Chapter 23


When given the choice between helping to rescue the Surge and babysitting, Jin had made the only logical decision and opted to take the evening off. He'd spent the better portion of the afternoon making dumplings and broth and cooking rice, all of which he'd packed into a round lunch container--the kind with compartments that fitted together in a stack that they used in Xifeng, so that nothing got mixed together too soon and was ruined --to take up to Greg. Greg wasn't expecting him of course, but he didn't foresee that being a problem, especially since he was bringing dinner.

Jin smirked as he watched the floor numbers tick by above the elevator door. Greg's need to lay low had meant that when the food that had originally been in the apartment--which, Jin recalled with a grimace, included the apartment’s original owner--had run out, he had been entrusted with buying the groceries. While he didn't necessarily appreciate being the breadwinner of their little liaison, there was a strange sort of satisfaction and--dare he say it?--power in being able to control what Greg ate.

Not that Greg's satisfaction was the only thing he had in mind when he went grocery shopping. He'd gotten very tired of bologna sandwiches during the first week they'd spent together.

He danced down the hall to Greg's door. He was excited to brag about his dumplings; his aunt had taught him to make them and thus he was quite confident about their quality. He tapped in his code on the keypad to let himself into the apartment. During his initial stay with Greg, he'd reset the pad with a code he’d chosen, so that Greg would be able to lock the door if he ever had to leave the place, and so that he himself would be able to get in whenever he wanted to.

The door slid aside, and he danced into the room and smacked the button to close it again before twirling around with the dinner held high. "Hey, handsome, look what--"

He cut himself off at the scene before him. The first thing he noticed with much clarity was that Greg had shredded some of the bedding to use as rope. While this dismayed him somewhat, what really made him pause was the body Greg was tying up. Rabbit was less than conscious, and Jin suspected that the darkening bruise along his jaw and the gash across his left temple, which was bleeding sluggishly across his face in streaks, had something to do with that.

His eyes narrowed, though his smile remained in place. Greg was looking back at him, distracted by his entrance. He hadn't spoken yet, but Jin was glad he'd closed the door immediately and staved off at least some of the outburst that was sure to come.

He lowered the food from above his head while they stared at each other, and finally said in measured tones that barely veiled his displeasure, "I didn't bring enough for three."

"He won't be eating," Greg assured him.

His voice was calm; Jin's response to the situation appeared to have been the correct one, at least for the moment. He was aware that he was walking a very fine line, though.

He set the food down and perched on the bed, watching while Greg finished securing Rabbit’s feet.

"Handsome, you know how I feel about you bringing guests over."

Greg's face twitched at the reproach. Jin suspected it had more to do with his use of a pet name than with his displeasure. Greg, he had learned, didn't know how to deal with overt displays of affection or affection in general, and he had made sure to use that to his advantage whenever the situation got iffy.

"He has it coming," Greg assured him.

"That so."

Greg looked up. "Now that you're here, you have to participate. Which side of the knife you do it on is your choice."

Jin met his gaze for only a moment before looking away. Greg's words had shaken something inside him; somehow, since the beginning of their skewed relationship, he'd never been afraid for his own survival before. He'd been able to trust that somehow the human part of Greg--the part that was interpersonally inept, the part he'd come to think of as his--would keep the killing part from doing him any harm.

It had been a nice lie he’d told himself, but the look on Greg's face drove home the fact that nice or not, it was still a lie. The part of Greg he had been sure he had seen might exist and if it did, it certainly belonged to him, but that part was not going to win out against what was apparently his true nature.

"Well, I guess I'll get the knives, then," he said with convincing nonchalance, sliding off of the bed and heading for the tiny kitchen area. "I hope this isn't going to take too long though. The dumplings will get cold."

Greg grunted. "We can reheat them. This shouldn't be rushed."

"I guess you're right." Jin rummaged in a drawer and came back with a pair of cooking knives. Neither was very large or very sharp, but that wouldn't keep them from killing anyone.

He returned to Greg's side and passed him one of the weapons as his mind raced through the maze the situation presented. Participation having been made mandatory, he knew which "side of the knife" he wanted to be on without having to give it too much though. Obviously he had to get out of this alive, and if he was tied up like Rabbit, that wasn't going to happen.

That didn't mean he could just help kill Rabbit, or even that he could let the other man be killed without doing any of the killing himself. He wasn't overly fond of Rabbit--at best, he was neutral toward the other man as a human being. On the other hand, he couldn't hope to get out of the situation at this point; he couldn't overpower Greg, he couldn't count on Rabbit to help him if he freed him, and if he ran, Greg would still come after him, possibly causing harm to his friends as he did so.

Rabbit was starting to come to, shifting in an uncoordinated sort of way against the bed sheet scraps.

Jin watched him. He thought of the shrine in his room downstairs: of the statue of the Enlightened One with the half burned incense in front of it, of the portrait of his mother to its right, and finally of the feathered mask that he'd painstakingly painted a winged tiger on for Kalyphtian sitting on the statue's other side.

His hand tightened around the knife handle and he looked up at Greg sadly. His only course of action was obvious, and he intended to take it, for better or worse.