Summary: Five years of darkness can destroy any soul, let alone one that was already scarred. However, #000000027 has never really learned what it means to let go.
Sunken eyes gazed across the dark room without emotion. Paper and canvas and every sort of artistic medium imaginable filled the room to bursting. Soon they would come to retrieve his work, perhaps give a treat, and order more. If they thought for a moment it was possible for him to draw them the entirety of the world's futures, down to every failed European marriage, he had no doubt they would push and force and coerce him until they achieved it.
As it was, they demanded everything his gift would give him. He might've laughed, had he found any humor in the situation. His unfortunate ability to see things that were not happening when or where he stood could be called just about anything except a gift.
He had sacrificed everything that defined his humanity in a futile bid to save a long-damned city, and now he was condemned to spend the rest of his life in this miniature bird's tower. Without all of the works of 'art' in his cramped room, he would have been able to peer through glorified arrow slits into the old city far below.
He had given up on looking such a long time ago. He had given up on most anything anymore. It wasn't as if he could fight them--all he could do was paint. He could never escape, and there was nothing to escape to. He of all people knew that damn well enough.
There were a few things he kept from them. Scraps of a pride and dignity and determination that he once held so dear. He would never allow himself to look into what Peter was doing. They berated and threatened and inflicted punishment on him, but they could never make him paint it.
His other paintings remained too valuable for them to kill him just yet.
There was one more thing he kept from them. Not rebel information or bases or plans or anything trivial that would earn him nothing but death. Just one small, vital, all-important thing burrowed away yet in this world.
The one thing that kept him painting and waiting and suffering.
A worn pencil scraped across lined paper, and the faintest hint of a smile appeared on his face. She was smiling so brightly, so warmly, it seemed only fitting to return the gesture. Her hair was windblown, and there were faint lines etched into her smooth, beautiful skin.
He never looked at her anymore. All he could see was pain and death and destruction, and she could never be allowed to suffer such. She existed as she had the last time he had seen her, and would always remain that way until he saw her again, for real.
He shuffled under his threadbare pillow to pluck out the mess of sketches--some partially colored, some aborted midway through the sketch. Every moment, every picture, every page, every graphite flaking line was an escape from a world that no longer deserved its existance.
She was the lingering light shining through the gloom, perfect in the way only traumatized memories can be. But were they truly only twisted memories? Not always. There were times, when he had been truly despairing and lonely and perhaps a bit mad, when he had seen her. Not now, not in this world. But before, when things were right and good and sane.
He treasured these simplistic sketches most. Of clutched daisies, and nervous mistletoe silence, of deep passion, and wordless elation. The one he kept closest, worn and faded and torn, held the infants. The twins born Iris and Charles, ripped away the day the men had broken into their home, and shredded their family for 'their sake'.
His whole being ached with the memory of her reaching fingers, grasping at air only a hairsbreadth from his own. Of her screams as their infant twins vanished forever. The shame of every blow, of every failed attempt, burned even still.
The raw terror and fury at their threatening and her whimpers.
No. He would never let them know how well he could remember and draw past events.
Those were his and his alone. His and Simone's quiet starry evenings, and pointless paint fights, and intense scrabble matches in French and Spanish, and the weeping grief and the completion. The few weeks he had of a true family.
No matter how many years, or how many reports they deadpanned with suppressed smirks, they could never take those few weeks of belonging and hollywood story love and happy endings away from him.
And one day, he would find her again. He would bring all of them together, and this would finally end.