A/N: Welcome to the 15th installment of "Papercuts", everyone! Sorry for the long period of time between updates; I need to knock that off. So I've been working on another fic recently, "Dry", where Jeff is playing Mr. Victim again. When I began to write this chapter, Victim Jeff Papercuts and Victim Jeff Dry began to overlap in my head, and I got all kinds of confused. I mean, who has it worse? Who should be acting more victimized? "Papercuts" is being stalked by his nutty bro, and "Dry" is being abused by a perverted vampire. Eh, I don't know. All I'm saying is, if Jeff seems to be especially whiny in this chapter, you can blame it on Gangrel. It's not my fault. ;)
As always, thanks to all who favorited, or took the time to review!
Esha Napoleon, much obliged! :) Slashdlite, don't worry. Jeff won't be a helpless ball of tears and ineptness forever. You can only take so much abuse before you snap, after all… I believe in you, glad you weren't snoring during the angsty parts. I wasn't sure if they were too much, and actually had several rewrites before I finally said, "To hell with it!" and just posted; thanks a bunch for your review. :) Onions, in Matt's unstable state of mind, a box-poo might not have been all that incredible to find. He is, after all, a bit crazy. I know finding only a measly photograph in there most likely disappointed your artistic sensibilities. Sorry about that. Seraphalexiel, yeah, Asshole Matt's truly earning his name. At least, I hope he is. I'm trying to build the assholishness, until he becomes such an asshole that he can truly earn the title of Matt, King of the Assholes. It has a ring to it. And Jeff as a battered housewife? LOL Now that's a mental image. Maybe he'll sell his story to the Lifetime network. LoveToRead911, keep reading to find out Christian's fate…. :)
As always, WWE owns all (except Jeff Hardy, who's property of TNA). I'm poor. I own nothing.
Enjoy the chaos!
Matt Hardy paced across the hard, concrete floor, his gait slow and measured. The simple, repetitive action helped him to think. It cleared his head.
Matt rubbed at his jawline as he thought over his situation. The stakes were higher now in this game he was playing with Jeff. Much higher. He'd been forced to destroy his brother's property, to destroy his sense of well-being.
He'd been forced to shed his blood.
He took a breath as he recalled the exhilaration of whipping his despised sibling into painful unconsciousness. It was something he hadn't originally set out to do. But things had escalated and, in the end, Jeff had really brought it on himself. He always did.
Inexplicably, Matt's thoughts shifted suddenly to the Undertaker. The sentinel protecting his bastard brother, Mark Calloway seemed to be an ever-present thorn in his side these days. Providing Jeff with the encouragement he needed to recover. Shielding him from harm. Making him feel safe, and whole again.
Matt ground his teeth together, his eyes narrowing into slits. He didn't want Jeff to recover. He wanted him to break apart like an old china doll smashing into pieces on the floor.
Perhaps, Matt mused, it was time to start thinking about getting rid of the Undertaker.
A soft rustling noise off to the side suddenly broke the older Hardy's train of thought. He forced himself to ignore it, eyes narrowing in annoyance at the disruption. He continued his relentless pacing, eyes set firmly on the ground.
Ragged, unsteady breathing began to echo through the silent, cavernous room. There was rustling, shuffling, and a quiet grunt, as if from exertion, or pain.
The older Hardy stopped in his tracks, looking off to his left.
"I told you to be quiet", he said calmly. He stared, cold eyes appraising his captive. Jay Reso whimpered, the sound muffled by a piece of duct tape that had been pushed securely across his mouth. He tried to move away, despite the fact that he was handcuffed to a support beam.
The older Hardy felt a stirring in his gut. The naked fear in Jay's eyes made him feel unbelievably powerful.
He smiled, thinking about what Jeff's reaction would be when he found out that Jay was missing. He was so weak. He would probably cry and crawl into a dark corner somewhere, whining about it being his fault.
The older Hardy sighed contentedly, a dark grin stretching across his hard features. There were so many ways to torture his little brother. It was so easy. It almost wasn't fair.
Matt's unpleasant smile faded, replaced by a cold and hostile gaze.
Jay watched with wide, frightened eyes as the older Hardy brother crouched before him. Matt's unkempt dark hair fell heedlessly into his face, shadowing his eyes and making him look more than a bit psychotic.
"Jason, Jason, Jason", Matt said in an admonishing tone, "You shouldn't have been so careless. I mean, it's rather ironic, isn't it? A man who plays guard dog to someone else all day long can't even watch his own back." The older Hardy leaned in, so that he was practically nose-to-nose with Jay. He grabbed a fistful of chopped blonde locks and pulled, earning a glare from the bound man. "You had a choice, Jay. You could've helped me. But, just like everyone else, in the end, you chose him."
Before Jay could react, Hardy struck him across the face with a strength borne of rage and insanity. Blows began to rain down fast and hard, attacking Christian's vulnerable face, neck, and chest areas. He struggled, but it was a useless effort; with his hands bound behind him, the blonde superstar was completely unable to defend himself.
By the time Matt finally decided his captive had had enough, Jay was nearly unconscious, his head lolling around as he groaned in pain. Blood dripped out of his nose, and a gash on his forehead. Matt glanced at the blood on his fist. Grabbing the top of Jay's t-shirt, he wiped it off, cleaning his hand.
The older Hardy had a seat on a folding chair, leaning back in a casual, relaxed manner. Jay, still woozy, glanced up at him. There was something in his demeanor that made him look calmer now, less likely to strike out. Perhaps, he thought hopefully, that outburst had temporarily rid Matt of his bloodlust.
And then, he spoke, and Jay's fears sprang to life all over again. "We should send something to my dear brother, don't you think?", he said, his tone sinister. When he smiled, Jay just knew that there were bad things in store for him. "Just a little something", Matt continued, "To let him know that we're thinking about him. And that we wish he was here." Matt smirked as he pulled a hunting knife out of the knapsack near his feet.
Jay's eyes widened fearfully as Hardy advanced on him with the knife, smug smile set firmly in place. Christian's desperate protests were muffled by the duct tape.
Matt leaned over his prisoner, resting the knife at the junction of his neck and right shoulder. Jay froze, barely even breathing for fear of being cut. "I'm going to take the tape off", Matt said softly, "But you're not going to say a word. You're not going to plead, and you're not going to cry." Jay was very cognizant of the knife poised so near his throat. "The only reason I'm removing the gag, Jay, is so that I can hear you scream in pain. It'll be music to my fucking ears." Matt grabbed the tape and gave a great yank, at the same time pulling the knife away.
Jay didn't say a word. He was too afraid.
He simply watched, powerless, as Matt circled around behind him. He immediately tensed, waiting for that blade to tear through his flesh. He only heard soft, shuffling footsteps, however, and the rustling of Matt's jacket. A minute passed, and there was nothing. Silence. No hint of Hardy's intentions.
Suddenly, he felt Matt roughly grab his left hand. Two seconds later, a sharp, searing pain ripped through his hand, a pain that went all the way to the bone. It was agony.
"FUCK! AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!", Jay screamed, struggling to free himself from Matt's grip, "Please….. stop…. PLEASE, FUCKING STOP!"
Distantly, he realized that his pointer finger was being sawed off. A wave of nausea twisted his guts.
"That's right, Jay. Scream for me", Matt said. He managed to sound both elated and animalistic; a disturbing combination.
After a minute of sawing and bleeding and struggling, Matt had managed to remove Jay Reso's pointer finger from his left hand. Hardy cradled it in his hands like a grisly trophy.
Jay nearly had to bite his tongue off to stop himself from screaming. He could feel the blood coating his hand, pouring out of the stump that had been his finger. Hopefully, Matt would staunch the wound before he bled to death.
"Let's patch you up, shall we, Jason?", said Matt suddenly, as if he'd read his captive's thoughts. He never took his eyes off of the severed finger. "There's fun to be had. And I'm anxious to get started."
"Why so serious?", quipped the Joker, brandishing a wide smile, a face full of scars, and a large gun.
Jeff and Adam were watching The Dark Knight on the small, hospital-provided television.
Jeff sighed loudly when commercials cut into the middle of an engaging action scene. "I hate basic cable", he said, scowling, "They cut out all the cool parts, and they keep interrupting the movie with stupid commercials."
"Yup. Sucks", Adam replied distractedly. He glanced down at his watch, then began to frantically chew his nails.
Noticing this strange behavior, Jeff shut the TV off and turned his gaze fully on the other man. "What's wrong, Adam? You've been acting weird for hours now. Why do you keep checking your watch?"
The blonde superstar appeared to agonize for a moment, as if he were wondering whether or not he should say anything to Jeff. Fuck it, he finally thought to himself, If anyone deserves to know, it's him. Finally, he replied, "I'm worried about Jay." He paused, adding as an afterthought, "It's probably nothing, though."
Jeff suddenly began to feel slightly nauseous, anxiety building in his gut.
"Um… why are you worried?", Jeff managed to get out, his voice a weak imitation of its former self.
Adam grabbed a clump of his own hair and frantically yanked on it. "He was supposed to be here to watch you three hours ago, Jeff! I can't get a hold of him. He won't pick up his hotel phone, or his cell. That's just not like him."
Jeff swallowed, trying desperately to stay calm. "Have you called Mark?"
"Of course I have!", snapped Adam, "He said he'd get back to me. But that was hours ago, and-" The Rated R Superstar stopped abruptly. He looked at Jeff, who stared back at him with wide, frightened eyes. "Fuck, Jeffro, I'm sorry", he said, his tone genuinely remorseful, "I shouldn't have said anything. It's just, seeing what Matt did to you-"
"Jay's fine", Jeff interrupted, shaking his head, "I'm sure of it. Maybe he just forgot his phone in the room. Maybe Vince called him to some emergency meeting that we don't know about."
"It's possible. It's also possible that Matt's torturing him right now."
Jeff closed his eyes tightly, as if pained. "Please don't say that", he whispered, "Don't even fucking think it."
Adam pulled harder on that abused clump of hair. "I'm sorry, Jeff, but I'm a logical person, the type that subscribes to A plus B equals C. And in this case, we have a psycho on the loose, and a missing friend. If you ask me, that pretty much fucking completes the equation for you."
Jeff looked miserable. "Dammit, Adam, can't you be just a little more optimistic?"
"I see nothing to be optimistic about", Adam replied grimly, throwing another tense, sidelong glance to his watch.
Jeff looked away, letting his eyes wander over the streaked, fingerprinted glass in the windowpane.
"One by one by one, they'll fall. And it'll be your fault, baby brother." Matt's words repeated in Jeff's head, over and over, in a cruel litany.
The young Hardy stared, dazed, at the pale afternoon sunlight filtering into the room. It hurt his eyes, gave him a headache. Distantly, to the side, he heard Adam moving around in his frantic way, muttering to himself and shuffling about. Jeff wished he would sit down. He wished he would say something calming.
"Please, Mark", Jeff thought desperately, "find Christian before my brother does."
Mark stormed through the crowded city streets, a ball of pent-up nervous energy and rage. Adam had called him about three hours ago now, worried about Jay. He said he was late for his shift to watch Jeff at the hospital. He said he couldn't get a hold of him, that this never, never happened.
He had told the high-strung man to stay calm, had said that he would take care of everything. He'd also told him not to mention this to Jeff. The last thing the kid needed was bullshit like this complicating his recovery, especially when it could turn out to be nothing.
Mark glanced down at his watch. "Shit", he muttered. He quickened his step.
The Deadman was on his way to the police precinct Adam and Jay had been to several nights earlier, to speak with Lieutenant Davies, the officer the two had confided in. Christian had been missing for hours now, so Mark had decided that he wasn't going to fuck around with searching the city himself. No more vigilante bullshit. He would do this the right way, and take this to the professionals.
He glanced up at the street sign, grunting in frustration. Eight more blocks to go, and he was already late.
Suddenly, his cell phone rang. Fishing it out of his pocket, he glanced at the number. It was Adam calling. Again. Letting out a long-suffering sigh, Mark opened the phone, readying himself for a barrage of questions concerning his progress.
"Adam, I'm not even there yet-"
He was immediately cut off. "I DON'T GIVE A SHIT WHERE YOU ARE!", Adam said, his tone shrill, "YOU NEED TO FUCKING GET BACK HERE, RIGHT NOW!"
Mark suddenly felt the pit of his stomach drop out. "What's wrong?", he asked softly, as if he were afraid to hear the answer, "Is Jeff okay?"
"Well, yeah, he's fine, I guess, but he's freaking the FUCK OUT!" Mark could picture the other man tearing at his long, blonde hair as he spoke. "We got a little package from our friend Matt. He sent it directly to this room. It had a finger in it, Mark. A FUCKING FINGER!"
"Jesus Christ…", Mark muttered. He felt sick.
Suddenly, he heard Jeff's voice in the background, asking for the phone. He told the Deadman, "There was something else, Mark."
Jeff's voice was thick, as if he'd been crying.
"You okay, kiddo?", Mark asked gently, concern lacing his tone.
"He wrote an address on a little piece of paper", Jeff said, ignoring the Deadman's question, "240 W. Hammond St., Floor 2. "
Mark's brow furrowed in anger. "So the son of a bitch is either telling us where we can find Jay, or-"
"Or leading us into a trap", finished Adam, who was biting his nails into bloody stubs.
"There's a note on the back of the paper", Jeff said, "It says 'No police, or he dies'."
"It has to be a fucking trap!", Adam intoned, his voice slightly hysterical.
"Even if it is a trap", said Mark lowly, "we can't take the chance. Jay could be there, in need of our help. I'm gonna head over to that address. You two will stay put until you hear from me."
"Mark, you can't-", interrupted Jeff, sounding upset.
The Deadman ignored him, and continued speaking as if he hadn't been interrupted. "I'll call you as soon as I know anything."
"Mark! MARK, GOD DAMMIT-!", yelled Jeff, trying desperately to keep him on the phone. He was abruptly hung up on.
"FUCK!", yelled the young Hardy. He threw the cell phone across the room with all his strength, tears pricking at the corners of his eyes. Pulling his knees tightly into chest, Jeff stared at the empty white wall with sad, drained eyes.
Adam watched the younger man, not quite sure of what he should say or do.
Taking a breath, he moved towards the bed, cautiously, his eyes intent on Jeff. The young Hardy looked terrible. Evidence of the night he'd spent with Matt was still apparent on his face and neck, ugly bruises marring his pale skin. There were great dark circles under his eyes, proof that he had not been sleeping enough as of late.
Adam gingerly sat down on the bed, next to the young Hardy. Jeff didn't react. Slowly, so as not to startle him, Edge reached out and dropped a hand onto the other's shoulder. Jeff tensed under the older man's grip.
"Mark's gonna be fine, Jeff", Adam said, squeezing Jeff's shoulder gently, "If there's anyone in this world who can take care of himself, it's Mark Callaway. You don't have to be worrying about him right now. All you have to worry about is healing up, so we can get you out of this god-forsaken hospital, alright?"
Jeff turned to face Adam. He looked… better. Less manic. More like himself.
"Thanks, Adam", he whispered. As was his habit, he looked out the window, towards the city.
Adam nodded in response, feeling shitty. He'd lied to Jeff, right through his teeth. Damn right they should be worrying about Mark. He couldn't handle this alone.
Matt was well off the deep end. Playing into his game was not only dangerous, it was stupid.
But there was nothing they could do about that now.
All they could do, unfortunately, was sit, and wait.
Mark took a taxi down to West Hammond St. It was, as he quickly discovered, a perfect place to hide a kidnap victim. Old abandoned buildings and empty warehouses lined the streets, which were, by and large, populated only with derelicts sitting in alleyways and drug dealers doing business in the shadows.
No one would've noticed two young men entering one of these buildings in the dead of night.
Once again, Matt had proven himself an intelligent adversary.
Grumbling to himself, the Deadman began attempting to locate #240. He quickly came upon the empty brick building, which appeared as if it had been, at one time, a shoe warehouse. All of the entrances and windows had been boarded shut, so he found a side doorway and pulled the plywood from it, trying to be as inconspicuous as possible.
Moving into the dark, dust-filled room, he listened for any noises that might alert him to Matt's presence. The building was as silent as a tomb, so he moved on towards the metal staircase at the other end of the vast room, hoping that Jay was here, and alright.
Mark walked onto the second floor, trying his best to remain as quiet as possible. A vast, empty room spread out before him, disappearing into shadow towards the far wall. He strained his eyes, trying to see if Jay was here. Trying to find any hidden traps. Nothing stuck out to him in the gray darkness, so he slowly moved into the room, every muscle in his body tensed and ready for a fight.
Suddenly, there was a slight shuffle, as of cloth rubbing together, or skin moving against skin. Mark tensed, listening.
"Where the fuck are you, Matt?", he asked coldly, his voice echoing off of the brick walls, "Come out, and let's do this shit like men."
"Mark?…" It was barely a breath, but Mark heard Jay whisper his name.
"Jay? Hang on a minute. Fuck it's dark in here…" Mark pulled out a pocket flashlight he had attached to his keyring. Shining it around the room, he managed to locate the younger man, who was lying on the floor near the far end of the room.
He was in bad shape.
"Oh my god", Mark said under his breath, as he knelt next to Jay.
Christian was beaten to a pulp. The skin around his eyes was swollen nearly shut, and he was bruised all over. His shirt was torn nearly to shreds, and through the tatters Mark could see deep lacerations on his chest and stomach. His eyes wandered down to Jay's left hand. The pointer finger was missing, and the remaining stump had been crudely bandaged over with duct tape.
It took the Deadman a moment to realize that Jay was lying in a small pool of blood.
"Jesus Christ…", Mark growled.
He began fishing around in his pocket for his cell phone.
Mark suddenly realized that he was feeling extremely uneasy about this whole situation. Why would Matt tell them where to find Jay, then offer no resistance when they arrived to rescue him? It made no sense. But then again, Matt's actions in the past months hadn't really made any sense to anyone, save Matt.
Pulling out the phone, the Deadman began dialing 911. He needed to get Jay to a hospital. The younger man had passed out, and he was unsure of how much blood he'd lost.
He'd have to wait until later to make Matt Hardy pay for this.
It had been over an hour since Jeff and Adam's panicked phone call to Mark. The Deadman had not called them back yet, and tension in the small hospital room was steadily mounting. Adam was pacing back and forth relentlessly, while Jeff stared morosely out of the window. Neither spoke. There was really nothing to say.
Suddenly, Adam's phone rang, loud as a claxon in the heavy silence blanketing the room.
Adam quickly answered, figuring it must be Mark calling to give them an update.
"Adam." It was Jay's voice, low and hoarse. He sounded scared.
"Holy shit, Jay!", Adam exclaimed
Jeff sat up upon hearing this, his attention suddenly riveted.
"What's going on, Jay?", Adam asked excitedly, "Where are you?"
"Listen, I can't answer any questions now. I escaped from Matt, but I know he's following me." Jay paused for a moment. "Oh shit, I think I just saw him, a few blocks behind me, Adam!" He sounded as if he were on the verge of tears.
"No, I can't talk anymore, I have to run!", said the frantic voice on the phone, "I'm almost at the hospital, Adam. Will you meet me at the edge of the parking lot in 5 minutes?"
Adam glanced over at Jeff, who didn't appear thrilled at the prospect of being left alone right now. "Um, Jay, I'm not sure I can leave-"
"Please!", begged Jay, "Just in case he gets to me before I can reach the hospital doors! He has a gun, Adam."
Adam glanced at Jeff once more. He sighed, his shoulders sagging in defeat. "Alright, Jay, 5 minutes. Move your ass!"
He realized he had been hung up on. Sighing, he prepared himself to leave.
"Don't go", said Jeff, his tone somewhere between earnestness and desperation.
"Jeff, I'll only be a few minutes-"
Jeff leaned forward and grabbed Adam's arm, his eyes pleading. "I'm begging you, Adam. Don't go! This has my brother written all over it."
Adam gently pulled his arm out of Jeff's grasp. "Maybe so. But my best friend is out there alone, and he needs my help. I have to go. I'll be as quick as I can, Jeff. Just stay in the room, okay?"
Jeff watched Adam run out the door, towards the elevators that would take him down to the street level. He had a bad feeling about this. There was something very wrong with this situation, though he couldn't put his finger on it.
He looked out the window, wondering where Mark was.
Suddenly, he heard soft, padding footsteps entering the room. He jerked his head towards the sound.
Matt stood near the door, watching him with a cold smirk. The very sight of his brother made Jeff's blood go cold. He stared, wide-eyed, as Matt slowly shut, and locked, the door.
"Hi, little brother", Matt said, moving towards the bed, "You know, you are a hard person to get in touch with."
Jeff didn't reply. He continued to regard his brother in frightened silence. He scooted back against the wall when Matt sat on the bed, trying to get as far from his insane sibling as possible.
"It's a shame that your little 24 hour-a-day guard system didn't work out, Jeffro", Matt said, "Adam ran out of here to play hero at the first hint that Jay might be in distress. Too bad he never considered that the whole thing might be a little smoke-and-mirrors act."
Matt brandished a small tape recorder. He hit the rewind button, and then played the tape.
It was Jay's terrified voice, begging Adam to meet him in the parking lot. Saying that Matt had a gun. The fear in that voice was real. The exhaustion, the pain, was real. What horrors had Matt put him through to force him to record this tape?
"Where's Jay?", asked Jeff, trying desperately to keep the fear out of his voice, "What've you done with him?"
Matt laughed. "I didn't kill him, if that's what you're worried about. He's at that address I sent you."
Jeff looked at his brother. "So now, you're a serial kidnapper who tortures people and cuts off body parts."
Matt stared back, his expression unreadable.
"What do you want, Matt?", asked Jeff, sounding very tired all of a sudden, "Why are you here?"
Matt leaned towards his brother, his movements as quick and controlled as those of a snake's. He reached out and grabbed Jeff's throat, his large hands encircling the bruises they'd made days before. Jeff was frozen as his brother gripped his neck, unable to fight back.
"You want to know why I'm here, Jeff?", asked Matt, his tone vicious. He began to squeeze, delighting in the soft choking noises emitting from Jeff's throat. "It's because I enjoy seeing you like this. I needed to see you at your lowest. Lying in a hospital bed, alone, scared, and helpless." Matt smiled, and increased the pressure on Jeff's throat. The younger Hardy clawed at his hands, trying desperately to pull them off, but Matt was stronger.
"Anyone still stupid enough to be your friend after this is going to suffer", Matt said, "And that will be on your head, not mine, because you were too selfish to warn them away."
Matt wouldn't let up at all. Jeff felt himself passing out. He couldn't think. He couldn't breathe.
"I beat the shit out of Jay", Matt said, smiling happily, "I whipped him, over and over again, with that braided leather whip, until blood ran in pools onto the floor. I tortured him until he couldn't scream anymore. But you know what, Jeffy? None of it made me truly happy. Because it wasn't you at the end of that whip. It wasn't you being turned into pulp by my fists. Your time is coming, little brother. But not yet. I have some scores to settle first." Matt scowled, his grip on Jeff's neck tight as ever. He leaned down, his breath hot on his younger brother's face. "You tell Adam that he's next."
Jeff's eyes rolled back in his head.
Unconsciousness claimed him.
Adam's in trouble! Matt's being an asshole! Jay's in the hospital! Jeff's a battered Hardy! And Mark… well, no one fucks with Mark, so he's fine, I guess.
Tune in next time! I love REVIEWS… ;)