Cages Made of Gold

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Chapter Four

She couldn’t have killed him. Not with his stupid face and stupid voice and terrified eyes as he looked up at her, wanting not to hurt her, though she was so close to hurting him.

She wished someone else could do the job. She didn’t think she’d last. How could she? How could she watch the light leave his eyes, his blood on the floor as he choked?

He’d asked her, though. She’d hated him for asking, he didn’t even know her name, for God’s sake-

That was another issue. She’d needed a name.

Would it be generic and pretty, something easy to trust? Or sharp and cold, akin to her nature? Should she leave it to mystery, to make her more frightening? Cut the bullshit and tell him, like she very much wanted to?

A name, a name, a name…

“So,” They’d been walking together, and, unsurprisingly, Mark was a determined small-talker. “Prisoner 168. How’d you get here?”

“None of your business.” Keep things curt. The less they spoke, the easier it would be to let him die; it did not matter if she felt like shit for it. Like she was abandoning someone.

“I suppose those scars aren’t either?” She could hear him smile. She shot him a glare, her tongue building a retort- “What’s the plan?”

Any thoughts of a more-than-decent comeback evaporated. “What plan?”

“I - I thought - you have a plan don’t you?” His voice rose. “Where the hell are you taking me?”

“I’m not taking you anywhere!” She hissed, letting her eyes grow livid. “I’m trying to navigate this godforsaken maze of criminals, and I’m sorry I haven’t thought of a plan while I was trying to keep our asses alive!”

“Ok, ok…” His hands were out in front of them. Why - very much like the rest of him - did they have to be so pretty? “Calm down. Breathe. Also, I work here, remember?”

Calm down. Breathe. A smashed room. Bloody hands. “I’m fine. Yes, you work here. Can we decide what we’re doing?”

“Yeah, ok…” He rubbed his hands together, weirdly sexy. “We have to find your dad.”

Papa...she hadn’t even been thinking when she’d asked. She’d simply known that she could ask this man for anything, any favor, and he’d pay to comply. “He’s head of here. Not the same person who hired you - on a higher level, I suppose.”

“And now we have a starting point.” He was almost mid-crouch, she realized, with a pang of guilt. Stupid; the man was a solid six feet - of course he’d have to bend. “I think we should get out, do some more research, and then finish your father off.”

“I don’t care what we do.” His eyes were green, flecked with spots of amber. She hoped he could see the hate in hers; she hoped he was normal. Blind and delusional. “As long as we get the last little bit done.”

Those eyes turned sad. Tired and angry and restless, and a bolt of defiance shot through her, right before he spoke. “Did he lock you up? Is he why you’re here?”

None of your business. She could let him in. Just a little. “Yes. And no.”

“Is there anyway you could be more cryptic?” She hid her smile.

“Probably not, but I’ll try.” They’d walked, side by side, through the ivory. He still stared. She refused to meet his gaze; If she did, she might beg him to stay alive.


Every time he looked at her, the knot in his chest unfolded and tightened. It was a conundrum; he watched the girl as she walked, her hands fisted at her sides.

He was only half listening as she spoke. Her voice made him sick.

How could he focus, really, when there was so much more to notice? The wall was covered in barred door, cracks in the wall spider-webbing from fist-shaped dents. The fluorescent lighting bounced of the pale floor, the glare meeting his eyes as he squinted.

“Here,” He reached for her elbow, a light touch, strangely familiar. She let him. “This one.”

“Is that one of your friends?” The question was bloated with sarcasm. “Should we visit? Ask if he wants scones?”

“I mean, it’s not like I’ve brought pastries with me.” He reached for the door handle. “Haven’t you ever wondered how the guards move so quickly?”

“Do I seem like an idiot? They obviously have secret passages, catacombs and such-” Her eyes widened. “Oh.”

He smiled so wide his face hurt. “Yeah.”

“How can you tell? That that’s the door, and we aren’t walking in on some lunatic screaming at walls?”

“Be nice.” That earned him a glare - a look that indicated he was on thin ice. His grin grew impossible wider. “I can’t.”

Her jaw dropped. “You’ve fucking lost it.”

“Why are you worried?” Cruel amusement ran through him. “Aren’t you a serial killer?”

She kicked open the door, a bang resonating through the halls. “Yes.”

He walked inside, her close behind him. The smell of piss clouded through the sound of room, clashing with the copper tang of blood. Scrapes and holes, a cell much stonier than the one she’d been given. It could have been worse. Rage sang through his veins. He did his best to soothe them; she didn’t need this right now. She needed someone to help her escape, to set her free-

The door opened with a sharp creak, the sound of nails on a chalkboard. He winced. “I should’ve done that. What if there were cameras? Traps?”

“Are there?”

“No.” She rolled her eyes, squeezing through the door. He followed, the dark closing around him. The dark had never frightened him; it was far too familiar.

The dark was a friend. It was shelter, it was a comfort. He’d been shoved into the light far too often, at festivals and birthdays, in front of starry-eyed grown ups and whining children. Watched, never understanding the role he had to play. Must he be the kind businessman, like his father? His grinning brother, eyes dark and arms warm? Or the sweet mother, wrapped in colorful, pretty dresses bought with Mark’s ignorance?

You play your role, Molly had scolded. You so important, luby. You so good.

His nurse, babysitter, friend. Steering him away when eyelids were too heavy, or the music was too loud, hiding him under down covers and homemade tents. Holding him, deep into the night, his head tucked under her chin.

She was pretty, too. Big blue eyes and high cheekbones, blonde hair that fell below her breasts. White streaks and full lips, her eyelashes dark and curled, deadly when she batted them.

And she did. After a hand fell to her shoulder, a pair of lips meeting her ear. Hugged him tighter, steered him away. We know he isn’t yours. Cruel, mocking laughter. But you’ve always liked the blacks, haven’t you?

All he did was hold on tighter. Squeezed her hand, as a businessman strode towards them.

“Molly.” Mark hated his voice. “Send the boy away.”

“Sir.” His nurse wouldn’t meet ‘sir’s’ eyes. Molly always made him; Look when I - or other - speaking to you. You see who they are. “I watch him, sir.”

“You are reprieved of your duties, Molly.” His hand hurt. Molly’s fingers shook, holding onto his hot, clammy hand. “You may leave, Mr. Greene.”

Mr. Greene. He hopped nervously from one foo to the other, staring at the giants before him; a sweet-faced caretaker answering to a pig in a suit, a fly caught in a spider’s web, a mortal trying to bargain with the devil himself, prey answering to predator.

“Of course.” Gentle hands on his shoulder blades, pushing him away as hate rose in his heart. “Of course.”

He did not see the way he groped her. He did not see the pill dropped into Molly’s drink - barely larger than the tip of a little boy’s thumb.

And then, there was no more Molly.

No one to hide in castles with. No one to sing him stories or soothe his fears. He’d asked, over and over, for his friend to come home; no one cared enough to heed him, not like molly had. It was simply the same answer, over and over; your father look after her. It will be alright. Quiet now. Don’t speak of this.

He was all alone, lost within the blaring music and flashing lights, the feel of partygoers all around him. And for a second, half a heartbeat, he felt still.

A ghost. A corpse. A nothing. And he liked it.

He’d run from that feeling. Run to what he’d hated most; laughing girls and bitter drinks, forgetting to do anything other than chasing the next rush, the next sanctuary, in hopes of finding paradise.

But sanctuaries and paradises and small safeties were all temporary. And sooner or later, he’d always return home to the dark.

His death would be far more permanent.

And now he’d secured it. He finally had it, was so. Damn. Close.

So why did he feel like stepping away?

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