Today’s prompt came from my other half mixing up ‘Jail House Rock’ and ‘Behind Blue Eyes’. I thought it was wonderfully funny, so I used it as my inspiration.
As the door slammed shut behind him, it was only Chris’s years of training that prevented him from flinching.
His cellmate hadn’t even raised his head.
The man had a sketchbook open in his lap and was wholly absorbed with his drawing, filling in the detail of a young girl’s dress and completely ignoring Chris. Pictures covered his side of the cell. Fantastical beasts were mixed in with staring eyes and angry men. Women smiled at children as they chased birds from fields whilst others screamed as they watched their lovers dying amidst the chaos of war. Every scene was perfect. Every smile, tear and grimace tore at your heart; and if Chris’s sources were correct, each image was a memory, a clue to finally closing the dozen or so unsolved murders his team had been working on for the past five years.
He’d volunteered to do this. He’d been determined to break open the secrets that lay trapped within the small man in front of him. As he stared at the faces plastered across the walls, he began to wonder if he’d made the right choice.
There were so many people.
Getting him to open up was the key. Chris had done everything he could to make himself the perfect candidate for the job; growing out his hair, adjusting the way he spoke, even tailoring his mannerisms to fit with, what the BAU had assured him, was the profile of Rin Tanaka’s ideal cellmate.
Chris stared down at the free cot on the opposite side of the small room. You better be goddamn right, he thought as he took the few short steps to stand in front of his bed. The last person to occupy it had been carried out in pieces.
Chris had thought he’d been prepared for all the possible ways his first meeting with Rin could have played out. He’d rehearsed everything from all-out violence to casual conversation, but somehow, he hadn’t considered what he would do if he were outright ignored. He’d braced himself for conflict, not the cold-shoulder.
He dropped his small bundle of belongings onto his cot and tried to think of something to say.
“You were a cop?” Rin said into the silence, catching Chris entirely off guard.
“What?” Chris froze, hand halfway towards collecting his toothbrush.
“You’re a dead man when they find out,” Rin said calmly, never raising his eyes from his drawing. “I don’t care either way and no, before you ask, I won’t tell anyone; but you stand like you’re on guard, I’d work on that if I were you.” A small smirk crept across his face, “Or you could find yourself some protection.”
Chris had no clue how to respond. He knew that Rin read people as if they were open books but he’d worked hard to perfect his persona. No one up until now had even brought up the possibility of him being a cop. He was good at what he did, that was why he’d been chosen for this assignment. Even his handlers only knew him by his assumed name.
He hadn’t seen the man’s head move, but it must have. He wondered what else Rin’s keen eyes had seen.
He realised that a denial in this situation was as good as an admission of guilt and so instead he chose to focus on the advice Rin had just given him. If he could gain the man’s trust, he was one step closer to his answers. “And how would you recommend that I do that?” he asked in the calmest tone he could manage.
For the first time, Chris saw Rin look up from his drawing. His dark eyes took in every inch of Chris’s six foot two frame, and that same smirk appeared at the corner of his mouth again. “Make sure to keep your hair tied back and find someone who’s into blondes,” he said, and before Chris had a chance to respond, returned his attention to his book, individually adding the blades of grass around the small girl’s ankles.
“I’m no one’s bitch.” Chris knew Rin’s profile. He understood, as much as it was possible to know about what drove him, but it still didn’t stop him from hating the defensive tone that he’d had to add into his voice as he spoke. Showing too much weakness in front of a man like Rin was a recipe for disaster. But showing none would raise his hackles equally as quickly.
Rin simply smiled his small, self-satisfied grin and said, “Everyone starts off at the bottom of the food chain here. The key to survival isn’t to be the strongest or even the smartest; it’s to be the one who can adapt. If you want to get home to your wife, play to your strengths.”
Sophie, signing out.