XenogenesisHe is young. The bright blue eyes have not yet narrowed into calculation and coldness. Themouth can still smile, though he does this but seldom. It is a shame, his teachers mutter to each other.The smile lights up his face when it happens, and he looks purely innocent. A bright child, they say.So much aptitude. But he socializes poorly. That's what it says on all his reports. The teachers writethem and then send them to his father – Roger, his mind emphasizes.
It lets him pretendthere's distance between them. But they write their reports and it's him that reads them and forges hisfather's signature and sends them back and tries, a little, to live up to what they want. It isn't what hewants, he just wants to get away, and he feels weak and pitiful for how much he knows he whines tohimself about this.There are years yet, before he becomes what fate has said he must be, though he does notknow this. The dark man's words whisper to him out of his memory, the smell of the jungle stillfresh.
“I don't want to go back there! I hate it there! Take me with you.”“Maybe that can happen, maybe. But if that's what you really want, Ben, if that's what youwant, I want you to really think about that. And you're gonna have to be very, very patient.”
He is young, and he tries not to think about how lonely he is, and he tries to look at the photograph of his mother as seldom as possible. He practices patience, in the only ways he can think of; by measuring his meals out, by pacing books he wants to rush through, by stopping to think for long pauses before answering any question he is asked. He doubts this is what the dark man meant, but it's all he's got. So he's got to try.He is lost in thought, math book open before him, his pencil hovering over long division. Thenumbers blend together, mostly unseen. He is not thinking, or so he would tell himself. He is tryingso very, very hard not to think that memories and resentments are all but bursting out of him.Down the hall, Roger Linus continues to vomit into the toilet. He curses, then retches again,the sound dry and hollow. The smell of sour ick and beer is unmistakable in the small home.Ben blinks, and then finally bursts into silent, frustrated tears. He is angry with himself for not being strong enough to disregard his humiliating family state. He is angry, because he can't yetseem to be patient enough to look at his fath – at Roger – for more than the space of seconds beforeeverything begins to boil up in him again. He is angry, because he can't stop how lonely he feels.There is a word, a word he's plucked from many a pulp tale, tales where man reaches the stars,where man outstrips everything others have told him he cannot do. Xenogenesis. He clutches at thisword like a talisman. Xenogenesis. Like the cuckoo. The child is not like the parent.Young Ben hitches a shuddery breath and puts his homework away. He hides himself, not justunder a great pile of covers, but inside, inside where the Dawn Treader still sails, where the Ring stilltrudges towards its destruction, where polecats can be gods and magic can still be whispered. He'sstill just a kid, he knows. Maybe he could yet be some forgotten prince, and these parents of his justsome great gag. Maybe he can be free.He thinks of his mother who would be casually tossed aside in this miracle daydream andloses himself in more sobs. He tries to silence himself, but cannot. He would be comforted to knowthat Roger could never hear him. Roger has passed out on the cool tile next to the toilet.* * * *Ben Linus is regarding a bound and dirty man without active thought. He examines hiscaptive clinically, without real regard for the being as a human. His cold eyes narrow and his lips purse. He looks down at a file in his hand, rereading what he has already read a dozen times. Hecould recite it now, from memory. And yet the act of reading has always been something of a