Maria scoffs at him, shaking her head wildly. Like this is some sort of game to her, not ready to budge from her side of the bars.
“I’m tougher to break then you seem to think,” it’s spiteful the way she says it.
Jones only smiles, “I’d love to chitchat. But I’m late for my lunch date.”
The woman quirks an eyebrow, “your what?”
“Me and Elizabeth,” his grin only spreads wider. “She enjoys my company.”
It grates on her nerves when he peels back the plastic curtains, his smile bright as he comes to lean against the counter. She narrows her eyes while pretending to focus on her slides.
“You could put on lab attire,” she says sourly. “Maybe not bother me while I work.”
“You haven’t eaten,” he says too soft for her liking.
It had become a habit of sorts, he would drag her out of the lab for lunch. Have food prepared when she woke up and when she left the lab at night. Always food she would enjoy, always waiting for her fully made. He would linger for a few moments until he was sure she would eat, then disappear.
It was the strangest thing she had experienced by far. Him being a caretaker of sorts.
Whatever fatherly instincts had been missing with his interactions with Max and Michael present for her. Except, something in her gut told her it wasn’t fatherly. Quite the opposite actually.
If his lingering gaze was to be read into.
A chill running down her spine at the thought, because she wanted to crack the phenomenon open and stare at with a scientific gaze. Because he and Max shared reflective DNA. She itches to know if that somehow affected their taste in women, if Max being drawn to her had more to do with some preset designation from Jones’ own biology.
But she shrugged the ideas off, purely on the fact Max was drawn to her purely and Jones wanted claim to her. Wanted to control her mind and actions. Keeping her coped up in the small lab, or the little box of a room.
“Lucky wanted to go for a walk,” he says casually reaching for a stack of notes. Gaze flickering over Nora’s markings, “I thought we could have lunch on the go. You like the water, correct?”
Her hands still, the dropper she is holding dripping not one but three drops of iodine before she catches up. “Mierda,” she grumbles tossing the slide in the trash.
She glares openly at Jones, “why are you here?”
“Lunch,” he shrugs again. “I can’t have you going unfed.”
Liz shakes her head at him, the offer is enticing. Leaving this damned house, seeing the sun and just walking. Not to mention Lucky would have a ball, and it always made her day to see the dog galloping about. Even when he ran around the small living space and disrupted her carefully ordered notes.
“Fine,” she grumbles. Headed towards the plastic curtains, removing her goggles as she did so, “but you can’t come in here without at least a lab coat.”
Jones smiles devilishly at her, “if you insist.”
She aggressively peels her gloves off as they exit the lab, turning to give him a scrutinizing look. “So what did you have in mind?”
“The lake,” he shrugs, “it’s man made, but we can’t go out far. We don’t want my son finding us.”
Liz’s heart aches, because she was so far into this she hadn’t even considered trying to run away. The amount of break through a she has made leaving her in an adrenaline high, Jones always feeding her and listening to her rants after she finishes a long day in the lab. It had become second nature.
She was becoming comfortable in her cage.
“I’m going to change,” she says abruptly. “You do whatever you need to.”
It’s silly really, how she closes the door to her room leaning against it like she had lost breath. Like he would have followed up the stairs. Her chest constricting as she yanks open the drawers, looking for anything he could have packed to make this harder on him.
If he wanted to play games, she was ready to play games.
She tries not to smirk at the look on his face, the sundress hitting just at her thighs. Her legs completely exposed as she makes her way down the stairs, “you said picnic?”
Jones gulps, eyes slowly drifting down her body, drinking in her curves. His eyes glint darkly as he licks his lips, “yes darlin’.”
She tries to fight the shiver, but can’t keep it from running down her spine. Jones visibly preening, a sharpness to his smile as he grabs the old fashioned picnic basket. She wants to throw her fist into the wall, because he damn well had an old picnic basket.
They are quiet as they walk, Lucky darting between their legs. Silence enveloping them as they make their way down to the supposed lake, Liz already regretting the short dress. Even if it had made the impact she had wanted, it left her feeling bare before him. Like all her armor had been removed, her red lipstick not nearly enough to combat the burning in his eyes.
“So,” she crosses her arms over her chest, “what made this lunch more important?” She does her best to keep the steely tone she always tries to address him with. It gets harder every day.
“Today is special,” he says vaguely. “And you need exercise, keep your blood flowing and brain workin’.”
Liz glares at him, “still not a dog.”
He gives her a crooked smile, “I know darlin’.”
It’s unfair she grumbles in her head, that his tone could be as smooth as velvet as he simply waved her words away like she was a child.
The lake is like all man made ones, murky and muddy at the end. But it makes for a decent backdrop, if Liz squints she could imagine the mud away.
She narrows her eyes at the blanket and old times radio already laid out for them. “What’s this?”
“Something an old friend dropped off,” Jones shrugs. “Like I said, today is special.”
He places the basket down, turning the dial on the radio until music filters out slowly. Old school, probably music he could remember.
“What is today?” She tries again.
Jones’ eyes turn dark, jaw setting. “Eat,” he nearly snaps. “Walk me through what you’ve learned so far.”
Her jaw sets as she kneels down on the blanket, the cold feeling long of adrenaline rushing through her veins. Because this monster was her captor, churro pancakes or no.
“I think I’ve found something that could stabilize your genetics,” she says sourly. “Which could make it easy to break the tie. It seems to be made by frequencies.”
Jones nods, “good. Eat.” He opens the picnic basket, deli sandwiches and fruit piled inside. With what looks to be homemade ambrosia, not that you could get it any other way.
“Did you steal someone’s picnic?” She gives him a sharp glare.
Jones smiles sharply, “no darlin’, cross my heart.”
Liz narrows her eyes before picking a sandwich, playing with the plastic closure. “So why is Maria in a coma?”
She was already playing with fire, so it couldn’t hurt to push him even more. The sunlight on her skin making her even more brave.
His face is set in stone as he watches her hands move, eyes analytically moving from them to the water. “She has something I need,” he says simply.
“What?” Liz asks, “if it could help me, I mean…” she gulps, “I could get her to tell me. To help Max.”
His eyes go dark at the mention of his son, whether he could be called that. Not that Jones had displayed any fatherly instincts apart from some memory he had shared. Yet, Liz knew there was a biological component to everything. Jones would feel the urge to protect his own, until the inevitable brink where that endangered himself. Self preservation winning out every time.
“My body is dying,” he says flatly.
Liz nods, she had seen the tests they were running on Max. How Jones’ body was a ticking bomb, ready to fall apart in time. The pod insuring he had lived till now, while keeping him imprisoned.
“Nora destroyed something,” he says voice nearly soft. Not quite there, but a vulnerableness to it nonetheless. “An equation that allowed me to make clones, ones that could be kept in stasis. Letting me live through my body’s inevitable shut down time and time again.”
Liz gulps, the idea he had lived this long dying every second enough to make her feel something for him. A shred of sympathy.
“She destroyed it when she did my other clones, after finding a way to trap the energy of a star inside Max. The first healthy clone I was able to create,” he shrugs. “It was in an attempt to keep me from having this body.” He waves down at Max’s skin, making Liz’s skin crawl.
“So you stole it from him?” She asks voice sour.
“To give me more time,” Jones shrugs. A sharp smile, “of course if Maria doesn’t give me the equation I have no intention of returning it.”
Liz grits her teeth, “so I help you disconnect from Max and you make more clones? What then?”
“I return to the Oasis,” he says eyes turning back to her. “You would like it there. It’s full of ocean and rainforest, and life.”
She blinks, it sounds… like a proposal of sorts.
“You’re mind was made for a better world than this,” Jones adds.
Liz chews at the inside of her cheek, it was strange. How open he had become, the sunlight affecting them both.
“Go to a world ruled by a selfish man who is too weak to face death?” She twists cruelly. Heart beating fast, blood pumping behind her ears. Her defense mechanisms kicking in, because for a brief second his eyes had been as soft as Max’s. Something she was not ready to face. The idea that they had more in common than a body.
Jones’ jaw twitches, eyes going dark. A thrill runs through her, as he glares her down. Their fire mingling for a moment, before his face softens again.
“Dance with me,” he says getting up and reaching down.
She furrows her brows, “what gives you the impression I would do that?”
“What gave you the impression I was asking?” He grits.
She glowers as she accepts his hand, letting him pull her up. Arm looping around her waist, pulling her flush against him. A Frank Sinatra song filtering through the radio.
“I’ve never heard this one,” Jones smirks down at her.
She tries not to laugh, realization dawning just how old the man she was dancing with was. They hit a more upbeat part of the song and he swings her out from his body, a laugh falling unbidden from her.
He smiles as he pulls her back to him, her back coming flush with his chest. His hands placed over hers on her stomach. “You are beautiful, Elizabeth.” He murmurs in her hair, placing a kiss to her head.
And she can’t help the flutter in her heart, or the heat rushing to her cheeks as he sways her to the music.