The Tiring Days are Often the Ones Most Worth Having
“I was a slave,” Greg said, a warm piece of bread in his hands. They’d gotten him to eat a little bit, at least.
“Greg,” Gavin said, voice soft. The meeting had ended a while ago. “You don’t have to tell us if you don’t want to.”
Greg shook his head, though what that meant Owen wasn’t sure. “I was a slave,” he repeated. “In Merket. But not a regular slave. I was…supposed to kill someone.”
“Theodore,” Owen said, translating for Darby. Greg had wanted Darby to stay with him. Darby had refused to leave.
Now Greg nodded, once. “Me and some other boys were trained to kill people, by Darwin. Sylvester, I mean. He and his boss trained us. One of us was supposed to get bought by Theodore, and then kill him. Theodore likes boys,” he added. “To have sex with, I mean.”
“To rape,” Gavin corrected, and Greg flinched. Owen only didn’t because Greg would see. “And let me guess, he buys slaves because the law doesn’t protect them from him.” He sounded pissed to Owen, but he was hiding it.
“I guess so,” Greg whispered. “Slaves aren’t people, so hurting them doesn’t matter.” He fell quiet at that, looking down at the bread.
Darby looked upset, though Owen wasn’t sure how much of what they were trying to say was making it through to him. Owen didn’t know the sign for ‘slave.’ You matter to us, Greg.
Owen translated for him, and Greg shut his eyes. “Theodore didn’t buy me. He bought my…Daniel. One of the other boys.”
“But Daniel didn’t kill him,” Owen finished. That was obvious, since Theodore was up and walking around. What kind of fucked up plan was all this to kill one guy? Owen could kill him easy without anyone getting raped. Theodore didn’t even have a bodyguard.
“No. He protected him instead. Theodore brainwashed him or…” Greg shrugged. “Sylvester bought me and Roderick back and brought us to kill Theodore ourselves, but Daniel protected him. And we ran away. He, he freed us. Sylvester freed us both. We’re not slaves anymore. I’m not a slave anymore.”
That sounded to Owen like Greg was trying to convince himself. He sounded afraid as he said it.
“But you ran away from him,” Gavin pressed. Owen didn’t think they should press, but Gavin didn’t think that not knowing what was going on was to their benefit. Especially since they were now allied with some of the people who’d hurt Greg.
Not for long, if Owen had anything to say about it.
“I…didn’t know Denver was here in Pelican Bay,” Greg said after a moment. He was getting more scared. “We met him by accident at the pier. He’s the one who told us about Theodore being here. When he told us, I…I got scared, I got lost. I ran away.”
“And Darby brought you here,” Owen finished.
I’m so sorry, Darby said to Greg, ears drooping. I didn’t know you were afraid of him or I’d have taken you somewhere else.
Greg shook his head. “It wasn’t your fault. I shouldn’t have…”
He didn’t finish, so, with a quick look at Owen, Gavin leaned forward. “Greg. You didn’t know who we were when you woke up here, right?”
Greg shook his head. “Not right away,” he said in a whisper.
“But you figured it out.”
“You knew Theodore was coming here, didn’t you? The whole time?”
Greg took a shuddering breath, shaking a little. “Yes. And…” He looked at Darby, and that was all he needed to do.
“Why didn’t you just say something to us?” Gavin asked.
“I didn’t want to…” Greg’s eyes were watering now. “I was afraid you’d make me leave,” he said, voice even quieter. “I don’t have anywhere else to go.”
Darby put his hand on Greg’s wrist, looking at Owen as if pleading for him to made Greg stop crying. Owen was glad Greg was crying, honestly. He hadn’t shown a whole lot of emotion the whole time he’d been here, and this seemed a lot more normal. “We’re not going to make you leave,” Owen promised, before Gavin could say anything. “You can stay with us as long as you want.”
At that, Greg started shaking all over. “B-but I’ll just hurt you again.”
“I don’t think you will.”
“It’s all I know how to do. I almost killed someone in an inn before I ran away by accident. I almost killed you. I almost…” He was spiralling again. Owen had seen him do it a few times now. Getting lost in his own thoughts, in his memories and ideas.
“You were trying to protect Darby,” Owen said, to pull him out of it. That was obvious. “You did all that to protect someone you’ve only known for a few days. You could have died, Greg. To protect Darby. I don’t think you’re a bad person.”
Greg was shaking his head, mouth moving without making words. Owen let him have as much time as he needed, taking Gavin’s hand while they waited. Darby just held onto Greg as if to stop him from escaping.
“I am,” Greg said, finally. “I don’t want to be but I am.” And he started crying again, leaning his head on Darby’s shoulder.
Owen moved, sat on the bed beside them. “We’ll help you, if you want,” he said. “I believe that you don’t want to hurt people. I can help you learn how to do that.”
Greg sucked in a breath. “Why would you do that?”
“Because I care about you,” Owen told him.
“You don’t know me.”
“You didn’t know Darby when you decided you cared about him.”
“I…” Greg held Darby’s hand, steadying his breathing. “I don’t understand.”
“You don’t have to,” Gavin said. “Just let us take care of you for a little while, okay?”
Greg swallowed, and for a second it wasn’t clear he’d heard Gavin. But then he nodded. “Okay.”
Gavin smiled. “Okay. Owen, go out and tell them that Greg’s asleep.”
As Owen stood, Greg looked up. “Who’s out there?”
“Sylvester and Roderick and Denver. But we’re not going to let them bother you.”
Greg nodded, but by the time Owen was at the door, he’d changed his mind. “Wait. I…I should talk to them.”
“You don’t have to,” Gavin said. “I can make sure they don’t bother you anymore.”
Greg sniffed. “They’re my…family. I think. I want to talk to them. Please.”
Gavin looked unconvinced, and Owen was too, but Owen nodded. “Okay. But Gavin and I will be just across the hall, okay?”
“Thank you. Um…” Darby started to get up, but Greg touched his arm. Stay here?
Darby smiled, and sat back down on the bed, tail wagging.
Owen opened the door. “Call us if you need anything,” he said, stepping out. The three of them were there. Stuart and David were guarding the door, watching them warily. “He wants to talk to the three of you. Don’t do anything stupid.”
“We won’t,” Sylvester said, motioning for Roderick and Denver to go in ahead of him. “Is he okay?”
“No,” Gavin answered, tone hard. “But he’s better than he was an hour ago. Don’t make him worse if you expect to be allowed near him ever again.”
“I get it,” Sylvester said, sighing. “Thank you. For taking care of him. Someone had to.”
Gavin nodded, and Sylvester went into the room.
“Pay close attention,” Owen told David and Stuart. “If anything happens I want to know about it right away.”
“Yes, sir,” David said, saluting.
Inside their room, Gavin was already sitting on the bed, sighing. “Well. That was a fucking day.”
“Yeah,” Owen said, sitting beside him. He was exhausted.
Gavin immediately turned, put his hand on Owen’s cheek. “You’re sure you’re not hurt?”
Owen nodded. There was still some blood on his face, and a lot on his shirt. But he was fine. “Not at all. It’s like the cut was never even there.”
“It was not a cut,” Gavin muttered, dropping his hand. He put his arm around Owen. “You’re such a good person.”
“Not really,” Owen said, holding Gavin back. “I just did what anyone would do.” Helping Greg was just the right thing to do, that was all.
“Sure,” Gavin said, closing his eyes. “I love you so much.”
“Me too,” Owen said, letting Gavin rest on him. “You’re tired.”
Gavin nodded. “I’ll be fine. I still have stuff to do.”
“Have a nap.”
“Not while they’re in there with Greg. Just…hold me like this for a while, okay?”
Together, the two of them sat there quietly for quite a while. It had been a good day’s work, Owen thought.
2 thoughts on “Dragon, 75”
And now that Gavin and Owen know how awful Theodore really is, his days are numbered. Possibly in the single digits.
Quite possibly! Though notably (and correctly) they targeted their ire for Greg’s specific condition at Sylvester for the most part. That might just be because he’s around, though. Owen doesn’t tolerate abusers well. 🙂