Trigger Warning: Violence, Drug Use, Predatory Sexual Inferences
Fright and fear were released at last from John’s mind. His burden, finally lifted. As the judge’s gravel snapped in a clear crack, John’s heart gave a leap. Freedom, at long last. It had been such a long fight, you see, and John didn’t really think he was going to win. His motivations for the appeal were simpler than that, and he’d given his lawyer only what he was comfortable giving him. All he had really been interested in was seeing Adam again, and his options for doing so to date had been very, very limited.
Perhaps it was that Warwick, the brash new young barrister assigned to John’s case had worked the extra overtime digging up new evidence in good faith, knowing that his client deserved good legal care. It was his first case, after all, and he was determined to do his best. That’s a good story, and it makes sense. Any young lawyer wants to prove his chops, so to speak.
Perhaps, though, that extra evidence had required more than just digging to find.
Drug use and sexual abuse in the high halls of finance wasn’t exactly a new problem, but the involvement of the only just-above-legal-age handsome intern had added an extra layer of vim to the whole proceeding, and the case was being followed closely by the media. Rumor had it that Adam was being offered modelling contracts, tv presenter jobs and jobs galore.
So to reverse the poignant and heroic triumph of the whistleblowing young man was indeed a feather in Warwick’s cap. It put his name on the books, you see. No longer scraping through passes and being not-quite-good-enough, Warwick was now a force to be reckoned with. His services were in demand, as it were.
What about Adam? Well Adam was disgraced and a liar, he would likely never work again in any customer-facing positions due to his long-standing drug and interpersonal problems. Truly, therefore, an apparent reversal of fortunes for John.
The two victors went out, after the proceedings, for drinks and dinner at a rooftop bar in the city. On the smoker’s deck, they smoked slightly more than tobacco and slightly less than what John was originally in trouble for. With his trademarked brand of jocularity, the banker turned to the lawyer and smiled, a cruel twist to the edge of his lip. He leaned in, and whispered in the young man’s ear. “I know what you did.”
Not for the first time, Warwick’s heart started beating fast. Something about John always made him feel this way, excited and shivery. “I’d thank you,” John continued, “but I think you ought to know that it won’t save you.” Warwick stepped backward and laughed, the world spinning ever so slightly around him. “I have no idea what you’re talking about, John.” John casually reached out a hand to stroke the back of Warwick’s neck, gentle and slow movements that were all the more terrifying for all that they were not apparently threatening. “Adam was better than you, you know. Tighter, sweeter and more submissive. You’ll never mean as much to me as he did, especially now… after what you did.”
Warwick tried to reach up and move John’s hand away, but rather than letting him free, John dug his fingers deeply in, sweat making his grip slippery as he held onto the young man’s throat and looked him deeply in his eyes. “You’ll never forgive yourself for what you did to him. You can’t face it, can you? What you did to that innocent boy. You’re too weak to own your own darkness, and you can’t outrun it either.”
Warwick’s eyes widened, and for the first time, he realised what he was dealing with. John wasn’t grateful to him, wasn’t celebrating with him, wasn’t going to help his career. John was going to destroy him for what he had done, not to him, but for him. The last thing Warwick Fredrickson would ever see was John’s face, grinning wildly above him as he fell into the arms of the two men waiting behind to catch him.
Three years later, police swarmed around broken glass on the edge of a city street. Adam Burraggio, formerly involved in the Pallor Investments scandal, had fallen from a balcony on the 21st floor while under the influence. He had been attending a party for young financiers which he had been invited to by a former work colleague, John Pallor. Later on, John would pay for the young man’s funeral and speak at length on the tragedy. Drug use was a scourge, he would later say, in the younger gay community. John gave a very moving tribute and stated that in honour of Adam’s death, he would personally get involved in preventing further damage by starting a mentorship program for young men entering the finance industry. “We will have justice for Adam” John choked out with tears in his eyes.
Warwick’s body was never found.