Jin stared at the ceiling, not really sure what to do next. There were some interesting blood patterns above him, but he'd mapped out all the shapes he could the first time he'd been strung out on his back and again every time after that just out of habit. There was most definitely a difference between waking up after being raped by Greg Waters and being awake to participate in it and though the act itself was becoming less awkward, the part afterwards never seemed to get any easier. With women, it was when he was supposed to snuggle or lie about how he felt about them to make them feel better about being a slut. One didn't snuggle with Greg, though and what was there to talk about? Telling him that time didn't hurt as much as usual was like giving him a goal for the next romp. All the same, Jin felt ridiculous just lying there naked on the bed being watched.
In the month since they had first met, things had certainly gone from weird to weirder. Greg had started out severely paranoid and aggressive, the way Jin had imagined a panicked, cornered criminal should be, but after living with him over the course of a week, Greg had seemed to become almost human. He slept, ate, picked his nose when he thought no one was looking and could clog a toilet as well as any man Jin had ever met. He was funny at times, though he hardly ever meant to be, and on rare occasions he was even gentle. He even talked in his sleep, or more appropriately begged. He begged to be given a moment of peace as he held Jin tightly to his chest, not knowing he was speaking or that Jin was awake to hear. It was...endearing. Apparently something in Jin had endeared him to Greg as well, because after two weeks of being confined together, he had decided to trust Jin enough to let him go and come back as he pleased. And as today was Tuesday, the date Jin had designated as the “must visit Greg day,” he was not at all surprised to be looking at the blood-sprinkled ceiling yet again.
Jin propped himself up on his elbows. His back and backside were still sore but, unlike most who’d been given the same treatment, he was alive and relatively safe in the presence of the murderer. Most people would probably have called him insane and, right as they might have been about that, Jin didn't really care one way or the other. It was the ends that mattered, not the means, and as long as he didn't end up dead, it was worth it.
"You know that thing they call lube? You could stand to use a little more of it, Ass." Jin slipped easily into the snarky, fearless persona that kept Greg's interest. It wasn't hard--he just had to pretend he wasn't absolutely terrified of what the man would do to him if he lost interest.
Luckily for Jin, Greg never failed to smirk when his prey talked back. "Your screams are so lovely though."
Jin felt calloused fingers stroking his chest and let his head fall back. "Excuses, excuses. Cheap bastard."
Greg chuckled and got off the bed. Jin watched him, fluffed his pillow, and lay back again. He was rather proud that he'd convinced Greg to let him bring up clean linens; dried blood and semen tended to rub Jin's skin raw after rolling around on it for long enough. The smell was an improvement, too. If he was going to spend any amount of time with the serial killer, he was going to do so in as much comfort as possible. "How 'bout some water or something? Kinda parched."
"Get it yourself."
"Oh, ha ha." Jin threw the spare pillow at him. Sometimes his bravery surprised even him. "With all I put up with from you, the least you can do is get me something to drink. You're over there anyway."
Greg eyed him critically but relented to his assertiveness. He walked back with a bottle of water and held it out for Jin to take from him. Jin smiled wide and he thanked him, downing half the bottle in one large gulp. He was thirstier than he'd realized. He rested the container against his chest, enjoying its coolness against his skin. He'd have asked Greg to open a window while he was at it, but figured he'd been demanding enough for his own good for one hour. Perhaps after letting Greg flaunt his dominance for a while, he'd slip the suggestion in.
Greg, however, seemed disinterested in Jin at the moment. This was generally a bad sign but his pensive expression set Jin at ease. He looked lost in thought as he gazed out the window at nothing, popping his knuckles idly.
Jin wondered briefly what his co-workers were doing in the basement. Du'shan and Nyr traded off doing his job on his day off, which generally only made more work for Jin in the end, but he hadn't bothered complaining about it. It would be just his luck, though, that something interesting would happen on a Tuesday and he'd miss out on it while he was up here with Greg. That would have been almost as unforgivable as the silence in the room.
What was Greg so intent on? Never comfortable in silence, Jin wracked his brain for something to say to alleviate his growing boredom but came away with nothing. It was hard to think of a topic they could both get in on in light of Greg’s voluntary imprisonment. They both watched the news feeds but there wasn’t much to discuss there with most news being about festivity preparations as the end of the month crept nearer. Jin smiled to himself, remembering the noise and mischief of the costumed crowds that always swarmed the streets that time of year. "Bet you're excited. It'll be Kalyphtian in a few weeks. I'll buy you a mask and maybe we can walk around the city for a bit. It’d be nice to get out of here. It can be like a real date. My treat."
"I don't care much for Kalyphtian," Greg admitted without much emotion in his voice.
Jin was appalled. "Not like Kalyphtian?” The fact that someone could dislike a holiday comprised of masquerades and large entertainment venues was crazy, even for Greg. “Come on, I’ve been looking forward to this since last year when they had that kick ass fireworks display. And when else are you going to be able to walk around the streets and not have to worry about being recognized? It'll be fun!"
Greg leveled deadly eyes at Jin. "I celebrate the date itself, but not as Kalyphtian. It's Cherry's birthday and I don't intend to see it as anything but that."
The name brought to mind a blonde with a bust measurement larger than her IQ. Still, Jin was curious. "Who's Cherry?" he asked, not quite sure if it was a dangerous question liable to get him strangled or a safe way back into Greg's favor. He hoped for the latter and felt a great wave of relief when Greg turned his attention back to the window and his hostile expression faded.
"Cherry was my pet."
Knowing Greg, that could mean any number of things. Jin took another long gulp of water. "So, what happened to her?"
"He ran away."
"He. Right. Sorry." Jin sighed and waited but Greg did not relate any further information. It almost made him jealous. There he was, naked and lying in the man's bed, and yet someone not even present had Greg's full attention. He could understand if it was a woman but another man? Jin made a face at the blood-speckled ceiling. It was completely ridiculous, he knew, but then, so far, everything about his relationship with Greg was.
Still he found himself very curious about what this other man had done to make such a lasting impression on the killer, and more importantly, how he’d somehow gotten away in the end. It was practically his own story already written for him. Considering the life and death benefits of hearing how he’d managed, Jin decided to push his luck and ask more. "So...Cherry. Was he a handsome guy?"
"In the face. He looked so beautiful when he was bloody. When he cried, you could hear his soul tremble."
Jin felt shivers run across his shoulders. There was a dark sort of poetry to the way Greg spoke, his voice deep and husky like a forced whisper. Greg set his hand against the wall, head resting against the crook of his elbow as he glared at the world he was separated from. Again, he fell silent.
"How long did you keep him for?"
"Five months and twenty two days."
"Wow...good memory," Jin remarked, honestly impressed and a little bothered by it.
Greg shook his head. "They keep good records. It's their job."
"Oh right. Them. Forgot." And generally, that was true. They weren't voices he conversed with, he only got quiet and agitated when it seemed he heard them, and he never referred to them by anything but a general pronoun so that Jin hardly ever thought about their existence unless given a reminder. It was just another facet of Greg's insanity and was not nearly as interesting as the lost pet. "Tell me more."
Greg responded without turning to him. "About what?"
The murderer chuckled lightly, perhaps amused by Jin's curiosity. "You would have thought him pitiful," he began. "At first he begged, then he screamed for nights on end, then finally he made no sound at all unless I forced it from him. I used to keep him in a metal coffin filled with water when I had to leave the apartment or sleep. So long as he kept still, the water would not cover his lips and nose. His screams never sounded more beautiful then when he was locked in there."
Jin had to agree it would be terrifying to be trapped in pitch black in that predicament. It seemed over the top, though. "Why metal?"
"It echoes better, that's all. He could have gotten out of a metal coffin as easily as walking through an open doorway. It was the water that imprisoned him."
Greg's insanity seemed to be affecting his reasoning skills. Putting himself in that position, Jin couldn't see how the water would be more effective than the metal enclosure. Hell, if he needed to, he imagined could just drink until the level was more acceptable and then punch and kick the lid until the lock gave way or something. Had Cherry just been paralyzed by a fear of drowning? It didn't make much sense otherwise. Rather than venture a guess, Jin asked Greg how, but in hindsight was not prepared for the answer.
"Water soaks into you whereas metal just contains you. When he tried to escape, it electrocuted him from the inside out. Were he any other man, it would have killed him, as water lowers the human body's electrical resistance."
Jin gaped, the muscles in his mouth suddenly slack in absolute surprise. "The Surge?"
Greg smirked, pleased to have impressed his companion. "Surge is the world's name for him. Mine is Cherry."
Jin's eyes were glued to Greg. Part of him didn't believe it and yet the murderer had no reason to lie. It raised more questions that it answered, though. "You must have been really patient with him."
"To an extent." Greg leaned his back against the wall, at last giving Jin most of his attention. "I let him keep his limbs longer than any others. Even so, he was so easy to trap, it was almost humorous."
"How did you catch him? Did you know it was him when you did? Is that why you chose him?"
Jin was rather tired of Them being such a common answer. "Oh," he said, masking most of his disappointment. "How'd you get him?"
"He's surprisingly simple. Humble. Catholic." Greg's smirk was wide and sinister, devious thoughts playing in his mind. "He was never on his guard as a man, only as the Surge. I took him the same as I took you: a simple blow to the head."
"Why didn't you get tired of him, when he stopped responding? What made him so special you still wanted him?"
"Because when he broke, he gave in. He was a good little pet who sat at his master's feet and obeyed. There's a lot of power in breaking something so beautiful and majestic as another Shard."
Jin was left gawking once again. The conversation had become more than he’d expected or been prepared for. "You're a Shard?"
Almost as soon as he spoke, he felt the change in the air. Greg's right eye twitched and his gaze fixed itself on Jin's prone form on the bed. The murderer pushed off from the wall, stalking slowly over to him with fury on his face. "Did you think me crazy? Did you think the voices were simply splinters of my own mind that I just tolerated?" Greg loomed over the bed, his hand closing over Jin's throat. "I am and will always be the Witness. We circulate, but we never are free. My own voice is in my head, did you know that? A part of my soul is always a part of them, talking and bickering and filling my mind with so much useless information I'd just as soon dig my brains out of my skull as do the same to you some days."
If Greg expected fear, he was mistaken. Jin's face was alight in awe, his dark eyes wide in amazement. "I didn't know how it worked." His voice was slightly raspy from Greg’s grip on his throat.
"It's like a parasite. When one of us dies, all of us find a new host. Sometimes we’re voices, sometimes we’re specters, it all depends on the host. I've done this many, many times and have left my mark throughout history which each rebirth."
"Wow...." Jin was beginning to feel a little lightheaded. "Tell me more about him."
As suddenly as he had grabbed him, Greg let go of Jin's throat. "Cherry is no concern of yours."
With the hand gone, Jin sat up on his elbows, eager to get closer to Greg and further inspect the details of the insane encounter of the two Shards. "He's super human, but you made him an animal. How could I be anything but interested?"
Greg eyed him cautiously, then sat and slowly reached out with the hand he’d been strangling Jin with to gently stroke his round face. Jin smiled, leaning into the calloused caress.
"Cherry and the Surge are two different people. The Surge is unstoppable and would not have given in. My Cherry was only a man when I took him and because of that, he didn't know what to do. He as a man was not supposed to be of interest to anyone. Only the Surge meant anything. That I would take the man and not the legend scared him more than anything ever has or ever will again."
Jin was practically purring into his hand as Greg pushed back his sweaty bangs and tucked them behind his ear. "Then it wasn't his power or mystery that attracted you. And as you are, there would have been no mystery anyway. What was it that made you want him, then?"
"He was...innocent. Mundane. He thought nothing of himself even though he was what he was. He didn't even know he was beautiful." Greg took his hand back, inspecting it casually as though amused it came away clean. "There's something so...agreeable about raping and torturing a body that has never felt pleasure."
Jin continued to smile at him, broad and toothy, eager and pleased. "Tell me more."
"There is no more."
"Aw." Jin pouted more than frowned. "But how'd he get away from you?"
"...It seems I trusted him a little too much." Greg pushed himself off the bed and walked over to the kitchen area again. "As you can see though, he didn't kill me. He's never tried to, either."
"He probably just wants to forget."
Greg nodded as he opened his fridge. "But he can't. Even when I abduct children like William Speight, he doesn't save them. It goes against his good intentions, but he can't bring himself to face me."
"Do you want him back?" Jin asked, not at all surprised this time when Greg stopped moving and cast a look at him over his shoulder.
"It would be nice," he said at length. "But I don't think things could be as they were before."
"Because I don't think he could be broken again. He'd simply...die."
"It's alright. I had my fun."
Jin nodded and lay back down. With all the human flesh gone, he didn't have to worry too much about consuming anything Greg decided to share. He was the one who bought him groceries in the first place and there was nothing in the fridge that he wouldn't personally enjoy. He was silently hoping for a sandwich, though, preferably of the peanut butter and jelly variety.
Greg seemed to read his mind as he plopped the heavy glass jar of jelly on the counter. "Besides, I've found...more interesting things at present to occupy myself with."
Jin smiled a little to himself. "Are you glad it turned out that way?"
"...I wish I could still kill. I miss blood on my hands."
"I know," he said, though Jin hardly shared his disappointment on the matter.
"This alley isn't active enough. Not enough prey to snatch as easily as I caught you."
"What'll you do?"
Greg looked back over at him, knife in his hand. He held his gaze for a moment then looked away and dipped the utensil into the jar. "I'll think of something."
"As long as it doesn't involve eating parts of me," Jin admonished. Greg snorted in amusement but Jin was not about to take that as an answer. "I'm serious. It'll be the biggest cat fight you'll ever see if you try."
Greg continued to chuckle, shaking his head as he began to spread the jelly across the slices of bread he’d laid out on the counter. Jin supposed that was as good a response as he could hope for from the man who had captured and kept the Surge. He cast his eyes back to the ceiling, once again taking in the blood-splattered view, still thankful none of it was his own blood and rather proud that he was fairing better than anyone before him, even the prized Cherry. He smiled a bit to himself and sighed in content. Things were going pretty well for a situation that couldn't get much worse.