A Choice to Make

Alexander could hear Cyril chuckling as he walked back up to the docks. He shivered and strained against the ropes. Then, he saw them. Leech vines were gliding through the water towards him, attracted by the smell of his blood in the water.

His heart began pounding and his breathing became ragged as fear set in. He kicked out when one drew near. It’s mental cry echoed in his mind and he whimpered in pain. He couldn’t give up, however. The moment he stopped fighting, they would latch on and drain him of his blood. “Help,” he screamed, kicking another back.

He gasped in shock when the bindings fell away. Then, someone was dragging him onto the shore. He fell onto the soft bank and then rolled over. “Robin?” he said, blinking. He choked back a sob. “Cyril tried to kill me!”

“Yeah, well,” Robin said, cupping his cheek. “He couldn’t think of any other way to keep you quiet. You know what’ll happen if we’re caught, Al. Do you want that?”

Alexander gasped and then shook his head. “You too?” he breathed. Robin was his partner! He trusted this man to watch his back and – and he was working against them. He looked down. He was shaking from fear and cold. “I don’t understand,” he admitted. He looked up at Robin, blinking. “Why? You’re supposed to protect people. The Underground… they hurt people, Robin!”

“Lord, to be so innocent,” Robin sighed, smoothing his hair. “Everything is so very clear to you, isn’t it, Al? There’s right and there’s wrong and… you just know what to do.”

Tears blurred his vision. “You saved my life,” Alexander breathed. “That means, you know what’s right and wrong too.”

Robin sighed. “I have spent the last six years protecting you, Al,” he said. “That doesn’t stop just ’cause you might get me into trouble. I’m not like Cyril. I can’t just… kill people because they’re no longer convenient.”

Alexander nodded and watched as Robin wrapped a bandage around his bleeding arm. “Why are you working with the Underground?” he whispered. “What are you gonna do to me?”

“It started,” Robin said, his voice soft, “so simply. I needed the money, Al. My mother was so very sick and… I couldn’t afford to get the treatment she needed. She would have died! Charles saw that – that weakness and used it. Then, after she was better, I was in too deep. They’ll kill me, if I try to back out now.”

Nodding, Alexander said, “And my second question?” He was frightened. Part of him trusted Robin, but if Cyril and Charles and Henry were involved too. What would Robin do?

“You’ve got a choice, Al,” Robin said. He looked into Alexander’s eyes and grimaced. “You can let me bind you to my will – so you won’t be able to tell anyone what we’ve done or… you can take this potion. You’ll… fall asleep and you just… won’t wake up. It’s far more gentle than what Cyril had in mind.”

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