The pain, the anger, was too great. Jason simply shut down, memories coming in short pulses like photographs etched with the acid of human lives on his soul.
One: The figure on the rooftop jerked back for a second, before toppling over the edge. He didn't see where he'd hit him.
Two: He'd swung around, pistol still held in two hands. Red hair framed the face, and blue eyes opened wide as the left shoulder became a bloody ruin.
Three: Jason corrected his aim and the blue eyes gazed glassily as the fat man fell, convulsing in death.
Four: A screaming mouth swallowed the bullet, and the brown eyes glassed over as the slim figure crumpled in a death come too soon. Jason was screaming too, in anger and rage.
Five: Eric was dead. So too was a fourth man, shot straight between the eyes; just like Eric. Dark hair, instead of Eric's beautiful dirty blond, but the eyes had the same green depth to them.
Six: Three men were framed in his tunneled vision this time, the center one falling backward, his throat gone from the sixth shot. His bulk crashed left, blocking the second man.
Seven: The right of the three dodged, trying to throw Jason's aim off. Instead, the bullet ripped through his heart straight on, killing him instantly. Jason's body was trembling as exhaustion began to take its toll.
Eight: He waited a bare second, giving the last man the choice to turn and run or face him, before sending a final shot in his right eye. Jason's body shook as emotions overwhelmed him.
Nine: He was falling sideways, kicking away from the wall as he brought his pistol to bear on the right eye of the sniper, cheek stinging where a near miss had kissed him. Adrenaline was failing him, his reflexes were slowing.
Ten: He made sure of the sniper with a second shot through the left eye, wiping the mockery of Eric's eyes from existence. Already the black was claiming even the photographs.
Eleven: The first of the photographs not illuminated by the flare of his gunfire; he stared at the pistol in his hand, its cool metal finish gleaming in the dim light. No blood. There should be blood. He killed seven people, why wasn't there any blood? For a bare instant, he considered turning the pistol on some of the unconscious figures he'd only disabled.
Twelve: Jason held the pistol steady, mere inches from the face of an eighth man. He wasn't awake. Jason wanted him to see it coming.
Thirteen: Lunch tasted a lot better going down than coming up. But he wasn't half so angry anymore, why wasn't he angry? He'd lost something...
Fourteen: He cradled Eric in his arms, or rather his body. Eric was gone. He knelt on the ground, the body of his lover in his arms as he wept.
Fifteen: He stared at Ronan down the barrel of the pistol, screaming imprecations at him.
Sixteen: He glared as the man he'd thought about killing began to stir.
Seventeen: He felt Ronan's arms close around him, squeezing air from his lungs in a crushing bear hug as he struggled to break free, tears streaming from his eyes. The gun clattered to the ground a few feet away, where Ronan had tossed it after stealing it from him.
Jason wept into Ronan's shoulder, as sirens sounded in the distance at long last, struggling to break free from the crushing grip. Ronan rocked him in his arms silently as Jason screamed his pain. Finally, as the sirens began to grow near, Jason stopped struggling and looked up at the face of his mentor and whispered, "He's dead Ronan."
"I know, Jason, I know." Ronan spoke softly, eyes bright with unshed tears.
"He died trying to rescue me," soft now, not quite a whisper.
"I killed the man who killed him," Jason spoke softly.
"This too, I know," Ronan didn't match Jason's rising volume.
"I want him back."
"So do I."
"Who's going to tell Lara?" Jason asked in a more normal tone of voice.
"That is my job," Ronan replied.
"What am I going to do?" Jason asked plaintively as cops finally began flooding the alley.
"On the ground, now," one of them shouted, pointing a pistol at the two of them.
"Obey the nice policemen, of course," Ronan said without a trace of irony in his voice.
"OK son, lets go over this one more time..." a caricature spoke from across the table, shifting his bulk and fat around.
"Again?" Jason didn't know whether to cry or laugh.
"Again," the officer confirmed, leaning forward. "Every single detail. Use different words."
"I was walking around, looking for Eric-"
Jason decided to be annoyed, and separated the words, speaking slowly as if to an idiot, "I wanted to talk to him about how distant he'd been behaving recently." The officer standing behind him snorted softly.
"Don't get sassy with me, you fucking queer!" The fat officer slapped his palm on the table.
"You tell him, Mark," the second officer remarked from behind Jason, bored.
"Don't waste my time, and I won't have a reason to!" Jason shouted at them both, twisting in his chair to stab the officer behind him with a pointed stare.
Mark shoved the table forward, into Jason's gut, causing Jason to tumble backwards. "Don't fuck with me, queer boy!"
Murphy's Law struck, and the door to the interrogation room burst open with a rather harried looking officer trying to restrain a very familiar face. Jason grinned at Officer Mortimer as the officer tried to pretend he hadn't done anything. "So, tell me Nick," Jason asked his lawyer, "how much do police brutality lawsuits go for these days?"
"Depends, Jason," Mr. Brown replied playfully, "did he remember to turn off the video camera in here before he pulled that little stunt?"
"I don't think so..." Jason replied thoughtfully.
Mark Mortimer wasn't amused with this byplay. "I'm a little clumsy," he drawled. "I have a habit of slamming into things when I get up quickly, say because some fuckin' queer is talking back to me."
"You know, language like that is grounds for a lawsuit too?" Nick Brown asked pleasantly. "I'll have to refer Jason here to one of my civil court colleagues... especially if you don't let him go right now."
The not-so-implied threat did the trick. "He'll have to sign his statement, and then he's free to go. Can't leave the city for the duration, of course," Mortimer's partner broke in. "The typed copy should be on its way here right now..." he poked his head out of the room and picked up a sheet out of a file folder attached to the wall. "Here it is," he shoved it on the table in front of where Jason had been sitting. Jason glanced it over, and reached for a pen to sign it.
"Ahem," Mr. Brown coughed at his client. Jason looked up, confused, and Mr. Brown rolled his eyes in exasperation. "Read it thoroughly." Jason did so with a sigh, and then went ahead and signed with a flourish.
Deciding to rub salt in the wounds, he turned to face the rather obnoxious Mark Mortimer, and made a little bow, speaking very cheerfully, "Thank you so very much for your time officer!"
Mortimer snarled and snatched up the statement, then stalked out of the room, his partner following. Jason and Nick held their laughter in for a few seconds before it broke loose. Within seconds, Jason broke off, suddenly feeling guilty. Eric was dead, and he was laughing? Nick put a hand on his shoulder and shook his head, "He'd want you to laugh." Nick then jerked his head toward the door. Walking out, they gave the other occupants of the police station, criminal and cop alike, as wide a birth as they could. In this city, it didn't pay to take chances with either side of the law.
Ronan met them outside and walked them to the car. "How you holding up?" Jason just stared at him before getting into the car. "I see."
"Sorry it took so long," Nick said to Ronan.
"You did your best, I'm sure. Now... I must begin again to heal his wounds." Ronan sighed. "This will take far more time than I can spare at the moment, yet..."
Jason broke in, "Yes, I know I'm worth it. Now, we need to get home." Nick and Ronan looked at each other, then the closed windows of the car, then back at each other with raised eyebrows.
Nick reached into his pocket and fingered something inside for a few moments before continuing, "That's an interesting trick."
Ronan glanced at Jason before answering, "Very interesting. I wonder when he picked that up?"
"Hurry up already!" Jason insisted. The two men outside the car stared at each other, and then Nick pulled out a small crystal from his pocket, and stared at it before shaking his head at Ronan.
"I think we need to get going," a shaken Ronan announced loudly, "don't you Jason?"
When no response was forthcoming, the two men sighed and went their separate ways.
When they walked into the apartment, Paul was comforting a weeping Lara. Jason rushed across the room to the couch and sat down on the other side of her, and snuggled up close to give what comfort he could while Ronan knelt in front of her and did the same. Jason started singing Amazing Grace and the others followed. As the last strains of the song faded away, he let his beautiful voice start up another. Before he could start a third, Paul softly recited one of Eric's favorite pieces of scripture.
"Yea though I walk through the valley of the shadow of dea-"
His voice broke, but he pushed on,
"...death, I will fear no evil: for thou art with me; Thy rod and thy staff, they comfort me. Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies; Thou anointest my head with oil; my cup runneth over. Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my li-"
Paul's voice broke again, and to Jason and Paul's mutual shock, Ronan finished for him.
"Surely goodness and mercy shall follow me all the days of my life; And I will dwell in the house of the Lord forever."
"Amen..." Lara whispered as she finally stopped weeping. "Thank you Ronan. I didn't know you'd memorized it."
"I may not like Christianity as a whole, but there are many beautiful pieces. To ignore them for the ugliness that the religion is often used as an excuse for would be foolish," answered a suddenly uncomfortable Ronan. They were touching on a frequent debate, and tonight was not the night to start throwing words like "witch trials" and "inquisition" around. She didn't need that, instead she needed the comfort their shared faith could give them. Thankfully, Lara let it drop.
Jason started singing again, improvising a haunting melody, and the rest of them wept, even the normally stalwart Ronan.
"Golden hair, bright green eyes; My lover goes now to God.
Beloved was he, by friends and family; My friend goes now to God.
Rest, sweet Eric, and know ye truly; That though you go to God, We will remember you."
Instinct prompted Paul and impossibly he took up the thread of the harmony in a voice to match his brother's in beauty. Normally, he had no singing voice, but tonight he was his brothers match. Ronan and Lara stared at him as they wept.
"Though angry words once were said, You are my friend, who goes now to God;
I thank you again, for my brother's life, You who saved his soul, and now goes to God;
Rest, sweet Eric, and know truly: That though we say farewell, In God's arms, we shall meet again."
Ronan and Lara both simply wept, letting the melody, and its power, die away. Jason couldn't sing further, and finally he got them some water from the kitchen instead.
The next morning, when he woke up, Jason found a letter on his nightstand. "To: Jason Bester, From: Eric"
Jason rested his hand on it for a moment and turned away. After he'd finished breakfast and a shower, he looked at it again. He opened the unsealed envelope and read the handwritten letter. The page was splotched in places where water -- tears -- had fallen on it, and the writing, though perfectly legible, was uncertain, as if the hand that penned it had been shaking. One underlined sentence made Jason's eyes jerk wide open..
I'm going to miss you buddy. Know that I'll watch over you from above for the rest of your life. I know you have a lot of questions, a lot of pain, and while I can't answer a lot, there are things you must know. Things you need to be told. And there are other things that I want you to know.
I chose my fate. Please, dearest, remember that always: I chose my fate. I knew what would happen when I came to rescue you. If not the details, then at least the broad outline. I was given a Choice: your life or mine. I chose yours: now, as always. I couldn't imagine a world without you in it, I couldn't stand the thought of letting you die. There were other reasons to make the decision -- you hold a power that will be sorely needed in the days to come, and I do not -- but all those many reasons, though perfectly valid were not the reason I made my choice.
I love you Jason. Old Marge's words, about a false love who returned a love more false and true referred to me. You lusted after me, indeed a "false" love, and I lusted for you in return, but where what you felt towards me was friendship, I felt love. Jason Bester, until I met you I didn't understand so many of the phrases thrown around, but now I do. You are my sun; you are the stars in my sky; you are the center around which my world turns. I am the better for having known you, and I hope you feel the same to be true.
I can shed no light on the rest of the prophecy, but I do know this: you are at the heart of it for a reason. You will face Choices of your own, and the first will come soon. Don't take too long to choose, but make sure the choice you make is the right one.
As for Ronan, don't be too angry. He had no way of knowing what was happening, what was coming. Until I killed your captor he was prevented from knowing. I don't know who your captor was, but I know that he held in him the Power of a Guardian. Those secrets you've been oh-so-carefully ignoring, press Ronan on them (soon!). It is time for you to learn of the Guarding, and the Guiding, and the Guardians, as soon as you're ready to handle the learning.
I've left instructions with Ronan, Lara, and my parents to cover my funeral service. I've also entrusted Ronan and Lara with copies of my will, and I think you'll understand why I didn't want to give a copy of it to my parents. They wouldn't have coped well, God only knows what they would have tried to do, so better safe than sorry. You aren't going to want to accept my gifts, but please, take them. The day will come when you will need them.
It's so hard to see into the future, I don't know if there is more I should say, more I should do, so I must simply leave you with the thought that I love you, I love you enough to die for you. You are worthy of that love, and all the joy that is to come. May it balance the coming Night.
PS Don't give them this letter, but you can let them know the parts of it they need to. Ronan is going to bluster and threaten (he doesn't like being scared), but trust me, he can't take it from you unless you choose to give it to him. You are stronger than you know.
PPS This isn't goodbye, only farewell for now. I was promised that I'd be there on your wedding day (how that is now possible I don't know), and if all else fails we shall meet again in Heaven.
Jason was again weeping as he folded the letter and stuffed it back into its envelope. Leaving it on his nightstand, he stumbled out of his room and into Ronan. They just wrapped their arms around each other and wept together for a little while before going downstairs. The gym wasn't doing much business as a gym today, instead it was a giant running cry session as Eric's many friends drifted in and out. His family, with the exception of Lara, were conspicuously absent. No one really missed them.
Jason finished the last verse of Amazing Grace to complete silence, even the wind going still in respect of the grave-side ceremony. The sun shone down brightly, with the few clouds in the sky puffy pillows of beauty, not dark thunderclouds of rain. The grass was a brilliant emerald green beneath their feet.
Hundreds of people had shown up, much to the family's surprise (with the obvious exception of Lara, who to her credit had tried to warn them). Church goers, friends, 'distant relations', former lovers, coworkers, and more had crowded into the ceremony to say farewell to their friend. Eric's parents had thrown a fit over his funeral plans, but hadn't been able to put a stop to it since he'd left Lara with the final decisions and gotten a lawyer to write his will.
He'd asked for a simple, heartfelt ceremony, with a hymn and a small scripture section to start off with. They hadn't minded that so much, as the fact that his lover -- not to put too fine a point on it, but his gay lover -- was to sing "Amazing Grace" for him, while Ronan -- a gay friend -- was to do the eulogy. Having a lover was bad enough; to be friends of gays -- much less a gay himself -- was intolerable. Unthinkable.
Unfortunately for them, Eric and Lara never really gave a rat's ass about their parent's prejudices. How the apples had fallen so far from the tree even they didn't know -- but Lara, at the least, credited Ronan for making it possible. She'd never explained that to Jason, and he didn't think she ever would now.
The pastor walked to the podium and opened his Bible to the requested passage of I Corinthians 13, New International Version, and spoke it directly to Eric's parents -- again, as requested. He spoke quietly, and humbly, a message from beyond the grave with barbed tip. No one failed to understand Eric's challenge to his parents.
"If I speak in the tongues of men and angels, but have not love, I am only a resounding gong or a clanging cymbal. If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but have not love, I am nothing. If I give all I possess to the poor and surrender my body to the flames, but have not love, I gain nothing."
"Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no records of wrongs. Love does not delight in evil, but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres."
"Love never fails. But when there are prophecies, they will cease; where there are tongues, they will be stilled; where there is knowledge, it will pass away. For we know in part and we prophesy in part, But when perfection comes, the imperfect disappears. When I was a child, I talked like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child. When I became a man, I put childish ways behind me. Now we see but a poor reflection as in a mirror; then we shall see face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall know fully, even as I am fully known."
"And now these three remain: faith, hope, and love. But the greatest of these is love." The pastor nodded his head in a moment of prayer, then stepped away from the podium.
Ronan stood, and walked to the podium. He had no notes, no prepared speech in his hands. Eric's parents stirred and made snide remarks about this, but everyone else ignored them. Ronan looked up, and with a firm voice began.
"Eric Nickolas Stephens. His name, was Eric Nickolas Stephens. Born August thirteenth, nineteen eighty-seven, dead this past Wednesday. He was raised a devout Christian by his parents, a religion he has stayed true to all his life-" quiet whispers and hisses from the Baptist contingent interrupted him. "Silence!" Ronan roared. "In life you may have dared show him such disrespect, but you will show me more respect, and by the God you claim to worship you will show his memory proper respect! Or so help me I will kick every last one of your sorry, bigoted asses into next week!"
Jason stood up and shouted, "And I'll help!" Others followed suit, until finally the Baptists were shut up. Jason nodded to Ronan, moved to stand behind Eric's parents, and placed a hand oh-so-companionably on each of their shoulders. They flinched, but decided not to make an issue of it. As Eric had said, Jason mused, they might be bigoted fools but they weren't (complete) idiots.
The anger had leeched out of Ronan's voice, but none of the steel was lost as he resumed his speech. "As I was saying, he stayed true to Christianity all his life, even though his conscience drove him to choose a different sect of that venerable religion than his parents. Throughout his life he excelled at everything he did, and he became a pillar of his community. His death has left a hole in all our hearts, and while his good deeds live on and echo into infinity, we are all still diminished by his loss."
"I remember when I met him, five years ago now. He was brash, confident, a little foolish: all the things that go with the youth he also possessed. But despite all that, he still held a heart of gold. A young child was crying, lost in the park, and he went over to the child. I listened in as he comforted the child, and promised to find 'Momma' for her. I helped him, but I'll never forget the look in his eyes as the child wriggled out of his arms and sprinted towards a young lady who turned out to be her 'Momma'. He stayed in touch with them even after the family moved, and they too mourn his loss, even though they can't be here today."
"He continued in that vein for all the years of his life, offering comfort to the injured, hope to the despairing, love to the despised, and protection to the threatened. His was a truly noble soul, as many here can tell you. I'd like to ask that everyone here who was touched by him, whose lives were bettered by his actions, please raise your hands, and let that be the testament to his life's work."
Nearly every person there, minus family and the family's church, raised their hands high, ranging from little ten year olds to an elderly couple in wheelchairs. "I give you the life work of Eric Nickolas Stephens, ladies and gentlemen. May he see and know the honor we give him now."
"I thank you all for coming, and if any are interested in attending there will be an additional ceremony held in my gym for him where we can discuss and share our memories of our departed friend. For now, go well and in peace, while Jason Bester closes this ceremony with a tribute to his lost friend, in memory of love."
Jason had borrowed an acoustical guitar for the occasion, and hidden it near the podium. Picking it up, he began to pluck out an old favorite of Ronan's that he felt particularly meaningful to the occasion, Fire and Rain.
"I've seen fire and I've seen rain..." as the refrain began he stared at Eric's parents, willing them to understand as they hustled away at the first possible moment. "I've seen sunny days that I thought would never end."
He turned to look at Ronan for a line, "I've seen lonely times when I could not find a friend," before facing the coffin and finishing, "But I always thought that I'd see you again."
He faced the audience, letting his gaze drift amongst them for the rest of the song, always turning to face the coffin for that final haunting line, "But I always thought I'd see you, baby, one more time again now..."
As he closed the song down, most of the crowd had moved away from the grave. Ronan leaned down beside the open grave, and Jason's eyes refused to focus on him. Concentrating, he forced his eyes to not slide off Ronan's figure as he drew a knife and slit his palm. Ronan crouched down and let the blood drip onto the dirt at the base of the new gravestone, "We shall meet again, my old friend" read the inscription below the requisite info of dates and names. Ronan paused, then turned and glared at Jason. Jason just shook his head and continued to stare, and with a sigh Ronan turned back to what he was doing. Jason concentrated, and could just barely make out as Ronan recited a few lines of what sounded like poetry in a near-whisper.
"My blood as an oath: You will be remembered.
My blood as an oath: Your death will not be in vain.
My blood as an oath: Your guarding shall be done.
My blood as an oath: The Guarding shall continue."
Ronan paused a second before continuing.
"I will stand true. I will keep the watch. I will protect the innocent. My blood before theirs; My life before theirs; My death, in their service."
Ronan turned and walked over to talk to Jason, pulling some gauze out of a pocket to bind his hand as he walked. "We need to talk soon, Jason. There are thi-" Ronan broke off and almost snarled, "What the hell are they doing here?"
Jason turned around to see two police officers push out of the crowd, one grossly overweight, his uniform's buttons seeming to strain to take flight, the other whipcord thin. Jason stifled a groan as they spotted him and walked straight up.
"Jason Bester, I'm afraid you're going to have to come with us..." gloated Officer Mortimer.
This time the cops weren't half so nice, they had 'conclusive' proof that he'd lied. Ergo, he was covering something up, ergo he was guilty, ergo they were going to make him confess to something. And since he was guilty, his demands for a lawyer were of course ignored, as they didn't need some shyster preventing them from getting a much needed conviction!
"OK kid, what did you do with the gun you actually fired?" Mortimer demanded.
"I told you, I don't have a clue-"
"Don't sass me! The gun you handed over to us not only had a full clip plus a round in the tube, it had never once been fired before!"
"I already told-"
"You told me nothing!" sneered the officer. "You're hiding the fact that you have some kind of super-gun hidden, and I don't like it!"
"I have no clue-" Jason began to retort hotly.
"No, you don't, or you wouldn't be trying this bull-shat." Mortimer snagged a pack of cigarettes out of a pocket and lit one up. Jason coughed as the officer blew the smoke at him. "Whatever the hell you fired, it didn't leave a bullet behind, idiot. Did you really think we wouldn't notice that there wasn't one single bullet at the scene, other than the one in your faggot lover's skull?"
Jason, pushed past all reasonable limits, finally snapped. "Shut the fuck up and take your bull crap and shove it up your ass. Sideways!"
Mortimer stood up and tromped around the table, then thrust his face in Jason's. "You lying sack of shit, I'm going to enjoy tossing you in jail. You claim to have fired ten times without reloading, when the most the weapon you gave us could fire is eight. You claim to have given us the weapon you killed those good, upstanding citizens with-" Jason almost gagged at the thought of calling "those people" upstanding citizens, "-when in fact the weapon you gave us has never been fired before. And above and beyond this, the weapon you really fired has ballistic characteristics the lab boys have never even heard of before -- never even imagined in their wildest dreams!"
For a single instant, Jason could see Mortimer blazing, fire consuming him as he screeched in agony. Mortimer was falling backwards, futilely trying to beat out the flames that were melting his flesh off his bones. Fire dripped off his body in sprays and dribbles as threads of pure flame danced around and in his body, setting off secondary fires wherever they touched anything flammable. The fire burned and burned until nothing was left. Jason felt his arm raise and his mouth open to speak one simple word to bring it all to pass.
For the barest moment he was tempted, but he kept his arms down and most carefully did not utter the word "burn". "Go bu- go rot in jail, bastard!"
Mortimer raised one arm as if to slap him when his partner coughed. "Markey, Markey, Markey, why don't you let me handle this one?" Mortimer sneered, then backed up against the wall and leaned against it. The wall groaned as it took the weight, but Mortimer didn't pay any attention.
Meanwhile, Mortimer's partner pulled a chair up, reversed it, and sat down in front of Jason, smiling, arms crossed on the top of the chair's back. "Call me Tom, Jace, can I call you Jace?"
Jason leaned forward and replied quite affably, "You can call me whatever the hell you feel like, Tommy, but if you want me to answer back, call me Jason. Not Jace."
Tom frowned, and nodded his recognition of the point. "Listen kid, it's got to be eating you up, having killed all those people." Jason nodded almost against his will, he'd talked about it to Ronan but he still felt horrible -- and knew he would for a while. "I know you feel guilty, it's a very human thing. Even when you had to kill those people, when you had no choice. We saw the vomit, we both know you tossed your cookies. That's human too. Nothing to be ashamed of."
Jason felt like someone placed a hand on his shoulder and squeezed -- not in a "feel better" way, but more in a "watch out, trouble" way. Mortimer was across the room, and both Tom's hands were still resting under his chin, on top of the back of the chair he'd sat down in. And there was no one behind him. He didn't really feel the hand even: no pressure, his clothes weren't disturbed, it just wasn't there. But he knew it was there, reacted in the same way as if someone really had laid their hand there. He didn't look, he didn't give a single tell, but he paid much, much closer attention to Tom.
"It's human to feel guilty when you take a life kid. I know, it's horrible, you probably had nightmares last night -- you really aught to go see a shrink, soon -- but for now we need you here. We need you to tell us what really happened, you won't get in any trouble. It'll make you feel better, I promise, to just get it all off your chest to a sympathetic ear."
"Whaddaya say, Jason, you ready to rejoin the human race?"
Jason leaned forward and spoke eight words. "Go to hell, you lying sack of shit."
Tom's eyes narrowed and his jaw clenched. "Final chance, Jace. Tell me willingly, or tell Mark over there," Tom jutted a thumb at his partner, "in a less-than-willing manner. I honestly don't care at this point. You just lost your last friend in this room."
"Wrong. God is everywhere, and God is always my friend." Jason stood up and tromped to the corner of the room away from Mortimer and the door, and leaned back into it. "And that is all I'm going to say without my lawyer present."
"The hell it is!" Mortimer sneered, rolling his cuffs up. Tom just shook his head and sighed.
"Your choice, kid, but boy was it the wrong one."
"Before we get this dance started, Officer Mortimer, I have just one small question." The expression on Jason's face might be described as a smile. If you ignored the eyes. "Did you ever get around to counting the number of people I took down hand-to-hand the other night, or did you just latch onto the number of people I killed with a pistol?"
Mortimer paused, halfway across the room. "You threatenin' me, boy? Are you threatenin' an officer o' the law?"
"I'm asking a question, officer. It'd only be a threat if we were going to get into a physical altercation, which I have no plans to start." Butter wouldn't melt in Jason's mouth, but his grin, if you could call it that, grew wider. Mortimer backed up a step by reflex.
"I'm tellin' ya, boy, that threatenin' an officer o' the lah is not a good ideah," Mortimer's accent grew even thicker as sweat began to roll off his brow.
"I'm not making a single threat, am I Tommy?"
Officer Carter swallowed convulsively before replying, "He has a point, Mark."
"Don't tell me you're on the faggot's side!"
"I don't particularly care for it, but... unless you assume an imminent fight between the two of you, no. And... he himself pointed out that he wasn't going to start a fight. So unless you really want to admit to planning to-" Tom let his eyes flick to Jason for a second, and broke off mid sentence.
"Fuckin' queers screwing everything up..." Mortimer grumbled. "Fine, we'll just toss him in the cells overnight."
"You will get me my lawyer, now," Jason insisted.
"Shut the fu-"
"Enough Mark!" Tom broke in. "We're in enough trouble as it is. Now, as for you Mr. I-want-my-lawyer, you can talk to him tomorrow. For tonight, you're off to the city jail until arraignment."
"Am I under arrest?" Jason asked softly.
"You have the right to remain silent; anything you say..."
They drove Jason across town personally, in a chilly silence broken only by the growl of the engine and the blaring of other driver's horns. When they got to the city jail, Jason was searched, again, this time a little more thoroughly as Mortimer had recommended a full cavity search. Bending over so the police could insure he hadn't stuck a razor blade in places he didn't want to think about having anything sharp in (much less a razor, ick) wasn't a pleasant experience, but at least they hadn't done this the first time they'd stuck him in the holding cells. A bare week after his rape he would have screamed at the mere idea of someone pushing anything, even -- especially! -- a finger up there. Of course, that wasn't the worst of the indignity...
"Maybe queerboy here feels like spreading his legs?" the second guard asked as the other prepared for insertion.
"Mmmm... sounds like a good idea, huh faggot?" was asked as the finger was driven deep. Jason grunted, then turned his head over his shoulder to stare at them.
"Just try it," his gaze seemed to say. "Please, fuck with me, I'll enjoy chopping you to little pieces."
The two guards dropped all amatory comments and tried to just finish the search as quickly as possible. Stupid they may be; fools they ain't.
Of course, that couldn't be said for the inmates in the holding cell he got stuck into. Four others in there to bug him. Two bald-headed, muscle-bound gang bangers, a razor-thin whip of a man who seemed disinterested in everything that went on as long as he was ignored, and the last... trouble. Big trouble.
Jason lay down on his cot and tried to sleep. Nothing was going to happen until the inmates were sure the guards weren't going to stir themselves to intervene, which probably meant lights out. He'd need all the sleep he could grab before then. Sleep came swiftly to his call, a deep and dreamless sleep that spared him the nightmares. For a while. Then came the soft sounds of a face being slapped and clothes ripped, with soft, cruel sounds of lust as a backdrop.
Jason's eyes opened with a snap as he snarled, "Idiots!", kicking his feet over the edge of the bed.
The two gang bangers stood over the fourth 'man's' cot, drawers around their ankles. They'd ripped the clothes right off the young body, bruising the fair skin in the process. His brown hair danced as he tossed his head from side to side, struggling to break loose as he was knelt over his cot. "You two stop that, right now," Jason commanded. The steel in his voice froze one of the men mere seconds before entry, while the other loosened his grip a fraction.
"Go back to sleep, and we won't remember this," one of the two said.
"You're not raping the boy. Get away from him, or answer to me," Jason replied flatly. "I will not allow you to rape him."
The one who was prepared to get it stuck in just grinned at Jason, revealing several missing teeth. "Even assuming you could take us both, you just fuck yourself over 'cause they'll toss you in jail forever if you cause trouble. They don't mind a little fun, but brawling they come down on like a ton of bricks."
"What they will or will not do is none of my concern. You. Will. Not. Rape. The. Boy."
"Alright fucker, you asked for it. We'll just take you instead." The two quickly pulled their pants up and started to advance on Jason. Just like earlier that day, Jason saw something happening. He saw himself pointing a finger at the right hand man, the one advancing quicker, and speaking a single word to dangerous effect. The man's eyes glassed over and then shut as he slowly crumpled to the ground, legs suddenly unable to support his weight. In mere seconds he would be on the ground, defenseless, body completely limp right down to the muscles that controlled waste functions. Not that he'd be embarrassed by that sudden release, oh no, embarrassment required him to be conscious.
This time, Jason raised his arm and spoke the one, single, life-altering word. For the first time in his life, Jason consciously chose -- Chose! -- to use his powers in an act that would define him and his nature for the rest of his life.