2007-08-24: DF: Balls Of Freedom


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Summary: You think I'm giving that away in a tagline? Take a stroll down memory lane with me.

Dark Future Date: August 24th, 2009

Balls Of Freedom

Level 5

With every passing moment, Jack regains more of his strength. Every meal and every hour of sleep brings him one step closer to healing. He's still a long way off, though. Despite his recent assurances to Nathan that his injuries were doing just fine, infection is setting in. Flushed spots on his pale, sallow cheeks betray his wound fever. The meager fare provided for Level 5 inmates is doing little to replenish the energy his body is burning in an attempt to repair itself. The painkillers Nathan provided are keeping the worst of his aches at bay, allowing him to separate a portion of his mind and devote it to plotting and planning. Stretched out on the unpadded shelf that has become his bed, stuck in the bare, empty cell that has become his home, plotting is all he can do.

Seconds become minutes. Minutes become hours. Hours become what seems like days, even weeks. Time loses meaning, and Jack's mind begins to wander. He wants to be free, yes. He wants to see a real doctor, and eat a steak, and sleep in a real bed. More than anything else, he wants to see his friends and family again. Faces and images begin to swim through his imagination. Memories of a better time.

It's a slow and painful process for Mister Derex. And while the Government doesn't approve so much of his being alive, there are orders. And this is Level 5. There are standards they must uphold. With the patient starting to show signs to some form of infection. After those second, minutes, hours or days, distraction comes in the form of a doctor. Not a friend, that's for sure, but someone in charge of making sure that Jack stays alive for whatever the president has in store for him. Cold hands press against his forehead before he may feel the pinch of a needle as he's injected with something. Hopefully something that will help that infection. Who knows what it is. "You're just such a lucky man, Mr. Derex," the black haired doctor tells him with something not unlike contempt.

"You're a lucky man, Mr. Derex," Cass sighs, on cool hand steadying the man's cheek and the other on his forehead, treating a cut just above at his left eyebrow. "An inch further down and you'd be a one-eyed wonder. And do /not/ make the joke I know you are just /dying/ to make about that." Though stern, there's teasing there. "I don't see how you manage to do those things to yourself with that car."

"Julia didn't like the way I was treatin' her, so she slapped me," Jack explains weakly. "We have a complicated relationship… OW!" He flinches and whines like a schoolboy when nasty, hurty things like antiseptics and stoopid cleansing products contact the gash. "Nnnnng. Moooooom, it hurts!" With his lower lip clamped between his teeth, he scoots his bottom around on the table he's presently using as a seat. "Why does peroxide have to sting? If I'd have invented it, you've have three orgasms after every swab—-OW!"

"Well if you talked like that to her, you deserved it," Cass replies in her best 'mom' voice. "Don't make me wash your mouth out with soap." She has a daughter now and she's just itching to try that sort of punishment out. Only, not really. "Of course it's supposed to sting, it's so you know you've done something bad. Now hold still. You're making it worse." Dabbing a few more times, she finally takes the torturous peroxide away and moves to get a few adhesive strips to keep the wound closed. Carefully, she peels the back off and carefully moves to adhere it. "There. That should do it. Did you bang up anything else I should look at? Don't lie, I know when you lie."

Jack glances down at his groin meaningfully. "There is one more thing…"

He manages to keep a straight face for all of a half-second before he reluctantly gives in to helpless giggles. "Bahaha. You sprinted into that one, 'Mom'." Grinning, he hops down from the table and instinctively, self-consciously adjusts his collar to partially obscure the scars and tattoo at the side of his throat. "No, I'm fine. Just the headbonk, which was my excuse to come an' check up on you."

Even if Jack just got finished being treated for a head wound, Cass groans and tosses the towel she used to mop up the blood from his face at him. "You're such a jerk, Jack. And I will try not to think about the implications that you just came on to your mom." It's hard, but, really, she'll do her best. "If you wanted to talk to me, you didn't need to beat yourself up. I'll be here for a little while longer before Lach and Abby and I head back home." She doesn't mention anything about the trying to hide the scars or the tattoo, she knows Jack well enough to know he can be self-conscious about them. "I really wanted to thank you. For all that you've done to help us." What with the rescue and everything.

Jack's boots scuff uncomfortably against the floor.

Boots. Plural. The Jack that's lying in semi-conscious haze winces and shifts on the bed in his cell.

"'Tweren't anything I did, really," he admits to Cass. "I've been so caught up with my 'guest' that I had to leave it in Elena's hands." His half-smile is wry and rueful. "I knew I could trust her, but I was still nervous. Real, real glad to see you home safe." All humor and mom-jokes are put aside for the moment as he nudges his shoulder against Cass' companionably. Where the crudest of the crude could never get him to bat an eyelash, expressing icky, girly emotions is making him blush.

The black haired doctor pushes down slightly on Jack's shoulders to make sure he doesn't move quite so much. Then, she goes about setting up an IV, keeping an eye on her patient, even if he seems to be out for the count.

The moment that Jack mentions his 'guest', Cass' friendly demeanor changes just a bit. Perceptibly, but not overtly. "Believe me. I'm glad to be out of there." So much so she can't even begin to express it. When she's nudged by Jack's shoulder, she doesn't nudge back. She just kind of takes it, lost in thought for a moment. "Have you talked with him?" She knows that he has, but she needs to know who he's talked to. Whether it's safe to give him the drugs yet. While she's not about to lie to Jack for Nathan, she also doesn't like breaking her word once she's given it. No matter who it is to.

Jack's no rocket scientist, but he's spent enough time around women to know when something is plainly amiss. It's not even the lack of a return nudge. It's Cassie's tone, and the way she almost shrinks in on herself. "I've talked with him plenty," he murmurs. "He hasn't said much of use, though. How about to you?" His tone is light, airy, and casual, as if they're discussing a prospective employee that they've both interviewed rather than the incarnation of everything they've come to fight against. His face is carefully composed into a politely inquisitive expression.

Something is amiss with Cass, though she's avoided it and been forced to talk about it more than she ever wanted to and would be quite happy to never have to think about anything that happened to her while she was away again. In fact, she'd be glad if that Haitian found her and erased all those memories for good. "Nothing of use?" There's a bit of a frown. "You didn't notice anything different about him?" She's trying to think of all the ways she can explain what she wants to say without actually breaking her word. If only she could just know if Jack knows or not without the dance around. If only she could just break her word. The question Jack asked is not answered, suspiciously or not. She's too focused on what Jack knows.

With a heaving sigh, Jack leans back against the table he'd previously been using as a seat. Wearily, he scrubs his gloved fingertips over his face and up into his hair, letting out a wince when they contact his fresh injury. "I know that there's two people inside Nate's body. Sorta. Whatever Logan is, I've met him." It's clear that whatever experiences Jack has had with his friend's alter ego, he doesn't relish them.

That's really what Cass wanted to know. She lets out a breath. "Okay." It's something she wanted to tell Jack, to let him know - especially because of the past the two had - but she had promised. Or at least, sort of promised. "Good." She's been carrying around the two vials of drugs that she injected Logan with just for such a moment. They're wrapped carefully in strips of fabric so when she pulls them out of her bag, they don't look like much of anything. "I can give these to you now." Is it possible Cass knew before this? "This is a powerful cocktail of drugs that suppresses multiple personalities. It works." Hopefully that's all she'll need to say to explain herself.

Jack's head immediately cocks to the side. He holds his hand out to accept the cloth-wrapped vials, then rolls them back and forth over his fingers with a thumb. His curiosity is as obvious as her reluctance is. In the end he nods briskly and tucks the vials into his shirt pocket for safe keeping. "I 'preciate it," he says. "Maybe I can find somebody to analyze it and make us some more." His mouth purses up thoughtfully and he seems about to continue, but instead he only sighs. The words die on his lips. Nobody has to like having Nathan/Logan around, and nobody has to tell him their secrets, after all.

For now, Cass would just prefer that her secrets remain her own. Maybe Nathan will tell Jack or anyone that they talked, that she went to see him after she came back. But, she's had enough of it all. "It's hard to get a hold of. I only knew about it because of trying to help Niki back in the day." She shrugs. "I wouldn't put it past you guys, but I'd treat those two as if they're the only ones you have." Which is what she told Nathan to do when she spoke with him. Turning away, she starts to put her things away. Without any sort of preface, she inserts into the silence, "So. Do you forgive him?"

Jack allows the silence to hang heavily between he and Cass for several seconds while he formulates his reply. His brow creases, his jaw clenches, and his eyes half-squint unhappily. "No. Yes. Jesus, I dunno. I want to believe so badly that he didn't have a choice, and couldn't do anything to stop it. That don't sit well with me, though." He nudges the sole of his battered boot against one of the table's legs, unwilling to meet her eyes or anyone elses when he makes his next admission. "I wish I could quit him, Lady-O. I just can't. I missed him."

Forgiveness has been a weighty topic for her the past couple of days. Seeing as how much Jack hated what Nathan became, Cass can see him never forgiving him. Or eagerly grasping on to the idea of Nathan having nothing to do with what Logan did to him. It's a toss up. "Yeah." She does nothing to interrupt the other silence. It's all too much to handle, to think about. And she has no one to blame for bringing it up but herself. "I know you did." She just wanted to know how someone else that had been close to Nathan handled this newly acquired knowledge. Is it horrible for her to think it a betrayal for others to forgive him? She can't tell, but she tries to push the feeling back down. "Sorry. I just…didn't know how you'd take the whole situation."

"Me? Poorly. I'm more concerned with how you're takin' it. You can talk to me if you need to. Just sayin'." Jack's not one to push, so he leaves it at that. Everyone knows how much he hates it when people go bitch on him and try to get him to 'explain himself.' 'Talk about his feelings.' He's not about to do that, but at the same time he's buddy enough to try and provide an understanding, sympathetic ear. He's always seemed very in tune with the feminine psyche for some reason.

He reaches out to make a friendly, affectionate gesture, but stops short of actually touching Cass. Perhaps he's smarter than he looks/sounds/acts. Slowly, unassumingly, he withdraws and picks up his coat. "I should be off, methinks. I doubt you need another brokebodied bastard clutterin' up the landscape." The self-directed jibe is punctuated by a roguish wink.

"Me? Poorly." Cass gives Jack a humorless smile over her shoulder at that, finally turning around from what she was doing (which was pretending to do something) so that she's facing Jack again. "It's not something I want to talk about." Which she's sure that Jack'll be happy to hear. Though she appreciates the gesture to tap into his 'Gay Friend' side, enough people have asked her things she would prefer to never speak about. The hand outstretched to her makes her tense slightly, maybe just visible enough for Jack to retract that hand. Something more like her humor returns as she laughs, a soft one, not really holding the mirth it did earlier. "Because, as you can see, the line of brokebodied bastards is winding around the corner." There's a pause, the smile turning into something a little warmer. "Hey. Jack. Tha—"

Back on Level 5, the doctor turns stabs the IV into Jack's arm in a non-too gentle gesture, flipping the bag up and hooking it onto the stand. "You'll be right as rain in a few days. If not, maybe we'll take a crack at that other leg, hm?"

"—shit!" Startled from his walk down memory lane by the sharp prick of the needle, Jack jerks against his restraints instinctively and blinks the sleepy fog from his eyes. "Bastard," he snarls a few seconds later when he's a fraction more coherent. "You know what you can do? You can kneel down between my leg and my stump, right? And you can suck the balls of freedom."

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