The Problem with Mind Games Is that it Gets Hard to Tell When You’re Playing and When You’re Not
“I’d burn the field,” Henry said dully.
“The owners have professed loyalty to you, though,” Sam reminded him.
“Then they should understand that you need to kill that rebel,” Henry answered. “If burning their field is enough to shake their loyalty, they weren’t loyal enough anyway.”
Sam smiled a little. “Very good. You’ve gotten a lot better at this.”
“Thanks.” Henry was clearly not happy to have gotten better at making people fear him, but Sam didn’t care much about Henry’s happiness.
“I should go,” Sam said, standing and brushing off his pantlegs. “I’ll see you tomorrow, Henry.”
Sam paused, the tone in Henry’s voice making him turn. “What is it?” Henry had never made a point of extending their conversations before.
“Are you…doing okay?”
Sam blinked. “What?”
“Just…” Henry sighed. “This is probably just going to piss you off,” he muttered quietly. “The last few days you’ve seemed a little…down, is all.”
Frowning, Sam wondered what he had done that had given Henry that impression. Admittedly, he hadn’t been in the best mood lately, but he hadn’t been taking it out on Henry particularly. “You don’t need to pretend to care about my well-being, Henry,” Sam said after a moment. “You’re pretending you want what I do to you, that’s good enough.”
“I’m not pretending,” Henry insisted.
“Don’t lie until you’re better at it,” Sam advised, crouching in front of Henry again. “What do you really want?”
“God,” Henry whispered. “I don’t care, I just…nevermind.”
Sam smiled. “I like you better when you’re putting up a bit of a fight, Henry. I know you don’t care about me—so what is it really?”
“I do care about you, though,” Henry said, a little sharply. “You want me to tell the truth? Yeah, I don’t think much about your feelings except for how you’ll take them out on me today.”
“Fair enough.” That was about as far as Sam thought about other people’s feelings as well.
“But I do care about you—you’re the only way I’m getting out of here.”
“If I decide to let you out,” Sam mused, moving to sit beside Henry with his back against the wall.
“Careful,” Sam said, running a finger up Henry’s arm. “That sounded like an order. I don’t take well to being told what to do.”
“Fine.” Sam could hear Henry sigh again. “If you let me out. But it’s still my only chance. If you’re going to be in some…mood that’s going to change what you agreed to, I want to know.”
Seemed like Henry was getting a little of his fight back. That was good. “Do you remember me telling you about Todd?”
Henry was quiet for a minute. “The servant who you wanted to trick into liking you?”
“Yes, him.” Sam was a bit surprised that Henry did remember, actually. “I’ve been trying to be nice to him, like you said. It’s working, I think.”
“Of course it is,” Henry muttered. “People like it when you’re nice to them.”
“Funny, I remember you saying you liked it when I wasn’t nice to you.” Henry had said no such thing, but Sam wanted to hear what he would say.
Henry chose not to rise to that bait, which was clever. He really was getting smarter. “So what’s the problem, then?”
Sam closed his eyes for a minute. “He feels bad for me,” he said, finally. “Which I suspected, but…I told him I felt bad for him because of what’s happened to him—my father dismembered his parents in front of him or something, I don’t remember—and he said he felt bad for me too, because I had to grow up the way I did.” Sam was pretty sure he’d meant being blind in addition to his father, but Henry would get the point without that information.
“Maybe he was lying,” Henry said after a moment of silence in which Sam made it obvious he was waiting for Henry to say something. “I mean, you were lying.”
“I was,” Sam confirmed. “I…hate people feeling sorry for me, Henry. I hate it. I…I almost melted the skin off his hands when he said that.”
“But you didn’t?”
“No,” Sam said, a little annoyed with himself. He should have. “That wouldn’t have been very…nice. I told him I was fine and thanked him for worrying about me.”
“So am I,” Sam admitted. “I didn’t think I was capable of sounding like such an idiot.”
Henry snorted. “You really don’t get it, do you?”
“No.” Sam was at a loss. “I honestly don’t see the appeal. If someone was treating me the way I treat him, I’d be suspicious and try to figure out what they wanted, but…” He trailed off.
“And that’s what’s been bothering you?”
“Part of it.” Sam sighed, figuring he may as well tell Henry this part. “Dad’s starting making comments about how much time I spend down here.”
A dangerous quiet fell for a moment. “What kind of comments?”
“Just…he’s mentioned it. He wonders why you’re still alive. I think he’s probably guessed that I’ve been having sex with you.”
“You’ve been raping me, Sam.” Henry’s voice went pleasantly flat at that.
“That’s interesting, I could have sworn you begged me to do whatever I wanted,” Sam said, tapping his finger against Henry’s thigh. “That seems a lot like consent to me.”
“That’s because you’re psychotic,” Henry mumbled.
“Don’t push your luck,” Sam advised, removing his hand. “Anyway, I think he knows. Remember how I said he sends me girls sometimes? He hasn’t in quite a while.”
“Is that going to be a problem for you?” Henry asked, and Sam thought he sounded curious more than anything.
“I’m not sure. I don’t…think he would care that much that I like boys.” Though Sam wasn’t entirely sure about that. “But on the other hand, he likes having reasons to make me feel like shit, so…”
“You’d think he’d be nicer to the only kid he’s got left here.”
Sam smiled grimly. “Oh, make no mistake. He has no intention of letting me inherit anything.” Otherwise why would Sam need to overthrow him? “All of us are disappointments in that regard.”
“What does that mean?”
“He has a weapon that he tried to bind to my soul when I was born. It didn’t work—me and my living siblings are all lucky in that we survived the process. Or so I’m told.”
Sam waited, to see what Henry would do with that information. “What kind of weapon?” he asked after a minute.
“No, that’s enough family secrets for one day, I think.” Sam could have told Henry about the stone, as it wasn’t like he could do anything about it, but he would rather not. “Anyway, Dad likes to break things that make me happy, so he might try to kill you soon.”
“Don’t worry,” Sam said, and he leaned over and gave Henry a kiss on the cheek. “If he kills you it will be because he killed me first.” Honestly Sam didn’t know what he would do if Dad decided to kill Henry tomorrow. A part of him was afraid that he would just stand there and let him. Not because he cared about Henry, but because of what that would mean for Sam’s own commitment to killing Dad.
“And I’ll still be just as dead.”
“That’s right.” Sam smiled. “You’re starting to think more like me. Just like with asking me how I felt because it affected you.”
“You’re the one who says I’m getting better,” Henry grumbled, sounding miserable.
“And I was right. If Dad starts making more noise about you I may just have to attack him earlier than I planned. I’ll let you know.” He had no specific plan to attack Dad at the moment, but Henry didn’t need to know that.
Sam stood, stretched. “I feel better.” He was a little surprised that that was true.
“Glad I could help.”
Sam hadn’t said anything about Henry helping, but that was fine. “Thank you for asking,” he said. “Even if it was motivated by selfishness, it was a nice thing to do.”
“Some of us don’t have to make an effort to be nice.”
Smiling, Sam shook his head and headed for the cell door. He didn’t mind that Henry was talking to him like that, really. There was nothing wrong with Henry thinking he was softening Sam up. “You…” Henry started, then trailed off.
“I assumed you were going to hurt me, for talking to you that way.”
But even having thought that, Henry had still talked to Sam that way. Sam nearly laughed. “No. You sounded more like me today than you ever have. Consider it a reward. Goodnight, Henry.”
Henry was quiet for a long time, and Sam could practically hear him thinking. “Goodnight, Sam,” he said, finally realizing Sam was waiting.
Sam wondered as he left if he was being too obvious. It seemed like Henry had fallen for it too easily, but surely he couldn’t be that stupid. Surely he knew that Sam was playing with him.
He might have to test soon, try and get Henry to admit what he really thought.