Come here and let me fuck you, you little whore.


Black was the ink of the pen he was writing with and the room around Norman Jayden, boding to the insidious cloud of emotion that poured a dank rain outside. He knew he was supposed to be doing something-he was set to perform some mundane task—but his thoughts were eclipsed, and he suddenly didn't remember anymore. He felt surrounded by the musk of his clandestine agony, the same autumn scent that the ARI gave off in its holographic field while he reviewed evidence. But he wasn't using that damned machine—the dark shields of glasses sat at the corner of his cold metal desk, waiting and collecting anxious dust as they waited for their owner to use them again. No, he was alone in his own thoughts and hallucinations, growing dizzier by the minute from the invented ocean of suffering that consumed him.

The triptocaine?

He tapped a finger of his right gloved hand, the leather abrading against his dry skin in a manner that was deeply intimate and mildly enthralling. Though he used this particularly sensual article to run the ARI, he wore it on his off time, the sensation of the fabric turning him on so profoundly that even his sagacity in psychology could not give a label to his strange fascination with the glove. In this hand sat his pen, the grey desk in his temporary Philadelphia Police Department office chafing against the utensil hovering over the white sheet of printing paper that was as blank as his expression. And temporary this position was—Jayden knew very well that he would be gone by the end of the week, the killer's apprehension notwithstanding. He knew for a very fact that he was not welcome here, no matter how clean his slate with these strangers that worked in the station; bound together by law, but alienated in spirit. He could not find a kindred spirit here—which was slightly understandable, for general policemen detested any man with ties to the FBI. Even in Washington, he was relatively friendless, but though he had always been the lone birch in a forest of pines, he never wanted to be alone.

And alone he was.

Am I?

The Philadelphia rain roughly smacked the windows, and he forgot what he was doing again. The weather was never this bad in Washington, he realized. Nothing ever was. In comparison, Philadelphia was a rampaging, unbridled beast, bent on ripping him open and filling his holes with further barrenness. The air, as natives said, was thicker here than anywhere else in the country. And he could smell that notion—feel it, consume it, be violently exploited by it—and he loathed every bit of this tabernacle to lost prayers. The eddying faces, the dirty buildings, and even the simple act of living was an encumbrance, the straw that threatened to break his back. He'd only been here for a few days, and he already wanted to hang himself from a noose made of his sorrows.

Still, in spite of the fact that he hated it here, he couldn't bring himself to want to leave.

It was never this bad in Washington.

"Maybe I'm a masachist," Jayden murmured to himself, badly butchering the heavily sexual word with his substantial accent, the Boston brogue being the signature of his birthright. He was by no means a noble person, but the ringing clarity of his voice served to distance the people around him further, as if he were a leper and they would catch his disease. In his mind, he wasn't a terribly unattractive person—yes, he was fairly short for being a man, but he kept himself on his best game and took a shower every night—but he knew that his charisma had absolutely nothing to do with the fact that nobody liked him here in Philadelphia, this colonial city full of rotting gravesites and decaying fools. People were different here—his case was different, the invisible specters of strangers—even his colleagues were different. Back at the Bureau, his boss was a hard-hearted man who ruled with a fist that was almost literally made of iron, but here, Captain Perry was a gentle but focused and unwelcome man. There was a man named Ash, but Jayden was not well acquainted with him as he was the head of the department and—

Come here.

"Blake." Jayden tried the name on his tongue, curling around it with the consideration of a man about to swallow a cyanide capsule. His muscles seized as if coiling to spring, a hostile snake, and he found an unrepentant snarl creeping up to meet his lips. Blake. Why the fuck did he have to think about that asshole now? The tall, bulky lieutenant with his jet-black hair—as heartless and uncaring as the dusty concrete walls around him—and full, graying beard always seemed to intrude on Jayden's attempts to focus and center himself. His deeply-set hatred for the man had been cemented by the first day of their partnership, Blake partially disgusted by his government-employee status (as everyone else in the police department was). They'd fought with their fists and their acerbic words, cutting into each others' skin with fingernails and fists and emotionally scarring their already devastated minds. Jayden detested Blake, and Carter Blake eagerly reciprocated that.

Come here and-

To distract his errant, straying thoughts, Jayden herded them in by looking at his silver wristwatch, which glowed even in the dull darkness of his office. For some reason, it wasn't on his arm, but sitting beside his unsullied piece of paper, its illuminated hands indicating that it was three-fourths past eleven. Damn, it's late. Hadn't he been here since six? Had he been working, or merely sitting here aimlessly, blacking out from his withdrawal from the triptocaine? It dawned on him that he was waiting for something—some event, some phone call, some person. Was that what he was doing here?

How could he be sure?

Come here and I'll give you—

The triptocaine. He'd left it at the hotel as usual—he made it a point not to take it during the work day unless he was completely sure that he'd be gone for more than twelve hours. The small blue vial—as deceptively blue as his eyes—was sitting miles away on his bedside table and could not stave off the hazardous phantasms that pervaded him with heightened senses. Autumn crackled around him as his delirium began to peak, the gloved hand of his fading into a strange parallel, his vision blurring like a camera taking shaky pictures in the Philadelphia rain that seethed outside his window. As his head started to throb unpleasantly, his body screaming for the drug that was so far out of reach, a clap of thunder bellowed, shaking the building to its foundation and snapping Jayden into the realization that he could not move.

His watch. Eleven fifty-five. Ten minutes?

Come here and I'll give you something-

The voice that growled in his ear, tickling the hairs that surrounded the white shells, was rough and raspy—an abusive lover, he thought without hesitation. Suddenly, he found himself further puzzled by that impression. Abusive? He'd never had a lover that struck him or tried to control him as this obsession did—at least, to his knowledge. When it came to his personal life, Jayden tended to forget things. Right now, he was forgetting. He didn't want to forget, but he did. It had to be the triptocaine.

It was never this bad.


Bong. The wind-up grandfather clock in Captain Perry's office—directly adjacent to Jayden's—began to toll its successive peals, the hour of midnight finally up. What day was it? Monday? Wednesday? Maybe it was Saturday. Had he even gone to work today? "Come here and let me fahk you, you little whore," Jayden murmured, a cold sweat breaking out on his suit-clad back and under his arms. Unable to resist the sweltering furnace that was his clothing, Jayden loosened his black tie and removed his sports jacket, tossing it cavalierly in the corner of the room. He undid the snaps of his pure white shirt with quivering fingers, stainless and clean in its perfection. It was the exact opposite of the man it dressed. The scent of fall suffused him once more, and Jayden's eyes watered with tears that he wasn't sure he could shed.

Bong. Two. Jayden shoved his hands in his pockets.

Come here and I'll give you something else to-

Bong. Three. In these deepest recesses, Jayden discovered one small dose of triptocaine. The salacious liquid glared at him as he palmed it curiously, his induced coma causing him to fail to register what he was really seeing. But the face that imprinted itself in his memory, staring at him doggedly through his haze was easily discernible—Blake, in his nondescript blue shirt and pointlessly matching tie and black pants, arms swathed in a gloomy overcoat, not casting a shadow in this illusion. His lips moved in the exact shape of the words that Jayden did not want to hear from an adversary such as him, and Jayden realized what he'd been waiting for.

An abusive lover.

Jayden took the triptocaine and left before the fifth chime, the strident clang echoing throughout the empty structure, lulling inmates in the locked cells to sleep and following the agent as he departed, trailing on his heels and riding on the tails of his mussed shirt. He had another addiction, and it was not the rain that washed him into stronger sin as he exited the Philadelphia police department, hailing a cab as he went. Pulling out the ARI, which he had managed to snatch on his hurried way out, Jayden fumbled to place the glasses over his eyes with the swift, churning bitterness of a blind man as he tumbled into the open door of a taxi's back seat, barking a vague address to the driver.

"Call Cahtuh Blake," he told the machine once he was situated.

"Did you mean Carter Blake?" Fucking computer always corrected his accent. Shitting bureaucrats at Washington, thinking that none of their employees came from other parts of the country.

"Yeah, yeah, I know what I fuckin' said," Jayden snapped.

"Calling Carter Blake."

The lieutenant picked up on the first ring—the first ring. There were no twelve tolls when speaking with Carter Blake. "Blake," the man said. He sounded raspy. Ostensibly, he'd been smoking a cigarette before this. Ironically enough, Jayden himself had once been a smoker, but he'd quit to improve his concentration in psychology and wean his mentality off drugs. Didn't do him much good now.

"Blake? It's Nahman."

The dark laugh that plagued Jayden's hallucinations floated through the receiver, divulging its worst secrets into his soul. "I could tell from the caller ID, Nahman," Blake jeered, mocking Jayden's inflection. "What's up? I thought you were being a good little teacher's pet and staying after school for a while to get some homework done. Get bored?"

By the tone of Blake's voice, Jayden knew he wasn't being facetious. "Yeah," he admitted. "Kinda." An abusive lover?

"I hope you're coming over here, kid," Blake rumbled, his voice slow and seductive, causing the hairs on Jayden's arms to stand on end. What was he getting himself into? "Because I'm kind of bored, too. Come here and let me fuck you, you little whore."

"I… I'm cahming," Jayden said, his tongue now thick and cumbersome in his mouth. His speech grew fuzzy. "Be ready for me… kay? Blake?"

Blake's despondent sigh was audible from Jayden's end of the line. "Christ, Norman, are you taking that shit again? I swear to God, you don't even know we're together sometimes. You're so fucked up on that drug. I told you to stop."

"Did you?" Jayden felt his nose run. When he reached up to wipe away the discharge, he found that the liquid was a rusted red.

"If you get over here quickly," Blake said, "I'll give you something else to be addicted to."

Come over here.


By the time that he pulled up to Carter Blake's apartment complex, the rain was falling ever harder, and Jayden could not recall what he was doing here, but all he knew was that the weather was never this bad in Washington. As he climbed the stairs to the third floor, his ascension fell, and the aftermath dulled his thoughts. The fairly affluent hallway opened up with the expansiveness of a yawning chasm, allowing Jayden in as he stumbled his way through to door 3E. Desensitized, he knocked, wondering who he was here to see.

Never this bad.

When the solid steel entrance clamored ajar, Jayden found himself in the arms of the man he hated. Kissing, sucking, biting, and licking until Jayden completely lost his sense of identity, and until he no longer knew why he was here and why he didn't want to leave this godforsaken city. The triptocaine desecrated him and refused to let him lead a normal life, turning him away from every benevolent character that crossed his path.


Jayden understood now that there was only one escape.

Only Blake could blemish the autumn aromas with his own.


When they were finished and Blake had fallen asleep, Jayden checked his watch. Twelve fifty-five. Somewhere else in Philadelphia, the captain's grandfather clock was about to strike once more, lulling the prisoners to sleep and troubling the addicted agent once more.