"Such a good girl," Hisoka praised as he retrieved his clothes and quickly redressed. Well you were easier to put under my spell than I’d expected you to be. Still, I'd like to get Daniel out of here, I need to give him a chance to regroup mentally, at least. Once he was happy he was presentable, he spared Freddie another glance, and blew her a kiss when she smiled at him.
Taking Daniel's arm in his, he led his lover back towards the hidden entrance to the small 'apartment'. "Come on now, we've got work to do. I need to make sure that the sample is sent off, it’s not going to test itself," he told him in a firm tone. "Besides, I'm sure Hannibal will be waiting to discuss what’s going to happen next."
“As long as it’s not my ass, I’m all aboard with the plan,” Daniel said, making sure his words were loud enough for Freddie to hear before Hisoka closed, then bolted, the door behind them. He felt a shimmer of Hannibal’s Nen and realised that the real lock had been put into place a long time ago.
Without any preamble, he sagged into his Master and silently pulled him into a badly needed hug. She didn’t deserve what was going to happen to her. He thought he’d be able to cope - he’d imagined that it would even be fun. He’d be able to fuck a breathtakingly hot woman whenever he wanted...but the reality of it all was so far from what he’d thought it would be.
“I don’t know if I can do this,” he whispered. “She’s not like the others; she’s innocent. She hasn’t hurt anyone; all she’s done is write a few fucked up things in an online paper. Why should she have to go through all that? If she deserves it, then so do I.”
Hisoka wrapped Daniel up in his arms and gave him an affectionate squeeze. "You're better than her," he told his lover confidently. "You were tricked into doing what you were doing; you can claim ignorance in a way she never could. I don't read her news articles, but I know this: Freddie Lounds uses people for her own personal gain. She doesn't care who she ruins, or who gets caught in the crossfire."
Letting go of his lover, he held him so that he could look into his eyes. "Yes, you allowed bad things to happen to those women, but the moment you learnt the truth, you felt remorse. Freddie? She's cost people their jobs, and their lives have been left in ruins. Before you say those women you drugged have had their lives ruined; it's not quite the same. They can get therapy, and they have support, every step of the way, so that they can have their lives back. A security guard who was fired for talking to a reporter? He'll be lucky ever to find work again. You are not like her; I wouldn't want you if you were. She'll turn on you if you try to rescue her, but you're welcome to try if you need to see it for yourself. Do you need some quiet time with me?” he asked, recognising that his lover likely needed more than a quick hug.
“I killed people, Hisoka,” Daniel insisted. “They ended up as fucking mulch, and that’s if they were lucky! I didn’t ask questions, because I knew, on some level, that if I did, I’d die. Part of me knew what I was doing was wrong, but I did it anyway. I let it happen!” he wailed, feeling cracks appearing in the damn he’d built around that time of his life.
He’d talked about it with Hannibal, of course he had, but there was a world of difference between an academic discussion about the ethics of drug dependence, and seeing a woman walk willingly into her grave...with a smile on her face as she did so.
“The room’s even painted like a fucking field,” he said weakly. “I couldn’t even touch her. When I went to get the drinks...I needed to touch you so badly it almost hurt. She’s gonna die, Hisoka...” he said, staring at his face in the hopes that he’d find the answers he needed. “It’s not like she forced people to talk to her. No one’s died because of what she’s written. I’d throw me under the fucking bus too, if it meant surviving. I’d feel shitty about it, but I’d do it in a fucking heartbeat. So by your logic, shouldn’t I be up there moaning away too?”
Hisoka sighed and looked at the door he'd just locked, he needed to help Daniel see that Freddie wasn't worth his time. "Daniel, you were trapped, and you were under the influence of mind-controlling Nen. That woman you're defending wouldn't need to be under the drug's influence; she'd sell those girls to the traffickers just to get the inside story. That's all she cares about; her journalism and her rise to the top, and anyone who gets in her way is collateral damage. By my logic, I should end up under the bus," he explained and turned to face his lover again. "You feel bad about what you did; she wouldn't. You'd feel guilty for letting her die to save you; she won't even remember you the morning after. If I have to choose between saving her and saving you again, I’m choosing you. Also, you're wrong, people have died because of what Freddie Lounds has written," he paused and closed his eyes as he thought of Max and how he'd tried to face his horrific end on the spit stoically. "She organised a protest...outside the house. Two of those protesters are dead, and if they hadn't read her work, they wouldn't have been in the line of fire. Tomorrow I'll let you ask her about that if you want? Then you'll see for yourself how little she cares."
“She’s killed people?” Daniel asked quietly. “Does she know that? How can you be sure that they died because of her? And how can you know that she wouldn’t care?” he said, despite, deep down, knowing that it was true. The image of her smug face as she tried to get his Master for herself swam across his mind, and he closed his eyes. "I mean, I get that impression...but...I’d have said the same thing about myself until I met you. She might not know.” I hope she doesn’t. She has to have a chance. You have to give them a chance. I didn’t and look where it’s gotten me.
"Because they were protesting about me being here. Freddie came to visit me several times in the hotel, under the name Jessabell," Hisoka explained as he led Daniel down the stairs and away from the attic door. "You can get Abaki to confirm that part of my story. I was bored and frustrated and trying to soothe myself with booze and sex. Abaki hated my guts back then, it's strange to think about that now, but I digress. Freddie found out that I was under protective custody after Danchou and Will Graham ran away together. She apparently still resented me for growing bored of her and essentially casting her to one side. Master tells me that she wrote several scathing articles about me, and well, you know how he feels about people insulting me."
He stopped to collect his thoughts as they reached the landing and ran a hand through his hair. How much do I tell you? I can't allow you to tell Freddie that my Master is a cannibal. Sighing, he looked over the balcony and down to the hallway below them. "I needed to know, why he claims that he's the Devil. He wanted to know if I could love him, but I knew that he was holding back, you see. I couldn't answer him. But I knew he loved me; he'd shown me time and again. I wanted to love him back; so I set up a game, to show my Master that I trusted him not to kill me, and to get him to let the mask fall. I wanted to see, him. So I suggested that we use the protestors; I left it up to him who he picked to die in the game. I allowed him to pretend that I was also at risk of going on the spit, even though I knew I wasn't. He chose a man and a woman who had come to protest because of what they read about me on Tattle Crime. Master pretended to be one of them, part of the protest, and then lured them back to the house to die. SIt was slow and painful, and I helped because I wanted to know if my Master really was the Devil he believes himself to be. And so that I could answer his question: Could I love him? Had she not written that article, there would have been no protest. While the protest was going on, she was snooping around and trying to break into here. She orchestrated the whole thing for her 'exclusive story'. I want her to suffer, because it should have been her over the fire that day, not Max..."
Daniel stared at Hisoka for a very long time. Question after question ran through his mind, but the one that stuck was short and deceptively simple. “Who was Max?” he whispered, taking a step towards his Master. “I don’t need the details. I don’t want to know what you did, but why should it have been her and not him? I know...I know you aren’t, well, a good man, but you aren’t as cold as Hannibal. He’d have cooked me, and we both know it. Why did you save me, and why would you have chosen Freddie over the man who,” he swallowed. “Died?”
Hisoka looked at Daniel with a pained expression before nodding and continuing. "He was a trainee monk; he left his temple because he fell in love with a woman called Reva. She died in the explosion," he explained quietly. "He died thinking I was her...Master gave him a band to make him think he was...I'm not sure where he thought he was, but he didn't realise he was cooking. He kept saying he was waiting to see her, and then, in his delirium, he thought I was her. I couldn't save him, so I let him think I was her. I told him Master's favourite story, and he died happy, considering the circumstances. He was death seeking because he wanted to see his love again in the afterlife, but he didn't deserve what happened. It was too late to save him by the time I realised."
“Realised what?” Daniel asked, taking another step towards Hisoka-san. He hadn’t answered his question yet, but this was clearly not a comfortable memory for him. He had to understand why he was so comfortable with the idea of torturing Freddie, but was so uncomfortable about this.
"That he didn't deserve it, he wasn't here because he wanted bad things to happen to me. He was grieving," Hisoka mumbled. "The game was, that Max had to compete against myself and the woman, Rose, to be the one who got to live. Max was willing to die with me on the fire if Hannibal agreed to let Rose go. For a moment you reminded me of him," he added with a weak smile. "I couldn't save him, not from Master and not from himself."
“But you don’t want to save Freddie,” Daniel said carefully, placing his hands against Hisoka-san’s chest and tracing his collar bone through his thin top. The warmth from his skin was far more soothing than it should have been. “Why? She didn’t know about your...game. She didn’t make them come here. I...I need to understand if, if I’m going to stay here and know that she’s up there.” He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. “I didn’t ask questions in the past and...people suffered when they shouldn’t have because of it. You want me to be my own man, so I’m asking them now. I don’t care about what Hannibal thinks, but I do care about you. Why does she deserve to die?”
"Because she caused me to kill somebody I otherwise wouldn't have," Hisoka replied curtly and winced at the harshness of his words. "If she hadn't have staged that protest, he'd be alive. I proposed the game in reaction to her causing a riot outside my Master's house...I needed to know. I didn't expect he'd pick somebody like Max, under different circumstances maybe...it doesn't matter, he's gone now. He forgave me, and that makes it worse in a way. The explosion was Danchou's doing; he stole that ability just to kill me...because of the stupid erotic phone thing in my head...it made me want to kill him. I get confused about my feelings. I can't bring him back, but I can make sure that the person who led him to his death suffers. I should probably point out that even if I spare her now, Hannibal is still going to kill her. You can't save her. He's been saving her for a special occasion, so I decided to make her death mean something. I'm going to use her as a training dummy for my newfound abilities, and then she's going to be the main course at the dinner party we’re going to have when Hannibal and I can go public."
Daniel couldn’t quite meet Hisoka’s eyes, and instead, stared down at his lips. They were thin, and right now, were pulled into a tense line.
“She deserves to know what she did. She deserves the chance to apologise for causing you pain,” he said and gently ran his thumb along his Master’s cheekbone. “If she doesn’t, then I won’t question you again, not about her at least. I’ll play along, and I won’t feel bad about...keeping her company. If she doesn’t feel any remorse about what happened to Max, then she’s as bad as you say she is. But if she does...then I would ask that you try to negotiate with Hannibal.”
He leaned forward and kissed him lightly. “Is that fair?” he asked, feeling Hisoka-san’s warm breath against his face. “I know that I don’t really have a say in this, and I can’t leave, not yet, but I can ask. So this is me asking. You didn’t give Max a chance until it was too late, I don’t want you to make that same mistake with her, and, well, I have to try. My conscience wouldn’t let me sleep unless I did.”
Hisoka opened his mouth to protest but closed it along with his eyes. I didn't get to give Max any real chance; Master had already chosen him. Freddie will die by his hand one way or the other, and there's no way he'd agree to let her go. Opening his eyes, he pulled Daniel to his chest, squeezing him tightly. "She won't care, she'll just want to expose my Master as a cannibal. Which means I'll have to kill her, but you can talk to her about it. I'll order her to be truthful, so you'll know it's the real her. I can't save her," he explained softly. "Even if Master lets her go now, he'll just kill her the first chance he gets. He's wanted to eat her for a while, I'm sure. But you're right; I wanted you to think for yourself. I'll try to honour your request. I'm limited by Master's wishes though. Will that be enough to satisfy your conscience?"
Wrapping his arms around Hisoka-san, he buried his head in his neck and nodded. “It’ll have to be, won’t it?” he whispered. “You aren’t like him, you know; you do care. You wouldn’t be here with me now if you didn’t. You wouldn’t regret what happened to that man. I know...you enjoy what you do, most of the time. But Hannibal wouldn’t stand here with me like this. He wouldn't care how I felt.” He snorted out a bitter huff of air and squeezed Hisoka-san tighter. “He’d make me watch her suffer until I was numb to it. He cares about you; I know he does; hell, the fucking wallpaper probably knows that by now, but I’m just a tool to him. I’m a distraction and a way to keep you happy. He enjoys teaching me, but he doesn’t care, not the way you do.”
He pulled back and looked his Master in the eyes for the first time in five minutes. “I know she’s going to die, but I don’t want you to regret anything. She probably isn’t, but she could be innocent. Don’t let yourself make the same mistake twice; trust me, it sucks balls when you do,” he added in a weak attempt to lighten the mood.
"I'd offer to suck your cock instead, but I don't go ass to mouth," Hisoka replied playfully, hoping that Daniel wouldn't be averse to his attempt at humour. "I care about you; it's a strange type of care I’ll admit, but it's there. Let's leave Freddie be, for now, I'll check on her later, and you can ask her whatever you want to, to prove to yourself that she's not worth saving. Do you need more time, or are you ready to head downstairs?"
Looking back at the hidden door, Daniel took a deep breath and gave his Master a weak smile. “I’m ready, I think. Fuckit, let’s go. Those tests won’t run themselves, after all. By the way, you aren’t really gonna put Freddie in an orange collar, are you? That’ll look horrible on her. Although, as slow tortures go, fitting her with a bell would work. She’ll go insane from all the tinkling.”
"I was playing to her ego; you're the artistic type. Hmm, what colour would you use? Also, I agree, that's half the reason I want her to have a bell," Hisoka replied with a chuckle.
“Sadist,” Daniel teased, following Hisoka-san down the stairs. “A dark burgundy red, or maybe an olive green. Autumnal colours, but stay away from the oranges; they’ll clash too much with her hair.”
As the idea that she really was going to die began to sink in, along with his Master’s certainty over her guilt, Daniel found that his curiosity began to get the better of him. “So...what are you actually planning to do with her?”