Chapter Four(Final Chapter): The Dance
Or summed up in him being shown off, demonstrated, fucked with silent abandon here on the balcony in the breathing dark, his hands scratching at marble that held no purchase for him, his knees bent and his back sweating with the effort of remaining on his feet: the Merovingian was not powerful only in name. Neo's lips press together, and then he releases them and takes the bottom one between his grinding teeth only to let go two seconds later because he has to give voice to that groan, has to, and his sound provokes a gentle laugh from over his shoulder… the hand tightens on his hip, the other moving down to hold his other side, groomed fingernails digging into naked pale flesh and Neo flexes his feet, rising up as if he might propel himself over the railing itself in his desperate passion. Oh, but it felt so good…
Another soft laugh. "Don't look now, chiot," and Neo knows what is coming before the words are spoken and bites back another moan, "But it seems as if your enthusiasm is beginning to attract some attention." And this is what he wanted, Neo knew: part of the dance that they shared, part of breaking Neo down to rebuild him stronger, faster, better, in the service of peace.
He can't help but look, and the Merovingian is right, of course: when it comes to the nature of the people in his circle, he is almost always right. Several well-dressed people – Exiles, is Neo's fleeting sweaty thought, I know them, they're part of the Reconstruction Project, we set up a safehouse for—have paused in their conversation to squint up into the darkness, at the balcony. Oh, God, oh fuck, if they keep staring like that they'll have everyone—
And this is of course the point, as always: Look at the One, bent over the railing upstairs. Biting his lips and groaning with his sweaty hair stuck to his forehead, look at the state of him, dirty little…
The thought – formed or unformed, conscious or purely subconscious – never reaches completion. The people below may not even really be looking: regardless of the Merovingian's wordplay, the balcony is dark, and high above the rest. But Neo is not aware of any of this now, not anymore. The words – and actions – have served their purpose
(just like everything else, just like all of us)
and he grinds his teeth, his fingers grabbing for handholds in the marble as he pushes backward, driving himself onto the invading, filling flesh, rocking his hips forward and the litany is constant, now, a keening from between his teeth that he cannot adequately control, the pulling and stroking and sliding and that delirious shock of impact every time the man behind him pushes forward against him, into him, through him. He will wear his fingernails raw on the railing; but until hours later, he will not even notice if he does. Take me, use me, make me yours, make me nothing, make me this.
Sometimes he says these things out loud: things he would never repeat even on his deathbed, things his mind represses and buries as soon as their echoes have faded from his ears.
His shirt and coat are sticking to him with sweat, his slacks in a jumble around his legs, his knees spread and his head down, the cords in his neck standing out with effort and sensation. And even as he struggles, pushes back, writhes and groans and cries out, it only seems like a maelstrom to him: they are careful, these two, and screaming-screwing-bashing-banging would attract more attention to the balcony than either one of them want.
It is a demonstration of the Merovingian's true affection for Neo that despite his clear awareness of the other man's need, he is not out to deliberately and gratuitously debase the One. He is happy and amused and pleased to fulfill this function, to have this pleasure, this shared exultation in the flesh… but they both walk a thin line, and he would no sooner truly hurt Neo, push him further than he could or needs to go, than he would cut off his own relevant limbs.
Most people would miss that truth.
And like caged animals co-existing, they both always know that that possibility exists: loyal or not, on the same side or not, each has his own personal loyalties that cannot be forsaken.
If the Merovingian ever gleefully hurt or killed someone Neo loved, he'd swear vengeance.
If Neo ever hurt or killed someone close to the Merovingian, betrayed him like every other iteration's Anomaly has betrayed him, the Merv would have no choice but to take drastic action.
And it is partly this awareness that drives them both.
To rise above.
Higher thought is a wonderful thing, indeed… but there is no higher thought in Neo's mind here in the dark, the cool, the heat of that driving crying screaming agony of ecstasy that, as always, threatens to overwhelm him. He wants to speak, to beg, to say Stop or Don't or God, please, right there – but he doesn't need to. And although he'd thought he'd learned better by now, he opens his mouth to say something, anyway… which results in his voicing a resounding half-scream, half-gasp instead as the hands on his shoulders re-adjust their grip and that spot, oh God, the pounding inside and it's so excruciatingly slow, too slow, slow and deep and hard and expert, and Neo leans over his own arms on the railing and sinks his teeth into his wrist, just hard enough to stifle his own helpless moans.
Until a hand twines itself into his hair and pulls – he gasps out loud as this sends another shock through his gut to his groin and his hips twitch forward seemingly without his help or consent.
"Don't muffle it, hm? It's too good to miss."
The arm around his waist, the hand in his hair, the flesh against his back and that sound, the stretching of muscle and skin and nerves, and something rises up from his thighs to his stomach and his chest and he sobs out something, an incoherent word, a noise.
Nearly silent, even as it is wrenched so hard from his aching throat that it feels as if it must bring blood with it, a splintered part of his soul, something. His eyes are closed now, shut tight against the onslaught, it is so far beyond his ability to prevent. A gasp, a sound, his rapid desperate breathing. He has learned well, though, these lessons: his hand is still locked onto the marble railing in a death-grip, but if he doesn't do something, his body will simply implode.
Sometimes he wonders if that might not even be a relief.
"…please…" Again. "…I need… can I… will you…" A helpless gesture with his right hand, just the smallest of movements: Please, let me, please… this is killing me. I'm there, I'm already there, I can't take any more…
And Neo can hear Merv smile, even through his quickened breathing.
"Do it, chiot. Pute. Go ahead. Let me see you." A forever pause, and then the breathless whisper: "Let them see you."
Neo groans, softly.
"Do it now."
And the command is as inexorable, as unstoppable, as a torrent, a flood, a natural disaster: Neo most likely could not have refused even if he hadn't been half-insane with need. In a moment he has unclenched his screaming hand, muscles locked from his stone-shattering grip on it, and twisted his sweating hips a fraction to the right.
The driving, screaming pressure; the hands now gripping one shoulder, one hip, fingers pressing, digging, burning, hurting, and his own silent litany of consent… hips, heavy and hard and hot, rocking into him, that too-slow poundingdrivingthrustingseeking there, his own slick fingers reaching beneath the crumpled hem of the pulled-back cassock, words in three languages, pleas and entreaties and promises – none of which Neo would ever repeat by the light of day – and accusations, epithets… and everything fades out, no code-vision, no sight, no seeking curious drunken crowd below, no balcony beneath his feet, no dark and sweat and anything… just that sudden agony in his thighs, the upsurge that is shattering in its power, that feeling like something is going to rupture, must break, now, inside, the pain inside him and inside his skin, as well, the pain in his battered hips, the song of nerves thrummed like a violin by a panther, and Oh God oh no oh please God oh God, and he hears distantly from beside his ear the gasp, the low groaning moan of pleasure, of satisfaction, and the spasm against him is where everything explodes into red and blue
after-images behind his eyes, and this time when he bends his head and locks his teeth in his wrist, tasting skin and cloth and sweat, Merv does not stop him.
The balcony railing, beneath his hand, crumbled in the shape of his palm to jagged fragments and dust.
The Matrix. Bending reality.
He might have expected it, in his extremis.
Slowly, now. In and out.
Christ, I'm a mess.
They pull apart – Neo has nothing but a soft resigned moan of small pain, for this – and Neo does not turn, even now. Instead he takes in a deep breath – deeper now, hold it, his chest and throat are sore -- and methodically puts everything back into its place: the handkerchief from his pocket. Pull up the shorts, pull up the slacks, shake out the crease(aren't I supposed to be able to do this with my mind? That would save a whole hell of a lot of time), draw them up over his aching hips. Button. Fasten. Fix the bottom button on his black shirt, straighten it, tuck it in. Swing the cassock back over his hips, smooth its hem, work out the sleek lines of fabric until the split is re-aligned and the material swirls across his boot tops.
He does not rush. Beside him, still, he can sense the presence of the Merovingian; but if he had somewhere to be, he'd be there. Neo honestly had not expected him to remain on the balcony even this long… but then again, the Merv has a tendency toward surprising him. Neo takes his time, meticulous and careful, even straightening his collar, smoothing back his sweaty hair… and re-settling his dark glasses on his face, effectively blocking out all expressions but that one, neutral cool.
There will be no hot bath in an upstairs Jacuzzi for him tonight: no matter how sore and tired Neo may be, they both know that that isn't going to happen. Too many people have seen the Anomaly here; too many people – even one person may be too many, in the end – have seen the Merovingian go in search of him. He will not be the pampered house-pet tonight, the antithesis of "the One": what he has been is more than enough in that regard, and will have to remain that way for now. But he is washed-out, cleaned out, he has been galvanized into the best and sharpest of himself. Just as he had stood before the Merovingian's own army of thugs bare-handed before he'd fully understood the meaning of peace, now he will stand against the army of fear, with the same dry confidence.
This, is the gift the Merv has given him tonight.
In return, Neo gives of himself what he can: his devotion, his dedication, his loyalty to the breaking of the chains forged by every iteration before him.
And, sometimes, something more.
"I'll have those specifications for you by tomorrow evening," comes the cool, dry, cultured voice: finally, the Merovingian speaks… and you wouldn't know from hearing him that his own sweat and various fluids are still drying against Neo's skin. Their first, unbreakable, unspoken rule is that they never mix business with Neo's role as consort; this carries with it too many risks, the least of which may be the damage it might do to the fragile ecosystem of their interaction. This houseboy cannot save the world; and the One is not the type to submit while pleading for indignities. But now, with Merv speaking in a carrying voice, Neo understands – there is still a houseful of guests, downstairs, and again: the dance.
He nods, his back still turned, gazing down over the people below him. "I just need the numbers. We can't move ahead any further until I have them."
A flex of his sore shoulders; not enough for anyone to notice anything at all.
"Very well then." The smile, in the words. "You'll be… 'jacked in', yes? I'll have one of my people find you. You know I'm good for my word."
Neo smiles to himself, his expression carefully concealed behind the glasses. And it's not even a full smile, really: it is more of a world-weary, amused curl of the lips, a head tilt. Every step closer is a step toward the end, he opens his mouth to murmur. We'll get there. Nothing matters more to me than that.
But when he at last turns to face the darkness beyond the banister, he is facing only empty space.
No presence; no man.
Neo is alone, now, on the balcony.
"Karma is a word. Like "love". A way of saying 'what I am here to do.' I do not resent my karma - I'm grateful for it."
"What do you want?"
A tiny little headshake. And then Neo lifts one shoulder in a shrug – hmm – and raises his right hand, dusting off bits of plaster and a little bit of blood against the black of his coat. His boots echo on the marble stairs, but it is not the front doors toward which he moves: it is the garage, and the motorcycle he uses when he is trying to stay slightly more incognito than flying allows him. Toward the cold night air; the war; the revolution.
It is not forever; it is not now. It exists only within itself.
Like real peace---
Sometimes, worth everything.