Benton knew he was in deep trouble when he walked through the door in earnest conversation with Dr. Miranda and confronted the man with a gun. The same man beckoned them further into the room while the door was closed behind them by yet another gunman. No words were exchanged while the man unseen secured Benton's hands behind him with a pair of handcuffs.
"Thank you, Dr. Miranda. Give my best to your wife." The gun wielder nodded to the nervous scientist.
"Where is she? You said you'd let her go." His voice trembled.
"She's quite safe. You'll be joining her shortly. Please follow my associate." The suave voice grated on Benton's nerves.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Quest. They said they'd kill Helen unless I got you here." He apologized quietly before leaving with the second gunman.
The soft pfut-t raked Benton's nerves and the thud of a falling body sent a shiver down his spine. The second kidnapper reappeared and nodded once before closing the door behind him.
"I didn't lie, Dr. Quest. I'm sure they are together now. I don't tolerate loose ends, you see." He gestured with the gun to the arm chair by the window and Benton sat down on the edge of the seat. "We need your knowledge of the Tribeck Project. And we know you won't give us that knowledge voluntarily. So, as soon as our physician gets here, we're going to pump you full of drugs and wring you dry of everything you know about geothermal energy."
Benton's brain was working quickly, sorting through the options available to him but part of his brain kept replaying the dull thud of the brilliant young scientist who had just died. His captor chatted about the hotel accommodations in the Helsinki convention center. His mouth smiled at the scientist but his eyes were cold, accessing him and dismissing him as no threat.
The gun never wavered from Benton's chest and he felt himself tense when the knock at the door interrupted the gentle flow of one-sided conversation.
Benton watched while a white haired man with a black bag joined them. In his sixties, he smiled genially and acknowledged the kidnapper's greeting while he set his bag down on the table by the chair, careful not to get in the gun's line of sight.
"Well, Dr. Quest, it's a pleasure to meet you." The doctor opened his bag and drew forth a syringe and bottle, his Finnish accent soft in the quiet room. "I heard you speak here last year on the uses of renewable energy sources. Most inspiring. I'm sorry we are not meeting under happier circumstances." Pausing, he frowned slightly. "I'm going to need access to his inner arm."
"Johan." The kidnapper raised his voice and the door opened again.
Benton almost missed his own rescue, his eyes were so intent on the gleaming needle on the table. The tall figure that strode into the room moved so quickly, it was over before the scientist could take it in. The doctor was pushed in front of the gun to absorb the bullet meant for him and the gunman was disarmed with a blow that snapped his wrist like a twig.
"Race." Benton finally took in the figure of his bodyguard who was holding the gunman in a hold guaranteed to hurt while policemen swarmed into the room.
"We will have you out of those cuffs in a moment, Dr. Quest." A tall, blond policeman assured him while the others quickly reduced the melee into an orderly crime scene. Race found the handcuff key and unlocked the scientist, remaining at his back while he was gently questioned by the man in charge. "I am Lieutenant Jorgenson."
"Dr. Miranda?" Benton had to ask, hoping against hope that perhaps he had survived.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Quest. It was the finding of his wife's body which led us here to notify the Doctor. Not in time to save him but to keep you from suffering the same fate. Dr. Renjit, here -" he glared at the body of the white haired doctor, "was known to us. I think we will find, once we analyze this bottle of serum, that it would have killed you quite effectively once you had answered all their questions. It is known as Twill. A very efficient truth serum but deadly."
Benton shuddered once than found he couldn't stop. Race pulled the thermal blanket from the bed and draped it around his shoulders. "I was afraid of that. They took his wife and forced him to help them. Thank you, Lieutenant."
The policeman shook his head and smiled faintly at the bodyguard. "It was Mr. Bannon, here, who figured out where you were and what was happening."
"It was a joint effort, Sir. You recognized Dr. Renjit and your man took care of Johan most efficiently." Race's deep voice warmed the shivering scientist more than the blanket. "May I suggest that Dr. Quest be allowed to return to his room? Once you've cleaned up in here, I'm sure he'll be willing to answer your questions."
"Of course. We'll post a policeman outside of your suite, Dr. Quest. Please accept my apologies for allowing this outrage to occur here where you should have been safe." His mortified accent aroused the scientist from his shocked withdrawal.
Rising, he felt Race come close, ready to catch him should he falter. Holding out his hand, he gripped the lieutenant's and shook his head. "It's not your fault that there are men who sell themselves to the highest bidder. This could have happened anywhere in the world."
The policeman returned the hard grip. "I know. All we can do is catch them and make sure they don't have the chance to hurt anyone else."
Benton kept a tight grip on his expression all the way up the elevator and down the long hall to his suite, hardly noticing the armed policeman who took up his post outside the door. He barely made it to the bathroom before he threw up into the toilet with long heaves and shuddering cramps. Gripping the porcelain sides, he spasmed until there was nothing but dry heaves.
A damp washcloth wiped his face and mouth while he knelt head down over the toilet. Race's strong hand stroked his neck soothingly and eventually, he was able to let go and hold onto the glass of water he was offered. The first sip almost came back up but after a few moments, he took another and then another until the glass was empty.
"Thanks." His voice sounded like a stranger's even to himself. He found himself enveloped in a warm hug.
"I wish I'd killed them both." Race's voice was savage, at odds with his tender touch and gentle embrace. He brought them both to their feet and guided Benton out of the bathroom and into the first bedroom, where he proceeded to undress him and put him to bed.
Benton shivered at the first touch of the cool sheets but Race was already crawling in with him, still fully clothed and he burrowed deep into the warm embrace. Soothing murmurs calmed him and he fell asleep almost instantly, knowing that he was finally safe with Race watching over him.
He awoke to the sound of voices in the other room. Recognizing the anger in Race's tones, he crawled out of bed and dressed in the green sweat suit laid out in the side chair. Lacing up his jogging shoes, he ran his fingers through his hair and took a deep breath. Pushing the horror of the abduction and murder out of his mind, he headed out into the living room of the suite.
"Dr. Quest, this is Inspector Riga. He has some questions for you." Race's voice was neutral but Benton could hear the growl beneath.
"Inspector. Why don't we sit over by the fireplace? I'm still a little chilled from the ordeal." Benton gestured for the short, pudgy man to precede him to the long sofa set at an angle in front of the ultra modern metal fireplace.
The questions seemed to last for hours and the Inspector was soon joined by a secretary and towards the end, Lieutenant Jorgenson sat quietly at the nearby table. Benton finally pieced together the somewhat chaotic events of the last few hours. The lieutenant was the last man from the room and he mentioned the papers found in Dr. Miranda's rooms.
"Pending the settling of his estate, would you please see that they are put in a safe place?" Benton asked. "He was working on a revision of the current geothermal model of generator. I'd hate to see all his work be lost. You have some excellent scientists who could take his work and make it a reality."
"A monument to his memory?" Lieutenant Jorgenson's eyes were kind as he shook Benton's hand. "Don't worry. We can at least keep his work safe. Good-bye, Dr. Quest. I understand you leave at midnight. Perhaps, you will come visit again, under more pleasant circumstances."
"Good-bye, Lieutenant. Perhaps someday." Benton was already looking a question at his bodyguard.
Race shut the door behind the policeman and gathered his lover into his arms. "The jet is being refueled as we speak." His hands ran up and down the long muscles of Benton's back, the friction warming him. "I made sure we had clearance from both the military and the police. The conference has been canceled. You only had one more session anyway and I'll feel safer when we've put an ocean between us and these terrorists."
Benton laid his head on Race's shoulder. "Such a waste, Race. Two young people dead because of me."
"No!" Race gripped him tight, shaking him in his zeal. "Two people are dead because a greedy man was hired to steal the work of many. You are not the only one working on geothermal energy. You're just the one who everyone calls on to help them. It's because you hold the threads of a dozen research projects that they chose you."
"Perhaps." Benton couldn't shake the feeling that it was all his fault.
Race's sigh told him that this discussion was not over. But the bodyguard released him and asked him to check his papers while he finished packing their bags. The scientist nodded and emptied the safe in their closet of all his notes from the conference. They had an armed escort to the airport and uniformed mechanics with automatic weapons waved them aboard the private jet.
Race checked the interior himself before strapping Benton in and heading for the cockpit. Trying not to think about the last few hours, the scientist followed the preflight checklist with his pilot in his head. Heaving a sigh of relief when they finally left the ground, he pushed his recliner into the lounge position and fell asleep.
Benton moved about the lab on automatic control, much as he had for the past week. His lab assistant was talking but it was muffled as if the scientist had cotton wool in his ears. He nodded and kept on moving when he felt the walls closing in on him. When he reached the outside, he leaned against the white concrete clock of the lab, just soaking in the sunshine.
But even that felt unreal as if his skin could no longer feel the heat or his eyes see the light. It was like living in a glass box that moved with him when he walked and ate and slept. Nothing could touch him so long as he stayed in the safety of the box. But it was cold here. Alone in isolation.
Pushing away from the wall and shoving his hands into his pockets, he started towards the house. Thank goodness the boys are away. I don't think I could cope with their questions. Which, of course, brought up the one person who was here but on the other side of his shield.
Race had left him alone to his introspection while the bodyguard went over the security of the island with a fine toothed comb. He'd offered to move back to his old room but Benton had refused to let him go. I may be depressed but I'm not catatonic. After all these years, I don't think I could sleep without him. But sleep was all they did while Benton wrestled with his fears.
The oldest fear rose again, the one that had hovered near the surface since the kidnapping attempt. Race coming to his rescue, only to be killed by the assassin, bomb, deadly gas ... Benton shook his head and tried to banish the images of the broken bleeding body of his lover but they'd gotten inside his glass cage and he couldn't escape them.
The sound of drilling penetrated his consciousness and he swerved in that direction to investigate. Race was finishing up a cedar chest for one of the boys. Nothing fancy, just something for them to store their sweaters in when they came home from northern schools, so the tropical bugs wouldn't infest them.
Race swung his head in his direction with that sixth sense that always felt his presence. And the drill slipped for just a moment, cutting a gash across his guide thumb. Benton froze as the blood began to well. Only it didn't stop but kept growing and growing until Race was covered in red blood that spurted out onto his skin and the ground ...
He came to with Race's hand on the back of his neck and his head tucked between his knees. "It's all right, Benton. You're fine. I'm fine. Just a nick, love." He wondered how long the tall man had been reassuring him with soothing words.
"It's not fine. You could have died. Jonny and Hadji could be kidnapped tomorrow and used to capture me. I can't protect any of you." His voice sounded so old and tired.
"That's right. We could all be dead tomorrow." Race's cool tones brought his head up to look at him. "Because of your work, we're walking targets every moment of every day." The merciless words were like bullets against the fragile glass walls of his safe box. "And you can't save us and we can't save you."
Benton could feel himself shaking while the walls cracked around him. But the words weren't right somehow, because Race had saved him from the kidnappers and the boys were protected by twenty four hour a day minders even though they didn't know it.
"Perhaps we should just give up and barricade ourselves here on the island and turn away all those problems that the world keeps sending us." His tones were judicial and measured as if it were a real possibility. "We'd certainly be safe then."
And the glass fell into clinking shards and melted away into the hot tiles beneath him like water after a tropical storm. "Race." The name was all he could seem to say and he felt the strong arms go around him, holding him fiercely. "Race, take me to bed and make love to me."
"Always, love." The vow was whispered in his ear and the hot moist breath stirred a feeling inside that he hadn't felt in too long.
It was a short walk to their suite and Race never let go of him once, locking the door behind them and stripping off both their clothes in a matter of moments. "Inside or out?"
Benton shivered in the air conditioning and Race steered him towards the patio doors and the steaming hot tub. Settling into the clear water, the scientist watched Race flick the whirlpool switch and felt the jets begin to create some serious bubbles. They flowed over rapidly warming skin and began to relax taut muscles.
Race joined him, kneeling between his legs and sliding his hands down his chest to his waist, pausing only to tweak the small brown nipples to instant life. Benton let his head fall back to the padded edge of the tub and gave into the sensations. Liquid heat joined the bubbles of sensation that spread into every particle of his body. Race's lips sucked his nipples to aching fullness.
But not as full as his cock which had sprung to life as soon as those callused hands had taken him in. One finger was already deep inside him, lighting the bonfire of his desire and when it left, he moaned. But now there were two scissoring back and forth to loosen him and he was moving restlessly on them while his own hands slid over broad shoulders and a hairless chest to come to rest over Race's nipples.
A hot tongue parted his lips, tickling the roof of his mouth and counting his teeth in a sensual search for that little trigger spot . . . there behind his eyetooth. Benton could feel the shivers all the way down to his cock and he moaned again. Race chuckled and stepped up his efforts to melt the scientist into a puddle.
When the three fingers left him and both hands feathered a caress to his inner thighs, lifting him up to just the right angle, he relaxed and sighed as the hot hard bulk breached his puckered opening. The familiar flash of pain only reminded him of the pleasure to follow.
"Oh, god, Benton. It's like the first time all over again. You're so tight." Race panted into the curve of his neck and Benton pulled him closer, completing his own impalement. They rested for a moment while the scientist's long legs slowly wrapped themselves around Race's waist.
The water slowed their normal rhythm into a languid thrust and withdrawal. Benton felt himself warm all the way through until he wondered if he'd catch fire while still under water. Suddenly the pace was too slow and he moaned.
"Hold on, love." Race backed out completely and Benton opened his eyes in dismay. "Turn over, sweetheart, and kneel on the bench with your knees as far apart as they'll go."
The scientist turned and assumed the position while trying to figure out what Race had in mind. The water surged in waves around them and his sensitized skin rippled with the bubbles. He felt incredibly vulnerable in this position and he started when Race entered him with one fast slide.
"I wish you could see how beautiful you look like this." Race ran his hands up the long muscles of his back. "All open for me. I can watch my cock slide in and out of you. And I can reach so deep inside of you that I don't think I'll ever come back out."
Benton went red-hot with a blush that started at his back and flushed all the way down his body. He felt the aching need to come and one of Race's hands slid across his stomach and down to his hard-as-steel cock. He held onto the sides of the tub and pushed back to take Race deeper.
The thrusts deepened and angled until his prostate felt as if it would explode. Race was kissing his neck when Benton went nova, pulsing out his seed into the hot water. The bodyguard managed three more thrusts before biting down on his shoulder and releasing a hot stream into his milking depths.
All his muscles felt as if they'd melted in the explosion and Benton collapsed against the side of the tub, hanging his head over the edge to get some blood to his brain. Race was plastered all along his back and the scientist could still feel the pulse of his cock deep inside.
"Oh god, that was good." Race breathed in his ear before stirring into motion. "Am I breaking your back?"
"Nope. But I think all my blood pooled in my groin and there's
none left for my head." Benton said groggily.
Race chuckled tiredly and slowly pulled away, caressing the flaccid cock in his hand while easing gently out of the scientist. Benton hated that empty feeling and turned to be gathered into his lover's embrace. Suddenly, he was willing to bet that he could sleep through the night without nightmares.
"Nap?" Race seemed to read his mind.
"Together?" Benton pulled back just far enough to watch the blue eyes so close to his.
"Always." Race promised and kissed him tenderly before leading him to bed.
Benton dried off and slid between the sheets, waiting only until Race had joined him before settling into his arms and pillowing his head on the broad shoulder. "I'm sorry it took me so long to come to terms with the kidnapping. Thanks for being so patient."
"You do know that I will always be there for you?" Race ran a gentle hand over the back of his neck.
Benton smiled and licked the flesh beneath his cheek. "I know. Where ever we go and what ever trouble happens, we'll tackle it together."
The scientist closed his eyes and snuggled closer to the incredible man who loved him. It was one of those mysteries of the universe that Benton had no intention of trying to solve. It was enough to simply know that they belonged together. Always.
End of part ten