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Follow me into darkness

Discussion in 'Pandora, Year 1 - 7' started by Jason Todd, Mar 18, 2018.

  1. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    Date- May 20th, year 7
    Tags- @Tanaquil

    It was not every day one found themselves sleeping in caves and abandoned buildings as they fled the dangers of their home though Jason had quietly sworn that they would return, just as soon as he had figured out a way too. His ice, blue gaze was tired, being on the run was exhausting but to be honest Jason had spent the majority of his life on the run or in hiding, it was how to avoid being hauled to jail back in Gotham. As well as the best way to avoid his families judgement before Pandora, now he half longed to contact them so as to ask for help but his pride was strong, plus it was better if the others were not connected to him, it was safer for them.

    So he would get Tanaquil to safety, then the two of them would prepare for what lay ahead and they would succeed, he would make sure of it. For the moment though, they were spending the day resting in a cave, waiting for night to fall before they moved on to their next resting location and it was as Jason had been about to drift off at last that the motion sensors he'd placed at the cave entrance went off. Immediately he was awake, reaching for his guns, ice, blue gaze flickering to the cave entrance, hidden round a bend and quietly he signalled to Tanaquil to be extra quiet.

    Fortunately they'd already removed most of their light in an attempt to sleep, so there was no light to guide the thugs around the bend to them. But even so Jason wanted eyes on them, especially as he could now hear their voices"That farmer said they came in here... Someone get some light and we'll go in after them.." Slowly Jason began to approach the bend, moving with a well trained silent step. Pistols in hand as he peered out of the darkness towards the light of the cave entrance, he counted four stood silhouetted in the cave entrance, but there had to be more outside because these four were talking to men outside in the sunlight.

    The choices that lay before him were not great, one fight them when unprepared, two be forced to flee deeper into the cave system they were camped out in without their gear and three, use one of his rockets to bring the cave down. He knew three was the best option, as that would give he and Tanaquil time to gather their things before fleeing into the tunnels but at the same time he knew he could not do it. His heart already raced at the mere thought of the total darkness it would bring. So he scrapped that option and prepared himself for a fight, maybe he'd be able to take most of them out, before drawing the remaining men in for Tanaquil to aid him with.
     
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  2. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    Despite undeath being the ironic fact of life it was, for some reason sleep was still a necessity. It would have been nice if that hadn't been the case, just because that left so many more hours to work without the dragging annoyance of exhaustion, but such as not-life. Even if she couldn't move around in the sun there was always something that needed doing, doubly so when traveling quickly. That she felt this was some of her own fault, them being driven this way, didn't help with her feeling of frustrated uselessness. Were it not for her, he'd be sitting somewhere comfortable with air conditioning, near his family, laughing and talking and trying to fix what was broken in the house of Wayne or Todd or what have you.

    Even as she'd settled in to sleep it hadn't come easily and she'd more stared into the darkness of the cave than closed her eyes, reminding herself of the silliness of it all. A hint of hunger, a lot of resentful anger at her situation and her guilty love for him made rest difficult- but being exhausted and impossible to live with seemed self-defeating. Better to sleep, to think of what best to do next. Or not, as the alarm went off and she sat up, glancing sideways toward the cave entrance around the ledge she'd laid against to make sure that as the sun shifted none of the rays would fall inside. She could hear their heartbeats, their footfalls, smell the mortality and the sand on their skin. Her instincts wanted to say dangerous prey so she ignored that instinct altogether..

    Besides, she needed to focus on Jason. He was readying himself, she could see him clearly in the shadows, gun in hand and gesturing for silence. well enough, but there was something wrong in all of this. They knew what they were after, and she and Jason- especially Jason- had no idea what they were up against. Who knew what they had in mind, or in store, and if there was one thing she'd learned in battle-training and running a mission here or there, it was that the unexpected was more dangerous when you were on the wrong side of the element of surprise. And there were so many of them too, she could hear them outside the cave, the fainter heartbeats, the way they cocked their guns out of reach of the entryway, and smell so much blood. There was no way to tell him either, not if he wanted quiet.

    For a moment she saw his head twitch, he looked at the nefarious rocket launcher, the doom machine of explosions and fire, and she could see where this was exactly the situation for it. And yet, he didn't pick it up, favoring fighting exhausted instead, and for a moment she almost said something rather scathing about that. She was not going to watch him be hurt or worse for the sake of working out whatever frustration he felt like working through. If he died, so would her heart. That was never going to be an answer she'd accept, not like this.

    So instead she did what made sense and moved forward quietly, settling against another stalagmite and silently reached for the rocket launcher, then starting to load a round into it.
     
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  3. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    He didn't notice how closely Tanaquil was watching him or the expression upon her face that spoke of many tones of disapproval. Instead Jason was fixing on what he was going to do next, he wished he was wearing his helmet because then at least he could map out where his opponents were, but instead his instinct had been to get into position by the curve of the cave. Where he now glanced at the men from and though he blinked against the harsh light of the cave entrance he could see torches and head lamps being handed out to those stood in the cave entrance. He pulled himself back around the bend as the torch lights flickered on, he could hear them moving around in the cave entrance now, exploring the darkness before the bend and having just blinded himself looking towards the entrance he could not see in the darkness what Tanaquil was up to but he could hear slight movements from her. He was more fixed on the approaching footsteps however counting as they drew nearer and then there was a flickering of torchlight as they fixed on the bend of the cave.

    Jason prepared himself for the fight, arms holding a torch and a pistol followed the light. It was then he was reacting bringing an arm down on top of the man's arms, forcing both torch and gun to point at the floor before ramming the butt of his gun into the guy's face as hard as he could. There was a spray of blood and a crunching sound as the guys nose broke, then Jason's foot raised to meet the man's chest sending him sprawling backwards into the two comrades who had been behind him. All this took seconds but even so, guns were firing at the corner the minute the three men fell and Jason twisted back round the corner, firing off some shots of his own as he did so. All the people round the corner seemed so well armed and yet Jason was fixed on the fight now, he saw no other ways out. He could hear them calling to each other and throwing taunts his way but he had no idea what they were saying as he plotted his next move, he fired a couple more shots around the corner before reaching for the jacket by his bed, knowing their would be smoke pellets in there that he could use.
     
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  4. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    The fight began in earnest and Tanaquil frowned in worry as she watched. She was the one with the keen eyes for the darkness, it should be her in there- but the fires, the dancing lights and the promise of the sun toward the entrance. It was possible to fight those instincts, especially when Jay's safety was on the line. Right now it was all she could think of- the voices and heartbeats, how he fought, and how badly they were outnumbered. There was a smell of blood in the air, the din of shots, and the more terrifying cloying scent of charcoal and smoke. That was no good, but at least she could still hear and see him in the corner of her eye, moving like a fighting god- though one she'd rather see smiling instead, and at peace. Such as their lot.

    He didn't seem to notice what she was doing, and that was probably a good thing. After all, she hadn't exactly been trained on 'emergency rocket launcher cave-ins'. Luckily for them both, she was inventive, and had taken the alternate course of 'well Joker wants this to blow up more people' and the repair and use of large things had come along with it, if unwillingly. She was quick and deft, and her vampiric speed and vision served her well as she got the round into the chamber, read the trigger and glanced at Jason as he ducked around the wall. For a moment her mouth opened and she almost started to tell him what she was planning. But then everything was happening and there wasn't time. "Stay here, please, I can do this."

    So she stood and drifted past him quickly, stopping in sight of the men, the fire hurting her eyes and the rocket launcher over her shoulder, the panel on the side blinking in the darkness, and she heard at least one gasp. and a couple more guns being fired, and the bullets she ignored as they skimmed past "Anyone who knows what's good for them is going to run, and fast," she said with the imperious notes of the Sorceress Tanaquil, Lady of the Desert Fortress, then aimed up at the ceiling of the cave as feet began to fly, and fired.

    The blast of hot air nearly knocked her off her feet and she felt her fangs protrude at the pain the searing light brought her before she squeezed her eyes shut and hissed, throwing up her free arm against it. Everything was a shuddering mess of cascading rock, and the tremors sent her to her knees as a dropped torch fluttered, stuck under a large stone.
     
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  5. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    Even as he was reaching for his jacket there was sound in the darkness, Tanaquil was up to something and suddenly he was afraid for her. The cave entrance was full of thugs with all kinds of weapons, the sun was out, there was flames, so many bad things could happen to her right then and he paused mid-reach, gaze going towards her shadowy figure. She was speaking to him, a pleading tone with an edge of authority to it, telling him to stay there, that she could do this and he spoke"Tanaquil wait! What ar-" He cut off as she moved towards the bend in the cave, as the torchlight of those attacking them hit her Jason realised what her plan was.

    She was going to do the one thing he could not do, she already had the rocket launcher in her hands, held over her shoulder and even as he came to this realisation she was calling to their attackers. In that moment he suddenly forgot about the smoke pellets, forgot about his jacket over by his bed, all he knew was he had to stop Tanaquil. Bullets were hitting the cave wall, missing her by miles and if his own fear was not suddenly overwhelming him he would of been concerned for Tanaquil's safety but as it was he was instead making a frantic scramble towards the vampire yelling"Tanaquil wait, no! Stop!"

    He felt sluggishly slow compared to the movement of her finger on the weapon trigger and he was reaching her as the weapon fired. A flash of light tore across the cave and then there was the sound of an explosion, as the rocket crashed into a section of the cave near its entrance. Following that was a horribly familiar sound of rubble falling as the explosion caused the cave to begin to cave in and though Jason now had a grip on Tanaquil, preventing her falling beyond her knees he felt as if he was someplace else. A memory of a desperate leap, burning agony and that horrible sound of falling rubble.

    Every inch of the man was shaking and almost distantly he could hear the echoes of giggling laughter, suddenly he felt his stomach lurch. His right grip on the woman's arm released and he staggered back gagging until his back hit the cave wall, the contact of the hard surface at his back brought him back to reality except reality was now complete darkness. His breathing began to pick up even more rapidly than before, he couldn't see a thing and without realising it Jason was sliding down the cave wall, until he was sat at base of the wall, his body violently quaking.

    A tiny whimper escaped him, a sound Tanaquil would not be familiar with from him"No, no, no, no..." It was a whimpered chant, as he pulled his legs up before him and buried his face into his knees as he wrapped his arms around his limbs desperately trying to block the darkness out even as memories swam to the forefront of his mind once again pulling him from reality.
     
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  6. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    He'd tried to stop her, she realized far after the fact- though she had expected that a little, and it was too late to stop it anyway. With the force of the heat and the shockwaves she couldn't quite tell he had grabbed her until they started to subside, and she glanced up toward him, the launcher rolling off of her shoulder and to the ground with a clang. But now he wasn't at her side, and while she could see quite clearly in the darkness she knew very, very well that it was as dark as could be. Not as dark as a grave, not to her- but then, she'd had closed eyes there- and now so did he, as he huddled and curled up.

    If he could have seen her face, it would have been a horrified echo of its usual self. What had she done? Her stomach sunk as she watched. Hadn't she felt that way once or twice herself, even if she'd rebelled against it by shouting and throwing things, while inside she cringed and cried? And she loved him, but she'd brought this about, because she hadn't really thought, had she. No, she'd assumed that he was just worried and that she could save them for once, and now look. A part of her wanted to run to the other side of the cave and hide in a crevice. But no, he needed her, and she was not a coward.

    So she rose and walked toward him, her mind spinning fast as she tried to determine what might have brought this on. The grave? Maybe. Or any number of other things. He'd feared the dark, that she remembered. The dark and the cold. It stopped her in her tracks, and she rushed over to grab one of the torches that had fallen on their side of the rock slide. It was out, but could burn again- not that she could easily light it. Fortunately, Jason was a smoker, and that likely meant he could set it ablaze. Which is why she now took it to him, careful to keep her footfalls audible; this was not the time to sneak up on him.

    "Jason, what's wrong?" she started, her voice a little lower, because the echo in here was bound to be a terrible thing, and softer with sympathy and guilt and sadness for his fear. She set the torch down carefully, in his reach but not on him, then sat before his crumpled figure and reached out a hand to rest it on his own. So warm. "You're not dead, not buried- and I'm here, but no one else is. Do you understand?" Did he? Would he? She could only imagine the things in his mind right now..
     
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  7. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    His eyes were still clamped tightly shut, his face buried in his knees, but even as he fought to stay in reality, he could feel pain flooding through him, a phantom pain dragging him back to that night. His pitiful chant grew louder"No, no, no, no... Please.... No..." In his minds eye he was back in a tight, cramped space, he curled tighter into a ball and lost as he was within his head, trapped back in that coffin deep underground he did not know Tanaquil was watching him nor did he really hear her moving around the cave. Instead his hands were curling into fists, his breathing was growing even faster to the point he was on the verge of hyperventilating and he hissed"I can't.... Bruce... I need... Oh no, no, no... Please..." He barely noticed Tanaquil was approaching, though her footsteps crunched nosily on the now dirt covered ground, to lost was he in the memories and emotions that had come upon death and being buried.

    The phantom pain was growing in his arms and hands, reminding him of how he'd had to dig his way out, how the wood had broken through the flesh of his hands, how that every movement brought back the searing pain from the wounds the joker and the explosion had inflected upon him. The memory of the pain was so vivid that he was suddenly letting out a muffled cry of pain and pulling his hands off his legs to cradle them against his chest. He tried opening his eyes then, he wanted to see his hands, he wanted to see why they hurt so much but he could not actually tell if his eyes had opened or not. His body began to show signs of heading completely into hyperventilating but then there was a voice, a voice he instinctively locked onto because of how he associated it with warmth, with safety and yet his confused mind could not place it as it struggled to find its way back from the past. He was physically shaking, too afraid to say a word, instead he was frozen in place, ice blue eyes straining against the darkness as desperately he tried to see, still cradling his hands to his chest.

    He could hear movement now, something had been put near him and then something was touching him, something fleshy, yet cold yet out of terrified instinct he was flinching back, trying to scramble away up the cave wall briefly rising into a half crouch before Tanaquil's voice came. Instantly the need to panic faded and he was sliding down the cave wall again, her words gave him something to cling to. He tried to focus on them to ground himself before finally he was slipping back to reality finding himself murmuring"Tanaquil? Oh god...." A plea was in his voice, he sounded so childlike and he was reaching for her hoping she was still there, hoping she was not a figment of his imagination. He hated how he couldn't see, he felt blind and the darkness only served to threaten to pull him under because even now Jason could feel the flash back threatening to return. Swallowing he forced himself to speak again"We need light...Please... I need light... Oh fuck..." He was openly pleading with her now, begging for her to take the darkness away as she always did.
     
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  8. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    His breathing was still rushed, and when he'd jumped back from her touch and started to rise she'd shifted her hand back quickly. For all that being a vampire was fantastic for seeing in the dark and walking in unsteady places she couldn't give him breath, or warmth- so what use was it, really? He was lost in memories of death, and here she was, with nothing but that to offer. She had to smother back a little, anguished and self-defeated sound at it, because this was certainly not about her, and she didn't need him thinking, even if he didn't know her right now, that this was about her. Well it was in the sense that she'd caused it, but that was beyond the point. Right now, it was him who needed something.

    In the end she was glad she had too, because when he spoke to her he was so sad, and so broken that she bit her lip to keep back the apologies- there was time for that later. He was reaching for her and she reached back, slipping closer to him and wrapping her arms around him, cursing her coldness again. "I'm here, really," she told him sincerely, concern and guilt in her voice as she kept it soft and low. How stupid and silly she had been, and after this she'd try and force him to make sure she never used that damned launcher again. Or any other explosives. "You're alive, and you're here, not there- whichever 'there' you're thinking of. There's air, and space, and you and me."

    That was not the only kind of warmth, and she settled next to him against the wall, careful not to break complete contact with him as she did so. She could feel the shuddering of his breathing, the fear, the way he was trying to push back through- and she knew what that was like. She'd dug out once, and she'd been lucky, her strength and speed making it quick. How must it have been for him? Unthinkingly, she rested her forehead against his cheek. "I'll get you light, but you should stay here, beloved. Hold onto this," she told him, taking one of his hands and guiding it to the torch on the floor. "It just needs a spark, or a flame. If I go get one, can you wait here?" If he couldn't, well, she'd wait. Or she'd just be so fast he might not notice she was gone, as though that would work.
     
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  9. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    Her voice was soothing and he was glad when she returning his reach, his felt her hand in his and though it was so cold the contact of someone he loved even in the total darkness calmed his fast paced breathing. Yet the fear still clung to him, the verge of nightmares breaking through forcing him to stay on the verge of panic and god did he wish he could see. She was beside him now, her arms around him and despite how cold they were it was a comfort to feel them around him. He leaned into her like a child, allowing her to feel every shake that continued to run through him and again he closed his eyes, hating how with them open made no difference to having them shut but at least with his eyes close he could attempt to convince himself he was not trapped in total darkness.

    Tanaquil was speaking to him also, he words offering him more comfort as she continued to tell him he was not within any of the hellish landscapes his mind was trying to tell him he was in. His arms came up and he clutched at her a little, curling his fingers into her clothing saying"You're here... It's not... I'm not alone..." His voice was small, pathetic and then she was responding to his words about needing light saying she would get him light, for a moment he clutched at her tighter not wanting her to leave him alone in the darkness. He could feel her skin against his cheek and he did not want her to go even more, for the comfort the contact with her brought him. But then a moment later he was forcing himself to release her, shifting back against the wall, feeling a prickling across his skin as he did so and knowing it was entirely to do with the unease he felt in his gut.

    Her hand was still on his, guiding it to touch something on the floor and he felt wood beneath his fingers, his brow furrowed as he tried so hard to concentrate on what she was saying to him, even as he screwed his eyes shut tighter. His fingers tightened around the wood of the torch and he murmured"I can do this... I have to..." Then with his free hand he found Tanaquil's arm and slid his hand down to mingle with hers a moment before he spoke again with an edge of a plea"Just be quick, I don't want to be alone... The things in my head- Please be quick." Then with a final clammy squeeze to her hand he released his grip on her and clutched at the wood in his other hand, trying to force himself to remember her words even saying them out loud"I'm not buried... I'm alive... Tanaquil is with me... No torture... No explosions... No... No him... There is air.. There is space..." His voice was soft but firm, determined and yet it held an edge of fear even as his heart rate rose at the lose of contact.
     
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  10. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    Oh, when he clung she wanted to stay, because it was terrible to leave him to the dark and the fear when she knew so well what that was like, and especially since she'd put him in this position. Oh, she'd a lot of things that she had to live down, certainly, but this one might be the topper. Saving them from the bandits had only created a bigger threat that was harder to fight, more tenacious and even nastier than fire and sun and bullets. But there was one thing she knew, and that sometimes a short-term pain was necessary for a long-term return. If she stayed with him, holding him as he held her, the sweet warmth so close, they would be happy, and safe, and the darkness would be kept back for a time- but they were still in a cave with no way out. It was still dark, and cold.

    Well, if it had to happen some time, best to rip off the band-aid, as it were.

    She bit her lower lip and squeezed his hand gently, then kissed his jaw quickly as she started to pull away. Her hand stayed in his for now, and she leaned over so it could even when she was standing. "I'll be quick, like a flash. And better, I'll talk the entire time, and you can hear me because I'm not as silent a sneak as you," she told him, a faint hint of lightness in her voice as she stepped back, pulling her fingers away. "You can hear me, and I'm here. The torch is there, and you can breathe. I swear."

    And with that she dashed toward his coat, speaking all the while. "You're absolutely right, Jason. It's just us here- not even Peeve, I think he's sleeping deeper in the caves, where there were some muskrat holes," she told him, moving over the stones, nearly slipping, then catching herself and going to his bed. His coat hung there, and she picked it up carefully, just to make sure nothing fell out. By the God, this was heavy. "You realize there's probably better things to carry than bricks, by the feel of this thing," she told him pertly, then turned around and started back. It didn't matter what she talked about, so long as she kept speaking, did it? "Deep breaths, remember? Like you told me. I'm nearly there. Just five or six more steps. Let's see.. One.. Two.. Three.. Four.. oh, I was wrong, here I am."

    And with that she was by him again, and she gently sat down by his side, setting the jacket across their legs and resting a hand on his shoulder. "I'm here. Do you remember which pocket you need?"
     
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  11. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    The comfort of her touch was gone, a lingering sense of her mouth on his jaw and a scent of home was all that was left as he started speaking but then she kept her promise. She was speaking, he could hear her voice not so far from him and he took comfort from the fact he was not in an echoing, silent cave. Even so his grip on the torch was tight, so tight his knuckles were turning white and the lack of contact was making it hard to focus upon her voice no matter how comforting it was. He tried to focus on what she was saying, telling him it was just them, not even Peeve and he could hear her moving over stones. It sounded like she almost slipped and he wanted to open his eyes to see if she was alright but he knew that would ruin the illusion. He shuddered and opened his mouth to call out, to ask if she was alright when he heard the movement of clothing, as well as the call of her voice. He knew she spoke of his jacket and yet he could not make a joking retort as he focused entirely on breathing saying softly"There is air... Breathe.."

    It was another reminder that he was not in the past reliving the buried alive situation and a moment later her voice came again, similarly telling him to take deep breaths, along with letting him know how close she was. His hand instinctively reached for her, like a child in need of comfort and the moment she was there he clutched her arm, turning to bury his face into the comforting folds of the clothes on her shoulder, allowing her scent to soothe him. The weight of his jacket was upon their legs now but he distracted himself in her warm scent, before realising she was asking him a question and he tried to think, twisting his head so his face was no longer buried in her shoulder. But his mind was locked on the need to claw oneself free of the darkness. His breath quickened and he responded"I don't... I don't know..." His grip on her arm tightened and he spoke again reminding himself of the situation"Not buried, no explosion, air, space.... Alive... And no one but Tanaquil is here.. It's ok... It's ok..."

    He forced himself to breath, clutching at her arm with one of his hands as he curled beside her like a child seeking comfort. But even as he did this he was extending the hand that had held the torch towards his jacket, feeling the pockets on its inside, seeking out the needed item and when he felt it beneath his fingers his hand close on it bringing it out. Fixing on the feel of the lighter he found the ignition and flicking it felt the warmth of a small flame flickering by his thumb. Slowly his eyes peeled open, drawing away from Tanaquil's shoulder to fix upon the tiny flickering light and drawing a breath at the sight of the flame.
     
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  12. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    As soon as she was in reach Jason was reaching for her again and she let him, bringing a hand to his hair to stroke through it softly as he nestled against her. It didn't seem like he was very conscious of what was going on, what with the way the past kept wanting to loom up at him, and despite this plan for light she almost, for half a second, wondered if she should just give him some of her blood. He'd see in the dark, feel a little bit like he was part of it- at least from what she'd heard. But it was a flash of thought, and quickly discarded. Seeing Jason as a thrall, even for his own sake- that she couldn't manage. It would drive her mad, and likely him too. Better to stay this way until the air ran out than that, because he might never go back to being the same as before. Their love, well, it would surely be dead, because worship and love can't live together.

    When he mentioned that he didn't know where it was she was perfectly willing to look for him- perhaps with some teasing, trying again for any sort of smile, about being a snoop and finding Christmas cake or rats or the key to her heart in one of them. He shifted and started looking then though, and she held the coat steady across their legs as he did so, not getting in the way, but merely wanting to make sure nothing perilous fell out. "It's okay," she said instead, continuing to stroke his head and staying still, right where he needed her. And to be honest, she needed him too, even if she was fine. Why should that change, just because he needed her too?

    It didn't take him long to pull out the lighter and she steeled herself as he did, eyes narrowing slightly in preparation for what was coming. It wasn't bound to be a big flame, it was only a lighter. When she'd been a mere mortal she'd worked with blowtorches, even forged this and that with steel hotter than flames- but now, fire was the stuff of nightmares. But what difference was it if she was scared? Better her fears, new and known and obviously stupid, than his very real, very potent ones. She'd bear a thousand terrors of light to solve his one of dark.

    Then the blaze came, and she closed her eyes tight and smiled ruefully, fingers curling in his jacket slightly where it rested over her legs, though she kept stroking his hair with all the concentration in her. "Good then. Now the torch." And look at that, she didn't even sound scared. Perhaps she was getting to be a better actress despite herself.
     
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  13. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    The grip he had on her arm grounded him, yet her comforting touch to his hair soothed him as her fingers ran through it in a soothing motion. Never in his life had he been more pleased not to be alone than he was in that moment and he wished he could tell her what all she was doing for him meant to him. Even as he had suffered with being blind in the darkness, his mind swirling with nightmares he still felt her fear through the tiny tensing of muscles when the lighter clicked to life, he heard it to, in the sound of fingers easing tighter on leather and though now his gaze was fixed on the tiny light he held in his shaking hand he was tempted to lose the flame, to not light the torch, to allow himself to descend into darkness just so she did not have to suffer.

    Her hand was still moving comfortingly through his hair and with the tiny light he could feel the fear easing slightly, his breathing was finally slowing, though he still shook. His gaze went to where he'd left the torch and then he shifted, he needed both hands for this, but he shuffled so that the contact would remain from their bodies being side by side, pressed together and then his hand closed on the torch, but he did not light it he looked instead to the darkness beyond the flickering light, to Tanaquil. He noted her eyes were shut as his had been and he unclicked the lighter, the flames dying, the light vanishing.

    He was back in the darkness and he spoke"I can't... I won't..." Slowly he shifted to face her, fixing his thoughts on the now, not the then and forcing himself to remain calm as he spoke"You need to guide us out of here Tanaquil... The cave system went deep, you need to use those eyes of yours and your other senses to get us out of here... I trust you... I will follow you..." His hand holding the torch dropped it and instead reached for her hand, taking it with a gentle squeeze. He knew what he was doing was going to render him near useless as well as in a constant state of fear but he would always choose his own fear, his own darkness over hers.
     
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  14. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    As he shifted by her side, she let him move, their sides together her connection to him as they sat there- her in darkness and him in light. That was how it should be, somehow. He'd calmed a good deal, which was a balm on her. Let the flame get a mind of its own and leap over to kill her in then. Let her phobic thoughts just run entirely rampant until she was positive that the stone itself would start to burn and incinerate her through sheer, malignant irritation at her presence. She'd faced worse for far, far less than the life of a lover, hadn't she. So she could do it again.

    But then, when she expected to see a flare of brighter light as the torch was lit, the smell of smoke and embers, the woosh of a fed flame- there was nothing. Well, the sound of a torch being dropped, and a lighter clicking off, but that was all. Ever so carefully she opened her eyes, and then stared as he spoke. Oh Jason, you wonderful, silly, bravely foolish and terribly clever man. Somewhere, in the back of her mind, she could almost feel the objective side of herself sigh and facepalm, shaking out hair like hers and muttering about mutually ensured insanity. And it was a little mad, she knew that.

    Which was why she shook her head, and realized he couldn't see it a moment later, so she reached for his hand and took it, glancing his way with a serious expression. "Jason, no, light the torch. I'm braver than that," she told him, half-pleading and half confused. Of course she could lead him through the darkness, but he could also lead himself, and the floor was uneven and rocky. "And I'm the reason we're in this mess, me and my stupid need to do something and not sit still. I deserve to be a bit afraid, until I learn better." She meant it too, her voice tinged with regret and a little bemused adoration and reached out a hand to stroke his cheek.
     
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  15. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    There was a brief moment of silence from her as he spoke and he wished he could see her face to gauge her reaction to his words, yet he knew that the only way to do that was to light a flame which he was not going to do after sensing her fear of it.

    A moment later her hand was in his as she took it and she was speaking to him, he was focusing on her words forcing back his fears, forcing back the whispers of past flashbacks but her voice was grounding to him. She protested against his actions, she sounded both confused and almost desperate, yet he could not stand for her to be afraid, he would prefer himself to have to deal with the fear, over her, she did not deserve to suffer though her next words told him she thought she should take the suffering for the hand she'd dealt them.

    His free hand sought out her face in the darkness as he offered a sad smile into the darkness before saying"Stop with the self blaming Tanaquil... You made the right choice in the moment, the choice I was to afraid to make and now you know why... Despite this, it was the right choice, we were outnumbered and outgunned.... If you had not stepped up one or both of us would be dead.." He could feel her skin beneath his fingers, a reminder that though the darkness wrapped around him attempting to draw him into rather haunting memories he was not alone.

    Breathing out a slow breath he went on "I've made my choice Tanaquil, besides you're in your element right now and that makes you distinctly more useful than me here... You have the super senses needed to find the way out of these caves, I'd likely just get us more lost... So it is better for me to be weakened and afraid than you in this situation... Now stop arguing with me and we can gather as much of our belongings as we can, then get moving..."

    He was sounding so calm, so reasonable as if the darkness no longer affected him at all yet inside he felt icy cold and afraid. Knowing his hand was on her face he leaned in and planted a brief kiss upon her lips, before shifting away, saying"It's time we made a move..." His hand which had been on her face fell away from it as it seeked a handhold on to wall behind him as he began to lever himself up his hand trembling ever so slightly.
     
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  16. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    Oh, she was to be in charge, was she. For a moment a few different plans borne of pure obstinate fear and annoyance sprang to mind. She could order him to light the torch and she'd just stay a few steps back. Or maybe just to take his leadership back, because didn't he understand, this was what she'd tried to avoid for years- that reflective shadow of her parents, both of them? Lizra could be the Princess, handling decrees. Jaive commanded demons and she was glad to be out of that. Tanaquil, red-haired daughter, could at least look after herself and not go bad from her power. Wasn't that enough?

    No, it wasn't. She'd put her feet to this path, best to follow it and do as was best- or at least, follow what was the smoothest track before her. Jason wished to do things this way, for some unfathomable reason, and considering she'd put them here it was some sort of perverse poetic justice that said she needed to get them out again, wasn't it. The fact that she wanted so much to put the job of it on someone else was a sign of her fear, she knew that too. Though him chiding her for blaming herself seemed a trifle ironic, considering his habits.

    That was unfair though. When it came down to the line, he did what needed to be done. Lesson number- something, in this life she now led. 'How To Do What Seems Worst And Make It Work'. Her element or not. "I don't surprise you learned how to turn into a raven or bat in the meantime," she asked him, half-ruefully and with a faint hint of dry humor to try and show that she was accepting this- but, by the God, it was grudging. "Because as a leader I venture to point out that would make things so much easier."

    At least he looked less afraid- perhaps from confidence in her, or the finality of having a plan, though Tanaquil was just stubborn enough to tell herself it was the former- and as he leaned in and kissed her she stroked his cheek and returned it. It was a quick kiss, and a little desperate with the weight of the situation, but it was with sincere affection and love nonetheless. He was right though- best not to linger and give some sort of complication a chance to come along. "Alright, time to stand then," she said somewhat regretfully, taking his hand again and holding onto his coat with the other until he did the same. "Probably best that you wear this- and we're bringing the torch along too. Just in case." He didn't have to light it, but it was coming with them regardless.
     
  17. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    It was good to hear her joking response, it meant she'd accepted the position he'd thrust upon her in refusing to let her be the one who suffered and his sad smile became less sad, but remained soft. She returned his kiss too, a hand brushing over his face, he felt himself breathe a little easier and then she to was moving to rise. Even as she spoke about rising the shaky hand Jason had on the wall was helping him up though as she took a grip on him, helping him up he let her. Then he was up, taking his jacket she thrust into his hands. Idly he slid it on, allowing the actions he was making to distract him from the darkness that surrounded him, to distract him from what was in his head. Jason knew they needed to pack up their temporary camp, that of it which was not buried and yet he did not dare step away from the wall he clung to one handed.

    He drew in a breathe before saying"Tanaquil, guide me to my camp bed, I can pack it away and carry our gear then we can set out..." He tried to sound like himself, but he knew his voice was quieter than normal, that there was an edge of fear to it and frustration bubbled beneath the surface. He was better than this, he could be better yet he still clutched at the wall with one shaking hand before he muttered more to himself than to Tanaquil"If Bruce could see you now..." The tone was bitter, but it was enough to force him to keep his breathing even and for a moment his hand stopped shaking so much, now taking on the merest of tremble even as he added a little louder"Please Tanaquil, let me do this... Even just to keep me busy for a moment...." So that I stop thinking... So I am distracted from the darkness... The thoughts which followed his words were dark, bitter and yet also they ran through his mind with an edge of fear to them.
     
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  18. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    He made a good point- they'd have to get their things, or risk being the worse for wear on the other side. Somewhere near the cave-in was the launcher too, which could prove valuable, so that should also be grabbed, even if she was tempted to leave it and be glad of its absence. Best not to toss a tool, as always. "You realize it would be so much easier to gather things with a torch," she replied with a wryly amused lilt to her voice as she started to lead him that way. "Don't worry. I know just how capable you are, and how stubborn. No doubt you can defeat your bedroll, and maybe even the Peeve-fur that collected on the outside."

    It wasn't ideal circumstances, certainly. Her bag was a mess of parts salvaged and saved and bought here and there, with the hopes that they'd fit into whatever she came upon to mend. Building for herself was quite a different proposition, and far harder, as her magic didn't really help. Mending was one thing, and engineering was another, and she was only sorceress of the former and not the latter. But she traveled with little necessity to pack things, so it would give her something to do that wasn't watching her beloved struggling in the darkness.

    Once they were at the bedrolls she smiled and squeezed his hand gently. "Right here, at your toes. Nothing sharp that I can see," she told him with a tone of airy confidence that she halfway felt- which was certainly better than not feeling it at all, right? "While you start, I'm going to see if I even have a spare something in my tinker's kit. Maybe I'll have a light bulb and a battery. I'm due for a small stretch of something lucky." And never mind what Bruce thinks, because I doubt he's done nearly as much as everyone thinks. But saying that would likely lead to an argument, and there were so much better discussions to have. For a given value of 'better'. "Do you think we should bother with the launcher? Are there even more rounds for it?"
     
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  19. Jason Todd

    Jason Todd DC Universe

    Posts:
    491
    Race:
    human
    Age:
    22
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Neutral
    She heard him and responded with a joke before coming over to help him, Jason tried to smile, he tried to be amused, he really did but best he could manage in the darkness was a grimace. He tried not to jump when she touched him to guide him, he forced himself to keep his breathing even and focus on the moment at hand. Slowly with Tanaquil's guidance he moved away from the wall, across the cave to where the bedroll was and when she said it was right at his feet he crouched down, a hand reaching out. He found the bed roll and nodded to himself, following its shape down to where his feet had been he found his bag, along with things he'd taken off as he'd tried to sleep like his shoes and gloves.

    The grimace had faded to a look of focused concentration as very carefully he bunched his things together before focusing and yet he was still able to respond to her word with a nod while saying"Maybe you'll have some luck with that..." He had an inkling there was more she wanted to say, but he did not push her on it, fixing on rolling up his sleeping roll and attaching it to his rucksack. Before sliding his shoes on and tucking his gloves into a pocket of his leather jacket. It was then she asked about the rocket launcher, it had been clipped to his bag, among the other ordnance he'd brought with him but he'd only brought the round it had been loaded with as he'd hoped that they wouldn't end up using it so after a moment he responded"We can leave it, though I suggest damaging it so they can't use it when they get through the rock fall..."

    He was doing well, focusing on something like this was a decent tactic and he could feel his heart was pounding a little less. But the minute his bag was packed and he was sat beside it ready to go with nothing else to occupy himself with the darkness started to creep back in, he couldn't think straight, the phantom pain was returning to his hands from where he'd dug himself out to the point he was curling in on himself again, his hands held close. He tried to focus, tried to remind himself of their situation and spoke his voice slightly shaky"I'm ready Tanaquil, we should move if you are too else we'll still be here when those thugs break through that rocky barrier..."

    Speaking helped ground him in the moment, so did listening to Tanaquil and he was making himself rise up in the darkness pulling the heavy rucksack onto his back before waiting tensely for Tanaquil to come to him to guide him through the darkness. His shaking hands and slightly fast heart beat being the only signs to his inner fear as he murmured to himself"Not real Jason... Not real... You can do this..." He drew in another deep breath and peered into the darkness knowing Tanaquil was somewhere in it approaching him.
     
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  20. Tanaquil

    Tanaquil The Unicorn Series

    Posts:
    674
    Gender:
    Female
    Occupation:
    Tinker Sorceress
    Location:
    Pandora Town
    Race:
    Vampire
    Age:
    19
    Alignment:
    Chaotic Good
    As he started she sat down and brought her bag close, laying out a few little things. A roll of electrical tape, that was a good place to start. A small LED bulb or two, with their exposed prongs for the tiny wires that came next. A glowing battery, from some kind of scavenged thing in her wanderings, bright and blue but not to human eyes- if so, she'd just give that to Jason to use in itself. But it would power these little lights, and keep them steady. One last thing- a small tin, like the type little candles sat in. It would do. Her little pliers and cutters worked quickly, and she spoke a silent wish as she put the last wire in place. They flickered, then caught- one LED in blue, the other white. It would have to do.

    "Luck indeed," she said quietly, making sure to set everything securely in the little tin. It would last, but the amount of light was small- good for showing the ground for a couple feet, to keep him from falling over rocks and ledges, but quickly dimming past that. But at least it was light; maybe, hopefully, it would help Jason remember that there was still light in the world, waiting for him. He wasn't just saying he was ready, he looked it, and moving around would certainly help keep his mind off of the weight of stone and darkness around them. Quickly dropping everything back into her tinker's bag, she stuck it and her other things into her satchel and walked over to him, offering the little light.

    "It's not a spotlight, but it's here. Take it," she said, in a tone of gentle imperiousness that said it was only sensible he do what she said- though she was willing to bet he didn't need it. Her beloved was clever, and even the best person couldn't lead him over loose gravel perfectly without literally carrying him. Though that would be quite cute. See if you can be amazed at me bringing you now! Reaching for his hand with her other one again, she nodded and smiled as sweetly as ever at his pronouncement. "Well, I do get so snippy at uninvited guests, so best to leave before we have any. And you certainly can do this. If you can manage me when I'm half-mad, and yourself when you're the same way, this lack of light can't stop you." Of that she was sure.

    But some conversation still wouldn't hurt, and as she started to walk him toward one of the passages that sloped down, deeper into the systems of caves where Peeve slept, she thought of a topic. "So who do you think it was that led the raiders in our direction? My money is on that shady mule salesmen. Never trust a man with overly obedient animals."
     
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