Broken Music, Broken Lady (with [ profile] fey_fire and <lj site="livejourna

Aug. 28th, 2008 06:07 pm
gifted_hands: (Upset)
[personal profile] gifted_hands
(OOC: Takes place after this post. WARNING: Graphic violence and nasty behind link.)

Tadhg stared at the CD in his brother's hand. "It has the same note?"

Rory nodded, the tension in his neck making the motion jerk slightly. "Gift-wrapped like the other, with a card from 'your newest fan.' Though this one also said, 'Hope you like the results.' Someone delivered it to Incidental before the show, but I didn't get it until closing."

He accepted both card and jewel case, jaw clenching as he took in Rory's haunted eyes and hunched shoulders. Three inches taller and five years older, his bigger brother normally had a serene, breezy confidence that had always seemed unshakable to Tadhg. To see him driven to this ...

Thank the Infinite Rory now had more than him for support. Anraí stepped to his side and laid gentle hands on his shoulders, guiding him to a chair while Tadhg moved to the dining table and placed the card among the array of objects now connected to his search for Pippa. Popping the CD from the case, he returned to the living room and slipped it into the DVD player.

Rory shifted to sit next to him on the couch with Anraí on his other side. Tadhg powered up the TV and switched it to DVD mode, bringing up the track list. "Look familiar?"

Rory was sitting close enough that he could feel the tremor run through him even before he nodded. "Those are the songs on Breaker Street's demo disc. I gave Pippa a copy. But there are extras." One long finger gestured at the screen. "Those tracks with no title, just numbers ... I don't know what those are."

"Right," Tadhg muttered. After a shared look between the brothers, he finally coaxed his thumb to the play button.

The first few bars of "Don't Ever Stop" had nothing unusual about them, if Rory's reaction was anything to go by. But soon after the vocals started, all three púca pressed back into the couch in instinctive avoidance. "Black hells," Rory choked. "What has he done to it?"

The "what" became increasingly obvious as they listened. Running underneath and around Breaker Street's music were other sounds, made by a human voice. Whimpers, groans, pleas ... the sounds had been looped and blended, leaving voice and words unidentifiable, but Tadhg had no doubt of who it was. Neither did his brothers, he was sure.

"A human couldn't hear that," Anraí said. "Wouldn't even know it was there."

"No," Tadhg husked through a throat going dry. "At least ... not on a conscious level." He laid a hand on Rory's arm, feeling it tense as wrought iron. "She said the man she spoke to invited her to see his sound studio?"

Rory nodded and said nothing, simply sat with a face growing grimmer through "Winter Fingerprints" and "Bump Jack". The first of the unnamed tracks started.

It ... wasn't really a surprise. Not by then. But that first moan of "Noooooooo ..." in Pippa's undistorted voice nonetheless sent a shudder through the three of them. A scream followed, and then a slap, two, a sob -- Tadhg hit the stop button.

Rory's set jaw said that he already knew what his little brother was about to ask, but Tadhg had to try anyway. "A bráthair, I have to listen to the untitled tracks. The remixed songs have too much distortion built in to give me any sense of the place that created them, but I can pick up hints from the others." He swallowed before going on, "But you don't have to hear this. Nor you, Anraí. Take Beaker for a walk, and I'll tell you what I've found when you get back."

"I'm staying," Rory bit out, then held up a hand against further persuasion. "He wants me to hear. He wants me to know. I'm staying."

Anraí's adamant eyes told him that if Rory was staying, biggest brother would stay by him. Tadhg let it go and restarted the playback.

More screams. Crashes, blows, thuds. Gasping, heaving breathing broken by sobs and whimpered pleas, why are you doing this, please don't, I just want to go home, please ... As they worked their way through, skipping the songs and listening only to Pippa, Tadhg tried desperately to focus only on the echoes and shifts of sounds that told him things, things that could narrow and thus speed up his search. He braced his elbows on his knees and dug the heels of his hands into his eyes in his effort to shut out a young woman's pain and fear and couldn't. Couldn't fight off the realization that, though she sounded more and more disoriented and spoke less and less as the tracks wound on, one word showed up repeatedly. Ro.

The final track started off with a fresh array of whimpers, and Tadhg's thumb edged once more toward the stop button.

“No … please … no … Anraí … please …”

His head jerked up, the only motion in the room. Rory and Anraí remained stock-still as Pippa sobbed, “No, no … please. Don’t. Anraí—ANRAI!”

Human ears could not have detected the details. Theirs could. The faint whisper of metal on metal, the wet pop and grinding noise, all clear for them to hear under Pippa's scream of “AAAANRAIIIIIIIIII!” And then a shattering crack as she screamed and screamed, earsplitting shrieks rendered barely human by agony -- and then abruptly cut off. Silence, broken only by the puppy's whimpers from the bedroom.

Trembling, Tadhg turned off the player. Shifting to face his brothers, he found Rory still frozen in place, eyes wide and shocky, white still showing around the edges even though he'd let his glamour slip. Anraí had both arms wrapped around one bent leg, forehead pressed to his knee as he rocked back and forth. "Jesus and Mary," he forced out, voice half-strangled, "the bastard, the sick fucking bastard, he made her-- she thinks I--"

"What did he do?" Rory's voice started at a whisper, but didn't stay there. "What in all the black hells did he DO TO HER?!!"

For long seconds Tadhg felt utterly at a loss. Anraí ... Rory ... he'd lived his entire childhood looking to them for strength. To Anraí's rock-steadiness and Rory's sunny certainty that had done so much to guide and protect their too-fey, out-of-place little brother through the strangeness of living with humans ...

But now they needed him.

He shifted to kneel in front of them and wrap an arm around each, clinging in an instinctive effort to reassure through contact. "I know," he rasped. "I know it's hard, but we have to starve our imaginations right now, or we'll be of no use to her. We know who the son of a bitch is, Anraí's spoken to him--"

"But we don't have a name," Anraí hissed in frustration. "And no location either."

"I'm close. So bloody close ... and every crumb he throws us brings me closer, faster. Just one more ..." Distracted, Tadhg released them to run both hands through his hair. "We need to draw him out, draw his attention away from Pippa. Make him overconfident, push him to make just one more mistake."

"I can get his attention," snarled Rory. He pulled out his cell and started punching buttons as he continued, "He wants a reaction. I'll give him one."

Tadhg sat silent through the ring tones, through Pippa's voice mail taking the call, through Rory's, gut-level growl of "All right, you sick fuck. You want me to know you have her, you want me to know that you're hurting her. Give me a call and tell me what the bleeding hell else you want."

A calmer Anraí put an arm around Rory's shoulders, though his freckles still stood out starkly against too-pale skin. "Do you have a gig scheduled tonight?" Rory shook his head.

"Then I keep at it today," Tadhg said quietly. "And we'll both come with you to Last Call on Saturday."

Deep inside, he felt conviction solidify, chill as ice, hard as stone and utterly fey.

Whoever he was, he'd not survive this game of his.
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December 2011

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