narielandherhat: (damsel hugo)
[personal profile] narielandherhat
Disclaimer: Hugo Stiglitz and Dieter Hellstrom are the intellectual property of Quentin Tarantino. K? K.
Author: [livejournal.com profile] assassin_nariel
Rating: R
Summary: The flashback of Hugo being whipped was not simply an illustration of his rage at a certain Gestapo Major's presence. It happened, and he will not forgive, nor forget.




Tenderness



The blood is everywhere.

He can see drops of it on the floor, the invading smell is in his nose, and he can taste it on his chapped lips. He can feel it running down his back in tiny rivulets.

It is a symphony of pain, and the cracking whip is the counterpoint.

The confession is signed with his name and the rank he still technically holds, the empty half of the lone page filled with a Fuck You, spelled out in caps. With a helpful footnote providing German translation, too.

Goin' to hell, go with fuckin' style, as Aldo commented on it later.

The trial is going to be a farce. Since his arrest, there has been no doubt in his involvement, which he freely admitted. He knew, first hand, that proof or lack of proof, confession or no confession, made no difference at all. He would still be tortured – äh, thoroughly interrogated – and his last days will go a long way preparing him for Hell.

The certainty of his death was the most comforting thought he had, on par with the dizzying memory of warm German blood pouring over his hands like sunshine. In the underground bunker, there was no way to tell how many days passed. The time he spent in his cell, alone, between interrogation sessions, varied from minutes to hours, and he had lost count after the first three. He wasn't crippled, he wasn't critically injured. He still wore his uniform. They even cleaned his wounds, now and then. They want him alive, and they want him alive for a long time.

He knows most of the men who hold him in custody, yet he cannot remember their faces, nor their names. Pain covers all.

He only hopes that, should the pain pass, his memory might return and then they will pay.
How they will pay.

A voice, fading in and out. A sad, familiar voice. Again, asking why, why.

He spits in the voice's general direction, blood and a chip off a tooth, misses. Dazedly, mid-flinch, he notices that the whip has stopped its whistling flight.

Fingers trail over the back of his neck, and behind Hugo, the detached face of the Gestapo captain briefly comes alive with a sneer of disgust at the dirt and the sweat turning fair Aryan skin swarthy and smelly – quite symbolic for the fall from grace this particular specimen of the German race has taken.

He has long given up standing on the floor slippery with his own blood, and is suspended by his wrists like a rag doll, only slight trembles betraying conscience. That, and a mad, defiant, wild-animal look on his pinched face, dull narrow eyes staring into nothingness, lips bloody from biting down on the screams that threaten to break forth. His breathing is ragged, desperate -–he is going to break today, he feels it in his aching bones, the red veil smothering his thoughts, a blinding haze of pain. Stubbornness brought him so far – it will get him through another day, maybe two. But they will wait. They have time. They will not let him go before a military tribunal with his head held high, snarling insults and threats. They want him broken, whimpering, a psychotic degenerate coward. He is close to this desired state, but they want it to last for longer than just the duration of interrogation. To prevent sensationalism of overly-curious dubious journalists, who might be too interested in a bruise or two, they won't give him the Special Treatment right before the trial, so they have to break him.

One of their own. One who knows the strategies, the tricks, the actual man doing the whipping.... but that's also an advantage. He knows what to expect – and dreads it.

In the eerie silence after the thunderstorm of whiplashes, he struggles once more to stand, observed with some amusement on the captain's side. It is not revealed – all Hugo gets to hear is sincere regret at a comrade going bad, this bad. The touch on the back of his neck persists, the first painless human contact in weeks, and his sub-conscious latches onto it, greedily, soaking it up, using it against the pain and humiliation. It is a caress, almost, long fingers lingering over the thumping pulse, combing up through his hair, and his head falls back weakly, aided by simple gravity, leaning into the friendly contact, human warmth, so rare, so treasured.

His vision is swimming, and he can't be certain he is still awake. He doesn't want to be. The dissonant screams of his nerves fade into a low, buzzing noise at the back of his mind, as long as he focuses onto this tender touch only. The fingers are on his cheek now, cupping his face, tilting his head farther back, still tender, still soft. They're warm from gripping a whip tightly for half an hour straight, but Hugo is far beyond thinking, existing only between two feelings, pain and bliss. He dreams of beautiful cold steel on his exposed, grimy throat, engraved with the words Meine Ehre heißt Treue – "my honour is loyalty" – a slogan of single-minded purpose subverted into a friend's mercy. But there is only hot humid air and the delicate touch, and he continues to draw breath, faster and faster, as the deceptively quiet voice of the source of his pain asks him, again, why. The voice of a grieving friend. Familiar. He knows these fingers – he has dreamt of them before. A dim flash of memory supplies an image of a pen flying swiftly across paper, held by a strong, beautiful hand. The fingers stretch out, releasing tension, and they're long, elegant, yet so capable of inflicting pain.

He knows the changeable voice. He shouldn't have been fooled. He should have easily heard the undercurrent of sadistic glee at an opportunity to try his hand in practice. He should have been cruel to himself, and let himself remember the man this sweet voice belongs to.

He exhales, parted lips about to form the first syllable of "please", when fire erupts on his skin, liquid hellfire, which is only a rough palm rubbing a handful of powdered salt into the raw lash marks on his back. The pleased chuckle is close enough to his ear to snap him out of delirium and deliver as spirited a headbutt as he can, gnashing his teeth and refusing to cry out. It doesn't even cause a nosebleed, but it does provoke.

The tender hand, the one not cutting up the skin of his back and adding more of the hell-powder in that precise, methodical way, simply tightens slightly on his chin, then moves down, over his relatively unharmed chest, a slow, smooth slide over his sweaty skin, lingering like a lover's caress on every sculpted muscle on the way, and this is it, intimacy, what he has clandestinely dreamt of, what he had never found in his life, and certainly won't in his short, foreseeable and terrible future.

As his flesh burns between longing and agony, his mind is bombarded by returning flashes of dreams, fantasies, some directly involving that high, cultured voice and long-fingered hands and tenderness, friendship and brotherhood shedding restrictive boundaries, distilled into love – the one thing he has truly yearned for in a life that allowed no personal wishes.
This tantalising taste of what he cannot have is worse than the excruciating pain, and unbearable when combined with it. At last, the man behind him can smile victoriously, as he breaks through the wall safeguarding his mind, after so diligently breaking his body.

Something is burning, and it could be his flesh, a thrill chasing a shudder through his pain-wracked body, caused by the gentle hand sliding under his waistband, the forbidden touch humiliatingly arousing, even in these dire circumstances, and before his sluggish, dying mind can reconcile with it, a red-hot glowing knife cuts shallowly across his stomach, just parting the skin, branding him with the first of two long and four short lines.

He screams at last, as the branding continues, never begging, not out of any remaining pride of defiance, but because his humanity curled up and died, leaving only an animal's horror and pain.

After completing a perfect swastika, the captain pauses and withdraws his restraining hand from the prisoner's crotch, surveying his handiwork, the smoking knife, and the pathetic chained whimpering mess that used to be a person. His fingers force Hugo's chin up, patiently waiting for empty eyes to focus on him, and promises to have solved his little... irregularity as a last favour to an old friend, even if his remaining life won't last longer than a few months. Promises with a little smile of delight in his own ingenuity, that no distractions shall be in his friend's way of contemplating his crimes against the SS – he will make sure of that. Thanks him for his cooperation, and walks out, calling in the callous guards on duty, who put the unresisting prisoner back into a shirt and his old battered uniform jacket, stripped of all rank designations. They drag him into the cell and leave him lying on the floor, as the captain begins making arrangements for the transfer to Berlin, for public trial.

A week later, the former captain, newly promoted Major Hellstrom, returns with the appropriate orders and reinforcement to bring the prisoner transport through Résistance-infested lands. He finds the secret bunker smelling of death, littered with scalped corpses.

The cell door stood open.

That was the first time he heard about the Basterds. They were to meet again.


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Nariel

December 2011

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