.. | pariah society | chapter 7
The door opened, waking Toby from a deep sleep. He blinked blearily in the almost pitch darkness of the bedroom. His sluggish mind registered that it might be Riff, but even so he began to fall back into sleep almost immediately. It'd been such a long day...
There was a slight jostling of the bed as a second body crawled into it, and still he remained unworried, lingering there between slumber and wakefulness, when he could easily blame any vision or thought on his own dreams. His warm, sleep-heavy body was pulled against someone else's and he knew somewhere in this haze that this was not Riff, that Riff would not disturb him so. This was Cade holding him now, kissing his face with a gentleness that had never been present before. Toby stirred, raised his hands against Cade's chest but didn't have the determination to make an effort to push him away as he normally did. These kisses on his face felt nice, though he knew he would have to come to full wakefulness eventually; Cade would not be satisfied with just this.
"Mmnnh," Toby sighed, opening his eyes again just a bit. Cade's face, only inches from his own was just barely visible. "What time is it?" His voice was hoarse, barely audible.
"Late." Cade pressed him close for more kisses... so odd, this intimacy he suddenly was handing the thief. Something was different about him, he seemed... gentler. It didn't signify. Toby squirmed uncomfortably in Cade's arms, suspicious at the absence of the blond's usual predatory strength. Perhaps sensing this, Cade's hand snaked over his thigh down to his knee, which he lifted up over his own hip and with his body shifted Toby onto his back. Pressing against the thief's inner thigh Cade's cock was already hard, insistent. He kissed Toby again, harder this time, distracting him from the fingers that reached around to prepare him- something else he had not bothered with before.
Toby clutched handfuls of Cade's loose, unbuttoned shirt, finally completely awake and very aware of what was happening. His body felt stiff to be so rudely awakened, but Cade was never put off by something like that. But what was he waiting for? Was Toby being too compliant? If he was he would have to change; they both had roles to play.
"If you're going to do it, then do it, or let me fucking sleep," he whispered harshly, defiantly, into Cade's ear.
Afterwards they lay quietly tangled in the sheets of the bed, listening to the sound of a night rain pattering on the windows. Toby felt his disrupted sleep creeping in on him again but he determined to hold it off.
"Why do you come here?" he asked, his voice muted against the soft flesh right below the spot where Cade's shoulder met his torso.
"I missed you."
"Shove off," Toby said, struggling to sit up to look him in the eye.
Cade smirked up at him, his eyes easily betraying that this was the spark he liked about the thief, and he pulled Toby down for a rough kiss. In the haze after lovemaking, here he was, ‘human' again for a while. Toby resisted, but all Cade had to do was push just a little harder to break through that. With an irritated sigh, yet subdued, the thief laid his head back down. They lay in silence for a few moments longer.
"He's head over heels in love with you, you know," Cade mused.
Toby closed his eyes and refused to be drawn into that discussion. "What do you know," he mumbled.
"It's obvious to everyone, too. Do you like humiliating him?"
Cade was unimpressed. "Don't you care at all about him?" A nerve hit, Toby's body tensed up and Cade pulled his head up to look him in the eye. "Why is it just me you let in?"
"Who said I let you?" he snarled.
The blond pulled him down once more and laid an onslaught to his mouth, again demonstrating the physical hold he had over the thief. Released, this time a little out of breath, Toby cast his eyes away. It didn't matter that Cade had proven his point effectively; Toby knew himself as a walking contradiction. He just hated this conversation and all the emotions brought with it. There was hurt there, and anger and frustration. But above all there was that ever-lasting helplessness, the feeling he hated more than anything else in the world. With Cade that feeling was always bypassed.
"Why are you asking questions like that?" Toby whispered. Where had his strength gone?
"Your boy does everything out of love for you, even when it means nothing." Cade shrugged. "He thinks everyone is the same. Yet you don't love me, and here you are," he continued. He nuzzled the thief's ear and whispered into it, grinning wolfishly. "Is it because you didn't have a choice?"
"Are you saying I have one now?"
Toby turned his face away, refusing his lips. "Then why are we even talking about it?" Leave it alone, his mind was pleading, but he couldn't get the words out. He didn't want to think about it. In fact, he was desperate not to; it was just easier to go on obliviously without putting too much thought into anything. He couldn't be hurt, and he couldn't hurt anyone else. He didn't want to be responsible for anything that mattered. The fact that he might be hurting Riff by this resolute stance in inaction was the part that he couldn't allow into his conscious thought. Because the thought of hurting Riff-
"I told you once that he'd always ask you," Cade mused, unaware of Toby's inner rumination. "He just needs to take what he wants. Perhaps that's the only way to get it from you?"
"Fuck off!" Toby struggled to sit up but was a little too tangled in limbs and sheets. He settled for rolling over away from the blond. Of course Cade would typically take the most sordid aspect of everything, but in doing so, he had touched on a more than abominable facet that the thief was only recently becoming aware of in himself. The one time Riff had shown some force he'd felt the heat at his core; he still remembered that very clearly.
"You've had your fun, isn't that all you care about? Why are you asking these things?"
"I'm just trying to understand this ‘love' thing." Cade put his hands behind his head.
"Who's in love?" The comment was snidely made; Toby didn't like anyone assuming anything about his relationship with Riff, especially someone like Cade, who never, in his mind, could understand what it was that was between them. How could he, when he himself didn't really understand it? More silent moments passed, until Toby rolled over to face him again. He was anxious for this chance to turn the attention away from himself.
"Why all of a sudden now does that matter? Tell me the real reason- Why do you keep coming here?"
Cade continued to stare at the ceiling with concentration, looking a little unsure if he even knew the real answer himself. Someone so complex as him could never have one motive for doing anything. "You help me sleep," he finally answered. "I sleep better here."
Toby was forced to remember that first morning after, when Cade had looked so human in the morning light. "But that's not the real reason," he accused, classically straightforward.
Cade smiled in the dark. "You'll never hide anything from me, not like others think they can. You never feel like you have to watch what you say. It's refreshing."
Toby swallowed thickly. What did that mean? What should he say to that?
It would seem no response was expected. "You're right, though," the blond admitted. "There are lots of reasons."
"A different one every time you come back here. Is that why you can't give me a straight answer?"
Cade pulled him close again and Toby complied easily enough. The thief stretched out beside him on his belly and put his chin on his folded arms. That was when Cade allowed an insight into himself.
"You're too smart for your own good, you know. If you can read me that well, then I suppose you and I aren't so different after all." He sighed. "I found Dane's houseboy. In one of those city shacks on Eastgate by the river."
"The one he lost to the bolls when he was brought here? But it's been months; have you told your friend?"
Cade shook his head. "Not yet. It's a surprise the kid survived at all, now that I've met him. He's just a tyro." His voice dropped a little. "I go back every now and then to check on him, but can't take him out of there just yet."
"You should tell Dane," Toby said quietly, wondering what it would feel like to lose Riff for that long and then be brought back together with him.
Cade was shaking his head.
"But why wouldn't you?" Toby asked.
Unusual frustration crossed Cade's sharp features. It was a little daunting to see this renowned statue displaying so much.
"Why?" he prodded again.
"He's been lucky so far, but in that house, it's only a matter of time before..." As his voice trailed off, Toby studied Cade's profile in the dim light of his bedside lamp, and decided he'd never really realized how expressive his eyes were, even when the rest of his face remained a blank. Had they always been like that? Or was he only just now able to see it?
"He has to stay there where I can keep tabs," Cade finished.
The expressive eyes forgotten, Toby bristled. "So you're his guardian now? You always have to be control, don't you." It was no question; suddenly, his voice was full of a sudden, harsh bitterness.
"No," Cade answered evenly, probably hardly listening. "It's because I can't get him out of my head."
What...? The thief was at a loss of anything else to say. He wasn't sure how he should feel about Cade opening up to him so much, though it probably only meant that he would never mean more to the blond than their present state- laying next to one another, fucking on occasion, but ever at odds. How did he feel about that? Numb.
He just nodded, at least outwardly unaffected by Cade's confession. "So you are protecting him. From yourself." And though Cade didn't answer, Toby nodded to himself in understanding. "He got to you, and you came here."
Again, no answer. Cade just stared up at the ceiling. That made the anger rise in him again; indignant, manipulated anger.
"Why don't you just take what you want? Isn't that what you do? Is it because he belongs to someone else? Because you're not supposed to have him?" Toby asked. This was no good, was that jealousy creeping into his voice? "Because you weren't supposed to have me either, but that didn't stop you, did it? In fact, that's the sort of thing you seem to feed on-"
Before he could hiss another word Cade rolled him over and pinned him with his body, putting them face to face. Toby stared up at him, too-late resistance in his dark eyes.
"I feed on it?" Cade's low voice was rough with annoyance. "You're the one who gets hard just being backed against a wall. You didn't stop me," he corrected. He let off and flopped back onto his back, his irritation suddenly gone again as quickly as it had come. "Besides, that's not it," he sighed. "It's complicated."
"Everything is complicated with you," Toby said softly. And yet, everything was surprisingly simple. Cade had always said and done everything without apologies or excuses.
It was another two days before Remy saw Cade again. Until then he'd lounged about his attic room, left to his own devices. Cade had warned him not to leave and not to be seen, as there were only certain of the guards he had a contract with. He couldn't guarantee Remy's safety if someone else happened upon him out and about. The excuses and records had been made and altered so that as of the moment he'd climbed those attic stairs, he was no longer expected to be seen around. He'd officially been transferred out already.
So he waited. For the first whole day he sat on the bed, staring at the door in fear that it would be smashed down- a mirror of his and Dane's last night together- or staring at it in hopes that it would gently open, and Cade would be there, beckoning him to go. For two days he was unable to sleep because of his nerves, even though it was the most comfortable bed he'd been on in a year. He couldn't concentrate on the books either, and the view out the window, which might have afforded him some relief in relaxation, was that of a brick wall.
When Cade finally did come, Remy felt he was likely about to chew his own arm off in a mixture of irritation, anxiety and boredom. He'd rushed to Cade before he could stop himself, a silly smile spreading his lips. Cade's body was stiff for his hug, but he did lift his hands to grasp Remy's shoulders genially.
"Are you sure you should trust me before giving such a warm welcome?" the blond said, same deep voice, same inner city accent that no one else but Remy could probably pick up, only because it was so different from his own.
Rebuked, Remy backed away. He'd welcomed Dane into his room that first night without thinking, too. Was it really so easy to trust everyone he met? While Remy squirmed in the awkward silence, Cade looked around the room, as if trying to suss what the boy had been up to for two days during his absence. As if an afterthought, he went back to the door and picked up a brown bag he'd set down upon first entering.
"Change into these," he said, tossing it across the space between them. He lit a cigarette as Remy stripped quickly, his back to Cade with incongruous shyness. They were nice clothes, ordinary trousers and a button up shirt, something no one would look twice at. With them on he felt like a new person, or at least the person he used to be before the whole thing started. The feeling made him strangely emotional.
Cade's green eyes alighted on him again with full attention, his appraisal very blatant, the judgment well-hidden. With a breath of grey smoke he said, "Are you ready?"
His nod was vigorous. It was too easy for him to trust Cade. Appalling, even given his own renowned lack of caution, and yet, not so surprising either when one thought about it. Cade had resources and connections; he was a good person to know. He was probably the kind who could get out of any situation, or into one, if it was required. He was capable and clever. He would take care of things. Was that the draw? Was it because somehow, after all his homesickness and loneliness and solitude, Remy felt like he was in dire need of ‘taking care of'?
Of course he was. He was a houseboy after all, as Dane would have said. Cade, too, for that matter. Dane had said offhandedly that it was something all non-street kids had, this inane inability to care for themselves in the long run. He'd said some would eventually learn how to, others never would. Remy thought the fact that he'd survived in this place with all his limbs, health and mind intact was tremendously promising, surely, but still, he was desperate for someone else to take the lead. Would it always be so?
"Where are we going?" Remy was asking, grabbing the bag of old clothes at Cade's gesture and tagging along behind down the stairs. It was night, and the majority of the house's inhabitants would be nearer to the other side of the complex, leaving them a clean route out through a rusted side door. The sweet, free night air hit their faces with a sting- it was chilly, and it would rain again.
Cade had ignored his question and Remy didn't ask again. As they rounded the back of the building, he took the bag of clothes and tossed it into a dumpster. Remy sighed with a last look at the building. It was finished, he was officially clean.
The gritty road crunched beneath their shoes, echoing up the sides of closely packed buildings and old warehouses. The air had a wet metallic scent mixed with that of water- the river. Somewhere in the night the steamer sounded, so lonely and hollow that Remy fought a chill creeping up the back of his neck. He watched Cade's straight back in front of him and wondered what the hell he was doing in following a stranger into the dark city. What if he was part of the Northside rook? What if this was a trap, or some sort of sport? What if he suddenly found himself in the midst of a bunch of sneering kids, ready to beat him or worse? But then again, why would Cade go through such trouble if he was to be merely expendable entertainment?
Dane, and indeed, Cade, had teased him about being so naive and trusting, but they were wrong. The questions always arose in his head, but they were usually too little, too late. By the time he'd begun to doubt Cade's reliability, he was already following at his heels down a dark alley, wasn't he.
Though cabs clamored alongside, Cade seemed to prefer a walk, so Remy didn't complain. He was less concerned about the walk than the fact that despite the better clothes he wore, he was still wearing the shabby homemade city-house shoes. His feet, which had been sore and cold for a long time now, were finally protesting against him. The anxiety had set in as well. What if he was somehow recognized? Everyone else on the street had a coat against the chill; did he stand out too much without one? And what if it began to rain? Besides his toes his fingers had begun to bite with the cold, but this, at least, Cade seemed to notice as Remy clutched his hands in tight fists.
"I'm a bit out of it lately," Cade said, as if that were apology enough. He pulled off his long black coat and put it over Remy's shoulders. The heavy black wool enveloped him, heated with Cade's warmth already, and served to shield him from the outside world. Cade stood close as he helped to button it up. "If there's something you need, you should tell me. Otherwise I'm not one to notice things like this."
It sounded like it should be true, but didn't he just..? Remy pulled the warm cloth tighter around himself and they began moving again.
They walked for a few miles it seemed in almost total silence, until the cry of the riverboats could no longer be heard. The buildings gave way to a closely knit neighborhood, a little rundown, whose main street corner had a large cracked marble monolith with "Ladbroke Grove" etched in it, half covered in vines. The streetlamps were out but Remy knew it couldn't have been deserted. There were some faint lights in the windows of some of the houses, and everywhere he felt the presence of people, but he couldn't see them.
"This'll be home," Cade said, leading the way up a set of wrought iron stairs to the nicest-looking house of the block, well-lit and welcoming. They entered into warmth and peace, away from those eyes that watched them all the way here. Cade took the coat again and hung it up on a rack behind the front door, then motioned for Remy to follow up the long winding staircase. They passed the landing, and Cade led him into one of the rooms off to the right of the corridor.
"I'm staying here?" Remy asked. It was clean, spacious. The walls were washed a soothing off-white, the same color as the cushy armchair and sofa set near the windows, and the comforter of the large four-poster bed. The wood of the bed frame and table and furniture was dark and thick.
Should he be wondering at his good fortune? Or should he really begin to worry about the price he would pay for it? Nothing like this could come for free. He looked back at Cade over his shoulder; the blond was staring out of the window into the night. He seemed very unconcerned about Remy at the moment.
Well, if Dane had taught him anything, it was that to be under a debt was possibly the worse thing in this place. And he was indebted to Cade for getting him out, even though he still didn't really understand the reason. What had he to offer besides the obvious? If that would be enough to gratify Cade, or at least to thank him, Remy's compunction about it was small. He could very easily admit to himself that the blond attracted him- he had since their first meeting- and that was a huge improvement compared to his unwanted partners over the past year. But he seemed a strange young man; difficult to read and even less easy to understand. But Dane had said everyone understood at least one thing here, hadn't he?
"Cade," Remy said, turning around to face him. The name felt strange on his lips. When green eyes lashed down at him he faltered. How did one go about something like this?
"I wanted to thank you," he said finally, "for getting me out. I thought I might spend the rest of my life there." Though his laugh sounded nervous, he moved a little closer, reached his hand out through the space between them and touched the blond's chest.
Cade just continued to stare, as if he was deliberately making this difficult. "You don't have to," he said finally.
Remy moved closer still, up against him, his hands flattening against Cade's chest, pressed between their bodies. He stood up on his tiptoes to reach him. "Please," he whispered, positive he was reading Cade's face correctly. "Let me thank you. I want to-"
Cade's lips were warm enough against his, his mouth hot when it opened, and his arms unforgivingly strong when they curled around him. Yes, yes, this was the response Remy had been hoping for, the one he knew would come if he could get past the intimidating exterior that should have kept him at arm's length. Now they could finish what had been started in the washroom.
Once again, however, Cade's sudden change of heart almost felled him. He held Remy away tightly by the shoulders, head bowed for a moment. Quickly the blond gained his composure again and shook his head. He let Remy go.
"Someone taught you quite a bit," he said with a chuckle. "About how to relieve a debt, that is."
Remy felt cold. He turned away, fighting the urge to hug himself protectively. Refused twice. But he hadn't been wrong, had he? No, surely not, not when the blond had bent so easily to it. The question was why. It was only sex. What had Cade to lose in giving into something they both obviously wanted? He himself certainly had nothing. Dane was long gone and he was alone out here, with Cade his only lifeline so far. Perhaps that was it, though. Perhaps Cade had a lover already. But that didn't seem to go with the stories he'd heard back at the city house. If anything, he should have been the one fighting off Cade instead of the other way around. The thought made him embarrassed and shameful. Unattractive. If Cade didn't find him desirable, though, why would he have come on so strongly their first meeting?
"Through there is the washroom," the blond said, pointing. "Get cleaned up, I'll go find you some clothes and food. Take as long as you like, I know how you like your bath time." He winked and left.
Remy watched after him, gaping a bit at how easily Cade had alleviated the awkwardness. He even smiled a little himself as he went into the next room and proceeded to take an hour and a half long bath.
His room was empty when he came out, the lights dimmed and a quickly scratched note on the nightstand told him to get some sleep, that there were clothes in the dresser, there was food in the fridge downstairs, and that Cade wouldn't be back until morning.
So now he was alone in this strange house? Remy clutched his towel tighter and looked around. The room hadn't changed of course, it was still the warm comfort Cade had led him into, but when he peered outside the heavy curtains and saw nothing but blackness heard the soft pattering of rain on the glass, a cold dread seized his chest. He backed away from the window and took a few deep breaths. Clothes, there were clothes in the dresser. It would make him feel better to not be naked, surely. He rummaged around and found a set of soft, silky pajamas. With them on, the feeling of vulnerability subsided a little, and he crawled onto the bed. The room felt so empty, so impersonal. He was just considering laying down when a quick flash of distant lightening made his heart leap again.
"Damn it," he cursed under his breath. "How old am I?" Despite the self-rebuke, he pulled a white cotton thermal from under the coverlet and wrapped himself in it. Sleep seemed out of the question for the moment, but maybe something to eat? He wasn't particularly hungry, but perhaps he could force something down. After all, he hadn't had much to eat in the last two days besides the scraps that were anonymously left at his secret room's door, their presence alerted by a soft knock.
He crept to the bedroom door, opened it and peered down the dimly lit hallway. Well, at least Cade had left the lights on. That wasn't entirely true, however, and one look down the darkened stairway nixed the idea of food as well. He looked back down the hallway. There were a few doors off the right and left, and then the one he'd left standing open. Beyond that there was one more and it stood partially open as well, the last room down the corridor. He glanced down the dark stairway one more time and then headed back towards the light. The empty rooms gave him nothing when he peered into them, just some old furniture stacked in the corners and boxes full of papers and books, most of which were covered in white sheets.
Beyond the last door, the lights revealed a large canopied bed, the sheets and coverlet carelessly mussed, and a stack of worn books on the bedside table, a little echo to the long, full bookshelves that took up the opposing wall from the bed. It was very lived in; Cade's room, surely. The feeling of anxious aloneness had left, and Remy opted for the gentle light of the bedside lamp to the bright one from the ceiling, and crawled onto the bed. He fancied he could smell Cade on the pillows as he lay down, but there was only the scent of clean linens. The haze of the lamp wavered as he lay there on the verge of dozing, and wondered where Cade had gone to.
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