Title: Locus

Rating: T

Summary: Outside, he has a perfect, icy mask of control. Really, inside, he feels completely shaken and at the mercy of everything. She is somehow his anchor. Poss. JxL

Disclaimer: I own nothing.

Authors Note: I was inspired to write this by a couple of things...first, while learning this past semester in Psych class about internal versus external loci of control, and the way that I interpreted both Jackson and Lisa's characters while watching the film. Especially the scene when they have that little exchange before she gives him a tracheotomy with a pen: ''I've been trying to convince myself of one thing, over and over.'' ''That it was beyond your control''. ''No...that it would never happen again.'' I might have read too much into it...but here's my interpretation, which I'll probably continue. Enjoy.

----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

He doesnt really get himself, to begin with. One minute he thinks hes ok, he will be fine, and the next there is a blinding icy wave of something that feels like terror cross bred with nausea. He likes to talk to himself inside his head, repeating random poems and words like mantras to stay calm. He dosent really get why hes feeling this way.

He always stays numb, he likes it. He likes to freeze himself on the inside while he goes through the motions of the job, almost dissociated from whatever hes doing. He does not care, at least that is what he says. Some people guess hes a sociopath, because hes got that charming evilness. Actually, thats wrong, for a couple of reasons. For one, they arent even really called that anymore. Its an Antisocial Personality Disorder, and theres a hell of a lot of criteria one has to meet before they can be given that label. He does not meet all of the criteria, not even close.

He feels remorse, and thats key. Hes tried to chain up the remorse, slap duct tape over its screaming mouth, and hide it in some attic in his soul. It always manages to escape, though.

He likes to tell himself that he has no choice; no choice in anything he does. Its fate. He shouldnt, but hes got an external locus of control. Everything happens to him. He doesnt get Existentialism, he doesnt believe that you create your own fate, which is a fairly dangerous belief for someone in his line of work.

On the outside, though, hes perfectly controlled. He manipulates the situation to his advantage, but really somewhere down within him, there is complete and utter chaos begging to be loosed. He knows his foundations are easily shaken, and the mask of calm power and dominance that he puts on is a worn out persona that can easily falter.

He has never really loved anyone or anything. He has liked; he has many likes. He likes violin music and Ernest Hemingway novels. He likes Japanese food, he likes red wine. He likes Venice and Tokyo, he likes the Gulf of Mexico; he likes green eyes, especially on a woman. However, he never loves any of these things. Because he learned long ago, that the more you love something, the quicker it is taken away. Love equals loss and pain. He stays in ''like'' with things because there is not as much emotion involved.

He wishes sometimes that things were different. He sometimes lays awake in bed at night and thinks about time travel, wondering if it were possible. If it were possible, he would jump in a machine and go back five years before it all went to shit.

-------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

She doesnt believe in fate, not to the extent he does, anyway. Shes got a internal locus of control, shes calling the shots. If something goes wrong, its because she made a mistake, an error in judgement. She wasnt always this way, but circumstance forced her to change her way of thinking.

After the incident in the parking lot, she went semi-crazy, suffering flashbacks and panic attacks. There were nightmares and daymares, times when she was so afraid that she could barely breathe. And then one day she looked at herself in the mirror, at what she had become: this little, pale woman with huge, haunted eyes, rain thin and delicate. She looked as if she would shatter into a million pieces with the slightest touch. And then she decided ''never again.'' She swore that she would never be a victim.

She tried to forget about what had happened, she forced it into the back of her mind. She refused to maintain the ''victim'' mentality. She watched girl-power movies, she took self-defense classes. She walked down the street with her head up, instead of folding into herself whenever she passed someone.

Men bothered her, though. She didnt date, but she told herself that was her choice, not because she was still scared. She had her job, it kept her busy. She didnt mind being a loner, at least thats what she repeated to herself. She was fine in her apartment, reading books and watching movies late at night.

Yeah, shes fine this way. She doesnt need anything. Her dad always asks her if shes ok. It bothers her to no end. When he asks her that, it makes her feel small, as if she needs taking care of. Its as if he wants her to say, ''no, I need help''. She knows why he acts like that; its because he needs to feel like shes still his little girl. He had that father-thing where he felt as though he could stop everything bad from happening to her, keep her safe from the world.

He felt doubly bad because he couldnt stop what had happened to her. Fathers were supposed to protect their daughters. He felt like he had failed and thats why he asks her over and over again if shes ok. He subconsciously wants her to say no, so he can fix something for her. Its the least he can do, he figures.

But shes strong, and shes resilient. She can take care of herself. She sometimes fantasizes about killing the man who hurt her. She knows maybe she shouldnt, that its a little bit morbid, but she figures she has the right. She has the right to be morbid and dark; she has the right to imagine stabbing her rapist over and over again in a symbolic act of violent penetration.

---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

When her grandmother died, she felt that she had lost something more than a relative. She felt like she had lost steadiness, lost the balance she so desperately tried to keep; the sense of control. It was a silly thing, but her grandmother had been a constant in her life, ever since she was a child. In some odd way, when she died, Lisa was reminded, if only for a moment, that she could not control everything. She did not spin the web of humanity, she was not omnipotent.

After the funeral, relatives and friends of the family milled around, drinking cheap wine and eating and talking. Things that the dead would never do again, but that were done at funerals out of a sense of strange mortal duty; an odd way for those left behind to prove that they still lived, still breathed, still needed food. It comforted them.

Lisa stood looking at her grandmothers things: at the photographs, the throw pillows on the ugly-coloured sofa, at the paintings by Georgia O Keefe that hung on the walls. She had never before felt such a sense of biting aloneness.

Her mother was miserable and distant, and Lisa had felt farther away from her at that moment than ever before.

She couldnt wait to get out of there, and when she finally managed to pull away from all the distant relatives and friends-of-the-family who were suffocating her, Lisa walked out of the house and into the dark night, breathing fresh air, feeling as empty and silent as the sky.

-----------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

A cell phone rang amid the din of the airport, and nobody heard it except one man. He was waiting for this call.

''Are you sure?'' he asked.

The voice on the other end of the line gave a scratching, irritated sigh that sounded remarkably like a hiss. ''Yes, Im sure. She just got into the cab. Shes on her way.''

''I still think I should have gone myself.''

''Why in the hell are you so obsessed with this one? I can handle it, Jackie. You'll see her soon''.

Jackson Rippner felt a lurch of violent anger arise at the stupid nickname, and the condescending, stupid voice which spoke it. ''I hope so. For your sake''. Jackson ended the call then, making sure that he had the last word. He sat down to wait then, repeating the same useless words and phrases to himself; a mask, an illusion of perfect, icy control.

Inside, he is dying. Inside, he is afraid. He is falling to pieces, and there will be noone there to put him back together. He closes his eyes and tries to focus, but mocking voices swim out of the sea in his mind where he has sublimated them, forced them under. They will not be chained. They are the voices of his fear, his hesitance, his lack of security in his own soul personified. They shriek and scream and scold in a sad symphony, a terrible chorus.

He tapped his foot on the floor in a kind of empty rythmn. There was no echo at all, it was flat. Flat and barren as the desert of his soul, which came alive in the cold night with a thousand terrible living things, all hungry and horrible, with flashing teeth that looked like the blades of a knife.

He was very nearly praying, sweat was beading in his hair, it was hanging damply against his face and neck. He was very nearly praying that she would soon arrive, and he didn't know why.