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Trigger Happy Jack II

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1Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 5:39 pm

By the time we've arrived in Orlais, it feels as though the life has been sucked out of me. Any hope or confidence I've managed to cultivate during my time away has all but vanished at the sight of the intimidating presence that is the Braddock Estate.

It takes every ounce of remaining courage I have not to melt down in tears at the sight of Richard standing on the vestibule, clearly locked in a heated debate - or what might count for heated amidst the wealthy upper class that he chooses to associate with. I'm almost relieved when I'm pulled from the back of the car only to receive a withering look from him.

"I don't have time to deal with you right now," he says scathingly before nodding at the guards. "Take him to his cell. And inform Ivan that his favorite plaything has returned from his 'vacation'."

And just like that, the relief is gone. Panic floods in at the accusing tone of his voice, my legs folding underneath me as I become dead weight in the guards' arms.

"No, no!" I'm flailing and struggling against their grip as they drag me away without question, Richard's sneer only all too familiar as he returns his attention to the dignitaries he's speaking with. "Richard, please!"

My heart hammers inside my chest as we disappear into a side door. Begging is pointless now, but it doesn't stop the blubbered words from sobbing out of me. I'm praying, out loud and internally, that it's all for show - to scare me and to make it clear to the dignitaries that Richard is ruthless. If he could treat his husband this way, they would be wise not to cross him. He's done it before - usually without warning so it's more convincing. And if that's the case, he'll come down in half an hour or an hour - maybe two if the meeting runs into lunch - and I'll be praised for helping him secure a new ally.

But he never comes. For hours I hold out hope that he will, but the sun eventually dips below even the barred window peeking out from the grass, taking my hope with it. Ivan has traded out his shift with his brother - the one small reprieve that's given as Victor is less fit and takes longer between strikes. It's a small reprieve, however, as I've been hanging from the ceiling since sunrise. Each breath is agony due to the strain on my already cracked ribs, and the sweat pouring from my pores with each raspy gasp stings my whipped and beaten skin.

I'd given up begging sometime around noon, my voice hoarse with crying and finally giving out. However, the moment Victor puts his cigarette down on the edge of the table, his hands moving to unclasp his belt, I find it again. I hate that it's Richard I'm screaming for, my voice cracking with overuse as I struggle to keep Victor's hands off of me. Every kick I land on the man only makes him laugh louder, though, the sound a twisted perversion of glee. And I knew it was coming - it always comes when I grow too exhausted for him to elicit the response he wants - the moment he grows bored with my feeble yelps and weak attempts to swing away from his blows. Suddenly, I miss Ivan's brutality - he at least knows how to keep his dick to himself.

"Richard!" I scream again, the name coming out nearer a sob than anything. I can't even begin to put my relief into words when the door finally cracks open, a soft knock from one of the guards signaling an end to my torture. Or so I hope. I can never be sure what awaits on the other side of the door, but the sob of relief is still very real as Victor sighs and pulls his pants back up before retrieving his cigarette.

"Thank you," I sob out as the other guard pulls me down from my shackles, the sentiment earning me a sharp slap for speaking out of turn. Still, I say it again and again as he drags me to the door, my legs too weak with relief to support my weight.

The sheer joy I feel at being dragged into one of the bathrooms to find Richard sitting on the edge of the tub is absolutely perverse, but I can't help but cry with gratitude at his presence. His voice washes over me as he dismisses the guard. And his smell. God, I missed his smell. I nearly heave at the wrongness of the thought, another sob choking out of me as he comes over to run his fingers through my grimy hair and I find myself burying my face against him, my whole body trembling at the comfort.

"I'm sorry!" I rasp into his clothes, clinging to him as he shushes me, the words coming out over and over again until he tilts my head back to place a hand over my mouth.

"Shh, I know, dear," he says it so soothingly, so lovingly, you'd almost believe he were an angel. I can't help but quiver as he brushes his knuckles across my cheek - a gesture that still carries every ounce of its weight even after six years. As I knew it would - I still tremble when Ljuba touches her own cheek, just the ghostly whisper of her knuckles dragging across her skin triggering the memory of the praise Richard would give me for bending to his whims. It sickens me that I still yearn for it after all this time.

"I've drawn a bath," he says lightly, my hands scrambling to hold onto him as he straightens up to walk away. "You must be so exhausted after your ride here."

No mention of the abuse, as usual. Still, I nod fervently in agreement, the cold marble of the floor starting to seep into my naked skin as I become more aware of how exposed I am. Richard doesn't seem to mind, he never does, never even minds the blood on the floor or on his nice suit... just so long as I'm cowering appropriately and seeking reprieve from him.

My knees shake as he helps me to my feet, guiding me toward the tub as though I couldn't find it on my own. He knows better, but he does love it when he thinks that I need him. And God help me, I do. As I step into the hot water, I choke out another sob just thinking what the alternative is - Victor. Richard is quick to soothe me as he helps me sink into the tub, the shivers in my body at odds with the warmth of the water as I wrap my arms around my knees and lay my head against them tiredly.

It hurts to breathe, to move, but all the tension seems to melt out of me as Richard hums behind me. He's still seated on the edge of the tub as he uses a silver cup to pour water over me, taking his time as he cleans the grime from my skin and hair. I try not to think about the freedom he's stolen from me, of Ljuba and the friends I've made. Instead, I exist in the moment, as it's always been, drinking up the reprieve that is Richard's company.

In the back of my mind, of course, I know that he's the one that put me in that cell. He's the one who chose Ivan and Victor, the two most skilled at cracking through my shell and applying just the right amount of pain and psychological torment to make me beg for him, for Richard. I know that every move they make is calculated by Richard to make me want him, to make me cry for him to rescue me. It's all part of the Game... but the only way to win the Game is to play just as Richard intends you to play it.

And I do.

By the time all the filth has been washed from my tender skin, the shaking has subsided into something more visceral. Richard's gentle manner elicits every response he desires until I've finally caved. Leaning back, my movements slow and ginger to avoid any unnecessary pain, I rest my head against Richard's thigh as my fingers tangle in his. I hate the way he watches me, silent but hungry, like a shark waiting to devour me - and I hate that I enjoy it.

"Bathe with me..?" I ask quietly, my voice faltering as I tilt my face up toward him expectantly. My heart skips as his lip curls into a sneer. That was not the right question to ask.

"Bathe with you?" he repeats, no hint of affection in his voice as I feel his nails dig into my hand sharply. I wince, a strangled yelp clawing its way out of my throat as I tense and draw my legs up to try to make myself less exposed. "After you've lain with that whore? This isn't a prelude to sex, Marnin, dear. This is me trying to scrub that filth from you so that you're fit for me to be in my presence again."

My eyes burn with wounded tears as he throws my hand back at me, blood trickling down into the already pinkish water as I cradle it to my chest and listen to him move around the bathroom.

"I'm sorry," I say it again. This time it doesn't earn me the praise it had earlier as Richard returns to yank the chain on the drain, his angry movements making me flinch as I shrink away from him.

"You'll be sleeping in your own bed tonight," he says icily, the sentence coming like a slap in the face. I never sleep in my own bed after a day with Victor and Ivan. Before I can protest, he's pulling me out of the tub and wrapping a towel around me, scrubbing the water from my painful skin roughly. "I have a guest sleeping with me."

"What?" I ask sharply, my fear crumbling as a white hot jealousy sweeps into its place. Even when Richard grabs my face roughly, drawing me mere inches from his, the anger still burns through me.

"I thought I might make things even," he snarls.

"No," I growl, grabbing his arms as I try to force a rough kiss on him. When he hits me, it only drives me further, my nails digging into what skin I can find as I force myself closer so I can bite at his lips angrily. His fingers close over my neck, another familiar gesture that has the desired effect of arousing me further as I fight to get closer to him. The control, however, is stripped from me as his grip tightens, my clawing and struggling toward his lips becoming frantic as I fight desperately to get near him - knowing the only way I'll be allowed to breathe is if I can press my lips to his to gasp in what little air he'll allow me.

He doesn't allow it, though. Within moments the room is growing dark, and the only thing keeping me from crumbling on the marble is the grip he has on my neck, my hands clinging weakly to his wrist. Please, let me die this time, I find myself praying as consciousness threatens to slip away. But the darkness never comes, my body crumbling to the floor as he lets me go, my lungs gasping for air as he heads for the door.

"Your clothes are in the linen cupboard," he says flatly. "You'll bathe again tomorrow night, and then perhaps I'll reconsider allowing you to touch me."

The fury of emotions that tears through me is enough that I manage to break something as I slam my fist into the floor. The pain mixes in agonizing sweetness with the shame and guilt and sorrow that draws another broken sob from me. How dare he say such things about Ljuba! And then to elicit such jealousy from me in the same breath?! I want to claw my own skin off, I feel so mortified that I could feel that way - that I could feel shame for what I'd done with Ljuba...

There's a sick ambivalence warring inside of me as I get dressed. An anger at being forced into my own room as well as an incredible relief because I didn't really want to spend the night with him anyway. Or did I..? I don't fucking know, and that fact has tears stinging at my eyes even as I'm marching down the halls toward my room. I loathe the thought of him with another person, but I feel far more shame at the thought of spending the night with him when my thoughts are so fixated on Ljuba. Ljuba. Can she just be her own emotion? Just her name makes my throat close up.

I'm so lost in my thoughts, I don't even notice that the door to my room is locked. I simply rattle the faulty handle until it opens, not thinking twice on it as I shove the door open and walk in. That's when it registers that there's someone else in the room. For a moment, panic tries to worm its way in, my first thought going to Victor and our 'unfinished business.' But it's not Victor... it's some woman.

"Who the fuck are you?" I demand, quickly taking a survey of the woman and her belongings. Wealth. Confidence, power... she's attractive. Could this be some kind of test? A mistake? No, Richard doesn't make mistakes... a test, then. But what kind of test?

"Apologies," I cough lightly, my back going rigid with the habit of a 'proper upbringing', as Richard calls it. "I wasn't expecting company. Can I help you?"

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2Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:12 pm

My hand rests against the Brailled pages of the book in my lap, my other hand raising to catch the corner of my glasses as I pull them off to gaze at the wounded looking man standing near the door. 

"I'm a guest of Richard Braddock's," I respond, a faint frown pulling at my lips as I set my glasses on the table beside me to grab something to mark my spot before closing the book. "And you must be the husband."

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3Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:19 pm

"Marnin," I say, trying to keep a civil tone, but instead producing a strained kind of noise that's somewhere between polite and angry and indignant. "And what, pray tell, is a guest of my 'husband' doing in my bedroom? Did someone make a mistake and escort you to the wrong room? It's fine if they did, I can show you to one of the proper guest rooms - they're nicer than this anyway."

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4Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:22 pm

"I was shown the room personally," I remark, the frown turning to a slight smirk as I relax again and grab the tumbler of whiskey near the book. "Perhaps it's you who's in the wrong place?"

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5Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:27 pm

"This is my room!" I retort angrily. "My estate! I'm not-," I have to bite my swollen lip to stop the string of profanities from spilling forth, my outrage upsetting the already boiling temper I've been struggling to keep lidded since Richard left me in the bathroom.

"Clearly this is some kind of joke," I say stiffly, my words coming out clipped, but as polite as I can manage them. "Either you're part of it or we've both been had - either way, I cannot leave and it would be considered rude if you requested another room. So we'll make it work."

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6Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:35 pm

"It wouldn't be considered rude," I remark, shrugging as I take a drink of my whiskey and pull the book back into my lap as I pull it open distractedly. "I think you just realize, like I have already, that your husband didn't mistakenly double-book it. I haven't known Richard long, but I've deduced he's not the sort to accidentally put someone in the wrong room. No, no, no," I sigh, twirling the whiskey as I glaze over the page to find where I'd been. 

"He's done this on purpose. I haven't done anything, to my knowledge, to warrant being toyed with, so that leaves you." I shrug. "I'm here to bother you in some way, so the sooner you get comfortable being bothered, the sooner the situation can resolve itself." I finish, conceding that I won't be reading any further before setting the book on the ottoman where my feet had rested as I move to stand up, heading towards the stocked bar I'd requested to top off my drink.


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7Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 6:53 pm

"I'm not allowed..." I say hesitantly before nodding as I come over to grab down a glass for her to pour me some as well. Rules be damned. He's fucking someone else right this very moment - I'm having a drink. I'll pay for it later, I'm sure. Especially if this guest is reporting back to him. But with any luck, I'll have imbibed enough alcohol by then that I'll be numb to the pain I've earned.

"What do I call you?" I ask after I've swallowed down my first shot, the alcohol burning pleasantly at my split lip as I tap the rim for another two fingers. "I assume you're here on business? Your clothes don't have the Estate's smell clinging to them yet, so you can't have been here long."

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8Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:10 pm

"Well, most of my family calls me Ellie." I say with a shrug, refilling our glasses before replacing the stopper in the decanter and heading back to the chair I'd claimed as my own. 

"Yes. I'm here for business reasons. Setting up trade routes and protection orders for said traders. And my shirt has been in my bag for two days. I'm sure it smells like the rest of my clothes."

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9Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:34 pm

"Your shirt..?" I hesitate at the emphasis she's placed on it before my heart skips. "Oh! I'm sorry, I didn't realize - I can give you some privacy."

I don't know what's more flustering, realizing she's half naked or the fact that my words keep stumbling over my swollen lip. The way she remains in her seat, however, only smirking in amusement, tells me she's not particularly bothered by her lack of pants, and I find myself simply standing here lamely.

"I, uhm-," I clear my throat uncomfortably. "You're not actually going to bother putting on pants, are you?"

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10Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:37 pm

"I didn't need them for the first part of this encounter," I shrug, taking a sip of my whiskey before setting it aside, my hands resting in my lap as I watch him in amusement. "Will I require them for the rest of it?"

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11Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 9:49 pm

I press my lips together, unsure how to answer that question. I still don't know what kind of test this is, but I feel the need to put it out there.

"If that was a proposition, then I do have to remind you that I'm married," I say, my voice wavering a bit. "So pants may be required... if that wasn't a proposition, though, I really don't care. I need to take my shirt off, so by all means!"

I wave a hand dismissively as I go to pull open the various drawers in the room. I'm a little surprised to find that my bandaging supplies are still in the same spot I had left them. It's uncomfortable trying to sit down on the edge of the couch, my jaw clenching as I try to find the most comfortable position. It's even more uncomfortable trying to figure out Ellie's role in the Game, her eyes never venturing far from me as she sits on the other side of the room. I almost wonder if I'm meant to hide my injuries, and by proxy, Richard's nature from her. If that were the case, he made a foolish decision putting us in the same room together.

Gritting my teeth, I decide to simply ignore the Game entirely. If I guess wrong, I'll be punished, and if I guess right, I'll still be punished by putting myself through the anxiety of trying to figure out what the play is. So I surrender to it and begin unbuttoning my shirt. At least one discomfort can be amended - I can bandage my ribs, maybe put some salve here and there, and hopefully get some sleep. Whatever happens tomorrow happens.

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12Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:00 pm

"No proposition," I respond after a moment, watching him curiously. I do what I can to keep any sort of judgement out of my tone, instead distracting myself with my whiskey before continuing. "Though, to be quite fair, I don't know if I'd take the state of your marriage as the best reason to decline. It doesn't seem to be a very happy one.

"Your husband," I continue, setting my whiskey down as I rise to walk towards him as his hands shake with the bandages, "he's got a bit of a cruel streak."

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13Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:11 pm

I don't know why, but I feel frantic trying to manage the bandages as she gets closer - as though getting them on quicker will spare me some kind of pain. The feeling is so intense, I can't help but flinch as she lifts her hands to help, an unreasonable fear of being struck tightening around my chest. The breath of relief when nothing comes of it is almost as embarrassing as the flinching...

"That is precisely why I must decline," I say quietly, though I know that if Richard is listening, it won't be at the door where he can't hear me whispering. It'll be through the woman I'm speaking to. Sighing, I relinquish the bandages to her, my nerves still frayed as I catch myself flinching every time her arm lifts up anywhere I perceive as near my face.

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14Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:21 pm

"It's also precisely why I'm not silly enough to proposition." I say lightly, taking care to bandage his torso - dropping the bandages only long enough to apply the salve he'd gotten out. 

"Having only known him for a short period, I must ask - What is it you did?" I continue quietly, my own voice lowering slightly to match his. "His reputation precedes him, so I've reached a dead end on guessing. So far, my front runners are: You ate with the wrong fork at dinner several months ago, and you've been tucked away in the basement ever since, but given your build, I'd say that's inaccurate. Perhaps he isn't that disturbed... The other guess is you've gone on business, and he's reason to believe you're unfaithful. 

"Which might explain why you seem to think I may have propositioned you simply by being dressed for relaxation in the quarters I was assigned to."

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15Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:29 pm

"I wasn't away on business," I frown. "I was just away - not far enough, clearly - but I've been away for six years. I had hoped he'd found some reason while I was gone, that he'd let me go and realize that I don't want to be here. But I was wrong. He'd tease me about being wiley with the women while I was gone, thought it was funny when I'd flirt - I can't flirt with women, I've a husband. But he didn't find it so funny and impossible when it wasn't just harmless flirting anymore."

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16Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:31 pm

"Ah, so you were unfaithful," I nod, coming to stand before him as I tuck the last of the bandage in and take a step back. "In a sense."

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17Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:38 pm

"He's gonna kill us," I can't stop the words from coming out, fear and guilt welling behind my eyes as I wonder what's happened to Ljuba since I left. "It's my fault, I should have known better." It takes every bit of effort I can muster to squash the emotion threatening to overwhelm me as I rub at my bruised face roughly. Clearing my throat, I tilt my head toward Ellie, trying to gauge her discomfort as I frown.

"I'm sorry, this isn't your problem," I say weakly. "You're here to do business with him, not hear domestic complaints."

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18Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:43 pm

"I'm also not here to drink whiskey, yet I seem to be doing that, as well." I retort, returning to my seat as I continue nursing my drink. 

"Have you considered killing him first?" I ask absently, pulling my book into my lap as I flip through it boredly. "Or are you one of those who's too desperately in love with your abusers to attempt to fight back?"

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19Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:55 pm

My mouth remains clamped shut at the question. Game or no Game, it would be beyond foolish of me to reveal my intentions - however vague they are - to anyone this close to Richard's court. Instead, I avert my gaze, pulling in a jagged breath before I speak.

"I know he loves me," I say dully. "In his way... and he's all I've ever known. I don't know what I would do without him."

Neither of those things are true, though I am sure that he loves me in some perverse way. But I don't need her knowing that I have known different, and that I do know what I would do without him. Rejoice. Rejoice with Ljuba... somewhere far from here, where the creak of a door doesn't set my heart racing with fear or anticipation of who or what is to come.

"What will be, will be," I sigh, gathering up my supplies so I can put them back in their drawer. "Until then, whiskey."

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20Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 10:57 pm

"Que sera, sera." I nod quietly, raising my glass towards him before finishing its contents. 

"So what was her name?"

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21Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:04 pm

"Ljuba," I say the name quietly, with an almost guilty reverence. "We were friends first. We met after I left all those years ago, after she'd been through her own private hell. Who knew shitty fortunes could forge friendships, eh?"

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22Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:05 pm

"Well, you know what they say-" I say, my arm resting on the arm of the chair as my fingers swing the empty whiskey glass aimlessly, my gaze following it.

"Birds of a feather."

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23Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:18 pm

It's an odd feeling, the way my heart skips when I notice the impatient way she shakes her glass. It's not even a conscious decision when I get up to refill it, but the discomfort I feel once I have is very much part of my consciousness. I find myself sitting down on one of the ottomans, a seat lower than hers, as I refill my own glass and keep my gaze turned from hers as I contemplate the response, my glass dangling precariously from the hand rested over a crossed knee.

She's studying me. Why, I don't know, but I'm sure that it's clear that I'm both subservient and grossly out of practice. My hand shakes as I bring my glass to my lips - I really hope she doesn't tell Richard how rude I was. In his company, I don't have to defer to anyone but him - if anything, I hold a higher place than anyone else in the room with him. But in his absence, I'm to see to the guests' comfort - and if that means scrambling to refill a glass...

"Are you hungry?" I ask, my throat sticking a bit as I lick the split on my lip. "I can have some food brought in, if you like."

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24Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:24 pm

"I have someone bringing me food later," I say dismissively, sinking further into my chair so I slump lazily against the back. Head cocked, I watch him curiously, my glass resting on my hip.

"Are you hungry?"

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25Trigger Happy Jack II Empty Re: Trigger Happy Jack II on Wed Mar 16, 2016 11:26 pm

I nod faintly, my gaze dropping to my glass as I run my fingers through some of the alcohol that has spilled over the rim.

"I haven't eaten since Arrowpoint," I admit. That was two days ago.

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