Jane whimpered, eyes wide, desperately trying to twist her neck and look at the man who held her. “Theo…” she rasped. “We were…good! You know we were. Don’t throw…us…away! Please!”
He laughed cruel and low into her ear. “You really think that was anything, slut? You were a distraction. I used you like I’d use a tissue to blow my nose.” He flexed his bicep and cut off her carotid again. The brothers laughed together as Jane felt the world graying out again. .
She coughed, and let out one last gasping plea. “I know…where…kumir…is-”
Her words cut off as Michael slapped her again. “Really, bitch?” he barked, but his voice sounded less confident in their anger. “Why would I believe anything you say? You’ve played us from the start.”
Jane moaned, a little dribble of spit dripping from her mouth to the carpet. “I just…wanna live.” She swallowed, and as Michael’s hand lifted, she winced. “I swear! I can get you Isabella’s necklace! It’s at Kitten’s…secret place…”
Michael’s hand paused mid-slap as he thought about it. A moment later he tapped Theo’s shoulder. He released Jane and she slumped to the floor, coughing through desperate breaths as she tried to recover. She could still hear shouts and crashes from below through the roaring of blood in her ears. Silently she wished Patrick and Jason luck in rescuing Alec. Her own diversionary tactics weren’t working quite as planned.
Michael’s boot hit her in the side, and she barely managed to roll with the impact and escape some broken ribs. “Talk, you poxy trollop, before I break your nose again.” he shouted. “What is Kitten’s secret place?”
Jane looked up at the two men, tears flowing down her cheeks. “Look, I’m sorry,” she sobbed. “Yeah, I thought I could play you and them off against each other. I seduced Kitten, I seduced Theo…” She looked over at him, and he spit at her, the gobbet landing on her cheek. Jane didn’t bother to wipe it off, just slumped lower to the floor. “He…you know your brother, he’s too strong, too loyal to you for me to really get to him. But Kitten wasn’t! She was going leave Tony, for me! We were going to take the kumir… going to-“
Michael kicked her again, but the blow was half-hearted as he calculated the possibility that she was actually being truthful. Finally he grimaced. “I don’t give a fuck what you sluts were going to do, I just want you to tell me where this goddamned kumir strast’i is!” He drew his foot back again.
“Headboard!” Jane blurted out before he could kick her again. “It’s hidden in her headboard. Left knob, pull it three times, then push down” she gasped. “It pops open on the other side.” She bowed her head to her hands, shoulders shaking. “It’s there, I swear. Please! Just don’t…use that drug on me. Not like that…again.” She looked up at Michael, eyes red and streaming tears. “I couldn’t take-” Her voice stopped as she saw his pitiless expression. She shifted her gaze. “Please, Theo – I can…you know it can be good between us…”
Michael backhanded her again, saying “Theo doesn’t need a cheating slut like you-”
“Michael.” Theo voice was quiet but it cut through his brother’s tirade and the older man paused. Theo gestured at Jane’s huddled body, her head in her hands as she sobbed. “She’s done. Let me go down and make sure the boys have taken care of that fucking moustachioed barista, and I’ll also check out the magic headboard.” He crouched down and looked at the crying woman like she was an insect he’d pinned to a board. “And Jane…” Her face came up, eyes puffy and wide with tears, cheek bruised from Michael’s slaps. She winced as Theo grabbed her jaw tight, lifting her face higher. He was quiet with menace. “You’re not going to lie, are you? Because you really do want to get on my good side. Just ask Ksenya. He,” He nodded towards his brother. “…doesn’t have one.” Michael laughed sharply, but Theo just held his gaze on Jane’s tearful eyes.
She nodded mutely, afraid to speak, her face the picture of abject surrender. Theo growled and brought his other hand around. Jane winced, expecting another slap, but instead Theo gently cupped the back of her head and drew her face up to his. There was nothing intimate about his kiss at first – it was simply an expression of his power over her. Jane closed her eyes, still half-expecting him to strike her, but as the kiss extended she relaxed against him. She seemed to find sanctuary in the way he held her head, inescapable. She opened her mouth further and moaned into his devouring kiss.
Michael grunted with disgust, turning away, and Theo broke off the kiss finally. He stood, grinning at his brother. “Told ya, bro, you catch more with honey. And when you’re done, it makes breaking ’em all the sweeter.”
He turned to leave, and Jane called out to him with a suprisingly strong voice. “Hurry and get the necklace, Theo!” He paused at the door, looking back, smiled with a slightly puzzled look as she spoke. Jane’s tears were wiped away, and she smiled encouragingly at him. “Don’t stop for anything, but be sure to watch the grease out there!”
Theo’s smile grew wider, as if he’d just heard the best news in the world. He nodded vigorously to her and gave a thumbs up to his brother as he turned to leave. Michael suddenly realized something was wrong, and called out “Theo!” His voice was lost in the sound of his brother’s boots going down the stairs. As they receded the room fell silent but for the occasional distant crash of whatever struggle was still going on in the floors below them. The three women still huddled by the kitchen, looking confused and worried.
Michael slowly walked towards Jane. She didn’t move from her place on the floor, just watched calmly as he approached. Michael looked at the door where his brother had exited, then back at her. “I’ll be a sonuvabitch,” he said. “You just played him, didn’t you?”
Jane looked up at him with wide eyes, face still streaked with dried tears. She slowly nodded and opened one of her clenched fists. A vial of black liquid rested in her palm, the drug that she’d lifted from Theo’s shirt during their struggle.
Michael raised his fist to drive it into her face. Just then the sound of his brother’s bike starting up came through the broken window. The throaty roar of the pipes filled the street, revving fast, and Michael ran past the women to the window, shouting his brother’s name. Jane watched Michael’s face as the sound of the bike clutch popping into gear came through the room. Jane saw the man show the first genuine emotion she’d ever seen as he looked out the window.
Michael’s expression eyes were wide with shock and horror and Jane imagined what he was seeing. His brother accelerating down the street towards Tony’s building. Hurrying, as Jane had told him. Looking down to watch the grease on the street. As Jane had told him. She heard the sound of acceleration followed by a sudden scream and the torturous sound of metal crunching and tearing.
The sound of the crash echoed in the following silence. Michael’s mouth was open in a silent echo the of the scream as he stared out the window. He closed it, finally, whispering “Theo…”
Michael turned slowly from the window to look at Jane. She didn’t move until he moved , stalking towards her with slow and deliberate steps. She stood quickly, wincing as she favored her ribs. She’d not been faking that much, Michael’s kicks hurt. She took a balanced stance and prepared to defend herself.
Michael’s attack beat her down easily, striking with cruel precision that cut through her defenses with ease. Jane was fast and experienced in combat, but so was Michael. With an even match of experience his strength and Jane’s fatigue became the deciding factors. As they threw strikes, blocked, and moved around each other, they both knew that the fight was only prolonged by his sadism and her stubbornness.
Finally a combination of an upward block combined with a strike to her ribs staggered Jane long enough that Michael made the winning move. His arm twined around hers, locking the joint and putting her neck in reach of his hand which wrapped around it. His thumb pressed into the nerve plexus under her jaw and she craned her neck back, trying to move away. Her cervical vertebrae ached as he lifted her smaller form, the weight of her body adding to the torque on her arm and neck. Her other arm waved helplessly, trying to guard her open body but too tired and beaten to do more than ineffectually flop around. Her boots brushed the floor in a vain attempt to find secure footing.
Michael bared his teeth in a feral grin as he watched her struggle and opened his other hand. He held the vial, still half-full, where he’d picked it up from the floor as he’d torn through Jane’s defense. “That’s right, bitch,” he said, cruel satisfaction in his voice. “No Beecee, no little brother. Just me, and I’m not going to fucking kiss you or let you suck my cock.” He flipped the lid off with his thumb. “But believe me, cunt, you will swallow.” He tightened his grip on her hair and as she gasped with pain he drained the vial into her mouth. Discarding it, he clapped her jaw shut as she struggled. “Now you’ll pay, you little – oof!”
Jane had twisted her body, driving her knee up into his solar plexus. There was a sharp crack as his xiphoid process broke off his sternum. Michael retched and gasped just as Jane pursed her lips and spat the drug into his face, lips pursed like she was playing a horn. The dark liquid aerosolized and Michael released her, coughing and spasming as he fell to his knees. She stood there over him, watching him slowly recover his breath. He wiped his eyes, and looked up at her. The anger was gone from his face.
“Stay there, Michael.” He nodded happily at her, then winced as the motion aggravated the small fractured bone in his belly. Jane slowly walked across the room and picked up her black stone knife. As she walked back towards Michael every step seemed to transform her body from the beaten victim to the dancer’s grace she was accustomed to. As she reached Michael her she gave a wide stretch with her arms, rotating her shoulders back. “Fucking method acting…” she muttered. “And Patrick thought I couldn’t play the innocent! Michael! You believed I was beaten, didn’t you?”
Michael’s expression was unfocused, as if struggling with some inner conflict. “Michael!” Jane repeated, sharply, then crooned to him. “It will make you feel better if you answer my questions. You’ll really enjoy that.”
His face cleared and he smiled. “Oh! Yes, Jane, I was sure I’d kicked the shit out of you.”
“Score one for you,” came Jason’s voice from the door, and Jane looked up. She smiled wearily at him.
“Did you get Alec?”
Jason nodded. “Patrick’s got him on the way to Isabella and Joey. They’re fine – we’re sending them to the middle of nowhere. There’s a Bakushi that will put them in the other half of his duplex and watch over them – literally.” He grinned. “They’ll be fine, as long as they learn to like shoveling snow.”
Jane smiled back. “Good deal. And you?”
Jason shrugged. “Well, it’s not like I thought you needed help. I just wanted to catch the end of the show.” He nodded towards Michael who knelt dazed on the floor. “Looks like I got here just in time.”
Jane sighed as she looked wearily at the beaten man. “Yeah. There’s just one thing left to do.” She went to stand in front of Michael. Kneeling, his head was level with her breasts. Jane put the point of her knife under his chin, lifting his face to her. A thin trickle of blood trailed down from the grizzled whiskers in a crimson trail down his neck, but he didn’t seem to notice. From the kitchen Jane could hear the Russian women muttering nervously to each other as they tried to understand why their abuser was so cowed by the petite blonde.
“Michael,” Jane said. “It will make you feel really good – really really happy – to answer this question for me.” Michael was still breathing ragged with pain, but his eyes shone with devotion as he hung on Jane’s every word. She took a breath, looking intently at him.
“Where is the kumir strast’i?”
Michael’s eyes suddenly filled with tears. His body trembled, and Jane had to move the knife to keep the man from slitting his own throat. An agonized gurgling came from his throat as he struggled “I don’t know!” he cried out, weeping uncontrollably, and fell to his side, sobbing in a fetal position.
Jane looked at the broken man on the floor and thought of all the things she could do to him. All the things she wanted to do to him. She thought of everything she should do to him, everything he’d done, everything he deserved.
Then she shook her head and sheathed her blade. She looked up Ksenya, Valya, and Nastya, now standing closer, unsure of what they saw.
“Nu vot, devushki. Sdelai s nim kak khotite,” she said to them. Michael’s stopped sobbing, then, looking up at her with a strange angry helplessness, as if a part of him deep within raged against his lack of control. Jane hoped that was the case.
“I’m…theirs?” he asked, incredulously. “You’re giving me…to them?”
“Yer damn right,” she said, no trace of pity in her voice. “And Michael…” she crouched down, looking close into his face. “You’re going to absolutely hate that. I want you to feel miserable every minute of it. You’ll do that for me, won’t you?” Michael nodded happily at her, mindless with devotion.
Jane turned away and started towards the door where Jason waited. Behind her one of the Russian women muttered something and ran back to the kitchen. Coming even with Jason, Jane winced as she heard it.
He cocked his head. “What did she say?”
“She said Podozhdi minutochku! Kofemolku chut’ ne zabyla! Mne eto nado…” Jane repeated. As they went down the stairs, she shook her head slowly. “She asked her friends to wait to start with him because she knew where the coffee grinder was.” Jane kept her face straight ahead. “She said they were going to need it.”
Jason shuddered and followed her down, almost – but not quite – feeling sorry for the man.