Neymar doesn't expect to witness a murder on his first day.
"What did you see?" A guard asks him, afterwards. Guardiola is written on his nametag. ('But you can call me Pep,' the guard had said. 'Pep,' he had repeated, calmly smiling, despite the grip the man had on Neymar's collar.) And when Neymar doesn't answer right away, the guard's smile lessens. "You want to start off right, here," he says, clucking his tongue. "Be smart."
Neymar should be terrified of this man.
There are other guards circled behind them, all wearing menacing expressions, hands resting on the shiny nightsticks tucked into their belts. They're blocking out the bright light from the corridor, filling up Neymar's dingy cell while Pep presses a forearm across Neymar's throat.
Neymar should answer him.
But it's all so quiet...
There should be voices floating in from the hallway, from the other guards, from the other inmates, from the rest of the prison. But it's silent as if the whole building is waiting to hear Neymar's words.
So Neymar thinks it over, thinks it over until the guard cuts off his oxygen completely and Neymar can't think anymore. He slaps weakly at the guard, gold spots starting to flash in front of his eyes. And when Pep lets go of him, Neymar falls to the dirty floor, coughing and gasping, filling his lungs with air.
"What did you see?" Pep says. "Tell me who did it," he orders, squatting down by where Neymar's still recovering his breath. He reaches out and straightens Neymar's collar, wiping his hand off on Neymar's shirt afterwards. "Help me, and I'll help you."
Neymar blinks up at him.
He could tell Pep what happened. He could tell the guards how he'd been nervously waiting in the holding cell, hands gripping the cold bars and hanging his head while wondering what was going to happen. He could tell them about the three men who'd walked by, how they'd looked completely innocuous while they discussed something under their breath.
He could tell Pep about how one man had looked at him and laughed, how he had trailed his eyes down Neymar's body and licked his lips. He could tell the guards how the man had taken a step towards Neymar's cell, pursing his lips and catcalling, making Neymar cringe in disgust.
And then Neymar could tell Pep what happened next.
That the two men behind Neymar's catcaller had exchanged looks. The one with the shaved head had pulled a knife out of nowhere, a flash of silver that Neymar caught a glimpse of as it was handed to the second.
But that it was the second, unassuming man who stepped forward, yanked hard on the catcaller's hair, and slit his throat.
Because Neymar remembers every detail.
He remembers the way the knife glinted in the dim light, the spurt of blood through the air... the way the catcaller had choked and gurgled and clawed at the man holding him, eyes rolling as the life had drained out of him...
It had been quick.
Quicker than Neymar would ever have thought.
And when it was over, the body had dropped lifelessly to the floor. The blood was everywhere, so much of it that it looked fake, dripping across the bars and spilling across the floor. Neymar had looked down, taking a step back as the puddle had threatened to touch his shoes. Then he had looked up, staring at the small, unassuming man who had just done such a vile thing.
The killer was small--that was the first thing Neymar noticed.
He was small, barely coming up to Neymar's shoulder. Slim, but not skinny, muscled arms--one of them with vibrant tattoos prominently displayed--peeking out of his short sleeves. His hair was dark, silky looking, combed back like he took care of it, and it matched his eyes. His skin was pale, smooth like porcelain, and as white as it, too.
Or it would have been except for the blood splattered across his face.
He'd stared at Neymar curiously, handing the knife back to the man with the shaved head over his shoulder. And then he'd asked Neymar the same thing Pep kept asking now. "What did you see?" His voice was low and throaty, and Neymar had swayed closer to the bars to hear him.
There was something about him.
Neymar had blinked, licking his lips. His mouth was dry, and it took a minute to gather his thoughts. He didn't feel frightened, or sad, or sick about what he had just witnessed, though he'd warily watched as the blood came within inches of his feet. No, he felt nothing. He'd looked down at the body, and then back up at the man in front of him. "Nothing," he'd whispered, making a choice, repeating himself when the words got stuck in his throat. "I saw nothing."
The man had raised an eyebrow, smiling as if they were having a conversation about the weather. And then he'd stepped back away from the man he'd just killed, leaning against the wall like he was waiting.
Neymar hadn't known why, but then, seconds after, he'd watched as guards swarmed the hallway, all of them shouting as an alarm started ringing out over the intercom. They'd shoved the man up against the wall, hands digging into his clothing, looking for a weapon they wouldn't find.
Neymar had watched, wondering where the man with the shaved head had gone.
It all seemed like something out of a movie.
A nurse had appeared, finally, checking the pulse of the man on the floor. But there was no point. He was dead, having bled out almost instantly. Nobody seemed to really care, though one guard cussed up a storm as his shoe touched the puddle of blood.
The guards had pulled the killer away then. He hadn't resisted, had never resisted as they grabbed him. He'd gone calmly, though his eyes were fiery and there was a bruise appearing on his forehead from where the guards had slammed him into the wall.
He'd winked at Neymar as he'd been taken away, or tried to wink at least, thought it was more of a blink than anything else.
Yes, Neymar remembers every detail.
And that's why, now, Neymar looks towards Pep, and the guards looming behind him. "Nothing," he repeats, shrugging. "I saw nothing." He keeps his face expressionless, refusing to give anything away.
Pep's face smooths out in return, which sends a chill up Neymar's spine.
"Okay," Pep says, sighing, backing away from Neymar. "If that's the way you want to do this," he mutters, waving a hand towards Neymar. Apparently, it's a sign, because the other guards surge forward, batons in hand.
And Neymar can only curl into a ball as he's struck over and over.
It's not the first time Neymar's taken a beating, and it probably won't be the last. But it doesn't make it hurt any less, and he claws at the floor, desperately wishing for an escape as the blows rain down on him. "Nothing, I saw nothing!" he says, over and over, as loud as he can, until eventually he stops--dazed as one of the sticks hits the back of his head.
After awhile he becomes aware of the floor shaking beneath him.
He opens his eyes, panting as he's hit in the stomach, and tries to figure out what's going on. Over the noise of the beating, he realizes there are people shouting. 'Brutality! Police brutality!' The floor is shaking because the other prisoners are banging on their cell doors and stomping their feet. 'Fucking pigs!' and other insults are mixed in with people protesting the guards' actions. 'Call the warden, call the warden, call the warden,' starts being chanted over and over.
Eventually Pep curses. "Enough," he hisses, and the others fall back and exit the cell. "This isn't over," he says, standing over Neymar and peering down at him. When there's no immediate response, the guard storms out, closing the cell door loudly behind him. "Shut up!" he yells as he walks down the corridor, banging his nightstick on the doors as he goes. He's met with jeering.
Neymar barely notices, his entire body screaming in pain. He raises a hand to his face, touching his lip cautiously. He can't feel it, entire mouth going numb, but his fingers come away bloody. "That's nice," he mumbles out, as the world starts to swim around him.
It's his last thought before the world goes black.