Status: My problem is that I think I'm funny but I'm also lowkey ***ed up. enjoy<3


chapter ten.


Chuck was certain he had completely lost Kiran after his little outburst last night, and waking to an empty guest bedroom led him to believe he was right. Then the lovely muffled sound of retching hit his ears and he sat up straight to see the door leading the bathroom was cracked ajar, but no light poured out into the dark room.

Chuck shifted to flick the bedside lamp on but was left to furrow his brows when his hand touched open air. The bedside table had been completely cleared off. He made a, “Hmm,” sound, turning his attention to the other side of the bed where Kiran should be sleeping, and triple-tapped the touch lamp to full volume.

As his eyes adjusted to the sudden light change, he froze.

It looked like a tornado had ripped straight through the bedroom.

For starters, the dresser, which was supposed to sit opposite the end of the bed, had been tipped on its side, with only one drawer still intact, though barely as it hung halfway open. Its contents hung limply, half out of it and on their way to the floor. The flat screen television that had been sitting on top of the dresser now resided on the other side of the room near the broken-in closet door, along with the rest of the dresser drawers.

Clothes laid strewn across the floor -- and upon closer inspection, as Chuck marveled at the amount of clothing he had boughten Kiran in these last few months, he popped his shoulders with an, “Oh,” seeing that the lamp on his side of the bed had been ripped so violently from the outlet in the wall that the plugs had been bent at an angle. It laid, neck snapped clear in half on the ground with bits and chunks of broken light bulb scattered around it.

Yep, he nodded to himself, he hates me.

And hearing the muffled sound of puking again, he figured Kiran also hated hard liquor with a passion.

He slowly scooted to the other side of the bed and slipped out from under the covers, knowing his side was not a smart choice. He peeked into the bathroom just in time to watch Kiran groggily lift his hand and groan as he flushed his dinner down the commode, never once breaking his embrace with the toilet bowl.

He suddenly slumped his back to the wall, his forehead in his palms. His stomach was in knots, his throat burned. The nausea was finally starting to calm down and after the long hour he spent violently hurling up stomach acid and pizza chunks, he was hoping it was all over -– but the bathroom door creaked open and a lanky silhouette stood out in the corner of his eye, and that was all it took for his body to lurch itself forward and continue to vomit into the toilet.

After a few painful gags, the puke quickly stopped coming out and he dry-heaved over the edge until he became aware of the horrible odor radiating out of it. Another gag and he pulled himself up, leaning his head back. It touched a towel hanging from the rack.

He stared at it and grabbed a corner, wiping it over his mouth.

Chuck stood in the doorway and scoffed lightly before handing him a stream of toilet paper. Kiran forced a smile, taking them. He held them over his mouth as he flushed the toilet. Chuck sat behind him on the edge of the tub.

The room continued to spin around him; he clamped his eyes shut and groaned, “God, it never fucking stops,” slouching forward. Chuck sat there a moment, leaning to place his hand on Kiran’s back.

“You alright?” he asked sheepishly.

Kiran tried to keep the attitude out of his voice and failed -- “Great.” He was met with silence. He slid Chuck a look. The light from the bedside lamp reached dimly into the bathroom and under that warm glow, they held each other in an impassive gaze.

Kiran sighed. “Well, at least you're a-okay. I don't see how -- I'd be in a fucking coma if I did that much coke.”

Chuck actually smiled. “Just another Monday night.”

“Don't know if I should be impressed or…”

Chuck popped a crooked smile and lightly knocked the tips of his toes against Kiran’s side.

“Well, I gotta be okay so I can take care of you.”

Kiran didn't bother to hold back the snort. “Did you not see the room?”

“I guess I felt like redecorating, huh?”

“You should see the rest of the house.”

Chuck began to speak but lost the sentence in a sigh. He suddenly couldn't bring himself to look at Kiran. He hated that he couldn’t look Kiran in the eye. He crossed his arms, sucking air in through his teeth. He shook his head, only able to meet Kiran's eyes fleetingly.

“I'm sorry, angel,” he murmured softly. “You deserve better than that.”

Damn right, I do.

“You are better than that,” Kiran mumbled back, “when you're sober. When you're anything else, you're the Devil himself.”

Chuck snorted. “I should probably lay off the liquor for a while.”

“And coke,” Kiran added to the list. “...and heroin...meth…”

God. All of those combined -- no wonder he went on a rampage. Last time he mixed crack and meth, he went on a rape-pillage-and-plunder spree, which he barely came out of alive.

Chuck had fallen silent and Kiran tried to spark a new conversation, hating the tense, quiet air.

His hand was already outstretched before he mumbled, “Ya got a cigarette I can bum?”

Chuck looked from Kiran's hand to him and smiled. “Anything for you, angel.” He shifted to feel around his front pocket to find the half-empty pack in its rightful place. He pulled it into view and grumbled.

It had expectantly been smushed beyond repair.

He smiled when Kiran laughed.

“Any survivors?” he asked with a hacking cough. Chuck flicked the top back and tilted the pack side-to-side, inspecting purely through sight. He inched it towards Kiran and he pulled one from the pack. The one he pulled was slightly bent in several places but he's smoked cigarettes that had been snapped completely.

“Still good,” he nodded. “Got a light?” Chuck knocked it from the pack to light his cigarette, then Kiran's.

Kiran still had himself propped up against the toilet bowl. He inhaled a puff of smoke, slowly letting it out as his eyes dropped shut. He seemed to finally relax, and Chuck had a hard time tearing his eyes off of him.

He felt a smile try to creep onto his face.

He really was so beautiful. He was snarky little shit that didn't know when to shut his goddamn mouth -- that's evident from the state of the bedroom -- but there was something about him that made Chuck eager to overlook his clear authoritative problem.

God, what he would let this kid get away with, purely because he didn’t want Kiran wishing -- praying he was somewhere else, with someone else. The idea of anyone else having him, seeing his smile, hearing him laugh, moan, cry --

Chuck’s stomach tightened.

What the fuck is happening?

He pushed the cigarette between his lips and breathed in as much of the smoke as he could without choking and looking like an amateur.

He wanted the smoke to smother ass thoughts.

How could this one kid do that to him? This kid, nonetheless. Jamie didn't even mean shit to him and he's known him a hell of a lot longer and they've been through much more together. This wasn’t the first time he’s given Jamie an STD, or left him for someone else; they’ve always found a way back to each other.

For Jamie, it was out of the love he’d mistaken Chuck’s attention for. Chuck’s intentions were always much, much worse than he’d ever let on. Jamie never meant anything to Chuck. Why, oh why was Kiran any different? What the hell was it?

It took Kiran a while to realize he hadn't really started a new conversation, as they had continued to just sit in absolute silence.

He forced a tight-lipped smile.

“I never did thank you, did I?”

Chuck tilted his head, brows frilling. “For what?” he asked after a moment of silence.

Kiran lightly shrugged his shoulders, his smile falling back into a straight line. “For all you've done for me,” he said quietly. “For everything.” Chuck still sat there unresponsive, face impassive. Guilt pricked his brow and he averted his eyes, clearing his throat.

An apology stuck itself in the back of his throat, but his pride wouldn’t let him voice it.

“Baby,” he strained to murmur. “What…?”

Kiran scrunched his nose in attempt to stop his dumbass from making a snide comment, forcing himself to stick to the script he thought up while vomiting profusely, but as always, keeping his thoughts to himself was never an easy task.

“Apparently I'm ungrateful,” he answered the question Chuck had began to ask. “That was one of the main points of last night’s discussion. And it pains me to say it, but...ya gotta point.”

Just uttering those three words was almost enough to get him hurling again, but the statement had an edge of truth to it. Chuck’s done more for him than David ever would. They both offered him a place to live, and both came with their own catches, but Kiran preferred one client compared to one client every hour. David fed him with Poptarts and two dollar sandwiches from the local gas station. Chuck provides the three square meals a day with snacks in between and dessert was a guarantee. Not to mention all the things Chuck has bought him -- clothes, monthly data plans for his phone, the latest gaming systems...whatever he wanted, he was given. He never had to ask.

His life could be unimaginably worse, and Chuck offered him a bittersweet period of peace. The chance to relax and, to an extent, be a kid. Get the childhood and adolescence he was missing out on.

All this, and Kiran was still so ungrateful.

But Chuck continuing to sit there with his damn mouth shut made Kiran sigh and he addressed Chuck’s raised brow.

Kiran picked up where he left off with another sigh. “I...I shouldn’t have said no. I’m sorry for that. I was -- I was out of line.”

Chuck hated that his stomach turned. The thought of Kiran thinking he needed to apologize -- and if sex was why he was apologizing, that made a ball form in his throat. He really hadn’t done anything wrong. Chuck could even push aside his perverted primal urges to admit that. He broke their trust. He wrecked the room out of frustration and took it out on someone who didn't deserve it.

Chuck should be the one saying he was sorry, but he stayed quiet and Kiran kept talking.

He picked at his nails, finishing off the last of the cigarette. Dropping it into the toilet, he shrugged. “You did pay a hell of a lot of money...well, you know, for me. You didn’t do it out the hopes of a serious, committed relationship. You didn’t do it to get yourself a little boyfriend. You did it so you wouldn’t have to go to a whole ‘nother city for a booty call.”

Again, when he was met with silence, Kiran hesitated for a second and chuckled quietly.

He went on.

“I just…” Another pause as he chuckled awkwardly, already feeling his throat tense. He sat back so he wasn't confessing his vulnerabilities to the toilet bowl. “I never really had anyone ever...take care of me before -- my parents were dipshits; David’s an asshole, and I know, I know. I should know better than to latch on to the first person who treats me, well, like a person -- trust me, I thought I knew that better than anybody, but --” Kiran broke off to snort, saying, “I'm a idiot. You know that. I kinda just wanted to see how long it'd last. That was my bad.”

Chuck continued staring down at his burning cigarette. He ashed into the bathtub, bringing it slowly to his lips. He was in need of something much stronger to dull the inevitable migraine, but for the first time, the thought of alcohol made the headache worse.

A few long puffs and he finished his cigarette seconds after Kiran. He shook his head and flicked it into the wastebin. Chuck sighed and sluggishly brought his face up to look at Kiran. He offered him another cigarette, and they both lit up once again.

“Are you scared of me now?” Chuck asked, his voice husky.

Kiran handed him back the lighter to see him flicking his index and middle finger up and down, knocking the ashes from the tip of the cigarette into the tub.

He looked at his cigarette, took a drag and said, “Nah,” although a bit of him was.

Short chuckle. “Liar.”

“I don’t lie.”

“Liar,” Chuck sing-songed. “I've been around me when liquor and drugs are involved. I've seen the aftermath before. I see it right outside that fuckin’ door.”

“Then you should already know the answer.”

To think he once would've been delighted for the answer to be yes -- disgusting. Now don't go getting the wrong idea. He still loved knowing Kiran feared him, but he didn’t want Kiran knowing that.

“Is that really how it started? You turned me down and I went cuckoo?”

“Then you tripped over the table and I laughed, and then you flipped the table and threatened to kill me. Yeah, it kinda went downhill from there.”

Chuck squeezed his eyes shut, shaking his head in regret. He worked damn hard to get Kiran’s trust. It was gone now. “I am so sorry, angel,” he forced himself to say, ignoring how disgusted the apology made him feel. “You really don't deserve that. You've already been through enough assholes like that. You don't need it from me. Your life is gonna be different now. I promise.”

This was the second time he's gotten out of hand with Kiran while drinking, but he never took it so far as to hurt him. Every time he promised Kiran that no one was ever going to hurt him; he was safe with him, he may have said that for his own agenda, but looking at him now -- seeing the slight glimmer that had touched his eyes after hearing Chuck say that, he was willing to go out of his way to prove it.

Kiran's bottom lip quivered slightly. “Do you honestly mean that? Because if you don't mean that, if you don't have good intentions, just leave me alone. Don't lie to me. I'm so tired.”

“Of course I mean that, baby. Especially after last night. You deserve so much better than that. Listen...” Chuck joined him on the bathroom floor. He took Kiran’s free hand into his and brought it to his mouth, pressing soft kisses along Kiran's knuckles. “I'm done with that shit now. Liquor ain't ever done anything good for me. I'll just get high, I’m still a bit of an asshole, but liquor is what brings out the serial killer in me. Ask anyone.”

Now Kiran was the quiet one. Chuck laying off the liquor -- he was so full of it. If it wasn’t a bottle of beer in his hand, it was a mixed drink on the rocks. That was it. Never anything else.

“You're really going to stop drinking?”

“Baby, I will do anything I can to prove last night will never happen again.” He took the cigarette back into his mouth and shifted to run his hand over Kiran's tense back. “I meant it when I say you are safe with me. I, I kicked out one of my closest friends because he had hurt you. I haven't talked to him since. I’ve given you a lot, I’ve given up a lot for you. You think I’d really waste my money, my time on someone I didn’t give a damn about? I, I really care about you.”

So. Full of it.

Kiran's jaw clenched. He wanted to believe him. He wanted to believe he finally found a purpose in life and everything was different now, but he's learned that people don't change. No one has ever broken that sweet, innocent facade and then changed once they started treating him like shit.

Once abuse starts, it sticks. The only way he was going to get out of this relationship was in a body bag...or by bullshiting his way through it.

Kiran swallowed hard.

Chuck was relieved to see the soft smile slowly pulling at the corners of his mouth. Hopefully seeing how serious Chuck was being, the smile grew bigger.

“Really?” Kiran asked, almost like he still didn’t believe him, but Chuck nodded.

“Yes, angel.”

His smile spread wider and Chuck grinned right back, with maybe even bigger smile than his, when Kiran nodded, leaning forward to push his head onto Chuck’s shoulder.

He took a deep breath and breathed out his answer.


Nothing could even come close to describing the relief Chuck felt. He was so scared that he had lost him and all the progress they had made.

He had to do something to make Kiran think he was willing to change. He had to do something to prove just how far he'd go to protect him, to show what he was willing to sacrifice for Kiran’s sake.

The situation with Miguel had brought them so much closer, what else could?

This little talk seemed to get them back on track. He had Kiran right back where he wanted him.

He needed to keep it that way.


Kiran swept the last bit of glass into the dustpan, carefully dumping it into the black trash bag. He tied it up, giving one last check around the room. Feeling good about the work he and Chuck had gotten done in under an hour, he took the staircase down to the living room, reaching the bottom of the steps the same moment the sunroom's screen door opened.

Chuck eyed the bag. “That the last of it?”

“From what I can tell, yeah.”

Chuck took it from Kiran with a nod. He started to head back out onto the patio, but stopped, turning back to face Kiran. “I'm gonna go find a dumpster to throw all this shit in.” He paused and quickly made eye contact with Kiran. “Just somewhere in town -- Wanna go with me?”

The way Chuck asked, it was like he was asking him on date.. Kiran smiled.

“You mean I finally get to leave the house?”

Chuck had also started to smile, rolling his eyes. “Do you wanna go with me or not?”

Kiran continued to smile. He nodded. The occasional trip to the Goodwill for a new outfit was occasional indeed. The porch was really the farthest he had been allowed from the house since he's been here.

He was dying for a change in scenery.

Even the long stretches of farmland they passed on their way into town was refreshing, despite the fact that Chuck’s house was surrounded by acres of fields. Kiran did hope once they got out of the boonies, there’d be more of a city-feel but Covington was a without a doubt a real hick town. On their way in, they had to pull off to the side of the road not once but twice to let a horse and buggy pass. The streets were lined sparsely with humble, little houses. There was the random corner store here and there, with only one gas station at the center to service the vast population.

They passed by the Goodwill, pulling into the parking lot of a Dollar General. Chuck went around the back of the building, finding two large dumpsters near the employee entrance. He lined the bed of his truck up with the dumpsters. He put the clutch in park and hopped out, easily pulling the trash bags from the bed and tossing them into the trash receptacle, leaving Kiran to sit there with his mouth scrunched.

He didn’t even have the chance to unbuckle his seatbelt. What exactly was the point of him tagging along?

Chuck slid back into the driver’s seat; he wiped his hands against his thick denim jeans before slamming the door shut, reaching for the gear stick.

Kiran sat back, briefly raising his brows. “Glad I could help.”

Chuck didn’t hold back his laugh. “I gotta take my truck up to a friend’s. The radiator cap keeps popping off. He said he’d take a look. Figured you’d like to get out of the house and see someone besides me.”

“Oh. Okay. Sounds good.”

Although that wasn’t the response he thought he’d get, Chuck popped a shrug and shifted gears, getting the truck back out onto the main road. Frankly, Kiran wasn’t sure how to feel. Chuck appeared to be making a true effort at giving Kiran the life he had obviously been missing out on -- he was finally letting him out of the house, and to meet his friends, no less. The Fourth of July barbeque later today, he’d be able to go and meet more of his friends.

But were they people he’d want to meet? He already knows Chuck hangs around with the likes of David and Miguel, and what shining turds those two wound up being. Those other guys, the ones there the night Miguel had attacked him, they came across as sincere, caring people. Miguel had to be one of their good friends, too, and they were willinging to throw him out into the rain because of what he did.

Which category could this ‘friend’ fall into? Well, clearly, there’s no way Chuck would bring him around someone neither of them could trust, or someone that would possibly hurt him -- they had a conversation this morning regarding trust.

He had nothing to worry about. He repeated this to himself over and over but he couldn’t stop his heart from skipping a beat at the possibility.

Chuck wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t let anyone hurt him. He swore he wouldn’t.

They seemed to drive forever. It was evident this friend didn’t live in Covington, or in the adjacent city to it. They took the long, winding country road for a good thirty, forty minutes, and then, as it was when Kiran came to Chuck’s house for the first time, the empty acres between the houses grew larger and larger until they finally arrived at a secluded house.

It sat in such a peculiar location, just smack dab on a tiny piece of land, on an intersection surrounded by roads on every side, each trailing off into a new city.

Chuck pulled into the driveway and got out almost instantly. He came around to the passenger side and opened the car door for Kiran. Kiran stepped out, hesitantly following Chuck up to the front door.

This place...was disgusting. Honestly, it belonged on an episode of Hoarders. There was just so much shit strewn across the lawn and on the front porch. Dumb, useless shit, like handlebars, bicycles, and trash bags, and three different grills. It was like he had a yard sale, no one had bought anything, and he decided to keep everything out in case someone driving by saw something they liked.
Kiran couldn’t imagine how it looked inside -- or how this friend looked.

Nothing prepared him for the scrawny ass man who opened the door to greet them. He had to of been in his fifties, or his long greasy, grey hair and pale, wrinkly skin came swiftly upon him by stress. His fashion sense was very similar to Chuck’s. He wore a tattered black Harley Davidson muscle tee, baggy jeans, and steel toe work boots.

The man briefly nodded at Chuck when he greeted him but his eyes went straight to the young boy at his side. He held his hand out and didn’t wait for Kiran to meet him halfway.

“Tony,” he introduced himself as, shaking their hands eagerly.

Kiran forced an anxious chuckle but introduced himself, quickly shifting a look with Chuck to see he was rolling his eyes at Tony’s enthusiasm. He must be like this with everyone. Kiran had to yank his hand from Tony’s firm grip.

“Come on in!”

Chuck walked right passed Tony. Kiran stood there on the welcome mat. He hesitated under Tony’s creepy grin but was made to enter the house when Chuck impatiently snapped at him to hurry up.

Wow -- Kiran stood there in quiet disbelief, looking around as Tony hastley shut the door. It was dark as hell in here. The only source of light came from a tall lamp at the far end of the room, tucked behind the dungey, flea-ridden sofa. The amount of dust highlighted by the rays of sun ebbing through the paper-thin curtains -- Kiran could feel it working its way into his nostrils.

The walls were painted a deep blue that was peeling in several spots, and it had to be due to the awful stench that lingered in the smoky air. The cramped living room reeked of weed and cigars, and under that was a strange odor he couldn’t place but it burned his nose. Dog hair rooted itself in every nook and cranny of the house, and, like outside, random objects littered the floor and any counter space there happened to be.

How...could anyone live like this? Tony couldn’t have. He can’t really live here, can he?

A hand crept over Kiran’s shoulder and he quickly tried to rid the look of utter disgust from his face. His eyes locked onto Tony’s hand, then went to land on Chuck but he was nowhere to be found.

Kiran’s heart sank.

Tony lifted his hand towards the couch. “Go ahead -- sit, please.”

“I --”

“You’re outta beer?!” Chuck’s voice boomed from the kitchen. “The fuck?”

Kiran relaxed, seeing Chuck storm back into the living room. Tony tilted his head at Chuck, this look of confusion spreading over his face. Kiran turned his head fleetingly to scrutinize the sofa and conveniently missed the slanted look Chuck gave Tony.

It disappeared when Kiran looked back at Chuck. “I don't know how long this shit’s gonna take,” Chuck said, referring to his truck. “What the hell am I supposed to drink? Water?”

“Right,” Tony nodded, but he wasn't sure what Chuck expected him to say. “Uhm --”

“Here, how ‘bout this,” Chuck started back towards the front door. “You go take a look under the hood, and I’ll go get a six pack.”

And what do I do? Kiran nearly said aloud, but Chuck was already halfway out the door. He knew, if anything, he’d go with Chuck, right? But he didn’t say a thing to him, or give him a look that said ‘Well, let’s go,’ so Kiran spoke his question out loud as they both walked through the doorway.

“What -- ah, what do I do?”

Chuck already stood out on the porch. He shared another look with Tony, telling him to go ahead and check out the truck. He kept his stare trained on Tony before turning on his heel to speak lowly to Kiran.

“I need you to stay here and make sure his grummy fingers don’t steal anything from me. He’s my friend, sure, but he’s a bit of a klepto.”

He’s a thief and a creep. Great.

“Chuck,” Kiran trembled out, “The dude’s fuckin’ weird. I’m sorry, but he seems like a creep.”

He rolled his eyes. “Yeah, I know he is -- just ignore him.”

“No,” Kiran shook his head. He didn’t want to say it outright. “He seems really, really weird.”

“You just met him.”

“Yeah, and I’ve met enough men like him to know I should’ve brought my mace.”

“Kiran,” Chuck paused to laugh, slouching his stance. He closed the distance between them and cupped Kiran's face in his hands. His cheeks were turning flush red. Running his thumbs across Kiran’s temples, he could feel the blood pumping hard through the veins.

He was scared and verging on a headache.

Chuck tried again. He softly kissed Kiran's warm forehead. “Baby,” he began in a coaxing voice. “Please, please stop worrying. I would never let anything bad happen to you. I know he looks weird, his house is weird, but he's a good guy. I've known him since I was about your age. He wouldn't hurt you. Just...” He leaned down to press another kiss on to his nose. “Trust me. Okay?”

No. He just met Tony. He knows nothing about him.

“What do I do if he does try to take something?”

“Shoot him.”


Chuck smiled and Kiran returned it fakely. Chuck straightened his back.

“Want anything from the gas station?”


“Gotcha.” Before Chuck dipped back out onto the front porch, he stopped one last time.

“Kiran,” he said, the tone behind his words indecipherable, like he was had a hard time getting himself to believe what was about to come out of his mouth. “You’ll be okay,” he said. “I promise. I won’t let anything bad happen to you. Okay?”

Kiran held his stare and nodded. “Okay.”

“Alright. I’ll be back. Just text me.”

Just like that, he was alone. Chuck had shut the door on his was out, leaving him to stand anxiously in the dark room. He moved to the window, carefully pulling back the curtain to peek through the opening. Chuck lifted his hand to snatch a set of keys mid-air. They laughed something to each other. As Chuck disappeared inside the black car, Kiran focused on Tony. Instead of looking under the hood of the truck, he stood with his butt resting on the grill. He was fiddling around with his phone, and from the blurred features of Chuck’s face, he didn’t seemed too bothered by Tony not immediately getting to work.

They said something to each other one last time. Chuck backed the Toyota out onto the road and took a left turn.

Now Kiran really was alone.

Something...didn’t feel right.

Kiran looked back at the couch and cautiously took a seat. The old coffee table in front of him had tons of faded white lines streeping across it. That was an easy one -- cocaine. The table was missing a leg, and Tony figured a stack of magazines (with naked ladies on them) substituted just fine.

Kiran sat alone in the cramped living room for only a few minutes. He was blinded as the front door sprang open and in walked the person he was dreading to cross paths with again.

Tony steadied his gaze and it landed right on Kiran. The edges of his chapped lips curved upwards.

He chuckled. “Just you and I now, huh?” Shutting the door, he once again enclosed them in the dimly lit room.

At first, Kiran didn’t respond with anything other than a stiff nod. He forced himself to speak.

“Chuck said he'd be right back.”

Tony smiled down at his flip phone. He looked like he was finishing up a text. He snapped it shut. “Closest gas station is in Sidney. I know Chuck's an alcoholic, but driving twenty minutes to get beer is a little much -- in my opinion, anyway.”

Whoa, what -- hold up. Twenty….minutes?

Instead of joining him on the couch, Tony gestured towards the kitchen.

“Want somethin’ to drink? I got Mountain Dew.”

Kiran almost didn't hear him. He had, what, a minimum of forty minutes to be alone with this stranger? God damnit.

What had Tony said? Right, something to drink. Kiran's throat suddenly felt parched. He racked his brain for a response.

“Yeah -- thank you.”

“Not a problem, kiddo.”

He disappeared into the adjacent room. Kiran could hear the fridge open and close, and the sound of a bottle of pop fizzing open. Liquid poured, and then...silence. A very long, unnerving silence. Kiran strained, slouching back towards the kitchen slightly to see if his ears picked anything up -- he listened for the faintest noise; his psychotic, anxious brain waited for the *ploop!* and fizz of a pill being dropped in, the vigorous stirring to dissolve it, but there was silence.

All he could hear was his heart pounding through his eardrums.

Tony’s abrupt sigh amped Kiran’s nerves and he tried as hard as he could to relax but his body trembled against every breath he took.

Calm the fuck down.

The cupboard door opened again and glasses clanked. The liquid was poured, it stopped, then went again. He popped the two liter back into the fridge. Kiran tried to look as casual as he could as Tony waltzed through the doorway and joined him on the couch. Kiran was handed a glass cup that Tony clearly had to of gotten from Disneyworld, or maybe he just had a thing for Mickey Mouse.

“There ya go.”

Tony’s Mountain Dew sloshed around in a large plastic cup. The words ‘Wilson Health’ were printed on the side. The hospital in Sidney. Which was twenty minutes away.

He murmured a thank you to Tony, staring down at his drink. There wasn’t any excess bubbling or a gelatinous residue at the bottom of his glass, at least not that he could see. The dimly lit room wasn’t helping.

Kiran failed at taking in a steady breath. He need to calm down. He was surely overthinking this. He was trapped in the PTSD way of thinking, but who could blame him. No, not everyone was out to hurt him. Not everyone wanted to hurt him like that. He knew he wasn’t anything special. He knew that. Not every man was a perverted, rapist creep, and he shouldn't be so judgemental over someone he's never met before.

Tony could just be a sweet old man who has the unfortunate fate of resembling a gremlin.

Or he’s a rapist…
Stop that.

Kiran shook his head, absentmindedly bringing the glass of Mountain Dew to his mouth. The rim of his cup touched his lip, and that was all it took for paranoia to rev its engines once more, and he stopped short, darting his eyes to Tony's drink. Their drinks appeared to be identical. They had the same amount of bubbles fizzing throughout. Both were a wonderful shade of highlighter-piss yellow.

Just then, Kiran noticed a slight glint on Tony's top lip. He slyly inspected Tony's cup to see the ripples of liquid trailing up the side, like he had already taken a sloppy sip, but Kiran knew he hadn’t seen him drink from his cup yet.

That's probably why he took so long in the kitchen. He glugged half his drink and had to refill the glass. Duh.

Then again, he had no way of knowing for sure. Kiran sat his glass down on the coffee table. He wasn't going to drink it. It was better to be safe than sorry. He knew better. He’s been roofied more times than he can remember -- no horrid pun intended.

Tony traded his phone for the television remote, popping the TV on to fill the awkward silence. Kiran had never been so indulged in an IKEA commercial before, and Tony could tell he was trying hard to avoid any conversation, not that he cared. Chuck had so kindly given them this time alone to get to know each other. He didn't want to waste it.

Speaking of…

“So, how do you know Chuck?”

Kiran suddenly couldn't remember the lie Chuck made up for him to tell.

“He's pretty good friends with my Dad,” Kiran said, shrugging. “I guess they're, like, they go hunting a lot.”

It seemed good enough for Tony to believe. “What's your dad's name? Maybe I know him.”

“I mean...maybe you do. His name is Richard.” Kiran had never met a Richard in his life.

“No,” Tony shook his head, taking a long gulp of the soda. “Doesn't ring a bell. And I know a lot of people,” he boasted and chuckled. He set his drink onto the table and turned more towards Kiran. “You see, I've been in prison basically all my life -- just got out, heh -- and you meet a lot of people there. Basically anyone I know, I met doing time. I know it's the same way with Chuck. His friends are my friends. Mine are his...”

Tony's stream of information took a couple seconds to run through Kiran's ears. He had this lovely thick hick drawl and he spoke unnaturally fast.

A particular sentence stood out to him and Kiran narrowed his brows.

“Wait, what? Chuck's...been in…?”

“Oh, man!” Tony laughed a little too hard, looking somewhat proud. “He’s done it all.” Yup, he sounded impressed. “We basically grew up together. I met Chuck when I was transferring from juvie to county. It was his, I think, second time in juvie. He really was just a kid -- twelve, thirteen at the time. We bunked together in county a few -- oh, god, who knows how many times over the years until I got convicted one time too many and went to prison. Pretty sure it was the summer after that, that Chuck ended up doing hard time.”

Kiran sat there there with raised brows as Tony spoke, the shock ringing clear on his face -- he was somehow in disbelief. Of course Chuck had a criminal record. His drug and alcohol problems had to clash nicely with his anger issues. Now Kiran was very intrigued to know what that felonious past contained, albeit a little afraid to have any suspicions confirmed at the same time.

It was a lot to take in, but Tony had no problem continuing on, despite Kiran sitting there like a bewildered deer in the headlights.

“See, that's why I'm surprised I don't know your dad. Like I said, Chuck's friends are my friends. My friends are his. We know all the same people. When jail and prison is all you ever really know, you don't have time to meet other people. What does your dad do? Where's he workin’?”

Kiran struggled to think of an occupation. Feeling rushed to answer, he thought of his actual dad.


Tony wasn't expecting a career title, let alone that one, and Kiran knew he should've thought more before he answered.

Could felons even have careers?

Tony laughed. “Well, damn! If they do know each other from jail or whatever, at least he's doing better than anyone else who's done time. Good for him.”

On behalf of his imaginary father, Kiran said, “Thanks.”

Tony was chuckling again and they sat quietly for a few moments. Tony took the liberty of starting the new conversational topic.

“So, how old are you anyway?”

Kiran found himself naturally hesitant to answer. The only people to ever ask him his age immediately seemed to get so turned on by how young he was, they’d rape him. There were the few that would’ve preferred it if he was at least eighteen, but usually the Power of Boners prevailed so that was a very rare occurrence.

Kiran tried to mentally assess how his answer could impact his likelihood of danger, as he has done so many times since he's walked into this house -- as he has done more times in the past year than he could count. It was an instinct now.

First, Tony's age. Kiran first made him out to be in his fifties, but he knew Chuck was in his mid-thirties. Tony said they basically grew up together, with Chuck meeting him at about thirteen when Tony was leaving juvie, making him at least five years older, right, putting him in the early to mid-forties.

He wasn't an old geezer like Kiran had hoped. He didn't feel like he had his youth and speed against him. If anything, his age scared him even more. Forties to fifties was the average age range of his clients. The more violent, entitled douchebags being between thirty and forty.

Tony was, in a number of ways, like Chuck. He was tall but incredibly thin and lanky. Kiran still knew from experience that the size of a person didn't mean shit. Take last night for an example, the damage Chuck did to the bedroom and patio. Kiran remembered the strength behind that bony fist.

It suddenly occurred to Kiran that he wasn't going to get a clear cut analysis. The truth was that he had no idea who he was up against, nor the caged beast lurking patiently inside this older man. Kiran also was made aware that his quick little mental assessment wasn't all that quick, and he really had been sitting there like an idiot, staring intently at the wall behind Tony.

Tony erupted in laughter, startling Kiran.

“What?” Tony gawfuled. “Did you forget or something?” He continued to laugh, shaking his head. His amusement slowly died down and he looked at Kiran with a slanted eye. He was still smiling. “Listen,” Tony said, “I know you can't be that old. I know Chuck likes 'em pretty young, so you're what -- you look...fourteen, maybe fifteen. Which is it?”

His mental assessment was for absolutely nothing. Kiran lowered his eyes in embarrassment and fabricated an anxious chuckle.

“Ah, no, I was just...Sorry. I'm about to turn sixteen, actually, in --...” He was about to tell him his birthday was two months away, but stopped abruptly.

Did he really just say…? His heart jumped in his chest.

“I, uh, what did you say... about Chuck?”

“Well,” Tony paused to gestured to Kiran. “I'm not wrong, am I?”

“I'm sorry,” Kiran tilted his head, playing dumb. “I'm not sure I...understand what you mean by that.”

Tony smile turned sly and that pushed the panic button. He simply repeated his statement. “I’m not wrong. You know what, here. I'll be honest with you. I know exactly how you know each other -- you and Chuck.”

“He…” Kiran had to take a breath and count to five. “He told you?”

How many other people knew? Like Kiran mentioned before, he already knew Chuck hung around people who enjoyed their alonetime with minors a bit too much. It was only a matter of time before the wrong person heard and wanted in. That’s what happened with Miguel, right? How else did he know Kiran was sleeping upstairs? How’d he even know Kiran was staying with Chuck? There wouldn’t be any other reason for him to go up there. Either Chuck told him, or David...

Why would Chuck tell Tony anyway? Were they that good of friends? He had never heard Tony mentioned before; he’s never come over. Why would he tell Tony, and then leave Kiran all alone with him? Why did he get such a damn attitude when Kiran said Tony gave him nothing but weird vibes?

Tony shifted in his seat to fiddle something out of his back pocket. A container of dipping tobacco. He twisted the lid, got himself a healthy chunk, and stuffed in between his bottom teeth and his cheek.

“We tell each other pretty much everything,” Tony said, the wad of dip muddling his speech. He took a sip of his drink and cleared his throat.

Kiran swore he stopped breathing. He wanted in on it. That’s the only reason he’d bring it up. The way he said it -- he knew ‘exactly’ how they knew each other. He had the most disgusting smirk on his face.

“Alright, here,” Tony started again, “I’ll be honest with you again -- you wanna know how I got stuck in prison for, shit, almost fifteen years?”

Even though Kiran didn’t look like he wanted to know, and made absolutely no indication that he was at all curious, Tony kept on going, letting it all out in a couple paragraphs with minimal to no dialogue tags.

“I’m kinda fucked up, I guess. I wasn’t always, though, y’know, and I don’t really understand how I got this way. I didn’t have an awful childhood. It was lonely...and hard, but I mean, I was never molested,” -- uh, excuse me? -- “or beaten, or anything like that. My mama was a hardass, yeah. She was like a battleship with her guns ablazing. My father was always gone. He couldn’t ever keep a job, and my family -- my sister and my brother, my mom, we moved around a lot so he could find work, but he never did stay anywhere. When I was twelve, we had to go live with my gramma. About a year later…”

This was the first breather Tony took. The sentence caught in his throat as the exact memories he’d been trying to repress for years started to work their way up.

He sighed and picked back up where he left off.

“About a year later, my folks divorced...”

No. His stomach tightened and he botched the rest of his sentence. He refused to dwell any more on the subject.

“Y’know, I was one of the first boys in my class to hit puberty. I was the biggest kid in the class. I was 6 feet tall and I had hair on my legs. The teacher never let me sing because of my voice. I guess it was pretty deep…”

He trailed off again, but this time with a laugh. He latched onto a new memory. A happier memory. His eyes glazed over and his smile was almost infectious.

“The first time...I had sex…”

Kiran raised his brows at Tony. Why the fuck are you telling me this? His heart was already pounding like a drum. The anxiety worsened at who Tony claimed to be his first sexual partner.

“ was with this boy; he was a year younger than me. I was fourteen. He had the darkest eyes I had ever seen. They were so beautiful. He was so beautiful. We only did it the one time, but it was, it was everything. Everyone else grew up and started being interested in boys and girls their own age, I just kinda...was only attracted to younger boys, like thirteen, fourteen. I don’t know why. I knew it wasn’t normal. I never told anyone. Since then, I’ve had sex once with an adult, and it was just so boring, y’know? I hated it.”

This man was almost fifty and had only slept with someone his own age once. Kiran doubted he had been celibate the whole time. That meant...pedophilia. Molestation. Rape.

The look of bewilderment Kiran attempted to suppress sprang through with no trouble. He closed his eyes and tried to breath, his jaw clenching.

Where could this conversation go…

Nowhere where Kiran wanted it to go, that’s for damn sure.

Tony looked down at his hands and shrugged. “I do still have these...dark thoughts about younger boys, and I sort of, when I see a young boy, I have a clear measure of their attractiveness; there are only a few features that a kid can have that are particularly appealing to me -- dark brown eyes, dark brown or black hair. Their skin can be whatever color, but Alex was really pale. I think that’s what I base it off --- him.”

He snatched the chewing tobacco up from the table. He poked another decent sized dollop into his mouth.

Unfortunately for Kiran, he still wasn’t done with his backstory.

“There was this...broad I was gettin’ with -- had to be about twenty years back. It was this on-and-off type of thing for about five years. When I met her, she had this beautiful little boy. He was around nine then. He was pretty young for me, but...he looked like Alex.”

Tony noticed Kiran shift uncomfortably at the mentioning of her son’s age, but as long as he had someone here to listen to him, he was going to take advantage of that.

“When his mom and I started seeing each other, I had been out of prison for two years, and I was a registered sex offender, not that she knew that. He was what got me convicted again. His mom caught us together and she just lost it. She found out that I was dating her to stay close to him. I got served fifteen years for him and for a couple other boys that came to light after I got caught. The prison system sucks when it comes to helping guys like me and Chuck in prison. They don't let you see a therapist and the only time they offered me a therapist is when I got out and I had to accept because it was mandatory.”

There he goes again -- bringing Chuck into this disgusting conversation.

Wait, did that mean Chuck was in prison for…?

Tony had taken a second to hold his cup to his mouth, but instead of drinking from it, he spit his tar-colored saliva into it. It took a couple spit-takes to get rid of all the excess spit, and both the sight and smell turned Kiran’s stomach.

Hoping to speed up the process, Kiran decided to briefly participate in the conversation.

“Does it help at all? The therapy?”

Tony looked up and popped a crooked smirk. He hocked one more loogie. “I don’t know yet. My first session is Friday.” He lightly shrugged his shoulders, shaking his head. He set his cup down. “I’ve had a lot of nasty thoughts, but I haven’t acted out yet. I mean, then again, I just got released Saturday morning, so it’s only been a couple days. I haven't even left the house. I know I can’t go out in public and be around children without having more...sick thoughts about what I’d do to them if I had them alone. The only person I’ve talked to, the only person who understands is Chuck. We used to talk a lot, like penpals, and he told me all about you.”


Kiran’s back met the couch cushions as he leaned against it for support. He had so much he wanted to say but the words wouldn’t come out.

He wanted to kill Chuck. He was in denial when Tony first had said anything. He still couldn’t get himself to believe it. Chuck wouldn’t do that. He wouldn’t go and -- why the fuck would he tell this creepy fuck of all people? Why would he leave him alone with this fucking creepy fucking fuck?

He knew Tony had this side to him. They went to jail together, prison, yet he told him about their relationship, and then left them alone.

Why would he do that?

“When did he tell you...about us?”

“It was back when you two first met,” Tony said, nodding, “...about a year ago, I think.”

A year ago? He started working for David last October. The only encounter he remembers ever having with Chuck was a little over a month ago, when he came into the night club, apparently fell in fuckin’ love, and decided he was going to spend an unfathomable amount of money so he could ‘own’ him.

Tony blabbered on. “...You got fucked up pretty bad, right? And he was your ‘knight in shining armour,’ and he got you all better. The way he described you, it was the same way I felt when I first saw Alex. It’s like this type of thing. He knew you were going to be very special to him, and I can tell you are very special to him.”

He said it like Kiran should be jumping for joy -- ‘Yay! A pedophile thinks I’m special!’

Tony continued to prove he didn’t have a problem carrying on with the one-sided discussion. Kiran’s been fairly quiet and Tony could understand why he was so uncomfortable with the subject. There was a naive part of him that expected Kiran to be more responsive, be more like Chuck was, and they’d be able to bounce dialogue back and forth with each other.

He was really interested in hearing Kiran’s take on his relationship with Chuck.

Shit, he wanted in on their relationship.

“Y’know,” Tony began slowly, feigning apprehension with what he was about to divulge next. “You’re the first child I’ve been around in over fifteen years. Did you know that?”

Kiran pressed his index and middle finger against the bridge of his nose. He squeezed his eyes shut and sighed again.

Tony added quickly, “It ain’t been too bad.” Then he contradicted that statement right away. “I mean...I’ve had a couple bad thoughts about you, but nothing I can’t handle. I know I got a little too excited when you first got here. I didn’t like that you looked scared of me. I thought about putting something in your drink, but I know that’s bad.”

Kiran glared daggers at his cup of Mountain Dew.

“I know Chuck would kick my ass if I tried to drug you, and he’ll be back soon anyway. And that's boring. It’s boring if you just lay there -- but I wanted to prove something to myself, that I can be around young boys and not act on my impulses.” While that last sentence had an hint of truth to it, Tony was a-okay with relapsing. Chuck even gave him the thumbs-up to use Kiran in case he were to slip.

As he gave Kiran an agonizingly slow look-over, his eyes taking in every detail they could find, Tony could feel his chest tighten.

It’s been fifteen years.

He shook his head.

“But it’s hard,” Tony admitted, almost breathlessly. “I know how you and Chuck know each other, and I want to know you like that too, or just...someone, anyone. I used to think he was so lucky to have you. You’re always there when he gets home from work, when he gets up in the morning. You’ll always be there for him. He doesn’t have to worry about your parents finding out and snitching on him to the police, or them wondering where you are and filing a missing person’s report. And you wouldn't tell anyone, because you want it too. You will always be there when he needs you. I want that more than anything. I had that, but then his mom ratted me out.”

Tony took in a shaky breath as he fell silent. He pressed his fist to his mouth. His knuckles were turning white, his hand was trembling.

He said again, “It’s really hard.”

That did it -- that slammed the panic button.

“Can I use your bathroom?” Kiran asked abruptly before his heart exploded out of his chest.

The two stared at each other for a beat. Tony’s gaze was sharp and assessing. “I am scaring you, ain’t I?” He scoffed, glowering his face. He shook his head. “This is why I should only talk to Chuck. He gets it. I thought you’d understand, too.”

“No, no, I just…” Kiran swallowed. He composed himself. “I’ve been holding it since this morning before we left. It has nothing to do with you. You’re doing really good. I can’t imagine how tough it is for you.”

Tony’s eyes glared up. HIs brows relaxed as he nodded. “Yeah, it is tough. I knew you’d understand.”

“I do,” Kiran said, nodding frantically. He stood from the couch. Tony mimicked his actions, raising up into a standing position. Kiran looked down at the ground behind him and took a step back. Tony once again followed suit.
Kiran squeezed his hands together. He took another step back. “You’re doing really well,” he continued to boast.

The look in Tony’s eyes -- good God. He nodded back at Kiran.

“I am.” Now he was staring down at the ground. He muttered, this time with much more confidence, “I am.” Tony took a deep breath, looking past Kiran. There was a slightly ajar door near the kitchen. The door that led to the bathroom.

Tony sucked at his cheek, the bitter taste of the tobacco coating his tongue. He turned his head, peering over his shoulder. Kiran, too, stared down the dark hallway and when he met back up with Tony’s leering gaze, he had that strange look on his face again.

“Here, I’ll show you where the bathroom is.” Tony turned on his heel and stopped at the arm of the couch, turning back to see the young boy hadn’t moved a muscle. “Come on. It’s down here.”

A vein throbbed on Kiran’s forehead. He began to feel breathless.

As much as he hated cautiously trailing behind Tony down the long dark hallway, to a room he hoped would be the bathroom, he hated sitting on the same couch as him, listening to his ‘sob story,’ finding out about Chuck’s grim past in the process. He hated knowing he was stuck alone in a stranger’s house and that stranger was a convicted sex offender, and he was going home with one too.

He was terrified as they passed each closed door, terrified Tony would suddenly stop dead in his tracks, fling open one of the doors and force him inside. He was horrified when they reached the end of the hall and the door gilded open to reveal a bedroom.

Before his thoughts could scream at him to run like hell, Tony stepped off to the side. He gestured to a door, tucked back in the corner of the room.

“You can use this one. The ‘main’ bathroom, I, uh, well, I clogged it my first night home.”

Tony was expecting a laugh or at least a groan of disgust, but for the first time in his life, Kiran couldn’t muster any sass. The panic made it almost impossible to focus on anything other than trying not to cry.


Tony heard the break in Kiran’s voice but he didn’t acknowledge it. After a brief nod, he murmured that Chuck should be back soon. He closed the door behind him.

Unlike Chuck, Tony had a very hard time getting off to fear. He really only wanted a relationship if it was consensual. He was a pedophile, sure, but a sexual abuser, he couldn’t see the accusation fitting him. He wanted a relationship, not ownership.

Kiran’s throat was starting to hurt but he didn’t want to cry. He pulled open the bathroom door and hit his back against it when he slammed it shut. He nearly broke down in tears.

The only thing keeping him from breaking down was seeing the state of the bathroom. A repeat of the rest of the house -- grummy and disgusting. He didn’t know if it was the musty air in here or his anxiety attack continuing on full-force, but he couldn’t breath, like he was suffocating.

His head was spinning. He collapsed down on the floor and stared up at the ceiling to get his bearings straight. The room swayed relentlessly. He shoved his face into his unbelievably shaky hands and snapped his weary eyes shut.

He felt hot. He felt cold. He was ready to pass out.

Squeezing the bridge of his nose, he drew in a sharp breath. It trembled on the way out, bringing a gasp for air with it.

His fingers fumbled to pull the phone out of his back pocket. He went for the messaging application.

Where are you?

Hitting send, he brought the cell phone up and pressed the cool screen against his throbbing skin. His forehead was on fire. He choked back a sob, breathing deeply again. Kiran clicked the power button, illuminating the screen, and clicked the call button next to Chuck’s number.

The line rang and rang and rang. He had to be driving. Kiran would get an earload when Chuck finally does come back. He still tried again, then again.

The fourth time the line rang, he broke. He began to cry.

The call had gone straight to voicemail. Chuck forwarded his call. He purposefully ignored him.

The same thing happened when he tried a fifth time, a sixth time. The seventh call didn’t even ring once. Chuck had shut his phone off.

“You sack of shit!” Kiran hissed the insult at the caller ID. “Why? Why…?” He wanted to throw his phone at the ground. He’d get a new one anyway. Chuck’s way of trying to buy his love.

I know youre driving, one of Kiran’s text messages read, but please please call me.

He stood, pushing his phone across the countertop. He gripped the rim and tried to steady his hands.

“He’ll be here soon,” he assured himself, his eyes closed, nodding his head. “He’s driving. He’ll be here soon.” That bitch!

Why isn’t he answering? Seven missed calls, a stream of texts, he should know something is up, especially after he left a fifteen year old boy alone with a child molestor. He should know.

He fucking knows.

That was the nagging thought...what if Chuck knew? And not only did he know, but he...set it all up. No. Kiran wouldn’t let the thought linger long enough in his head. He wouldn't do that. Why would he do that?

He wouldn’t…would he? God dammit, he probably would. Kiran hated to admit this, but despite how intimate and close he has been with Chuck, he knows absolutely nothing about him. He’s able to use his mind and cleverly piece shit together, but he’d never met any of Chuck’s family or friends. The first friends he had met -- Miguel and David, fuck those guys. They can rot in hell.

Today, he met Tony. Another damn pedophile. He shedded some light on Chuck’s life, and what a surprise, Chuck’s a pedophile, too, and has probably been one for a while now.

Was it this bad for Chuck, too? How dark and twisted was Chuck’s past, if he and Tony seemed to really connect?

Kiran had never thought too deep into their relationship, but he wasn't a complete naive idiot. He knew it was wrong but he never let himself truly think about just how wrong and disgusting it was. Chuck was in his thirties, almost forties, at least twice Kiran’s age. What Chuck had done wasn’t healthy. He spent so much money on a fifteen year old, so he could live out his sick fantasies on someone he knew would always be there for him to use, and they couldn’t do shit about that.

There was something very, very wrong with Chuck. Why was he so damn blind? The chances of Chuck actually caring about him, actually loving him and wanting a serious relationship with him despite his age, the chances of any of that being true were slim to none.

What Chuck loved about Kiran was that he was stuck with him, and that was it. That’s why it was so easy for him to leave him alone in a stranger's house, knowing every detail of that stranger's past. It was easy for him to ignore his frantic calls and texts for help.

Chuck didn’t care about what could happen to Kiran. He was just an object.

A toy.

Any trace of woe had left him. Kiran was livid. Was he ever going to be treated with the tiniest amount of respect? Was he ever going to be treated like a human being?

“You sack of shit…”

As the words left his mouth, the faint sound of a creaky door hinge caused him to jump. He sprinted into action, hastily flushing the toilet to hopefully fool Tony into thinking he was finishing up.

Over the whirring water funneling down the pipes, Kiran heard his thick drawl.

“Ya okay there, kid? Ya fall in?”

Oh, hardy har har -- damn perv.

“Almost done!”

Kiran stood in front of the bathroom mirror and watched himself roll his eyes. He twisted the faucet but didn’t bother washing his hands. Tony had muttered something seconds before Kiran shut the water off. He never heard the squeaky door again, meaning Tony either didn’t leave and was still standing out there or he never closed the door behind him.

God -- what was taking Chuck so long? Kiran reached for his phone. They had gotten here around 12:20. It was now 12:46. Chuck’s only been gone about twenty minutes. If he had really gone all the way to Sidney for beer, he would’ve just gotten there.

Kiran almost passed out on the ground. The sound of the bedroom door finally squeaking shut is what kept him from tumbling.
Tony better be on the other side of that door.

Kiran knew he’d eventually have to go back out in the living room. He had already wasted about ten, fifteen minutes pretending to pee. He couldn’t hide in here forever. If Tony really wanted to hurt him, a closed door wasn't going to stop him.

He kept his phone clutched in his hand as he slowly cracked the door ajar. He hesitated before he stuck his head through the opening and studied the empty room. The bedroom door was closed. Flicking the bathroom light off, he tip-toed across the carpeted floor. Moments before he reached the other side of the room, the bedroom door was suddenly flung open, and without thinking, Kiran bum rushed it and threw his body weight against it to slam it shut.

“Oh, shit, kid!” Tony exclaimed. “My bad. Didn't’ realize you were right there.”

“It’s fine. I’m fine.” Gulping, Kiran reluctantly turned the knob and opened the door just enough to met eyes with the scrawny man out in the hallway. Tony didn’t budge other than to prop his hand against the doorframe, his thumb slowly caressing the hardwood.

There was that look in his eyes again. “You were in there a while. You okay?”

“I’m fine.” Kiran turned his head, jaw clenched. “Have you heard from Chuck?”

Tony’s gaze darted to his right, like he was looking at something down the hall. “No.” He pressed his lips together, tilting his head slightly to the side. His thumbnail made contact with the doorframe and he began to dig at the wood. His stare cut to Kiran. “I can text him, if you want. Are you gonna come out here? We can watch a movie, if you’d like that. I was about to make something to eat. Are you hungry?”

Kiran stuck with his same answer, instantly not liking how eager Tony was quickly becoming.

“I’m fine. Ah, thanks anyway.”

“Are you gonna come out here?” he was asked again. “Or…” Tony paused a moment and shrugged, looking passed Kiran into the room. “If you wanna stay in there, we can.”

He had spoken so fast, Kiran almost didn’t catch the ‘we.’ He even voiced his confusion with the collective noun out loud.

Stammering, he repeated quietly, “W-we…?”

That was all he could get out.

A sly disgusting grin swept over Tony’s mouth. He bodychecked the door, sending it plowing into Kiran. The boy let out a stunned scream and recoiled to get out of the way. He placed himself directly in Tony’s path. He was screaming bloody murder again, snarling curse words after curse word and pleas of terror, flailing his fist at Tony’s back as he was heaved effortlessly over his shoulder.

“What are you doing?! Stop! Stop!”

He screamed out in pain, the shock of abruptly being slammed down onto the bed nearly causing him to black out. It certainly knocked the wind out of him. The life jolted back into him when Tony climbed on top of him, forcing himself in between Kiran’s legs.

Tony snatched his wailing arms by the wrist, pinning them to the bed. Kiran started to scream at him to get off. Tony socked him in the jaw before he could finish his sentence. He did it again and again. He hit him so hard, Kiran swore his neck was going to snap.

The hits finally stopped landing. Instead of using his hand for hitting, he slid it up the front of Kiran’s shirt, his short nails pinching his flesh. Kiran tried to fight him off but this twig of man suddenly felt like he weighed a ton. Tony easily regained control over Kiran, and he sighed into Kiran’s ear, a chuckle vibrating his throat.

“You're making this much harder than it has to be, kiddo.”

At this point, Kiran was hyperventilating. Tony hushed him between kisses to his neck.

“Shh, baby, don’t cry. Don’t fight. Don’t cry. I’ll be good.” His words were taunting and he repeated them as he unbutton Kiran’s jeans.
He couldn’t stop. He cried even harder. “Stop it please!” His pants were forcefully yanked down. As Tony sat back to undo his belt, Kiran brought his hands up to shove him away, his last attempt at fighting. His hands went barreling forward. His palms connected with Tony’s shoulders. Tony’s whole body suddenly shuddered and he was silhouetted by an intensely bright light.

Kiran felt pressure build and then burst in his ears as they popped, the deafening crack being so loud, he couldn't even hear it.

Tony's body jerked violently once more as another round blasted through his left shoulder. He doubled over, limply falling forward, lying lifelessly on top of Kiran.

Several seconds passed as sound slowly started to blot back in. Kiran heard screaming. He was screaming. Tony was completely silent. He wasn't moving.

Why wasn't he moving? What the fuck just happened?

One thing was for sure. Kiran wasn't gonna stop screaming anytime soon. He heaved with all his might to shove Tony off of him, grunting when he finally tipped to the side and went crashing next to him on the bed.

Kiran's hands felt cold. Wet. There was blood on his hands from touching Tony. His screams died down into whimpers of confusion. He realized he felt the same warm, wetness on his face. Splatters of blood.


Movement caught his eyes and he focused them passed his hands, stare widening at the figure standing in the doorway, at the shotgun they held in their grip.


Breathing heavily, he lowered the shotgun to his side.

“Are you okay, angel?”

Kiran didn't answer. He looked from the shotgun to the presumably dead body next to him.

He could only muster a screaming sob. He tumbled to his right, falling off the foot of the bed, smacking against the ground with a groan.