There is, in certain circles that you will never get anyone to admit exist, a hungry market for naked pictures of Jakita Wagner. An immortal and indestructible woman who can crush stone in her fists, with a body that is a stirring testament to hybrid vigor, and who officially was never born… to a certain mindset, nothing is so attractive as having a picture of such a woman with no clothes on.
Rumors fly. Certain people say Apollo and the Midnighter have one, because certain people have odd notions about gay men. Others claim a stash of them were recovered from Four Voyagers Plaza, the fruit of Randall Dowling's cupidity merging with his surveillance technology. Most people who know Jakita exists assume that the Planetary archives must contain a stash of nude shots of her, because even people who know about Jakita have trouble understanding Planetary very well. John Stone is known to have a standing offer of half a million dollars or one free murder of anyone alive for an authentic Jakita Wagner full-frontal. Two men have died pursuing what they thought was Jack Carter's private photo album.
The Drummer is aware of this market and chooses not to feed it. Indeed, the one time a blurry telephoto shot of her ass found its way onto a Stormwatch satellite image server, he felt a faint, almost subliminal shift in the information around her, and he found and deleted the image before anyone was entirely aware it existed. Sometimes when he's feeling low and unappreciated, he thinks of that free murder and all those other underground offers, and how he could fill that entire hungry market to bursting by standing near a hard drive and breathing deeply.
He's seen her naked, of course. He grew up around her, has been adventuring with her for decades now, and she doesn't always care where she changes clothes. Then, too, there are a lot of things that can damage her fighting suit but not her skin, and it would take a man of stone not to at least glance. Although on the two occasions they've met men of stone, both of them glanced. Just the images in his stupid perfect memory would win him a wishlist of favors from… well, from the kind of men who are aware that Jakita Wagner is real.
He doesn't do it, though, and he's never going to. Elijah would say that never is a long time, and he'd be right, but still. It's not because she'd be upset, though she would be. It's not even that Elijah would be upset, a more frightening prospect. Elijah still occasionally overcompensates for his deficiencies as a surrogate father, and his notions of virtue sometimes taste of pre-war vintage.
Silly and shallow as it may seem, The Drummer protects Jakita against even the faintest assault on her dignity because he has loved her unreservedly since he was a child.
His stupid perfect memory starts in that one room with its awful beige carpet and crappy food and rough toilet paper. He knows perfectly well that he had a family before then, even had a name. He can remember everything in John Stone's dossier on him, whether he wants to or not. But he doesn't remember it as things that happened, he doesn't remember it in precise hi-def digital clarity the way he remembers everything starting in the room with the beige carpet. Dowling did things to him and the other boys, he knew. Drugs and surgeries and there were reasons his first memories are of having no hair. Thus he has detailed, perfect recall of the day two men in white and one woman in black appeared out of nowhere and all the other boys died.
Elijah is brilliant and scary and he exists to save things, but he wasn't fast enough. Ambrose is brave and resourceful and the most fundamentally decent person The Drummer's ever met, but he wasn't fast enough either. Only Jakita was fast enough, she was the one who outraced a radio signal and tore the collar from his neck, leaving him sitting alone at the end of a line of headless corpses. Jakita is the only reason he's alive at all, not dead like all those people in John Stone's dossier.
Any time he wants, and a lot of times he doesn't, he can recall Elijah's desperate yell, "Jakita! The one closest to you!" and he remembers every nuance and inflection, can even separate out the last vestige of a Kentucky twang around the edges of the vowels like reading the version number off a program. But yelling wasn't the same as taking the collar and yanking it away so fast that he has to slow the memory down and play it back at a fraction of normal speed just to understand what happened. Yelling didn't save his life, Jakita did.
What he feels for her isn't sexual love; by the time he was twenty he'd come to realize he didn't really feel that for biological entities. It isn't filial love either; at least he doesn't think so. He hasn't got any actual memories of family to compare it to, but from what he's gleaned about the love guys feel for even the coolest moms or craziest big sisters, it doesn't seem to fit what he feels for Jakita.
The only phrase he can muster is existential love. He loves her because without her he would not exist. The face she made that night in the desert when the ants came for them is the face his heart makes when he sees her. The tone in Elijah's voice when he's looking at something that the world tried and failed to erase, that's the tone The Drummer wishes he could mimic. The set of Ambrose's shoulders when he's sweated and bled to make a wrong thing right is also exactly how The Drummer carries himself around Jakita, not that anyone notices.
He knows that Jakita doesn't feel the same way about him, but it would be ridiculous to expect her to. His emotional makeup is a five-dimensional Venn diagram sharing a certain amount of overlapping space with normal human feelings, but he has no reason to believe that his devoted existential love for Jakita is contained within the overlap set. It would be like asking her to understand the Angels' love for information, or the pang of recognition it had created in him.
That lack of understanding was probably what led to that incident in 1998 when she tried to have sex with him.
Ambrose had still been dead at the time, Elijah rotting amnesiac in the desert, leaving the two of them at the head of a century-old world-spanning organization they'd never been prepared to run. It had been overwhelming and terrifying and lonely, but for him at least, the information flow had been dizzying. He hadn't realized until it was far too late that Jakita was getting bored. Jakita was dangerous when she was bored.
That night, they'd both been drunk. The Drummer liked getting drunk sometimes, liked how it made everything a bit lossy and distant like a Cold War numbers station bouncing around the Heaviside layer. Jakita had to put away Herculean amounts of alcohol to get properly ripped, but that night she'd found a cask of sherry that had been walled up with a human corpse under Milan since the 18th century, and she'd essentially chugged it.
The Drummer had been idly watching a Blake's 7 rerun and mentally arranging all the dialogue into powers of seven when he felt Jakita's hand on his thigh. It felt so tender and kind that he was almost able to ignore the math on how little effort it would take her to crush his femur if she took a notion to. Her lips when she suddenly kissed him were phenomenally powerful, still tasting of the shiny lipstick she favored, and part of him flagged this timepoint as First Kiss because he knew that was an important thing people flagged. Then her tongue forced its way into his mouth and he was overwhelmed with 1775 MONTILLA SPAIN and SALIVA PH 7.475 and far too much more. It was terrifying and he pulled away, only to realize that her hand was massaging his crotch. The same math about the femur ran through his head, a little faster and more urgently this time.
He wanted to say Don't but he had to run the data first. Her actions were clearly intent on sex, he got that, he was weird but he wasn't stupid. He did not know why she suddenly wanted to have sex with him, but he figured that was a puzzle he could solve later. The prospect of doing it, with the biological parts and the thrusting and all the stuff, was in the conceptspace of Unappealing But Possible, alongside reviewing the janitorial contracts for Planetary offices. This left the unresolved question: if it was something Jakita wanted (true) and if he was capable of it (true) and if he loved her and wanted to make her happy (true) why was he getting a (false) result on personal desire to have sex with her?
After a moment, the error presented itself: the mistaken conflation of giving Jakita what she wanted and making Jakita happy. If he had sex with her, he would enter himself into the set of People Jakita Had Slept With, alongside Jack Carter and Jenny Sparks and Fergus MacGannon and Sebastian Drake and various other people, most of them pretty awful human beings. (Mostly pretty awful, mostly human beings, his brain carefully distinguished without being asked.) There was a subset of them that Jakita had loved, but neither the set nor the subset overlapped at any point with the set of People Jakita Respected And Could Work With. That level of correlation produced a p-value close to 1.0 that he should not have sex with her, which was how his brain tended to work when he got panicky.
She had taken no for an answer with the same offhanded grace as catching a bullet, and instead they'd shared a long sob session about how much they missed Elijah and Ambrose, and by the time the sun came up her body had burned through the booze and they had begun to formulate the plan to bring Elijah back without getting them all killed. So in the end, that worked out well.
He knows that a number of people would think him crazy for declining sex with Jakita Wagner, but it wasn't as though any of those people would have thought he was sane otherwise. He is crazy by any reasonable standard, he understood and accepted that before he had pubic hair. He will always be crazy, and his relationship with Jakita will always be defined not by the night her hand was on his crotch, but by the afternoon when her hand was on his collar. That fits, that works better, his love for her as smooth and opaque and deep as pi, something he can understand.
He still denies them all any naked pictures of her, though. Not because he feels she's something he can possess, just because fuck those guys.