Seconds turned into minutes, minutes into hours, and by the time a few had gone by, the hours might as well have been days. Jenna sat still in her spot on the bed, her knees pulled up to her chest, her back hunched as she kept her arms wrapped around her legs. She rested her chin in between her knees, her eyes going from blankly staring at the desk in front of her to closing for a few minutes at a time. She felt numb, despite the horrid images her mind kept flashing her, but as she sunk further into the understanding that she was unable to do a thing about the situation, the more exhausted and helpless she began to feel.
But still, despite the helplessness, a strong voice in the back of her mind would not let the issue go completely unattended. She had to do something, even if that something was merely asking Bane to find a way to check in on the situation. She was positive he could, but it left her to wonder why he wouldn't. Regardless of how she felt about it, they really were, admittedly, getting on a better track. Bane had so easily forgiven Jenna, he practiced more patience with her... he had moved her into his very own room for God's sake. So why, by continuing on this path, couldn't he just do her this one little... favor?
Jenna sighed and stretched her legs out, her first movement in a long while, and she cringed gently at the stinging sensation that traveled throughout her body due to suddenly unlocking her position. The desires of at least checking in on the situation had grown too strong within an interval of a couple minutes, and Jenna knew she'd be unable to rest or even do what she was supposed to tomorrow if she did at least try to gain some insight.
She was unsure of where Bane was currently located at the moment, but she was positive Isaac would be in the garage, where she could then ask him where Bane was. Typically, she knew she would prefer to ask Isaac to speak to Bane for her, but now she had a feeling Isaac would only turn down her request. Jenna would have to face Bane herself.
She moved quietly through the dark basement and warehouse, unaware completely what time it was, but by the time she had reached the exit door, she saw the sun had completely set, and dark skies lingered above, crowded with shadowed clouds. Snow blanketed the ground, but Jenna paid no attention to this as she began to trudge through it to the open garage door, realizing finally that she had kept her shoes on the entire time she had sulked in Bane's room. Her arms swung at her sides as a breeze ruffled her hair slightly, and she narrowed her eyes on the interior of the garage, unable to see anybody inside. But as she neared, goosebumps beginning to cover her arms, she watched Isaac step around from the corner toward the opened door, Bane appearing next to him as well a short second after. Both relief and dread filled her immediately as she wondered how, exactly, she was supposed to go about making this request with the both of them there, together. Would Isaac make his voice known and waste no time with shooting her down, in front of Bane? Would Isaac's presence alone even influence Bane to make a different decision than he normally would? With a sigh, Jenna realized there was only one way to find out. She had to, for Rodger's sake.
Both men had been speaking to one another, their mumbled voices low and quiet to Jenna's ears, but as soon as she was merely a few feet away, they immediately ceased the exchange of words, and stared at her as she approached. Jenna could feel the weight in their glares, and she could feel it forcing her down to the ground, where truthfully, she wanted to lay, and find a way to avoid everything; slip into the cold with her frozen tears, and allow herself to just fade away.
As soon as she had approached them completely, Isaac glanced away from her, for reasons unknown to Jenna at the moment, but Bane's gray orbs stayed planted on her firmly, and she knew his silence was only a sign expressing to her he was waiting for her to speak first. Dread immediately washed over Jenna, the waves carrying her out into a sea of hesitation, and she licked her lips as she forced herself to look away, Bane's glare too heavy and intent for her liking. But as she began to feel dizzy, she knew she could not prologue the question any longer. If she had learned any true, set thing about Bane during her time at the warehouse, it was that he appreciated confidence and sternness from the person who was speaking to him. This sounded good as Jenna prepared herself to come across this way, but when she finally glanced back up to him and opened her mouth to speak, she could have kicked herself at the tone in which she spoke the cowardly words.
"I...- I have a question."
She closed her eyes and sighed quietly as she turned her head down, realizing her request was already off to a terrible start. Bane, however, remained patient, already knowing exactly what Jenna was going to ask. He noticed Barsad had wondered off somewhere beyond what his peripheral vision could see, but he ignored this for the time being as he kept his eyes focused on Jenna's shivering frame.
"What is it?" He prompted her on, impatience laced within his metallic tone, but his body and mind remained relaxed as he waited, watching her force herself to look up at him again.
"It's... about what happened today... with Rodger," Jenna struggled to speak her words clearly. "I know you can't... or won't do anything about it, but..." Jenna bit down on her quivering lip as she shook her head, looking away again. She just couldn't bare to look up at him for the moment. Already, disappointment began to flood her, even before hearing Bane's answer to her question, and the feeling weighed her down even more, on top of Bane's heavy gaze. "But I just have to know... if he's... okay at least."
"So what do you want me to do about it, Jenna?"
His reply was startling to say the least, and she quickly looked back up to him, tilting her head back nearly as far as it could go just to look into his eyes. She immediately shrugged, but as soon as she realized the absurd gesture she had given him, she began speaking. "Anything," she breathed. "I can't explain it, Bane, but... I just feel like it's my fault, or something. Rodger shouldn't have to die because of this... guy." She couldn't even bare to speak the name. "If I have a chance to save him, I want to take it."
"There are no chances of saving him, Jenna," Bane told her, never one to hold back with anybody. "There is nothing that you alone can do, and there is nothing that I nor my men are willing to do. We have greater issues and tasks that need to be addressed." Bane's eyebrows furrowed then as a thought entered his mind. It was still something he probably would never be able to understand about Jenna, but he had to wonder why the potential death of a mere friend was more worrisome to Jenna, rather than the oblivion of her parents and the life she once had. "Why is this friend of yours... so important to you?"
Jenna couldn't help but to shrug again, and with suddenly feeling two sets of eyes on her, when she glanced up and looked past Bane, she saw Isaac was looking at her as well. "He's just the only one I ever liked and cared about here," she answered truthfully, fretful sensations overcoming her as she felt as though they were wasting time. "More so than my parents... anyone..." Until now, she thought, but she swallowed, forcing the thought from her mind. "Bane... please, I don't know what else to say. I just need to know if he's alright... or if... if-"
She trailed off, unable to speak the words. She couldn't bear even the thought of Rodger losing his life, and due to this, she was completely unable to merely speak it. The garage grew terribly silent then as she kept her eyes focused on the ground, able to feel Bane's eyes on her, and she wished she could hear what he was thinking.
The thoughts were sickening and unwanted, but Bane couldn't help it. He could see how terribly upset Jenna was due to the situation at hand, and while the vast majority of him just wanted to avoid any possible screw-ups from her tomorrow, he found himself feeling rather... sorry for her, as vile as it was. But regardless, he had begun to wonder if perhaps a simple check up would prove to do more good than harm, in this case. Barsad had briefed him on the situation, informing him about Jenna's 24-hour window of opportunity. Bane was not about to let Jenna get personally involved in this, and due to this decision, he knew Jenna's friend would perish, and further more, he held the feeling in his gut that this killer had already offed the boy, and was lying, desperate to get to Jenna for some reason or another. But Bane had to wonder, however, if the sooner Jenna heard this news, then the better. He needed her to be at her best tomorrow, and even though he knew that Rodger and this Zsasz person would be on her mind regardless, he figured thoughts of knowing her friend had died were much better than the constant worry and wonder... and urge to take matters into her own hands. If Jenna was to go out tomorrow and perform her duties with a heavy mind set on wondering desperately if Rodger was alive, Bane feared it could cause her to do something rash, or stupid and careless...
It was decided. He would at least find a way to obtain new information on the situation at hand. He already knew how he'd go about it, due to what Barsad had told him. He would call Jenna's house, access the answering machine, and check for new messages. He was playing by this killers rules, and if Bane's hunch was right, there was already a message waiting for Jenna.
The silence had become deafening, and just when Jenna was ready to give up, she lifted her head in just enough time to watch Bane reach his hand out behind him slightly, his fingers waggling. Her eyes immediately focused on Isaac, and she watched him let out a sigh as he reached into one of his various pockets to pull out a brick of a phone, and place it directly in Bane's hand. Her eyes widened as she watched him activate the phone, and when Bane suddenly asked her house number, Jenna's tongue-tied demeanor had a difficult time reciting the digits back to him. But she had managed, her heart beginning to race in anticipation, and she felt her body tense as she watched Bane lift the phone to his ear, occasionally lowering the phone to punch in a few other numbers. As her heart pounded, vaguely Jenna had to wonder how Bane knew what he was doing, how he just seemingly knew how to access her house phone's voicemail through his own phone, but she stayed silent, too nervous and eager to speak, and the last thing she wanted to do was disrupt the beast. After all, he was helping her, and doing exactly what she had asked –orbegged- him to do.
The area grew even more silent as she waited, top teeth sinking down into her lower, plump lip as Bane remained still, the phone pressed over the section of mask that covered his ear, Isaac remaining still and silent behind him, piercing blue eyes focused on his leader, rather than Jenna. She swallowed, moving her aqua eyes from Isaac and back onto Bane, her body shivering as she waited for Bane to say something, her mind racing at a million miles per second, wondering what Bane was hearing the killer say, if anything. Perhaps he had been unable to access the machine...? No, Jenna thought, wiping the idea from her mind, for it was obvious Bane had accessed something; the phone was still pressed to his ear. Jenna's foot began to tap on the ground as she wrapped her arms around herself, shaking, the eagerness growing to an unhealthy level as she glanced away from Bane, her eyes wandering over Isaac, but when it finally registered in her brain that he had been looking at her, she couldn't stop her self from glancing back, her eyes meeting with his. They stared at each other, his face emotionless, but when he flashed her a quick, sympathetic half-smile, Jenna's heart jolted into her throat just as he glanced away, and she felt that sinking feeling weighing her down again. Isaac's smile had not been comforting, instead it only led her to believe that he and Bane already knew something that she did not.
Desperation overcame her as she glanced back to Bane in just enough time to witness his eyebrows furrowing, and her mind shut down as soon as she heard a very faint voice on the other end of the phone. Was that Rodger? The killer? Was she too late, would Bane allow her do something about the situation? Blinded by fright and despair, Jenna lunged herself at Bane, hands reaching up to the phone, the giant hardly reacting as he merely turned his body away slightly, Isaac's brow furrowing as he stepped forward, hand reaching out to Jenna for both her and Bane's sake.
"Let me hear!" Jenna called, nose scrunching in frustration when she felt Isaac's hand clamp down over her left arm, but as soon as she felt the pressure, reality snapped back to her, and she allowed Isaac to pull her away from Bane. He muttered something under his breath, but Jenna didn't comprehend it. She was too busy focusing on her racing heart and the fact that this, what she had just done, was the exact reason why Bane had broken her arm in the first place. She had lashed out to him, touched him without his permission... She avoided his eyes as she stared down at the ground, panting gently through her mouth as Isaac's hand slipped off her arm, and Jenna swallowed, waiting for a punishment, for death. She felt like a microscopic ant waiting to be crushed by the ruthless human's combat boot; stomped on, and squished down further into the ground, left in the cold for death to carry her away.
But the garage remained near silent, the only sound stemming from her own breathing and the air passing and entering through Bane's mask as his glare remained heavy on her. Jenna licked her lips, shaking her head slightly as she struggled to find her voice, but when nothing but an airy whisper escaped, she cleared her throat before trying again. "I'm s-... Sorry," she mumbled. "I... I just wanted-"
"Go inside, Jenna," Bane commanded, his tone of voice rather gentle, despite what she had done, and Jenna lifted her gaze, eyes meeting Bane's but at his next statement, she flinched lightly as she looked away. "Clearly you still possess the habit of allowing your immaturity to step in your way. Go inside, and I will meet you there."
Solemnly, Jenna turned away from the men, too scared, too shaken up and too exhausted to put up a fight... like the old Jenna would have.
Isaac watched Jenna head back to the exit door, feet crunching through the thick snow, and only after Jenna was out of ear shot did he turn to look up at his commander. "I didn't think she'd do that," Isaac said, watching as Bane let out a steady sigh as he hung up the phone. "I thought she had learned."
"Slip-ups, Barsad," Bane replied calmly as he handed back the phone to his right-hand. "Everybody has them... time to time." His eyes met Isaac's, and Bane held them for a moment before he glanced away. "It was never my intentions for you to become her keeper... this incident was no fault of your own. Head inside. Get some rest. And prepare your mind and body for tomorrow."
Isaac gave Bane a mere nod before he immediately collected his belongs before heading back to the depths of the garage to head up to his own room. Meanwhile, Bane had remained stationary inside, his thick coat blocking out the wind as he stared at the exit door, mind replaying the words on the new message the killer had left. Rodger was still alive, that was evident by the sobs in the background... but this killer, this Victor Zsasz, he was ruthless, Bane knew. Bane had been based in Gotham for far too long now to not have a basic knowledge of other criminals in the city. Victor Zsasz, he had been thrown back into Arkham after being recaptured, after Bane's own liberation on the city. Granted he and Victor shared that in common, it was still slight. To Bane, Zsasz's purpose was miniscule, compared to his own. However, he knew all about this killer's drive, his ache for 'the mark', and Bane knew his tendency to pick out his victims. Once his sights were set, he'd stop at nothing to shed that person dry of their blood. And for some reason, somehow, Zsasz's sights were set on Jenna.
But Bane was adamant in the fact that Zsasz would not touch her. Blockading the rest of the thoughts from his mind, the details, Bane finally turned and began into the depths of the garage himself. Zsasz would kill this Rodger boy, no matter what. He was merely using him to lure Jenna in. His hunt would be never ending; as far as Bane knew he had no idea where Jenna was or where to begin searching. Bane figured this was what it resorted to. But he would not give Zsasz the pleasure of even touching Jenna.
Bane sighed as he stepped inside the warehouse, refusing to acknowledge the thoughts that were swarming his mind, the details behind why he was so possessive of Jenna, why he didn't want to be rid of her, despite her 'slip-up'. As he descended the stairs into the cold basement, noticing already the light from his room flooding onto the darkened floor, his mind had already been made up on what he was going to tell Jenna. It was a necessary lie.
When he pushed open the door the rest of the way, he found the lithe woman to be sitting on her side of his bed. Her boots had since then been discarded on the floor between the bed and boxes, her knees pulled up to her chest, her arms wrapped around them as she glared at the wall, face stern. Bane stood still as he stared at her for a moment, eyes wandering down, taking in her stiffened limbs, socked feet, then back up to study her hardened face, masked sternly to hide how hurt she was, he knew. To any average person, this mask probably would have worked, but Bane could see right through it.
He sighed, loudly, as he began to shrug off his coat, reverting his gaze to stare down at the floor. "You do understand why we cannot do anything about this, don't you Jenna?"
Jenna breathed in a sigh of her own through her nose, her shoulders raising slightly as she kept her gaze fixed for another moment before she found herself turning her head towards Bane's direction without her own permission, aqua eyes remained fixed on him as he bent down slowly to begin untying his boots.
"Because you don't care," she accused, her voice wavering slightly, her mind unable to hold her body back, as was one of her worst habits. "Because you could give a shit less. It's not that you can't, it's that you won't because-"
"Because I need everyone to be at their best tomorrow, Jenna. That includes you," Bane interrupted sternly, his darkened gray eyes meeting with hers, his stare proving too intense for Jenna, causing her to look away with a roll of her eyes. "This is merely a distraction come at the wrong time and I am handling it the way it needs to be handled. When I brought you here, I was careful to ensure that you knew, by the sparing of your life, that you were giving up everything else that exists outside of these warehouse doors. You agreed, Jenna. Your will to live overpowered any emotional attachments with the outside world. In so little words, you agreed to this, and so it was done."
Bane's metallic tone was like nails on a chalkboard by this point, and all Jenna could manage to do was shake her head as her eyes remained glued to the wall.
"You could have cared less about this boy until you heard about something like this happening and-"
"This is not true," Jenna argued as she turned her head to glare back at him, images from her nightmares immediately flashing through her mind. "I-"
"Rarely spoke of him before. Now that he is in crisis do you make an attempt to reach out. I will not have you spare your own life to save somebody who does not... who doesn't...-" Bane let out a breath as he glanced back down to finish stepping out of his boots, but his hesitation had captured Jenna's attention.
"Doesn't what?" She prompted.
Bane shook his own head, wondering idly to himself if it had been better to stop himself, or if he should have continued on. Claiming Rodger didn't matter wasn't what made him stop, but what conclusion it would have caused Jenna to reach... what Bane had truly meant, deep down. Rodger didn't matter, the killer didn't matter... because Jenna did...
"It's not important," Bane spoke lowly, his voice more robotic sounding as he stepped out of his boots, and he gently pushed to them to the side, against the wall, and once his back was straight he stared at the wall, thinking for a fast moment. "It's too late, anyway," he went on. "Rodger has... perished."
"...what?" Was all Jenna could manage to whisper as her throat began to swell, her eyes burning immediately.
"The killer... this... Victor Zsasz, murdered him. Claimed you had run out of time." A lie, but it was for Jenna's own good. Even more so, it was for the own good of his army. Dealing with loss would prove to be better than being blinded by confusion and desperate wonder.
"He said I had twenty-four hours. Isaac even heard-"
"That's what was said in that message, Jenna," Bane fired back, louder, causing Jenna to immediately back down as she sunk into herself, the fire in her eyes extinguishing. "This murderer is unpredictable, that's what he bases himself on-"
"Yeah like you would know," Jenna grumbled as she began to turn away, but within an instant, Bane's side of the bed was sinking lower, and Jenna could barely gasp before she felt Bane's tight grip sinking into her jaw, forcing her to look at him. It shouldn't anymore, but Bane's speed, even for a man his size, always astounded her, and as her heart raced and pounded, her eyes wide as she stared into his, she allowed the fear to break down her mask.
"I would know," Bane assured, dissatisfied by the way he had given into his frustrated emotions, but he had been unable to help it. It still proved true, after all this time: physical force was the only way to get Jenna to be quiet and listen. "I had looked into this man in the past, learned about him, as I did with so many others. There was never a time frame. There was never a chance to save somebody he had already chosen as his victim. Even if there was, he couldn't wait; his impulsive instincts had taken him over." A partial lie. Zsasz was still allowing this time frame, his message had made that clear, but chances were that his impulses would take him over in the end. Still, Bane was lying for Jenna's own good.
"A rather unfortunate situation has occurred to your friend, but now... it's too late anyway." Finally, Bane loosened his grip, and he allowed for his fingertips to slide from Jenna's soft skin as he leaned off of the bed, a chill running throughout Jenna as the cold washed upon her face, the ghost sensations of Bane's fingers still lingering on her cheeks and jaw. "Now, you will get over your attachments to this boy and get some sleep. I will wake you in the morning so you may prepare for your duties."
Jenna held back her tears as she bit down on her tongue, forcing herself back from speaking aloud. It made no sense to her why Bane knew so much about this killer... unless he was lying. Unless Rodger wasn't really dead. Even if he was still living, clutched tightly in the grasp of this murderer, it was evident to Jenna that Bane really was not going to do a thing to help her, even after this new track they had started on. He didn't care. He only cared about his operations. Perhaps, really, he didn't care about Jenna at all...
She held back a sniffle as she released her tongue, and without a word she plopped down onto her pillow and immediately turned, giving Bane her back. She stared at the colorful boxes, an image of Osito running through her mind, but she tied no relevancy to this, for Bane was nothing more than heartless beast at the moment... or perhaps always.
Bane eyebrows furrowed slightly as he observed Jenna's vigorous breathing, and he remained silent, waiting to hear a noise erupt from her that would signal that she was in fact crying, but the girl was nearly silent. "It's cold," Bane commented then, his voice calmer. "Perhaps you should-"
"I don't want any," Jenna interrupted, focusing now more than ever to keep her body from shivering. The thought of a blanket sounded nice, but she would not give Bane this satisfaction.
"Very well," Bane spoke simply, and without another word, Jenna listened to his retreat out of the door, and she was left in the darkness before the door clicked shut.
It felt like she hadn't slept at all, even when she found herself jerking awake. With a violent twitch and a cold shudder, electric aqua blue eyes snapped open to stare in the pitch black darkness of... Bane's bedroom. It was something Jenna knew she would never get used to; falling asleep every night on that cot had grown more familiar to her than her old bed at her house, but Bane's bed... it was something entirely different. She felt unwelcome, dirty even, but her mind was quick to remind her that Bane had been the one to move her into his room, and that this wasn't the first night she had slept in his bed. It seemed different this time, however, and as Jenna laid awake, staring into the cold darkness, she finally heard the noise, the steady flow of air moving past a tight obstacle, the robotic noise fading before it came again, louder. Bane.
She held her breath as her lips parted, her body immediately stiffening, but it wasn't long until a pain ruptured through her right arm, and with a flinch she quickly turned off of her right side, only to feel her lower body collide into something hard and still. Freezing again Jenna quickly jerked back toward her side of the bed, eyes widening, and she realized finally that Bane was beside her, sleeping, his mind and body having entered a vulnerable state. She finally released her breath, swallowing as she listened to the air escape past Bane's mask, and as her cloudy mind idly wondered how Bane managed to sleep in that contraption, the urge to witness him next her grew unbearable. Jenna knew she'd be unable to see him, however, and instead she allowed her mind to create an image of him for her. The picture, however, was unclear; how was he laying, what was he wearing? How come he wasn't underneath any blankets either? Her pounding heart began to race, and with another flinch she carefully forced herself into an upright position, thankful that the stiff mattress made absolutely no movement.
It was something she could barely fathom; not only the fact that Bane had allowed himself to enter this unconscious state with her in the room, but in the same bed no less. Clearly, it was something that was bound to happen, this was Bane's room and he knew he'd be slumbering next to her, but still, Jenna couldn't accept it.
She sighed then, quietly, before licking her dry lips, wondering what time it was as she was reminded of what she had to do in the approaching hours. It felt as though all her training had been for nothing, and as she shivered, she knew she was not prepared for what was expected of her. And now, with the realization of who was sleeping next to her and the worrisome thoughts of her duties, Jenna knew she would be unable to fall back asleep.
She leaned up into a sitting position, running the fingers from her left hand through her tangled hair as she closed her eyes, attempting to ignore the pain from her arm. As badly as she wished the craving wasn't existing, the drive to seek out a cigarette was growing stronger and stronger by the second, and with a defeated, near silent sigh Jenna dropped her hand from her head and opened her eyes, realizing she definitely wouldn't be able to fall back asleep until she satisfied her hunger. But how was she supposed to go about actually obtaining what she desired?
Isaac's sleeping, she assured herself. Other than Bane, she was positive he was the only other in the warehouse who knew the importance of getting a restful night's sleep before the morning hours came, before he was to perform his ruthless job. Asking him for a cigarette was out of the question... but perhaps there was a stray pack left on one of the shelves in the garage? Jenna glanced over her shoulder in the direction of the sleeping beast, wondering if it was even worth the risk, worth Bane's fury if he was to catch her in the act. Jenna bit down on her lip as she turned back around, steadying herself by placing both of her palms flat on the bed on either side of her. She knew she shouldn't, she knew the risk was far greater than what she was after... but if Bane expected her to be at her best tomorrow, she needed this cigarette. She didn't expect him to understand, but if she was questioned –or rather, when she was questioned- she'd be able to give him her truthful reasons. At that moment, Jenna's mind was set.
She stood slowly from the bed, her foot gently colliding with her boots on the floor, but she had no idea where her coat was. She ignored the issue, however, as she picked up her boots from the floor before moving carefully around the bed, deciding five minutes of shivering was worth the fill of smoke in her lungs, and the flow of smoke she'd exhale past her lips. Upon reaching the closed door she swallowed, gently placing her hand on the handle, suddenly unable to recall if Bane's door squeaked on its hinges or not, but to her luck, the door was near silent as she slowly pulled it open. She hesitated for a moment, standing still as she listened to Bane's even, robotic breathing, and satisfied the beast was still in a deep slumber, she slipped out of the room and into the cold, dark, main area of the basement.
The hall light was still on from atop of the stairs, and after she shoved her feet into the boots, she made her way toward them quickly, struggling to ignore how cold it was while attempting to ignore the fact that the garage would only be so much colder. She moved up the steps quickly, her eyes focused on the side door that lead into the garage, and once she had reached the top of the steps, she wasted no time with pulling the door open. She expected to be greeted by freezing black, but instead she was surprised to notice a dim light was on, poorly illuminating the space in front of her. Figuring somebody had merely left the light on, she stepped inside, hoping she'd find the garage empty of any henchman of Bane's.
The area was deathly silent, and Jenna suppressed a yawn as she gently closed the door behind her, and immediately her eyes began to scan the shelves on either side of her for an abandoned pack of cigarettes. But much to her dismay, nothing but stray light bulbs, boxes and various tools existed on the shelves, but the stubborn, natural redhead would not give up her search. She continued to roam down the aisle, growing closer to the large garage doors, completely oblivious as to what was before her, until she had reached the end of the first aisle. Sitting before her in his light blue chair was Isaac, his arm held low beside him, a cigarette in between his thumb and index finger, and he pivoted it back and forth as he stared down at the ground, back hunched, legs relaxed and spread before him, boots unlaced. Jenna's body froze immediately, her mind finally registering the source of the light and the fact that the space heater was on, and she found she had a hard time finding her voice. Isaac was still awake? But how could that be?
As if hearing her thoughts, he turned then, no hints of surprise or annoyance written on his face, and he smirked lightly, letting out a 'tsk' of laughter as he shook his head, his tired eyes focused on Jenna's shivering frame.
"I knew it'd be a matter of time before I saw you," he spoke, turning his head away as he idly ashed his cigarette, which was rapidly nearing the filter.
"What are you doing still awake?" Jenna wondered as she stepped closer, finally feeling her racing heart calm as she cautiously moved toward the red chair. She watched Isaac shrug as she sat down, his half-lidded, blue eyes focused on the ground again.
"Couldn't sleep," he replied simply. He cast her a glance with only his eyes as his body swayed slightly. "You?"
"Same," Jenna breathed. "What time is it?"
Isaac knew what Jenna had come outside for, and he reached into the front pocket of his coat to draw out his pack of cigarettes and a lighter, and he leaned over slightly to hand them to her, which she immediately accepted. "'Bout one in the morning," he replied. "We're due to head out in seven hours."
"Fuck," Jenna mumbled to herself, cigarette dangling between her lips before she lit up, and as she removed the cigarette from her mouth and exhaled, she handed the pack and lighter back to Isaac. "How come you couldn't sleep?" She innocently wondered now, glancing over at Isaac as she took another hit. Isaac sighed as he leaned forward, dropping his cigarette to the ground before he pulled out another from the pack, his third one in the past fifteen minutes.
"Anticipation," he replied, pausing to ignite his lighter. "Among other things. You?" He glanced over to her now, watching as she glanced down.
"Same," Jenna replied. "I keep... I keep thinking about Rodger... and that guy. How he's-" Jenna's throat clenched immediately, and she shook her head, unable to form the word that was swimming around in her mind: dead. She swallowed before changing the direction of the conversation, for she did not want to be burdened anymore than she already was by speaking of Rodger and the murder. "A-and I don't... I'm not ready for tomorrow," she confessed. "I can't do it."
"Yes you can," Isaac argued simply, blinking slowly, ignoring Jenna's first comment. "You did well with training, you'll be fine."
"I can't remember anything," Jenna protested, shaking her head. "I just-"
"I'll be right beside you the entire time," Isaac assured. "If you need help, I'll be there."
He was too exhausted to even consider the strong way in which Jenna took this, and as she exhaled more smoke, she felt her body relax, a good majority of her nerves dissipating along with the smoke. She couldn't recall if Isaac had assured her of this before, but just knowing that he'd be with her, to help her, to protect her, made her feel a little better about tomorrow. However, Jenna was not ready to witness Isaac shoot another man or woman, an innocent bystander, but she knew it was something she was just going to have to get over.
"Am I going to have to... kill anybody?" She wondered a moment later in a quiet, weak voice, finally looking over at Isaac again as a shudder ran through her body. Isaac nodded slowly to himself before he glanced over at her again.
"Probably," he replied.
"Anybody who appears to be a threat to Bane, even in the slightest," Isaac replied. Jenna was immediately shaking her head as her brows met in the middle.
"But... how-... who?"
"Anybody who is not in the league," Isaac adjusted his previous statement. "Police, citizens... Just- just do what you think you need to do," Isaac trailed off then, turning away from Jenna to bring the cigarette to his lips, and he hungrily took a long, hard drag before he was holding the cigarette at his side again, and he steadily blew the smoke from his nose. "You'll know what to do when the time comes. Tomorrow's task is for the city to witness the death of the mayor, and doing so, the rest of us must protect Bane."
"...that's it?" Jenna wondered now, her eyes still focused on Isaac, and she was taken aback slightly when he let out a chuckle as he turned to look over at her again.
"What did you think we were doing? Gunning down everybody in the streets?"
"Yes." Her mumble came a short moment later after she had turned her head away. Isaac's tired eyes remained on her frame as he took another drag.
"We stand for greater purpose than that, Jenna," Isaac spoke as he let his cigarette drop down to the ground. "Anybody who perishes along-side the mayor tomorrow will have died due to their own fault."
"But there will be so many," Jenna protested. "The police, they'll have to approach Bane... attempt to do something-"
"Fewer city officials will only make our duties run more smoothly. There won't be very many police around anyway, Jenna. Not since their stations have been taken out."
The garage fell silent then. Isaac had left Jenna feeling rather speechless, so instead of bothering him with nonsense or further worrying or arguing, Jenna sunk into herself, her shivering having since then primarily subsided since the warm flow of air from the heater was hitting her directly. She kept her hands folded in her lap, her cigarette burning away as the minutes ticked on, and by the time she finally lifted it to her lips to take a drag, she slumped slightly when she realized the cigarette had burnt to the filter. With a roll of her eyes she dropped it onto the ground, but when she turned her head in Isaac's direction she saw he was holding out another cigarette toward her, as well as the lighter. A guilty, shallow smile morphed Jenna's lips as she accepted the items, and as she lit up Isaac leaned back in his chair.
"Thank you," Jenna mumbled after she had exhaled. Isaac merely nodded, his vision focused on his boots, his thoughts changing focus from the mission in the approaching hours, and onto Jenna. It happened without his control, leaving him helpless, unable to stop it, but as the silence continued on, Isaac had to wonder what else had Jenna staying away, what was keeping her to seem so... sad. He stole a glance at her, taking note of her slouched body, her lowered gaze, how loosely she held onto the cigarette, and as soon as she lifted it to her lips, Isaac realized what else was on her mind.
"I-" He stopped immediately, closing his mouth tightly, and he let out an agitated sigh through his nose as he turned his head away once Jenna had cast a glance over to him. Isaac closed his eyes, having realized that mentioning Jenna's friend would only skew her focus more for tomorrow, and neither he nor especially Bane could have that right now. It was a wonder enough Bane was actually including Jenna in his plans, but he had left Isaac with the responsibility over her and of her training. If he was the one to break her concentration and leave her unprepared...
But now Jenna was staring at him, he could see this from his peripheral. Her gaze was heavy as she anticipated what was to come next, and while a part of Isaac secretly hoped Jenna would just leave the issue alone, he knew she wouldn't. It was far too late for that. Keeping his eyes focused away, he lifted a hand to the front pocket of his jacket, and he reached in, opening his box of cigarettes before pulling one out effortlessly, and he leaned forward slightly, shoulders hunching as he stuck the cigarette in between his lips to light it. As the end caught, Isaac couldn't suppress the small grin that overtook his features, wondering, exactly, how many cigarettes he and Jenna had smoked together since her arrival. The thought was short-lived however, and as he leaned back in his chair, exhaling, the weight of the moment returned with bitter force. Slowly, icy blue eyes crept over in Jenna's direction, and even though he hadn't wanted to, blue orbs met with those of aqua. He pivoted his cigarette back and forth between his fingers for a moment before he sighed, rolling his eyes, and he mumbled a 'nevermind' before turning away, yet again.
Idly, Jenna nodded. She had assumed Isaac hadn't been about to go on with his thought, but she felt too exhausted to press him on the matter, or argue. She took another drag of her own as she glanced away, but as soon as she closed her eyes, Rodger was plaguing her vision. She thinned her lips as she squeezed her eyes tighter, refusing to let any other tears flow past, for she knew how she felt about the matter was useless to both Isaac and Bane. They couldn't care less, she thought sourly. There was nothing she could do to make them understand her pain, understand her desire and will to at least attempt to do something to save him... unless Bane really had been telling the truth. But this wasn't her life anymore. The cards been dealt, and now she was being forced to play the hand she had been given. She was not only under Bane's supervision or command, she had to abide by his rules, no matter what they were, no matter how much they changed. Jenna had, in truth, sacrificed so much to just remain alive: her parents, her friends, her freedom, but she had to wonder if it was all worth it, if death really would have been the better alternative. Despite any light that did find a way to shine down into her own pit of darkness, to ease any pain in the slightest or give her any sense of hope, death, still, could have been the better option. At least then she wouldn't have had to live with these torments, with these rules; she wouldn't have known about Rodger's kidnapping... her parent's could have gone on with their lives... and maybe, just maybe, Bane and Isaac's lives would have been a little easier to manage.
The thought stung her like venom, and her eyes snapped open immediately as she sucked in a sharp breath of air, her heart beginning to race. She glanced down to her cigarette, which had burnt out completely about half way down the stick, and she tossed it onto the ground, figuring it was just time for her to retreat inside. Isaac had since then glanced over at her, but Jenna ignored him for the time being as she stood up, her upper half no longer embraced in the heat. She crossed her arms as she immediately began to tremble, feeling absolutely sickened with herself. What the hell did she care about the negative impact she had made on Bane and Isaac? ...why did she care?
"I better go to bed," she spoke then, clearing her hoarse voice as she moved around the chair. "Wouldn't want to be exhausted for tomorrow... on top of everything else," she added in a mumble, earning a grin from Isaac as he glanced down. As tempting as it was to poke fun at this with some well deserved sarcasm, he held these remarks back.
"Yeah, me too," he merely agreed as he took another long drag from his cigarette before he let it drop to the ground, and he ran his boot over it before standing himself. When he glanced up, however, he saw Jenna had already started for the door, and he had to wonder what had changed her solemn mood so rapidly. "Goodnight," he spoke to her, but the only reply he received was that of the door closing behind her.
Goodness do I have a lot of explaining to do. First and foremost I do sincerely apologize about the wait in between chapters. It makes me feel like shit for having you all wait for so long, and for that I am truly sorry. I am, however, only human, and these past months have been crazy with new hobbies (roleplaying) and drastic life style changes. I've moved away from home to live in Georgia with my girlfriend, though the months prior to this were hectic and stressful, complete with a shitty job and the stress that comes with long distance relationships. Granted this, too, is merely a hobby, I appreciate all of my readers, old and new, and I wanted to inform you all of what has been going on in the life of ClownQween'69. I at least owe you an explanation.
I'm sorry this chapter is so short, this really is the calm before the storm, and unfortunately, the finale of the first story in the series. It's been far too long since I've updated, but I have had the ending in mind for a while now, and finally I've gotten the motivation and time to get a chapter out there. I sincerely thank you ALL for your on-going patience with me and this story. It means so much.
As always, feel free to add me on facebook (Lacey ClownQween Michele), and while you're at it follow me on Tumblr (Sexaroni-and-Cheese). Thank you, and I hope you enjoyed the chapter. :)