Warning: Some imagery might be disturbing to some. It's nothing too graphic, but could be triggering nonetheless. Read with caution.
The Phantom remembered talk of the moon being visible through the bars of a prison cell. What hadn't been mentioned, though, was the fact that the entire place was made of stone, only thin pillars of metal covered the hole that was the 'window,' and that there was no heating system to be spoken of. His cell was freezing. Literally freezing. As in, the plastic cup of water he'd been given sat next to his bed was slowly turning from a liquid into a solid.
It was a wonder how any of the prisoners even made it through the winter in a place like this. Or the guards for that matter.
Phantom fought the cold as best he could with the blanket he'd been given, the thin cloth wrapped as tightly around his quivering body as he could get it while huddled on his bed, pressed into the corner where two walls met. His body was already weakened from aggressive questioning by the authorities, lack of sleep, and the constant tension that plagued him since his cover had been blown. Not to mention the fact that, despite the fact the place was covered in armed guards, there was always a chance that his life would end without warning due to an assassin. He was lucky the first time, he wouldn't be a second.
His only hope was escape. He was very, very good at his job. If he could only get away, find his way back to one of the bases, they would call the assassins off and accept him once more. He'd be cared for until he was able to be out on the field again, retrained, given a new mask. It wasn't his true self, no, but it was better than death, and maybe, maybe he'd be able to discover who he really was. His identity, his self, hidden away in the forgotten past. There had to be some record, somewhere out there.
He had his true face, at least, but it held little meaning. It was a stranger to him, and after only a month incarcerated, it was less recognizable then ever.
He'd lost so much weight that the pale skin stretched horridly over the bones of his face. His cheeks were sunken in, his eyes darkened from lack of sleep. The irony wasn't lost on him. He didn't care, he felt nothing at the thought of humiliation, only of dying, and especially dying as no more than an abyss. He'd thought he'd felt all that behind, lost what it was to truly feel something, and then they'd brought it up to the surface.
There was a dull thud that stabbed through his chest and chilled him worse than the low temperature. He jerked upright, flinging himself off the bed, ready to fight for the life he didn't really have..but no one was there. He stared at the empty cell, as if he expected an armed gunman to morph through the wall, nothing moved.
Well, maybe not nothing.
It was small, black, and blended into the shadows so well that only it's jittery movement gave away its presence. He paused, hesitantly lowering his guard as he approached the animal. It was a bat. A young bat, seemingly just old enough to fly. Phantom watched the creature with a detached air, his arms folded in close to his chest as the bat curled up into a whimpering ball. Bats didn't come out this time of the year, and this knowledge set alarms off in his head. Glancing at the cup of water off to the side, he stood to grab it and knelt again, nudging the fluffy ball with it's bottom. He studied it carefully as it squeaked and tried to move away, alert for any attempt to bite the offending plastic. A second time, a third time, it only moved away and cowered.
There were no visible wounds, he continued to observe, no blood. It wasn't a vampire bat, either, but a fruit bat.
After several more moments he finally concluded that it wasn't rabid. Would they provide the rabies vaccine to him if it was? Sighing, he put the cup back down and returned to his bed, wrapping the blanket around him again. Now that he'd left the shelter of the covers he was even colder.
He just wanted to stop shaking. The constant tremors stole from him strength he didn't have, and made his muscles ache more and more with each passing moment. He could handle the cold itself, just not the endless shaking. He thought distantly of Fulbrights outfit, the thick coat and gloves that would at least ease the chill if he still had them. He'd been stripped of them when he'd been shot, the doctors forced into cutting his clothes away so they could access the bullet wound. In its place, he was given a neon orange jumpsuit with a number on it to serve as identification.
Not that there was a single person in the entire prison that didn't know who he was. Even the convicted murders waiting for death were enthralled by the phantom spy, though he could guess some had more to sate than mere curiosity. He was in isolation, the only people allowed access to him were doctors and a few chosen guards. Wouldn't want someone else to kill him before the state could put an end to him through legal means, would they? Besides, they were still hoping he'd give up precious information concerning the people he worked for. If they could tell him who he was, offer a name to pair with the stone to his grave, he might have considered it. However, there was nothing to gain, save some spared pain, and he wasn't about to give the agency a reason to reject him should he manage to free himself before his execution date.
He couldn't even remember when he'd become aware that he'd lost his own self. Even his past missions, they blurred together in an unrecognizable tangle when he thought back far enough. As far as he knew, he'd always been this. A mask, with no identity of his own, working for those he'd never met in person, and if it wasn't for the fact that it was impossible, he might have believed the rumors that he wasn't even human.
There was a rush of leathery wings, a dark blur flinging itself from the shadows only to land with a fleshy thud back to the cold stone floor. He watched from his shelter of covers as it squeaked and chattered, crawling around with an air of urgency, desperation, fear. Again, it attempted flight, and again, it failed. Apparently, he had something in common with the flying rat. It was trapped here just as much as he was, it's thin, fragile body too weakened by the weather to take to the sky and leave the darkened halls of the prison.
Unfortunately for the pitiful animal, it was much smaller than he was. It couldn't create as much heat as he could, and even with it's frantic movements it was slowly losing energy. Unless it found a place of warmth, it would die.
He supposed he should sympathize. Most people, especially in this situation, would be affected by the reflection of their own emotions looking back at them, but he felt nothing of the sort. Perhaps his true self would have been moved enough to help... or, maybe he'd find enjoyment of the creatures suffering, drip freezing water drops on its head as it struggled. He couldn't say, he didn't know what kind of a person he was, what had been there before the rush of persona's swept him away, burred him in a endless tidal wave of things he wasn't.
The bats movements slowed considerably, hypothermia beginning to take away the adrenaline, easing the panic, replacing it with dull twitches weighed down by exhaustion. Whatever pain it must have been enduring when the veins close to the surface of its skin contracted would numb, as would all other sensations. If it was lucky, it would experience false warmth before its heart stopped completely.
His own death wouldn't be so slow. As with all murderers, spy or otherwise, he would be restrained, his hands tied behind his back, his legs bound together, and hanged by a rope from the neck. It might be quick, the sudden drop doing as was designed, his neck quickly snapping from the sudden pressure.. then again, there was always the chance it wouldn't work and he'd be left suspended in the air, strangled by his body's own weight.
He reflexively reached for his throat, breath quickening as though the noose already hugged his windpipe, ready to snap taunt and cut his final gasp short. He huddled back against the two walls that made one of the cells corners, as if they would offer comfort. There was none, only an unending state of fright he'd no way to combat. He forced himself inhale deeply through the mouth, slowing the intake of air to try and keep himself, if not calm, then at least in a state of self control.
Athenia, Apolo and Wright had each claimed to have the support of one another when under stress, and while they'd proven that claim through his defeat, he wouldn't be able to rely on anyone even if he had someone willing to offer. He was alone.
The bat stopped moving completely, even the rise and fall of it's chest falling away into nothing. Phantom swallowed hard and looked away, the imagined rope tightening, and brought the blanket up over his head to block the sight out.
The night eventually passed, the cold and anxiety keeping him from nightmares that would have otherwise plagued him. He almost couldn't believe it when the darkness began to fade, the void that hovered above tinged with blue, brightening until the sight was physically painful to his sleep deprived eyes. While one couldn't exactly call it warm, heat poured down from the sun, making the place if only slightly more bearable. If he curled into the tightest ball he could manage and lay himself in the sunbeam that came in through the window, he might be able to chase the tremors away if only for a few minutes.
He pulled himself sluggishly to his feet and tried to do just that, pulling the blanket with him to clutch around his shoulders. At the moment, the beam of light was thin, so he sat where he knew it would go as the yellow orb climbed the sky.
The fear lessened with the growing light, though he was still tense, jumpy. His sleepless mind fooled him into seeing vague shapes in the corners of his eyes, movement when there was none, a shift in motion that made him feel like the floor was falling out underneath him. His eyes jerked restlessly around the room, his heart skipping at one imagined danger after the other. They stilled on the small form that lay on the floor, black fur now standing out against the grey stone.
The bat was only a foot away. Whether it was actual bravery or foolishness brought on from staying awake the entire night(and the night before that, and the one before that) he couldn't begin to say, he reached out and picked it up. Like everything else in his cell, it was cold, hard, motionless. Slowly, he turned it around in his hands, tried to move a wing, a foot, it's head, but the joints were stiffened to the point it was impossible to shift anything without breaking it. It was trapped, he thought almost deliriously. It was trapped, and it was scared, and now it was nothing and so too would he and it didn't have anyone to care about its death it even have a name-
The tiny body hit the wall and bounced briefly on the ground, ending up on the edge of his low standing bed. The motion had torn one hardened wing almost all the way off, the limb held on only by the thinnest of strings.
"N-no, no, pl-please, no..." Fulbrights voice spoke quietly, cracking with terror as the Phantom hid under the inadequate shield that was the blanket. His face buried into his arm, wetting it as liquid drained from his eyes, "Please.. n-no, help... help me.."
No one answered.