Author's Note: Holy CRAP. I am, right now, in my second year of High School. Proof to all of my lazy and uninspired-ness. Just incase you cared to know how dang long this is taking me. Started this chapter on 12/17/04 at around 11 PM. I'm not sure if I'm writing these notes for you or for me, but I've taken to writing down when I write stuff. It is partly to annoy myself, though, I know that much. Maybe you'd be interested, too. And everyone who waited forEVER for me to update this, thank my friend Corey (Kyorei) for prodding me for it. . Thankies Squirrel!
And, about the character that Jim calls Clair, she was a made up char of mine that I liked to throw onto the Legacy in my head when I was bored. No romance, no wild adventures of her own, just a little side-tracked-ness on the way to Treasure Planet. She never even made it to the planet itself, she was just a hitchhiker. If anyone cares, I'll put a brief bio (very brief, I promise) into the next chapter. Won't have much to do with this, seeing as Jim is going to forget about it all soon anyway P.
Disclaimer: It's late and I have no imagination, so I just don't own Jim P
After Lee had drifted off in that most irritating way, Jim had called over every couple of minutes to see if she would wake up, but to no avail. It didn't seem to matter to him much more than the fact that she was someone to talk to. It was easier to avoid feeling lonely talking to a stranger than it was to sit in silence and think about the people he knew well. He wished, out of anything else, that he could have some light. That was another thing the Lupe offered from her fingertips. Or a clock. Knowing the time might make it all a little bit more bearable.
But then again, if he had a way to watch time, it would only seem to move slower. That's the way it always was for him in school, anyway. Maybe he would go mad from the steady tick-tock instead of the dripping sound of the water that persisted. With nothing else to do, he laid back down on his cot resolutely and gazed into the blackness above him, trying to see the ceiling.
He fell asleep that way, and remained sleeping until a loud click and squeal of the rusty metal door woke him, god only knows how long later. In the abrasive yellow light, Jim squinted at first. After his eyes adjusted slowly, he looked around him furtively, drinking in the lighted details. None of it was special; none of it was even remotely pleasing to look at, but to see it was something he needed to do. He hated the constant dark so far. In the dim glow across the hall, he could see Lee crouched warily on her cot, trying to stay hidden in the shadows. He figured it must make her feel secure.
Jim noticed, even as he himself was doing it, how she seemed to be drinking in the sight of him. Greedily she moved her eyes over him, quickly as if she were afraid he would disappear back into the darkness. The short moments of sight that the prisoners had were a forbidden taste of a pleasure, taken secretly. Everything down there seemed to be arranged to demoralize them as much as possible.
It wasn't terrible, as far as he knew, they didn't beat the prisoners or anything, it was more like the feeling a toothache gives you. Always there, and though not really very horrible, still could be crippling. You just have to bite down on it, make it hurt for real, so the dull ache will go away. That was what staring into the darkness for hours on end was like. Bad, but not the most evil thing you could do to a person.
The door of his cell creaked open to the key of the squid from the-- day? hours?-- before. He wordlessly replaced the empty bowl on the floor with a full one. Jim could almost still taste it, not extravagant, but good in it's own way. He wanted it, but Lee's words made him wary. Maybe she was just crazy. Maybe she'd been hit on the head too hard. Who knew what she had gone though before coming here, his mind reasoned. I'm hungry and I want that soup. She certainly didn't seem to be all there.
But then again, why take chances? He left the bowl where it was.
He heard Lee growling across the hall when her door was opened. She was the last one to be served, being on the opposite side of the hall closest to the door. The squid barked something angry at her, and then kicked the tray closer to the cot where she crouched like a cornered animal. Jim wanted to tell her to just chill out, but he kept his mouth closed. The guard grumbled as he wheeled his cart out to the thick door, muttering to himself about back in the day when you broke them in right, hard work right away, and beat them 'til they submitted. None of this new-fangled 'brain-washing' business. Waste of time.
Jim sharpened at this, what could very probably be hints. It sounded like he could be talking about slaves… that sounded about right. Right and familiar. Maybe that's why he couldn't be seen near the spaceport, along with the other human crew members. Were humans slaves? He couldn't recall. Maybe. Probably. He stretched his legs and crept across the cell to the bars.
"Lee," he whispered.
She similarly came to the edge of her cage, again gripping the cold bars with her gently glowing fingers.
"You're shivering," he noticed. He had, in his mind, considered her a friend already.
"You as well," Clair replied in a falsely calm voice. It was new to Jim, to hear this tone from her. He hardly knew her, but it had felt like longer than the day or two it might have been already. He also noticed that it was true; he, too, was shivering. With the cold, or something else he could not tell.
"So, when was the last time you actually ate anything?" he wondered to her, trying to be conversational amidst the hushed sounds of greedy slurping from a couple of other cells.
She looked away, "I've been taking a sip or two every feeding for three pairs of meals now. They seem to feed us twice a day, so.. Perhaps three days now, very little."
For some reason, showing this little bit of weakness, submission in the form of not meeting his eyes as she did the previous conversation, and being able to see her shake, had toned down her mysticism. There was still the glowing fingertips, the thick yet hollow accent of her voice, and the ever-present scent of vanilla drifting from her to him, but now she seemed more real.
Jim hesitated, then slowly squeezed his arm out between the bars. She glanced up, startled at this odd action. He reached his hand out to her, crossing just barely more than half the hallway. She easily slipped her thin arm out, reaching out for his hand. Their fingertips touched, her furry hands with their luminescent claws trying to hold onto his smooth, dirty fingers. They stayed that way for a moment, as if making sure the other was real, then pulled away simultaneously. They did not speak again for some time, staring instead at the identical wooden bowls, colorless and formless in the darkness.
"I don't want to forget my name, Jim," she said softly at last, not looking up, although he did. "They're going to make us forget everything, and make us slaves. We will be nothing; we will be empty shells that do their work for them. Broken. Nothing."
Clair's words chilled him. She still did not look up. From somewhere down the hall, a soft sob was heard. "I hate this place," she confided. Jim still said nothing, not knowing what to say. "I'm so hungry," she finished at last in a voice so soft he could barely hear her.
Finally, Jim managed to say, "Look, just eat. I'll tell you everything you forget later." She looked up at him, sharp and surprised.
"It will not matter then," she responded. "I will not even know what I have forgotten. That is how it works."
The whole thing still baffled Jim. Slaves. Humans were slaves to some species, just as Lupes were. He knew this, remembering it now that his memory had been jogged. They would be sold.
"You need to eat something, or you'll starve," he mumbled, not looking up at her. He didn't want to feel like he cared about anyone else. It was easier that way for now. She seemed to glare at him for a moment.
"I am Lee. That is all I still hold onto. I am a Lupe, and I howl the Song of the Lenorek," she said, soft and quick so that Jim wasn't sure he had heard. Then she nearly dove for the bowl, gulping down the rich, spicy broth. He blinked and she was done. He was sure now that the food held a sedative, because she immediately looked drained and sleepy, even though they had only been awakened an hour or so ago.
"Wait, Lee, what's Lenorek?" he sputtered the demand.
"My family name, I think," she yawned. "Thank you, Jim."
"No problem," he muttered, looking down at his own bowl. He hesitantly picked it up and took a small sip. Maybe he could have little bit's at a time, make it last and delay the effects. He sure hoped so. The tiny bit didn't make him tired at all, so all he had to look forward to was hour upon hour in the dark, listening, straining, and waiting. "Maybe I'll exercise or something."
So he did. He jogged in place, did pushups and crunches on the cot, stretched his legs and arms, twisted his back around to keep himself limber, and did everything he could in the small space without further hurting his straining muscles. But all that work was doing was making his stomach growl louder. At last, he gave up. He set himself on the cot and picked up the bowl, taking another sip. Then another. Then a gulp. Before he had realized it, he had finished the whole thing. Cursing to himself, he kicked the bowl into the wall. It bounced harmlessly back to his feet. He didn't feel like waiting to get tired, and just lie down on the small gray bed and closed his eyes.
I kind of want to end the chapter here, but I really didn't get much done right there. Maybe I'll go just a tiny bit further, then go to bed.
Days passed. This became the system. Lee would trust Jim with more and more of her secrets each day. As she forgot things, she remembered others and told them to Jim. The saddest part was, they were sometimes erased from him from whatever brainwashing they put into the daily meals. Jim would tell Lee simple things about himself. When they both woke up, they would remind each other of who they were, touch hands for a moment, or however long it took to tire their arms suspended across the gap between them. Twice they actually held hands.
However well they thought they were surviving, they both saw signs of the other failing. Lee's light grew noticeably dimmer by the day, and every now and then a faraway look would come to her face. Jim had taken to telling her about the Benbow to occupy time, and to help remember it himself. After a while, he would leave out details, change things in his stories, and once he even forgot the layout of his own home.
One morning, Lee asked in a timid voice, devoid of all her usual mystery, "Jim… where are we?" That was when they both knew that it was almost over. They didn't even try fasting, they knew that after a while, they would just have to give in.
A few days later, Lee stopped responding to her name. Jim tossed rocks to get her attention, and then she just stared at him, blank and curious, and not at all worried or frightened. She stopped talking. Jim tried to stop eating again.
Later on, what could have been whole days, Jim woke to the sound of the main door, head foggy and neck stiff. But this time there was no food cart, just the squid, and another figure. A large man, it seemed, humming to himself and shaking a set of chains and irons like bells to his rhythm. Jim was pretty sure he should know them, but it just didn't compute.
The person went right to Lee's cell, shook a set of keys from his belt and opened the door. "Com'on, out ye go, lass," he said, and the Lupe stood obediently, with the silence and grace of a small child. As the irons clicked onto her wrists, Jim jumped to the bar door of his own cell.
"Lee!" he called. For the first time in a while, she turned to her name, but so did the one chaining her. She only looked at him, though, and did not show anything recognition. It was like the way a pup will respond to any noise directed at them with mild interest.
"Hey, leave her alone, put her back!" Jim yelled at the stranger. "Creep, leave her alone!" He already felt lonely with the female still there. Alone, he didn't think he could take much more. He still talked to her, even when she paid him no attention.
"An' just what're ye goin' ta do if I don't, eh?" asked the other in humor.
Jim made a face like a scowl and lunged through the bar, grabbing at the tattered remains of Lee's sleeve. She shrunk away, startled, but he held on. His patience out, the man grabbed Jim's arm and pulled him roughly up against the bars and brought his face down to his menacingly.
"Now see here ye lit'le--"
He paused, seeing Jim's face for the first time. Having knocked his head against the bar, Jim's vision blurred for a moment. Even then, in the darkness, something registered familiar in his brain. As if in slow motion he scanned the man's face. Dark skin, a glowing cybernetic eye, gears whirring at the side of his face, and a dirty bandana on top of his head. I should know that face… thought Jim dazedly.
Suddenly, the older male dropped him as if burned. Jim continued to stare distantly, while the stranger looked stunned. Lee stayed where she was, looking distractedly at the ceiling.
"Jim?" came the hoarse voice at last. "The blue blazes… is tha' really you?"
Jim didn't move. Didn't nod, didn't shake his head, he just continued to stare. The other took a step closer. "I mean, sure, your hair's grown long an' you're all scruffy.. And you're older, too, but… Jim?"
Jim rubbed his face. He hadn't shaved this whole time, and sure enough the scruffy beginnings of a beard scratched at his bare hand. Slowly he nodded.
"Gods, lad, what're ye doin' here?" the older man demanded, looking completely stunned.
"Not by choice," he muttered the reply, still wary. "Who… are you?"
The older man just looked shocked and sad. "Ye mean ye really don't remember me? I mean- oh. Yes. O'course. Jim, it's me, Silver!"
Oh! I leave you hangin'! Review, and maybe I'll update quicker than this last one, lol.