2007-08-14: DF: Pound Of Flesh

Starring:

DFLogan_icon.gif DFJack_icon.gif DFNathanReal_icon.gif

Summary: Something which is owed that is ruthlessly required to be paid back.

Dark Future Date: August 14th, 2009

Pound Of Flesh


WARNING: Graphic themes and violence. Don't read if you are weak of will and stomach.

No, really.


Weichsel Carcass House - Packing Room

Reverently, Jack sets the needle of his old-fashioned Gramophone in place atop a much-used and loved record, then clicks it on. The sweet, mellow sound of Beethoven fills the lower level of the meat packing plant and rings off of the concrete walls. Moonlight Sonata.

Jack hums along with the tune as he moves to and fro, collecting implements and tools from around the room. As he putters about, he conducts an imaginary orchestra with jaunty waves and wiggles of one long, gloved forefinger. Once he has everything he needs assembled, he turns his attention to his companion for the evening.

The President of These United States has been cuffed at the wrists. The chain of the cuffs is draped over a meathook suspended from an automated conveyor set in the ceiling, leaving Logan's toes dangling more than a foot from the floor. A heavy iron ball attached to a very short chain has been cuffed to each of his ankles. He has been stripped of all but his suit trousers.

Jack lights up a cigarette, inhales deeply, then stubs it out on Logan's chest. "Wakey-wakey, hands off snakey."

Wakefulness comes in heart beats. Thud, a burn to his chest which makes his whole body jerk back with a rattle of chain. Thud, his right shoulder starts to pulse to life, his wrists start to throb. Thud, his head swims and the world tips with dizziness. Thud, his eyes snap open.

Logan's cry out is startling, echoing, and dies down to a ragged groan. It's his shoulder that's the worst. The skin is healed, if bruised and scarred, but the damage is beneath the surface and getting wrung out from the sheer weight of the hanging. The first thing he does is tense his left arm to take more of the weight, before tipping his head forward rather than back, another rattling to the chains when his body shudders. His eyes focus on Jack, and instantly, memory and understanding hits him, and his gaze fills with loathing.

"You're meant to be dead," he murmurs, before trying to take in his situation, glancing down to where his ankles are trapped, then up at the meathook. Jesus.

Jack flicks the mostly-extinguished cigarette over his shoulder carelessly where it continues to smoulder against the floor. "I was meant to be a lot o' things. The next David Copperfield. A big name in the adult film industry. Sometimes things just don't work out as planned." He hooks one heavy boot around the leg of a squat stool and drags it up next to Logan. One by one, he begins to lay out his tools on a steel butchering table. A small saw, blade rusty and corroded with disuse. A small glass jar. A pair of pliers. "So how've you been, Nate Dogg? It's been a long time since we had a face to face." There's a dangerous spark in Jack's eyes that belies his casual, lighthearted tone.

After taking in the wider environment, it's those tools that capture Logan's attention. A flash of wariness before his mouth pulls into a sneer. Above him, he tries to twist his hands to grab on to the chains, to relieve some ache in his wrists, which are already bruising mightily. "If you think…" His voice comes out weak, but he takes a breath. Gain control. Even when you have none. His voice levels. "If you think you can scare me with those, you're wrong. I know playacting when I see it."

A saw is a beautiful thing, really. It's a natural outgrowth of man's first tool, the sharpened stone. Jack picks up the saw he's readied and draws its teeth along the back of one leather glove, producing a quiet scratching sound and knocking off flakes of rust. "Scare you?" A humorless smile tugs at the corners of his lips. "You don't have to be afraid to serve your purpose, but you will be." He presses the flat of the cold sawblade against Logan's belly briefly, then turns it so the teeth contact his flesh. With a slow, sideways swipe, Jack opens a long cut through the first layer of Logan's skin. "I've been dreamin' of this for a very long time," he hisses. "We'll savor these moments together, you and I."

It's a tight, sharp kind of pain, one Logan closes his eyes against it, managing not to make a sound, though his breathing quickens. It'd be so easy just to hide, to shove Nathan into this, but he can't, won't let everything go. Who knows what would happen if he even lost control for a second. Another chain rattle as his body tries to escape the bite of the saw, and he tries to bend his knees, testing the weight of that iron. If he could just fly… He'll hold on to that card for now, even if he's unsure as to how effective it'd be. "What do you want?" he asks, breathlessly.

Jack's eyes bore into Logan's unflinchingly. For a moment, the depths of the pain and sorrow that keeps carefully locked away from his friends and family is visible.

Jack loses control.

"I WANT MY LIFE BACK!" He doubles up a fist and strikes Logan across the face with the backs of his knuckles. "I WANT MY FRIENDS BACK!" Another blow, this one on top of the fresh belly wound. "I WANT MY HOME BACK!" Now he wraps his hand around Logan's throat and slowly, deliberately he begins to squeeze. With his cheek presses against his one-time friend's and his breath hot in the other man's ear, he growls, "I want you to give back everything that you took from everyone. You're going to help me clean up this mess wether you want to or not."

He once had criticised Jessica for letting the mistakes of Niki's past come back to haunt her. He'd been careful to eliminate those ties of Nathan's. Now… would she laugh at this irony? Logan isn't sure. He tries to draw in breath even as Jack's gloved hands wrap around his throat, eyes squeezing shut when all he can feel is tightness in his lungs and all he can hear are Jack's words. He is unmoved by the sentiment, the passion and sadness there - but he recognises the danger it means for him. In a voiceless, rasping whisper, his words still manage to come sharp, filled with anger - at Jack, and at the situation he finds himself in. "At your service." This was not part of the plan.

Jack makes a small, disgusted sound that originates somewhere between his belly and the back of his thoat. He shoves away from Logan and staggers backward with both hands pressed to his temples. Half standing, half crouched, desperately trying to block out the barrage of emotions and memories that is distracting him from his task, for an instant he looks more vulnerable than his captive.

No. This wasn't part of the plan.

When Jack comes back to himself it's a slow, confusing process. The blackouts have become rarer, but no less debilitating. There is shame in Jack's eyes, but also a hint of quiet pride. He's taken his knocks for the cause. "This is what you've done to us," he grates, gesturing at himself. "This is what we've become. A nation of broken warriors grown old before their time and the children we've drafted to replace us." He pauses to suck in a deep, steadying breath. "Do you feel anything? Any guilt?"

Lie. Lie and self-preserve. Be whatever they need you to be. Logan's head tilts to the side, resting against his stretched out left arm, his right trembling just a fraction. "No, Jack," he says, gaze somehow remaining steady, unflinching, despite the obvious physical pain he's in, despite his position and vulnerability, the newly opened wound bleeding slowly. He hisses in a sharp breath when his shoulder twinges, body tensing. "H-how can I feel guilty. You'll see. If you only looked, you'd see what I'm trying to do. If you only waited."

"Ask a stupid question, get a stupid answer." Jack shakes his head ruefully. He carefully avoids bending his bad leg as he stoops to pick up his dropped saw. A fresh, vibrant surge of anger fills him with adrenaline and strengthens his resolve. "I believed in you. I followed you and protected you. I babysat your fuckin' kids, man!"

Now Jack smiles. He picks up the pliers in his free hand and climbs up onto the stool. Now standing at about the same height as Logan, he clamps the pliers down around one of the other man's fingers. It's not as if Logan has much room to move, but what he's about to do is relatively delicate work. "Do me a favor?" he murmurs. "When I'm done with you, say hello to Monty for me."

It's a combination of sensations. First, that sharp, final feeling of the pliers settling on either side of his finger, the ring finger of his right hand, backed up by— well, everything he had just witnessed from Jack. He was wrong about playacting. Logan's eyes widen, glancing up, and his hands start to tremble. Then, that name, that goddamn name. It's like a hot knife in his stomach and he visibly flinches, eyes shut.

When they open again, it's a different man locking eyes with Jack's, although whether anyone could tell, god only knows. Fresh fear, however, is evident. "Jack," Nathan says, the name coming as a whisper, and he gives a renewed, pained groan as his situation hits him full force. His head, oh god, his shoulder— his hand. Logan, you coward. Nathan's body shudders once in panic. "Please, don't. Don't."

"How's that? I'm sorry, I can't hear you over all the screaming you're about to do."

Jack twists his wrist violently and breaks Nathan's finger. Then, mercilessly, he stretches the shattered digit out with his pliers and slices through flesh, muscle, and fragmented bone with the worn blade of his saw. It's an exquisitely slow process that produces a very interesting array of noises, which Jack closes his eyes to better appreciate. "Mmm. Sounds tasty."

It seems very likely that he hasn't noticed the change in Nathan's demeanor.

And after the broken finger, there's really nothing to distinguish Nathan from Logan, Nathan from any other man in sublime pain. It doesn't matter anymore. A scream of pain is wrenched from him, broken up and rasping, and he thrashes against the bindings. The irons on his ankles keep his body still, if swinging, and his hands spasm uselessly. Then, the sawing, drawing jagged moments of pain, and Nathan dips in and out of consciousness, head hanging back and he can hear that classical music playing like a dream. Weak groans are drawn from him, gasps and sighs, but by the time Jack has gotten into his work, he's beyond screams. Blood runs hot down his arm. "I hate you," Nathan murmurs, nearly incoherent. If possible, it doesn't sound like he's talking to Jack. "I hate you, I hate you, I hate you I hate you…"

It takes several more sawing cuts for Jack to seperate Nathan's finger from the rest of his hand. It isn't neat or pretty and there is a great deal of blood. Unceremoniously, the war-hardened soldier dumps the severed digit into the glass jar and caps it. The Presidential ring winks and sparkles as Jack shakes the container, producing a metal-on-glass rattle. "I hate you too," he agrees cheerfully, naturally assuming that Nathan is talking to the guy who just sliced off his finger.

The jar and saw are set aside, though Jack keeps Nathan's stub clamped in the pliers. "As much as I'd enjoy killing you, you aren't much use to me as a corpse. I certainly can't have you bleeding out," he explains. He snaps his fingers and produces a saltshaker full of clingingly fine powder. Sparingly, he shakes it out onto the stub and the surrounding area. "This is lye. It will burn and cauterize the wound. You're welcome."

A different brand of pain, acidic. Nathan grits his teeth and bears it, though instinctive tears spring to his eyes, blurring vision. He tries to blink them away, drawing shuddering breaths. How did he even get here? He darts a swimming gaze around the place, past Jack, taking it in for the first time. How did they even pull this off? For a moment, his eyes droop, as if his body has quit out on him, surrendering him to painless unconsciousness, but he forces himself to stay awake as he hangs uselessly from the handcuffs, right hand a burning mess of agony but somehow detached and unreal. "Jack," he sighs. Alive. Another friend— former friend alive. How many more? "It's…" A dazed, delirious smile. "It's good to see you again."

The bulk of Jack's work is done. He unlocks the pliers and sets them and the lye down with the rest of his tools. He peels off his bloodied gloves and tosses them aside as well, revealing hands that are far more scarred by burns than Nathan's will be. "What?" Confused, Jack cocks his head to the side and peers over at his captive. "Now it's good to see me? I didn't break you already, did I?" Though he does hope to be the one to crack Nathan's spirit and eventually kill him, that wasn't supposed to come until later. Concerned now, Jack grabs Nathan roughly by the chin and peers into the other man's eyes.
You remember that guilt that Logan denied having? It's there, all there, but mingled with the effects of physical pain and a little initial delirium. The scarred hands are glanced at before Jack grabs his chin, then his gaze is met. How to explain? Does it even matter? Who can it possibly benefit? "No," Nathan answers, bitterly, before twisting his head suddenly to wrench himself out of that grip. "Got a ways to go."

"Good." Jack grins fiercely, pleased to see that Nathan still has some life left in him. "We've come too far for you to give in already. The Nathan I knew wasn't a quitter." As he speaks, he climbs down from the stool and retrieves his cell phone, which he uses to snap several images of the U.S. President hanging from the ceiling with bruises, cuts, and one missing finger. "To authenticate the experience," he clarifies. "It would be a shame if nobody believed me and we had to do all of this again tomorrow."

So many questions, and none of them appropriate for this situation. But… there'll be time for questions. God. A shuddering chuckle is drawn from Nathan at Jack's last comment, closing his eyes against the phone held up to him. "A shame," he agrees, and fresh pain wracks his body. The sound he makes is almost a whine. He tries to draw in the focus to at least hover, to bestow mercy on his shoulder, his wrists, but the weights at his ankles hold him down, and the concentration that aspect of his ability needs is just not available. "I'm not the Nathan you knew," he says, attempting this, and feeling almost nervous. His voice becomes more sluggish. "I changed into— " Shudder, the fingers around where his ring finger would have been twitching. "Into something…" No, can't. Not now. Close to unconsciousness, he trails off, fighting back a wave of nausea.

Jack tucks his phone away and nods absently. "You did change," he agrees. His voice is calm. Level. Oddly composed for a man in his present situation. "We all did. Hey. Hey! You don't get to fuckin' pass out." The sound of Beethoven on piano fades smoothly into the fleshy, staccato rapping of Jack repeatedly striking Nathan across the face with both sides of an open hand. "I decide when we're done, not you. Now wake the fuck up! Man, I thought you'd be made of sterner stuff. I'm dissapointed in you, Nate Dogg."

The slaps to his face spark consciousness, and he seems to struggle to stay awake, to obey out of some sort of broke-down instinct, some kind of misplaced sentiment, but there's little choice anymore. His body has had enough. Nathan's head turns with the blows, limp and ragdoll-like, until his chin simply rests down against his chest. But he outlasted Logan, at the very least.

Jack lets out a piercing, feral scream of frustration. He grips Nathan by the hair and the chin, fully prepared to twist and snap his neck and bring the game to an early end. He doesn't follow through, though. He hesitates. With his face hovering inches away from Nate's, Jack studies his best friend/worst enemy's features. Then, hands trembling, he releases his hold and backpedals. When he bumps into the table where his tools are laid out, he snatches up the glass jar that holds the severed finger and squeezes it tightly. After taking a moment to calm himself, he limps over to the stool and settles down to wait. Nathan will have to wake up eventually, and when he does, it will be to the sound of his own finger bouncing around inside a baby food jar.

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