From Chapter Six. It's a fun chapter, what can I say. The book comes out tomorrow, woot!
And by the way, ps, before I go...thanks a lot to the people who follow the blog, and those of you who've commented recently, be it on the snow (which is almost all gone now, I love Colorado) or the stories. I still can't quite reply via comment yet, but I really appreciate your support and your friendship.
It was the work of years for Jonathan to develop the patience he has now. The last time he was in PsyCo’s clutches, he spent so much of it furious, lashing out and being punished in return, that now sometimes he almost manages to forget where he is without that fury to support him. Now he’s so patient he might be a Zen monk, or a hunter stalking his prey. Hunter. Jonathan learned to hunt all sorts of game when he was alone, and becoming patient was the least painful part of that learning curve. Now it serves him well, and surprises his handlers, especially Cagney. Surprise is good. Jonathan wants to keep Cagney off balance. Maybe that way he can wring a little more information from him in the moments when his guard is down. It’s been three days, and Jonathan still doesn’t know anything concrete about Sam.
His patience frustrates the hell out of Patience. As a boy, he could only ignore her for so long before her words broke through his shield and he snapped back, spit acid on acid and settled in to a long, terrible fight. Now his patience is immense, and his personal control much better. Patience is forever pushing, prying, working for that rise, but he only gives in when he senses she’ll turn on Tai next.
Patience is one thing, but boredom is another. Jonathan has patience, but he doesn’t care for boredom, so to help keep himself amused he conjures up old friends and companions in his mind, like he did before Sam came into his life in London. They have conversations, not out loud here because he doesn’t need anyone thinking he’s crazy, but internal conversations. It fills the silences and drowns out the noise nicely.
Before, Caroline had always been his favorite person to call up. He hadn’t seen her since she was nine, but she’d already had the acerbic wit of a much older person, and she was smart, brilliant in her own way. When he pictured her, he usually saw her in a red dress of crushed velvet with a wide lace collar, black patent shoes, with her hair tied back and a grumpy frown that indicated that she didn’t care for any of their mother’s fashion choices and wouldn’t put up with this shit a second time. They had the same color hair, the same eyes. Jonathan and Caroline might have been twins for all their similarities. It was strangely like looking in a mirror when he envisioned her.
Neither of his parents ever got conjured up, nor did Sarah. When Jonathan was living in the basement of Madame Tussaud’s in London, sometimes he’d take his inspiration from the shattered remains of wax figures and speak with famous people long past. For intelligent conversation he chose Rousseau or Franklin. For a laugh he would occasionally animate the remains of simpering socialites whose names he’d forgotten, or never known at all. None of the wax models were whole after the war and the looting, but he’d collected the best pieces and stowed them down in his bunker. He can only imagine what Sam thought when he woke up that first time, surrounded by severed limbs and death masks.
Sam… that’s who he’d really like to talk to right now. Not Caroline, not any other long-dead apparition, but Sam. In the flesh, by preference, but a virtual companion would be better than nothing. Lunch has just ended, so Jonathan has approximately three thousand five hundred heartbeats before Cagney shows up, if the pattern holds for today. He can’t imagine why it wouldn’t. The denizens of PsyCo live by patterns. About an hour… plenty of time to put together a Sam.
Jonathan constructs the physical first: the heavy, hard body, the smooth skin and the lips and that smile and everything else he loved—no, loves about Sam. His expressive eyes, the way they say so much without him having to make a sound. Not that it isn’t good when Sam makes a sound, because his voice is wonderful. It’s deep, which is to be expected given his size, but he has a surprisingly casual, yet still polite way of speaking.
Jonathan and Sam spent hours every day for over a month talking, and Jonathan thinks he knows him pretty well. He thinks he can conjure up an accurate facial expression even if words fail him, and after a few more minutes of preparation, he feels pretty good about the Sam he’s got. The hardest thing is deciding what to dress him in. Jonathan doesn’t need to be popping a boner in his cell right now. He finally decides on loose sweats.
“Seriously?” Sam asks, peeling the bottom of the sweatshirt away from his waist. “You think I need XXXL-sized clothing?”
“No, I think I need you in XXXL-sized clothing,” Jonathan replies, a smile splitting his face as he watches Sam toying with the fabric. “Too tempting otherwise.”
“Ah yes.” Sam nods. “My notorious temptingness. I’m a modern-day siren, that’s me.”
“There’s a similar legend about a spot not too far from where I am now, actually,” Jonathan says. “Except in this case the girls luring men to their deaths were called the Lorelei, or Rhine Maidens.”
“Lorelei, huh? That tears it, man, next Halloween I’m dressing up as a water-logged hooker and prancing around playing Beyoncé.”
“Who’s Beyoncé?” Inherently Jonathan knows, otherwise he wouldn’t have made his illusory Sam mention her, but he likes Sam’s take on Americana.
“An incredibly fine singer from before the war. Woman was built like a brick shithouse.”
“That’s a rather disgusting description, you know. I’ve no idea how it could ever be construed to mean something sexually appealing.”
“I’m not a linguist.” Sam shrugs, sitting down next to Jonathan on his bunk. “I don’t know how these things get started. I just know how to use them. The older sayings have less bite sometimes, you know.”
“Yeah.” Most of the post-war slang revolves around food, shelter, and depression.
“You been okay, Jonnie?”
Jonathan hesitates before replying. “It’s not being here in and of itself that’s so bad, honestly. I mean, I don’t like it, and I’d really rather not be here, and if I didn’t have you to worry about I’d probably be going out of my skin, but as it is, I’m too worried about you to think about how bad I have it.”
Sam shakes his head. “I’m sorry I’m worrying you.”
“Well, it’s hardly your fault, is it?”
“You should have just left me there.”
“I couldn’t do that.”
“They would have taken me with them.”
“I don’t know that they took you with us now,” Jonathan snaps. “Look, exactly what mood are you going for here, mate? Because me being pissy isn’t conducive to my health in a fucking psych prison.”
Sam gives him a long stare, and Jonathan drops his eyes after a moment. “I know. You wouldn’t be bringing it up if I didn’t think it was important. I’m just….” He shuts his eyes and swallows. “Just worried about you.”
“I’m sure I’m freaking out about you too, if that helps any. I’m looking for you, Jonnie. I’m going to find you.”
“How can you possibly say that?” Jonathan argues. “How can you do that? You’re critically injured, fighting for your life. You’re being dosed with more drugs right now than I am, probably, and for all I know when you recover, you won’t even remember me. I’m sure they’d prefer it that way.”
“How are they gonna make me forget?” Sam asks.
“Well, not the typical way, obviously, but there are drugs… perhaps hypnosis… I don’t really know. I just know that the odds aren’t good that I’m going to get my happily ever after with you, Sam.”
Sam’s eyes soften a little. “You wanted a happily ever after with me? You didn’t really just want me to stay because I was the only choice?”
“Huh. Wish I’d known that earlier.”
“Yes, well, if wishes were horses then beggars would ride.”
“Wish in one hand and shit in the other and see which one fills up first,” Sam agrees.
“Eww. I prefer the British version of the proverb.”
“So do I. I was just trying to get a rise out of you,” Sam says with a grin. Jonathan smiles back, feeling a little bit better despite himself.