Cabanela wakes up into the fuzzy darkness and of all the things that can go through his mind, of all the classy one-liners or ass-saving persuasions, he thinks to himself that this is going to really mess up his coat. It's probably a testament to the ache that's rooted in his head and spreading sharp across his body that he doesn't immediately feel the blow to his dignity.

Christ, he must look a sight, crumpled at all his joints and sprawled almost upside-down on the cracks in the concrete. He feels like the sweater some girl's ex-boyfriend gave her, tossed on the street and all but set on fire. His eyes twist in his head almost involuntarily to make sure his coat wasn't on fire and just doing that makes him dizzy and sick, so he cringes around the lurch in his stomach, and every inch of his skin screams like it's peeling away over the muscle and every bone feels like it's cracking into pieces from the inside out. Bile builds in his throat. He's hurting in all the spaces between his bones and along all the insensitive surfaces of his insides. His teeth dig hard into the skin just under his lower lip, and he can catch laughing on the edge of his hearing.

It's the sound of a voice and the laugh that drops him back into reality and then his brain is painting out the wrecked room, the ringing afterimage from standing too close to an explosion, the single glance of the super's body thrown back like it had been rammed hard in the chest. He's trying to pull all the sounds back into the present, so for a second the laugh is overrun with the crashing of cement, feathers pushing frantically at the air, the crush and grind of his own bones that he felt more than heard. But his head rolls to the side with a grimace and he sees red that makes him more sick than all the pain can.

It's the man in red laughing; chuckling like it's a secret he's sharing with himself. The man in red standing with a studied slouch, hands held in pockets, head tucked down into his chest just so as if he's trying to keep himself quiet in class. The man in red who creeps into the corner of Cabanela's eyes and seeps into him like oil slicking over water. The man in red doesn't have a hair out of place despite standing five feet from an explosion that tore pieces of the walls out from their foundation.

Cabanela swallows a pang of too-late fear.

Cabanela's balanced on his back with his legs in the air and the man in red is walking towards him like it's coincidence that they're at the same place, like Cabanela is a friend he just noticed at the grocery store. He peers down into Cabanela's face, eyes lazy and smirk still turned up at the edges, and says, "Attaboy, Inspector." The man in red shifts at the shoulders and Cabanela feels fingers on the edge of his shins, tugging gentle on the curve of the bone. Cabanela doesn't know what he wants until his legs are bent, and the man in red is resting his forearms on his feet and leaning on him in a way that jars his tibias with a shock of pain. The man in red crosses one leg over the other and puts his weight on Cabanela like someone would lean over the back of a chair to talk to its occupant. Cabanela feels his face screw up against the hurt without his permission, and the man in red is still watching him.

"That was a stupid thing you just did there, Inspector," he says. "Trying to save that superintendent. You really could have made things difficult for me." Cabanela wants to tell him how he hooopes so, baby, but the movement of his lungs causes a series of cracks in his ribs and he keeps the words down. Instead he stares as bitterly as he can back at the man, trying to focus on his hate and not the pain gripping the marrow of his bones. The man in red's empty smile slips into something darker and he pulls back again, hands catching Cabanela's ankles, long fingers wrapping around the narrow part where his feet join up to his legs. He grips hard enough that the joint opens a little, tendons stretching.

"I have a little job for you," he says, eyes narrowed in an unspoken dare. Ask him what it is. Tell him you won't. Cabanela does neither of these things. He grits his teeth and hisses out the breath he's been holding. The man in red eases his grip and Cabanela's legs drop to the ground with a heavy sound and a choked cry. He raises an eyebrow over his sunglasses and looks at Cabanela expectantly, glancing at his feet and back to his face. Get up, Inspector.

Cabanela tries to speak - his throat is tight, though, the noises trying to push through a thin space that mangles his words into a whine. Not his usual standard of eloquence. "I-I can't move," he says, like it's an excuse or an explanation. The man in red looks unimpressed. "I think I have... four or five broken bones..."

And the man in red shrugs. The man in red shrugs, crinkling the fabric of his suit around his shoulders, and the man in red opens a wide and toothy grin. The shape of it cuts through Cabanela's body sharper than the real pain. "I don't mind." His hands are back in his pockets, head turned back down to look Cabanela in the eyes. "It won't prevent me from manipulating you. It might make it hurt a little bit when I move you, though..."

The man in red.
The manipulator.

Cabanela's stomach tightens hard around the pit of fear growing there, tightens hard around the hate and rage branching off. He manages to push off the knowledge that his leg is twisted sick inside itself and his ribs and shattered and his whole back is going to be a long black bruise for just long enough to bite out a curse towards the man in red. "D-Damn you!"

The more time passes with him flat on the concrete, the more he hopes there really are gods up there and they really can snap their fingers and smite people in great columns of flame. But the more time passes with his body bent wrong in this half-destroyed room, the more he starts to believe that the days of his life he spent praying to them with his family and friends were wasted. Because what sort of gods would allow a man like this to live, to do what he had done to Cabanela's baby -

"Now, now, Inspector, I'm not that bad of a guy." The grin says otherwise; the grin says predatory animal gone hungry for too long. The man in red is stepping close, getting down on a knee, touching his fingers to the hem of Cabanela's trousers. He pulls them up to the knee, and Cabanela catches a sight of the skin outlining the misplacement of his bone and the swelling pulsing around it and he barely shoves down the nausea, drags his eyes away from it to not bring up the pain in new force. Instead he looks at the man in red's face, and.

There he finds an arrested kind of fascination, lips parted around half a gasp, forehead wrinkled to accommodate furrowed brows. Even with the sunglasses there, it's a look between jealousy and hate, between hunger and nostalgia. It's gone when the man in red glances up and catches Cabanela looking, replaced with a sort of scowling smile, hands on the extra bend of his leg and digging into it to make Cabanela yelp, but the vulnerability sticks with Cabanela, like seeing a present without its wrappings for the first time and it's just a little disappointing. The inspector considers calling him out on it for a moment.

But that's really not his style.

"A bad sort of guy wouldn't take pity on you like I do, Inspector," the man in red is saying, hands ghosting over his leg away from each other and Cabanela wonders quickly if he should be struggling. "You'll never be able to walk yourself up those stairs in this state." His fingers close on Cabanela's ankle and Cabanela's knee.

His hands shift so that his palms are flat on the sides of Cabanela's leg. Cabanela's body tenses before his mind can.

The man in red wrenches his hands apart, and the separate pieces of bone around the break go with them. There is a loud, layered, crunching sort of crack, and a loud, layered, crunching sort of pain that shoots through Cabanela's leg and through his torso and out his toes and mouth, him screaming and pushing at the ground with the heels of his hands until they bleed, kicking at the man's legs and hips, feeling the bones rub against each other as they move and the noises they made reverberate through his nervous system. Cabanela curses and yells and threatens, eyes squeezed tight and he doesn't even spare thought to being embarrassed that he's crying because the man in red is just looking at him calmly and drinking in his pain. There is finally another snap and even though he feels the cold touch of the man in red's hands pull away, he's screaming still, choking on sobs and breathing with harsh gasps. His throat feels torn apart from the sounds he was making. His leg feels like it's been stretched to twice its length and let go to snap back to place. The man in red is standing again, and there are almost a predator's fangs in his grin.

"That's better," he says over Cabanela's weakening grunts, over the scrape of skin and clothes on concrete as he shifts restlessly in hopes to alleviate the pain. "That's better." He walks around Cabanela to hook his hands under Cabanela's arms, pull him up, and Cabanela makes pitiful sounds and his eyes burn wet with tears. He can't hold his weight at all; the man in red makes a disappointed, fatherly sort of sound and shifts his grip. "You're going to want to cooperate, Inspector," he says. The concrete moves under their heels, scraping at Cabanela's still-bare leg. He's being dragged, and the stairs creep up too fast, and he grits his teeth for how he knows it'll hurt when the steps bump against his calves. The man in red is muttering in his ears. He's not sure if he's meant to hear.

"You will cooperate. You'll cooperate because I'm not gonna end all this pain until I get what I want, Inspector. You'll cooperate because you're scared of feeling too much and dying. You'll cooperate."

The stairs are jarring every bone in his body. Cabanela tries hard to stop feeling. The man in red, the manipulator, is pulling him like he weighs nothing up the stairs, up to the office, dropping him hard in the chair in a manner that barely resembles sitting. Cabanela lets his head fall back, focused on the dig of the chair's back in his neck. Breathing. Breathing has gotten so much harder over the last few minutes. His face is too-dry from where the air passed over tear-tracks. The man in red is on the telephone, and a muffling sort of quiet is finally pressing into Cabanela's ears.

He wants to sleep. He wants this man in red to sleep. He wants to wipe the shades of tired and numb out from under both their eyes. Maybe wipe the crime away, too.

There's wet spots on his collar, probably. They might stain.

"Nice try, Inspector Cabanela."