26. So just pull the trigger

Misha and the others left shortly after noon. Anna had made a small fuss before leaving, about Joni’s lunch. She wanted to make sure that he’d have something prober to eat since they were eating late lunch/early dinner at Misha’s uncle. Joni didn’t need to understand what she said, he understood her grandmotherly concern well enough, and it warmed him. She prepared a plate for him from the leftovers of yesterday’s lunch, and all he needed to do was to warm it in the oven since there was no microwave. She had Misha show him how the oven worked

“Tell her that I’ll be fine, I’ll manage, and I won’t burn the house down, I swear it.” Joni told Misha with amusement in his voice.

” She’s not worried that you would. She’s worried that you won’t find enough to eat, that’s all.” Misha smiled.

And then they were gone, leaving him alone in the house that suddenly felt a lot bigger than before. It was an odd feeling; although he had wanted to be alone, or at least thought he had, he suddenly felt slight uneasiness about it.

He needed to distract his mind, try his best not to think about the matter that caused him great stress and worry. Exercise usually worked the best. So, pushing through his exhaustion he did a short interval workout. It might have been more effective had he been more rested, but just the same it worked to clear his mind. After the workout he took a warm, relaxing shower.

He got dressed and walked into the kitchen to get a small snack. He didn’t feel like eating lunch yet, so he settled for a yoghurt that probably had too much sugar, but it would have to do for now.

The house was eerily quiet now that everyone was gone. Well, not completely quiet, old people seemed to have a fixation on clocks that made loud noise, his grandparents had those clocks too. He found the sound annoying, and perhaps even a bit ghostly, but perhaps the sound gave the old people comfort? Reminder of childhood or something. – He wondered and decided to move upstairs to try and get some rest, perhaps listen to some relaxing music to block the annoying sound of the clocks.

His thoughts began to wander back to those unwelcomed thoughts. To Chris and Aki, to that issue with the pictures, the messages received from Aki, and the fact that the man hadn’t answered to his latest reply. Calm before the storm; he couldn’t help but to think.

How far would Chris and Aki take this? – Joni wondered and felt another strong wave of anxiety and fear moving through him. He had to try and think of something else!

London… They would move to London, and everything would be different. He would study, Misha would work, they’d meet new people, and no one would know. Unless… Someone would have seen those pictures and would tell everyone?

He could change his name. Perhaps take his grandad’s surname from his mother’s side and use his second name. Eelis Kosa? It sounded foreign. He silently repeated the name a couple of times until it started to sound okay enough. Perhaps he could claim that he came from Hungary? Only… he didn’t speak the language…

It wouldn’t be such a far-off lie. His mother’s father came from Hungary. His grandmother had fallen fiercely in love with him, much to the disapproval of her own family. The man had been or was a gypsy and that was not something that sat well with them. In the end, his grandad had left her with two small children and broken relationship with her family before traveling off to his own adventures.

Joni hadn’t met either of them. Apparently, grandmother had the fallen into depression and left her children when they were teenagers.  That was all he really knew; all his dad really knew about it.

Taking all this into consideration, he wouldn’t want to take the name of a man who left his children and their mother. Perhaps he could take mother’s maiden name? Or even Misha’s, -would that be possible?

He got to the bedroom, close the door, and picked up his phone connecting a small speaker to it before choosing a relaxing playlist form Spotify. He then lay down on the bed and close his eyes. For a moment he managed to dose off, a blissful moment of peace that lasted too short awhile. He startled awake by the sound of arriving text message; having forgotten to silence the alarms. He had started to hate that sound; his heart beat increased. He could already guess who it was and reached for his phone reluctantly.

 ” I think you understand Joni, that we much rather fuck you instead. ;)” It read and Joni felt the nausea rising from the bottom of his stomach to his throat. He trembled now all over, this felt too much to take.

 ” You’re a clever boy, Joni. Chris and I did find satisfaction from each other in prison, while we fantasised what we’d do to you. Doesn’t that flatter you, the lust we feel for you, wouldn’t you like to experience it?”

The second text message arrived shortly after the first. Joni’s breathing increased, he tossed his phone further away and got up from the bed. Tears rose in his eyes; the mere thought repulsed him!

Why now? – Joni wondered looking at the phone on the bed with distain. At that moment he hoped that cell phones and internet had never been invented! Life would be easier, simpler at least. It was most likely, however, that the harassment would have just taken another form.

How long would they continue to torment him? What were they planning? Only a moment passed until the phone started ringing, and it was the same number… He didn’t want to reply. And he didn’t want to be alone anymore either, he wanted Misha, needed Misha.

The ringing was persistent though. The phone rang over and over until he finally picked up, just to make it stop.

“What?!” His voice gave away how shaken and upset he was. “What do you want?!”

“What Chris and I want?” Aki’s voice replied, clearly savouring the situation. “We’re together as we speak. It would be nice if you’d join us.”

“I’ll report you to the police.” Joni managed to say ang hung up. Only a moment passed, and he received another text.

“Wouldn’t you rather play with us?” Joni read it and put his phone away shakily. The ringing soon started again, getting to his nerves and he felt desperate to stop it. He acted, without much thought, his nerves broken and fear consuming him. He took the phone and threw it against the wall with force, and it fell, cracked and broken on the floor. The silence that followed only gave him a momentarily feeling of satisfaction and peace.

He drew a deep breath, ran his fingers though his hair. The satisfaction was soon followed by regret; Misha could try and call him and get worried, or his dad. And the phone hadn’t been cheap, his act had been silly; he could have just muted it. But what was done was done. And the noise had stopped, but he didn’t want to be alone anymore and now he wouldn’t be able to call Misha either.

The silence was over too quickly, suddenly the landline phone downstairs, started ringing. Joni was startled by the sound; he didn’t remember hearing it ring even once during those couple of days that had been there and hadn’t even thought it was in use.

The ringing was persistent, Joni walked slowly downstairs, it was getting dark outside, Half past four pm. It wouldn’t take long until the others would arrive, right? He prayed that they would return soon, he really needed to feel Misha’s strong arms around him assuring that everything was alright.

The feeling of fear was real and raw. Uncomfortable feeling in the bottom of his stomach, he tried to reason with himself that there was nothing to worry about. The caller could be Misha?

Joni slowly picked up the earpiece. “Hello?” His voice sounded insecure and foreign to his ears.

“Hi Joni, would you come out and play with us?”  Aki asked and for a moment Joni was too shocked to speak. “I bet it’s dull to be all on your own in that big house. Aki continued. “Will you be a good boy and let us in?”

Joni looked around in state of fright and quickly hung up the phone before hurrying to the front door to make sure it was locked. Finding that it was, he closed the door to the cold hallway and locked it as well. He could now hear the steps outside, on the porch and they tried the door. The shock paralyzed him for a moment. This couldn’t be possible, how was this possible? This had to be nightmare, he wanted to wake, but didn’t.

The sound of snow creaking under footsteps as they circled the house. Joni realised that he was trapped. Why had he broken his phone?? Panic gathered, but he knew he had to try and master it; act to do what he could to survive. He turned off the lights and hurried back to the phone.

Police? Was the emergency number the same as home? Hadn’t they changed it so that it was international, at least in Europe? And still he was in such a stage of panic that he felt like he wouldn’t be able to express his distress to the Russian authorities or count on them to hurry for his aid.

The only number in his mind that he remembered by heart at that moment, was his fathers. Only because his dad had made him learn it when he had still been living at home.

His dad had questioned him sometimes, when he had been going out, to see if he remembered. And Joni thought it had been both annoying and pointless. Surely no one else had such a paranoid parent!

What if someone would steal his phone, or he’d ran out of battery, and he’d need to borrow a phone to call a ride home – his personal number wasn’t listed so he wouldn’t be able to find it from the number services, and he might not answer to his work phone, his dad had reasoned. ‘Then I’ll call a cab!’ Joni remembered crying out. It hadn’t helped, his dad had seen it important; he had to learn it.

Who knew that parents could be right at times? Now his first instinct was to call his dad and his dad was probably the only person who could make him calm enough to voice what was wrong. His dad would take his distress seriously, and though he wouldn’t be able to help him directly, he would make sure that someone would come for his aid.

He couldn’t stop himself from crying, he didn’t want to think what they do to him if they’d catch him. His hand trembled heavily when he dialled the numbers. He heard loud banging from the front door.

” Joni, babe, open the door!” Chris’ voice called from outside. The phone was ringing, and he clung on the receiver with desperation and closed his eyes in terror.

“Asko Lehto.” His dad answered, sounding little insecure, probably because of the unknow number.

“Dad, I broke my phone… They’re here and try to get in. Chris and Aki are here! I don’t know what to do and my phone is broken.” The panic in his voice was evident. “I’m alone…” Joni drew a shaky breath, he heard glass breaking. “They’re coming! Dad… I don’t know what to do… C-can you call Misha?”

” Where are you?!” His father had never sounded as nervous and scared as he did then.

Joni did his best to collect himself, He needed to try and calm, he needed to focus on getting away. “I have to go. Tell Misha that I’ll try to get next door to safety. Tell him to call the neighbour? I love you!” Joni ended the call.

He heard how they worked to get the door open, smashing something against the wood, axe most likely. They would soon get inside to the intermediate, another door would slow them down only for a moment. The situation still felt unreal, but he knew he wasn’t dreaming, it was horrid and real.

He looked around, spotting a sheath knife by the fireplace; used to carve igniters from the logs. He took it, to have at least something to defend himself with. No time to waste, he hurried upstairs; he could use the fire-escape latter to get out.

Joni got into the bedroom where they slept and closed the door. He could still hear the bounding from downstairs, the even sound of the door being beaten and how the wood gave in under the might of an axe. Hard kicks against the split wood and the trespassers were in.

Joni could hear the steps echo downstairs; Chris was calling him. He looked to the window; time was running out. Breathing fast, he took his bag and tipped the whole content over the bed, before swiping through to find what he needed. Headlamp, running shoes, thank gods he had kept them in his bag instead of placing them in the hall! And a light running jacket.

His hands were trembling heavily which made getting dressed harder, but he managed.

 The steps echoed now on the stairs, without a rush, with sickening confidence. He put the lamp in his pocket; he might use it if he had to escape to the forest? The knife that was in its protective case he snug on his waste.

“Joni?” Chris called. “We won’t need to hurt you, if you just come with us without making a fuss.”

Joni almost laughed, he would go with them and then what? They’d sit down to drink some tea engaging into a friendly conversation, – think not. Joni didn’t reply but moved quickly to the window. There wasn’t time for hesitation, he eased his way to the latter. It was freezing, he didn’t have any mittens, he didn’t have a hat. The escape was desperate. He wouldn’t last long outside wearing so little, but help was coming! Dad would have called Misha, half an hour, maybe less, he couldn’t let them catch him!

He could hear Chris pushing the door open and it gave him motivation to move down faster. The cold felt like small sharp stabs under his palms.

 When he reached far enough, he jumped. The snow softened the fall and he looked up to see Chris in the window looking down at him. Chris didn’t look at all like his former self, he had dyed his hair blond and cut it short like Misha’s! This transform just showcased his madness!

Chris brought the gun up and pointed it to him “Stop Joni!” He ordered and for a moment they just stared at each other.

The gun looked too small for this distance to make it easy to aim properly. And Joni looked defiantly at the man, backing up slowly at first. He reminded himself that the two men hadn’t come this distance and taken so much trouble just to kill him. That much was clear and so he took the risk and turned, starting to run towards Yegor’s house, not looking back.

He however didn’t make it far, didn’t even see what he bumped into, or whom more accurately. The bump almost made him lose balance. He didn’t fall though, Aki grasped his jacket, tugging him up forcefully before getting a better hold of him.

The gun pipe felt cold against his forehead, the man smiled, a sickly-sweet smile. “You decided to come out and play with us after all.” Aki whispered. Joni felt out of breath, his heartbeat madly in his chest and he still didn’t want to believe that this was happening. “Easy… You’ll be a good boy now, and do what I say, right?” Aki grinned.

Joni felt disgusted, Aki was forcing him to move back towards the house and Joni glanced at the car that had been parked on the driveway; darkened back windows, blue sedan, it was too dark to tell the colour for certain. “Let’s get your wallet, you do have your bank IDs with, right? You’re going on a drive with us.” Aki whispered to his ear. “We’re going to have some fun and you’re gonna pay for us to take good care of you, right?”

Chris was now standing outside at the porch. “We should leave before they get here.” He said nervously

” Just a moment, I just need Joni to go and get something for us.” Aki said, holding Joni’s body tightly against his own.

Shivers of fear and disgust ran though on Joni’s spine as he felt the lustful breath in his ear.

” Where is it?” Aki asked.

“Upstairs.”

The door had indeed been broken with an axe, which the men had probably found from the barn. Now it lay abandoned on the floor.

“Where is it?” Aki asked and Joni wondered if he could buy more time.

“Upstairs.” He replied shakily.

” Hurry then.” Aki pushed him forward on the stairs. Joni fell and hit his knee. Aki pulled him up harshly by his arm. ”Don’t stall!” He yelled.

Joni bit his teeth together. The wallet wouldn’t be upstairs, he knew it, but he took his chance. Chis followed them; Joni heard his steps echoing behind them. When they got upstairs Aki nudged him forward so hard that Joni fell again. “Find that wallet!”

” What are we stalling?” Joni heard Chris asking and glanced at him the same time that he pretended to look through his things on the bed. For a moment their eyes met, and Joni sensed the nervousness behind that gaze.

” Well, are you finding it?” Aki snapped, not paying attention to Chris. The man stepped closer and took a hold of Joni’s hair, pulling. “Hurry!” The man insisted and nudged him again after releasing his hold.

” It’s not here…” Joni finally said knowing he couldn’t stall further. “I’m sorry…” He added with quivering voice trying to control his nerves. “I forgot it in my jacket pocket last night…” This was true, Aki wouldn’t take further excuses.

” You better not be playing anything!” They moved back downstair and Chris followed, seeming more like a loyal puppy than the one behind this plan.  Joni guessed that it was the case as he took his wallet and gave in to Aki.

Aki wanted money… This was what he had always been after and somehow… Perhaps the lust for money clouded his rational judgement? Aki snatched the wallet from his hand and looked it through quickly, no cash.

” We can stop at the ATM You can get us cash to pay for your food and stuff.” Aki grinned and thrust his groin more firmly against his buttocks so that Joni could feel his erection. “This is a fantasy that I’ve dreamed of making real so very long…” Aki whispered. “Be grateful that you get to be a part of it.” Joni felt sick. He would do anything to allow Aki to perform his sick fantasies on him, whatever they were.

Joni glanced at Chris who walked behind them, looking agitated and nervous. Did Chris even realise who he was really involved with? And what Aki wanted? Did he realise that he was merely Aki’s pawn? – It was how it seemed to him at least. Aki had been the one to send the messages… Aki was the one behind this plan? It seemed too crazy, even for Chris!

They got outside, started walking towards the car and Joni realised he really was running out of time. Help wouldn’t make it in time. He looked around in panic, thinking about the little choices he had. They wouldn’t shoot him, they hadn’t come there to kill him, not yet here anyway. They wanted something else, something Joni didn’t want to go through.

 He had to take the risk, to try his luck. So, he stopped abruptly, allowing his instincts to take over and he struggled free of Aki’s hold with the practice that Misha had taught him. And then he ran, ran towards the building where Yegor lived with his son, praying that they’d be home.

He could hear the shouting behind him, cursing. He couldn’t stop, couldn’t look behind, he just had to keep going and pray for whatever God or gods there were to listen.

He soon heard the car engine starting and desperation almost took over trying to whisper that it was game over for him, but he chose to ignore it and focus on surviving. The bright headlights split the darkness, he could see the house in the distance, and it felt like there was no way he could reach it in time.

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

Misha sat on the armchair holding a warming teacup between his hands. They had eaten a late lunch, very late lunch and were now gathered in the Livingroom. Jami sat next to Ivo, seeming somewhat tense which was no surprise since it was clear how difficult it was for their uncle to stomach their relationship with Ivo. One gay in the family was one thing, but two!

The atmosphere was awkward to say the least. Annuska had travelled back to Moskova after holidays, which was a shame since their cousin could have lighted up the mood. Misha glanced at time; it was nearing five pm and the evening had already darkened. Perhaps it was an okay time to start heading back. Misha pondered and happened to glance at Jami who was clearly anxious to leave as well.

Sound of a text message got Jami’s attention and he took his phone. Misha took note of his expression that turned into confusion and for a moment he just stared at the screen, at that same moment Misha’s cell began to ring and he apologized for the interruption. It was Joni’s dad.

Perhaps Joni had muted his phone and that’s why Asko called him because he couldn’t reach his son? Misha pondered before answering.

” Joni called me.” The man started with nervous tone that alerted Misha. “Chris and some other guy are there trying to get in? Where the hell are you?”

“W-what?” Misha felt his heart starting to hammer and he hoped he had heard him wrong.

“We have to inform the cops; Joni’s phone is broken. He tries to get to the neighbour; can you call them to get to his help? How far are you?” Asko was barely able to catch a breath as he spoke.

” We’re at my uncles, half an hour away. When did Joni call you?” Misha had gotten up and the distress in his voice had gotten everyone else’s attention.

“What’s happened?” Ivo asked.

“Grandma call Yegor, Joni is trouble.” Misha interrupted. “Chris and Aki are there!” The situation felt unreal, how was this possible?

” Can you call the cops there? I’ll contact the authorities here and call me when you find out more?” Asko said to the phone.

“Of course, we leave at once!” Misha promised.

Jami stared at the message on his phone in shock. ‘It’s a shame that we didn’t get the chance to see each other. We’ll be gone by the time you get here. Thanks for the info I got from you though, it was a great help! :* -Aki.’

TBC

chapter 27

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