Lisa had made sure to pack a small Swiss Army knife, any hairpins she could get her hands on, and a trusty pen, just in case. But she knew she wouldn't need them. They might even confiscate her "weapons" before she could get in there.
Just in case. Just in case. Just in case.
She gripped tighter to the strap of her purse, heels clicking on the sterile tile and echoing off of the pure white walls. The halls were empty, soulless and cold. Her stride quickened, and her eyes fell to the small piece of paper she has scrawled directions on while on the phone. He had mumbled and coughed several times while relating every nuance of the long corridors to her, and, being as polite as she always was, she did not ask him to repeat anything. Not to mention she could hardly read her own handwriting. Her fingers had taken up a slight tremor every once and a while, ever since-
Just in case.
Lisa glanced inside her purse quickly, just to assure herself that she was still armed. And if all else failed, she had worn her highest heels that day. They gave off a sharp report with every nervous step. The numbers above the doors filed off like a monotonous recording, passing without memory or care. 3034, 3036, 3038... Was she in the right wing? Brown eyes glanced from the chicken-scratch on the page to the shining tile of the floor to the bright florescent lights pock marking the ceiling. The number on the page looked like 3060, but it could have been 3666 or even, if turned a certain way, 8096. She cursed herself silently, then returned to her plodding.
A sound behind her caused the woman to throw herself against the wall, chest heaving, purse clutched to her breast. A custodian. He was wheeling his cleaning cart out of a room where the television was silently singing a song to a children's movie. She could get a glimpse of the screen before the door was shut. It was a skeleton in a black pinstripe suit. Lisa grimaced. What a terrible character for a children's movie. The custodian was beside her suddenly.
"Sorry, ma'am, did I scare you?" His voice was gravelly, much like his face, which had craters and whiskers like swaying grass in an asteroid field. Lisa blushed furiously. She was frightened too easily, ever since-
"No, no, I'm just a little jumpy today." She ran a shaking hand (damn, she was shaking again) through her curls and looked at the paper quickly. "I'm looking for a room-" She cut herself off, biting her lip and showing the man her directions. He pored over them for a short while, then handed them back to her.
"Looks like you want room 3066," he said calmly. It's just a bit farther down this hall." He paused, raised one graying brow, then continued: "A friend of yours, Miss?"
Lisa couldn't answer. She knew exactly what to say, but her throat dried up in an instant, and it was painful to breathe. Suddenly hot and frustrated, Lisa simply said a quick "thank you" and was on her way, continuing down the hall as she had been. Now the sounds of the custodian filled the hall, and it was a nice feeling, to know that one is not alone, no matter whom the company happens to be.
The room materialized after only a short walk. It was no different from any of the other rooms, which felt so wrong and terrifying to her. She couldn't make up her mind how to go about entering or even whether she should knock or not. Finally, after a long debate, she raised her knuckles to the door and rapped twice, quietly.
"Come in," came a new and unknown voice. Lisa took her purse-
Just in case.
-and opened the door with a smooth glide. Inside smelled of cleaning fluid and metal, fresh sheets and man. She crinkled her nose slightly. There was another smell she couldn't identify, but it struck deep inside her and stayed there. The hospital bed was lying parallel to the window, and morning light poured into the sterile room. At the foot of the bed was a man who was obviously the doctor. He had a clipboard in his hairy fingers, a slight cough, and he was looking at her over thick-framed glasses.
"Lisa Reisert?" He asked, tapping the clipboard in his hand with the capped end of his pen. Lisa nodded, shooting her eyes from the doctor to the form in the hospital bed, half concealed by a curtain. A semi-private room. Not bad.
"Yes," was her curt reply. She seemed to have lost herself somewhere between speaking with the custodian and stepping over the threshold.
"I'm Dr. Lamb; we spoke on the phone earlier," he mumbled as he pushed his glasses up the bridge of his nose. So here was the mumbler. Lisa forced a smile over her taut lips, finding it hard to focus all of her attentions on the doctor. "I heard that you know a little something about our John Doe. Any information you might have would be-" He stopped for a cough, "-beneficial to the hospital as well as the care to this young man."
Lisa took a low, long breath, held her purse tightly, and slowly walked toward the bed. Her fingers curled around the off-white curtain.
Like a band-aid. Do it quick, get it over with. You know who's behind there.
But she couldn't help the fear burning in her throat like bile, and she slowly pulled the curtain back to reveal the bed's prisoner. A respirator was working slowly beside the bed, and an IV or two were placed in the veins of its occupant. She recognized him immediately despite the bandages around his throat and chest, the respirator tube down his throat and the gaudy hospital gown draped over his thin body.
"His name is Jackson Rippner," she said quietly, not looking at the doctor. "One night ago, he had a man stationed outside of my father's house, ready to kill him if I didn't listen to Rippner's demands." Lisa felt herself relating everything about that flight, everything she knew about Jackson Rippner, to that balding Dr. Lamb who was either scribbling or writing her words on that clipboard. Before long, she was wiping tears away with Kleenex offered by the doctor, sitting in the chair beside Jackson's pillow. Her hand was inside her purse, clutched around the Swiss Army knife.
Just in case.
But looking at him then, laying unconscious in some hospital without a name at the foot of his bed, she didn't feel fear anymore. What she felt was much more terrifying and surprising than she thought she'd feel.
He was the one that had threatened her and her father. He was the one that had attacked her and had almost succeeded in killing her. He had pressed up against her in the airplane bathroom, breath thick on her neck, eyes a mere fraction of an inch-
She broke away from her thoughts, tearing her eyes from his prostrate form and blowing her nose quickly. She tossed the used Kleenex in the nearby waste bin. Dr. Lamb tapped his pen against his lips, pacing at the foot of Jackson's bed. The heart monitor blipped every second, counting them off in military fashion. Lisa blocked them out, humming any song she could think of. It happened to be the song she had heard coming from the child's movie, the one with the well-dressed skeleton. She didn't know the words, but the tune was catchy and it forced the beeping from her mind. She didn't realize that someone was humming with her until she stopped, not knowing any more of the song.
She gasped and leapt from her seat beside his bed. His bright blue eyes had suddenly opened and were staring leisurely at her. The respirator was gone from his mouth, and she could discern the raspy voice rattling from his punctured throat.
"And I, Jack, the Pumpkin King-"
Jackson smiled airily as he sung the line that Lisa had stopped humming on. The heart monitor began beeping faster. Dr. Lamb, seeing that his patient had suddenly ripped the respirator from his mouth, dashed forward and pushed Lisa out of the way. Lisa pressed herself against the wall, trembling, shaking fingers at her lips. The beeping steadily grew louder, and faster. She was vaguely aware of Dr. Lamb calling for more doctors. There were suddenly five more people in the room, crowding around the gaunt, thin man. But all she could see was his eyes, peering at her through the gap between two doctors. And all she could hear was his voice.
"Knew you'd come to see me die, Leese," he rasped. His voice was raspy, but calm, with that smile hidden deep within it. The heart monitor blared loudly into the room. "Knew you'd cry."
A long, loud tone shot through her. Flat line. She was hardly aware that the defibrillators had been carted out. Once, his body jumped as the heart-starting shock jolted through him. The low tone of the heart monitor soaked through the room. Twice, it was charged and again Jackson's body jumped, then went limp. They tried twice more before one of the doctors solemnly muttered, "Call it." Dr. Lamb looked at his watch.
"Jackson Rippner, dead as of 10:43 AM." He sighed, then looked for Lisa.
She was pressed against the wall, eyes wide, tears lining them. She had refused to let them fall. No matter how much guilt she felt, no matter the emotions that had spilled from her during her long talk with the doctor, Jackson's last words stung had her. She would not cry.
The other doctors milled about for a short while, filling out paperwork and using words Lisa didn't even pretend to understand. She nodded or shook her head to every question given to her. Slowly, the room emptied, leaving only Lisa and Dr. Lamb together in the room with the still body of Lisa's tormenter. She couldn't look at him. Dr. Lamb unattached all of the medical equipment with a slow monotony that comes with a repetitive job. Lisa washed her face in the restroom. When she returned, Dr. Lamb had pulled a sheet over Jackson's body. She stiffly refused to look at him.
"Finally get the damn boy an ID and he keels over," he grumbled. The clipboard was nowhere to be seen. Lisa looked at her feet. She felt rather useless and empty, and she didn't know why. She intended to find out.
"Could I-" She stopped, realizing what she was about to ask. Tears lined her voice, but her eyes stayed dry. "Could I have a moment alone with him?"
Dr. Lamb gave her a questioning look, but the look of resolve on her face made him shrug. He was used to the question, but from an abductee asking to see her captor? He had probably seen stranger things. He closed the door behind him, leaving Lisa and the sheeted Jackson alone. The halls outside were quiet, and she was glad. She set her purse down on the chair Dr. Lamb had been using and sat beside the bed on the chair she had formerly occupied. Her fingers were seized by tremors once again, but she fought through them, biting her lip and lifting her hand to the sheet covering his face. She just knew that his hand would fly up, gripping her wrist to stop her. But no such jolt came. She touched the soft fabric of the sheet, and pulled it slowly down to reveal his face.
He was calm, at peace; eyes closed as if in sleep. His skin was pale, paler than it had ever been. She had seen death before, but she had never imagined that Jackson Rippner would die with a smile. Something caught in her throat. Something barbed and hooked, something terrible and something venomous. She had to remove it before it killed her too.
She let out a long, agonized scream of rage. Tears spilled from her tightly shut eyes, no matter how hard she wanted to hold them back. A sob struck her chest, then another, violently surging through her whole body. She held one hand to her eyes, trying to keep them dry, while the other clutched the sheet in her hand. She couldn't stand the look of happiness on his face. She closed her eyes, wanting to stop the flood of unwonted and frightening tears. She should be glad. He deserved to die for what he almost did. Why couldn't she stop crying?
Her sob caught and turned into a gasp and frightened squeal when she opened her eyes a second time. Jackson Rippner was smiling up at her, devilish grin gracing his lips and smugness in his icy eyes. She fell off of her chair, and it fell to the ground beside her with a loud crash. Jackson propped himself up on one elbow, peering over the edge of the bed at her.
"Good morning, sweetheart," he said in a nearly normal voice. The bandages around his neck were peeled away with a quick flick of the wrist, revealing a deep red scar, which had been slowly healing. Lisa pushed herself against the wall, trying desperately to think. "You surprised me," he admitted, sounding as if he had a very large frog somewhere in his throat. That grin slanted across his face, seizing half of it and leaving the other nearly flat. "That was supposed to be a crack, about the crying."
Lisa mouthed the words she wanted to say, but couldn't find her voice. Jackson sat up fully in the bed as she did, looking disgustingly down at his sea-green hospital gown. He peered at her, keeping his tone light and conversational.
"Oh, Leese, could you walk over there and bring me my clothes?"
Lisa opened and closed her mouth like a fish. She had watched him die.
"You're dead," she muttered, frightened tears rolling down her cheeks. Jackson made a soft clicking noise with his tongue and leaned down again, gazing at her.
"When in certain professions, one learns how to fake many, many things, Leese." He rubbed his arm where the IVs had been and glanced keenly out the window from his sitting position. He snapped his head back to Lisa. "Clothes, please, Lisa." His voice had switched again. Cold, like his eyes, like his heart.
Her hand had dived into her purse, grabbing the first thing it came into contact with. The Swiss Army knife. She brandished it before him, practically lunging for him. His arm grabbed her wrist, just has she had imagined it would have. He snapped his wrist back, pulling her quickly and neatly into his lap. The knife clattered to the floor. He grinned down at her, showing his teeth.
"Now, Lisa," he said as if to scold a child, "here is what's going to happen. You are going to go get my clothes and bring them to me like a good little girl. I am going to get dressed quickly and quietly." He pressed her wrists into his bed as she struggled to leave his grip. "We are going leave through there." He motioned to the window with his head, dark hair falling down into his eyes.
"Oh God," she whimpered, closing her eyes against the terror. She knew she should never have come.
"I warned you Lisa," he said with an edge to his voice. "I told you that I was going to steal you."
"I'm sorry," she said softly, one lonely tear dangling from her eyelashes. Jackson paused, shifted slightly under her. She was surprised to feel his thumb wiping that single tear off her cheek, and she opened her eyes, afraid and astonished. He wasn't smiling. It was a strange look in his eyes that she had seen only once. When he had seen her scar in the lavatory, he had that same mix of emotions on his face.
"Well," he said finally, "thanks for the sentiment." He let go of her wrists, taking her fallen Swiss knife in one hand. "You've cried a little more than enough today, I think. Now, go get my clothes."
AN: Okay, this was originally meant to be a one-shot, but I got carried away at the end and it looks like I'm gonna have a chapter fic. Unless no one reviews, then I'm just gonna leave it be. I think someone else was working on an idea similar to this, and if our stories are parallel, then I apologize profusely. I wanted to try my hand at the Red Eye fandom, for I am practically obsessed. We really need a section for this. ANYway, I hope everyone likes, and I'll be waiting to see what kind of feedback I get. Thanks in advance!