29.Foolish Games

          

Suvi shifted  uncomfortably on the couch glaring at her husband, her hand stroking her belly as if it would help to soothe the nausea she felt.

“What did the asshole say?” She asked, watching him carefully. Adam sighed heavily, feeling utterly exhausted, he hadn’t slept well.  Suvi would give birth soon and his best friend was arrested. Though he felt angry at Chris for doing what he had, there was a part of him that felt bad thinking that Chris would be totally alone without him. Chris wasn’t pure evil, he was confused and hurt, of course it didn’t excuse anything, but…

Adam shrugged and sat down. “He needs help…” He whispered finally, looking at his wife who was clearly upset and in a very emotional state; every feeling came out twice as strong.

“I tell you what that jerk needs; he need a fucking good beating, he needs to be neutered for what he did to my cousin!” She screamed and started to cry. “You should have warned us about him!” Suvi accused, making him upset.

“I didn’t know he would do this!” Adam defended himself.

Suvi glared at him through her tears. “You did not know how jealous he could get? He never gave you any signs or clues of getting violent easily?”

Adam gave her a sad look, not knowing how to reply. “His father is a violent jerk, always was. Look; he abused Chris’ mother and beat him up as well a few times when Chris was a kid, I-… I’ve seen how difficult he had it, how upset he was. I was a kid and didn’t know what to do then and… “

“It’s no excuse. ” Suvi whispered, “I know people from violent families and guess what; they’re not abusing their current family members.” 

“I know it’s no excuse! But it has obviously affected him and he needs help to sort that out!”

“I’m sure they have someone to talk to him when he gets sentenced, “ Suvi replied somewhat coldly. “I do not want anything to do with that guy ever again. I don’t want you to have anything to do with him.”

Adam got up. “He’s my friend, Suvi, I can’t just turn my back on him like that! I’ve known him since I was a boy!”

“And I am your wife!” She pointed out. “I’m giving birth to our son in just a few weeks! And Joni is my family. I do not want that man anywhere near us ever again.”

Adam turned to the window breathing fast. “I am angry at him, I am upset, but if he regrets and is willing to seek help and admit what he did I promised to be there.”

“People like him don’t change and I don’t  want the possibility of him trying to use your friendship into getting back to bother my cousin somehow, nor do I want the likes of him near my child!”

Adam looked at her, torn inside. There was a time, long ago, when he and Chris had been children, when Chris had escaped to their home from another fight, a time when Adam had sworn upon their friendship, that he’d always be there, that they would be there for each other…

“I made a promise… I can’t break it, not if he comes to his senses and does what I asked.”

“I can’t believe you Adam! He almost killed my cousin! He fucking raped my cousin! And Joni has to deal with that for the rest of his life! I can not and will not forgive Chris ever!”

When Adam was quiet Suvi rose up awkwardly. “Choose,” she said, “Me and the baby or your friend?” She breathed fast; would he really choose that asshole over her?

Adam turned to look at her with pain in his eyes. “Please…”

“Is it really that difficult?” Tears filled her eyes and started falling on her cheeks. It was a painful sight and Adam shook his head softly, walked over to her and hugged her.

“I love you,” he whispered. “You know that.”

“Then we’re clear on this?” She asked and he nodded a bit stiffly.

“Yes,” he answered with hoarse voice.

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

Chris stared at the wall, no sleep came to him. The noises from outside, then the quietness that followed and he wasn’t sure which was worse. The room seemed getting smaller with each passing moment and he wanted out but the walls were too thick, the door too heavy. A bed, a table, a small TV, a toilet, it could be worse, but he wanted his freedom.

Time to think, all he had was time now and all the time his thoughts travelled to the same direction. Joni… Where was he now? Was he at home with his family? Was he with that man? This thought always caused the strong feeling of anger, his fingers curled inside his palm, nails leaving marks on his skin, almost breaking through it.

Chris closed his eyes, breathed in deeply and tried to calm down. Joni was hurt, he told himself and he was hurt because…  ‘I did it,’ the voice inside whispered and for a moment he sat there repeating those words silently. ‘But he deserved it,’ another voice replied. ‘Did he?’ yet another voice argued. ‘You’re just like your father.’ He pulled his knees close to his chest and gritted his teeth. ‘No!’ He felt nervous and alone, even scared. How did it come to this? He wasn’t like his father! He had never wanted to be like him!

Joni was such a slut… He cheated… Joni did this… and now, now Chris himself was the one suffering…

And then the memories came rushing back; how Joni smiled, the sound of his laughter, how his skin felt against his own… Joni smiling at him, coming closer, kissing him, how it had felt like… How it had felt like to feel wanted by him…. and then it had changed… When was the exact moment?

When had he first become so distant?

Joni’s face when he was sad, the look when he was scared… crying…begging…

‘I did it,’ the voice whispered again. He felt defeated and desperate, sudden hate; this time towards himself, self loathing… Until he remembered the blond, tall man and his mood shifted; it was him, it had always been about him.

That man had taken Joni first and then Joni had used him, Joni had never loved him, no… Joni lusted for that man and how long had they been screwing behind his back?! ‘That slut!’… Joni was with that man now… he would replace him just like that and would pretend like Chris had never existed. The thought made his blood boil, the images of Joni wrapped around the other man made him sick, tormenting him. How could he stand it?

Joni didn’t care… did he?

He had to… Chris needed him…

He wanted to turn back the time and fix it so Joni would be his again. He had to make it work somehow. He needed Joni back and then everything would work out.

Joni couldn’t leave him; Joni needed him just as much; he had to.

He thought about what his friend had told him, he thought about what had happened. Tried to force himself to stay calm and get a clear thought. Somehow lately everything had turned so fussy, he lost control, something else had taken over, something dark and frightening.

‘If I can’t have him, no one should.’

His eyes started to water, he repeatedly ran his fingers through his hair. What was happening? Why had this happened?

He needed Joni, he needed to see him, and the longing was strong and absurd, causing physical pain inside. Joni was his, he had to forgive him and it had to be alright somehow…

When he thought again about how Joni laid with the other man a wave of anger washed through him and he began to tremble. What was happening? He felt frightened, frightened of himself. Maybe they should lock him up? Maybe if they did he could get help?

He could ask Adam to keep an eye on Joni, he could write him a letter and apologize and ask him to wait. He was getting help and then Joni would see he could change. Joni had to wait… He had to, he would, wouldn’t he?

The room seemed so small, it was difficult to breath in it.

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

The alarm clock woke them, Misha groaned and reached tiredly to shut down the annoying ring somewhere close to the bed.  7.30am, work day ahead and Misha felt exhausted. The night hadn’t been any easier; Joni had woken up three or four times and thus woke him. He turned his face to look at the brunet, who gazed at him sleepily through half opened eyes.

“Work calls,” Misha whispered to him. “Ivo will take care of you while I’m away, okay?”

“You look tired,” Joni whispered back and Misha chuckled.

“So do you brat, try to get back to sleep.” His hand moved to ruffle Joni’s hair without thinking and he silently wondered how weird this situation really was. When Joni had asked him to sleep next to him again he had felt odd warmness in his chest, the same he felt now when he received faint, tired smile from him. Misha sat up. “Stay in bed, alright? If you need something Ivo will get it for you.”

“Okay, boss…” Joni whispered and tried to grin which didn’t work out quite so well.

Misha smiled at him and reluctantly got up. He wondered why he felt so uncomfortable leaving him, because he knew Ivo would take good care of Joni. Why did he still worry?

“Have a good day at work…” Joni whispered.

“I try to…” Misha said and again without much thinking he leaned closer to tug the smaller man better in. When Joni looked at him in slightly surprised way, Misha cleared his throat, “back to sleep, okay brat?”

“Okay,” Joni whispered smiling, watching as Misha turned and started to collect his things from the room. At the door he turned again looking towards Joni.

“Eyes closed,” he reminded.

“Yes boss…” Joni joked and did as he was told.

Misha headed to the bathroom, for a quick shower then to his own room to change, feeling all reluctant to go to work. They would ask what happened to his cheek and… he just wasn’t sure what to tell them.

Coffee, he definitely needed some coffee and Ivo should be woken too he decided. After putting on the coffee machine, he walked to Ivo’s bedroom and knocked.

“Ivo, get up, I have to leave soon.”

He heard some rustling, a heavy sigh and finally heavy footsteps approaching. Ivo’s eyes were only half open, his hair was a mess and he stared at him grumpily.

“Coffee…” He groaned.

“In the kitchen,” Misha said rolling his eyes and turning towards the said room.

Ivo followed with lazy steps, sighed again when sitting in front of the kitchen table.

“What time did you go to bed anyway?” Misha asked fixing him a cup and placing it in front of him. Ivo shrugged, took the cup between his hands and tasted.

“Ah, that’s better,” he sighed after a few more tastes. “Hm, 3am I guess,” he finally replied.

“And what were you doing up so late?” Misha raised his eyebrow, pouring himself a cup of coffee; he would have to skip breakfast or he’d be late.

“Playing…” Ivo sighed.

Again Misha rolled his eyes. “34 year old, single man playing play station in the middle of the night is just sad.”

“And 24 year old man acting like 40 is even sadder,” Ivo grinned. “It’s my life; I can do what I want with it.”

Misha gave him a look but didn’t say anything. “Alright, so Joni is sleeping now, hopefully. Hmm… make him a smoothie when he wakes; yoghurt, little bit of honey, there’s some raspberries and strawberries in the freezer and…”

“Misha, honestly, like you just kindly reminded; I’m 34. I think I can manage to make him breakfast… “ Ivo chuckled.

“Well…” Misha shrugged, ignoring his brother’s tone. “I gave him his pain medicine few hours ago, so if he needs it you can…”

“…Wait a few hours and give another dose after breakfast.”  Ivo grinned. “Alright mother hen, I think I can manage. After all you and Dima are still successfully alive.”

Misha glared at him. “Just no silly jokes, no silly ideas, he’s injured and needs lots of rest.”

“I know,” Ivo smiled.

“And I am not some freaking mother hen!”

“Sure, sure,” Ivo nodded, reached for a magazine and continued sipping his coffee. “Aren’t you going to be late?” He asked casually and watched amusedly as his younger brother cursed, drank his coffee and hurriedly left to collect the rest of his things.

“See you later mom!” Ivo called after him.

“Fuck you Ivo!” Came the annoyed reply from the hall.

“I love you too! Bye now!”

**^^**^^^**

Ivo smiled when he entered the room. “Good morning,” he said brightly as he walked further in, carrying the breakfast tray.

The dark haired youth was sitting up on the bed, with pillows carefully arranged behind his back. he tried to smile at him, but the effort faded quickly. “Good morning,” he whispered. Ivo placed the tray on the table and opened the curtains. the sun was bright, irritating Joni’s eyes slightly before he got used to it.

“It’s a beautiful day. Looks like it’s going to be warm this weekend,” Ivo spoke, “How are you feeling?”

“Well…” Joni started, “still surviving,” he said after a small pause.

“Well, I brought you your smoothie. Misha left me with clear instructions.” He winked at the boy taking the glass and gave it to Joni. Ivo pulled a chair next to him watching Joni who held the glass between both of his hands and slowly drank from the straw. “Do you need a pain killer?” He asked after awhile.

“Perhaps a bit later,” Joni answered and after finishing the drink Ivo took the glass and placed it back on the table.

“So, would you like to watch something? Or want me to read you something?”

Joni sighed. “I don’t know, I guess I could watch some TV, if it’s alright?”

“Sure,” Ivo grinned. “Let me just help you up.”

Joni moved his feet to the floor and stood up carefully with Ivo’s support. “Okay wrap your arm around my neck, I’m going to lift you up,” Ivo instructed.

“No, please, just let me try moving on my own.”  Joni asked taking a deep breath. “I can’t stand being carried around like some big baby…” He explained.

“So it’s only to humor my brother?” Ivo asked with small amusement to which Joni smiled carefully and shook his head.

“I don’t have the energy to argue with him.”

Ivo chuckled at this. “I see, well you can try moving on your own but… I’ll be right next to you.”

Joni walked slowly, with Ivo’s hand resting on his shoulder. The stairs were the difficult part. When the taller man again suggested carrying him Joni quickly denied it. He wanted to do this himself, wanted to prove that he could. Small steps, one by one his hands taking support from the railing and when he got to downstairs he smiled slightly and took a deep breath looking towards Ivo.

“I suppose Misha will be disappointed now not having the excuse to carry you around,” he chuckled, ruffling Joni’s hair lightly.

“He’ll get over it,” Joni grinned back and continued making his way to the couch, Ivo close behind. He sat down carefully on the couch looking outside; the beautiful weather depressed him; he would have wanted to be able to enjoy it and… Well… he wanted his strength back, wanted this whole ordeal over with.

Ivo turned the TV on and put one of the comedies into the DVD player that Joni hadn’t seen yet. Humming to himself he went to get the body lotion from his room and then returned, casually sitting next to Joni, lifting the Finn’s  feet on his lap. “A foot rub,” Ivo simply explained.

“Oh?… Eh, thanks…”

Ivo smiled squeezing some lotion over his palm, warming it between his hands and began to spread it on Joni’s bare feet. “You have nice feet,” he commented after awhile, rubbing the right heel, “nice and soft. Ah you might think I’m weird but I’ve always had a thing for feet.”

Joni watched him with wary hint of amusement. “A foot fetish?” He asked and Ivo tilted his head to look at his face, still grinning.

“Nothing kinky I assure you,” he said.

“Good,” Joni smiled back relaxing slightly as Ivo continued. It felt good and distracted him from pain. “I don’t remember the last time I’ve had a foot massage,” he whispered looking towards the TV screen where the movie was playing.  

“You like it?” Ivo asked.

“Yeah, it feels good,” Joni whispered.

“That’s good then.” Ivo nodded, smiling to himself, continuing what he was doing, occasionally glancing at the screen.

“I bet this wasn’t how you pictured your summer holiday,” Joni murmured after a moment of silence, “taking care of your brother’s friend… I just need some things from the apartment; I could then transfer money to you online.”

Ivo looked at him frowning. “What money?”

“My money of course, for… you know for food and stuff. So I need your account number.”

Ivo sighed looking at him. “Joni, I don’t need your money,” hetold him.

“I’m not going to stay here for free.” Joni told him, “I want to pay my own share… I need to do that… besides… if they sentence Chris…” Joni took a small pause, “I suspect I get some money as well for injuries…”

Ivo nodded. “If it is important to you, I won’t deny it, but there’s no rush with it, you can chip in with the grocery bills, okay? Perhaps treat us some pizza sometime,” he winked then, “I assure you, I and Misha are more than satisfied with that.”

Joni smiled. “Thanks Ivo.”

“Well it’s the first time someone has thanked me for accepting their money.”

“Not just for that, but for this, for helping me and…”

“Hey, no problem, I’m just glad we can do this for you,” Ivo eyed Joni carefully. “It  was Misha’s idea, you know? To bring you here.”

Joni tilted his head slightly, “I thought it might be yours…” he whispered.

Ivo shook his head. “It was a great idea though,” he assured. “He cares for you more than he can say.”

Joni blushed slightly and looked away. “I think he feels guilty for… for the past.”

Ivo chuckled. “That as well. Look he can be a stubborn ass, but he does care for you and is now realizing just how much. He was really scared for you that night; I’ve never seen him like that before.”

Joni was silent for a moment thinking about it. He had sensed it of course, but still felt insecure. There were so many confusing things, things he needed to sort out; the issue with the pictures was one of those things…

“Would you like some coffee? Or tea?” The man asked and Joni nodded silently. Ivo raised his brow, grinning. “So which will it be?”

“Tea, thanks,” came the quiet reply.

Ivo’s grin faded seeing Joni’s thoughtfulness. “Okay, what’s wrong?” He asked.

“I-“ Joni hesitated, looking up at him. It might be easier to tell Ivo? The older man just had more relaxing air around him and he had never really judged him before, like Misha, “Um, I’d like that tea first…” He answered with low voice.

“Okay,” Ivo nodded and got up wondering if Joni was finally starting to talk, hoping he would.

5 minutes later he returned to the youth and handed him the other cup making sure he could hold it steadily. He sat down and pressed the pause button on the movie.

“You know you can tell me, whatever it is,” he said after sitting down next to him.

Joni swallowed, looking down at the cup between his hands. “What will happen to all of Chris’ stuff if they sentence him?” He asked carefully and Ivo frowned.

“When they sentence him,” he corrected. “I suppose they will arrange some place and some person of his choosing to look over his assets while he’s away.”

Joni nodded feeling his hands trembled slightly. “You suppose they’ve already… taken things?” He asked.

“I’m not sure, Joni.” Ivo answered watching him worriedly.

“Hm, you don’t think they could… give him his laptop… or anything?”

Joni was obviously nervous as hell Ivo took noticed, but didn’t want to comment on that just hoping that the boy would continue, to which ever direction this was heading.

“No, I highly doubt they would let him use things like cell phone or his personal laptop in prison… Why?”

Joni took a deep breath. “He was… blackmailing me…” he whispered so quietly that Ivo barely heard him.

“He did what?”

“Blackmailed… I- I did… I did want to leave and tried… right after the first time, but…” Joni shook his head, trembling even more and tried avoiding Ivo’s eyes. “There were pictures…there are pictures…

“Okay, calm down Joni,” Ivo spoke softly, placed his own cup down to steady Joni’s hands, afraid he’d spill the hot tea all over himself. “You can tell me,” he encouraged, slowly starting to understand.

“It… I don’t remember the situation… But… I know… we were celebrating my 18th birthday and…” Joni glanced at Ivo and gestured him to take the tea cup from him which the man did. “…He kept offering me drinks, I thought we had fun…Everyone else had left, and I don’t remember more of that night than being in the kitchen with him and then it’s all… blur.”

Ivo found himself gritting his teeth.

“Then… at winter, he showed me… I-“ Joni brought his hand over his forehead, looking down with miserable expression. “You can see everything from them, all of me… and even …you know… sucking him off… It’s the only part you see of him though,” Joni chuckled weakly and nervously, “just his… thing, in my mouth… He said if I leave he’d sent them everywhere… even my family and I just… it’s too humiliating…” He tried to keep himself from crying but couldn’t stop the tears. He had finally said it, couldn’t take it back and felt both relieving and frightening.

Ivo pulled him closer and wrapped his arms gently around him, careful to not hurt him.

“It’s okay Joni, don’t worry … I’m glad you told me.” Inside he felt anger building towards that no good asshole, but tried to calm himself down for Joni’s sake. “Have you told the cops about the pictures?” He asked carefully. Trying to wipe the tears away Joni shook his head.

“You’re the first one that knows,” he whispered with hoarse voice. “I don’t know if he’s already done something with them,” he added feeling slightly nauseous. “I don’t know what to do Ivo, I don’t know how I could bear having this label on me for the rest of my life… It’s embarrassing.”

“If he has used them to blackmail you I think you should tell the police about them,” Ivo said stroking his hair soothingly.

Joni wrapped his arm around himself, stroking his other arm, his hand resting over his knee. “I was 18…I guess I agreed to them? I don’t want people to see…I don’t want them to think that…” He shook his head and swallowed. “I never wanted to be this person… and I don’t understand how I got here.”

Ivo brought his hand under Joni’s chin forcing him to look up. “Listen, you’re still very young. Seems to me he has known very well what he was doing. Think about it Joni; he gets you drunk, he talks you into taking pictures that you don’t remember and it was before you moved in together, wasn’t it?”

Joni nodded slowly.

“Ok and he suggested the moving in? Had everything arranged ready and all you had to do is say yes?”

Confused Joni nodded again. Ivo gave him a sad look.

“He knew what he was doing; did his very best in trying to own you, to make sure you were his and he even thought a step ahead by taking these pictures… You’ve really kept this inside all these months?” Ivo asked and the Joni gaze shifted down. Ivo pulled him to another hug feeling the boy trembling.

“It wasn’t the first time he forced you either, was it?” Ivo stated quietly with pained voice.

“I don’t want to remember…” Joni whispered brokenly, pulling away, feeling uncomfortable. “Shit…” He cursed and hid his face in his hands.

“Hey it’s alright, you’re a tough guy Joni, one step at the time, okay? You’re telling me now and it’s good, you’re not alone. But what you need to do is to tell the cops how he’s blackmailed you with these pictures. They will search his computer and they will handle it, don’t worry.”

“It’s just so… humiliating… I’m such a slut, right?”

“No!” Ivo denied firmly. “These are his thoughts! He’s manipulated you, he’s done so many wrong things to you and you know what? You have nothing to be ashamed off, even if there would be pictures, so what? I know you’re scared now but we’ll solve this and no one is going to think any less of you… You’re only 19 years old, Joni…”

“Not long…” Joni interrupted, sighing, “I’ll turn 20 in two weeks,” and through his tears he tried to smile receiving a gentle smile back. Ivo reached to wipe the tears with his thumb.

“There will be many happy years ahead, you’ll see. It might seem difficult to believe now, but one day this will all be behind. And no matter what anyone says, remember that you are not to blame.”

Joni nodded carefully, still feeling a bit overwhelmed but better. He hadn’t even realized how much it had taken from him to keep silent; it still didn’t take the fear away though.

“If you feel up to it I can take you to the police station tomorrow. We can go and tell them together, alright?” Ivo suggested with soft voice.

“But if he’s already done something with them… What if the pictures are online?” Joni asked worriedly.

“I wouldn’t worry about it Joni,” Ivo whispered. If it was the case Ivo knew there was little to be done, internet was a tricky, almost impossible place to control after all. “Look, everyone makes mistakes and…” He sighed. “All I’m saying…”

“If it happens it happens and I have to deal with it?” Joni took a frustrated note, “I hate him! I hate Chris… I wish I had never met him! I wish I wasn’t so fucking stupid!” He burst out lout and turned away from Ivo. “It’s not fair,” he whispered.

Ivo touched his shoulder. “Joni, it will all turn out alright you’ll see. I promise it will.”

 “You shouldn’t promise things you can not keep,” Joni whispered, took a deep breath and then looked at him. “I’m sorry, I’m just… frustrated… it hurts, I look horrible and I just… I want the two years back that I wasted.”

Ivo got up, took the tea cup and kneeled in front of Joni. “Here, take some tea now,” he said placing the cup between his hands. “And you don’t look horrible.”

“Don’t lie Ivo…” Joni whispered.

“I’m not,” The older man smiled softly, “A ttle bruised, but honestly Joni I’ve seen much worse. You will have your looks back, it could have been worse.”

“So I’m supposed to be grateful?” Joni snapped and then looked down ashamed, “I’m sorry Ivo… I’m just…”

“Nothing to say sorry about, I understand.”

Joni nodded and took a careful sip of his tea. “I suppose, if I make up my mind, it will be alright.” He said looking outside.

“That’s the right spirit,” Ivo grinned and stood up; he reached to ruffle Joni’s hair. “You did good by telling me.” He said when Joni looked up at him. “We’ll fix this,” he promised. “But for now let’s continue watching the movie.”

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

Misha did notice the looks he received from his workmates. The bruise was still visible and made him self conscious in a way he didn’t like. So far no one had said something or asked anything and Misha hoped it would remain so.

Sighing heavily he sat in front of his desk and turned the computer on; his thoughts continuously trying to escape back home to Joni. Of course Ivo would take good care of him. The two had always gotten along, in fact they were getting along so well that… Misha frowned, there were still times when he wondered what had happened between the two, had there been any true feelings? Any at all? Had there been more kisses? And why the hell was he thinking about this now?!

“Wow, must have been some party?” A familiar female voice startled him from his thoughts and he looked up to see Cecilia, one of his closest work friends, her desk was situated close to his own. “You look like shit,” the woman pointed out in her usual blunt way and sat on the edge of his desk holding her coffee cup.

“And good morning to you as well,” Misha groaned glaring at her.

“To be honest, I thought you’d be away for the rest of the week since tomorrow is off.” She said and tilted her head slightly.

“Tomorrow is off?” Misha frowned and she giggled.

“Midsummer’s Eve, silly! The great holiday with a brilliant excuse to party ‘till dawn, or ‘till you pass out from enjoying too many drinks. Surely you can’t have forgotten my dear Vodka?” She raised her brow and Misha again remembered why it wasn’t good to introduce people to his brother; the silly nickname given to him by Ivo spread fast.

“I had forgotten,” he confessed, staring towards the screen tiredly. He would have to call his friends and cancel the plan of joining them to a party at a cabin owned by one of them.

“So this is serious, what happened?” She asked.

“It’s a long story, long and unpleasant,” he sighed, not really in the mood to go through it.

“A fight at the party?” She pressed on.

“No,” Misha replied shortly. It was odd to think that it had been less than a week; Saturday Joni had been okay, on Saturday night they had…. It felt like forever ago now.

“I’m worried about you,” Cecilia sighed. “Are you alright?”

Misha looked up at her, tried to smile, before he sighed “Look, I’m fine; it’s just that a friend of mine got hurt quite badly and I’m just not in the mood to talk about it,” he explained.

“Okay, I understand. Would you like me to bring you some coffee?”

“Thanks, I would appreciate it.”

Misha said and she smiled getting up.

“No problem, and if you want to talk later… just so you know, I’m good at keeping secrets.” She winked on her way.

The day seemed to go by slowly and it was difficult to concentrate. Though he thought about calling home and checking on Ivo and Joni  he managed to stop himself each time because he didn’t want to seem too… what? He wasn’t sure exactly, but he should still restrain himself from calling home.

Cecilia had picked up lunch for the both of them which they were now having in front of their desks and he could at times feel her eyes upon him as she was browsing through some web pages that definitely didn’t have anything to do with their work.

“I am so addicted to facebook,” she sighed at one point, “this is ridiculous, really. Lke you know it’s ridiculous and still you hang out doing these silly tests. What kind of shoe are you?  Oh I just did a test of when I will lose my mind and the answer is; tadaa April 14th 2021! I still have time,” she laughed.

Misha glanced at her and smiled a bit absently.

“Something is really bothering you,” She noted, “I want the old Vodka back,” she pouted.

“Sorry, it’s just been tough the last couple of days,” he answered.

She nodded with sympathy, wanted to ask but stopped herself, went in search for news updates. Misha finished eating his subway  and tried to get back on his work, glancing a bit amusedly at Cecilia who was apparently still caught up with things she shouldn’t be.

“It might be a good idea to actually do some work Ceci,” he  pointed out, getting a brief grin back.

“Soon,” she said focusing back on the screen, the smile still lingering over her lips.

Misha kept checking the time; 1.30pm… Time went by slowly… The Only positive thing was the extra free day that he had forgotten.

“Hey Misha,” a voice interrupted him from his escaping thoughts; he looked up to his other colleague Eetu, who was about his age and had joined the company a few months earlier. The man seemed nice enough and cute; slim, not very tall, glasses, blond,slightly curly hair.

“Hi,” he greeted somewhat tiredly, but remembered to smile.

“What’s happened to your face?” The other couldn’t help but to ask and Misha frowned looking at him and the papers he held in his hands. Why couldn’t people just mind their own business?

“Nothing to concern yourself over,” he replied somewhat coldly and the other man blushed slightly.

“I’m sorry, I know it’s not my business… I-hmm… anyway, the boss asked me to bring this assignment for you. The client is Russian and well…” The smaller man smiled at him handing the papers.

“Thanks, and sorry if I sounded rude,” Misha muttered. “It’s just been a hard week.”

“Sure, I understand.” The other nodded still standing before his desk; Misha cocked his eyebrow in question. “Oh, you should call this guy and set an appointment for next week,” Eetu explained.

“Okay, will do,” Misha nodded and still the guy didn’t budge. “Anything else?” Misha asked trying to smile politely, but somehow only managed a weak effort.

“Some of us are meeting after work for drinks; I was thinking… maybe you would like to join? I mean… if you’re not busy, or anything.”

“I am busy… another time perhaps,” Misha replied, starting to look over the papers that were given to him.

“Oh okay, yeah, another time, anyway, I hope you have fun at Midsummer!”

“You too…” Misha muttered not looking up.

The man bit his lip and turned walking away with Cecilia’s eyes glued to his back.

She then turned her gaze back to Misha.

“Harsh,” she commented with a small grin. Misha looked up and frowned.

“What?”

“Oh come on! The poor guy is like totally in love with you, tried to ask you out and you just ignore him. That is harsh.”

“In love with me? Come on, don’t be silly woman.”

“I’m not! Seriously, I tell you he has a crush on you, you should have seen how disappointed he was when he noticed that you were absent.”

“If he finds me hot, what can I do?” Misha grinned before getting serious. “Anyway, he’s not my type,” he said and again tried to get back to work.

The woman sighed. “What’s wrong with him then?”

“Well, I’m sure there’s nothing wrong with him. I just said he’s not my type; first he seems so sweet and shy and that it’s … not appealing, second; he looks so fragile I’d be frightened to break him in love making.” He said and wriggled his brows.

Cecilia chuckled, “Oh come on! Either they are too small, too tall, too fat, too thin? Too blond, too annoying, too sweet, too clingy, too independent, too something! My God you are difficult to please.” She gave him a pointed look. “With that attitude you’ll end up miserable and alone,” she said with a slight smile.

Misha only shrugged, smiling. “Perhaps I just know what I want and won’t settle for less that that?”

“There is no perfect person, you know?”

“I know,” Misha said. “Now, I’m very busy, so….”

“I bug you some other time,” the woman said and turned back to her work.

**^^**^^**

At 5pm Misha was home. the work day had seemed to drag on for ages but at least he had managed to stop himself from making any silly check up calls to home.

He kicked his shoes off, heard the noise of the TV. Lovely smell of something cooking in the kitchen filled his nostrils and made his stomach growl.

He found Joni in the living room, on the couch, half sitting half lying position, blanked drawn over his lap.

“Hi,” Misha greeted the dark haired boy who turned his face slightly towards him a faint smile appearing on his lips.

“Hi,” he greeted back. “How was your day?” He asked quietly when Misha stepped closer and finally sat down on an armchair next to him.

The blond man shrugged, “It was… tolerable,” he said before grinning, “got better when I realized that tomorrow is off. I had totally forgotten that it’s Midsummer’s eve.”

“Oh… it is, isn’t it?” Joni was slightly surprised, having forgotten the holiday as well. In his situation it hadn’t seemed so important. “Do you have plans?”

Misha shrugged. “Like I said I had forgotten, so nothing important,” he answered. “I was thinking of calling to Dima and Linda to see if they would like to spend tomorrow with us. Perhaps playing some card games, what do you think?”

Joni nodded. “It would be nice,” he answered thinking that anything to distract his mind from thinking about Chris and his own injuries would be welcomed.

“Ah, Misha, you’re home!” Ivo grinned when stepping out from the kitchen, “I made cheese soup,” he announced. “You two just stay were you are, I’ll serve you.” He added then before disappearing back into the kitchen.

“He’s suspicious when he’s so helpful…” Misha took note and if Joni could have he would have chuckled instead he gave a small tired grin.

“Ivo is great,” he said and Misha glanced back at him frowning slightly.

“How was your day?” He asked, “What did you do?”

Joni wasn’t ready to tell Misha about the pictures. He figured Ivo would do it for him and found it easier that way, because he still wasn’t sure how Misha would react and wasn’t sure if he wanted to see what his first reaction would be. Telling to Ivo had seemed easier because he somehow trusted him better not to judge him. With Misha it wasn’t always that clear. Yet Misha had been so gentle and nice with him, he didn’t want to lose it.

“It was okay, just… resting… watching TV, it’s not like I could do much else,” Joni answered quietly, just before Ivo returned.

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

It was close to Midnight, Ivo sat in the kitchen, having a drink and going over what Joni had told him earlier. He felt sorry for the kid; it seemed that he had a lot to carry on his shoulders, too much package especially for someone so young.

“Still up?” Ivo turned to Misha’s voice and nodded with a faint smile as he raised his glass.

“Perhaps I find sleep better after this,” he said looking at his brother carefully. “You look quite tired as well. Did Joni fall asleep?”

Misha nodded. “I could use a drink as well,” he said walking towards the bottle that Ivo had left on the counter. “So how did the day really go between you too?” He asked, unable to hide the hint of doubtfulness in his voice.

“Well…” Ivo started, taking a small pause. Since Misha didn’t mention it, he doubted that Joni had told him yet.

 “He told me the missing piece of the puzzle,” he answered, leaning back on his chair watching as the clear liquid twirled in his glass when he moved it in his hands.

Misha cocked his eyebrow in suspicion. “And?”

“That man blackmailed him into staying with the help of some pictures…”

“What pictures?” Misha interrupted with slightly tense voice.

“You could just let me finish…” Ivo sighed. “Apparently he had gotten Joni drunk on his birthday two years ago and then encouraged him to pose for some nude pictures… well more like porn pictures. Anyway, to make Joni stay he had threatened to send them to his family and post them online somewhere… Joni doesn’t remember the moment the pictures have been taken; he remembers that Chris had encouraged him to drink, so it seems to me that the bastard had it all carefully planned.”

Misha stared at his brother silently and emptied his glass in one swift motion, pouring another. Finally he walked over to the table and sat down.

“And he told this to you today?” He asked with exasperated voice.

“Yes.”

“Unbelievable,” Misha sipped his drink feeling the burning in his throat and shook his head. “Why the hell didn’t he tell me? I asked and nothing, I go to work for one day leaving you with him and he tells you everything!”

Ivo frowned. “So you are annoyed of the fact that Joni didn’t tell you first?”

Misha glared at him and took another sip. “Well, I’ve spend the nights with him, I saved him and took care of him, I’ve been very attentive, haven’t I? And I encouraged him to tell me, and no… instead he tells you! After just one day!”

If the situation wasn’t so grim Ivo would have burst in laughter. “So you’re jealous,” he took note and rolled his eyes. “Get over it… I think it’s quite obvious as to why.”

Misha gave him another glare. “I’m not jealous,” he corrected quickly. “I’m…”

Ivo sighed. “Ok, ok! Whatever.” He wasn’t in the mood now. “The thing is Misha; that Joni has feelings for you and he’s incredibly ashamed of these pictures and afraid that they are spread around. And let’s face the past between you two might still affect him, no matter how nice you’ve been to him now. You weren’t very nice in the past and I think he thinks that you would blame him for the pictures.”

“That’s ridiculous… Of course I wouldn’t! I might as well guess it’s something like this… I don’t understand the need to hide it for so long he could have told someone sooner, like Dima for example. It’s not like he’s been ashamed to show off his body before.”

“There’s a difference between being proud of your body and show it off in little clothing, than have pornographic pictures spread out for everyone to see.” Ivo reminded with a calm voice, the tense look on Misha’s face showed how much this new information bothered him. “Plus imagine how much more difficult it feels after that man… has kept forcing him to have sex…” The last part came as a whisper and he noticed Misha tensing even more, getting slightly pale.

It wasn’t as if Misha hadn’t thought of the possibility, if Joni had been abused it was likely that sexual had been part of it as well. But now that Ivo said it out loud, it became more real. His mind suddenly went back to that night a week earlier when he had slept with  Joni, had there been any signs? Joni had seemed confident… he had wanted it, hadn’t he? He had taken some control… Still the guilt raised its ugly head, – should he have sensed something? Should he have stopped it from happening? Had he done something wrong and was Joni troubled by what had happened between them? Misha felt confused.

“Foolish brat… “He grumbled in frustration, shook his head and looked down while playing with his glass. “He should have just told me, I don’t blame him for it… but it just so damn… foolish.”

Ivo nodded silently. “It’s a shame…” He whispered, feeling somewhat depressed of the whole deal now that he began to understand just how serious it was.

“I encouraged him to tell the cops about it, hopefully this just adds to his sentence… And hopefully they would just deport the guy. However I don’t know if I dare to be so optimistic.” Ivo tapped on the table with his index finger frowning in his thoughts.

Then he brought his gaze up and smiled at his brother. “Anyway… his birthday is coming up, we should think about something to cheer him up.”

“When is his birthday?” Misha asked slightly annoyed at himself for not remembering.

“5th of next month,” Ivo replied automatically and Misha somehow felt even more annoyed when Ivo remembered it so well.

The whole situation was annoying, Misha didn’t want it to be this complicated, he wanted… What he would have wanted was to turn back the time right ‘till that moment on the couch when Joni had climbed on his lap and… He would want to go back to that moment, shake him, kiss him, spank the kid to his senses and kiss him again, stop him from ever crossing his path with that asshole.

“Okay, something nice for his birthday,” he agreed somberly and finished his drink before getting up.

“And Misha, don’t you dare making him feel bad for telling me first,” Ivo warned.

“Why the hell would I do that? I’m not an idiot, Ivo,” Misha groaned. “Good night now, I’m off to bed.”

Ivo nodded stiffly. “Good night,” he whispered and watched his brother leave the room.

Misha got back to Dima’s room, quietly closing the door behind him. He looked over to the bed where Joni was sleeping, sighed and walked over to the armchair. He sat down, listening to Joni’s breathing, looking then towards the window. It was a damn shame, he thought to himself. A damn shame to realize things too late. He really would have preferred to have that old brat back than to have Joni go through all this hardship… Could something like his this be fixed? And did he even have the ability to be what Joni needed now? Should it be someone more calm natured and…?

Joni opened his eyes, blinking slightly, it was dim but not completely dark and he could see Misha sitting on the armchair looking to the window where the curtains were draped.

“Ivo told you?” He asked with a whisper, feeling sudden tightness in his throat, sensing the others troubled thoughts.  Misha looked towards him with surprise.

“Yes, he did,” Misha answered. “You should be sleeping,” he said then and when Joni was quiet he sighed and continued. “And don’t worry about it, we’ll fix it, it’s not your fault. Now try to get back to sleep.”

“Good night, Misha…” Joni whispered still not completely convinced that Misha was okay with the news. It would be difficult to get sleep now; too many questions, too many uncertainties.

“Good night, Joni,” Misha said looking towards him. “And try not to worry,” he added quietly, for Joni and perhaps for himself as well.

TBC.

         Web published: October 5th, 2009.

            My Secret Shore

© KOLGRIM

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