Hair tickling his nose finally brought Griffin back to consciousness. It was a slow process, started by the annoying tickle and lasting until his thoughts became coherent.

I really need a haircut... He'd let it grow, once they'd reached Oregon. Casey said she liked his hair long. She liked twining her fingers in it, playing with it—anytime, didn't matter, not just when they were in bed. But now it was bothering him. So he reached up to brush the wayward hair away from his nose, only to find that he couldn't. His hand wouldn't move.

Huh. What the hell?

He tried again, with a bit more conscious effort. Nothing happened. In fact, he wasn't entirely certain he could feel his hand to move it. He opened his eyes—Well, that worked anyway—and then shut them again. Nothing made any sense. It had looked like he was standing in a room with many windows and a sweeping view of the mountains.

But I thought I was in bed, he thought inanely. Okay. Try this again. He opened his eyes, ignoring the sharp stab of pain from the light. His impression had been correct. He was in a large room, and from the angle he was seeing things at, he was standing against a wall, facing a curving wall of windows. The majestic Cascades dominated the view, overshadowing the large desk of dark wood and the human sitting quietly there. But then the human spoke, and Griffin's attention focused on him with a snap so sharp it was nearly audible.

"Hello, Griffin. I trust you slept well?"

"You're in jail!" The words fell out, spawned by total surprise and shock. Gary Lee smiled and sat back, hands behind his head.

"You'd like to think so, I suppose," Gary Lee said. His smile broadened. "Poor Griff, thought you were so safe—got rid of me at last, and ran up here with the girl and your adorable little family while I was tucked away in that hellhole of a jail. But it's not like that. You can't get away from me, Griffin."

Griffin tried to move again. Nothing happened. "What have you done to me, Gary Lee?"

Gary Lee rose. A feral snarl twisted his smooth features for a moment. He slid around the massive desk, graceful and deadly as a snake. Griffin tried to move again, struggled frantically to do anything. His head thrashed from side to side, but the only response anywhere below his neck was that a finger twitched. "That's right, Griff," Gary Lee said, smile back in place. "You're mine now, and you can't get away." He crossed the empty space separating them. Griffin's mind latched tenaciously onto the smallest details. Gary Lee looked older now, his eyes even harder than before. The back of his hair was longer, but the front was still trimmed into an aggressively neat style. And he still wore his ever-present black shirt and white jacket. "Once in, never out, Griff."

"So you've said, Gary Lee," Griffin said, amazed at his own flip tone. "Even for someone like me?"

"Oh yeah, Griff, push it like that." Gary Lee was close enough now that Griffin could see the intense light in his clear hazel eyes. "You never did have a sense of self-preservation."

"Never needed it. I'm not the important one." He tried to move again, with the same non-result of before.

"Oh yes, that's right," Gary Lee snapped his fingers. "How could I forget—Milty's the only one that matters to you. Good thing he's safe now."

"What have you done with my brother?" Griffin tried to lunge forward, to knock that smirk off Gary Lee's face.

"He's having the time of his life, Griffy." The light in his eyes bordered on insanity. "The best of everything, now—and he knows who's giving it to him. And it isn't his big brother, oh no."

"Damn you, Gary Lee!"

"How do you like my new toy, Griffin?" Gary Lee said, in a lightning swift change of subject. "It's something the boys in the lab cooked up for me. I figure it'll be hours yet before you can move. And until then, you are completely at my mercy." He laughed.

Griffin tried to find it encouraging that he could feel the shiver that raced down his spine.

"Nothing to say, old friend?" Gary Lee snarled again. He slapped Griffin, suddenly and without warning. Griffin shook his head, surprised he didn't go down from the force of the blow. Then Gary Lee looked at the red mark on Griffin's face. He touched it gently, tracing the mark with his fingertips. "I trusted you," he said softly. Griffin tried to pull away, couldn't, found himself caught by those intense eyes. "I trusted you, and you betrayed that trust, Griffin. What should I do with you now?"

"You already tried to kill me and couldn't do it. Wasn't that enough?" Damn his mouth. Once, just once, he'd like to have control over what came out of his mouth in a stressful situation.

"It might have been.... before." Gary Lee ran his hand over Griffin's face one more time, then dropped it down to his shoulder. Griffin couldn't even feel the contact anymore. "But not now, Griffin." He leaned closer still, until his breath tickled Griffin's face. "Now you've betrayed me. Now you're going to pay."

"Yeah, right, Gary Lee. Whatever you say." Griffin couldn't tear his eyes away from his one-time friend's.

"Oh yes, Griff—you're going to pay for every moment I spent in that stinking-ass jail cell alone, and even more for every moment I spent with someone."


Before Griffin had more than a vague moment of confused apprehension, Gary Lee had signaled one of his innumerable lackeys. Griffin found himself lifted unceremoniously, rather like a roll of carpet.

"Think about it, Griffin," Gary Lee called, as Griffin swore indignantly and tried to struggle. His limbs remained stiff and unresponsive. "Think about what I'm going to do to you, now that you're mine."


The single word echoed frantically inside Griffin's head. Gary Lee had lost it, he was sure of that. Shit. Now what the hell was going to happen to him?

He found out. Oh yes, he found out—both what was going to happen to him, and what Gary Lee had meant by that strange remark about every moment with someone. Trapped in his own body, unable to move, to escape, to defend himself... At least the first time he couldn't feel anything. Well, couldn't feel anything other than Gary Lee's hands running through his hair, his hot breath, his...

Griffin's mind blanked on that. He didn't want to think about what had happened. He could almost feel his body now, so he concentrated on that. No longer that disconcerting nothingness, there was some kind of warmth, and a pins-and-needles feeling that was a cross between painful and ticklish. That was good. He could tell that he was laying on a bed, instead of just knowing he was because he'd seen what the goon had thrown him down on.

You know you want it, Griff, whispered a memory of Gary Lee's voice. I've known all along...


The sound of his own voice startled him, cutting through the heavy, oppressive silence like a sharp blade. He wished he had a blade, a very sharp blade, but he wasn't sure who he'd use it on first.

There, his hands had moved at that thought, clenched into fists. Maybe there was hope for him yet. Maybe he'd be able to get his revenge for what Gary Lee had done to him.

But you know you want it...

Damn him. Damn Gary Lee anyway, for what he'd done.

Damn him for knowing.

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