A/N: My apologies for taking way too long to update. Lack of motivation had a lot to do with it, but my computer also decided to break down several weeks ago. As a result, I lost everything because I was not smart enough to back up my files. Not that I had written much for this chapter, but I had worked on other chapters and other fics, so the whole thing was just a disincentive to keep going. Anyway, I will try to follow my rule of writing the next chapter once the previous one has five reviews, and keep the story as much in canon as possible. Can't say more without giving spoilers or promises about future chapters. Unrelated question: Does anyone know Jill's age in Saw IV and/or how long she and John were married? Thanks!
Amanda was improving at Scrabble. It wasn't that her words were particularly complicated, but she knew how to make the most of her letters and, more importantly, the double word score spaces. She rarely scored major points on a triple word score, but John had a knack for being able to use that space to his advantage when he received the high scoring letters, so she made it a point to block the space whenever possible. Better to get fifteen points for a word like "tease" than have him receive at least fifty for a word like "exist".
When she played, she was merciless. Winning meant something to do, and every game Amanda lost reflected a failure on her abilities. John had told her that she was too emotional—meaning that after he scored fifty or so points, she'd get angry and get a particularly low score for her next word even if a better choice had been available—and it certainly worsened her chances at beating him. She had to remain calm, collected, and, most importantly, not gloat too much after getting a high score or winning against him. John wasn't vindictive, but somehow, he always won the next game if she seemed too happy.
John, on the other hand, had an excellent poker face. Amanda imagined that if he were the type to gamble, and they were to travel to a casino, everyone would be fooled by his game. He wasn't unemotional—rather, his emotions might not reflect the situation at hand. He could look depressed right before scoring seventy points, or excited after receiving ten. For this reason, John was impossible to read and impossible to trust. His facial expressions meant nothing because he was so good at manipulating them regardless of the situation.
John told Amanda that her face often gave her away. This was problematic, not just for board games, but for when she'd be involved in tests. He wanted to make her his apprentice, and she couldn't appear on camera and letting some information slip that was not to be known. John's tests always contained pieces of information that were not immediately revealed. Amanda's, of course, had been that the "dead cellmate" was not really dead.
Not that this would have made much of a difference. It wasn't like he felt anything, or had a chance of living if Amanda died.
In the bathroom test, the hidden piece of information would be that Adam would have the key to the shackles in front of him. Not surgically implanted, as John planned to do with another test subject, but on his body. If Adam remained calm in the water, he could collect the key, unlock himself, and leave.
If he panicked, there was a very real chance that the key would go down the drain and his only hope of escape would be cutting off his foot.
John had taken great precautions to ensure that the hacksaws he would provide the subjects with would not be strong enough to break the chains.
The doctor's fate would be linked with Adam's. If the key went down the drain, then the only way he could escape would be by following the rules of the game and killing Adam. He might want to cut off his own foot, but surely he would know that he'd die of blood loss before leaving the building, much less finding his wife and child.
Amanda had met Adam, briefly, when she feigned that she lived in his building. He seemed nice enough, a little like Mike. Or how Mike had been. Over ten years had passed since she'd seen him, and for all Amanda knew, he could be dead.
Or the head of some gang specializing in smuggling illegal drugs in and out of the country.
Amanda had mentioned her misgivings to John after meeting Adam.
Blunt. Much like John.
"He's a voyeur. He doesn't live."
"So if he's tortured enough, he will?"
John had nodded sagely. "If he survives."
"He seems okay."
"He doesn't use drugs or plant false evidence on people," John admitted, "but he uses his talent to incriminate others. He takes pictures of people cheating on their spouse."
"Don't they have the right to know?"
"That's all he does, Amanda."
By the look on his face, Amanda knew it would be pointless to continue the conversation. She just hoped that he'd find the key to the chains before it fell down the drain.
She couldn't fault John's logic, but she questioned his methods. How could he know if someone really wanted to live? Maybe the task he gave them was beyond their reach. He wasn't omniscient.
John's response had been that if someone wanted to live, no task should be beyond them. Failing a test was equivalent to giving up, which was equivalent to suicide. If someone died, it was their fault for not wanting to live.
Still, there was a big difference between John's "not wanting to live" and not wanting to be tested in such an extreme way. Amanda grudgingly admitted that the reverse bear trap had been like a pill or injection. It didn't cure her but it helped. It showed her where she stood with the world.
It made her proud to know that she had survived. That she had wanted it more than others, who had given up. For this reason, she'd be the one to continue John's work after he died. She'd be able to judge people, test how much pain they could withstand, and see who was worthy to live.
All while standing behind the camera, safe in the knowledge that she had gone through the same thing, she had survived, and she wouldn't get caught.
John had too many friends on the inside.
It made her feel conflicted to know this was her future. John had, at most, five years. She'd have decades. She'd choose the lowest of low, and inflict the worst possible pain. If they survived, and she doubted they would, they would admire her as well as fear her. She would turn the most hardened criminals into saints. She'd have fun doing it, too.
Still, it would be a lonely life. If she could find Mike, that could help. On the other hand, John had left his wife in order to pursue his calling.
Not that John hadn't loved Jill. It was just that she was part of his old life, and involving her would make things too messy. Amanda was different—she was a daughter to him. He was teaching her the tools of a trade that he would pass onto her. Jill had just been some woman he thought was hot.
Before the miscarriage, anyway.
Amanda stared at her letters, ready to make the next play.