminating the colossal hall with a shadowy haze of red gold. It's dusk. The crescent rising moon and the setting sun are gracing the sky at the same time. A windy twilight. Purple, lulling, the palm-tree riddled summer vista peeking through the windows shimmering distantly and back from some gala event before a seasonal night storm, Terry's suited up, reclining on the plush sofa, the collar of his silken ribbon tie undone, with her sitting beside him, bidding he unzip the back of her bedazzled ballgown. The Renée Strauss is soon discarded on the floor as she lays beside him naked in the silent estate lobby. There's nobody here and Terry's hit with the uncanny impression of belonging as he traces the patterns and the letters of his full, actual, often unused name on the outline of her back. T-e-r-r-e-n-c-e. He finds he wants to do everything in the world with her. Fuck her. Kiss her. Strangle her.

 

 

He writes another poem, once he's awake. He finds he doesn't know how to finish it even though he's been pushing himself, which proves to be irksome.


So, Terry's stranded with merely two lines, recollecting his time in Vietnam;

 

 


 

I can make myself sweeter.

I can try, because I once was.

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

“The need to go astray, to be destroyed, is an extremely private, distant, passionate, turbulent truth.”

— Georges Bataille

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

Terry leaves you with a stack of poems.

You've...never had anyone write poems for you before, or more precisely, poems dedicated to you.

You didn't figure people did such things anymore --- only in movies.

 

 

 

 

And yet, here they are, a collective of dabbles and short lines on what appears to be his work oriented notebook, otherwise empty, other then the odd schedule in classes and timetables, it's riddled with things he's composed as you flip pages, counting them down in your head, realizing there's some odd twelve or thirteen pieces he's come up with, as he explains, while having his student do his round of workout, your eyes scouring the passages here and there and everywhere, finding one that starts with If I could make a fist, it would resemble a beating heart and you look up at Terry, staring down at you, expectantly, as you sat on your couch, feeling your own mouth agape. His sensibilities were always a bit harrowing. You knew that. It was simply the way he was and you didn't hold that against him. You were surprised he found inspiration and time to write at all, with how busy he was about to be. His tournament was drawing near. The All Valley. And Terry was oddly silent about it. He explained it wasn't such a big deal once you asked him if there were any preparations he needs aid with. Just a junior championship, he insists. A small afternoon affair and that he'd be back home with you in no time. Just some kids doing kicks and punches and a few accolades being handed out with not that big of a crowd to accompany the event. That pacified you. You had a work-shift precisely falling on the date of the event and you figured you'd prepare a nice meal for him for when he returns. Draw him a bath. Take care of him, regardless of the outcome. He explained he isn't winning any trophies for himself. This aforementioned Mike Barnes is winning for himself rather. Terry is just his...well...coach, really. A coach who writes stellar poetry, apparently. How sweet. Truly sweet. -"These are...well, they're beautiful!"- You stutter, feeling some in your belly flutter. Must've been the mythical butterflies everyone always mentions. -"For me? Really?"- You peer up at him, whispering in disbelief, even though he already reiterated. They couldn't have been for anyone else. -"They're art, Terry! Dark art, but still!"- You exclaim, spreading your arms in disbelief, then cradling the notebook. It was dark. Slightly. But, he could express himself however he pleased. You couldn't hold it against him. Was there...was there anything this man couldn't do? He was a business owner and a martial artist and a capable fighter and handsome to boot and kinder then bread and now he was something of an artist too.

 

 

 

 

How was he even real, you sometimes wonder?

You didn't doubt Terry had a lot he struggled to express. Maybe this was how he did it?

On the canvas of paper? On the canvas of bodies? Fists?

 

 

 

-"Oh, no, I'm not much of a writer or an artist. I work with my hands, mainly."-

 

 

 

He acts humble, shrugging his shoulders, smiling bashfully, hands tucked into the pockets of his jeans.

For a split second, appearing like a bashful schoolboy.

And then he grows serious, intense, his voice vibrating a certain need.

 

 

 

 

-"But, read them back to me. Now."- Terry's on the couch next to you, shoulders slouching slightly, like he's shy to hear his own work recited out loud, his hands resting on his knees and he's looking at you, intently, eyes fluttering back and forth between your face and the words on the paper, his words bearing the burning vestige of fierceness, like he couldn't quite wait to hear you read to him in spite of his inhibitions and nervousness. There's an unrelenting force contained in a single, solitary 'now' drawn out with special, dignified emphasis. -"One at a time. I want to listen to you."- His tone is almost pleading then as he lowers his head and lays it down on your lap as you raise your arms up in surprise, allowing him to scoot down. He wants to listen to you read? Was the prospect of the All Valley stressing him out somewhat? Was that it? And he needed some respite and he simply didn't wanna say anything? Well, it was possible. Him losing would make no difference to you ever. You couldn't care less, so as instructed, you lean back into the couch, and you read, slowly, quietly, carefully placing your fingers of the outline of his hair, caressing the sleek, shiny, smooth, tresses, in the comfort of your small apartment. Your home. Right above his small dojo. And the small bodega you worked at. Your small world.

 

 


 

 

 

If I could make a fist, it would resemble a beating heart.
Punch through you, perhaps, shattering your ribs.
Maybe inside of you then, there would be respite.
Under the organs and the blood and entrails.
I would keep my hand steady there.
Grasp the organ that pumps life.
Squeeze, until it resounds no more.
The master of your existence and demise.
Moving you left and right - synaptic nervous system.
You would dance with me in tune, my fingers in your chest.
Intermingled breaths, your last one all for me and all mine.

 

 

 


 

 

 

You finish, sinking even further into the old couch, enjoying the silence. You feel profoundly...touched. Stirred.

-"Read it again."- Terry whispers from where he lay, long legs slumping off of the patchy sofa --- so you do.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Terry finds himself wanting to be the man you believe him to be.

 

 


With this underlining desire in tow, with big, wide strides, he climbs up from the dojo studio apartment, the cardboard-cut out reality, his staged classes done for the day, into your rented flat space - subsequently, another ant-house of an existence - and into the makeshift kitchen area and the small dining table fit only for two is riddled with hot, steaming food waiting for him and you, back turned, tinkering away on the stove, stirring the contents of your pot ardently in front of a tiny, open window, the scent carrying him up the stairs and through the hallways, right into your home - a place he inhibits often, or at least, in the past few months. It's like witnessing a scene off of a mall-postcard. A set meal for the day, salads you've cut on your own, a round of fried meat and a sauce you attempted to make as good as it's described in the recipe as your proceed filling the lining of a chocolate waffle-cake. You exclaim, chipper, that it, unfortunately, cannot be cut and eaten immediately - the ingredients need to settle down - that you could try the homemade dessert in the evening, or tomorrow, if he had time. It would simply be easier buying all of these things. Off of some catering-service, but that didn't erase Terry's shock. He must pretend he doesn't have the world at his fingertips, so he acts bashful. Or maybe he is bashful, much to his disbelief, as you coax him to sit down and join you. You in fact, prepared this, for him as well as yourself, after his workload is done.

 

 

 

This Terry Silver, as you would believed him to be - you wanted to feed him.

Nourish him, take care of him, make sure his needs are met.

-"What about the truck?"- You inquire, curiously.

-"Are you going to wash and hose it down later?"- 

 

 

 

You add with a smile, looking at him eager and doe-eyed, biting into a forkful of the tender, white chicken meat still drizzling from the heat of it's sauces and Terry nods, affirmative, with a slight grin of his own, sitting beside you, sheepishly, back hunched deliberately - you were, on occasion, so worried for the stage-prop that was the busted, blue Ford pick-up vehicle - a marker of his supposed working-class struggle and poverty - that it was bordering on comedy - he kindly rejected your offer to wash it and polish it with you a couple of times already, playing the role of the humble, shy gentleman teaching martial arts three stories below not wanting to take advantage of your helpful nature, but you simply insisted. It can be patched right back up, just needed a good cleaning, time and attention and some work here and there and it would be a perfectly serviceable little car, just to avoid someone detaining him being stopped by an officer for not following regulations and standards, of course, you'd add, genuinely worried he'd get into some trouble - and he was slightly jealous. He was jealous of an inanimate object. A stupid, meaningless inanimate object.

 

 


Not just that - actually.

He was jealous of the care his make-belief role was getting.

He didn't want you fussing over this bum he was pretending to be, no.

He wanted the real him to be fussed, and cooked dinners and his Rolls Royce carefully scrubbed.

 

 


Terry Silver wanted to come home from the offices at Dynatox and Co., into the palatial Glendower Avenue mansion, in his silk blazer, gold Cuban-knot chains, diamond-studded earrings and polished, silver-clasp crocodile shoes and find you in one of the fifty kitchens, guided by the scent to you as you're eagerly awaiting his return with a blush adorning your cheek and making a little something of your own the two of you can eat together as you tell each other about your respective days, feeding yourselves instead of the chefs and the staff and the maids, living out this water-bubble fantasy, safe and sound within the greater scope of what his life was - a miniature, sprawled out on some unimaginable, colossal display table Terry could admire and feel content with. He wanted to come home and find you admiring his other cars instead, the ones he actually drove and used on the regular - not a plaything he toyed around for the sake of manipulation and theatrics. The fact that he might've imagined you washing the red Porsche Snake and Dennis loved so much with a bubbling, dripping sponge, and a precious little smile, wearing nothing at all, but the water droplets and the salt of your own sweat, like a summer centerfold in a magazine, might've been another thing entirely.

 

 


Bottom-line was, your eyes were warm and inviting, and the act of service was for him.

The actual him, not an invented man, with an invented life and invented half-truths.

-"My love, welcome home."- You'd say sweetly, tenderly, dripping in bubbles.

Terry blinks and the thought pops like a scented, fragile fizz of foam.

-"You aren't working too hard, are you, Terrikém? You seem exhausted."-

 

 


You, much to his chagrin and displeasure, notice his momentary distraction as your hand reaches his from across the table and massages his clenched fist with a thumb as he curses, inwardly, his lack of control and his facade slightly shifting. Was he exhausted? No. Was he disturbed? Yes. Angry, too, because it's this nobody lowlife renting out a dojo with a half-finished paint-job on the walls lined with old, yellowed newspaper clippings instead of cover-all's was the one the that received all this love. This...care. He received the endearments your bestowed on him too. Your little Terry. Little Terry. Your. Disgusting. Putrid. He always thought that the more a person accumulated, that the more likely it is people will flock to them with admiration, envy and need. Reminded him of that line from Scarface; 'In this country, you gotta make the money first. Then when you get the money, you get the power. Then when you get the power, then you get the women.' Well, or the men - or anyone else he felt rightfully entitled to, whatever the case. Which of course, Terry knew long before the movie ever came out, a few years ago. He didn't need Tony Montana or any tacky, overrated gangster flick to teach him that or anything else, really. Everything, from his life experiences, to sheer observation and his own pa' and ma' already instilled that fact in him, decades prior. The war instilled that in him also. Terry felt he needed to be great - the greatest, in fact, to be loved at all.

 

 

 

Even Twig always felt he must become stronger, to repay Johnny's aid.

Unconditional as it was, a debt still existed, somehow, in Terry's mind.

-"No, I'm not working too hard, but I do have a question for you. Ready?"-

Terry makes a decision and throws on his best face of sincerity, you of course, nod in response.

He squeezes your hand holding his, disliking the fact your sudden anxiety bothers him so much.

 

 

 

-"If our lives were always like this,"- he starts, strategically, analyzing the pulse in the room with his tongue, his eyes never leaving yours for a second, testing you, finding that that saying those two set of words, our, and lives, hangs heavy yet delectable in his mouth, like a cool, sweet piece of yellow Canary Melon, cut and drenched in honey, served in a crystal platter, ready for him, dripping like the inside of your thighs. Your pink little cunt. -"Would you mind?"- the question is asked, the risky rolling dice thrown on the roulette wheel, for a moment, he feels like his gambling pa' in a casino with no exit and he almost wants you to say yes, that you would, in fact, mind, that you hate it, that you hate him, he wants to be argued and debated and proven right. That this fabricated Terry, only a quarter of a man he actually is, so similar to Twig, he's almost a comedic caricature parody he designed on purpose, isn't what you desire or dream of ultimately, rather, he wants you to describe someone more similar to the actual him, so he can be gleeful and triumphant about it - discard the grey feathered coat he enveloped himself in and reveal his true, colorful peacock plumes. Maybe hurt you a little too in retaliation. And then fuck you right on there, on the counter. But, of course, as always, you catch him off guard. You don't even realize that you do, don't you?

 

 

 

-"Would I mind? Mind? What's there to mind? I met the best of friends and the love of my life in a city of millions, when I expected nothing but estrangement and solitude, and I'm sitting here, sharing a meal with him and he seems to enjoy my attempt at a sour cream tomato salad. Things could stay like this for a long, long, long time for all I care."-

 

 

 

You respond with a hearty chuckle, eyeing the condiment bowl you've made with amusement, lifting up his hand from across the table and planting a kiss on his knuckle and Terry melts and sees red. It's like he's at war with you somehow, silently. Like you're doing this to intentionally annoy him, but he knows you better. He knows you would not. You legitimately do believe, with all your might he's a catch, as is. He spent weeks thinking of a persona, an entire alter ego, most likely to evoke subdued admiration and relatable, humanized pity for some fatherless Italian Jersey kid, and here you are, thinking his project is aspirational. He should've done better. He should've pretended to be a returning homeless veteran vagrant, he supposes. But, then, that could've triggered your instincts for care and it would irritate him even more. Instead, you're circling each other. He softly attacks and you unknowingly defend yourself, and often times him too and he simply can't seem to win. There's no way around you in the fog of siege and Terry is tempted to envelop your neck in the palm of his hand and squeeze you within an inch of your life after finishing dinner and helping you wash the dishes, like a good, well-behaved, polite guest would. He wants to lick the plates clean and then he wants to lick you clean as well. He yearned to usurp your flesh and your moans and your very name and make you the same person as him - an ourboros, uncertain where you begin and where he ends. He wants to force you on your knees and make him call him sir, as was due and proper.

 

 

He wanted to go grocery shopping with you and pretend to be excited by discounts.

He wanted you tied up and hanging from the ceiling - he wanted you screaming.

He wanted to be your slave - he wanted to own you, he wanted you crawling on the dojo mat.

He wanted to continue living out this shake-and-stir snow-globe of a life and be simple and peaceful.

He wanted to take you home into a happily ever after, to a palace on a hill and fuck his children into you.

He wanted to complement your cooking and also call it the worst, tritest thing in existence.

He figured he'd also kick someone out the window if they ever contemplated doing the same.

Terry Silver wanted everything, he realized, where you were concerned, no matter how contradictory.

He wanted you whole, the good, the bad, the very worst, and the very best, your whole being.

He wanted to show the whole world, and trap you, and never let you leave his side, ever.

Instead of showing his intent, as was wise, he merely smiles at you, beaming.

 

 

 

-"Yeah, well, as things are, unchanged then, I wouldn't mind doing everything with you too."-

 

 

 

Terry tells the truth with a mellow smile, by essentially turning it inside out, like a coat with two faces, and he sees you beaming at him from across the tiny dinner table, getting up from your seat and scooting down to embrace him, carefully plopping down on his lap - the ritual of touch becoming more and more familiar with each passing step - you've noticed him pulling away at first and you opted not to reach out to him out of respect, but that too, left him wanting and he started grabbing your fingers on his own accord, guiding it wherever he craved and pleased. His arm and neck and torso and face and lips and it felt as familiar as a greeting squeeze from an old friend, as did this - sitting here, hugged by you, listening in on the neighbor's feet tapping on the floor one story ahead, and someone below ground playing their television's volume a bit too loudly. He wanted to take you away and yet he wanted to stay. He also wanted this place his, possessive of it, like a child with a beloved toy. That, or leveled to the ground with dynamite and bulldozers. Or preserving it, like a temple or a museum, with all your trinkets and things safe and intact, jealous of the man you let in here, the man he pretends to be, when that too, was a piece of who he really was, a role within a role - envious of himself.

 

 

 

Next time he climbs up here, he decides, he'll climb up his real self.

His work here was teetering to an end, with the tournament season fast approaching.

And Terry wanted to collect the one thing out of this damn building he felt was worthy collecting with him.

So he could feel the...whatever this warmth was he was feeling when he was here, for the rest of his life.

 

 

 

 

 

He reminisces on that thought in solitude, where nobody can see --- where's he's in control of himself.

 

 

 

 

 

The front page of Forbes bears his visage --- dating back to 1979, he saved the copy as a private memento, now sitting his dojo office, fished out of a securely locked desk drawer, so nobody would find it (or more importantly, so Bea wouldn't, although Terry figured she wouldn't be as dastardly as to snoop --- but, regardless), years later, fingers flipping through the pages idly, he often returns to the cover; A glossy, professional lit, deliberately moody portrait of himself, suited up smartly in the fashions of the decade, in all-black, slightly looming, against a pale, minimalist background, his face partially obscured for emphasis to add to his mystique, Terry's expression is clouded in a haze of pale tobacco smoke, one hand holding up a lit cigar he smoked on set --- a statement piece and his own aesthetic marker --- his hair was tied back, even then, neat, slicked and tidy, with a direct, firm look into the camera, making contact with the viewer, as if intending to break the fourth wall. Below him, the words in a bold, pristine, lofty print say;

 

 

 

 

 

SILVER   NUCLEAR   TITAN
AMERICA'S   YOUNGEST   SELF-MADE    BILLIONAIRE

 

 

 

 

And he was. At the time, he was one of the youngest on the continent. Not entirely self-made though, relying on the dwindling, multigenerational fortune of his family's inheritance to propel himself up and finance himself in equal measure, it simply didn't sound quite as catchy or as wildly marketable as the title of a tabloid cover. Flipping the sleek, shiny pages again, to find the five page spread poster interview inside of the actual magazine, he promptly skips all the questions detailing his work ethic, his inspirations to make change, his business model for the future, Dynatox's expansion, his own views on preventing Global Warming by the year 2000. and how corporations can help push along change by the turn of the new millennia, he lands right on the last page, right where he wishes to be, talking about interpersonal relations and the dating scene of Southern California for a newly-minted Billionaire, reading out the lines bolded in finely printed italics to himself, chuckling at the recollection of his old Q&A;

 


 

 

―On a more personal note; you have something of a reputation as LA's most eligible playboy. Is this a title you particularly hold to and plan to retain for a longer period of time? As a man masterminding the greatest, most innovative juggernaut company at the turn of the decade, is there a partner in your life you could share your successes with? Do you see yourself as bachelor in the long run? Is there a Silver dynasty in the making comparative with the brand that is Dynatox?

 

 

The long, formulaic inquiry is right there and it's a hell of a lot of words to merely ask, in the most roundabout of ways 'Are you seeing anyone right now, Mr. Silver? Do you plan to? You fucking anyone?'

 

 

―I think every man is first and foremost his or her own dynasty, as you said. A world in small. It has to begin with you before it can expand anywhere else, so for now, I have no plans. In hindsight, the betterment of our natural resources, a reduction of our collective carbon footprint, a greener America, and by extension, a greener Planet is what I consider my legacy and my brainchild. We can't hope to bring forth new generations without a clear and doable strategic motion for the future where the preservation of our living spaces are concerned.

 

 

Terry's strategically diplomatic answer is right there, intentionally vague, yet in equal measures truthful. Everyone man's his own dynasty. Another way of saying he was too busy fucking around at Studio 54 to think about serious commitments at the time.

 

 

―As for what's my type, if that was your question --- I don't subscribe to the philosophy that opposites attract. I'm of the strict belief that likeminded individuals with likeminded goals and a complementing work ethnic make astounding teams.

 

 


 

He reads out the very last line, and he feels his own expression twist into a scoff. That --- that still rang true to him. Nothing changed. Nothing changed, right? Why should it change? That was a smart way to view unions with others. Likeminded individuals with likeminded goals. That one aged like fine wine, in his opinion. He shuts the periodical and tosses it back into the drawer, finished, promptly locking it back up. That thing in the bathroom --- that meant nothing. He could've said that to anyone. His hair getting washed --- fuck, his hair stylist offered to tend to his hair before. That's what hair stylists do. They tend to hair. You weren't a hair stylist, but anyway, the point stood. It was simply something people did. It wasn't as deep or intuitive as his brain made it seem. Except, Terry feels something, especially after reading his articles about himself, years old, and his old interviews and he wonders why he feels, well --- affected? Was that what he was feeling. Affected? But, you weren't his significant other, regardless of what he led you believe or even a viable partner, so the fact that you weren't a likeminded individual with likeminded goals, and instead, precisely his opposite, shouldn't have bothered him in the least bit. You were a human ping pong ball, wait to the kicked. That's exactly what your purpose was to him, so anything he might've felt was --- it was false. False.

 

 

 

 

Terry Silver seeks feeling - has for decades.

It's been a lifelong hobby and task of his - a journey.

Catching and collecting feelings in all it's shapes and sizes, as a concept.

And a wholly new type, one he doesn't think he's ever experienced yet, hits him unexpectedly.

It comes down like a flash of lightening when he, after much deliberation, merely says;

 

 

 

 

-"Okay, pack your things. You're coming home with me."-

 

 

 

 

Bea of course, as suspected, seems confused. Lost. Once he approaches her, on the third floor, catching her off guard, after her work shift at his store. She's somewhat out of her element. Poor thing. She really thought he lives here. In this apartment complex? In the backroom of a dingy, deliberately half-finished dojo studio riddled with buckets of paint, patchy walls, layers of old newspapers serving as nylon coveralls and the sound of police sirens blaring through the perpetually drawn on shutters nonstop, in the more worrying part of this downtown concrete housing block. This was a stage. A prop. A cardboard theater. Every thing and item and placement, strategically designed to evoke sympathy, an air of working class relating - but regardless of it's purposeful aesthetic Terry choreographed with great amusement and care, addressing the geomantic art of Feng Shui when thinking of ways to make himself appear even more destitute - just a poor boo boo, trying to make it big in the world - she managed to turn this into - well, he dared say, a home? An imitation of one? In the brief time she occasionally stayed down there, cooked down there, slept over down there? Or at least homely rather. Yes, home and homely. In equal measure. It's almost like she studied Feng Shui yourself to counter him and transform one liquid metal into another, even though he very much doubted it.

 

And it's an entirely new feeling, one he hasn't collected before - witnessing her bestowing him with a sleeping blanket once you realized his mattress is mostly bare, and entirely spartan in it's accommodation. Bea gifting him with some pots and pans, once you, again, noticed a sore lacking in the tiny, crammed kitchen adjoined to his minuscule sleeping area. After that, some decorations, for the void gracing his claustrophobic shelves and an electrical fan, to alleviate the stifled heat brought on from the lack of proper air ventilation. Truth is, Terry liked it hot, at least during work hours, naturally. By night, the temperature was natural. He always traversed in searing locales, one way or another. From Vegas, to Tahiti to Vietnam. But, in the dojo, again, it was by design. It kept all visitors weak, perspired and disoriented. Just the way he wanted them to be. A rug for the hole in the hall he showered in, with a mere dripping, broken old faucet and nothing else. He really was hamming up the pornography of poverty, just waiting for the opportune moment when she's had enough. Testing her resolve. Her limits. But, still nothing. If anything, she kept gifting him with more and more trinkets. Did she simply enjoy struggling? Perhaps she did --- maybe it was simply this socialist mentality about making do with less you had?

 

Was she as an ingrained masochist? She was. He knows she was. Did she have low self esteem? Undoubtedly. Haunted by the weird conviction she deserved no better? The notion she had to drag herself through torment, to deserve anything at all? Was she simply one of those people overly eager to please and prove themselves? Be eternally helpful because they were always discarded, and as such overcompensate as a result? Terry could psychoanalyze Bea all day, and be as far away from understand as he was when he began. Instead, rather, taking hold of this new beaming feeling, he grabbed her hand, gripping hard. Yes, he was taking her home - to his real, actual, genuine home - no stage props, no. John was to stay here at regular hours at regular times from now on. This, well --- whole building was starting to get obsolete now. Last night Danny-boy put and two together after a romp at a night club resulting in a broken nose, and well --- As amused as Terry was at the perverted pleasure of revealing his character, he no longer needed to pretend he lived here. It wasn't needed. His ploy was finished. He didn't require to remain. Why would he? He just needed the kid to believe he was a nobody. And then, by extension, he had Bea believing the same. Wanted it to be a little game, before he inadvertently devours her.

 

 

 

-"What do you mean? We can't go to Vegas! Listen, it'll place too much stress on your truck and I really don't want to put you through the hassle of repairing it now when rent is almost due! There will be time, okay? We just have to be patient, wait, save up, and then, well, we can go wherever we want, right? We can go down to the beach, have a picnic basket, fill it with food, and just relax. Overindulge, get some nice, delicious stuff. Just gorge ourselves a bit and..."-

 

 

 

The truck? She was worried about the fucking truck? The truck!?

 

 

 

She trails off in her delivery, listing off all the things she wants to do and her 'one day' list with him and Terry's a bit lost for words. She misunderstood him completely. Naturally. Finding his mouth slightly agape; first of all, the blue Ford vehicle was entirely functional and masterfully designed to merely appear broken, old and faulty. Barely running. Meanwhile, as funny as it sounded, the Dodge Challenger was merely acquired so he could more effectively follow her around when it rained. No reason other then that. Yes. He was petty. There was no reason for her to feel sorry for it or try to spare it the journey when it could, technically, withstand any distance, strain and terrain, merely seeming like it could not. Second of all, he didn't mean Vegas. Third of all - was that her fantasy? When she saves up? When the two of you save up, rather, apparently? Bea wanted a beach picnic? When the beach was literally, in layman terms, almost around the corner? That's what she was yearning for? A basket full of food and eating it? With him? She didn't, oh, he didn't even know - wish to go to Ibiza and sunbathe on a Yacht cruising the French riviera, get fucked leaned on the window of a penthouse suit overlooking Shanghai, retire to an estate on Lake Como and just spend a weekend carnally spent or go on a skiing vacation in Aspen? She wanted a basket full of food on the beach? Ugh. She was almost as infuriating as John was, with his constant insistence on being strictly utilitarian. Although, Terry had the impressed talking Bea into a vacation to Tahiti or really anywhere else would've been infinitely harder then it was John.

 

 

And there it was - that peculiar feeling again. Like a painful clenching in his chest, akin to a sudden pressure. She was so oddly pure, stupidly so, that it hurt lying to her or concealing anything from her. Even the fact he wanted to hunt her for sport. Even that, Terry wished to be upfront with, realizing how chaotic and unsound that would've come off. He finds he wants to tell Bea, against all rationale --- that he wants to tell her everything, all of it --- he wants and yearns to be himself. His truest self. Would she, well, as juvenile and childish as it sounded, would she still like him if he did? Ugh, like him. Furthermore, she was so pure, he wanted to tuck her away, selfishly so - away from this idiotically inept place.This caricature of a spot where the tiles were cracked and the electricity flickered awkwardly.The drilling of the construction workers outside and the irksome, noisy neighbors upstairs.Terry picked this place due to it's seedy, lowlife quality. In fact, he didn't even pick it, as much as Johnny's old establishment simply work perfectly with an image he had in mind. Terry could've gone elsewhere. He didn't, though. But she wasn't lowlife. Or was she? Yes she was Why wouldn't she be? She was his...little fascination. His friend. His confidante. His sweetie. His enemy. His --- something. What was she to him exactly? Was she a girlfriend? The way Mr. Dynamite deemed it so graciously? Maybe so, but you were also the only one of these nameless destitute drones that seemed alive. Touchable, tangible - a flash of color in the gray-panel walls.

 

 

 

 

He was writing poetry for her while using Mike Barnes as a footstool, for crying out loud!

 

 

 

 

-"We're rich."- He bursts out, not on instinct, rather to stun her into silence, and he does.Then, by extension, for a mere second, he stuns himself also, due to his usage of 'we' rather then 'I'.-"What do you mean?"- She giggles awkwardly, thinking that he's joking, as usually. She always does. He seldom actually does, though - a lot of the things Terry says are disguised and veiled truths and half-truths. -"What you heard. We're rich."- He reiterates, with extra firmness, rolling his 'r' in the word 'rich' with such gusto it does indeed sound rich, looking down at you and straight into her eyes, so vehemently, he can see himself reflected in them - for a moment, he forgets to breathe from the intensity of his own confession. She's baffled, judging by her expression, tinkering with her own fingers, in response, Terry tinkers with his own alongside his silver ring. -"This place!? This is temporary! This is bullshit! I don't live here! Never have! I just conduct my business here! And you so happened to rent just above and what could I do - I can't walk up to you and say, hey - look, things are such and such, right!? Come home with me and let me take care of you! You'd blow me off in a second! And what then, huh!? I can't break down your door, can I!?"-

 

 

 

 

Even as those words are uttered, in all their honesty, they sound ridiculous to his own ears.

Because Terry Silver, would in fact, break down her door.

And gladly.

When has a mere door ever stopped him?

If she was separated by a wall, he'd sledgehammer through it.

 

 

 

Terry was following her gaze with his face lowered to the vicinity of her eyesight, tracking every insecurity, doubt, speculation and trace of confusion like a living scanner, and truth of the matter was, he very much could break down her door, if push came to shove. It wasn't her door, after all. It was your landlord's door and by extension, he didn't give a fuck about that prick's miserable, greasy, rat-infested property. But, he didn't wish to. He opted out of it. He wanted her of her own accord. Her own choice. Sure. a nudge in the right direction was key, with a bit of his famous mental stimulation, but at the end of the day, he desired cooperation. Acceptance. He desired her somewhere safe and good and surrounded by good things, in a good neighborhood, where nobody would mug you on the street, halfway from a local bodega and on the way back home from a grocery store. He's trailed after her in secret enough times to gage the danger. And he lived up on the Hills long enough to calculate the stark, very obvious benefits. Bea didn't even have proper water pressure in this building all that often, for fuck's sake. It was like a Third World motel down here, sometimes. He wanted her out. His ma' and pa' would loathe this place so badly and so did he, but oh, for the sake of friendship and John, he could and would endure it all gladly by the tenfolds, if this was to be at all convincing. He's experienced worse too. He just fancied the fact that nowadays, he had the luxury of being capricious and self-aware about it. He didn't understand why he wanted good things for Bea, when the other half of him wanted her in pain and dead.

 

 

 

-"But - how can you be rich? You barely saved up for the electricity bill last month."-

She asks, somewhat crestfallen, feeling a bit cheated, surely.

-"Well, darling, I lied."-

He takes the sincere route, unblinking.

 

 

 

-"I lied about a great many things to you. I don't merely teach here, under John, in a rented property space. I own the dojo. I own the brand, in fact. Cobra Kai is mine. I bought it for him. I copyrighted it. I masterminded and founded the idea in '74. Not just here, all across the Valley. Korea too. There was no electrical bill. I made that up for you."-

 

 

 

-"But, why? Terry why?"- She stammers, after his tirade, voice cracking. Why indeed - Terry assumed it was because the enjoyed the feelings she evoked in him. He supposed he wanted, for that reason, to be somewhat similar to her, as a person. Down on her level, talking about things she'd relate to, things she'd understand. The common mundane aspects of life - budgets and bills and rent and laundry Fridays. Laying down on his sleeping mattress, listening to her talking about the things she wanted to cook. Make due of his comically tiny kitchen-space, or her own stove upstairs, to deliver a warm meal. Bea reminded him of a some teledrama character his mother would watch back in the days. In monochromes, chatting away with him, over a hot beverage, plying him with a dessert. Telling him about her home, making him want to scoop it up and tuck it into his back pocket. In equal measure, making him want to crush the fucking place in the palm of his hand like a dried up dirt pile. -"Why? How would you ever let me close if I didn't? You wouldn't, lets be real here."- He retorts, taking to a contemplative pace around the hallway inter-joined with the training area. If he came to her, as he was, as he usually is, she'd probably be scared shitless of him. In fact, his real self would never come down here in the first place - not in a hundred years. Perhaps, only to watch the place being collapsed with a stack of dynamite from the safety of his limo.

 

 

 

-"Maybe I would. You don't know me, Terry."-

 

 

 

Not know her? Margaret sent him a whole detailed file on you within a week of him moving in. Silly honeybea.

 

 

-"I know you. I know you far too well. You'd scurry up your little stairs and bolt your door."-

 

 

-"You - you make yourself sound like you're some type of - I dunno - Oligarch? Criminal? Mafia boss? I mean, sure, it's an unexpected surprise! You owning the dojo, and all, but, I mean - it's a bit excessive, the way you're describing yourself."-

 

 

-"Oh, I own a lot more then that, honey-bunny."-

 

 

He starts approaching her slowly, somewhat cynically entertained.

 

 

Choosing to ignore, everything sh said about Oligarchs - how close she hit that mark. She thought that all he owes is Cobra Kai and maybe a measly million here and there? Fuck, wait, what was Bea's standard for wealth anyway - a hundred thousand dollars? Fifty thousand, ten thousand - little did she know, the very Ford car you were pitying earlier? That alone cost as much, as it was literal nonsense pocket-change for a state of the art technician. -"What do you mean? What else to do you have? Please don't tell you owe the building!?"-
He didn't own the building but he did own the convenience store you worked in and he didn't even want to get into that now. He didn't want to make her even more confused, lost and upset.

 

 

She stutters her words out, her eyes widening when you become convinced you've reached an epiphany and an answer to all of your questions, and Terry's wicked amusement goes from absolute, sinful delight, to something of a bare-bone insulted disposition in the span of twenty seconds and now it's him almost stuttering, rather, in anger, as he halts in place, ceasing his physical cornering of her body up against the nearby wall she was failing to realize she was about to hit and right into a framed photograph of John smiling with a trophy, from ear to ear, almost as if he himself, immortalized in a polaroid, couldn't help but totter a beaming grin at this whole situation. -"What!? This piece of shit hotel Rwanda pigsty!? Fuck the building! You're not listening to me!"- Terry grabs you by her shoulders, refusing to shake or squeeze her, lest he scares her when it's not exactly his intention to, rather yet, to make her understand the current reality of things, that he's not some bankrupted working-class dreamy, jeans-clad next door neighbor who knocks at her door, to borrow some sugar because he truly lacks sugar. Rather, because he wants to see her. Furthermore, because he loves her doing things for him. No less, because he figured he found her presence...shockingly ameniable...as a whole. And in light of that, he fishes a magazine out of his desk. He kept it there, under key, safely, contemplating for months on when and how he's going to tell her and relish it.

 

 

 

The issue was 1979.

Forbes Man of the Year.

 

 

About five years ago - he's made countless periodicals since. But, Terry figured - it was simply good form to start from the very beginning. He hands Bea the glossy, full-color publication with his face on the cover. And she stares at it mutely - he follows each expression carefully. He catches an odd shadow of fear flashing in her eyes. Right at the moment she reads the word 'billionaire'. The real Terry was a daunting individual. He knew that, because he built him. But, it didn't have to always be so. She could continue all she did here. Except, on far a different address now. She could still tell him what she'll cook or bake. How she likes styling her hair and his own - or having her drinks. Indulging in her tiny hobbies and her tiny hopes and tiny dreams. Maybe he could hurt her? Maybe she'd like it? Maybe she wouldn't, and her raw dread would add to his enjoyment? Maybe this could be a game she and him play? Maybe he could have his own personal slave and plaything? She could be his little war prisoner. Why did he have to deny himself the indulgence? Maybe he could tell her all his deepest, darkest secrets, like he did while she was bathing him, and once he was finished, he'd put her in the ground, like a human confessional six feet under? Maybe he could keep for her as long as he liked and then once he was done, well --- Nothing had to change, in essence, but a mere shift in neighborhoods.

 

 

 

-"Does this mean that you never want to talk to me again then? Because I totally get it."-

 

 

 

She looks up sadly, from the magazine and a staged photoshoot having him clad in a tuxedo, brandishing a cigar, right over an article detailing the early exploits of Dynatox and it's prompt worldwide expansion, her stare glimmering with sorrow and resignation and Terry is, on instinct, tempted to embrace Bea, rather, he merely cups her cheeks with both hands, bending down slightly, to catch a more easing position to look at her closely. Her sorrow is profoundly addictive and profoundly disturbing somehow. Her pain is arousing. Confusing. Strange. Unusual. Disturbing. Upsetting. Comical. Harrowing. He doesn't understand why. Did he literally say he wanted her to come home with him? Did she already forget that? When he honestly just said that five minutes ago? It's alright, she was clearly shaken. As expected. She was shocked. She thought this was a break-up. How very provincial and proletarian of her. Terry Silver indulged in break-ups as seldom as he indulged in actual relationships, if one counted seven day orgies and a small-time affair fuckfest with an athlete Olympian from Switzerland that made headlines as a relationship, but he digressed - no, he was not, as they say, breaking up with her. He'd rather break her up then break up with her. He'd rather burn this stupid building down, here and now.

 

 

 

-"Never talk to you? I'm offering you to move in. Again. For the second time."-

 

 

 

Terry takes on a gentler tone, and it was accurate. This would be the second time. The first time, admittedly, it was so tremendously easy. Everything seemed so easy - so very smooth and warm before this conversation started unwinding and taking place, as it had to, sooner or later - there was no point in dragging out the inevitable anymore - and the memory of her, joyfully bringing over bits and pieces of her trinkets and things, personalizing the space, putting the odd pillow into a corner, some place he could lay his head down as you comb his hair and offer to braid it, just as a cheeky try-out, after a long day training reminded him precisely why he enjoyed lying to her about his circumstances. This role he created, and Bea in it, by sheer unplanned accident, gave him a serenity he didn't recall having since, well - maybe in some odd, peaceful, developmental space between the earliest stages of childhood where all he cared for was his toys, playing with them, having the love of his parents and being alive. He's experienced, he figured, every feeling under the sun, and grew to almost everything, but that one. Even before Twig was Twig back in 'Nam. Before Twig ever figured he would become Twig. When Terry Silver was...happy and at his essence, simple, good and so very base. This childlike excitement at the prospect of inviting her home. He felt like he was bringing a cherished friend he made, somewhere in the meantime, over to show off his room. Yes, yes, yes, he needed Bea to say yes. He needed you to say no so he can force her to say yes. Have the pleasure of it.

 

 

 

-"What about this place, I'll miss..."- She begins, and he cuts her off, impatient.

 

 

 

-"You like this place that much!? Sure, okay, it's yours!"- He snaps, and whatever, really, he'll make the arrangements. He'll alert Margaret about it later today - once he finally brings her back home with him and has her settled in. After his ploy for Johnny was over and done with and they both have a round of celebratory champagne over the victory of this year's seasonal tournament (which was only a given), he can turn this hole into clean, crisp, extra storage space for her things for all he cares and disinfect the surrounding streets out, so the riff-raff can't circle around her space and bother her. There. That was settled. Now unto more important, relevant things;

 

 

 

 

-"You're joking right? About all of this?"-

Bea mumbles, finally hitting that wall, slow pace backwards. Good. Just where he wanted her.

-"Get in the car and I'll show you how much of a joke it really is."-

 

 

 

 

He murmurs, nose gesturing outside, where the pick-up truck was parked most usually, posing her with a silent challenge, pressing his body right up against hers and brushing lips against the outline of hers mouth. She was a slow-burn. An infuriating, baffling slow-burn. It took him almost weeks months to merely get you to speak to him (unusual, for people of all classes and walks of life - seeing as how he looked the way he looked and he could charm the way he charmed), spotting her on the hallways occasionally, packed with bags and purses and grocery containers - appearing, sometimes, sour, exhausted, but polite, regardless. Then another three days or so to make her understand he wants to go out on a date and that he likes her, which she simply refused to acknowledge, until he literally made himself bothersome and overbearing on purpose, so she'd simply have no choice but accept that her presence was in fact, genuinely enjoyed by him. She was closed down. A hard nut to crack. She had walls up, just like he did, in a sense and he often found himself dancing verbal circles around her - and now, all of Terry's hard work and investment, both of time and effort, was paying off and he was finally, after much struggle, on the precipice of introducing her to his actual life. He wanted to shriek and cackle maniacally and pump his fist into the air, leaning rather towards a small, discreet, self-congratulatory grin when he felt she relaxing her posture, his arm sneaking around her shoulder and he led you out of the apartment, and his and hers cardboard stage life luminary space reality with bad, disgusting plumbing, and into the grand reality that awaited. Terry could nearly explode at the prospect of Bea realizing that his truck was merely a collection of at least fifty other cars. The feeling was an intoxicating, unimaginable high.

 

 

 

-"So then, what block do you live in exactly? Is it nearby?"-

 

 

She asks, curious, naive and innocent like a child, huddling into the passenger seat with an awkward, profuse stiffness, still not getting it - she just read he is a billionaire. And yet, she couldn't compute what being a billionaire meant? Fuck, he was going to have so much fun showing her, teaching her, demonstrating to her - he smiles keenly, as he starts the ignition with the car-key. She thought he was some new-age businessman living in a postmodern little penthouse, didn't she? She was so precious, he could drink the words from her mouth and get a sugar rush, spitting it back, right across her face. Did she ever hear of Dynatox - did she think it was some small-time endeavor? Why on earth was it on the celebrated front cover of Forbes then? Terry merely laughs and hits the pedal, making a turn. He feels his cheeks burning as he speeds away. Still giggling while he drove up the hill.

 

 

 

 

 

She was an absolute riot.

He loved her so much.

He --- he loved her?

 

 

 

 

 

By the time he realized the intrusive thought he just conjured up, he was speeding up Santa Monica Boulevard.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

It was a Mayan temple.

And in stepping out of the pick-up truck, you gawk.

What else is a person supposed to do in a situation like this, except gawk?

 

 

 

 

You practically have to be guided in your state of absolute shock, Terry's hand holding yours, dragging your forward, from the drive-through and towards the colossal, automated forged iron decorative, ornate gate that opens in front of you, riddled with cameras, an interphone and red, beeping lights as the passage clears for you, as if on cue and he leads you, appearing almost in haste, into the concrete passageway front yard foyer, winding up, a hill atop of another hill and a great, big, unimaginable house on top of it --- or rather, yes --- a temple. A church. A shrine. All carved matching blocks, brutalist in nature, a post modern design, yet somehow, at the same time, seeming unequivocally ancient, you're immediately under the impression of stepping into another world. The whole ride up here was stepping into another world and you spent the entirety of it being progressively more and more baffled, in the silentest of senses, with a trip what appeared like a journey down billionaire boulevard --- with each street, each corner, the houses, lots and estates getting progressively more grand and grandiose, until finally --- this. You'd envision an Incan Emperor or a virtual Sun God walking down those steps, draped in velvet, trudging in golden sandals and crowned in a feather headpiece, tall and proud, instead, it's what appears to be an employed staff of sorts, mowing the surrounding lawns to immaculate precision, leaf blowers cleaning away the residue foliage, cleaners scrubbing and polishing the countless windows outlining the first floor alone, and a great big ruckus of working that leaves you stunted and unable to move until you tug back at Terry's firm grip, refuse to budge. You --- you really feel you shouldn't be here, disruption these people in this fine house. -"Terry. This can't be it."- You whisper through gritted teeth. -"This is a cathedral!"- You reiterate, even firmer, drawling your words and hushing as if afraid of being heard somehow, especially when he doesn't slow down and keeps pulling you up the steps. -"We can't go inside, no!"- You practically halt him in his stride as you push back, and that point, he relents, but only for a moment, arms sneaking around your shoulders and leading you up --- what appears as a chauffeur with a cap stationed beside a colossal, glossy, black car with tinted windows, averting his gaze. Should you have --- you should have definitely dressed better. Your attire leaves you somewhat self-concious and feeling slightly judged by the walls themselves. This is the type you place people come into with a specific, precise dress code or they don't get allowed inside. Like a high-end restaurant, hotel or embassy. You dread that any minute, some security guard will show up to throw you both off of this property for trespassing and have the police called on you. You really didn't want the police called on you in a foreign country. You knew Terry's temper too. You didn't want him in an altercation over you. Pummeling an officer's face in and breaking his limbs, perish the thought. This was dangerous. -"Are you sure we should go inside!?"- You whimper at that point, when you're at the front door, Terry slightly bending to enter. Too tall for his own house. This is like the Twilight Zone. What if this was like one of those attractions you could rent out for an afternoon and he was just playing a fast one you?

 

 

 

 

-"Of course we should. It's home. You're moving in."-

He presses on, as simple as that and you disbelieve what you're hearing. Moving in? Here? But, this place was bigger than a supersize mall in it's entirety. Ten malls, in fact. Your head is spinning.

 

 

 

 

 

-"Mr. Silver?"- Another perfectly suited up man shows up, almost as if hiding behind a wall, his voice prim and proper with a hint of an accent that reminded you vaguely of your own. -"Welcome back Mr. Silver."- He greets, a full head shorter then Terry himself and --- Mr. Silver? Mr. Silver? How strange that sounded. Sensei Silver you've heard by before, but this sense of stark, unusual formality seems new and alien to you and you realize you must appear foolish, staring and looking around as you did, profusely confused, feeling like a sort of tourist. Like a fish out of water. The interior of the mansion, villa, estate, castle, whatever it was, even more daunting then it's exterior --- the feeling inside of it almost womb-like. The patterns of the wall giving off the impression of a maze with long, winding hallways and a feeling not unlike walking through the netting of a honeycomb. He --- he owned this? How? When? How much did such a thing cost? How much did it's maintenance cost? Paying the salaries of the people working for him, all of which you feel acutely looking at you even as they tried to pretend they didn't, going for discretion and politeness. He did mentioned his family had money. Did he inherit this? He must've inherited this. Off of his parents. Wealthy, landed grandparents. Someone. Did Cobra Kai bring in far more money then you were initially led to be believe? What did he do to sustain himself? To pay for all of this? Did he --- did he bring people up here like this often? Your heart suddenly drops. Did he bring people up here often? Like he did just now? Did he make a habit out of it. The curious eyes of a maid scrutinizes your form and you almost wish you can ask someone. Almost wish you could ask her specifically. Beg her to tell you. What if she had one of those weird, creepy confidentiality contracts and she couldn't tell you what went on around here, by law, even if you did ask? No, no. Terry wouldn't be like that. But, would he? How would you know? You thought he was barely getting along and now this? Your legs feel like they could barely support your body and it's movements. -"Your outfit for the All Valley event is all prepared. The Valentino beige blazer and the red silk ascot tie, like you suggested."- The dark-haired, grim, tan-faced butler speak up, and you barely hear him. All you can focus on is how heavy your head felt. The reeling, sudden migraine that washes over you like a wave. Terry's fingers are right there, massaging your scalp, as if though, he somehow knew. This was surreal. You enter what appears to be a giant, spacious lobby and the stained glass windows reflect the whole vista of LA on a platter. What? And you two...mutually lived in an apartment with tiny, murky windows facing other buildings and no windows at all for how long? -"Thank you, Milos."- He dismisses the man, not unkindly. Milos? Milos? Was he...from a not so dissimilar side of Europe too? Not so dissimilar to you? Terry mentions something, making introductions, about one Milos Dadok and how he's here for all of your needs and all you've gotta do is ask, but you simply look blankly. You don't wish to come off as rude, antisocial or weird, but you imagine yourself to be on the verge of fainting. If you say too much of anything, you'd make yourself ill, an odd pressure in the back of your spine and in your belly.

 

 

 

-"Mr. Silver can I prepare a room for your guest?"-

 

 

The accented voice of the same man inquires, and at this point, the honeycomb hall starts drifting off into zig-zag patterns in your peripheral vision and you feel yourself slumping.

 

 

-"Yes. My room."- Terry's voice is hasty --- no nonsense in your ears, his arms around you. -"She needs to lay down. This was a lot for her. Have a nurse on stand-by, just in case."-

 

 

 

You feel your unstable, shivering legs leave the ground and you lose balance, lifted up into the air once Terry picks you up in his arms with ease and carries you, your head falling against his chest, your heart beating fast due to a sudden influx of stress, your blurred eyesight dotted with indigo pins. This --- this took a lot out of you somehow. You didn't expect this. Earlier today, when he said he's rich, you didn't expect this. You expected he'll drive you downtown to some nice, quaint little apparent he owned. You loathe being the center of attention --- you were always of the variety of ail in silence. You figured everyone's staring and you yearn to apologize to all of them for disrupting their work day like this. You wish you could call in on your own place of employment and apologize to Cynthia as well, for disappearing on such a short notice, but you had no idea what you'd tell her once you do inadvertently speak to her, to avoid getting laid off. You can't say the truth, can you? The truth would've came off too unbelievable. Hello, yes, Cynthia, the Karate Teacher I've been seeing just took me up to his mansion real casually, talk to you later. Have a nice day! Mercifully, you're out of sight soon enough, climbing up a set of stairs, with with what only appears to be Terry's Polish Major Domo? Czechoslovakian? Definitely not Russian, though. Your mind was hazy and you couldn't decipher judging off the name and surname alone. You want his solidarity. His understanding. You wanted him to explain what the truth was. You want --- -"Mr. Silver, an urgent call from William Cole ---"- The same man says, clipped, cordial, quick, listing off what sounds like a schedule. Did he work here a very long time? Sounded like it. You feel oddly comforted by his presence. The presence of someone like you. Did this mean --- Terry liked people like you? What an inane notion! Of course he did! You were an item! God, he employed people? He had employees? Actual employees!? This was unbelievable. -"It can wait."- Terry responds to the man chaperoning you two with an equal swiftness as you were being bobbed in his arms, carried up a staircase, and then subsequently a passageway. You have no idea what's said or who's who or what's what and this all still feels like a practical joke to you. -"Please don't sidetrack anything because of me. I'll be okay. Just put me down somewhere."- You manage groggily, weakly, and you truly meant that. All you needed was to be given five or ten minutes to pick yourself up, take a deep breath, perhaps have a cold glass of water, use the bathroom really quickly, have a nap if necessary, somewhere, where you were under nobody's feet and you'd be better. You're not sure if you've uttered those words out loud or merely imagined uttering them seeing as how nobody responds to them or even acknowledges them. Did you already lose consciousness? Were you merely hearing them talk in a partially disengaged state? You hear a door opening with a thud and you assume you'll be placed down here for a second. -"And the tournament organizers, they say ---"- Milos' voice fades out of your ears, not unlike water flooding your lobes and trickling inside of your skull. You don't hear what Terry says. Everything goes entirely black.

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

You're waken by a gaggle of quiet nurses tinkering around a bed. Big, colossal, black satin covered bed and you feel the fabric, smooth and cool beneath your body as you attempt to make out the forms around you, momentarily gasping in fright, only for one them to hand you a glass of water freshened with a lemon slice and you grab the thing, eagerly, feeling yourself parched, disoriented and dehydrated, practically falling back into the pillow due to loss of breath once you down the liquid, almost hiccuping from how good it felt, hearing the vague echoes of what appeared to be training from downstairs. Kicking and yelling from the lobby. Did this place have it's dojo too? The ceiling above you is ornate. Blocks and blocks and blocks everywhere, vestiges of a labyrinth and you in it's middle. Your mouth opens to speak, hoping, this time, someone will respond. -"How long did I sleep?"- You ask confused, trying to understand what time it was, and you feel a familiar hand grasp your own. Terry. -"A whole day."- Your face shoots up towards him and there he is. Kind face. Kind eyes. A kind half-smile. Everything's the same except his attire. Unusually beautiful and strangely baffling, just like this whole place, he appears to be wearing a semi-formal button-up dress shirt. With silk. Matching white trousers. A sleek silver belt. His neck adorned with a chain. His wrists with bracelets and a watch. Fingers riddled with imposing, bejeweled signets. Your eyes spot your silver ring in their company. How small it seemed in comparison. How ridiculous and petty. You're overcame with a sudden shame. It cost so...so little. Why would he even wear it now? All things considered? -"My things! I have to go home and get my things, I ---"- A flash of panic hits of you. Did you even lock your apartment? What if someone entered? What if someone broke in? That neighbourhood wasn't the safest. Someone could rob you! Someone could --- -"Already here."- Terry's voice pacifies you well within half a second, his fingers slightly squeezing your wrists. Already here!? -"My clothes!"- You sit up in bed, looking around the room, the nurses long since gone. Where did they go? They were here just a minute ago. -"Here."- Terry reassures, scooting further beside you in bed. -"My plant, my ---"- Tears well up in your eyes and you think of all your things being lost. All the things you so dutifully dragged overseas and carefully preserved just being abandoned or taken from you. But, your Forsythia's right there. In a good state. Placed on a vintage counter. You're relieved. -"All here."- His voice is gentle, like velvet, pointing at a corner. A stack of suitcases, duffle bags and boxes neatly laid out for you to see. Did he --- did he have people who did the moving while you were out cold? Did he give them the key? What if they forgot something? Was your documentation there? -"All of it. Even the funfair toys and your basket."- Terry's tone is warm and your gaze spots the plushies and the Home Depot basket he brought back to you as a present and your eyes almost well up with tears. Why were you sad? A nameless server hands you a stack of paperwork on a platter and you grab a hold of it as he walks away equally as fast, finding your ID and your wallet. Your wallet. How silly a wallet must've seemed in the context of all of this now.

 

 

 

 

You never felt quite so lost in your entire life.

 

 

 

 

Terry sits up, with a sweet smile, pointing out the window and the settling dusk, a vague outline of greenery in what appears to be a garden. He stands against the outline of twilight, blue and purple, peering into the room and he motions for you to approach with a soft expression and tentatively, you do. You realize you've been undressed. The new clothes you were placed in prim, proper and white. A simple pale bathrobe with matching pale sleeping attire underneath. You brace yourself quickly, hugging your own chest and closing the hem of your peignoir, tucking your documentation inside, joining Terry where he stood. -"Recognize that? Strawberry bushes."- He explains once you're unsure what you're looking at, finding it hard to discern with your momentary state and the gathering darkness outside, made easier and less pitch only by the garden lights lining the driveaway. Strawberries? -"Planted that for you. After our trip to that farm."- He explains, smiling down at you and you look at him, long and hard, stare travelling back and forth between the patch of land and him. He did that? He really did? You feel your brows furrow. Did that cost him a lot? God, no, that must've costed a lot. -"For me?"- You imagine yourself sounding tremendously dumb, because he did just say it was for you, and you understood that, but you still couldn't believe it. You couldn't believe any of this. You couldn't believe what you were seeing and hearing as your arm carefully comes up to your own chest and you point at yourself, never removing your gaze from his face. He looks as if he's particularly amused by you right now, in the tenderest, most forgiving, understanding way imaginable. That's Terry. The same Terry you always knew. He hasn't changed. Something in your heart wells. He hasn't changed. He was still him. And he planted you a strawberry garden? You haven't had a strawberry garden that was truly your own since you left Yugoslavia and you never figured you'd have one again. You wish to cry. You try not to. You've already fainted. Enough spectacles. Enough. Enough. Enough. You can't breathe from the sweetness. -"I've something even better. Come."- His expression turns giddy, like a child's and he practically giggles as he takes your hand and runs out of the room with you, down halls and corridors, scurrying past maids carrying stacks of towels, the occasional cleaner sweeping the floors as you apologize profusely, jumping over the wet spots on the tiles, and finally, reaching a colossal, bolted door he quickly unlocks with a key produced from his own pocket, still smiling from ear to ear, approached by a small, elegant older woman with spectacled, thick rimmed glasses and a mini-valled grey hair-do. An exchange of nods happens --- some sort of wordless understanding from what appears like a personal assistant or a senior secretary and Terry leads you inside, hand on the small of your back. The chamber is blue. Almost neon. Appears to be empty. Entirely empty. A large space most tragically unused and underutilized. This was twice as big as your apartment. Maybe three times as big. Certainly bigger then Terry's dojo. Unfurnished. Covered with a wallpaper of sorts. Like newspaper clippings, perhaps, in preparations of a furnishings or renovations that are about to take place. The light clicks on and you realize what you're looking at; You.

 

 

 

You're looking at yourself.

Pictures of yourself.

Thousands of them.

Tens of thousands.

From all sides --- everywhere.

 

 

-"Terry..."-

 

 

You stutter, looking around, mouth profoundly agape, spinning around the room. Photos upon photos upon photos.

 

 

 

-"I've noticed you ever since the first day."- You feel Terry's hand around your waist, grabbing you and turning you his way. Placing your focus on him. He appears focused. Unblinking. His visage deep indigo. His eyes almost glowing from the luminesce of the room. -"Terry..."- You repeat his name. It's all you can say. All other words have pretty much evaporated from your vocabulary. You're speechless. He's cupping your face. Holding it from both sides. Good. Because if he didn't, you were afraid you'd collapse again, as apologetic as you may have been, you really couldn't help yourself right now. -"I want to give you a good life here. A protected life! I look after all my people."- His words are firm, unyielding and you despise how good they sound. You want to be rational and logical and approach things with some sense here. Some sanity. You just discovered he's a multimillionaire today. You wanted to be taken care of. Nobody has taken care of you since he came along. He was the first person who bothered even looking at you. Being your friend. Caring if you ate well. If you ate at all. Caring to show you around. Caring to be worried if you got lost. Caring to pick you up. Caring to defend you from bad people. Caring to spend time with you. Come over. Invite you in equal measure. Be a good neighbour. A decent human being. Someone you could care about too. -"That day, when I took you to see all those mansions from the hill, I wasn't showing you what could've been. I was showing you what was. What is!"- He continues with conviction and you remember that day well. You told him then that you needed none of that to be content. In truth. You just needed someone good by your side. It was true now and then. -"Why?"- You have to ask, sounding meek and a bit desperate to yourself - a bit pathetic. Because, truly, why? Why would Terry single you out as a prospect to share his reality with? Surely, he was a catch by LA standards? He was a catch by global standards too. A man like him? Looking the way he did? -"Huh!? Because I take care of what's mine, silly. That's why!"- He chuckles, his fingers caressing your cheeks and you feel the pressure in your chest build up. God, he knew all the right things to say. -"Its what a man does!"- Terry continues, pulling you closer and on a primal level, what he says appeals to you. To have a home. Someone looking after you. To never lack again. To be someone's. To have a garden. To have roots. Home. -"I picked up Margaret back there working a dead-end desk job in London she was overqualified for! You know what I did!? I took care of her! Gave her a position a woman her age and education level deserves. Gave her a pension she can look forward to."- Terry's voice is heated now, impassioned somehow and judging by him looking over his shoulder, Margaret was the woman who was at the door when you came in. -"Milos!? Milos was a hotel receptionist in Prague! Measly salary, no tips, shitty guests, barely making meets end! So, I took care of him too!"- Terry adds, eyes flashing with some wild thought. -"The kids downstairs you hear training!?"- He points a thumb behind him, towards the vague emanating ruckus from the lobby. -"Snake and Dennis!?"- He says their names. Their peculiar names. Peculiar people. Like a found family. Was Terry lonely at one time? Like you? That tid-bit of information never changed.

 

 

 

-"They were headed for Juvie Hall or jail, selling pot on the street and dabbling into petty pick pocketing and theft! I took care of them as well after they tried to take my wallet!"-

 

 

He grins, no trace of anger or resentment, rather, he appeared like he was somehow amused by the particular anecdote.

 

 

 

-"So, you collect people?"- You slip up, blurting out, still looking around the room, the various snapshots of your self, at what appears to be in front of your building, dragging home groceries, working at the bodega, climbing up steps, hopping into public transport. Did he take all of these? Did he --- did Terry have you followed? He had you followed, didn't he? And you didn't even figure to notice. Was that how he knew where you were at any given time? Like that one time he surprised you and picked you up after you got lost and missed your bus, getting caught by the rain? You feel his grip tighten on you. His face dangerously still. He --- he stalked you? You rationalize him. If he didn't pick you up that day, nobody would've. He was the only one who bothered to come. You knew nobody else at the time. The good in the bad. Maybe being big and powerful warranted doing a background check on people? Maybe it was prudent to know who you were dealing with? Heck, you could've been anyone or anything! You could've been an undercover journalist or some kind of nosey reporter invading other people's privacy or a greedy fortune hunter or simply a bad person with bad intentions. Maybe he too was protecting himself? He had the right to do that, didn't he? Maybe you'd do the same, if you were him? If the situations were reversed? Or maybe you're just biased towards him because you loved him? And because you were kind of an idiot? Idiot in love. Dumbass, idiot in love. You despise yourself. You came to America, trying to be so careful, so very prudent, so very smart, almost to the point of being slight paranoid, stand-offish and insular deliberately, to ward yourself from any would-be situations and you fell straight into a trap regardless. Idiot. Idiot. Idiot. How could you have been such an idiot? -"Wouldn't you do the same, if you had an excess of resources to spare?"- Terry asks then and you fall into a moral conundrum. Technically, employing people in need, people he actually liked on a personal level for various reasons wasn't anything bad. He actually did a good deed. A surprisingly kind and humble thing. You try to find fault in it. You can't. His logic is...well...flawless. Surely. these people were here out of their own volition and consent. Nobody forced them to be here. He offered them jobs with better conditions and they took said jobs because they found them to be more profitable and the environment good and acceptable. What was so bad about that? -"Wouldn't you help elevate your fellow man? What is wealth, but responsibility? Giving back to the community?"- Terry's eyes are impossibly tender again and you somehow believe him. He talked to Milos with a certain sense of decorum. Like a respectable boss talking to a respected member of the household. -"Why me?"- You blurt out yet again, your voice cracking, finding that's the only puzzle still tormenting you. -"What do you mean?"- Terry's nose crinkles. Like the question itself smells foul to him. Rotten eggs and rotten meat.

 

 

 

-"Surely, a man like you, could acquire someone ---"- You trail off, feeling a tear trickle down your cheek. Terry doesn't wipe it off. He kisses it off. -"And a man like me did."- He coos, interrupting you before you can finish. -"You're here, aren't you?"-

 

 

 

You cry profusely into his arms.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

First thing Mike Barnes is hit by is the mystery.

 

 

 

 

Everything within the vastly secured premises of Mr. Silver's mansion lot on Glendower Avenue 2607 is a mystery. One way or another. How come everyone knows everything about everyone within any given moment when the cameras are either hidden, non-present, neatly, strategically tucked away or invisible? Why is the staff, despite how hefty and utterly generous their paycheck probably is, so eerily comfortable with the Boss' eccentric, borderline exhibitionist, abnormal antics, almost to the point of being non-disconcerted and charmed? Where do the endless amounts of food keep coming and disappearing to and is it simply all just thrown out? Why is everyone so private, politely detached, closed-off and exclusive, almost as if bound by a vow of silence or a contractual obligation? Maybe that's simply how the household of the super rich tended to function and Mike Barnes had no way to compare, because this is the first time in his life he's lived in one since being brought over to LA, but the thing that, against his better judgement, like any dude his age, was struck by the most is at first, a lack of spouse on Mr. Silver's end. Or at least a woman? Girlfriend? Broad? Leading-lady? Whatever billionaires tended to call such things. And then, doubly struck by the immediate discovery that his newly-forged financier, benefactor, Sensei and employer did in fact, have a significant other, but three months of living here, and Mike has had yet to see her anywhere at all or hear her addressed. He knew of the woman he occasion spotted in the backrooms of Mr. Silver's dojo while training there, at scheduled, allotted times. Someone who slipped in and out of sight, like a ghost. Did she simply not share this abode? Where they separated or estranged? Not on good terms? Did they live in different mansions and meet occasionally? Was this some sort of weird arranged marriage? How did this work out with someone with an income reaching well over nine zeroes? And furthermore, why did this place both fascinate him and vaguely creep him out?

 

 

 

 

Furthermore, it creeped him out even more she did appear in the mansion not so long ago.

 

Promptly hauled into one of the rooms upstairs and not spoken of.

 

Also, how nobody addressed her by any name so far.

 

Jenny, Becky, Tammy, Angela or Brenda.

 

It was always just;

 

 

 

 

-"Yeah, Mrs. Silver. She doesn't come out of her west-wing out much."-

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Silver. Mrs. Silver. Mrs. Silver. Was she a Mrs. Silver? Were they married!?

 

 

 

 

Snake coughed up some very vague, very confusing info, after being pressed, on one occasion, chowing down greedily on a whole chunk of deep-fried, chilly-doused chicken ribs in one bite while recklessly rummaging through one of the many kitchens relegated for their exclusive and most personal usage during Mike's stay here and looking around in a positively conspiratorial manner, as if speaking about something forbidden or illegal and afraid of being caught doing it, behaving, literally, like a nervy weed-dealer would out on some seedy, suspicious street-corner after being shaken down by the police. Why the fuck was everyone acting so bizarre in this house on the daily? Were they collectively given salary bonuses purely act as whack as humanly possible? So on edge and yet so inexplicably, disturbingly relaxed? It was like Mike fell into the Uncanny Valley. He couldn't quite explain any of this.

 

 

 

 

-"She has everything there."-

 

 

 

 

A rare occasion a cross-armed, nonchalant, eerily smiling Dennis spoke up and it sent literal chills down Barnes' spine, causing him to lose his appetite entirely, because what the hell did that even mean? Were she ill? Were she an invalid? What the fuck was that fainting spell he heard spoken of? Was she in intensive care? Did she have horns or a snake's tail? Was she just a weirdo loner? Was she insanely ugly? Was she some eldritch horror relegated to the attic? Was she a prisoner? A hostage? An inkling of curiosity wanted to keep pressing, and opted not to after one of the chefs waddled in, giving them a dirty look, and Mike went back to slurping his allotted special energy shake prescribed especially by Mr. Silver during their training period together, especially put aside days before the tournament, ingraining the feeling that something was oddly wrong in this behemoth of a literal fortress of a home.

 

 

 

 

And after that, things only managed to get even weirder, somehow.

 

 

Mike wakes up for an early snack, at four in the morning, something stirring his apatite.

 

He loathes to admit it --- but the prospect of the All Valley makes him slightly nervy and annoyed.

 

Annoyance and nerviness is good though. Something one can take out on the opponent.

 

 

 

 

 

And it's like his clenched, disrupted stomach and his entrails are a magnetic vessel dragging him forward, into his relegated, assigned kitchen, appetite opening suddenly and painfully after the round of training with Mr. Silver that ended being particularly hard on him - his muscles and limbs burning with an otherworldly ache that left him particularly grumpy as he chowed down on a sandwich put together so quickly and suddenly, that the salami chunks and greasy droplets of mayo landed dripping on his fingers sloppily - not a champion's carefully-coordinated breakfast his teacher and Mr. Kreese would approve of and prescribe him, but one he more then required right now - he ate to ease the hunger, like a starved wolf. Not to enjoy himself. In fact, most of the things he did in the past few months were to ease the hunger, both metaphorical and literal, and a little less for the pleasantness of it. He underfed himself on purpose sometimes, purely to fuel his own anger. Irritation. Need for violence. His quality of fighting. Regardless, the house is quiet. Eerie. Perhaps, even more gigantic for it's absolute, haunting quietude at dawn, to the point where every movement, breath, clanking and chattering from the kitchen seems to echo for miles and miles down the passageways, all around.

 

 

 

 

His footsteps included, as he proceeds finishing up his sandwich.

Exploring idly, or snooping around, more like.

Something about this place is fascinating.

Albeit creepy - a wicked crib, really.

Although, he is left on edge inside of it.

 

 

 

 

Nonetheless, he keeps walking, stuffing the bun of the bread inside of his mouth and chewing audibly mid-stride, looking left and right in a somewhat perturbed, careful manner, and up into the cameras lining the walls, hoping to come off as entirely casual for the recording devices as he finds himself waddling into a concrete, bizarrely set antechamber, designed, entirely from identical stone blocks, pillars and a dizzying, deliberately disproportionate decorations. Man, rich people were weird with their Alice in Wonderland shit. And, by extension, this was the weirdest indoor garden he's ever seen. Nothing like back home in Arkansas. Greenery, palm trees, odd plants and baffling flowers erupting in the interior of it all, enveloping all the stone in a sudden explosion of wildlife, Mike felt like he was lost in a jungle, finding himself staring up at the ceiling, seemingly, infinitely high up, riddled with a curtain of vines and lianas hanging overhead. Just how much money did Mr. Silver have? A thought evaporated by the realization there was a single chair on the very edge of the immense hall, right next to an equally immense window, open ajar, illuminated by the first rays of sunlight after a rain-shower - the chirping of the birds Mike could swear were flying around the room, no doubt as pets in this makeshift zoo, nowhere to be seen, lost in the bushes. This was trippy. There was someone sitting there. Could've been a member of staff. They tended to pop out from inside the walls in this mansion. Gave him a good fright a couple of times.

 

 

 

 

-"Yo, I didn't know the staff was up this early? Would've told you to fix me a sandwich."-

 

 

 

 

Mike spoke up going for bravado to hide the fact he was positively thrown.

Yeah, it was logical a place this ginormous had to have maintenance.

Maybe he'd have maintenance in his house too, once he gets rich.

 

 

 

 

-"It isn't."- The figure replies, somewhat amused, with a woman's voice -"It's just me. Sorry."-

 

 

 

 

Mike gets closer slowly, instinctually ready to take on a stance, for some reason feeling the same type of chill-down-his-spine intimidation he'd feel approaching Mr. Silver on the training mat and sparring with him one on one, and it's like he still can't see her even though he's only about a couple of feet away. Close enough to knock her out, front-line in the middle of her jaw, by delivering a single kick, in proximity. Somehow, her face is semi-obscured by the size of the size of the decorative recliner and the transparent curtain falling idly from edge of the window, making her image hazy. Partially unclear. She appears to be close to his own age, though, vaguely speaking. Why did he expect some grizzled shithead old hag? What on earth was in that mayonnaise he ate anyway? -"And you are? Part of the herbarium inventory here, or!? Is everyone gonna go around being all mystical and questionable or is it just how shit functions around this place?"-

 

 

 

 

He's annoyed and his annoyance comes seeping out in his tone, clicky, snappy and impatient. He liked things making sense, deep down, on his own accord, even when he pretended he's an do-it-all-for-the-profit guy. Turn a blind eye for the paycheck type of dude. The overly nonchalant kind that bypasses anything and everything without any sort of confusion and amazement - a facade he kept and didn't always feel, even with his best efforts and greatest rewards at hand. But, things have been making less and less sense the more time he's spent living under this roof and it just about culminated right now with whatever spectacle this is meant to be. He thought it culminated with how touchy-feely Mr. Kreese and Mr. Silver seemed to be on a regular basis. Then, afterwards, during the dinner with that weirdo, fat attorney judge who called him Dynamo-boy and practically unhinged jaw eating that lobster, like a horror movie creature. And now this? He felt high. His ears were hit with the sound of droplets drizzling outdoors. His quick snack didn't agree with him, it seems.

 

 

 

-"You're Mike Barnes, aren't you? A pleasure."-

 

 

 

His question is very obvious swerved and it irks him on.

Back home its real simple - you give a name, you get a name back.

That's how introductions happen - here, it's like people will dance around the point.

They'll give you your own name, the gardener's name, the pool-cleaner's name.

Everything, but their own - a fact Mike very much noticed with Snake.

Geez, Snake was always just Snake, since day fucking one.

At least Dennis had the courtesy to be a Dennis.

 

 

 

 

-"Yeah, yeah, I know who I am, but who the fuck are you!? The residential spook!?"-

 

 

 

He clenched his fist and pushed his teeth together - something about this bitch put him on edge and he didn't quite like it, but he swallowed it down because he wasn't about to argue or fight with anyone in his benefactor's home, lest it cost him his meal-ticket and god knows what else, especially when he was given so little actual context. The woman got up from the wicker-weaved chair, wearing a comfortable-seeming, vaguely-shapeless long nightgown looking at him briefly, eyes locking with the remnants of the smeared paper wipe he wrapped his sandwich in, followed by a small smile. Was she about to make fun of him? Was she about to mess with him? Was this some kind of test? Joke? Also, why was she dressed like his Aunt Mildred back home? It was 1985, who wore shit like that?

 

 

 

 

-"The Lunch today will be to your liking, I think. Tartar sauce stake. Tartuffes. Boeuf bourguignon. And a dessert of Golden Opulence Sundae. Chef's special. I don't know what those are, but they sound delicious. You should really try and eat better. He wouldn't be pleased with you if you didn't, you know. This victory means a lot to him - more then you can imagine - so, take good care of yourself. For your own sake too."-

 

 

 

 

She lists off the menu with a weird twang he can't place and he stares for a good solid thirty seconds before it hits him that by 'He' she means Mr. Silver, no doubt putting two and two together and realizing he's been feeding himself all chaotically and off-balance on an impulse at four in the morning or whatever the fuck. Was this his secretary, or someone? Why was she so well-informed on the matter of the tournament? Was she a younger assistant secretary? One who wasn't Mathilda, Majorie, Margaret or whatever the hell her name was? No, she wouldn't be waddling around barefoot, in a nightgown then, now would she? Maybe she would though - he had no clue what these people had signed in their contracts. Was this someone he was fucking? Warming his bed with, as much as the thought disturbed him? Could've been. Honestly, must've been. Didn't have a quality outright provocative enough to be some kind of groupie masseuse escort call-girl, though.

 

 

 

 

 

Wait, was this the Mrs. Silver he's been hearing about, but has yet to see?

Was she someone here to see if he'll fall for decadent indulgences?

Break the strict regiment he was supposed to be keeping?

By bringing up all these figurative foods, or -

 

 

 

 

 

Before Mike could receive any answers or further communication, about to get downright confrontational that a nameless someone was meddling in the business of his diet and self-care schedule (when he still was a black belt and Weeping Willow here probably wasn't - although, nothing would surprise him), he was bid a small goodbye he didn't quite catch and she disappeared somewhere in a passageway he didn't even realize was there, interlocked with a net of others, leaving the cushioned chair empty, the overcast window overlooking the Silver Estate gardens abandoned alongside a fluttering curtain, the faint vista of the city shimmering in an early morning fog unviewed - and him, even more confused and out of his element then ever before. The fuck was that all about? The fuck just happened? Did he imagine that whole exchange?

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The car ride home is stiff --- unequivocally tense. Silent.

 

 

For now, Terry knew.

 

 

He felt things could blow up any second now.

 

 

 

Not unlike an awkward ride towards a funeral home, juxtaposed with the ruckus outside of the tournament hall, the car Terry leaves in is quiet. Barely pushing the through the jeering crowd, he composes himself, the way he taught himself to do in crisis. Shut your brain down, pretend they're not even human. That they're not even real. No pain. No pain. It's a lesson he subscribes to as he looks towards the mob through tinted windows. He can see them. They can't see him. They hate him. They hate Cobra Kai. They hate Mike Barnes. They hate John too. It's the fact they hated John that hurt the most. That and the fact John refuse to ride back with them. He simply disappeared, leaving via another mode. There's a heaviness in the air, occasional cynical sneer going back and forth, Snake crossing his arms over the yellow Cobra Kai shirt, almost as if to momentarily hide the logo from some imaginary spectator, Dennis is vaguely stern, but Mike --- Mike gets rowdy, throwing a hissy fit, elbowing Snake and Dennis, respectively, serving as a buffer zone between himself and the rowdy brat, in the ribs. Not that Terry needed any protection from anyone. Mike Barnes needed someone holding him back lest he do something so stupid in this car that it leads to Terry singlehandedly throwing him out of a moving vehicle and unto the highway, regardless if the press sees it or not. He chooses to be patient and disciplined. At least while they're out of sight. Away from the tournament hall. Tinted windows or not. He didn't wish to lose face. -"Well, someone's gotta pay me! Cough my money up!"- Kid seethes, clawing at Snake's fingers. -"Wow, wow, wow, slow down, Tarzan! Don't lose your loincloth!"- Snake pushes Mike's chest backwards, into the leather bound seat opposite of Terry in the spacious limousine. A victory ride. Champagne riddling the minibar. Now rendered mainly useless.-"Hey, fuck you, man! Paws off!"- Mike shrieks back, like a rabid animal and Terry mainly ignores it, looking out the window. John stormed away. John was angry at him. And yet this kid expected payment? Comical. The audacity of it all. He couldn't even comprehend the gravitas of the situation, could he?

 

 

 

 

The audacity of this kid trying to shake down one of them richest people in America - if anything, Terry had to admire the sheer moronic ballsiness of that.

 

 

 

 

-"Pay you? For what? For losing!?"- Terry speaks up, finding himself talking eerily calm. Not at all the way he wished to. His insides were yelling. Growling. But, he mouths his world poised. Smooth. Cold as a spritzer. Averting his gaze from the window and the buildings moving in a blur, Terry's again twisting his silver ring. It's the only that momentarily calms him. -"If anything, you owe me, Mr. Barnes. I don't owe you a thing. This isn't the street. You can't haggle me."- Crossing his legs, Terry holds the boy's gaze. -"I don't suck cock for dope and we're not on Mulholland Drive."- He hisses his words then, crass and blunt, finding Mike's mouth fall agape like he didn't quite expect to hear something like that. Barnes was a child of the streets, Terry always knew. But, the rules of the street didn't apply here. -"I don't operate on pinkie-promises either."- He waves his hand dismissively, reaching into the tobacco box and fishing out a cigar and a cutter, lighting it and taking a drag. Mike might've been a teenager too. But, Terry wasn't. Terry didn't care who promised what to who. All he knows was that he promised Johnny victory and he failed to deliver --- and Johnny despised to lose. He despised to lose ever since Vietnam and Mike Barnes thought was a game when the rules of his ploy were so easy; win a point - lose a point - win a point - lose a point. As Willie Cole would've said "Stall. Stall as much as you can".

 

 

 

But, the boy imagined this as some kind of 'get rich quick' pyramid scheme or a ticket out of poverty.

 

 

Well, it wasn't.

 

 

-"You signed no contract. It's not on paper. It can't be enforced in any court of law by any lawyer. We made terms on empty words pro-bono and you agreed to that. You're an idiot."- He explains bluntly, waving his hand around to demonstrate his point, drawing circles of smoke in the air. -"Idiots get taken advantage of. If anything, consider this a lesson for when you're older and not as much of a village bumpkin."- Terry takes a tentative huff, an angry one, smoking out of rage rather then pleasure, practically vibrating from wrath, seeking to collect himself and control himself, hiding it under a cool facade. Kid didn't need to see how much this affected him. -"Or the big city's gonna devour you real fast."- He adds finally, smiling without feeling any joy and he doesn't understand why in that exact moment, he thinks of Bea.

 

 

 

 

Terry's ticking like a time bomb.

He craves blood.

Carnage.

 

 

 

-"Bullshit! That's bullshit and you know it! I've been muscling that kid up for months for you!"- Mike lounges forward, pointing his finger, held down by Snake and Dennis pushing his shoulders back on either side. Muscling the kid up? Implying Mike didn't enjoy that at all. Mike's type muscles up wimps entirely gratis at any given opportunity. Terry had to laugh. -"It's not bullshit. It's life. It's how business is conducted in the real world."- He cackles, crudely, lounging forward himself, sneering. -"You know what they do to soldiers when they fail their objective? They discharge them."- Terry growls, crushing the ash from his cigar into a nearby crystal tray, fiddling around with his red silk tie, loosening it on his neck. -"Well, you're discharged. Dishonorably."- He waves his hand, slumping back into his seat as their chauffeur separated by a glass tinted wall makes a turn. -"And anyway. You would've muscled up Daniel Larusso for free, if I asked you. We all would've. Harassing his kind and the kind of his slope teacher is payment all by itself."- Terry remarks idly, knowing Mike's type fairly well. That's why he picked him in particular --- that, and the fact he was easily bribable. He had a psychological profile Terry enjoyed. A psychological profile for abuse. Mike's type didn't need to be paid to enact that, whether they realized that or not. Kid's stunned into silence. There's disaster in the air.

 

 

 

-"What now?"- Barnes manages to ask, still in his black and yellow sleeveless Gi, a denim jacket casually thrown over it, seeming a bit lost - perturbed, no doubt worried about where his next meal ticket would be coming from now that he fucked up so spectacularly when he had just one job and one job only. He's embarrassed those colors. He's embarrassed what it means to be a Cobra. -"You'll just dismiss me!? Like that!?"- Terry spots panic in Mike's voice. As he figured. Not quite so tough anymore, huh? -"No, you'll be staying. As collateral. Until I figure things out. Until I settle myself after the shit you've caused back there."- Terry responds nonchalantly, taking another long drag of his cigar. He didn't intend to let Mike Barnes simply go loose and maybe run his mouth in the media. Give an interview somewhere. Say things he isn't supposed to say. Leak sensitive information, as it were. Actually rat out the fact that he was hired by Terry, for the specific purpose of tenderizing one of the contestants of the All Valley months before the actual tournament and maybe have another lawsuit on his hands. But, he didn't want to say it like that. Didn't want to let the kid know he had some power in the matter. Instead he slightly downplays the issues, strategically. -"Until I figure out Mr. Kreese."- He whispers, and it's both true yet not. John tended to disappear after bad events. For a month. Two. A year. And he'd always eventually come back. He simply didn't handle losses well.

 

 

 

-"And I'd appreciate you not squawking a single word in front of her,"- Terry speaks up, firmly, sincerely, maintaining firm eye contact, spotting a hint of glee in Mike's eyes, for a brief second, while he's still contemplating if this is something he can blackmail him with or not. Well, he couldn't. The less Bea knew about this, the better. He didn't want his bedfellow disturbed with such nonsense. -"Or I'll eat your heart."- Terry adds, meaning every word, seeping up the satisfaction of watching that disgusting smugness fade from the brat's putrid face when the deliberate, entirely intentional tone of Terry's voice implied that he wasn't joking or spreading around empty treats. His estate had a sprawling network of cellars, basements, storage rooms, safes and dungeons in it's bowels, stemming back to the prohibition era, somewhere in the 1920's. If Terry wanted to make someone disappear permanently and in a fashion most literal, he could make someone disappear permanently, down in the dark, in a sprawling maze of built in stone wall labyrinths, where nobody would come looking. Kid had some dastardly courage to him, though, even when faced with an open threat of extreme violence. Funny how what Terry was amused by and what he admired a couple of months back was infinitely annoying now when he spotted the outline of Mike's lips shift, like he intended to mouth off some more. And he did.

 

 

 

 

-"You want her thinking you're some good Joe-schmoe rad kind of guy, huh, Mr. Silver?"-

 

That admittedly hits a nerve and he can't believe the bravado.

 

He sees red --- the reddest of reds, like during that night, with those guys he paid in the alley.

 

He grabs the scruff of Mike's collar and drags him closer, yanking him right off the seat.

 

-"Silence. You don't understand how much I wanna hurt you right now."-

 

Terry growls and he witnesses all color leave the kid's fucking face.

 

 

 

 

Coming back to the mansion, ordering the gates shut, the front door shut, the street shut down indefinitely --- any and every precaution taken that the press doesn't swarm the premises of the estate like so many ants and a have a field day out here, there's a sense of peace and only one room Terry wishes to be in as Mike Barnes is escorted away. There's a heartbeat inside of Terry's head, thumping away when he hears Bea's footsteps, thudding along the floor, hasting towards him from the corridor adjoined to her designated room, intercepting him, as if expecting him, opening her arms, about to accept him into an embrace. Is this what having a spouse could've been? Is this how John would've felt, if Betsy stayed alive in some alternative reality? -"We lost."- Is all Terry manages to say, crashing against her, her form small pressed into him as his arms hover for a second, as if caught off guard even though he anticipated the contact the minute you showed up in his line of sight, unsure if he should return the gesture or not. He felt strange. He never had anyone to welcome him home after a crisis. Nobody he wasn't paying, that is. -"I'm sorry, Terry."- She says in all honesty, looking up at him, eyes annoyingly sympathetic, like someone about to hand out a condolence or utter the classical lines that went like "Winning isn't important! Competing is!" Bullshit! Terry didn't want her fucking pity. Or did he? Yes he did. No, he didn't. She was sorry? What was she sorry for? He didn't feel like a loser. It was Mike Barnes who lost. Not Terry. Not John. Mike Barnes. She should pity Mike Barnes. He gulps down his budding wrath, distracting from his rage by saying the first thing that came to his mind. -"Call me that name."- Terry drawls, flatly, almost seething, yet trying not to. -"What? Terrike?"- Bea reaffirms, immediately knowing which name he meant. -"Yes."- He confirms as she pulls him close and whispers it to him, propped up on her tippy toes, cradling the back of his head.

 

 

 

 

In the weeks that followed the situation with the paparazzi and the press escalated, just as he suspected it would've the minute the referee declared a victory that wasn't his or John's, they gathered like vultures at his gate, intercepting every vehicle that came in and out of the drive-through, cameras flashing, greedy fingers tapping the windows of his transportation, the security detail escorting them out, the occasional wall climber falling into the front yard of mansion, only to be thrown out by Terry's guards. He's irritated by things spinning out of control. They're like crumbs of bread swiped away, though. The media isn't the main thing on Terry's mind. It's John. Always John. Nonresponsive to calls, to voicemails, fuck, even to faxes, Terry's like a maniac gripping a phone handle five times a day, until he starts feeling a bit desperate. No returned calls. For days. Weeks. A month passes. Still nothing. He visits the dojo John once owned, the same dojo Terry took over, subsequently, in the same apartment building, with that same third floor Bea rented in. Walking into the studio is like walking into four walls housing ghosts, belonging to some distant past. The buckets of dry paint are still lining the walls. Nylon coverage and newspaper clippings for cover-alls. A broken mirror and a patch of dripping white color trickling down the shattered remains. John isn't there. He isn't in the office. He isn't in the backrooms. He's nowhere to be found. Terry leaves the place bolted and locked, just the way he's found it. The last Cobra Kai in LA. How did things manage to fall so drastically under the weather in the past few days? Someone appears to have thrown a brick through the dojo window in an attempt to vandalize the place even though it wouldn't be surprising if it wasn't John himself. Dear, sweet Johnny. He always took losses hard. Always. Like they're nails, falling out of his own flesh, rotting, gangrenous. The same sickness Terry himself feels, phoning Johnny's old family home in San Diego. Nobody lived there anymore, tipped off by his investigators, but it was the only clue he had.

 

 

 

 

 

-"John, talk to me."-

-"Hey, Johnny, please pick up."-

-"I know you're pissed, but we can always work this out!"-

-"Fuck sake, John!"-

 

Radio silence.

 

 

 

 

Then one morning over a breakfast he couldn't muster eating, a worried Margaret hands him a newspaper, front page and center;

 

Bea.

 

 

 

 

-"Angel, it doesn't matter! I promise! It doesn't bother me! Wait!"-

 

 

 

 

She tried to maintain a steady, solid pace on his wake as he practically stormed through the hallway and right past Milos at the entrance door to the lobby like a hurricane on two feet, hastily unbuttoning bits of his three-piece formal evening ensemble and managing to rip his golden, decorative buttons in the process in a flash of blinding anger, starting with the cuffs, in indignation and rage, seething, both at the pathetic, sleazy nature of the insult and the partial injury towards his own ego that the tabloids managed to push him to this degree when he's always prided himself on being cool, detached and calculated. Controlled. Pragmatically, comfortably amused in the face of any speculation, any conspiracy theory, any gossip, any bullshit they might spin around his larger-then-life name, like so many eager little spiders. He's thrived off of it, in fact. The fame and the infamy alike - and ignored it, in good part, as a lot of it was beneath him and frankly downright laughable It's what made the brand of Terry Silver a brand. The talk of the city. The talk of the country. It simply went with the territory of being who he was and what he was. He never minded that. It was his source of fuel, in fact. Grand personalities always attracted grand attentions, ever since time immemorial. But, this? This!? They dared to entangle the whole competition with her!? When you had literally nothing to do with it!? Nothing whatsoever?

 

 

 

 

 


 

 

ALL VALLEY TOURNAMENT FIASCO AND A SNEAK-PEAK ROMANCE !?

'From the disgrace on the fighting mat to the mysterious, alleged Soviet-financed past of a Billionaire's newest squeeze? From the dredges of the Eastern Bloc to the lavish mansion of Beverly Hills! Now and then. Exclusive! Read more on page six!'

 

 


 

 

 

 

 

Pictures of her, interpaired with snapshots from the event at the tournament hall, like vague dots stitched together in a conspiracy theory and he finds himself gritting his teeth.

When did they take these photos of her!?

It seemed like it was while she was still living in the apartment complex.

Did his own detectives double-cross him, peddle the material they sold to him and the proceeded selling them to other publications as well?

Or was this some independent research journalist hunting for a juicy story around LA?

He felt some sort of way about people tailing someone had his marks on.

He was allowed to --- others weren't. It wasn't hypocrisy.

 

 

 

 

Why the fuck would he want to share something like that?

 

 

 

Terry threw the newspaper across the hall with a hiss, leaving her behind in the foyer, struggling to remove your heels on the threshold, still not realizing you don't have to, not even bothering to give the damn piece of tabloid garbage a few obligatory rips, just for good measure, to drill the point home, in case it wasn't obvious enough - and he was certain he made his displeasure more then obvious ever since this was brought to his attention by yours truly. He'd sue everyone involved. Collectively. He'd sue the publishing house. The editors. The staff. The owner of said company. The printing press managers. The photographers. He'd sue the damn janitor who wipes the hall clean after their miserable shift is over every day and the secretary who makes the coffee for said offices, for all he was concerned. Nobody would walk out unscathed. Nobody would walk out without paying for the weight of their words with a price so hefty, they'll wish they stuck to writing about the latest botched nose-jobs around LA. He reached for the small, silver cigarette-case in the pocket of his tuxedo, lighting a Montechristo, inhaling the fumes as he grabbed the phone, knowing instantly which number to dial. His private lawyer up in New York was never on hold for him. This was an emergency meeting.

 

 

 

-"No! Don't! Sweetie, no. No, no, no. It's not worth the effort and the trouble. Don't call anyone! I didn't show you because I wanted retaliation! I showed you so we could laugh at it together!"-

 

 

 

 

She was on his arm in an instant, out of breath, finally catching up, and setting down the phone handle, shutting it back into place, taking hold of both sides of his face with her fingers and throwing him a small, re-assuring smile, looking up at him, on her tippy-toes. What was so funny!? What was there to chuckle and grin about!? Was she positively out of her mind!? She was being accused of being a Soviet collaborator and a Spy and she somehow thought this amusing!? He had Homeland Security Agents and Immigration representatives alongside the motherfucking FBI on his line for days now, and she thought this was a laughing matter!? No, he was expecting it when they were coming out of the woodwork for dealings concerning him and Dynatox, because when playing innocent and seeping tremendous entertainment value from it, even the Devil was self-aware of the devil's own dealings - but her? She wasn't a spy! If anything, your past, and he has looked into it with spectacular detail several times (for the sake of practical necessity, pleasure and curiosity all alike), if only slightly dreary and depressive, was also spectacularly mundane and tediously boring. She had nothing on her. Squeaking clean. She never even had a parking ticket left unpaid.

 

 

 

So, why never accuse him instead!? Why not grow the balls needed and -

 

 

 

Her lips pressed against the knuckles of his hand snapped him out of fury momentarily and it wasn't an act, no, he could recognize an act when he saw one - he acted enough to know the difference by sheer proximity and experience, but you seemed, genuinely - what? Bemused, as it were. Thrilled, even. Like a child about to open a long-anticipated Christmas present, and while always priding himself on being to decipher and deduce emotions, and the cause behind them, all Terry Silver found himself able to do was stare down at Bea, slightly taken aback. Didn't she want these people destroyed? Closed down? Behind bars for defamation? Disgraced? Jobless? Their journalistic licences and integrity, revoked? Didn't she want revenge? He's evened scores and had his vendettas for far smaller offenses, but this? This deserved his special attention. Didn't it all make her, well - feel besmirched and humiliated? It made him feel besmirched and humiliated. Especially when it had zero basis in reality. A cheap periodical trying to make a quick buck off of the events at the All Valley tournament and by extension, his personal life? They couldn't even bother to do their due diligence research and get her country of origin right. She wasn't Soviet. She was Yugoslav. Actually scratch that --- She was American now. She was his.

 

 

 

The thought surprises him when pondered.

Contemplating his own thoughts not unlike an outsider looking inwards.

Remembering his own opinions on you from a while back, he ---

 

 

 

-"No. I loved it. Actually, I find it rather cheeky. Like a good-piece of bedside fiction. They painted me far more interesting and exciting then I really am."-

 

 

 

Upon being questioned in a wrathful, hasty huff by him, Bea responded with a mild-mannered chuckle and all Terry could do is crinkle his nose in frustration when her mouth brushed up against the side of his own pressed into a stiff, hard line adorned with his cigar, as if to ease him up further. She had this ability to subside the ire in him and he was still quite unsure how he felt about that when ire has felt so natural and so commonplace for such a long time. Being denied to indulge in the sport of vengeance (especially in the name of people he considered his) by so many factors, including her own casual disposition when faced with such accusations left him boiling with some emotion he couldn't quite name. Next thing he knew, she was gently guiding him into the master bedroom, excitedly offering to read him the entire article of your made-up biography with a jumpy, hyperactive temper. He was ice-cold and almost mechanical, but he wasn't saying no. Unbeknownst to her, his legal team would still be contacted early in the morning. She was always too sweet and tolerant, to the point of being ill-advised and senseless and all to willing to overlook jabs at her own personhood as quirky jokes. Gracefully enough, Terry Silver wasn't nearly as forgiving or as merciful. A few days later, an envelope arrives detailing the legal issues of Cobra Kai's lifetime ban from participating in any and all tournaments in the country and statewide and Terry decides to be even less merciful.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The passage you stop reading at, promptly closing the book.


Tucking it beneath a collection of others you chose.


Admiring instead, the jewelry box you're handed.

 

 

-"Real silver."-

 


Terry explains, like those two words brought him particular gusto.

 

 

 


-"Goodness, Terry."- You mouth, daring to hover your finger above the shiny material and even on sight, it looks so much more in quality then the ring you've bought him, the differences made even more stark and obvious by it's presence on his finger. He really likes it, doesn't he? Otherwise, he would've taken it off by now. -"Was it tremendously expensive? It feels so heavy."- You comment, tenderly lifting it out of it's plush bedding, holding in the palms of your hand, smiling and looking up at him only to find him glaring. Ah, yes, it was kind of silly now, wasn't it. Asking someone of his wealth and status, as weird as that sounded, if something was expensive or not. You never figured you'd get used to that. -"Alright, sorry."- You snort, peering down, towards your own lap. -"It's very beautiful. Thank you. But, you don't have to be buying me anything."- You whisper, setting the circlet back inside of it's box, a most precious thing, you always feared damaging gifts that you were given by accident. Terry has been upset in the past few days, though. Due to the tournament loss. Due to all those people from the press. Due to the articles written about you, which you had to snort at. So, you relented. You didn't want to give him a hard time by arguing him over well-intentioned presents. -"It's so people know you're mine."- Terry scoots close to you, one hand reaching up, fingers gliding, caressing the outline of your neck, the other caressing the surface of the box. That article hurt him more then it hurt you, even though he tried not let on. -"So they wouldn't come up with bullshit like that periodical ---"- He starts seething and you cut in, stopping his hands from sneaking around your throat, squeezing his thumb.

 

 

 


He gazes at you, blinking, as if taken aback by the touch.


This was Terry. He was still your Terry.


Nothing changed.

 

 


-"I know you had a difficult time. With everything that went down."- You slide closer to him on the sofa, lining up your words with a special slowness you tune to your movements, fearing that you could say the wrong thing --- do the wrong thing --- until your hips nearly touch, the box now in your lap, your hands smoothing the ornate container, anxious and unsure of yourself in that moment. -"And that that article was the last drop."- You add, apologetically, feeling it to be entirely your fault, yes. You had no understanding when those images of you could've emerged, but it could've been any time at all. Any time seen with him. Any time someone recognized him and you in his company. Anytime LA turned out to feel like a much smaller city then it truly was. Almost like that wish you made that one time came true. LA became a small city. Tiny. With just the two of you. How ironic? But, that's not the point you trying to make. -"I don't think John's mad at you, though."- You almost stutter like those words could bite you somehow, daring to add, threading light, trying not to cross a boundary or strike a vein. You understood how much John Kreese meant to him. Surely, a small loss and spat wouldn't break the camaraderie they had all these years? Terry did tell you John saved him countless times. Terry also told you they opened the first Cobra Kai together.

 

 

 

Surveying your surroundings now, it somehow made far more sense, logistically.


Massive stone columns, carved pillars and impossible crystal chandeliers hanging from the ceiling.


Elaborate mosaic artwork lining the walls, hand painted mural windows and iron vine grates.


There’s a weight to the house like that of a castle - you recall the specific line from the book.


And there is, there truly is, the massive blocks it was designed from almost perturbing.


Like they could move any minute, not unlike Tetris blocks, and bar off your way.


Trap you in here, shift and transform with a life of it's own.

 

 

 

-"He is! He's pissed with good reason!"- Terry mutters immediately, standing up or rather, almost shooting up from the seat, doing an annoyed, pacing in the shadow of the screen door, hands on his hips. He had the tendency of blaming himself a lot, didn't he? Feeling everything was his fault? It saddens you. -"You know, a year ago, that kid who won defeated John's champion. Dragged John's name through the mud! Humiliated him!"- He grinds his teeth, pointing a finger at some invisible foe. -"I needed him to suffer for it and for a while, he did. I wanted revenge."- He confesses, something dangerous flashing in his eyes. -"I wanted him afraid and in pain and pissing his pants."- Terry's blunt, sounding profoundly open, almost proud. -"The same thing I want for the smart mouths who wrote those things about you."- He admonishes, standing to hover in front of you, impossibly tall to behold from the place you sat at. -"I want them to burn."- He hisses and you witness a fire in his irises, flickering suddenly and then disappearing and you believed he would. He had a tenacity for snapping and you figured he was hurt before, really badly. Something he carried over from the war. Something that bled into the whole no mercy mantra the dojo had. So, when he said he'd want to see someone burn, you believed it. Saw where it came from. A dark, distant place reflected in his face. Like a shadow. A far away war.

 

 

 

Did it ever end for Terry?

 

 

 

You can't ask a person that, though. Any person.

 


-"Listen, can't get offended by an untrue thing. Why? Because it's simply not true."- You shake your head, trying to sound as sincere as possible to reflect the same sincerity you were feeling. To call you a Soviet spy was literally preposterous and hilarious in equal measure. You? A spy? You were seeing the owner of Dynato, Dynatox, or whatever Terry's company was called without even knowing who he was or what he was and sitting here, it still feels so foggy that The People really chose the most inadequate mark they possibly could've. You supposed that Bodega Cashier spotted eating pancakes at a diner with Terry Silver didn't have the same unf to it. -"A lie repeated a thousand times can become truth."- His expression is steady, poised, entirely impassive, lips a firm line. Regardless, you didn't wish him suing anyone. For any reason. Any time. -"It wont."- You chuckle, re assuring him, trying not to be too amused to avoid upsetting him. Not like you would become an super-genius cracking codes, breaking into safes, collecting intel and jumping off of buildings in a skin-thight, leather bound suit and probably a fur hat too, seeing the image they were going for any time soon, just because the papers wrote about it.

 

 


-"You trust people far too much."- Terry cajoles. -"I don't."- You reassure, because really, you didn't. You remember how little you trusted him. How much you weighted and calculated his courtesies, good mornings and hellos. For no reason. Just your nature, sometimes. -"I just don't want you getting yourself upset, is all."- You shrug your shoulders, wondering if this happens to him a lot? Media scrutiny? Media praise? Media attention? It must. How surreal was that? That you could simply go to a store, to buy, perhaps, gum or candy or a bag of peanuts right now and you might just spot his face there by accident, somewhere, on a newspaper rack, staring back at you, in some strip mall, in some convenience super market, in a park, while someone's on a bench, randomly reading the news, minding their own business? The same eyes looking at you now printed out on paper, on glossy covers, on magazines, printed a million times over, on maybe, on TV, on a lazy weekend evening, swapping through channels, landing on his image inside of a black box, in screaming color, as vivid as some movie star. You don't know how you felt about that. It sure was something. An emotion you could neither name, nor classify, nor label accurately for yourself.

 

 


Confused?


Impressed?


Mortified?


Dazzled?


Frightened?


Lost?


Stiff?


Worried?


All?

 

 


-"Ain't upset. More like enraged."- Terry shoots you a dazzling, bright, toothy, brilliant smile that doesn't reach his eyes and you almost don't register that his words were words of negativity and subdued wrath rather then joy, distracted by his expression, far too befuddled to notice he's opened the box on your lap somewhere in the meantime, holding the circlet up to your neck, maintaining the shape spread, grinning mouth position. He was really pissed, wasn't he? -"Put it on."- His voice is a deep, heated rumble and you turn around on instinct, giving him access to your back and neck so he can clasp the collar around you, moving your hair off of your shoulders to make it easier for him. Perhaps the reason it angered him so much was precisely because of 'Nam. Precisely because he understood the connotation of one being accused of any sort of subterfuge, on either sides, even as a joke, could lead to disgrace, torture, execution, questioning, death or being court martialed. Your stomach swells. -"Has my initials monogrammed."- His voice is behind you, caressing your skin, hot on your ears as you feel his hands tinker with the clasp, fastening it in place with a click. Tentatively, you touch the martial, perfectly snug around your neck, not an inch off, almost as if precisely measured --- the tip of your fingers tracing the sleek, polished silver, feeling the outline of a carved T.S. in the fine metal. His name.-"I'll feel better knowing that next time someone I collared gets touched,"- His voice seethes, fingers kneading the small place where beginning of your spin and neck connect. You shiver at the contact and the words alike. -"I'll make them bleed and I'll have double the excuse for it."-

 

 


You remember the night in that alley --- seemed so long ago now. You knew he wasn't joking.

 

 


-"No."-

 


You try to turn to face him, in a sudden panic.

 


His hand holds you steady, practically by the scruff of your neck, his thumb feeling like it was lodged into the collar, gripping you.

 


-"Yes."-

 

 


Terry breathes, his tone almost a growl and it's like the very walls of the house growl with him.

 

 

 

In the days that follow, you explore the house, after asking Terry's permission, angering him yet again that you felt you needed a permission at all, but you explore, like someone exploring a cave of wonders, feeling like a child, curious at everything; the texture of the brickwork, the occasional statue, the jacuzzi he seemed to have in a lounge bath area, a steam room entirely of his own doubling as a sauna, a pool at the very top of the house, overlooking the city, balconies and your garden strawberry garden, dormant until spring, you try to imagine their taste. Several kitchens, one busy with the ruckus and the clamour of a staff cooking and a diligent chef coordinating them as you scurry through, passing mercifully unnoticed in the crowd, a trophy room, a training room, a walk in closet with fine suits and shoes and briefcases and coats, leaving you embroidered with the memory of Terry's grey sweatshirt rolled up at the sleeves and his blue jeans. Then, another kitchen, furnished by empty; something inside of you feels lost, as you open the fridge, almost on instinct, checking whats inside, relieved when the food you discovered felt like something familiar. Salami. Condiments. Mustard jars. Butter. Vegetables. This could've been a staff kitchen, for all you knew. Probably was too. A staff's kitchen with no staff to be found. Were spaces like this simply like and stocked up and then left unused? You wonder idly, managing to find a knife hanging, immaculate, in a line up of several other knives, arranged by sizes on a silver rack, cutting yourself a slice of toast, making yourself a sandwich. You don't know how long you're staring, looking around you, admiring the carving on the ceiling, with your snack made and untouched, before you realize someone's standing at the doorway, like he's taken off guard.
It's that kid.

 

 


Mike, was it?

 


Just as you're about to feast.

 


-"Want one?"- You vaguely point the sandwich you were about to bite into his way, offering to make him one too, figuring he too had a difficult week. Was he from LA as well? Was he staying here for a while more after the tournament and then heading home or would he continue training under his Sensei? Where was his home? Did he take the loss hard? Must've. Terry did. Did they have a small falling out afterwards? Maybe. Maybe someone needed to --- well, you didn't even know --- try and be approachable? Friendly? Even though Mike didn't seem very friendly. -"You asked for one the other night."- You shrug your shoulder with a chuckle, recalling that he's mistaken you from a staff member. You must've scared him a bit. He was a bit snappy. Now, his mouth is merely agape, as if momentarily confused, in a wide, red tank top, training shorts and flip flops. He couldn't have been older then eighteen or nineteen. What were those other kids called? Dennis? The other one went by a nickname of sorts. -"How do you feel about mayo? Or are you more of a ketchup type of guy?"- You shake the bottle to ease up the juices and you spot his brows furrowing when faced with your silly attempt at an ice-breaker, as if stirred from a momentary state of questioning and paralysis. He seems annoyed. Like you trespassed somehow. -"Yeah, I don't need any of that funky crap."- He scurries past you in one breath, opening the fridge abruptly and grabbing a cooled coke can, snapping it open, shutting the door and gulping it down, disappearing across the threshold and somewhere in the hallway. Was this the kitchen he used while staying here? Was that it? Oh. -"Well, sorry, It'll be here, waiting for you, Mr. Barnes, when you do."- Your raise your voice in alert, setting down the sandwich on a plate, alongside the napkin, and leaving it there. You figured he might chuck it into the trash. But, hey, what the heck. Leaving the kitchen that was clearly in private usage to explore further, you hear the soft thudding of footsteps behind you, once you turn over the corridor to leave. 

 

 

 

 


The vague clamour of the ceramic plate being moved to the side.

 

The crumpling of a napkin and chewing sounds.


He was eating.


You smile to yourself, leaving him to it, not wishing to embarrass him.

 

 

 


This house wasn't quite so bad.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

A grim, official entourage of immaculate black suits on the premises of the mansion grounds requesting an interview with the subject described in their clean-cut, tidy manila case file, Terry immediately decided there and then he'd request a direct transcript of all the questions directed at Bea, alongside the answers she gives as a precursor whether he should or should not sue everyone's collective asses off where the issue as a whole was concerned. Bea kept dissuading him. For months and months and months. Escalating a situation that burned up inside of him like wild-fire, about to explode any day now in an outburst of anger, aggression and aggravation, made only worse by the presence of two Homeland Security agents on his front door, at ten in the morning, sharp, in ties, shades and overcoats, on the verge of appearing like the badge-tottering types that would show up to the mansion of some local drug lord peddling cheap coke money in the neighborhood, the kind of which Terry was not. Ironic, was it not? How he's, in the span of his career, done many an unsavory things, illegal things, even, yes, and it landed in court. It landed in the media. In the press. But never once has it come to this spectacular level as of yet. To trigger the CIA to knock on his door. Especially when she's done nothing. Terry should by all accounts delight in this. He should. He would've, when he met her. He would've gloated so much. Squealed, giggled and laughed in absolute delight. But now, the irony is a disgusting, bitter pill. He's done some shit and he's enjoyed it throughout and he was proud and amused by it. But, what the fuck did she do? Nothing. Nothing at all.

 

 

 

Terry has - oh, has he ever.

But not her, no, no - never her.

Yet, they were here for her, and not for him.

He would've been endlessly smug in any other situation.

To be the center of attention like this, to have grown so large and insidious.

So powerful, that literal intelligence agencies need to tackle his issue at large.

 

 

 

 

But, to see her walk into a separate room with them, unprepared, unprotected, at her own absolute insistence like some sort of masochistic fool, hushing him and assuring him ever-so tenderly that he had nothing to worry about, that she'd be okay, that she'd manage on her own, even though he offered time and again, pushed, in fact, to call up his lawyers posthaste, to prepare her, give her helpful inputs, insights, hell, speak for her, instead of her, if need be, as proxies, push this whole nonsense to a court of law if need be, alert Willie Cole, alert someone --- raise hell and cause a scandal deliberately, merely because she supposedly owed explanations and the accounts of her life, her past and whereabouts to no one, nowhere, at any point, and yes, he was seething, he was beyond himself with wrath in ways he didn't recall being in a very, very long time, not since the All Valley, trying to maintain his control and composure on the other end of the colossal glass window posing as a innocuous decorative mirror on the other side of the room she was seated in, in the company of the agents, rejecting even Margaret's presence with her. Bea was there all on her own, and something about it was more then Terry could handle. Her, fending on her all by herself. His power and resources momentarily rendered useless. Null. Void. Her past was his. Her present was his. Her future was his. Nobody had the right to prod at anything, except for him. Him. Him. Him. Him.

 

 

-"What was the initial purpose of you coming to this country, miss...?"-

 

 

One of the agents asked sternly, trailing off, not bothering to read out your name from the document.

Terry had the violent urge to grab his tongue and wring it from his delectable, putrid jaw.

 

-"To live. To work. To exist. Much like anyone else. Anywhere. At any point in time."-

-"A very innocent reasoning for someone of your geographical background."-

 

 

The rat-faced bastard clicked his tongue, clearly displeased, looking down at the case file and then back at Bea's face, several times over, with brief pauses, tinkering with his fingers, almost as if analyzing something, lowering his shades and wiping them with a cleaning cloth stashed in a leather box placed on the table separating her before continuing with a prim, secretarial tone Terry didn't enjoy, much like, case and point, anything else about this situation. A notebook was produced, and the other fellow started scribbling something down. One glance to Milos to check for the security cameras and see to it that he takes to zooming whatever it was he was writing. Terry needed to know and sniff out and touch the throbbing pulse of everything going on in that room, right in front of him. He despises the irony. The irony of how much the agent reminds him of himself. Of how much his questions and reasoning reminds him of himself. Why did that bother him? Since when did being a hypocrite ever bother Terry Silver?

 

 

 

-"I don't see how my reasoning is different or more peculiar then anyone else's."-

 

 

 

She retorted simply and one would think she's being vague. Swerving being open and clear on purpose to confuse them. There was, for once, nothing to hide in this household, not one thing. And this whole spy business was getting pretty stale, for all Terry was concerned. He blamed the tabloids for spinning this entire made-up story about her background to sell more copies of their inane dribble, post-tournament fallout. This sensationalist, cheap magazine bullshit that blew up way out of proportion after the All Valley. He told her then and he told her a thousand times - he'd shut them all down. The owner, the publicists, the editors, the staff, the goddamn ink machine! He'd make sure they all lose their collective jobs and positions too. He'd make sure they never write another article ever again. Anywhere - at all - he'd run them all into the ground. And then stomp on their metaphorical necks. Especially when one of them kept grossly mispronouncing her name, seemingly on purpose, callously and carelessly.

 

 

 

But, no, as always, she opted for mercy.

Now, look how far mercy has brought her?

She was being interrogated in her own home. His home.

 

 

 

-"Ma'am, I don't think you realize the severity of your situation here - and don't mind if I call you ma'am, because it's a fair shade better then all the other things we could call you."-

 

 

One of them began with something of an antagonistic stance that led Terry to start pacing.

 

 

-"You can call me whatever you like, sir, because none of the things listed would be true."-

 

 

-"Not even a sympathizer of the Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia's Titoist regime and the therein mentioned Communist Labor Party? Which I understand, your own father and grandfather were vehemently members of? Anywhere between '51 to '79 and onward?"-
The agent swapped a page within the case file, licking his finger. -"To present day."-

 

 

 

The other one corrected, lighting up a cigarette.

 

Terry lit his own on the other end of the screen - of course, he knew. It was the main reason why he developed an interest in her.

 

To flat her skin off of her body and pin it to the wall of his study like a hunting trophy, not unlike antlers and deer heads.

 

But, now ---

 

 

 

He also understood the profound and somewhat disturbed irony of fighting a whole war in Vietnam against the very people he would then take to bed in the form of her and how much he's loathed her for it. He's loathed her for other things too, but this one was among them too, surely. A decade ago, he would've ratted her out himself --- hell, six months ago, he would've --- no less smugly then a snake swallows a live mouse in one bite, or even better still, he would've finished her off himself with his own bare hands, refusing to allow someone else have the pleasure of it act, wanting it selfishly all for himself, and he would've made her suffer and suffer and suffer and then suffer some more for his satisfaction alone, but now, here he was, trying to keep himself stiff, silent and poised, failing to do so, when Milos, upon returning from the security room, handed him him a crystal glass of Macallan for good measure, to calm his nerves. Fuck. What would his father say if he could see him now? Old man would've singlehandedly set their family residence back in Vegas on fire and then he would also proceed setting fire to the whole neighborhood block as well.

 

 

-"I am not my family. I am me. I can only account for my own actions. Can't account for the actions of others."-

 

 

She retorted clipped and almost apologetic, when she had nothing to apologize for. Fuck, fuck, fuck, stop apologizing.

 

 

-"Does that mean you are renouncing any and all connections and ties to after-mentioned L.B. and J.B., the names of which we wont be reading out for practicality's sake?"-

 

 

-"Are you asking me whether I'm disowning my own family? Because, no. I'm not. Don't figure it would be ethical or even reasonable of anyone to me expect me to do such a thing purely to clear myself of imaginary, make-belief accusations."-

 

 

 

Her answer led to one agent leaning over to the other, whispering.

 

Ears poised in eerie silence as one of them looked at his own watch in contemplation.

 

Terry was having just about enough of this pussyfooting and this manifestation of bull-crap.

 

 

-"Alright then, ma'am, did you ever indulge in sex work as a trade? As a frame of reference?"-

 

-"Pardon me?"-

 

-"Did you ever, at any point in time, dabble in prostitution, locally or abroad?"-

 

The question was re-iterated and Terry already had his advocate on speed-dial - this just wouldn't do. She was literally a virgin when he met her.

 

An assistant handing him and prepping up the long-corded phone as his nostrils flared in rage.

 

New York was on hold.

 

-"No. I have not."-

 

 

-"How did your personal acquaintance with Mr. Terrence Silver, born 1951, CEO of Dynatox Incorporated, net worth of 68 billion dollars, and six in revenue annually, came to be then? A friendship most peculiar and unusual, no doubt. If you are not a spy, in layman terms. Not a plant. Not an insider for a foreign government, Non-Aligned as they claim to be, while sharing cigars with Castro. Then how does someone's paths casually cross with one of the richest men in America, and in the world at large? Logic demands that there's only one way extremely landed individuals and foreign nationals on the other side of the Red Zone of the fairer sex connect -"-

 

 

At this point Terry slammed the phone with a resounding, unhinged thud - his team was on the first flight over just in case - his emotionless, unblinking visage reflected back to him in the mirror, standing on alert in front of his designated window, ready to punch a fist through the smooth, translucent material of the glass and literally murder someone on the spot. Bea. A whore? She, who knew him when he was still playing his games and indulging in the role of the hard-done-by, struggling dojo owner taking to complaining to her and talking about electrical bills, rent, mundane daily comings and goings and his lack of students. The flooding in his training studio. The difficulties with running a start-up, stand-alone business of any kind out in LA. She, who wanted and welcomed him and desired him regardless, meeting him half-way with her sweet and idiotically tender disposition all while thinking he was a literal nobody, with next to nothing to offer to anyone, were now being accused of being an opportunist and a materialist bidding herself off for a wad of cash, and fuck, again with the irony, the goddamn irony - Terry had enough of motherfucking irony - if anyone was knowledgeable on the whereabouts of prostitutes and private masseuses and dancers, it should've been him. They were interrogating the wrong person. Oh, the stories Terry motherfucking Silver could regail them with. And oh, how sweetly he could choke them to death in the meantime.

 

 

-"When I met him, I didn't know who he was."-

 

 

She acknowledged, fidgeting in her seat, this time nervously, albeit, telling the absolute truth.

 

-"Awfully convenient how that worked out for you and all the anchor-babies you'll have, huh? "-

 

Terry sees red.

 

His ears are ringing.

 

 

It was around that time that Terry found himself acting on instinct and just showing himself inside the makeshift conference room without a word said, interrupting what he, from the very start deemed more of a jingoistic inquisition then an actual official business, scurrying past the two agents in the large, hasty strides, walking over to her, grabbing her by the elbow and simply dragging her out, an entourage of five, including Margaret, Margaret's two assistants, Milos and a set of security staff members behind them in a rush. Something was said to the agents as they were escorted out but Terry didn't bother to stick around and listen as he led Bea further down the hallway, away from sight and prying eyes. He didn't want anyone seeing her. Hearing her. Knowing her. Knowing her name, least of all dare mispronounce it. Smelling her, for all he was concerned. Enveloping her in his arms as he nearly collapsed her, back-first against the narrow of the wall and pushed her to him firmly and as hard as he could without outright hurting her or breaking her spine from the force of impact, whispering his displeasure and his anger and disappointment and hurt and his calls for retaliation all at once, into the sidelines of her hair, tucking her away in the crook of his neck, caressing her as he went along, despite her repeating he shouldn't have broke into the meeting like that. There was no need for that. No need at all. No need. She was being interviewed by Homeland Security agents. There was a fucking need for this, alright. Ignoring Bea's pleas, he practically found himself lifting her up in his delirium of indignity, so he could hold her even closer, until he could feel the weaving of her chest resounding against his own, swearing, that if he could, he'd have her crawl into him where she'd be safe and buried away from the whole world.

 

 

For the first time since John returned from his vacation before their ways parting, the premises are instantly under a makeshift siege.

 

 

Terry tucks her away carefully and almost strategically, into the heart of the mansion, hallways upon hallways upon hallways, interconnected and shifting into one another, labyrinthine, confusing and chaotic in their nature, one sprawling dead end leading into each other and blending into crossroads, going around and around, intermingling in the fitting architectural fashion of snakes, secret walls opening and revealing passageways and halls, traps upon traps and empty rooms that serve for no purpose as if to cheat the perception, and throw off the trail of whoever goes snooping around - the haunted eeriness of these old, 20's, Gilded Era unimaginably large concrete houses serves him well to hide Bea most effectively - she's are the mythical Golden Fleece, guarded by the Minotaur - if there was a way to acquire one, if such a thing existed, he'd be sure to have it guard her concealed, shrouded chamber entrance too - Terry enjoys the deliberate similarities to the myth and after an unfortunate knock on his door by the grey suits, no precaution is a precaution grand enough to take, as he moves her into this private den he's had designed for her practically overnight - a world inside of a soap bubble - under a barrier of glass. Colossal, heavy velvet drapes always on, enveloping her whole, not unlike a cocoon. An over-abundance of pillows lining the bed. The sofas, The side of walls. The floors. A giant, curtain-riddled bed, obscuring her even further, in an embrace of a hundred veils and screens. Her intended purpose in this sudden situation is to rest and sleep in this barricaded realm where she'll lack for nothing, just the way he's made certain she would not.

 

 

 

 

Mrs. Terry Silver is reclusive by nature, that's the story he spins.

And even that, only if someone annoying presses.

Some irksome, pushy fellow or other.

 

 

 

 

Mike Barnes, Karate's Bad Boy, as it were, is curious - like an unruly, undisciplined wild-cat would be curious about a decorative ceramic vase that could be very conveniently pushed over and broken. Terry notices. Terry knows. Terry always knows. He reads people. That's what he does. A castle is never quite as interesting as the treasures it inhibits. A fighter for the highest bidder. To be bought an sold. Not fretting on ethics. Sportsmanship. Clean play, as much of a joke as that is. What's fair. What's unfair. He is here for the profit. To get high on a bit of power and violence and have someone enable and bankroll him to do so --- which he failed to achieve. Terry can appreciate and respect the opportunistic, materialistic sentiment even though their whole arrangement was off. He is just the type of kid he and John required, now merely a student he wasn't on the best of terms on with. But, how far would he go, Terry wonders idly, speculatively, gaging his character, due to his mercenary spirit? If Mike Barnes ever found himself in some dark, immaculate office after being offered into a suspicious, tinted glasses vehicle, with two formally uniformed individuals asking some very interesting questions, promising some very tempting and awfully convenient offers in return, would he crack under pressure and go for the bait? Just like he went for Terry's own bait? All he'd need is to occasionally keep an eye out for this one special person keeping Mr. Silver company and occasionally leak info on what he sees and hears back, and the rewards would be oh-so great. Accidentally bigger by one whole zero then what his current employer offers him. Maybe throw him in his own line of Dojos around the Valley too, for good measure, gratis, out of the kindness of their hearts. All the less of a reason to let him go just like that. Terry needed to think. Think. Think. Think.

 

 

 

 

No, no, kid had his uses, which he failed completing - but, the kid could also not be trusted. He was liability.

Dynamite boy and a loose canon.

As previously calculated, it was best if Mike stayed here.

 

 

 

So, as it were, the carefully measured dosages of sleeping pills were administered to her daily intake of food to put her in a state relaxed, exhausted and dreamlike enough that Terry could have her moved into her new little fortified adobe with enough ease to avoid going into over-explaining or struggle on her part. She simply wouldn't understand. How much he feared. Almost on a pathological, subconscious level. He hated that he was afraid. Despised it. How much he didn't like her around other people due to it. He couldn't control everyone, everywhere, at all times, constantly, always. How he feared her being taken from him. Hurt. Put into harm's way. Stolen. Used for some nefarious purpose. He wants to cackle and growl at the irony once more. He wanted to kill her when he first met her. Even before he met her, actually. Maybe he still did. his was the most painless way he could preserve her and maybe she'd begrudge him. Maybe she wouldn't. Terry Silver would rather bear her being angered with him for some time due to what he's done then her being put into situations. Any situations. She'd wake up in the core of the mansion and she'd be safe. Sound. Free of worry and obligation. His. His. His. His alone. He wouldn't be parted with a single inch of her, not even her very name. Surrounded by softness and comfort and all the beautiful things she loved so dearly - catered to, in his absence, by a handful of staff members he personally preferred, handpicked and trusted the most, written contracts legally binding them to silence included. How was that not the pinnacle of happiness? It was. It truly was, Terry nodded to himself as he's set her down, limp and fast asleep, on the lush, mahogany bed covered in heavy, soothing black silk, tucking her in and kissing her forehead goodnight. She'd wake up figuring she was merely tired and no more. That these gilded chambers were a precaution, for her protection, which they were.

 

 

 

Once this was all over, he'd make her understand.

This was all done out of love - perfect, unconditional love.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

The shadows on the walls are heavy and long.


You wake up from a deep sleep for the second time since you've been brought here.


Another room formed in brickwork, slightly, perhaps, different then your initial one and you notice the difference.


Momentarily panicking, trying to figure out if you're dreaming or not, caught between a lucid state and being awake.


Your eyes find him, they find Terry, through the open door of your bedroom, leading into a corridor.

 

 

 

He's simply sitting an an armchair, back slightly turned to you, half of his body illuminated by a distant, dim haze, a cloud of mist around him, seemingly smoking in the silence. Did he --- was he guarding you while you were sleeping? Were you still sleeping, in fact? You can't tell sometimes. This house has a dreamlike factor to it, days and nights blending into one, you find you could sleep entire afternoons, entire evenings undisturbed, waddling out of your bed with a hazy stare, feeling groggy, swaying slightly. Maybe the encounter with the Intelligence Agents did in fact, take a lot out of you? Maybe you needed to admit so much to yourself? Maybe it was only fair? Maybe you've kept it under wraps and subdued because Terry's been through enough. He appeared profoundly upset with the whole thing, his mood visibly different, contemplative, grim, almost sour. Heavy. -"Terry."- You drag yourself forward, wrapped into a thin bed sheet, carefully calling out to him vaguely from the hallway, alerting him to the fact you were up, only to see him slightly stir in his chair, no doubt hearing your footsteps in the heavy silence of the lobby. What was this place exactly? You haven't been in this part of the house. -"Consider it a fortress, to keep you hidden while I figure things out."- His tone reaches you, a poised, stiff set of words uttered without him turning his head, huffing on his cigar utterly alone. You always figured he was a smoker. You smelled it on his breath before. You just watch him for a second; he seems oddly serene yet strangely tense. Focused. Sharply gazing through the colossal window covered in bars, looking out to the hillside of the mansion, on it's very edge, covered in what appears to be woodland or a private plot at dusk.

 

 


-"It's nice and all, but you look like you haven't slept at all."-

 

 


You look around in appreciation of the hall, scooting down next to him, on the floor, gently tapping him on the knee.

 


He's not blinking.

 


The shadow of eye bags darkening his stare --- goodness.

 


-"That's because I haven't."-

 


He confesses, flatly, dragging a smoke, still not looking at you.

 


-"When a man doesn't get rid of excess anger, he doesn't get much shut-eye either."-

 

 


Terry seethes, crinkling his nose and flaring his nostrils in what appears to be distaste, an ashtray right next to him on a carved vintage table, decorative, standing on lacquered vines instead of legs and barely big enough to hold his lone ashtray --- his fingers restless, fidgety, tapping alongside the brocade material of his armchair over it's wooden arm rest. God, he was upset, wasn't he? Your heart hurts. -"Terry, your hands are shaking."- You feel your own expression drop, watching the movement of his hand, ever so slight, still, except for a lone pinkie finger, bejewelled with a signet ring slight shivering. Your hands squeeze his knees further, for re-assurance. -"Listen, I don't need a fortress. Or a safe house! Or a room with steel bars on the windows! I'm not in any danger. They were a bit crass, yes, but I don't require special protection. They ask more or less the same questions up in any immigration office anywhere. Trust me."- You speak up, desperately, trying to diffuse him as much as you could, erase his worries, remove all doubt, yearning to caress him for comfort, dragging your hands along his thighs as he sat, but you opt not to. Maybe he doesn't wish to be touched too much right now. -"Background checks. Do you have a criminal record. A history of violence and drug abuse. Testing your language proficiency. It's standard procedure."- You add, trying to sound hopeful and encouraging enough. His face is still impassive, tracing his lower lip with his thumb, thinking. -"Don't be afraid, my love."-

 

 

 


You whisper, your voice cracking against your will as you scooted down to embrace his knees, only to feel him stir.


It ached to see him so, well --- upset?


You've never seen him like this.

 

He glares at you for a second, like he was offended you'd ever imply he was afraid of anything.

 

 

 

-"They called you a fucking whore."- He looks down at you, finally, eyes flashing with ire, words dripping purest venom. -"It's just a word."- You shake your head, gripping the sheets around your body. -"Words are never just words."- Terry shoots back, appearing dangerously feral, face partially obscured in the darkness of the spacious chamber, illuminated only by the light from the window and a lone, stained glass lamp. -"They think you've been peddling your tits and ass around for lunch money and they said so under my roof. In my house. In front of me. In front of my people."- His finger is pointing at his own chest vehemently for emphasis, a vein popping on his forehead and his tone is hissy, low. You agreed to have an interview you with the agents because you didn't wish to rattle the cage. You just wanted to cooperate and get it over with and not cause drama. You didn't figure it would make things worse and upset him so badly. -"And I did shit all about it!"- He growls. -"That's what having mercy does."- If Terry could spit the word 'mercy' out of his own mouth like some putrid, disgusting, rotten thing, you get the impression he would, watching his mouth twist in a grimace. -"It makes you weak. Makes you into a wimp."- He sneers, crushing the cigar in the ashtray with a couple of angry taps and pushing the thing aside carelessly.

 


Weak?

 


Terry wasn't weak.


Terry was the very opposite, actually.

 


-"You're not weak, c'mon now ---"-

 


You stutter, attempting to make yourself chuckle to deescalate. He shoots you a glare.

 

 


-"Where do you thing the whole 'no mercy' ideology came from? Huh? Do you think it's some catchy marketing slogan to get bored LA soccer moms to enroll their sons for Karate classes? Huh, do you?"- He tilts his head, appearing amused, lips quirking sideways. -"It came from war."- Terry's smile disappears as quickly as it arrived and you look down, feeling a bit ashamed. Of course, you knew that. It's just that you didn't think he was weak. Not in any regard, no. -"When you're in a cage, like you were ---"- He grumbles, trailing off momentarily. A cage? Oh yes, the office you were in. You never figured that. It's like Terry lost his train of thoughts and so did you.

 

 


-"How do you feel about snake pits, Bea?"-


He speaks up suddenly, no less serious then before.


-"Snake pits?"- 


You look up, questioning, unsure what he meant.


"Snake pits."-


He re-affairms, not a trace of humor in his voice.


-"I don't know, I ---"-


You stumble over your words, unsure what sort of answer was prudent or expect of you.


Until he grabs you and drags you up by your elbow, your sheet nearly slipping off of you, nothing but your underwear underneath.


He must've undressed you, mercifully so, but to the great impracticality of the moment.


-"Come here."-

 

 


Terry murmurs, standing up and sauntering, big, wide steps hard to keep up with as you were guided forward, one hand held, another serving to cover your indecent state even though it appeared you were entirely isolated and alone in this part of the house, corridors in utter darkness, labyrinthian and winding as he led you with purpose, finding his way out of the maze with ease, down a flight of steps and into the twilight of a stone garden, all concrete, trimmed bushes and a static bareness. Other then the strawberry plot made for you, his home had very little green. Almost none at all. And what he had was seeming carefully controlled, framed in decorative pavement, sidewalks and naked stone --- you're barefoot as he pulls you, the warmth of the late autumn dusk still searing on the ground below you as you halt in front of what appears like a well or rather, a pit, iron bars covering the opening, diagonally and horizontally alike, creating a square pattern. Was it a pool that wasn't being used? An old fountain? A snake pit, your subconcience reminds. Snake pit!? Was it a snake pit? Oh goodness, it was, wasn't it. You start writhing, on instinct. You didn't fear or hate snakes but you wouldn't call yourself the most courageous person alive either. For a split second, againts all better rationale, you fear being thrown in. -"Calm down! Calm down! I'm holding you. You're not going anywhere."- You notices you shivering you doubt, chuckling as he pulled you closer, to his chest and then wrapping his arms around you from behind, the sheet getting caught into your feet and the grass as he pushed you forward, right to the very precipice of the hole you don't dare to look inside of you, hesitating, except, when you do, you see the outline of ophidian forms. More then you could ever count.You can't breathe. He had a snake pit in his own backyard!?

 

 


What!?

 


Why!?

 

 


-"See that?"- He breathes into your ear, fingers tilting your chin downwards. -"Over five thousand reptilian species, all in one place, in an open-air terrarium, including the Inland Taipan, the Indian Cobra, the Malayan Krait, the Eastern Brown Snake and my personal favourite ---"- He lists them off one by one with an air of pride, even though it's fairly impossible to see their named differences, even with the electric lanterns lining the bowels of the pit, giving it a vague, orange luminescence. -"The Desert King Cobra."- You hear the smile in Terry's voice saying that, even though you can't quite see his face. -"Took me years to collect them all. They cost a small fortune."- He quips. -"Sometimes, they feast on each other in there. Nature's own pecking order."- He whispers and you don't quite figure you've ever felt so sorry for a collective of snakes. They eat each other sometimes? -"Other times, they're more then happy to feast on something far bigger then themselves."- You freeze for a moment. Something bigger? A bigger animal, surely? -"In 'Nam, neck deep in VC territory, we got captured on one occasion. Part of special Black Ops team. Me, Johnny, Pony and our Captain."- Terry continues and you brace yourself on instinct. You dread, internally, whenever he tells you about these stories as grateful as you were for him trusting you like that. It was painful though. Hearing all the elaborate ways someone you care for going though suffering. -"They shot Ponytail first, but the rest of us ---"- He hums, borderline delighted. You didn't understand why or how. -"We were held in the jungle, in a cage no bigger then that hole down there. All of us, jack-packed."- His finger points down. You stare at it mutely. -"We got picked by their commanders one by one, made to fight, mortal combat, to death that above a snake pit just like this, on a dangling rope bridge."- He continues and you hold your breath, knots in your stomach burning. -"Sounds like something out of a bullshit movie,"- Terry squeezes your waist and you feel a heat envelop you. -"But, it wasn't."- His pelvis and torso pushing against you.

 

 


Why did he keep this thing on estate grounds then?

 

Wasn't it painful for him? A painful reminder?


Was it intentional? Maybe he wanted a painful reminder.


Did he know he didn't deserve it? That he didn't deserve such torture now or then?


-"I lived through my Apocalypse fucking Now. Trust me. It changes you. Several times over."-


Terry laughs at himself, right into your ear but you find you cannot join him even if he pushed you down into the snake den right now.

 

 

 

 


-"On one occasion, after weeks and weeks of being held there, I got picked. So did my Captain."- At that point, you want to scream in anguish, but your stiff, you can't move and you can't make a sound. You just listen. -"I was puny. I was nothing."- Terry hisses. -"I would've died."- Then he growls. -"I imagine they knew. That's why they chose me."- His cheeks is pressed against yours as his voice is vibrating in your ears, resonating in your head, intrusive thoughts plaguing you, of all the various ways Terry might've suffered. Got tortured in. Abused. You always figured, but actually hearing about it from the horses' mouth as they say... -"Our side knew too. Felt like they were eager to be rid of me because I wouldn't survive anyway."- At that point your lips part, taking in heavy fumes of breath. -"But, Johnny volunteered in my stead."- Terry sighs. -"Bold, brave Johnny."- A sing-songy tone envelops you and find yourself shivering. Perhaps, from the chilly twilight air, perhaps due to his tale. He wraps around you, deepening the hug, no doubt noticing the goosebumps. -"He volunteered and fought our own superior officer to bail my ass out, and once he was done, he threw Georgie-boy right into the pit. He won."- You never heard this before and you'd never dare inquire such a thing, but it's akin to waking up. Opening one's eyes. You understood now with a new context, why the All Valley loss led to such profound sadness. Why Terry's mood was dampened. You almost wish you could've given him that victory somehow, only to make him happier for it. -"That's why I'm alive today."- Hope. There's hope in his words and you sense it, his lips grazing the side of your face in a half-kiss. -"Because someone stood up for me and decided to take the initiative. To get their hands dirty. To do what needed to be done."- You understood what he was trying to say. He was afraid for you. He figured that if he didn't stand up for you the way he was stood up for and that something would happen to you. Guilt is lodged in your throat like an unswallowed morsel. -"To have no mercy."- He spins you around, suddenly, having you face him. -"To protect me."- He smiles and you're speechless.

 

 

 

In moments like these words are entirely futile.


He was supposed to fight over an open snake pit to the death and he would've if John Kreese didn't intervene?


Your lips move, on instinct, mouthing a 'sorry'. You feel someone needs to apologize to him for that. Anyone. Someone.

 

 


-"And you're telling me ---"- He grabs your face with both hands, his stance firm and unflinching, like he was about to argue you on something. -"It's standard fucking procedure to let someone call your woman a whore in your own fucking house while you do nothing about it!? Not even be pissed off!?"- Terry's face is red, beaded with sweat, frenzied, giving his skin the appearance of wetness. -"Take precaution to defend her!?"- His face eases forward, voice dripping rage. -"Have revenge for her!?"- Your heads practically touch at this point and you realize it's not sweat at all, has he ---

 

 


-"Are you crying?"-


You dare ask, shocked and worried.


-"No. I'm laughing."- He chuckles, flashing his teeth, something below his eyes swollen and manic. It's hard to tell in the partial darkness.

 

 

-"Why?"-

 


You dare ask again, beffuddled, convinced your heartache was bleeding into your words, sounding week.

 


-"You remind me of him."-

 


Terry chuckles, a deep, rumbling sound emanating from his throat, his Adam's Apple bobbling in delight.

 


-"Who?"-


-"John."-

 


John? That was --- unexpected. From what you've seen, you weren't similar at all.

 


And that wasn't a bad thing, but it was merely facts. The truth.

 

 


-"Stubborn. Prideful. Refuses to be helped."- Terry grumbles, stare glazed over, distant. Prideful? You? Stubborn? Refusing to be helped? Well, perhaps. Depending what type of help one had in mind. Burning down the headquarters of Homeland Security wasn't the type of help you'd condone, surely. You never had anyone be so hellbent on having revenge for you before. -"Let me hold you. Let me."- You try for endearment, affixing your sheet and embracing him, placing your head over his chest. His breathing was hasty. You dare yourself to say something that has to be said; -"Terry, being held prisoner, in a jungle, in a cage, made to fight your friends to death above a snake pit is hardly comparable to being visited by a couple of guys with badges and asked a few uncomfortable questions, okay? It's not the same. It'll never be the same."- You do it in one breath, feeling humbled, exhaling once you're done and before you can even fill your lungs with oxygen again, you hear his voice interrupting you, his head moving above you. -"It is to me."- Terry says, convinced, unyielding. -"I wasn't in control of myself."- He's sincere, open, blunt. You raise your gaze to look up at him. -"You know who else you remind me of?"- His eyes are wide, primal in ways you can't describe as he poses the question. -"Me. From back then."-

 

 


Him?

 


You reminded him of himself?

 

 

You couldn't tell what he was like back then, all you concluded was that he was very vulnerable and far too young for war.

 

 

 


-"I hated that fucking guy. Wanted him dead. Now he is."- Terry doesn't blink as he says those words, something about his mouth and disposition twisted, like he was about to spit in anger, even though you had no idea what he really meant. You don't even wish to listen. He wasn't in a good state right now. He had a hard time lately. It was okay. -"You're not yourself, sweetie, c'mon."- You suggest with all the careful tenderness you can muster up, wishing to distance yourself from the viper pit mere feet away from you, feeling an eerie chilly run up your spine. -"Lets leave here."-

 

 

 


Your head is still spinning from waking up.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

Terry had a miniature mental breakdown and he didn't like the idea of it.


He once heard somewhere that strong, intense emotions can manifest physically like this.


Vomit, nausea, diarrhea, hysterics, addiction, depression and delusions.


Emotions so overwhelming that they equate to illness.


Mental instability --- in layman terms, madness.

 

And Terry wasn't mad, no - he was perfectly here. Present. In control.

 

Getting out of the mansion in the early morning hours, suited up, having the chauffeur take out the Aston Martin.

 

 


-"Sir? Where to?"-


-"Just keep driving."-

 

 


Terry gives out the decree idly, finding he wished to go nowhere in particular --- merely doing turns around the city would do.

 


Just watching lanes fly by. Estate gardens. Monumental gates of the Noveau Riche of Beverly Hills at dawn, swapping through a stack of magazines in one of the mahogany wood drawer compartments, feeling rather bored. Thing was, he needed to be alone. The past months or so was a shit-show of exceeding proportions. He lost the All Valley. He pissed off John. His time was wasted with Mike fucking Barnes. He had the paparazzi on his tails. He could be facing a lawsuit after the lifetime ban. He had a woman in his house he initially planned on tormenting. Playing a quick one on. Having a bit of a pow-wow with. Now, she was being accused of being a fucking spy and a hooker, and he broke down because of it. She's almost seen him cry, in fact. In his arms. Like a child. Terry hasn't cried since --- well, since he witnessed Pony being shot in the head. The words resonated in his head still. Shut up Silver, Captain Turner commanded him, and indeed, Terry hasn't cried since. Like he was a soldier at heart. When given an order, he would fulfill it until the end, he figured. But, he's actually cried. Laugh-cried more like. But, tears were involved regardless and the putrid, disgusting, shameful, embarrassing, humiliating, wretched sense of failure followed him even now, as his chauffeur sped down the highway. One couldn't outrun himself or outdrive himself. The feelings of vomit-inducing failure was still present in his gut even as he tried to wash it down with a quick shot of Cognac from the minibar, feeling idle in spite of the burn, taking turns eyeing the red morning skyline of Malibu and looking at his driver's forehead reflected in the review mirror. Terry has to ask something very important, he decides, and this guy will do just fine.

 

 

 


-"What's your name?"-


He inquires simply, misplacing how his chauffeur was called, unfortunately. Arnold. Alfred. Something.


-"Armand."-


Ah, yes.


-"Armand, what?"-


Terry requires a surname. He isn't about to speak with the man on a first name basis. He deserved respect.


-"Corbin."-

-"Mr. Corbin, if it's not to private to ask --- are you married? Otherwise taken?"-

 

-"No, sir? Sorry."-

 

 

 


-"Oh, no need to apologize, it's no transgression to be alone, but, just from an academic point of view---"- Terry trails off, finding he needs to speak to someone on the issue of 'des relations' as the French would say it. Johnny wasn't present and wasn't returning any of his calls. He didn't want Margaret Spencer hearing all about how he cried in front of his built-in private snake zoo. She saw him naked and having sex in the jacuzzi enough times. She didn't need to hear something quite as baffling as that. Milos was too gruff and professional to meddle into such things, even when asked. Snake and Dennis were kids. Mike Barnes was collateral he couldn't quite stand to look at to closely right now. Bea was Bea. He couldn't ask Bea about Bea. He needed another source, randomly picked, albeit, he didn't figure his own chauffeur would be entirely unbiased in his opinions, it was as good of an option as any. So, Terry just goes for it, feeling like a gossipy teenage girl on a sleepover with another teenager girl called Armand. -"If you could choose a perfect significant other, what would she be like, you'd say? Or anything else you might be so inquired to. It's the 80's. The decade of possibilities!"- Terry quips with a certain sense of energy, going in bluntly, unsure if his driver had a preference for women, men, both or neither, but he simply needed to know, in spite of current events and the HIV epidemic, perhaps Armand wouldn't want the gender of a potential lover known. Understandable and justified, but, nevertheless, hat did a driver working for a 1%-er look for in a partner? What were the dreams of the working class? He required a comparison sheet of sorts. -"Well, sir, sorry to keep it vague, but maybe someone like me?"- Terry smells polite avoidance and he doesn't blame the man. The 'someone like me bit' hits him particularly hard to the point he yearns to know more. Terry always figured he'd be with someone like himself too. Always. All his life. Except, he wasn't. He was with his own opposite, entirely unplanned, slipping out of control. Even the driver wanted someone similar to himself. Birds of a feather flock to each other. It was normal. Yet still, Terry twists his silver ring in a line-up of several others in contemplation, scratching an invisible, imaginary itch that always seems to be present.

 

 

 


-"And what would someone like you entail?"-

 


Terry presses, fingers smoothing the pages of a magazine, unsure what he wished to hear or discover.

 


-"Someone who does an honest living, someone to build a life with, someone..."-

 

 

 


Armand explains, manning the steering wheel and the minute he mentions making an honest living, Terry tunes out, mouthing syllables to himself, savouring them on his tongue, weighing how they feel, again and again. -"Someone like me."- Indeed. Terry always wanted someone like himself too. He planned on it, in fact, ever since around the time he's made his first million, as they say. American. Upper class. After moving to LA, he hoped for a matching zip code and a matching city, yes, after his first million turned into his first billion, his ambitions expanded. He was thinking heiresses, aristocracy, royalty, blue blood. He figured it would be fitting. He was, at one time, pondering all the things he didn't yet have and nothing came to mind, well, nothing except having a pedigree. It would've been funny. Terrence Silver, prince consort of some country somewhere. It was particularly comedic and alluring. Those were Terry's designs for a mate. Calculated. Nothing unpredictable. Crisp. Clean. Controlled. Useful. Someone that would bring him to new heights versus dragging him down. Instead, he entangled himself willingly with some who's neck he wanted to wring just a couple of months back and he was bawling his eyes out in her arms. She saw that. Bea saw that. Bea saw him cry. Most...un-crisp. Unclean. Uncontrolled. This is what happened when one was with a person that was their opposite. Their body rebels. Their psyche does too. Their whole being signals dissent. It becomes unstable, like some lone, nocturnal animal starved for flesh, vibrating with hunger, vibrating with thirst. He wants to go back home to her. Be with her. Eat her. Taste her. Slobber her. At the same time, he yearns to run. Go. Leave. Disappear on a business trip he makes up. Hong Kong. Tokyo. New York. Anywhere. He's brought her to the mansion --- in fact, he personally confronted her and insisted she come, so why shit his pants over it now?

 

 

 


Love, love, love, love, love, a voice in Terry's head chants.

 


He also craves a raw stake. Bloody.


Instead, he fishes a small silver box out of his watch pocket and downs a Quaalude with his liquor.


The roar of the car engine is stead and beach vista passes them by in a blur as Terry eyes the stack of magazines.


He despised how he wanted to go home to her, so he distracted himself, with any nonsense he could.


Anything at arm's length.

 

Was this a sort of disease? The type those new age Yuppies make up?


He even requested Armand to play the radio --- anything to distract him further, even if it was Dead or Alive's You Spin me Round and hardly fit his sour mood.


Well, other then the lyrical line about tracing one's private number, of course.

 

 

 

 

OLYMPIC ACHIEVMENTS OF BELOVED CHILDREN'S AUTHOR.

 

 

 


Swapping the pages and landing on the front cover again, there's title written in a glossy font. He felt vaguely gleeful how he personally knew almost everyone these trash tabloids tended to write about, including the smiling face of the visage staring back at him. Astrid-Ragnhild Anne Marie Røiseland is a Norwegian princess in line for the throne, also something of a prodigy skiing champion and sports all-star (something Terry could appreciate immensely, despite the differences in their respective studies of choice) in her own home country; not American and a figure far removed from the LA scene and it's whereabouts, but figuratively speaking, Terry always envisioned that if he'd end up with anyone, that's the type of person he'd end up with. He wanted a Betsy while John had a Betsy, unsure if it was a Betsy he wanted or if he wanted one purely because John had one. Or if he wanted John himself, viscerally. Except, then he grew, and his worldviews became smarter. More polished. He and Astrid actually had an encounter of the intimate kind in Studio 54, back in '75, when she was on an impromptu, undercover tour of the US, acting unruly, fucking around and experimenting with opioids. He believed he's met his match in that club, in all things and that they understood each other well due to it. He had that modern, corporate edge a dingy old, out of fashion European dynasty lacked, she had a crest and fuck, Terry always wanted and coveted one of those; they would've been a match made in heaven. So, why weren't they? She seemed unmarried, by the looks of it. A single, unwed royal? Interesting. That's exactly the type of person his parents would encourage him to connect them with. Humble standards, as always, in the Silver household --- he chuckles at the particular thought, albeit bitterly.

 

 

 

-"Always climb the ladder up,"- His father would used to lecture him. -"Never down. There's nothing down there for you."- Funny how his pa' was all for preserving generational wealth and even expanding it by acquiring more of it, either through entrepreneurship, convenient unions or sheer business wit, only to gamble everything they had away singlehandedly and marry out of attachment, not advantage. Life was one set of uncontrolled irony after the other and he, being their son, never liked that.

 

 

 

Terry stilled wanted to be home, in bed, with Bea, and the thought infuriated him.


He feels like snarling when he instinctually orders Armand to turn around and head for home.

 

How dare he order such a thing? He was supposed to be avoidant. Casually distant.

 

 

He spends the following days honing that casual distance deliberately. He doesn't want to, but he feels he has to. In order to contain himself after his little sniveling stunt. He needs to keep his mind under wraps. Throw himself back into the gears of Dynatox, on purpose, relieving his Executive Chairman from his duties, walking down the corridors of his house with wide strides, Margaret keeping up with him, her heels clicking as she was handing him the newest report case file preparing for the end of the year and the annual revenue gains. Numbers. Numbers. Numbers. Yeah. Okay. Fuck. Anything to distract from the pitiable, haunting looks she's been giving him lately. Soft, caring voices. Gentle touches. Are you okay, my love? How have you been doing, my dear? Doting on him like he was an incompetent child who needed that sort of shit, dousing him in some putrid sensation that makes his stomach lurch, and it does at one point, once he practically jumps out of your shared bed, in the labyrinth you were hidden, as he lurches over the toilet at two in the morning, puking out clean, unstained water. More weakness. Terry maintained himself perfectly healthy. Perfectly tuned. Perfectly taken care of. Now, he was vomiting too, almost like his very body was physically repulsed, desperately attempting to lurch out this hideous feeling lodged in his belly, like a sort of pressure, fluttering painfully, pressing down on him. Like he wanted to regurgitate something inside of him. Get rid of it. But, there was nothing there. Just water. No residue. No pulp. No taint. No filth. No mucus. Bea's worry deepens when nights upon nights are spent occupied with this ritual, and it's like his insides are stirred even further by her concern. Disgusting, disgusting, disgusting. Then again, why didn't he want it to stop? Ever?

 


-"Johnny, help me, I'm going insane."-

 


He leaves a message to the old answering machine in the locked up dojo, still hoping someone will answer.


Then, he leaves the same one in his home in San Diego, even though he knew no one would be there either.


Terry writes a letter, shamefully, burning in ire as he does, seething, never intending to send it to anyone.


Instead, only pretending he would, in order to sort his thoughts out.

 


Terry practically locks himself into his own study under the pretense of work, fireplace crackling away during a day with a rainy November disposition, scribbling away with a golden fountain pen and a crisp, white sheet of paper, avoiding the coke and the cognac on this occasion --- he wants to be sound of mind, clear and focused when he puts his feelings down, feeling like an idiot child leading a journal of secrets. It had to be done, though. No. He couldn't get a private, exclusive therapist and go the route of the Beverly Hills elite. He didn't want the therapist knowing. A therapist was human. Had eyes and ears and a nose and could scoff internally and measure and judge him and vivisect him and scrutinize and analyze him, but a piece of paper couldn't. A piece of paper was just an inanimate object. He tries not to fill the basket with crumbled upon half-attempts lest the cleaning staff accidentally ends up being tempted to unfold one and read it. The words Shut up, Silver, flash in his head like lightning. A cacophony of noises disrupt the silence of his brain. Whore. Prostitute. Slut. Anchor-babies. Commie. He bites down on his lip, nearly breaking the tissue and the skin. He couldn't talk to Johnny personally. He wasn't responsive. Second of all, Johnny, for all intents and purposes, was a closeted old school romantic. He wouldn't get it, perhaps. Did Johnny ever feel like his ribs were violently going to close in on his heart and strangle it, piercing through the tender flesh with jagged bones from how much he didn't want someone and yet that someone was right there, in his mind, refusing to get the fuck out? Probably not. No. So, he must imagine he's talking to him. Some alternative version of him. Terry meticulously reads over a first and final draft, hunched in his work chair;

 

 

 


 

 

I think I love someone. You know who. I haven't cried in almost twenty years, but I've cried because of them.


I bleated like a stuck lamb.


Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting. Disgusting.

Control is slipping, Johnny.
I can't let that happen.


I know you told me not do to anything that I'll lose my soul because of while we were still talking, but --- thing is, I never quite believed in souls or anything inherently spiritual except one's ascendance. I don't think there's anything inside of me except my organs, my bones and my blood and the visceral shame that devours me. The feelings of humiliation. Reminders of weakness. The fact I took the enemy to my bed, to my home instead of ---- Terry hisses, scribbling out the empty space several times, alongside a couple of tries at terms he didn't like that came instead of, including 'someone worthy', 'someone similar', 'someone like me', 'someone who wouldn't mess me up', 'someone safe and planned'. Riddling the line in a jotted, inky mess riddled in pen patches. Terry's displeased by the aesthetic appearances, but he continues anyway, in the best cursive he can muster.

 

 

--- and now I'm upset and uncoordinated and in a shit state because of her. Did you know a pair of Homeland Security agents knocked on my door? What a bullshit day that was.
I should've found I have an understanding with. No emotions.

 

 


 

 

 

He reads the makeshift letter several times, right before standing up and throwing into the nearby fireplace, watching it burn.

 

 

 

The paper crinkles and burns, deformed, charred and black within seconds in the embrace of the flames, and Terry leans over them, hand poised against the brickwork frame of the mantlepiece, he watches it slowly disappear, and with it, everything he's revealed in those words, everything he felt, everything he believed he felt collected in a nutshell because he couldn't bear to write further. Even confessing it oneself felt low. He hears a knock on the door and Margaret's voice on the other end, in her usual, clipped, professional voice, saying something about an urgent phone call from Shanghai and he momentarily ignores it, transfixed by the visual manifestation of his weakness melting away. He observes the process meticulously, with poised attention, simply refusing to blink until no sign of the paper remains and the fire is all that there is, purging his insides clean, the warm haze of heat emanating from the fireplace caressing his face in waves, he envisions Bea burning down in that sizzling furnace too. Melted. Gone. Clean. Terry turns the figurative knife inside of himself by staying relegated to this home office for the remainder of the day and politely, gallantly ignoring everyone. Her especially.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

“I believe that truth has only one face: that of a violent contradiction.”
― Georges Bataille, Violent Silence: Celebrating Georges Bataille

 

 

 

 


 

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

 

-"So, Mister Barnes, what can you tell us about the activities taking place in your, ehm, current employer's home? Anything unusual you noticed? Any strange people mingling about? Anything?"-

 

 

 

 

The grey haired prick with a navy tie and a matching suit tottering a notebook on the ready and shiny golden pen inquired inquisitively, and Mike instantaneously had at least fifty anecdotal cases he could list as an example under 'strange' and 'unusual' respectively, ever since he moved in with Mr. Silver, some three months ago, roughly speaking - starting from the overabundance of baffling staff members, to the bizarre comfort with nudity and exhibitionism, the downright odd guests inhibiting the frankly quite colossal house, one Mr. Cole coming over for a lobster Sunday dinner and cackling maniacally when offered a bribe openly (which was promptly accepted with a mutual toast), to the leaning towards utmost secrecy and the unusual habits this place practiced on the daily. Mike Barnes was lost and confused on what exactly they expected him to list and talk about here as he stared blankly at the agents. Strange people mingling about? Everyone Mr. Silver hanged out, was one way or another a 'strange people'. Right? Right!? His ex-teacher, entirely on his own merit, fell under this particular category also, recalling one peculiar incident involving a sauna, a bucket of cooled down champagne and his employer's moaning sounds resonating from the hallway. He was kind of a quack, really. A quack with a helluva lot of money, though.

 

 

 

 

Sure, Mr. Silver has vaguely given him some leave to, well, leave. Mike figured he didn't know what to do with him anymore --- even though he planned on being quietly obnoxious. Sticking around until someone, somehow, somewhere coughs him up some sort of money --- some sort of compensation for all the efforts he put in. Regardless, he was convinced he was being watched around town by some payroll goonies, more so when a black van pulled up next to him. And he got brought in for questioning, entirely unexpectedly like it was an episode of Magnum PI. Man, LA was fucking weird.

 

 

 

 

-"Yeah, I wouldn't know anything about any strange people. When you take up martial arts you kinda, you know, tune out that sort of crap and focus on what really matters; Honesty. Compassion. Fair-play. That sorta thing. It's what I'm all about. That's what Cobra Kai is about too. Acceptance. Tolerance. Empathy. Giving and receiving. All that."-

 

 

 

Upon cue as a way to bail himself out on some grand, theatrical emotion, Mike found himself re-iterating Mr. Silver's often-repeated, feigned little speech the way he was instructed to, hoping it'll stick, sounding almost stupid to his own self as he was saying it out-loud, feeling like a stereotypical pageant Miss Universe calling for peace in the world proceeded with a cute little wave to the audience, leaning back in his chair, legs spread, trying to appear deliberately nonchalant and suave - truth of the matter is, he's seen strange things, heard strange things and witnessed strange things all alike, but he wasn't about to be dumb and start running his mouth about it. Silence was golden. Silence was, also, his golden ticket for a financially stable future. Wasn't about to rat out the person commissioning him and this supposed John Kreese, friend of a friend, they were doing all of this for, off on some exclusive resort in Tahiti, or whatever the fuck that was all about - the less he knew, the better. He'd rather come off fake and obtusely transparent then talk himself out of his own work and in all actuality, for all intents and purposes, Mr. Silver seemed like a frightening guy, for all his amicable disposition. Mike wasn't certain what he was capable of when crossed and he didn't wanna find out.

 

 

 

-"Mr. Barnes..."-

The younger agent clicked his tongue dispassionately.

Standing off to the side, arms crossed, seeming a bit annoyed.

Maybe exasperated - like he was getting a headache.

Tinkering around with something vaguely.

A magazine with his face on it.

Karate's Bad Boy.

Oh, fuck.

 

 

 

-"1983. Breaking a nose and two ribs of a fellow competitor back in Arkansas. Landing in penalty points and being disqualified in ever competing in your home state, the aftermath of which resulted in your also attacking said fighter, presumably under the influence, and I quote, dragging him out of the ambulance car, and as your police record says, bashing him several times over with a steel rod, disrupting the public at large, resulting in a severe concussion and you serving jail-time for it. You've been recorded saying, in your own interview for this lovely tabloid here, and excuse me, Llyod --"-

 

 

 

The man cleared his throat into his own fist, in preparation, after a hefty explanation;

-"Ah, yes, here it is "If you want more punk, you know where to find me! Get wrecked!" End quote."-

He finished off with a mocking sort of dignity, straightening his shoulders. Wow. Mike hated these guys.

 

 

 

-"How very - what was it you said - Honest, compassionate and indeed, full of fair-play of you? Was that how you earned the moniker? Karate's Bad boy? Does Mr. Terrence Silver of Dynatox Holdings Incorporated, your current employer, as it were, supposedly contractually bound, know you are, in essence, an individual with a criminal record, serving from '83 to '84, respectively, and someone in possession of a file in Juvenile Detention back in Little Rock, which is, your place of birth, I assume? That could bode very badly for the reputation of one such esteemed gentleman of business, with so much to lose."- His voice halts then, tongue licks it's lips gleefully, in delight. -"And it already did, by the looks of it. Your loss at the All Valley earned your whole school a lifetime ban. Nice going."-

 

 

The rat-faced, greying asshole finished off, prepping up his glasses with a finger. Throwing him a curious, almost confrontational look of glee. Mike wanted to fight these pieces of shit so badly. They did their research - they had the prime scoop on him. And he figured, Mr. Silver, judging the that huge, expensive house alone. And all his cars, and all his staff and expensive shit had the means to look into him. If he was ever bothered by his past, he would've never personally summoned him out to LA. He would've found someone else - someone more fitting, perhaps, for his needs. Mike was calling their bluff - they were expecting him to shit his pants. They were expecting him to go all scardey-cat and crumble. Yeah, so, he did a number on that guy back home. So, what!? It's not like he killed him. Although, he could've. This wasn't about ethics. This was about something else. Or at least, it could've been, if he hadn't fucking lost due to the 'win a point, lose a point' bullshit Mr. Silver had going as a plan.

 

 

-"You're blackmailing me, huh? I can tell. So, what am I being blackmailed with, geezer? And what's my cut here?"-

 

 

 

Now, Mike was told before that he was over-confident and cocky, and sure, he's embraced those traits full-heartedly, never tried to deny it or justify himself, he didn't even have the tendency to get offended - no, sir - as he crossed his own arms this time around with an intentionally victorious, arrogant grin - he expected to be punched or slapped after the very kindly epithet thrown towards what he assumed was old man Lloyd, if that was his real name at all, but all he received was something of a baffled, confused look thrown back and forth between the two agents. They couldn't touch him, truth was. Even now that he's lost. Mr. Silver was too powerful. And harming, what was essentially, his failed race-horse champion for the All Valley tournament wouldn't be something they could afford doing. They could only beat around the bush and try and intimidate him and throw around their weight a bit, but they couldn't get physical. They couldn't violent. Not really. Nor could they outbid, what was, essentially, and Mike was going on a wild guess here, a billionaire. That house he lived in had to have cost millions, at least. Out on the Hills!? No way!

 

 

 

-"Cut to to the chase with Karate's Bad Boy, Worst Boy, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtle over here, or whatever he's called, we've a meeting at seven. The Johnson-Debonair case discussion."-

The younger one started rubbing his eyes in exasperation, pacing impatiently - this was like some detective TV show.

If the cameras riddling the dimly-lit office weren't blinking red in the corners -

Mike would've gotten up and smashed his frontal teeth.

 

 

 

 

-"Now, with all the facts of your past exploits and all the details of your pristine, exemplary biography serving as a reminder, take a look at this photograph here, and tell us what you know about this person. Your cooperation would be an imperative."-

 

 

 

 

Fuckface Lloyd slid him a plasticized, transparent case a singular photo wrapped and covered in a white sheet of paper, for conspiratorial effect. Unwrapping it like it could poison him, Mike was not at all surprised to find a blurry snap of Mr. Silver out on the southern balcony overlooking the garden, embracing a figure to the side. Oh. He was smiling. Seemed happy. A relaxed, at ease poise he's never witness him take in the Dojo, or while training him, but here, he seemed like a different man altogether - the contrast nearly made him itch with unease. Nearly made him shudder. Was that his woman? He's heard about her, and he's seen her all but once, in all the time he's spent living under that roof, coming and going, swapping out cars, enjoying all the luxurious he was allowed to indulge in - in fact, this was the first time he's laid eyes on her, while staring at the Polaroid marked and labeled with numbers and codes that had no meaning to him - B.B. 11301994 or something - Mike always almost imagined her sick or incapable of walking on her own - something of that variety before he's actually met her and before she actually made him a sandwich like a loonie. Which tasted nice, incidentally, but that was hardly the point. But, there she was, able and standing on a quickly-snapped, spontaneous picture. Mrs. Terry Silver. Nobody ever even mentioned her name and any and all attempts to somehow casually draw out any vague facts or gossip about her was meant with expert changes of topic. He already knew people acted somewhat strange in that house, but they tended to take on an even stranger aura where the question of whoever his employer's significant other was. Why - Mike couldn't gage - but if these pieces of work in front of him were so interested, he figured the information was somehow valuable to them, and by extension, even more valuable to Mr. Silver. He was about to play dumb deliberately. Just because. He wasn't about to run his mouth and tell these losers Mr. Silver never actually paid him for their agreement, post-All Valley. First of all, he didn't wanna come off like a complete clown, second of all --- fuck these guys, that's why. Mike's personal business was Mike's personal business --- that included the flops too.

 

 

 

 

-"What? The Girl!? Dunno, man - lotsa girls come in and out of that house. Sometimes it's the masseuses. Sometimes it's the maids. The secretaries. Sometimes it's the dancers, y'know how it is - hard to really remember them all - also, I can't really make the face out well. You should hire a better snooping team to climb the fence next time. Equip them with nicer lenses."-

 

 

 

 

At that point, the younger agent showed himself out of the office.

A grim, icy face followed with a clipped sigh - phone ringing in the hallway.

The door closing shut with a resounding bang - ooh, someone was angry - bad shift.

Someone was irked by being talked back to - they didn't figure he'd be so irritating to deal with.

They figured he' crack under pressure the minute they ushered him into the tinted vehicle.

When that failed, they assumed he'd be impressed with them flaunting their badges.

Bad guess, Mike despised the law enforcement - and rules and regulations.

When that didn't work, they brought up his past - working with guilt.

Bad guess once again, because Mike had none whatsoever.

In fact, he'd gladly do it again, given the chance.

And this time, he'd hit even harder.

 

-"Now, listen, son -"-

 

Llyod reached out to him, trying for compassion. Ew. The fuck?

 

 

 

-"This is a very dangerous individual here, up on this picture. And it could be worth your time. You want your own line of - what's it called, Karate Schools? Sure, who doesn't appreciate a young entrepreneurial type starting out fresh in the world. And who hasn't gotten into a bit of a spat once in a while, right? You roughed that kid back home up? That's all good and fine, and it can all be forgotten and erased, so long as you make correct choices in the future to come, and call us right up - if you, as we said, see anything strange. Anything unusual. Anything of note. You seem like a nice kid. I'm sure you'll understand. I'd want nothing but a clean slate for you as you keep moving up in the world. Won't be much of a sportsman with a criminal record behind you, right?"-

 

 

 

The man finished up with something of a teacher-like, artificially empathetic tone lacking any true warmth that sounded overly preachy as he leaned over towards him, from the other end of the metallic, immaculate table. Overly cookie-cutter. Reminded him of his dad. Reminded him, in equal measure, of Mr. Silver too, ironically. Know-it-all. Full of veiled treats, double-meanings, word salad and verbal traps, as he slid him a white visitation-card, eerily minimalist, lacking a logo, lacking detailing, containing only but a singular phone number Mike was expected to ring and leak information to once in a while, on who, exactly - Mr. Silver's companion? His woman!? Whatever she was!? Woah, now, this wasn't part of the deal. He came to LA to roughen some random, wimpy kid up and take his title and settle some revenge score or another - for a fair price. He didn't come here to get embroiled in some creepy, very elaborately confusing conspiracy to spy on the broad of a billionaire who was providing him with his bread and butter (at this point, literally speaking, excluding the actual fucking dough) under the sure promise of never having a professional career due to his record being brought up for shits and giggles as a detriment to said goal in life. This was too much. No, no - this was too much for even Mike Barnes, who only proceeded smiling with a feigned, un-feathered poise he wasn't exactly feeling as the agent got up, buttoned his blazer up, dusted himself off, nodded his goodbyes and left, leaving the door up for him as a cue that this meeting was over, right before throwing in a final juicy tid-bit, concerning vocational options;

 

-"Unless, you, that is, plan on making a career on being a cage-fighter somewhere in Honduras."-

 

And with that, at a turn of heel, he was gone.

Mike Barnes was left entirely speechless.

What the fuck was up with this goddamn city?

Him and the photograph abandoned, as eerie companions.

The prospect of Mr. Silver's revenge frightened him so much, momentarily -

The picture was ripped apart within in an instant, the chair kicked, for good measure.

And Mike was out, bidding himself to forget this crap immediately and never speak of it again.

 

 

Mike walks out of the station and instantaneously a familiar voice shouts him down. Oh, wow. Oh, great.

 

The clown posse in the clown mobile.

 

-"Hey, loverboy!"- A chrome red convertible is parked up in front of the steps, with leather zebra print seats and Mike instantly recognizes it as Snake's vehicle before he bothers to recognize Snake himself, with a shit-eating grin, sporting a leather jacket and a neck chain over his yellow Cobra Kai shirt. Man. He really never quit, did he? He still wore that shit like it was a fashion statement he was proud of. Mike tries to ignore them, tucking his hands into his pockets, deciding to head back to Dracula's castle. Take a...tram, or whatever. -"Hey, Dennis, look, it's loverboy!"- Snake elbows his sullen companion in the ribs for special emphasis, and Dennis intercepts him, stepping between him and the sidewalk, cutting his way off once he planned bypassing them and simply leaving. Had enough of these sleazeballs. -"Fuck off, creep!"- Mike seethes, pushing the dude backwards, ready to take a fighting stance. Seriously. Okay. Alright. This was a fucked up situation, stalemate, whatever, but they were force to share a space, Mike wasn't getting paid on supposed principle, and these guys were still serving as his supposed watchdogs well after the tournament. What gives? He would absolutely beat them up at the first given opportunity and he wouldn't even blink. No reason for him to act the boy scout anymore. -"Where you've been, loverboy? Talking to the pigs? You a law-abiding citizen now?"- Snake throws his arm over Mike's shoulders, his breath reeking of Cheetos, cigarettes, beer and all that covered up with the gum he was chewing on obnoxiously. Mike clicks his tongue in annoyance. -"What's wrong? Not hanging out with us anymore? We not good enough for you anymore?"- Snake's words practically slither as he guides him away, pretending to be amicable in public, a couple of steps discreetly away from the office building, where a nearby cop standing watch in front of the entrance can't see them as well. -"Did you rat us out?"- He asks, tilting his head, finding a nearby brick wall, away from sight, letting go of him, or rather, Mike freeing himself with a hiss. By ratting 'us' out, Mike by now knew he meant the entirety of The Silver Estate. -"Because Mr. Silver is gonna be very angry that you not only lost, but you're out here running your mouth too."- Snake's hands are on his hips and he looks so irritating that Mike can't help but kick him in the leg as a warning. -"Get a load of this wise-guy, huh? What you gonna do? Punch me?"- The idiot exchanges glances with Dennis, his eyebrows shooting up in an idiotic way, mimicking a feigned scared expression, shaking his own hips and arms, taunting him. So, Mike does. He punches him. Square in the nose.

 

 

 

All three of them are battered and bruised driving up to the mansion after a cop chased them off.

Snake's nostril is plugged with a lone wet wipe, Mike is picking at his bleeding lip in the backseat, while Dennis at the steering wheel is mostly unharmed.

They sit in an awkward sort of silence, speeding up their lane --- Maybe if Mike stole this car and sold it somewhere, he could get at least some money out of the situation and just run.

That, or start rummaging through the house and pocketing some antiquities or whatever the fuck. Before Mr. Silver breaks his fingers, that is.

 

 

 

 

-"So, did you, though?"- Snake turns to him, face like a pancake, repeating his question. -"No, pointdexter."- Mike answers bluntly. It was the truth. He didn't rat out shit.

-"What about the chick?"- Snake reiterates and hell no. Mike didn't even know her fucking name. -"Nah, man."- He shrugs his shoulders, tucking his hands into the pockets of his jacket.

-"Why they want her anyway? I don't get this shit."- He inquires flatly, kicking Dennis' driver seat in irritation, earning a small grunt of displeasure of out of him.

 

 

-"Something called, uh ---"- Snake shoots up when they reach a red light, fishing something out of his jeans' pocket, finding a wrapped piece of paper, seemingly the packaging of the very gum he was chewing, looking at it intently, squinting his eyes, furrowing his brows, and reading out; -"Structural geopolitical discriminatory bias."- Snake barely pronounces that shit, but holy crap, is he relentless. -"The fuck? Who wrote you that?"- Mike leans over from his seat his elbows leaning over the sides of both front seats. He didn't even know what any of those words meant except 'bias'. It was like elementary school up in here. -"Mr. Silver did. Right, Dennis?"- Snake beams and eyes Dennis for approval and support. Couldn't do anything without Dennis, could he? Dennis of course, merely grunts in response and moves along once the light turns green. Man, that weirdo lawyer, judge person, or whoever he was --- that William guy who came over for that lobster dinner once was right. They really were the Stooges. -"Look, I dunno, okay! Who are you anyway? The pussy-patrol?"- Snake snaps, lost voice partially muffled by the speed and the velocity of the open roof drive, as he's practically yelling, holding up his nose protectively, plugged napkin and all, so it wouldn't bleed. He looked ridiculous. -"Just know we gotta remind you not to get any smart ideas and all."- Snake reaches somewhere inside of his leather jacket, fishing something out, stuffing the crumpled phrase paper back inside like it was something important or precious. What a nerd. Until he flashes a pocket knife. -"If you say anything you aren't supposed to say about her or talk to the press, gonna carve you like Capri Sun."- He bites into his lower lips, like he was eager to make do on the promise and Mike just eyes him speculatively, in disbelief. Seriously? He understood the whole 'don't talk to the journalists or the cops' sort of thing. But, over some bitch they didn't even know? Mr. Silver seemed like the type who had a new broad every week.

 

 

 

-"C'mon, she ain't your mom, man!"- Mike grumbles as Snake tucks his switchblade away, with a smile, seeming content, continuing to dab away at his own swollen nose.

He never retorts anything back to that.

Smart-ass.

Truth is, they never had a mother-figure and Mrs. Silver or whatever her name was too young to be one. Didn't act too young, but she was, he could tell.

So, really, he wasn't sure why he even blurted that nonsense out, supposing he wanted a good, tested comeback.

 

 

 

Snake apparently, as Mike discovers, not that he wished to know, always only really had the streets of LA and no firm recollection of family in the classical sense - his hustle was his family, as corny and stupid as that sounded. His cocksure nonsense attitude and his small-time back-alley schemes - stealing wallets and purses. Re-selling bootleg adult tapes and cheap reefers. Dennis went in and out of foster homes all his life - a quiet, well-behaved kid (and kind of a creepozoid) but it was the people who were meant to take protect and raise him that weren't always what they were supposed to be. Relatable. Mike Barnes, well, his parents died when he was young (a double homicide he'd rather not talk about) and he grew up with his relatives serving as caretakers and several siblings he took care of all while being a child too. Even Mr. Silver himself, even if it was unspoken, was eerily like a branch without roots. It was always just him. There was never a, say, Auntie Silver. Or a Grandma Silver. Or an Uncle Silver that would come to visit. There was Sensei Kreese, yes, but Sensei Kreese was like them. A found connection. Except, he left as well. Seemed to rage-quit after the tournament and he just fell off the radar. Then came Mrs. Silver and her awkward sandwich making skills - in a space devoid of a feminine presence. The only one outside of his elderly secretary. Margaret, was it? They instantly count down the days to her departure, as a sort of a bet. All three of them agree to give her another two weeks time before He gets bored of her. On the eve of the set timeline running out, they all loose the after-mentioned bet to one another. After that, Mike realizes too late she's already been with him for over a year now, while they were still down in that old dojo - before Mike himself ever got to train there - roughly speaking. Snake and Dennis just never bothered telling him, maybe they themselves never knew in the first place and they were hoping to squeeze whatever remaining allowance money of off him. Off of a badly made up prank bet doubling as a joke with made-up stakes, no less.

Chapter Text

 


 

 

 

Terry's in a fever and there's no known diagnosis.


His private physician deems him to be in astoundingly, immaculate health.


The type of health few people are in, in fact, he highlights.

 

 

Perfect blood pressure, perfect physical condition, perfect stamina, perfect dietary habits - a perfect man.


Terry always knew he was a perfect man --- because he's built himself to be one, but he sure doesn't feel it right now.

 

 

Terry does feel profoundly sickened though. He felt sickened ever since he moved Bea in. Ever since the All Valley tournament loss and last but not least, Mike Barnes taken in for questioning, which Terry questioned him for himself. Extensively. Everything happened. Everything. Ever since Johnny disappeared and refused to return his calls. Ever since the media uproar that engulfed him. More so since he's brought her into this life thinking this will be a game of fucking charades. That he'll bring in a girl from the streets, plucked from the muck, have his fun and then toss her body, in an unrecognizable, unidentifiable state out in some dark LA street-corner for some lowlife punks to find her when he's done and he'd have a good laugh in the meantime. That was the plan. Except nothing went according to fucking plan lately, did it? As such, his phantom illness feels profound. Part of his body. The doctor deems it to be stress and the mental affection and manifesting through the physical after recent events, but Terry knows that's not exactly the case, so when he presses on, Terry has him dismissed and fired. He keels over in the bathroom but nothing comes out of his mouth, except dry heaves and a shocked, haunted scoff once he feels Bea's hand hovering over his back, trying to comfort him. Maybe you like her --- John's voice comes to him unbidden. Maybe you love her --- his own interjects. But, why would he love her? What did she do to deserve his love? John's saved his ass an abundance of times, but she's done nothing of the sort. She made him dinner back in the cardboard cut out reality and they had movie nights and walks and went to diners and --- but, that was another Terry. Not this Terry. Maybe those two were one and the same? Maybe emotions sneaked up on him and he never figured to saw them coming? That was indignant. This is indignant. Whenever Terry's control slips out of his grasp, his own killer instinct stirs awake and he's not unlike an animal acting in a cold rage.

 

 

He craves blood.


So, he goes to a therapist, purely to get a second opinion.


Just one big compartmentalized session - he doesn't desire more then that.


Maybe asking someone more qualified then a chauffeur is prudent.


John --- if John was present, he could talk to John, but John isn't.

 

He buys out the entire day's sceduling of the office at 7609 Mckinley Ave for the day.

 

 

 


When he shows up in the black Porsche, not trying for incognito, it's empty, just as he requested it.

Two hours later, he's still not out of this damned place.

 

 

 

-"So, reviewing your case and the facts you've shared with me today,"- The middle aged, portly woman with short cropped hair looks over her notebook, sitting opposite of him, scrutinizes her own writing and Terry feels like a child. He knows himself perfectly well. Always have. Always will. Sometimes though, it was a necessary evil to bring in an outsider's layman prospect to shine a new light on confusion. Confusion tended to dissipate when analyzed and over analyze. Simply went stale and fizzled out. -"Go on."- He encourages firmly and impatiently, tapping his fingers on the arm lean of his chair. He's frankly a bit bored. He could always fire her too and get a sense of high off of that if things get tremendously tedious. She couldn't breach privacy protocol anyway, no matter what he said. Maybe he could say deliriously awful things to her own purpose? He tended to do that with Margaret. Except she didn't much react to it anymore. -"I came to the conclusion that you are a compulsive perfectionist. Mr. Silver."- The woman lifts her eyes up at him, tone clear, firm, to the point. -"You don't say?"- Terry mutters, bemused, looking around the office, taking in the surroundings. Place looked like it was renovated since 1969. Paying her to tell him something he already knew? What was so bad about control anyway?

 


-"Furthermore, in the light of self awareness, if I may speak plainly,"- Her lips are impossibly thin, covered in a beige rouge and Terry quirks his brows at her tone. -"This significant other you speak of, the one we called B, for the sake of anonymity"- She trails off in her notes again and Terry didn't feel willing to give out Bea's name. He pondered introducing the subject he spoke of as Mrs. Silver on instinct, but that felt blatant. Felt like an indicator of connections. Of feelings. Togetherness. He didn't want that. So, B it was. That, and a small, miniscule picture he fished out of his collection, just for reference. He wasn't sure why he gave the therapist one when it was never requested. Why, when they were going for a anonymity? For a split second, he felt like bragging. A way of saying 'Look at this morsel. Look at how beautiful she is. She belongs to me.' and then the need fades away and he feels exposed. Feels exposed that his own brain remarked her beautiful in the first place. Was she not, though? -"Some people have difficulties accepting they're in love or that they have profound emotional attachment to a person, especially if that person doesn't match up a prior image they