A Kind of Alchemy
by London Lampy
Back at the house Fran found Fudge curled up asleep under a blanket on the arm chair, while Ed was dozing laid out full length on the sofa. As the two of them entered the room Ed sat up and looked around in confusion, then he blinked, clearly recalled where he was and what he was doing there and quietly asked them what had happened.
"We found the waiter." Mulligan replied as Fran went to gently shake Fudge awake. "He didn't know who bought Sam, but he knows someone who was purchased by the same person and we're going to try to track her down in the morning."
"Why not tonight?" Fran heard Ed ask as Fudge came to.
"She may well not be back yet, and we need to sleep." Mulligan said firmly.
"I don't, I'll go." Ed insisted.
"No you won't, the girl lives in a bad neighbourhood and may well not want to talk to us even if we do find her. This needs finesse, not some love sick kid charging in like a train."
"I'm not a kid." Ed retorted. "I'm eighteen."
"Even so, no." Mulligan made this sound like a door slamming, and Ed slumped back on the sofa in irritation. "Go home son." He said more gently. "You can come back tomorrow."
"I don't want to go home."
"Couldn't he stay here?" Fudge asked with a yawn.
"Come on Ed, you don't exactly have far to go." Fran glanced over at the sofa, Ed was looking rather desolate now. He felt sorry for him, he'd been through a lot recently and he must be lonely in that house all by himself. "All right, you can sleep here for tonight if you want. You'll need to make up the bed in the guest room though, I'll find you some clean sheets."
"Could I...would you mind if I slept in Sam's room?"
Fran frowned, he really wasn't quite sure what had happened to make Ed go from scrapping with Sam in his hallway to declarations of love in a few short weeks, but he supposed that he couldn't see any harm in it for one night. "Go on, you know where it is."
"Thanks." Ed seemed a tiny bit happier as he left to go downstairs.
"How long have Edmund Anglemol and Sam been together?" Mulligan asked as he got undressed.
"No idea." Fran stretched out in the bed, grateful to be lying down at last. He felt like he never wanted to be anywhere else than his bed ever again. "Tonight was the first I'd heard about about it."
"At that age you don't always want to tell your parents everything." Mulligan slid into bed next to him.
"I'm not his parent."
"You are by proxy." He ran a single finger over Fran's cheek, down the side of his neck and across his shoulder to his chest.
"Yes, his mother trusted me to look after him didn't she?" He let out a humourless laugh. "And look how that turned out. I can't stop worrying about him, about what the person who bought him might be doing to him, what they want him for. He might be scared and alone and hurt..."
"And he might not be, you don't know and worrying about it isn't going to change anything. You're doing everything you can to get him back, making yourself sick with stress over it isn't going to help Sam one bit." Mulligan stroked his stomach, his hand was warm and reassuring.
"But I can't just stop like that." He sighed.
"You need to, you need to switch off and get some sleep, and I'm going to help." Mulligan's hand continued on its path down his body until it ended up between his legs.
"I don't think that's going to work tonight." Fran said, meaning his soft cock, but the magician's hand felt good there and soon his body made a liar out of him.
"I think it is." Came the amused reply.
He closed his eyes and tried to clear his mind, attempting to concentrate on nothing more than his breathing and the growing pleasure coming from his now very hard member. He felt a kiss being placed on his lips, which he lazily returned. His limbs suddenly seemed to be made of lead, he could almost imagine that he was about to sink right into the mattress and be swallowed up by its soft depths, and it was only his desire and his lover's caressing hand that were anchoring him to the surface of the bed. He was aware of Mulligan shifting and he tried to open his eyes to find out what he was doing, but he found that he didn't have the strength. The hand left his cock and he heard himself making a small noise of disappointment, but the loss didn't last for long as it was soon replaced by something soft and hot and wet around his length. This made him sigh contentedly and he somehow managed to find enough energy to move an arm and rest his hand on the back of his lover's head.
Having his cock sucked felt like bliss, he tilted his head back, his teeth biting a little way into his bottom lip as he made a small groaning noise in the back of his throat. He rocked his hips in time with the movements of Mulligan's mouth and waves of pleasure started to lap through his body. At first the waves were soft but soon they began to intensify, his muscles began to tense and tighten and he bit down hard on his lip to stop himself from making too much noise. His orgasm started deep inside his body and spread outwards until he was ejaculating into Mulligan's mouth with a long exhalation of breath.
Afterwards with Fran's heart thudding through every part of him Mulligan moved back up the bed and kissed him on the forehead. "Goodnight Frannie, sleep well." He said in a quiet deep voice.
"You haven't..." Fran managed, although it was a struggle to speak.
"I'm fine." The reply seemed to come from several miles away. "Sleep."
"But..." He never got any further as the exhaustion finally won.
Sam awoke back in the small nursery bedroom with no memory of how he got there. He'd fainted, that much came back, the strange sick man who had bought him had calmly told him that he planned to kill Sam in some kind of attempt to regain his own health, and that information had pushed his empty and dehydrated body and mind too far.
He sat up, his mouth was dry and his head was pounding, it was a sensation not unlike a bad hangover and he had no idea what the time was but the sun had set outside the window. Sam saw something on the floor beside the bed that Bonnie had briefly occupied, it was a tray containing an empty glass, a jug of water and two slices of bread and butter. He quickly went over to it and poured himself a glass of water, the glass wasn't very clean, it had a misty look about it and the water was tepid and metallic tasting, but he gulped the liquid down almost in a single swallow. He tried to eat the bread a little more slowly, knowing that because of the purgative he had been given his stomach was empty and too much too fast could well make him vomit again, but it was hard as he was acutely hungry. Once he had finished all of the bread and drunk most of the water he stood and went over to the window. He was still dressed in the long white cotton robe he had been given after his bath and with that, his skin drained of all of its colour and his white blond hair his reflection in the glass made him look like a ghost.
Ragged clouds were scudding through the night sky and every so often they would reveal the moon, it was a moon paired to a tiny sliver, a moon one night off new, a moon counting down a single day until Sam's execution at the hands of a crazy man. He knew that he had to escape, had to get out before that happened, he didn't want to die. He turned and looked at the door, it was locked as usual but it was just an ordinary door, not one specially designed to keep a person incarcerated inside the room, maybe he could break it down. Without his shoes, which along with his clothes hadn't been returned to him, kicking it was out of the question, he'd just end up with a broken foot, but perhaps is he simply threw himself against it the lock might give. He crossed as far away as he could to get the best possible run up the small room would allow, then braced himself. This was going to hurt, but it was far far better than the alternative.
For the second time in as many days Fran found himself in a part of the city that he'd never seen before, it was a area few people would go to out of choice and even at ten o'clock in the morning it felt dark and shadowy. This was partly because of the way the buildings crowded in around one another, and partly because it was an overcast damp day with a constant mist of drizzle in the air.
"My mother used to call this idiot's rain." Mulligan said as they picked their way around deep dirty puddles, this clearly wasn't a place the city's officials though was worth the effort of street maintenance. "Because you don't realise that you're getting wet until you're soaked through."
"Where are we going to start?" Fran looked around, it was a depressing place, the buildings were old but not in any picturesque kind of way, they were simply dilapidated. There were few people about but those he had seen had watched them openly with faces that were either distrustful or seemingly weighing the possibility of robbing them, and not one of them looked like they would take kindly to being approached and asked about the whereabouts of a girl called Bonnie.
"There." Mulligan nodded at a scarlet haired woman standing outside a row of crumbling houses clearly plying her trade. She could have been anything between forty and sixty and she was wearing clothes that were neither appropriate for her age, the time of day, or the time of year.
"Really?" Fran looked her up and down, she was swaying a little despite the early hour and her colourful hair was lopsided, obviously a wig.
"It takes a whore to know a whore." He replied, then strode over to her leaving Fran with no option but to follow.
"Hello gents." The woman slurred slightly as they approached. She attempted a smile, but it came out more as a brown toothed grimace. "Looking for a bit of fun?"
"No!" Fran said a little more firmly than he had meant to.
"We're looking for someone." Mulligan briefly threw him a frown then turned back to the woman. He held up his hand, rubbed his fingers together and from nowhere a pound note appeared between them. The woman eyed it hungrily and Mulligan rubbed his fingers together making it disappear from sight.
"Are you some kind of magic man?" The woman looked at his hand as if she wasn't sure she believed her eyes.
"Yes, the good kind. The money is yours if you can tell us where someone lives, but only if you tell the truth. I'll know if you're lying, I can read minds too."
She eyed Mulligan doubtfully. "He can." Fran confirmed.
"You ain't cops are you? I've not seen you around here before, but that don't mean you're not." Fran felt that the woman was most likely well acquainted with all the local police.
"No, I can assure you that we're not." Mulligan said seriously. "We're looking for someone named Bonnie, she's small and looks like a young girl, but she's really in her twenties. We've been told that she lives in this area."
"I know Bonnie, she's Old Dot's girl, the gods rest her soul, what you want with her? If you want a real proper kid I know where you can get one."
Fran sighed, until very recently he hadn't realised that so many children were for sale in his city. "No, we need to talk to Bonnie, if you don't know where she lives we'll go." He said irritably.
"Keep your knickers on, I didn't say I didn't know where she lived. You." She pointed one yellow nailed finger at Mulligan. "Hand over the cash and I'll tell you."
"No, you tell me her address then I'll give you the money." She scowled at him. "Come on, it's going to be the easiest pound you've ever earned, you don't even need to open your legs."
"And you're sure you ain't police?"
"That's her place, there." She indicated a house a little way down the street on the opposite side, it looked almost derelict and Fran found it hard to believe than anyone could live in it. "On the second floor, now give me my money."
Mulligan produced the note from between his fingers again and she tucked out of sight into her bra. "Tell Bonnie Aggie says "hello" when you see her." She called after them as they left.
Sam pushed against his bonds uselessly, the only thing he was managing to do was make his shoulder flare with pain. He thought that he may have broken it, or at least cracked the bone, but now tied to the bed and due to become a human sacrifice once dark had fallen again it wasn't his greatest problem.
Battering down the door had almost worked, he had thrown himself against it repeatedly until the wood had begun to splinter, and if he had continued undoubtedly he would have managed to get it open. Unfortunately it was hardly a silent way to attempt an escape, the thudding sound had alerted the fearsome Grist who had then made short work of pinning Sam down and had ordered the golden eyed slave bring him a length of rope. Grist had trussed Sam to the bed from ankle to shoulder, restraining him completely and rendering any further escape attempts impossible.
Trying to ignore the pain he thought back through the sequence of events that had led him to this point. Because of a madman's illness, because of Ava's temper, because of Mother's indifference to humanity, because he'd run away from home because his father had caught him and beat him he was going to die here in this strange place, and no one would ever know.
Half of the banister was missing and the bare boards of the stairs felt spongy and rotten under his feet. Fran found it impossible to believe that anyone lived here, and he was sure that the woman had conned then out of the pound note. He caught a scent in the air, and it was something entirely unexpected, a warm homely smell of baking, eggs and sugar and vanilla, and it was entirely at odds with the squalid surroundings. Someone, somewhere near by, was baking a cake.
The second floor landing contained a single door, and unlike the rest of the place it looked fairly new. It was painted a glossy white, had a neat brass knocker and three key holes, each stacked up one above the other. This was a home, and the occupants clearly didn't want to take the risk of being broken into.
Using the knocker Mulligan rapped twice on the door, a few seconds later it was opened, but not very far as it was secured by a stout looking security chain.
"Who's there?" A woman's voice called out, it wasn't friendly voice. Fran couldn't see much between the gloom of the hallway and the partially open door, but from the description he had been given this woman wasn't Bonnie. She looked to be a little taller than him, and there was no way she could pass as a young girl.
"We're looking for someone called Bonnie." Mulligan said. "We were informed that she lived here."
"Who are you and what do you want with her?" The woman all but spat.
"We need to speak to her, we think that she may have recently...visited...a place where a friend of ours has been taken... and shouldn't have been, and..." Fran wasn't sure how to explain this when he didn't know who this woman was, or if Bonnie even lived there.
"It's in regards to a boy named Sam." Mulligan interrupted. "Can you go and ask her about him, see if she's knows who we mean. If she does it's of the utmost importance that we speak with her, his safety is at stake."
"And did anyone stop to think about Bonnie's safety?" The woman sounded angry. "I can tell you this, she's in no fit state to talk to anyone right now."
"Please." Fran implored her. "Please, just ask her about Sam, just ask her if she knows anything."
Without warning the door was suddenly slammed shut in their faces, Fran reached out a hand to knock again, but Mulligan stopped him. "Give her a chance." He said quietly.
They waited in silence after that, and Fran wondered what the woman had meant by Bonnie being "in no fit state to talk". Had something been done to her wherever it was she'd been taken, something bad, something beyond simple purchased sex? The door was opened again, this time the chain had been taken off, and he could see the woman they had been speaking to. He put her in her mid twenties and she appeared lean, strong and fit. Her hair was a shade of bright ginger and was pulled straight back from a serious looking face in a long wrist thick braid, she was wearing a plain grey skirt and stockings with a man's knitted black sweater over the top, and she regarded them with hostile grey blue eyes.
"She says she wants to talk to you." The woman made this sound like it was something she didn't agree with. "But you're going to have to be quick, she needs to rest, and the gods help you if you go and upset her again."
[For those who use webmail, or whose regular email client opens when they want to use webmail instead: Please right click the author's name. A menu will open in which you can copy the email address to paste into your webmail system (Hotmail, Gmail, Yahoo etc). Each browser is subtly different, each Webmail system is different, or we'd give fuller instructions here. We trust you to know how to use your own system. If the email address pastes with %40 in the middle, replace that with an @ sign.]