Tristan hunched his shoulders, hearing a cough of disgust, suddenly feeling self-conscious. When the presence stepped closer, releasing a quick sniff and scoff, he tried to shrink further, his spine hitting the back edge of the void. Having someone else here shrunk the black space and forced the walls to close in.
The presence was silent, but he could feel it. He could feel the loathing sucking what little air was in the room. His fingers curled into the floor, knuckles scrapping the ground like the paws of a beaten dog. He must look so pathetic to this silent stranger staring down at him, crust coated lashes fluttering before his eyes closed and finally his voice crackled out of his chapped lips, “Who…?”
The stranger in the void released another scoff, disdain dripping out like venom from his lips, “Officer ‘Dickhead’, boy.”
Tristan would laugh if not for his thrashed throat. Instead, he released short cough, his chest puffing in and out as he hacked out guffaws.
They sounded like hoarse barks.
As spit escaped Tristan’s mouth, the officer who obviously loathed him spoke. “Maybe ‘dog’ is more appropriate.”
Tristan clenched his teeth, his chest heaving. Even in the darkness, he swore he could see that blond fucker smirking, “Why are you here?” His tongue and throat were coated with acid; he tasted burning flesh.
The officer stepped closer, hard soled loafers getting louder. Tristan’s eyes opened and with a squint he saw the fuzzy silhouette of the man bending down, just enough to set a covered porcelain plate on the ground.
Tristan hissed as he stretched out his hand, fingers shaking as he grasped the handle of the cover. If only the prick wasn’t here, he wouldn’t hate how weak he was. If it was anyone else, he would not give a shit about his state. Anyone but this asshole. He lifted the cover with a grunt, and the smell wafted out with the subtlety of a truck. His stomach was trying to chew itself free in order to engulf the succulent meat marinated in savory sweetness. He lowered his head, his eyes zoning on the food, seeking the sight of it within the dark. A detail that overtook the edible luxury before him.
The plate was not its usual silicon or plastic.
It was burnt orange with gold trim coiling along the delicate and thin edge. Porcelain in the colors of the sun graced Tristan with its presence and his heart clenched.
His fingers gently curved around the edge and he shivered, shaking his throbbing head, “I thought…you would’ve knocked me out first.”
The officer snorted, and when the prisoner looked up, he could see nostrils flare derisively. “I thought you’d be a corpse already.”
He barked out a cough, spit trailing from his lip. The food was making his mouth water, but the porcelain kept him focused. “She promised…that she wouldn’t kill me.”
Tristan heard a low snarl from the officer and that loathing emanating from the man tightened around his neck like a noose. “Of course she did. Death is too good for you.”
“You deserve to rot.”
He sniffed, pushing his chest up as he dragged his palms towards his right knee and left stump, “De-demoted to serving me food? You must hate-hate this.” He barked out another cough, shards of glass scraping his throat, “You could have…given me something to drink.”
“You can drink piss for all I care.”
Another hoarse, barking guffaw, followed by a pained hiss, escaped Tristan’s gravel throat. “You r-really don’t like me.”
That was an understatement.
The silence that followed was heavy, and his skin prickled with bumps.
The officer loathed him.
He felt it when the prick pistol whipped around him. He could feel it in how the corrupt cop shoved his face to the floor, the barrel of a Glock 19 pressing against the back of his head. Tristan certainly could see it in those violet eyes when the asshole confronted Ira and regarded him as little more than an overused vibrator.
When Ira eviscerated him, the officer observed with gleeful amethyst eyes.
“If you…knew who my date was at the flower shop—”
A snarl was his answer. “I would’ve arrested you as an accomplice and then paid some gangsters in the holding cell to kill you.”
Tristan lifted the plastic fork, swirling the meat with the honey dripping from sweet potatoes and carrots. His stomach roared, but as usual, he did lower himself to eat. Not yet. “Seeing what happened to Daniel and-and Eric, she would’ve leveled the city.”
“Maybe, but that would’ve been better than watching her disappointment.”
He must mean me…
The edges of his lips cracked as Tristan managed a pained smirk, “Pretty sure I didn’t dis-disappoint her where it counted.” He leaned back on his knee, spreading his right leg and left stump just enough to make his point.
Tristan’s pleasure at seeing those brooding eyes narrow faded with the dark-clad officer’s words, “Ira is beautiful and rich. You and your dick are easily replaced, dog.”
“She won’t re-replace me.”
He twitched, tensing as the shade of the officer whistled.
The sound was a knife running up Tristan’s spine, and the cop spoke at the rhythm of a metronome. “She hasn’t come to see you in a long time, has she?”
That baritone stabbed in one lung, causing Tristan to curl inwards. “I can feel her. On-on the other side of the wall. She-She was there.”
“Really? Because earlier this week, she met with the Anton Markov. You and Seraph hit one of Markov’s trafficking rings and yet he was boasting higher profits than before.”
It lowered and swung the other direction, digging into between Tristan’s ribs, “She loves me. She…she told me she will ne-never let me go—”
“Orosco’s firstborn presented her with a golden necklace, draped with pearls and diamonds, for their date.” Tristan could hear the pleased rumble in that voice. The officer chuckling at his increasing distress.
The metronome swung back to the other side, leaving lacerations, “The most-most terrifying woman in the world doesn’t care about that!” Tristan’s shout made his esophagus split open, a coughing heave of drool and blood hitting the floor as his voice dissolved to barks and whines, “She doesn’t care a-about money!”
Those footsteps march closely, steadily, evenly paced steps sending tiny vibrations up Tristan’s twitching stump, “She is terrifying. You were so stupid to hurt him.”
The officer didn’t have any power, yet Tristan’s head and chest fellow forward. His arms wrapped around his stomach, his coughing more violent as guilt, overwhelming guilt with honey-colored eyes slammed onto his shoulders, “I-I had to. I didn’t—” He sucked in a breath, and then another. His lungs, punctured by officer Dickhead’s woods, desperately craved air, “I had to escape.”
“Didn’t get very far.” The officer’s chiseled jaw came into view, along with that sneer, “How’s the leg?”
Through nothing but spite, Tristan lifted his head, eyes narrowed as his lips curled up, teeth bared. “Fuck off.” He shuddered, whimpering, “She-she is pun-punishing me. I-I get it. I do. This…” His left hand sat upon the stump, the mottled, loose skin molding to his grip, “I-I deserved this…but she loves me. She needs me.”
“She doesn’t even mention you.”
The metronome became a thin barbed wire, wrapping around his heart. Were those the officer words? He could hear them hissing and slithering along his mind. “I know she is out-out there. I know she is, I feel it, her warmth, I know it’s her!”
For a while, he heard nothing but a scoff from the darkness.
Yet through the silence, the fractured pieces of his mind filled in the blanks.
She left you here to suffer.
She left you here to rot.
She was never out there.
She would never wait for you.
You are nothing!
“I apologized to her. Again and again I apologized…” His fingers dug into the scar tissue at the end of his stump, nails scraping into the skin, bringing the pain he needed to the surface, “I’ll keep apologizing. Until she lets me out…until she sees me—”
“She doesn’t want to see you.”
Tristan’s bloodied nails gripped his hair, digging into his scalp as he shook his head. “Shut up! Shut the fuck up!”
“Sounds like you’re going rabid, dog.”
Tristan hated that voice. That voice that slithered with pride, watching the prisoner suffer. “She wants me. I know she does.”
The officer scoffed again. Tristan could hear the slight wrinkling of slacks, the hazy silhouette lowered to his lowly level, amethyst eyes narrowed with eyebrows raised, “No. She doesn’t. A legless piece of shit like you? She told us she is done wasting time.”
Tristan’s blue eyes watered, teeth biting down onto his bottom lip.
“You are so pathetic, hanging onto the idea that the Ira Dante would ever forgive you. She has put others through hell for threatening us. For threatening HER FAMILY.”
A family I rejected…
“She can’t keep me here! Not here! She loves me!”
“Are you sure? I listed several BETTER men she is seeing.” The officer leaned forward, gloved fingers tapping the rim of the ceramic plate. “You have nothing to give her.”
“Stop it. Stop it. I know she will come back. I know she loves me!”
The officer tsked, the side of his lips twitching along his perfectly dimpled jaw. “She doesn’t love you. She CAN’T love you. Do you know why?”
Ira’s voice growled through the inky blackness, coiling tightly around Tristan’s broken body. Words that hissed in response to every single apology that slip from his cracked and chapped lips.
“You are nothing.”
The cell, stark and empty except for the two men, suddenly flashed white. The light from the hall flickered off, sucked into Tristan’s hell. Officer Dickhead grunted in surprise, jumping up and stepping backwards as if he was struck by lightning. In that split moment, all he could see was pure white before darkness returned. The ceiling light, previously unused, had burst into sparks from the surge.
Blond lashes fluttered repeatedly as the officer blinked, his eyes struggling to adjust from the blinding light to sudden darkness. He cursed under his breath, rubbing his eyes before a sudden CRASH jerked his attention.
The squelching of meat and vegetable dripping onto the floor, and the splintered twinkle of shards were overpowered by a sharp whistling hiss. Bright, electric azure eyes were honed on the corrupt cop. Shocks rippled up and down Tristan’s spine as took hold of a large piece of the ceramic plate, dark burgundy oozing down against bright orange and golds. “I should kill you.”
Shocked violet eyes closed before opening, stoic calm settling over the officer. His spine straightened, shoulders relaxed. “But you can’t.”
Do you want her to hate you? Like your mother hated you?
The jolts, the current of hate, left Tristan as quickly as it came, his chin jutting up and down before he choked down on the sob, “I…I’ll prove it. I’ll prove she loves me.”
“You’re so full of shit.” The officer’s nostrils flared up in disgust. “You can’t prove shit. Just do us a favor and die.”
Dying would be freedom.
Freedom from this hell.
This suffocating darkness.
But she won’t let me die.
If she loves me…
She would NEVER let me go…
“…I’ll prove it to you. She loves me. She will come for me.”
“And if she doesn’t?”
Scarred porcelain fingers tightened its grip around the shard, and with a deep wavering breath, Tristan dug the shard into his free wrist. Jagged edges sawed through skin, and bright red, followed by thick dark maroon streams gushed from torn arteries. “Then…” He squeezed just under the deep cut, “You get your fucking wish.”
It sickened him to see the smile along those hateful purple eyes and even when the officer turned away, his perfectly measured footsteps, that dark chuckle, remained, “Good boy.”