Jaeh: Hi guys! For the record, this is just an intro chapter. We're going to make the next bit better, so… yeah. :)
Lori: It would be a good idea to read Ashes to Ashes before this if you haven't already. Prepare for angst galore… if you don't like it, don't read it.
Hazy, bright lights shined in his eyes, and everything was a blur. Spots and pinpoints of light danced erratically in his view, and Riley blinked to get his eyes to focus. Slowly the haze formed into discernible pictures, and he saw Ben and Abigail, peering into his face.
"Where am I?" He croaked. His voice was raspy and dry. Abigail handed him a glass of water, and he sipped gratefully through a straw.
"The hospital, Riley. After what happened, we got you here to get treated." Ben explained. He tried to smile.
Riley nodded. He looked out the window, staring at the tree in the distance being blown by the wind…
"How long have I been out?" He continued.
"Two days." Ben said softly. "You've been through a lot. They decided that rest would be the best thing for you."
Riley nodded. "I wanted some rest, too," he said. He was vaguely aware at how numb and emotionless his own voice sounded in his ears.
There was a weird prickly feeling in his arms and legs, and Riley shifted uncomfortably in his bed. Riley listened to the clock tick, and Ben and Abigail sat down for a moment. There was an awkward silence in the room, and Riley shifted positions again. Nobody knew what to say, but Riley was content with that. He really didn't want to talk about what happened.
All he wanted to do was forget about it, to bury it deep in the back of his mind, and talking would not help him do that at all. The silence became unbearable, and Riley coughed. Abigail looked up at him in concern, but he just shook his head and shrugged.
The unpleasant prickly feeling slowly disappeared, and Riley winced as he started feeling his wounds. "Riley, are you okay?" Abigail asked softly, and placed a hand on Riley's arm.
"I'd rather you don't touch me there right now." Riley said blankly. Abigail pulled back, startled, partly because of his tone. Riley lowered his eyes guiltily and bit his lip. "It hurts," he whispered, more to himself than Ben and Abigail. He kept his voice low so that Abigail wouldn't hear. Ben stood up, and placed a hand on the edge of Riley's bed.
"Riley… do you want to talk about what happened?"
"Can I have a glass of water again, please?" Riley said, ignoring Ben's question. He tried reaching for the glass, and Ben handed it over to him.
"Maybe it would help if you talked about it a little." Ben insisted.
Riley sighed, and leaned his head back. "I don't really want to talk about it" he said quietly.
He whimpered a little when he hit the bed. Then hissed in pain, and Abigail glanced at him in concern. "It's nothing. Please stop looking at me like that." Riley murmured. He turned to his side, and experimentally flexed his arm. He grimaced at the sparks of pain that ran along his skin. It felt as if he could feel every wound, and it was uncomfortable, to say the least.
He shifted again, and this time, pain shot through his legs. Riley knotted his forehead in confusion. He didn't realize that his leg wounds were so extensive. He didn't think he tripped that much, and even if the gravel was uncomfortable, he didn't roll around in the sharp stones. Did I? Riley thought to himself. He vaguely remembered being drugged and dragged to some place and sat on a chair. He had a dim recollection of the feeling of his shirt being snipped off and something sliding along his arm, being buttoned down his chest…
Riley shivered, and turned on his other side and shut his eyes. He curled slightly into his stomach, and winced again. He felt someone's hand on his shoulder, and he jerked away, hissing. "I said, don't. Touch. Me."
He didn't like the feeling of being touched. Not right now, no. It wasn't that it hurt him. It didn't –Ben's and Abigail's hands were gentle, like they were afraid to break something fragile. No, it wasn't that.
It reminded him of something. Every time someone touched Riley on the shoulder, he expected a knife to follow through with a cut or a blow to the side of his head to make him pass out or the feeling of ropes and cuffs burning into his wrist.
He could just imagine a knife weaving through his skin and Devin cackling in the background…
Riley curled into himself further and shuddered harshly. He felt pain in places he didn't even imagine he'd feel pain, in places he didn't even remember having any injuries… He opened his eyes, and pulled himself up. Ben and Abigail hovered over him, and Riley waved them away. He managed to lower the rails on his bed and pull himself to the edge. Riley swung his legs over, one by one, and grimaced as his gown rubbed against them. He attempted to push himself up, waving Ben and Abigail away again as they rushed to help him. Riley managed to stand up with difficulty, but the accumulated pain from all his wounds quickly rushed into his senses and he toppled back on the bed.
"I need to go to the bathroom," Riley announced, stretching a hand out reluctantly for help. Ben took him gingerly by the arm, making sure that he wasn't hitting anything that might hurt, and Riley gritted his teeth.
"Are the painkillers wearing off?" Ben asked worriedly. Abigail stood nearby, looking tense and uneasy. Worry was etched into her features, and it seemed like she didn't know what else to do.
Riley didn't answer Ben. Instead he pushed himself to his feet. There was a moment where he stumbled and leaned heavily on Ben. His feet hurt too, and Riley vaguely remembered running through a tunnel and pulling out glass shards from his feet. Ben kept a firm grip around him and slowly helped him limp to the bathroom. He wanted to see the extent of his injuries for himself. He knew that Ben would only try to stop him, to shield him from it, and he didn't want that.
He raised his feet over the step, and locked the door before Ben could even protest.
Inside, Riley supported himself with the metal rails, and pulled himself towards the toilet, and pulled the seat down. He sat, and pulled on his gown to survey his own injuries.
They weren't as bad as he thought. They were worse.
Crimson lines ranging from small red welts to deep, stitched cuts bandaged with white. Riley stared in disbelief, and poked at a wound gently. He resisted the urge to scream. Wounds and cuts crisscrossed his legs, his chest, his arms… He found wounds in placed that he couldn't even remember Devin touching him.
All it took was his imagination telling him that Devin was going to come back, pull him to the ground and run his knife a straight line from Riley's arm down to his ankle. His vision blurred and swam, and the ground slipped from his feet.
Ben frowned when he heard the dull thud from inside the bathroom. "Riley?" Ben called, knocking softly on the door. "Are you okay?" He glanced at Abigail who looked more than a little concerned. "Riley?" he asked in louder voice, becoming more worried. No answer. He resisted the urge to ram the door down. Instead, he knocked louder, with every bang making him more and more worried. Riley still wasn't answering.
"I'm getting a doctor," Abigail said, her face drawn. "He might be hurt." She practically jammed her thumb onto the call button. Ben continued to knock on the door to no avail. Ah, screw this! He took a few steps back and rammed the door with his shoulder. To his surprise the door cracked open. He didn't expect that to work, for the door appeared sturdy. Doors here are flimsy… or cheap.
"Riley…?" His friend's name caught in his throat. Riley was curled on the floor, his arms over his head in a protective gesture. Ben could distinctly hear Riley mumbling something, but he couldn't make out what he was saying.
"Riley!" Ben gasped and knelt down next to his friend, unsure of what to do. "What's wrong?" He received no answer, and Riley didn't move. His friend just continued to mutter quietly to himself, each word a little more frantic than the last. Ben strained to hear what Riley was saying, and his blood ran cold when he heard.
Riley was whispering almost as a mantra, "Why won't he stop please make him stop please…"
"Riley!" Ben said forcefully, taking him by the shoulders. "It's okay. You're safe now." He wanted to break into this horrifying reverie his friend was in. It seemed to work, to Ben's relief. A shudder went through Riley and his words trailed off into silence. Riley's haunted blue eyes flicked up to Ben's. "B-Ben… he…" Riley swallowed and his eyes flicked in panic around the small bathroom. "J-Just…can I go home? Please…. I want to go home…"
"You will," Ben said in a firm voice, but his heart was breaking. "But you have to stay here for a little longer, okay?"
Ben was expecting a protest, complaint, anything. But Riley just looked at the ground. "Okay," he whispered. Ben knotted his eyebrows worriedly. This isn't Riley. Riley would complain, Riley would protest... Ben sighed heavily.
He then took a deep breath. "Come on Riley. Let's get you back to the bed. The bathroom floor probably isn't that comfortable."
Riley sniffled but allowed Ben to help him from the cold floor. Ben looked up and saw Abigail standing there, blinking back tears. Dr. Spencer and a nurse stood behind her. The doctor went forward to help Riley, and the nurse looked disdainfully at the broken door. She muttered something about getting a janitor and left the room.
Ben's arms supported Riley upright, and Dr. Spencer guided Riley with a hand. "All right, Riley, I need you to walk a few steps to the bed."
"I can walk you know," Riley muttered sounding vaguely annoyed.
"Yes, but I hazard a guess that you can't walk without it being painful right now."
Riley shrugged slightly but the winces of pain betrayed him. He limped back toward the bed, and crawled under the blankets. Ben walked around to where Abigail stood. It was horrible seeing his best friend like this. He thought for the hundredth time what he would give to take away his pain… to have things go back to normal.
Dr. Spencer turned to his patient and sighed. "Riley… there's someone here who wants to speak to you. I'll leave you to talk." He eyed the visitor in disapproval, and left.
Riley's eyes flicked over to the door and he visibly winced. Sadusky stood there, trying his best to give the traumatized young man a friendly smile. "Hello, Riley," he greeted and walked into the room.
Abigail immediately shook her head, standing by defensively. She stretched her arm a little towards Riley protectively. "No way. Peter, you can't make him talk about… after all he's just been through…"
Sadusky sighed and sat down next to the bed, and faced Riley. "I know this is rough… but if you're ready to talk, sooner is better than later."
Riley almost looked like a cornered animal. He glanced between the three of them with scared expression on his face.
"Riley, you don't have to talk about anything if you don't want to," Ben assured his friend.
"I-If…." Riley gulped and looked at Ben and Abigail with his red-rimmed eyes. "If… If I tell him, you'll be here, right? You won't leave?"
Abigail grasped his pale hand. "Of course."
Riley took a deep breath and turned to Sadusky. "O-Okay… I think I can do this..."
Sadusky nodded at the young man. "All right, Riley. Whenever you're ready." Abigail gave his hand an encouraging squeeze and Ben placed a gentle hand on his shoulder.
Riley swallowed hard. "So… I came home… and I heard someone in the apartment. But before I could do anything Devin was there and he had a gun and he took me to his car…" Riley continued talking, and he seemed to be doing pretty well. Ben placed a hand on Riley's shoulder, who didn't attempt to shrug it off.
He continued talking, his eyes slowly glazing over as he recalled what happened. Riley fiddled with the sheets, twisting the blanket and grasping it tightly with his fingers. "Ian left us, and Devin told me that he was going to take me away to play and... h-he... grabbed me... and..." He stopped again, eyes staring blankly ahead. Suddenly broke down into sobs and shook his head. "N-No more… please…" he whispered. He curled into a ball as quiet sobs shook his frame.
Abigail glared accusatorily at Sadusky and sat next to Riley, putting a hand on his shaking back. Ben heard her speaking in hushed soothing tones to him, trying to comfort him.
"Don't make him talk anymore," Ben said quietly to Peter, staring at Riley. "You can't."
Sadusky sighed and ran a hand through his hair. "He said he was ready, but I should have known this was too soon…" Sadusky glanced toward the hospital bed again, lips pressed together in a thin line. "Especially considering…"
Ben glanced sharply at the FBI agent. "What?"
Sadusky beckoned Ben to follow him out into the hallway. Ben followed with a feeling of trepidation twisting in his stomach. Sadusky turned toward the treasure hunter and took a deep breath.
"Devin Osmand is one of the worst criminals the FBI has dealt with in the last ten years. He doesn't just kill his victims. He toys with them, he psychologically and physically tortures them until they see death as a better alternative. To this date, there is only one other known survivor. And now Riley, by some miracle, survived. I don't know who or what was watching over him, but we should thank them." Sadusky cleared his throat and pulled out a small manila envelope from his jacket. Ben could already feel something horrible was inside that envelope.
"Devin kept a meticulous record of all the sick "games" he played with his victims," Sadusky told Ben softly. "My agents were investigating the carnival and we found these. I'm telling you this because you're Riley's friend, but you don't have to look. In fact, I'd much rather you didn't. But I feel obligated to tell you."
Ben stared at the envelope then looked back at Sadusky. He felt himself begin to shake. He closed his eyes, trying to take deep breaths, his hand curling into a fist. "What did he do," he choked out, in a voice that scared even himself. "What did the son of a bitch do to him."
"Ben…" He felt a hand placed on his shoulder. Ben's eyes snapped open and he took a few deep, calming breaths. "Pete… I need to see. I need to know what kind of hell the bastard put my best friend through."
Sadusky handed Ben the envelope. The FBI agent shook his head, frowning. "Ben, you don't want to open that." He warned, with one last vain attempt to stop Ben.
Ben ignored him. With shaking fingers, Ben fumbled to open it and pulled out a couple of Polaroid photographs. He felt nausea curl inside his stomach, and he had to swallow the bile back. The pictures were of Riley unconscious… the pictures gloated at the crimson gashes across his body. Ben wanted to throw up. He didn't even finish looking through all the pictures. His vision blurred, and he felt light-headed. Sadusky steered him to a seat and Ben sank down, the world spinning around him.
"Put your head between your knees." Sadusky's voice seemed to come at a distance far away. Ben obeyed automatically, drawing in deep breaths. After a long moment, Ben felt well enough to sit up. He couldn't say anything. There were no words for the pain and anger, it seemed beyond articulate speech for him.
"Y-You're keeping the media away from this, right?" Ben managed to ask. It was the first time he considered this potential problem. Sadusky nodded and put a hand on his shoulder. "Of course. Riley and you and Abigail need your privacy. And the last thing we need is a copycat running around."
Ben nodded and leaned his head against the wall. His best friend in the whole world had not only suffered horrific physical torture but emotional and psychological rape. There was nothing, nothing that could tell Ben that Riley would ever be okay – he couldn't even lie to himself anymore. He knew a long road lay before Riley, him, and Abigail. The question was, would Riley even be able to travel it?
Jaeh: Poor Riley. :(
Lori: Yeah... :( A plot should emerge in the next chapter. This was just the introduction... please review you guys.