Recognizable characters (in this case, just Jono) belong to Marvel Comics. No profit being made off of this, no money being asked for. Short 'n sweet.
Locked. In here. Together. In the dark. Of course, the darkness could always be remedied, but my guess was there was no way he would show that part of himself again. So I ignored it and sat on the top step, just outside the door, chin in hands, and pouted.
*Oh, get up.*
I said nothing and did not get up.
*I'm going back to me room now.* Jono turned to leave.
"So you're going to abandon me, too?"
*I'm not abandoning you.*
"Yes, you are."
*No, I'm not.*
"Yes, you are."
*No, I'm not.*
"Yes, you are."
*No, I'm -- now, this is mature.*
"Isn't it, though? And you are."
*Fine. I'm abandoning you. Have a nice life.* Jono went back down the stairs.
"What -- what did you want to say to me before?"
"Yeah, when I was leaving, you said, 'Jen!' What did you want to tell me?"
He hesitated. *Nothing,* he decided.
I knew that wasn't it. He knew that wasn't it. And if we both knew that, then what was it? He was being so obstinate! "Jono?"
"Do you like her?" Her? Why'd it come out that way?
*Who?* he asked cautiously.
Oh, he wouldn't tell you even if he did. Cover it up. But say something. " ... Paige."
Carefully ... *Well ... um ... I think she's ... *
"Just answer the question, yes or no." Get this over with. I didn't want to talk about Paige.
*She's still my friend, you know.*
"Yeah ... I know...." I traced a pattern in the dark on my knee. If I held up a hand I could see my own aura, an indigo-violet glow that surrounded my fingertips ... palm ... arm. Jono's own deep blue aura shone darkly around him, faint static crystals buzzing fuzzily -- invisibly -- beyond the actual color indicating psionic ability. My viewing of auras was sporadic at best, but invariably a talent present in the dark.
But part of what he'd said caught me, then. "Still?" I asked. What had he meant by that?
*Still,* he affirmed.
"After ...? I don't mean to pry."
*Even after I let her down. She needs someone who can be there for her. She needs someone who won't drain her. Someone who can give her all the things I can't.*
"Oh." What could he possibly be so worried about? At least he hadn't brought up 'the way he looked' again ... unless 'all the things he couldn't give her' was simply a roundabout mention of it. Now I had to admit I was interested. "But do you have feelings for her?"
*I don't know,* he admitted.
"You don't know? How could you not know? If you have feelings for her I don't care. Go on and be happy. Just -- Light above, do something about it!" I only wanted him to be happy, after all. And simple fact was, he wasn't.
*It's not that simple.*
"Of course it is. At least give it a chance." I couldn't believe I was saying this.
*There's the small problem of whether she -- no. I can't do it. I can't give her wot she needs -- wot she deserves.*
Well, if he was going to be that way I certainly wasn't going to press the issue. "You can't just ... I mean, you aren't going to just sit here forever and die miserable and alone, are you?"
*Certainly looks that way.*
"Only if you let it happen."
"I mean, you choose your future. You don't want to die miserable and alone, do you?" And I wanted to be close to him, didn't I?
*Not really, no ...*
"So do something about it. Come out of the basement once in a while, come with the group when they go out. Give us a concert or something." I'll even sing if you want me to ... "Light. You don't even have to go get involved with anyone. Just be. And believe me, I know how it is. Before I came here I was practically attached to my computer. Or my keyboard. My headphones were nearly welded -- but you don't want to hear about me. You don't even want me here. I understand that." I stepped up the few stairs to the door and started pounding on it. "Help!" I called. "Someone let me out!"
~amusement~ flooded the link, still in place.
"You think this is funny?" I demanded. "Great. Now I'm --"
I sat down on the step again, exasperated. And perplexed. Then it dawned on me. He could've gotten the door open at any time. He could've blasted it open, or used his telepathy to call someone else to open it from the outside, considering my screams weren't heard. And he didn't. What a little rat.
*A rat, am I?*
"Yes! Why didn't you just --?"
He didn't answer, only shrugged.
"Well, go on!"
"Get me out of here."
"Didn't you want me out of here, anyway?"
"What? What is it?" If he kept up this silence I swore I'd probe his emotions. Purposefully. Decisively. As best as I could.
*Nothing,* he decided.
I sighed. He was such a ... guy. I wish I knew what was going through his head sometimes.
*No, you don't. You'd be too frightened of wot you'd find.*
The silence threatened to overtake us both again, dominating the conversation or complete lack thereof. Why would I be so afraid of what I'd find? But it didn't matter, because I was leaving. I'd been leaving, on my way out, when that stupid door just had to be locked. Why was it locked, anyhow? I knew some basements locked whenever doors closed, and could only be opened from the outside, especially in older buildings (as the Massachusetts Academy was), but if that was the case then someone certainly wouldn't be living down here. The only logical explanation was that the situation was contrived.
*Good thinking, gel. You're certainly a smart one,* Jono replied sarcastically.
"Would you stay out of my head?"
*Sorry, it's just that you're coming in over that ... *
Stupid link. "So why don't you sever it? And why don't you open the door already?" I stood back to give him enough room to blast the lock without hurting me in the process.
Jono said nothing and the room remained dark. Something didn't feel right; he was lost in thought -- I thought so, at any rate -- and ...
"Hello?" I asked softly.
"Are you okay?"
Just ... here. Not 'okay', not even 'fine', just ... here. "Are you ... I mean ... Do--do you need to ...?"
*No,* he replied tersely. The curt dismissal was followed by an even longer silence, which I dared not breach. I had no idea what I would even say, were I to speak at all. These thoughts that swirled in my head were blank; more like I wasn't even thinking at all. Just blank, and waiting. Waiting.
Finally he broke the silence. *Get out of the way.*
But I was already --
*Off the staircase,* Jono instructed.
I climbed down the steps and stood behind him as he faced the staircase. The darkness was banished as he unwrapped his bandages, revealing a brilliant glow I doubted I could get used to. A thin tendril of energy extended upwards, towards the door, and ignited a very small explosion near the doorknob. Wow.
*Door's open. You're free to go.*
He sealed his inner flame, the darkness returning.
"Thank you," I said, and started up the stairs. But -- I hesitated. Only one thing could explain why he'd kept me in here. And maybe it was just my imagination, but best to check before I assumed things -- and so my heart wouldn't break when this false illusion was shattered.
*Gowon, get out of here.*
Go on, ask him. "Jono?"
*Wot?* he asked, exasperated and frustrated.
I could feel my heart racing, fingers cold and trembling as I tried to ask what I'd been so afraid to inquire before, and unable to read. "Do -- do you -- I mean, do you have -- do you like her?"
*I thought I already told yer -- *
"No. Not Paige." I swallowed, my throat tight.
" ... me."
*. . .*
"Just answer the question, yes or no."
*You're a friend, Jen.*
"Thanks," I said again -- I don't know why; it came out of nowhere -- and went up the stairs.
This time the door was open.