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Take My Syndrome, Give Me Yours

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Kris felt fairly sure that he should be angry with Adam, that he should hate the man that had brought him here. He certainly hated the other one, the older man that he’d seen that first day and never again since.

But he didn’t hate Adam. If anything he found himself anxiously awaiting those moments when Adam came to the cell. The last two times he’d been here, Adam had sat down and stayed with him . . . had talked to him. Not that Adam was much of a talker. He held his walls up high, defenses so firmly in place that Kris couldn’t even begin to think of how to penetrate them.

But that didn’t matter. What mattered was that for whatever reason, Adam was trying. Adam was there. And right now, whether he liked it or not, Kris’ entire world basically revolved around him.

Now, he paced the length of the cell, anxious. It was almost time for Adam to come. He had no way to measure time and yet he still knew; as if he were attuned to the other man.

After a few more minutes passed, he stopped, turning toward the sound of footsteps advancing toward him, then tilted his head to the side in confusion. There was something off about the sound of those footsteps.

It took him another moment before he realized what was different.

It wasn’t one set of footsteps.

It was two.

Kris watched them appear at the end of the corridor, walking down it; the older man first, Adam following closely behind. He watched as they stopped at the cell door, opened it up and stepped inside.

Kris could feel his heart pounding, so hard he felt that it would burst through his very chest. He kept vacillating between emotions, torn between excitement and sheer terror, knowing that they were here to either free him or kill him. He looked up at Adam’s face, trying to read it for any sign, but the man’s face was back to being impassive as stone.

“Mr. Allen. We meet again,” Ahriman said.

“Did Simon pay?” Kris asked, the hope in his voice undisguised.

“Actually, Mr. Allen, he didn’t.”

Kris staggered, as if the words had been a physical blow. “No. That can’t be right . . . ”

“Believe me when I say we’re all very disappointed in this turn of events. I thought your husband had more affection for you than this.” Ahriman turned toward Adam, giving him a small nod.

“There’s been a mistake,” Kris said, backing away as Adam advanced. “There has to be.”

Adam moved faster than he’d expected, grabbing Kris’ hands and pulling them behind his back. Kris struggled to pull out of Adam’s grip, the surging panic turning his movements frantic.

He felt Adam wrap an arm around his torso while Adam’s other hand pinned his wrists together, and then Adam was turning them around, toward the wall, away from the Ahriman. Kris could feel Adam’s body molding to his own, and then there was Adam’s voice, barely a whisper, against his ear.

“No one’s going to kill you. Be still.”

And so he did. Kris stopped struggling, feeling the cool metal of cuffs encircle his wrists as Adam turned them back around. He was still terrified, but Adam had just said that he wouldn’t be harmed, and he trusted him. He was surprised to find that it was true, that somewhere along the way, he’d actually begun to trust Adam.

He didn’t struggle as they led him out of the cell and down the hallway, but he didn’t exactly make it easy for them either. Adam had to drag and pull him most of the way, as his legs simply wouldn’t cooperate.

Maybe, Kris thought to himself, they’d have him do one of those videos. The ones that had the kidnap victim pleading to their loved ones for rescue. That he could handle. He was more than willing to beg for his life, for Simon to come and get him out of this nightmare.

The journey finally ended at a small room at the end of the corridor they’d just walked down. Adam gave Kris a small shove, getting him inside when his feet simply wouldn’t move.

Then the cuffs were undone and Kris was forced into a chair. He had barely sat down when a metal binder activated and slid across his legs, pinning them down. Kris looked around while Adam grabbed his hands and set them down on the metal table in front of him.

And then the panic, which he’d somehow managed to tamp down, was back in full force.

The soft hiss and click of the binders pinning down his wrists was barely noticed. Kris was too busy staring at the walls, at the implements he saw hanging from them.

He stared up at Adam. “What is this? What’s happening?”

“Settle down, Mr. Allen,” Ahriman said from his position behind Adam. “We’ve merely decided to take things up a level. Give your husband some incentive and maybe remind him of how important this all is.”

“What does that mean? What are you going to do?” Kris asked, although his mind was already handily supplying him with scenarios. He wasn’t stupid. He knew that the things on the wall were torture instruments.

Ahriman gave a curt nod, saying Adam’s name.

Kris watched as Adam returned the nod and turned, pulled something from the wall and turned back, walking to the table in quick, measured steps.

“No. Don’t do this,” Kris begged.

“Relax, Mr. Allen,” Ahriman said. “This will be over before you know it. And after a while, you probably won’t even miss those fingers.”

Kris looked up at Adam, now hovering over him, his face perfectly blank. “Don’t do this. Please. Adam.” He was begging fully now, shamelessly, his heart racing and breath stuttering.

But the Adam that he’d come to know seemed gone. This Adam merely grabbed his hand, pushing it flat against the metal even as Kris tried desperately to ball it up into a fist and pull away.

But there was nowhere to go. He was trapped in the chair, and he had to watch helplessly as Adam moved the instrument closer to his hand.

Kris closed his eyes and whispered, “Please.”

A second later, a scream erupted from his mouth as the hot, searing pain forced his eyes open. He looked down at his hand, saw his pinkie and index finger of his left hand lying on the table, separate from his hand.

The bindings released and Kris pushed backward, toppling onto the floor, holding his injured hand to his chest, cradling it as he moaned.

The instrument had been a laser and so had cauterized the wound, leaving little blood, but it did nothing to help with the pain. It was overwhelming, sharp and pulsating. Kris turned to his side and retched, vomiting up the pitifully small amount of food in his stomach.

A moment later, he felt hands on his shoulders and he felt himself being turned, then lifted up into strong arms.

He turned his face into Adam’s broad chest, moaning again as the pain spiked.

“You can take him back to the cell,” Ahriman said. “We’ll send these to his husband.”

“Yes, sir.”


Kris was floating on a cloud of pain, barely aware that Adam was placing him on the cot in the cell, barely registering that it was done with care. He curled his body inward, hand held close to his chest.

“Allen . . . ”

“Fuck you. Just fuck you,” Kris said, nearly choking. There were tears in his eyes and his hand was agony and fire and he couldn’t deal with whatever Adam was going to try and say.

He had trusted Adam and Adam had mutilated him, cutting into him without an ounce of remorse.

Adam’s hand fell on Kris’ shoulder. “Kris . . . ”

“Don’t. Just go ok? Just go.”

Funny, only a little while ago, he’d been musing on his not hating Adam . . . and now he did.

And yet, he still felt the acute sense of loss when Adam pulled away. And he still had to stop himself from giving in to the urge to turn and press himself against Adam for comfort or to ask him to please stay as he heard Adam walk out the door.