sean_montgomery (sean_montgomery) wrote,

Underground - Chapter Twenty-Five - Plan

There was darkness… complete echoing darkness that surrounded everything that he was - thoughts, emotions, discernment of feeling… all gone, wasted in the darkness… nothing strong enough to pull him out of the ever-reaching darkness that utterly consumed him… echoing noises, loud clinks, but nothing beyond the darkness… the great black emptiness that stretched for miles and miles and consumed him, consumed his hope and crushed it in the darkness, took his memories and flooded it in the darkness, took the last ounce of his resolve and forced it into the darkness… no chance for perseverance or resolve in the utter darkness…



Numbing darkness…



For the briefest moment, Richard had enough strength to jerk his arm back against his body, recoiling from the sting that traveled from his elbow to his shoulder. The moment after, though, made him realize that his wrists where digging further and further into the wire, cutting into what little flesh was still there. He hissed, then froze; every part of him ached – staying still didn’t resolve anything…

Oddly enough, though, he felt stronger than he had in a long time. His mouth wasn’t as dry as he last thought it was, nor did the muscles in his neck ache quite as badly. Opening his eyes didn’t sting as much, and his head wasn’t pounding for the first time in weeks…

For the second time in mere moments, he froze; Hendrick was squatting next to him, holding a compress to the bruised skin of his elbow. The sting wasn’t from pressure – quite the contrary, it seemed to be an antistatic of some kind. Instead of pain, he felt soothed. Comforted, even.

“What are you doing to me?” Richard whispered, surprised to hear his voice strong after hearing it strained for so many days.

“Tending your wounds,” was the simple answer. Hendrick gently removed the compress and observed the bruised and scabbed skin for a moment. “I’m sure your body appreciates the attention. Don’t worry – you got some water before I started all of this. That should explain why you feel so much better.”

Richard swallowed, and the feeling as almost luxurious. It seemed like his dry throat and parched voice was a mere memory. He hissed again when Hendrick placed the compress on the broken skin of his wrists, the flesh burning with the movement and antistatic. “This area might be infected,” he heard Hendrick mutter, noting how the man was carefully observing every wound and movement. He left the compress there and pulled out a strip of gauze, placing it on Richard’s elbow and taping it in place.

Richard had a memory strike him, and his voice was filled with a quiet fury. “I want the nightgown back,” he growled.

Hendrick smirked at him but said nothing, merely moving to take care of Richard’s left hand.

“I know you can hear me, Hendrick. You put that nightgown back in that bag and in my sight.”

“You’re asking for a lot, you know. All I want is a piece of information, and you’re asking for me to stop taking care of your family and to return an article of clothing. Very small in light of the fact that you were fighting for your life hours ago, don’t you think?”

“You stay away from them.”

“Why? Don’t you want reassurance that they’re doing all right? I hear Miss Lane is getting her cast off soon.”

“You broke into our house and stole something from us. I swear to God, if you do that again…”

“I have no plans to take anything else from Miss Lane or your boy. The nightgown was a sudden idea that struck me.” For a moment, Hendrick’s eyes gleamed with a thought. “I’ll bet she’s wondering where it is about now.”

“I’ll bet that’s the least of her worries.”

The two men stared at each other. Richard glared at his captor, the look intensifying when Hendrick simply smirked back. “You shouldn’t underestimate someone like Lois. She’s more determined than your average woman.”

“Agreed. Any woman who wins a Pulitzer for an article about why the world doesn’t need the biggest story Metropolis has is obviously a woman not to be trifled with. Tell me, was she really as involved with Superman as the article ‘I Spent The Night With Superman’ implies?”

Richard nearly growled. He knew from the moment he first awoke in this room that keeping his family out of conversation was as important as staying alive, but the growing fury that demanded he defend them was hard to ignore. Instead, he clenched his jaw and kept silent.

Hendrick grinned and stood, taking the compress with him. “I didn’t think you’d be in the mood for conversation. How foolish of me to expect it at this point.” Walking to the large crate that had the brown bag – and now a small white medical kit – atop it, Hendrick continued, “If you’re curious, while you were out, you were fed the contents of a sixteen ounce bottle of water. You also got another shot, but not to worry – this one was filled with all of the vitamins and minerals your body desperately needs and has been denied during your stay here. I’m surprised you didn’t wake up then, but then again, I guess pain is enough to wake up anyone. The wound in your elbow must be deeper and more sensitive than I had originally thought.”

“Why does it matter to you? Why don’t you leave me here to rot?”

Hendrick turned and leaned his tall frame against the crate. “Allow a guest in my company to be mistreated? Mr. White, you might see me as nothing more but a ruthless man, but I have always considered myself a gentleman. You might see yourself in a life-or-death situation, but I see this as… a gathering of brilliant minds. You don’t pursue a woman like Lois Lane for nothing.”

“And you don’t kidnap a reporter for no good reason, either. What are you really after here, Hendrick? Money? Fame? There’s got to be more than this information you claim I have.”

“Spoken like a true reporter. I’m very impressed with you, Mr. White; I must admit it. Your durability has been nothing but amazing.”

Richard released a breathy chuckle. “And you want me to believe you had nothing to do with that? The way I figure it is, the stuff you inject me with has vitamins and nutrients in it. There’s no way I could have survived this long unless you were giving me something to keep me alive.”

Hendrick nodded his head with a toothy grin. “Very good, very good. Shall I allow you to continue revealing your secrets, or would you like me to give you another piece of the puzzle?”

“Screw your puzzle. Your puzzle sucks.”

To Richard’s surprise, Hendrick laughed. “But you’re only looking at the picture the way you want it to be, Mr. White. If you’d only allow me to broaden your horizons. If I could just give you a taste of what my picture looks like. It’s a broad scope – a grand scale. Five thousand pieces. Intricate. And it’s very important to me that I know the whereabouts of every single piece. You know how frustrating it is to have every single piece in place but one, don’t you? All I need to know is where your piece belongs.”

Richard rolled his eyes. “What is it with you and puzzles?”

“Don’t change the subject, Mr. White. I might be good enough to clean your wounds and keep you alive, but I am known for my temper.”

“You’ll be remembered for your impatience if I ever get out of here. Do you know what kind of scandal I can put under your name? There’s a reason I’m an editor of the International section of the Daily Planet.”

“But what do you have to work with, Mr. White? A name? You have no idea where you are, how long you’ve been here, or what this corporation is about. I would love to congratulate you for your creativity, but I’m afraid the basis for which you plan this article is rather… flat.”

“Didn’t you just say you were impressed with me? I’m not stupid. I know how to look up names. I know your background. I know the name Underground. That should be enough.”

“That could only get you so far, though. Think about it, sir – it’s going to be very difficult to uncover this mystery if you don’t know where to begin.”

“I can start in Europe. Your accent tells me that much. England, maybe?”

“Perhaps. Entertain me. What else can you guess?”

Richard took a moment to look around the familiar room, seeing nothing more than the large crates and the man before him. “I could guess that you ship things, but I don’t really know what it is.” He glanced at the gauze wrapped around his elbow. “Since your father was a drug lord, I’m going to guess drugs. Some… hallucinogen, maybe. But you're patching me up and taking care of me because you think I have answers I haven't given you yet.”

Hendrick’s expression never faltered. “Go on.”

Richard took another look around the room, and then finally shook his head. “I can’t tell you what the drugs are because I don’t know. I do know that you murdered your father, and you’re wasting your time. Everything I know you’ve either told me, or I’ve seen from this room. I don’t know about Underground, or where your base is, or where you ship to, or anything!”

Hendrick coolly stared back at Richard, his eyes glassy and unreadable. After a moment, the drug lord sighed and shook his head. “Do you realize how profoundly difficult you’re making this on me and yourself?”

“This isn’t difficult for you, Hendrick. You’re not the one tied to a chair. Why don’t you go back to your little room and play with that nightgown all you want? ‘Cause the truth is, you’re never going to have my family, and you’re not going to stay in control for long. Someone, somewhere, is going to snuff you out, and before you know it, you’re going to find yourself in my position, only you’ll have fifty thousand volts going through you.”

Hendrick’s eyes widened. “Mr. White! Such harsh words coming from a family man.”

Richard gave Hendrick a feral smile. “Heh. Those are just words. Get me out of this chair, and I promise you I could do a lot worse with my bare hands. Family does that to you.”

To Richard’s surprise, Hendrick’s once fury-ridden eyes became fogged over, as if the drug lord was lost in a memory. He didn’t allow himself to dwell on his thoughts for long, though. The familiar cold stare returned. “Indeed. I know what you mean.” Slowly, he uncrossed his arms and walked to the lone seat, squatting in front of Richard. “How about I allow you to have an exclusive interview, then? Any answer you want, any question you want to ask – within reason.”

“What’s the point of having an exclusive if the rules are within reason?”

“Well said. How about I just tell you more about my story?”

“What’s the point of that?”

Hendrick smiled. “Good question. Tell me, Mr. White – what is the point of that?”

For a split second, Richard was ready to return a witty remark that would surely make Hendrick nothing more than a walking, talking being of fury. It was the small smile, though – the disarming, almost pleasant smile – that threw Richard off. It almost seemed like Hendrick knew something Richard didn’t, a new little secret that he had under his sleeve all along. The answer to it had to be found in their dialogue. Maybe Hendrick had been dropping clues to him all along, and he’d been too ignorant to realize it. Frantically, Richard tried to remember everything Hendrick had ever said to him, but it was hard to know how often Hendrick had talked to him while Richard was drugged. Maybe some of his dreams had an answer in them that was going to take more time than he had to discover. From what he could recall instantly, Hendrick had only ever spoken about his business and his family. The man had to be more intelligent than he was letting on. If he was working so hard to keep Underground secret, he must have loads of practice keeping people quiet…

Suddenly, Richard came to a conclusion that made his eyes widen in terror. Hendrick misread him. “Is the answer really that shocking to you?”

His blood ran cold. Staring back at the confused brown eyes, dreading the answer almost as much as the question, Richard whispered, “You’re going to kill me, aren’t you?”

Hendrick blinked back, his brows lifting. “You just now figured that out?” He gave Richard another smile, this one filled with amusement. “I thought that was obvious from the beginning.”

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