Kindness Is An Ongoing Decision and A Constant Activity
“You know they’re probably not going to let you in to see him,” said Sir Anthony, as he and Greg walked down to the palace’s dungeons.
Greg wasn’t sure if they really smelled this bad or just reminded him of the basement where he’d used to sleep, but he took a breath, shut his eyes for a step, and kept walking after he’d opened them. “I think they will,” he said quietly.
“Dangerous prisoners aren’t usually allowed to see people,” Anthony told him gently. “And Drew is dangerous.”
Greg knew that. Drew had been arrested for being the secret leader of a mind control cult. But everyone who’d looked at him said he didn’t have mind control powers anymore. Greg didn’t know how long he’d had them or what he’d used them for. But he wanted to make sure Drew would be okay, because his mind had been controlled too and almost everyone seemed mostly worried about the things he’d done and not the things that had been done to him.
“I know,” said Greg, to answer Anthony. But he kept going. “I think they’ll let me see him.”
“Okay,” said Anthony, as they walked by some cells. They were rooms with doors, not real cages. But they were cages. Some of them had people in them. Greg tried not to look at them. He didn’t know what any of them had done, but he didn’t like the idea of people being in cages.
At the end of the dungeon was a different room with a taller door, where Greg knew that Admiral Elias Aerchon was being held. But Greg stopped partway there, in front of the only room that had a guard standing in front of it. “Hello,” said Greg. “I’d like to go in and see Drew, please.”
“Sorry, can’t let you in,” said the guard. He was very tall and looked mean, but that was just because it was his job to look mean. “The prisoner is dangerous.”
“The prisoner’s name is Drew of House ven Sancte, and I want to speak with him,” said Greg, though his heart was beating so fast it was making his throat hurt.
“And I can’t let you do that. Turn around and go upstairs.”
Behind him, Anthony sighed, but quietly.
Greg straightened, breathing the bad smell of the dungeons in, then exhaling it. He shifted the way he was standing so that his posture was kind of like Grey Rain’s, and he put on the face that Gavin used when he was saying no to someone. “No,” Greg explained.
“I don’t want to listen. I am a prince and I want you to listen to me. It’s very important to me that I be allowed to speak with Drew for a few minutes. Sir Anthony is a knight, and he will come with me. You can wait right outside the door to make sure Drew doesn’t hurt us. I understand that you’re doing your job. Thank you for trying to keep me safe, but if you don’t open the door for me I’m going to ask my parents to have you reassigned.”
Greg had been expecting to be shaking after that. He was sweating a little, but that was it. He felt fine, mostly. He was very warm. Was this how Owen and Gavin and Grey Rain felt all the time?
The guard looked down at him a moment, then looked at Anthony, and then he looked back at Greg, and then sighed. “Okay. Just a few minutes, and don’t touch him. He doesn’t talk anyway.”
Greg nodded. “Thank you,” he said, as the guard unlocked the door.
Inside the cell it was dark, but Anthony’s torch lit up Drew, sitting in the corner, chained to a wall by manacles around his ankles. He was hugging his knees and didn’t look up or move when Greg came in. He just kept staring at the ground.
Greg came in and crouched in front of him. “Hello, Drew. Are you okay?”
Drew didn’t say anything. Beside him was a tray of food, which he hadn’t eaten. Greg nodded. “I know you’re not doing well. You don’t have to talk if you don’t want to. I wanted you to know that Gavin and Owen understand that you weren’t in control of yourself, and that the things you did weren’t your fault. They just want to know what happened; they don’t want to hurt you.”
Greg didn’t like it when people stared at him to see what was wrong, so he tried not to look too closely at Drew. It didn’t seem like Drew was listening, but he was pretty sure Drew could hear him. “I’d like to help you too. I know it doesn’t seem like you can get better with the way you feel right now. But you can, eventually. I promise.”
“I tried to use my powers on Grey Rain,” Drew said, lips barely moving. Greg felt a chill. “Didn’t work. But I tried. I’d have turned him into a sex slave if I could. You too.”
Every muscle in Greg’s upper body was tensed, but he made himself talk. “No, you wouldn’t have,” he said. “Lyren would have. You would have just been doing what he wanted.”
“We wanted the same thing.”
“I think Lyren made you believe that was true.”
Drew didn’t move, but Greg saw him withdraw again, fading back into himself. He wasn’t going to talk anymore, or listen anymore. Greg wouldn’t if it were him. So he stood up. “I’ll come back and see you again. If you ever want to talk, ask the guards to call for me and I’ll come down.”
Drew didn’t answer, but Greg had known he wouldn’t. He left the cell, watching the guard close the door behind him. The lock clicked firmly. “He isn’t going to try and escape,” said Greg. “He’s not dangerous.”
“Not for us to decide, sir,” said the guard.
Greg nodded, and turned to leave the dungeon. “Give him a torch or a lantern. He doesn’t need to hear voices in the dark.” And he walked away.
“You did well,” Anthony told Greg, walking closely behind him. “I was really impressed with how you stood up to that guard.”
“Thank you,” Greg said, throat tight.
“He was just trying to upset you, you know.” Anthony’s voice was calming to listen to. “Sometimes when people are hurting, they just want people to go away, and they’ll say anything to make that happen.”
“Yeah,” Greg said, starting up the stairs out of the dungeon. “I know. It worked, a little bit. But I’ll be okay.” It wouldn’t have been Drew turning him and Grey Rain into slaves again. It wouldn’t have been Drew. Drew wouldn’t do that.
Greg didn’t really know Drew. He’d never met Drew before he’d been mind controlled. He didn’t know what Drew would do.
“Hey there.” Greg looked up and saw Ian, holding a tray with food on it. “You going down to see Drew?”
Greg shook his head. “I was just down there. Are…are you?” He must have been, right? But what if he wasn’t? Maybe he hated Drew like everyone else, and maybe he was standing there right now hating Greg for going down to see him.
“Yeah. I kind of figure it’s a good idea for him to see someone he knows, so he doesn’t think we all hate him. And our cooks make better food than what they normally feed prisoners.”
“Right,” said Greg, relieved. He decided not to tell Ian that Drew wasn’t eating. “That’s very thoughtful of you.”
“It was just as thoughtful when it was your idea,” Ian said, which made Greg look up. “I thought so. You and I both know that sometimes people do things they don’t want to. I think we both also know that some things that hurt can be for the best.”
“I don’t think anything Drew did was for the best,” Greg whispered.
“I was talking about the fact that putting him in a dungeon hurts us.” Ian shrugged. “And him. But it is for the best, for now. Just like him talking to us would be for the best. Even if it hurts him.”
Greg knew that was right, but he didn’t think he wanted to say it. “It’s hard…to ask someone to hurt themselves because it’s for the best.” He wasn’t sure it was ever okay to ask someone that.
“I know. But sometimes we have no choice.” Ian smiled sadly. “Anyway, I should take this down to Drew while it’s still hot. Maybe he’ll even eat it this time.”
Greg didn’t think he would, but he moved out of Ian’s way. “Thank you, Ian.”
“Thank you, Greg.” Greg held the door and Ian went down the stairs.
“He’s a bit of a weird one,” Anthony remarked, as he and Greg headed back for the apartment.
“I think he’s very kind,” said Greg.
“Yeah. I think you are too, kid.”
Maybe, Greg thought. But mostly he was just tired of people being hurt.
2 thoughts on “Slavery, 94”
“Dangerous” my ass. Victim-blaming is an ugly thing. The more so when the victim believes it themself.
It really is. Thank Cal that Drew has at least Greg to stand up and insist that he’s a victim too, because he very clearly is.