Art Of Falling
He tells her to run.
Yells it at her.
Very loudly. Very angrily.
With a squad of Paladins on his ass. Paladins he keeps busy so they leave her alone. She sees him impale two of them when he Jumps and drop them on the spiked fence.
She runs just like he said. From Miami to Los Angeles and then Canada and Spain. Takes another tour around Italy and down to Greece. Every gray coat puts her on edge. Every flash of silver … she hates looking over her shoulder. Afraid of another attack and then her luck runs out. She's been close to the Paladins coils, she's felt the burn of electricity… Its not an experience she wants to repeat.
It's the city so nice she decides will be her last stop. At least until she can concentrate on the where and when so she doesn't land herself so far back her friends don't know her.
Rounding the next corner she spots the subway entrance and makes a dash for the stairs. The platform is full of people and its easy to get lost in their midst. She makes her way onto the train, always looking over her shoulder, watching the people around her.
The train car is almost empty when she starts to pace the length. It's the faint flashes of white that draw her towards the center. The last two people stare back at her, likely wondering at her damage, before they exit and then its just her. In a train car full of tears.
"How is this possible?" she's sort of in awe. And there's so many of them, everywhere she turns in the train car, another one appears. Like a shimmering white … cloud, a puff of breath on a cold day… And the sounds, she can hear echoes from them. Some are just whispers and others are louder but unclear. She can barely touch it, the feel is cool but then it's a flash of lights, kind of blue… she's not too sure until she sees it happen again.
John stumbles as Stephen slams into the ground. There's a 3rd body but all he can make out is the long black hair and the coat she's wearing. What concerns John is the sound her head makes as it hits the ground.
Stephen pushes up on his hands, he's shocked and kind of in pain which he feels a lot more of when John grabs his shoulder and yanks him off. He lands partially on his side, smacks his elbow and rolls onto his back.
John is careful, pulling inky strands out of her face and gently turning her head. There's a bright mark already forming and some blood from the broken skin. She tries to open her eyes, a softly whispered moan and then she's silent.
"What the hell?" John turns to glare at Stephen who starts to sit up.
"Its not my fault." he frowns.
"You basically tackled her into the lair." John turns away, concerned their 'kidnapped' guest is seriously hurt. He slips his arms under her and easily gets to his feet, heading towards TIM.
That's where Cara finds them as TIM assures there's nothing permanent; SHE WILL RECOVER-
"What are you doing?" Cara demands, she looks from John to the passed out girl and back. "Who is she?"
SHOULD I DO A SEARCH?
Cara glares at John. "Why not? You brought her here-."
"Stephen brought her. Don't lay this on me." John bites his tongue on the rest of the things he wants to say. The kid has been a pain in the ass from the start and it only seems to be getting worse. And of course, John also has some guilt for what he's done. Guilty for what he's not telling the rest of them…
"Stephen?" She sounds incredulous when she looks at Stephen. "Why?"
'Like the kid cant do any wrong.' John sort of laughs at the thought but its not like he hasn't seen ... it. That connection between Cara and Stephen, doesn't matter what he's sort of told her, an indirect 'I love you' he's not sure he really feels.
"Is she one of us?" Cara takes a step towards the girl, hand reaching for her head when John steps in her way. "If she's one of us-."
"No." John blocks Cara's approach. He's not even sure why, just that he doesn't like the idea of anyone having their mind invaded without consent. "She didn't come here by choice." He doesn't have to say it was Stephen who forced the girl, took her from the train when they shouldn't have been there anyway. In a way, John's at fault too. For trying to assuage his guilt by helping Stephen.
"So, we got a new hottie in the lair." Russell strides in grinning and takes one look at their rebel leaders…pauses then decides to ignore them in favor of checking out the girl.
She's got long black hair, a light smattering of freckles over the bridge of her nose. He can't tell what color her eyes are but he likes the shape, thinks she may have the 'pretty doll eyes'.
"Oh please." Cara rolls her eyes, hearing his thought.
"What? I like-."
"She's not staying." Cara glares. "Take her back up there." She knows as soon as the words are out, they were the wrong thing to say.
"Wha- we can't just drop her in the subway. She's passed out." Russell makes a sad face and shakes his head. "Such a hottie- I mean, what a shame…"
"Leave her in the emergency room, I don't care, just get her out of our place." Cara snaps and turns to walk out. She can't look at John without feeling guilty and then angry because he hasn't forgiven her-.
"No." John stands there, silently watching Cara. She's angry and more because she can tell he doesn't care as much as he did.
Before she cheated…
She's feeling the distance between them grow each day but she hasn't done much to stop it, either.
"Then I'll take her up." Cara strides forward and John moves in her way again. Cara stops, she has to look up at him… "Why?"
She wants to know if this is just some petty pay back, but then, why does she want the girl gone so bad anyway? Only Cara already knows its jealousy. Because if John wanted to pay her back for the night she spent with Stephen then there are plenty of females there and above who'd be more than willing. John wouldn't have any trouble finding a partner…
Her headache is like a pounding drum in her head. The first attempt at opening her eyes sends a stabbing pain through her temples. There's a hiss of breath and wince, she hears the shuffle of feet and then footsteps in response.
The last thing she remembers is being chased by Paladins, her island home lost… and running.
A cold panic grips her entire body, thinking she's been caught-. There's a hand on her arm, just the barest touch but that's all she needs to strike. The TK blast is directed towards the touch on her arm. She doesn't have a specific target because she's not looking at the Paladin. Still, the blast connects and she hears the echo of a body hitting something. She tries to get up and rolls but can't stop herself from falling. She thunks onto the hard ground and just lays there for a breath before trying to get up. Her arms feel wobbly and the room is spinning but she manages to get on her knees. Her stomach does its best to empty its contents but Våhl is able to keep from puking.
There's an echo of voices, she can't distinguish either of them but its like they're in her head… she squints at the approaching figures, not a stitch of silver among them but she doesn't know if they're friend or foe, and blast them all back. One of them sort of disappears in a flash of pretty lights and the tear that's left is just like the one she saw in the train.
'Jumper. …there's more?' She tries to focus on the guy that jumped; he's got his hands out, palms up saying…. "I'm not going to hurt you…"
She closes her eyes and touches her head because his voice is all echo-y and weird.
"Hey… try not to move. You hit your head pretty hard…"
"My head…?" Våhl takes his help and sits back against the frame of her make-shift bed. "I don't remember hitting my head." She murmurs. All of a sudden she feels so sleepy -.
"No, no. Hey!" John gives her a slight shake until she looks at him. "You're going to have to stay awake. What's your name?" He glances over his shoulder to where Stephen, Russell and Cara are picking themselves off the floor. He knows it hurt, having been TK'd by that first blast.
"…bet the other guy looks worse…" she offers a little smile in place of her name.
John huffs a little laugh. "Guys and no, they don't." he keeps his hands up and slowly reaches for her face. She doesn't pull away so he gently touches the gash on her head he bandaged earlier. There's some blood on the gauze but otherwise its no longer bleeding. When he glances at her again, her eyes are drifting shut so he grabs her face and leans in. "Hey, gotta stay awake, alright?"
"Mmm-hmm." She pries her eyes open and scowls at him. "What's a girl gotta do to get some shut eye?"
John smiles again. "How about she tells me her name?"
Våhl smiles, too. She's thinking he's kinda cute, even all busted up, but maybe that's what's adding to the hotness. At one point she'd thought Griff was cute, but then she'd found him tangled up and pissed off… so maybe she does have a type. Mellie would definitely find that funny. "What's yours?"
Cara stalks over, glaring down at the girl making eyes at her boyfriend. "Who the hell are you?"
Våhl slowly leans her head back to look and finds a very angry blue eyed brunette.
"Can you get up?" John leans into her line of sight and takes her arms. He gently pulls her up, effectively blocking Cara.
"Man, that hurts!" Russell whines as he stretches his back. Beside him, Stephen is also wincing from his own fall.
"… didn't think we'd ever meet any others…" Våhl stumbles, hands clutching at his jacket and presses her lips together when she feels her stomach churn again.
She looks up too fast and the room pitches. She feels off balance… in the next instant John is gone with the girl. A loud boom, like air suddenly being release and there's a crack on the floor where they had been standing.
"John!" Cara yells but she cant find him anywhere. "John!"
"Whoa!" Russell moves closer to the crack and leans down. "What… the…?"
"What just happened?" Stephen is slowly looking around the room, not sure how to explain any of it.
John stumbles, he's hit with a frigid wind and his feet are unsteady on the slick surface they suddenly land on. The slight weight of her isn't enough to bring him down but add that to the sudden change of environment and they both land in a pile of limbs.
"…oh sorry…didn't mean to jump us…" she heaves a breath but doesn't move.
"You…what?" John shifts just enough he sits up and when he looks around finds they're on top of a tower with gray skies and city traffic. "Where…?"
Våhl just lays there, lets her eyes adjust to the cloudy sky full of rain. She shivers with the cold, even through her suede jacket but then she only has a light cotton shirt underneath. Her hands get cold really fast and then he's leaning over her and all she can see are his blue eyes. "So blue… think I've got a new favorite color. Just that shade…yeah… I like blue."
He's smiling. "My name's John." He gets her to sit up and wraps her in his arms to share warmth. "Want to tell me where we are?"
"Hmmm…" Våhl looks around; she kinda had an idea of where just by the gray skies and cold. "Yeah, figures I'd bring us here." She leans into his chest trying to snuggle but the cold is making it harder for her to take a nap. "London."
"England?" John echoes incredulous.
"What? You haven't been?" Våhl wonders.
"…no… I mean, how did you get us here?" John is looking at her, confused.
"Uhm, I jumped us here." Våhl shrugs a shoulder in apology. "…didn't mean to, sorry. I tend to hijack the jumps-."
"What-? Jump? How did you-? We were in New York… how did you get us across the ocean…?" John still doesn't understand.
"Uh. Did you hit your head?" Våhl wonders.
"Who are you?" John asks just slightly pushing her away so he can look at her face.
"Uhm…" Våhl doesn't like the intensity of his stare and the grip of his hands on her arms only makes her that much more wary of him. "Want to let go? John."
"Who are you and how did you do this?" John asks again, without letting go of her.
"Name's Våhleryana. I'm a Jumper. Like you." She nods at him, her hands numbly fist into his jacket.
"No, not like me." John shakes his head. "I'm not a …Jumper. I don't-. We, cant teleport this distance. Not at once…" he's trying to figure out if she's some kind of plant from Ultra when she suddenly pulls away from him and shoves him away. But John doesn't let go and Våhl jumps them again.
She winces against the bright sunlight while John spits out sand. He shakes his head and looks around but there's no mistaking the sound of waves.
"Where did you…?" John grabs her close and rolls until he has her pinned. "Where are we?"
Våhl is frantically looking around but she knows the beach, just like she knows it's the last place she should have jumped to. "We have to go!" she shoves on John but he's not budging. "We cant be here, John! Listen to me, I messed up, ok?"
"Why?" he still not sure if he can trust her to tell him the truth.
"Because I just left this beach and the guys chasing me are probably still around. John!" she yells at him and he finally lets her up.
"Shut up." Våhl orders. "I need to focus or I'll land us somewhere else I shouldn't be." She drags in a breath and thinks of the when as well as the where. Because unlike other jumpers who just end up where they want to on the first try, Våhleryana has to purposely make it happen, otherwise her body just lands her in a different when than she wanted.
John grips her hand and takes a step forward when she does. Like before, there's a sudden pop of air and they're right back where she landed them in the first place. Only now, its raining.
"Krap!" Våhl scowls and hunches into her jacket, which she knows is going to be ruined. "Listen, you have questions and now, I do too. And I really like this jacket so I'll buy you a cup of coffee?" she gives their hands a harsh tug when he just stares at her too long. "Come on, dude. I'm freezing and trying to save my jacket!"
John can't help the slight huff of laughter. "Fine."
"Yeah?" Våhl is surprised but she doesn't waste time. "Ok, so this…" she closes her eyes and pulls John with her as she runs to the edge.
They land in a narrow street that's more like an alley and she's pulling him along. She makes a right and halfway down the street she pushes into a doorway. "…is my favorite café."
John looks around; it's a small room with an adjacent one on the left. The barista is on the right and he can smell fresh baked goods through all that coffee. His stomach rumbles and Våhl looks at him with a slightly arched eyebrow and smirk
"They have soup, too…" she keeps hold of his hand and leads him to the bar where she takes on an English accent and orders two lattes, a muffin and 2 bowls of soup with a side of chips. He's surprised when she takes her wallet from the inside jacket pocket and pays with English pounds.
Våhl catches his glance and just shrugs. Rule of thumb has always been to have large bills in any currency, just in case they need to get by in a pinch. She pulls him to the next room and sits them in the far corner, away from the window. John doesn't miss the fact she takes the seat facing the exit with her back to the wall. He moves the chair closer to hers so they're both facing the exit.
"So..." Våhl glances at him when the silence stretches uncomfortably.
"So." John echoes. "Let's start with-." John doesn't expect her to jump up from her seat, wide eyed and panicked. "What's wrong?" He looks around but so far no one is paying much attention to them.
"You-!" Våhl lowers her voice. "Did you just-." She looks around and lowers her voice to a whisper. "Talk in my head?!"
John looks at her confused. He grabs her wrist and pulls her back into her seat. "You know I did."
Våhl shakes her head but that makes the room sort of spin. "No, I don't. How do I even do that?" She asks while holding her head in both hands. John looks up when their food is set down.
"Is he giving you a headache already, luv?" The waitress laughs as she leaves them.
"Yeah, how did my head get smacked?" Våhl glowers at him wondering if maybe he's the one that hit her on the head. "Now that would be a shame."
John clears his throat. "It was an accident."
Cara has TIM doing searches through any databases for the girls face. She's been trying to reach out mentally but there's nothing, which means he's too far away or… She doesn't even want to think about the other possibility.
And she's mad at Stephen too. He's the one that brought the girl and now there's the possibility that maybe she's part of Ultra. Cara just doesn't know how that would be possible.
She's mad at John too, if he'd just let her read the girl-. But she cant stop worrying and she hasn't had any sleep. She even sent Stephen away-.
THERE ARE NO MATCHES
"How's that possible?" Russell doesn't know of anyone who's face hasn't been caught on camera at least once. Stephen hasn't been able to get them any information either so he doesn't know if she's actually an Ultra agent or some TMP they just hadn't met. 'Or kidnapped.'
"She's not some ghost; the girl was here so she has to be in someone's data base. Keep looking!" Cara orders. She turns and kicks at the couch but that doesn't relieve any of her worry. Before she can try again, the door opens.
"Hey! He's back."
"What?" Russell turns to the door but the smiling face is already heading back out into the hall.
"John?" Cara breathes his name but she cant really believe it, and running is too slow. She teleports to the main room and sees him. There's a rush of relief and Cara's just so damn sorry to have screwed up… "John…."
He turns around, smiling and Cara spots the girl barely tall enough to reach his shoulder.
"Are you alright?" Cara strides forward but keeps from touching him. He looks just fine, happy even…
"We're fine." John replies and ducks his head to look at the girl again. He takes her by the shoulder and smiling, makes the introduction.
It's the smile on his face that does it. Cara knows that smile, the one that actually reaches his eyes and its rare. Cara shoves John aside and grabs the girls arm. She tries to take her to their version of a basement but they somehow land back among the others with John yelling at her to stop.
"Get off!" Våhl yells and sends Cara tumbling with another TK blast.
"Wait, Våhl!" John steps in the way of Cara's next teleport and ends up grabbing her. He's about to take her away when he feels Våhl's hands on his back.
The last thing Våhleryana wants is to go jumping around with them. She also doesn't want to cause more trouble, which John already knew was inevitable. Once they'd finished their soups, Våhl pulled out the stub from her aborted subway ride and their receipt for the food. The explanation took them a little longer to get through and for John to process.
John stumbles and is surprised he wasn't able to teleport. She'd explained that to him, but John hadn't really believed Våhl could hijack a trip.
"Woa…" Russell is just staring, along with the others still in the main room. "How'd you guys do that?"
John hunches over when Cara hits him. He lets her go but keeps himself in front of Våhl. "Just wait-."
"How long?" Cara demands. "Another 2days? A week? How long do I wait for you to-!" Cara bites back the words she cant say in front of everyone else.
"Okay," Våhl takes a step back, warily glancing around at the group of people gathering. "So, I brought you back." She smiles at John when he looks at her with some surprise. "Kept my promise, Johnny." she gives a little wave and jumps before he can reach for her.