5 weeks earlier
Edward kept thinking how he could have fought back, run, or even speak but as he dared to peer into the eyes of the enemy, the blue-grey color reminding him of the color of dead skin in the winter. Within them was the ghost of vengeance come back to haunt him in the flesh. Those eyes had paralyzed him into a stupid obedience. Who knows what would happened if he had acted differently that fall day, the first day of his imprisonment.
He knew he shouldn’t have forgotten why he had to hide. Only Sage had shown him the glimmering oasis of normality. The terrible events of that day started with the prowling of men outside his home reminding him that he was simply alone in the desert as he always had been. He had convinced himself they were just curious and would leave when they were satisfied. Naturally he still retreated to the attic, and allowed himself to watch from the shadows of the broken window. There were so many of them that he didn’t even notice some of them had entered the mansion and by the time he noticed he was trapped. Like a flock of crows he could hear them swarm up the stairs and only in the lowest part of the remaining roof was safe to hide. He put his head to his knees and his hands underneath his legs so he didn’t even think about moving his fingers.
But Edward could only pray that was enough to hide him. The feeling of dread came over him and within a second he felt a hand grab at his ankle and start pulling. He had been too busy trying not to move to even notice. Another hand grabbed his other leg, and with the light Edward’s eyes couldn’t adjust fast enough to make out the features of the men. He fell back, the hands dragging him along towards the middle of the room. Spots filled his vision as he tried to twist from their grip, his hands sliding uselessly against the already scarred floor. No word was spoken between the circle of men surrounding him and the sun was bright above him, splintered only against the fractured wood beams of the roof. The sky seemed cold above him as he felt he arms being pinned down. He hadn’t even the ability to speak before the world grew dark, his head suddenly covered by cloth. He felt something coarse wrap around his wrists before the crushing weight was removed from his arms and he was pulled up and lifted to put him onto his knees.
For the first time in a long time, the man felt tears begin to well up, remembering the night he helped break into Jim’s house and that shame of being cuffed by the police. And now his wrists were being bound again behind him, one of the men with a hand on his head as if to warn him to not try anything. He dared not to move even as the rope looped up around his elbows and then around his neck under the cloth, pulling his arms taut behind him. The hand disappeared and he felt two arms pulling him upwards to his feet and nudging him to walk between them. He could barely balance from the unusual positioning and almost fell a few times but the arms held him upright, getting more painful in grip every time he faltered. At least he could guess where they were heading by the curve of the stair towards the front garden, but Edward’s mind raced.
“Why?” he muttered, barely above a whisper and beyond the ability of the silent crows carrying him to his fate. All he could begin to think was of Jim, who had woken up from his deathly sleep and was coming to take him away. He would never be able to see Sage again. His body stopped moving even the grip of the arms pulling him forward. His legs went limp as he imagined the unmoving body that had fallen outside the front, but its eyes were open, staring at him. The cloth was removed and once again black spots filled Edward’s vision. There were the same eyes staring….staring…
A silent scream unhinged his jaw and he pulled back enough for the arms to release him, and walked backwards, ignoring how useless his actions were. He no longer tried to hide his nervous tick, the sound of scissors sliding together. He had come to hate that sound. The sound of his true nature.
“Bring him,” said the man with the deadly eyes. The crows flocked pushing him towards the entrance. With his vison clearing up, Edward could more clearly see the man wasn’t Jim. Jim was dead, he had killed the man that night so many years ago. But standing where the body lay, the resemblance was uncanny. The permed crop of dirty blood hair and the bad attitude etched into his features.
“Maybe you remember my uncle,” the man started as the scissorhanded man was brought into the light of his garden. “I was given his name, you know, because he died. I know your name already, Freak, isn’t it?” This Jim spoke with a dangerous causality unlike his predecessor. He was to calm in how he regarded the man bound before him.
“I should kill you and have it over and done with, but you just can’t stay away from the Boggs can you? My precious little Sage caught you eye, I hear.
‘ Everything began to click into place. Sage had only ever mentioned her abuser by name once, and Edward had actively tried to forget the memories it brought up. But understanding what the man had done was useless now. As always he was useless. Jim walked up to him as if examining him, and Edward shrunk away from the gaze to the shadow the hand he carved.
“You will pay for taking her away from me, but first…” The blond haired man followed his prey into the shadow, and grabbed him by the throat.
“You will lure her to us. We must prepare for my sweet’s return, don’t you think?” The grin was blood chilling. Edward shrank to the ground, putting his head on his knees, trying to ignore the starting burn in his shoulders and arms. Sage said she’d come back next week.
She wasn’t even in town. He was utterly alone.
The man tried to think what Jim meant by preparations as he pushed himself against the base of the low wall.
“You see freak, my family owns this property. We’ve owned it for years now when no one else would have touched it. I could tear this place down, burn it to the ground if I wanted. I considered once, learning that you were still alive, to have my men come burn it for me with you inside. You should feel lucky the head of my flock convinced me not to.” One of the men from the crowd stepped forward from the crowd of men and walked forward to start beside Jim. He seemed a bit twitchy in nature, like he was itching to move.
“He’s taken a very special interest in you actually.” Edward couldn’t see the man’s face because of the low hood and mask covering the lower half of his face, but he could see the sneer with the man’s body movement. His hands twitched a bit as he leaned down close to Edward who had peaked up to look at him and felt a bruising touch on his chin, forcing him to lift his head. Black eyes hungrily stared into his. Casually Jim started walking away with the flock and noted. “His nickname, freak, is the gentle blade for a reason. I think you two will get along just fine.” Edward didn’t even think to scream as the man he was left alone with put a finger to his lips. The man put perched in front of him and spoke in a surprisingly gentle tone,
“Formalities aside, you can call me Aaron. Let me help you up.” It turns out helping Edward up was more of a crushing grip on his arm hauling him to his feet. He knew he was being led him with the same grip all the way back to the apartment beside the mansion, that had been his and Sage’s sanctuary from the world. And it felt so wrong with the blade’s twitchy fingers guiding him. It was almost like the man was feeling for a way to penetrate the leather covering his arm. For once Edward felt glad for the suit that normally just reminded him of what he was. As they approached the breezeway Aaron stopped and released his arm. They stood in a deep shadow of the mansion, the other crows flying around them carrying construction materials from various pick-ups in the back of the great house.
“I do plan on being very frank with you, because you see, my job is to mold you into something more useful.” Edward outwardly cringed, feeling like he had been punched. The blade continued,
“I can understand the pain you must be feeling. But we simply want you to join us. Our group could use you and your hands. But it simply means you have to be willing to dirty them again.” Aaron paused as the scissorhanded man shrunk into himself, images of little Kevin all those years ago on the street, cutting Kim’s hand by accident, seeing Jim’s eyes grow wide as the life drained away.
“I can’t,” he muttered. Aaron let him sink to the ground before leaning against the wall asking,
“How did you get the blood off anyhow?” Red filled Edward’s vision, seeing his enemie’s blood soak into Kim’s hands as she took an old cloth covering one of his father’s inventions and starting cleaning his hands. Her whole body shook but she made sure all of it was gone. It was like she was trying to wipe Jim out of existence as she worked, or the existence of what he had done. But all he had thought of then, was what the woman had told the crowd as they gathered outside his door. Having to tell them he had died to save him from the mob. He knew what that meant, even if she stayed with him that night.
The man never did understand why she came back, endangering herself. He had watched her walk out slowly following the mob as it left. But minutes later she slipped back in and stayed with him till after the dead body was taken away. Kim even promised to come back again. Years passed with Edward only watching time through his flowers, and when his old love returned she was in full bloom. She had just gotten engaged. She only wilted once she had to admit this was the last time she could ever see him again, if only to save him and her new husband the heartache of knowing any more about each other. The scissorhanded man didn’t even know the fiancée’s name, but he understood. He was supposed to be dead, and he shouldn’t be haunting Kim anymore. The only thing she left him was a planted seed for a Japanese snowbell that she said would give him beautiful bell shaped blooms and cover when fully grown. She kneeled down next to that patch of dirt and said she would send her child her him when the tree matured. He had never told Sage about the tree which grew outside the apartment. He watched it even now, from the shade of the mansion. It was the last secret he and Kim had, and he would always cherish it. Edward did not answer Aaron’s question. He didn’t move.
The blade had perched again, watching him get lost in his own thoughts. He no longer needed an answer. He simply leaned back against the wall staring at the tree that his prey stared at. The blade understood how long it might be before the seated man got to see the outside world again. He whispered,
“Etch its every feature into your memory.” He could only barely grasp why a small sob wracked the other man’s chest as he did as told. He also couldn’t wait any longer before the boss came over. He went to grab Edward’s arm to pull him up but he didn’t move. He weighed a lot of his slim stature. that was for sure. Sighing He stood up and pulled back his leg.
Edward never saw it coming and was easily knocked over, his breathe gone and his chest suddenly burning. His arms and hands flexed defensively but uselessly behind him, and all he could feel was the chocking pull of the rope. The blade waited till he was at least on his knees again before he started counting.
“10…9…8,” Edward leaned against the wall, ignoring how much it hurt to breath. “7…6..5,” He shoved his weight against the wall and pushed up slowly pulling himself up. He didn’t want the other man to get to 1. “4…3…Very good.” The scissorhanded man barely got a sigh of relief as the crushing grip once again embraced his arm and he was pulled again towards the apartment entrance.
The walked down the narrow main hall, the other men bustling around them laying down materials and breaking down the wall between the small downstairs bedroom and the storage room next to it. He didn’t have much more time to look as he was pulled into the conservatory and nudged to sit on the closest bench. Aaron closed the door to the hallway and quickly untied the rope binding him.
“You’ll notice the two other entrances have been locked from the outside.” Edward simply nodded. He wasn’t going to fight again. He stretched out his arms a bit and stood up and walked to the further bench, looking at the plants Sage and him had planted together. He couldn’t ignore the feeling of the eyes on his back or the movement of the men around the rest of the building. He sputtered out, not even sure he wanted to know the answer,
“What are they doing to those rooms?” He was surprised by the rapid and excited response.
“The bedroom will be yours from now on. They are simply making some adjustments for you.” The seated man didn’t ask any more. How much did these men know? How long had they been watching him? He loved how she had brought it back to life. He remembered when Sage first came, and they had toured the mansion. She had mentioned wanting to help fix it up, but it was simply too big. But then they made their way to the back and she saw the apartment, which she deemed fixable. The outside was a strong stone façade and sturdy construction, so she was confident it was safe to stay there. She had guessed it had been for his mother after he had shown her the suite in the mansion. Perhaps that’s why he had avoided it for so long. But nonetheless every day after school she would come and clean, and after months she had made the place into what seemed to be a second home.
“You don’t need to stay in the attic anymore.” He had felt so elated then. He never had the heart to tell her he didn’t need to sleep. Often when she would stay over, he would sit in the bed next to her and talk to her as she passed out. It was almost cute how she curled up onto his leg with a blanket, like she subconsciously knew he would try to leave. She had never lied about how obedient he acted. He knew better then to simply do what anyone asked him anymore, but he would always listen to her. She was far kinder then her mother. He often left Sage when she slept and go to the conservatory. In the quiet with her so close it became hard to think. Sage had turned it into a plant nursery and small sets of gardens. She had even tried her hand at bonsai for the first time and done wonderfully.
The large box against the farthest side of the room housed what looked like a small park of miniature trees, jade, snowrose, pines and cedars all growing side by side though all in the same ‘Moyohgi’ style since that was the only one she had been able to study and the style she had bought them in the start already all a few years into growth. She taught him how to trim them and move them in their pots which she trained the growth. Even now, with the eyes burning into his back, Edward didn’t feel as bad looking at their trees. Suddenly he felt hands on his shoulders again and managed not to jump at the touch. He hadn’t noticed Aaron getting so close to him, fingers starting to play with the fastenings again. He pretended to not notice and start to walk away but the hands stayed firm.
“You are trapped here, you know. Do behave for me.” But the man felt dizzy at his captor’s words and moved away, holding himself up against the metal edge of the flower box. He heard the scrape of metal on metal and quickly said,
“I know.” The other man stood back for the time being and responded with a tone that reminded him of the housewife who once tried to seduce him,
“Don’t worry, we’ll get some privacy soon enough.” The dizziness turned straight to nausea.