.. | angel eyes | chapter 3
Alex went back the next day, and the next and the next. Soon he began to find Isaac waiting for him on the steps of the building, looking every bit an angel with his green eyes open wide and the wind ruffling his soft hair, and an ear cocked for the sound of his greeting.
How long? A week, two? As Alexander walked towards the little apartment building, he thought about the boy he was going to visit. He enjoyed Isaac's company immensely, but he worried too. Every night, Isaac would get nervous, demand what time it was and ask to be taken home. And he didn't seem like he wanted to. More like he had to.
"He's probably got someone," Alex said to himself one morning, turning the corner. He shoved his hands in his pockets. "That means you don't." He looked ahead to see the familiar figure sitting on the front steps.
"Ready?" he said, touching Isaac's hand.
They wandered down to the town square and spent the day down there, wandering in and out of shops. Isaac put his hands on anything Alex pointed out to him. He got a particular kick out of the fountain they sat on to have lunch. He splashed in the water, letting it run over his fingers. He flicked some at Alex who sat next to him.
"Careful or you'll be taking an early bath today," Alex teased, splashing him back. Isaac smiled and took another bite of his sandwich. They’d bought lunch out here to enjoy the sun and the sound of the water.
"Don't you have something to do during the day?" Isaac asked suddenly. "How can you have so much free time? You still on 'vacation'?"
Alex raised an eyebrow. "How can you?" he countered. You keep that apartment somehow. Where does the money come from? Still, he bit his lip and felt he'd already been out of line, especially by the look on Isaac's face. Alex cleared his throat.
"Here, I bought you something."
Alexander shrugged. "I don't know. Here." He handed a bag to Isaac.
"They're chocolates?" Isaac said, feeling into the bag and smelling it. He pulled one out and put it to his lips like he couldn't help himself.
"I passed that cafe along the way this morning. Figured you might like 'em for a snack."
Isaac licked his fingers; he'd already eaten two of them. "Thank you," he said, green eyes shining in the afternoon light.
Evening fell and they had wandered the last strip of the square. Alexander had his hands in his pockets when he felt the constant hand on his elbow casually wind into the crook of his arm. Isaac moved closer to him, letting him lead the way. Alexander watched his down-turned face as they walked, contemplating on what would happen if he actually took that face into his hands and-
No. That wasn't possible. This boy definitely had someone, of that Alex was now sure. He had no idea who, but he was convinced that there was someone. He swept his eyes around the strip and they focused on a store brightly lit and a large display window. Soft piano music poured from speakers near the store's front door. Isaac stopped walking.
Isaac cocked his head as if he were listening intently to something. "That music-"
Alex turned his head back to the store they'd just passed. "A music store," he said. "They're advertising the pianos they're selling I guess."
"Pianos..." Isaac's head came up. "Can we go in?" he asked excitedly.
Alex led him up into the store, mindful of the steps. "They have a whole show room of them. Here." He put Isaac's hand on the top of the finest looking instrument; a black lacquered baby grand.
Isaac ran his hands over the top of it, moving around to find the seat and he sat down, his hands going down to smooth over the glossy black cover over the keys. Alexander watched him intently as Isaac put his forehead to the cool surface. The blond hair gently spilled against the black, and he looked beautiful to Alex then, and he wished Isaac would open those brilliant green eyes.
He asked softly, as if afraid he was breaking a prayer, "Do you play?"
Isaac raised his head and seemed to come back to himself. "A bit, yes."
Alexander sat down next to him. "Would you play something for me?" he said softly, leaning a bit to whisper into Isaac's ear.
The blond seemed to freeze then. He opened his mouth as if he would say something, but then closed it again. He shook his head. "No, I don't think I can. I’m really not that good anyway." He tried to laugh it off and moved a bit away from the heat of Alex's body sitting next to him. He'd resolved himself never to play for anyone but himself again. He wouldn't disappoint anyone else with his talent anymore.
"How could you lose!? After all the work I've done with you? All those hours of practicing? How dare you lose!"
"Marcus, stop! Isaac played very well, but the other boy was simply better! It wasn't his fault-"
"Stay out of this, Marie. And you, boy. Come here."
And there was the dull aching memory of the pain. Always that dull pain in the back of his mind. Seeing his mother rushing at his father, then seeing her on the floor crying. And then came his father's ranting. Then the strong hands on the front of his shirt and then...Once, twice...three times back against the wall until his vision had gone black and he lost all feeling, even that of warm liquid slowly running down the nape of his neck.
Isaac shook his head and clutched his hands to his chest. Oh God, not now, not in front of this man. But...it was his fault. His father was right. He should have won that competition. He should have. Isaac choked back a lump in his throat and tried to focus on Alex's deep tone asking him if he was all right.
But after that... accident, no-one had ever asked him to play again. Not even his beautiful mother, who had always put great pride in his talent. Soon, no one would even guess his talent, not even-
He struggled to his feet, hastily wiping his eyes with the back of his hands. "Is it late? I have to go!" he said.
"It’s not late, only eight o’clock or so. Are you all right? You’ve gone pale-" Alex's voice was soft and his hands were warm on Isaac's.
"I’m fine. Please, just... just point me in the right direction. I need to get home-" He stumbled around the legs of the piano bench in his hurry.
Those warm hands caught Isaac's arms and he briefly leaned against a tall warm body as Alex helped him gain his balance. "All right, all right. This way."
Alex helped the now-frantic boy to the door. Isaac had gone through that sudden change again, from a look almost like rapture on his face as he touched the piano, replaced by such a look of inner...what? Torture? True, this was the latest he’d kept the boy out, but could it really be that bad?
They didn't speak at all until they'd reached the stairwell that led to Isaac's little apartment, where Isaac turned to him, his eyes closed. "I can go by myself," he said, more urgently than usual.
Alex nudged him up the stairs, following him. "Why? You're all wound up about something- what if you fall? Come on, at least let me help you to the door-"
"No!" Isaac's cold hands grabbed at the front of Alex's shirt. "Just let me go by myself, I'll be ok."
When Alex didn't make another move to follow him, the hands clutching his shirt relaxed, but didn't let go. Isaac lowered his head, his eyes still closed. "Thank you," he said softly, "for tonight-"
"Anytime," Alexander answered gently, daring to touch the pale hand that still held onto the front of his shirt.
Isaac didn't pull his hands away at the touch, as Alex always half-expected him to do. Instead, Isaac raised his head and gave a weak smile, but no answer. Alex watched him make his way up the stairs and was out on the street already when he realized he still held the half-full bag of chocolates he'd been carrying.
He hesitated for a moment and then turned back into the apartment building.
Isaac closed the door behind him and leaned against it.
"Where have you been?"
At that voice he fancied his blood running cold by the chills that raced up his back. "Just walking, Noah," he said, swallowing. "I wanted to get some fresh air."
The chair gave a creak as Noah lifted himself from it, then there were footsteps over to where he stood. "Alone?" Noah said archly.
Isaac hesitated, then nodded.
Hard hands seized his wrists. "Alone at night, Isaac?" Noah hissed. "Do you realize how dangerous it is for you out there after dark?" His breath smelt of alcohol, his clothes of cigarette smoke.
Isaac twisted his arms in a half-hearted struggle. He knew he didn't stand a chance of getting away. He never did. He was pulled away and then slammed back against the front door, his head knocking against it. That was when he became frantic, being forced through an almost exact repeat of that day. He struggled to get away from the hard surface behind him, frightened.
"Anything could happen to you!" Noah threw him to the floor and then knelt down over him, grabbing the front of his shirt and Isaac heard and felt the fabric rip.
"Stop-" he whispered, pushing at the body that loomed over him. "I'm didn’t go far! I won't do it again-"
"Damn right you won't do it again," came the dark hiss as hands pulled him up and shoved him in the direction he knew so well. The bedroom. Isaac hit his shoulder against the corner of the wall that led to the hallway and he turned and clung to it, pressing his face to the cool, painted sheetrock. "Please-" he whimpered.
"Shut up and get in there."
Alex was pressed up against the door, in shock, the bag of sweets dropped from his hand to the floor, forgotten. This is what Isaac didn't want him to know?
He heard more thumping and guessed Isaac had hit the floor again. Alex clenched his teeth and stopped in the act of reaching for the doorknob, aware that he could get Isaac into even more trouble if he did that. It really wasn’t his business, Isaac wouldn’t want him there. He sighed nervously in the dark hallway and leaned against the door again to listen, catching the sound of Isaac's sobbing.
He felt horribly guilty. Guilty for being the one who kept Isaac out so late. He cursed himself and again raised a hand to knock on the door and again stopped at the sound of Isaac pleading. Then such a howl of pain, it made his heart ache and almost brought tears to his eyes. He could only guess what Noah had done to earn a cry like that. If Isaac could somehow defend himself, Alex would have felt better, or more justified to leave him to his own affairs. It wasn't any of his business at all to go poking into someone else's life, especially since Isaac clearly hadn't wanted him to know.
But the boy was blind for God's sake. As independent as he liked to seem, in the end there was no way in hell he stood a chance to defend himself. Alex gritted his teeth again, raised his fist and banged on the door. There was no telling how big this guy was, but no one deserved to be treated like that. No one.
There was no response to him. Inside, he could heard sounds of grunting and a soft, almost inaudible sobbing. He banged on the door harder this time. When there was still no response, he tested the doorknob and it turned easily. He took a deep breath. Isaac would probably hate him for this, and he probably stood a good chance of getting his ass kicked. But it at least would stop this horrifying act.
He swung the door open and saw them both in the hallway. Isaac was barely visible underneath the body of the man named Noah. Neither of them had seen him yet. Isaac obviously couldn't, and Noah with his back to Alexander was much too busy to turn around.
One last deep breath and Alex grabbed with both hands the back of the man's halfway opened shirt and pulled him back on one smooth motion out through the open doorway and against the stair banister on the foyer. If he was going to do this, he'd better have the advantage right away. He got two good cracks in before Noah snapped out of it enough to realize that pain was pain. He snarled and pushed Alex back against the wall next to the open door. Then he lunged. Alex skidded out of the way, realizing now that his only hope was either his own defense, which was unlikely to save him from a good beating, or that some neighbors had heard them fighting in the hallway.
Noah hit the bare wall head on in his drunkenness, still fumbling to button us pants back up at the same time. Alexander grabbed a handful of black hair and banged his head against the wall again. The big man stumbled about for a minute and then leaned back against the wall and sneered. Alex stood by the banister, sweating and gasping.
"Who the hell are you?" the big man snarled at him, his breathing hard as well. He reached up to wipe blood from his mouth.
"A friend," Alexander panted, pushing his hair out of his face. He was strangely euphoric, a sharp sneer on his face. His body was singing to fight, he welcomed the challenge.
"Alex!" Isaac had stumbled out into the hallway, his shirt torn and hanging off his slim shoulders, but he had at least pulled his jeans back up. Alexander caught him as Isaac limped towards the sound of his voice and in his arms the boy’s hands grabbed at his shirt again. "Alex, stop! Please!"
Noah snorted and lunged again. Alex growled at him, pushing Isaac roughly away from him, more ready for a fight than he had ever been in his life. But Isaac had grabbed onto him again. "No, please, Alex. This isn't your concern. Just, just go, ok?" He was pleading, tears staining his face, his green eyes wide open.
"No," Alex said. He looked at Noah. "You fucking piece of shit," he growled and Noah's thick eyebrows raised as the big man recognized true anger through his muddled senses.
"Alex!" Isaac hissed, tugging at him. "Alex, please! I'm begging you!"
He shoved Isaac out of the way as Noah lunged for him again without warning, perhaps in hopes of taking advantage of his distraction. He could easily imagine his back breaking as the big man forced him to bend back over the railing with strong hands at his throat. Alex brought his knee up into the man's crotch and shouldered him back into the main hallway.
Noah fell to his knees, keening in pain. Alex leaned against the wall again and tried to catch his breath. Fuck... he was thinking. How did some people do this for a living?
It wasn't long before Noah regained himself enough to grab at his ankle and pull him down onto the floor, rolling over on top of him, hands at his neck again. Alex kicked at him, his hands clawing at the ape paws that had closed over his throat. He couldn't breathe anymore. He coughed and choked, kicking violently over the sound of Noah's cruel grunting.
Suddenly something glass broke, and shards of it came flying down from behind Noah's head so that Alex ha to turn his head and shut his eyes. There was the smell of beer and then Noah toppled over off of him, unconscious. Alex gasped for air and made himself sit up, catching the view of Isaac standing over Noah, a broken bottle in his hand. It was by a miracle that Isaac had guessed who was who, and that his estimation of aim had been so good. Unless he'd been aiming for Alex-
The blond boy suddenly staggered back and then fell to his knees, the bottle dropping away as he covered his face with his hands. Alex painfully sat up and crawled over to him. He pulled at his arm.
"Come on," he breathed in a husky voice. "You can't stay here-"
Isaac hit at his hands. "Leave me alone!" he cried. "You had no right to do that!" His tears continued to slip down his face as he hit at Alex, screaming at him. Alex caught his flying wrists.
"Stop!" he yelled. Isaac struggled against him and then suddenly, he did stop. He collapsed against Alex, his forehead to the other's chest, sobbing. Alex let his wrists go and the boy’s hands clutched at his ripped shirt. He rubbed his face back and forth against Alex's chest. "Why..?" he whimpered. "Why did you come?"
"You think," he breathed, "that I could let that happen to you?"
The blond didn't answer. Instead, his fists clutched the fabric tighter and his nails dug into his flesh. He was still sobbing. Alex painfully tried to stand up, bringing the blind boy with him, though Isaac seemed to be doing his best to make himself dead weight. With some effort, he had managed to drag the boy off of the landing and down the stairs. By the time they'd reached the street corner, they'd become much the object of attention. He'd wrapped Isaac, who'd gone into some sort of tearful stupor, in the folds of his jacket and raised his hand to call for a cab. Damn the fact he didn't have his cell phone with him.
Isaac was silent against him, though his sobs had thankfully become somewhat less aggravated. He didn't put up a fight when he was gently nudged into the back seat of the cab, and he sat the whole ride staring blankly at his lap as a few stray tears still made their way down his cheeks. His silence was beginning to frighten Alex.
He was almost like a ragdoll as Alex had to push him up the stairs to his penthouse apartment quickly before anyone saw them. Once inside, Alex leaned against the door and breathed a sigh. He was suddenly very, very drained, both physically and emotionally. And if he felt like that, who knew what Isaac was going through right now. But the blond was merely standing in the middle of the room, his hands clutched demurely in front of him, his eyes turned to the floor. Alex went to stand in front of him, unsure now of what to do. Isaac sensed his proximity and backed away.
"I have to go back," he said softly.
"No, I won't let you go back to that," Alex returned. That was the one thing he was sure of. There had to be an alternative to living like that. What on earth would possess someone like Isaac, who seemed to be so independent despite his impediment, to live with someone like that man? Did he owe him something? Nothing he could think of was worth it!
Isaac's brows furrowed. "You can't keep me here!" he snapped. But there was no force behind it. Alex's ears caught the desperation in his voice that seemed to signify more hurt pride than anything else. Pride? After all that, Isaac was ashamed that someone had had to come to his rescue?
"And what about Obie? And my piano!" Isaac ranted, now seeming to have completely woken up from his shocked stupor to a quiet rage.
"I'll go get them tomorrow. I can bring them here-" Alex reasoned.
"No, I have to go now," he pleaded. "Who knows what he'll do!"
He had a point. Alex sighed and removed Isaac's hands from his wrinkled shirt. He led him into the washroom, where there was a large jacuzzi tub built into the floor. He started the pumps. "Here," he said. "You relax here and I'll go get your stuff."
He tested the temperature of the water and started the jacuzzi jets. He put Isaac's hand on the edge of it. "You can do this by yourself?"
"Good. Stay here then, I'll be right back." A bit miffed, he turned and left the blind boy to his own devices and headed for the door.
He stopped at the doorway and turned. "What?"
Isaac had knelt by the tub, his fingers in the water. He raised his head a bit. "Be careful..."
Alex looked at him for a long time before he smiled slowly. "I will."
There was no one around when he returned to the apartment, this time employing the convenient use of a neighbor's car. He was beginning to think he should probably invest in his own, since the agency's limousines were as much of bother to have to call as a cab was. And they were much too flashy for a neighborhood like this one.
He pondered on it as he silently mounted the stairs, his tension growing with every step up. He didn't think he could handle another fight if it came down to that. The balcony railing had been cracked but other than that, there was no trace of what had happened. Someone had even cleaned up the broken glass. But Noah was nowhere to be found, and the door to the crummy apartment was wide open.
He poked his head in stealthily, very aware that the big man could still be here. He nudged the door open wider and peered into the empty room. Nothing. He went into the back rooms only to find them empty. Except in one the bedroom, there was a large pile of wood shards and wire. A small piano, or what was left of one. It looked as if someone had taken an ax to it. Not unlikely.
His eyes lingered on the battered wood for a moment. How was he supposed to tell Isaac about that? His thoughts strayed to the cat. That man wouldn't have done anything to the animal, would he? Would he...? He ran back into the main room.
"Here kitty-kitty," he called, looking under the table and behind the couch. He eyes fell on the open door.
part 4 | back to part 2 | back to main