34. Silent

Betad by: Charity

Chapter 34

4/29/1992

The soft cello chord filled the music hall. Jean looked at the curly-haired young man on stage, his fingers moving softly around the neck of the cello, his right hand moving the spring in smooth movements. The young man’s expression was serenely focused on the music he produced, and Jean smiled in deep admiration. The whole hall was quiet, everyone listened in awe. Jean felt overwhelming pride on his chest, holding a flower bouquet in his arms, eagerly awaiting the moment after the performance to hand it over to his partner with praising words of his talent.

Sebastian had been nervous with his first solo, he hadn’t needed to be, his talent was phenomenal. Eventually, the music ended, the lights on the stage brightened and people in the audience applauded Jean with them. Sebastian got up, smiled captivatingly, and bowed to his audience before leaving the stage.

The hall began to empty, and Jean wanted to hurry. He staggered through the crowd towards the lobby and there to the performers’ premises, the guard recognized him and let him move on. His enthusiasm turned to some degree of disappointment when he saw Sebastian hugging his music teacher, they smiled at each other, the older man touching Sebastian’s shoulder whispering something in a quiet voice that made Sebastian respond with soft laughter and his cheeks flushed. Jean didn’t like the way they looked at each other. He slowed his steps, watched for a moment longer as he got closer.

You were phenomenal, Chéri!” He declared and Sebastian turned, saw him, and smiled though not as warmly as a moment ago.

”Thank you.” He said and accepted Jean’s embrace, a kiss on the cheek. ”You were worried for no reason; I haven’t heard anything as beautiful in my life.” Jean continued.

”Sebastian is one of my best students.” His teacher intervened in the conversation and Jean glanced at the man with annoyance he couldn’t hide. The man was smitten with Sebastian, Jean had noticed it long ago. The man flirted with him, eyeing him too intensely, stood too close to his partner, and Jean didn’t like it. He liked even less how Sebastian seemed to answer to his flattery.

”Well, I have one of the best teachers.” Sebastian smiled and looked at the older man in a way that further irritated Jean.

“Are you ready to leave? I’ve made a table reservation and I don’t want to be late for it.” Jean couldn’t hide the slight irritation from his voice. Sebastian exchanged a few more words with his teacher and hugged him a bit too long before they left. Jean felt the jealousy get to him.

At dinner, he sensed a certain kind of coldness in Sebastian. His thoughts were elsewhere, not in this moment, not in him, and it vexed Jean.

”Do you and that man have something going on between you?” Jean spoke, as they were later on their way to Sebastian’s apartment.

”Martin and me?” Sebastian asked with pretended insult in his tone.

“Well, yes, you and that music professor or whatever! You do realize that he’s old enough to be your father!” Sebastian clicked his tongue and shook his head with annoyance.

“You’re ridiculous, Jean! There is nothing between us.” He snorted, his steps speeding up.

”Oh yeah, what I saw speaks differently!”

Sebastian didn’t even bother to answer. He waved his hand to stop the approaching taxi. ”You better go home, Jean, I‘m tired and I don’t want to argue with you.” He said and opened the door to the cab that had stopped.

”Sebastian!” Jean called to try and stop him, but the younger man closed the door behind him rudely, and Jean couldn’t help but stand there and look helplessly as the car drove off.

They had been dating for a year and the early days had been intoxicating and full of passion. For the first time in his life, Jean had fallen in love, felt the kind of happiness he had never experienced before. Sebastian was an American, a talented music student a couple of years younger than him. Sebastian easily charmed the people around him. Jean had become acquainted with him soon after moving to New York with his studies. They had met at a popular gay club; Sebastian was the one to approach him. At first, he had seemed completely swept away about the fact that he was French, smitten by his accent, cultural awareness, and intelligence. But more and more often Sebastian had started to complain about his possessiveness, about how Jean “suppressed” him. Jean was clingy, afraid of losing Sebastian, he didn’t know how to love any other way.

Sebastian was volatile, in the good days, his love was warm and made Jean feel like he was the only person in the world who mattered. The younger man held Jean effortlessly in his grip, those good moments made Jean stay close even when affection disappeared and turned cold. And in the worse days, Sebastian could be cruel, the words were like daggers or the silence like ice that made Jean fall into despair. Lately, too often, there were days when Sebastian took distance from him and the look he gave to his music teacher was the look he had given to Jean before.

The situation became unbearable. Sebastian kept him hanging, without cutting him loose, always giving small pulls until he became distant again. And now that time of distance ensued, Sebastian claiming that he was too busy with everything, his studies, and his music. And Jean was alone with his longing, with his love that wasn’t returned with the measure that he needed.

Jean began to follow Sebastian, trying to stay unnoticed, just wanting to find out what he was doing and whom he was meeting. And then, one June evening, Jean saw something that broke his heart. Sebastian met his music teacher, they went to dine together, walked close to each other in the park, and finally, thinking that they could hide from the eyes of others, they deviated from the path into the shade of tall oak, sharing a kiss so passionate that it broke every last hope that Jean had nourished for them.

 Sebastian hadn’t told Jean their relationship was over, he was keeping him on hold, and it only brought more pain. Jean’s chest gripped, the disappointment tearing him apart, slowly forming the pain into waves of anger that were hard to control. Part of him wanted to rush to the scene, release his full venom, another part wanted to escape, hide and try to get some sense of things, some comfort.

That night Jean chose the latter, he wanted to drink, to drink until he would drown all those painful emotions swirling inside. He went to the bar, the same place where he had once met Sebastian, and he drank. Jean sat at the bar counter, whiskey in his glass, smoking tobacco with trembling hands while his mood continued the wavy motion, giving more power to the anger, the bitterness, and the will to hurt Sebastian as he had hurt him.

”Tough night?” The man’s voice asked beside him. And Jean gazed at the stranger in confusion, a man who smiled and sat down beside him. The man was older than him, neatly dressed, elegant. He had a dark beard that was neatly trimmed, dark eyes, darker than he had ever seen. There was something in the man’s face that fascinated Jean.

“You could say that” Jean answered after a moment of silence. He was digging for new tobacco, but he noticed to his disappointment that he had already run out. The stranger then smiled and dug out an elegant box from his chest pocket that he offered him.

“Thank you,” Jean said, looking at the man with growing curiosity. The man looked at the bartender, raised his hand with the same elegance, and nodded. “Whiskey for me and my friend,” he said after the bartender arrived. ”You can leave the bottle.”

Jean looked at the other still silent, almost enchanted.

“You’re French,” the man took note rather than asked and Jean nodded. “How long have you lived in New York? Or maybe you’re just visiting?” He inquired before lighting a cigarette for himself.

”I’m studying here, now for the second year,” Jean answered and the man smiled, holding out his hand.

”Richard, Ricky.” He introduced himself after Jean took his offered hand.

“Jean,” he replied.

”Nice to meet you Jean, what are you studying?”

”Economics.”

”Perhaps a future banker, or maybe an accountant?”The man grinned, ”You don’t look like one.”

“God knows what I’m going to do…” Jean sighed drunkenly, and the answer seemed to amuse the other man.

”How old are you, Jean?”

”I’m twenty-four.”

”Still in the prime of life.” The man smiled almost gently.

They chatted, tossing the whiskey down their throats and Jean found himself opening up about his boyfriend’s betrayal. Perhaps, if he hadn’t, the evening would have taken a completely different turn for him, yet this path he would enter was darker than he could have ever anticipated.

 Richard Stevens… Ricky, the name the man had given him, and only later would Jean know that the last name had been false and usually it was a bad sign for those the man encountered. But an idea of a different kind of game had awoken in the monster’s mind when Jean had spilled out his anger-filled jealousy for Sebastian.

They ended up in Jean’s apartment, on his bed, and had oral sex. That evening began a toxic relationship, a path to gloom from which there was no return. Ricky led him there, deeper and deeper, one step at a time. Jean was easily manageable in his fragile state of mind and without the support of friends who had stayed in Paris. His childhood and youth had been broken, filled with struggle and suffering, violence. However, he had survived, but his mind was weak and took adversity and rejection heavily. He was always looking for acceptance, looking for love, looking for his place. Ricky was stronger than him and for a moment what the man offered fascinated Jean.

It wasn’t a love affair, far from it. They had “fun” together as Ricky described it. They drank together, Ricky introduced him to the drugs, and then those unfortunate young men came along… At first, they were prostitutes who sold their bodies, and they, the paying customers had the right to do to them as they pleased. – Ricky had told him, and Jean had been persuaded into believing it.

It was only a short crossing from there into seducing sex-hungry young men from clubs, alluring them to come with to a place of Ricky’s choosing. They got what they had asked for and what they asked, according to Ricky, were violence and pain. In truth, it was hardly what their victims had thought to happen when joining their company. That power pulled Jean with it, it numbed his mind with the drugs that Ricky kept offering. 

”They won’t speak of this,” Ricky said and it was true, not a word was ever heard from anyone afterward.

By the end of the summer, Sebastian finally agreed to meet him, the remains of their relationship had already become distant. They were not “right” to each other; Sebastian said. They were sitting in a cafe, at a secluded table, Sebastian had chosen the place, maybe he felt the public meeting place was the safest, knowing that Jean could sometimes lose his temper in an unpredictable manner. When Jean asked if Sebastian met someone else, the younger man lied and said it wasn’t about it. He wanted his own time, to be alone and think things through. Even though Jean knew their relationship was over before Sebastian agreed to make that final distinction, still, he was hurt and insulted by Sebastian’s lie.

Sebastian met his music teacher; it was clear. Jean had seen them together more often already. Had seen the man nearby where Sebastian lived in the late hours and had seen him enter the building. Jean was furious, and he vented out his bitter rage out loud to Ricky, accepting his gloomy means to dispel his grief. In his sober moments, it was difficult to identify the man he had become.

And then things took an even darker turn, one that had no return, one that would always gnaw at his thoughts. “I have a surprise for you,” Ricky said one fall night.

”Will I like it?” Jean had asked almost doubtfully, and the man had laughed.

”You’ll love it.” Ricky hadn’t given further details. Jean had gotten into Ricky’s car, and they drove outside the city, to a remote area, until they parked at a cottage at the end of a darkened path. Ricky had already offered him something in the car to make him feel better and Jean had taken the drug without thinking about it further, rinsing it down with alcohol. When the effect started, he was left fuzzy and unreal, accelerated in some way, and Ricky knew how to feed that feeling in the direction he wanted.

They came inside, Ricky had asked him to close his eyes, and when he was finally allowed to open them, to his amazement he saw Sebastian, chained to a bed in the middle of the room, blindfolded. ”Surprise! My gift to you,” Ricky grinned.

Jean stared in confusion at his former lover, whose whole essence spoke out his fear. It didn’t feel completely real. “Now you can take revenge on him, take revenge on that whore, give him what he deserves…” Ricky spoke and encouraged Jean to the horrors to which his foggy mind was prone.

Jean got closer to the bed; Sebastian began to shudder helplessly as he felt the touch on his skin. The young man cried and moaned, praying for his freedom, and was even more shocked as Ricky untied the bandage from his eyes, revealing the other assailant as Jean. They both raped him, and at that moment Jean felt as if he had been a completely different person, and those prayers or complaints did not help, they hastened him even more; Sebastian deserved it, Sebastian had betrayed him.

”Jean… why? … Why?” The question echoed in his ears, the sobs fading towards the end. The white sheets were stained with blood, Sebastian breathed heavily. Jean still felt like he was walking through fog, but it was different from the beginning and some understanding of what he had done was starting to take over.

“I won’t tell anyone…” A trembling voice came to reassure them. ”I just want to go home… please… I just want to go home… I won’t tell…. I promise!” Jean heard Sebastian’s voice and looked at Ricky, who was standing next to the bed. The man had a knife in his hand, a sadistic, cruel smile on his face that fully enjoyed the situation.

” I’m afraid that I don’t believe you,” Ricky said. Jean, in the state of paralyzed shock, watched as Ricky grabbed Sebastian’s hair, bent his head back, and slit his throat open. It happened so fast, blood poured from an open wound onto the sheets, the young man’s body jerked, releasing his final dying chokes. The room seemed to spin in Jean’s eyes, and he couldn’t function in the middle of it all. Ricky remained calm, wiping the blade expressionlessly into the white cloth until he looked at him and smiled. ”He would have told.”

Jean knew he had fallen to the bottom, he was starting to feel sick, saw a situation where he would be arrested and yet it was hard to believe that everything before had just happened that Sebastian was dead. “Don’t worry about the body, I’ll destroy it. You have an alibi for his disappearance. You don’t tell anyone about this and deny everything if anyone suspects you. ”

Nothing was the same anymore. Memories of the evening tormented Jean at nights, made him feel sick, and he resorted to the bottle. He no longer wanted to walk that path and luckily Ricky seemed to have lost interest in playing with him. However, the secret was common, and it weighed heavily on Jean’s shoulders.

Sebastian was reported missing, a few weeks later Martin, Sebastian’s music teacher, and lover appeared behind his door. The desperate man sought answers, made accusations, and somehow Jean managed to stay calm, indifferent to the man’s distress. Police had also interrogated Jean and he admitted he had been in a relationship with Sebastian, but the relationship had waned over time, and they had not been involved for several months.

The body was not found, Sebastian was not found, evidence of the crime could not be piled up and the matter sank into the pile of unresolved cases. However, it constantly pained him to remember, it haunted Jean’s mind so badly that in the end, he felt the only option was to go back to Paris, finish his studies there and forget. Jean did so, alcohol remained a medicine in his life in those moments when it was hard to forget. The pain and nausea slowly changed, turning to anger at the man who had driven him into such darkness.

Seven years later, Jean returned to New York on a short assignment. Some part of him wanted to understand, some part of him wanted to find forgiveness for his actions. Jean found out Ricky’s current whereabouts and found out what kind of new play the man was maintaining.

Jean watched; Ricky was perhaps always looking for new excitement… Michael was his latest toy. The boy was young, beautiful, and unhappy… Jean’s plan was not clear from the start, it took shape slowly and became clearer each time he met Michael. The boy’s sweetness charmed him, a kind of innocence that had survived despite all of Ricky’s actions. The boy had no scars, which could have been expected, on the other hand, it might be a sign of how precious he was to Ricky. The game was different from the previous ones, but just as cruel if not cruel, the way of suffering was only different.

 He would be Michael’s savior and Michael his own. By saving Michael he would redeem his soul, purify himself from the evil, and the haunting memory of Sebastian’s death. For a while, it seemed to work. Jean believed in himself that he was good, doing the right thing, but he became attached to Michael dangerously and wanted to keep him to himself. He wanted his gratitude, waiting for it to nurture his old wounds. He wanted to feel superior. He took Ricky’s toy, sure that if he didn’t save the boy, no one else would do it, and before long Michael would have experienced Sebastian’s fate from Ricky’s hands. Before long, Michael would have become too old for Ricky’s tastes. The game would have become boring to him.

But now Michael had left, his healing power had gone, without purifying enough, without giving enough. Michael had left him amid those evil and gloomy thoughts, to fight the past demons with the help of the only medicine Jean knew, alcohol. At the same time, it was the medicine that brought only momentary release until the problem worsened. Nothing mattered. No one knew and so he had no one to talk to.

Not even Patrick knew what he had done, let alone Eric. Jean was alone, in the end always alone. Revenge would be inevitable if Ricky found out Jean had taken out his favorite toy too early. And the more unhappy Jean became after Michael’s departure, the more indifferent he became about his fate and Michael’s. In a way, maybe there was something poetic about it; to experience Ricky’s revenge alongside Michael, to die with him, at least they would be together then, for internity.

TBC.

A/N: would love to hear your thoughts, please vote (thumbs) or comment bellow, thank you! 🙂

©️Kolgrim

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