He figures John won't know what his virginity would go for on eBay, so he names a price that makes John look at the door, and at the PlayStation, and at the bed. (Non-Stargate AU)
Warnings: underage (John is 13); dubcon/noncon [below age of consent]; disturbing content; high probability of triggering reactions.
Rodney meets John in a chat room. He lures John into a private conversation and arranges a real-life date pretty much effortlessly. John lies about his age. He is thirteen, Rodney finds out, not seventeen, and he's small for his age, with thin bony wrists and a chin that's too big for his face.
At first, Rodney thinks John's stupid, because even as young as he is he must have heard about stranger danger and dirty old men who only want one thing. Rodney knows for a fact that seven other boys have disappeared within a 500-mile radius of John's hometown in the past ten years, even if the various local police departments haven't made the connection. But later, once he gets to know John, Rodney finds John's a little more complex than the usual kids he meets. John doesn't think he's invulnerable: at some level, he's simply persuaded himself that he doesn't care what happens to him.
When Rodney opens the car door and asks the kid who's been sitting quiet on the curb outside the Circle K if he's John, John gets up and leans in casually and tells Rodney what he usually gets for handjobs and blowjobs. Rodney says fine, whatever, and calls John a little businessman under his breath.
John has a backpack hanging heavy off one shoulder. He looks around the convenience store parking lot once and then slides into the passenger seat, letting his backpack thump to the floor as he shuts the door.
"I have a place," Rodney says, and John shrugs.
John's wearing a green polo shirt and jeans that are too long. Rodney can just hear John's mother telling him that he'll grow into them fast enough. She probably chose the shirt to bring out John's eyes, which in the car's lights had seemed too pale, making John look startled. John's clothes are casual but expensive brands, and Rodney feels anger towards John's family. They had cared about his clothes at some point in time, but they hadn't cared enough to find him and rescue him, and now it was too late.
Earlier that day, Rodney checked into the motel, not under his own name, of course, so now he just pulls into the parking space in front of the room and cuts the engine.
John's slouched but his shoulders are tense, and he's looking around as much as possible without turning his head.
"We could," John says, not moving at all, "in the car."
Rodney shoves his door open. "No. We couldn't." If John makes a run for it now — well. Rodney considers himself a good judge of kids. He doesn't think John will run.
John doesn't. Rodney waves him into the room first, and locks the door while John's checking the place out. Everything is set up to suggest this is a business trip: ugly brown suit in the closet, a stack of manilla folders on the bureau, and a clutter of snack foods and vitamin supplements to make the place look lived in. Rodney has a PlayStation wired up to the TV, and John pays attention to what games Rodney has. Rodney has all the coolest new games. He always does.
Rodney checks that the window is locked and the curtains are still pinned absolutely shut, and then tells John to get naked and on the bed. John bites his lip, and Rodney rolls his eyes.
"You have done this before?" he asks, and John says, "Yeah." Rodney knows he's lying again, and he figures John won't know what his virginity would go for on eBay, so he names a price that makes John look at the door, and at the PlayStation, and at the bed. And then John undoes the button on his shirt and pulls it over his head.
Rodney loves this part, so much. He loves that John's so scared Rodney can practically hear his heart racing. He loves that John's curious about sex anyway. He loves how small John is, his chest all ribs and his arms wiry. John folds his shirt before putting it on the chair, and then he pops the button on his jeans and just lets them fall, steps out of each leg, and adds them to the pile. He's wearing white socks and white briefs, and then he isn't. He sits down naked on the edge of the bed, palms flat on the rough-starched sheet, and Rodney's so hard he's shaking.
He has to decide how to play this, what fine line between pleasure and terror and pain he wants to draw. He gets John off once before fucking him. John comes three times, twice on Rodney's dick, even though he cries (both times Rodney asks if he's crying, and both times John sniffles back angrily, no). John falls asleep while Rodney's showering. Rodney wakes him up at three, even though the clock has been changed to read five-thirty, and feeds John breakfast while he's getting dressed. He pays John and lets him play a couple games of Katamari Damacy. John keeps yawning, and Rodney keeps an eye on him as he packs up. He thinks he guessed John's weight well enough to administer enough flunitrazepam to knock him out but not kill him. He hopes so. He has plans.
When John's limp, Rodney packs up the car. He checks out of the motel, grumbling about his hours to the desk clerk, who is watching a rerun of The Beverly Hillbillies. He puts John's backpack on the front seat, stretches John out in the back, and makes a stop at the city's battleground park on the way to the interstate.
Down beyond the picnic benches and the commemorative statue, the river is fast and cuts into the bank. Rodney sets John's backpack there, and next to it his shoes with his socks tucked in. John doesn't have a diary or anything that makes a really good suicide note, but Rodney works with what he has to give the impression of a kid keeping up a good facade but bleeding on the inside. He keeps John's music player, leaves his Nintendo DS in the backpack, and throws John's cell phone as far out into the water as he can.
Then he gets back in the car, checks that John's still breathing under the blanket, and crawls through morning traffic until he reaches the bypass, and safety, and freedom.
* * *
John's nauseous and scared when he wakes up, but by the time they reach Rodney's house he's alert and wary. He's still feeling sick, but he's able to recognize that he's in an unfamiliar place with someone he knows is a pervert. The house is surrounded by mountains: a finger of the lake is to the north, and there's an abandoned bait shack a mile and a half up the road. John looks for a way out, but there isn't one. Rodney's never been kidnapped; he doesn't think he'd enjoy the powerlessness, and the uncertainty for his own safety or even his life. But he enjoys being the kidnapper.
He wants to tell John to relax, that he's safe, but he knows John won't believe him. Instead, he cooks dinner, sausages and cheese mac, and unlocks the bedroom door to let John come into the front room.
"It's not poisoned," he tells John, annoyed, when John doesn't eat. "What would be the point of dragging you all the way out here if I were just going to kill you?"
"You drugged me before," John says, slouching with his arms crossed, sullen.
"I brought you here to keep me company. Trust me, it's not much fun fucking someone unconscious."
"You already fucked me," John says. His chin is jutting out. Rodney assumes he's angry now that he remembers his wallet's gone, though really, right now money is the least of John's worries.
"Yes, and you're a growing boy, you need your energy."
John still refuses to eat, so Rodney takes him back in the bedroom. This time, John doesn't come, just curls up afterwards with his back to Rodney. Rodney hasn't thought about where John will sleep, but he figures if he handcuffs John to the bed that will work okay.
Rodney spends the next day teaching John how to enjoy his body and sex. John's refractory period is an amazement: Rodney can't remember ever being that aroused as a teenager. John eats an early and enormous dinner and is asleep by seven thirty.
Rodney's found that a lot of his kids are oversleepers. He supposes it's a stress reaction more than the fresh country air. It's useful for him, because if he can train them to sleep during the day then he has fewer worries when he goes to work.
John passes through the usual stages of adjustment: he has a week when he fights everything, and a week when he's limp and apathetic. What is unique about him, what keeps Rodney from growing bored, is that his intelligence shines through. He's able to understand, to some degree, what Rodney does. He nearly breaks the encryption on Rodney's laptop one day when it's left within reach, saying he just wanted to see if there was internet out here in the mountains,. Rodney thinks John has the potential to actually escape and survive, which keeps him from becoming complacent and letting down his guard.
John asks for textbooks and SAT prep materials so he won't fall behind with his class in school, and Rodney teaches him the important things. It's rewarding: John's a good student. John's face, when he finally masters a subject, is fierce and as happy as Rodney ever sees it.
John sweats and struggles through the math in the proofs of Rodney's most recent paper, and he wakes Rodney at two one morning eager to point out that Rodney made a mistake and he found it. Rodney stumbles into furniture until there is coffee, and then he looks John's work over. It's not Rodney's mistake, it's something the idiot typesetter got backwards, but John is so glowingly ecstatic that Rodney has to tell him that yes, he is pretty clever to have spotted that, and no, none of the other boys could have done it, and yes, John does rock or kick ass or whatever.
"You could put on my name as a collaborator," John says, grinning and bouncing on his heels.
John doesn't know that he's supposed to be dead; he doesn't know Rodney's real name. But he has to know that there's no chance in hell that Rodney will ever credit him with anything, no matter how much John loves the idea. Rodney thinks it's weird that John, of all of them, is the first to develop a kind of Stockholm syndrome. He expects better of John; but then again, John's been around longer than most.
Rodney pierces John's nipples, just because he can, and John doesn't do anything except complain and walk around shirtless a lot. Rodney knows that proves this has gone too far.
He plans on waiting until the spring thaw. In his experience, not dealing with snow and ice is a good thing.
But one night when Rodney's finished with John, John turns his head to the side and pulls one leg under him. He looks horrifically young, one smooth round cheek showing next to a sharp bony shoulder.
John says, "I want to go home," in this thin little voice, as if he is holding in so much that he's stretched nearly to breaking.
Rodney reaches over and pets John's hair. He likes John, aside from his obvious uses. He wishes he could keep him, but he knows it's impossible.
"Okay," Rodney says, as gently as he can, even though this will mean more work for him. It's Thursday; that will give him the weekend. He'll need to see if he has enough flunitrazepam left over, and he'll need a bag for the body and sandbags to carry it down to the bed of the lake.
He likes to think of his boys' eyes in the water as being as bright as they'd been when they were alive.
"Tomorrow?" John asks, and he sounds happy, like he's answered a problem right or won a game. Rodney always loves John best when he's happy.
"I'll do what I can," Rodney says, grouchy, because even when he's nice he's not easy, and John knows that. John will know to look for that, having made Rodney's moods and temperament his primary study over the past months. Rodney doesn't want to give anything away.
John wiggles over so he can loop one arm around Rodney's waist and press his face against Rodney's hip.
"You're a pain in the ass," Rodney says. Light catches on the ring in John's left nipple as John's chest rises and falls. Rodney tugs on it thoughtfully, but not hard enough to affect the healing. "We'll have to get rid of these."
"I don't mind," John mumbles, pushing closer to Rodney's warmth as he falls into sleep. "You can leave them in."
"Maybe I will," Rodney says, knowing he won't. He disentangles himself, leaning down to brush John's overgrown hair from his forehead. He plants a kiss there even as John grumbles in protest, pale bright eyes shutting, long fingers that he won't grow into curling empty against his palms.
John was. . . not just smart, but fast-thinking, clever, vivacious, funny. Rodney would have liked to see the kind of man he grew into.
He will miss John when he's gone.
* * *