[The Persuaders] Night of the Unfeeling Fighters|
Sunday 13th June 2021
Summary: Brett Sinclair and Danny Wilde's evening turns deadly when some uninvited guests show up at their friend's party — a horde of hungry zombies. The couple is in a fight for their lives when a new, heroic side of Danny emerges, and he vows to protect Brett no matter the cost….
Brett had been finding the evening dull before the fighting started. Despite Alan having been a tearaway at school, and for some time afterwards, once he'd married he'd become staid and boring. The only reason Brett was here was due to the social niceties that dictated he attend.
To liven things up he'd bought Danny, who was having a better evening than Brett, chatting up the women. Whereas Brett knew them too well and had already tried them all once. He was debating leaving early when the party was livened up by a group of half a dozen men entering through the French windows. They upended the buffet table, ignored the screams and began punching any man who came close enough to hit.
Most of the people quickly found another room, although given the screams that followed there were more of the same in other parts of the house. It was a warm night; there were a lot of windows open.
Some of the men who had stayed were egging the combatants on and placing bets. Brett kept out of both groups, as he watched the fight. His preference was for one-on-one and besides, there was something not quite right with these men. He much preferred to find out what, before getting involved.
"I wasn't expecting that sort of entertainment." The women having made themselves scarce, Danny came up next to Brett to enjoy the show.
"It wasn't planned. At least, I don't think it was," Brett added. Maybe Alan had grown bored of being boring, but he couldn't see this being his sort of thing.
"So they don't like the cheese and pineapple on sticks. Who does?"
Brett frowned at the pile of cocktail sticks he'd amassed on the windowsill beside him.
But Danny's thoughts had moved on. "I don't think they have enough competition." He handed Brett his glass and waded into the fight. Brett couldn't let Danny have all the fun, so he ignored his previous decision to wait, left both their glasses on the windowsill and joined him.
Now he was fighting he found what was wrong: the man didn't react the way Brett was used to. Despite his bloody knuckles, he didn't pull his punches. And though his nose was bleeding, he didn't even wince when Brett touched it.
It made it hard to take his opponent down and it wasn't long before Brett found he was trying to avoid being pummelled, rather than getting any significant hits in against the other man. He was still trying to work out a better way - while staying alive - when Danny backed towards him, his opponent following.
"They're hypnotised." Danny leaned back to avoid a punch; Brett caught at his arm to stop him falling backwards.
"So they don't feel pain." It would explain a lot. Although didn't help Brett find a way out of this fight. He swung a punch and heard a crunch in his opponent's nose. Any normal, unhypnotised person would be subdued after that. In this man's case it had no effect.
"Maybe they'll stop when there's no one left to fight." Danny winked before failing to dodge a well-telegraphed right hook.
Brett's heart stopped as he saw Danny go down. It started again a moment later when he realised Danny had fallen more carefully than he would have done if he was unconscious.
However, in that time Brett's assailant hadn't forgotten him and Brett nearly got hit full in the face. He ducked at the last minute and ending up feeling the other man's fist touch his cheek. Brett took the opportunity and fell, as if the punch had landed.
He kept his eyes closed as he heard the other man walk away.
He stayed where he was for a few moments, resisting the urge to shiver, until the fighting moved further away. When he risked opening an eye he found Danny was doing the same. "This floor is cold and hard," Brett whispered.
"What would you like, a feather bed?"
"Frankly, yes." He really should have given this more thought and pretended to be unconscious on a more comfortable surface.
"How many can you see?"
Brett frowned, thinking Danny was asking about feather beds - or somehow reading his mind about sofas. Then he saw both of Danny's eyes were open and they were moving evenly from one side to the other.
Brett opened his other eye. Most of the fighters were congregated around the fallen buffet table, as still as statues, which was unnerving. One was still fighting and he related that to Danny.
"One on this side too. Oh, make it none."
As the last remaining man fell Brett tensed, ready for action. While still trying to appear unconscious. It was just as well no one was taking any notice of him and Danny.
He saw the shadow of a man come in through the French windows, but couldn't see far enough over to even glimpse him. The voice, though, stopped him breathing.
"Well done, gentlemen. An outstanding demonstration of your abilities."
"Who is he?" Danny asked.
Through clenched teeth Brett managed to get out, "George."
Danny raised his eyebrows, but Brett wasn't interested in volunteering any more information. He was still poised between freezing and fleeing, maybe with a little fighting as an option, when Danny pushed himself off the floor.
"George!" Danny strode over to him as if they were old friends. Brett hoped he knew what he was doing.
Despite his frown George took Danny's outstretched hand, which brought him into Brett's view. Aside from the greying hair and plumper middle he looked the same as when Brett had last seen him. "Sorry, do I know you?"
Danny used his grip on George's hand to twist him into an armlock, Danny holding him close with his other arm. "You know I don't appreciate having a perfectly good party ruined by your experiment." Danny's tone was low and dangerous.
George raised his chin. "I can still set them on you. All it takes is the right word."
"So it's a word, is it?" Danny pushed George's arm a little higher, causing George to struggle against the hold.
Brett couldn't let George say that word, whatever it was. Nor could he let Danny deal with this on his own. He stood up and stepped into George's eyeline.
George's eyes widened and his mouth hung open.
"I'd do as he says if I were you." Brett's voice had the same threatening tone in that Danny's had.
Although George ignored it. "And who is he to you?"
Brett regretted answering when George smiled. "Just a friend?"
Brett strode up to him and took hold of George's tie with one hand, pulling it tight around George's neck.
"You're hurting me!" Since he could still speak normally he wasn't being choked very much.
"Good." Brett pulled a little tighter, focussing on George and avoiding looking at Danny. "Now why don't you tell us what this is all about?"
When George didn't speak, Danny tightened the armlock. "It's an army!" came out in a rush. "A mercenary force, can go anywhere, no questions asked. They're not armed, they're perfectly harmless. Guaranteed one hundred percent of them return."
"And what are you going to do with them?" Danny asked.
"Sell them to the highest bidder," Brett guessed. "Or set them on your enemies, of which you must have many by now. You never did have any scruples."
George's face was expressionless. "You never needed to care about money, did you, old friend."
Brett clenched his fist. If it hadn't been for Danny holding onto George, he'd hit him.
"You want me to punch him?" Danny asked.
Brett shook his head. If anyone was going to be doing the punching, it was him.
"I can find a place for you," George said. "Lose your friend and I'll be all yours."
"You nearly got me expelled!" Brett leaned in, pulling George's tie tighter and looming over him.
George raised his free hand, palm out. "I could say the same of you. I seem to remember you had as much as to do with it as I did."
"You sure you don't want me to punch him for you?" Danny leaned over George, his face close to Brett's ear.
Brett smiled. "That pleasure is all mine."
Danny let go of George as Brett hit him. The twin effects of the punch and not having anyone at his back sent George reeling.
Sprawled on the floor, George put a hand to his cheek, a hurt expression on his face. "We were friends once."
Brett picked him up by his lapel. "Until you talked your way out of getting expelled and dropped me in it." He'd had to pay his way out of it. Which had involved explaining to his family why he'd needed the money. Not an experience he cared to repeat.
"I really want to punch him." Danny was by Brett's side. "Can I punch him?"
"We both can."
Brett kept hold of George while Danny punched him, then followed it up with a punch of his own. Not caring about playing fair - George certainly never had - he kicked him while he was down. And then kicked him again. And again.
Until Danny pulled him off. Brett struggled in his grip.
"Do you hear that?" Danny said in his ear. "Do you want to be here when the cops arrive?"
Brett stopped and listened, and heard the sirens. Danny was right, he didn't want to explain any of this. He nodded and Danny let go of him. He gave George a final kick, to make sure he definitely wasn't getting back up again and left the same way George's army had entered.
It was a short run to his car and he pulled away from the house, tyres squealing. However, he turned away from home, down roads he knew to be quiet at this time of night. Roads where he could drive as fast as he liked. He lost track of time; he lost track of where he was. By the time he recognised the roads and headed home he'd slumped in this seat.
He barely registered the red Ferrari outside his apartment, but still wasn't surprised to find Danny sprawled in an armchair, eating a sandwich.
Brett flopped onto a seat opposite.
"Better?" Danny asked.
There was silence for a minute. Danny finished his sandwich. In the end Brett blurted out, "Why don't you just ask?"
It was a moment before Danny spoke. "What happened between you and George?"
Brett jumped up and headed over to the window so he didn't have to see Danny's reaction to what he had to say. It didn't occur to him not to answer. "It was at Oxford. We were caught in flagrante delicto, as they say. He claimed I'd forced him. It was only a donation to the college and the threat of a scandal that kept me from being expelled."
Having got it all out, Brett waited for judgement. But none came. In the end he turned round and advanced on Danny. "Why don't you just say it?"
"That would be hypocritical of me."
That stopped Brett in his tracks and he blinked.
"I prefer girls," Danny went on, "but sometimes I like a change."
Brett sank onto the sofa. All at once he was surprised and jealous. But he could only deal with one of those right now. "A change would be nice," he said quietly. "But the family accepted it as a youthful dalliance back then. Now, though..."
Danny came over to sit next to him. "Who am I going to tell? And I'll be gone before Janet gets here."
"I'm sorry, Your Lordship, I can't keep up with your staff. Do any of them last more than two weeks?"
There was, Brett realised, an easy way to shut Danny up: he kissed him.
Danny blinked. "If I'd known all I had to do was to talk--"
Brett rolled his eyes and kissed him again. This time for longer, so Danny could only return the kiss and not speak.