Warning: Great big spoilers for The Authority #22 are contained herein, as well as swearing and sex references and drug references and various other forms of nastiness. This is some kind of alternate universe that breaks off either during or after aforementioned issue.

The title is from the Regurgitator tune, and this might have been a song fic if I could have nailed the guitar riffs to page.

Disclaimer: Property of WildStorm, who are property of DC. Invented by Warren Ellis and Brian Hitch, killed messily by Mark Millar and Frank Quietly.


By Andraste

You keep asking me: is the food acceptable? Is the mattress soft enough? Would you like us to adjust the thermostat? Are you happy?

What's more, you seem to be interested in the answers, which is more than I can say for most people I've met. I just wish I knew why.

Since I was born with a 'kick me' sign of cosmic proportions pinned to my back, I've met a lot of bullies. Some of them wanted my lunch money and some of them wanted me to save the world, but not one ever gave a flying fuck about my general health and well being after they'd had their way with me. It's not in the job description, really. This either means that you don't know what you're doing, or that you're doing it with more than usual subtlety.

I understand why you want me *alive*, of course. If you cut me down, you will only make me stronger, or at least even more pissed off at you than I am already. You might as well keep me breathing until you invent an inhibitor field that can get rid of the Singularity or a way of containing it in something other than a human body.

So maybe you want me happy so I don't top myself, something painful and pointless that I have no interest in doing. Having my hair go grey before I turned twenty-five was bad enough; if I have to resurrect again my fingernails will probably drop off. Besides, waking up to find yourself lying in a pool of your own blood and mangled internal organs is a rotten way to start the day. Trust me.

Maybe you want me happy because you prefer coherent sentences to the screaming and whimpering you had to listen to all night back when I arrived. It must be cheaper to keep me now I can feed myself and wipe my own arse.

Whatever the reason for the question, though, I might as well give you an answer. Am I happy?

Let me start by saying that if I have to spend my life in a magically sealed prison run by fascist murderers, this is the magically sealed prison run by fascist murderers I want it to be. In many ways, it's just what I've been looking for: a stress-free environment with heroin and porn on tap, a Nintendo, and Prozac in the water.

The microphones and cameras would bother me, if I didn't already have thousands of dead people in my head to provide a running commentary on my life. You might watch me jerk off, but at least you don't tell me how I could have done it better.

When you first gave me Sparky, I thought some dickhead of a shrink hadn't read my psych report properly, but I have to admit that it's nice to have something alive in here. Maybe you could get me some houseplants to go with her, although she'd probably just eat them. It might stop her attacking my shoelaces for ten minutes.

Speaking of houseplants, there are a few things that you could do to make my stay more pleasant. Just while we're talking about my level of happiness, you understand.

I don't know why I have to keep saying this, but here we go again: I am not American. I'll speak your language. I'll wear your sneakers. But I will *not* drink the liquid shit you call coffee. Get me some *real* coffee. I'm asking nicely.

Also for the thousandth time: give me back my damn goggles. I wasn't wearing them twenty-four hours a day because they looked cool, you know. While it was busy ruining my life the Singularity managed to find a spare moment to screw with my eyes. The lights in here might be dim to you, but to me it's like someone turned the colour on the TV up all the way. It gives me a permanent migraine unless I wear something to cut down the glare. Like my goggles.

You can take the treadmill away while you're at it, since have no intention of using it and it's taking up valuable storage space. I *run* if and when there's someone chasing me, and one of the things I like best about this place is that fleeing for my life has been completely unnecessary so far. I don't *exercise.* It's against my religion.

Lastly, I know there's no way you're going to fulfill *this* request, but I'll ask anyway. I'd like to know about Jenny. Show me a picture of her learning to walk. Tell me what her first word was. Or that Bill Gates reads her bedtime stories proving that global capitalism is god's own economic system every night. Something. Anything.

Please tell me she's OK. It doesn't even have to be true.

So . . . as I was saying, the service here is pretty good.

If you think that means I don't see their corpses every time I fall asleep, or that if I get the chance I'll refrain from turning your kidneys into live rats and smiling while they eat their way out via your lungs, you're stupider than I thought.

I was right when I told Jenny Sparks I'd make an awful super hero, although if she'd asked me then which of my addictions would cause most trouble for the team, pizza wouldn't have been my first guess. But I liked being in the Authority, most of the time. Using my powers gave me a rush better than anything I've felt after injecting, smoking, inhaling, swallowing or snorting a mind-altering substance. People listened to me because they thought my head was filled with shamanistic wisdom, even if I was only telling them at length how crap "Blair Witch II" was. I even had a sex life by association.

More than that, whatever you might think of them, whatever lies you might have told people since their 'tragic deaths', the Authority tried to do good things. They were brave and brilliant and idealistic, and stupid in a way only the brave, brilliant and idealistic *can* be stupid. Like a lot of people who've been hurt too much, they wanted to be in a place where no one could hurt them any more. They thought they could make the whole world into that place by killing all the bad people.

When you came for us, a brave man would have tried to fight. A stupid man would have tried to run. Even with his guts scattered all over the floor, with what power he had left diverted to holding his corpse together and repairing his spinal column. Especially after finding the bodies.

I'm not brave. Or brilliant. Or idealistic. Or that kind of stupid. If my team mates had bothered to ask, I would have told them that Doctors have been at work on this planet for as long as there's been consciousness to work in, and all we've done is keep the human species alive so it can fuck things up in exiting new ways. All we can do is keep our heads down and keep pushing that rock up the hill.

There is no better place. There are always more bad people. And some of them are us.

So when the clean-up crew arrived to dispose of the refuse, I put my hands up and surrendered. It turned out to be one of my few sensible life choices. I'm much better at being a prisoner than I was at being a super hero, and the Singularity is stuck with me for now. We can be patient.

I shoot up. I entertain the kitten that will soon be a cat. I watch my favourite videos until the sound wears out, and then I watch them some more, free from interruption.

In the end, I've always settled for what I could get, and if I can't make them alive I might as well make myself comfortable. Putting up with bad coffee won't take the pictures off the inside of my eyelids. I hate myself, of course, but I should be used to that by now. On the bright side, I have a whole bunch of fresh reasons.

No one ever asks me: do you want to be happy?

People presume that happiness is something everyone wants, but I've finally figured out that everyone wanting something doesn't make it any good. I don't trust it any more than I trust money or sex or power. When I'm happy, it usually means that things about to turn to shit again. From now on, I'll take the passable imitation that comes in a syringe, if it's all the same to you. At least with junk I know what I'm getting into.

I know that what you probably mean when you say "are you happy?" is "will you be co-operative?", and you won't have any trouble on that score. I know that whether I'm happy or not doesn't matter, because what I want has never mattered. To anybody.

Now if you'll excuse me, I'm going to stop talking to the ceiling and get very, very wasted. Happy?

The End