Aaron fidgeted with his nails. He cast a timid glance at the broad-shouldered man in the dark corner of the cell block who was shoving something into someone's hands. Strands of greasy hair fell past his face. There was something unsavory about him.
He tried to swallow the knot in his throat, but it was as if a coarse rope was wound around his ribs, tightening with each breath.
Why are you hesitating? You have nothing left to lose.
He knew it didn't matter whether he stepped towards the man with his head held high or bowed. They didn't respect him anyway. He was like an object belonging to Moloch—that was all he was.
Aaron couldn't find his dignity either, his head felt too heavy to lift. He shuffled towards the man who was now alone. Every movement took him a hell of an effort—though that could be said of anything he did. Whether he had to shove a spoonful of soup in his own mouth or ask someone for poison, both seemed to be an impossibly large task. Aaron sketched Rick's face in his mind—his sweet smile, the undying twinkle in his eyes. He was doing this for him. If Aaron didn't take action himself, he was afraid his boyfriend would do something stupid. Or that the darkness would swallow him and he would give up and surrender to peaceful nothingness. Something that might give him liberation, but which would mark Rick for life.
Shoes came into his field of vision. He had reached the man. Inch by inch, his gaze crept up, until it rested on the prisoner's hairy chin.
A snort sounded. Maybe there was even a hint of hesitation. "What do you want, kid."
Aaron's lips parted, yet no words came. Why would he want to help me? A shaky sigh arose, but just like his words, it was stopped by a blockade. His fingers bent, nails pressing into his flesh. Again he imagined Rick's face, it soothed him a little. "I..." He took a deep breath as his voice trembled. He had to pull himself together and be sure of this. He forced his gaze further up until he found icy blue. "I've heard you can smuggle thingsin."
"I might." The man looked at him appraisingly. "What do you want, kid?" His lips curled into a disdainful grin. "Extra lube?"
Aaron's stomach cramped. He turned his head away. This guy was barely better than Moloch himself. "Mateo said... Mateo said you could get me nightshade." He didn't know if Mateo would appreciate him mentioning his name, but he hoped it commanded a little respect.
"Nightshade?" The man let out an incredulous chuckle.
Aaron's gaze shot up. His jaw tightened. Something rebellious that he thought the countless rapes and beatings had torn apart, awoke inside him. "Yes, nightshade. A poisonous plant."
"And what do you plan to do with it?"
Aaron did not flinch at the man's inquisitive gaze. If the guy doubted he would use it, he wouldn't take any risks for him. He had to convince him he wanted this. "What do you think I'm going to do with poison?"
"With all due respect kid—but I'd rather not deprive Moloch of his toy. I plan to get out of here one day—and not in a body bag."
"It's not for me," Aaron muttered.
The man frowned slightly, studying his face. For a moment, hope flared up—then he started to laugh. "Poison is for pussies."
"Doing nothing too."
The laughter died away. The prisoner scanned the corridor before turning his gaze back to Aaron. "It won't be easy to lay hands on nightshade. How much will you pay="
Aaron bit the inside of his cheek. There were only a few hundred dollars in his account. He couldn't ask for help from his mother; she was already struggling financially. "Three hundred," he muttered.
"And someone can transfer it to my account within a few days?"
No. He could only arrange that once he was out. If he said so, however, this man would never cooperate. "Yes," he lied. Maybe he could make a deal with Mateo. He did have contacts outside, that's how he got things done here all the time. Maybe he could borrow the money from him.
"Alright then. We'll make it four hundred." A grin came to his lips, sending a sting through Aaron's stomach. "And I want a ride."
"A ride?" he asked, confused.
"I want a ride on that curly friend of yours."
Sweat prickled his neck. What was he saying? That he... that he wanted to have sex with his boyfriend? Frantically, he shook his head. "I don't know if I understand you correctly, but you will stay away from Rick."
The man chuckled. "Then we don't have a deal."
"But... I have money..."
Shrugging shoulders were the only response he got. "Can't do much with money around here. But pounding into an ass like that... it will be like screwing a bitch. And that's been a few years, y'know?"
"No= Do you want to get rid of your cellmate or not?"
Aaron breathed in sharply. Of course he did. But Rick... No, he didn't even consider it. He bent his head, his insides squeezing together. "You can have me," he whispered.
The man snorted, "That abused hole of yours can probably hide a whole bulldozer. I want curly. It's all or nothing, kid." The corner of his mouth curled up again. "And if it's nothing, I'll tell your cellmate what you're up to."
Aaron's bottom lip began to tremble. He would never let anything happen to Rick. But what was he supposed to do now?
"Let me know when I can borrow your little friend." With a firm shove against his shoulder, the man walked past him.
A tear rolled down his temple. What kind of hell had Rick and he ended up in where people were making such disgusting demands? For a very long time, Aaron didn't know how to keep his head above the water anymore.
Once again, what he feared had happened: hope had blossomed and was crushed again.