Speed slowly opened his eyes. His head and wrists were killing him, and his throat was dry. He stayed as still as possible, not wanting to attract any attention before he knew more about where he was, and what was going on. He was lying on his side on a hard surface – probably smooth concrete. His hands were tied in front of him. He shifted one foot slowly. Handcuffs. He stopped moving, worried that the clink of metal would alert someone to the fact that he was awake.
The room was completely dark. Not even a hint of the night sky could be seen peeking through curtains or blinds. No windows. Shit. Speed forced himself to relax, convincing himself that the windows might just have been painted black to conceal his presence. The air in the room was fairly fresh, and there was space around him. The room was probably very large. No need to panic.
Speed closed his eyes again and listened carefully. Nothing. No sounds of breathing, no muffled music, no traffic, no footsteps. Speed sighed, frustrated. Without light or sound, there was no way he could figure out where he was. On the other hand, if no one was in the room with him, that meant he wasn't in immediate danger of attack. Maybe he could risk a little more movement to try to get out of this place.
Speed tried the ropes, but after only a slight twist, he was gasping from the pain in his wrists. The cuts throbbed, and the thought of wriggling them enough to squeeze through the tight ropes made him cringe. That's definitely out, he thought.
Speed sat up slowly, wary of dizziness. Careful as he tried to be, he still felt a slight wave of vertigo when he was finally upright. When it passed, Speed felt the cuffs around his ankles, hoping to find a sign of weakness, or any kind of malfunction that could get him out of them. He sighed. Nothing. They were perfectly functional, and he knew there was no way he could work his ankles out of them.
The only thing Speed could think to try next was the door. He could shuffle along on his knees well enough. Maybe if he found the exit, he could - Speed froze. Had he just heard a footstep? He listened carefully, but the noise didn't repeat itself. Instead, he heard the sound of keys. Speed turned toward the direction of the sound, partly because he wanted to remember where the door was later, but mostly because he wanted his face to the door when his captor stepped in.
Bright light flooded the room, and Speed was momentarily blinded. He heard footsteps moving towards him. He tensed, willing his eyes to adjust faster, so that he could at least see what was coming. Speed's eyes adjusted to the light just as the footsteps ceased. In front of him stood a man of about six feet, with a medium build, standing with one hand behind his back. Besides basic information about his height and probable weight, there was nothing Speed could tell about the identity of his kidnapper. He wore jeans, a turtleneck, gloves and a ski mask, all black. The mask only had openings for his eyes, but even those were covered, with what looked like reflective sunglasses. Every identifying feature on the man had been completely hidden.
Speed was frustrated, but relieved at the same time. If he couldn't identify his captor, he couldn't give a description to the team so that they could catch him later. On the other hand, the more concerned his kidnapper was with hiding his identity, the less likely it was that he intended to kill Speed. There would be no reason for him to hide if he thought Speed would die before he could speak to anyone else.
Speed looked around the room, trying to get a better idea of where he was. He wasn’t able to take in much more than the gray walls and the distinct lack of windows before he received a harsh blow to the head. Speed fell sideways, the dizziness coming back full force. He struggled to sit back up, despite the sickening vertigo. He caught a glimpse of a wooden rod, about two and a half feet long and three inches thick - probably what he'd been holding behind his back.
"Keep your eyes on me, you disrepspectful little bastard!"
Speed looked sharply at his captor, less from a desire to obey than from shock. The man's voice bore the distinctly mechanical, gravelly tone of a voice distorter. Speed stared at his captor in confusion. He could understand the use of concealing clothing, but it didn't make sense for him to hide his voice as well, unless he believed that Speed could identify him just from the sound. "Who are you?" Speed asked sharply.
"Quiet!" the man shouted, striking Speed across the face with the rod. Speed reeled back, stunned by the second blow. "How dare take that tone with me? Are you insane??" He kicked Speed in the stomach with all his force. Speed doubled over, stifling a cry of pain. There was another painful kick to his leg, and another closer to his chest. There was a brief pause, and Speed glanced up just in time to see the wooden rod come down. It slammed onto his shoulder with an audible thud. This time, he couldn't hold in the cry of pain. Speed tried to back away, but he was already close to the wall, and he couldn't escape the sharp blows. The rod came down five more times before the beating finally stopped.
Speed lay still, panting and waiting for the pain to abate just a little so that he could move. "Two stripes for every word spoken out of turn," the kidnapper said. "You remember that the next time you think about giving me lip. Now. Get up. Speed pushed himself up, wincing from the red hot pain in his shoulder and side. He made it to his knees and stopped to rest. "Hurry up! On your feet!" Speed made only a slight effort to move faster, stepping it up slightly when the man brandished his cane. Finally, Speed stood upright, barely able to keep his balance thanks to the cuffs around his ankles.
"Good. Now let's establish some ground rules. You will not speak unless spoken to. You will speak to me in a respectful manner, by addressing me as 'sir', and using a respectful tone of voice at all times. You will answer all questions in a timely manner, and without extraneous chatter. You will eat and drink when I say you will eat and drink. If you are disobedient or disrepectful, you will starve. You will use the toilet in the corner for your waste." Speed glanced past the freak in front of him, looking for the alleged toilet. He caught sight of a small camping toilet in the far corner of the room, just before the man tapped him sharply on the arm with the cane. "Hey! Eyes on me when I'm talking to you! Wandering attention is a sign of disrespect, and I won't tolerate it. Do you understand me?"
Speed stared at the black-clad man in front of him, as if he'd grown an extra arm or three. "You are a fucking lunatic," he said with deliberate attention to the word "lunatic".
There was a tense pause, wherein Speed could see his captor's grip tightening on the cane. He managed to anticipate the first blow, and ducked out of the way, only catching the tail end of the man's swing. He rolled away, toward the door, but he was already too light-headed from loss of blood and dehydration to make a true attempt at escape. His captor made it to him in about three seconds, swinging the cane down hard on Speed's back. Speed fell down flat, and the cane came down again and again. Speed managed to edge away, but only by a few inches - not nearly enough to do him any good. Speed lost count of his lashes somewhere around twelve. Finally, the blows stopped. Speed ground his teeth, forcing himself to hold back any sound. The pain in his back was nearly unbearable. Even breathing sent awful pain shooting across his back, and he was forced to take small, shallow breaths.
"Now, wouldn't a simple 'Yes, sir' have been easier?"
Speed shut his eyes and took a steadying breath. "Fuck you."
The kidnapper chuckled, and a second later, Speed heard the quick swish of air being displaced. He braced himself, but when the rod hit his back again, he couldn't hold in the scream. He had a disjointed thought somewhwere along the lines damn fucking pride, but he could barely form coherent thought between the strokes of the rod. When it was finally over, Speed was sweaty and trembling and praying for his body to lose consciousness so he could escape the excrutiating pain if only for a little while. "Six for every profanity," the distorted voice said smugly. "Now. Are you going to follow the rules, or do I have to give you a little more encouragement?"
A long, graphic stream of profanities immediately came to Speed's mind. Rather than invite a potentially deadly number of blows, Speed opted for silence. Despite his attempt to avoid another beating, another painful blow came down onto his back, followed by two more. Speed tensed, anticipating another strike, but it never came. Instead, his captor crouched down near Speed's head and rested his weapon on the floor. "All questions will be answered in a timely manner, Timothy."
Speed looked sharply at the man, wishing he could see his eyes, or hear his real voice. It wasn't surprising that his kidnapper knew his name, since he had been taken from his own home, but there was something disturbing about the way he'd said Speed's name. Even through the voice distorter, there was a familiarity in the tone that made Speed decidedly uneasy.
"You look like you're having a hard time making up your mind," the kidnapper said. He put his hand on the staff, and a small whimper escaped Speed's throat before he could stop it. "Not to worry," he said. "I'm not going to beat you right now. Instead, I'm going to provide you with a choice." He pushed the rod behind him and pulled out a black nine milimeter. Speed clenched his teeth, and tried to keep his breathing steady. His captor slowly moved the gun down and pressed the barrel against Speed's knee. "Here's your choice," he said. "You can either obey the rules, or I can blow out your kneecaps. Even if you don't bleed to death, or die from an infection, you can rest assured that you'll never see active duty again. Is that what you want?"
Speed stared at the gun, thinking about all the possible outcomes that might result from his getting shot in the kneecaps, each one more horrible than the last. His kidnapper clicked off the safety, and pressed the gun hard against his knee. "Answer me, Timothy. You've got three seconds. One. Two."
His captor looked over at his face without moving the gun. "What was that?"
Speed swallowed and licked his lips nervously. "Please don't shoot me." The gun was pressed against his leg even harder. "Please don't shoot me, sir," he said through clenched teeth.
The kidnapper put his gun away and stood up. "Better," he said. "You're going to follow my rules from now on, aren't you, Timothy?"
Speed closed his eyes and fought down the surge of defiance he could feel welling up inside him. He knew that if he was going to survive, he had to hold back his pride, no matter how much it galled him. His tormented body screamed at him with every single breath, and each slight movement. Who knew what kind of damage had already been done to him? He couldn't risk any more abuse right now. He opened his eyes and looked up as close as he could guess into the man's eyes. "Yes, sir, I will follow your rules," he said, hoping he'd answered quickly enough, and that his voice sounded meek enough to keep from getting shot.
"Good boy," his captor said. "Keep it up, and you may eat tomorrow." He turned on his heel and walked out of the room, locking Speed in.
Speed sighed and rested his head on the cold floor, too hurt to do anything else. He focused on the most pleasant thing he could think of - Horatio. Poor H must be beside himself by now. Knowing him, though, he'd never show it to the rest of the team. Speed fought back an increasing sense of despair at the thought of never seeing any of them again. He thought about his attacker's attention to secrecy, trying to convince himself that he would come out of this alive, despite the fact that police officers who were abducted were almost always murdered in the end. His kidnapper would have to know that no ransom would ever be paid, unless Horatio broke the bank and tried to pay with his own money. We do not negotiate with terrorists. Ever. But something told Speed that this was less about money than it was some personal vendetta.
There was that disturbing familiarity when he spoke Speed's name. And the kidnapper spent far too much time trying to force Speed into submission. If this were about money, he would have shoved Speed in a room, bound and gagged, and left him alone except to feed him. If he bothered to keep him alive at all. This guy wanted total control of him, and he wanted Speed to acknowledge that control. Speed only wished he knew who would go through this much trouble to exact revenge on him, and why. He hadn't received any threats lately, and no one he'd put away had been recently released.
Speed sighed again and tried to clear his thoughts. It hurt to much to try to work out the logistics of his own case right now. He shifted, wincing the entire time, settled himself into the least painful position he could find, and waited for the pain to subside enough so that he could get some rest.
Speed spent an uncomfortable night on the floor of his prison. His entire body ached, he was cold, hungry, and he hadn't had anything to drink since he'd had breakfast with Horatio the day he was taken. That in itself was a long time to be without any liquid, but the fact that several pints of blood had been drained from him the previous day made his situation even more dire. He needed to drink something soon. Coffee. Orange juice. Water. Oh, God, I want some water. He lay dreaming about waterfalls, bottled water, and even swimming pools, until he heard the sound of keys at the door again. He sat up, nearly falling right back down to the floor when a wave of dizziness hit him. By the time he'd steadied himself, his kidnapper was standing in front of him - staff in one hand, and a heavenly, delectable, glorious bottle of water in the other.
"Are you thirsty, Timothy?"
Speed almost said what first came to mind: "What the hell do you think, you son of a bitch?" According to his calculations, that would earn him about 30 lashes. Right. "Yes, sir," he said.
Horatio slammed the folder down on the table and figetted nervously with his gun. Damn! If he could just find someone to shoot, this would be so much easier. Instead, all he could find were dead ends. He and the others had been through all of Speed's collars from the past five years. None of them were likely candidates for kidnapping and possible murder. They had ruled out the perps still in prison, those arrested on fairly minor charges, and those living outside of the country.
They'd held voluntary interviews for the remaining criminals who didn't have verifiable alibies, but they just didn't harbor the amount of resentment that seemed to match the crime. Frustrated, Horatio had turned back to the files to see if there was something - anything - they may have missed. So far, he hadn't found anything. Every moment that passed exponentially increased Speed's likelihood of being killed, and the thought preyed on Horatio's mind incessantly.
Horatio jumped slightly and turned to face the door. "Rick."
Stetler had put on his sincere face today. "I heard about Speedle. I'm sorry, Horatio."
"Thank you," Horatio said.
"Now, you know I hate to be the one to have to say this," he said, tempering his tone to convey just how uncomfortable he felt. "But I'm not sure you or your team should be working this case."
Horatio glared. "Rick, we are perfectly capable of-"
"I'm just saying," he said, raising a hand defensively. "Everyone knows how close your team is. This case is personal for all of you. Evidence will be questioned, interrogations scrutinized. This could be much less of a headache for the lab if the night shift were called in to handle Speedle's case."
Horatio's greatest desire at that moment, besides getting Speed back, was to punch Rick Stetler's lights out. However, he couldn't deny the fact that the man had a point. He couldn't afford to have anything compromised on this case. Even though he knew that his team would handle everything professionally and carefully, everything they did would still be second-guessed by a judge and jury. "I appreciate your concern, Rick," he said at last. "But we're not pulling off the case."
Horatio held up his hand. "I will authorize one CSI to work the case with us. He will come to all potential crime scenes, he will personally collect any evidence we find, and he will attend all related interrogations. That will have to be enough to pacify any skeptical parties."
Stetler looked resigned. "I hope you're right, Horatio. I just think-"
Horatio's phone chimed and he looked down at it. "Excuse me," he said to Rick. "Yes, Sargeant?"
"There's a message for you, sir."
"I'm on my way. Excuse me, Rick."
"What about the other CSI?"
"Consider it handled."
Horatio left the room and strode toward the front desk, extremely curious about the tone in Claudia's voice. She'd sounded almost strained. Was there a personal emergency? Something with Ray Junior? When he got to the desk, Cynthia pointed to a small, plain envelope, his name typed on one side. "It's about the case, sir," she said. "It wasn't sealed, so I hopened it." She looked at him worriedly. "I hope I didn't destroy evidence."
"Don't worry, Claudia," Horatio said gently. "Got a pair of gloves back there?" She found a pair for him quickly and he put them on. He pulled a folded half-sheet from the envelope and opened the note. Typed in the center of the sheet were the words, "Timothy Speedle will be:". Horatio frowned and stared at the message for several moments. What the hell does this mean? He took the note back to the evidence room to have it photographed, then given to QD to process. Eric was in the room, inspecting the photographs of the message on Speed's wall.
"Hey, H. What's that?"
"Hurt," Horatio said softly, finishing the sentence from the note. He looked back down at the message and frowned deeply. "Look at this, Eric."
He showed him the note and Eric's face grew grim. "So... I guess this means we know Speed's alive," he said.
Horatio nodded. "Kept alive so that he can be punished for something."
"Damn. I guess we should-"
Horatio's phone chimed yet again. "Yes, Calleigh?"
"We've got another crime scene."
"I'm on my way." Horatio gave the note to Eric. "Get this to QD as quick as possible. There's another scene. I'll send you the address."
Horatio left the room, dialing as he walked. He was in the process of calling the night shift manager to request emergency assistance when someone slammed into him. Horatio looked up to see a stunned uniformed officer, wincing apologetically. "I'm so sorry, Lieutenant! I wasn't - I should have been paying more attention."
"It's all right, officer," Horatio said, smiling slightly despite his frame of mind. "I was the one with my head down." The officer looked slightly relieved. "Didn't I interview you last week for a position in CSI?"
"Yes, sir," he said, large eyes brightening at having been recognized.
"Wolfe, right?" He nodded. "Are you working a case?"
"You are now. Come with me." Horatio headed to the lot with the officer in tow.
Calleigh looked confused when she saw them. "We're taking a uniform?"
"I'll explain later," Horatio said. When they were all in the Hummer, and Horatio had started on his way, he made the introdctions. "Calleigh Duquesne, Ryan Wolfe. He's going to be joining us on Speed's case."
"HUH?" Both of them expressed their surprise at the same time. "But he's not even a CSI yet," Calleigh cried.
"He was just promoted," Horatio said.
"But... Lieutenant, I... I'm n-not qualified to-"
"Are you telling me you lied in your interview, Mr. Wolfe?"
"Well, no sir, but this case is so huge. It's personal."
"Exactly. We need someone on this case who hasn't worked with Speed before. You're qualified, you've had your share of field experience, and you're distant enough from Speed to avoid a judge having any trouble accepting evidence you collect." Horatio glanced at Calleigh. "It's either this or pull you, me and Eric off the case entirely. I don't think any of us want that." There were no more protests, and Horatio knew his point had been made.
After a long, silent drive, they pulled up at a mid-sized home in a middle-class neighborhood. A young man stood outside talking to one of the uniformed officers on the scene. The man appeared to be unharmed, and Horatio wondered what connection this could possibly have to Speedle's kidnapping. Eric pulled up soon after they arrived and trotted to catch up with the others. "Another hand?" he asked, looking at Ryan curiously.
Calleigh briefed him on the situation, and Horatio moved over to speak with the victim. The young man glanced at him and Horatio nodded. "Horatio Caine, crime lab."
"I'm Darren Wright."
"Mr. Wright's home was vandalized, sir," the officer told him. "I thought you would want to see, because it... it was reminiscent of another case."
Horatio nodded, making a mental note to commend the officer on his discretion. The press would no doubt eat the story alive, but the less said about it in public, the better. They didn't need to put Speed in any unnecessary danger by telling the kidnapper too much. "Tell me, Mr. Wright," Horatio said. "Did you see who vandalized your house?"
"No, I never saw anyone. They were in and out before I got home from work. Crazy thing is, they didn't take anything. Just made a huge mess out of my office. Like I just told your officer, I thought it was paint at first, but when I looked closer, I could tell it was blood. Thank God I keep all my important papers locked up."
"Did you touch anything?" Horatio asked.
"No, no way. I know better to touch blood! I called you guys right after that."
"Do you mind if we take a look around?"
"Go for it," he said.
Horatio beckoned for the other three to follow him inside. An officer stationed inside the door pointed out the way to the office, and they walked slowly to it. Horatio hesitated ever so slightly before opening the office door. He grimaced, and he could hear a gasp from behind him. The walls were streaked with blood spatter, just as they had been in Speedle's bedroom. As before, the only wall left fairly clean was the one which bore the kidnapper's message: "BROKEN".
"It doesn't make sense." Horatio turned to Calleigh. "Why here?" she asked. "If his is a personal vendetta against Speed, why leave a random message in some house that has nothing to do with Speed?"
"That's what we have to find out. Eric, get pictures of this, please. Same as before. Wolfe, you take samples of the blood when he's done. I want samples from each and every letter, and others from all the other walls. Calleigh, would you mind checking out the point of entry? I'm going to see what else I can find out about this house.
The team set about their assigned tasks, and Horatio went back outside. Mr. Wright was standing on the porch, looking as if he very much wanted to take possession of his house again. "I appreciate your patience, Mr. Wright," Horatio said. "Do you mind if I ask you a few questions about the house?"
"Sure, Lieutenant. What would you like to know?"
"How long have you lived here?"
"About five years now," he answered.
"And have you ever experienced anything like this before?"
"Never! It's such a quiet neighborhood. Everyone who lives here's practically retirement age."
Horatio nodded. "Have you ever used the office for anything else?"
"No, but it used to be used as a small bedroom before I bought it."
"Mmm. Do you know aything about the previous owners?"
"Not much, I'm afraid. I think it was owned by a retired couple for a few years, but I'm not sure beyond that."
"Thank you very much," Horatio said. "My crew will be here for a few more minutes, and then we'll have a hazmat team come to clean up your office."
"Thanks," he said hesitantly.
Horatio recruited a uniformed officer to follow him on a knock-and-talk. They started at the next door neighbor's home and worked their way around the neighborhood. Horatio learned more minutiae about the neighborhood than he could ever have wanted to know, but not much that was actually useful to the case. Although the neighborhood was populated by elderly couples, most of them were migrants from New York and California, who had not lived in the neighborhood more than five or six years.
Horatio found his most useful information from a man living in the very last house they tried, next door on the other side of the Wright house. The gentleman who answered the door was about Horatio's age, and had apparently lived in the neighborhood since he was born. He couldn't remember hearing anything next door while his neighbor was away, and he had no idea why anyone would want to vandalize the man's property. "He's a nice kid. Everyone likes him."
"I see. Mr. Randall, how much do you know about the former owners of this house?"
"Oh, I know it all," he said with a smile. "The previous owners were a retired couple with adult kids who used to make quite a racket. Everyone was glad when they left."
"But they weren't disliked enough for anyone to try to vandalize the property?"
"Oh, no no. We're not like that here. Things have changed since the Bear used to live there."
"Mr. Walden," Randall said with a grimace. "He's been gone for years, and I still can't stand the thought of him. He was a mean old man who used to scream at any kids who passed by his house if they so much as looked at his grass. Used to scream at the parents, too. I'll never know why he adopted a kid."
"A child used to live there?" Horatio asked, intrigued.
"Yes. In fact, I used to have a view right to his room." Mr. Randall offered to show them his old bedroom. Horatio accepted, and looked out of the window on a clear view of Mr. Wright's vandalized office.
Horatio nodded. "Tell me more about this child, Mr. Randall."
Mr. Randall seemed all too happy to oblige. "He came here in 1965. February, I think, because it was right before my 7th birhtday. He was five at the time, but small for his age. Like I said, Walden hated kids, so I have no idea why he decided to adopt. I think his wife talked him into it, but she died not six months after they got the kid."
"Do you know his name?" Horatio asked.
Mr. Randall shook his head. "Never heard it. The old man just called him 'boy', and I never did ask when we started talking. The Bear used to beat him a lot. Was always screaming about disrespect, and kids being seen not heard. You know the kind."
"No one ever called the authorities?"
"Not that I know of," Mr. Randall said. "Of course, I can't be sure. I was only seven years old at the time myself. The boy disappeared about a year after he came, and soon after, the old Bear left too. I figured he'd taken the poor kid back to the orphanage."
"Thank you very much, Mr. Randall. You've been a great help."
"No problem," he said.
Horatio left his card behind in case the man thought of anything else that might be useful. He found a slightly frustrated team when he got back to the Wright house. They'd found no evidence besides the blood on the walls. "There's not so much as a stray hair!" Eric exclaimed in frustration.
"We do have another lead," Horatio announced. "Apparently, the office was once used as a bedroom. In 1965, a foster child lived there, and was abused by the father regularly."
"Ohhhh." Horatio filled them in on what he'd learned on the way back to the lab. When they arrived, he sent Wolfe to DNA to log and give their samples to Valera for processing. He asked Calleigh to find out where the nearest orphanages were and Eric went to have his photos developed and sent to Questinable Documents. Horatio spoke to the desk sargeant and made sure that he would be informed of any other vandalism occurred with the same m.o., then went back to the files with renewed vigor. This time, he went in search of any criminals connected to Speed who had been through foster care.
Horatio paused for a moment to collect his thoughts when he was alone with the case files. He closed his eyes and pressed a hand to his temple, trying to make the puzzle pieces fit together the way they should. There was something wrong. The messages on the wall were clearly meant to lead them to a better knowledge of the kidnapper's past. But why? And what did any of it have to do with Speed? Horatio sighed heavily. Trying to make the connection gave him a headache. He could think of no reason why a man who had been abused as a child should want to hurt another man who hadn't even been conceived at the time. Could it be backlash against the "system"? But why take a CSI, instead of someone in the adoption agency?
At least for now, he knew Speed was alive. There had been so much blood at the secondary crime scene. He was sure it had been diluted, but either way, he felt sure that more messages were going to be written. The second message had been left at a house where he'd spent part of his very young childhood. The man was most likely born in 1960, the same year as Horatio. There was plenty of life story to tell in that many years, and the perp would need to draw more blood from Speed to do it if he stuck to his m.o. The very idea was gruesome all the same. The thought of Speed, alone in the hands of some angry, tortured man, bent on a ruthless quest for revenge made him shudder. Timothy Speedle will be: Hurt. Broken. Horatio didn't want to find out what else the man planned to do to Speed. He had to get him back, and he had to get him back fast.
Speed had learned in the many long hours (it had to be days by now) that he didn't like being beaten. He had learned that he disliked it so much, he didn't even have to fight his pride as hard as he had at first when it came to calling the freak "sir" and keeping his tone "respectful".
The first few visits had been the hardest, but the fury and blatant defiance had been starved and beaten out of him, and Speed was left with resignation. It was unclear at what exact moment his resistance had been broken. It was some time after he'd actually drooled at the sight of half a peanut butter and jelly sandwich. Some time after he'd been lashed for glaring and had realized that there was no single spot on his body that had not been touched by the discipline stick. It was some time after he'd spent about three hours, fighting tears of pain after he'd finally lost it and let out all the profanities he'd been holding in. It was some time after his one and only escape attempt.
Speed's bonds had been removed some time after the third visit, convincing Speed of the man's confidence that he would not be able to escape. And indeed, he hadn't. There was nothing in the room besides the small camp toilet. Nothing to grasp, nothing to be transformed into a weapon, no openings anywhere in the room besides the front door, which seemed to be made of reinforced steel. The surface was smooth, not a chink in it. He'd tried to rush the door during one of the man's visits, but he had been knocked to the ground and brutally beaten beyond any sense of pain he'd ever felt before.
Perhaps that was it. Somewhere in those horrific, agonizing hours spent wondering if he would even survive the beating, Speed decided being defiant on the inside was enough. It was smarter to cooperate. It was smarter to stay alive. At least that way, he might have a slim chance of seeing Horatio again.
Horatio. Speed missed him terribly. It was difficult to tell how long he had been away from him. There was no light, except the electrical lamp that was left on only when his captor was in the room. He'd tried counting the hours once, but he'd lost track. Judging from his own sleeping routines, and from the words the man used in his greeting (either "good morning", or "good evening") it seemed to be about once every twelve hours that he was visited. If this were true, it meant he had been in the Hole (as he had come to call it) for five full days. Even if it were a little less, it was far too long. Horatio must be beside himself. The first forty-eight hours were critical in a kidnapping. Before long, he would probably be presumed killed. Before long, he might actually be killed. How long could the man really amuse himself by torturing Speed?
Speed thought, suddenly, that he might be planning to amuse himself this way for a very long time. A person could be kept alive in a dank cell for a long time. The idea made him nauseous. Speed was deep in a horrible vision of himself living for years as the slave of a madman when the madman himself entered the room.
Speed struggled to his feet. Sitting in the presence of your betters is disrespectful, unless you're told to do so. The lights came on, and Speed tensed, turning to face the door. Even though he was blinded by the lights, he had learned where the door was, and by the time his eyes adjusted, he was facing his captor head on. The man carried a cardboard box with him, which he set down a few feet in front of Speed. Speed glanced at it, then quickly trained his eyes somewhere around his captor's knees. Roving eyes are a sign of disrespect. You will give me your full attention when I am in your presence. Looking into my eyes is defiant and disrespectful. You will lower your eyes when I am in your presence.
"Good morning, Timothy."
"Good morning, sir."
"I have something for you." Speed could hear the pleasant smile behind the voice, and he was immediately suspicious. His capor pulled out a small paper bag and a large bottle of water and set them on the floor in front of Speed. Speed looked at them, but didn't reach out. The first time he'd reached for something without permission, his hand had been rapped so hard he thought something must be broken. The man let a few seconds pass to make sure Speed was obeying the rules, then said "Go ahead."
Inside the bag, Speed found two sandwiches and a smal box of crackers. Speed's stomach growled, but he was still suspicious. He hadn't been given this much food at one time before, and he had a bad feeling about it. He carefully closed the bag and placed it beside him. He saw the kidnapper's hand move for his stick and cringed instinctively. "Thank you, sir," he said quickly, hoping it wasn't too late.
The man nodded, and Speed relaxed slightly. "Aren't you hungry?" he asked.
"Yes, sir. I'd like to save it for later, please." Speed pondered whether or not he should have added another "sir" to the end of that statement, but it was too late. His captor didn't seem to mind. He let out a crackly, mechanical chuckle.
"Smart boy," he said. Speed had grown accustomed to being referred to as "boy". It irked him, and at first he assumed it was just because Speed was younger than the kidnapper. But as the visits continued, he felt that it was something more. He spoke to Speed as if he were speaking to a child. Well... as if he were an extremely abusive asshole speaking to a child. He was almost ritualistic about it, and Speed was certain the man had been abused in childhood and was now taking it out on Speed for some unknown reason.
A few times, Speed had wanted to ask him about it. Maybe he could develop a rapport with him, get the man to let him go. But speaking out of turn warranted a beating, so it wasn't as if he could strike up a conversation. Even if he could have spoken an entire sentence without being beaten to unconsciousness, he had a strong feeling that this man was not one to respond well to negotiation techniques. Sharp and ruthless, he'd probably kill Speed just for thinking it could work.
"Now I need something from you." He pulled out a familiar glass jar from the box and set it on the floor. Speed gasped and backed away. "Hold still, Timothy!" Speed forced himself to stand still. His fists clenched tightly and his breathing sped up. "Down."
Reluctantly, Speed got on his knees, and the man knelt down in front of him. He pulled out a knife, and Speed shuddered. The wounds on his wrists were healing well, and had finally stopped hurting as much whenever he used his hands. The man took Speed's trembling hand and pulled it forward so that his wrist was directly over the jar. Speed gritted his teeth, biting back the plea that came to his lips. Pleading wouldn't make a diference. In fact, he would probably end up with a few blows to his shoulders for speaking without being spoken to.
Quickly, the man slit Speed's wrist, opening the wound. Speed couldn't bite back the scream, as pain seared through his wrist like fire. Again, he was forced to watch as his blood drained slowly into the jar. The dizziness came, and panic mounted. He was weaker than he had been the first time. Was he taking this into account? Did he really mean to kill him this time? No! No, he had to live to see Horatio! Speed's head dropped, and he felt himself trying unsuccessfully to pull away. Please. Don't kill me. I have to see Horatio. Let go, please.
The jar was almost full when Speed's abductor pressed a cotton square to his wrist and wrapped it tightly with guaze. He poured something into the blood again and closed the jar tightly. Speed watched in a light-headed fog while the man packed away everything except the food and water. He stood up and Speed began to try to stand up again. "Stay down." Speed stopped, relieved that he wouldn't have to struggle to his feet in his current state. "Oh, and don't worry, Timothy," the man said, the words again holding that fake-pleasant smile. "I won't kill you before you get to see your boyfriend again."
Speed's eyes widened, and he looked at his captor in a clarified moment of true horror. Had he really spoken those words aloud? Did he just say boyfriend? The man laughed at him, then spoke again, in that tone that told Speed he was back in ritual mode. "Now, Timothy. I'll be back to check on you in a little while. Be good, and don't leave this room."
Speed frowned. What was that supposed to mean? He couldn't leave the room anyway, and the man knew it. He had an awful feeling, and it wasn't just the nausea from the loss of blood. That sounded like so many stories he'd heard of children being dropped off somewhere with an assurance that a parent would be back to check on them in some promised time frame. Except that the time frame stretched on to forever, and the child ended up scarred for life. Speed looked at the bag of sandwiches and the bottle of water, and a chill ran through him. How long was that supposed to last? How long would he be left here?
Speed had another worry to prey on his mind now, too. The kidnapper's words echoed in his ear. I won't kill you before you get to see your boyfriend again. What did that mean? He supposed if the man had been watching Speed long enough to get into his house without setting off any alarms, he could have deduced that the two of them were partners in a sense that wasn't related to the job. But did he somehow already know Horatio was going to find him? Did he expect it? If that was the case, it meant that he planned for Horatio to find him at a specific time - maybe when he was done tormenting him, and was finally ready to kill him. Would he be cruel enough to make Horatio watch him die?
Speed began to feel more and more ill as the grim thoughts ran through his mind. Finally, he lay down on the floor, closed his eyes and recalled Horatio's face to his mind. It was comforting to focus on it, remembering all the details, remembering his smile, his voice, his scent. Speed let the memory soothe him. If only he could see that face in person again, he would be happy, even if it did mean that he might be killed soon after.