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[personal profile] wallwalker posting in [community profile] remix_goes_wild
Title: Could It Think (Aftershocks Mix)
Author [personal profile] wallwalker
Fandom: Equilibrium (2002)
Characters: Preston, Partridge, Brandt
Rating: PG
Contains: Minor violence.
Original Story: Of Science and the Human Heart by Telesilla
Primary Prompt: 3 (with 2 as secondary)


He was still alive. It surprised Preston more than he liked to admit.

The memories were flashing through his mind, over and over, like a clip from a broken film reel.

"You taught me," Preston says. "If you strike me unconscious now, Dupont will believe that it happened. You are perhaps the only person who can still take me."

"They will have you watched," Partridge says, rising silently to his feet. "There's a reading room called Freedom," he adds, speaking quickly. "As soon as you know they're not longer watching you, go there and ask the custodian about a man named Jurgen." He looks at Preston seriously as he moves to stand in front of him. "I have just given you the Resistance, you understand?"

"Of course I do," Preston replied. As Partridge raises his gun, Preston grabs his arm, halting the blow. "I need to know something."

"Anything," Partridge says, and he's so close that Preston can feel Partridge's breath on his face.

"Did you ever find out what you dreamed about?"

"Of course," Partridge says, pulling his arm out of Preston's grip to raise it again. "You, John."

Just before the world goes black, Preston feels something.

Preston knew he was in an infirmary before he ever opened his eyes. He could feel it in his mind - or, more precisely, he could feel the thick fog in his brain. He'd been given a higher dosage than usual, standard for injured patients as he recalled. Pain had a way of cutting through Prozium's effects, and care had to be taken.

He did not open them at first; he saw little need to. He didn't need to see where he was to think very hard about what he had done. He had allowed a sense offender to escape, and a very dangerous one at that. Partridge was a master of the katas and a canny foe. He had evaded detection for so long in one of the most carefully scruitinized places in Libria; it would not be easy to find him again.

It made no logical sense. If Preston hadn't been able to see that before, he saw it now; he couldn't see anything but logic with that much of the drug in his system. He should have killed Partridge. That had been his duty, along with the only really intelligent choice. Why had he let him go free? What had he been thinking?

Why had Partridge said the things he'd said about the resistance, knowing what he knew about his old partner? Preston knew that his duty was to the Council. He needed, now more than ever, to tell the others about the location of this place, so that it could be purged. He needed to atone for what he'd done. Wasn't that why he'd sought out Partridge in the first place?

Somehow, though, that seemed less important now.

"Did you ever find what you dreamed about?"

"Of course." The look on his face, then. Regret, sorrow. An unspoken apology, yes, but what else? "You, John."

Why did that keep echoing in his head? Why had it make his heart beat oddly, as if it were a trapped beast?


Preston flinched, but only slightly. This was not entirely a surprise. The voice was soft and unfamiliar. Not Dupont, which was strange. He had expected him to come and interrogate his agent about his failure in person.

Preston opened his eyes, looked up at a man that he'd never seen before, lean and dark-skinned. "And you are?" he asked, struggling to speak - he was still in pain, despite the painkillers he was sure was in his system, and it was only worse when he moved his mouth.

The man smiled, showing far too many white teeth than was truly necessary, and Preston was reminded of an old documentary that he'd once seen before it had been destroyed as being too evocative. Something about large, wild felines, and the way that they would bear their fangs to show their strength... he couldn't remember, it had been too long. "Brandt. Grammaton Cleric, second class. The High Councillor sent me to make sure you were recovering."

"I see." Preston took a moment to look around - he was certainly in an infirmary, but he did not recognize the place. Odd, considering that he'd woken up in a lot of infirmaries during his career. "Is that the only reason?"

"He said you were clever." Brandt leaned back and grabbed at a container of water, pouring a glass. "Want a drink?"

"No," Preston said, and watched as the younger cleric put down the filled glass and pour another for himself. "I want to know what happened after I was rendered unconscious."

"Much as you'd expect. The men sent with you went in after the usual amount of time had passed. They found you lying on the ground and your quarry escaped." He took a sip. "You were one of the best, and he still took you."

"He was the best," Preston said, evenly, maybe a bit too quickly.

"And he taught you, didn't he? Although he apparently didn't teach you everything he knew." Brandt smiled again, that same aggressive display. "What do you think about that, Preston? Knowing that he held something back?"

"It was only common sense," Preston said automatically, remembering. How he'd almost felt something at the end, how he'd almost felt... happy? Glad that his old friend was escaping? The emotion felt hopelesssly out of his reach now that he was so heavily dosed, and he found himself strangely regretful.

"Why? You two were partners. He had no reason not to trust you." Brandt shook his head. "Although I admit that my understanding might not be as thorough as yours. I hope that I can learn as much from you as you learned from him."

Preston blinked. "I beg your pardon?"

"You hadn't guessed?" It seemed that Brandt would never stop smiling. "I've been assigned to you, Preston."

"So early?"

"It was an emergency assignation. I'm sure that I don't need to tell you that finding and neutralizing Partridge is of the highest importance." Brandt leaned over him, looming. "Did he give you any clues about where he might be going?"

"No," Preston said, and at least that would be the truth. "That would have been foolish. Irrational."

"Sense offenders often are. You were in there for some time before the men found you, Cleric, and judging from the location of your injury, I doubt he snuck up on you. You must have spoken to him. What did he tell you?"

There it was, Preston thought numbly. This was his chance - tell this man, this new partner that Preston never would have chosen for himself, that his former, feeling, obviously irrational partner had given him information that could destroy the Resistance. He'd been blinded by arrogance before, hadn't seen Viviana's fall because he'd been too proud of his perfectly compliant family to think that she'd ever defy the laws of the land; he'd paid for his pride so many times.

Like he'd saved Partridge. But... this was different, wasn't it? Partridge was gone; surely he hadn't gone to the Resistance. He must have predicted this possibility. Preston could redeem himself. He could make up for what he'd failed to do with Viviana in the eyes of the Council.

Only the Council's eyes, though. Not his own. She hadn't had to die, he could have saved her life, if he'd only known -

"Cleric Preston?" Brandt's voice had an edge of impatience, of cold efficiency that was tired of being held back. Very much like Preston's own, he thought. "Are you all right?"

"Obviously not," he said. "I apologize. I was recalling the conversation. My head injury has made remembering difficult."

"I see." Brandt leaned back. "You remember nothing of value?"

"No." If there would ever be a right time, this was not it. "Partridge was... he was irrational, as you said yourself. He spoke about... feelings. Emotions. Nothing of value."

Brandt set his jaw. If he did not believe Preston, he made no outward sign of it. "I see. I suppose he still has some wits about him, then." He stood up. "But I've kept you awake for too long. You need to rest, Cleric. Once you're out of here, we'll have a lot of work to do."

"Of course," Preston answered, and even through the fog in his mind he could feel a dim spark of panic. He did not want to hunt Partridge any more than he'd wanted to hunt him before, but would he have a choice? He had not expected to be reassigned so quickly; Dupont must have had a way to cut through the usual red tape that usually surrounded such assignments. They were taking this very, very seriously.

He knew that he should say something, even as Brandt had turned to walk away. He should have asked for a line to Dupont, should have told him personally. He should have protested this new arrangement; he found that he did not like this aggressive young man with the threatening smile. But he thought of Partridge's smile, of the look on his face when he'd told Preston about his dreams, and he stayed silent.

He found himself looking forward to his recovery. It was too early to make plans, perhaps, but for now... they could not see inside of his mind. He would have time to think about all of this. Hopefully, he would be able to make the opportunity to think about it properly.

He closed his eyes.

Date: 2011-04-26 04:26 am (UTC)
telesilla: a close shot of bill fichtner's hands (bill hands)
From: [personal profile] telesilla
Oh man, I am SO sorry. I didn't even realize this had been posted until now, so I really apologize for not commenting until now.

I really like where you went with this! I love that even with more Prozium in his system, Preston can't give Partridge up. :)


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Remix Goes Wild

December 2011


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