25.Foolish Games

            

Joni started to wake, soft cigarette smoke irritating his nostrils, his eyelids flickered and he groaned softly before opening his eyes; he saw Chris who was sitting on a stool, smoking and watching him with a cold unreadable expression. The bed on which he was laying wasn’t soft like the one he had at home, a thin path of sunlight poured from between the slightly open curtains, crossed the room and landed on the room’s closed oak door. Joni blinked, his head was throbbing and his mouth felt dry, silence…

He gazed at the painting of a forest on the bedside, recognised it and frowned.

”Your dad agreed we could spend some time here, they won’t bother us since I told them we could use some time alone, since you’ve seemed down lately… You know, spend time all romantic and shit.” Chris chuckled dryly, ”I hoped it could be that…” he sighed then and Joni turned his eyes to him slowly, he still felt drowsy from the sleeping drug and didn’t quite understand the whole situation.

”I’m so disappointed in you,” Chris continued, inhaling some smoke, tilting his head, ”are you ready to tell me his name?”

His family knew they were here but they wouldn’t come since they didn’t know what Chris could do…. The room seemed so warm and homely, the yellow light in the oak room, it had been a while since he had been here, too long ago perhaps and now… His heart started to beat faster again, he should think about his words carefully, should try to ease the situation if it was possible.

”His name doesn’t matter…” He whispered finally, turning his gaze back to Chris, who frowned and almost looked hurt, vulnerable… ”Chris…” Joni continued, licking his lips, staying still, it was difficult to think when he was still affected by the drug, ”I-” he didn’t know what to say, if there was anything that he could do to turn the situation around, where he would not be hurt. ”…I’m scared…” He decided to confess, tears rising in his eyes, ”please…”

For a moment Chris only continued to stare at him and Joni thought that he saw his eyes glimmer with tears waiting to be shed but the next moment he cleared his throat and his gaze hardened.

”I can’t stand the thought of you being with someone else, it makes me sick…”

Joni struggled to sit up, ”w-we can fix things, we can talk…” He whispered not wanting to annoy the man further, this was already serious.

”So now you want to fix it?” Chris raised his brow almost looking amused.

”It’s not too late…” Joni continued, ”can’t it be like it was before? Remember? We were happy….” He swallowed, felt a tear running down from his eyes, landing on his lip and he carefully licked the salty taste away.

Chris sighed, ”yes, I thought we were… you changed…”

Joni swallowed, letting his gaze drift to the ceiling, watching the thin smoky rings floating above,

”You shouldn’t smoke in here,” he said softly, looking back at him, perhaps trying to distract him with idle conversation, ”Dad wouldn’t like it, he never smokes inside…”

Chris shrugged, ”I can air it off later,” he answered and opened the curtain a little further, gazing outside for a moment, this calmness was odd Joni thought, lowering his feet on the floor while his hand reached out to touch his sore cheek. ”I changed my life to be with you, I moved here for you, I have been faithful and you… you just don’t care… ” He was still looking outside, drawing another deep breath of the cigarette, his elbow resting against the writing desk next to the window.

Joni was silent for a moment, trying to remind himself to stay calm, to not raise his voice, to just remain as calm as possible and hoped it would keep Chris calm as well.

”I-I do care…” He started carefully, creeping to the edge of the bed, ”you know… I sometimes miss that time I visited you in Canada, remember Chris?” He bit his lip, he felt nervous having no idea what was going on in the other man’s head.

Chris turned his face to him and gave him a crooked smile, his expression unreadable.

”Yes.” A short answer giving no clues.

”I remember… you used to laugh more then… and… we had fun…you looked at me differently then too, you don’t do that anymore… I miss how we were, once.”

Chris rolled his eyes, put the cigarette out, ”and whose fault is it that it changed, huh?” He asked, tapping his fingers on the table, ”I fucking love you and you act like such a slut, flirting with everything that fucking moves…You’re hurting me Joni… ”

Joni fell silent, he didn’t know how to go further with this; hearing the words I love you from Chris’ lips felt odd and he thought that Chris had never really meant it, if he even knew what love was… He also didn’t know how to act the right way, if there was one. Perhaps it was true that he was to blame for the way Chris was now? He felt his stomach turn and confusion spread.

”How’s your mom doing?” Another question to distract the man.. Chris took another cigarette and lit it, he shrugged again.

”She has cancer…” The voice said lacking emotion.

”What kind of cancer?” Buy time, distract, try to break the wall, get a connection….

”Breast…”

”Are they going to operate on her? Or have they already?”  Chris raised his brow smiling slightly which seemed odd.

”They recommend it… A slut with one breast, it’s kind of amusing. Dad doesn’t like it.” Chris grinned, Joni frowned. ”She said she would like to meet my girl…” He added then, still having that odd smile on his lips, ”are you my girl, Joni?”

”Chris, this is stupid…” Joni started carefully, ”…I’m sorry about your mom, I know how it feels, but she has a chance to survive.”

”I really don’t think you know how it feels Joni.”

”I lost my mom, she had cancer, remember?”

”Yes, but it doesn’t make you understand how I feel.”

”Of course I can’t know exactly, but…”

”Enough!” Chris finally snapped, ”shut your mouth … It’s not working. This is not about my mother, this is about you…” He hissed, ”about you being such a god damn whore.”

Joni drew in a shaky breath watching as Chris stood up after putting the cigarette away.

”How can I make you learn?” He asked approaching, ”Huh?” Joni turned his face away. Chris took a hold of his hair and forced him to look up. ”You will look at me when I speak to you.” His eyes were narrowed with anger, he was forcing Joni’s head back making him whimper. ”You are hurting me Joni, screwing around, you don’t care, you fucking don’t care!”

”You raped me Chris!” Joni finally screamed, ”you raped me and you say that I’m hurting you! Do you know how ridiculous that sounds; get your head out of your ass and think!” That earned him a hard slap across the face, Chris was breathing fast.

”You’re mine, you are fucking mine! You’re my boyfriend and you should fucking respect me!” Another hit to the back of his head, Joni brought his hands to cover his face crying out, trembling.

”Look at me!… Look at me Joni!” Chris took hold of the back of neck and squeezed until Joni lowered his hands, brown eyes watering when they met his gaze.

”How can I respect you…. When you don’t respect me at all? I am not a thing, Chris…” His voice trembled, tears fell down, ”…don’t treat me as such….” Chris let go of him, walked closer to the door and turned, his eyes narrow, upset clear on his features. Joni didn’t know at all what to expect next, whether the beating was over or just starting.

”Who is he?” Chris asked tightly, Joni shook his head.

”It doesn’t matter…” He replied quietly lowering his gaze for a moment.

”I fucking deserve to know who fucked you! Tell me!”

Joni brought his gaze back up gave him a sad look, his eyes glimmering. ”Chris,” his voice was soft, ”this isn’t going to fix us…can’t you see? Can’t you just…” He swallowed, ”just calm down and talk with me? What would knowing his name change? Would you go after him? Is that it; you want a revenge?”

”How long?” Chris asked ignoring his question, ”how long has it been going on?”

”This was the first time… like I said…” Joni answered tiredly.

”I don’t believe you. Why should I?”

”I don’t know what to say to you! I just don’t know! I can’t go on like this… I’ve tried, but I can’t… please Chris, it’s no use! You have to see it….” Joni cried feeling utterly exhausted, mentally as well as psychically.

Chris smiled in that odd way of his and when he approached Joni got up backing away,

”Don’t…” He let out a fearful sigh, ”I’m scared of you!” He admitted openly not knowing what else to do.

”You’re weak….” Chris stated, ”you think I’m just going to let you walk out of my life?” He asked and Joni shook his head desperately as the fear kept growing. ”You need me…”

”No… Chris… please…we can just… talk…”

”You’re a pathetic whore…sissy…” Joni took the nearest object at sight, a book, and threw it at him, Chris easily dodged it. ”What do you think you’re doing?” Joni kept backing away; took another book from the shelf and again tried to aim it at Chris, this time hitting him which made the man growl in anger.

”You even fight like a freaking girl!”

”Don’t come closer Chris!” Joni threatened pushing his hand forward in vain defence. ”I mean it!”

Chris smirked, ”oh yeah, and what do you plan to do?”

Joni had his other hand against the wall trying to move towards the door, ”I will fight…” He breathed and to this Chris began to laugh.

”Oh yeah?… You can be amusing dear…” He said tilting his head and watching him, ”this should be interesting…” Finally Joni found the doorknob, he sighed in small relief and squeezed it like a lost friend, he bit his lip and waited, unsure if what he planned would work and just as Chris made a quick threatening movement forward, Joni pushed the door open, his back pressed against it and just in time shot his leg forward to trip Chris. When the man fell to the floor he quickly closed himself in the room, hearing Chris’ angry scream from the other side. The door had no lock he realised then, pulling on the handle already hearing Chris stand up on the other side and then bang his fists against the door.

”You slut, fucking open the door!” Joni’s heart beat madly when Chris started yanking the door on the other side, getting it slightly open before Joni pulled back with all his strength. His hands were sweaty and slippery, his body still weaker than normal and he cursed the drug he had swallowed earlier that made it be this way, Chris also had the advantage in the opening direction. He pressed his feet against the side and kept pulling back trying to look for anything that might help; everything was too far away, even the window, Chris would get in eventually, he realised, starting to panic, ”you fucking let me in now!” He was waisting his own energy like this; Joni realised and decided to release his hold of the door so suddenly that it would surprise Chris when he was pulling from the other side. The door opened wide and Joni immediately tried to run past him to the front door, where would the car keys be? He wondered, but he didn’t have enough time; the stronger weight hit him from behind, knocking him over on the floor. Joni coughed, struggled against Chris who shifted on top of him, unintentionally giving Joni the chance to roll to the side: Chris hit him on his ribs, his chest, the pain shooting up all over and Joni screamed, blindly hitting back; at times receiving a few blows.

They wrestled on the floor, both panting and growling, Joni tasted the blood, the sickening taste of iron, his nose was bleeding, Chris hand sneaked around his throat at some point after Joni had managed to connect his own fist with his jaw; this time he refused to go down without a fight.

But then Chris had started to strangle him and he realised just how bad it was getting, blind anger, he couldn’t breath, and he tried to pull the hand away desperately and then suddenly Chris let go, left him gasping on the floor while struggling to stand himself,

”Had enough?” Chris panted out of breath, looking down at him, he kicked his side, ”huh? Going to learn now?” Joni curled to a small ball, licking the blood and coughing, trembling. Chris moved towards the kitchen area slightly staggering on his feet and it was a small comfort to see him slightly hurt as well, but Joni couldn’t move; he desperately continued to gasp for air.

He was seriously starting to fear for his life, jealous rage could lead to drastic things and this strangling was a new thing…

Chris opened a beer, walked back and sat on the couch watching him while drinking. After a while Joni struggled to sit up, holding his hand under his bleeding nose droplets of blood dripping on the floor and on his clothes. Without a word Chris stood up again and walked to the kitchen. Moments later he returned with a towel and some ice, Joni winced when he came closer, but the man only pressed the ice wrapped in the towel against his nose, ”hold it there,” he said but his tone was cold and he returned then to his previous seat.

Was it over now? Joni wondered and took a careful glance at him, still unable to read his expression, for a moment the even ticking of the clock and their breathing were the only things that broke the silence around.

**^^**^^**^^**^^**

Dima had been able to give him the number of Joni’s boyfriend, but Misha had started to hesitate; calling him might make things worse for Joni and that was the last thing he wanted. Finally the only idea that came to his mind was to go over to Joni’s parents house, to see if they knew where the couple might have gone to and if not maybe tell them why he thought it was important to find them. Of course they might not believe him, he remembered Joni telling him that his father got along quite well with the guy…

Dima hadn’t had any idea of Joni’s possible whereabouts either but had promised to call some people and ask around, Misha just hoped something would work, he was so sure of his reasons to worry that if everything else failed he was ready to do some false crime report on this Hanratty man, to get the police looking for him for whatever cause as long as the result was that Joni was found. It might be a drastic thing to do and might only bring trouble for himself, but so far it was only Plan B.

He arrived at the house a little after 3pm having spent the time in between thinking about his options, he prayed that they could tell him something.

The children were playing in the yard under a water spray, giggling and laughing, Misha could recognise the twins he had seen few years earlier, he knew that the young girl of about 5 years was Joni’s sister. The boy reached for his water gun on the ground as soon as he saw Misha.

”Freeze, name and ID?” He asked grinning and Misha raised his eyebrow at the boy.

”I’m Misha, your older brother’s friend, are your parents home?”

”MOM!” The boy shrieked towards the house, then turned his eyes back towards him, ”you were here before,” he nodded and Misha was somewhat surprised that the boy could still remember him from that very brief meeting.

”Yes I was.” He smiled slightly not exactly comfortable dealing with kids, especially ones holding a water gun. Luckily for him a woman stepped through the front door before the kid would get it in his head to involve him in their games.

”Hello?” Katja greeted with a small smile, approaching him carefully. She did think he looked familiar and moment later thought he had to be related to Dima judging by the similar looks.

”Hi,” Misha gave her a brief smile, wondering what to say. ”I’m Dima’s older brother and… hm, Joni’s friend…” He started and the woman gave him a curious look and crossed her arms to hug herself while standing before him. ”I was wondering if you know where Joni is? It’s kind of important that I find him.”

The question surprised her, ”Is… something the matter?” She asked carefully sensing the worry in him but not quite sure if she read him right.

”To be honest I’m not exactly sure, but I’m worried he might be in trouble.” Misha replied ina lowered voice; the kids were still close and he didn’t think they needed to hear it.

”What kind of trouble?” Katja asked, her own worry rising as well, after all she had sensed the change in her stepson and now…

Misha sighed, ”I’m not comfortable telling my suspicion, I’m not certain after all, but…”

”Please, I would feel better if I knew.” Katja insisted.

”Alright,” he sighed, ”it’s about his boyfriend and their relationship… I have reason to believe that… he might be hurting Joni.”

”Chris?” Katja gasped, ”no… surely not…” She frowned and shook her head in slight disbelief.

”As I said I can’t be sure, but I have strong reasons to suspect, so, if you know where they are?”

”They went to a cabin,” She replied, ”Chris said they wanted…some privacy…” Her stomach turned, she didn’t want to believe it and at the same time she suddenly started picking up all the little clues in her memory, things she hadn’t really thought about before…

”Where? Can you tell?”

”An hour drive from here… I-” Again she looked at the young man more carefully,

”You can trust me,” Misha told her, reading her troubled mind, ”I know I might be wrong but there’s a good chance I’m not; Joni has changed, have you noticed? I’ve had clues but not certainty, now…”

She had indeed noticed…

”Joni is my brother’s good friend and through him I’ve known Joni since well… since he’s been about 15… We’ve had our ups and downs but lately we’ve… gotten closer… I worry for him…” Misha continued when seeing the doubt on her face.

She nodded slowly, understanding or thinking that she did.

”I’ll get you the address.” She said finally and hurried inside the house.

Only a few minutes later she returned, with a map and the address.

”Thank you,” Misha told her after she had explained him what the fastest road would be.

”Joni’s phone is switched off, if you want you can try to to call his boyfriend… But don’t tell him about me or that you’re suspicious, I don’t know if the call will help, but…” Misha shrugged, ”ah and here’s my phone number as well…” He quickly wrote it down and gave the small piece of paper to her.

”You will call me when you get to him?” Katja asked worriedly.

”Yes, if everything is alright I’m sorry I troubled you and I’ll ask Joni to call you to tell you everything is okay.”

She nodded stiffly, watched him getting into his car and drive off, some minutes later she tried calling Joni only to find that his phone was indeed switched off, then she hesitated but still ended up calling Chris letting it ring several times. All she got was his voice mail; the worry inside grew, all those little signs on repeat in her mind; Joni’s change in attitude, his withdrawing, the small bruises every now and then on his arms, the way he seemed almost annoyed when Chris was around, but perhaps it had been more tension than anything else? But still why would Joni have stayed? Why would he not have told?  Fear… Of course, she had seen it before but forgotten, Joni was so different from how her friend had been… All those little signs… She could only hope that the man was wrong.

**^^**^^**^^**

He had tried finding the car keys when Chris had gone out for a few minutes, having them in his hands already trying to make it to the door when he had returned. Another hit, a kick, he had fallen, the blood that had dried tickled under his nose and started to crack, new moistness, the taste of iron. His head was throbbing….

It was difficult to say what time it was, the cabin kept bathing in the warm summer light and it felt odd to think that just last night, that morning his situation had been quite different; he did regret that he hadn’t stayed….

Chris was talking to him again, Joni lay on the living room floor looking at him; he was still drinking beer, Joni blinked tiredly, feeling run over, he couldn’t really tell where it hurt the most and then Chris stood up, approached while opening his jeans, that odd smile on on his lips.

The next moment he registered Chris looming over him, kneeling on the floor, ”Mine…remember…” he whispered and lifted his shirt up, started to open his pants, ”I have to get him off your mind… your body…” His pants were yanked down and Joni remembered swaying his fist towards his face then, he remembered biting down on Chris’ naked shoulder as hard as he could only to have his head banged against the floor afterwads, a brief struggle; then it all became blurry again.

He remembered the weight on top of him, wet lips against his neck, panting, moving, the whispers. He blinked watching the face above his; blurry… ”Mine…” twisted…

 And then it was gone…. Chris stood half naked in front of the window, he only had his underwear on, smoking…

He looked down his body; the shirt that was still moved up to his armpits, his pants shed carelessly on the floor next to his underwear, if it wasn’t for this he would have wondered if it had really taken place, the pain was everywhere.

No words, he brought his hands to smooth his shirt down and forced himself to roll over on his side. He reached for his underwear, his mind working like a robot; pulling them back on without much thought; not wanting to think, every move was painful and he knew that if Chris continued beating him he would soon lose consciousness.

He lay still, listened and closed his eyes, Chris eventually sat down and opened the small TV set, he didn’t speak and the minutes passed.

Finally he stood up and knelt by his side,

”Joni?” He called, his voice was softer now, Joni noticed but he couldn’t bring himself to answer. ”I can help you up now…” Chris’ hand moved to his hair, ”It’s okay now,” He whispered, ”I think you’ll remember now, won’t you?” Joni closed his eyes, there was nothing to say really, nothing he could think of and he wasn’t sure his voice would even carry after Chris had strangled him a few times.

And then they heard the approaching car, Joni opened his eyes as far as he could and stared at the door, he could hear the sand rolling under the car wheels, it parked on the driveway and Chris stood up. He stepped over Joni’s body stiffly walking towards the door, shot a glare at him that was almost accusing, the car door opened and shut. The muscles on Chris’ naked back tensed, he moved the curtain slightly that covered the door’s window and peaked outside.

The steps on the sand were coming closer… Joni pulled himself up slightly, Chris backed away from the door and looked absolutely furious, he narrowed his eyes at Joni, ”Oh I should have guessed it, you whore!” He hissed and walked with hurried steps towards the kitchen.

And then Joni heard Misha’s voice…

**^^**^^**^^**

It was a secluded peaceful looking place; the lake was glimmering gold under the sun, the soft warm breeze breaking its surface, creating small waves: All in all it truly seemed like an ideal place for relaxation, relatively close to the city and at the same time far enough from the noise.

Misha parked his car next to the dark blue one already there and looked at the cabin while standing up. He closed the car door, thus breaking the almost eerie silence for one small moment. He didn’t like how quiet it was, it made him feel uneasy, his palms were sweating and his heart beat increased, he was unsure about what he would walk into.

He approached, saw the curtain shift and close, instantly making his uneasiness spread when the door however stayed closed. He figured that if everything were normal, the door would have opened. The person looking through the window – if it was Joni’s boyfriend he should be curious about who he was and if it was Joni he would of course recognise him and…

He eyed the door suspiciously still not exactly sure what he should be prepared for, ”Hello?” He called, while stepping onto the porch,  should he knock? – he wondered, quickly looking around, not even sure what he was looking for. His senses told him to be careful, his senses warned him of danger, he was sure that he could almost smell it.

 Joni was inside and he needed him; the feeling was strong, so strong that it was frightening. Finally his hand reached for the handle and for a moment he simply listened; he thought he heard a voice but could not make out the words… ‘Here goes nothing’  – he thought to himself and checked if the door was locked, finding that it wasn’t; it relieved him as much as it unnerved him. He opened carefully, his imagination running wild; too many detective books and too many horror movies perhaps?

Still, no matter how he tried to prepare himself for anything possible, seeing Joni laying on the floor with nothing but a slightly torn t-shirt and underwear on, with a bleeding nose and a bruised face, tear stained eyes, one slightly swollen, gasping and trying to speak shocked him beyond anything he could have imagined. His chest tightened and the anger towards the person who had hurt Joni so severely started to boil.

”W-watch… out….” He finally made out what Joni was trying to tell him and quickly took a look around; he saw the man then, standing just a few feet away, his eyes glimmered dangerously, he was half naked and holding a knife; he wasn’t without bruises, Misha saw the red marks along his torso, the bite mark on his shoulder, a newly forming bruise on his chin, but he was still in a much better state compared to Joni.

Misha swallowed realizing that the danger was now on him.

”You’re the fucker… I should have guessed….” Chris snarled; though it was the first time that he saw Misha in person he could easily recognize him, after all, he had hated the man ever since he had learned that he was Joni’s first.

The man appeared to be crazy; that was his first thought, hell he was holding a knife! A half naked well trained man holding a knife with a crazy look in his eyes directed at you certainly didn’t mean any good.

 Misha brought his hands forward in defense, tried to swallow back his fear.

”Just calm down…” He said as calmly as he could. This wouldn’t be the first fight he had gone through, as a teenager newly arrived in this country he had in fact been in quite a lot of fights, gotten many hits and given them back, but never in his life had he been threatened with a knife before.

Chris approached him, ”Thought you could have what’s mine?” He hissed, ”Not going to happen…”

Misha backed away slightly, keeping his eyes firmly on the man, focusing on his own anger rather than fear; his Joni had been hurt by this crazy bastard. At that moment he didn’t even realize that he was unconsciously thinking of Joni as his.

”C-chris…s-stop…” Joni panted, his voice hardly carried and he wanted to stand up but his legs felt so weak and the pain made him dizzy.

”Shut up whore, I’ll deal with you soon…” Chris snapped, which caused Misha to narrow his eyes and the inner need to beat the crap out of the bastard seemed to grow at an alarming rate.

“Seems you’ve already dealt with him…. You are one sick fuck aren’t you?” He hissed eying the man who was slightly shorter than him, not by much but still, but he was broad chested and strong looking; an unfair fight for Joni who was smaller in size, that and the fact Chris boxed as a hobby.  “Beating up your boyfriend, someone smaller than you; does it make you feel bigger? Stronger? To feel like a man? Turn you on perhaps? God you are pathetic…” He knew he was annoying the man, he could see it clearly, the tension grew making the air feel heavy around them.

“How I deal with my boyfriend is my business…” Chris hissed,

“He’s not your possession… “ Misha reminded, “and I’m sure as hell not going to leave him here with a sick psycho like you; look at him, you could have killed him!”

“He won’t learn otherwise, and I think you need a lesson as well; to keep your nose away from other people’s business…. Joni is mine and you… right now are in my way.” Chris gave him a crooked smile, still coming closer and finally tried to attack, Misha managed just in time to take a hold of his knife holding wrist, trying to keep the weapon away from himself, his back was pressed against the wall, Chris’ other hand was on his shoulder, his eyes holding both amused and angry at the same time, trying to twist his hand so that he could stab him. Misha groaned, his muscles trembled; Chris was indeed strong, but he would not give in.

It all seemed like a bad dream, worse than anything he could have ever imagined, he didn’t know how Misha had found them or why, but it didn’t matter; Chris had a knife and he was trying to kill him. The pain flickered all over him, but Misha was in trouble and Joni forced himself to push his own pain aside, if something happened to Misha because of him he’d never be able to forgive himself, if Misha died he wouldn’t be able to go on, the fear was so intense mixing with the anger that it gave him the strength he needed to push himself up on his feet without making a sound.  

Having to save Misha from Chris was the only thought on his mind when he picked up the table lamp close to him before staggering towards the two other men.

“Hey… Chris…” He called just as he was standing behind him, his voice was weaker than he wanted it to be, but at least he got the man’s attention and just as he turned his face towards him Joni hit him with the lamp as hard as he could manage; Chris growled in pain, the edge causing a small bleeding wound on his forehead and at the same time Misha managed to get the knife to fall from his hands.

 The lamp fell on the ground and Chris punched his fist into Joni’s stomach which caused the younger man to fall on his knees in front of him with a pained sob.

“Oh you’ll regret doing that you slut!” Chris snarled and was about to hit him again when Misha yanked him back by his ponytail and threw him against the wall. Giving no time for Chris to recover Misha approached and hit him straight on his nose, he could hear the sickening crack, felt the blood on his knuckles and was pleased to think that his aim might have broken the bastard’s nose.

“How does that feel?” Misha asked coldly and then aimed to hit him again, this time however Chris got one hit at him as well. Ignoring the pain Misha aimed his feet at Chris’ groin which caused a shriek-like scream and the man slid onto the floor to his knees, in his anger Misha hit him again; it didn’t seem enough, he wanted the bastard to feel the pain he had inflicted on Joni.

“You are one sorry excuse of a man…” Misha spat, “you make me sick…” another hit, and another one so carefully aimed that it made Chris lose his consciousness. Misha tried to calm down and quickly checked that the man was breathing and would be okay, drawing a deep breath he moved towards where Joni lay.

He had been somewhat surprised when Joni had suddenly appeared and hit Chris, at first sight he hadn’t thought that the youth would be able to move and now… Joni was trembling, silent pain written on his features. Misha’s heart ached and he worried, he knelt next to him, only now really taking in the whole situation; the bastard was in his underwear and Joni… He saw the rest of the clothes carelessly tossed to the floor. He didn’t want it to be true…

It was difficult to keep his emotions at bay, but Joni didn’t need them now, didn’t need his tears, he needed his help.  “Joni, it’s okay now, it’s over…” he whispered gently stroking his hair, “we have to get you to the hospital, can you move?” He asked and Joni shifted his gaze to him, his eyes not opening fully… just last night… Misha gritted his teeth stopping the trail of thought that felt too painful now.

Joni tried to move on his own unable to silence the cry of pain and Misha quickly wrapped his arms around him. “I’m here, it’s okay… you did well,” Misha kept whispering slowly helping him to his feet, holding him against his chest. “Pants…” Joni gasped, “need…them…”  Misha nodded stiffly.  “I’ll help you,” He promised. “Can you stand on your own for a while?” He asked and Joni nodded reaching for the wall for support.

Misha eased his hold, picked Joni’s pants up from the floor and knelt in front of him, carefully urging him to lift his first foot and then the second one to dress him. He carefully pulled the pants up and as he did he noticed the stains on his thighs that proved his earlier fear true. His stomach tightened again, but he decided not to say anything and simply fastened Joni’s pants up.

“Where are your shoes?” He asked then in a gentle voice, glancing down at Joni’s bare feet.

“I… don’t know…” Joni panted and Misha nodded deciding to just lift him up on his arms and carry him to his car. “ He wanted to take Joni away from Chris as fast as possible and chose to rather drive him to the hospital than to wait for the ambulance.

He carefully seated Joni in the front seat, worriedly looking at his face when he released another soft cry, how could that asshole do this to him? He still couldn’t understand it, the red marks on Joni’s neck, the swelling… God he really could have killed him.  “Hang on, we’ll get you help soon…” He assured while using a handkerchief to wipe the blood from Joni’s face, he then fastened the seatbelt and close the door. After that he called the police explaining the situation as well as he could and told them which hospital he would take Joni to, he told them his own name and how he could be contacted.. He was advised to leave the crime scene as it was and was told they would later come to ask him some questions.

Misha kept giving Joni worried glances while driving, his position seemed awkward, his eyes were closed and his breathing slow, he didn’t complain about his pain but it was written all over him.

“I’ll call your parents when we get to the hospital,” Misha started, “they won’t let me come with you and…”

“Not dad…” Joni suddenly whispered, “Katja…”

“Hm, you don’t want your father to be there?” Misha asked in a surprised tone,

“No… Katja, her…call her…”

“I’m sure your dad would want to be there…” Misha said carefully, “But I will call your stepmother then if that’s your wish…”

“Y-yes…” His voice was so weak it was hardly carrying and his eyes remained closed, Misha’s eyes started to water but he had to focus, he rubbed his eyes quickly, gritted his teeth and continued driving.

“Misha… t-thank you…” Joni whispered after a while.

Misha glanced at him; he still had not opened his eyes and he felt the lump rising in his throat and he swallowed, his eyes were stinging.

“It’s alright, you don’t have to talk now, just rest, it won’t be long anymore…”  He whispered and focused back on the road.

Finally he reached the hospital, Misha parked the car and checked Joni who was barely conscious anymore, he hadn’t tried to talk after thanking him, not even to complain about the pain. Misha got out, circled the car and scooted him up on his arms, with determination he walked towards the building getting a few weird looks on the way but he didn’t really care, the hospital could expect their arrival since he had called them on the way.

He was left in the lobby while Joni was taken to check up, “I think he was raped too…” Misha had let them know before and when he was alone he sat down exhausted. For a while he just sat there looking in the direction where Joni had been taken; it wasn’t supposed to be like this, it shouldn’t be like this, he thought to himself. The previous night played in his head and now this afternoon, first it had been worry, then fear and now anger; anger towards Chris, anger towards himself for not having done anything earlier and anger towards Joni for not telling him about it, for staying, but the anger he felt towards Joni wasn’t really anger only fear; fear caused by the knowledge of how easily he could have been killed that day, how easily he could have lost him for good.

After some time he finally called Joni’s stepmother, he told her that Joni was in the hospital and had requested that she was informed but apparently wasn’t ready to see his father yet, he promised to wait for her so he could explain the situation better.

**^^**^^**^^**

Katja had to sit down after finishing the call, she looked towards her husband who sat farther away on the armchair with Sini on his lap reading her a story before she would go to bed. For a moment it was all that she could do, it slowly started to sink in, slowly and painfully, he met her gaze and frowned; his eyes held the question and she realized her eyes were glimmering, she had no idea how to break it to him.

“Well sweetheart, time for bed now,” he whispered and smiled at the small girl who immediately pouted,

“But daddy, I’m not tired yet,” she said and looked up with pleading eyes, “you didn’t finish the story,” she reminded and refused to get up.

“I’m sorry sweetheart, we’ll finish it tomorrow,” he promised and smiled gently at her.

“I want to watch Nemo,” she said then, “just for a little while, please daddy? Please?” And it felt impossible to say no to her when she had that look in her eyes and so he agreed, distantly realizing how much she reminded him of Joni at that age and that in another ten years… no, too early for such worries; he decided.

He could see something was troubling his wife and had no idea what the call was about, after taking Sini upstairs to Joni’s room where the other TV was and agreeing that she could also sleep there that night, he checked on his two other sons who were playing in their room quite quietly this time, he smiled idly and then returned downstairs. Katja was still sitting in front of the dining table, her phone in front of her, her eyes fixed on it with a sad expression, almost as if about to burst into tears.

“Katja? What’s wrong?” He asked frowning as he stepped closer, “who called you?” She raised her gaze up to him and finally broke down in tears, immediately he closed the remaining distance and wrapped his arms around her, stroking her hair, “darling, you’re worrying me…” he whispered.

“Joni’s in the hospital…” she was finally able to whisper and immediately felt him stiffen,

“W-what?” He pulled away slightly only enough to be able to look at her face, his eyes pleading her to tell him he heard wrong.

“He’s hurt Asko, I just got the call… he’s in the hospital…”

“Chris called you? Did he say what happened??”  The pain in her eyes grew and she shook her head, urging him to sit down, which he slowly did.

“Chris is the one who hurt him…” she whispered holding his hands in hers, seeing the confusion in him, he shook his head, not wanting to believe it,

“What do you mean, hurt him?!”

Katja drew in a deep shaky breath,

“Chris has beaten him up, he’s been abusing Joni… “ her voice trembled, “Joni’s friend found them…”

“Where?! What hospital? I’ll go over there…” He stood up, still didn’t quite want to understand the whole situation, he just wanted to see his son, wanted him to be alright, to get him home.

“Asko…” Katja whispered standing up as well and lowering her hand on his shoulder. “He asked for me… I need you to stay home with the children.”

His eyes flared up, “I’m his father! Of course I should go!” He was upset and she couldn’t blame him, upset and worried, “I’ll go and get him home with us!”

“Asko, please, I know how difficult this is, but I feel it’s better we respect his wish now and perhaps… if he is hurt bad… you know his pride, and I know you…” she sighed, “…let me go first to see the situation…”

“This makes no sense, Chris wouldn’t do that to him, it’s absurd.” He said confused and worried, restless now.

“I know, I don’t want to believe it either but it’s the truth…”

Asko’s hands clenched to fists, he started pacing “I’ll kill him with my bare hands if it’s true!” He hissed, “I must see my son!”

“Please stay with the children,”

“Why would Joni not want me there? I don’t understand.”

Katja bit her lip; she had a few ideas,

“You’re too close to him perhaps,” she said, “an issue of pride?… and… please just stay at home, I promise I will call as soon as I know more.”

He nodded stiffly, clearly not liking it but agreed just the same and Katja leaned close, reached up and kissed his cheek, “It will be alright, he will be alright.” She whispered trying to assure them both, at that moment having no idea how bad it would be.

She arrived at the hospital a little after 8pm and met Misha in the lobby, she saw the bruise on his cheek that hadn’t been there earlier and saw his exhausted, miserable expression.

“Where is he? How is he?” She immediately asked when getting close enough.

“He’s being treated,” he answered, “I don’t know any update on his situation since I’m not family…” He sighed, “But I have to warn you that…” Misha swallowed, “he’s been beaten quite badly and…”  Misha ran his fingers through his hair, swallowed, unsure if it should be said or not, however he was afraid that Joni wouldn’t admit it and he thought he should; to make the bastard’s sentence higher.

“And?” Katja asked gazing at him restlessly when he had been silent for too long, or what felt too long.

“I’m sorry…God…” another deep breath, “… It seemed…seems that he… he might have been raped…” He whispered not exactly meeting her gaze, not sure why he said ‘might’ when the evidence spoke for it quite clearly.

Katja felt the colour drain from her face, her stomach turned and she couldn’t find her voice for a moment, it still didn’t make any sense; how could Chris deceive them like this? How…

“They have arrested him?” She asked quietly looking back at him, Misha nodded,

“Yes, they called me only moments ago, they later need to talk with Joni as well,”

Again Katja nodded,

“Thank you,” she whispered trying to smile but failing, briefly touching his hand.

“Can you call me later and let me know how he is?” Misha pleaded.

“Of course, I promise.” Katja nodded.

“Thank you,”

**^^**^^**^^**^^**^^**

Misha finally left for home when Katja was taken to see Joni, there was nothing more that he could do after all, nothing but wait. He would talk to the police the next morning, now he just felt drained, empty…

Ivo met him in the hall, gave him a worried look,

“So? Where’s Joni? You found him?” He asked having talked with Dima earlier and his youngest brother had told him about the situation.

Misha was only able to nod while kicking his shoes off, “I need a drink,” he informed his brother and walked towards the kitchen. Ivo followed close behind watching Misha worriedly while he took a bottle of vodka and poured some into a small glass “Want one?” He asked in a dry voice,

“Sure,” Ivo nodded and thanked Misha when he handed him his drink, they sat down; Misha seemed worn out and Ivo couldn’t help but notice the bruise, still he waited for his brother to say something first.

Misha sipped his drink, was silent for a while simply staring at the glass in front of him.

“The bastard tried to kill me,” he finally started, “welcomed me in with a knife in his hands…” He shook his head frowning.

Ivo held his breath, for once he was speechless. “Shit,” He finally cursed, nothing else came to mind at that moment, “And Joni?” He asked carefully.

Misha shook his head, “He’s at the hospital, he was in pretty bad shape… I’m afraid to think about what might have happened if I hadn’t found them when I did…” Misha brought his gaze up, “The asshole had raped him.” Misha said and then stood up, restless, “Fuck this!” His eyes were stinging again, he felt his brother’s eyes on him, a heavy silence, what was there to say?

“How the fuck could Joni be so stupid!” He finished his drink and poured another, “He could have gotten himself killed! Why didn’t he say anything?! Shit!” His hand trembled.

“It’s hardly Joni’s fault,” Ivo spoke out, the news making him feel depressed and worried for the boy and for Misha.

“I know that!” Misha snapped, “it’s that slime…” He shook his head, “Still, I don’t understand why Joni didn’t tell me? I could have helped him earlier, someone could have! He didn’t need to get himself almost killed first, didn’t need to be…” He swallowed the last word,  “how could that bastard do that to him? God I wanted to kill him, for a moment I thought I could.”

“Misha, sit down,” Ivo urged but the younger shook his head stubbornly.

“Is it that god damn pride of his or what?” He asked, “what made him stay with him? I don’t fucking understand it!”

“You’re worried and upset, there’s no point in asking these questions now.”

Misha fell silent for a moment.

“You care for Joni…” Ivo stated, again a moment of silence.

“Yes, I fucking care for him and right now I’m fucking scared!” Misha admitted and poured the drink down his throat listening to the clock ticking, minutes passing by, restlessly waiting for the news about Joni’s current condition, that night he wouldn’t be able to sleep.

         Web published: May 11th, 2009.

            My Secret Shore

© KOLGRIM

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