ArchivedLogs:Moment of Weakness
|Moment of Weakness|
There is a delay before the phone is answered, in Jax's chipper-bright Southern accent. "Hello? This is Jackson."
Norman immediately responds: "Mr. Holland. Norman Osborn. Is this an opportune moment to speak? I'd only require, mm. Two or three minutes of your time." Polite, to the point. Perhaps even a little /warm/. But certainly not 'bright'.
Silence, on the other end of the line. Just for a moment. And then, still warm, "Gosh, Mr. Osborn, this is a surprise. I got a couple minutes, yes. How can I help you?"
Norman mms. There is - a light sound of keys typing on his side. "The world is full of unusual coincidences. There was a minor incident the other day at my offices. You might read about it in the news. No one was injured, but -- there was a girl caught in the middle of it. I was afraid she might be... mmn, a bit -- traumatized. I happened upon her name, and decided to do some investigating. To ensure she was. Safe," he states, and there's a certain edge to that word. "Much to my surprise, I discovered she attends the very school you teach at. Rasa Djalili." Norman even pronounces the name correctly!
"I had heard something about it, yeah," Jackson answers lightly. "I'm glad to hear nobody was hurt. It's touching your concern 'bout our students, sir."
Norman doesn't say anything for about five seconds after that statement. When he speaks again, there is a tight /control/ to his words: "I dug up her email, to ask if she wanted to speak. About her condition. I realize, now. That was... imprudent. I am not good with," pause, "/children/. But, Mr. Holland. If her condition..." Another pause. "...worsens, perhaps. I could. Advise /you/. About its nature." A /very/ long pause. "In /confidence/."
"-- I think that might," Jackson says, after a pause, his voice still warm but less /bright/, now, "be a good idea, sir. I'd appreciate, at least, some insight into how to best help hir. It'd be nice if that came from someone a little closer to the matter."
Norman sounds so /tense/, now. His usual polished warmth vanishes; his voice is stilted, unsure - like a man stumbling through unknown territory. "Hir?" he asks, before continuing: "You may wish to keep her. Monitored, Mr. Holland. And take care as to what she -- eats. Depending on the underlying nature of her -- situation, there is likely little to no risk of relapse. But if she is having -- difficulties... no meat. Meat will make it worse." Then, almost with a hint of disgust: "Her parents. They -- have /disowned/ her."
"It's a gender-neutral pronoun," Jackson answers with the reflexiveness of one who has given this answer many times, "English ain't real well-equipped for them yet, but we try." And then there is more silence, and he answers disgust with a sort of wry resignment: "It ain't all that uncommon a thing, with kids who're different. My own kids, their birth-parents --" He cuts this off shortly, his tone continuing a little more tired: "Well. It's sadly more common than it should be. Teachers ain't really no parents, but we do try our hardest to give the students the support they need. Do you -- predict there /will/ be more difficulties with her, sir?"
Long distance to Jackson: Norman's tone is perplexed, for a moment; the stilted edge evaporates beneath Norman's sudden curiosity. "Gender-neutral--? I was unaware of--hn. Of course. Her condition. I imagine -- it makes identity -- a daunting task." At Jackson's further elaboration, Norman is quiet; when he asks that question, Norman's response is -- again -- tensed. But a bit more controlled: "I strongly suspect not. It is dependent on the nature of her -- hir -- particular manifestation. Before she... shir?" Stumbling awkwardly over this new language. Finding it an ill-fit to his tongue. "--left, I saw--the ability to overwrite one's own underlying physiology. Knowing nothing else about hir condition, I see no reason to presume that what was copied could not be /overwritten/. But, it has a way of..."
This, for once, earns a laugh, a quiet quick sound. "Identity's kind of a daunting task for a lot of people, even /without/ the added complications," Jackson answers. "A way of what, sir?"
The next few words come out in a rush, as if Norman is attempting to get them out of his mouth before he can stop himself: "It is /seductive/, Mr. Holland. Particularly to one who has so little -- kindness -- love -- warmth -- in their life. It does not /need/ such things. It does not /want/ them. It only knows hunger and greed. It is -- liberating, to become such a monster. But there is no going back. Do not let her succumb."
Jackson answers this with quiet, too. "I'll watch out for hir, sir, thank you," he answers, slow and even. "I can't imagine it's an easy thing for hir to be wrestling with right now. Does it --" He hesitates, but then continues: "-- It doesn't get no easier to deal with, does it?"
Norman doesn't respond for a good, long while. When he does, his voice is strained: "...no." A breath, ragged and hard. "One more thing, Mr. Holland. I am certain you are aware by now that I am not... /aligned/ with... your kind's interests." Perhaps Jackson can /imagine/ the claw-like grip of Norman's fingers on his desk; it certainly is reflected in his tone. Wood curling beneath fingertips. "If it helps, consider this... a moment of weakness. I know your... secret. The one you're keeping from the world." Another ragged breath. As if Norman Osborn is running a marathon. Against himself: "And... I'm not going... to do... /anything/. With it." As if these were some of the hardest words Norman Osborn has ever spoken. They're soon followed by what is almost a bark: "Mr. /Holland/." A growl. "Let those around you know. The government is /not/ your friend. They will. /Dissect/ you. Your children. If they find out. They might. Come for. All of you. You must be. Much more careful. In the future." It is as if Norman Osborn is struggling not to /eat the phone/.
Jackson's own breath is a little ragged, too, unsteady for the first time this conversation. "-- I ain't never been fool enough to think on the government as my friend," he says, quietly. "They've done their fair share of dissectin' already." And then he's quiet, eventually managing again -- softer, too carefully reserved for its previous warmth: "We do need to be more careful, sir, yes. All of us. Who --" He swallows. "I mean, I don't think they're your friend, either, sir. Who -- is?"
Norman growls, husky and dark. "I don't--" There is a deep-throated, strangled sound. "Jackson. Keep your kind safe from people like me." Click.
Jackson's exhalation is quiet. "... You still owe me that dance," is, sadly, said quietly to the dead air on the other end.