Fiction~~You Shall Know the Truth~~Ch. 4
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Know the Truth
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Truth's best ornament is nakedness.
– old proverb
Elias tried to keep his gaze at counter height avoiding looking at the half-naked bodies on the floor of his lab as best he could. He’d thought his worst nightmare was witnessing the near rape of Gabriel, but he’d grossly underestimated what the day would hold for him. In this room where he’d worked for so many weeks, with Gabriel now alive and the others entirely not, he thought he might collapse.
They’d killed people. Actual human beings, terrible as they might have been, were dead now because of them. He’d never seen anyone killed before. Corpses he’d had to work with before to discover cures, but they were always already in the lab. On tables, prepped and cold, with everything set up properly to do an exacting autopsy – that’s what he expected. Not like this.
There were dead bodies sprawled across the floor in unnatural angles and poses in his lab.
And Gabriel was stealing their clothing.
Practical as that might be, it was still macabre to watch. Seeing flaccid limbs drop to the floor with heavy thuds as the other man pulled sleeves free had Elias’ stomach sliding unpleasantly. Seeing Gabriel destroy the clothing he acquired added confusion onto nausea and made his head hurt. Two collars were ripped off, as were the cuffs to two sets of the pants. Luckily one of the men had been fairly fat, so at least the width of his clothes fit Gabriel’s larger frame. They were a bit short, but they covered all the distracting anatomy that had been his personal visual feast for so long.
Staring as Gabriel worked the zipper of the pants he’d chosen, Elias’s eyes focused. It wasn’t until he realized he was staring at the partially open fly that realization hit: he’d never seen the man with clothing on before. He wasn’t sure if it was better to have things covered up, or if he actually missed seeing so much skin.
“Are you ready?” he whispered urgently. “We really need to go.”
“There are things to finish yet.” Gabriel said, dismissing him as he concentrated on his clothing.
“We need to go! We can’t stay here!” Forcing his still-trembling legs to move, Elias went over to emphasize his point in a more physical manner. Instead, he tripped over his own adrenaline-shaky feet. He flailed wildly as his head tried to aim itself at the floor.
Gabriel stepped forward swiftly and caught him, holding him by the shoulders. Jolting to a halt, his face was inches away from the man’s partially buttoned shirt and smooth chest. He looked up, trying to overcome his embarrassment to thank him properly.
“Watch your step.” Blue eyes examined Elias’ flushed, sweaty face.
Nose to nose with his own fantasy, Elias swallowed carefully and tried to ease his way out of Gabriel’s unintended near- embrace. Too many false memories of this made him want Gabriel to tighten his grip and hold him close. Pushing slightly on Gabriel’s chest, Elias’s hand slipped on the slick strip of skin exposed by the unbuttoned shirt. The feel of nipples underneath his palms startled him so much that he stammered, jerking his hands back. He flushed, trying to pull away without touching anything else that might tempt him to start touching even more.
“S-sorry.” As the holding continued, he took a deep breath and reached out with cautious fingers. He couldn’t let himself indulge and touch too much. Standing here, breathing in Gabriel’s smell every time he inhaled, was arousing his body, and it shouldn’t! There were dead bodies next to him! That should be a huge turn-off! It should be enough to eradicate even the most potent dose of lust ever created.
But it wasn’t.
He poked at one of Gabriel’s arm, encouraging him to let go. Why was he still holding him? He was staring. With a nervous shifting, Elias moved his face until he was glaring at Gabriel’s chest. It felt a little ridiculous. Was he going to end up drooling over the man’s chest so often he’d know it more than his face?
“I’m q-quite all right. You don’t need to hold on. I’ve got my balance now.” His avoidance of the eyes above him ended as one shoulder was released. His jaw was gripped tightly and his face forced upwards. “What are you doing?!”
“What if I wanted to hold on, little scientist?” Gabriel asked, a dark, rather mocking grin on his face. “Would you deny me?”
Elias stared, his heart starting to thump in his chest painfully. The arm around his shoulder slid down until it clasped his waist, pulling him in. As he tried not to panic, he was brought close, pressed against a flat stomach and muscular thighs. Gabriel’s body surrounded him, the slightly bitter tang of the man’s recent exertions covering him in scent. Something started growing in size against his abdomen and Elias’s eyes widened in shock before he castigated himself. Gabriel wasn’t aroused by him. Adrenaline, the excitement of the fight, being awake and free for the first time in weeks - they were all perfectly capable of causing this reaction. Although having it pressed against him so intimately was making him start to sweat even more than the fight had.
“I d-don’t think…”
A smooth, low murmur interrupted him. “I hear differently. I heard everything as you examined my body. Everyone is always speaking of your brilliance, Doctor Kerr, from the nurses to the lab technicians so excited to be in your presence. Let’s not forget the guard who speaks to you so sweetly in the halls. Which makes me wonder if perhaps you know more about what was happening here than you seem to? This could all be set up for my benefit.”
Elias’s teeth gripped his bottom lip in nervous fear and he winced as he bit too hard. He barely noticed the blood welling up from the cut as Gabriel leaned towards him. What was the man doing? Elias held his breath, frozen as it was licked from his lips with a sensuous slide of tongue before he was released. Unable to move his head even as his jaw was freed, Elias stared as Gabriel licked his own lips with a small smile.
Gabriel’s voice was a velvet slide as he spoke. “Did you help plan this?”
Elias’s trapped eyes never left Gabriel’s face. God, he was so beautiful. Something warmer than Elias had seen there before shone through the blue of Gabriel’s eyes as he tapped Elias on the nose. “Focus, little scientist. You planned this?”
“Your escape? I didn’t have time. I only just…”
“Not the escape. Me.”
“You?” Elias looked up at him, still having a hard time focusing on anything but the body pressed against his and holding him close. “I didn’t plan for you at all,” he muttered, pushing lightly with trapped arms. He didn’t want to be rude, but this was too intimate. “You weren’t the plan. I love my work. That was supposed to be enough. We need to go…”
One more tentative push and the arm around his waist disappeared so quickly that his skin felt cold through his thin dress shirt. Gabriel stared down at him as he spoke in a strange, hollow voice. “You have thought of nothing but me since I arrived, however you were not aware I existed before I came to the lab.” There was a pause and then Gabriel’s lips twitched just slightly. “Good. One should never rely on emotion.”
Elias stepped back, confused. What was he talking about? He…
“Take off your clothing.”
Elias moved away, staring at him. “What? I… Wait, what are you doing?!” Without another word, Gabriel’s large hands were on the knot in his tie. He backed up, slapping at them. “Stop that.”
“The tie must be removed.” The hands returned while Elias gaped.
“No it ‘must’ not! You’re the one who needed new clothing! Mine are just fine! I’m supposed to go back before they figure out you’re gone! How can I do that if my clothes are lying around d-dead bodies!”
Gabriel shook his head and slid two fingers under the tie at his neck, slipping it open effortlessly.
A razor sharp nail ripped near the seam, shredding it to expose an incredibly thin wafer inside the tie.
“This is what is commonly known as a bug.” Elias stared at his ruined neck ornament mutely and Gabriel gave an irritated sigh and spoke slowly. “Also called a tracking device.”
Elias gave no indication that the words registered in his stunned mind.
“That was my favorite tie,” he whimpered. He reached out with one finger and touched the remains.
“There is a record of your every movement from the moment you get up to the moment you sleep. Your clothing is littered with these. I can hear them.” Gabriel scowled at the tie before tossing it on the floor. “Take the rest off.”
Elias finally acknowledged Gabriel’s lecture. “Littered with these? Bugs?! But, my clothes… I don’t hear anything.”
Elias looked down at the innocent looking piece of technology on the ground and shook his head. This was crazy. First Gabriel was awake, then guards had attacked them and now people were spying on him with his clothes? Less than an hour ago he’d been ready to mourn for the loss of his soul mate and now everything had changed; it was too much.
“No, it must be something else. I would have known,” he said weakly.
“You are nearly the most valuable person on the outpost. They’ve been tracking you.”
“But… “ He swallowed, still staring at his tie. The thought that someone kept track of his movements made him feel more exposed than he’d felt trying to sneak down the corridor. “That doesn’t make any sense. I’m just a scientist…”
“Take off your clothes,” Gabriel menaced, stepping closer.
“I told you, I can’t!” he snapped, frustrated and scared, eyes glued to his tie and Gabriel’s bare feet next to it. He clutched at his lab coat with both hands. “I need to stay here! If I leave, I can’t get you off planet!”
“There is no way to avoid the fact that they already know you’ve been in here. You cannot stay. The clothing must come off. Now.”
“No!” Elias finally looked up and stepped back at the dark light in Gabriel’s eyes.
“You will come with me. The clothing will stay.”
“With you?” He wanted him to leave the lab? He wanted him to leave his labcoat. Elias shook his head. “I’m s-sorry, but there’s been a mistake here. I can’t go out into the wilds.”
“What makes you think you have a choice?”
“Th-there are real bugs out there! With legs! Why won’t you understand? If I leave, I can’t get you off planet!! At least here Devlin can-”
“You can trust no one here.” Without another word, Gabriel came over and turned him none too gently, picking him up from behind before he could reorient himself. As Elias attempted to struggle, a quick hand undid his zipper and was yanking pants down Elias’s legs as Gabriel held him up high enough for them to hit the ground.
“Stop! Get your hands off of there!”
Elias was blushing furiously as his pants were kicked in a heap and, without letting him go, his lab coat soon suffered the same fate.
“Noooo! Not my coat!”
Gabriel let Elias’s feet touch the floor only to pull at his shirt, buttons flying as he pulled it off with a few swift tugs. Turning quick as lightning and covering himself with his hands, Elias stood in his socks and shoes. He made an abortive grab for his coat before Gabriel pushed him back against the wall.
“That has more devices than the rest of them together.”
“But it’s my labcoat. I need my labcoat!!” He would have been too embarrassed to speak if it weren’t for the fact that his precious labcoat had just been violated.
A head tilted to the side as his pale, goose-pimpled skin was examined with a strange glance. “You dressed with a tie, but no underwear.” Gabriel snorted in what might have been a chuckle.
Elias blushed hotter. “It’s night time! I’d already undressed for bed and I didn’t want to… Just forget it. I need clothes. I need my coat!”
The embarrassed scientist stared at the pitiful lump of discarded clothing. He couldn’t believe Gabriel had done this to him! Gabriel was…he was awful. Just awful. There was no way he could be the one Elias was supposed to love. A person of ordered sensibilities would never fall in love with such a boorish, physically violent, rude…
Elias squeaked as Gabriel leaned down and threw him over his shoulder. “W-what are you doing?!”
“Calm down. These need to go as well.”
The blood was rushing to his head as he hung over Gabriel’s shoulder, making it hard to regain his equilibrium. Socks and shoes were rapidly discarded. He could swear he felt a palm pat his bottom a moment before he was put back down. Scrabbling back, the smaller man covered himself again, glaring in furious shock at the dictatorial, perverted…jerk.
When Gabriel walked towards him again, he left off covering himself and held up his fists up defensively. “Don’t come near me! I don’t have any more clothes to take off!”
The large man didn’t roll his eyes, but one eyebrow raised and Elias would swear there was mockery in that look. He didn’t stop his approach, either.
“I m-mean it! Stay away!” He swung out wildly as Gabriel kept coming. The man only shifted to the side and grabbed the flailing arm. It was shoved into something and he was spun, his other arm yanked and pulled as well. He ended facing Gabriel with a shirt on his body, unbuttoned down the front. The collar dismantled, he recognized it as one of the guard’s.
“This is from a dead man! I can’t –“
“You require covering to go outside, and yours have too many transmitters to clean quickly. The guards only have the standard amount of tracers which I’ve already removed.” As he reached for Elias again, the scientist held up his hands.
“Stop! I can do it myself! J-just give me the pants! For the love of… I can do it!”
Gabriel looked at him steadily and nodded, handing him a pair of pants with a ragged hem, along with socks and rough, clunky shoes. Flushed and humiliated, Elias shoved his legs in and recovered his meager dignity as quickly as he could. By the time he was done, the medical kit, the blanket, and the three guards’ stix had been gathered and his self-appointed escort waited by the door. Elias held onto the waistband of his pants to keep them from falling and cast a longing glance at his coat.
“Which way to the exit?”
Elias flinched at the terse question. “Follow me, and –“
“I need directions.”
Elias glared up at him, cheeks still pink. “Turn left after you leave the lab, take the third right, then the second left again, and the exit is the last door on the right at the end of the corridor. It’s easier if you follow me and-“
“I have it now.” He stepped up close to Elias and backed him against the wall again. “You will be quiet from now until we have left the base.”
“You don’t have to tell me that,” he protested hotly. He hated being treated like he was an idiot. He was the one who’d freed Gabriel, wasn’t he? There was no reason to act this way! “And I still don’t think I should leave. I can’t get in touch with Devlin if I’m not here.”
Gabriel’s eyes darkened. “Devlin? This is the second time you have mentioned this name.”
Elias’ head hit the wall as Gabriel leaned towards him suddenly. “He’s a g-guard here. If I can get to him, I think he can smuggle you onto a shuttle, but-“
“We need no help.”
“Yes, we do! You don’t understand. There’s no other way out of here! This isn’t a populated planet; this lab is the only thing on it! We need Devlin.”
“There are exactly one thousand eight hundred and seventy two people here and I trust none of them to get us off this planet.”
“One thousand…? That’s not right. There’s…”
Elias took a deep breath as Gabriel braced a hand on either side of him and glared. “You will not stay here. You will not speak of him or anyone else here again. I will take care of this. Now you will be silent!”
Before another word could emerge he was up over Gabriel’s shoulder again. He yelped as he felt his pants start to slide and grabbed at them, missing by a fraction of an inch. He hissed as he felt them flump down, baring his bottom.
Gabriel reached up and patted his backside again. His face flamed as he smacked himself trying to get at the jerk’s hand.
“Let me go! For God’s sakes, my pants are falling off!”
“I will not let them fall,” Gabriel said. He laid his hand on Elias’ bare skin and turned to walk from the room.
“Pull them back up!”
Elias reared up, trying to slide down into his pants, or smack Gabriel’s head, or both. Gabriel kept walking. He opened the door and Elias grew more frantic. His head hit the top of the metal doorframe with a resounding thud on the way through.
“Keep your head down.” Elias heard the smug words through the black and white stars that swirled in front of his eyes and he clutched his head.
Elias made a small plaintive sound of distress. It really hurt!
“No, but I have a concussion!” Elias’s eyes teared as he not-whimpered. Ow! His body swayed, cool circulated air swirling over his bare bottom as Gabriel began to trot quickly through the halls.
“P-p-put me down! I c-can walk!” His body was jostled as Gabriel turned the corner and continued without a pause.
“This is more expedient. Now be quiet!” Gabriel whispered harshly.
Realizing that his loud whispers were carrying down the quiet hallways like a shout, Elias bit his lip and slapped Gabriel on the bum in protest. He wanted his pants back up! And why was Gabriel keeping his hand there?! Jerk!
The shoulder driving into his stomach was seriously making him sick, and hanging upside down wasn’t helping. He prayed for a quick trip or the new clothing they were wearing was going to smell a lot worse than dead men. Ugh, corners.
Nauseous and nearly unconscious, Elias was breathing in painful, ragged pants by the time Gabriel reached the small door that led to the emergency stairs. The clothing executioner shoved the door open after a quick inspection showed the alarm was still disconnected and started climbing. Elias tightened his stomach, trying to control how roughly he was being bobbed on top of Gabriel’s shoulder. He hated to admit that the man was right about anything, but he was going a lot faster on the climb than Elias could have. And that was while he was holding Elias. It was disturbing how strong he was. Maybe the motion table and electrodes had done their job too well when keeping his muscles from atrophying during his time on it.
They reached the top with him gasping for breath, and the devil incarnate barely in a sweat. Gabriel paused at the top of the stairwell. He put Elias down, and the scientist groaned, backing away from him with a stumble yanking up his pants. He tried to rub the ache from his stomach.
“D-don’t do that again,” he whispered, fuming and swallowing saliva quickly. He was not going to throw up in front of this man.
“I’ll do what needs to be done, as I always have.” Gabriel replied in a flat voice. He looked at the large door in front of them with the strangely old-fashioned manual crank. He put both hands on the circular handle and began to pull, flexing with the strain as the wheel slowly turned to undo the lock. It opened with a slow, almost rusty screech of metal grinding. A dark half-moon slowly widened in front of them like some dark mouth into hell.
Air blew in from outside, humid and heavy with an exotic floral musk. Elias shuddered. Real flowers mean real bugs. Dirt. Pollen. Rotting leaves, slime molds and fungus.
It was a dark mouth into hell, a nightmare come to life.
He looked at the stairwell to see if he could get down it before Gabriel stopped him. He couldn’t go out there. It was impossible. There had to be another way. He couldn’t.
Something rustled just outside the entrance, barely audible as Gabriel paused before he continued pulling on the door.
“There’s something out there.” Elias’ voice was a strained whisper of sound, drowned out by the rusty hinges as Gabriel continued opening.
Light glistened off something smooth and thick that seemed to slither at the edge of the illumination pouring from their doorway out onto the rusted stoop.
“G-Gabriel.” Throat dry, Elias tried to swallow as he stared desperately into the black that grew bigger every moment. “Stop. There’s something out there!”
His body almost completely hidden by the door as he pulled it open, Gabriel stopped and peered around to glare at him. “I told you to be quiet.”
“No, you don’t understand. There’s something- Aaaaaaaaaah!” Elias screamed as darkness poured through the doorway at him. He tried to dodge, ducking, but it followed, wrapping around his arms and legs. His torso was covered with suffocating heaviness while he screamed again.
He could just barely hear Gabriel cursing furiously and yelling his name as he was dragged out into the darkness.
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