Seventy-Two Hours Ch. 01byLoveBird1929©
But it was that very first memory which resonated the deepest with Axl and, in turn, with Saint. And it was that very first memory which led Saint to inform Axl his freedom to complete his task would come at the price of Justice's.
That was the deal Saint made with all those unfortunate enough to find themselves cursed with having to wheel and deal with him. An unfortunate's soul owned by Saint, usually by their own foolishness. A task, chosen by Saint, to be completed by the unfortunate in a set time frame to win their soul back. Freedom to complete such task only granted by the willing agreement of the most important person in the unfortunate's life, determined by Saint, to deliver themselves to Saint's compound to act as assurance.
Other than Saint's owning of the unfortunate's soul, it was all just a bunch of bullshit. The task. The time frame. The assurances.
Especially the assurances.
Considering Saint had a vested interest in his unfortunates, a literal piece of himself left behind in their souls during his mind dive, he knew where they were and how to get to them at all times. A snap of Saint's fingers and unfortunates who'd thought they'd gotten away scott free by leaving their parents, siblings, spouses, offspring, best friends or whoever behind to suffer the unfortunate's fate found themselves right back in front of Saint. He then enjoyed not only making them beg his forgiveness, he also relished making them beg their teary eyed, deceived loved one's forgiveness before banishing both to suffer eternal damnation in the nether world.
The only reason Saint demanded the collateral to begin, played his game to begin with, was because he could. He was of Thiatian lineage. Descended from a very long line of demons who'd thrived on the torment of mortals since the beginning of mankind.
And since Saint's existence directly related to that torment, he made sure to cause a lot of it. All the time. Hence his game.
Saint sauntered down the hall of his compound allocated to his temporary guests. He'd just left the room housing Justice, a tortured enigma Saint had no claim to, yet, but who's soul felt familiar. It was vaguely reminiscent of another soul Saint had run into before, though Saint didn't know who or when. What Saint did know was that Justice uncommonly intrigued him.
Justice was a ruthless gang leader, a loving father figure, an unrepentant killer, an adoring surrogate older brother all rolled up and mashed together into one. He was, in short, a walking contradiction. With such a wide variety of issues plaguing him they made him a clinical psychologist's walking wet dream.
They made him Saint's walking wet dream.
The man's torment was almost irresistible, it called out to Saint so loudly. And it had spiked beautifully, deliciously, just as Saint had known it would when he'd provoked Justice with thoughts of the virgins' souls at stake in Saint's and Axl's game. But even before Saint had executed his test instigation, the amount of agony Justice inherently possessed had already convinced him if were to keep Justice around, rather than banishing him to hell or back to his own house when all was said and done, he would be able to survive solely off of Justice for a very long time to come. He'd been siphoning and feeding on slight amounts of Justice's emotions ever since the man had arrived early that morning. And had discovered just a little bit of Justice went a very long way.
By the time he'd finally arrived at Justice's room, Saint had been happily gorged. There had never been another capable of doing that before.
And it made Saint want to keep it all to himself for an eternity.
It would so easy to arrange. A little sabotage of Axl's task and then, Bam!, Justice was Saint's. Forever.
Yet Saint had to admit there was something else about Justice which tempted him, something outside of his troubled soul, something more Saint hadn't quite managed to figure out yet.
Saint stopped at a door a little further down the hall, opposite side, of the door to Justice's room. Opening the entrance wide, he took in the scene but didn't enter.
The woman was on her knees by the side of the twin bed. As was her norm, she prayed in silence, a rosary held tight in her fisted hands. Though her white head was bowed, her curtain of hair shielding her facial features from view, Saint knew from their past engagements her lips would be moving in constant recitation of the Lord's Prayer and her face would be weary and lined heavily with stress. Lines of stress which had appeared only since the beginning of her residency at the compound.
It was easy to see she'd been a beautiful girl in her youth. Even as recent as three days ago, when Saint had first made her acquaintance, she'd still been a handsome woman. Now she was very nearly broken by the horror of what she was allowing to happen. Exactly how Saint liked his assurances.
And yet, despite Mira's obvious misery, Saint couldn't wait to be rid of her. For hers was a pain he couldn't enjoy it was tempered so by his longing.
Mira Rodriguez's soul was special. And of the type Saint thankfully only had the misfortune of encountering one other time, four to five centuries back. Hers was a truly untainted soul. A soul whose human life had been lived walking the straight and narrow, lived dedicated to the church, the devoted worship of Christ and the tending of the welfare of those not as well off. Saint seriously doubted an untruth had ever passed the woman's lips.
She was married to another special soul, but special for an altogether different reason. Her husband was so wicked the man had the capability to put the world's memory of Jeffrey Dahmer to shame with the cannibalistic inclinations he held for little boys buried deep in the back of his head.
Why Mira had agreed to marry Lou, Saint had no fucking clue. Best guess he had was she felt sorry for the son of a bitch and had exchanged vows with him as the personal sacrifice which would guarantee her a solid gold mansion built on the hill overlooking the pearly gates from the inside when her time came. And his guess of personal sacrifice wasn't based on Lou Rodriguez's downfalls, which were many at present with yet still more to come, but rather on the fact Lou was uglier than two pieces of warmed shit smashed together.
Another guess was that the clichéd, yet true, concept of yin and yang applied with the two. As opposites, good was attracted to evil and vice versa. One could not exist without the other as the two were hopelessly interspersed and deeply connected.
Mira was light to Lou's darkness. And, in all honesty, she was probably the only reason Lou's hidden desires had remained unexcavated for as long as they had...they'd remained hidden all the way up until the night Lou had decided to try his hand at forcing a black youth, walking down an alley by himself, into his car. The encounter Lou had afterwards with the bunch of goons who saw his attempt at abduction, one of who happened to be the youth's older cousin, was the encounter which had bought Saint into Lou's life.
Saint literally had to force his feet to remain still as they ached to carry his body closer to the forbidden. Wrestling his desire, he called, "Mira."
The white head jerked up and swiveled in his direction. Fearless brown eyes locked onto his. "You've changed appearances."
"So I have."
She studied him for a few minutes. "Black. Male. Alpha. Pierced. Brimming with energetic power. And wearing your stolen goods like a badge of honor." Her laughter was mirthless. "Wish I could meet the person who inspired such a prolific change versus the choir girl persona you usually don when you meet with me. Must be one scary individual."
"And you shouldn't let appearances deceive you. That so called choir girl was a very accomplished serial killer who only came to my attention because one of her victims managed to overpower her before succumbing to his own wounds. At the time she crossed my path, she'd already successfully, and very gruesomely, claimed seven victims and the police had no idea who was responsible. Still don't. While the man you see before you now—" Saint indicated his form with a wave of his hand "—biggest sin was a fondness for female flesh just a tad younger than the legal age of consent. Eighteen did nothing for him, but seventeen, seventeen was perfect...and got him into mortal trouble with a pissed off daddy."
A similar trouble Saint could easily find himself in over Mira.
As soon as Mira had stepped foot through his compound's doors, Saint had recognized her for what she was. And, in spite of the peril she presented to him, the indomitable disastrous allure her pureness represented, he refused to send her on her merry way as he'd so desperately wanted. It just wouldn't do to have to explain to Lou, who Saint was trying to infuse the fear of Satan into, that he was scared to approach his five foot nothing wife, much less do her any promised harm.
If that wasn't counterproductive, Saint didn't know what was.
So Saint hadn't made Mira leave, regardless of the personal knowledge he'd gained from that long past experience with the other untainted as to what would happen if he gave in to her appeal. No good would come of it. First off, he would fail. Spectacularly. Secondly, in the process of failing so gloriously he'd be hurt, left with an intangible scorch he'd feel for decades to come. Lastly, oh, that was the best part. He didn't even want to think about the heavenly beings it would bring descending on his compound's roof, ready to wage war.
After the last incident, he was surprised the powers above let him keep Mira at all without kicking up a fuss. Maybe they let her stay because they felt safe and secure in their knowledge Saint knew and respected the repercussions of succumbing to her temptation. A very possible explanation.
More than likely they'd let her stay because they knew she wouldn't leave without honoring every letter of her agreement with Saint first.
She was just that type of woman. The type who possessed the ability to terrify demons while simultaneously making angels respect her.
And it just made Saint want to suck her essence dry, to leave her body a soulless husk, all that much more. He wanted to wallow in all that pureness that would severely burn him ever so sweetly.
He wanted to feel again that closeness to the Father who'd forsaken those of Saint's ilk long before Saint had ever bleeped into existence.
And that was the reason Mira had to go, asap, now that Saint's business with Lou was concluded.
"Time for you to go, Mira."
Rather than the joy he'd anticipated his proclamation would bring, the easier to send Mira along on her way without any questions or arguments, the stooped shoulders sank even lower. "Then Lou held up his end of the bargain."
"Five innocent souls. Hand delivered to you."
"Did you doubt he would succeed?" Saint asked, genuinely curious. Mira was well aware of her husband's persuasiveness. Influencing five virgins to come with him to the compound was nothing to Lou...Christ, the sick, twisted bastard had somehow managed to convince strong willed, able minded, innocent Mira to wed to him, after all.
"No," she answered in a voice filled with a profound tiredness. "Though I came here because, God help me, I love him, I prayed each and every day he would fail."
"Then you know he belongs here. You know he's one of ours."
"I know." She rose gracefully to her feet. "Can I interest you in a trade?"
"Lou? In return for the souls?"
"I'd never be able to convince him to do anything so honorable," she said derisively. "Besides, I have a feeling his incorporeal being will one day be called back to your fold."
Shaking his head, Saint smiled grimly. "Then I'm not interested in trading with you. Just as Lou belongs to us, Mira, and, yes, one day he will return home, you belong to them. Much as I'd like to, and you have no clue how much I'd really fucking like to, I cannot lay claim to you. If I tried, I'd risk serious harm to myself along with causing some serious fucking damage to my very comfortable way of life."
She was silent for a long time. With each passing minute, her weariness became more pronounced. "Before I go, will you at least share with me the details of the night you met my husband?"
"That, Mira, is something for you to discuss with Lou."
Then she was gone, delivered home, safe and sound, to her execrable husband. For several minutes Saint continued to stand there, staring into the small room empty of everything but a lit floor lamp and a bed. The remaining echoes of Mira's presence batted at him tantalizingly as they rolled past in waves to fill the hallway. He briefly considered having the room cleaned thoroughly before its next habitation to rid it off all traces of Mira before deciding not to. She'd fade away. Eventually.
And when she did, she'd take with her that connection to his Father.
No need to hasten the inevitable.
When Saint finally turned from the room, he discovered Justice leaned against the frame of the door to his own room, watching Saint intently with his piercing hazels. His heavily muscled arms were folded across the massive expanse of his white t-shirt clad chest. Unabashedly, Saint let his eyes drift appreciatively over the man's form.
Justice wasn't handsome, at least not in any classical sense of the manner. But the lack of the boy next door's natural charm didn't lessen his appeal any. Because his appeal lay in the raw charisma he radiated. He was, essentially, the exact opposite in every way of the boy he so adored. That drug addicted fucker did somehow manage to exude boyish charm.
Sometimes, amazingly enough as revealed through his memories, even after he'd shoveled a truck load of coke up his nose.
But their differences went further than that. Axl's titian based hair was an ad for Loreal with its variety of colors and its perpetually tousled, windswept style, while Justice's hair was still mostly buzzed with the exception being the dark, carelessly disheveled, skull hugging waves he'd let grow just on the very top of his head. Axl had the freckled, milky white complexion common to those with red hair and green eyes while Justice's complexion was a natural golden brown hue indicative of his mestizo Cuban heritage. Axl's round, baby face was unmarked while Justice's was a mass of sharp angles and bore a grisly scar which had a chilling story to accompany it.
Everywhere Axl was small and soft, Justice was big and hard. Saint eyed Justice's flat stomach. He let his gaze drift lower, to the apex of Justice's jeans.
Oh, yeah, from Axl's explicit memory, Saint already knew Justice had the capacity for big and hard in that particular area.
Where Axl had the skittish personality of a true crack head, complete with that nifty ability to disappear into thin air at the first sign of trouble, Justice was able to withstand high levels of stress while keeping his cool. As evidenced when Saint's eyes finally met his again and Justice inclined his head slightly in a disdainful acknowledgement.
"You certainly seem to have enjoyed the view," he mockingly remarked, lowering his gaze to Saint's crotch and the big bulge trapped there. Then he retreated back into his room's interior, the quiet click of the shutting door reverberating through the hall louder than the logic behind the frequency of sound said it had any right to.
As another wave of Mira rolled into Saint, a startling realization occurred to him: He'd just figured out the puzzle of Justice's soul.
His essence reminded Saint of Mira's. It was different in that it was approachable, but yet and still also disturbingly similar.
Which made absolutely no sense at all.
Mira was untainted. In all ways.
Justice was not. The least of his sins included the use of brute force to get what he wanted, the greatest the murders he'd committed. Saint had been able to glean from Axl that Justice was directly involved in at least five homicides Axl was aware of as he'd seen Justice commit them. The first had been dear old Hardy, a couple years after Axl had joined Los Olvidados. The store owner's crime had been raping one of Los Olvidados's underage female members.
But there was a whole slew more killings Axl suspected Justice of but couldn't say for sure.
So why the hell did Justice's thoroughly sullied soul have the same underlying goodness that defined Mira's?
A theory started to form in Saint's mind...
As he strode to his quarters, he was keenly aware of the painful tightness of his leathers. He tried thinking of weddings, the births of healthy babies and other occasions filled with celebratory, happy humans to make his erection fade. When that failed, he tried to make things a little more comfortable in the region by adjusting his cock into a different position. Still not meeting with any success, he gave up and started whistling a jaunty tune.
By the time Saint reached his room ten minutes later, he'd come to two indelible conclusions.
Justice was Saint's key to experiencing a little slice of heaven on earth.
And Saint was definitely keeping Justice Jameson for himself.