Two girls and one boy stare at him.
Their toned muscular bodies reeking of confidence and self-importance.
“Who are you guys?”
The short redhead smirks, “You let us in even though you don’t know us? Not very smart of you, is it?”
He was more afraid of the racket they would make...leaving him to suffer a big explosion from the lunatic that called himself a father. Actually, it really wasn’t too bad… Gregor only ever hit Jackson. Jackson suspected that a part of him feared Arlo.
“Too late now, ain’t it?”
“I’m sorry,” the guys spoke up “for being so insistent. I’m Wood, the red vixen is Ape. And the pretty Welsh one is Cassandra. Feel free to call her Cassie the Lassie though, everyone does.”
Cassie scoffs, “No one calls me that.”
Cassie was indeed pretty, with shiny fairy-like blonde hair and dark blue eyes. She was slim and tall, her features delicate and sharp the same. She reminded him of the fey that lured men to their sure death with promises of a good time.
Wood was an African-American man it seemed, with sharp eyes and defined jaw and muscles. He was clearly well-fed. He had a soothing polite voice, British almost. Like someone who was losing their British accent.
And finally Ape...she wasn’t pretty. She was...hot. Her eyes were smoky and a blurry grey-hazel and her lips painted a red. Her hair was so dark and so deeply red that as it moved it looked purple. It was straight and tied back into a ponytail. Hit her shoulder blades.
Wood sat on the old about to fall-apart-swivel chair, “I’m sure you know that you aren’t like other people. That you can do things. That you are stronger, smarter, overall better than others.”
“Sure,” he shrugs, “so what?”
“Do you know why?”
“Never really cared to find out,” admitted Jackson.
Wood’s eye twitched, Jackson repressed a smirk.
“You were genetically mutated when you were still in the womb,” intervened Cassie “by a scientist called Gregory.”
“I know who he is, he pays the rent.”
“...okay. He made it so that you are st-”
“I know all of this.”
Jackson just wanted them to leave. If they wanted to give him a history lesson then he'll skip. He never cared much for the studies.
Ape finally spoke up, “Do you know why you were mutated?”
Don’t really care, Red.
She scowled at him.
Did he say that out loud?
“I’m telling you why anyway,” Red snapped “to fight the threat.”
“Oof, that sounds like hard work.”
Ape’s eye twitched, “Listen here-”
Wood intervened, pulling a fuming Ape behind him “Listen, man, you are stuck between a wall and a hard place...you can either stay behind and rot away in this creepy house or do something important and meaningful. Leave this life. Be your own man.”
How many times has he wished for a clear way out? A way to leave with Arlo in tow, to a better place. To have Arlo get along with the other kids. His bog brain finally truly appreciated. Arlo could live a normal life. He can mingle with society-
“Of course this is all classified,” Wood added “and dangerous too. Some cons too. You can't ever be famous lest you are recognized and traced back to us. But you’ll have a life. A bigger better healthier family.”
Jason belatedly realizes they never even mentioned Arlo.
“I have a younger brother, he’s just like me.”
“How young?” asked Ape.
“Eight, turning nine-”
“Too young,” Ape interrupts sharply “he’s not even double digits.”
“Then, I’m not going,” said Jackson flatly “track down another experiment.”
He couldn’t hear anything over the sound of his own heartbeat. It was a strange awareness, feeling three different sets of eyes on him and every inch of skin. Like all of him was alive.
“You can’t be serious,” Ape said, brow tented “this is war! And we need-”
This time sit Cassie that placed a gentle hand on the shorter girl's shoulder, silencing her.
“Why don’t we compromise?” offered Wood. It was then that Jackson fully understood his cards. They were desperate for him to come. “You finish working with us and we pick up your brother.”
“How long would that take?”
“Optimistically, a few years-”
“No, I won’t leave Arlo with this ticking bomb longer than a week.”
“Two months,” snaps Wood “you are a huge investment. We aren’t even sure if you can help at all.”
“A week,” Jackson hisses “and if I don’t like it I’m out.”
Wood grits his teeth, “Two weeks and if you are proven valuable we’ll take care of your brother.”
Cassie speaks up, “Jackson, this is a huge deal. Entering this world is easier than leaving it. I don’t think you’d want to expose your little brother to-”
“Better than leaving him here to rot. With no ways of defending himself. I can protect him.”
Jackson makes eye contact with all three of them. Wood’s stern glare, Cassie’s pitiful look, and Ape’s judgmental stare.
“So…” Wood cracked the muscles in the back of his neck “you in?”
He closes his eyes, focusing his power on his hearing. He can hear a bunch of little disturbances but also the evened ou breathing of a sleeping little boy.
‘I’ll protect you’, he thought to himself ‘I will.’
He regrets it almost as soon as he closes the window behind himself, but he brushed the feeling of dread aside. Convinced its uneasiness in leaving his little brother for the first time.
Jackson trained hard. Was amicable. Was stern. Was the very best he could be. Tying to prove his worth, if only to get to his brother sooner. And...as promised they set it up. The quick sneak and steal away of his little brother.
Jackson smiled as he tightened the straps of the fighting suit they gave him.
Arlo will be mad.
Jackson had prepared himself for plenty of scenarios.
Good and bad.
For Arlo to rush up to him and be ready to go. The genius that he was, knowing that he’d be back. For Arlo to be proud of him. To smile showing off his missing front tooth.
He also prepared himself for Arlo’s flying m ess punches. For Arlo to yell every curse word he knows. For Arlo to best into tears….for Arlo to give him the silent treatment.
He didn’t prepare himself for the house to be empty.
For it to look untouched. Like no one’s been there for days.
Ape was trying to calm him down but it was too late. He was roaring, screaming out Arlo’s name, tearing doors out of its hinges. Nothing.
Wood was wearing the heat vision goggles and was pointing behind the cupboard, Jackson kicked it in. The shelves fell away and a doorknob was made visible. He didn’t turn it. Just kicked it down too.
He, more or less, dived into the now visible stairs. He rounded the corner of the stairs and found ‘Mr. Dad’, or at least that was what Arlo called him, pressing a button. Arlo was half dunked in water and with the press of the button, he was electrocuted. His eyes flickering to life with the pain before fluttering dull.
Jackson observed this in two seconds.
H couldn't see much after.
His mind was consumed with the red tint of rage.
When he left he didn’t think Mr. Psycho would hurt Arlo. He never did before. Jackson always thought he favored Arlo to some extent. If the way he avoided the more brutal assaults when Arlo was near. He couldn’t be more wrong.
Wood had deactivated the torture tools and promptly held down the bastard. Cassie was trying to check Arlo's vitals. Ape was taking a survey. Finding anything of useful value...and Jackson just stood there. For a few seconds, watching it all happen.
Then Arlo gasps.
Then Jackson jumps. First, he beats the fool to a pool of blood. Not caring if it killed the wiry man of 50. Half-hoping it does. Jackson knew he didn’t take after the man. Gregor had a pinkish red-faced complexion with mousy brown hair, baby fat on his face. Jackson knew the man wasn't family in any sense. Biological or emotional.
But when he first left it wasn’t the closure he needed. He wasn’t cutting ties. He was planning on coming back. He knew without a doubt now that he'd never come back to this bastard. If the bastard was even alive that is.
Wood stopped him before he can slam the man into the floor, he nodded at the girls. Even Ape, the most stone-faced, looked nauseous. She was reading a sort of journal. He tunes in to her voice.
“Periodic drowning test subject number two lasted 5 minutes the first time. Phenomenal.”
She seemed to be reading it straight out of the notebook.
“Electroshock, test subject number two cried and reacted to physical pain faster than the cutting-” Ape gagged, pale skin turning grey.
Jackson grabbed his knife.
Wood stopped his wrist.
“Check on your brother, I’ll finish the bastard. He won’t be my first kill.”
Jackson didn't hear him over the pounding of his heart, he slit his so-called father's throat. Watching the red smiley face cut wet with blood. Wood smiled grimly.
Jackson stumbled away and shoved past the girls.
Arlo...he looked so small.
He heard Cassies orders- that they can’t fully treat him in the basement. To get Arlo to the van. So gently and swiftly he lifts his little brother (he got so much lighter) and rushes to the van. Tears and questions poured out of him. Hal to Arlo, half to Ape.
Wanting to know the extent of Arlo’s sufferings.
Setting Arlo down on the stiff hospital-like van bed, he watched as Cassie cuts Arlo’s bloodied shirt open. He watches the fractal sars that traced around his body. If he didn’t know better he’d think it was henna. He watches the deep blue-black and lighter yellow-green bruises on his skin. The cavity of an underfed stomach. Scar lines his firearms, light ones. Shallow ones that'll heal with care...that's what Ape said. But their advanced healing is a factor too. They don’t scar easily...how many times was he cut, in the same spot to get those scars?
Even after they dressed Arlo’s immediate wounds Jackson didn't feel any better.
It was his fault.
Arlo's eyes flickered open, in a raspy voice that destroyed whatever that was holding him together he said “I hate you.”
His nose twinkled, his tell for lying.
Sobs wracked through his know broad frame, “No, you don’t”
A small smile lingers on Arlo’s face as he slept.
“Everythings so loud!” Arlo whisper-yelled “it hurts!”
“You have to focus on one thing. Why don’t you focus on my heartbeat, okay?”
“Will it help?”
Jackson grins, “If you do it correctly.”
Test Subject Number Two endured the rining gunshots every night. Right as its heartbeat evened out and it was about to sleep. They activated for a half hour. Yet, it was still coherent the next morning.
How long can it go without sleep?
The answer was- 8 days.
Admittedly Test Subject Number Two was also enduring other experiments so it isn’t a fair test.
“Jackson,” Arlo tugged at his big brother's sleeve “I’m hungry.”
Advanced metabolism, advanced appetite. Truthfully Jackson was starved too but Arlo needed the food if he wanted to grow healthy.
Jackson will be fine. Just a few meals.
Test Subject Number Two hasn’t eaten in 6 days. Tomorrow I’m to give it a shot of sugar to it alive. It seems to burn through calories much faster than the average boy. Or man for that matter. Very impressive.
Better to keep it weka. Don’t need it to gather any coherent thoughts.
“Did you know that if you keep sleeping like that you’ll grow up to be a sour old man with a hunched disfigured spine?”
Jackson was currently laying on his side, the left side of his face smooshed against the pillow. He and Arlo shared a bed since there was only one. It was decently sized though. Arlo was lying flat on his back and facing the ceiling. He didn’t like using pillows.
“How did you come to that conclusion?”
“If your spine is all messed up because your back is hunched then your mood will degrade and-”
“So...do I sleep on my stomach?”
Arlo has already told him off for sleeping like that too.
“No!” he whisper argued “On your back. It is the best way to sleep.”
Jackson could have asked more questions but Arlo looked sleepy and genuinely concerned about Jackson’s sleeping habits.
“Muscle atrophy,” Arlo murmured, even as he snuggled deeper under the covers “and mood-”
“Ok, ok! I get it!”
Test Subject Number Two has been forced in a yoga pose child pose. He held the position for 5 hours before he began shaking.
This seemed to bother him more than the cutting and water dunking.
Kept muttering about 'muscle atrophy'.
He'll heal. Then again.
Jackson buried his face into his hands.
‘I’ll be better,’ he swears, ‘I’ll end this fucking war. Secure us spots with these people. I’ll protect you. I’ll do it. I’m sorry-’
The bomb- the people- everyone was going to die but him-
He’ll save everyone. The way he's been trying to save Arlo.
The room was clear and pristine. Fancy furniture and luxurious technology everywhere. It’ll all be destroyed...but maybe the people won’t be-
He dived for the bomb, thinking so desperately ‘I’ll protect everyone’.
'Like I should have protected you'
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the amount of typo's got me cringing, im sorry
highly suggest u read my previous story 'I hate you'. directly correlates