hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part XII
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: NC-17
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Fake, fake, FAKE I TELLS YA!
Warning: Strong violence.

Here it is, the final chapter. Huge hugs and thanks to everyone who read and commented and stuck with it to the end, even when it all went a bit mental.


Why is he being so gentle? This is the question going through my mind as Tameleo helps me out of Pauly's and places me in the back seat of his own car. Dragging me by the hair, maybe stopping every now and then to kick or spit on me, now that's the kind of behaviour I could understand. All this care and consideration is very strange. He's even let me have the seat all to myself, sitting up front with his driver.

Like I say, he's acting weird, but this gives me a little bit of hope. He won't let me go, obviously, but he might at least make it quick. One bullet to the head and I can rest. Don't get me wrong; I don't want to die. But there isn't a single inch of me that doesn't hurt right now and if death is the only way to stop the pain, then so be it. We all have to go sometime and I have no regrets. It was worth it. He was worth it. He ripped my dull little world apart and he showed me more love in a month than I've had in my whole, miserable life. At least I'll die for a reason, I'll die to keep him safe. My life for his: it's a fair trade.

The car stops, the door opens and Tameleo and his driver are there, pulling me out and laying me on the ground. I can hear water and a bell somewhere off in the distance. We must be at the docks. That's the way it's going to be - shot and dumped in the water. Oh well, I can think of worse ways to go. I just wish Pauly hadn't fucked up my leg so bad. I'd prefer to die on my feet. Tameleo pulls his gun out again.

"You know what happens now, right?"

I nod and get ready. But then the world as I know it tilts on its side as Tameleo wheels around and shoots his driver through the heart.

What. The. FUCK!?!

Tameleo puts his gun away and when he speaks, his voice is soft. "I don't think you want to see this. You should look away."

He goes over to the body and begins to kick it in the face, destroying it completely. He's right, I don't want to see this. But I can still hear, even wrapping my arms around my head doesn't quite muffle the sound of his foot as it impacts on soft flesh. When he's done he comes and sits beside me. Just what the fuck is he playing at? He doesn't keep me in the dark for long.

"Listen carefully Mr. Bellamy, and don't interrupt. You're dead. I just killed you. That's your body over there. Same height, same build, same hair colour. As far as the rest of the world's concerned, that's you."

I look over at the dead man, trying not to look at the face. There isn't much light, so I'll have to trust Tameleo when he says this guy could pass for me. It doesn't make me feel any better, though. That poor bastard, he never did anything to me. Does he have a family, people who'll miss him? I guess I'll never know.

Tameleo goes on. "When you took out Barzini you left a pretty big hole in our organization. I have to prove I'm the right man to fill it. Finding you and taking care of you personally should do it. I'm going to leave this body in a very public place, just so everyone can see what happens to anyone stupid enough to fuck with us. I have to send a very clear message. But I'm going to have to mark the damn thing up a bit more first. That dimwit Paulsen just couldn't leave well enough alone, could he?"

There must be a catch somewhere, he can't be letting me go. "I don't get it. Why not just kill me? Quicker and easier for you and besides, Barzini was your boss."

"Oh, he was much more than that and if you'd done this four years ago, there's no way we'd even be talking. I'd have gutted you and hung you on a meathook by now. I've known Barzini all my life. We grew up together, went to war together. He wasn't just my boss, he was my friend. That's what I thought, anyway. But friends don't do this."

He pulls his gloves off and holds up his hands, the light from the car's lamps bouncing off them, and now I know why he wears them. Someone has carved the letter B into the back of each hand. No, not carved. Branded? Tameleo reads my mind.

"Hot knives, that's how he did it. He thought I was getting too smart, questioning his decisions, daring to contradict him. We were supposed to be friends, who else was going to talk straight to him? But he didn't see it that way, so he decided to put me in my place. He chained me down and marked me while I cried and screamed and pissed myself. He humiliated me and I swore I'd see him dead for it. If there was any way I could have killed him without drawing attention to myself, I'd have done it."

The gloves go back on. "You did me a favour, even if you didn't know it, and I always pay what I owe. I've done everything I could for you: I let you walk out of our place when I could have broken your arm and shoved your gun up your ass anytime I felt like it. Everyone expected me to come after you, it was the right thing to do, so I had to go through the motions. I put a price on your head and I sent a couple of guys to wreck your place, just to be safe. But if I really wanted you, I would have told them to wait there, just in case you actually were stupid enough to go back. You should have run, like I told you to."

Tameleo gets up and picks up the body, tossing it into the car. "We're done. Get out of the city, Mr. Bellamy. Live a long and happy life, as far from New York as you can. Never come back here: if you do, we'll have to do this for real." He gets in his car and drives away, leaving me alone.

Live a long life, he says. Fat chance. I can't walk, I can't even summon enough energy to crawl. It's all too much. I've been beaten, cut, shot and damn near drowned and I just can't do it anymore. It's a cold night, I'm only wearing a thin shirt and pants and I cannot stop shivering. The colour starts to wash in and out of the world, so I shut my eyes and wait for the end. It can't come quickly enough. Time loses all meaning and I have no idea how long I lie here before I hear the screech of tires. Has Tameleo come back? Has he changed his mind? I really hope so. Please, someone put me out of my misery. Hands turn me onto my back and I open my eyes but something has gone seriously wrong with my vision and I can't focus. I'm dimly aware of being wrapped in something warm and lifted before the darkness takes me.

When I come to I'm lying on something soft. My eyes still aren't working the way they should: all I see is grey. Then a dark shape looms over me and starts prodding me. Enough! I've had enough of people touching me, hurting me, tossing me around like a fucking rag doll. No more! Adrenalin whips through me and I lunge forward, grabbing the shape by the throat and squeezing with what little strength I have left. More hands on me, trying to pull me away and I lash out, feeling my elbow connect with something soft. I hear a pained grunt and the hands disappear for a few seconds before returning. There's a voice in my ear now: I can't make out the words or put a name to it, even though it's familiar. But it calms me and I relax my grip and let them do what they want. I'm pushed back down, something stings my arm and everything goes black and stays that way for a long time.

Okay, if this is the afterlife, it's really, really boring. No fluffy clouds or fire and brimstone, just a ceiling. I'm lying on a bed with a towel wrapped around my waist and I'm staring at a ceiling. There's movement to my left, I turn my head to find Dom sitting on a chair beside my bed. He smiles down at me.

"Welcome back."

That's it, I really have gone crazy. "This isn't happening. You can't be here. I must be dead. Dead or dreaming."

"Trust me, Matt. You're not dead and this is no dream." He takes my hand and runs it over the stubble on his face. "Does that feel like a dream? How about this?"

He opens his shirt and presses my hand to the cut on his chest.

"Is this real enough for you?"

I can feel stitches beneath my fingertips. Okay, this is real. Dom squeezes my hand between both of his, being careful of the stump. "You came back for me. Did you really think I wouldn't do the same for you?"

"How did you find me?"

"I almost didn't. I went to the hospital, told them I'd been in a fight, got myself sewn up. But it was two days before I could get out and start looking for you. It was like you'd just fallen off the edge of the world. Nobody knew a thing: lots of rumours flying around, never any truth to them. Paulsen was my last shot. You hated each other, if anyone had some real news about you, good or bad, it was him. I found him lying in a pool of his own blood and shit and he told me everything. I knew Tameleo would take you to the docks, it's his favourite dumping ground, but I was too late. Or I should have been. Why didn't he kill you?"

"It's a long story." And I don't feel like going through it now. "Paulsen's still alive?"

"No." All the life drains out of his face and his hands tighten on mine.

"Dom, what did you do?"

He won't look at me. "Here's a funny thing: the last time you smacked him around you were looking for me. He thought there was bad blood between us and, if he told me what he'd done to you, it would win me over and I'd take him to a hospital. Bastard." Now he looks at me and his eyes burn with hate.

"He hurt you and I killed him for it. I took the meat cleaver he used on you and I split his face right in two. And I'm glad I did it. The only thing I regret is not having the time to hurt him the way he hurt you."

I'm not sure how to react to that. I should be happy, I guess, after everything Pauly put me through. But it all seems so far in the past, like it happened a hundred years ago. Dom gets up and goes to a table by the window and stands looking out, pulling himself back together. He comes back with a glass of water in his hand and it's only then I realise how thirsty I am. He helps me sit up, holds the glass to my lips and takes it away far too soon for my liking. I whine in protest and try to grab it back but he holds it out of my reach.

"You can have more in a couple of minutes. Too much too soon and you'll just bring it back up. I could do without you puking all over me again."

Dom goes to set the glass on the floor by the bed and, as he does, I notice the fading bruises around his eye. I try to think back to that last desperate fight in Barzini's office. I don't think he got hit in the eye, but I could be wrong.

"What happened to your eye?" Now something comes back to me, a vague memory of hitting someone with my elbow. "It was me, wasn't it?"

"It's not your fault, Matt. You had a fever, you didn't know what you were doing. The doctor's the one you should be apologizing to. You damn near choked the life out of him before I could pull you away."

Dom scratches his chest. "I have to go see him in a couple of days, get him to check these stitches. If I can persuade him to come back and see you, do you promise not to try and kill him this time?"

I promise and I'm rewarded with more water. Questions, I have so many questions.

"Where are we?"

Dom looks vague. "I'm not sure. Out of New York, as far as I could drive before I had to stop and find you a doctor. I didn't really get a chance to read the signs along the way."

"How long have we been here?"

"Almost two weeks."

Shit, I don't remember anything. Time for an important question. "Did you get the money? Please say yes, tell me we didn't go through all that for nothing."

"I got it: putting the stuff back in the desk was where it all went wrong. Everything leading up to that was perfect."

At least something went right. For every question he answers I have a dozen more. But one looms large over all the others.

"Dom, why am I wearing a towel?"

"Made things easier. If I could wake you up enough to eat some soup and take your pills I was doing well. Getting you to the bathroom and back was too much for me. Easier to just clean you up and keep changing the towel."

His words pull me two ways. On the one hand, I'm ashamed of how I've lain here for two weeks, messing myself like a baby. On the other, the way he's taken care of me, the proof of how much he loves me makes me want to cry. I feel a lump rising in my throat but Dom quickly lightens the mood.

"Of course, now you're back in the land in the living, I expect you to get off your ass and go to the bathroom like a normal person. Don't think you can lie there and expect me to wipe you forever. I love you Matt, but love has its limits."

"All this lying around was getting boring anyway."

He holds his hands out to me. "Why don't we start now. We could get you cleaned and dressed and try and take a walk outside, see how your leg is doing. How does that sound?"

"Sounds good." I take his hands in mine. "You'll catch me if I fall?"

Dom smiles as he pulls me to my feet, a smile that lights up his whole face.

"Always."

THE END

Okay, that's the end of the whole thing, but I am planning a sequel, if anyone's interested. Oh, and can someone explain how to do journal cuts to me, so that all that comes up is chapter one, chapter two, instead of the whole link. I really can be so stupid about certain things and the front page of my posts always looks so messy. Cheers. Thanks for reading!
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part XI
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: NC-17
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Fake, fake, FAKE I TELLS YA!
Warning: Strong violence. Violence on a bucketload of steroids.


Now:

The drugs are wearing off now and pain is taking me over again. They've bandaged my hand and I'm trying not to look at the stump where my little finger used to be or think about how many more pieces of myself I might lose before the end. It's just me and one of Pauly's guys now. Pauly came in with a bandage over his eye and then he left again. He gave me a wide berth and that was a smart move on his part. Animals in traps still have claws and if I could tear out his throat before I go, then I could die happy.

I hear footsteps and voices, muffled at first but becoming clearer as their owners draw closer. 

"I don't care about your eye and if you don't shut up about it I'll rip it out and skullfuck you through the empty socket!"

My heart sinks as Tameleo enters the room, a bag in his hands, Pauly and the other goon at his heels. He comes over to me and I flinch back, expecting a kick or a punch. But it doesn't come. He drops the bag, bends, and places a hand under each of my arms, lifting me and setting me on my feet. My leg won't support me and I drop like a puppet with its strings cut. Tameleo grabs me and lowers me gently to the floor. Strange, he's the last person I'd expect to be gentle with me.

He examines my hand and a look of pure rage crosses his features. He stands and turns on Pauly.

"What is this? What the fuck is this?"

He doesn't wait for an answer. "The last time I saw this man he could walk. He still had all of his fingers. Who gave you permission to hurt him? What made you think you could get away with this?"

Pauly backs up before the heat of Tameleo's anger. He tries to justify himself, his voice taking on a high, whining tone that does him no favours.

"Didn't think you'd care ... what does it matter, you're going to kill him anyway ... he's hurt me before, so many times ... couldn't let all that slide..."

Tameleo cuts in impatiently. "There you go again, mistaking me for someone who actually gives a shit. I don't care if he kicked your ass every day of the week and twice on Sundays. But I'm paying for him, that makes him mine, and I don't like it when people damage my things. Exactly how long have you had him?"

Pauly's trembling with fear as he answers. "Since last night."

He's expecting another angry outburst, as am I, but it doesn't come. Tameleo just looks bored now.

"Alright, fuck it. I've got better things to do than hang around and listen to you all night. Your money's in the bag over there. That's what you get for finding him."

Tameleo pulls out a gun and puts a hole in Pauly's stomach. "That's what you get for damaging my property, and this is for making me wait. I don't like to be kept waiting." A second bullet shatters Pauly's knee.

Screams fill the air as Pauly falls and Tameleo puts his gun away.

"Oh, shut up. You'll be fine, your friends here will get you to a doctor and they'll put you back together. Or maybe they'll just take the money and leave you here to die, which is what I'd do, if I were them. It's nothing to me either way, I got what I came for."

Tameleo heads back over to me and helps me to my feet again, sliding one arm around my waist to support me. The last thing I see as I'm helped out of the room is Pauly's guys going for the bag and ignoring the screaming, bleeding man on the floor.

Then:

Something's wrong. I know it, I can feel it, an awful, sinking sensation in the pit of my stomach. It's all gone wrong somehow and it's all my fault. It might have been Dom's idea but I'm the one who told him to go through with it and if something's happened to him, then it's all on me. He told me to stay at home and wait for him, but screw that. I have to go and find him. I soon find myself climbing through a window at the back of Barzini's building. I land in a small room behind Barzini's office, a door behind his desk connects the two rooms. Didn't really notice it when I was in the office, my mind was on other matters, but Dom told me all about it. This is the way he planned to come.

The lights in the office are on, I can see that much through the cracks and the keyhole. I twist the knob and ease the door open. The first thing I notice is Barzini's chair, which has been moved from behind the desk to the middle of the room. Then I realize Dom is sitting in it, his head slumped at an odd angle. The thought of what I might be about to find makes me want to vomit, but I grit my teeth and move forward. I have to see, I have to know. If he is dead, then I'm going to kill everyone in this building, or die trying.

He's been tied in and gagged and there's blood running down his face from where someone - and there's no doubt in my mind about who did this to him, none at all - either punched or kicked him in the temple. His coat lies on the floor beside him and his shirt is open. My knees almost buckle with relief when I see his chest rising and falling. He's alive. Unconscious, but alive. I shake him and his eyes open as I pull off the gag and make a start on the ropes holding his wrists to the chair. His eyes widen in fear and he tries to warn me. "Matt, you have to get out of here. Just go, please, before it's too late-"

But it's already too late. I hear a roar of rage and feel a hand on the back of my neck. Oh, we are so fucked.

I'm propelled across the room so quickly my feet barely touch the ground and my gun falls out of its holster and lands under the desk. Then there's a crunch as I'm slammed face-first into the edge of the desk. It feels like my nose just exploded but I'm not given a chance to dwell on it as I'm spun around to face a very angry Barzini. He's dumped his jacket but he's clearly dressed for a formal occasion: he's wearing a bowtie and, as he pulls back a fist, light bounces off a silver cufflink.

His fist slams into my eye and then he drops me and goes for Dom. I shake my head to clear it and get to my feet. Can't let him hurt Dom, that's the only thing that matters, the only thought in my head. I run at Barzini, trying to knock him off-balance, but it's useless. He's too big and too heavy. I'd have better luck trying to beat up a mountain, all I do is bounce off him. He turns on me and grabs my chin, lifting me until we're at eye level. I try to kick him in the balls but miss my shot, my foot just glancing off his inner thigh. All he does is laugh and then he goes to work on me, punching me in the chest and stomach, over and over again. Dom is screaming now, begging Barzini to stop, to let me go.

Barzini throws me and I skid across the floor. He turns on Dom again, slapping him across the face.

"You shut up! I've heard all I ever want to hear from you. My God, is there anyone you can't corrupt, anyone you can't make a sucker out of? Or was he in this with you from the start?"

Dom regains his composure and faces Barzini without a trace of fear, speaking with a quiet dignity. "No. It was never a game with him. Everything I feel for him is real." He looks down at me.

"I'm sorry, Matt. I shouldn't have dragged you into this. I love you."

Even stuck in a hopeless situation, as we so obviously are, hearing him say those words fills me with joy. It took almost thirty years, but someone finally loves me. Barzini's lip curls in disgust.

"Touching. Does he love you? Will he love you when I peel the face right off your skull?"

I'm trying to get up but the bastard has knocked the wind right out of me and my body refuses to obey me. All I can do is watch as Barzini goes to his desk and fumbles around in one of the bottom drawers.

My blood runs cold when he stands and I see what's in his hand: a bayonet, a souvenir from his war, no doubt. I've seen all the awful shit you can do with one of those. He goes back to Dom, pulls his shirt completely open and slashes him from his collarbone to the middle of his chest. Dom's eyes widen but he refuses to cry out. Barzini knows what he's doing: the cut is long, deep and bloody, but far from fatal. He could do this all night and probably intends to - and he wants me to watch.

The sight of Dom's blood hits me like an electric shock and I'm on my feet, charging into Barzini again. He's leaning forward as I hit him, then Dom lashes out with both feet and, this time, Barzini goes down with me on top of him. The bayonet has twisted in his hand somehow and he's impaled himself on it, like a bug on a pin, the tip just barely missing my chest. But he's not dead, that would be too easy. He shakes me off and I land on my ass, yet again. I scramble backwards as he stands and pulls the bayonet out of his stomach. I look around, trying to find anything that might serve as a weapon and then I remember my gun, which should still be under the desk. In the heat of the moment, with all my attention focused on trying to keep Barzini off Dom, I'd forgotten all about it.

I crawl to the desk and yes, there it is. Just as I put my hand on it I feel Barzini's hand on my ankle, dragging me back. But I've got the gun and, as Barzini leans over me, I turn on my back, grip it in both hands and fire three times. The first shot goes wild. The second strikes Barzini in the chest and the third hits him in the throat, tearing it open. He goes down for good, falling on me. The wind is knocked out of me for the second time in as many minutes and pain flares up in my chest. My injuries don't matter, Dom's my main concern, I have to get him out of here and get him stitched up. Arching my back, I shove Barzini's dead weight off me and stand on shaky legs.

I drop my gun and kneel for a second, pulling the bloody bayonet out of Barzini's hand. I'd prefer not to touch it at all, but I need something to cut Dom's bonds with. Blood loss has drained all the colour from his face but he's still conscious as I cut him free. He gets to his feet and starts buttoning his shirt, apologizing to me all the while.

"You were right, it was too dangerous. I fucked up, he caught me putting the stuff back in his desk. Oh Matt, your face-"

"Shh, I'll be fine, we'll both be fine. We just need to get out of here and find a doctor. Can you walk?"

He finishes buttoning his shirt and blood immediately begins to soak through, turning the white material crimson. His coat should cover that, at least for a little while. "I think so." He picks his coat off the floor and puts it on. "Let's go."

But before we can make good our escape we hear raised voices, heading in this direction, probably attracted by the sound of the gunshots. Nothing's free tonight. There's no way we can both escape through the back room, not injured the way we are. We'll be caught. There's only one way this might work - one of us could make it out if the other stays and creates a diversion. It only takes a second for me to decide.

I shove Dom towards the back room. "Get out, I'll hold them off." He opens his mouth to argue but I cut him off, there's no time.

"If we stay together, we're both dead. But if I'm on my own I can find a way through. Nobody has to know you were ever here. Please, Dom. If you really love me, do this for me." There are tears in his eyes but he nods and turns to leave. But I can't leave it like that. I grab his shirt collar, pull him into my arms and kiss him, trying to pour everything I feel for him into this last kiss. Then I pull back, look into his eyes and finally say the three words I never thought I'd ever say to anyone.

"I love you."

Before he can react I turn my back on him - and believe me when I say that hurts me more than any physical injury ever could - and walk towards the main door of the office, picking up my gun as I go. Only three bullets left, I'd better make them count. I step into the hall and face the men outside. There are five of them and Henry Tameleo is among them, his height making him hard to miss. One guy rushes forward, probably planning to tackle me and force me to the ground. I shoot him in the chest and, as he falls, I recognise him. Oh fuck, I've just killed a cop. This just gets better and better.

I turn the gun on the others and they freeze. I point at Tameleo.

"You, get over here."

He looks more amused than afraid, but he does as I say.

"The rest of you, get into that room over there."

I wave the gun in the direction of the room opposite Barzini's office.

"The first man who sticks his head out gets a bullet in the eye."

That should give Dom the time he needs. I wait until they've all gone inside before grabbing Tameleo by the belt and jamming my gun into the base of his spine. Pulling him with me I walk backwards, moving to the front of the building. My guess is that nobody will try and fuck with me while I've got Tameleo, and I'm right. A couple of guys give us the evil eye, but Tameleo tells them to stand down and they do. We reach the front door and I release him as I step over the threshold. I keep my gun on him but he doesn't go for me, as I half expect him to. All he does is smile.

"Shouldn't you be running?"

"Shouldn't you be going back to see what's left of your boss?" He sighs.

"Yeah, I'd better start cleaning up the mess you've made. Be seeing you.

" He slams the door and I drop the gun and begin to run.

hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part X
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: NC-17
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Fake, fake, FAKE I TELLS YA!
Warning: Strong violence


Now:

I don't know how much more of this I can stand. They pull me out and I try to take a deep breath before my head is shoved under the water again and held there. With all the damage already inflicted on my nose and ribs, I just can't breathe as deeply as I want to, need to. How many times have they dunked me in this tub now? Four, five? Honestly, I've lost count. Here's the thing, I could stop this anytime I wanted to, the brief glimpses of Pauly's face I'm getting pretty much spell it out: he just wants to see me break, wants me to beg for mercy. If I do, then he'll stop. But fuck him, he may have made me scream, I couldn't help that, but he'll never make me beg. I don't care what he does, he won't break me down, not the way he wants to.

All good things must come to an end and Pauly finally tires of his game. I'm pulled out of the tub one last time, dragged into another room and left there. My coat is soaked, so I pull it off. As I do, my hand hits something hard in the pocket. Fumbling around, I pull out the morphine Jack gave me. I can't believe my luck - or their stupidity. My gun is gone, either lost or taken from me. I didn't really notice in the heat of the moment, I had more pressing problems, like being shot in the leg, to deal with.

But I've still got my drugs and, considering the way my whole body seems to be throbbing, I've never needed them more. I really should limit my dose to one pill, they're powerful and I honestly can't remember when I last ate. Too much dope on an empty stomach could kill me. Considering my current predicament, do I really care that much? The answer is a resounding "Hell, no!", so I take two pills. I don't die, I just become completely numb, floating on my own happy cloud.

When the gorillas come for me and drag me back into the main room, I don't even try to fight them. In fact, it barely even registers and Pauly's voice seems to be coming from the other end of a long tunnel.

"Time's almost up, Bellamy. They'll be here soon. One last thing: I want a little keepsake, something to remind me of you when you're gone."

I'm pulled back to the table and my hand is held fast. The whole situation bores me and I find myself staring absently at the wall. I hear a thudding noise but that doesn't interest me either, might as well be happening in another country for all I care.

It's only when I'm allowed to fall to the floor that I realise what's happened: I've left part of myself up on the table, Pauly's cut off the little finger on my left hand. It doesn't hurt, though: all I feel is a mild curiosity as I lift my hand and stare at the bleeding stump. Pauly stands over me, the meat cleaver still in his hand. I'm obviously not reacting the way he expected and the sulky expression on his face is priceless. He looks like a child that's been denied a treat and I can't help myself, I start laughing.

He drops the cleaver and grabs my shirt, pulling me up to face him.

"Stop laughing!" This just makes me laugh harder and he starts shaking me.

"Stop laughing at me, damn you!"

And I do, but only because I've had a better idea. Even in my doped up state, I think it's one of the best ideas I've ever had. Wants something to remember me by, does he? Then I'll give him something, something he'll never forget. I raise my uninjured hand and jam my thumb into his eye. It's his turn to scream and he tries to shake me off, but I hold fast, grinding my digit into his eyeball until the blood begins to flow, only letting go when his apes manage to seperate us. One stays with me and the other follows Pauly as he runs from the room, crashing into the edge of the door as he does so. I start laughing again - I've won. He can't hurt me the way he wants to and he can't kill me. He tried to break me, but I've broken him. It's over. I've won.

Then:

"We can't go on like this."

Go on like what? The statement takes me completely by surprise. We're lying on my couch, Dom's back against my chest as he plays with my fingers. I was on the verge of sleep but his unexpected comment brings me right back and suddenly I'm afraid. Is he bored? Is he leaving me? Please no, not that. I don't want to go back to the way I was, with my empty apartment and my empty life, suffering through my nightmares alone. I thought everything was going great, especially since we're now comfortable enough to call each other Matt and Dom instead of Matthew and Dominic-

As my thoughts speed up my whole body clenches like a fist. Dom obviously feels it and he's quick to reassure me, turning in my arms and propping himself up on his elbows.

"I'm not finishing with you, that's not what I meant at all."

"Then what did you mean?"

Dom climbs off me and sits on the arm of the couch and I sit up as well.

"When you look out your window, Matt, what do you see?"

"Birdshit."

"That's funny - but seriously, what do you see?"

"I dunno, the city?"

"Exactly. There's a whole city out there and all we do is hide in your apartment. I know we can't walk around arm in arm or anything like that, but we could at least go out and share a drink just as friends or something. But I know you won't, because you're still afraid Barzini will catch us, aren't you?"

I nod and he continues. "It's more than that, though. You're not just afraid of him finding us on the streets, you think he's going to bust in here any minute and scalp us both. Don't think I haven't noticed the way you tighten up every single time someone walks past your door."

As if to prove his point, we both hear footsteps coming down the hall outside. Only when they've gone past my door and continued on their way do I let out the breath I've been holding.

"Okay, I guess I see your point. What are we going to do about it?"

"I want us to leave New York. I know we couldn't be together like the normal couples but we could have a life together something good."

The idea of that fills me with joy. I say nothing, though, because he's clearly working up to something big. He wouldn't be making such a big deal out of just leaving New York, people come and go all the time. Sure enough, there's more.

"I want to do a job before we leave. A big job."

"What kind of job?"

"The kind where I steal a huge wad of cash from under a crime boss's nose and we're over the hills and far way before he even knows what's happened."

Oh, fuck this! Barzini, he's talking about ripping off Barzini. I'm on my feet in a second.

"No, forget it, there's no way in Hell. I've just gotten him all calmed down and you want to poke him with a stick. Are you crazy?"

Dom stands as well and grips my arms, trying to calm me down. "Hear me out, Matt. Please, just listen. I don't want to force you into anything. I just want you to listen to what I've got to say."

I sit again and run my hands through my hair. "Go ahead."

Dom sits too. "Okay, so you know Barzini's the big cheese in New York but he's not the only one, right?"

"Right, he's in business with Vario and Lucchese."

"Yes he is, all the Italians together. Isn't it cute?"

"It's adorable. I know all this, Dom. Everybody does."

"Ah, but did you know Barzini's scamming the other two?"

My jaw drops as Dom continues. "It's true. He's the strong one, the one with the loudest voice, so he holds the purse strings. And he's been skimming off the top for a couple of years now, cheating the others. See, he's top of the pile here but nothing lasts forever and he's smart enough to know that it'll all collapse one day. The Treasury Department will come calling, or a stronger outfit from somewhere like Chicago will muscle in. It could even be something as simple as Prohibition ending. When that day comes, Barzini will do a fade. He'll grab his stash and take off, leaving his so-called partners holding the bag. And he has the nerve to call me slippery."

I'm having trouble processing all this.

"He told you all this? Did he draw you a map as well? I know he trusted you, Dom, but I can't believe he spilled all his secrets to you, especially something as big as this."

"Not exactly. He told me about screwing the others over, but he didn't tell me where he's hidden the money. I was putting a ledger back in one of his desk drawers when I noticed it had a false bottom. I had a closer look and found a notebook and a key. He moves the money around from time to time and, everytime he does, he records the address in the book and puts it back in the drawer."

"You think you could get into his office and steal the book and the key?"

"More than that - I can get in, get the stuff, take the money and have the book and the key back before he knows anything's wrong. He's not supposed to have this money anyway, so it's not like he can cry about being ripped off."

Dom's mouth twists into a cruel smile. "Just like he didn't want anyone to know about me."

"Where did I fit into all this? Do you need me to come with you?"

"You don't fit into this at all, Matt. All I need you to do is sit back and let me do my work."

"Why bother telling me, then? Why not just do it and keep me in the dark until it was done?"

"Because I don't want to have any secrets from you, Matt."

"I'm honoured."

"You should be. You really, really should be. Do you have any idea how special you are? You are the only person in this world I've never lied to, the only one I always want to be honest with."

I still don't like it, it's too dangerous and my doubt must be written all over my face because Dom stands and grabs his coat.

"Where are you going?"

"Out for a couple of hours. I want you to think about what I've said and it'll be better if I'm not here to distract you. I'm leaving it all in your hands, I'll go along with whatever you decide. If you don't want me to do this job, then I won't. It's all up to you." He bends down and gives me a quick kiss. "See you later."

Think about it, he said, and I do. He've got some good points, I have to give him that. It's true, I can't help worrying about Barzini, I can't shake the idea that he's going to bust down my door any minute and beat me to a pulp, like he threatened to. He probably still considers Dom his property and, even if he doesn't, I still lied to him. I knew about Dom for a couple of weeks and I never said a word, I just let the expenses mount up while I screwed around on Barzini's time. That, I'm sure, counts as stealing in his eyes and I, like everyone else, know what Barzini does to thieves. Which is interesting, if what Dom just told me is true. I guess it's not stealing if he's doing it.

So yeah, I love being with Dom but worrying about Barzini is turning me into a bag of nerves and we can't go on like this. I can never relax fully, I've started biting my nails and I'm drinking more than I used to, more than I should, especially when Dom leaves me alone for a night or two. I spend the time pacing the floor - I must have worn a groove in the wood by now - and drinking until I can fall asleep without noticing how empty my bed is without him.

Yes, we should leave, but why court disaster along the way? I've got money of my own, hidden under the floorboards in my bedroom. Nothing compared to what Barzini's got I'm sure, but not exactly chickenfeed either. No need to go near the gangster with the fondness for knives, no reason at all. But fuck it, I'm only human and the idea of a fortune can turn my head, just like anyone else. It might be dangerous but if anyone can pull it off, Dom can. Let him do this and we can be free. If he gets caught, though - what then? How will I live with myself? Oh, why did he have to dump all of this my lap?

I sit with my head in my hands and all these thoughts swirling around in my brain until I hear my bedroom door open and close. Hmm, he came up the fire escape again. I offered him a key to my place but he said he didn't need it. I lift my head and find him looking at me expectantly.

"Well?"

I open my mouth, fully intending to tell him we'll leave if that's what he wants, but we're not going near Barzini. But what comes out is pure insanity. "Alright. We'll do it your way. Happy now?"

Dom's eyes light up. "You're sure about this?"

No I'm not, but fuck it. No going back now.

"Yeah, I'm sure. How soon can you do it?"

"How does tomorrow night sound?"

"Fine." Tomorrow night it is, then. Twenty-four hours until the end of the world.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part IX
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: R
Summary: Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Of course I own Muse, I own the entire freaking galaxy! Oh, fine. I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.

I'm back to normal! Well, almost. I just want to say thanks to everyone who sent me a get well soon message over the last few days, it really meant a lot to me. Now, on with the show!


Now:

They carry me through the lobby of the Alhambra and throw me into the back seat of the car waiting outside. The muscle sits in the front and Pauly squeezes in beside me. He should really be in the front, he's too fucking fat to be sharing the back seat with anyone, but I guess he wants to see me suffer, wants to be so close he can almost taste it. I hope he's enjoying the show. My teeth are clenched together and I'm clinging to the belt with both hands. I don't want to give this fat shit any kind of satisfaction but I can't help the pained  moans that escape me everytime my hands slip a little bit and the belt moves. My whole body is slippery with sweat, so this is happening a lot more often than I'd like.

The car stops, Pauly's flunkies help him out and then they come back for me. I find myself lying on a table, still gripping the belt. My eyes are closed but they quickly snap open when I feel someone tugging at my fingers. I look down to find Pauly pulling the leather strip from around my leg. He must sense me watching him because he stares up at me with a truly evil smile.

"Don't worry, Bellamy. You're not going to die." He drops out of my line of sight for a couple of seconds, when he reappears I see a long knife in his hands. "Not yet, anyway. I'd like to tell you this isn't going to hurt but, I gotta be honest here, I really hope it does. Hold him down."

One goon hold my shoulders and the other one pins my legs. The sound of tearing cloth fills the room and cool air hits my left leg. The tip of the knife pierces my skin and I throw my head back and howl.

"Shut him up!"

A hand leaves my shoulder and grips my jaw, forcing my mouth closed. The world fades away for a bit. I come to and see Pauly bandaging my leg. When he's done he moves up my body and looks me in the eye.

"There, all better now. The slug's out of your leg and I even disinfected it for you. Don't want you dying on me, do I? But I can't have you trying to run off either, not when I've got such a wonderful night all planned for us."

I'd like to tell him to go fuck himself but my mouth is still clamped shut, so I give him the finger instead.

"Such ingratitude! That's alright, I've got a pretty big score to settle with you, that's just one more thing to add to the list."

The hands holding me  in place are suddenly gone and I hear footsteps as Pauly's guys leave the room.

He continues. "I'm not going to kill you, Bellamy. There are people waiting for you and you're worth more to them, and to me, alive."

I hear the gorillas return, pulling something with them. Now that he's got me at his mercy, Pauly just can't seem to shut up. "Don't get me wrong, you are going to die soon and we both know it. But it won't be here and it won't be now. I just want to have some fun before I hand you over, a little thank you for all the hours of pleasure you've given me."

I'm pulled off the table and dragged along the floor. Now I see what they brought into the room with them: a big tub of water. "Remember our last meeting? When you wanted to see if I could learn to breathe through my ass? Well let's just see if you can."

Then:

Here, in his own territory, Barzini is relaxed, in complete control of himself. Will that make what I'm trying to do here easier or harder? Only one way to find out. Keep it brief, the less said the better.

"It's done."

"You found him?"

"Yes, and I did what you wanted. It's over."

"Where is he?" My bedroom, last time I looked. I try to sound as neutral as I can. "Don't know, he said something about maybe quitting New York for good."

Not the whole truth, but not exactly a lie either. "Does it really matter?"

He sighs and leans back in his chair, lacing his hands behind his head. "Maybe, maybe not. How can you be sure it's really finished? This is a slippery little shit we're dealing with here." It takes all my self control to refrain from leaping over the desk and going for Barzini's throat, or trying to. Hearing him talk about Dominic like that makes my blood boil, not least because I know there's more than a grain of truth in what he's just said. Yeah okay, Dominic might be a slippery little shit, but he's my slippery little shit  now, for better or worse, and the whole point of this meeting is to try and keep him safe. Going crazy in here will blow the whole deal, so I need to relax.

I take a deep breath. "I don't know, Mr. Barzini. I guess you're just going to have to trust me. Howard said he'd stop fucking you over and, for what it's worth, I think he was telling the truth. Believe me, if he isn't on the level, I'll be just as pissed as you. I'm putting my professional reputation on the line here. How will it look if I take money for a job that I've left half done?"

This convinces him.

"Okay, you seem to know what you're talking about, so I'm going to trust you." He leans forward and points a finger at me.

"But just let me say one thing, as one professional to another: if you're wrong, you'll pay the price. I'll find you and I'll beat your brains in. Nothing personal, you understand. Just business."

"Of course."

That went better than I thought. Damn, it's hot in here! Before I realise what I'm doing I've pulled down my tie and unbuttoned my shirt collar. Bazini leers at me.

"Your lady friend must be a wild one."

My fingers fly to my throat and touch the large, purple bitemark there. Shit! I'm going to get him for this. Don't panic, Barzini doesn't know, he thinks it came from a woman. Play along, for the love of God, play along!

"Uhh, yeah, she can be." He doesn't seem to notice the way I over empasize the word "she". I think I'm in the clear. He reaches into a desk drawer and tosses an envelope at me.

"This should take care of what I owe you."

A quick peek inside assures me that it will, several times over in fact. I stand and he walks me out. A sigh of relief escapes me. That's it, over and done with - except it's not. It's far from over.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part VIII
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: R
Summary: Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Of course I own Muse, I own the entire freaking galaxy! Oh, fine. I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.

I know this chapter isn't great and I'm sorry, but I've caught some weird stomach bug and it's made me a bit fuzzy. Just bear with me, normal service should be resumed shortly.


Now:

To Hell with my pride. As the pain tears through my leg I do what any sensible person would do, the only thing I can do: I scream. My arms are released and I fall to the ground.

"I could really learn to love that sound."

I roll onto my back and stare up at Pauly, or try to. Can't see his face from this angle, that huge gut of his is in the way, but I don't have to see it to know he's smiling.

There's movement from somewhere in the rolls of flab above me and when Pauly drops to his knees I can see a belt in his hands. He loops the leather around my leg and pulls it tight, then wraps the end of the belt around my fist.

"That should do it." He gets to his feet, a process that takes a lot longer than it should, and admires his work.

"You're smart, you'll hold onto that belt. If you don't, I guess you'll just bleed to death right here."

I can't argue with that logic, so I do what I'm told.

"That's a good boy." He waves one of his thugs forward. "Get him out of here."

Then:

Dominic paces around the room, walking in circles, scowling at nothing in particular. I wish he'd sit down, he's starting to make me dizzy. We've spent almost two weeks together and I can honestly say they've been the happiest weeks of my life. But I've got an appointment with Barzini tomorrow and Dominic doesn't like it - not one little bit.

"Why do you have to go see him anyway? Why does he always have to call the shots?"

I sigh. We've been over this and over this.

"Because he hired me to do a job and I need to report back, tell him it's done. It is done, isn't it?"

"Yes. I'm behaving myself, being a good boy, not making trouble for anyone."

He turns to face me.

"But let's be clear on this, Matthew. I'm only doing this because you asked me, not because I feel sorry for that bastard. I'd prefer to let him stew in his juices awhile longer."

"But why, Dominic? What really went on between you?"

I take a deep breath before asking my next question. Do I really want an answer? "Did he ... did he do something to you? Did he hurt you?"

"Not the way you think."

Dominic stops his pacing and joins me on the couch, taking my hand in both of his. "Tell me something, Matthew." His voice is soft and his eyes never leave mine. "Are you ashamed of us, of what we do together? Does having sex with a man make you sick?"

There's only one answer and I don't hestitate. "Of couse not, do you even have to ask?"

This wins the first genuine smile of the evening. "No, I guess I don't." He presses a quick kiss to the back of my hand. "You have no idea how happy it makes me to hear you say it, though."

Before I can respond he releases my hand and resumes his pacing.

"It disgusts Barzini." He stops and stares into space for a minute before turning to look at me again.

"I know what I am, Matthew; I like to have sex with men, I've always been this way and I've never been ashamed of it. I don't run through the streets shouting about it because I don't like the idea of being stomped to death in a dark alley some night. But I've never been ashamed of what I am - until Barzini came along."

He's talking directly to the floor now. "It was the look on his face that really got to me, you know? Disgust, like I'd soiled him with my filth. But it didn't stop him coming back for more. And every single time, that same look of disgust when it was over. I hated him for that and I got sick of being his dirty little secret, so I thought it'd be fun to really make him squirm."

Dominic's dark mood suddenly lifts and he starts to giggle

. "What's so funny?"

He sits beside me again, shaking his head. "It's just - I was going to stop soon anyway, maybe even quit New York for good. Barzini got worked up over nothing, he didn't have to send you after me."

He cups my face in his hands, running his fingers over my cheekbones. "But I'm glad he did."

The following afternoon finds me outside Barzini's office, waiting my turn. I'm not alone. A big man, not quite in Barzini's league but still pretty damn big, is leaning against the wall and staring at me. This is Henry Tameleo, Barzini's second in command. He doesn't even pretend to be friendly, he just stands there, looking me up and down and tugging at the black leather gloves he's wearing. The fact that I've got business with his boss, business he knows nothing about, clearly doesn't sit too well with him. For some strange reason, all I can think about is those gloves. He's never seen without them - what's the deal with that? Is there something wrong with his hands? Don't they get all hot and sweaty in the summer? Does he take them off when he goes to the bathroom? I think having sex on a regular basis is turning my brain to mush.

The office door opens and suddenly Barzini is there, filling every inch of the doorframe.

"Mr. Bellamy, it's good to see you. You can leave us now, Henry."

Tameleo doesn't say anything, just nods and does what he's told. Barzini must be big on obedience. I'm ushered into the office and told to take a seat. Barzini parks himself behind a desk which looks like it cost more than I make in a year and looks at me expectantly.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part VII
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: R
Summary: AU.  Matt's a private investigator in Probhibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Of course I own Muse, I own the entire freaking galaxy! Oh, fine. I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.

Author swears off caffeine, lasts for about thirty minutes before cracking, making more coffee and writing more crap. Well, I tried.


Now:

They're on me before I can do anything, two huge, musclebound gorillas. Either one of them would make at least two of me and they grab me, shove me against the wall and hold me fast. They're not exactly gentle and pain flares up in my side again. I clench my teeth together, suppressing a cry of pain. This might be the end for me, it probably is, but I won't cry, scream or beg for my life, not if I can help it. Pointless gesture - as if the way you fall down actually matters. But it does, it does matter. When the fall is all you've got left, it matters.

A shadow appears in the doorway, the smell of sweat and cheap aftershave floats into the room and I know who these goons belong to. Sure enough, here he is: Paulsen, everyone's favourite pimp and scumbag. He's gotten another wig to replace the one I ruined and I wouldn't have thought it possible, but this one is even sillier than the last. He's grinning from ear-to-ear and here's a sight I thought I'd never see: he looks genuinely happy to see me.

"Bellamy! How's my favourite keyhole peeper?"

I'd shrug but it's kind of difficult with my arms held the way they are, so I settle for nodding my head. "I've been better."

"I'm sure you have." He gives me a quick once over, then gestures towards his muscle men.

"How do you like my new friends?

" "They're very ... solid."

Pauly laughs. He really is in a good mood tonight. "I got to thinking, after our last little chat, that maybe you were right. I'm not exactly Mr. Popular, I'm a bit lacking in the friends department, so I decided to buy some. They don't have to love me, or even like me. I just need them to do what I tell them to."

"Sounds fair, so tell me, how much are these nice new friends costing you?"

"It doesn't matter, I can afford it." His smile becomes even wider. "Especially now that I've found what everyone's looking for. You're going to make me a lot of money."

The smile disappears and he pulls a revolver from his pocket. "But not before I've had some payback."

And, with that, he puts a bullet through my left shin.

Then:

This feels ... right. A lot of men, waking up in bed with another man for the first time would probably panic, maybe puke, I don't know. All I can do, though, is lie here, listen to the rain hitting the window and marvel at the fact that I've woken up in exactly the same position I fell asleep in. This almost never happens. The most restless of restless sleepers, it's not unusual for me to wake up in all kinds of unusual positions including, on one memorable occasion, upside down.

Not today, though. I'm still lying with my head on Dominic's chest and his arms are still wrapped around my back, holding me so tightly it's hard to tell where I end and he begins. What should worry me is how easily I fell into bed with a self-confessed thief and con artist, a man I just know is trouble. All it took was a few minutes of (barely) civilised conversation, a couple of soft touches and I was putty in his hands. Okay, that's not fair and I know it. What happened here last night, it was real, not a just a game he was playing. He didn't force me into anything last  night, I was every bit as willing as he was. And, when I needed someone, he was here. He listened to me and he held me while I cried and he didn't judge me.

The truth is, I'm just not used to such intimacy, to sharing so much of myself with another person. It's not like I was ever enouraged to express myself. When I got out of the army I headed back to my parents' house (not home, it was never really a home to me, just a place I lived, that's all). Even now, I'm not really sure why, I knew better than to expect a warm welcome, or any kind of welcome. But I was lost and confused, all the friends I'd made were dead and I couldn't think of anything else to do. I just wanted to see something familiar, make some kind of human connection, even if it meant returning to a place I hated.

My parents were sitting at the kitchen table when I came in, still dressed in my uniform. They just stared at me, not speaking, and I felt all the things I wanted say die in my throat. My father pushed back his chair, stood up and walked over to me. His left hand held my chin in an iron grip while his right went straight to my scar. The flesh there has always been really sensitive (even I didn't know just how sensitive until last night) but, back then, it was more than sensitive - raw might describe it better. He placed a finger on either side of the wound and squeezed, not stopping until the skin had broken open and begun to bleed and I was crying out in pain.

Keeping his eyes locked on mine, he called me a murderer and told me I belonged to the Devil now and my scar marked me as such. It was no more than I deserved, a fitting punishment for going against my parents and ignoring the will of God. Then he spat in my face, dragged me to the front door and threw me off the porch. I struck the ground with a thump that made my teeth rattle and, as I lay there in the dirt, he continued to shout at me until I couldn't take it anymore. Scrambling to my feet, I plucked a rock from the ground and threw it at him with all the force in my right arm. It struck him in the throat, cutting him off mid-rant, and he fell to his knees, gasping for air. I walked away, wiping the blood and spittle from my face, ignoring the stares of the people who'd come to see what all the fuss was about. I never saw my parents again and I have no desire to.

I took a train to New York and lost myself in this city, like so many before me. Nobody cares about your past here, everyone's too busy living in the now and that suited me just fine. I got work with the Pinkertons and then built up my own business, keeping people at arm's length at all times, resisting the urge to cultivate any long term relationships, not wanting to let anyone get too close. My social life consists of the occasional drink with casual acquaintances and a string of one-night stands in cheap hotel rooms. Looking back on it now, it all seems kind of sad, like I've been wasting my life.

While I'd love to lie here all morning and watch Dominic sleep, my body has other ideas: I have to pee and the need is becoming too strong to ignore. I extract myself from Dominic's embrace, being careful not to wake him, and head to the bathroom, grabbing my pants from the floor as I do so. I relieve myself, flush and put my pants on, looping the braces over my bare shoulders. Seeing as how I'm up anyway I may as well shave, so I wash my face, reach for the brush and begin to spread the soap over my cheeks and throat. I'm so absorbed in the task at hand that I don't even hear Dominic coming into the bathroom.

He slides his hands around my waist and turns me to face him.

"Why don't you let me do that."

Before I can protest he picks up my razor, unfolds the blade and begins to shave me, running the sharp edge over my skin in long, slow strokes. My eyes close and I have to bite my lip to stifle a moan. I cannot believe how good this feels. Letting another man put a blade to my throat should not be a turn on, but it is. I force my eyes open, I don't want to miss a second of this. When he's done he pats my face dry with a towel and then grabs my braces, pulling me into a kiss. No good can come of this situation, I know it, I can feel it. But right now, as I lose myself in Dominic again, I just don't care.
hannah_chapter1: (Cassidy)
Title: Temptation Part VI
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: R, just to be safe. Angst, flashbacks, a bit of gore.
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Probhibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: Of course I own Muse, I own the entire freaking galaxy! Oh, fine. I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.

Author continues to fly high on caffeine and various products from under the kitchen sink, produces more silly stuff.

Now:

Christ, but I stink. That's to be expected; I've spent three days in this room, only sticking my head out when I need to empty my bucket. These pills Jack gave me might be old, but they still pack a punch. I wish I could stay here forever, numbing my pain with morphine, no need to think about anything, just let the world spin along without me.

It's tempting, really it is, but I know I can't do it. Enough people already want me dead and I'm damned if I'll lie down just to accomodate them. I need to go out for awhile, I need more food and I need some air. It's dangerous I know, but I don't really have a choice.

Climbing out the window is a lot easier this time. Either my ribs are starting to heal or I'm still slightly hopped up on morphine. I pull my hat down and turn up the collar of my coat. This, along with the three day growth of beard, should be enough to disguise me, or so I fervently hope. Once I'm on the street I keep my head down and don't make eye contact with anyone. I find a store and buy more food, keeping the transaction brief. On the way back to the Alhambra I buy a paper and thumb through it quickly. I find myself on the second page. HUNT FOR MURDERER CONTINUES. I've been spotted at several locations across the city and the police are "pursuing several promising leads." This means they've got nothing.

I'm back in my hideout, about to eat something when I hear it: the sound of footsteps. Shit. I wasn't as careful as I thought. Someone saw, someone followed and now they're here.

Then:

It's Friday night and New York is in a party mood. But I'm not. I walk the streets, not noticing the people around me, my mind too full of this Howard problem. Our little encounter didn't go quite the way I expected and I don't know what I'm going to tell Barzini: "I found the man you're looking for and he ignored everything I said. As a matter of fact, he seems to be treating the whole thing as a joke."

That's what gets me: Howard's attitude. He's not a stupid man, that much is obvious, so why is he doing this? Everything I said is true. Barzini and his friends rule this town and a combination of respect and fear keeps him where he is. The slightest hint of perversion, any suggestion that he likes it the other way would be the end of him. But he can't sit back and let someone steal him blind and humiliate him either. It won't be long before he loses patience and breaks out the knives and then Howard will find himself in a world of pain. He knows this as well as I do and he still doesn't care. What's it to me, anyway? I did what I was supposed to do. But, somehow, I feel like I should do more.

A couple of hours wandering the streets bring me no closer to a solution. All I've got to show for it is a pair of aching feet. Time to call it a night I think. When I get back to my apartment I find my front door unlocked. I tense up and draw my gun. If I've been ripped off the thieves are probably long gone, but you never know. I ease the door open, step into the apartment - and find Dominic Howard sitting in one of my chairs.

He looks relaxed and completely at ease. I, on the other hand, am pretty much speechless with rage. How dare he invade my personal space like this? My gun is still in my hand and, for a brief second, I consider putting a bullet in his foot, just to see if that will dent his composure. But I quickly come to my senses and put the weapon away.

He gives me a friendly smile.

"Do you hold all your guests at gunpoint, or am I just special?"

"You're not a guest, you're an unwanted nuisance."

A thought hits me. "How did you know where I lived?"

He holds up my wallet. "Lose something?"

Lightfingered little bastard! He must have lifted it when he walked me to his door and I never even noticed. I cross the room, grab the wallet from his hand, then look around the apartment, trying to see if he's taken anything else while he's been here. He guesses my intention and his smile becomes a sneer.

"Oh, please. If I'd been bothered to steal from you, I'd be long gone. Why are you so quick to assume the worst about me?"

"You stole my wallet! You broke into my apartment! What am I supposed to think?"

I'm standing over him now but he refuses to be intimidated, getting to his feet, so close to me that I can feel his breath on my face.

"Sure, I broke into your apartment - but only after you broke into mine."

"That's different!" "Why? Because you got paid to do it? Well, let me tell you something, Mr. Bellamy: I won't be lectured by a man who peeps through keyholes for a living."

"And I won't be lectured by a sneaky little thief who can't keep his hands to himself!"

Howard smirks and raises an eyebrow. "Look who's talking."

I look down and realise I'm gripping the lapels of his coat, twisting the material in my hands.

"Oh, for Christ's sake!"

I let him go and retreat to the couch, shedding my hat and coat as I do so. He straightens his clothes and drops back into his chair. We eye each other warily, me on my side of the room and him on his. Howard is the first to break the silence.

"Why don't we start again."

He pulls a hip flask from his pocket and takes a drink before capping the flask and tossing it to me. I should give him back his booze and throw him out. That would be the sensible thing to do. Instead, I uncap the flask and take a drink myself. It's high quality stuff, which is hardly surprising - stealing from bootleggers clearly has its advantages - and I feel the tension draining out of me. I pull off my tie and undo the collar of my shirt.

Howard leans forward.

"Can I ask you a question?"

I take another drink before passing the flask back to him.

"Sure."

"Why do you do what you do? What made you want to be a private eye?"

I consider my answer as I feel the whiskey take hold and sink into my veins.

"I just kind of fell into this. I came to the city, looking for work, and the Pinkerton Agency just happened to be hiring. So I worked for them for a couple of years before striking out on my own. The work suits me, I like being my own boss."

"And you like being alone."

I frown. "What makes you say that?"

He waves a hand at my shelves. "Lots of books and records, all neatly arranged. You're the only one who ever touches anything in here. It's Friday night and you could be out tearing up the town, but you're not. You prefer to be here."

"And I thought I was the detective." This gets a laugh. "What about you, what makes you tick? Why do you steal?"

He shrugs, his expression unreadable. "Let's just say it's in my blood, it's all I know how to do, I've always been this way."

"Is pissing off mobsters in your blood too, or is that a recent thing?"

"It's fun, it gets my juices flowing."

I can't believe this. Is he for real?

"You're going to get yourself killed. Don't you know that? Can't you see that?"

He doesn't answer. Fine. I change direction. "Why are you here, Mr. Howard?"

"Dominic."

"Alright, Dominic. I'll ask again. Why are you here?"

"Well, Matthew - is it okay if I call you Matthew?"

I nod and he begins again. "Well, Matthew, maybe I just want to get to know you better. Maybe I just want the pleasure of your company."

"Or maybe you want to play me, use me to fuck with Barzini."

"In case you hadn't noticed, I don't need your help with that, I'm doing just fine on my own."

He gets up and joins me on the couch.

"There's no game here, no angle. Can't you understand that? Is it really so hard for you to believe that someone might want you?"

Here it comes: I've been waiting for him to make a move ever since I came in. He moves closer and I expect him to try and shove his tongue down my throat, maybe make a grab for my crotch. And I'm going to kick his ass out of here the second he does. I don't know what kind of game he's playing here, but I won't let him drag me into it.

But his next move catches me completely off guard. He shifts closer to me, presses his fingertips to my scar and begins to stroke it.

"How did you get this? Did someone cut you?"

It seems to take forever, but I finally remember how to speak. A coherent sentence is still a bit beyond me, though.

"No. Bullet wound. From the war."

"It's beautiful."

Beautiful? Noone's ever called it beautiful before. The Devil's marked you, boy. He's claimed you as His own. You wear your sin on your face-

I shake my head, try to push him away. "No. Not beautiful. Ugly."

But he won't be denied. "Yes. It's beautiful. You're beautiful."

His lips replace his fingers. Oh God, this can't be happening. The touch is chaste, the barest press of skin upon skin. But nobody has ever touched me like this. I've never, in all my life, experienced such tenderness and that, in the end, is what undoes me. My mind is screaming at me, telling me to stop this, stop it now, before it's too late. But my body has other ideas. When he begins to kiss my neck, I don't push him away. And when he pulls me to my feet and leads me to the bedroom, I don't resist.

Can't move, can't see, somebody help me, someone get me out of here, oh please -
I jerk awake, gasping for breath. It's over, it's over, I'm in my own bed and everything's okay. Something moves beside me, the lamp clicks on and Dominic is staring down at me, a worried look on his face.

"What's wrong?"

 "Nothing, it's nothing. Just a bad dream. I'm fine."

"No, you're not." He runs his hand over my chest. My heart is still racing along and I know he can feel it. "Please, Matthew. Talk to me, tell me what's wrong."

I take a deep breath. "Alright. But turn off the light first."

There's no way I can look at him while I do this. He does as I ask and I roll away from him and begin to speak.

1918. France. Be careful what you wish for. This is the thought that's come to haunt me over the last seven months or so. I grew up in a tiny town, under the thumb of religious fanatics. My mother doesn't have a personality of her own, all she does is what my father tells her to. As for my father, well, what can I say? This is a man who decided to become a carpenter because Jesus was a carpenter. The Ten Commandments are his guide to life and that's all I've ever heard from him. Thou shalt not kill. Thou shalt not steal. Thou shalt not. Thou shalt not. Thou shalt not. Whenever that got boring he'd shake things up by telling me I was worthless, an imperfect servant of God, Hellbound for sure.

All I ever wanted to do was get away, break away from my dead end town and my dead end existence. Do something, do anything - I didn't care what, I just wanted some excitement in my life. When war was declared I saw my chance and I took it. I never really stopped to consider the cost. I just thought it would be an adventure. Oh, it's been an adventure alright: impaling a German on a bayonet, feeling the shock travel all the way up to my shoulder and watching the light in his eyes go out. The constant shelling, the roar of the guns, seeing men with arms blown off, legs blown off, men with their guts spilling out all over the ground. All the excitement I could ever want, and more besides. And I still have no idea how bad it gets. But I'm about to learn.

My company is out on patrol when it happens. We're heading to a place we can't even pronounce when the Germans appear. They've got at least twice as many men as we do and they just roll over us. Half the squad is down before we know what's happening. I manage to pop off a couple of rounds before I'm shot in the face. The bullet strikes me just above the nose and travels upwards, tracing a deep groove through my forehead and the outside of my skull before bouncing off, taking my helmet and half my scalp with it. The doctors will explain it all to me later, calling it a miracle - but, right now, all I'm aware of is a bright flash that seems to go off behind my eyes, then everything goes black.

Where am I? What happened? My head is throbbing fit to burst and I can't see anything. I try to get up but something heavy is pressing me down, keeping me in place. The pain makes it hard to think but I have to try and make sense of this situation. My head clears a little and now I remember. We were attacked and I was hit - but what happened then? Why can't I see? Why can't I move? Okay, stay calm, think things through. Try to move again.

My left arm is pinned but I can move the right a little. I wiggle it and my hand hits something soft, something that feels familiar. It feels like...stubble? I move my hand a little higher and encounter a nose, the shape unmistakeable. My hand is on someone's face. How, why - oh God. I jerk my hand away and try to scream. I still can't see but all my other senses have kicked in and now I know what's happened. The Germans looted the corpses and pulled them into one big pile...with me on the bottom. I'm pinned to the ground, crushed by the bodies of my dead friends. I can taste blood, the thick, coppery taste unmistakeable, dripping into my mouth. My nostrils are choked with the stench of flesh that's already beginning to rot and I can hear flies buzzing in my ears as they come to lay their eggs in the corpses.

Overcome with grief and horror, all I can do is lie here, shaking and crying. But my tears soon dry up as my survival instinct kicks in. Nobody is coming to help me, nobody is coming to save me. I'm on my own and, if I don't do something soon, I am going to die here. My legs are pinned but, if I can free my left hand, I might have a chance. It's stuck fast, trapped between two bodies but I refuse to give up, gritting my teeth as I pull. After what seems like an eternity, I pull it free. Using both hands now, I eventually clear a passage to the outside of the pile. My legs are still trapped, but at least I can breathe properly now. I grab my left leg and pull for all I'm worth and it finally comes free.

With three quarters of my body back under my control, I manage to get loose. I was lying on the edge of the heap and that's what saves me; if I'd been in the middle I wouldn't have stood a chance. I lie on the ground, waiting for the feeling to return to my legs. As soon as it does I start walking, hoping I'm heading in the right direction. I am. I've lost all sense of time so I'm not sure how long it takes, but I stumble into a British trench. My tags are gone, probably taken by an enemy soldier, but I just about keep it together long enough to give them my name, rank and serial number before I pass out.

I'm in the hospital for six weeks while my head heals. Everytime I close my eyes I'm back there, trapped under the dead men. I don't want to deal with this, all I want to do is crawl into a corner and never move or speak again. But I've talked to some British soldiers and I've heard all about what happens to soldiers who do stuff like that: doctors drag them into a little room and shock the shit out of their brains until they're "cured." The cure hardly ever takes, though. The soldiers in question usually stumble around like corpses that have learned to walk until they crack again. That's when they end up in front of a firing squad. It's not happening to me. I keep it all inside, all the horror and all the guilt I feel for living while my friends died. I'm transferred into another company, I serve out what's left of the war and I never talk about that day. Until now.


I finish my story and, to my surprise and shame, immediately burst into tears. Dominic's hands are on my shoulders and I twist away from him, I don't want his pity. But he persists, pulling me into his arms and I find myself clinging to him and sobbing out all my pain on his chest. He strokes my back and his hands are gentle now, with none of the frenzied lust of earlier. Little by little, I become calm and quiet. I fall asleep again and, this time, there are no dreams.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)

Title: Temptation Part V
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG-13
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Probhibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.


Now:

I’m back on the streets again, but not for long. Exhaustion and pain are beginning to take their toll and the wild energy that’s kept me going through this long, terrible night is all but spent: I’m winding down like a cheap, clockwork toy. I need to find somewhere to lie low, somewhere no one will look. And I think I know just the place.
 

I find a closed grocery store, smash the glass in the door and let myself in. Hunting through the shelves, I grab as much food as I can carry, enough to last for three or four days, and I find a bag by the counter to put everything in. An idea hits me and I head into the back of the store, looking for a bathroom. When I find it I take some toilet paper and I find a bucket next to the sink, so I take that too. Christ only knows when I’ll see a real bathroom again. I leave money on the counter, enough to pay for what I’ve taken and the damage to the door. Any other time, I could have just picked the lock on the door, but I had neither the tools nor the patience tonight.

 

Dawn is beginning to break as I reach my final destination: the Alhambra, a fancy name for such a cheap hotel. It limped along for years, always on the ragged edge of going bust and, about three months ago, it finally did. I’m pretty sure nobody will think to look for me here. It’s not like anybody knew about this place when it was open. I break a couple of boards and crawl inside, clenching my teeth as my busted ribs complain loudly at this latest outrage. The place is completely deserted, as far as I can tell, not a single squatter. That’s good: I’m not feeling very sociable right now. I find myself in what used to be the manager’s office and settle myself in a corner, making myself comfortable. My body finally shuts down and I fall into a thin and troubled sleep.

 

Then:

Anyone hearing about the poker palace for the first time might be forgiven for assuming it was a major social event, taking place in a fancy hotel room and attended by all of New York’s high rollers. Actually, nothing could be further from the truth. It’s just a floating poker game that takes place in a series of cheap rooms, the location varying from week to week in an attempt to prevent hold ups. The cheapness of the venues lead one joker to christen it the poker palace and the name just stuck.

Tonight’s venue lives right down to expectations. There’s a large puddle on the hall floor and a matching damp patch on the ceiling. The apartment door is opened by a dishevelled, unshaven guy who could be anywhere from fifty to eighty. He glares at me suspiciously and I can see a double barrelled shotgun in his hands. Old guy or not, any funny business from me and my brains will be all over the ceiling, which might at least hide the damp patch. I hold out my money and explain what I want: not to buy into this week’s game but just to watch it, preferably without being seen myself.

He thinks I’m not right in the head, that much is clear even from where I’m standing but he lowers the shotgun and lets me in. My cash disappears into his pocket and he directs me into a bedroom just off the main room. I make myself comfortable as I watch the players arrive. The last player is a young man with blond hair and an open, friendly smile. So this is the famous Dominic Howard.

The next three hours are spent watching Howard play and he’s a good poker player, that much is obvious. He knows when to fold and when to stay strong. And, I have to admit, he runs one Hell of a bluff. It doesn’t matter how strong or weak his cards really are, Howard’s smile never falters. He stays friendly and charming, come what may. By the time the game is through, he’s doubled his money. A winner then, but not a noticeably big one, and that’s a smart move on his part. There’s less chance that the other players will resent him, maybe try and ambush him on the way home. 

To be honest, they probably couldn’t do that if they tried because this Howard guy gives a whole new meaning to the word slippery, as I’m quick to learn when I follow him home from the game. This is what I do for a living, but even I have a hard time keeping up with him. No wonder Barzini thought he was dead. Howard can disappear almost completely when he wants to, melting into crowds and side streets and alleys. The fact that he’s been popping up the way he has, showing up at the poker palace and talking to bookies, leads me to believe he’s just fucking with Barzini, trying to get a reaction.

The next three days spent watching him – and it’s not easy, I can tell you – just prove my theory.  Howard’s treachery runs deeper than Barzini knows. He’s not just messing with the gambling, he’s also stealing liquor from Barzini’s warehouses. It’s like the guy can’t help himself: he has to steal, it’s like it’s in his blood or something. I swear he can’t walk through a store without lifting something and I’ve lost count of the number of pockets he’s picked over a three day period. Chances are I’ve even missed a few.

The evening of the third day rolls around and I’m sitting in Howard’s apartment when he gets home. If he’s surprised to find a stranger in his place he doesn’t let it show. He sets the bag of groceries he’s holding on the table and smiles at me.

“I wasn’t expecting company.” When I don’t answer he presses on.

“Would you like a drink?”

“No.”

“You don’t mind if I have one myself?”

“Not especially.”

One eyebrow raises as he fixes himself a drink. “Tell me, are you always so chatty, or do you get all sullen and silent sometimes?”
 

Again, I choose not to answer and Howard sighs.

“Jesus, getting conversation from you is like getting blood from a stone. Can I at least know the name of the man who saw fit to break into my apartment?”

“Bellamy.”

He repeats it softly. “And did your parents give you a first name, or did they just settle for a number?”

“Matthew.”

Howard settles himself in the chair opposite me.

“So, Matthew Bellamy, what can I do for you?”

I keep it brief and to the point. “Barzini sent me.”

“Yeah, I thought that was probably it. Did he send you here to rough me up, smack me around a bit?” His eyes positively gleam at the prospect.

“No. He just told me to find you, find out why you’re fucking with him and get you to stop.”

“And what if I don’t stop? What happens then?”

I stand, putting on my hat as I prepare to leave.

“That’s not really my problem. I was told to find you and deliver a message and I did. But you’re an idiot if you think Barzini will put up with this forever. He’ll catch up with you eventually and I think you’ll find it hard to pick pockets and play poker without any hands.”

This last remark earns a laugh. “Been keeping an eye on me, have you? I’m impressed.”

He stands as well, seeing me to the door. “Thanks for dropping by, Mr. Bellamy.” He leans closer for a minute.

“I’ll certainly think about what you’ve said.” And, with that, I find myself outside in the hall.

 

 

hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation Part IV
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG-13
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Probhibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.


Now:

Oh shit, that hurts! I grit my teeth and try not to flinch as Jack winds the bandage around my body, taping up my ribs as best he can. Turns out I was right: one rib is broken and another one is cracked, just to add to the fun. When Jack got a good look at the damage he turned green and nearly vomited. I could sneer at him for being such a girl but, to be honest, I can't say I blame him. I was too busy washing the blood off to really notice all the bruising, how my once pale skin has turned purple and black. When I did I damn near puked myself.

He finishes with my ribs, places the bandages back in the bag and just stares at me. It's a good two minutes at least before speaks.

"Can I ask you a question?" I pull my shirt back on and make a start on the buttons. "Sure. I might not answer it, but you can ask."

"Why did you do it? You've never been stupid or reckless. There has to be a reason for all this insanity."

"Sorry, Jack. I really can't answer that one." And I really can't. There's no explanation that I can give him, none that he'll believe, none that makes any kind of rational sense. I had to do it but the only person who could have understood my reasons is dead. I should know; I washed his blood off my hands tonight.

Jack shakes his head. "Stubborn bastard."

Flattery will get you nowhere.

"What are you going to do, then?" "You can't stay here and you can't stay on the streets. You're hotter than the sun right now."

He's not wrong.

"I don't know what I'm going to do." This isn't exactly true. I do have a couple of ideas but I'm not going to share them with him. The sad fact of the matter is, I just can't trust Jack. He's not my friend. To be honest, I don't really have any friends - oh sure, there are people I know, people I'll talk to, share a friendly drink with, but I wouldn't call them friends. I'm considered something of a loner and, right now, I'm grateful for that. Any friends of mine would be having a very rough time of it tonight.

The best thing to do here is keep my mouth shut because there's nothing to stop Jack from taking my money now and selling me down the river later on. I wouldn't blame him if he did. He's only helping me because I'm paying him but I haven't bought his loyalty - I've just rented it for a little while. Thoughts of money prompt a question of my own.

"How much am I worth right now?"

"Ten grand alive, five dead. They'd prefer to have you breathing. But if you put up a fight, which I assume you will, they'll settle for your head on a stick."

Yeah, that's just about what I figured. It's clear I won't be giving anything away so he sighs and dips into the bag once more, tossing me a bottle of pills.

"Here, have a going away present."

"What is it?"

 "Morphine."

The bottle is just as dusty as the bag it came out of and the label has faded.

"And just how long have they been in there?"

Jack laughs. "Quite awhile, actually. Do you really care right now?" No, I suppose I don't. I've got bigger problems.

"Have you taken any other medication tonight?"

"Couple of aspirin."

"When?"

 "Two hours ago, maybe three."

"Then wait at least another two hours and take half a pill. And then one full one every six hours."

He snaps the bag shut, which I guess signals the end of our time together.

"Or take them all at once and do yourself a favour. That'll be five hundred."

I place the money on the table, don't bother to say goodbye.

Then:

It's two in the morning but here in Phil's, the party's just getting started. I have no idea where this Howard guy hangs out or who his friends are, so it's best to start simply; lift a couple of rocks and talk to the things that live under them. The guy I'm looking for is leaning against the far wall. I'm on him before he sees me coming and I grab him by his collar and drag him into the men's room. As I spin him around and pin him against the wall, I smile. I am, as a rule, not violent unless I absolutely have to be. But there are exceptions to every rule and putting the squeeze on this particular shitbird is one of my few real pleasures in life. His name is Robert Paulsen and he's a pusher and a pimp whose speciality is putting on live sex shows for anyone willing to pay for them. Everything about him irritates me: the way he tries to give his profession a veneer of respectability by claiming to provide "adult entertainment." The way he tries to be morally superior because he doesn't deal in children. How he tries to hide his baldness with the worst wig I've ever seen and how he attempts to cover up the fact he never washes by pouring about half a bottle of cheap aftershave over himself at least once a day. He's my height but about five times the weight and he always seems to be on the verge of bursting out of the suits he wears.

I get straight down to business. "Dominic Howard. You know him, I know you do. So let's stop the shit before it's even begun. Tell me what you know and you might leave this room on your feet instead of on your knees. C'mon Pauly, talk."

He launches into his usual spiel. "My name is Paulsen and fuck you, Bellamy. You can't just come in here and slap me around whenever you're bored or horny. I'm an important man and I deserve some fucking respect-"

This is as far as he gets before I shut him up with a hard punch to the gut. He doubles up in pain and I drag him over to the toilet and shove his head in the bowl. Placing my foot on the back of his neck, I keep him in place for about thirty seconds while he coughs and chokes and tries to free himself.

"Right, that's enough foreplay." I pull him out and shove him into the corner. The stink of his aftershave, and the layers of filth it's trying to conceal, fill every inch of the room and his wig has fallen off. Oh dear. I glance over and there it is, floating in the toilet bowl.

I bend down until we're at eye level and tell him the facts of life. Yet again. "Your name is whatever I say it is, you cheap fucking pimp. The shit on the sole of my shoe deserves more respect than you do. And think about this: if you're such an important man, then why isn't anyone helping you? At least half a dozen guys saw me drag you in here, so why aren't they pulling me off you? Why are we alone?"

His eyes flicker and I know this last argument has struck home. "The fact is, nobody cares about what happens to you, Pauly. I could spend the next hour changing the shape of your face and nobody would give a shit. So tell me what I want to know or you can go back in the bowl and we'll see if you can learn to breathe through your ass. I have my doubts but anything's possible, right? I mean, you already talk through it."

He flinches back as I move closer and start again. "Dominic Howard. You know him."

This time I get a straight answer. "Yeah, I know him."

"How do I find him? Tell me where he lives."

"I don't know. I don't!" This last part is almost screamed as he sees my hand clench into a fist.

"Alright, where does he hang out?"

"The poker palace, sometimes he comes to the poker palace."

"Where's it happening this week?" He pulls out a piece of paper and a pencil, scribbles an address and hands it to me. I stand, pocketing the paper.

"Thanks, Pauly. It's always a pleasure to do business with you."

"I'm going to catch you with your guard down some day, Bellamy. And then I'll wipe that smug smile right off your face."

I click my tongue. "That's not very nice. And after I went to all the trouble of washing your hair for you!"

His hands fly to his head - I guess he didn't notice in all the excitement - and he crawls over to the toilet bowl. I think I've had enough fun for one night.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title Temptation Part III
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG-13
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: I don't own Muse and this never happened.



Now:


It begins to rain as I step off the fire escape and I'm grateful for the sudden downpour. Rain has never really bothered me one way or the other but, as I pull my hat down and turn up the collar of my coat I do believe the elements are on my side tonight: this rain will wash a lot of the scum off the street and that will make my passage through the city that little bit easier. Without so many eyes on the street, just waiting to report the man with the wrecked face and stumbling gait, I might just have a chance. The aspirin's barely made a dent in the pain and I have to face facts; I need some kind of medical attention and the sooner the better. Going to a hospital, well, that's just not an option, no legitimate doctor is. There are plenty of criminal doctors around, and I'm not just talking about their prices. These unscrupulous bastards will happily stitch you up, shoot you full of drugs and ask no questions, just so long as you've got the cash to pay for their services. Money isn't a problem but I can't go to any of these guys. That's the first place anyone looking for me will try. I could commit suicide right here if I wanted to, no need to walk all over the city first.

There is one other option, a slim hope but better than nothing at all: a doctor I met overseas, back in the war. He couldn't handle the things he saw over there and, when he got back, he got into junk in a big way. He scrapes a living doping horses in fixed races and most people don't know he was ever a doctor to begin with. Normally I wouldn't trust him to unblock my toilet but I don't have much choice tonight. It takes almost two hours of skulking through the darkest alleys before I find myself standing outside his bedroom window. Thank God he lives on the ground floor and chose to put his bedroom in the back, away from the main street. I knock on the window, loud enough to wake him but not, I hope, loud enough to disturb anyone else in the building. He stirs, sits up and turns on the lamp. His eyes widen when he catches sight of me. He flaps his hands frantically, conveying his desire for me to get the Hell away from his house. I stand my ground and shake my head, signalling my intention to stay right where I am. He pulls a gun from a drawer beside his bed and points it at me and I pull a wad of banknotes from my pocket, pressing them against the glass. The gun disappears and he comes over to let me in. Guess I win this round.

"Hurry up and get inside before someone sees you!"

"Good to see you too, Jack." The damage to my nose has given my voice a high, nasal quality and that, coupled with the absurd situation I find myself in brings on a fit of the giggles. I can't help myself - it just seems like all I've done tonight is climb in and out of windows. Jack fails to see the funny side and his eyes narrow.

"You think this is funny? The whole town's in an uproar, it's all because of you and you think it's a joke? Maybe I should kick you out of here right now, just throw you out the front door and let them scrape you off the sidewalk. How funny would that be?"

His words sober me  and my laughter dries up. He nods in satisfaction and heads towards the kitchen. I follow him in and park myself on a convenient stool. Jack searches through cupboards until he comes up with a black doctor's bag. As he makes his way over to me I try not to think about how dusty that bag is or the slight tremble in his hands. Beggars can't be choosers. He shakes his head as he examines my nose.

"And I didn't think this beak of yours could get any bigger. Guess I was wrong. It's broken but you probably knew that already, didn't you?"

I shrug, choosing to ignore the insult. Jack pulls a couple of splints from his bag and goes to work. When he's finished with my nose he checks my eye.

"Don't think there's any lasting damage here. You'll just have to get along with one eye for a few days, assuming you live that long." He stands up. "What else have you got?"

I stand as well and start unbuttoning my shirt.

Then:

"Why come to me?

" Barzini shrugs casually. "I've heard good things about you. You know how to keep your mouth shut, you don't get emotionally involved. And I'm told you know how to handle yourself."

He looks doubtful as he says the last part and his eyes travel over me, assessing my physical shortcomings. I could produce a snappy comeback about how a man who doesn't look like he can count to ten without using his fingers should know all about taking not people at face value. That would probably be an excellent way to lose all my front teeth and anyway, I see where's he's coming from. I'm small and skinny, with pale skin and what more than one person has referred to as girlish blue eyes. No, I don't look tough and I don't pretend to be, but I can hold my own in a fight and I always could. I can dish it out when I have to.

He points at my scar, the ugly, red line that starts at the bridge of my nose, slashes through my eyebrow and disappears up into my hairline. "How did you get that?"

"War wound."

I don't elaborate but the word "war" makes Barzini lean forward eagerly.

"You were in the war?"

I nod, not trusting my voice.

"France?" Another nod.

"Me too. Crazy, wasn't it?"

Can't move, can't see. The stench of rotting flesh in my nostrils, the taste of blood in my mouth. Have to get out of here, get out now, please, OH GOD.

Barzini notices the tightness in my jaw, the way I'm gripping the arms of my chair and he quickly changes the subject.

"Well, like I said, I want you to find someone for me." He reaches into his pocket and tosses a picture onto the desk. "His name's Dominic Howard."

I pick up the picture and a young man with light hair and a friendly smile stares back out at me.

"Who is he and why do you want him?"

The mobster's eyes flash angrily. "Why do you care, why should any of that matter to you? You don't need to know his life story, just find him for me! Isn't that your job?"

When I answer him I'm careful to keep my voice quiet and respectful. One wrong word here and Barzini could go off like a bomb.

"It's none of my business, that's true. And if you want me to find him, then I will. All I'm saying is, the more I know, the easier it'll be."

My words have the desired effect and he calms down.

"Okay, that makes sense." He sighs. "You know who I am and what I do."

He doesn't wait for a response before continuing.   "Howard used to work for me, on the gambling side of things." 

I nod. Alcohol might be Barzini's main source of income but, like any good businessman, he knows how to diversify. Word is he's also heavily involved in gambling, loan sharking and protection rackets.

"What was he doing for you?" "He did the books, ran some of the bets, talked to people for me, stuff like that. I liked him and I trusted him, more than I should have, maybe."

Barzini, pauses and runs a hand through his hair before continuing. "Howard disappeared about a month ago. I thought he was dead but then he started popping up here and there, just to mess with me." 

"Mess with you how, exactly?"

"He's been blabbing about fixed fights and races. Every now and then he pops up and spills his guts."

"I can see why that would be a problem." And I can - nobody will bet on a game if they know it's fixed.

"Okay, I get all that but, once again, I have to ask, why me? Don't you have people to do this kind of thing for you?

" I'm expecting another angry outburst but it doesn't come. Instead, Barzini blushes  - it looks strange on such a large man -  and drops his eyes. When he speaks again his voice is little more than a whisper

. "They can't know about this. If anyone found out about me and ... me and Dom, the things we've done together, it would be the end of me."

He raises his eyes to mine and I finally understand what he's driving at. It must be written all over my face because he immediately begins to defend himself.

"Look, I'm not  queer, I've always liked women and I still do. But with him, I don't know, it's like I just couldn't stop myself." He swallows thickly. "Just find him for me, talk to him, ask him why he's doing this to me. I don't want him hurt or killed. I just want him to stop."

Barzini runs out of words and I wait for him to pull himself together. When he does I tell him I'll do what he asks. He leaves and I lean back in my chair. Picking up the picture again, I take a good, long look at the man who's about to destroy my life.
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title Temptation Part II
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Prohibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: I don't own Muse and this never happened

Even more caffeine-fuelled nonsense from the plotless wonder. Happy days!


Now:

Wincing, I pull the shirt off my body, an operation which takes far longer than it should. Every move I make brings a fresh wave of pain and I'm wasting time I don't have, but I still reach for the damp cloth and run it over my neck and chest, washing the blood away. There's no going back, there's no getting away from what happened tonight. But I'm damned if I'm going to walk around with the proof of what I've done on my skin a second longer than I have to. I take the aspirin bottle out of the cabinet over the sink and dry swallow a couple to take the edge off the pain.

The bedroom looks even worse than the living room did but, again, I don't pay much attention to the wreckage. My clothes have been pulled out of the closet and tossed in a corner but it could have been much, much worse. As I search for a clean shirt and some pants I'm grateful to whatever God there is that I still even have clothes. The guys who were here earlier could have slashed them to ribbons or gotten really creative and gone to the bathroom all over them. Thank Christ they didn't and, while the things I'm currently pulling on are a bit wrinkled, they're a marked improvement on what I've just taken off. A wrinkled shirt beats a torn and bloodstained one any day of the week.

When I'm fully dressed I shuffle over to the bedroom window and drop to my knees, feeling around for that special crack in the floorboards. My fingers brush it and I pull the board up to reveal my emergency stash: money, my spare gun, a bottle of whiskey. A drink would feel so good right now and I run my fingers lovingly over the cool glass of the bottle. It would help ease the pain, there's no doubt about that and it's a crime to waste good whiskey, especially in these Puritan times. But there's been way too much drinking over the last few weeks, booze and painkillers don't mix well and, even though I want it, I don't really need it. And I've always been good at drawing a line between what I want and what I need.

"Oh really?" pipes up a voice in my head. "If that's true, then just how did you get yourself into this mess?"

I'm about to tell the voice inside my head to go fuck itself, ideally with the broken end of a broomhandle, when I'm interrupted by the sound of someone - make that at least two someones, and big someones at that - coming into my apartment.

"Bellamy! We know you're in there, Bellamy!"

I sigh with relief. Mob killers wouldn't announce their presence; I'd only know one of them was here when he snapped my neck or shoved a knife between my shoulder blades. Cops are another story, it's like they have to screw up everything they do. In my experience, a cop can be honest or he can be smart but never both at the same time, which is why this town is pretty much owned by the crooks. A guy I know once told me the mob was stealing the streets. I laughed and told him you can't steal what's already been given away. Their stupidity gives me an extra couple of minutes and I use them to my advantage, grabbing my coat and hat and climbing out of my bedroom window, as quietly as I can and as quickly as the pain in my torso will let me, and out onto the fire escape.

Then:

"Things fall apart, the center cannot hold." I read that in a book once and, to me, it sums up life better than I ever could. Good things just don't last and life constantly changes, and rarely for the better. All any of us can do is be ready to deal with whatever twists life throws at us. So yeah, I'm not exactly optimistic. But, as I prop my feet up on my desk and enjoy the early morning sunshine, I'm as close to content as my nature allows me to get. My last two cases wrapped up with a minimum of fuss and I can pay my rent for the next three months. My train of thought is suddenly derailed by three loud knocks on my office door. I don't have a secretary - it's an expense I don't need and I have no problem with doing my own typing - so I reluctantly pull my feet off the desk and answer the door. When I do, eyes widen in surprise: in the doorway is the biggest man I've ever seen. I recognise him immediately; his reputation precedes him, the way stink precedes a garbage truck.

His name is Anthony Barzini and he's one of the biggest bootleggers in New York. At a glance he looks like the worst kind of illiterate bruiser, the kind of man who would struggle to read a children's book. But experiences are often deceptive and he wouldn't have gotten where he is today without a brain in good working order. He's risen to the top of his particular pile by being smart enough to forge an alliance with his two main rivals, dividing the city between them and avoiding all-out gang war. Brains alone wouldn't make him stand out from all the other crooks in New York, though. What sets him apart is his ruthlessness, the will to do what other men cannot do, will not do. Rumour has it that people that have been foolish enough to go up against him have lost ears, eyes and, in the case of one unfortunate gentlemen ... well, apparently he now sits down to piss. If any of his own men is caught stealing from him, they lose a hand - but not all at once; apparently, Barzini likes to start at the fingertips and work his way up. I've no idea what a man like this would want with me but I smile politely and invite him in. He doesn't waste time, brushing past me and sitting in the chair by my desk. I sit behind my desk and he gets straight to the point.

"I need you to find someone."

Temptation

Apr. 29th, 2010 07:04 pm
hannah_chapter1: (Default)
Title: Temptation
Author: hannah_chapter
Pairing: Belldom
Rating: PG
Summary: AU. Matt's a private investigator in Probhibition Era New York and Dom, well, he's nothing but trouble.
Feedback: Always welcome
Disclaimer: I don't own Muse and none of this ever happened.

Author overdoses on caffeine and film noir, runs amok with plotless trash. Whee!


The lock on my apartment door has been broken so I'm not exactly surprised when I step inside and find the place completely trashed. On any other day such an invasion of my privacy, the idea that someone has been in my personal space, touching the things important to me, would feel like a complete violation, even worse than a physical assault. It's kind of ironic that a man who makes his living invading other people's privacy should prize his own so highly. Or maybe it's just a natural by-product of the job. Either way, it doesn't much matter now and I walk quickly through my living room, barely glancing at the mess.

My hands are slick with blood and sweat and I cannot get the bathroom doorknob to turn, it keeps slipping away from me. Eventually I growl in frustration, lifting my leg and kicking the stupid fucking thing with all the force I can muster. The lock splinters - great, now I have a matching pair - and I stumble into the bathroom.

There's no time to stop and think things through tonight. Everyone's after me: cops and crooks. If I'm caught, I'm dead. The mob will shoot me in the head and dump my body somewhere - and that's if I'm lucky and they don't decide to play with me for awhile first. The law will throw me in a cell and, assuming I'm not knocked off in prison, fry my ass in the electric chair. It all adds up to the same thing. But when I catch sight of myself in the mirror I stop, frozen in my tracks by the sight before me.

Jesus Christ, is that really me? My left eye is swollen almost shut and my nose looks bent and misshapen (broken for sure, I'll bet my life on it). My clothes are torn and covered in blood. Some of it's mine. Most of it isn't. Even though I barely felt it at the time - hardly surprising, since I was flying high on a combination of fear and adrenalin - that last punch must have done some damage. With every breath I take, it feels like someone's jabbing me with a red-hot poker. A broken rib for sure, maybe even more than one. Just fucking great. That's all I need.

Got to keep moving, that's what I tell myself. I've got to clean myself up, get out of here and find a deep, dark hole to crawl into. But, as I stare at the bloody stranger in the mirror, all I can do is think about the last five weeks. How did it come to this? How did I let things get so out of control? And how could one man turn my life upside down? Again, this is getting me nowhere, so I step over to the sink and start washing the blood off my hands. As I do I look at my wrecked face again and I find myself cursing the day I ever heard the name Dominic Howard.

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