Book 1, Chapter 35

Jin cursed under his breath. The knots holding him to the headboard were sloppy, and though he was making easy progress untying them, the attempt was rubbing his wrists raw. His whole body hurt, and he was starting to get cold. The whole situation was Bad News, he could tell.

The window looking onto the alley gave him enough of a view that he knew where he was, seven or eight floors above where he worked and lived. On the table beside the bed was a small frame with a picture of a young couple, and the decor led him to believe that the tiny space belonged to the woman. The guy who had smashed his face into a wall, dragged him up here and messed around with him while he was unconscious was obviously not she, and he didn't look anything like her boyfriend in the picture either. He could barely see a large stain on the floor over the edge of the bed, but it gave him the feeling that the woman had not fared even as well as he had.

Jin already had a pretty good idea who the man who had assaulted him was, but he didn't want to let that information distract him just yet. He couldn't untie himself if his hands were shaking. Whoever his assailant was, he was in the shower, and had given Jin the opportunity he needed to get away.

He yanked his left arm free, leaving a friction burn on the heel of his hand. Ignoring it, he reached across himself and started on the other hand. The sheets stuck to him where he'd bled on them. After a few moments, he sat up, both hands free, and reached for one of his ankles. The bastard didn't show a whole lot of finesse in his rope work, though Jin figured that this level of expertise had probably sufficed for past victims. He allowed himself a small grin, imagining his captor's surprise when he found out how easily his prey had escaped.

The shower shut off, but Jin kept working on his ankle. This man was dangerous and deranged, there was no contesting that. He had to either warn someone or neutralize the threat somehow. He weighed his options.

If, somehow, he managed to untie himself before his captor got from the shower to the bed, which was not going to happen, he could make a run for it. However, he had no doubts he'd be cut down before he managed to escape. That wouldn't do anyone any good, least of all himself.

His other option was to try reasoning with the guy. He grimaced at the thought. Reasoning with people wasn't something he'd ever been much good at. He was much better at fleeing in terror and then yelling insults from a safe distance. Besides, he didn't think this particular guy was capable of seeing reason.

"What do you think you're doing?"

The expression of irritation his captor wore as he crossed the small apartment reinforced Jin's hypothesis. And there was the fact that he was at least a foot taller and quite a bit heavier than Jin to drive home the fact that escape was not so much an option. With logic and escape both ruled out as possibilities, Jin did what he always did when backed into a corner: he started talking.

"You could have just asked, you know." He looked away from the other man dismissively and back at the rope around his ankle. To clarify, he added, "If you wanted sex."

A hand that seemed more massive than it actually was planted itself in the center of Jin's chest and pushed him down to lay supine on the bed. "Not what I asked."

"Well, it was starting to get uncomfortable," Jin complained, sulking. He didn't bother to push the man's hand away. He wouldn't be able to move it, and he'd learned as a child that showing big dumb animals fear just made them cocky, and then they were impossible to deal with.

His captor laughed and began to secure his hands. "Your comfort isn't important."

"Well it should be," Jin snapped, adding a string of epithets in Chinese. He usually resorted to cursing in Chinese as a way of confusing people rather than to vent any emotion, but this time it helped to make him feel a bit less edgy.

His captor backhanded him with one of those giant hands, snapping his head to the side. "You say one more thing I can't understand, I'm cutting out your tongue."

Jin looked at the picture on the bedside table. What exactly had happened to that girl, he wondered, and decided he didn’t want to experience it himself. He licked the blood off of his lip contemplatively and then turned his head so that he was looking up at the man leaning over him. His captor settled back after a minute and met Jin's eyes. Jin smirked at him.

"Are you an idiot?"

Jin considered the question before answering, "No. No I'm not."

“Are you afraid of me?”


"You should be."

"Why is that?"

"I'm a wanted man," his captor assured him. It sounded to Jin more of a boast than a warning.


"You don't keep up with the news?"

"I read the feeds," Jin told him. He didn't like news that took more than a few seconds to scroll across his terminal screen, and he even found headlines boring if they contained more words than he could count on one hand. Still, he hadn't been able to escape the news about this particular criminal, and he sighed a little as he conceded, "Greg Waters, right?"

The man nodded and smiled. Jin smiled back.

"Not scared?" he asked again.

"Why should I be afraid of you?" Jin challenged.

"Because I abducted you, tied you up, raped you, and I'm going to play with you before I kill you." This time it was a statement of fact rather than a threat. Jin eyed his captor.

"You're just crazy, and that's not that scary. I'm pretty crazy myself." He smirked and pointed to his own temple with on finger.

Greg stared at Jin's hand, then looked at the rope hanging loose from the bed frame before looking back at Jin. Jin only grinned--a big dumb animal, alright, one whose tunnel vision blocked out the little things around him. Sure, Greg was clever, but he was still dumb, and therefore easily manipulated. Jin was counting on that.

Finally deciding on a reaction, Greg laughed loudly and took hold of Jin's hand. His grip was oddly gentle.

"Your name?"

"Cho Xiaoping Jing-Jin," Jin rattled off with the pride of a small child.

"Too long."

Jin agreed. "Jin, for short."

"You're...interesting, Jin."

Jin smirked. He'd been called interesting many times, and usually in just that tone, too. He sat up and shook one of his tethered feet a little. "You do sloppy work."

"It always held before."

"Thought so," Jin said, and smiled at him. "Guess you'll have to get better."

Greg didn't ask why Jin could escape when no one else had, so the younger man didn't bother to explain. He deserved to keep some secrets to himself.

"I can't stay, though, you know," Jin added, setting to work on his ankles again. "Not permanently anyway. I have work to do."

He could feel Greg's gaze sharpen, and didn't look up to meet the man's narrowed eyes. "You can't leave."

"Why not? Not like I'm going to go to the police."

Greg's giant hand closed around the back of his neck and he felt his own eyes narrow almost to slits.

"I have work to do," he repeated. He didn't bother trying to disguise his irritation. "I'll play around with you, but not at the expense of my work."

"What's that supposed to mean?"

"What do you think it's supposed to mean, genius?" Jin shot back, glaring despite the small smirk curling his lips. "I only work like, eight floors away. If I go anywhere, you'll see me." He pointed at the window. Greg glanced in that direction, then looked back at his captive with a scowl.

"Don't trust me, huh?" Jin colored his voice with disappointment, not at being thwarted in an escape attempt but at how slow Greg was on the uptake. "Well, what should I do?"


Jin eyed Greg. It was clear the bigger man did not understand the offer he was making. "You have a phone?" he asked at length.

Greg looked suspicious. "...I dial."

Jin nodded and waved a hand flippantly. It made no difference to him, as he wasn't planning on calling anyone of any consequence anyway. Greg left his side and when he returned with the receiver, Jin told him, with careful enunciation, which numbers to push. Then he took the phone and smiled at Greg while it rang.

"Hello?" Ath'ran sounded tired on the other end.


Jin could almost hear his boss's expression change. "What is it?"

"Aunty Xiao called me. I have to go spend some time out in No Town. Won't be a problem will it?"

"No. Do you need anything?" Ath'ran understood family obligations better than any Solacian could. It made it easy to beg off work.

"No, nothing, nothing," Jin assured. "It isn't anything huge, she just needs a bit of help. I'll be gone a week or so. Oh, but I won't have my phone on me--I left kind of suddenly, you know--so I'll call you in a week to let you know if I'll be back on schedule."

"That's fine. Take care."

Jin hung up and passed the receiver back to Greg, proud that he'd thought to build some sort of safeguard into his plan, no matter how minute and unreliable. He met Greg's bemusement with a smirk and held up one finger in front of his captor's face.

"One week," he said, "And you'll trust me with your life. Understand?"

Greg only snorted in reply

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