Below the cut lies my DVD commentary for You Are Not My Savior (but I still don't go), featuring notes on where certain scenes were written, some insights into where the story could have gone, and a side of self-deprecation about ridiculous year-old wording.
(the same warnings as displayed on the original fic still apply, of course)
Hello, and welcome to the author commentary on You Are Not My Savior (but I still
Apparently since February 13th, which means it’s been almost a year since I posted the thing! And over a year since I started it, wow. I guess it’s due for a DVD commentary.
So! Hopefully I can get through this without quoting Taylor Swift too many times, but don’t count on it.
ALL RIGHT, LET US BEGIN.
~PART 1: IN WHICH BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO MIKEYWAY~
Yes, I’m working from the original document, which means you get to see the working titles for all three parts! These were mostly there as a placeholder since I didn’t know the html to get line breaks off the top of my head.
They all respond differently to being taken.
The one calling himself Fun Ghoul was pretty standard: plenty of shouting, spitting, name-calling. He built up too much energy if they kept him tied down, so they eventually had to use metal restraints instead of the usual leather.
Ugh I think this is the bit of the intro that’s gotten the most response re: the other Killjoys? And I love it! Because I like when Frank is in pain I guess. But really I would love to revisit this universe and do each of the Killjoys, and I’d probably do Frank first, because his story would be the most exciting and not-heartbreaking, I think.
Jet Star was quieter, a bit more fearful, but he learned to hide that fear behind a bright, defiant smile and a retort to each question about how he wasn’t scared, he wasn’t worried, because he trusted his friends more than anything else in the world. In a way, he was even more obnoxious than Ghoul.
AS OPPOSED TO THIS, WHICH IS…HEARTBREAKING AS SHIT…oh wait the actual heartbreaking part isn’t even in this paragraph, ahahaha.
The worst of all was Party Poison. He shouted and name-called as much as Ghoul, but his words were more eloquent, harder to ignore like he could the generic “fuck you, bitchbot.” He hid any emotions behind long speeches about how BL/ind was wrong, about color being the new danger, about nonsense, really. It was almost enough to make him leave and put interrogation duty on someone else, but it was hard to pass up the opportunity to have Poison tied down and screaming, barely able to wrap his lips around the insults he’d try to spew.
I don’t think I can say anything about this paragraph that Kyrie hasn’t already said. Oral fixation etc. etc.
The Kobra Kid is Korse’s most recent trophy, the first after a dry month of little Killjoy activity—which has meant little use for him. He doesn’t know much about this particular Killjoy, only that he’s in the same group as Party Poison and company, so he enters the interrogation room prepared to learn whatever he can.
Kobra’s strapped down to a table, wearing a standard white prisoner’s uniform and staring at the ceiling. There’s no expression on his face, and his eyes are difficult to read, but that’s probably the distance and angle.
“Prisoner BCC100980, birth name unknown, current alias Kobra Kid.” Korse steps down to the center of the room, stopping a few feet away from the prisoner. “Let’s start filling in the blanks there, then. Your birth name?”
Fun fact, in case you didn’t notice, Mikey’s prisoner number is his birthday! Because I wanted a significant number without it looking like an actual thing!!
I can’t actually remember what the second C in BCC stands for, though.
There’s no answer. Kobra’s gaze doesn’t shift.
“I’m going to ask one more time, and then I’m going to make you tell me. Birth name?”
Still no answer. Not even a flicker of movement from his eyes that might be read.
Korse sighs, an exaggerated gesture, and motions at the Draculoid guarding the door.
I remember Sara telling me she loved this line because it made Korse out to be a massive drama queen, and I also remember being like “OH OKAY…THAT WORKS TOO!” because I had some other reasoning for the wording but I liked Sara’s interpretation better. Now I can’t remember what my original intentions were.
Standard procedure. Electric shock, ask the question, no answer, more voltage, ask the question, no answer, over and over until Korse gets bored and signals for the treatment to end.
It’s only the first day. He can wait.
(Silently, he’s grateful for the challenge. A tougher victim means more time for Korse to be used, and less time in shutdown.)
Goddamn I haven’t gotten any subtler in the past year.
This fic was originally going to be a lot shorter, which is why I have a tendency to break the show-don’t-tell rule a lot and bring up concepts really quickly, especially in the earlier sections. I honestly wasn’t expecting it to explode like this. IF I WAS I WOULD HAVE CUT THAT LINE BECAUSE GODDAMN.
“You’re not helping anyone, you know,” Korse says, strolling around the table where Kobra’s still strapped down. He hasn’t had anything to eat since he was taken. “You’re only going to make this hard on yourself. I don’t have to hurt you.”
Nothing. Nothing, four days of nothing, not a movement or a word. If not for the pained faces and the sharp grunts when they put him through the shocks again, Korse wouldn’t even be sure if he has a real human on his hands.
“Fine,” he says as Kobra’s calming himself down after another session. “If you won’t talk about yourself, let’s talk about your friends.”
No reaction yet. This might be the wrong route, but he’ll try anyway.
“You’ve been seen with the other Killjoys: Fun Ghoul, Jet Star, Party Poison.” He watches Kobra’s eyes as he says each name. There’s a small flicker of something, but it’s hard to tell at what.
Wait, what? “Tell at what” that’s some bullshit wording right there. THAT’S THE PROBLEM, I KEEP REREADING THIS AND FINDING WEIRD-ASS MISTAKES. Whatever it doesn’t sound that bad.
“Fun Ghoul, I had him here. We had to lock him up in a cell when tying him down didn’t work to our advantage.” Korse tugs at one of Kobra’s restraints. “He never could stop moving. He paced back and forth, shrieked at the guards, pounded at the walls until his hands were bleeding. That was the worst part, you know, getting all the blood off the walls. It left terrible stains.”
oh, sad frank :(
No response. Nothing new there.
“Jet Star was interesting,” he continues. “He’s so loyal, you know. Never gave in to our offers of water, carbons, status, he’d just grit his teeth and smile through all our questions.”
Kobra blinks, but it might not mean anything.
“He was a fool. We woke him up one morning and took him to the execution chamber, a camera in his face, a gun to his head.” Korse smiles at the memory. “He kept saying the same nonsense, how he wasn’t going to betray his friends, how much we would pay for his death, but he’d lost all that cockiness from before. He was terrified.”
Wasn’t someone going to write me this? IDK I THINK IT WAS REILI. IT WAS GOING TO BE SAD.
Kobra’s lip tightens, just the smallest bit. It’s the best reaction he’s gotten all week.
And then Mikey/Ray was sort of a thing. Whoops.
“When we finally put down the gun, told him that we weren’t going to kill him today, he collapsed. Have you ever seen your friend cry? It’s not a pretty sight. We had to have two Draculoids pick him up and carry him out, he wouldn’t move. I suppose you’re proud of him, sacrificing his dignity for the rest of you?”
Kobra never makes eye contact with Korse, but he’s staring at the ceiling with a kind of venom that might actually have an effect on him, if he were to look him in the eye. Nothing else about his posture gives anything away, but Korse knows what to look for in subjects like this. He’s definitely on the right track.
“Of course, I can’t forget Party Poison,” he says, and there, a reaction already—just a quick twitch of the fingers, but it’s definitely something.
Korse smiles and continues. “He’s your leader, isn’t he? He was very protective of the three of you when I interrogated him. Not the same way as Jet Star was, no…it was less like a loyal friend, more like,” he taps a finger to his chin in thought, “a father. Or an older brother.”
AND THE WINNER OF LEAST BELIEVABLE LEAP OF LOGIC GOES TO…….
Kobra’s entire face pinches at that, his eyes narrowing, his jaw clenching, and well. This could be an interesting development.
“That’s what it is, isn’t it? You’re one happy family.” He doesn’t miss the way Kobra’s hand twitches again on the word family.
“He went through the same treatment as you, you know. Electric shocks, voltage high enough to make him scream for the whole building to hear. Did he tell you?”
He sees Kobra’s throat working.
“He didn’t, did he? I suppose he has to protect his baby brothers from some things.”
Kobra makes a choked off noise, like he’s barely managing to hold words in. That, there, it’s the strongest reaction he’s gotten yet, just from—oh. Oh.
“You two…You’re not just brothers in arms, are you?”
Kobra’s tense, clearly trying to hold back any movement.
“You’re blood. I can see it now, in your eyes, your face. No wonder you trust him so deeply, following through with his crazy ideas even when they end in your being here.”
“Don’t—“ Kobra snaps his jaw shut before he can get another word out.
Korse can’t hide his glee as he turns to the guard at the door, smiling wider than he usually lets himself. “The suspect list, go see if you can narrow it down to a pair of brothers.” There are too many people in Battery City and beyond for even an army of grunts to bother trying to match names and faces. Any detail that will help, especially one like this.
SHHHHHH THERE IS NO FACE RECOGNITION TECHNOLOGY IN THE FUTURE……
No seriously I struggled with that detail for ages before I was finally like FUCK IT let’s take liberties.
Korse leaves a few minutes later, giving the guard an order to not let Kobra sleep, but to give him food and water. He loves progress.
When he enters the room the next morning, Kobra still has the same stoic expression, only slightly strained by lack of sleep.
“Are you going to tell me your name today?”
Kobra doesn’t even blink.
“It doesn’t matter to me, I already know it. We found you and your brother in the database last night. I’m just giving you the opportunity to introduce yourself first.”
Nothing. Korse sighs and pulls a folder out of his jacket pocket, flipping through the pages. “You think I’m bluffing. Michael Way, formerly living in Residential Building 14, Block 36. One criminal charge at age seventeen, caught past curfew with insufficient medication in your blood. Settled after a fine of 500 carbons. Often seen near known Wave-Head bars. Mother Donna, father Donald, brother Gerard.” He looks up from the folder to see Kobra’s—Michael’s—face, which is clearly straining to stay in its stoic state. He still won’t speak.
One day I’ll actually write about that criminal charge, maybe! Stockholmverse is in the same universe as Pillverse, sort of, depending on my mood. (Pillverse is the really gross one I wrote on anon and probably shouldn’t have actually put on the internet because it was gross and problematic as fuck, but if I went back and tweaked it a bunch I could probably learn to love it again!)
“Gerard. It’s a good name for a leader. Memorable.” He hands the folder off to the guard. “Michael, though. Much more meaningful. Or do they call you Mike? I wouldn’t want to make you uncomfortable here.” He smirks.
Michael doesn’t answer, of course. Korse should have gotten used to this by now, but he’s only starting to get annoyed.
“Michael, then. Michael the little lost Killjoy.” He sits down in the chair he always keeps near the table, for the times when he wants to simply sit in the room in silence, maybe wait out a reaction from Michael.
The problem is I always hear “MICHAEL THE LITTLE LOST KILLJOY” in Reili’s voice now.
“What about the rest of them, though?” He leans forward, hands on his knees. “Fun Ghoul? Jet Star? I’m sure you know their names.”
When there’s the usual emotionless silence, Korse decides to go back to what was working yesterday. “Well, if you won’t give me those, you can tell me some more about your brother.”
Michael’s hand tenses, and his jaw clenches—probably to keep himself from exposing his emotions otherwise. Korse smirks.
“Tell me about him. He was an interesting character to keep here; I can only imagine what it’s like to grow up with him. He’s got a charismatic streak, hasn’t he?”
He wonders if Michael’s biting on his tongue. Maybe it’s bleeding in his mouth.
“He must, if he was able to convince the three of you to follow him on his ridiculous crusade. Riding through the desert in a beat-up car, destroying my Draculoids when there will always be more behind them, did you really think you were going to make a difference?”
Michael’s mouth is twitching. He’s got words on his lips, he can tell, probably defenses of his brother, justifications for what they do, slogans and Wave-Head vocabulary and everything Korse is trying to stamp out.
In case you can’t tell, I have a major thing for language and its effects on people and that’s kind of a theme throughout this whole bullshit! Not just the way Korse uses words to manipulate and Mikey uses silence as a wall, but the way the speech patterns of the Killjoys differ from Battery City officials (and Korse’s desire to oppress their language) and the way Gerard later uses a specific name to manipulate Mikey later. I like words!!!
“But he didn’t need to charm you into following him, did he? He’s your brother, of course you had to go with him. Whatever insane ideas he had, they were probably right, right? How could your dear brother ever be wrong?”
Michael shuts his eyes. It’s a common reaction when he does this, trying to block out one sense when they can’t cover their ears. He’s probably running through his best memories of his brother, or reciting mantras to himself. Ghoul would sometimes do that, but out loud, and he’d be shouting them.
Korse isn’t going to let him. “How many times have you been hurt out there? I’ve seen your scars, your burns. How often do you lie down to sleep and wonder if you should have just stayed in Battery City? 70-degree weather, clean water rain four times a month, everyone has a steady job, no one has to worry about staying alive. I can’t imagine why anyone would leave who wasn’t sick in the head.” He leans in close to Michael’s ear. “Or following someone sick in the head.”
“Stop talking about—” Michael’s eyes are open again, and he’s glaring out of the corner of his eye, his fists clenched, his teeth bared, and Korse can only grin back at him. It’s only three words, but Michael’s biting his tongue against more, and this is good, this is too good.
“Your brother, Gerard. He led you into the desert, out of the safety of the city, and now, thanks to one of his plans gone wrong, you’re here. Alone, with the enemy. What kind of brother was he? Certainly not one who put your safety over his impossible schemes.”
Michael snarls, and Korse thinks he sees blood in his mouth, either from his tongue or the inside of his cheek.
“I’m sure you took some convincing. You seem fairly rational to me. But he probably exploited that bond, told you to come join him because he loved you, and if you didn’t follow him it meant you didn’t love him.” He clicks his tongue in mock-sympathy. “That doesn’t sound like a healthy relationship to me—“
“Shut the fuck up!”
For the first time since he was taken, Michael struggles against his restraints. He’s red in the face, his teeth are smeared with blood, and he’s wrenching and pulling at the white leather on his limbs with a force nearly as impressive as Fun Ghoul’s.
Korse laughs, honestly surprised. “Did I touch a nerve? I was only making a guess, Michael. I suppose I’m right?”
“That’s not how it—“ Michael bites his tongue again, and his teeth get a little redder. Korse can see him mentally berating himself, Don’t give in, don’t give in, he’s playing with you, and he has to push on before Michael can convince himself to be calm again.
“I am, aren’t I? He took advantage of you. He needed another person—for bait, for backup, for numbers—and you were easy to convince.”
“Shut up!” Michael strains up before thumping his head back on the table. “Shut up, shut up, shut up!”
Korse decides to leave it at that, and he stands up, turning to the guard. “No treatment tonight. Food, water, he can sleep for an hour before I come by tomorrow.”
He takes one last look at Michael’s face before he leaves—shocked and furious and lacking all the stoicism he’d put on before.
Ah yes, the “he’s just your brother” argument! I really do wonder about the relationship between Mikey and Gerard as opposed to the relationship between the rest of the Killjoys, who…aren’t brothers. But mostly it’s just the only argument that would really convince Mikey to distrust his brother. A LOT OF THINGS IN THIS FIC WERE JUST “THIS SORT OF WORKS, LET’S GO!”
“You’re not getting anywhere with him.”
“I have his name, his brother’s name, I should have the names of the other two soon enough.”
“Yes, wonderful, names, we could have gotten those ages ago if we really tried. I want facts. Hideouts, other allies, plans of attack.”
“I’m starting small. He’s not going to talk about their deepest secrets unless he trusts me a bit more.”
“Trusts you? He’s not going to trust you at all, you’re enemies. I know you’re having fun with your little mind games, but that’s not why we take people in. Get the facts, torture them out of him if you have to, and then kill him before his friends show up and try to save him, like they always do when we take one.”
“Just give me some time. I’ll get what you want.”
“You’d better. Unless you want me to put you back in shutdown and have someone more efficient do the job?”
DANG I REALLY LIKED DOING THESE. GoGo really needs more characterization tbh.
And to make sense.
Has anyone ever been able to figure out which side GoGo was on?? WHATEVER, IN THIS FIC SHE’S THE LEADER OF BATTERY AND WANTS THE KILLJOYS DEAD.
Michael stirs from the sleep he was barely allowed to slip into, and he blinks at Korse with only some recognition on his face.
“Wake up. I have a few more questions for you today.”
Michael shuts his eyes.
“That’s not going to help, you know. In fact, I think I like it better when you can’t see.” He nods at the guard, then grabs a handful of Michael’s obnoxiously blond hair to lift up his head as the guard ties a mask over his eyes.
HELLO AUDIENCE, WERE YOU EXPECTING SOME SERIOUS AND HARD-BOILED FANFICTION INSTEAD OF A KINKFEST?
SORRY ABOUT THAT.
Michael struggles, but he’s clearly exhausted, so the mask goes on easily.
“You don’t need to see, anyway. All you do when I come here is stare at the ceiling.” He walks in a circle around the table, listening to his voice echo through the room, wondering what it must sound like for Michael.
He eventually slaps his hands on the end of the table, smiling when Michael starts at the noise. “Now then. Today, we’re going to talk about your friends again.”
“Fuck you.” Evidently Michael’s given up on the silent act. Good.
“Don’t be uncooperative. You can answer my questions now, or you can answer my questions in between shocks.”
“Ah, so you want me to skip straight to the shocks. Not the choice I would have picked, but you Killjoys do make some peculiar decisions.” He motions to the guard to start hooking him up to the machine.
It’s the same as usual, with the addition of Michael’s limited vocabulary.
“Do you know where the other Killjoys are right now?”
“Up another level.”
“Any place they might be? Common meeting spots, hideouts, shelters?”
“Up another level.”
Another scream, and Michael’s whole body twitches and writhes.
Man, I’m probably not supposed to get boners from my own fic, right? Especially for scenes like this?
“This ends if you just give us one useful word, Michael. The name of a place, or the name of another Killjoy, anything, and this will stop.”
Michael spits in Korse’s direction and misses by a foot.
“Up another level.”
“I won’t fucking—“ Another scream.
“Just one word. Just one, and it’ll be gone. I’ll even bring you some food. Real food, meat, maybe fruit, not just kibble. Would you like that?”
“Go to hell!”
Michael swears through the next shock, consonants slurring and clashing, and he’s still gasping out a steady stream of Fuck you, fuck you, once it’s over.
It’s time to switch tactics, back to something he knows will work. “Who are you protecting here? Your friends, your companions, your brother?”
Michael bites his tongue again. He still does this sometimes, tries to keep himself from letting out a single word, even when he must know that the barrier of silence he’d tried to construct is already in shambles.
“You’re certainly not helping yourself, hiding anything from us,” Korse continues. “You’re only taking the fall for your so-called friends, the ones who allowed you to be taken in the first place so they could live another day. You get tied down, you go through the treatment, you’re subject to interrogation, while they continue to cavort around in the desert, only sorry that they’ve lost a good piece of bait. It’s sad, really, that someone could put his own brother through these trials—“
“You shut the fuck up about my brother!” Michael starts thrashing against his restraints again, and Korse nods to the guard to give him another shock. Michael’s curses morph into another cry of pain, but he stops moving once it’s over, only his chest heaving.
“That’s the first time you’ve acknowledged that Gerard is your brother, you know.”
Michael tenses, then wilts. He knows he’s made a mistake.
Jeez, past self, way to tell instead of show.
Then again, this is Korse’s perspective, so a lot of his observations may or may not be true, but are spelled out to show Korse’s thought process.
(this is my excuse for shoddy writing in places, shhhhhh)
“I’m glad you’re comfortable enough to admit that kind of secret to me.” He manages to keep most of the sarcasm out of his voice, but Michael still snarls and tugs on his restraints.
Korse sits down by the table, leaning in close and speaking softly. “I’d like to hear more about him. Has he always been preaching to you about his radical ideas? Was he the one who convinced you to come to those Wave-Head clubs with him?”
“No,” Michael hisses, and then bites back down on his tongue hard enough that it starts to bleed again. Korse is really going to have to figure out a way to make him stop that.
“No? You decided to start going to the clubs all on your own?” He pauses for a moment, considering. “Most of those kids, though, they don’t become revolutionaries. It’s only some silly teenage rebellion; I’m sure even your parents had a phase like that. Gerard, though, Gerard took it to an extreme.” He sighs, letting his breath blow in Michael’s ear. “You only wanted to have some fun, listen to illegal music, go off the pills for a few days, but your brother wanted to topple the social order. You thought you were just taking the next step, doing the right thing, but really—“
“I’m not listening to you,” Michael says suddenly, and it’s the calmest he’s ever sounded when speaking to Korse. “I’m not listening to you, because you’re trying to turn me against my friends, and you’re just making up bullshit about me and about them, and it’s not going to work.”
Way to be genre-savvy, Kid!
Too bad that doesn’t help!
It’s the most he’s said in one sitting in his time here, and though the words should be disheartening, the fact that he’s completely abandoned the silence he’d started out with is definitely significant. Korse smiles.
“You deny it, then? If your brother hadn’t convinced you, you would have left the city anyway?”
“Yes. I’d rather be zapping Dracs than pushing buttons in a nitro factory any day of the week.”
“Then why is he the leader of your little group? Why aren’t you?”
Michael doesn’t answer. It doesn’t look like he’s biting anything back, either.
“Well? If you’re so strong in your convictions, why aren’t you the one leading your little rebellion?”
“I—“ Michael looks troubled, even with the mask on. Perfect.
“Your brother thought of it first. You might have had your own ideas, but he pushed on them until they agreed with his. He even convinced you that both of your ideas had been in agreement all along. He manipulated you, Michael.”
“You would know, wouldn’t you?” Michael spits, but his voice is cracking.
Ugh, fuck that last line. It makes more sense than him saying nothing—and “what makes sense” is generally how I try to write dialogue rather than “what sounds good”—but this seriously breaks the tone, especially in the flashback. But I don’t think I’d take it out, because it makes sense!! Bluh.
“Up three levels.”
Michael barely has time to gasp his surprise before he’s crying out again, his lips moving in the shapes of words but his tongue not quite catching up, and by the time the shock’s over he’s only able to moan out vague vowel sounds.
Korse stands up. “Six hours, then food and water, then he can sleep.” The guard nods and starts to switch off the machine.
Michael lifts his head up, turning in Korse’s direction, but he doesn’t say anything beyond a choked noise. Korse leaves without another word.
Progress? For himself, maybe. Hopefully he can convince his superiors of the same.
“One more week, one more week and I promise, I’ll have something.”
“Something isn’t enough. I want everything. Tear it out of him with your bare hands, if you have to.”
“It takes time, breaking someone down, especially someone as determined as Michael. But I’ve almost got him, just another week, please.”
“Five days. Five days, and if we don’t get anything by then, someone else will be doing the job.”
“I need more—very well. Five days, and you’ll have your answers.”
“Stop getting caught up in playing with your victim. This is worse than when we had Party Poison, and we all know how that turned out.”
“Gerard. His name’s Gerard Way.”
“Gerard, Party Poison, it doesn’t matter. I just don’t want you latching on to the prisoner when you should be extracting information so you can kill him.”
“Five days, ma’am. Five days, and then we’ll see what we need to do with him.”
lol, never trust me with times and dates. Like, actually, I never address this again except that one mention in the next section. Time basically means nothing most of the time when I write. I have no idea how long Mikey was locked up or how long a period it is between his escape and where the fic ends. I want to say he was locked up for a bit less than a month, but if you add up my “the next day” or “a week later” clauses I’m sure I’d be proven wrong. WHATEVER.
Korse storms in early the next day and pounds on the table next to Michael’s ear. “Wake up.”
Michael stirs, turning his head to the side. He’s still wearing the mask.
“I just thought I’d let you know that I might be leaving you soon. Within the week, probably.”
Michael doesn’t answer, just keeps his head tilted in Korse’s direction, waiting for elaboration, his face set back to neutral.
“They’re replacing me. I haven’t been tough enough on you, so they’re going to find someone a bit less…sympathetic to interrogate you.” He sits down, hissing directly into Michael’s ear. “You know what some of the other droids will do to you? I’ve been kind, only putting you through some low-voltage shocks, not letting you eat or sleep for a few days, but the others? They’ll starve you for weeks. They’ll cut off your limbs. They’ll drive needles into your skin, beat you until every bone is broken, tear you apart and only put you back together long enough for you to tell them what they want, and once they have it? They’ll just let you die, no fanfare, probably not even a proper execution, you’ll just bleed out from whatever torture they decide to put you through. Would you really prefer that over how I’ve been treating you so far?”
Michael flinches away every few words, but he doesn’t respond. Korse sighs, bringing a hand to Michael’s forehead in a mockery of comfort.
“You’re going to have to accept that I’m the most trustworthy person you’re going to find in this place.” He lets his hand smooth down Michael’s hair. “I’m just following orders. I don’t want you dead, but my superiors have other plans. Just listen to me, and I can make sure you come out of this alive and safe.”
Michael doesn’t quite relax into the touch, but he doesn’t struggle against it, either. Korse keeps his hand in his hair. “What do you think? Are you going to cooperate? Or are you going to wait until you’re nearly dead to do it?”
Michael makes a noncommittal noise.
“I’m going to need an answer out of you, Michael. You know what to expect from me. You’re taking a risk with anyone else.”
Michael’s silent for a long moment, but then he starts, his voice still heavy with sleep: “…What do you want?”
Korse smiles, running his fingers through his hair. “Not much. Little facts, names of people, places, even something as broad as which zones the Killjoys frequent most.” He leans in closer, voice barely a whisper. “You don’t need to tell me everything. The longer this draws out, the better it is for both of us, you see. Even a lie or two is all right.”
Michael starts to ask something, but Korse sits up and speaks over him. “So. One fact, and I’ll forgo the shocks today. I might even argue for my replacement not to occur.”
He waits a full minute of silence before turning to the guard. “I guess we’ll be—“
“Tommy Chow Mein.”
Korse looks back at him. “…Excuse me?”
“We get most of our supplies from a guy called Tommy Chow Mein. Find him, and you might find the others.”
Korse nods at the guard, who goes running out the door to pass on the information, and then puts his hand back in Michael’s hair. “Thank you,” he whispers.
Michael just hums again.
He puts out an order to give Michael a real apple to eat along with his kibble, and then lets him sleep for seven hours that night.
He hadn’t expected it to be this easy. But, progress is progress.
“They’re never going to find this Tommy character, are they?” he whispers in Michael’s ear, petting his hair again.
Michael smirks. “No.”
“Does he even exist? Or did you make him up on the spot?”
“I won’t tell.”
Korse can’t find it in himself to be angry. His superiors have been chasing the lead all night and all morning, looking for documentation, searching through radio transmissions, plotting out searches in each zone. It’s amazing, what one fact from a stubborn prisoner means to people.
“You made the right choice, cooperating with me. Now, would you like to tell me anything today?”
“Fuck no. You got your lead yesterday, leave me alone for a while.”
Korse takes his hand off Michael’s head. “I’m afraid that’s not how it works.”
Michael frowns the second the contact is gone. “I’m cooperating, aren’t I? We’re working together to get what we both want.”
I actually kind of like how I established the relationship at this point! Mikey’s started to break down but he’s aware of it, he still won’t give in to all of Korse’s demands, just the bare minimum, and then be a dick the rest of the time. SORRY, THAT WON’T FLY WITH THE SCARY ROBOT DUDE.
Korse clicks his tongue and shakes his head, though he knows Michael won’t see it. “You don’t honestly think you can set the terms here, do you? You’re my prisoner, not my colleague.” He puts his hand back in Michael’s hair, but he tightens his fingers this time, tugging on the longer strands and lifting up his head. “Now, let’s try this again. Is there anything you’d like to tell me?”
“No,” he hisses through gritted teeth.
Korse slams Michael’s head on the table, watching his face contort in surprise and pain.
“I was kind to you yesterday, but if you’re going to expect that every day, you’re going to be disappointed. Give me another name.”
Michael shakes his head, trying to twist out of Korse’s grip. Korse slams his head down again. “Your friends, Jet Star, Fun Ghoul, Gerard, they aren’t coming to save you, you know. Is that why you’re being so stubborn? You think they’re going to storm the city any moment and rescue you from here?” He tugs on Michael’s hair, hard. “There hasn’t been any activity from them since you were taken here, you know. No attempts to attack, no sightings. They’re probably out looking for a replacement. No one will save you.”
Michael doesn’t respond except for a grunt when Korse pulls his hair again.
“You don’t have many options here. You can be tortured to death, or you can answer my questions and stay alive. Make the choice.” He lets Michael’s head drop heavily on the table.
Michael takes a few breaths, and Korse lets him consider. It can’t be that difficult a choice, even for someone as stubborn as him.
“…You’re wrong,” Michael finally mutters. “They’re going to save me. I don’t need to tell you anything, they’re going to—“
“You already gave me one name. You’ve given up, you just don’t want to admit it.”
“They’re tracking your Tommy Chow Mein right now. They’ve already found traces on the radio waves, you weren’t just bluffing. You cooperated with me because you know, you know it’s the better option. Now just give me a little more of what I want, and I won’t have to hurt you again.”
“You’re alone. You’re locked up in a little white box with no one but yourself, and I’m your only chance at survival. Give up, Michael.”
Michael opens his mouth, but no words come out. He’s tense, his fists clenching and releasing, but he doesn’t say anything for a few minutes. Korse waits.
“...There’s a diner. In Zone 2.”
Korse grins. “Go on.”
“It’s…kind of a meeting place for them—us. For us. You’ll probably find something there.”
I probably shouldn’t point out every time I play with pronouns but DANG I FORGOT HOW MUCH I PLAY WITH PRONOUNS. Good on you, past self.
“Thank you,” Korse says quietly, and nods at the guard.
Michael turns his head away, and his body tenses like he wants to curl up, but the restraints prevent it. Korse sweeps his bangs out of his face, but doesn’t let his hand linger.
“They’re going to come,” Michael mutters, but he doesn’t sound so certain.
There’s no diner in Zone 2, but there are several in some other zones, so they start sending SCARECROW units outwards. Korse should be asking him to give him the right zone this time, descriptions, exact directions, but—
“Are they still replacing you?” Michael asks when Korse enters the room. He doesn’t ask how Michael can tell it’s him, when he hasn’t been able to see for days.
“I don’t think so,” he says when he’s by Michael’s side. He leans down to whisper so the guard and the bugs in the room don’t hear: “You sent them running across the whole desert for me, didn’t you?”
“Like hell I did it for you,” Michael spits, but it’s defensive.
Korse just smiles and places a hand on his head, scratching a bit behind Michael’s ear. “You can deny it all you want, but you’re helping me a lot. It’s sweet of you.”
dang this is a quadrant clusterfuck going on.
Okay no I shouldn’t Homestuck for this entire commentary but I’ll probably end up talking about saviorbent at some point so, whatever. Be warned now.
Michael doesn’t say anything.
“I’m thinking of taking the mask off,” he says conversationally. “Would you like that? I’ll make you a deal. Give me one of your friends’ names, and I’ll take off the mask. Give me nothing, and I’ll block out your hearing, too.”
Michael frowns. He’s considering—considering, not just straight-up refusing to hand over any information.
But it doesn’t last long. “Fuck that.”
Korse motions to the guard, who hands him the headphones he’d ordered to be ready for this situation. Michael doesn’t struggle as he slips them over his ears. He’s tested them himself; they’ll block out all sound except for his own voice, and even that will be muffled.
Michael hums quietly, snaps his fingers, tests out what he can and can’t hear. Normal behavior. Korse flicks a switch on the right ear, and smiles as Michael starts. He’s put a loop of white noise through the headphones, drowning out even Michael’s own voice in his head.
He’s completely alone.
I kind of wish I could see more of this in fic? Like, I love sensory deprivation but I’m aware that it’s basically impossible to achieve total silence through headphones. I think white noise is a good second option, especially in nonconsensual situations like this where it almost adds a kind of horror element.
Korse sits down and waits. Michael’s stubborn, he could take a while to respond, but he’s been deprived of sleep, food, and sight for the better part of a week. He’ll break.
It doesn’t take long.
“…Are you still there?” Michael asks, and it’s too loud—he has no idea what’s coming out of his mouth.
“You are, aren’t you?” Michael turns his head left and right, as if it will help him see. “You wouldn’t leave me alone like this, you’re waiting for me to tell you everything.” His voice goes up and down inconsistently, between the uncertainty of the volume and the way Michael’s fear is starting to show itself.
Korse doesn’t move.
Michael stays quiet for a while, apparently remembering his usual tactic of staying silent against all of Korse’s treatments. It’s about twenty minutes before he speaks again.
“…Is anyone there?”
“There’s a guard still there, right? You guys never leave me alone. Gotta watch me all the time, make sure I don’t escape.” His voice gets louder. He’s probably trying to hear himself. “Unless you have me on camera. Is that what Korse does when he’s not in here, just watches me lie here from another room? Creepy, dude.” He laughs. His voice cracks.
“Someone’s always fucking watching me, right? I could get out if you turn your head. Watch me.” He starts straining against the straps on his arms, twisting and tugging. Nothing comes of it, of course.
“I think this one’s loose!” he calls out suddenly. “Gonna rebind me?”
The guard starts to step over, but Korse holds up a hand.
“What’s with this, anyway? Got tired of just hurting me until I talk? You giving up? Pussy torture, that’s what this is.”
It won’t be long, now.
“…No, seriously, is anyone there?”
Not long at all.
Korse leans in closer, making sure not to let his breath fall on Michael’s skin.
“…Just let me know someone’s there? This is just…weird.”
Michael starts squirming again, but this time, he’s not trying to escape. “Fucking…anyone?”
Michael stretches his hands out as far as they can go, grasping at air. “Can’t exactly interrogate me if you’re not there, can you?” His voice grows more and more panicked. “Come on, just tell me you’re there.”
“I’m here,” Korse says, because why not? Michael can’t hear him.
Shut up Korse, omfg.
“Fuck…fucking…” Michael squirms again. “Please, all right? Please, just, tell me someone’s there, tell me I’m not alone.” He makes a low moaning noise that might be involuntary, and the squirming turns into shaking. “Please.”
He’s never begged before. Not during the shocks, not during the interrogation, never. Progress, progress, progress.
“Someone, please, just take them off, I can’t do this, take them off.” The shaking gets worse, involuntary tremors mixing with attempts to get out of the restraints. “I’ll talk, I’ll fucking talk, okay, just please—“
Korse snatches off the headphones, and Michael gasps out something that sounds like thank you.
“Your companions’ names?”
“Frank and Ray, there, just don’t do that again, don’t do that again.”
“That sounded like an order, Michael. Are you giving me orders?”
“No, no si—no. Please don’t do that again.”
Ugh this is actually making me want to write a bunch of worldbuilding, like about the schooling kids go through in Battery City, the indoctrination, all that 1984 bullshit.
I mean, if it wasn’t obvious I have a weird gross kink for people letting the word “sir” slip out by accident.
But this could also lead to some interesting backstory!
Okay yeah no this is straight-up self-indulgence.
“Better.” He hands off the headphones to the guard before starting to undo the blindfold.
Michael shuts his eyes against the light, light he hasn’t seen in days, and Korse puts a hand in his hair, brushing back his bangs. “I was there the whole time, Michael. You weren’t alone.”
“…Oh,” he says, and then stays quiet for a while, the shaking slowly subsiding as Korse pets his hair.
“Frank and Ray…which one’s which?”
Michael doesn’t open his eyes, and his voice is still a little shaky when he says, “Fun Ghoul…that’s Frank, and Ray’s Jet Star.” He speaks slowly and quietly, obviously aware that he’s betraying his friends.
Korse keeps his hand in Michael’s hair until he falls asleep, exhausted. Korse stands up to tell the guard to start putting names through the database.
“We just wanted to make things right,” Michael’s saying, pushing his head against Korse’s hand a little. “You guys, BLI, you take everything out of life. There’s no color in the city, no emotion, no fun.”
Korse doesn’t doubt that if he were saying the same words a week ago, Michael would be spitting them in his face. Right now, it almost sounds like casual conversation.
“It’s necessary,” Korse says, scratching behind Michael’s ear until he hums. “Order must be maintained. Emotions only contribute to inefficiency and dysfunction.”
“Imagine a city full of you Killjoys. How long do you think you would last?”
Michael doesn’t answer for a while, just shuts his eyes and occasionally makes a noise when Korse does something with his hair.
“What about the people?” he asks after a while. “Shouldn’t they get to decide whether or not they get to be happy?”
“And have an entire section of the population unmedicated and unproductive? That’s not going to work in this day and age. We need an efficient workforce for everyone to stay alive.”
Michael’s quiet again, either because he can’t find an argument against him, or because Korse is playing with the hairs on the back of his neck.
“What are you going to tell me today?” Korse asks after a few minutes of silence, stilling his hand but not moving it away.
“I don’t know what you want.” Not Fuck no, not Make me. I don’t know what you want.
“Actually,” Korse says, leaning down to whisper. “Tell me a lie today. You don’t want to run out of things to tell me too soon.”
A unit’s sent out after some imaginary Killjoy hideout, and Korse spends the rest of the day chatting with Michael. He seems like he’s starting to understand BL/ind a little better.
Even after the false trail Michael gave them, Korse isn’t replaced. He’s still on duty another week later, questioning him for a little while each morning, and then just talking until he decides to let Michael sleep. He’s been fed regularly since giving Korse the names of the other Killjoys.
Michael’s started brightening whenever Korse walks in each morning. He doesn’t quite smile, but there’s a definite hint that he’s hiding one, and he melts into Korse’s touch the second he puts a hand in his hair.
There’s still no trust between them. Michael will talk back if given enough freedom to do so, and Korse never holds back threats to take away his food or put the blindfold back on, but most of the time, he’s docile. Korse hasn’t put him through any treatment in the past week, just runs his fingers through his hair and talks to him until the answers come out as if in conversation.
(Korse tries not to think about the day when he’s going to be ordered to kill Michael.)
“You’re becoming attached.”
“No, I’m not. He’s becoming attached to me. I’m just using that to my advantage.”
“That’s what you thought about Poison, and look what happened there. He still lies when you’re interrogating him, you can’t trust anything he says or does.”
“You’ve never questioned anyone over a long period of time, have you? You start to learn about the subject, like—“
“Like you’re old friends? This is getting ridiculous. Squeeze everything that’s left out of him, and then shoot him. We still can’t find the other Killjoys, but maybe sending out a transmission of their dead friend will shut them up, or at least scare others who want to join them.”
“Actually, keeping him alive would—“
“No. I want him finished with by next week.”
“And then you’re going back to your box.”
Korse looks down at Michael from where he was staring at the wall. “Oh?”
“I can tell. You’re upset.”
Korse raises an eyebrow. Michael’s looking up at him with what looks like genuine concern.
He shrugs and concentrates back on Michael’s hair. “It’s nothing for you to worry about. My superiors aren’t happy with how much progress I’ve made with you.”
“I’ve told you everything you—“
“Everything I ask for, I know. Apparently that’s not enough.”
Michael shuts his eyes and sighs as Korse pushes his bangs out of his face again. “…Why do you need to draw this out?”
Korse stops his hand.
“You told me…we were helping each other,” Michael continues. “Is there a reason you need me to take as long as possible to talk?”
Korse hesitates for a moment, glancing at the guard behind him, then leans down next to Michael’s ear. “When I’m not being used, they shut me down. Put me in a box until I have another job. I enjoy being able to move on my own for a while, that’s all.”
Michael opens his eyes. “That’s awful,” he whispers.
“I’m keeping him.”
“He’ll make good bait. If we kill him, the Killjoys will go underground. If we keep him, they’ll try to save him. They’ve probably been planning a rescue already.”
“Fine, we can use him as bait. But you said you’re keeping him.”
“…That’s all I meant. I’ll keep watch over him constantly. He trusts me more than he would a normal guard, he won’t try to escape.”
“You can’t stay out forever, you realize. There’s a reason we have a stasis chamber for you.”
“I’m only telling you what would be the best course of action. It’s the most efficient way to get rid of the Killjoys.”
“Mm. We’ll see what happens, then. But once the others are captured, he’s getting executed right along with them.”
“Of course, ma’am.”
Michael’s asleep when Korse walks in the next morning, and Korse tries to stay quiet as he motions to the guard to help him undo the leather straps around his legs.
When he works his way up to start releasing his arms, Michael starts to stir.
“What—“ he starts, but Korse shushes him and unbinds his left wrist, holding it down once the strap is loose.
“Don’t struggle. Don’t move unless I tell you to. We’re both armed and won’t hesitate to shoot.”
Michael doesn’t move.
The guard releases the last strap, on his shoulder, and Korse rubs where there will probably be a mark. “Sit up. Slowly, now.”
Wait, I forgot about this. How does a strap on his shoulder make any sense?? Like if it goes from his armpit to where his neck meets his shoulder, maybe, but what the fuck kind of table is constructed like that? Maybe it reaches across his chest? I DON’T KNOW.
Korse helps him up, one hand on his back, the other motioning to the guard, who nods and hands him an unassuming white collar.
“You’re being moved to another room,” he says as he starts fastening the collar around his neck. “You won’t be able to leave the building wearing this. If you escape, I can flip a switch and run thousands of volts through you until I find you again. Understand?”
“All right, off the table.” Korse runs a hand through his hair, and Michael hums.
Michael’s new room is smaller than the interrogation room, but it has a panel that lets him order food and water at any time, twice a day, and a pill dispenser stocked with most of the varieties available to employees. There’s even an attached washroom, to replace the machines that have been taking care of him on the table.
Korse explains all this slowly, and he has to tap him on the shoulder to catch his attention sometimes, when he gets distracted fiddling with the collar. When he’s finished giving a tour of the room, he touches a hand to Michael’s. “There’s a bio-lock on that. I’m the only one who can take it off.” He slips a finger between the collar and his skin and runs it along the back of Michael’s neck, making him shiver. “You’re not just a prisoner anymore. You’re my prisoner.”
Which is why Frank tears the collar off so easily……
Man we can probably just assume Gerard is familiar with the technology and got Frank working on something specifically to counteract it. Maybe. Who knows.
He doesn’t need to ask Michael much anymore—his superiors have apparently decided that he’s told them just about all he can, and he’s nothing but Killjoy-bait now—so when Korse goes to see him each morning, there’s not much to the conversation.
“Have you taken any pills, Michael?”
“No.” He’s telling the truth. Korse watches Michael on camera after he leaves for the night, always able to find an excuse to stay out of the box, and Michael spends most of his time sitting or lying down, occasionally getting up for food and water.
“Don’t need them. I stopped taking them after I left the city, I’m not going back to them if I have a choice.”
Korse makes a noncommittal noise. Michael’s lying on his bed, Korse sitting next to him and running his fingers through his hair. Nothing’s changed, really.
“And what if I told you to take them?”
Michael doesn’t answer.
Korse moves his hand to the back of his neck. “Well?”
Michael opens his mouth, shuts it, bites his lip, then finally asks, “Are you going to?”
Korse smiles, bringing his hand back to his scalp. “I think they might help you. You’re going to be here for a while, and I’m sure you’re under a lot of stress.”
“Mm.” Michael doesn’t disagree.
“But, I won’t make you. That’s a personal preference.”
They sit in silence for a while, Korse’s hand never leaving Michael’s hair.
Michael takes one synthetic happiness capsule the next morning.
Why he does this…is up to you, tbh. Maybe he’s started taking suggestions from Korse as orders to be followed. Maybe he cracked under the stress. Maybe he’s still got a psychosomatic addiction left over from all those years as a citizen, even if he officially detoxed years ago. Who knows!
It’s the cheap kind, the kind every citizen of the city is required by law to take daily, but it does its job. For the first time, Michael’s smiling when Korse enters the room, staring contentedly at the ceiling. When he notices Korse, his smile only widens.
“I see you took my advice.”
Michael nods, somehow enthusiastic and subdued at once. It’s a normal enough reaction to the medication.
Ugh I remember agonizing over the wording of this sentence. “Enthusiastic and subdued” just sounds really awkward but I think it was the least awkward way to put it, and even then I’m not sure if I’m getting the image I have across just right. Basically he’s really earnest, at least a lot more than usual, but he’s slowed down, drugged up, can’t make as much movement as he normally would.
They settle back into their normal routine—Michael lying down, Korse talking and touching—and Michael can’t seem to stop smiling with every move he makes. Of course he can’t, that’s what the medication’s supposed to do, but Korse isn’t used to Michael being in a constant state of showing emotion, even false emotion.
It’s interesting. Korse spends the whole day testing out new reactions, a scratch here, a stroke of his fingers there, and Michael offers him a whole new set of sounds and movements. When he lets his hand dip down to start fiddling with the collar, Michael goes still, a contented sigh choked back.
Hm. He slips a finger under the front of the collar and tugs, only a little, but Michael’s eyes widen as he’s pulled upwards.
“Mine,” he whispers into Michael’s ear, before he can stop himself.
JUST IN CASE YOU FORGOT THIS IS ACTUALLY A KINK EPIC.
He takes the same pill the next day, though he doesn’t look quite as reluctant when he’s swallowing it down. The mildly addictive component in the capsule probably contributes towards that.
“I’ve stopped dreaming,” Michael’s saying quietly, eyes shut, head pressing into Korse’s hand. “Did you know that?”
“No,” Korse says, and he’s honestly surprised. He’s never heard that out of one of his prisoners before.
“Yeah. First, I started dreaming all in pastels. Then it was black and white for a while. Now, nothing.”
I really wish I’d expanded upon this more. I don’t even remember my thought process when I included it, it just sounded really interesting and it worked for some reason. I feel like it could be used in derivative works as something to work off of, too.
It’s impossible to tell just how Michael feels about this, so he finally asks: “Do you miss the dreams?”
Michael shakes his head immediately. “They were always about the desert. About being on the run, trying not to get ghosted. I don’t miss that anymore.”
“You’d rather be here than there?” Korse asks carefully, not entirely sure what kind of answer to expect.
Michael doesn’t seem to know how to answer it, either. He shuts his eyes and thinks for a while as Korse rubs his thumb around his ear.
Finally he says, “It’s safer here.” And that’s all the answer he needs, really.