Fist to the Heart Ch. 19

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Chapter Nineteen – I Never Lose

Johnny woke up to water being thrown in his face. Again. These dudes needed to vary their routine a little. They were starting to bore him to death. The thought made him laugh; he was damned sure it wasn’t boredom that would kill him. His fate was sealed, so the least he could do was laugh about it.

“Why the hell are you laughing?” Nigel asked him.

“Because I won,” Johnny replied.

His entire body hurt. Well, soon he wouldn’t hurt anywhere, and that, unfortunately, was no comforting thought.

“Seriously? You think you won?” Nigel laughed.

Johnny didn’t like that. “Ruslan walked away free. I don’t care about any other shit.”

“Really? Not even your mother? The sick one?”

“Ruslan will take care of her,” Johnny said with conviction.

“What makes you think we haven’t already taken care of her?”

Johnny knew a bluff when he saw it. The personnel at the sanitarium where his mother was kept had clear instructions to let him know as soon as something happened. So he just shrugged. He and Ruslan had only been kidnapped for half a day at best. It was hard to believe that Nigel had thought Johnny’s mom to be a priority during that time.

“Well, Ruslan won’t take care of her, either.”

Johnny stared intently at his enemy, and now he saw no bluff. His insides turned. Could it be that it had all been in vain? “You promised, you fucking scumbag.”

“Well, he walked, but where, I didn’t say, right?” Nigel said with satisfaction, but he put one hand up to massage his neck.

Johnny felt a bit of satisfaction at that. But now he could not think of that. “What did you do to him, asshole?”

“I did promise you that you will watch him die. Well, maybe I exaggerated a little. Ruslan Kent is solid gold, so I had to send him somewhere safe. You see, it would be a shame to kill him, indeed. His papa, his real papa, will pay handsomely to get him back.”

“How come you know of Ruslan’s dad? We barely found out today.”

“My father dealt in secrets. This one was one of them. Let’s leave it at that. I don’t have time to chitchat.”

At least, Ruslan would be okay. Nigel wasn’t suicidal, after all. Johnny waited, trying hard to push down the bile rising in his throat. What a hero he was.

“Now,” Nigel flexed his fingers, “I believe the moment is ripe to exact my revenge.”

Johnny didn’t steel himself for the first blow, or the second. There was no point in acting tough.

“What, no comeback?” Nigel spat at him.

“I’m tied up, asshole,” Johnny mumbled, his mouth filled with blood from where his teeth scraped the inside of his cheek. “Untie me, and I’ll show you comeback.”

“You’d like that, wouldn’t you?” Nigel made little sense at times. “Want to strangle me? Show me why you’re called Snake?”

“I could’ve killed you.” Johnny smiled, despite all the pain radiating now from all the places he had been hit earlier that evening. “Be thankful for Ruslan. Kill him and prepare for his daddy to make you shish-kebab.”

“Well, all in due time. I’ll teach that Russian asshole he doesn’t rule these streets. Now, where was I? Ah, I think I want to tear you limb from limb. And I mean it literally.”

Johnny would have had a witty comeback to that, but Nigel’s goons moved and untied him, only to pull him to his feet, keeping him so that their boss could hit Johnny in the stomach.

“You’re tickling me,” Johnny said.

He could not double over if he wanted, that tightly those assholes were keeping him. Making Nigel madder was not wise, but this man in front of him was no calculated killer. He could take long to bring him down. Johnny wasn’t sure he wanted it to last. Getting Nigel to finish him off fast was no cowardice in his book.

But there was still Ruslan on his mind, and knowing he hadn’t saved his lover was pulling him back. Johnny didn’t want to think that there was nothing he could do now. He knew it to be the truth; maybe he had bought time for Ruslan, and that was all. Yet, knowing also that it wasn’t enough was tearing him apart on the inside much more than anything Nigel could do to him.

What was that saying, that hope died last? He had it, and he felt stupid for it. If Ruslan’s father caught wind of this, he would rush to save his son, not him. So no one was coming for him, and he just needed to leave it at that.

Nigel was breathing heavily, with each punch. That man was a lightweight. “How is it now, huh? How is it? Doesn’t it hurt?”

“Told ya,” Johnny pushed the words through his teeth with difficulty. “Can’t feel a thing.”

“Boss, let us deal with him,” one of the goons said.

“No. He’s mine! Put him down. I’m going to break his arms and legs, let’s see if he’s laughing then.”

Johnny pushed against the two goons trying to put him down. He managed one punch that sent one of them flying, but the other hit him hard in the temple, making him fall.

And, as he fell, his imagination chose that very moment to play tricks on him. He could swear he saw the door fly open and someone coming in. nilüfer escort It wasn’t Ruslan, though, coming for him. That would have been weird. He was supposed to be the hero, not the other way around. Still, it wouldn’t have been as weird as seeing Yanis’s face as the last thing he ever saw in his mortal life.

***

Johnny groaned and reached for something, without any idea what. He had a vague recollection of being in and out for a long time, with people in white getting busy around him. Where the hell was he? Some hospital? That was good news. It meant he survived.

What about Ruslan? That thought alone was enough to jolt him awake. He was still disoriented when he opened his eyes, with much difficulty. There was too much light, and it appeared that he had no use for one eye.

“Man, you look like shit,” he heard someone speaking.

His only good eye found the person talking. He groaned, trying to say something.

“Here, some water.” Yanis hurried to put a glass to his lips. “Don’t worry, you’re whole, in case you’re wondering. The nurse told me you might have problems talking, from all the meds you’re on. Man, you must be high as a kite right now.”

His tongue was heavy in his mouth, but he was starting to move it. He pointed at what he felt to be a missing eye.

Yanis took the cue. “Just a bit of TLC needed for that one. No major surgery or anything. Damn, I wish I had been there to see you beat the shit out of all those assholes.”

With some difficulty, Johnny managed to lift one hand and give Yanis the finger. Yanis gave him back a toothy grin. “Really, dude? I carried you bridal style out of there. Anya would kill me if she knew. That’s the only thing she’s got over everyone else. At least that’s what she keeps telling me.”

Johnny wanted so much to ask so many things. But one was more important than all the others. He managed to gesture for the glass of water, and Yanis helped him to it again. “Ruslan?” he asked, the name of his lover muffled and strange in his mouth.

Yanis made a face and looked down. What the hell? Johnny thought. That couldn’t be. It would have been fate’s cruelest twist for him to be all right, and Ruslan … He wouldn’t go there. He made an impatient gesture.

“What can I tell you, man?” Yanis pushed both hands through his hair. “He came to watch you every day. Through that window.” He pointed at a side window. “Every day.”

“Where is he?” Johnny asked with difficulty.

“Gone,” Yanis said. “To Russia,” he added quickly, seeing Johnny waving desperately.

Johnny breathed out in relief. As soon as he got better, he would kick the shit out of Yanis. Maybe after kissing him first for saving his sorry ass, or before. He wasn’t particular about the order. “When? Back,” he said impatiently.

Yanis shook his head and looked down again. “I don’t know what to tell you, man. He didn’t say.”

Johnny felt his blood, as little as he must have had left, freezing in his veins. Could it be that Ruslan’s father decided to grab his son and leave, seeing how unsafe it was for him where he lived all his life? Johnny now knew he needed to go to Russia, too, somehow.

“His dad,” he said.

Yanis nodded. “Yeah, the real one. Man, I’m telling you, but don’t tell anyone. I almost shat my pants when I saw that guy. I was just saving your ass, feeling all heroic and shit, and here he comes.”

Johnny made a gesture for Yanis to continue, seeing how he fell silent.

“From afar, I thought it was Ruslan. And I was kind of pissed because I told him to wait outside and get busy calling an ambulance and all that. The guy comes closer, some scary dudes by his sides, and all, and when I’m about to talk, he just looks at me and makes me freeze on the spot. Don’t worry; I didn’t drop you or anything. Well, I wasn’t exactly carrying you in my arms, what did you think? How much do you weigh? Two hundred pounds or something?”

Johnny waved one arm impatiently.

“Anyway. He just asks, in this foreign accent, where the scumbag is, and I just point at the door behind me. My boys had been at work before, making that Nigel dude understand he messed with the wrong people. He was still there, probably rethinking his life’s priorities. So I can’t resist, and I leave you to my mates so that I can go after him. I knew the guy was important, all dressed up like that and shit. Of course, I was still in shock seeing how much like Ruslan he looked. So I go, and I better didn’t.”

Yanis made a small pause, for dramatic effect, or maybe he was indeed, still shaken just recounting the events. “Johnny, my dude, I’d never seen someone executed in my life. That’s also between you and me. Nigel barely has time to get on his knees to beg, and goes like ‘Mr. Petrovsky’, and boom, the guy pulls out a gun and sends a bullet straight through his head from up close. Then he puts one in his groin. I think I squealed or something. And Ruslan’s dad just turns towards me, shrugs and says something like ‘sending message’. These exact words. And he smiles. Can you believe it? görükle escort He smiles at me while one of his men is busy taking his gun and the glove from his hand, packing it like it needs to be sent to dry cleaning or something.”

Johnny could not say he was as surprised as Yanis. Nigel’s death meant nothing to him, anyway. It was only one person he needed to hear about. “Ruslan,” he asked again.

Yanis grimaced as if he was dissatisfied with having his story dismissed like that, but then reached into his pocket and took out a folded piece of paper. “He wrote you a letter.”

Johnny stood still. His hand was refusing to take that letter from Yanis. There was something wrong there. Why would Ruslan write a letter? Maybe just a phone number so that Johnny could reach him, and he could have had Yanis transmit that straight to his phone or something. They had to have phones in Russia, right?

His mind was turning stupid. Right now, he feared what that letter contained, and that was weird because he was never afraid.

“Do you want me to read it to you?” Yanis asked.

The decision was taken for him. He snatched the letter from Yanis’s stretched hand and hardly resisted to make it a ball into his fist. This wasn’t right or fair. With careful moves, he opened it.

Johnny, there is no right way to start this, so I’m going to tell you everything that’s been on my mind ever since I watched you, lying on a hospital bed, gone from the world.

I broke my promise to your mom. I failed to take care of you. And I acted stupid, like a spoiled kid when I should have known better.

My father, yes, my real one, wants me to go with him for a while. I asked him if he could keep me forever, and he said ‘yes’.

I wish I had words to tell you how much I’m sorry about everything. If I hadn’t been so stupid, none of these would have happened. Now Yanis tells me you’re on the mend, so I decided not to come anymore. I would not bear for you to look at me, knowing what I did. That’s the horrible thought I have to live with for the rest of my days. I promised your mom. And I failed her. And you. There is no nice way to say this. I don’t even have a proper excuse, just that I was pissed at my real father.

I hope that when you read this letter, you’ll say ‘good riddance’ and go back to your life. Your mom is safe. My father insisted on moving her to another place where she could get the best care available. Don’t worry about a thing; it’s all taken care of. I also left you some money. I hope there’s enough until you get back on your feet. It’s all in an account in your name. Yanis will give you the details, too.

It’s better like this. Without me, you would have never ended up like this, almost dead, maybe maimed for life. I hate to tell you goodbye, but I could only bring you pain. I know you don’t care to hear this now, at the end of this letter, but I’ll always love you, and I hope you’ll meet someone that will make you truly happy, without ever putting you in harm’s way, as I did.

Goodbye, Johnny. I’ll never love again, but that’s okay.

Johnny crumpled the piece of paper into his hands. This could not be. Ruslan could not do this to him. “Fucking coward,” he said through his teeth.

“Yeah. That’s exactly what I told him,” Yanis confirmed. “I knew you would be mad. But he’s a stubborn mofo when he wants to be.”

“Do you know his address in Russia?” Slowly, Johnny gained more and more control over his voice.

Yanis shook his head. “His dad, the mobster one, wants to be hush-hush about everything. Or, at least, that’s what Ruslan told me. He also said that he’d get in touch with me, but he didn’t say when. Man, I’m telling you. He broke up with you with a letter, but he broke up with me in person. And it sucked big time.”

Johnny threw Yanis a pointed look.

Yanis threw his arms to his sides. “As a friend. He broke up with me as a friend. That’s what I meant. Geesh, between you and Anya, I swear that even if I take a vow of celibacy and become a monk, you’d still suspect me.”

Johnny wished he could taste Yanis’s joke, at this point. But nothing seemed right, and it didn’t look like it would ever be again. His body didn’t hurt, or maybe he couldn’t feel it. But there was a claw squeezing his heart hard on the inside, not letting him breathe.

“Look at the bright side, man,” Yanis said and patted him on one forearm. “You got me. You can always hang out with my buddies and me.”

Johnny just nodded without even looking at Yanis. His mind was empty. How could Ruslan do that to him? Why? After all that? After putting his life on the line for him? How could he?

It was a good thing he was on meds. He was in the mood to trash the room, and maybe beat up a few people in the meantime. As he was, he could not do a thing and being so helpless fucking sucked.

“I’ll come to see you every day,” Yanis said.

Johnny waved with one hand. “Don’t bother.”

“I promised Ruslan,” Yanis replied.

“And? What’s he to you?”

Yanis cast his eyes down. “Point bursa escort taken, Johnny. But you’re my friend. Whether you like it or not.”

“I don’t,” Johnny spat, knowing it wasn’t right to take it out on Yanis like that.

“Tough luck,” Yanis said back. “It’s enough Ruslan ran away to Russia. Where are you going to run away?”

Johnny knew Yanis had a point. Hadn’t he been so pissed, he would have seen how right he was. But, right now, Johnny couldn’t give a rat’s ass about anything.

Yanis didn’t insist. “I’ll come. Until you’re released. Then we’ll talk. And maybe we’ll find a way to get a hold of Ruslan. Fuck him. He can’t run away from us like that. I know, I know. I should have tied him up and kept him here until you were good. Then, if he had seen you, he would not have left you. I thought he was kidding, okay? That he’ll come back.”

“Yanis,” Johnny said. “You talk too damned much.”

Yanis grinned. “I have no idea what to do with scorned lovers.”

“For real? What about Anya?”

“Well, she’s a girl. Easier to deal with.”

“Why? Because she can’t punch your ugly mutt face?”

“If you can tell jokes, that means you’re better. I hope you’re not pissed I knew what was in the letter. Ruslan and I don’t exactly have secrets.”

“Except for where he is now.”

“Yeah.” Yanis hung his head low. “Except for that. But hey, it’s the twenty-first century. We’ll find a way to get a hold of him.”

“Be sure of that,” Johnny said solemnly. “He’s not getting rid of me. Now I need to find a place to live. And to get back in the ring.”

Yanis threw him an odd look.

“What?” Johnny asked.

“He left you the house. His. Also, like a ton of money. Well, not a ton, but plenty. Also, he made me promise I won’t let you fight anymore.”

Johnnys crossed his arms over his chest, ignoring the catheter lodged into the back of his hand. “Isn’t he full of it? What will you do?”

Yanis put his hands up. “I’m not keeping you from doing anything, man. And I told him you wouldn’t listen. Now here’s a thought. Maybe we could put you in a ring and make a fuss. You know; so that they hear it all the way to Russia.”

Johnny snorted. “I’ve never fought pro.”

“So?” Yanis counterattacked. “They have underground fights in Russia, I bet. Maybe you should go there and make a big name for yourself.”

“I thought I was on meds, not you.”

“And I thought people in love were crazy enough to do any crap crossing their minds.”

“That was your mind crapping. Maybe I still have half a brain,” Johnny joked.

Yanis laughed. “I’m glad to see you’re okay, man. And I told Ruslan I’d look after you until he’s back. Of course, he gave me a sad, puppy look, and that was all. I’m still taking care of you.”

“Now, watch it, Yanis. I might start making doe eyes at you if you continue to say sappy stuff like that,” Johnny replied.

“Stop it, man.” Yanis put his hands up. “I got enough crap from Anya about Ruslan. I promised her I’d be good.”

“Sure thing, man. Just pulling your leg.”

“Aren’t you in a good mood?” Yanis grinned.

“I got an idea. I’ll see to it. Also, yours wasn’t half bad.”

“Which one? I’m full of them.” Yanis puffed out his chest.

“You’ll know at the right time. And say, did he really leave me a lot of cash?”

“I think you’ll be able to live on that for about twenty years if you splurge. Like forty if you don’t. He practically sold everything and left it to you.”

“That’s a bit crazy,” Johnny said.

Yanis shrugged. “I thought he wanted to sell his kidneys to leave you more money.”

“Good thing he didn’t. I like him whole.”

“I bet you do.” Yanis was wiggling his eyebrows.

“You’re so damned lucky I’m like this. I’d kick your ass for this,” Johnny threatened, but without one ounce of bite in that.

“Just get well, asshole,” Yans said, and Johnny could swear he was quite affectionate while saying that.

“I will, fucker,” Johnny replied in kind.

If Ruslan thought he would just accept crappy goodbyes, he was damned wrong, Johnny thought, as he watched Yanis leave. Well, he needed to rest a little, but, after that, he would move his ass and find Ruslan. And when he found him, he would take him back, and get him to keep all his promises.

***

Ruslan sat at the table, the laughter and conversations around him muffled by the fact that he could not understand a thing. They didn’t speak a lot of English in that house, although the oldest son, Sergei, was quite versed in it, as he had, apparently, a passion for foreign languages, and even had a home tutor.

To say that he felt unwelcomed there would have been a lie. Ruslan’s mind had been in turmoil for the past weeks, and his decision to leave Johnny and everything he knew behind was still tormenting him. He would not go back, seeing how stupid he was and what kind of mess he could cause just by acting recklessly, but that didn’t mean that he didn’t miss Johnny like crazy.

His father’s wives, two of them, as he learned, had been pleased to see him, which had taken him completely by surprise. There was a warm atmosphere in that large mansion, despite the cold outside, and most of his silblings had been quite taken with him. Apparently, the fact that he looked so much like his biological father had made him an instant hit with them.

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