I Know Why The Jailbird Sings


django_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title I Know Why The Jailbird Sings
Synopsis Helena and Django each find a friend on the opposite side of the fence.
Date March 17, 2009

Moab Federal Penitentiary - Yard

Every day. Every day, Helena sits, a waiting woman, a keeper on a vigil, waits for someone to show their face in the yard. Though it's evident she waits for Alexander, it's also evident that he's not the only face she's hoping to see. Sometimes though, the waiting becomes too much for her to bear, and so she consoles herself with a softcover book, or bothers to make use of the rec area for actual excercise. Today though, when she watches, she doesn't want to turn her head away, but she's also fitful. So she solves the problem with the other form of entertainment she uses to wile away the hours.

She has a pretty voice, alto but still somehow sweet, and her singing is in a conversational tone, so only someone who comes up to her can hear it. "Mother says I was a dancer before I could walk/She says I began to sing long before I could talk/And I've often wondered, how did it all start?/Who found out that nothing can capture a heart/Like a melody can?/Well, whoever it was, Im a fan."

Day Three of captivity.

Another trip out to the grim, dirty, barren yard. Hot, desolate, and just close enough to yet so far from freedom to tug at the heart and drive a man mad. And yet, this is the high point of Django's day, every day, since he got here. It's pathetic, makes him want to vomit, want to die every time he's ushered back to his cell, away from the sun and the wind and the dead, dry earth. He expects, somewhere down the line, when he's been in here for long enough for it to become business as usual, he'll look forward to going out to the yard every day, instead of just dreading having to come back inside. He hopes he won't be locked up for that long. Maybe they'll let him go before that happens, or maybe he'll just die.

These are the things that go through his mind as he steps out into the brazen sunlight, raising a hand to shield his eyes as they adjust. As he has every day up to this point, he walks straight to the farthest fence, staring out at the horizon. Somewhere out there is home, on the other end of the damn country. But it doesn't matter if it's a million miles away, or a half dozen steps; he wouldn't be any closer to getting there. With a despairing sigh he lets his hands drop to his sides, and simply stares.

And then he starts to pace, as he always does. Along the fence, watching the scenery (Ha!) outside go slowly past, and the mountains in the distance slowly turn their faces. Only by degrees, though, and then he's reached the corner, where another fence splits the yard down the middle, separating the men from the women. It's here that the sweet sound of song reaches his ears, softly at first, calling his attention away from the siren call of the wild yonder, turning his head to find the source.

When he sees Helena's familiar face, something like a smile plays across his lips, and he makes his way towards her, hands stuffed in his pockets, confidence in his gait. He doesn't call to her, having no desire to interrupt her song, simply approaches quietly, leans against the fence, and listens.

"I've been so lucky, I am the girl with golden hair/I wanna sing it out to everybody/What a joy, what a life, what a chance!"

She pauses then, giving the approaching Django a faint smile. The bruise on her lower jaw is turning yellow as it heals, and she still has the butterfly bandages on her temple. "Never thought ABBA could be used so ironically." she greets. Her pleasant smile turns into something more gently concerned. "Are you getting on okay? The first couple of days - the first week, it's really hard." It never stops being hard, but the initial despair can be beaten back.

With a shrug, Django turns his back to the fence and slides down it to sit on the ground, knees pulled up and arms laid across them. "It's not so bad," he lies. "Got a bed and three meals a day. Shit, on the outside, I didn't even have that much, sometimes." In that familiar gesture, he runs a hand through his hair, then chuffs at his nose with knuckle. The two of them match more by the day; as Helena's bruise slowly fades, Django's is just coming into fruition, an inky, purple blotch high on his cheek where Satoru slugged him the previous day. "Anyway, you ain't gotta stop singin' on my account. First thing in a week I've had to be cheerful about."

Helena puts her palm up against the chain links, fingers outspread - it's the only form of contact the mixed genders have, even if hers is meant in a purely platonic fashion. Still, there's a value in touch offered, if he chooses to take it. "It's hard to not be cheerful when you're singing Scandinavian pop music." she says. Her smile increases - what has she got to smile about? But it's as if she's doing it for the young man across the way, to bolster him up a bit. "I'm guessing you don't have anymore questions for me." Her smile turns a touch wry. "Nothing I tell you is going to compromise you, just so you know. I'm keeping it all in here." She taps her temple, winces, looks sheepish.

Feeling the pressure on the fence behind him, Django reaches up and puts his hand over the young girl's without turning to look, instead staring out over the yard and all of the other orange-clad inmates milling about, each at their own amusements. "Never really been into ABBA, honestly. I mean, they're not bad, but not really my thing, y'know? Girl I dated once was all about 'em. But I think I could learn to like their stuff, with you singin' it." He coughs, once, and adjusts his position a bit, retracting his hand to drape over his knee again.

He glances about, briefly, as if checking to make sure that no one is listening, then speaks up again. "Hey, don't tell no one, but I'm a huge Billy Joel fan. Can't hardly listen to Piano Man without wantin' to cry. Might ruin my image if it got out, though. Make me look like a pansy or somethin'."

Helena is nineteen. At the moment, given her current enforced lifestyle and food that nourishes but is only palatable, she might look a bit older than that. She's too skinny, features in sharp relief, but her hair is still beautiful and long, and her eyes are huge, almost bordering on anime large. Briefly she locks her fingers into Djanjo's, a young man she barely knows but for the solidarity of their situation. "I'm not a complete anomaly." she promises. "It's just my mom used to play a lot of music, stuff she listened to, so I have some kind of crazy repetoire of stuff like ABBA and Joan Jett and Pat Benatar. But I do listen to current stuff, or I did - Evanescence, Vast, Vienna Teng." Her smile comes fainter. "I used to have someone in the cell next to me. I sang to him all the time, but I don't think he quite appreciated it." Her eyes are momentarily sad, one might even call it longing. "He's in Red Level, I think."

Django finds himself glad that he's facing away from the girl, because when she laces her fingers through his for that brief moment, he blushes quite inexplicably. It's such a simple, small gesture, from an almost total stranger, but something about it just strikes a chord in him. Lowering his head slightly to hide his face before anyone can catch on, he shrugs. "Ain't nothin' wrong with older music. I end up listenin' to all kinda stuff. Parents didn't listen to much music, 'cept what was on the radio, and a handful of CDs my mom had of this crazy Russian stuff. Then I jacked this lady's CD case from her car to pay the electric bill, ended up listenin' to all of it before I sold 'em. Had a lotta stuff in there I'd never heard of, some of it was pretty cool. Like, uh… you ever hear of- shit, what were they called?" Scowling a moment, he chews on his lips, then lifts his head abruptly. "Rasputina. That was it, I think. Know 'em?"

Helena smiles at that. "I know at least one song by them." she says, lifting her voice in song again, if only for one line: "Fangs ruin any cute pout." She seems surprised that he's facing away from her - but then maybe he doesn't want people to know they're talking too obviously. "You jack cars? I have a friend I think you'd like. She's an anarchist, builds bikes, knows all kinds of really crazy stuff."

Django grunts in answer to that last question, offering a small shrug. "Yeah, sometimes. Not often. Hard to get rid of discretely. Good money, though, better than CDs and shit. Your friend in here, too? Wouldn't mind bein' introduced to some of my fellow freakshows. Gonna need some friends when I get outta this joint."

He turns to look at her, then, through the fence, and starts to say something. Pauses, coughs, and tries again. "But that's unpleasant business to be talkin' about right now. Sing somethin' else. Er, please? You got a nice voice."
"She's not in here, no." And for that, Helena is exceedingly grateful. "I'm…very glad to say that not very many of the people I know are in here, and I'm going to do all I can to keep it that way." Softer, "You'll get out." Her eyes drift to the sky. "Just wait." Once more she glances across at him. "You want me to sing? Fair's fair, if I sing for you, you have to sing for me too."

As Helena's eyes drift skywards, so do Django's, for just a moment. Then, as her words filter into his brain, and he starts to think about just what she might mean, he shifts his gaze abruptly to the ground, curling fingers in the dirt as if to hold on. There are some things it's safer for him not to know. This just might be one of them, and so he determinedly tries to force any thought of it out of his mind.

As such, he nearly misses what she says next. "Wait, what?" His head snaps around to look at Helena again, and his eyebrows raise. "I, uh, don't sing. Can't sing," he lies, badly. "You wouldn't want me to, trust me. It's bad."
Helena smiles at him. "I don't believe you. Please?" She rests her hands in her lap, widens her eyes, and gives him a mutely appealing look. For a moment she gets to be just a girl, trying to use her looks to persuade a boy to do what she wants. Somewhere, Ben is no doubt sighing in exasperation and has no idea why.

For just a second, it looks like Django is going to continue to protest, brows knitted and mouth open, then he turns away and folds his arms over his chest, looking sullen. "Fine," he concedes. "But don't say I didn't warn you." Oh no. This can't end well. Everybody's gonna think he's some kinda pansy now, or somethin'. Just what he needs. "But you gotta go first, aight?"

"You don't have to sing very loud." Helena assures him, "As long as you stick to your end of the bargain." It takes her a moment to consider her options. When she does open her mouth, she is singing softly, not wanting to raise any attention in the yard.

=I have a dream, a song to sing
=To help me cope with anything
=If you see the wonder of a fairy tale
=You can take the future even if you fail
=I believe in angels
=Something good in everything I see
=I believe in angels
=When I know the time is right for me
=I'll cross the stream - I have a dream.

Listening contentedly to Helena's song, Django leans back against the fence and closes his eyes, focusing on just the sound of her voice. It's the prettiest thing he's heard since getting locked in here, and a welcome reprieve from the usual noises, and the desolate doldrum of day-to-day life in this little slice of hell. If only it could last. That thought causes him to sigh, wistful. It's such a small thing, this song sung by a girl he's only met, but compared to everything else, it's a ray of fucking sunshine.

=I have a dream, a fantasy
=To help me through reality
=And my destination makes it worth the while
=Pushing through the darkness still another mile
=I believe in angels
=Something good in everything I see
=I believe in angels
=When I know the time is right for me
=I'll cross the stream - I have a dream
I'll cross the stream - I have a dream.//

She ends the song then, with a somewhat wistful sort of expression. For a moment, she also forgot she was stuck behind a fence, deprived a part of herself and shut away like a leper. Her smile comes faint and wry, and she gently reminds, "Your turn, remember?"

The song ends, Django opens his eyes, and their situation is cast into harsh relief on his mind again, the sun-baked yard full of jumpsuit-clad inmates, all just trying to make it through another day. Another, deeper sigh escapes his throat, and he pushes himself up to straighter. He clears his throat, thinks for a moment, clears it again. And then he starts, the song recognizable from word one.

=Yesterday, all my troubles seemed so far away.
=Now it looks as though they're here to stay.
=Oh, I believe in yesterday.

He starts off quiet, moderate, a decent tenor for sure, but nothing to write home about. As the song goes on, though, and he starts to get into it, his volume rises and with it, the quality of his voice. Clear and beautiful, like crystal. You'd never know he had it in him just talking to the man.

=Suddenly, I'm not half the man I used to be.
=There's a shadow hanging over me.
=Oh, yesterday came suddenly.
=Why she had to go, I don't know, she wouldn't say.
=I said something wrong, now I long for yesterday.

The last note rings out across the yard, and he realizes just how loud he's grown. Django cuts off abruptly, staring in horror and the handful of inmates watching him from various places, and presses his back to the fence as if trying to sink through it. "Oh, motherfucker. Shit, shit, shit."

Helena is smiling. How can she help it? "You jack cars and you sing Manilow. That is Manilow, right? Or is that um, Billy Joel?" she presses a hand to her mouth, thinking her laughter might be mistaken for mocking if she lets it pass her lips. She rises and moves to press herself against the fence, telling him intently, "Just ignore them. If someone tries to hurt you, let them start the fight, but you finish it." A pause, and she adds sheepishly, "I'm sure you already know that." She then adds quietly, "You've got a beautiful voice. I don't know why you didn't want me to hear it." The volume issue wasn't so much her problem, see.

"Beatles, actually," he replies, curtly, scowling out at the yard in general. Way to go, Django, how could you let yourself get carried away like that? "Dumbass," he mutters to himself. What's done is done, though. Nothing he can do about it, now, he's been outted. Either way, he ain't gonna be happy about it. "Yeah, beautiful voice for a girl, maybe. I sing like a damn prepubescent schoolboy. That's why I don't sing in front of people. Bad for my reputation, makes me look like a sissy. Now I just know some cocksucker's gonna call me 'Angel' or some shit, and it ain't gonna be pretty. God dammit."

Helena can't help it, that makes her giggle. "Well, you know. Like I said, kick their ass. I've got my own problem with that on this side of the fence." In fact, she takes a quick look around. Relieved that no one is gunning for her, she protests again, "You have a wonderful voice. Don't let anyone tell you otherwise. Why were you jacking cars and not auditioning for American Idol?"

Django scoffs openly at that. "Yeah, that's gonna happen," says he of little faith, just dripping with cynicism. "Some poor Russian sod from Harlem is gonna make it big on the "All American Dream Boy" hour. Do I look like an underwear model to you? I ain't got shit on those guys. Not sure I'd want to, either. Have you heard the crap they play on the damn radio these days?

Django scoffs openly at that. "Yeah, that's gonna happen," says he of little faith, just dripping with cynicism. "Some poor Russian sod from Harlem is gonna make it big on the "All American Dream Boy" hour. Do I look like an underwear model to you? I ain't got shit on those guys. Not sure I'd want to, either. Have you heard the crap they play on the damn radio these days? Not fuckin' worth it."

Slowly, as if he's stiff from sitting so long, he stands up and stretches, keeping his back pressed to the fence. "You, on the other hand. No problem. You got a face made for movies, sweetheart. Great body, too." The fact that he can't actually tell through the shapeless jumpsuit isn't enough to stop him from shamelessly flattering her. "But I'm just a punk. Probably always will be."

Helena actually doesn't blush. Shocking! "Thanks." she says. "And I don't know about that. There's opportunities in the world. I ran away from home when I was eighteen, never looked back. I'd like to think I've made more of myself than just being a streetkid. Actually, I know I will…" her gaze goes up as she looks at the sky, "When we get out of here. God," she says, "I hate not being able to feel it. It's like a missing limb."

"Yeah, me too," replies Django, picking up on that last comment rather than dwell on his own shortcomings and inadequacies. He holds a fist out in front of himself, and lets the dust he'd been holding trickle back to the ground, watching it fall. "If they didn't have me all dope up, I'd have been out of here on day one. Assholes think they're better than us just 'cause they got the money, 'cause they're the fuckin' majority. Elitist Nazi Pigfuckers. Almost wish I was a damn terrorist."

Letting his empty hand fall back to his side, he grips the fence behind him and returns his gaze to the sky. "Bastards are terrified of us. And you know why? 'Cause they give us a fucking reason to try to kill 'em. Throw us in cages and make us register like god damn rapists or some shit, yeah we're gonna be pissed about it. They oughta be afraid of us now!"

Helena studies him thoughtfully. "Think about what you're saying, Django." she says softly. "Would you endanger innocent people - men and women and children, like the kids at Washington Irving, to make your point? Or would it be more fair to say you would fight against those that are denying you your rights, or seek to hurt you simply because you're Evolved?"

"I… wait, what?" The question catches Django entirely off-guard, and he turns to give Helena a baffled look through the fence that separates them. "Shit, I just mean that they fuckin' started it, y'know? And now they're takin' it out on… What are you tryin' to say?" Turning fully, now, he reaches up to hook fingers through the fence over his head and stare down at the girl. "Hey, I never hurt nobody unless they started it, aight? I ain't some freakin' Punisher or some shit, stalkin' the god damn streets at night. If things are gonna change, it ain't gonna be me that does it, so there's no use trying. I'm nobody. Always have been, always will be. And now, I'm nobody in a fuckin' box."

"You're not nobody." Helena tells him firmly. "And you don't want to be a terrorist. You're not interested in hurting innocent people, just defending your rights." She hooks her fingers in the chainlink. "The trick is to look like they've got to you, when you know inside, that they haven't."

When the girl comes closer, Django takes a step back, away from the fence, starting to look a little uncomfortable. "Christ, girl. You're kinda scary, you know that?" He takes a deep breath, then steps forward again. "So, what, you're just pretendin' to be locked in a fuckin' super prison for mutants? Got a tunnel under your bed or somethin', some secret way out? Or maybe you've cracked. You ain't plannin' on killin' yourself, are you, sugar?"

Helena's brows lift. "No. I'm saying you need to let them think nothing's going on in that brain of yours, no desire to get out, no ambition for any sort of change or escape. But you can't let the bastards get you down. I'm not going to kill myself. Despite all this miserable shit, I kind of love my life."

"So I'm just supposed to sit on my hands and act like a good little sheep? That's your genius plan?" Django looks a little shocked and incredulous. He had honestly been expecting something a lot more profound and insightful. "Lady, that was my plan from the beginning. Don't cause no trouble, serve my time quietly. I talk a lot, sure, but damned if I'm gonna spend the rest of my life in here. So I'll play nice, and eventually, maybe they'll let me out." Though there is a stubborn determination in his voice, he doesn't sound especially hopeful. It's pretty obvious, even to him, that they have no intention of letting anyone out of here.

"I never claimed to have a genious plan." Helena says, flashing irritation for a moment. "And they won't let you out. Help's going to come." She seems sure of this. "We just need to wait."

With an exasperated sigh, Django returns his back to the fence and slouches once more to the ground, head in his hands. After a moment of frustrated silence, he looks up, hair touseled, and bangs his head against the fence a few times. Another sigh. "Any idea when this help of yours is gonna come? Or is that not something you're allowed to tell me? Sensitive information and all."

"I'm not sure." she confesses, looking to the side. "I know they're finding ways. I don't want to tell you much more. Could be tomorrow. Could be a week. Could be next month. But I know they've been getting through the cracks."

Despite his previous protests to knowing anything about the "pro-Evolved terrorist groups" that he was accused of being affiliated with, he suddenly seems quite interested, now that there's a chance it could get him back out again. And maybe Helena's crazy and just making it all up, or maybe she really knows what she's talking about, but it's worth a shot if he can win his freedom. Again, he hesitates on the verge of saying something, and takes a deep breath.

"Is there anything I can do to help? Like, uh…" Honestly, he doesn't know what the hell he might possibly do that could help a jailbreak. At least, without his ability. "Well, like anything. I want outta here as much as anyone else."
Helena gives him a smile. It's right in the eye and rather calm. "Just keep quiet." she says. "And be patient. Don't let on, because if you do, someone will tell someone else, and they'll tighten their grip." There's a pause. "You probably won't believe me when I tell you this, but there's a man here - his name is Agent Verse. He's a telepath. He's trying to get names from me, and so far I've kept him from doing so. I don't want him to think he needs to pay 'visits' to anyone else."

"Man, fuckin' telepaths. Scare the shit outta me," Django confides in Helena, pitching his voice low so as not to be heard by anyone else and supressing a shudder. "I won't say a god damn word, if that's what I gotta worry about. I mean, not that I'd go blabbin' anyway," he assures. "If you actually got a chance of gettin' us outta here, fuck me if I'm gonna blow it."

Standing up one final time, he turns, smiles at the girl, and puts his palm to the fence. "Probably shouldn't spend too much time talkin' to ya, either, or they might get suspicious. Eh?" Raising the fingers of his other hand to his lips, he blows the girl a kiss and winks at her, then turns to walk away.
Helena blinks. He believed her. Boxer calls her crazy - not that she thinks much of Boxer in turn, but the fact that Django doesn't call her crazy kind of goes a long way. "See ya." she says quietly, and rises from her bench. Probably time to go back in soon, anyway.

March 17th: I'm Asking...

Previously in this storyline…
Making New Friends

Next in this storyline…
Jailhouse Prom Queen

March 17th: Savory Company
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