Dedicated to Fayra Lee, who's been bugging me for the continuations of Grubby's Tale since two days after I posted it. She is very persistent. Thank you.
Author's Note: I give Trouble the pre-naming ritual name of Mulberry, a name which Kitty Rainbow first gave to him in her fic Solace in the Dark.
Dear Whom-so-ever may care, if there is such a person.
Do you want me to tell you something? I know you don't, but I want to tell you. No, you probably don't know me, and I don't even know you. We're on even footing on that front. But do you want to know something small and insignificant about me so that you can analyse it then claim to know me? Don't tell me you don't, because People always want to know about others, other's lives, other's failures, other's aspirations and inspirations and achievements. It makes them feel better about themselves. Why do you think Soap Operas are so successful and run for so many seasons? And it all seems to work out, as people love telling others. It's extremely cathartic. Which is what I'm doing now, isn't it?
What to say? What to bother saying? What to pretend to bother to say, what to hide, what to say between the lines in the hopes that someone will one day be able to understand? If anyone ever gets to see this, which I don't think they will, realistically speaking - writing.
Now, for the fact that you never wanted to hear, not consciously, only wanting to know at the level of the medieval beast that laughs at the pain of others, is fascinated by blood, and gleefully passes on a nasty piece of untrue gossip about soandso and soandso: The best and worst things I've ever done in my life have directly been because of my brother. Interesting, isn't it? It'll make more sense – the statement will have more impact - if you know more about him. I'll tell you later. I'll stick to one thing at a time. So… Not many people can say that, that both their best and their worst is brought out by a single person, and a family member at that, not many people at all. The best things morally have been because of him, the worst acts, the worst thoughts even, have been because of him. My life has always been completely unbalanced because of Grub, and it's not that I wouldn't have it any other way (because I most certainly would - that was my one wish when I was younger and less knowledgeable), but it's that I've adapted so that it no longer outwardly matters to me.
It does still, but I don't tell anyone about that.
Okay, best things I've ever done. There aren't that many to tell the truth, contrary to popular thought on the subject. Not good things done for a pure reason. But… I can't think of anything at all. Everything has a selfish layer attached, buried deep beneath the smiles and overacted charm. But isn't that with everything, with everyone.
Like joining the LEP. That was a selfish act. Not because of the pay (which is absolutely shocking – I used to accuse Root - my Commander - about that for a while, before I found out that he only gets twelve dollars more than a captain per week), or because of the idea of girls being attracted to men in uniforms (which is just … wrong. I'll get onto that later). I joined the Force so that Grub would look up at me, so that Grub would think of me as a good person. Most people wouldn't understand why the opinions of a retarded kid matters so much to me, but they obviously don't have much contact with the child-like and the innocent - since contact with those innocents make us readjust our own values because they highlight the wrong in us. They always do. Children are the greatest judge of us, and it's so hard to knowingly ruin their ideals. Almost impossible. The guilt keeps you all on the straight and narrow.
The innocent are the best scale to judge yourself and your acts by. And I wanted to be proven good.
So I joined the LEP because of Grub's wide brown eyes looking up at me. And later he was only able to join it because of me; by the time he was old enough for a job (later than anyone else) I was already influential enough to cover his tracks and pulls strings, whispering words like 'public opinions' and 'good for the Force's reputation' into the over-large ears of the Council members.
They didn't really want someone who was 'Special', but they wanted the good PR.
I hate the word special. It has so many meanings, and none of them seem to do the word justice. It's so used and abused, talking about lost marriages and new shoes and poor human souls all in the same breath. It's too short a word to use when talking about living people who through accident or fate or karma can't learn and can't get jobs and can't read and can't have relationships, and perhaps can't even walk… And almost definitely can't live. They are the most looked down upon in society, and everyday fairies feel better about it all by saying they are special and by putting them into – ha! - specialist care.
I hate the way society works. And how people lie. And how people lie to children and expect them to accept it all without question. How they water things down so that it can be given in understandable doses until the actual object doesn't matter anymore. And how they think – hope – that a child in the wrong place at the wrong time will forget the incident completely.
My mother thinks that I don't remember Annie. But I do. Oh, God, I do! She was so beautiful, and so incredibly small… Even for a fairy-babe.
If you could see me right now, you'd see me laughing. Or not. After thinking of Annie I'm almost crying. But I laugh about God, in a cynical, depressed way. God is such a good person to blame it all on. It's his fault that Annie is not here, although he was working through a person down here. But he doesn't file lawsuits when someone puts his name on something. And to think that deities are yet another thing we've leached off the Mud Men. They have such imaginations, we can't hope to compare with them in that respect.
I used to have an imagination. I drew pictures of superheroes and the world Above in brightly coloured crayons when I was young. Then, somewhere along the line, sometime just after Annie, I stopped drawing almost completely. The only time I'd pick up a pen would be to write a memo or sign something. Once I tried to start drawing again, but after a few hopeless, hapless, lines I realized how hopeless it was and carefully put my coloured pencils away.
Listen to me, you wouldn't think that I'd be talking about crayons when I know I'm so close to death that the only thing left that's debatable is when it's going to happen. But being captive gives you a lot of time to think, I've learnt. And if you only use that horribly long time to just lament over what you should have done and didn't, what was going to happen… Then you'd go mad long before you got a metal bowl of horrible gruel for dinner.
I think I might be mad already. I certainly feel like I'm mad. Am I mad? Is anyone mad? Does it matter either way?
I don't think it does. It can't. Being mad is an advantage in this world. If you're mad you don't notice when politicians don't keep their promises, you don't see that reality as unchangeable, and so you don't feel despair, can't see the reason for it, even when the world about you is ruined.
I wonder what Grub's thinking right now - about me being here, so far, so close, so gone. I wonder if anyone's even told him. I don't know how long it's been since my capture, whether or not someone would have had to tell him, probably our Mother – the time has blurred because of spurts of unconsciousness and irregular meals, and my cell is in some desolated place so I can't hear activity out in the city and judge time by the noise.
Or maybe I'm not even in the city anymore. Maybe they transported me when I'd first blacked out from the fighting.
I hate trying to piece this all together! I didn't become a copper because I wanted to solve mysteries. I'm not in the Investigation Division. I only became a copper because my father was one and Grub wanted me to.
Is that enough of a reason to do something like this? Is that enough of a reason to have a job that puts pains in your heart every time you even so much as think of it? A job that used to make you feel physically sick when the time came to go to work in the evening, until you became immune to the feeling, the horror of what was happening around you.
I've learnt too much about People since I became a copper. I knew too much, had seen too much, even before. But now, I can't imagine that there's good out there. Grub's good, he's a good person. But society… And people wonder why Root's such an asshole?
I hate this. Being here, unknowing yet knowing. I don't know where I am, I don't know what's going to happen to me, I don't know who's in charge or any of the whys. But I know that in all probability I'm going to die, and that next time the guard comes in here I might get a meal, but I'll definitely get a slug to the gut.
I wish I had something to do here, something which made it seem like I wasn't wasting my time and my days, however long I've been here and will be here. Thinking takes too much emotional energy, and all I want to do is turn my brain off, I don't want to think about Mum, or Grub, or myself and the chances of getting out of here. I don't want to think about work, and I never have done. I don't want to think about friends of mine, or anything else. I don't want to think. Not at all. I almost don't want to have ever been able to think, because it's just all too hard.
TV is something which is inane, no mental interaction needed. In that way it's soothing, so relaxing. There's been a recent influx of TV shows to do with Crime. It's romantisied, valiant, brave… and always has a happy ending. It doesn't really happen like that. Yes, sometimes we catch them, they go to gaol, but most of the time we end up putting the file, the pictures of victims and blown-up copies of fingerprints in the 'Unsolved' file in the Plaza. The Unsolved is far larger than the Solved. Even though the Solved generally has more information on each case. People don't realize that. They can't see the logical, because their minds are conditioned into not seeing what they don't want to see, what they can't cope with. That's why no one ever sees Grub, not really.
I guess I've explained about Grub now, and if not in direct words, you know about him anyway. He's 73, with the mental age of a 20-year-old, and he'll never be older. But, he has never really had innocence. People think that innocence leaves when maturity sets in, but it doesn't work like that. He stills believes in Good with a capital G, he's still got that, but he knows things. He listens. People don't censor what they say around him, they think it's not necessary, so he hears it all and stores it somewhere in his not-properly formed brain. It was magic deprivation that did it. People don't know that it can do that. That the magic is so essential for us that if we don't have it we can die, loose our sight, have defective areas of our bodies.
Well, it doesn't matter now. There's nothing we can do about it, not now.
If you see my brother, tell him I said hi. I love him, really, I do. He's usually somewhere in Police Plaza, Haven, taking files around to be signed. He likes doing that. He feels like he's making a difference.
He wanted to become a policeman for all the noble reasons. He's a noble person.
I'm a selfish bastard who doesn't stop whining. A kid who chose 'Trouble' as my name over Mulberry because I thought it made me sound hard. Who has it all so good but can't see that. I'm learning though, I'm learning off a 73-year-old idiot who still gets muddled when tying his laces sometimes.
Captain Trouble Kelp, LEP.