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Dramatis Personae

Jackson, Toby

New Year, 2014

Happy New Year.


<???> Jail Cell, Federal Corrections

Cramped and small, this concrete room offers very little by way of comfort or privacy. There's a cot on one side with thin grey mattress, thin grey blankets, thin grey pillow. On the other side sits a lidless steel toilet with built-in sink atop it. There's not a whole lot by way of /room/, about six feet by eight feet. No windows to the outside, and a solid door rather than bars; a barred window in the door is usually kept shuttered from without, as is the slot in the wall where a shelf protrudes and meals are often slid through. A single wan light in the ceiling provides dim illumination whenever the guards care to turn it on.

It's been a long night. For Jax, at least, transferred in here yesterday evening to spend the stroke of the New Year in shiny new accommdations here in federal custody. In his drab grey cell he is the only colourful thing -- not due to any knack of illusion, though. After a night spent in the dark he is wan and pale, washed-out, his single eye focused on the ceiling. But his jumpsuit has colour to it, at least, vivid-bright orange with 32760-080 painted in black on the chest and back. His hair has lingering colour, too, vivid-bright purple with softer pink streaks in, dyed freshly enough before this ordeal that there's not much yet by way of dark roots showing through.

He's sitting on his cot when morning comes, though in the dark of his cell there's little to distinguish morning from night. His thin grey blanket is wrapped around his shoulders, knees pulled up to his chest, white tennis shoes a little too big for him still on his feet. Here in lights-out there's not a lot to be seen of him, really, right now, but listening very closely outside his door there's still singing to be heard. Soft and quiet to himself in his cell. "Cuz what the end has in store will be no match for you and I; we're not afraid to be afraid or just break down at cry. And we may be overwhelmed, but we won't be immobilized; and together, I think we can touch this world before we die." His fingers curl around his knees, gripping tight, though not tight enough to quell their ceaseless trembling.

The lightbulb in the cell lets out a low buzz of complaint before it begins weakly warming up, flickering to life. It is not the brightest bulb in the prison, but it means well, signaling the beginning of the day - and the slow clomp of boots down the hall. The door, after all, is meant more to hold people in than it is to hold sound out. From down the hall, there is a shout. "I said, get the fuck back, freak!" The voice is sharp, and a moment later, there is a loud clang of something heavy against metal, a thud and a ringing. Then it goes silent, footsteps halted, conversation dropped too low to hear.

Thirty seconds later, the boots resume their step, coming closer and closer to Jax's door, before they stop just in front of them. There is a banging on the door, loud, now, something heavy hitting against the surface of the door. "Wakey, wakey, prisoner 32760-080." The voice on the other end is rough, a dark growl of sound.

Dim or not, Jackson's response to the light is immediate. His face turns up towards it, breath drawn in slow and strained. For a moment the shaking gets worse -- and then his cell goes just as dark as it was before, save for a dim glow coming, it seems, from /within/ him. The dim bulb looks almost off, just a faint faint glow from inside it telling that it is truly still operating.

Jackson is silent for a time after this clang comes at his door. It takes a while for the shaking to quell. His eye closes, his breathing slowing. Eventually his legs slide downward, sneakers hitting the concrete floor with a thud. "Good mornin', sir." His voice is quiet, though his thick drawl is clear as ever. "M'name's Jax."

"No. Your name is prisoner 32760-080." The voice is hard, and the window on the door remains closed. "You must have friends in high places, prisoner 32760-080. This isn't the usual amount of food that we give prisoners. Fucking the prison doctor on your first day? I'm almost impressed." The guard's voice is quietly mocking. "Now. Please state your name to check against the list."

"My name's Jax, sir," Jackson repeats, quiet but firm. Thankfully, his deep sudden flush can't be seen through the closed door. "I have a kinda accelerated metabolism." His forehead lowers to his legs, teeth closing against his lip in habitual -- /attempt/ to wiggle at a lip ring that is no longer there. He breathes in slowly, eventually turning his head towards the door. "Jackson. Jackson Holland."

"Jackson Holland..." The voice on the other side of the door contemplates this for several moments. "I'm sorry. I don't see a Jackson Holland on the meal list. I'm only authorized to give special meals out after verifying the recipient." The tone is almost playful, and even through the steel door, a smile can be heard, if not seen. "Is there something else I might look under?"

Jackson sits back up, brows creasing deeply as he looks towards the door. His head turns back downward, forehead pillowed against his thighs and his arms curling underneath them. "Sometimes my friends call me Sunshine," he answers at length. "But m'name is Jackson Holland." A brief pause and then a wistful amendment: "Holland-Zedner."

"Well, there's certainly nothing on here named Sunshine. I don't see a Holland-Zedner either. Well. I will have to go check with the duty officer to see why your name isn't on this list. I just see a series of numbers." The voice hardens again, suddenly. "If you are not on the list, I'm afraid I can't release this food to you. It's the right cell number, but I see that there is prisoner 32760-080 in this cell, not a Sunshine. I promise to get right down to the bottom of this. Hopefully we will have it sorted by lunch."

There's silence, here, at first. Jax's fingers curl hard into his legs, and his jaw tightens in a hard clench. Another breath in, another breath out. His voice is still gentle when he speaks again. "Hopefully, sir. Jackson Holland-Zedner. Kinda reassurin', really, maybe I'm not supposed t'be here after all." Almost warm, even. "What's your name?"

"CO." The next sound is boots on the ground, as the prison guard walks away from the door. He does not return for breakfast, nor does any other guard. The boots do return, though, a handful of hours later, and that same voice speaks suddenly from the other side of the door. "Hello, prisoner 32760-080. I spoke to the warden, and they confirmed to me that this meal is for you, and you are in the right place. I'm sorry for the mixup."

By this time Jackson has returned to his position sitting on the cot, legs curled against his chest and his arms wrapped around them. The glow within him has grown just slightly, the rest of the cell still dark as he greedily drinks in what meagre light it offers. He looks up with a faint widening of his eye at the returning footsteps. "Lucky for me." He sounds almost relieved. He starts to stand, but sits again quickly, a little wobbly at the first efforts. "Thank you, sir."

The window in the door slides open, though a grill is still in place. A pair of brown eyes look in at the other man, scanning over his appearance for a moment. "I brought lunch. I think it's even still warm. And, I'm sorry, but the process is the process." He presses a clipboard up to the grill. There is a list on it - prisoner numbers, cell numbers, plate numbers. A neat list of checkmarks brings it up to the last entry. "Now. Your name, please?"

Even with the faint glow inside him, Jackson is very pale. Back to shaking again, though fainter. He turns to look at the eyes that look in at him, his single blue eye even more vivid for the luminescence it holds. His feet slide back to the floor, and while his next attempt to stand proves /also/ quite unsteady, he finds his legs eventually to move closer to the door. "Jackson. Holland-Zedner."

The clipboard vanishes from view and is replaced by the guard, looking down at the clipboard. "No. No, no. I don't see that name on here. Name, cell number, tray number. I see the tray, I see the cell. But the name isn't Jackson Holland-Zedner." Toby's voice is cold, as he looks up at Jackson. "I checked with the warden, and they confirmed to me this tray is to go to this cell, to a prisoner named 32760-080." He gestures to a tray with a metal lid covering it on a little cart, like some kind of sick hotel room service. The little cart has a set of similar trays on them, metal lids with a number painted onto the outside. One of the lids has no number, and its lid is black and different looking. Plastic, cheap, and new.

Jackson leans up against the door, his head tipping to rest against the bars in its window. His eye fixes out on the cart of food, and he draws in a slow hungry breath. The hand he lifts to curl fingers against the bars is trembling badly. There's a faint shimmering tremble of light around him, and then it winks out. "Apologies, sir," he says, very low. "Only but I'm the only one in this cell, an' m'name's Jackson." His eye shifts to the guard next, looking him over thoughtfully. "You'll hafta forgive me, sir. Don't mean to be quite such a bother."

"Oh, it's no bother, prisoner 32760-080. I will just have to talk to the warden's office again." Toby looks at the other man, expression flat, voice even and cool. "See if we can't straighten this out." He crosses his arms over his chest, obscuring the plastic badge with a broad pair of arms. "Only, I'm still not able to give you any food until it's all sorted. You understand."

Jackson's lips press together into a thin line, his eye closing. He opens it again shortly to skim his gaze over Toby again. "Just doin' your job, sir." There's a faint tremble in his voice, too, but only briefly before it settles into quiet warmth again. "Jackson Holland-Zedner. You jus' -- let me know when y'find my meal. Please."

The guard's eyes lock on Jax's and, inexplicably, the guard smiles. "You're one stubborn son of a bitch. I admire that." He nods his head once, twice, thoughtfully. "I'll be off shift before dinner, but I'll make sure to let my relief know about the problem. I'm sure they will continue to look into this problem for you. We might have to talk to the kitchen staff about it."

A very faint twitch of smile pulls up at Jax's lips, in paler echo of the guard's smile. "Appreciate it, sir. I'll --" His smile curls /just/ a touch wider for a second. "-- be here." It's with some small effort that he pulls himself away from the door, walking -- actually steadily, though quite /slowly/ -- back to the cot to collapse down on it. His arms fold beneath his head, eye fixed up on the ceiling. "Y'have a good rest of your shift, CO."

"But so am I." Toby says, softly. The window closes with a clang of metal on metal, and Jax is left with the sound of his retreating footsteps.