Categories > TV > Dark Angel > If Scheherazade

. . . And a Night

by sheepy 0 reviews

Ben discovers the subtle shift from love to obsession to insanity. (Slash. "Pollo Loco" pre-ep.)

Category: Dark Angel - Rating: R - Genres: Angst - Characters: Ben, Krit, Zack - Warnings: [!!] [V] [X] - Published: 2005-05-19 - Updated: 2005-05-20 - 4169 words

If Scheherazade
by Melissa the Sheep (Pooh_Bah)

Part 4/6
Posted February 10, 2002


. . . And a Night

"War is art.
So what if I sign my work?"


Every muscle in your body is tense as you sit at a table in the gay club Steve directed Pike to, beer in front of you, Steve in the chair next to you. Your drink is untouched and warming as Pike returns with his and Steve's fourth round of bourbon, slipping around the other men in the crowd, offering a half- flirtatious correction when the bouncer mistakes him for Krit and asks if he wants to go dancing next Thursday--and you're beginning to figure out why Krit's never taken you clubbing.

On either side of your glass, your fists clench and unclench, kneading the hilt of an imaginary knife. Half of you would love nothing more right now than to slit Steve's throat--you don't have your real knife because you didn't expect to want it so badly, and you wouldn't have had the foresight to pick up anything when you left Krit's place, anyway.

But there's another half of you, too, a clever, scheming side only vaguely familiar after years of infrequent use. That half tells you that it's better to have forgotten the knife and that, if you'll just be patient, Steve will be worth so much more if he's alive--you'll find some way to use him to get back at Krit and humiliate them both.

You're tired of being taken for granted. Krit's underestimated you. He's underestimated your nerve and your desperation and your cunning. He's underestimated the rage that's been simmering for years, building up bit by bit with every mark on Joel that you didn't make, with every bruise Ethan left on you, with every mention Zack made of Van, with every time Krit himself walked with you down the street and some woman greeted him just a little too much fondness.

What he's overestimated is your patience. Nobody can leave everything pent up forever, not even you with years of training in stoicism and self-control. You suspect you were much closer than you've thought to shooting Ethan yourself, to leaving Zack alone and bewildered, to pushing the knife just a little farther into Van's throat.

You wonder how close you are now to leaving Krit for someone else.

Because it would be so easy to do behind his back what he's been doing behind yours. There's a brunet sitting at the bar, peering toward you through smoke and between other bodies, staring with frank lust. He has green eyes that remind you of Krit's because of their shrewd glint, though his sharp nose and chin don't belong to anybody you know. It would be so easy, you think as you catch his eyes and hold them, for you to go introduce yourself, to touch him and let him touch you, to wake up in his bed. Maybe Krit would be sorry then. Or maybe he'd feel that much less guilty for what he's done, since you had gone and done it too. Is it wrong to be spiteful this once, after the way you've always been treated?

Pike's voice cuts into your thoughts: "Your turn to buy, sailor."

The legs of Steve's chair scrape against the floor, and he crosses your field of vision on his way to the bar. Without really meaning to, you break eye contact with the brunet and track Steve's movements. You can't help but notice the contrast between his body heat a moment ago and the cool air that's against your arm now--you hadn't realized he'd been sitting so close to you.

You hated Steve for his role in Krit's life, back when he was just an abstract dread and an earthy scent clinging to Krit's skin. Now that he's a flesh-and-blood man, you should be hating him more, for who he is as well as what he's done--but it's strange how much that burning distaste for him has cooled to icy calculation. You can almost understand why Krit's been in and out of his bed for two years.

He's good looking, almost good enough to have been made that way, like you and your siblings. He has Van's hair, from the glossy dark color down to keeping it just long enough to pull into a ponytail, or, in Van's case, hide a barcode. His eyes are Syl's amber brown, and his strong jaw and rugged features could have been borrowed from Zane. That smug twist in his lips is like a vengeful Jondy just returned from vandalizing her ex's apartment, and his heavy muscles and broad shoulders belong to Zack.

You should hate him for being a mockery of your family--but you find it fascinating, and maybe it's what fascinates Krit too. Even if he didn't look like the others, every attractive detail should be one more reason to snuff him out like a candle and get him out of your way. But you're starting to think that would be a terrible waste.

Steve returns, sets down the new drinks, and excuses himself to the bathroom. You watch him this time too, sauntering off, all tight jeans and arrogance. He knows he's a looker, and every move is a reminder to the world, even when every move is slurred by alcohol. You wonder for a moment why Krit overlooks that blatant personality--but, then, Krit's a bit of a peacock himself, and Joel was even more so, and you still fell in love with both of them. And, besides, you're sure Krit puts less value on noble character than on bedroom skills or political opportunities. It's your guess that Steve's a good lover, because Krit gets bored with politics quickly, and it would've been over for real long before now. . . . You wonder if Krit's relationship with you was all about politics. He as much as admitted that sex with you was about proving a point to Zack, and now that Zack's gone, there's nothing left to prove.

"Ben?" Pike asks you, leaning forward across the table to wave a hand in front of your eyes. "Ben, I don't like the look on your face, man."

You blink, turn to look at him. "Huh?"

"It was stupid to invite Steve along, wasn't it? I didn't think you'd look at him like that, so damned murderous."

"Murderous?" You hadn't realized you'd gone back to those feelings.

"Yeah. That's what you're thinking, isn't it? You look so . . . so hungry, but it's gotta be a predator thing, 'cause I know you wouldn't be thinking of fucking /him/."

Or would you? Maybe that's the way to get back at Krit. It's the same way he used you to get back at Zack, and wouldn't that be ironic. So deliciously ironic . . . Yes, it would be a terrible waste to kill Steve--because Krit's so wrapped up in him, and even if killing him would break Krit, you'd also break everything that's between you two. Krit would hate you then, and that's worse than using and neglecting you.

"Should we go?" Pike asks you earnestly. He gets up too quickly and his chair tips over and clatters onto the floor, and he glances nervously at the still-closed bathroom door. "I didn't plan on anybody getting killed tonight. Krit would have my hide if I let something happen to Steve."

He tugs on your arm urgently, pulling toward the door. It's almost funny to see him panicking, when he's the one who's always so carefree. You let him pull you to your feet, but not one step away from the table.

"Pike," you murmur. "It's okay. I'm fine."

He glances sharply at you.

"What were you thinking anyway," you ask, "picking Steve up like that?"

One corner of his lip curls up in a wry smirk. "Oh, I figured we'd get him drunk and maybe when he woke up tomorrow he'd find a tattoo on his ass that says 'Property of Dustin'. 'Cause people do stupid things when they're drunk, y'know? I think he had a few before we drove by, so he's right about where we want him."

"I thought Krit would have your hide if something happened to Steve." Though you do kind of like Pike's plan. The idea of seeing Steve marked permanently piques your interest.

Pike shrugs. "Well, if something debilitating or lethal happened. But a tattoo never killed anybody." He looks at the bathroom door again. "Damn, he's been in there a long time. I'm gonna go check on him. Don't do anything stupid, okay?"

Pike pats your shoulder and walks off. You turn back around to see if the brunet's still watching you.

He is. He winks at you; you suddenly feel undressed and vulnerable, and you turn your back to him, face burning.

You wouldn't/, if it came down to it. You /wouldn't/. /Wouldn't go with him, wouldn't have a one-night stand, wouldn't cheat on Krit. Wouldn't do anything but take the high road.

Where's the high road ever gotten you before? You've taken it all your life, and nobody's ever respected you for that. Not anybody who's ever slept around behind your back--not Joel or Ethan or Zack or Krit. Not even Van, on the high road herself, though you always wondered if it ever cost her anything.

You hear a new glass of beer slide onto the table, and you turn to see the waiter. He nods over his shoulder to the brunet in the corner. "He says you should drink this one while it's still cold."

You stare down at the beer after the waiter heads back toward the bar, and you leave the glass exactly where he put it. You don't sit down, just stand there motionless. You don't dare look up at the brunet again. You wish Pike would hurry up and come back here. You'll ask him to just take you back home, and you'll talk to Krit and say . . . and say . . . Well, you'll say something, anything to get back in Krit's arms and pretend again that it's all okay and there's nothing going on between him and Steve. Maybe you'll tell him exactly that: "I want to believe you still care." It's honest enough.

Footsteps. There's footsteps coming toward you. For the briefest flash of time you believe that they're Pike, but you know they're from the wrong direction, from behind you, from the corner where the brunet was sitting and staring at you, and you know it's him following the beer he sent.

You don't turn around. You hold perfectly still; they taught you to do that, taught you that motion draws attention and that if you don't move maybe you'll be overlooked. They never did overlook you, though. No matter how still you stood, they picked you for their experiments and tests just as often as they picked anybody else.

The brunet's fingers brush against your barcode, and a shiver runs down your spine. You shut your eyes against the touch of his fingertips--it doesn't make any sense, shutting your eyes to block out something that you can't see. But nothing ever makes sense any more, does it? Nothing's ever made much sense out here anyway. You never know exactly what's expected of you, because the clues are so subtle; reading them is a human art form and you're not all human, not quite. You couldn't figure out how to keep Joel all for yourself, or how to keep Ethan contented. You couldn't even figure out why Zack and Krit weren't satisfied with just you.

"I like your tattoo," the brunet murmurs, voice all honey and smoke and seduction. Beautiful. Intoxicating. You could listen to it forever. You can smell him behind you--fading soap and fresh sweat and the cocktail he was drinking. His scent is just as intoxicating as his voice.

"What's your name, precious?" he asks; your stomach tightens, defensive, sick, protesting, but you don't know on a rational level why it objects.

You remember his smoldering eyes, how you felt naked under them. How they reminded you of Krit at first. You remember how, once, so long ago, you didn't want Krit to touch you either. What if that never really changed? What if you hate this new man's touch because deep down you also hate the feel of Krit's hands on you?

What if that's all just in your head?

Or what if it's true? How could you go back to Krit then?

Will the brunet go away if you don't reply? Will he stop talking and touching and being and making you doubt your desire go home to Krit if Pike would just hurry the hell up?

"Ben," you answer him. You didn't mean to speak, and your voice surprises you with its calm, low, normal tone, so different from everything that's beneath the surface. What if everything everybody else does are all just as fake as this? What if you never really did show your feelings, so Krit had no way of knowing and respecting them?

"Ben," he repeats. "Krit's boyfriend?"

You shake your head. "No. Not any more."

"Better that way. I'm David." He moves his hand down to grip your shoulder and turn you halfway toward him, and he dips his head to kiss the side of your throat. His other arm, the left, wraps around your waist. For some reason you finally open your eyes, to look at that arm. The sleeve is pulled back a little from his wrist, and you can see the edge of a tattoo.

"Does Krit talk about me?" you ask. "So many people know about me before I ever meet them."

"Word gets around," David murmurs into your neck. "Everybody was surprised how long he's been with you--but they wouldn't have been surprised if they'd met you. God, Ben, you're so beautiful."

You raise your hand to push his sleeve farther up. There's a Celtic knot on the back of his forearm, a six-inch-long latticework of blue ribbon with black outlines. "Nice," you tell him, running your finger along one of the loops, to the center and out to the edge again. Your eyes are much faster, though, and they've already figured out that it's one infinite loop, weaving in and out of itself to form the entire design.

"Thank you," he says. "I did it myself."

"You're a tattoo artist then?" "Mmm-hmm."

"That's perfect," you whisper. Everything's starting to fall into place now.

David turns you the rest of the way around to face him full-on. Your eyes slide closed again as his lips meet yours, and your mouth falls open with a flick of his tongue. Your stomach lurches--you know this is cheap, and you know that cheap isn't what you want. You can feel yourself hardening anyway, and maybe you do want it after all, right or wrong, meaningful or empty. You've never felt so helpless against your own desires. At least you'll make this a means to an end: even with David's hands exploring your body through your clothes and his own erection pressed against your hip, you're busy deciding exactly how to get Steve unconscious and David willing to tattoo him.

You hear Pike cough behind you, and you break away from the kiss-- David's breathing hard, but you're not. Krit once mentioned he appreciated not having to worry about you suffocating during a kiss.

Pike has Steve's limp arm slung over his shoulders, and the rest of Steve is dragging along with equal energy, head flopping away from Pike, loosened strands of hair falling across his face, jaw slack. "Hey, Ben. Steve's blacked out, so I'm taking him back to his place. You wanna go home to Krit, or will you stay here?" Pike doesn't seem to think there's much question--he glances significantly at David's arm wrapped around your waist with the thumb hooked underneath the waistband of your jeans, and at David's other hand clutching yours at your side.

"I'll go home later." This is the second time tonight you've said something you didn't intend to say. You're beginning to wonder if what you want and what you think you want are two very different things.

Pike drops Steve for a moment to give you a bear hug. "G'bye, then, Ben--I'm off to El Paso after I lose Steve. Wouldn't be any fun having his ass tattooed if you weren't there to enjoy it, and I've got better things to do than wait around and let Krit rag on me."

"Bye, Pike."

He doesn't go yet, though--he glares at David. "I don't know who the hell you think you are, messin' around with my bro . . . "

"You must be Krit's twin," David guesses. "He talks a lot about you."

"Damn straight he does!" Pike can't help puffing up just a little, now that he knows his reputation precedes him. "And if you break Ben's heart the way Krit did, I'll be breaking a few parts of /you/--and unless you get off on pain, it's not gonna be any fun, either."

David raises an eyebrow. "Krit would take care of me before you even heard there was a problem."

"I don't trust Krit to do lasting damage," mutters Pike. And he's right--since the escape, Krit's only physically hurt people by accident. As for emotional damage, you don't know if anyone besides you has ever been stupid enough to trust him.

"Hey, Ben . . . " There's so much concern in Pike's voice, and you wonder just how strongly he has to feel it before it shows. "Take care of yourself, bro. If you need me, call Zane and he'll know where to find me--I'm not telling Krit again 'til I know you're okay."

He picks Steve up again and continues toward the door.

You watch him dragging Steve away until David pulls you back into another kiss, deep and slow, arms sliding around your back at the waist and shoulders. This time he's the one who breaks it off, panting, eyes glazing over with want. "We should go back to my place, precious."

"Not yet."

"I want you, Ben," he murmurs, taking your hand and pressing his lips to the palm. "I want you so much . . . "

"There's something I want from you first."

"Anything, precious," he promises. You would never say 'yes' to a request so open-ended. But you've had to be cautious from the time you were a child, and maybe David's never had a need to be so wary.

"Do you know that man Pike and I were with?"

David nods. "Steve Connor."

"Do you know where he lives?"

David nods again.

"I want you to give him a tattoo, on the neck, exactly like mine."

The rest of the night is a blur of pain and sick delight, one fading into the next, distinctions of time warping as if you were drunk, though you know you didn't touch a drop.

The hum of David's tattoo needle remains constantly at the front of your memory, and you're glad for it in those dark moments later. You can ignore discomfort and banish regret if you just remember David scraping those precise lines into Steve's skin as he slept off the bourbon, marking him forever. Now Krit will remember you every time Steve's back is turned to him, and maybe he'll stop wanting to hear that man crying out: "Krit, Krit, Krit, oh God, Krit . . . "

In David's bed, you cry when he enters you.

It's not anybody's name you sob. It's just wordless agony that you could sell such an intimate aspect of yourself for a job that didn't even take him as long as the time you know he'll spend using you. Though maybe the times aren't so very different after all; you wouldn't know, because you can't tell seconds and centuries apart right now. Every one of his touches tonight has lasted lifetimes.

He pauses above you, a delicate calm that a human being would consider perfectly still--but you can feel each minute shift in his weight as he obeys his imperfect, normal sense of balance.

"Are you okay, Ben?"

You try to blink back your tears, but they fall anyway, rolling down your face, dropping onto the rumpled bedsheets between the fists you're resting your weight on.

"Yes," you choke. "I'm okay . . . " Nothing could be farther from the truth. You're longing for Joel, or for Zack, or for Krit--for those delusions that you were loved, that what you're doing now was an expression of something more. You remember Pike suddenly, threatening David in the bar, and you wonder if you should have gone with him to El Paso. Pike cares about you, under his banter and bravado--and he doesn't like boys, so he would never, ever use you this way. He'd never let you sell yourself to him like this. He would have kept you from selling yourself to someone else, too.

"No, precious, be honest," David admonishes. "Am I hurting you?"

Nobody's ever asked you that before.

Zack and Krit knew you were strong enough, while Joel and Ethan just didn't care. David's concern stuns you into silence, and you have to swallow before you find your voice again.

"No," you whisper hoarsely. "You're not hurting me."

What hurts is that nobody else ever cared enough to ask that, and that the man who finally has doesn't know how being here is killing your soul.

"Okay," David murmurs, and he drops a kiss on your shoulderblade before moving again. You bite your lip as he begins to thrust.

You let your head hang between your locked elbows, and fix your eyes on the arm he's wrapped around your chest. It's covered with downy hairs and his own tattoos; your eyes finish retracing the Celtic knot's intricate loops long before he's finished with you, and you move on to the dragon above the knot, with its rich blood-red scales, black talons, spread wings, and long tail disappearing around the edge of David's arm to the side pressed against your ribcage. You block out everything, every feeling, every sound, every smell, except for the sight of that dragon and the remembered sound of the needle against Steve's neck.

You're still staring at the dragon hours later, while David sleeps and you decide to leave now so he won't wake up next to you in the morning. The dragon is what your eyes fall on when you take one last look at him from the doorway--your first one- night stand, your first infidelity, the first lover who didn't earn that title.

You walk down the dark streets where David drove with you earlier, back toward Steve's apartment.

Steve shifts restlessly in his sleep as you watch from the bedroom doorway, and he murmurs Krit's name. How deep does their relationship go? Is Krit only on Steve's mind because his twin brother was out on the town tonight? Or is he Steve's deepest, most abiding desire, voiced only in unconscious moments?

What if you were the one who stepped into a part of Krit's life where you didn't belong? They've been lovers since they were sixteen. Two years, and, even if it was off-and-on, it isn't something that can just be shoved aside. What if Steve is every bit as jealous of you as you've been of him? What if Krit has been up against the wall, trying to avoid choosing between you two, trying to love both of you at once?

Does that make either of them any more right?

No. Fuck, no. Did they ever stop to think how grateful you would've been if they'd just been honest with you from the start? They could have saved you another heartbreak. They could have saved themselves what you had David do tonight.

"Krit . . . " Steve moans again.

"Shhhh," you croon, and reach out to smooth back the strands of dark hair falling over his forehead. "I'm here, baby. . . . " And you don't stop at that, no. He's going to know about this, he's going to know everything that Krit will realize with one look at that tattoo. He's going to know that you're better than him, that you did this, that you've marked ownership on him the same way your creators marked you. So you strip off your clothes and make a folded stack next to the crumpled jeans and jacket and tee shirt that Pike stripped off of him earlier. You lift the covers and slide into the bed behind him.

You wrap an arm around his belly and murmur again, "I'm here, baby."

Steve sighs in his sleep, and settles against your chest and into your arms, helping you spoon against him. As his breathing becomes slow and deep once again, you kiss the tender, fresh mark on his skin, and a cruel satisfaction washes over you.

"I'm here, baby. I'll always be here."

[ END Part 4/6 ]
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