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Metamorphosis

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Liza Snow knows without looking that Jason doesn't hear her crying.

 

She can't decide which hurts worse: the actual pain, or the realization that she went to bed with her boyfriend, and ended up with a stranger breaking down her boundaries, using her. The words he'd said, his tone, that name he’d hissed as they both crashed and twisted together, locked in the throes of some dark, passionless, violent act...

 

When sleep takes him, Liza is too afraid of him to move. Him, Jason, or whoever the fuck he thinks he is now, Liza just can’t wrap her mind around it anymore. Her insides hurt. She is afraid that the sticky wetness she feels dripping down her legs is not just cum.

 

She can’t move. She can’t sleep like he can, dreaming deeply beneath the spell of his jungle fever. Pain racks her body for hours and hours. She feels like her bones will shatter at the slightest twitch.

 

Rrrrrmm.

 

Liza can’t place the noise at first. For a moment, she wants to believe it is the world ending, and the peace it brings her to imagine the entire universe crumbling buys her a moment of serenity.

 

It doesn’t last.

 

Rrrrrrrmm.

 

She realizes she’s hearing the phone given to her by that showy, dramatic agent. Mr. CIA. ‘Pass this on to Jason when you see him,’ the man had said. When they’d met in Dr. Earnhardt’s gazebo, Willis appearing like an apparition, Liza gamely fighting back a heart attack, he’d reminded Liza of her old professors at UCLA, with their long hair and their good stories about good drugs and good shows. A total Woodstock kid, suited up and close-shaved for the new century. She remembers how easily she’d come around with him, how sweet it was to melt into his comforting embrace.

 

Most of all, she remembers the shock of a revelation. ‘Your boyfriend’s brother is alive.’

 

He might as well have said, ‘The cycle will continue. This bloodshed will never end.’

 

Her eyes frantically dart to Jason’s sleeping form beside her. He hasn't moved.

 

Rrrrrmmm.

 

"Don't call anymore," Liza rasps into the phone. She hears Willis on the other end of the line, surprised.

 

"Jason is gone," she insists, cutting him off. "Gone. Tell Riley I'm sorry."

 

Slowly, painfully, she drags herself to her knees. Her back is woefully arched and too tense to straighten, her shoulders rolling forward no matter how she twists her pain-wracked body. The flesh scrapes off her knees as she crawls to the water lapping at the rocky shore of their cavern hideout.

 

The phone flashes. New voicemail.

 

Her own twisted reflection in the pool reveals her tear-soaked face and shaking hands, fighting herself as she agonizes over the urge to end it all now. She can drop the cell in the water. Jason will never know, and if Jason never knows, Jason will be free of this place. They can leave. They can heal. They can get better.

 

She can see another reflection rising up behind her own. It grows larger and larger, revealing a man who is reaching out his hands. On the other side of the mirrored pool, in reality, Jason is grabbing at her wrists, dragging her away from the water. Her knees skid painfully across the rough terrain. Jason coldly shows no signs of remorse.

 

"My brother is alive and you knew." He sounds much calmer than she would have anticipated. He sounds way too calm.

 

"My brother is alive and you knew."

 

She struggles, but Jason is strong. He grabs her other arm, pulling her to her feet with a solid yank, his dark eyes a hair’s breadth away from her own.

 

"YOU KNEW MY BROTHER WAS ALIVE AND YOU DIDN'T SAY A FUCKING WORD."

 

"How could you?"

 

Now, there is activity in the other tents. Their friends had been silent, their tents as quiet as tombstones even as Jason wrenched her around, pushed her down, and defiled her. Liza had no doubt that they had been tempted to intervene; Daisy especially was always there for her when Jason was in his moods.

 

But this is different. Jason isn’t just Jason anymore. Liza isn’t sure he’s still Jason at all.

 

Ollie never makes it out. Liza sees Daisy peeking through the entrance to her tent, wondering if it’s appropriate to stick her nose into this spat.

 

Liza is in so much pain. She is so afraid that she cannot move. She knew, eventually, deep down inside, that he'd find out about Willis and his lock on Riley’s location. It was only a matter of time.

 

"The government is taking care of it," she says without affectation, without tone, without a voice, really. She’s too terrified to lie, so she tells the truth. "They want you to get involved. I thought that was a bad idea."

 

"You don't get to make that decision for me." Jason punctuates each harsh word with a piercing, stinging strike to her face. Liza is beginning to realize that he had been gentle with her before.

 

Now Jason doesn’t care if their friends give a shit or not -- he’s done with them, with all their sitting around, with their worrying, with their status quo, with pretending for them. He doesn’t doubt that they know it already too, even without him saying it out loud.

 

"If any of you other fuckers knew, you'd better stay quiet. Get the fuck off this island and never come back. I'm done"

 

Jason waits with eyes that are black with rage and a chest that cannot stop heaving. His ears strain, trying to pick up anymore inane comments the rest of the crew might have. He is looking for any reason to keep on venting, the anger inside of him building and building the longer he remains in their company.

 

"Hand me the phone, Liza." None of the Jason that Liza knew before remains in his steely glare. For the first time, Liza truly wonders if Jason will kill her.

 

Their friends are filing out of the woodwork now. Liza doesn't care. She doesn't care that she's standing there, naked and bruised with a phone in her hand, held back and out of Jason’s reach. What does she have left to be afraid of?

 

Burning in flames? Been there. Raped -- body and soul? Done that.

 

Liza holds out the phone -- then tosses it over Jason's head. The splash it makes feels more satisfying to her than any audition, any call, any review.

 

"Maybe you want to tie me to a chair," she says quietly. That she can speak up with Jason looking at her like that grants her confidence she did not know she had. "Maybe you want to set me on fire too."

 

"Vaas," she snarls. She feels Daisy reaching out for her. She steps away before anyone can touch her.

 

"Oh you bitch." Liza knows that if stares could kill, she would be in a million pieces by now. As it is, Jason’s eyes burn right into her. "You deserve everything that happened to you. And what's worse, in an hour, you're going to realize that too. But right now, go ahead, have your little pity party with all your shitty friends. They can make you feel like you’re justified here, but guess what, mi hermana, that's not going to happen. I'm going to find my brother and all of you can fuck off and die for all I care, if you knew about this too."

 

Jason stares straight at Keith and Ollie as he continues. "Don't listen to a word this bitch says. I think she's proven that she doesn't have a trustworthy bone left in her body."

 

Jason looks a little scattered himself, like he’s not sure of what he’s saying. It doesn’t matter; nothing stops him from rounding off and storming toward the mouth of the cage.

 

"Let him go!" he hears Liza shouting over the noisy chaos of Ollie clearing his throat and Keith growling what the fuck is up and Daisy shouting at both of them. "I need a ride-- Get off me! I need a fucking ride!"

 

Nobody follows. Nobody knows what to do.

 

Everything has fractured.