Condemned

Chapter 5: Scars

AN: really, this is two short chapters merged together- the first being 'scars', the second originally entitled 'fumes' (You'll see where the first would have ended by the '-' :)), but due to their length and the fact that they occur on the same day, i thought i'd merge the two. expect a change in tone, though...

The first chapter is rather tense, and the following... well, you'll see. I couldn't resist.

Chapter Five:

Scars

After leaving the doctor's cell, Bane leads me up the flights of stairs, along the twisting corridor and back to his own cell. We come to the door and I see that it's ajar. Bane stops dead for a second then moves forwards.

"Oh, gosh," I say, cursing myself, "I'm sorry, I was in such a rush I forgot to lock it-"

Sure enough, the key is steadfast in its lock.

Bane steps inside, obviously scanning the room to see whether or not anything has been taken- the room does look disturbed, and I feel something drop in my stomach. The books remain on the table, however, the pages of drawings and writings dispersed. Bane moves to them first, and begins rifling through- he seems to find whatever he is looking for and his shoulders relax.

"Nothing's been taken," he says.

How he can know this by such a quick scan I don't know, but he seems resolute in his conclusion. He bends to the floor, his face still grotesquely swollen, and lifts a rigid flap in the side of one of the boxes which serves at the table, and reaches his arm into the gap. He pulls out a bulky gather of rigid fabric, standing with it and stretching it out. He places it on his bunk and as I sit down on mine, I see that it is a belt of some kind.

Buckles and straps wind all around it, and though it is ill-made and worn, it looks as though it would withstand anything.

Bane bends his neck and pulls his beige shirt from over his head, revealing his muscular, rigid frame, which is a surprisingly deep colour for one who has spent the last god-knows how long at the bottom of a well.

I wonder how long he has been here, and think to ask, but as he turns to pick up the belt a whole new question comes to mind.

Directly down his spine runs an inch-wide scar, raised and ragged against his muscular back. The unsightly scar stops just below his waistband and disappears up into his hairline, which is parted slightly by it.

My girlish embarrassment at him being topless in front of me is nothing compared to the astonishment at his wound, and the words betray my mouth before I can even think to stop them.

"Bane, what happened?!"

He turns his head to me as if to question what I mean, but realisation catches him before he can ask.

"There was no rope," he says, folding his shirt, "when I made the climb."

"Oh my God," I say, imagining him falling from such a height. "When was this?"

"Years ago," he says. "It was my third attempt at climbing the wall. A mistake I won't be making again."

"What caused the scarring?" I ask quietly, and he laughs softly.

"The doctor had just begun to lose his eyesight at the time- and he was off his head on cleansing alcohol. As you can see, my back suffered for it."

"So was it- a slipped disc or-"

He coughs suddenly, and I see it as a sign he does not want to discuss this further. I get the message, knowing I'm already out of his good books for my failed intervention this morning, and resolve to shut up for a minute or two.

I watch as he pulls the belt around his lower back and starts fastening the straps. Once they are all secured, he raises his hand to his jaw and hisses. He sits down on the edge of the bed, eyes closed to brace the pain.

"Are you alright?" I ask in quiet concern.

He smiles slightly, though his face remains contorted.

"Not really," he answers, voice gravelled.

"Maybe it's a good job I came with my spatula," I smile, and he looks up at me, a hint of annoyance behind his eyes. I gulp slightly.

"Perhaps," he says, wincing in pain as he moves a hand across his face.

"Why were you even fighting?" I say, testing the waters. "You said it was a game- like, what, people take bets on who will win? What do you get if you do beat your opponent? There's nothing down here worth having, is there?"

"Not really- only respect."

"And that's how respect is earned down here?"

"Yes."

I shake my head slightly.

"You disagree with this method," Bane says.

"Yes, I do," I say assertively. He looks up to the ceiling, focusing on one of its metal bars.

"I- I don't want you getting hurt."

He frowns slightly and looks to the left, avoiding my watch.

"Don't worry about me," he says, rubbing the back of his thick neck.

There's a moment of silence, "I can't help it," I say, almost a whisper.

He holds my gaze for a long while, his expression slightly pained, eyebrows knitted together as though he's looking for something in my face but can't find it. I look away first, and he gives a long sigh.

"I'm going to get some food," he says.

"No, I'll go," I say, even though the prospect terrifies me, "you need to rest."

"Don't be stupid," he says, standing.

"I'm not being stupid," I defend, standing up to meet him, and reaching my hand out to his arm, "look at you- you're hurt, you've got to rest!"

"I've been through a lot worse, trust me," he says, putting a hand on one of the cell bars.

"Besides, this-" he circles his face with a pointed finger, "is nothing compared to what they'll do to you if you're out there alone, understand? You rest."

Before I can protest, he's pushed the key into the lock, shrugged off my protesting grip and forced the temperamental lock to yield. He slips out of the door, ignoring my protest, locks it through the bars and disappears.

I call after him a moment, but it quickly becomes apparent he has no intention of listening to a word I say. I groan in frustration and turn back to the room, then sink into the sheets of the bed. I mumble to myself childishly, quietly cursing the world and all its inhabitants.

I pull my hair back off my face and stare at the ceiling.

"I've done enough resting."

An hour or so later, he still hasn't returned. I take the opportunity to have a wash using the water in the metal basin which is kept in the bathroom, a drain drilled into the centre of the floor, creating a wet room.

I try reading a few snippets from the various holy books, but quickly become bored- without someone to properly explain their complexity, reading them bodes useless.

Darkness falls overhead and the bustling sounds of the prison fade, until there's only a small group of about twenty men sat in a circle at the centre of the prison; they collect around a crackling fire which casts golden light onto their silhouettes. They are swigging from glass bottles, and laughing heartily. I assume Bane is with them, and resolve to go to sleep, still annoyed with him for not being able to understand that I only meant well, or at least not finding this consoling enough.

But, I realise, the person I'm most annoyed with is myself. Not because I ran to his aid or because I was stupid enough to leave the door open, but because I lost control; a situation occurred and I didn't know how to handle it; I panicked, didn't think, and I can see that Bane hated it. I not only made myself look like an idiot, but him as well.

These thoughts stir in my head as I finally fall asleep.

I'm awoken hours later by a rattling at the door. I realise it's a hand through the bars, and jolt upright, relief singing over me when I find that it's Bane's arm, struggling in the dark to twist the old brass key in its stubborn lock. Once my eyes have better adjusted to the blackness, I get up and walk over, turning the key myself and managing to force it to yield.

I expect the same cold reception as earlier.

"Where have you been?" I ask smoothly, as though I were his mother or his wife.

"Socialising," he says, swaggering into the doorway.

"Where's the food?" I say, and Bane's expression falters. He turns out his pockets theatrically.

"I didn't get any." He expresses, clutching onto one of the bars of the cell.

"Food is what you went for in the first place," I say, frustrated as I try to ignore my hunger pains.

I watch his eyes, barely visible in the darkness, but I can see that they're unfocused. . It's at this point I clock on to the fact that he's intoxicated.

"You took the key with you," I say, placing it on the cardboard stack.

"Yes," he acknowledges, his words slightly slurred, "thought it'd save you having to get up again. Makes more sense, don't you think?"

"Yeah, I guess," I say sleepily, rubbing my eyes. "But it'll take you half an hour trying to open the door from the outside, why not just leave it here and I'll do it?"

"Because you might be asleep or you might choose to lock me out. Or even decide-" he giggles- "to try and save me when I'm fighting again."

I blush, and he laughs wheezily, taking the key from the cardboard tower with a fumbling hand and slipping it into his pocket.

"But-" I begin, but he raises his hand flamboyantly and says,

"My cell, my rules. Comprende?"

I think it over a second then give in. I doubt he'll remember this conversation in the morning anyway.

"Ci, signor."

He laughs; he's close, so close I feel his warm breath against my neck. I pull back from him slightly- the nauseating fumes of alcohol on his breath are unbearable.

"Jesus, what have you been drinking, mouthwash?!"

"Vodka," he says in a pronounced Russian accent, his head lolling slightly to the right, "at least, they told me it was vodka. But there might have been a bit of mouthwash in there, too. Gives it a kick..."

"why were you drinking?" I say, annoyed that he's let himself get in such a state; not even knowing what it is that's caused him to be this way.

"You know what they say," he slurs, "when the going gets tough, the tough get- pissed."

He laughs at himself, nuzzling his head closer to me as his frame fills the doorway.

"You're drunk," I say, shying backwards.

Still laughing, he raises his hands and takes my face in them, then brings his lips down upon my forehead and makes an over-exaggerated smacking sound. After a few seconds, he pulls back with a moonlit grin and laughs more.

"You're very drunk," I correct with an embarrassed smile, unable to hold it back regardless of my hard manner. I'm glad it's dark so that he can't see the blush in my cheeks. I pull away his hands awkwardly then turn and cross the room, then say with as much authority as I can muster, "come on, bedtime. You need your beauty sleep after this morning."

"Yes," he agrees with a contagious yawn, closing the door behind him and trying to lock it with fumbling hands.

"Give it here," I say, pulling the key from his grasp and locking the door. He hums to himself and wanders over to the bed, slumps down upon it and yawns again.

"Goodnight," I sigh, and he waves his hand in the air, mumbling something in a high-pitched voice, which deteriorates into a breathless giggle. I smile, and lie down on my own bed.

After a few minutes of silence, Bane suddenly jolts up. He springs to his feet and I roll to face him.

"What are you doing now?!" I say, sitting up in annoyance, and he pulls back the curtain which leads to the bathroom.

"I need- I need to shave!" he says.

"It's the middle of the night!" I cry, "and it's dark, you'll mess your face up even more!"

"I don't care, I'll be-"

He stops dead, and I hear his hands fumbling about the counter.

"What is it?" I say, getting out of bed, and he sighs with exaggerated anger.

"The bastards," he says. "The bastards took the soap. They took my soap!"

I wonder what he's talking about, but then remember leaving the door open earlier.

I smile and throw back my head. Half-asleep, I walk into the bathroom and take the cut-throat from the counter, taking it back into the main room and hiding it underneath the mattress of my cot, ultimately stopping the possibility of him accidentally slicing his jugular in a drunken shaving attempt.

"Where has it gone?" Bane says after a few seconds, not having noticed me moving the razor in his drunk state, "they've taken the razor as well!"

I smile and get back into bed.

"I'll find you one tomorrow," I say.

This seems to console him as he crawls back to the room and collapses onto the bed. Within minutes the silence is invaded by loud, lumbering snores of drunkenness. I roll over, folding the pillow over my head, to block out the tedious noise, trying to get to sleep.

There's a rasping across the metal of the cell bars and I groan in annoyance.

"What now?!" I moan, sitting upright and pulling the layer of skirt from over my head.

As my eyes adjust, I see a figure outside the bars.

"What?!" I demand in English, more careless than I usually am due to my non-drowsy state.

Bane shifts his head slightly, disturbed by the sound, but not so much that it stirs him from his alcohol-soaked slumber.

The man at the bars presses his finger to his lips in an attempt to get me to quieten down, and I stare at him fiercely, though I doubt he can see my expression when my face is highlighted only by the light of the dismal sky.

The man comes closer, and through the murkiness of the dark I am able to discern him making an obscene hand gesture against the bars which propositions something incredibly distasteful.

I give a frustrated cry which demonstrates my disgust, then show him an obscene hand gesture of my own, only mine propositions a very different thing.

I pull the blanket back over my head and bury myself away from the harsh realities of the waking world.

AN: well, wasn't that fun.

i couldn't resist getting Bane drunk- the idea came to mind and it wouldn't leave. There was a purpose to it, though, and that purpose was to show a little more humanity to this early bane- mainly the idea of him being, in some respects, similar to the other men of the prison- indulging in immediate pleasure (at least in this instance) in order to block out the harsh realities of life, tying in to the end of the chapter(s), and, of course, in showing how he is when intoxicated- far more careless, etc. - you'll be pleased to know all of that makes a whole lot more sense in my head.

Hope you liked it, feel free to mentally hit me with a mallet for getting Bane pissed. A hint of humor never goes amiss :D

R&R, best of luck in your daily lives, keep those eyes peeled for the next chapter!

...i've no idea what's going to happen there at the moment, but... i guess we'll find out ;)

lots of love!

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