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by: Justin McDowell
Friday, 6 April 2012
12:00 p.m.

He didn't want to. Justin didn't want to stand from his spot in the corner of his cell. He wasn't altogether convinced he could do so even if he wanted to. He'd grown accustomed to sitting there, moving only to catch the snippet of food shoved beneath his cell door before the rats got it or to use the restroom. It had been ten days since he had physically seen another living soul. He'd heard murmurs and screams and yelling down the hall, seen guards run down to quiet whoever it was, but he hadn't seen a person face-to-face, kind or otherwise. Yet here he was, another human being on the other side of the spell.

"C'mon now, you ain't th' bloody spider, but you 'ave to come back up the spout. Can't 'ave ya rottin' away in 'ere. Orders up high. We've found yer group."

Justin looked at Sark and let his hands fall apart from the crawling spider motion of the well-known nursery rhyme. Was he telling the truth? Had they found the Syndicate? Were they doing anything about it? Could they go free?

Except they'd never go free. Justin's face fell from the more curious, animalistic look with which he'd regarded Sark. They'd never be free again until they died.

"'fraid that don't mean much for th' likes o' you. You're to get the kiss soon. 'ave no need for ya now." Sark seemed much too pleased with the sob that wracked Justin's body at that.

"Please! Please...you can have me, but let her go!"

Sark laughed even harder at that. "You still living in a fantasy world, boy?" he jeered. "Ain't no one gettin' off this island alive, not with yer crimes. Treason, they was. And criminals must pay. Get up! If yer lucky, yer girlfriend will be there to say g'bye one last time."

Justin swallowed, standing gingerly and staggering toward the cell. He presented his hands before Sark could even ask, and it took much longer than the guard wanted to get to the mess hall. At least, everything Sark said and did on the way suggested as much. But Justin was limping, favoring the leg they had injured which had only grown stiff with lack of use. He fell into the nearest bench, not caring to notice if anyone else was there.
Liam looked up. Another prisoner had snapped him out of his daze, a boy, and one he didn’t recognize. Even though he didn’t have many friends, with Whyatt gone and now Eric too, he managed to remember faces. He’d been in here so long he knew the prisoners pretty well, what made them tick, what they were in for, and some personal details he didn’t care to know but knew them anyway for leverage’s sake. This kid, however, was new. The thing is, he didn’t look new, he looked like he’d been dragged through hell, starved some, and then dragged again.

”You alright?” He asked, coming off as semi-concerned only because he’d become so hardened after all this time. ”You look like shit.”

He wasn’t wanting to insult the kid, he was just being honest. Liam couldn’t help but notice the way he had held himself, too. Sark must have given this poor thing a real work-over, wherever the hell he came from. If he wasn’t from cell-block D and he wasn’t with the rest of the population, this kid must have come from somewhere deeper, and darker inside of Azkaban, which meant some real trouble.
Justin didn't look up at first until the man spoke again. He'd had no intention of engaging in conversation. It seemed such a waste to even be here, to eat, to converse. If he was to receive the kiss anyway, then what was the point? They may as well let him rot. They very nearly had as it was. Justin rolled his eyes a bit. "You're no bonny lad yourself," he retorted, hoping perhaps he'd be left alone if he seemed stand-offish. It seemed unlikely. The guards hadn't wanted to leave him alone. That old, chatty prisoner man Derrin or whatever hadn't wanted to leave him alone until he'd suddenly decided to. Why would this one want to?

Justin looked down to the food that appeared and grabbed the spoon, again trying to exercise restraint. He hadn't eaten much of what they'd slid into his cell the past few days. Why should he eat now? But if he didn't try to eat, he'd be put back in the dank cell. So he had to eat if he wanted to stay out. So much for starving himself to death. Maybe just a few bites.
Liam pulled his head back with a semi-impressed smirk as he nodded at the boy. He had already started in on his food, maybe two or three spoons in, imagining a bowl of brussel sprouts to keep the humor in the awful meal as if the uniquely funny spirit of his old friend were still around. ”They give you a once-over or you fancy a sleepover with the Dementors, kid?” Liam asked.

If the boy pushed back at him, he wouldn’t keep trying too hard. While friends were hard to come by, enemies were made quickly if you were too persistent. He scooped another bite, ”You get used to it after a while. You look like you haven’t eaten in weeks.” He offered the rock solid piece of bread they gave him on the line, and nodded at him to let him know it was safe. He wasn’t here to sabotage anyone and he legitimately felt awful for the weary young man.
Justin shrugged and sighed giving the man a pointed look. He didn't want to think about the Kiss he'd be receiving soon if Sark's words were to be trusted. Much less did he want to think about the fact that likely meant Lissa was getting one herself. His days were numbered to a number he wasn't knowledgeable of, and it honestly made him feel mixed emotions. It would be a relief to not sit in a cell day in and day out, to not feel the pain of hunger, to no longer feel anything. He almost wished they would move it up.

As the man offered him some bread, Justin shook his head. "Don't need it. They're giving me the Kiss soon," he said through his bite of food. "Seems my life is no longer necessary."
Liam sat up straight. It was like an icy cold washed over him, a pale numbness that struck him as soon as the boy mentioned The Kiss. He knew exactly what that meant, but it didn't make it any easier to swallow. He couldn't believe it. "Merlin... He whispered. He carefully eyed the boy, meek, already on the verge of the last threads of life, it seemed. It was no wonder he was in low spirits.

"What are you due for? What did you..." He couldn't even finish his sentence, he was so taken aback. Liam knew he was in for a 'hefty crime', being locked away in solitary, the subject of some unconventional means of questioning and he even had the rights for visitors taken away from him--not that he had visitors anyway, but they had only threatened to use the Kiss on him and that was long ago.

He left the bread where it lie, hoping the boy would reconsider.
Justin snorted. They wouldn't have wanted him to tell anyone back when he was first captured. Kept him away from the general populace for that reason and to keep him from finding any source of encouragement. There was no way on earth that they would have wanted anyone to know either. He was seventeen. No one liked to think of a seventeen-year-old in trouble.

"Running with SAVIOR. Never mind I have no real idea what they do aside from what makes the papers," he replied with an eye roll. "Took my girlfriend to meet her mam. Hasn't seen her in a few years since...everything... and they were all there." At least he'd been able to keep things secret enough about the Syndicate. Unless Lissa had managed to let something slip and that was why they were so convinced he knew something. "Either way, girlfriend was an escaped slave. Even if..." Well, he wasn't going to out Professor Conleth now, after all this time.
"Savior..." Liam echoed. He had only heard of them, but never looked into it. His wife was the head of the Order, or at least one of them, and even though it would have been smart to learn more about the others, Liam was barely getting a handle on what to do with the Order itself so he deemed that more important than anything else. He didn't know what there was to say, other than give him the satisfaction of a hm, or grunt to acknowledge what he'd said, to show him that he'd been listening. The poor kid looked so worn down he somehow wished there was something more for him to offer, to help or anything else.

"Merlin," Liam whispered. "And your organization, no one has come to help you? Or..." It was a curious question, even if it did sound stupid. As young as he was, he had to be resourceful, right? There wasn't a soul who could help him out of here? Out of the way of the Kiss?
Justin glanced at Liam. "Why would they? How would they? It's not like we run with them anyway." He'd told his captors that much, but they hadn't believed him, potentially because he couldn't say who they ran with instead, but the vow? He wasn't about to break it, though it would have been so easy to just say it and die, to escape the torment. Perhaps he could say it to this man. Let him ask, tell him he can't tell, make him promise in a convincing enough way, say it, then... It would be easy, but then what of Lissa? Without guarantee of her safety, he couldn't simply allow himself to die.
Liam didn't know what to do...or say...

This poor sap looked like hell as it was. He seemed like he was rejecting any sort of kinship Liam had to offer, which was rare as it was since his two only friends had left him recently. But for some reason, he felt compelled to stay. He had some food left anyway, so he started slowing down with his meal. Until it was time to lock them back up, he wasn't going to dismiss himself.

There were plenty of other 'seasoned' veterans in the prison, and they would be caught in their cells, not giving a damn about anything around them, even when people got unruly. Prisoners would argue, fight, bloody themselves before guards showed up--and the veterans often stayed back and minded their business. Liam wasn't one of them. He was tall enough and had enough respect from the crowds he could snuff out a potential tussle if someone wanted to have at the dying lad. It was the noble thing to do, right?
Justin almost laughed at how quickly that shut the man up. He didn't really care, did he? Just like Justin didn't care what this man's story was. It didn't matter, getting to know someone when you knew what your sentence was. It didn't matter when you knew this was perhaps one last ditch attempt to get something from him before they offed him. They had already tried, he suspected. The old man who had been to lunch with him and Lissa the one time they tried to use the sight of each other to break them seemed awfully suspicious, awfully chatty, for someone who spent days on end surrounded by doom and gloom and Dementors so numerous the sun hardly seemed to shine.

Justin sighed as he pushed his food away. He was feeling sick from what little he had eaten. He cast the bloke across from him a sideways look before standing. "Take me back," he told them. "Take me back. I don't wanna be here."


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