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Chapter 17: When All Else Fails…
© Sadie Rose Bermingham 2006
“Apologies for the delay to this chapter. My internet connection and my husband have both been sick and it’s taken me a little while to get around to posting. Anyway, I hope you enjoy the penultimate chapter of Rayne’s French adventure.”
The usual terms apply. Copyright belongs to Sadie Rose and Litty.
Rayne sat on the upper deck of Dan Leland’s yacht, nursing a huge mug of black coffee in both hands. He hunched over the cup as if its heat could warm his whole body. His head was down and tendrils of dark hair drooped around his pale face like hanging vines. When Ant came up to join him he did not even stir. It was as if he had been petrified by the rising sun and turned into a small, golden statue. The older man sat down next to him, facing the empty berth at the end of the far pontoon. He stroked the back of Rayne’s neck gently for a little while.
“When did they go?” the boy asked him huskily at last. He tilted his head back, rubbing against the fingers that massaged the base of his skull slowly and rhythmically.
“Yesterday,” Ant told him atonally. “About noon. McNamara had some business in Marseilles. Apparently!”
“They didn’t say goodbye.” Rayne was staring at the empty space, lips parted lightly, inhaling the caffeinated steam from his cup a breath at a time.
“Yeah… well…” Ant shrugged stiffly and shook his head.
“Well, what?” That dark head turned to face him and pale, red-rimmed eyes looked into his own seriously.
“He was… he was pretty pissed off about… about what happened.”
“What? That I got hurt… or that his fuckin’ film got spoiled?” Rayne’s upper lip curled slightly and he looked back down into his mug again, letting the spill of ebony hair screen his expression from view once more.
“It’s an expensive business, making movies,” Ant said, trying to sound non-committal.
“Yeah!” Rayne put down the coffee cup and folded his arms across his knees, resting his forehead against them wearily.
“I’m sorry,” Ant ventured warily, still stroking the backs of his fingers in slow circles through the downy hair at the nape of his companion’s neck.
“Why?” Rayne asked, without lifting his head.
“Well… I know you… you liked him.”
At once Rayne pushed back and uncurled, shrugging him off almost casually. He moved to his knees and picked up the cup, draining it without pausing for breath. Only then did he treat Ant to a small, disdainful, knowing look and murmur; “He’s just an arsehole! Like everyone else!”
Ant followed the boy back down into the bedroom, where he watched for a little while as Rayne hunted through the drawers and under the bed, searching for something with a preoccupied air. Aldo had brought his bags and guitar case back from Phil’s flat a few days ago. The young porn star and his minder, Arturo were still at the Cap. This surprised Ant who had expected them to go with McNamara, but the older Italian had an apartment here in Agde and was staying for the next couple of weeks. Aldo di Boccato stayed too. Ant thought that the young man seemed a little bit lost, but Aldo was not his major concern right now.
“Lost something?” he asked artlessly.
Rayne looked up at him with a quietly frustrated expression.
“I had a pouch thing with my cigarettes and stuff in it,” he said, chewing on his lower lip irritably.
“I know. I burned it,” Ant told him, folding his arms and steeling himself for the explosion.
A terrible stillness came over Rayne for a moment. Icy green eyes glared back at him incredulously and then the boy struggled for breath. He was huffing anxiously as he yelped; “You did ‘what’?”
“I burned it.” Ant looked back at him impassively. “I took it down to the beach last night while you were asleep and I burned it. I’ve been talking to a few people while you’ve been recuperating. I asked Mahmoudi what it was that he’s been sedating you with. I talked to your little friend Phil as well. Who sold it to you, Rayne?”
The boy just blinked at him incredulously. He began to shake his head but Ant was quicker.
“Uh-huh… no lies. I know. I know what you’ve been smoking, I know what he’s been filling your veins with and it’s going to stop. Today!”
“No!” Rayne protested automatically.
“Yes.” Ant nodded his head.
“I can’t!” Rayne was breathing faster now, shaking his dark hair more urgently. “Ant, I can’t… I can’t just stop!”
“You told me before that it wasn’t a problem,” Ant reminded him evenly. “You just did a bit, it wasn’t a big deal. You didn’t take it all the time. That’s what you told me.”
“I don’t… It’s ‘not’!” Rayne insisted, moving towards him automatically. “Ant, I swear to you! It’s no big deal, but I… I’ve been through so much shit this week…” His eyes filled up and he caught his breath, staring imploringly into the older fellow’s solemn blue-grey gaze. “Please… I can’t do this…”
“I’ll güvenilir bahis help you,” Ant said stoically. He unfolded his arms and cupped Rayne’s face in his hands firmly, stroking the salt-wetness from the corners of his beautiful eyes. “You ‘can’ do it. I’m going to make sure you do.”
“No!” Rayne snaked around him, shaking his head desperately. “Get Mahmoudi. I just need something to start me off and I can think straight and ‘then’ I can do it!”
“You don’t,” Ant told him, a little more coldly. “Rayne, it’s got to stop.”
“I’m in pain!” the boy yelled at him, gripping his shoulders and glaring up at him furiously. “You don’t fuckin’ care do you? It’s not ‘you’ they raped! It’s not you they fuckin’ hurt!”
He had guessed that it would not take Ant long to find out the truth, not once he spoke to Phil and Aldo about the events of the other night. Phil had come to see him a couple of days ago and Rayne refused to talk to him. He felt sorry about that now. Phil Honeywell looked so dejected at his response but he was angry. He had only asked for one thing, that Phil should keep his mouth shut about what had been done to him. The stupid little bitch couldn’t even do that! He had blabbed to Aldo and the Italian had seen it as his duty to inform Ant of the whole sorry affair.
The police had come and Rayne blanked them too, much to Ant’s frustration. They had argued about that one last night, just before Doctor Mahmoudi arrived to sedate him. Rayne was cursing that row right now. If Ant had not been so fired up maybe he would not have thought to interrogate the Doctor about the contents of his hypodermic and he would not be in this mess today.
Ant was looking down at him solemnly.
“You admit it then?” he queried huskily. “It’s the first time you’ve actually come out and said it, so I guess it must be true after all.”
Rayne swallowed hard. He was angry and upset in equal measures and it was hard to stay in control when all he wanted was to suck down a little sweet, narcotic smoke and feel his nerves stop grating against one another.
“You knew I’d been attacked,” he said, fighting down the tremor in his voice. “You thought Paddy did it to me, remember?”
Ant nodded his head.
“Why didn’t you tell me the truth?” he wanted to know.
“I didn’t want you to get hurt,” Rayne said neutrally, lowering his head and resting his brow against the older man’s chest. “I know what you’re like. I remembered what you were like after… after that night in Soho. You wanted to kill John with your bare hands. Christophe would have been expecting you. He wasn’t going to sit around on his own after doing something like that. He’d have had friends there waiting. I didn’t want you to go after him, Ant.”
Gently, Ant steered him back to the bed and sat him down. He put both arms around the boy and held him for a long, quiet time, just stroking his hair and his slim, naked back.
“You are out of your mind,” he breathed against Rayne’s scalp at last. “You’d have let yourself drown the other night rather than admit what happened, wouldn’t you? Jesus Christ! If Aldo hadn’t found you…”
“Sshhhh…” Rayne exhaled wearily, shaking his head. “It wasn’t like that.”
“You tried to kill yourself!” Ant protested.
“No…” he sat back, looking up dejectedly at the older man. “I didn’t mean to. I just… it felt easier not to fight it any more. I didn’t go into the sea meaning to… to end it. Look at me, Ant!” He held his arms out desperately, lifting them so that the pale stars and stripes of his own determined rite of passage were hard to ignore. “If I really wanted to die I’d have gone by now, yeah? It wasn’t what you think. I needed to pull myself together. I needed something to make me focus and being in the water did it. But I was so tired. When it took me off my feet I couldn’t fight it. I didn’t want to.”
He looked away, suddenly vulnerable and embarrassed. Only one person in his life had ever come this close to knowing his darkest humours. He was not ready to unburden himself again but he was homesick. Rayne yearned for Dymchurch and his best friend, Simon’s quiet, accepting wisdom. He felt so far from home here.
Ant stroked his arms gently, his face etched with sorrow.
“Did it hurt?” he wanted to know. “Cutting yourself like that…”
Rayne shook his head, numb and exhausted.
“It felt clean,” he said atonally.
“Clean?” Ant was puzzled.
“Like fire, or ice. It was like a purifying thing,” Rayne whispered, unable to look at the marks on his forearms. “When I pulled the knife across my skin and watched the blood come, it was like letting out all the darkness inside me. It felt so good.” He closed his eyes and swayed a little. “With the cigarette burns I was usually angry about something. All the little round marks are like that, where I burned myself or jabbed myself with something sharp because I’d lost my temper. I punched a compass needle through the back of my hand once in a maths lesson. türkçe bahis It freaked the girls next to me out, totally!”
“I… I bet it did,” Ant caught his breath.
“But I was calm straight afterwards,” Rayne told him, looking up suddenly, his eyes so full of fervour that Ant looked worried. “It took all the anger out of me. I felt okay.”
“Why would you do that?” the older man asked him, shaking his head slowly now. “You were still at school? This must have been years ago, right? Before you were on drugs… on the game?”
Rayne swallowed and turned his face away, suddenly pulling his arms back around himself, conscious of having said too much. It was like falling into a trap. He felt safe and he opened his mouth and then he realised that you could never tell people the whole story, because that was just asking for trouble. Ant was not going to be able to deal with the reasons why he cut and burned himself, just as he could not deal with Rayne’s attitude to sex and relationships. He bit down hard on his lips and pushed his hands through his hair, trying to hide behind them.
“I’m stupid,” he said flatly. “That’s why.”
“Someone hurt you?” Ant ventured, not side-tracked in the slightest.
“No. I just liked doing it. I liked scaring people. It felt good!” Rayne lifted his head defiantly.
“Stop closing the fucking door on me!” Ant grabbed him by the chin and pulled Rayne around to face him. “You have got some serious problems, kiddo. I’m trying to fucking help you but you’re hard work! Now this week I’m gonna start by getting you off this shit you’ve been neutralising your brain with. And when we’re done with that, you can start telling me exactly what it is that’s made you into such a screwball. Okay?”
Rayne quivered in his grasp. He wanted to pull away, shouting and screaming until someone came and sedated him. That would be good right now. In that instant he was overwhelmed by the absolute hopelessness of his situation. Ant was right. He was a mess. He should get himself cleaned up but it was easier to take the junk and let other people make the rules for him. Nothing was ever going to change. He was an idiot if he believed that it could.
“Okay.” He lowered his eyes and tried to look penitent. Something would come along. It always did.
“Seriously?” Ant was looking suspiciously at him now.
Rayne shrugged; “Whatever… you’re the boss.”
It was not so easy to give Ant the slip however. The older man watched him like a bird of prey hunting for vermin. He stayed with Rayne all the time. No privacy was permissible; even trips to the toilet were accompanied. Rayne yelled at him, and lashed out at him. He hurled abuse. He even threw up over Ant at one point when the shakes and the need and the absolute frustration overwhelmed him. The next few days were among the most horrendous of his short life.
Before long the itch of need gave way to a very real pain, deep in his muscles and his gut. The cramps ate him alive. It was like lying in a pool of cold bile whilst rats gnawed on his innards. When he reached a point where there was no positive effect in retching because his stomach was empty and he was just choking up the lining, he curled up on the floor of the bedroom and waited to die. He was sweating so much that the bedclothes got soaked the minute he lay down on them. He rolled off the bed. Within minutes the floor was too cold and he was struggling to get under cover but moments after wrapping himself in the duvet he was sweating again.
“I need something!” he pleaded. “Get Mahmoudi. Please, Ant! I’ll do ‘anything’!”
“You’ll be all right,” Ant promised him. “I’m watching you, Rayne. And there’s nothing he can give you for the pain, in any case. You’ve seen to that, haven’t you?”
“There is! He can… You are a fuckin’ sadist!” Rayne screamed at him. “I hate you! I’m sick and I’m hurting and all you can do is torment me!”
Ant just shrugged his shoulders and looked away.
He lost track of the time. Someone was always watching him though. Each evening, Ant gently helped him through into the bathroom and let him use the toilet and get clean. A warm bath was the sweetest thing in the world. He let the water caress his sweaty skin and slumped under the surface until Ant got nervous and pulled him back up again.
“Idiot!” he muttered, shaking the water out of his hair, but the older man never berated him for it.
Later that night, Rayne woke from uneasy dreams, lying on his side with a pillow hugged against his aching belly, staring at a patch of rippling light reflected from one of the little porthole windows onto the wall. He thought that it looked like a huge eye filled with tears, ready to overflow and he wanted to cry with it. His body felt too heavy and he wished that there was a valve in his chest that he could turn on and off, releasing the pressure that weighed him down.
“Are you hungry?” a familiar voice asked and he shook his head, still staring at the big, sorrowful eye on güvenilir bahis siteleri the wall.
The speaker stirred and came around to crouch beside the bed looking back at him dejectedly. Aldo looked tired, he thought. There were dark rings under his eyes and he was huddled in a pair of faded jeans and a finely knitted sweater. It seemed strange to see him with clothes on.
“Where’s Ant?” he asked numbly.
“He needed to get some rest. He’s been sitting up with you for three days,” the Italian told him, coming to perch on the edge of the bed. “I told him to take a bath and get his head down. Daniel and Terry are out at Isolde’s club, it’s quiet enough.”
Rayne nodded distractedly. His stomach ached and he just wished it would stop. He was shaking almost incessantly.
“I didn’t realise you were so bad,” Aldo murmured, reaching over to stroke a wisp of hair back from his face.
Rayne pushed his hand away automatically.
“Don’t touch me.”
“I’m not the one doing this to you,” Aldo said defensively.
“It’s your fault!” Rayne croaked, refusing to even look at him. “I thought you were my friend. I thought I could trust you, but you’re worse than any of them!”
“I don’t know how you can say that,” Aldo argued. “I was there for you. I came looking for you. I stood up to McNamara over you and I lost my job for you, so don’t even start accusing me of treachery!”
Rayne’s head turned smartly and his pale green eyes sought Aldo’s face at once.
“He dumped you off the film?” the boy asked, shocked by this revelation. “Why?”
“Because… because I let you disappear that afternoon when Christophe…” Aldo swallowed, unable to complete the statement. He rubbed at his forehead as if it ached. “He told me not to come back unless I found you. I didn’t find you in time. Now he’s angry because you would not talk to the police… something to do with his insurance, I think. That’s why they went to Marseilles, to talk to the money men.”
“Arsehole!” Rayne muttered, shaking his head and huddling back beneath the duvet as he tried to stop his teeth chattering.
“Me or him?” Aldo wanted to know.
“B-b-both of you!”
“I thought you were in love with him,” Aldo said coldly.
“I told you before and I’m telling you now, I was not and I am not in love with P J fuckin’ McNamara!” Rayne felt his voice break and he hugged the pillow more tightly to his chest and belly, rocking himself furiously. “Why did you tell Ant what happened?”
For a moment Aldo was silent, then when Rayne uncurled enough to peer at him curiously, he let out a shuddering sigh.
“He thought that we did it to you,” the Italian youth exhaled. “He really believed that we took turns with you then they sent me back with you once you were beyond… use.”
Rayne closed his eyes and uttered a little huff of impotent disbelief.
“He is ‘such’ an idiot! I ‘told’ him that wasn’t what happened!”
“You can imagine what P J would have done to him if he had gone around to the boat and started making such an accusation?” Aldo said wearily.
“Yeah… I can imagine.” Rayne rolled slowly and cautiously onto his back. His spine felt as if it was trying to dig into his guts. He moaned involuntarily at the pain.
“Phil had already told me the truth,” Aldo said in a quiet voice. “He did not promise to you that he would not tell me, only that he would say nothing to Ant or Paddy. He did not ‘want’ to tell me, Rayne. I made him do it. Then I told Ant because I did not want to see P J beat him to a pulp. He is a fool, but he does not deserve that.”
“Don’t talk about him like that. He’s a better man than you,” Rayne informed him in a low, warning tone.
Aldo shrugged and looked away. He was hugging himself as if he was cold.
“I went to the villa the other night,” he said distantly.
“What villa?” Rayne tried to sit up but he was still shaking too much to make a proper job of it. At last he compromised by propping himself on one elbow. Already he was beginning to shiver again, even though it was a swelteringly warm night. He could not understand why Aldo felt cold though.
“The place where they took you when Christophe kidnapped you,” Aldo elaborated, his eyes suddenly very dark and serious. “I went there and I hammered on the door until they let me in. I managed to land a good few punches on that bastard before his muscle boys pulled me off him. I wish I could have killed him with my bare hands!”
This time Rayne managed to sit upright. His head was pounding and he really did not feel well at all but he could not believe what he was hearing.
“You fucking maniac!” he yelped. “This is ‘exactly’ what I didn’t want! ‘This’ is why I asked Phil to keep his mouth shut. You and Ant and P J, you’re fuckin’ testosterone driven lunatics! What did he do to you?”
Aldo looked somewhat abashed but he unfolded now and peeled off his sweater carefully. Rayne put a hand over his mouth, feeling the bile rise in his throat as the Italian uncovered the deep, raw stripes and vicious bruises on his back and torso. He had been whipped hard enough to draw blood, but they had not touched his face at all. Rayne swallowed hard, not sure whether to cry or throw up.
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