A/N: This is a continuation of Sighani's story "Die Asche Meines Herzens" which I am so not worthy of messing with, but which I am also truly honored to be allowed to continue.
This chapter is written from my point of view, not her's, which is how I think she'd want it. (Don't worry, Sighani, our styles really are different, so you don't have to worry about me copying you.)
IMPORTANT, PLEASE READ: I edited some parts a little that I thought I needed to change, so I hope you still like the story even with the changes I made to it. If anyone liked this chapter the way it was, then I will change it back to how it was before.
Also I have made Jennifer 20 and Squee 18. Just because. Now read the disclaimer, so I don't get unjustly sued for tampering with other peoples work ;)
Disclaimer: I do not own the comic JTHM, or this story. The comic belongs to Jhonen Vasquez, and the story belongs to my new friend, Sighani.
"Pepito?" Her forehead crinkled in confusion as she puzzled over the strange name.
"Yes, that's his name. Pepito."
There was a dull, almost sorrowful tone in his voice as he spoke, his eyes clouding over as memories of the devil child filled his tortured mind.
Memories of happier times before he ended up in this hellish place flashed in his mind as clearly as if they were being played by a digital camera embedded in his brain.
He remembered when he'd first met Pepito and had been scared shitless of the boy. But back then he'd been terrified of almost everything, and anyway that was before he'd really gotten to know him.
He then recalled the day the antichrist had invited him to his home. Meeting his mother had surprised him greatly because for one she was human, and on top of that she was a
really sweet woman and it seemed strange for her to be married to the devil. He became very fond of her though, and she treated him as if he was her own child, which he genuinely appreciated seeing how his own mother could give two-cents about him.
The meal that he and the family shared was uneventful, with the exception of Pepito's father asking him to join the legions of Hell, which he politely, but bluntly, refused. Before he went home he and Pepito played a few harmless games, and he grew to like his new friend and didn't fear him so much anymore after that.
He really missed Pepito a lot as he hadn't spoken with his friend in years and very much wished to see him again. But, as he'd found out long ago, he couldn't always get what he wanted, and it was very rare that got what he desired anyway. The possibility of ever being released from this place, and having the chance to visit his friend again seemed very slim, and the thought that he would never be able to hug Pepito, or eat with him, or laugh with him again sent a sharp pang of deep sadness through him.
He wanted to cry, but he refused to show weakness in front of this beauty, this heavenly angel who fate had somehow allowed into the Hell that was his life, as if taking pity upon his miserable form and giving him something that he could enjoy, if only for awhile.
Chocking back a sob, he took a deep breath, and stared her right in the face.
Jennifer had seen the pained expression on his face, and decided to wait until the right time before she spoke to him again.
Now, she forced out a smile in an attempt to lighten the mood a bit.
"Your friend Pepito, what was he like? Tell me a bit about him please."
Did she really want to know? Or was she just trying to find out if he was lying? Trying to see if he'd made up the boy in some schizophrenic delusion?
Either way it didn't matter to him anymore. He honestly didn't think things could get any worse than they already were by telling her anything. And so without a second thought, he told her everything he remembered about Pepito.
"He was a bit extreme actually. A kind of daredevil who did things without thinking twice about the consequences. He terrified people, but he never hurt anyone unless they really deserved it. Just like Nny…"
Immediately the woman pounced on that slip.
"Who's Nny, Squee?"
"Hmm? Oh, no one you need to know. Just another friend of mine. No one important."
'I don't have to tell you about everyone I know after all.'
He thought hoping that she wouldn't continue to question him about the man.
Thankfully she didn't.
With a nod, Jennifer signaled to him to continue, deciding that it was better not to make him talk about things that he didn't want to.
Closing his eyes, Squee continued to speak, but his mind was somewhere else. He was wondering just what the devil child was doing right now. What was keeping him from visiting his poor friend who was stuck in such a terrible place against his will, because his own parents had accused him of being crazy, which he wasn't?
If he could glimpse that familiar face one more time it would make his pathetic existence a bit more bearable.
Though his foremost thoughts were on Pepito, he was still dimly aware of the conversation he was having with the woman, and his words became stronger, more audible as he raised his voice level from a soft whisper to a more normal tone.
"He's not exactly the type of person I imagined associating with, but he was the only one who would ever talk to me, and I came to like him a lot. Pepito is a scary guy, but he was never mean to me. He's actually a really nice person, and…I miss him a lot."
As soon as she saw tears began to form in his eyes, Jennifer pulled out a Kleenex box from the small bag at her side, (A/N: Yes I gave her a purse. I hope that's alright with you, Sighani.) and handed the distressed boy a tissue.
He ignored the gift and chose instead to wipe his face with his sleeve.
Todd wasn't going to lose what little dignity he had left, no matter how nice the girl was being at the moment. He wasn't going to let her havetheupper hand. Wouldn't let her think that she was actually in control. This was his sanctuary, his home, and here he was God, he was the one in control, he couldn't afford to be weak, refused to givein to the depression that loomed abovehis head like a dark storm cloud. Squeewasdetermined to be strong in case this woman wasn't who she seemed to be, in case she turned out not to be someone he could trust after all, and was in fact a sly devil who was only attempting to deceive him. Make him feel safe around her and drop his guard so that she could shatter what was left of his happiness and have him labeled as incurably insane and get him shipped off to a hospital where they'd do tests on him everyday and not let him go until they had found a cure for his insanity…
Okay, what the HELL was he thinking?! What on earth had this poor woman done to make him so wary and suspicious? Who was he to call her untrustworthy when he didn't even really know her? He shook off the negative thoughts determined to give this girl a fair chance.
Jennifer had calmly put the tissue away, and was now staring at Squee with a sympathetic expression.
She knew that the conversation had become uncomfortable for the boy, but even so, she couldn't stop herself from asking a timid, soft-spoken question.
"You want to see him again, don't you?"
He lowered his head and stared with un-seeing eyes at his bruised hands.
His hoarse voice barely made it to her ears, but she managed to make out what he'd said.
She hesitated a moment before asking another question.
"Tell me Squee…if you could speak to Pepito again, what would you say to him?"
Now that was a good question. And one he didn't readily have an answer to.
He thought about it for a few minutes, Jennifer's gaze analyzing his expression closely as she curiously awaited his answer.
Finally, he replied,
"I honestly don't know. It's been so long since I've seen him that if he came here to visit me right now I wouldn't know what to say."
"Would you hug him? Smile at him maybe? What would you do?"
"Again, I'm not sure, but I would definitely be relieved to see him.
"I see. Well Squee, we've covered a lot of ground with this subject. Would you like to talk about something else now?"
"Great, and now it's back to talking all professional and crap again. Joy."
"Actually, yes, I would like that."
"And is there anything in particular that you'd like to talk about?"
Seizing his chance to have a relatively normal conversation with this girl, he gave her a grin as wide as the Cheshire cat's, and replied,
She blinked in surprise, too startled to say anything for a moment.
"Me? You want to talk about me?"
"No, I want you to talk about yourself, so I can know what kind of person you are."
Jennifer folded her arms across her chest, and peered at him reproachfully.
"Why would it be important for you to know what type of person I am?"
He shrugged nonchalantly.
"How can I trust you, if I don't even know you?"
At that she laughed lightly, a beautiful, lyrical sound, and smiled at him amused.
"I can't beat that logic, can I? Well…I guess it can't hurt to tell you about myself."
That eager, curious look that up until now only Jennifer had worn, now appeared on Todd's face.
"Tell me everything, don't leave out anything."
Again her lips twitched upwards in amusement, as she thought about where to begin.
"Alright, I won't. Now…where to start…hmm. Oh! I know, I'll tell you about my job, and then-"
"Tell me about your childhood."
The girl seemed surprised that he wanted her to go back that far. She shook her head firmly though, as she was smart enough to know that she should only give him important details that were necessary for him to know.
"I don't believe that we need to go all the way back to when I was young. Though I will tell you a little about who I am."
Todd didn't seem satisfied with that, but he decided not to say anything.
"I'm 20 years old, I'm still in college, but I'm nearly through with that, thank god, and I'm a top student, which means I'm really good at what I do."
Here she smiled smugly, and Squee rolled his eyes.
'Yeah, but your still just a college student.'
He immediately felt bad for thinking that, but it was true. She seemed too young and inexperienced for this position, and he felt sorry for her. She shouldn't be here with him questioning him, studying him to see if he was crazy. They should have gotten someone else for this job. Still...he was rather glad that it was her who was here with him. Squee felt secure around this woman for some reason, even though he still barely knew her, but that didn't mean that he would allow himself to relax completely. He still had to be mindful of what he said to her, and what he allowed her to know about him. She was a doctor after all, and he was still only a patient in her eyes. No matter how well he got to know her or how well she got to know him, that fact would never change. As long as he remembered that, she wouldn't be able to hurt him. His caution was all he had to protect himself with, and he wrapped it around his thin body like a thick security blanket.
"Hmm...what else do you need to know..."
After thinking about it for awhile she grinned playfully and finished with,
"After I get through with you my boss will give me a promotion. That would be really good for me, since I need it. Bad."
"Wait a minute, your boss-"
"Yes. I go to school and work as well, which is why I'm here right now. As soon as I'm through with college I can work longer hours, and get a bigger pay check."
He blinked blankly.
"Oh, I see."
Suddenly her demeanor turned professional again.
"Alright, enough about me, let's finish talking about you. That is why I'm here after all."
He rolled his eyes again and sighed.
Forcing a smile he asked,
"What would you like to know?"
"Hmm...how about your childhood? Let's recap that alright?"
Todd rubbed his eye, suddenly feeling really tired. It was more mental fatigue than physical though.
"I'd, ah, really rather not go into that, if it's all the same to you."
"Oh come on, it won't be that bad. The sooner you began telling me, the sooner you can finish."
'Easy for you to say.'
Out loud he said,
"Alright, but I don't think you'll like my story very much."
He smiled darkly, as he recalled all those torturous years that he'd lived in fear. Fear of his terrifying neighbor Johnny C. Fear of his own father who treated him worse than dirt. Fear of his demented teddy bear Schmee. Fear of his strange teacher Miss Bitters. His entire childhood had been nothing but one dizzying cycle of utter misery and despair. He couldn't remember one day when he'd been happy or content
All he could remember was the fear. The cold, mind-numbing fear.
Taking a deep, shuddering breath, he began telling the long, unhappy story.
A/N: I really enjoyed writing out this chapter, and I hope to continue this sometime in the near future. I would like to once again thank Sighani for allowing me to continue her story. I hope you enjoyed this, and please review if you can.