A year passed by without anyone noticing him missing. Not that there was anyone who'd remember him anymore. Arik had been thorough with taking care of that and he had been reminded each day that he should not contact anyone who he had met in the past.
Ciaran missed the empty feeling of not knowing or caring.
Nineteen years old and scarred for life. As strong as he was, he had thought he was going to die during the year of rehab that they had forced him through. The pain had been like nothing he had felt before and he still had lingering flashbacks of drugs he had used. Sometimes, if he cracked his spine, he'd get brief hits of acid in his brain. The first time he had done that, Arik had called him on it.
He still remembered the beating they had given him.
Ciaran reached up and tucked a strand of black hair behind his ears. He never succumbed to anyone. With a slight scowl, he stared out the hotel window.
He had gone through so much cleansing to get to the point where he was today. Clean of all the drugs he had been addicted to, no sex since last December, and remarkably free of diseases. How that happened he didn't know but neither did he care. Death was death, no matter how you died. And unlike other people on the street, he had been careful most of the time. He still craved cigarettes and after using his body to get money for five years, he was horny as hell half the time with no release except to jerk off in the morning and evenings when the want got too bad.
But the training made up for it all.
He had never killed a man before yesterday.
Looking down at his hands he remembered the feel of the gun in his palms, the way his finger had curled around the trigger just so. The slightest hint of pressure and the hammer would go off. The man had been dead before he hit the ground.
Ciaran was clad in black turtleneck and slacks, coat with fur trimmings and hood pulled up. He's staring blankly at the city below from his old room as gunshots were fired in the one next to his.
One for each body.
He turned around to see a mercenary approach him after finishing the job. Faceless enough that Ciaran didn't even bother recalling his name. A silent smirk played bitterly on his lips. He paid for the man without further thought, absolving one part of his own plan. He kept his eyes on the turned back distancing from him.
"Pleasure doing business with you…" he mouthed and aimed with steady hands.
"I've sinned," he mused with a lopsided grin.
"So? All beings sin, Ciaran. He deserved it."
Ciaran turned to look at the Uswian sitting on the couch, reading a newspaper. Arik was thirty-one, sixteen years older than he was, and taller than him. It still made him on edge to hear his actual name used so casually.
Ciaran still remembered how he had tasted.
He opened his mouth to say something but Arik beat him to it. "No, Ciaran. I will not fuck you," came the calm reply before the question was even asked. He didn't even lift his head from the paper.
Ciaran crossed his arms. "Fine."
"Get over it. You don't need to trick anymore. You have everything that you could want."
Ciaran tilted his head a bit, looking down at the street. "The want is still there Arik. Come on, just one quickie."
"I'm not going to help you get rid of it. Do it yourself."
"That's no fun. And besides, I'd rather have you doing it."
Arik refused to rise to his bait.
Ciaran smiled. One of these days he would get the Uswian into his bed. He'd make sure of it. Except for the one time he had gone down on him in the limo and when Arik had kissed him at the rave, the older man had not touched him with the slightest hint of sexual interest since then. It was driving Ciaran mad. No, he corrected. Having no sex period was driving him mad. Arik was just the icing on the cake. Look but don't touch. Don't touch. Don't touch...
Smoothing back his hair he turned and walked with long-legged grace to the couch and fell down beside Arik, glancing over at the paper. It was in Uswian. He couldn't read Uswian.
"What's it say?" he wanted to know.
"It's an article on your job. You left no clues behind. The police don't' know where to start looking," Arik told him.
Ciaran rolled his eyes and propped one booted foot up on the table. "You told me to kill them and not get caught. I do know how to follow orders, Arik - when it suits me. I've always been good at what I do."
"Yes. I know."
Ciaran smirked. He guessed Arik was thinking about that time in the limo, even if he couldn't reach into the other man's mind.
But even though he kept up the facade of easy-going and content trainee, Ciaran felt drained. They were making him practice every single day. Except yesterday. Yesterday he had killed someone. But other than that, he trained daily, bringing his thin body up to normal weight and muscle mass, up to the normal standards for fitness. He had a thing for speed. Long legs and near constant equilibrium, they had gleefully drawn out this talent and were happily exploiting it at his expense.
Physical exercise was easy. Mental exercise was a different story altogether. He got migraines that rivaled the ones he had suffered through when he had gone through withdrawal. He supposed it was worth it, in a way.
The crinkle of paper brought his attention back to the room. Arik was folding up the newspaper and getting to his feet. "Where are you going?" Ciaran asked.
"I can see that. Why?"
Arik slanted him a look. "Don't think you are going to wring your way out of today's training."
Ciaran arched an eyebrow. "Fine," he dead-panned.
The Uswian shook his head. "They'll teach you what you need to know, Ciaran. Don't fight them."
Brilliant green eyes slid over to meet his gaze. "When will I see you again?"
"I don't know," Arik said as he turned to pick up his coat. Shrugging into it he stilled when he felt hands on the small of his back.
"Any words of advice?" Ciaran asked him softly.
"Don't submit to them," Arik murmured.
A soft chuckled. "Arik, haven't you figured it out yet? I submit to no one."
"Really?" came the acid tinged reply.
Ciaran leaned forward and rested his forehead against Arik's back. The tall Uswian could practically hear the smile in his words. "I chose that life, Arik. It was my own decision and I tricked for no one but myself. I gave my name to no one. No one owned me but me."
"No. You don't. At least, not completely. But maybe someday you will. Until then -"
He had foreseen it and as prepared as he was for it, it still managed to knock all sense from him. Ciaran turned him around, hands sliding up his body to frame his face and then he was kissing him with all the skill he had acquired while living on the street, body rocking into his.
Arik preferred men over women, but Ciaran was unlike either sex. Quick and sensual, with a mocking smile and acid barbed tongue, he could make a look be fire or ice, depending on the situation. Fifteen years old and far too wise in the ways of the underworld and he knew how to use his weapons. A touch. A look. A soul searing kiss. Bang bang bang.
Part of Arik's defense crumbled in the wake of the kiss.
Point Ciaran. Zero Arik.
The young man pulled away and smirked up at Arik as he watched the older man struggle to regain his composure. "You won't be able to forget me," he whispered.
Arik couldn't tell if it was a promise or a threat.
Then Ciaran was walking past him and heading out of the room, whistling some melody. Arik watched him go; unmoving, face expressionless. After a moment, he took off his glasses, cleaned them on his shirt, then put them back on. He took a different exit out of the room, licking his lips and trying to forget the taste of Ciaran. But the taste lingered on his tongue and lingered in his mind long after he had left the building, heading into his new assignment.