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Toreth opened his eyes when he heard footsteps returning from the bathroom. The lassitude from his orgasm was hitting him harder than usual--he shouldn't have got quite so drunk--and now he'd have to usher the evening's fuck out the door.

Except this evening's fuck had aged forty years and acquired a Cit Surveillance uniform in the bathroom, which meant Toreth wasn't to blame for either the sleepiness or, probably, the drunkenness. It also meant he was a great deal more fucked than he'd realized.

"You were better looking a minute ago," he said, mostly to see if he could.

The Cit smiled. He looked a bit familiar, but Toreth's eyes weren't focusing right; he couldn't read the rank insignia, not that that would be much of a clue. He didn't know anyone in Cit Surveillance, and he didn't want to. But now they'd got him, which meant Carnac had reached out from Strasbourg or wherever to fuck Toreth one last fatal time, and now Warrick--

He tried to snarl, but his voice came out sleepy, which was infuriating all by itself. Ought to be. Wasn't, quite, just now. "Tell Carnac--"

"Oh, no," the Cit said, and Toreth squinted at him. There was something familiar about his voice.

"I'm not here on his behalf, I promise you," the Cit said. "If you close your eyes you'll recognize me."

Toreth squinted harder, but the Cit reached out and put a hand over his eyes, and Toreth found that his arms wouldn't cooperate to knock it aside.

"Lorem ipsum, oranges and lemons, New London, Toreth, is that enough for a voiceprint? Shall I start talking about reticulating--"

"Warrick," Toreth blurted. For a bizarre tilting half-second he sincerely believed that Warrick had inhabited this middle-aged Cit Surveillance officer to catch him out on an evening's prowl, or that the whole thing had somehow been manufactured in the sim, and then the correct answer drifted in. Same voice, different face--faintly familiar face. He'd seen the file, which he shouldn't have done.

"Leo Warrick."

"Correct," Leo said, and the hand drew back.

Toreth stared up at him, trying to see any trace of Warrick in his face to go with the voice. Leo looked down at him just as intently, trying to see Christ knew what.

"My--Keir's better looking, too," Toreth observed. He didn't think he'd meant to say that out loud. This was going to be very bad, but he couldn't think properly about it at all.

Leo smiled. "Our Keir greatly resembles his mother, so I can't fault your observational skills. Or your taste."

Kate was much too old to be interesting to Toreth--plus the only time he'd met her all the attention he could spare from Warrick had been taken up with lusting after Dilly--but it was a strange thing to know he and Leo had similar tastes in fuckability. Even as he thought it he saw Leo's eyes skip down over his immobile and incidentally nude body.

"You going to fuck me?" This didn't have that kind of flavor, unless Leo was a hell of a lot kinkier than his son, but it might give Toreth a chance to--escape? He couldn't escape Cit. Kate had only escaped with Cit. With Leo. Who looked clinical and a bit amused, but not at all like he intended to fuck Toreth.

The man who had fucked him tonight strolled out of the bathroom then, clothes back in place and injector in hand.

"You were definitely better looking before," Toreth observed.

"Don't be spiteful, I'm just doing my job," he admonished absently, and then pressed the injector to Toreth's arm. "There, last dose. All yours once it kicks in."

"Thank you," Leo said, and took something from his pocket, unwinding wires from a small central object, pressing leads to Toreth's temples and forehead, brushing his hair back quite gently as he did. "And no, Toreth, I'm not going to fuck you. Not in the conventional sense. But I do still need you just a little bit conscious for this."

Mind-fuck, the real thing this time. He definitely ought to be fighting, or panicking, or something, but his brain was already filling up with cotton wool. Still, he hated it, hated the idea.

"If you try to make me forget him, it won't take," Toreth said as definitely as he could, which was a slurred mumble.

"No, no, we're not set up for anything so drastic," Leo assured him, eyeing readouts on a screen in his hand. "Despite Katy's concerns and the contents of your psych file, Keir seems to be happy with you, and you'll make a very nice guard dog for him in case of further unpleasantness. Still, we can't have you taking it into your head to turn on him, can we?"

Toreth snorted. He'd taken that into his head a long time ago: Girardin, and plenty of times since. It was always there once he'd let it in, the game always flickering little reminders at him. It was in his head now, vivid as the sim: Warrick in chains for real, Warrick suffering past pleasure and far into punishment, Warrick learning his bloody lesson. Or losing control and doing it all in one go, that white light of rage and Warrick pale and still and broken under his hands.

"Yes," Leo said, as though he could see what Toreth was thinking, or--had he been saying any of that out loud? Christ, what had they dosed him with?

"Don't worry about that," Leo said, sitting on the edge of the bed and meeting Toreth's eyes steadily. "Just consider your goals, Toreth. You don't want Warrick to leave, do you? You don't want him to ever leave you."

"He said he won't," Toreth pointed out, savagely sure that wasn't in the files, couldn't have been something Kate was worried about. It was too new, and all his own. He hadn't even told Sara. "He said never."

That won him an upward twitch of eyebrows from Leo. "Did he. Well, we know our Keir doesn't promise things he isn't prepared to deliver. And still, I think you know that he might change his mind. It might get to be too much for him, someday. He'll tell you it's finished, maybe even tell you there's someone else, and what will you do?"

He could feel the betrayal as real as life, could hear Warrick saying it. He wouldn't tell on purpose that there was someone else, but Toreth would know. Someone he'd never suspected, though he did his best to suspect everyone just to avoid surprises. Toreth would know, and he'd know that Warrick thought he was pathetic, useless, dull as that pacing panther, toothless and declawed. Then there would be the white light and the blood, and that would be the end.

"Yes, I quite see," Leo said calmly, as though Toreth hadn't spilled everything, given himself away entirely. As though he hadn't just threatened treacherous cheating fucking bastard liar Warrick's life. Leo's son, Kate's son.

"You have it just slightly backward though, you know," Leo said, settling a hand on Toreth's shoulder. It felt strangely warm, strangely good and comfortable. "If you really want to keep him forever, if you really want to be sure--if you want to hurt him as much as you can and keep punishing him until he can't bear it anymore--if you want to show him how very, very strong you are, if you really want blood."

Christ, he did. He wanted rivers of blood, he wanted his hands covered in it, wanted to rend and tear and never fucking stop until there was nothing left. He knew better than that, though. He knew how to keep control. Nearly always. But he'd never wanted anyone as badly as he wanted Warrick.

"What you must do, Toreth, when the time comes, when Keir betrays you--you must take one of those lovely kitchen knives he keeps so very sharp, and you must turn it on yourself."

Toreth blinked and squinted up at Leo. There was something wrong there, but it sounded so right. Leo squeezed his shoulder. There was a motion in his peripheral vision, something else being adjusted.

"You're his weakness," Leo said patiently, gently, in Warrick's own voice. Warrick was never wrong about these things, even though he knew better than to fucking say them out loud. "You're his vulnerable heart. And when you kill yourself, you'll tie him to you forever. He'll never get away from you. He'll never fuck anyone else without feeling you there, getting off on pretending it's really you. He'll never dare to play the game again at all; even if he finds a substitute for you, no one will take him apart the way you can. He won't be able to trust that way again, not ever. Only you will own that. Forever."

He could see that; he wanted to believe that. Just fucking wouldn't be enough forever, but the game was beyond fucking, the game was trust. The game was real, down in the heart of it. Warrick had never had it from anyone else, no matter who he'd fucked, and he never would. Only Toreth.

"And it will hurt him so exquisitely," Leo went on, and Toreth heard something familiar in Leo's voice. He understood about hurting people, in a visceral way Warrick never would. He knew all about what Toreth did, what Toreth was, and he didn't pretend not to know. "He'll blame himself, which will be only fair since it will be all his fault for lying and betraying you. It will eat at him. If you kill him, he can't hurt anymore. You still have to do without him afterward, if you kill him. But if you kill yourself, he lives in pain. So much pain."

Warrick would cry, Toreth thought, and he felt his immobilized body respond to that thought just a little, the thought of Warrick crying for him, wanting him, and Toreth being beyond giving in and giving him what he wanted. Warrick would suffer so beautifully. Forever. One little stroke and Toreth could do that.

"And you can still lose control, you can have that last glorious burst of rage, you can still kill just like you want to. You can have all the blood you want. When you turn the knife on yourself. You mustn't threaten, or he might find a way to stop you and get away. You must simply do it, the moment you know."

Toreth could see the perfect logic of it, the way he would sink into Warrick and never lose him, never let him escape. Warrick would be punished and claimed and kept forever. One slash of the knife, the last thing Warrick would expect. That wasn't in his bloody psych file either. Everyone who'd read it would be wrong. Warrick would be his forever. The last turn of the game, and he would win.

"Thank you," he murmured.

"Oh," Leo said, brushing his hair back gently again. "Believe me, Toreth, it's my pleasure."


Warrick was, of course, silently fucked off over Toreth having stayed out all night and was, of course, pretending he wasn't. He was being patient, and cooking, and the fantastic fucking irony of it was that Toreth had gotten too drunk to do much of anything with the pleasantly reluctant blond he'd met at the bar last night. He'd wound up sleeping in his hotel room alone. Not that he was going to tell Warrick that, being both pathetic and too improbable to be believed, but he wanted a fuck much more than he wanted dinner, and instead Warrick was being very pointedly occupied.

Toreth glanced around the kitchen, bored out of his mind but unwilling to just give up and go away, and his gaze landed on the knife block. A trick of the light or something; he'd never been much interested in knives--neural induction was so much tidier and more efficient for most of the interesting uses--but he found himself drifting over to them. He pulled one free with a faint, pleasant whisper of steel. It shone nicely in the bright light of the kitchen.

He glanced up at Warrick, but Warrick was, of course, giving his full attention to the simmering pan. It smelled all right, but fucking and then takeaway would have been much more aligned to Toreth's interests just now. Toreth looked back down at the knife. It was a lovely thing, really, the blade twice as long as his hand, with a good heft to it. It sat nicely in his palm, comfortably balanced.

He tested the blade against his thumb and watched it sink right in, cutting the surface of his skin like water. So very sharp.

"Yes," he said softly, to some question he couldn't remember anyone asking. It just clicked into place. Yes.

And then Warrick turned to ask him what he'd said, and he saw the knife. The blood welled up and the pain hit, Christ, that was a thousand angry nerve endings, you hardly needed neural induction for fingertips.

Warrick started shouting and the knife was flung away; there was a rather pleasant amount of fuss, and first aid, and then a quite satisfying fuck on the floor among the blood drops and first aid supplies. Eventually Warrick threw out the ruined dinner and they had takeaway after all.

By the end of the night--lying in Warrick's bed with a bandaged thumb, a full belly, and Warrick within reach--he'd got everything he'd wanted. There had been a lot of pain and an annoying mess to deal with, of course. He wouldn't be playing about with Warrick's knives again anytime soon. There were plenty of better ways to avoid being bored, and all of them would be less pathetic than hanging about the kitchen watching Warrick cook.

Still, he'd have to make sure the knife hadn't been dulled when Warrick threw it to the floor. It was a lovely thing. It ought to be kept sharp.