Subject: Derik's Tale, Part Two
Posted on: 2017-11-02 20:18:23 UTC

Derik grinned. It was always a disturbing expression on his face at the best of times, distorted as his mouth was on one side, and his tear-damp, splotchy cheeks and bloodshot eyes didn't help. Nor did the fact that what he felt wasn't happiness, but a fatalistic sense of irony. "I was just about to finish the story of my recruitment," he said. "I was going to skip a certain part, but now I simply can't."

He cleared his throat, which was starting to feel a little dry with all this talking, and began. "Jenni tells me I lay in a catatonic state for roughly a month after she brought me back here, willing myself to die. You see I didn't manage it, even though I didn't have quite the best of care. Headquarters was in the midst of a quarantine thanks to an epidemic of macroviruses, and FicPsych's resources were stretched thin. They had to consolidate their patients in order to protect them. Am I telling it true?" he asked, checking with the nurse.

She nodded, keeping a wary eye on him and Ix. "True. And my bosses still wouldn't let me near you most of the time." She would always resent that, even if there were good reasons for it.

"So it was," Derik went on, "that I was finally roused thanks to the intervention of my erstwhile roommate. The first thing I remember clearly is looking up into the yellow eyes of a man in a full black mask. My ontological progenitor—and yours for the night," he added to Ix, grinning some more. "Erik. The Phantom of the Opera!"

The Halloween soundtrack obligingly filled the pregnant pause with a roll of thunder and some eerie organ music.

Gall flinched and looked around in irritation and real unease. "Jeez, every time!"

Jenni just facepalmed.

"Oh, he had words for me!" Derik chuckled. "Called me 'impostor', accused me of trying to usurp his identity despite not knowing pain as he did. Hah! That made me angry. I felt something for the first time in weeks, and it was anger. I set him straight, and I invited him to kill me as he'd threatened to do. We understood each other then, a pair of scarred, broken souls, alike but unlike, and the bastard let me live. He left, but not before telling me I had a chance to make a new life for myself, and that I'd be a fool not to take it. If you've never heard his voice, you don't know what it's like, but you can't shut it out. It invades you, it gets its hooks in your brain. That voice haunts me. Sometimes it sounds a lot like my own. One more form of torment I can't seem to escape." He glanced at Ix then, but just as quickly looked away again.

(( A pause for reactions, if you've got 'em. ))

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