Mal watched Joe watching the action on the PC. From what he could see over Joe's shoulder, and with the graininess and distortion in the picture, in was some kind of live porn. He couldn't hear anything as Joe was wearing headphones, but it looked messy and urgent. He was turned on by it, even though he didn't want to be. Joe plays me.
He was scared of Joe. Scared the way a rabbit is scared, frozen in headlights. Joe made him sick with revulsion, loathing so strong it made his head ache and his stomach clench and bring up bile into his mouth. But I could have asked to switch rooms. I could have.
Truth was he was attracted too, by the intensity in Joe's eyes and by his willingness to do anything, to break any rule. Mal, always suffering under rules, obeying them and hating them, wished he could be like that. Joe fascinated and repelled. You couldn't believe in him, when he wasn't around. When he wasn't around the world seemed smaller, bound down and ordered. When Joe was around it was infinite - and Joe took up all the space, casting everything else into shadow, making old certainties paper-thin and hollow, crumble to dust on the wind.
Joe knew he was watching. He took off the headphones and turned around, smiling. He looked as if he knew every thought that was running through Mal's head. Joe plays me, Mal thought. He fucking plays me!
"I play you Mal," Joe said.
"Want me to?" Joe asked, and grinned.
"Fuck you!" Mal said. Joe. Oh god.
"Fuck me?" Joe laughed. "Everyone's getting it on tonight. Except for poor little Brittany. Want to know where she is Mal?"
"You're going to tell me, so tell."
"Going to be cold soon. Very cold. You cold Mal?" Joe came closer, his fringe hung over his eyes, the shadows under his cheeks and his smile made him look more than human. Mal felt his entire body go stiff as Joe laid a hand on his arm. Heat seemed to radiate from Joe's palm, flooding him, and he bit his tongue or he would have groaned from the agony of it, and the longing.
"Where is she Joe?"
"Not anywhere they'll ever think to look. I've got all the cards Mal. I'm pulling the strings. They dance nice," he said. He climbed on top and ran his hands under Mal's shirt. Mal couldn't move. Joe's fingers blossomed fire. "You like that? You like that don't you?"
"Sure Joe," Mal said. We've been here before. Joe grinned down at him and he thought he was about to explode.
The door knocked and a woman called in the clipped and stern tone of authority; "Open up please. This is Officer Eve Brooks. I need to speak to Malcolm Larsson."
"Right here!" Joe answered. "Just hang on." He sounded nothing but helpful and cooperative. He was at his computer switching it off before Mal could even sit up. He looked over, and Mal felt the intrusion in his mind, found he couldn't stand.