You've all seen the most recent issue with Jake. I'm sorry I haven't been posting much about what's actually going on, but the simple fact is that we're all just kind of waiting. We've done what we can, now we're waiting to see how well he deals with the rest. It's nervewracking, but nothing much to talk about. Instead, I want to give you another story. I mentioned already that the 'kidnapping' was actually a rescue. I mentioned also that he came in to talk to me. For obvious reasons this didn't get recorded, and it's been a while, but I'll retell it as best as I can
I wasn't honestly expecting much. Friend or no, Star was still Star, and therefore not used to having a friend. He had a job to do, and he was doing a damn good job of keeping me intact, though of course minor injuries were unavoidable and honestly I didn't mind the chance for a scrap now and again. I didn't exactly care about hurting them, and they weren't allowed to kill me or do anything that would do permanent damage. All part of the charade.
He was keeping me safe and getting me out. I couldn't ask for more than that.
I got it anyway, though.
It was Thursday morning. I'd been there for the better part of a day, and mostly they'd just left me in the room. Someone showed up at regular intervals to taunt me and leave me food, but for the most part they didn't even lay a hand on me-which had to be Star's doing. And then someone knocked
"Yeah?" I called. I probably sounded dead. I know I felt dead.
A muffled order, footsteps walking away. "Can I come in, Lainey?" He sounded gleeful. It was pretty obviously fake. I dared to hope.
I sighed dramatically. "If you must."
I heard the door unlock. He slipped inside, concern clear on his face as he locks the door. "... How are you holding up?"
"They're gone?" I raised an eyebrow.
He laughed a little. "I told Tiger to go walk Jack. This is a more difficult task than it seems..." He hesitated. "Anything you need?"
I couldn't keep my composure anymore. Didn't even bother trying. "Just. If you have a minute? Stay?"
"I shall stay as long as I can." He replied quietly, sitting down beside me.
I sag into him, grateful for the contact and comfort. "Thank you."
He seemed a little disconcerted, but hugged me. "It is what I am here for."
I nod. "You know you're the first friendly contact I've had in almost a week."
"Sad isn't it? Heh. Anything I can do to make you feel better?"
"You're already risking your life to help me." I reply, gratitude bleeding into my voice.
"My job is to attack scared cornered animals. I risk my life every time I leave my bed. Seriously. Anything I can do? Anything." He sounded almost amused at my concern
"... Just don't let go, alright? For a few minutes?" My voice cracked and my eyes were distinctly watery.
"Very Well..." he hugged me tighter.
And finally, for the first time since the police arrived at my apartment, I let myself cry. Probably made him horribly uncomfortable in the process, but I just cried into his shoulder. It was such a relief to have a friend, someone whose shoulder I could cry on, there, in person, to hug me.
He's not really used to that kind of emotion, though, and before long he spoke up, to defuse the awkward, I imagine. "You know... I am trying to find Prosper." he said quietly.
"I. Any luck?"
"None thus far... I am slightly under Prosper on the totem pole, unfortunately. Hence why he can do that... Weird teleporty shit." He sounded uncomfortable, though he made a valiant attempt to try and hide it."Yeah, I figured." I sniffed and wiped at my eyes, pulling away. "Thank you."
He nodded and frowned."I am sorry I am not more help."
"You got me out of there. That's help enough. And this..." A shaky laugh. "I needed this."
"Yet it is not enough... Hmmm... I wonder. Perhaps I could convince everyone to go kill off a random Runner in town somewhere. So you are not trapped in this room for a little while." He sounded thoughtful.
I smiled faintly. "That would be nice. If you think it's doable? I don't want to put you in any more danger than I already am"
"I have been doing this whole 'stalk and kill' bit for a few months now. I can simply tell them I need a break, and that they need to learn to kill without me barking orders." He sounded firm.
I smiled faintly. "Fair enough. It would be nice to get out of the room for a little while. Thank you."
"I shall send them off as soon as I can... Meaning when Jack and Tiger get back. Idiots.... Anything else I can do? What do you usually do when you feel bad?" He looked concerned, nervous. I probably still looked and sounded pretty dead.
I laughed. A real, genuine laugh. "I usually have sex. But somehow I don't think you'd be interested in that one."
He blushed, and suddenly I remembered that he was still barely more than a kid. It's so easy to forget how young he is. "Um. Er. Right. That is. Um. Awkward."
"I'll save that for when I get out of here and meet Nick." I told him with a smile.
"Right. Good. We should probably speed that up then. For your sake." He said with a sigh of relief. I couldn't help but grin at that.
"You'll hear no objections from me." I replied. "Though it is really good to see you."
"Yes indeed... Although... I really should get you back for the ending of our last encounter." It was clear he was teasing.
I raised an eyebrow. "I didn't lay a hand on you at the wedding.""No no. We barely saw each other at the wedding. I am talking about the time I tried to kill you."
"Oh. Right." I rolled my eyes. "You crashed the wedding. We're even."
"Hardly. The wedding would have been crashed with or without me interfering."
I shrug. "Maybe so. But Nee would've failed utterly and caused no damage if it weren't for you."
"Don't be too sure. In addition, if we did not show up, others would have."
I smiled, reading between the lines. Considering the epic failure at the wedding, I'd been suspecting that he'd flubbed it on purpose. The small smile he wore seemed to confirm it. "Okay, fair enough. But I don't think now is the time for that rematch..."
"No, of course not. But considering I am spending lots of time in here, I probably should... Well..." He looked embarrased and apologetic.
I met his eyes squarely. "... Do what you need to do." I sighed
"When I am ready to leave. Not before."
I nod and smile faintly.
"... I suppose I can allow you to hit me back or something, if it makes you feel better." That right there told me how much he was willing to do for me, as if the rest of this hadn't.
A shaky laugh. "Probably be better for you if I didn't."
"Pfft. Why." He looks almost offended. I think he thought I was calling him a wimp or something.
"Makes you look good?" I offered with a weak smile
"When have I ever cared about that?" He seemed amused.
"Well, I care about that." I told him firmly. "I don't want you getting hurt or killed because you don't have quite your old success rate anymore. The little things will help."
"My success rate remains the same." He replied, face unreadable. "And bruises do not affect this rate. Understand this. Father does not give a shit. The Command and my handlers DO."
"Yeah, but they can hurt you too, right? I'd hate to see you getting hallowed again." I'm not sure if my concern showed n my face, but it probably did. Star felt the need to reassure me, anyhow.
"Pfft. Just a hallowing. Nothing I cannot handle." He said looking away briefly to hide the terror on his face.
I put a hand on his shoulder. "You don't have to play tough for me. It's a scary thing."
"Doesn't make it less scary that they're trying to clear out your head though, I bet."
"Who is playing? Heh. I have been through it several times already. It is... Nothing." He sounded nervous. "It is less clearing your head then it is filling your head..."
"Eesh." I hugged him tighter. "Why do you put up with that?
"Because I have no other choice." His voice was carefully neutral
"You could leave?" I cleared my throat. This was the first time I'd really approached the subject with him directly. "I mean. What you do is your own business. But I hate to see them hurting you like this."
"They are the best chance for me to accomplish my goals." He replied firmly.
"What goals are those?" I asked, brow raised.
He looked awkward. "Um... Well. You know. I want to... stay alive?
"Because proxies live forever, right?" I sighed. "Like I said. You do what you want, but it might be smart to get out before they actually manage to find a way to make you a drone."
"And as a drone I would stay alive. Either way. I win." He smiled. "You lose because it wouldn't be you anymore." I tell him. "And why exactly is staying alive more important than your existence as a person?"
"Because it is my existence."
"I consider your existence quite important beyond that one thing, thank you. You're my friend and I want you safe and happy, dammit."
He laughed. "Safe? None of us are safe, none of us will EVER be safe. And Happiness? HA. Our joy will be brief and will disappear before the next tragedy."
"But it's better than never being happy at all." I reply firmly. "And okay, safe is kind of a joke these days. But I'd rather see us all die tomorrow free than have us lose ourselves to his mind control."
"Heh. Whatever you say."
I sigh. "Just think about it.""Maybe..."
I shrug.. "But here I am getting all sappy about people. I guess it's not any of my business
"It is fine. Ugh... So. Where will you go after Nick?" He seemed glad for the topic change
"New York. I'm meeting up with someone."
"It is still Proxy central up there... So be careful." Another concerned look from Star.
I nodded "I know. I'll be careful."
"You had better be...SO. Any clue where Jakey Boy ran off to?"
I sighed. "Not a one. Probably chased Prosper. No idea where he would've ended up."
"He is probably broken, you know." He is again carefully neutral.
"Probably." I agreed, feeling lost. "I'm just hoping this doesn't come back to bite me before I can find him."
"It will somehow, I fear..." The concern was bleeding though again.
I sighed again and sagged against him. "That's what I'm afraid of."
"Well don't be afraid." He replied, a careful arm going around me. "I am here to protect and assist you. From anything short of Father himself."
I smiled at him. "Thank you. Same to you. But I'll stand with you against the tall fucker himself if it comes to it."
He gave me a long look. "I would not allow that, I am afraid."
"Like you could stop me." I reply with a smirk.
He smirked back "Oh, I could. Make no mistake."
"You could try, anyway." I told him firmly.
One pale eyebrow went up. "Is that a challenge?"
"Possibly?" I shrug. "Hopefully it won't come to that"
He sighed "With luck... But when are we... You ever that lucky?"
A long pause. "... You're right. Fuck. Doesn't change my stand."
He laughs a little. "Stubborn."
The look I gave him was all challenge."Damn straight. You say that like it's a surprise."
Another laugh "Not a surprise. Just bothersome. Ha. Why do I even bother..."
And now I was curious. "Why do you even bother what?"
"... Taking care of.... Assisting you. Yes." He looked uncomfortable.
I shrug. "I dunno. That's a good question. Why do you? Not that I'm not grateful, mind."He shrugged back, looking fiercely uncomfortable. "Right. Well then. I should go get everyone out so you can leave this damn room."
I smiled. "Thank you again."
"It is what I am here for... And..." He visibly pulled back and punched me in the face, just hard enough to leave a bruise.
I swore but took it. Better a punch now than us both getting killed later.
"... And there we go. Feel free to hit back." He flashed me an apologetic look.
I pretended to think about it for a moment."Nah. But I wouldn't say no to getting a chance to go after Recluse... Creepy bitch."
He laughs. "I can send her in later, if you want to have a shot at her."
"I think I would enjoy that." I replied.
"Heh. You say that now. I can only stop her from killing you, not beating the ever loving shit out of you. Just a fair warning." More concern.
I shrugged it off and flashed him a cocky smile. "A knock down drag out fight sounds good. Get out some of this emotional bullshit."
He gave me a long look, then nodded. "As long as you don't mind to be on the receiving end of the asskicking... I shall send her in later tonight."
"Wonderful." I replied.
"Heh. Should be funny to watch." He headed for the door, but stopped just in front of it "... Stay strong Elaine. This will be over soon."
I nodded. "Thank you."