The lights were off. Everyone in the loft was asleep. Richie lay in his bed, dressed only in his briefs, the covers barely covering his nearly naked body. The door opened slowly, just enough for someone to get in. Quietly, the intruder closed the door behind him, and approached the bed. Richie jerked awake when someone put their hand over his mouth.
"Shhh…." A gun was put on his pillow next to his head and the hand moved.
"What are you doing?" Richie asked in a whisper.
"Shh…" The man sat on the bed next to him.
"What do you want?"
"I just came to say good night."
Richie paused. "Get out."
"Now, now. Keep your voice down. We don't want to wake everyone do we?" He put his hand on Richie's exposed stomach. "Don't fuss. It's all in fun." His hand played with the elastic of his underwear, then found its way inside. "No one's getting hurt."
Richie's mind went into over drive trying to figure out what the hell was going on. What was this guy doing?
"I saw the way you looked at me at dinner."
Had he done something to encourage all this? What the hell?
"But I think we need to keep this between you and me."
Confused, Richie frowned and nodded.
"I knew you were a good kid." He kissed him softly, got up and left, closing the door behind him.
Richie stared at the door, trying to piece together what the hell had just happened. Was that what it was liked to be raped? Or was it just molestation? Or was it anything? Could you be molested by someone who thought you were in love with them? Maybe it was just flirting? He put the blankets over his head and squeezed his eyes shut. What the hell was going on?
Richie didn't sleep that night. He was tired, confused, and grumpy when Duncan and Tessa started their usual morning-try-to-wake-Richie-up routine. Once Duncan came in threatening cold mush for breakfast, he got up and dressed. He sat quietly through breakfast, barely picking at the muffin on his plate.
"You okay, Rich?" Duncan asked.
"Didn't sleep well?"
Richie didn't answer. Duncan's friend was sitting right next to him.
"Richie?" Tessa sounded worried.
"Just stayed up too late," he shrugged. "There was a good movie on."
"You still up for going with Oliver and I today?" Duncan asked him. "You can sleep in the car on the way there."
"I think I'll pass. I don't think I'd make very good company today."
"You're sure? You sounded pretty excited yesterday."
"Well, I'm not today!" Richie snapped.
"Hey, calm down. You don't want to go you don't have to," Duncan assured him, not entirely surprised by the outburst. Richie was known to have an attitude if he didn't get enough sleep.
"We'll manage," Oliver spoke up from beside Richie. "We have a lot of catching up to do. We'd probably just bore him with buddy stories from the good old days. Lord knows we have plenty of those," he added with a laugh.
Duncan smiled in return. "I'd say over three hundred years, they tend to pile up."
Richie inwardly grimaced. He was not in the mood to hear Duncan be all buddy-buddy with that Oliver creep.
"Richie, honey," Tessa spoke up. "Do you feel alright?"
Instantly three hands, one more than usual Richie noted, reached to check for a fever.
"I'm just tired!" he barked, slapping the closet of the hands away. He stood up, his chair scrapping the floor loudly. "I'm going back to bed." He stormed out of the kitchen.
"I'll check on him," he heard Tessa promise as he slammed his door shut.
Duncan and Oliver left not long after Richie stormed off. Duncan stuck his head in the door to say good-bye, but Richie pretended to be asleep. He heard Duncan relay the information to Tessa, each decided it was a sure sign of illness.
Good. If they thought he was sick, he would get some privacy. He heard the door to the apartment open and shut, then two car doors, before a car drove past his alley window and into traffic. With Oliver out of the apartment, Richie relaxed and toed off his shoes. Maybe he would get some sleep. He slid under the covers, jeans, socks and all and closed his eyes. He fell asleep before he thought to turn out the overhead light.
Richie stayed in bed all morning, napping lightly. Tessa check in on him a few times, but he was always asleep. She woke him up for lunch, but he didn't manage eat much more than half a bowl of tomato soup.
"Poor thing." She smiled gently at him checking for a fever. "Do you feel any better at all?"
"A little," he lied.
"Here," she pulled back the covers from Richie's fully clothed body. "Why don't you change into some pajamas so you're not so warm and I'll get you some ginger ale and crackers? Maybe a sleeping pill?"
"What time are Mac and Oliver getting back?" Richie asked quietly.
"Not for a while. Duncan said they'd be home by dinner. If you just take half a pill, you'll be awake by then."
"I don't think I want one."
"Okay," she conceded. "Change and I'll be right back."
Any other day Richie would be relishing in all the attention. But today, he was hard pressed to keep from screaming at her to leave him alone. She kept touching him. Checking for a fever, playing with his hair, stroking his cheek, holding his hand… He got up and changed into some light cotton pants and an old baseball jersey before getting back into bed. The pajamas were much more comfortable than the jeans and sweatshirt he had been wearing.
Tessa came in with the promised drink and snack along with a sleeping pill cut in half, "Just in case you change your mind." She smoothed back his hair, kissed his forehead and told him to call her in the workshop if he needed anything.
Duncan and Oliver returned shortly before dinner, which Richie declined. He had cheese toast in bed. He spent the evening watching TV, trying to ignore Oliver's loud voice in the next room. Sometime around eleven, he drifted off to sleep again.
"Playing hard to get?"
Richie's eyes snapped open. Oliver was standing over his bed.
"Mac is in the next room," Richie said quietly. "All I have to do is…"
"But you won't."
"I will," he vowed.
"Let's keep this just between us." He got up on the bed, straddling Richie's hips.
"If you don't leave, I'm going scream," Richie threatened.
The gun was put up against his forehead. "Do you think he can make it in here before a bullet passes through your brain?" Richie didn't answer. But his shaking body gave away his fear. "It won't take but a minute." A hand reached under the waist band of his pants and underwear.
Richie closed his eyes and wished it all away. What the hell was going on? Why wouldn't this guy leave him alone?
"No one will believe you."
The pressure over him lifted. The door opened. The door closed. Richie curled into a tight ball and tried to sleep. But he couldn't. The nights played through his head over and over. What was he doing wrong? What did he have to do to keep this guy away? There were only so many ways to say no. There was no way he could force the guy off him. Oliver was even bigger than Mac. He had to tell. What else could he do? It was the only way to make it stop.
When Richie figured Oliver had enough time to fall asleep, he got up and tip toed into Duncan and Tessa's bedroom. They were asleep; Tessa snuggled into Duncan's side. Now that he was in there, he froze. How do you explain to someone their friend was a pervert?
"Rich?" Duncan had woken up. "You alright?"
"I threw up," Richie found himself mumbling.
"Okay." Duncan groaned a little and moved Tessa to the side. "Back in bed." He got up, put his arm around Richie's shoulders and led him back to his room. "Did you make it?" he asked, looking into the bathroom.
"Yeah." Richie fidgeted a little. "I don't know why I woke you up."
"I'd rather you did," Duncan assured him, putting him in bed. "I'll be right back."
"Stupid," Richie groaned when Duncan left. He sat back against the pillows and rolled his eyes. "I threw up."
"Here we go." Duncan came in with a tray. He made Richie rinse his mouth then handed him a sleeping pill.
"I don't want it," Richie said, pushing his hand away.
"Come on, it'll help you sleep."
"I don't want it."
"Rich," Duncan sighed. "I'm tired, you're tired, just take the damn thing."
"Would you keep your voice down?" Duncan hissed. "There are other people trying to sleep in…" he paused, then got a knowing look on his face. "Tessa's right. You're worried about Oliver being here."
Richie looked at him. He knew?
"Rich, I know you haven't had the best experiences when it comes to other immortals, but I promise you, Oliver is one of the good guys. I've known him for nearly three centuries now. I trust him. I wouldn't let him stay if I didn't. You have nothing to worry about, okay?" He handed Richie the pill. "I won't let anything happen to you. You know that."
"Right," Richie agreed quietly, taking the pill. "I know."
"Good," Duncan smiled. "Now get some sleep." He pulled the covers up around Richie's shoulders. "You'll feel better in the morning."
Richie closed his eyes and Duncan left. As soon as the door was closed, Richie spit out the pill and threw it away. Now what was he supposed to do? There was no way he could tell Duncan now. No way he could ruin that type of friendship. Would Duncan even believe him? He was so sure of Oliver. So sure he was one of the good guys. So sure there was no danger. What would Duncan think of him if he tried to tell him otherwise? How could he ruin everything? Especially when he wasn't even sure exactly what was going on, much less have any proof of it.
Richie sighed and pulled the covers tightly around him. He slid in among all the pillows, hiding as effectively as he could, more for his own comfort than purpose. He fell asleep after a while and wasn't woken up until just before lunch.
"Feeling any better?" Duncan asked, brining in some soup and toast. "Hungry at all?"
"A little," Richie mumbled, stretching and sitting up.
Duncan put the tray over Richie's lap and picked up the one from the night before. "You sleep well?"
"You spit it out?" he asked suspiciously.
Richie sighed and stirred at his soup. "Yeah."
Duncan shook his head and sat down on the edge of the bed. "Is there anything I can say to make you feel better?"
"MacLeod? Oh, there you are." Olive stuck his head in the room. "Still feeling a bit under the weather?" he asked Richie.
"I'll be fine," Richie mumbled.
"It's probably just a stomach virus," Duncan said. "Though, if you don't start feeling better soon, a doctor's visit may be in your future."
"I can take a look at him, if you'd like," Oliver offered. "Granted my license is a bit dated."
"I'm fine," Richie insisted.
Duncan put a calming hand on his shoulder. "Thanks for the offer, but this is pretty routine for us. Some food and sleep and he'll be as good as new in no time."
"Well, the offer stands." Oliver smiled kindly at Duncan. "I hope you feel better," he added to Richie.
"Thank you," Duncan answered when Richie didn't. "You'll have to forgive him. He gets a bit rude when he doesn't feel well."
"Don't worry, I completely understand." Oliver smiled at Richie, an odd controlling, knowing smile. "I'll leave you two alone."
Duncan looked down at Richie, who shrank away a bit under the stare. "Can you at least pretend?" he asked.
Duncan smiled and ruffled Richie's hair gently. "Want me to go rent you some movies?" he offered. "Or I can plug in your Nintendo."
"That's okay," Richie mumbled, stirring his lunch.
"You want some books?"
"You just going to go back to sleep?"
"Okay. Oliver and I have some errands to run. But Tessa's here. She can always call me on my cell phone and have me pick something up for you."
"Alright. Thanks, Mac."
Duncan smiled and squeezed Richie's shoulder. "Any time, partner. You want some company while you eat?"
"I'm okay. Go do whatever it is you gotta go do. I'm just gonna watch TV."
"Okay. I'll see you later on today."
"See ya." Richie clicked on the TV and began flipping channels.
He couldn't concentrate. His mind was racing. Oliver was on to him. He knew what he was up to. He could tell by the look in his eyes. That's why he came in. He must have been listening in the hall and knew that Richie wanted to tell. Oliver probably knew he was faking sick, too. He thought Richie was playing sick to tease him. To entice him. To flirt with him.
Oliver was only going to be staying a few more days. Maybe he'd even loose interest just so long as Richie made sure not to flirt back. Though, saying 'no' didn't seem to help him much. Oliver wasn't one for subtly.
It was just a few more days. A few more nights. It wasn't like he was actually being hurt. It wasn't anything more he hadn't done with some girl at a party. It was harmless.
Except he didn't like it. It made him feel dirty to have a man touching him like that. A man he didn't want touching him to begin with.
But he was Mac's friend. Mac's good friend. What would a few more nights hurt?
Other than the fact that he was getting molested. Molestation was against the law. You weren't allowed to do that to children.
But Richie wasn't a child anymore. He was a legal adult. Could adults even be molested? Was it sexual assault? What was the difference between sexual assault and rape? Rape involved sex. They weren't having sex. Were they? It was just some touching and kissing. That wasn't sex.
But Mac trusted this guy. Maybe what was going on really wasn't wrong. Or maybe it just seemed wrong to Americans. Other countries always have different laws about these things. What country was Oliver from? Was this normal there? Was this normal in Scotland? In France? Was this normal in America and Richie just hadn't been exposed to it yet? He had led a pretty sheltered life in the foster system. He was still learning about the real world.
But the bottom line was he didn't like it. And if you don't like something, you couldn't be forced into it, right? That was the beauty of being an adult. You could say no and that was that. No one could make you. You made your own decisions.
Richie made up his mind. He'd give Oliver one more chance to listen to him. If he came in again that night Richie would tell him. "I've had enough. I don't like this. Leave me alone." If Oliver listened, he'd let the whole thing go. If he didn't. He'd tell.
"Richie?" Tessa knocked on his door.
"Yeah?" He made an attempt at pretending to eat.
"How are you feeling?" she asked, coming in and sitting on the bed. She put her hand to his forehead. "Any better?"
"Yeah, a little."
"Good… you haven't eaten much," she observed.
He sighed. "I know. I'm working on it."
She smiled. "Can I get you anything? Do you want some company?"
"I don't wanna get you sick too…"
"Nonsense. I'm not scared of a little bug." She got up and moved to the other side of the bed. "We can watch a movie."
"I'm not really in the mood to watch a movie."
"We can talk. You've been in here all alone for so long."
"What would we talk about? I've just been in here. I haven't done anything to talk about."
"Duncan told me he spoke to you about Oliver," she started. "Is everything cleared up about that?"
"Because I've known Oliver for quite awhile myself and he is very nice."
"So I've been told," Richie mumbled.
"Is there something wrong?"
Richie paused. "No. Everything's fine."
"Are you sure?"
He couldn't bring himself to tell her. Why, he wasn't quite sure. Was he embarrassed? It wasn't his fault, right? He didn't do anything wrong. But, he didn't want Tessa to know. What would she think of him? Would she think he had done something? Would she blame him? Would she understand? Maybe he should tell her. She could help. Maybe she would know what to do. How to stop it. Or maybe he should just stick to his plan. No use getting everyone worked up if he could solve it himself.
"Okay. If you change your mind…"
"I know, Tess. I'm actually kinda tired. I think I'm just gonna take a nap, if you don't mind."
"Of course not. You do what you need to, to feel better." She got up, moved the bed tray and straightened the covers. "Call if you need me."
Richie lay in bed staring at the ceiling. There was no way he was going to sleep. Even though he hadn't done much of it the last few days, he felt like he'd done nothing but sleep. Bored, he rolled over and started counting the bricks in his wall. Even trying to figure how many each of his posters covered. When he heard Duncan and Oliver arrive back, his heart started pounding. It was only a matter of time now. He looked at the clock. They'd be making dinner soon. Which meant someone would be coming in to check on him.
He took deep breaths, trying to calm himself enough to fake sleep. By the time someone came down the hall to check on him, he was ready. He closed his eyes, let his mouth hang open a bit and snored every few breaths. Whoever had come to speak to him closed the door and walked away. Hopefully they'd decide to let him sleep instead of trying to feed him again. His stomach was tied in knots. There was no way he could even pretend to eat now. He knew Oliver was coming. And he wasn't sure how he was going to react to his plan. Hopefully the gun wouldn't be going off that night.
"Why do you keep hiding?" Oliver asked quietly as he came in that night. "Are you scared of me?"
Richie sat up and tried to look as calm as possible. "Here's the deal," he said. "You walk outta here right now and I keep my mouth shut. You take one step closer, and I'm screaming bloody murder."
"Really?" he asked, cocking the gun hammer back. "Is that the deal?" he smiled. "Here's my deal: you make one sound and I shoot; you stay quiet, I don't." He walked the small distance between the door and the bed. "How's that?"
"Don't touch me," Richie told him. "You can shoot me if you want, but Mac will still come and you'll still get yours."
Oliver frowned and ripped the covers back. Richie tensed. Before he could react he was face down on the bed with his pants down. Oliver got on top of him, leaned in close and hissed in his ear: "Not one sound." Richie grit his teeth and calculated the risk. When he felt flesh brush up against his thigh he couldn't take it. He screamed.
"Shut up!" Oliver yelled, twisting him onto his back and covering his mouth. But it was too late, Duncan was in the doorway, katana in hand, in a matter of seconds.
"Get off him!" he barked, jerking Oliver back. "What the hell is wrong with you?"
Richie scrambled to pull his pants up as Duncan approached him, sword pointed at Oliver.
"Are you okay?"
"I'm fine," he assure him.
"What do you think you are doing?" Duncan roared, turning back to Oliver, who had retreated to the far corner of the room.
"He wanted me to," Olive insisted, panicking, swordless. He pointed a shaky finger at Richie. "He wanted me like I wanted him!"
"If he wanted you to do this to him, why do you need a gun?" Duncan demanded, advancing. "Why was he screaming? Why does he look so scared?" Oliver didn't respond. "Look at him!" Duncan ordered. Oliver looked over at Richie who was still in bed. "He's a kid. A scared kid. Does he looks like he wants you to do anything to him? He's been hiding in his room for days! You did that to him."
"I can explain, Duncan," Oliver said. "I can explain it all."
"I doubt it." Duncan advanced on him sword at the ready.
"We're friends, Duncan. Don't you trust me?"
"Not any more." He swung the blade, neatly and cleanly severing the head from the body.
Richie watched wide-eyed as a cold mist filled the room and a strong wind came out of nowhere, ripping his posters off the wall and knocking over lamps and knickknacks. As the lightning began to flash around, he ducked under the covers for protection.
Richie peaked out from under the blankets. His room was perfectly intact. Everything was in place. Duncan hadn't killed Oliver. He still had time! He scrambled out from under the covers and pulled on a pair of sweat pants over his soiled briefs. Taking a deep breath, he opened his bedroom door.
Despite his best efforts not to, he looked into the living room. Oliver was awake and looking at him. He smiled and put his finger to his lips. A chill ran down Richie's spine when he remembered the dream, what would happen if he didn't tell. He took a deep breath and marched into Duncan and Tessa's bedroom.
"Rich?" Duncan asked, opening his eyes as Richie shook his shoulder. "What's wrong?"
"I have to tell you something. It's important."
Richie faltered a second, then bent over and whispered it in his ear. Duncan sat up so quickly, he nearly knocked Richie over.
"What?" he demanded. "Just now?" Richie nodded.
"What's happened?" Tessa asked, bleary eyed. Duncan told her as he picked up his katana from its place on the dresser. "What? Oh, Richie!" she grabbed the teen's hand and pulled him onto the bed. "Are you alright?"
"Stay here." Duncan left the room.
"Are you okay?" Tessa asked Richie, scooting next to him, and examining his eyes. "Did he hurt you?"
"He's gone!" Duncan fumed, storming back into the room. "He ran! Did he see you come in here?" he asked Richie.
He jumped at the tone. "Yeah…I think so…" he hedged.
"Damn it!" Duncan slammed the katana down on the dresser. "I can't believe this!"
Richie's eyes went wide.
"How could this have happened?" Tessa asked.
"Did I do something wrong?" Richie asked, confused.
"No, no of course not!" Tessa assured him. "It's not your fault." She stroked his check and made sure he was looking her in the eye. "You did nothing wrong. Don't ever think that."
"So Mac's not mad at me?"
"No, he's mad at…at…him," Tessa couldn't think of what to call Oliver. "Why don't," she started loudly, as she got up and put on her robe. "I go make everyone some tea, while you two," she touched Duncan's arm. "Change Richie's bed," she finished meaningfully.
Richie got up and followed her into the hall to get a new set of sheets for his bed. Without a word, Duncan went into Richie's room and started ripping the sheets off. Richie could tell the immortal was still angry. He actually tore the fitted sheet trying to get it off the mattress. Richie watched as Duncan effortlessly flipped the mattress, as Tessa insisted they do every time they changed the sheets. It landed with a thud and a bounce on the box spring, a forceful breeze chilling Richie's bare chest.
Duncan put out his hand for the clean sheets, glaring a bit at Richie. The teen quirked a scared smile in apology and helped re-sheet the bed.
"You going to be alright in here?" Duncan asked.
"You don't sound fine."
"Well, Mac, I did have a rather traumatic night," Richie snapped, tossing pillows back on his bed.
"Don't use that tone with me," Duncan snapped back.
"Leave me alone!"
"Do you want to be alone?" Duncan asked, in a sudden gentle tone. Richie looked at him, not expecting the sudden end to the developing fight. "Do you want someone to stay with you… just til you fall asleep?"
"I'm probably just going to take a really long shower."
"Do you want me to wait for you?" he offered, a bit awkwardly.
"Or I can," Tessa spoke up from the doorway, a tray of tea in her hands. "I can make you a fresh cup when you're done."
"I don't care," Richie mumbled. "I just want all this to be over."
"It is," Duncan told him, stepping around the bed and putting his hand on the back of Richie's neck. "As much as it can be for now."
"I'm sorry, Mac, you too, Tess," he said. "I know he was a good friend. I don't know what I did."
"What you did?" Tessa asked, putting the tray on his dresser. "You didn't do anything."
"He said I did," Richie admitted, moving to the window. "It was the way I looked at him. But I don't really know how I did it."
"I'm sure it was all in his head," Duncan told him. "You aren't like that."
"You didn't do anything," Tessa agreed, handing him a cup of tea with a gentle smile. "He took advantage."
"Richie… I want to ask you something," Duncan hedged after they'd all sipped at their tea in silence for a while. Richie shrugged and kept staring at the alley out his window. "Why didn't you call for help when he…was in here?"
Richie shuddered a bit and gripped at the cup with both hands. "He had a gun," he answered quietly. "He said he'd kill me."
"Richie…" Tessa breathed, stepping forward. "I'm so sorry."
"I'm the one who should be apologizing," Duncan said. "I'm the one who brought him here and put Richie in danger."
"I'm the one who flirted with him."
"Rich." Duncan put his tea down and stepped closer. "If he really believed that you were…wanting that… why would he have felt the need to threaten you? He was lying."
"Then why did he do it?" Richie asked, his voice shaking a bit. "Why did he think it'd be okay?"
"I don't know, Rich." He put his hand on the teen's shoulder.
Richie shrugged him off. "I think I just want to be alone."
Duncan backed away. "Alright. If you need us…"
"Try to get some sleep," Tessa told him, kissing his cheek.
He nodded and looked back out the window. He heard Duncan whisper "I feel horrible" just before his door was closed.
Richie woke up as the phone persisted to ring. He pushed up off his stomach and made a half hearted, blind search for the cordless phone hidden in the dirty laundry on his bedroom floor.
"Hello?" he mumbled finding the receiver.
"Hey, Rich, it's me."
"Mac?" Richie sat up a bit more, now awake. Duncan was off touring Europe at the moment. "Is everything alright?"
"Everything's fine. I just had some news I thought might make you sleep a bit better."
Richie looked at the clock on his dresser. "I'd sleep a lot better if people didn't call me at four in the morning."
"It's Oliver," Duncan told him. "I ran into him today."
Richie searched his memory. "Oliver…the guy from…" he couldn't think of how to phrase the question.
"He won't be hurting anyone anymore."
"Did he tell you why?"
Duncan paused. "The challenge? I really don't know. I was too angry to think to ask him and I really don't want to find out now. I do know you weren't the first or the last. But it's over."
"I wish I hadn't had reason to do it. I'm sorry I brought him home."
"You didn't know."
"If you want me to be up in the next two hours to open the dojo on time we're gonna have to hang up."
Duncan chuckled. "Alright. I'll see you in about a week."
Richie hung up, lay back down, and closed his eyes. Duncan was right; he did sleep a little better.