His lungs screamed in agony, as he ran, glancing over his shoulder at the dozen men chasing him. He couldn’t tell how many were right behind him, but he guessed that it was more than half. And right at the front was York, the only one in that group of men who frightened him. Their fifteen-year-old leader.
Dove dodged a kid his own age, standing waiting on the train to arrive, and jumped over the backpack by his feet. The station was empty except for him, but he was a civilian and a liability, distracted by his headphones and the phone he was staring at.
“Dove!” York shouted.
He looked over his shoulder and lost his footing. If he fell now, he would be over the tracks, so Dove attempted a last minute course correct. He threw himself to the left, away from the train tracks and onto the platform floor.
He rolled, propelled forward by the speed of his run, and bounced off the wall. He stumbled to his feet and looked towards the exit, where some of the men had closed in, to cut him off. York and two others were at the other exit, leaving only the tracks as a safe escape.
He couldn’t risk it. A train was due in just three minutes and if he wasn’t careful, he was toast.
“Dove! Pack it in and do as you’re told!” York shouted, as he advanced.
He didn’t have anywhere to go, but he was not going back. He knew what waited for him, if he let York take him home.
He’d been a good son for twelve years, diligent and never questioning why he lived in an underground bunker with a hundred other people. He’d never known any different, never cared to ask why he wasn’t allowed outside or why it was important to know the twelve quickest ways to kill someone.
But York had slipped up. While trying to buy his affection, he’d given him a book that told him there was a better life outside the bunker.
He’d waited over a year to get out of that place, knowing his father would want him to fulfil his first mission soon. If he had killed that man today, as they wanted him to, he would have been considered an adult, ready to start training to become an assassin.
But he wasn’t a killer. He’d taken his chance, the second he was in a populated area and he ran.
“Dove,” York spoke quietly and with a sense of calm. He took two careful steps forward and smiled, as he held out his hand. “Come on, love. Let’s go home.” He said, enticingly.
Dove backed away a step, shaking his head. He could be as charming as he liked, but he knew what York wanted. He wanted to own him, to control his every thought and steal his free will.
“I don’t want this,” he confessed, hating that he fell for that soft look in those big blue eyes, every time.
“I know.” York nodded and took another step closer. “But this is who we are.” He argued.
“I’m not a killer!” Dove argued, furiously.
“Fine. You don’t have to be.” York soothed, in compromise. “Just come home and I’ll speak to your father. I’ll make him understand.” He promised, his face showing all the emotion and love that shouldn’t be there.
They had been born to the underground world his grandfather had created forty years ago; raised to become loyal soldiers, with no emotions. It was only Dove’s quest for knowledge and the information kept on their home computer that showed him there was more to life than fighting and killing.
“No you won’t. You’ll lock me up.” Dove refused to believe the lies. It didn’t matter what his face said; he knew the truth.
They were born and bred killers; independent assassins, hired out to anyone with enough money, living underground so that the police couldn’t follow their tracks. They lived away from the ‘world above’, told that it was evil and that the people who lived above them were evil. In truth, they were the evil ones.
They lived underground so that they couldn’t gain sympathy or compassion for the outside world; they couldn’t be influenced by anyone but his line of violent male relatives. What sane leader would allow the Muses to do the work they did?
And York…he would be just as cold and unfeeling, the minute he got his way.
“I would never hurt you.” He swore.
“I’d like to see you try.” Dove challenged him.
York smiled as he reached him and cupped his face in both hands. “Dove,” he sighed and leaned their foreheads together, letting out a ragged breath that felt so real.
“I just want to be normal.” Dove whispered, letting his body relax in the comfortable presence of the only boy he’d ever fancied.
York’s fingers gently caressed the hair behind his ears. “You can’t be normal, love. You’re special. And you’re mine.” He whispered back.
Dove shook his head, wanting to refute that, but he couldn’t make himself say the words.
“You think I can’t see it in your eyes, right now? You’ve always been mine and you always will be.” York said, drifting a kiss across his forehead. He didn’t seem to care that there were six grown men watching.
“But it’s not allowed,” Dove protested, unconsciously reaching up to grasp York’s black t-shirt. In all his life, he’d never heard of a man loving another man. His father said he was ‘gay’, though he didn’t understand what that word meant. Whatever it was, it had stolen his birthright from him.
“Shh.” The older boy turned his head and kissed his temple. “Trust me. I can make this all better.” He promised, with such warmth in his voice that Dove wanted to believe him. “You’re not like the others. I thought you would need more than belonging to me. I wanted you to have a full life, but if all you need is me…that’s okay. You know I will always take care of you.” He said, pulling away to smile at him.
Dove felt the unfamiliar prickle of tears at the back of his eyes and grabbed York in a rough hug. He couldn’t let him see him cry. He didn’t want to go home and a part of him knew that York wouldn’t rest until he got what he wanted.
“Shh,” York held him tight and ran his fingers through his hair.
It was so soothing that he gave himself over to the embrace, until another minute passed and he heard the train coming.
“No. Stay with me, love.” He asked, as he felt him tense.
“I-” Dove closed his eyes and thought about his choices.
If he ran now, he might reach the maintenance hatch before the train did, cutting off the route for at least five minutes. He’d have a head start before York and the guards could follow.
“No!” He decided, pushing York away and taking a step to the side, to go around him. “Stay away from me!” He demanded, looking around to see that the other six men were unconcerned with the turn of events. They expected York to handle this. To handle him.
“I will not!” York blazed, looking furious. “You’re coming home, if I have to take you back, bound and gagged!” He said, with a hint of an order not to push him that far.