A/N: On one of the tumblrs I run, Twinings and I offered ourselves up for one full week of filling fic prompts for our readers, varying in length from a hundred to a thousand-plus words. The project has been dubbed the Free For All Fic For All—or FFAFFA for short. This is one of those stories—and this is the boilerplate author's note you'll see on all of 'em.
Prompt: Jonathan Crane feeling inspired.
Warnings for very brief kinkphobia and depictions of bullying.
The teenage boy stumbled off the old school bus, tripping over the outstretched leg of the football team's wide receiver. He landed on his hands and knees, scraping his palms and drawing blood.
The worst part was not the injury, but the laughter that accompanied the fall.
"Watch your step, four-eyes," the hulking boy snidely commented. "You might get hurt."
Jonathan Crane glared at the ground, not daring to raise his eyes in case Carl Wilson decided to do something with his foot other than trip him. He couldn't afford to break another pair of glasses—not if he didn't want to feel it when he got home.
"Don't waste your time, Carl," Lillie Baker, Wilson's girlfriend, chided him playfully and grabbed his arm, dragging him away from the scene of Jonathan's humilation. "We've got better things to do."
Jonathan scrambled up off the ground, a mass of awkward, too long limbs, and brushed himself off. No matter what bumps and scrapes happened along the way, nothing could ruin this day for him. Jonathan's first—and probably last—field trip was not to be tainted by the adolescent abuses of his troglodyte schoolmates. He had miraculously scraped together enough money to get here after scrimping and saving for nearly a year, and had forged Granny's signature on the permission slip well enough that no one suspected it wasn't really hers; nothing would stand in his way.
Dark Deeds in the Dark Ages, proclaimed the flags hanging on the left side of the entryway of the museum. The right side was all Our Heritage this and The Civil War that—but that wasn't what held Jonathan's attention.
Now, to find a way to get away…
If luck was even a little bit on his side, it should prove fairly easy.
His history teacher, Miss Holloway, a crusty old woman who didn't like him very much, took headcount for his class. He noted that there was at least one other tour group from another school milling about in the lobby—and they too seemed to be busy making sure everyone was accounted for.
All in all, more than fifty students stood in the museum, and he stood near the back of the group; the odds of anyone missing him until they took headcount again were slim.
"Crane, Jonathan," Miss Holloway's rusty voice called out.
"Here," he answered.
The roll call continued and Jonathan's nerves began to buzz with anticipation. His palms got clammy and his heartbeat raced like there was a hummingbird trapped in his chest trying to get out as "Zeller, Mollianne" was called.
It was time.
His stomach lurched with nervous excitement as the group started forward and he waited for his opening. It came quickly—there were numerous pillars in the museum that were fit to duck behind—and the second he got close enough to one, he did so.
He leaned back against the cool, smooth marble as the voice of Miss Holloway got further and further away, his breaths short, shallow and quick.
When he was sure the group was out of sight, he slunk away, towards the Dark Deeds in the Dark Ages exhibit. An old security guard gave him a knowing look and for a moment Jonathan felt panic rising, but the guard just tipped his hat and turned his head away, muttering something about having very, very poor peripheral vision.
The twenty steps to the other side of the museum felt like forever. He burst into the room as quietly as he could while nursing an adrenaline overdose, and was surprised that not one head turned his direction. Surely they could all tell that he wasn't supposed to be here? Surely they could sense his giddy terror at the prospect of getting caught?
But no; nobody cared about the ragged high school kid who was clearly skipping out on his tour group, or at the very least, skipping school. Nobody cared about the hunger in his eyes at taking in all the new information printed on the walls, next to each medieval torture device, or the way his fingers reverently caressed the edge of the Maiden's Bath replica.
He thought about Carl. Peter. Bill. The entire starting line-up of the football team, ending with the star quarterback. He thought about the Judas Cradle, the Instep Borer, the Thumbscrews…
Yes. These would do quite nicely, if he ever got the chance…
He jumped six inches in the air and spun on his heel.
A blonde girl his age with eyeliner so thick that it made her look like a raccoon stood behind him, peering at him curiously. He didn't recognize her; he deduced she must have been from the other school's group. "You sneak away too?"
"No," he snapped, sounding far more defensive than he intended to. "I am here to conduct…research."
She nodded a couple of times, content to go along with his clumsy lie even though it was pretty obvious she didn't buy it. "Right. Research. Me too."
Well, so long as we're lying to each other…
"My name's Lilith," the girl offered, smiling with blood red lips. "Well, okay, it's not actually Lilith, it's Annie, but I'm changing it to Lilith once I'm old enough."
"And your name is…?"
"None of your business."
She smirked at him. "Man of mystery, huh? I like that."
Jonathan felt nervous for an entirely different reason just then.
"Hey," Annie whispered conspiratorially. "Ever kiss a girl in front of an Iron Maiden?"
He blanched. "I beg your pardon?"
"I'm into that sort of thing, you know. Anonymous flings with intellectual types in torture exhibits? Totally my style."
"I'm not, and it's not mine." Jonathan got the distinct impression that if he had a mother to tell him such things, Annie would be the sort of girl she'd have warned him about.
"Oh, come on—" she snatched his hand and dragged him over to the corner where a display replica model Iron Maiden stood, minus the spikes and complete with "Try Me!" sign. "How many chances like this are you going to get?"
He pulled back. "None. Not even this one."
She regarded him for a second and then her expression changed to one of understanding. "Got it. You don't trust me."
"No. I don't."
"Eh, I wouldn't trust me either if I just met me," she shrugged. "But still…"
She jumped him, kissed him briefly and then stepped back, giggling. "Don't say I never did anything for you."
Jonathan stood perfectly still, his posture rigid, more in shock than anything else as she bounced off, waving at him.
He didn't even see Carl in the shadows until it was too late.
Six hours later, after the police had been called and a search had been conducted, they finally found him with duct tape across his mouth and the fake Iron Maiden sealed with the same. He answered questions vaguely, said someone had grabbed him and that he didn't remember anything, all while half the football team looked on with mock concern for his welfare.
All in all, it hadn't been much worse than being stuffed into a locker, though he was stiff and sore and tired and very hungry by the end of things. What worried him, really, was that the police would have to talk to Granny, that she would know that today hadn't been like any other school day, and that she would take it out of his hide before the night was through.
His classmates mocked him for being an S&M freak all the way back to Arlen, but he never took his gaze off Carl, who made faces at him for the first twenty minutes and then seemed to grow genuinely more uncomfortable with each passing minute after that.
Jonathan thought about the Thumbscrews. The Instep Borer. The Judas Cradle. He thought about them and he stared at Carl Wilson with every ounce of his intent written on his face.
Yes. Those would do quite nicely indeed.