Into Darkness: Part Five
Three Years ago
Once I played ball, the pain stopped. All I had to do was hurt whoever the organization asked me to without asking questions. The first one had been hard, left me unable to sleep for weeks… The second one, not so much. The one after that even less so. After a while, I’d stopped counting, stopped remembering their faces. I was just a weapon, it was best not to think… it was easier not to care…
Roxanne was the only thing that brought a shred of humanity in my life. We had to survive she said, and that meant holding onto the tiniest fragment of ourselves. Every hobby, every thing we loved was important. And one of Roxanne’s was old school arcades.
But as we played a few rounds of an obscure tournament fighter, people massing around to watch Roxanne — apparently she was really good and known around the usual customers — I could hear them whispering, grimacing and pointing whenever they thought I wouldn’t notice; “look at her face!” “What’s wrong with her?”
“You win this round.” I muttered. I clenched my fists and made a run for the bathrooms, which much to my irritation couldn’t be locked. Roxanne walked in just a moment after me.
“Are you okay?”
“People, they’re staring at me. I can hear them saying shit.” I muttered, my hand instinctively rising to touch the right side of my face, feeling the scars. Although they’d healed, they hadn’t completely faded in four years.
I took out the comb I carried and redid my hair, trying to hide the scars further than they normally did. However Roxanne pushed the strands gently off my face.
“You shouldn’t have to hide your face. You’re beautiful just as you are.”
“Yeah, right.” I rolled my eyes.
“I’m serious.” She pushed my hair away from my eye and behind my ear. “You are beautiful.” She whispered. There was a quiet moment and her hand brushed mine… “I like you Jaime… I mean as more than friends…”
“I’m gay. Jaime, do you like me?”
“I don’t know.” I muttered. “I never wanted to think about those things…” After what my father had done, the idea of letting someone touch me the way he had had become terrifying.
“It’s okay, you don’t have to give me an answer now.” She said, her tone a little sadder than she’d intended it to be. “How about we ditch these guys and get you a little pick me up?” She then added, forcing herself to be more upbeat.
“That sounds nice.”
“To the pancake house we go!”
“You know me too well.” I snickered.
She took my hand and I didn’t push her away. We walked out together, ignoring the stares and hushed whispers.
Four months later
In the end, I said yes so Roxanne and I became a thing. I had no clue if I was even into girls but I didn’t really want to think about it too much. I just needed her by my side to keep me sane, if that meant being her girlfriend then it was a fair trade. Maybe because I’d told her about my father, she hadn’t tried to push things any further, which suited me.
On a chilly summer night, I was just coming out of the shower when I heard the front door open, I peeked down the stairs and saw Roxanne standing in the entrance. She was shaking, blood splattered all over her clothes.
“Roxanne?” I rushed to her side. “Are you hurt?”
“It’s not mine… Jonas…” She mumbled, still in shock. Jonas was one of the other like us, one who could manipulate fire. “He… He…” She couldn’t finish her sentence.
“It’s alright, come on, let’s get you cleaned up.”
She didn’t resist as I guided her to the bathroom, helped her undress (but keeping her underwear on) and then helped her to climb into the bath combo. She just sat at the bottom as I used the handheld showerhead and a clean cloth to wiped the blood away.
When she was clean, I helped her out and practically carried her our bedroom, setting her down in her bed while I sat next to her. She rested her head on my laps, wearing nothing but a towel and her soaked underwear, crying gently until she fell asleep from sheer exhaustion. Just like the first night after I’d been freed from the basement dungeon but that time the roles had been reversed.
As she’d slept I’d gotten the chance to ask Mr. Neville about what had happened and to my surprise he had answered. At least in the vague details, about how an operation had been botched and Jonas was dead or captured.
When Roxanne finally woke up in the morning, she’d slept almost twelve hours and yet looked like she’d only been asleep for two.
“How are you?” I asked, coming to her side.
“Okay…” She muttered.
“Let me get you some tea.”
She nodded and I went into the kitchen, preparing some green tea just as she liked it and some toasts. When I came back upstairs, Roxanne was still sitting on the bed, half naked and rocking gently, her expression blank. I set the plate and cup on the dresser next to her bed and she barely reacted.
“Do you want to talk?”
She shook her head and reluctantly dove into her breakfast in silence.
“The Nevilles are out so how about we go out and catch some bugs today?” I proposed once she was finished.
“You want to catch bugs with me?”
“I hate bugs, but you you like them and I think I should do something for you. I mean you tolerate my pancake addiction. And right now, doing something silly sounds like what you need.” To be fair, it wasn’t really bugs I hated so much as any kind of nature.
She reluctantly followed me after we grabbed her gear and headed off into a nearby clearing. Thankfully after a few minutes, her passion took over, quickly coming to teach me what I was doing wrong; namely everything, but the fact I wasn’t dousing the field in gasoline and throwing a lit match was a good start.
When she decided it was time to head home, she had a sizable bounty of catches she’d captured and killed even if she refused to use her power, citing ‘fair play’ against the bugs. Mostly it was some beetles, a few butterflies and a really shiny dragonfly.
“I am beyond tired!” She declared flopping on her bed. “But we got some great catches.”
“If you say so, they all look ugly and weird to me.”
“Oh come on, look at that Calligrapha beetle.” She said, showing me a bright green beetle with black wiggly lines.
“Still gross. I’ll stick with actually cute animals, thank you very much.”
“If you could get a pet, what would it be?” She asked, still lying down.
“I dunno, probably a dog.” I said with a shrug before lying down next to her.
“Probably an american pit bull terrier. People give ‘em a bad rap but I had a friend who had one and she was super sweet.”
I spent a few minutes talking about dogs, people around me had often owned them but my father had always been strictly anti-pet, so I’d had to content myself befriending them during our visits or those times I’d meet them in the neighborhood. As I talked, Roxanne head rested on my shoulder.
“Are you alright?”
“I am.” She gently twisted my head and kissed me. “Jaime… I want you…” She whispered in my ear.
“Want me?” I hadn’t realized I’d stopped breathing at the words.
She didn’t have to specify further… I shivered at the thought. In four months we’d avoided it. But now the time had come. A million thoughts raced through my head, I wanted to run, but I didn’t have the strength. I didn’t want to risk losing her if I did…
“You don’t have to…”
“It’s alright.” I muttered.
She unbuttoned my jeans. I didn’t protest and stopped myself from flinching, biting back any memories. Maybe with her, it was going to be different… I removed her shirt and she pushed me onto her bed, taking my pants off.
We laid together in bed, Roxanne holding my naked, sweat covered body with her arms. I could feel her breath on my neck as I laid awake. I couldn’t sleep, couldn’t stop thinking…
“Are you alright?” She asked, whispering to my ear.
“I just thought it would hurt…” I answered. “That it would send me back to those days…” Her grip around me tightened and she pressed her head against my shoulder.
“Do you want to talk about it?”
“I don’t know…” I went quiet for a moment. “It was different… Maybe because you’re a girl.”
She gave me a hug. “I’m here for you Jaime.”
I nodded. “It started after my mom was taken away…” I muttered after a moment.
“Was taken away?”
“They put her in a mental hospital after she…” I gulped at the memory. “She tried to drown me…”
“Oh my god…”
“I was in the bathtub playing, she was watching over me and then it just happened…” I could feel my hands shaking. I wrapped my arms around my body. “My dad came in just in time… She kept saying it was to save me from the darkness…”
“Jesus Christ!” She screamed before wrapping her arms around me.
“It was a long time ago.” I said, but it wasn’t right. Seven years later and I still couldn’t swim or take a bath, even showers risked my mind wandering back… “I’m fine.”
There was a moment of silence.
“There’s something I need to say… I lied to you.” Roxanne said breaking it.
“My parents dying.” She said and I frowned. “Well, not entirely. My dad died in that accident, but my mom survived.”
“How did you get here then?”
“After my dad died, my mom decided to start over with a clean slate, no baggage…” She muttered. “She dumped me in the foster care system and just left. She never saw me again. I tracked her down a few months ago. She’s living in Atlantic city with a new husband and two new kids, changed her name even.”
“Did you talk to her?”
“No, I snuck in with my power. There wasn’t anything of me, no pictures, no nothing… She took care of me for seven years and then just erased me from her life.”
I hugged her. As terrible as my parents had been, as much as they had hurt me they had cared for me, they’d wanted me. Roxanne had just been thrown away like garbage.
“Want me to wreck her shit?”
She let out a sad snicker. “That sounds really tempting… But we shouldn’t get in trouble, she’s not worth it.”
She wrapped her arms around my belly and dragged my closer, resting our bodies against one another.
“I love you.” She muttered.
I couldn’t find it in me to answer her…