So, I am not a very subtle writer. I can try all I want to allude to a plot twist, I will never succeed in just alluding to it. Many are going to figure out that Mitchel’s intentions are nefarious at best. They’re going to assume that the man is involved with the Resistance. I’m positive of it.

But every once in a while, I think of this brilliant line. This blatant, outright hint that really, when it comes down to it, is just Mitchel doing what he does best: manipulate. Calculate. Say this one thing, earn all of the trust.

I try not to sledgehammer — and honestly, I’ve gotten better at it. It helps that I’m getting a handle on how to properly pace a story. It helps that I know a lot of the plot devices and the little bumps in the road for my characters ahead of time. Throw in a line here, dangle a tiny bit of information there. End a chapter with a single question that’ll make the reader think Oh fuck that can’t be good. 

I want the reader to dread. I want them to see things that the POV character of a chapter/section does not see. I show them the body language, I use Dramatic Irony to the best of my ability — anything, really, to pull them in and make them wonder just how long before things go to shit. I want them to guess at what happens next, and to hate me for it when I exceed their expectations.

And today, I wrote one of those Lines. One that made me grin ear to ear, one that made me go Oh yesssss as I wrote it, as my heart leapt in my chest. Because that line? Should make the reader question everything that proceeded it in that scene. Should make the reader question every little action that takes place after it. And I love it. It plants that seed of doubt, one that will make people fight over Mitchel’s characterization and his true motivations.

And I love it.

Please, let me know if and when you see it…

***

Jazz’s lips parted, just for a moment, before he tightly clamped them shut and shook his head. “I don’t want to talk about this,” he gritted through his teeth. He turned on his heel and stormed towards Mitchel’s front door. “I should have fucking known that you’d try and see how you could use this whole thing to your advantage.”

“This damn well isn’t about me, Callahan,” Mitchel growled, causing Jazz to stop in his tracks, his shoulders bunching together. “This is about you and Bates, and ultimately, the Empire. If the two of you are going your separate ways because of something inconsequential –”

“You don’t even know what he did!” Jazz snarled, glaring at Mitchel over his shoulder. Tears gathered in his eyes yet again, but he ignored them as he continued. “Don’t even fucking try to tell me I’m overreacting when you don’t know what that bastard did to me!”

“I can certainly make an educated guess,” Mitchel responded simply, standing up straight. He continued to close the distance between them, keeping his arms crossed over his chest. “Bates has become increasingly agitated the past few months. The growing distance between the two of you has been painfully obvious in that time — but I have not once seen you so adamant in refusing to work on your issues. Whatever he did, it’s not something you think can be fixed.”

“He almost fucking raped me,” Jazz spat. Mitchel’s eyes widened before his expression went blank. “So yeah, you’re right — I don’t think that’s something we can fucking fix.”

Jazz remained where he was for a moment, wishing his chest wouldn’t heave the way it did before he swallowed the rest of his tears and headed towards the door yet again. He ran his fingers through his hair, whimpering into the palms of his hands as he continued forward, refusing to look back.

It wasn’t like Mitchel actually cared, anyway. The asshole never did. Only looked out for himself and no one else, always used those around him to get what he wanted. What the hell made Jazz think that, for once in his fucking life, Mitchel could actually be human?

“Jazz, wait,” Mitchel called, his voice barely loud enough to be heard over Jazz’s tears.

Jazz stopped yet again, his hand resting lightly on the doorknob. When was the last time Mitchel had actually called him by his name? It had to have been years. “What?” he dared to ask, facing Mitchel. He avoided the other man’s eyes as tears spilled down his cheeks.

“You’re right — you really shouldn’t return to the Palace,” Mitchel said, frowning. “You should either report Bates for what he did and be prepared to handle the scandal it will cause, or…” Mitchel paused, taking a moment to clear his throat and approach Jazz slowly.

Jazz hastily wiped his tears away. “Or…?” he prompted, taking a step towards Mitchel.

Mitchel smiled, though it looked nothing like his usual smug expression. Sadness lingered behind it — something Jazz wasn’t sure he had ever seen before. “Or leave,” he finished quietly, looking away from Jazz. “No doubt, Bates will feel it necessary to blame your disappearance on the Resistance, but at least you will be free of him.”

“I can’t — the Empire –”

“There’s a Council for a reason,” Mitchel said, cutting him off. “If you wish, I can direct you to an…acquaintance of mine. That way, should you feel the need to provide suggestions for the ongoings within the Empire, you’ll be able to reach me.”

Jazz bit his lip and looked away, reaching for the doorknob behind him. “They’re not — not someone who’d know who I am, are they?” he asked, scuffing his feet along the floor.

“I assure you, Diehl will not recognize you without that ludicrous wig you wear for public appearances,” Mitchel said, smiling slightly. “He’s a good man — unlike myself.”

Jazz managed to smile back. “I dunno, Mitchel,” he whispered, feeling his cheeks grow warm, “You’re a better man than you realize.”

Maybe if Jazz had realized it before, he wouldn’t have gotten into this mess, in the first place.

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