The Prestige. Borden/Angier. R. ~1000 words. Bondage. Written for execution (hanging) on my Death Bingo card.
The world will forever remember him false.
Alfred stands in a mausoleum, Alfred stands on the gallows. He is no murderer, yet the world will forever remember him false. The pistol in his hand is heavy with the only future that remains and the trigger moves smoothly under his finger. Powder flares and the crack of the gunshot echoes louder than the merciful snap of his neck. He dies with his legs twitching, and as he lives on weak-kneed, he listens to the sucking horror of laboured breaths with dry eyes.
Now, now he is a murderer, and the truth is ground to dust in the cobblestones beneath Cutter’s hurried retreat.
“I can slip this bloody thing in my sleep.”
“But you won’t,” Robert says. Fucking Robert. Robbie. Right cocky shit now with a half bottle of scotch sloshing around in his stomach and his tie looser than a poxy whore around his neck.
“Says me.” Robbie’s got a smile on his face Alfred’s never seen, tilted wicked as his hips. A hand lingers at Alfred’s shoulder. Alfred’s sneer turns to a grin. So it’s to be his choice then, whether the light touch offers an invitation or is merely a drunken man labouring to keep his balance.
Alfred could keep this secret, truly keep it, hold the knowledge of Robbie’s filthy lust in the chamber of his breast. The notion is as dangerous as the shift in his gaze, the upward pull to the dark glitter of Robbie’s eyes. This mad version of Angier stirs his blood, ripples through him like the murmur of an audience. If he goes through with this, he’ll have the secret for a night and a day before it’s shared with a whisper of words and touch, and that will be, as it always is, more than enough.
“You won’t,” Robbie says again, lips licked wet. The front of his shirt yawns open and a sharp edge of a shadow slices across his throat. His hand goes from Alfred’s shoulder to his neck, his fingertips stroking over the steady beat of Alfred’s pulse to press beneath his jaw.
The rope has no hold on him. Snug though it is around his wrists, it is all Angier. Would the sotted fool even remember in the morning, slurring his words as he is?
Alfred’s thumb escapes the knot and his hands slide free in seconds, go to touch Robbie as liberally as the man sought to touch him. “You were wrong.”
Robbie loses the grin when Alfred backs him into the wall, ties a Backhand Twist good and tight. “Maybe next time,” Robbie says, as Alfred turns him around, holds him face first against the wall and drags his trousers down to his knees.
Alfred stands firm and does not look where Robert bids him look. Alfred sways, thumping against the trapdoor’s rough edges.
They have fallen a thousand times past a well-timed hinge, the each of them.
As the lantern flickers into flame, shadows rise like the damned reaching with greedy fingers. The burdensome weight of the knot nudged tight against Alfred’s spine does not lessen when it is cut.
“And which is it?” Robert asks. His hands are full of rope, his breath laden with drink. Julia, for all that he loves her, is not a wisp of a thought in his mind tonight. “What knot shall we test?”
Alfred cannot fathom how a single man could be so duplicitous, so blind to himself that he drinks his way to a betrayal that he then turns around and pretends away.
“Just choose one and tie it round me, Robert,” Alfred says, aware that he pretends to himself with equal intensity. He can slip near any knot that Robert seeks to bind him with, but the lie keeps him here, lets him open his mouth to the kiss pressed so hungrily upon him. Second-hand, from a mouth he knows far better, the kiss is so much sweeter, and the secrets much more dangerous.
“Perhaps we should forget the rope.” Robert straddles Alfred’s lap, thighs spread wide as he rocks forward, lets his swelling eagerness make itself known. “You’ll slip it anyhow, likely take me over the worktable and give me no say at all.”
The slither and thump of the rope falling to the floor brings a hard swallow to Alfred’s throat. He bends in the chair to retrieve it, then stands and takes Robert’s wrist. He tugs the cuff of Robert’s shirtsleeve down, fingers brushing only briefly over skin. Robert’s slow chuckle as he guesses Alfred’s intentions fades to hushed breaths trembling with anticipation, and finally to a moan that shivers in the air between them.
“Which is it you’re tying?” Robert asks, craning to look but not struggling in the least as Alfred binds his hands. “I’m no master escape artist as you’re wont to point out.”
“Over the table, Angier.” Alfred gives him a light shove in the right direction. He can’t avoid the kiss that comes when Robert twists, stumbles into him devilish and laughing and his prick hard as iron.
If Robert thinks of it in his last moments, if he suspects how their game of knots had never truly unraveled, Alfred doesn’t look for the signs. Already that part of him has taken the drop and he feels the loss more keenly than the loss of his fingers.
Alfred flexes his hand and turns his heel. He’s lived with their ghosts long enough, he can bear a great deal more.
The warehouse burns. Beneath the gallows, the ball comes to a stop.