Opal wasn't sure how many days she'd spent in Solitary. The padded cell had started to feel like home. Wrapped in the straightjacket, she'd forgotten what it felt like to have arms.
That might've been the drugs though. Needles. Needles. Needles. She was full of holes. If she drank a glass of water, it would come pouring straight out, she thought.
Water sounded so good right now.
Her whole body ached. Her face was swollen from where she'd been shoved against floors and walls. At one point, she'd been slammed head-first into a metal doorframe. Her lip was split, and she was pretty sure she had two black eyes, though she lacked any reflective surfaces with which to confirm her suspicions.
The possibility of brain damage was comforting, at least. Maybe she'd just slip into a coma.
Opal squirmed on the padded floor, wondered if they'd keep her in here forever. All for one measly psych. Like they didn't have enough to spare.
She turned onto her side, rubbing her aching face into the stained padding of the floor. She didn't want to think about the origin of those stains, so she just didn't. Drugs were great that way. No wonder her parents had been so into them.
Opal was roused from her contemplation of a particularly large brown-red stain when the door to her cell slammed open. Stokes, the only guard Opal was truly scared of, entered the room; he loomed over her, all six foot five and broad shouldered. He could probably crush her with a single, massive hand.
Next to him was Pike, one of the nicer guards. Nice being relative of course. Pike had never hit her, though, so she kind of liked him.
She smiled up at them weakly from where she lay on the floor.
"Wow, visitors. Is it my birthday?"
"Shut your fucking mouth," Stokes spat at her.
He grabbed her by the shoulders, pulling her to her feet. Opal wobbled, almost falling to the ground, before Pike placed a steadying hand on her back. She smiled at him.
"You're being transferred to the max wing," Pike told her.
Oh. She'd kind of seen this coming, what with murdering a staff member. But, still… max. She'd be playing with the big kids now.
Opal suddenly wished she was a little taller. Five foot three wasn't very intimidating, she realized.
She held back a whimper of pain as Stokes manhandled her, pushing her against a padded wall. "You cause any fucking trouble and I'll break your fucking spine. Got it?" He spat at her.
God. Had him and Byrne been lovers or something? He was taking this whole thing awfully seriously.
"I'll be good," she choked out, her voice muffled by the padding.
Stokes released her, attaching a chain to her straightjacket, securing her to him. Like she'd be able to run anywhere, anyway.
She raised an eyebrow at Pike, as if to say what's his fucking problem?
Pike shook his head, sandy curls bouncing, attempting to hide the ghost of a smile on his face. He grabbed her other arm, more gently than Stokes, and the two guards marched her out of the cell into the grey-on-grey-on-grey of the hallway.
The walk from solitary to max wasn't too long. Opal imagined that was by design.
The journey itself was nothing more than a series of grey painted hallways, with grey floors and grey doors. No windows in sight. Still, it was better than padded, white walls and she drank it in as if it was a sunset, revelling in every detail, every scuff mark on the wall, every fire extinguisher, every crack in the floor.
Stokes stopped in front of a grey door and turned to give her a cruel smile. "Open the door," he barked at Pike.
"Boss said straight to max," Pike said nervously. Opal obviously wasn't the only one afraid of Stokes.
"Did that sound like a fucking question, Pike," Stokes barked back. Opal shivered, looking to Pike, who was avoiding her eyes.
Pike heaved a sigh, pulling a ring of keys from his pocket. He selected a heavy bronze one, fitting it in the keyhole and turning it with a click that sent chills down Opal's spine. He held the door open, looking at Stokes as if to say is this what you wanted?
Stokes dragged her into the room. It definitely wasn't max.
It was cold. One of the walls was lined with square metal doors, five across and two high, and in the middle of the room sat a table covered in a bloody sheet. Next to it sat a tray of metal instruments, the sight of which made Opal's blood run cold. She was in the morgue.
Opal suppressed a shudder, but couldn't prevent a whimper from escaping her mouth.
Stokes pushed her roughly towards the table, pressing her against its blood edge. "Stokes…" she heard Pike say, but it sounded distant, drowned out by the rush of blood in her ears.
Stokes smiled, holding her shaking body against his. "Take a look around, princess. This is where you're gonna end up. Sooner rather than later." His voice was gleeful. "See this bed here, you'll be all spread out on it, naked as the day you were born. Maybe I'll convince the Doc to let me have a play."
Pike grimaced and looked vaguely sick. "Stokes, we gotta get going. It'll be your ass on the line if boss finds us in here."
Stokes growled at him. "Fuckin' pussy."
He grabbed Opal's arm, dragging her down the hallway. Pike trailed behind them.
The door to max was just a few twists and turns from the morgue. Opal hoped that wasn't by design.
Stokes dragged her into the wing, making sure to slam her face into the doorframe as he went. Opal's vision blackened for a moment and she tasted the sweet tang of blood.
She heard a woman's voice spit out, "Fucking pig." Stokes growled at the unseen woman, dragging Opal further down the hallway.
The wing was smaller than minimum or medium and Opal noticed both women and men in the cells she passed.
Co-ed. Miriam would be jealous, she thought with a smile.
"I don't know why you're smiling, princess. This ain't gonna be fun for you, I'll tell you that." Stokes grinned at her as they drew to the end of the hallway.
The three of them stopped at the very last cell, on the right side of the hall. Pike unlocked the barred-door, holding it open as Stokes shoved her in. He ripped the straightjacket off her, almost dislocating her arms in the process, before quickly leaving the cell. She wondered briefly if he was scared of her.
Opal rested against the bars of her cell, barely able to stand, the pain and the drugs coursing through her body in equal measure.
Stokes grinned at her through the bars. Looking into his eyes, Opal saw an image of herself, spread out on that bloody table. She flinched back.
"Enjoy yourself, princess," Stokes jeered, turning back down the hallway.
Pike looked at her sadly, before leaning in close. "Just… don't make him angry, yeah?" He whispered. He gave her one last anxious look before following Stokes down the hallway.
Opal rested her head against the bars, trying to hold back her tears.
A low whistle caught her attention. "Well aren't you a sight for sore eyes. Come here often, beautiful?"
She looked up. Leaning up against the bars of the opposite cell, arms stretched above his head revealing the rippling muscles of his bare chest, was a man. Though perhaps man wasn't the right word.
His pale skin almost glowed in the dim light of the cell, contrasting with the black tattoos that littered it; his green hair was slicked back, emphasizing the alien angles of his face. As he watched her, his mouth slid into a toothy grin, the dim light reflecting off his metal teeth.
Opal sank to her knees, her shaking legs unable to hold her any longer.
The man across from her let out a low, bone-chilling laugh. "While I appreciate the gesture, Doll, not much use getting on your knees for me with these bars in the way." He ran his tongue over the metal teeth and winked at her suggestively.
Opal wasn't sure exactly when she'd passed out. God how embarrassing. But she woke up, slumped against the bars of her cell, her face in agony where her bruises had been pressed against a rusty bar. She couldn't help letting out a low whine of pain. Ugh, did she need to sound so weak?
She risked a glance at the cell across from hers. He was sitting one the floor, legs splayed out, leaning back on his hands, staring straight at her. Brilliant.
Opal felt like the weakest-link gazelle in a documentary about Nature's Greatest Predators. In a fight between the Joker and a lion, she'd place bets on the Joker.
"Rise and shine, Doll." A grin spread across his face, treacle-slow, revealing far too much gleaming metal. He pulled himself up, leaning against the bars of his cell and staring through at her with a terrifying intensity.
Opal pulled herself into a sitting position.
"I know I'm handsome man, but not many women pass out at the mere sight of me. You're gonna give me an ego." He drew a hand down his chest dramatically and Opal's eyes followed like they were on a wire.
He threw his head back, laughing.
Opal flinched. "It's the drugs," she choked out.
He tutted at her, mockingly. "Now, now, Daddy doesn't like liars."
He reached up, grabbing close to the top of one of the bars to emphasize his height, displaying his body like it was some work of art.
He's not wrong, she thought, her eyes roaming his bare chest. Shit. Definitely the drugs.
He chuckled lowly, as if he could hear her internal monologue, and licked his lips.
"Gotta love a woman who bruises pretty."
Opal squeezed her eyes shut. Oh, she was so fucked.
"What's your name, Doll?"
She opened her eyes. Yep, still there. Still fucked.
He was staring at her, waiting for an answer. He didn't seem like the sort of man who enjoyed waiting.
"Opal," she replied, hating how weak and breathy her voice sounded right now.
"Mhhhh," he hummed. "O, O, O, Ohhhhhhh," he moaned, fluttering his eyes shut, before snapping them open again. A stare that intense could start fires. His grin sent shivers down Opal's spine.
"Oh, Little O, we are going to be such good friends."
It had taken a couple of days for the drugs to wear off. They'd returned to her usual pill-based prescription and she'd turned to her usual puke-based solution. She heard the Joker chuckling every time she retched behind that half-wall. The drugs didn't seem to affect him at all.
Her face was still swollen and bruised. She pressed her fingers into the tender spots sometimes, flinching at the pain. He laughed at that too.
Her fear of the Joker had given way to excitement and curiosity. Not because the Joker was any less scary, but because she'd realized there were two sets of bars between them. And because she was just really bored.
Max was different. Meals were delivered to their cells. Rec Room was a once-a-week affair and on a strict good-behaviour basis (and Opal had yet to be deemed "good"). There was no outside time. Opal had nearly cried when Pike told her that.
The Joker, as fucking terrifying as he was, was Opal's only source of entertainment for the foreseeable future.
Unfortunately for Opal, she was also the Joker's only source of entertainment. She imagined he must have been quite bored before she'd arrived, staring over at an empty cell. Now, instead, he stared over at her. All the time.
It was quite disconcerting and, to be honest, she felt like a bit of a disappointment, like she should be doing something to actually entertain him. She smirked at the thought.
"You've perked up, Doll." the Joker was leaning against the bars again. "What's got you so… perky?"
She grinned at him. "Your fabulous company, of course," she responded before she could regret it.
He put his hand to his heart in mocking gratitude. "Are you sweet-talking me, beautiful? I thought you said you weren't crazy."
He bared his teeth at her and stretched his arms above his head in that move he always pulled to intimidate the guards.
Opal shook her head, forcing herself to look away.
One thing she'd learned about the Joker over the last couple of days was that he apparently had a vendetta against shirts, because his jumpsuit was always tied around his waist, exposing his chest. Or maybe he was just an exhibitionist.
Opal held in a sigh. She'd always had a thing for tattoos. This was so unreasonable.
Opal was a little shocked when Pike arrived at her cell door to take her to therapy. She hadn't had a session since the incident and had honestly thought they were just leaving her rot.
She was excited, honestly, at the thought of some interaction. Therapy didn't sound nearly as terrible as it had when she'd first arrived. Isolation would do that to you.
Pike cuffed her and walked her slowly down the hall. "You're looking better," he told her. She raised an eyebrow at him, knowing her face was still a mess. He winced. "In general, I mean."
"Yeah," she responded. "I guess I didn't cope well with Solitary."
"The Joker… is he…" Pike didn't seem to know what to ask.
"He's fine," Opal said. "There's two sets of bars between us, what could he do?"
Pike "hmmm-ed," looking unconvinced, which Opal found a little alarming.
"Why are you being nice to me?" She asked after a moment of silence. They continued to wind their way down the grey hallways.
Pike avoided her eyes. "My job isn't to beat the shit out of you."
"Could you tell that to Stokes?" She grinned at him.
He didn't seem to find it funny and looked a little sick, if anything. Pike shook his head. "You're just so young," he said, directing her around another corner.
"Yeah, well," she responded. It wasn't like he was that much older.
They stopped in front of yet another grey door. "Here we are. You'll be seeing Doctor Quinzel." Opal hadn't heard that name before.
Pike unlocked the door, leading Opal to the table. Attached to it was a pair of shackles. "Sorry," he told her. "Safety precautions."
Opal nodded. She couldn't exactly blame them.
Pike locked her into the shackles, giving her a pat on the shoulder. "The Doctor will be here soon," he told her, leaving her alone in the room.
Opal took a moment to bask in the weak sunlight filtering through the barred window. How long had it been since she'd felt the sun on her skin? It felt like heaven.
Dr. Quinzel was beautiful. That special kind of beautiful that you almost couldn't believe. The kind where you'd be envious if you weren't half-convinced you'd just met an angel. Opal had told her this and the Doctor had blushed.
"That's very kind of you, Opal," she'd said, with a smile that reached her eyes.
Her voice wavered slightly. She was nervous, clearly.
"I won't hurt you," Opal said, kindly. "Dr. Byrne was mean. You don't seem mean."
The Doctor smiled. "I try not to be."
They'd gone through all the usual intro stuff. The how have you been, how are your meds, are sleeping, are you eating. The Doctor was very concerned for her, which was sweet. Opal wasn't used to concern.
The Doctor had asked about her bruises. Opal said she'd fallen over. The Doctor asked how many times.
"So, Opal," she said, "you hear people's thoughts?"
Dr. Byrne had spent a grand total of five minutes covering the topic with her, before deciding she'd made up the whole thing.
Dr. Quinzel smiled at her, reassuringly.
"I'm not crazy," Opal told her.
"I didn't say you were," the Doctor replied.
"Any yet here I am," Opal said.
The Doctor nodded her head, smiling gently. "Here you are."
"I don't want to talk about it," Opal told her, staring down at her hands.
"Okay," the Doctor conceded, clearly not willing to push this early in the relationship. "Let's talk about something fun, then. Oooh!" She exclaimed, grinning at Opal. "What about boys? Was there anyone special before? I mean…"
She seemed to realize that could be a sensitive topic, what with Opal being locked up for the foreseeable rest of her life.
Opal smiled kindly and nodded; the Doctor relaxed slightly. Boy-talk would be nice; she missed Miriam.
"Can I call you Dr. Q?" She asked and Dr. Q nodded.
"Did you have a boyfriend?" The Doctor asked.
"No," Opal shook her head. "There was this guy I used to mess around with, but it wasn't, like, a thing, you know?"
Dr. Q nodded her head like she knew and Opal believed her.
"Tell me about him," the Doctor leaned forward, her attention entirely on Opal.
Opal smiled. "We worked at the grocery store together. He was kinda cute. Bleached hair, a few tattoos. Interesting."
Dr. Q nodded.
"He'd get all fake-deep sometimes, which was kind of annoying, but I could usually shut him up." Opal grinned raising her eyebrows suggestively.
The Doctor chuckled. "I'm sure you could."
Opal smiled at the vote of confidence.
"We used to work the same shift sometimes. After, I'd call Aunt Sue and say they'd asked me to stay late. I don't think she believed me. I think she was just glad I was being normal for once. We'd go back to his place and, well, you know."
"Did you like him?" Dr. Q asked.
Opal thought about it for a moment. "Kinda? I mean the sex wasn't great, not that I have much to compare it to. But you know, I can do better with my hand."
Dr. Q laughed at that. "Oh I have been there."
Opal smiled; she almost felt like a normal girl.
"But it was nice to be close to someone. To make someone feel good."
Dr. Q nodded, a sad look on her face. Opal looked down at her hands.
"It turned out he had a girlfriend the whole time," Opal shrugged. "I didn't mind that much, but she definitely did. She came to the store while I was working and screamed at me in front of everyone. She called me a whore."
Dr. Q shook her head. "Why do people always blame the woman?" She sighed. "What did you do?"
"Nothing. I mean I was fucking her boyfriend. My manager sent me home early and I just cried for a bit." Opal shrugged her shoulders. "Pathetic, I know."
"It's not," Dr. Q told her. "Having feelings isn't pathetic."
Opal traced a pattern on the floor with her foot. "Aunt Sue said that's just what men do and you have to get over it. I guess that's why she married Ron, so she wouldn't have to worry about other women wanting him."
Dr. Q looked like she wanted to say something, but Opal continued.
"He quit the store after that. I think she made him. I never saw him again."
Dr. Q nodded. "Did you ever try to contact him?"
Opal shook her head. "I didn't want to look pathetic."
"You know," the Doctor said, "When you spend too much time worrying about how you'll be perceived, you miss out on being the person you actually want to be."
She sounded like she knew what she was talking about, so Opal nodded.
The Doctor smiled. "What was his name?"
Opal looked up Dr. Q, seeing the eager expression on her face. "Don't play games, with me Doc."
Dr. Q swallowed. "I'm not playing games, Opal. Were there any other guys?"
Opal shook her head. "No. I was always the weird kid and puberty hit me pretty late. Guys never really paid attention to me until my last year of school. Then I suddenly got tits and it was like I became an actual person." If she sounded bitter it's because she was. "I wasn't gonna give them the time after they ignored me all those years. I have some dignity."
Dr. Q smiled. "Well, that's an important thing to have."
Opal was in a good mood when Pike walked her back to her cell.
"You know the worst thing about being in here, Pike?" She asked.
He raised an eyebrow at her and made a "hmmm" noise.
"I mean, aside from knowing I'll never have sex again for the rest of my life." She held in a chuckle as Pike cleared his throat and refused to look at her.
"It's knowing that I'll never taste chocolate again."
That made him look at her. "Chocolate? Really? That's what you miss the most?"
She nodded. "Hmmm. The way it's so sweet and creamy. And how it just melts in your mouth." She closed her eyes, sighing deeply at the thought.
When she opened her eyes, Pike was staring at her, mouth slightly open. He jerked it shut and looked resolutely ahead.
Opal smirked. Fuck dignity.
"Making friends?" The Joker drawled at her after Pike had left. He raised a suggestive eyebrow.
Opal leaned against the bars of her cell, staring at him. "I'm bored," she defended herself, "This place is boring."
"Ah, ah, ah," the Joker wagged his finger in reproach. "Now we should appreciate what we have. In my day we knew how to entertain ourselves." His smile widened and he swayed from side to side, eyeing her up.
He gave her that special grin that sent chills down her spine. Not the good kinds of chills.
"Let play a game."