Sammy In Captivity
Summary: Jason watches as the Keeper's bring in the new kid. Outsider POV.
A/N: Title taken from 'Margaret In Captivity' by the Decemberists. Big thanks to SecondStarToTheRight18 for her help with editing. =D
I should probably warn for, maybe not this chapter but future ones, swearing, torture, violence, non-consensual nudity, non-consensual 'experiments'... Basically, if you've read my stuff you know that I can go dark so just read with caution.
Reviews are love.
I have snipped your wingspan
My precious captive swan
Here all clipped of kickstand
Your spirit won't last long
"Margaret In Captivity" ~ The Decemberists
Jason watches as the Keepers bring in the new kid.
He isn't supposed to watch. He's supposed to be in his room. The other kids are behind locked doors, always behind locked doors unless it's their turn, but no one really bothers locking Jason in. He guesses that the Keepers assume that what he sees gets lost in the tangle of his mind. It doesn't. He never tries to leave. Usually he only watches through his slightly ajar door and he's seen what happens when someone tries to run.
A new kid is different though. It doesn't happen often that the Keepers find one that meets their criteria, whatever that is, and it's boring in his room so now he's crouched on the little balcony of the second floor; designated Living Quarters. Cells would be more appropriate. There are three small rooms on each side, all opening up onto the balcony that surrounds the first floor; Experimentation.
Jason watches through the gaps in the railings where he can get a good view of what's happening below him. He's been waiting here for three hours and 14 minutes, since the Keepers left, because he overheard them saying that they were bringing in a new specimen and a new kid is pretty much the only vaguely exciting thing that happens here.
The new kid is a boy. He kicks and flails and makes muffled screaming sounds against the duct tape that sticks his mouth closed, but there are four Keepers and each of them has an arm or a leg in a firm grip and fighting gets him nowhere. None of the kids here get anywhere except the Chair no matter what they do.
The Chair isn't a regular chair, with four legs and a straight back, or like an armchair, soft and squishy. It's more like the chair in the little room his mother took him to a few times, where a man with gray hair and big hands used a tiny mirror to look at his teeth. He didn't like it.
But this Chair is kind of like that chair, except this one is bigger and it's black and gray instead of white and it has straps for wrists and waist and ankles and forehead. It sits in the middle of a semi-circle of equipment; a small table, a covered sterile waste bin, a large set of drawers filled with needles and syringes and tubes and all kinds of other things, three monitors that look like TV screens but never play shows or movies are on one side and a computer sits on a desk near the semi-circle's opening.
It's a horrible Chair. Jason doesn't like it.
The new kid doesn't seem to like it either because he tries real hard to stop the Keepers from strapping him into it, arching his back and kicking and trying to tear his arms free. The Keepers grunt instructions to each other as they struggle to co-ordinate their efforts, growing more and more frustrated as time passes and the kid shows no signs of giving in.
It's a bad idea to try to stop the Keepers from doing anything because the Keepers always get their way and the more a kid resists, the longer they end up staying in the little closet the Keepers call Solitary.
Jason wonders if they'll put the new kid in Solitary for fighting so hard. Pretty much every new kid fights but none of them have taken this long to get strapped in.
Finally, the girl Keeper with the soft voice that doesn't match her face manages to tighten the strap around the boy's right wrist. With one arm held down the boy can't get as much momentum in his swings and the Keeper with the ginger beard and thinning ginger hair quickly straps his other wrist.
This is when most new kids stop fighting. There's not much you can do once you've lost the ability to unstrap yourself even if you did manage to throw the Keepers off.
As expected, the kid goes limp, chest heaving. Then the girl Keeper kneels down to strap his ankles and his leg shoots out and boots her hard in the face, knocking her backwards.
An explosion of shouting makes Jason cover his ears and close his eyes. He doesn't like it when they yell. He counts to 30 and when he opens his eyes the Keepers have buckled the ankle and waist straps. The girl Keeper wipes some blood from her nose to the back of her hand before she straps the boy's forehead so he's held completely immobile in the Chair.
The Keepers leave him there as they approach the large set of drawers. The bearded Keeper hands out doctors' gowns, masks and gloves before dressing himself in the items. The boy watches them with wide eyes, chest still jerking up and down like he can't breathe properly. Jason remembers his own chest doing that when the Keepers first brought him here, before he learned not to panic, not to resist. He watches as the boy tugs on the straps. There's no give. No one ever gets out of The Chair before the Keepers want them to.
The four adults return to the Chair in their costumes. Jason has never understood why they pretend to be doctors when they're not. He's been to see doctors and they're really nice and gentle and quiet. The Keepers aren't any of those things.
It can be hard to tell them apart when they're in their gowns and hats and masks. One of the men is easy, his blond hair tied up in a ponytail down his back. He sits down at the computer and starts typing. The bearded Keeper is bigger than the others, taller and wider. It's the girl and the young man who are easy to mix up. Both are slim with short dark hair that pokes out of their hats. The young one has a nicer face but that doesn't help when only their eyes are visible.
The bearded Keeper and the one Jason thinks is the young Keeper have brought two huge pairs of scissors from one of the drawers. They each take a side and pull off the boys shoes and socks before, starting from the ankle of the boy's jeans, they begin cutting off the new kid's clothes, slicing up his legs and through his t-shirt. They tug the ruined remnants away, discarding them on the floor. When they're finished and the boy is lying naked in the Chair, the girl Keeper with the soft voice that doesn't match her face and the ugly swollen nose picks up the strips of fabric and dumps them in the waste bin.
The boy is quiet. There's no need to scream yet, Jason knows. The Chair can be painful, not always, but sometimes. The painful times come with no warning, no pattern that he can define. Usually it's just the same blood tests and what Jason has heard them call electrodes, wires and monitors and the thick red stuff the Keepers inject into them. Sometimes it's agony.
The young Keeper that might actually be the girl Keeper holds out his hand to the bearded one for the scissors but the other Keeper shakes his head. He grabs a chunk of the new kid's hair roughly. Jason can't see from his position but he imagines the Keeper's gaze looking through the new kid the way they all look through him, like he's not a person, just a thing.
"Too thick," the Keeper says through his mask. Jason doesn't like it when they talk through their masks. They're supposed to have mouths to speak through. "It'll jam the razor."
The young Keeper shrugs and backs up half a step, making a small motion towards the boy's head.
Chop, chop, chop, go the scissors and waves of dark brown hair float to the floor.
In the light of the long thin bulbs that hang from the ceiling Jason can see tears glimmering on the boys face. They usually cry. Jason thinks he might have been the only one that didn't.
The new kid has a lot of hair. The Keeper spends almost ten minutes hacking at it, roughly clenching sections in his fist, pulling them tight, before cutting through them close to the scalp, dropping the severed hair to the ground before grabbing up another clump and hacking through that. He undoes the forehead strap and shoves the boys head forward so he can get at the hair at the back.
Chop, chop, chop, go the scissors until there's a fluffy pile of hair at the Keepers feet and what's left on the boys head is jaggedly short, uneven and spiky.
Now the Keeper hands the scissors to his smaller companion and takes the electric razor that's passed back in turn.
Whizzz, goes the razor, and strips of short spiky dark hair turn into strips of pale hairless skin. The Keepers have had a lot of practice at this – Jason rubs a hand over his own head, two day old soft fuzz. Two days since he was in the Chair. 49 hours, 42 minutes – and when the Keeper's finished turning the boys head this way and that, sweeping the razor over and over it, every tiny strand of dark hair has joined the pile at his feet and the boy's head is completely smooth.
It's weird how different people look without their hair. The new kid is almost unrecognizable compared to when he was dragged in just 26 minutes ago, fully-clothed with his long hair whipping back and forth as he struggled violently. Now he's still and naked and bald.
Jason wonders how different he looks. He hasn't seen a mirror for one year, seven months and eleven days.
The Keeper returns the forehead strap, pulls it tight and buckles it. He and the Keeper that has returned from putting the scissors and razor away start to attach the things called electrodes to the boy's now naked scalp. Jason counts 37 before the angle stops him from seeing the other side of the new kids head. He hopes it's an even number. He likes even numbers the best.
The girl Keeper uses a small pan and brush to sweep up the hair on the floor and tips it into the waste bin before returning to insert a needle into the boy's arm. Jason watches her pull a vial of blood into the syringe and when he glances at the boys face he realizes that the new kid is looking at him.
His eyes are red-rimmed, bloodshot, trails of tears sliding down the sides of his face towards his ears, his gaze fixed on Jason.
Jason doesn't understand the look on the new kid's face – he remembers a woman in a coat like the Keepers are wearing telling his mother that reading faces is something he'll have trouble with – but something about it makes him clench the bars of the railing tighter. He stares back at the kid until one of the Keepers looks up and tells him to go back to his room.
He doesn't see the new kid for two days, though an hour after he goes to his room he hears a commotion just down the hall where the small closet is.
His old roommate told him once that Solitary is horrible and he's seen the cupboard. It's a tight fit, piled with boxes so that the space inside is even smaller, leaving no room for the person inside to do anything other than stand for the extent of their punishment. The longest anyone has been in there is two days and sixteen hours.
Jason very deliberately does nothing that could lead to him being put in Solitary. His room is small and lacks any kind of entertainment but he'd rather be able to sit or lie down, to have light rather than days of darkness.
The new kid is still squinting, trying to raise his arms to block out the light that must seem brighter after Solitary and stumbling like his legs have forgotten how to work when the Keepers lead him into Jason's room and push him down on the spare mattress that sits against the wall, opposite Jason's.
The Keepers don't make a habit of talking to him or any of the other kids as far as he can tell. They're all just research material. The Keepers leave wordlessly and Jason sits up on his mattress to look at the boy who is apparently his new roommate. He hears the Keepers lock the door.
The new kid is around the same age as Jason – they all are – 13 or 14. Jason is 14 years, 3 months and 24 days old. The boy has a black eye, bruised a threatening gray and black and it seems darker due to the white drawstring pants and white t-shirt he's dressed in, identical to Jason's clothes, and the pale white of skin that's been sheltered by hair for years, shadowed by tiny stubble. The suntan will fade. Jason's willing to bet that the new kid won't see the sun for months, or years. Maybe never again. When the Keepers move them to new locations, it's always done at night.
The boy lies on his mattress, like even sitting up is an impossible task, looking back at Jason with pupils that are blown wide.
"I don't understand what's going on," the kid whispers, after they've had a moment to take each other in. His voice shakes.
"Research," Jason hums, though he doesn't make a habit of talking either.
The boy frowns, mouth turned down, eyebrows scrunched together just a little. "Why?" he asks. "What are they looking for?"
Something, apparently. Something in their heads or in their blood. That's what the testing usually focuses around. Jason bunches up some of the material of his pants in a fist, then drops it, aware that the boy is still looking at him, maybe expecting him to say something but he doesn't intend to. There's nothing to say. He doesn't know.
"What's your name?" the boy asks finally. There are faint red marks around his mouth. Jason can see them if he looks closely. From the duct tape, he guesses.
"Jason." He knows the answer to that question.
The new kid chews his lip. "How long have you been here?"
He knows this one too. "One year, seven months and thirteen days."
The kid inhales sharply. He wraps his arms around himself like he's cold, even though it's actually fairly warm. "That's a long time," he murmurs.
Jason thinks the boy must feel terrible. He always feels terrible after being in the Chair, kind of like he's melting, like there's not enough blood left in him to stop him from deflating. It must be horrible to go from the Chair straight to Solitary.
"I'm Sam," the boy says, like he's just remembered that he hasn't introduced himself.
Sam, like Sam-I-Am, like I do not like green eggs and ham. Jason does like Green Eggs and Ham. His mother used to read it to him every night and make it for him every day for breakfast. He hasn't had green eggs and ham for one year, seven months and fourteen days.
Sam tries to say something else but Jason doesn't want to listen or talk anymore. He wants to think about his mother and green eggs and ham so he lies down and turns his back on his new roommate. When he looks later, Sam has fallen asleep.
The girl Keeper with the soft voice that doesn't match her face and the bruised nose that's still swollen and ugly brings them breakfast. It's oatmeal. Cold gray oatmeal. Not green eggs and ham, not green anything. She puts the bowls on the small bolted-down table next to the door, then hesitates, casting Sam a look Jason can't decipher. She picks up one of the bowls and takes it over to Sam's mattress. She holds it out to him.
Sam looks at her, then at Jason like maybe he wants a hint as to what he's supposed to do but this is new to Jason. Food has always been left on the table. Sam looks back at the bowl and finally reaches out for it.
The girl Keeper smiles, which does nothing to make her more attractive, and then she spits in the oatmeal.
Sam jerks back like he's been hit and the Keeper lets the bowl fall to the floor, spilling the lumpy breakfast over the wooden floorboards. She huffs a laugh before turning on her heel and leaving. Jason thinks she must still be angry at Sam for kicking her in the face.
Sam sits back on his mattress, kind of shrinking into himself. He twists his fingers together and turns away from the ruined oatmeal on the floor.
Jason's hungry, as usual, and his oatmeal is still fine, if not terribly appetizing, so he gets up from his mattress and heads for the table. There is no spoon, which is expected, and he eats with his hands, scooping the lumpy goo into his mouth. He could very easily eat all of it himself – the Keepers only give him the bare minimum amount of food, just enough to stop him from starving to death – but Sam's still huddled on his bare mattress with nothing. The Keepers brought him in after dinner yesterday and Jason knows that no one gets fed in Solitary.
He forces himself to stop eating when he's had about half of the bowls contents, then picks it up with sticky fingers and takes it over to Sam's mattress.
Sam has brought his knees up to his chest and wrapped his arms around his legs, resting his head on his knees. Jason nudges his shoulder with the bowl and Sam jumps a little, bobbing his head up.
Jason holds out the oatmeal and watches Sam's eyes go to it, to the stuff on the floor and then to Jason's face.
"Are you sure?" he asks, voice still wobbly and small. Jason's not sure, not really. There's still hunger digging a hole in his stomach and as goopy and bland as the oatmeal is, he could eat several more bowls of it. He makes himself hold the bowl out further, until Sam takes it.
"Thanks," Sam murmurs, and immediately digs in with his fingers the same way Jason did.
Jason returns to his mattress and watches as Sam devours the oatmeal, eating fast and desperate until there's no more left to scrape from the bottom or sides of the bowl. Sam takes a deep breath, like it's the first one he's taken since he started eating, and lets it out slowly. He puts the bowl down beside his mattress and curls up on his side, both hands tucked under the side of his face, facing Jason. Jason sits cross-legged on his mattress, leaning against the wall, head tilted back, watching.
"I need..." Sam starts, eyes tracing a path around the room, "I need to figure out what's going on. If my brother was here... he'd tell be to stay calm and work it out, wait for a chance to escape."
Jason's not sure if Sam's talking to him or thinking out loud.
"Do you..." Now Sam looks at him. "I guess you don't really want to talk about it?"
"Research," Jason says. That's all he knows.
Sam nods. He rolls onto his back and stares at the ceiling, folding his arms under his shaved head. "I don't even know where we are. They drove for hours before we got here. I tried to keep track of the lefts and rights but... too many, I guess. They drove for ages. I'm probably miles away from..." He turns his head to look at Jason. "Did they bring you here in a van? A big white one that has the cab sealed off from the back?"
Jason nods. They take him everywhere in that van, whenever they change locations he and the other kids are stuffed in the back, in the darkness, tied to metal loops at the sides.
"Yeah, me too." Sam shakes his head, "My Dad will be pissed that I let them get the drop on me. I didn't even see them coming, not until they grabbed me. My Dad, he always gets angry when he's worried."
Sam goes quiet then, staring up at the ceiling. The white paint is flaking and cracking. Finally he says, "My Dad and my brother, Dean, they'll be looking for me. They're better than the police. They'll find us."
No one has ever found them before. Jason doesn't say anything, but the only way he's seen anyone leave here is in a big black bag that means the research is over.
To Be Continued...