The room was nice. Not five star hotel fancy, but nice. A comfortable bed, a softened old armchair, a worn wooden desk, and other such things. The lights were warm and comforting, a light woody scent settling over everything, giving the room a homey cabin kind of feel.
Gadget hated it.
He sat on the floor in the corner, knees curled to his chest, staring blankly into space. He held his glasses in a limp grip, unwilling to put them back on. Whenever he put them on, he was hyperaware of the smooth glass that should have been marred by a jagged crack.
A few days, he estimated. A few days since he was brought to this place. It couldn’t have been longer than that. Not that he could really tell when the room didn’t have any windows. He’d checked the rest of the rooms already, finding nothing but the facilities you’d expect of a small one bedroom apartment and a few doorways containing solid walls. He knew they could turn into proper doors, but only the single other person he’d seen in this place had the power to do so. And he wasn’t going to let Gadget through.
He barely glanced up at the sound of a door opening, didn’t move as footsteps approached and a masked figure appeared at the doorway.
Infinite gazed at him from across the room. The single eye visible through his mask wasn’t nearly enough to guess his expression. “You still insist on this foolishness. Have you not accepted your situation yet?”
Gadget raised his eyes to glare at Infinite. He didn’t bother speaking, just held that steady glare and allowed his emotions to radiate freely.
Infinite threw back his head and laughed, a dark, jarring sound. In an instant he zapped across the room and hauled Gadget up by the neck so his toes only just reached the ground. One hand came up reflexively to grab at Infinite’s wrist as the jackal hovered above him, that emotionless mask concealing his thoughts. “Your pathetic defiance means nothing,” he growled as Gadget choked. “You have no power. I will complete my goals, I will kill the people who wronged me, and I will destroy this world that dared take so much from me.”
His grip eased slightly, letting Gadget’s feet settle flat against the ground without releasing his throat. One hand cupped Gadget’s cheek in an almost caress. “But I need you,” he said, his voice taking on the smoothness of bitter dark chocolate. “I need your energy to survive. For that, I will give you anything you desire… yet you still refuse my gifts. Why is that?”
Gadget breathed shallowly, trying to get what oxygen he could with Infinite’s hand on his throat. He didn’t respond.
Infinite hummed. He removed the hand on Gadget’s face, snapping his fingers. A pair of surprisingly unbroken glasses flew into his hand. He unfolded and placed them on Gadget’s face, careful not to poke him with the arms. “You could make this so much easier,” he said quietly, something almost soft in his voice. “Just give me what I need, and I can give you everything.”
Gadget’s eyes narrowed. He raised his free hand in an entirely unambiguous gesture.
“Suit yourself.” Infinite released his grip, letting Gadget crumple to the floor with a coughing fit. He knelt down and snapped his fingers, cubes rushing forward to hold Gadget in place. One hand was pulled behind his back and cuffed; the other Infinite caught and pressed against the phantom ruby.
Gadget winced and squeezed his eyes shut against the awful tugging sensation in his core. Infinite’s grip was like iron, impossible to escape. He didn’t even try. He just braced himself as his energy drained like water into the ruby’s hungry vacuum.
It seemed like an eternity before the terrible suction stopped, leaving Gadget too drained to even lift his eyelids. He felt himself being gathered into someone’s arms and lifted, then deposited on a soft surface and covered in something warm. Then his mind went blissfully blank.
When Gadget woke up, he was surprised for a moment to find himself in a bed. He hadn’t used the bed except when he was first brought…
Then the memories from before he passed out trickled in, and he sat bolt upright, a jolt of adrenaline shocking him into wakefulness.
“Oh, you’re awake.”
Gadget blinked at the vaguely familiar voice, turning toward the armchair to see a jackal setting aside a paperback. His still muddled brain took several seconds to connect the mask laying on the table and the ruby on the jackal’s chest to the jackal himself. Then it clicked.
Gadget stiffened, drawing his knees to his chest. Infinite just chuckled. “If I wanted to do anything, I could have done it while you were asleep,” he said, his voice far less resonant without the mask but just as deep. “I only stayed because I had a realization of sorts.”
Gadget watched him warily, not uncurling from his defensive position but untensing a little. Because it wasn’t like Infinite was wrong. And… his curiosity was one thing nobody had managed to drive out of him. Infinite wasn’t going to be the one to do so.
A smirk settled on Infinite’s muzzle. Gadget almost missed his next comment while marveling at the surreal experience of actually seeing Infinite’s expressions. “It’s not that you don’t have things you want. It’s that you’re stopping yourself from taking those things.” Infinite tilted his head, his smirk stretching. “But don’t worry. I can fix that.”
Gadget’s eyes widened. He tried to scoot away, but Infinite flashed across the room and caught his face with both hands, forcing him to maintain eye contact. “This will only take a moment,” he purred, “and then… things will be so much easier.”
Gadget tried to jerk away, but Infinite didn’t budge, holding him still as the ruby glowed brighter between them. He could feel the thread between them growing as more energy was forced through, sinking into his skin, flowing through his veins, tinting his vision red as he was dragged down into a mental haze. Through it he could just barely hear Infinite’s voice.
“Morality and inhibitions aren’t good for much anyway.”