"Here, help me fetch zhat box vill you?"
It had only been mere hours ago. Hours before the fate of an entire city was twisted around dramatically, before, another fate could bestow it. A city left in ruins, left to decay like the mentally insane people residing in there. The ocean was thought to have swallowed the city whole, at the rule of Neptune's merciless thumb.
There was a pulse remaining in the city. A pulse that strived in the hearts of many who happened to live there. Only a few were aware of the fate they were spared, only a few had the mind capability to realize what had happened, only a few could remember the names they were given. Nonetheless, it had only taken one man to bestow a fate on them all, and it took only one man, to stop him.
He stood at his full height. The skin on his face dirtied, bloodied even, as was the rest of his body and attire too. The tan sweater he wore was filthy, and his dark pants covered in various stains and grime from venturing through Rapture. The hand he used his plasmids for did not crack with lightening; instead, it reached for a small wooden box atop of a dresser, and handed it over to a woman dressed in a deep purple dress.
"Zhank you Jack," Tenebaum thanked the young man, smiling kindly at him. Jack nodded, his face solemn, as it had been for the past hours, his dark eyes cloud with much thought. He reached up, brushing at his eyes with the back of his hand. Tenebaum tucked the small box away into a large briefcase. Shutting the leather containment, she clicked the lock. The German woman turned around, in time to see two little girls running into her room.
The two youngsters almost ran into Jack, who flinched and backed up in time for them to get by, and approached Tenebaum. Both of their pale pearly hands reached out, grabbing onto the bottom of their caretaker's dress, looking up to her with gleaming eyes. They both smiled so generously with delight.
"Can we go soon? Huh? Can we miss Tenebaum?" The darker haired one asked, squirming on the spot.
The other girl only had nodded swiftly, emphasizing her friend's point. Tenebaum smiled down at the two, she knelt to their level. "Yes, if you and zhe rest of zhe girls are ready, ve can make our departure soon." She informed, looking between them both. The girls gasped, sparks of their joy dancing across their faces.
They exchanged glances, reaching out and clasping each other's hands. The two girls talked in an excited babbling tongue to each other, before darting out of the room. But not before giving a kind smile to Jack and a shy wave, which they both giggled about on their way out. Jack managed to smile to the pair, turning his head to watch them leave. As soon as they were gone however, the expression vanished, and he stared out the door, left to listen to his thoughts, rather than listen to Tenebaum, reminiscing out loud.
"Ah, I still cannot believe ve vill be leaving zhis place," her exclamation was soft, but held astounding amounts of her disbelief. The doctor eyed around the room, a place, she and the girls had taken refuge in for what seemed to be countless years. So much time spent, and so much time put into hiding. And now, they were free, and they could return to the surface. No chains bound them to this place, they could make their escape.
And who was to thank? Tenebaum had done a fair share of her work, desperately trying to save the girls victimized to a terrible fate she put them in. The German tried to undo many of her mistakes, escape out from the thumb of a tyrant who ran in the streets of Rapture. But, she could've not done it alone. She didn't get very far when she tried that before, but things changed…when that fateful bathysphere submerged into the depths of Rapture once again.
Tenebaum turned around, looking to Jack. She smiled, and her eyes were grateful. "And ve have you to zhank."
A heartbeat passed, the doctor tilted her head forward and off to the side. "Jack…?" she softly inquired, seeing as how the younger man wasn't even looking her way. Caught, Jack made a soft sound of acknowledgement, turning around to meet Tenebaum's gaze. He cleared his throat, looking to the ground, briefly embarrassed, before to her again.
"Yeah, yeah," Jack uttered, rubbing at his eyes again. "It was…uh, no problem, glad to help."
Tenebaum studied him, narrowing her eyes critically. Jack had been acting differently ever since the encounter with Fontaine. The young man had always been a bit quieter, even when he was younger too, a modest, but a kind hearted individual. But this behavior, for Jack, was a bit off for him. That, and the doctor very well knew, playing a part with helping the young man grow up, that Jack had a habit of rubbing at his eyes when he was feeling ill or at unease.
"Are you alright?" she questioned, stepping towards him.
Jack nodded, pulling his hand down from his eyes, blinking rapidly. "Yeah, just—a bit tired is all."
"You're lying to me Jack." Tenebaum pointed out.
Caught, the young man only stared at the doctor, mild surprise in his eyes. Jack should've known better. Trying to get by with a lie under the watchful Tenebaum was the equivalent to a stealth mission in a big daddy suit, it wasn't possible. A hand pressed against Jack's forehead, pushing away some of the stray brown bangs there.
"Hmm, you don't have a fever," Tenenbaum concluded, pulling her hand away. Physical illness was ruled out. She studied Jack for another heartbeat, before continuing. "Vhat is vrong? Aren't you glad you vill be returning back up zhe surface? Ve all get zhe second chance ve zhought ve vould never have. Ve are free again."
He could only listen. Again, Jack nodded. "I…I know," he struggled to say, so many thoughts impaling his mind. It was hard to follow which one he wanted to say, or what he needed to say. The lack of sleep, proper nutrition, and a break from physical exertion didn't help at all any.
Jack was spent, but more within the insides of his body rather than the out. He bowed his head.
Tenebaum narrowed her eyes, genuinely puzzled. The doctor couldn't quite wrap her head around the reason for Jack's upset. The days had been stressful for him, but it was all over now. Relief has clasped upon his heart, knowing that they would be heading out of Rapture. Hasn't it?
"Jack," the German woman addressed in a soft voice. "Vhat is it…?"
Hesitation seized the young man. Jack could feel his strength starting to falter. He had to do many hard things during his journey in Rapture, this, had to be close to being one of the hardest. Jack slowly lifted his head, raising his eyes to meet Tenebaum's. Vague memories cascaded along his mind, they were coming more and more with the time spent in Rapture. Memories of how it was before, how beautiful, amazing, and a utopia it was…so much more to Jack.
And it was the reason behind his statement. "I'm staying here." Jack declared.
"Vhat…" Tenebaum rasped out, completely, taken back. Surprise carved out on her face, her eyes widening as she stared at Jack. Laughter, but it was nervous from her. The doctor reached forward, clasping at the younger man's upper arms, pleading with her eyes up at him if her words did not say enough. "Jack, be reasonable—zhere is nozhing for you here. Rapture has had its time and place, ve must move on—"
"No." came the interruption sudden and swift. Tenebaum pulled her hands away, staring up at Jack.
"You know what it was like before," Jack whispered, the flood of memories clouding him now attached to his tone. Faint music was playing off in the distance, a melodious tune, even though not a single record player was spinning in the vicinity. "Things can be the way they were before, things can be even better."
Immediately, Tenebaum was shaking her head, refusing. "Jack, please—zhings can't be fixed zhat easily…"
The reasoning didn't fall on Jack's ears. He already knew this, and took a determined step forward towards the doctor. "No, no they can be," he mimicked the reasoning in Tenebaum's voice with his own. "You saw how much progress I made, I saved most of the little sisters. Who says things can go back to what they were?"
"But zhe splicers…" Tenebaum mentioned, not giving up. But either would Jack.
The young man shook his head. "They're not a problem, if they are not reasonable enough to go with change, they will be eliminated," he explained with a casual wave of his hand. The way he talked seemed to be well thought out. "And, we get rid of the ADAM for good, once and for all."
This all sounded too good to be true, especially to the doctor, who spent her years in the flourishing years of Rapture, and when everything turned to high hell. Tenebaum still was not easily persuaded. All of this would be work, it would take weeks, months, perhaps years to accomplish. With all the damages in the city, with the residents and the structure of Rapture itself, she couldn't see how any of this would be possible beyond just words.
"Jack, I vill beg you," Tenebaum pleaded again. "Zhis is somezhing zhat is impossible, I cannot see how any of zhis vould vork as easy as you are making it sound. Your intentions are good Jack, but zhat vill not be enough to…" she stopped. Their eyes locked both dark pairs.
Tenebaum no longer stared at a young man, but rather instead, a boy she was all too familiar with.
The glittering determination held in the depths of Jack's eyes struck at her chest. Her mind started to bend and shape together, realizing, there was more to the rebuilding of Rapture than to make a utopia rise from the ground again. This was Jack's home, his only home. Tenebaum knew the memories he was given about the surface was a lie. Nothing of real value was up there for him. She began to see, Jack's reasoning more than what he said…
Pain fluttered in Tenebaum's heart when she knew now, that she would be taking Jack away from the one true thing he ever had. Jack was constructed for purposes of taking over Rapture. But by god, the doctor could remember how happy he was here. During the years of his accelerated growth, she had never seen a child so happy before. It even had rubbed off on her as well, the dark fate that laid ahead for the boy forgotten and stored in the corner of her memory.
What she would give, to see that smile on his face again.
Tenebaum stared at Jack, and he stared back at her. "Please," he uttered softly. "Let me stay."
Hesitation hit the air. Silence fell on them both. Nothing was said for the longest time between them. Jack remained to hold his stare to Tenebaum, while the doctor, had casted her eyes to the tiled floor, considering what to do or say. Time passed between them for another beat longer.
Finally, she spoke. "Zhis…zhis is vhat you vant?" was the hushed question from Tenebaum.
"Yes." The answer came, with not a second of waiting. She looked up, with glimmering eyes to Jack.
Tenebaum breathed unsteadily, the arise, of new emotions towering up in her. "Z-Zhen," she said, as shaky as she was beginning to tremble around her frame. "You vill stay." The last words came out thick on her tongue.
A heave cut the air. The doctor gingerly raised a hand up, to the entrance of her mouth, hoping to stifle the noise. But no matter how Tenebaum tried to cut the noise, they both had heard it. Arms wrapped around her trembling frame. She wrapped her arms around Jack's neck, trying to fathom, how in the world he got so much taller than her. Hardly did Jack reach the height of her legs when he was a child.
Jack was bent over, pressing the side of his head into Tenebaum's, his chin almost touching her shoulder. He held onto the older woman gently but tight. His eyes were squeezed shut, trying to prevent any tears from coming forth, trying to hold strong for the doctor who he could hear crying.
"Oh Jack," she breathed in a sob. "Mein junge, sie wuchs zu schnell."
Pulling back, Tenebaum looked to Jack, kindly, bending over to her height. She reached up, briefly brushing away the tears staining the sides of her cheeks, she sniffed heavily. A deep breath was taken, before, the doctor dared to speak.
" Bitte verzeihen Sie mir," she told him in her native tongue. "I…I know you vill be okay."
A sad, but gripping smile tugged at Jack's lips staring into the woman's eyes. "Thank you," he said. "You've done so much for me, now, and then. I promise, Rapture will be what it once was. Like how we remembered it."
"I know it vill," she assured him. Slowly, Tenebaum began to reach up, towards Jack's cheeks. Gripping the flesh gently, she guided the young man's head to go down even further. The doctor leaned up, pressing her lips against his forehead. She let her mouth rest there for a few seconds, and whispered against the skin there: "I love you Jack, you're like my son."
Jack squeezed her tighter, pressing his face more into her head. His voice trembled. "And I love you. I--I'll miss you."
"Like how I've been missing you for zhe past years…" she uttered. But somehow, a smile tangled onto Tenebaum's lips.
For she knew, that Jack, would be smiling again, just how he did before.