2309: As We Speak

Posted: March 17, 2013 by Kelly in league, stories, the world

His hand trembles when he reaches for the glass. He stares at it for a moment, before picking it up. He needs it. Or rather, he needs the stimms that he downs with the contents of the glass. It’s sixty-two hours since he last slept, and he feels like he will never sleep again.

Kesaria had squeezed his shoulder fifteen hours before and assured him that it was a done deal. They’d put Daniella Summers away for life, or they’d see her dead within the year. She’d be a prime example of a fact that he thought needed no more proof. You don’t mess with the corporation. He sits back in his chair, closing his eyes as he feels the stimms course through his system. His stomach feels sour. Oral stimms are nowhere near as efficient as the injected ones, but he’s not about to risk overdosing at this point.

Not when Berntsson just got himself killed. Young can see it before his mind’s eye, the way the bullet punched into his face, spreading his brains on the pavement behind him. He’d gone down like a puppet with its strings cut, never to get up again. And there hadn’t been a single thing he could do about it from his comfortable office in the Compound. No buttons to push, no commands to issue, nothing. He’d sat by and been utterly helpless while the enforcers stuffed Summers full of tranquilizers and antidote.

His hand had hovered over his keypad for long minutes, as if he could someone undo the events. If he could just edit it cleverly, maybe he could make it so it never happened. Then his phone had started ringing and reminded him that it had been a live broadcasting. Berntsson’s crazy project was watched by billions of people, and every single one of those saw him die.

Now, hours and countless phonecalls later, Young has returned to his office and the footage of Berntsson’s death. He played the game again, and once again after that, memorizing every single thing Jorn Berntsson said to Daniella Summers. He’d see it a hundred times before the end of the year, he’s sure of it. He’d see it at her trial as well.

The door to his office slides open, and a familiar voice calls out to him. “Young? Are you in here?”

Rory walks into the office, looking at the couch first. It’s comfortable. Young has spent far too many nights on it of late. Rory hates it, but he can’t change the fact that the responsibility for the Corporation is on Young’s shoulders, and that weight keeps him up and at work for endless hours. At least Berntsson had been there to pull his own weight before. At least he’d been able to handle a lot of the League press.

Maybe Young should have watched him closer. Maybe he should have checked his plans for the Survival Game one more time. He’d checked them a dozen times, and not once did he predict an outcome like this.

“I’m here,” He says, just as Rory turns around to look at his desk. The other man flicks a light on and Young winces, his eyes feeling dry and sore from being open and active for as long as they have.

“Jesus,” Rory breathes. “You look like hell. When’s the last time you’ve slept, babe?”

Young shrugs. “Sleep is for the weak,” he says meekly. He leans back and covers his eyes with his hand. He sighs, feeling some of the tension bleed from his shoulder as Rory steps behind him and squeezes his shoulders.

“Tense,” the younger man mutters. It’s not even a question. He digs his fingers into the back of Young’s neck, who whimpers at the sharp ache, and the blissful relief right after.

“It’s been a long, stressful day,” He mutters. Rory must have seen the match, even though he hated the idea of the Survival Game, and hated the idea that Summers hadn’t specifically signed up for it.

He digs his fingers into Young’s shoulders in a way that feels vindictive. “I noticed. You haven’t been home all week. Don’t you think it’s time you give it a rest, get some sleep? Eat something? Maybe spend some time with your favorite ginger?”

“Oh, is Valentina in town?” Young jokes, amused at the way Rory sniffs and twaps him on the back of his head.

He figures he’s forgiven moments later when Rory wraps his arms around his shoulders and kisses the skin beneath his ear. “I’m serious, babe. You look like you’re ready to keel over. Come home for a bit, let me take care of you.”

Young sighs again, letting his head fall back against Rory’s shoulder. It’s so very tempting, to let Rory bundle him off and tuck him in. He feels like he can sleep for a week. But who’s got the time? “I just have to finish this.” He says instead, waving at the file open on his terminal. The legal details surrounding Summers’ arrest, and the pre-trial hearings that will take place as soon as she’s deemed lucid again.

Rory’s hands stop moving on his shoulders. He stands frozen behind Young for a long moment. There’s a sharp intake of breath, right next to his ear before Rory releases him and walks around his desk to stand in front of him. “Seriously? You’re going to take her to court? Hasn’t she been through enough?!” The indignation is clear on his voice.

Young looks at him, really looks at him for a moment, seeing the sharp and yet sometimes incredibly naive young man that means the world to him, seething over Young’s proposed actions. “Well… yeah?” He says, looking from Rory to the terminal and back again. “Obviously I’m going to take her to court. It wouldn’t look very good if I didn’t.”

“For fucks sake, babe, is that really a decision you want to make when you’re out of your head on stimms? What the fuck has Dani Summers ever done to deserve even more shit heaped on her?”

Young rises from his seat and pulls up the footage of Berntsson’s death on his terminal. He watches dispassionately as the man gets shot in the head, again, and goes down again, never to get up. “That’s what she did,” He says, his voice surprisingly hoarse. “She killed Jorn Berntsson and I will burn in hell before I let her get away with that.”

“You didn’t even like him!” Rory yells, gesturing at the terminal which still shows Berntsson’s lifeless corpse on the ground. “Berntsson was an asshole and the world is better off without him. Dani did us all a fucking favor.”

“Berntsson was a genius and he was family,” Young bites out at his lover, almost snarling now. “And if you think I’m just going to let some pretentious bitch who can’t even be bothered with reading the fine print on her contracts get away with killing my family you’re an idiot. If I let this slide people like Batista and MacMillan will smell the blood in the water, and they will destroy us. I let some dumb blonde bitch kill Berntsson without reprecussions, and the Corporation will be destroyed within a year. That’s Stender’s legacy you’re talking about.”

Rory sneers at him. “You don’t give a shit about Berntsson or Stender’s legacy. What, you’re… you’re doing this because of Jill, is that it? Really fucking noble, sweetheart, trying to avenge the death of a man whose wife you were boning.”

“What,” Young utters, straightening up and leaning away from Rory. He hadn’t even been aware of the way he’d been drawn closer to the other man. “You’re ridiculous, that was years ago.”

“So you’re denying that you’re doing exactly what she wants now.” Rory throws back at him.

“I’m not denying anything. Of course this is what she wants. This is what has to happen.” Young taps on the proposal in front of him.

Rory shakes his head, his mouth twisted in anger. “Well, that’s just fucking convenient, isn’t it? Jill Berntsson snaps her fingers, and you come running like a lapdog to do her bidding. Does Stender even care?”

Young sees red for a moment. Stender cares. Stender had called him minutes after Berntsson had died, and Stender had been the one to talk him through the first minutes, because he had been too shocked to do it himself. Stender, whose legacy is in danger because Young had failed to keep Berntsson in check. Stender, who had taught Young everything, and is closer to him than his own father could ever have been. Stender, who had yelled at him for a good hour afterwards, and then sent him Hector de Barros Kesaria, who had helped him plan Summers’ trial.

Sure, Jill had called him, twenty hours after her husband died. By then the plans to bring Dani Summers down were already in development.

“You’re just so fucking naive.” He spits out, swiping his hand over his terminal to lock the proposal away for now. “I’m doing exactly what Stender wants. You think I give a shit about some bitch I happened to fuck once or twice years ago? Berntsson was part off the fucking family, and no one touches that.” He jabs a finger at Rory to drive his point home.

Rory flinches. “That’s a load of shit and you know it. You don’t care about these people. You fucking sat by when Stender almost killed Valentina, and she’s supposed to be like a sister to you, and now you want to punish some innocent girl for being forced into something she never wanted a part of? Why don’t you drop the act and tell me the truth. You don’t give a shit about anyone in this building!”

Young straightens his shirt, hiding the way his hands are trembling again. He feels sick to his stomach, and for a moment it feels like the floor is breaking away from under his feet. “You know…” he starts, his voice barely more than a whisper, “I think you’re right about that last bit, at least.”

Rory visibly pales in front of him, his lips trembling slightly. “You don’t… you don’t mean that.” He says, the rage he showed earlier nowhere in sight.

Young lets himself fall back into his chair and closes his eyes, rubbing a hand across them in a tired gesture. “I really do. Do me a favor and get out, will you?”

“Babe, I…”

“Before I call security.” He finishes. He doesn’t watch Rory leave, but he hears him. He hears his footsteps and the sliding door to his office.

He passes out on his couch three hours later, and wakes up to find Rory’s resignation on his desk, on top of the persecution proposal. He doesn’t let himself feel it until Daniella Summers’ sentence is read, and even then he just feels hollow, as if Rory has taken everything that’s worthwhile about him along when he left.

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