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Messages - Jean Marceau

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1
News & Updates / Re: Activity Check
« on: December 03, 2017, 11:40:34 PM »
Keeping mine!

2
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 17, 2017, 01:51:33 AM »
"Yes," Jean replied, although his voice had taken on a particularly sour note. "Mouth shut, eyes forward."

The action, at least, was mercifully quick. The metal never touched her leg as the blade cut across the bandage, the ripping sound starkly loud in the quiet gloom. There wasn't even the sound of the engines to distract from the rip as it noise across the storage bay, somewhat harrowing in its finality.

You couldn't call him gentle. That said, it was also unfair to call him unreasonably cruel. His grip was firm as he stood, grabbing her under the arm and pulling her to her feet, to take her back along the path to the airlock, and in the end, the brig of the Black Echo.

3
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 16, 2017, 06:56:27 AM »
Terrible posture. That was a new one.

The comment did at least get a response, even if it was just the quirk of an eyebrow. Interestingly, he did have to resist the impulse to straighten up, but managed to catch himself just in time.

Ha ha. Hilarious.

Wordlessly, Jean stood, one hand resting on the rifle. The question of what to do with her had just reached crunch time, and he still seemed to have no suitable answer. He approached slowly, watching her with that same, unblinking look, before squatting down at her feet.

"I am going to free your legs," Jean explained slowly, still watching her even as he deliberately reached for a knife, keeping his hand where she could see what he was doing. "You know what will happen if you fight."

4
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 13, 2017, 05:19:48 AM »
Jean hadn't responded to Alexis' outburst. By all counts, the man may as well have been made out of stone. There was a blink when she started to cry. Subtle enough one would need to be staring at him in turn to realise it wasn't automatic. The shift in his expression minute enough to be mistaken for a trick of the light.

Alexis Parsons.

Her name was Alexis Parsons.

The last thing Jean needed was to know her name.

There was no outburst from Jean this time. Whatever explosion of emotion had already been spent. Instead he watched — as though no longer there — as the Doctor approached her. Tried to comfort her. A human thing.

A thing that wouldn't need doing if they weren't here in the first place.

"Take the supplies back to the ship, Doctor," Jean said, his voice hollow with an unnatural level of calm.

5
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 09, 2017, 08:07:30 PM »
Jean drew his stare away from the doctor, cocking his head in Alexis' direction at the question. That was a curious thing to worry about, given her current predicament. He was feeling bitter enough to consider informing the both of them that seeing as the Doctor felt the need to save her so badly, they'd both have to share rations, but that felt... petty. He meant well, as singularly infuriating as he was.

Instead, Jean simply didn't answer. He still had no solution for what to do with her that didn't just involve blasting her into space. While that was arguably the best card he had, the fact she had some sort of connection to the Doctor meant that doing so might result in the man growing enough of a spine to put his foot down and no longer continue to help.

Well...

"Help."

Jean had initially saved his life in the dull hope that Tavi might benefit from proper medical assistance given her copious drug addictions. So far, that hadn't quite gone to plan. He briefly considered blasting the Doctor out of the airlock instead and offering Alexis the same deal, but there was no telling whether Alexis would simply use it as opportunity to bring Tavi to harm.

No. Despite the Doctors flaws, he was far too noble for that.

Jean's stare didn't break. He was watching Alexis unblinkingly, even though his mind was far away as he waited for the Doctor to finish up.

Throwing her in the brig for now was the only option. Maybe a solution would materialise in time...


6
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 09, 2017, 04:01:01 PM »
"Search the supplies. See if it is that there is anything of value," Jean replied, his voice dull. "Take anything it is we need."

Maybe there'd be something to help Tavi, if they were lucky...

Jean was feeling numb. The conversation happening in front of him didn't feel real. They were talking as though they were both heading towards their own funerals. As though he was going to...

He wanted to speak up. To promise he wasn't going to hurt her. As though some bullshit words would help keep at bay the familiar crest of guilt that was already pulling him under. The impulse choked down and died, just as quick as it came.

He couldn't promise that. Not for him. Not for her.

Her suggestion was playing on his mind. After coming this far, "keeping" her was really the only option he had left. Putting a bullet in her, or throwing her out the airlock didn't feel right after everything that had just happened. If should have killed her from the start if that was going to be the plan. There might be a market for some well trained slaves with medical knowledge out on the rim moons, but even cutting out her tongue wasn't a guarantee she wouldn't talk...

Fuck.

7
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 09, 2017, 03:00:43 AM »
For the first time since Jean entered the room, the gun lowered.

Silently, and without another word, there was audible metallic click as Jean pulled back the charging handle, locking the bolt open. The unspent round flicked out of the chamber, bouncing along the floor with a metallic ring. He didn't release the magazine. Not yet. But it was the closest that the Doctor had ever seen to him unloading his weapon.

There was no bullet in the chamber any more.

It was gone.

The anger seemed to have drained out of him. As though, after reaching terminal capacity, the pressure had finally vented.

The Doctor would secure her properly. Jean knew that. Because if there was anything that Jean knew for certain, it was that the Doctor believed he was liable to kill either one of them if he didn't.

Could he?

Would he?

Stepping over to a nearby table, Jean leaned against it, crossing his arms. The rifle hung from its sling as he s still watching the two closely, weighing up his options. As overly paranoid as the command to bind her legs might have seemed, it wasn't without precedent. She might have tried to run. Her hands were cuffed in front instead of behind, as they should have been. She could fled. Or grabbed a weapon. Or operated a terminal, and undone Tavi's override on the locks on the rest of the ship. More people would have needed to die, then.

If's.

If's.

Maybes.

Jean could hear the whispered conversation. They were talking about him like he was a monster. Some inhuman creature devoid of mercy. Maybe he was. There was most certainly a line that Jean had crossed somewhere to get to this point. He couldn't tell you the exact moment it had all come undone. Perhaps it had been the first man he'd shot in cold blood. The day he'd sold the crew of the Jiguang to slavery. An evil thing, yes, but at the time it had seemed like mercy. It meant they got to live.

Was he evil? There was a part of him that still liked to think he wasn't. That any part of this was justified. The rest of him also knew he was deluding himself.

"Keep" her, was the term the Doctor used. Like a slave. Or a hostage.

Was that what the Doctor thought of his own situation? Was that how he viewed it? Did he not realise his captivity was Jean's own attempt at mercy?

Jean ground his teeth.

"Keep." There was something he didn't like about the word "keep." She was crying now. Did she think he was going to rape her, too? Keep her for sport. Tavi had once told him he wasn't doing enough raping.

He wanted to laugh at that. At the ridiculousness of it. The ridiculousness of this.

He was tired.

He was just fucking tired.

There was a pause before Jean spoke. "I didn't want to hurt anyone," he said at length, the words surprisingly quiet as his thoughts lingered on the Doctor's last words.

None of that mattered now.

Nothing he wanted ever mattered.

8
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 08, 2017, 07:13:23 PM »
Christ. There had to be a cosmic joke at his expense somewhere at the idea of being lectured on the difference between good and evil by the fucking doctor. As though Jean hadn't spent nights awake after the Caduceus, tearing himself inside out about that very question. There was a tell-tale clench of Jean's jaw. The narrowing of the eyes. The tightening of his shoulders which — although subtle — was usually the sign of an incoming explosion of anger.

Logically, he couldn't blame the man. He didn't know. He hadn't asked, and Jean had never told him. Why? Fuck knew. Maybe because Jean had already convinced himself it wouldn't make a difference. Perhaps there was a part of him that felt he deserved the flagellation. The look of fear. Terror. Knowing, that there was someone else on that ship who saw him as exactly the monster that he saw himself.

Maybe he was just afraid to be believed.

Yet, the Doctor's suggestion was insulting. Let her go? As though it was so fucking easy. As though everything in this whole fucking Universe even allowed that to be an option? As though he just enjoyed killing for the sport?

The anger boiled over like an explosion. Propellant exploding in a crystal jar. Alexis' next words were drowned by a hot wave of fury. "BECAUSE IF I LET HER GO, WE'RE ALL DEAD."

Why the fuck did she have to be here.

Jean thew Alexis a savage glare before turning the look back on the Doctor. "You want to save her? Tie her up."

9
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 07, 2017, 07:29:45 PM »
The flurry of voices was no less than he'd expected, but the sound of pleading from both directions was still grating. It was a horrible choice. He knew that, and the begging wasn't making it any easier. In many ways, he preferred it when they fought back. At least when he was ducking bullets aimed in his direction, it made the murder easier to swallow. Kill or be killed.

But this...

Putain de bordel de saloperie de connard, she wasn't supposed to be here.

Alexis' attempted outburst brought a flash of narrowed blue eyes, hard as ice.

"Shut up."

He couldn't blame her. Not really. In the face of his own imminent demise — or worse — he'd likely be doing much the same. But it wasn't helping. Not now.

The gun raised again, the barrel gesturing in the Doctor's direction, the only bright side being Jean's finger was very conspicuously resting on the lower receiver rather than on the trigger.

"You. You want to be the hero?" There was something mocking in the question, and in the way the words were almost spat. Jean had long ago given up on the concept of heroism. He'd tried it once. Look at where that had gotten him. "Think of another way."

It was a cruel thing to thrust on the man. He knew that. In a roundabout way, it was forcing him to share in the onus of her death if no other solution could be found. But there was a part of Jean that was still clinging on; still desperate for another way out. It was the reason he hadn't shot her the moment he'd walked in through the door, even though he should have. It was the reason she was still alive.

One day, that was going to be his undoing.

10
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: November 07, 2017, 06:03:21 PM »
Sometimes, just when he thought he had him figured out, the Doctor continued to surprise him. The reverb of the shot had barely finished echoing when the once scared-of-his-own-shadow Doctor was suddenly between him and their new hostage. It wasn't the most graceful attempt, sure, and arguably it would have come far too late had Jean actually been lining up for a head shot, but it was a spark of courage he wasn't usually accustomed to seeing.

The muzzle of the gun dropped a fraction. The woman had plainly been frightened into silence — which was the position she should have started from if she was at all as intelligent as she purported herself to be — and that just left...

Huh.

Jean's eyes narrowed, head cocked a few degrees to one side as he watched the doctor with sudden interest, the plea to just "get what we came for and go," replaying in his mind.

It wasn't that easy.

It was never that easy.

There was something almost... apologetic... in Jean's voice when he next spoke. It didn't have its usual short clip, or hint of underlying anger that usually underpinned every word every time a situation got tense. It was quieter, too. A man bracing himself for the inevitable.

"I can't let her go, Doctor."

How could he? Secrecy. The lack of witnesses. The deaths. The slaves. All of it. Every sin, every mark on his soul. All of it, to ensure the Black Echo's dealings never got back to the Alliance. That they never found out three of their own had gone rogue in stolen Alliance technology.

He couldn't throw Tavi's life away for a stranger.

But his stomach twisted all the same.

11
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: October 20, 2017, 05:31:21 PM »
For a woman he was very desperately trying not to have to shoot, she was doing a damned fine job of making his life difficult. If her words got to him at all, there wasn't any sign of it. Jean was his usual stony faced self, his sharp blue eyes glued on her face without blinking.

At least, until that last comment.

The reaction was quick. Just a macrosecond of a glance up to check the best angle of aim, and like a machine doing the work, the rifle was shouldered, aimed, and a loud, sudden CRACK deafened the room as the shot rang. The end of the muzzle spat fire, the bullet landing precious inches away from Alexis' foot, indenting the floor, before it bounced past her leg with a sharp wizz to ricochet into the back wall.

12
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: October 16, 2017, 07:54:57 AM »
What in God's name was the Doctor doing? Aside from obeying a command that wasn't directed at him, he was putting himself in prime position to get himself hurt if this so called 'friend' of his decided to hold a syringe to throat and take a hostage of her own. While Jean and the Doctor had had their points of difference in the past (see: the Doctor's recently broken nose), he wasn't actively looking to shoot the man.

"Search the supplies," he barked, with a look at the Doctor that was fierce enough to make damn sure there was no confusion. That was the whole point he'd brought the man, after all. While Jean had some degree of medical of knowledge from his field training, it didn't come close to being specified enough to do any more than guess what might be valuable on any number of black markets.

But that still left him with his current biggest problem.

The woman — he knew her name, but he was damn well determined not to use it — didn't seem to have a clear idea of exactly what position she was in. Anonymity was how the Black Echo had avoided detection for so long, and the sheer fact that she'd seen his face was a big fucking problem.

Did he really want to shoot a friend of the Doctors?

No.

The question was whether he was going to have the choice.

Fuck.

"You. How good are you?" he found himself asking through gritted teeth in response to her last statement. A good, well trained doctor might be able to command a decent price on the slave market, but...

Was that a risk worth taking?

13
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: October 06, 2017, 06:35:34 AM »
That wrapped the situation up. Mostly. Despite the orders having been complied with, Jean's expression was no less sour as he allowed the muzzle of his assault rifle to drop. It wasn't much of a gesture, but at the very least, he was no longer pointing the gun directly at them.

No one was supposed to be here.

Fuck.

"Against the wall," Jean ordered with a snarl, jerking his head towards the nearest bulkhead. "Sit." It wouldn't accomplish a lot other than an extra precaution to ensure she didn't try and stab anyone with a syringe if she thought she could get away with it, but he wasn't actually looking for excuses to—

Ta Ma Duh! How W'rin Bu Lai, Whai W'rin Bu Jwo!

FUCK.

No one was supposed to be here. That was the whole fucking point of the exercise. Lock them in. Secure everyone away. Get in. Get out. No witnesses. One fucking ship where he wasn't going to have to—

Glaring daggers at Alexis — as though the whole thing was fucking her fault — Jean addressed his question to the Doctor. "How do you know her?" he growled through gritted teeth.

You know. As though that was going to fucking help.

14
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: September 27, 2017, 09:08:01 PM »
In Jean's not-so-limited experience, there were a myriad of reactions people tended to have when you pointed a big fuck-off assault rifle in their face. Chief among those was fear. Most folks usually just went wide eyed, and the majority went quiet. Some would cry, or shriek, maybe snivel. Rarely the odd man would run. Few tried to be a hero. Then there was the Doctor the first time they'd caught him, who was… another case entirely.

Long story short, the last thing John Marceau expected upon aiming a gun at a woman and telling her to get on the ground, was a lecture.

"Shut. The fuck. Up," came the notably irate response, with a quick shove of the rifle in her direction for emphasis, "And we will not have to find out."

That, apparently, didn’t go down well. The Doctor was straight there in a heartbeat, evidently anxious that Jean might actually go through with the threat. He felt the man grab his arm, but other than a quite notable clenching of the jaw that Jean usually did when something had displeased him, he didn’t take his eyes off the woman for a second.

If she had a gun on her, a second was all she’d need.

“Handcuffs. Belt,” came the brusque order at the Doctor, indicating he should be the one to cuff her. Shooting her would admittedly be easier, but it didn’t matter how long he’d been doing this for, the idea still left a bad taste in his mouth.

Fuck.

No one was supposed to have been here.

15
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: September 25, 2017, 09:24:07 AM »
There was nothing for a moment. The pre-recorded emergency messages set to play over the P.A. system to relay evacuation instructions never came, instead crackling over the intercom in staccato spikes before fading away into white noise. The power fluttered, and then even that cut off abruptly, leaving only the eerie silence, and a faint, unfamiliar hum through the hull that sent the hairs one one's arms rising, as though every bulkhead had filled with static.

The first sign of life was the sound of hydraulics and locking bolts clicking as somewhere — deep in the ship — a door opened.

No.

Not a door.

The sound had come from the external airlock.

Sure enough, the faint sound of the warning alarms could be heard through the thick bulkhead walls. There was a mechanical whine, and a grinding sound caused a momentary vibration through the floor.

The airlock was open. But there was no rush of evacuating air.

The Med Transport had been boarded.

The heavy clunk of boots on metal decking quickly confirmed it. Two muffled voices. Both men. Neither of the two sounded like the voices of anyone on board, and while it was plain there was some sort of argument in progress, the words were too unintelligible to make out. One voice appeared to be pleading, at least until a barklike order from the second man put an end to it.

The footsteps eventually made their way to the storage door. Now, close enough, one of the voices only just became audible.

“Is this the one?”

It was the second man. The voice was heavily accented, the impatience evident even through the bulkhead.

The reply from the first voice was muffled, but presumably in the affirmative.

“Seven,” the second voice said again, “this is Six. Open bulkhead Two Seven Cee.”

Above the door to Alexis’ storage room, a green light flashed as the door was overridden remotely. It slid to the side with a hydraulic whirr and a rush of air as the pressure across the bulkheads equalised.

The next thing through the door was the barrel of an assault rifle.

Whether the man who walked through the door first had expected to find Alexis or not, the response was immediate. A quick flash of her out of the corner of his eye, and the rifle was aimed and ready, the end of the muzzle aimed square at her chest.

“On the floor. Now.

16
The Verse / Re: A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Skyplex
« on: September 25, 2017, 05:43:51 AM »
It wasn’t long before it became clear that whatever was happening was more than just a routine drill or a malfunction. The doors locking throughout the ship was only the start, followed not long after by a thundering boom that shuddered through the entire hull. The shockwave ran through the superstructure like an earthquake, the whole ship shuddering as though from impact. Glass vials fell and shattered, and everything that wasn’t secured nearly upended.

Another boom, and the lights died.

The subsonic rumble of the reactor and drive didn’t hold on long after that.

The unnatural silence of a true vacuum lingered for only a few precious seconds, until the clunk and thud in the bowels of the ship heralded the booting of the emergency systems. Back-up lights flooded the walls, while the air was filled with a hissssss as the air reticulation systems came back online. The sound was quickly drowned by the crackle from the intercoms, but the familiar voice of the Captain never came.

Along the walls warning lights flashed red, signalling emergency evacuation to the escape pods, but the doors remained hydraulically sealed.

17
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Book of Revelation
« on: September 24, 2017, 04:46:34 AM »
Jean didn’t let her go until he was confident she could sit up on her own. He watched her closely as she drank, absorbing every detail, every movement, afraid to blink or look away. He didn’t know what he was afraid of. That she’d collapse? Throw the mug? Worse? As though he if dared to look away even for an instant, he might miss a vital sign of something about to go wrong. All paranoid thoughts, but after that crippling fear he’d felt when she’d collapsed the first time, and he’d thought that...

Jean's stomach gave an uncomfortable twist.

He’d already thought he was going to lose her once today. That was enough.

Jean took the cup back when she offered it, but he didn’t want to leave her side yet, not even to get water. Fear, concern, and exhaustion were written on every line of his face as he looked at the woman sitting in front of him. God, she was getting thinner by the day. He’d noticed it earlier but here, now, in the cold light, the needle marks raking her arms looked almost grotesque. Had it always been this bad? Or, more likely, had he simply refused to see?

He had barely moved to take a step when Tavi’s other hand reached out. The gesture was enough to give him pause. Looking at her hand for a moment — the meaning almost lost to him as well in his exhausted state — Jean felt his heart start to beat faster as understanding flooded in. The way she was holding her arms out, it looked like she wanted him to...

The impulse to grab her tight was almost overwhelming. He wanted to. Christ he wanted to. Grab her close, and just hold her. As though if he could clutch on hard enough and never let go, he could take away every inch of her pain. Hell, they’d shared more than a hug just the day before. But something stopped him in that moment. The memory — vivid, and in agonising detail — of the way he’d tried to touch her hand, and she’d looked at him with an expression of utmost terror.

He couldn’t handle that. Not now.

Not again.

The words didn’t want to come easily, whatever wellspring of emotion — sadness, relief — building in his throat blockingwhat he wanted to say. What could he say, to make it better? Make it worse?

Nothing.

“Nom d’un bordel Tavi..."

Under the exhaustion, there was a distinct crack in Jean’s voice. One he didn’t even recognise. He’d almost tried to tell her what had happened, but the rising in his throat had stopped him. What good would it do to anyone?

Putain de merde. The way she was looking at him now. Sad, defeated, and almost pleading. Both arms outstretched, and—

Like that, Jean's resolve broke. Reaching forward, Jean grabbed her tight, pulling her in despite himself, burying his chin into her hair before his brain had even caught up. And he hadn't realised, until then, just how desperate he'd been for this moment. Her body felt so small and frail wrapped up in his arms, frozen cold, sending a pang through his chest. Jean's next breath came out more like a shudder, as the simultaneous surge of relief, and the fear that he'd been holding onto for the last five hours, finally let go like a torrent, so hard it physically hurt.

Never..." he said, the relief audible, "do that to me again.”

18
Mining Skyplex / Re: Menagerie Reunion
« on: September 24, 2017, 04:16:15 AM »
"I would say about the time same you did," he grinned.

Despite the good matured response, that wasn't entirely true. He knew intellectually that Safiya had to be older than him by now, but aside from the mechanical arm, she'd clearly weathered the passage of time a fair bit better than he had.

Dieu. How many years had it been?

"I am only here on a quick stopover," Jean replied, dodging the question, and finding his attention accidentally lingering on the mechanical arms. There was something hypnotic in the way they responded to subtle movements; the little twitches in the machinery even in subtle gestures. He'd heard about such cybernetics, of course, but they were rare enough as it was, and he'd yet to actually see one.

How had she—?

Curious as he was to see her again, he was nothing if not painfully of aware of the freshly dead body near Safiya's feet spilling blood and brain matter on the steel flooring. While the Skyplex might not always have the best surveillance, the attention that Jean was already attracting was making him distinctly uncomfortable. The last thing he needed was too many people on Skyplex memorising him. A.M.C even less so.

Jean pulled his gaze back up away from the body. "Listen, I can not be here," he admitted, with a quick gesture at the corners of the room to indicate any potential surveillance. He didn't know whether she intended to bring him in for questioning or put this on any record or not, but if there was a time to all in a favour, this was it.

He had to move. Ideally, away from here, and fast.

19
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Book of Revelation
« on: September 20, 2017, 02:03:14 AM »
At first, Jean wasn’t sure whether the faint cry of ‘water’ was real or an echo that existed solely in his own head. He heard it. Barely. The sound was faint and quiet; more of a rasp in the dark, that struggled to reach through the half-asleep barrier of his mind.

If he hadn’t of been specifically listening for it, he might not have heard it at all. Jean’s chin was up off his chest before he’d even realised why he'd been startled, brows pulled into a confused frown.

Wait. Had he nodded off? He didn’t remember closing his eyes...

No.

That sounded like—

Gingerly sitting up, and trying to ignore the sharp throb of pain in his lower back, Jean looked up towards Tavi. She hadn’t moved since he’d last looked at her. Or at least, she hadn’t seemed to. But he could have sworn he’d heard—

“Please.”

A quick thrum like electricity ran through his body at the sound. Jean was up immediately, the movement triggering a soft flood of white light flowing through the medbay. It wasn’t excessively bright, but it felt that way compared to the relative darkness he’d been sitting in for over five hours.

“Tavi? It’s me,” Jean answered quietly, surprised at how hoarse his own voice sounded. “You’re okay.” It was an assurance to her, as much as to himself. A tangible relief was flowing through each muscle, powerful conflicting impulses striking him at once to rush to her side, or to go fetch her water at the same time. It was logic and the second one that won out, and after the sound of a chair being pushed aside, the distinct noise of water from the distiller filled the room as it was poured into a cup.

Jean was back in an instant, the dark shape of him shielding the overhead lights. There was a touch at her wrist first, and the tug and distinctive noise of the buckles of the straps being pulled free. A foolish choice, maybe, but as quiet and subdued as she sounded, Jean couldn’t bring himself to leave her there strapped down to a table like an animal any longer than necessary. Not like this.

“Slowly,” he encouraged, slipping a hand behind the back of her head and neck as best he could to help her up so she could drink. He could feel his breath caught in his throat somewhere, heart beating insistently, almost as though he was afraid to breathe until he knew she was all right.

Tavi…

Jesus.

How had it come to this?

20
Mining Skyplex / Re: Another Day At The Office
« on: September 19, 2017, 08:02:44 PM »

Dead or Missing in Action.

There it was

Jean leaned back in his chair. He was still frowning, but the expression had taken on a different aspect. Something a little more inscrutable than the abject annoyance he’d been showing earlier. A little more thoughtful, in it’s own way.

This had been easier than what he’d thought. Even despite Mei’s somewhat difficult attitude, he’d just gotten half the information he’d come here to acquire, and he hadn’t even had to pay a silver for it. The information might not have been worth much to Mei, but to Jean, well...

Dead or MIA.

Huh.

Couldn’t complain about that one.

The shipping routes were another matter. While it would undoubtedly be a boon, Mei’s terms couldn’t help but leave a sour taste. There was no guarantee the favour she’d request would have parity to the information he sought, and while Mei was playing coy with precisely what she was going to ask for, Jean was inclined to play it cautious. He was trying to keep his crew alive, and there was no guarantee that Mei wasn’t going to jeopardise that.

“If you are as good as you say you are,” Jean said, getting to his feet, “Then you will have no trouble finding me.” There was nothing more to be done here now, until Mei knew what it is she wanted to ask of him. Jean was not so foolish as to purchase a favour without knowing the cost.

“You know who I am, so you know my service record,” Jean continued, hands resting behind his back and inclining his head to one side. “If you know my record, then you know my training. And if you know my training, it means you know what I can do.”

There was no sense shutting the doors on negotiation completely. Mei knew the cards he was holding, and Jean knew hers. Time would tell how that would play out.

“The day when you need that favour of yours, be in touch,” Jean added. “Then, we will speak again. Until then, Zhīzhū Nǚwáng”

With a final short nod of his head that may have been a bow, Jean made his way back to the main Skyplex hangar. He may not have gotten everything he’d came for, but it had certainly been… educational.

21
Mining Skyplex / Re: Menagerie Reunion
« on: September 19, 2017, 06:04:54 PM »
So much for that plan.

Jean had barely gotten a chance to clear the scene before the A.M.C. Deputy was already making her way down the corridor, barking orders. Jean should have left. Turned around, slipped off with the crowd, and not looked back. That had been the plan, right up until the millisecond he looked up to see who it was, and that pang of realization came thundering down.

Shun Sheng Duh Gao Wahn.

Jean found his feet rooted to the spot for just a fraction too long. Her gun was at his head before Jean could even get a word out, and slowly and clearly, he moved his hands to the side away from his pistol.

Fuck.

It didn’t take long for the realisation to extend both ways. He did manage a small, lopsided smile when when her expression started to crack, feeling his own flood of relief start pouring in. He’d seen that look of hers before. It sounded like he’d changed, but the Safiya he saw may as well be the exact same Safiya he’d said his farewells to, so many years ago.

Well. Barring one major addition.

“Here I thought I was cleaning that mess,” he shot back, with a grin of his own that didn’t quite feel natural. When had he last smiled, anyway? “Still getting into trouble without me, Cackles?”

22
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Closed Book of Revelation
« on: September 18, 2017, 06:36:32 PM »
[Epilogue (?) to CANDYLAND]

Over three hours had passed since Tavi had collapsed unconscious. Three hours, forty nine minutes, seventeen seconds, to be exact.

The medbay was dark now, the only pale light filtering in through the frosted glass that separated them from the rest of the world. Their own personal glass cage. The automatic lighting was set to dim during the simulated night-cycle, in order to help patients sleep.  Movement would trigger the sensors, but it had been a long time since Jean had moved.

He’d set up his vigil on a hard, plastic chair at Tavi’s bedside. That was where he’d remained, for three hours, fifty minutes, thirteen seconds. The Doctor had already checked her over; painstakingly reading each vital sign, and even performed a check of her brainwaves with a hand scanner while Jean stood by with his heart in his throat. All of it had come back normal. It wasn’t a stroke, as Jean had feared. She wasn’t dying. Her body had just… shut down.

Too much. An overload. A rerouting of essential function triggered by a fight or flight response.

How much of it had been Jean’s fault?

Honestly? Jean couldn’t even say for certain.

They’d both agreed to sedate her, just in case she woke up thrashing, or caught in the midst of another traumatic flashback. The restraints had been the Doctor’s idea. Jean was already feeling the familiar prickle of guilt. The straps wrapped around her wrists and ankles looked gargantuan on her emaciated frame. Cruel. But at the time, it had felt like it was for the best. If she woke up thrashing. If she hurt someone. If she hurt herself...

Yet the guilt remained all the same.

In the end, Jean had apologised to the Doctor for what he’d done. It was sincere, for what little the words meant coming out of his mouth. Less than dirt, if he had to guess. He wasn’t sure if the Doctor trusted them, but he’d needed to say them. For the Doctor. For Tavi. For himself. For whatever pittance it was worth.

What had happened here couldn’t happen again.

It wouldn’t happen again.

Three hours. Fifty six minutes. Twenty one seconds.

A stiff pain was working its way through his lower back, but Jean couldn’t bring himself to move. As though if he dared, the lights would be triggered, and Tavi would be jolted awake. He had no way of knowing now whether she was still sedated, or drugs had given way to a genuine sleep.

These days, a dreamless sleep may well be the only respite she had left in the universe.

She looked peaceful. There, resting on the bed, a faint rise and fall of her chest with each breath, body silhouetted in crystal light. Only the restraints ruined the illusion. Jean’s eyes had long since adjusted, but sometimes, when he blinked, there was blood on the walls. Blood on the bed. Running down her hands. Pooled around her neck. The same way the blood had been everywhere after the Caduceus was attacked. The same way Natalie had looked on that stretcher after the anti-materiel round had ripped out her throat.

It was all starting to… blur together.

Jean blinked hard, lowering his head and pressing this thumb and forefinger into the bridge of his nose, as though that would help clear his mind. There was a reason he rarely sat. Work helped to numb the pain. Keep the world at bay. Work had always been his solace when life began to crumble down around him; his dogged determination to keep himself busy — to work, not to let himself think, or grieve — had single handedly pulled him through in those hours after the Caduceus. After Natalie. And, Hell, the whole goddamned War.

Suffice it to say, Jean gotten uncommonly good at operating on too little sleep.

The deepening crow’s feet at the corners of his eyes showed it. The haunted look he’d picked up in recent months. The gauntness eroding away at the sides of face, that on some days, in the right lighting, made him look half a corpse.

There was nothing else to be done for her now. No work teep his mind busy. Nothing but to do but wait. The medbay was already organised. The ship’s course was set; autopilot was running correctly. The alarm from the scanners was quiet. It was the early hours of the morning, and French and Mao were asleep. There was nothing left except sit on that hard chair, burning the visual of her outline into his memory.

He wanted to be here when she woke up. There wasn’t much logic behind it, but he couldn’t bring himself to leave. To abandon her here, to wake up alone, terrified and confused. Even just the thought made him feel wretched.

He just wanted to—

No.

There were a lot of things Jean wanted. Very few of them ever came to pass.

Four hours. Thirteen minutes. Fifty seven seconds.

He was playing it back in his mind over and over. The series of events that had brought them to this point. Every word. Every shout. When he flexed the fingers on his right hand, he could still feel the crunch of bone under his knuckles. He’d washed away the blood. But the feeling remained.

Why had he done it?

Jean was no stranger to violence, but it had always been controlled. Deliberate. A selective application to accomplish a purpose. Even when he was angry, he always had control. But this? What had just happened? That was rage. Genuine rage. The type that came like a crack of lighting. The one that made him bare teeth, and in that moment, want nothing but blood.

It had been years since Jean had struck out in anger. At least seven or more, by his own reckoning. He was still lost, even now, trying out to trace it out; map out what had happened, and why.

Christ.

How long had he been trying to get away from it all? And here he was, falling into old patterns he swore he’d left behind him. And what had it cost him? A Doctor with a broken nose, who for all his faults had only tried to help. And Tavi. And that look of fear that she’d given him. That little broken pleading in her voice that she wanted to go home. To get away.

The look was seared into his memory. Even now, the recollection of it, clear and crisp in his mind's eye, made his skin crawl. He’d done some despicable things in his life. He’d killed people. Sold them into slavery. Hurt people for his own gain. But never before had he felt like so much of a monster, until that look.

But why?

Why had he lost control?

That was the question that was haunting him, as the time of clock marched ever onwards, and Tavi continued to peacefully breathe in the dim light of her crystal cage.

Four hours. Forty minutes. Eleven seconds.

Understanding came eventually. There wasn’t much left to do otherwise, except think and ponder on each various failure that had led him to this point.

He realised, now, that throughout it all — though the decimation of the Caduceus, the black box, the first sale, the first kill — Jean had never really let go. He went through the actions. Played the part. But he’d always been hoping. Praying. The back of his mind, subconscious or otherwise, still clinging onto the hope that this was only a temporary sojourn from the life they’d lead. That they could go back. That he could fix everything. That it could all be how it was before.

A long time ago, far, far away.

Jean breathed deep, trying to suppress a sigh as he ran a hand through his hair.

There was no escape from this. There was no out. It was a truth he already knew, but the stubborn part of his heart hadn’t wanted to believe it. Not really. It had kept rebelling at every move he made. Fought and gnawed and clawed at him. He’d shouldered all the responsibility, and let it weigh on him like a boulder. One that he refused to let go of even as it kept dragging him down into the ocean’s depths, no matter how desperately he tried to swim.

It was destroying him. Drowning him. Slowly but surely. It had just taken this for him to realise how far he’d sunk. How little of himself he had left, and the damage it was causing to everyone around him.

It had to change. Because this? Here? What had happened? It wasn’t going to help anyone. Not Tavi. And certainly not himself.

Perhaps it wasn’t his job to save her. Perhaps time would claim her life in the end. And Mao as well. And then all that would be left would be to steer the Black Echo into the sun.

But not yet.

Not while there was still work to be done. And it was work Jean couldn’t do if he destroyed himself first.

There was a conversation with Mao that came to mind. He couldn’t remember the exact words, but the gist, at least, was that Jean need not fear becoming a wicked man, because the Universe had already shown him evil, and he had not broken in the face of it. And Jean remembered, even then, how the words had rung hollow.

He’d tried being a good man. It clearly wasn’t working. The Black Echo didn’t need a good man.

It was about time he understood that.

Five hours. Ten minutes. Thirty nine seconds.

Sleep was getting harder to fight. More than once, when Jean closed his eyes, all he could see was the blood.

There was a time once, when he’d laid her down unconscious in that same cot, and taken vigil in this same plastic chair. She’d been covered in blood then. The same blood that occasionally wormed its way from the vaults his memory into his vision in the dark light. He’d thought he was going to lose her then too. He’d watched that same outline of her breathing against the crystal backdrop, and prayed to Gods he didn’t believe in. Barely months ago, yet a thousand years away.

Sometimes, when he found himself almost nodding off to sleep in his chair, he’d feel like he was there again, and that old sense of an iron vice around his chest began to close.

Time was starting to lose all meaning.

There was only Tavi, as she continued her gentle breathing. That slow in and out. Bone thin, broken, but still beautiful. An angel shattered. Neither dead nor alive, both in body and soul. As though someone had torn off her wings, and her body had withered because of it.

His Sleeping Beauty.

She had to wake eventually. He had to believe that. And he’d be there when she did.

And maybe — if he ever had the chance — he’d find her a planet with cherry trees.

23
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: July 15, 2017, 10:27:29 AM »
She shuddered, pushing into his fingers, and Jean felt it before it happened. Felt her tense, felt her breath catch, her legs stutter. He pushed in harder, pressing with his tongue, sucking hard, trying to push her over that edge.

She came so hard he could feel her clench around his fingers, thighs squeezing tight around his head. That ragged cry was everything a man could hope for and more, coaxing her through it, held on while she ground into his mouth, relishing every goddamned second of the way she shuddered and twitched under him, against him, thighs slamming tight around his head.

He waited until the shocks began to die down. Until she could breathe. Slipped his hand from her, face slick, fingers wet and dripping. Something almost sly in that smirk as he nuzzled against her inner thigh. “So good,” he murmured, pressing a kiss against her skin.

Another throb ran though him, and fuck, if she wanted to back out now, he might have to bring himself off right there in front of her. Mercifully, he didn’t have to wait. A little aftershock coursed through her, and she was back, determined, mouth wrapping around the head of cock, slick, exquisite heat that made his breath catch. Jean’s mouth dropped open in a silent gasp, making a throaty, needy sound, gliding forward with his hips, into the slick, hot inside of her mouth.

“Holy fucking Christ...” And he wasn’t going to last long this time. Not after that. Sweet smell of her filling the air, hands gripping in tight, head resting on her thigh, litany of words spilling out of his mouth that definitely wasn’t English.

It was his turn to shudder, jagged breaths. It didn’t take long of that — hands working in tandem with her mouth, exquisite grip of her hand and heat of her mouth — until instinct took over, muscles clenching, shallow thrusts as he pumped into her mouth, careful, trying to bite back on the impulse to push in deep, felt muscles start to tighten, twisting pool of heat. Fuck— Yes. There.

“Woah- Tavi—,” he gasped, another clench shooting through him, curling like a fire, gently reaching for her shoulder to encourage her back while trying to twist out of her way. This was relatively new for the both of him, and he didn’t mean to catch her off guard if that wasn't her intention.

24
The Verse / Re: Everything Was Beautiful...
« on: July 13, 2017, 09:17:23 PM »
Jean wasn’t far behind. He’d let Tavi go on ahead, lingering in the pool for a moment with his arms crossed over the concrete, watching her as she walked. There was a nice sway of her hips as she went, the wet back of her bikini bottoms clinging tightly to her skin, but, for once, Jean wasn’t just admiring the sight.

She looked like she was gaining a little weight. At least, he hoped. His gaze lingered on her thighs for a moment, the way the sun glistened on wet skin. His head tilted to one side as he tried to puzzle it out. It was subtle, if it was true. Perhaps it was just wishful thinking on his part, but the thought still brought an ill-advised flicker of hope

She said she’d brought food. Sans doute, it was just to make him happy, but if it meant she actually planned to eat something today, then that had to count for something, didn’t it? A little step in the right direction was still a step.

He couldn’t help it. He did tend to worry about her.

Someone had to.

Jean kicked off the bottom of the pool, hauling himself up over the side. He took a quick detour for his abandoned shirt first, slinging it over his shoulder, feeling it stick to wet skin before following her to the cooler.

He knew something wasn’t right the moment she paused, her feet trailing to a halt. The slight hesitation that had crept into her movements. The nameless emotion in her eyes, when she turned towards him. Something a little more lost. A little more worried than it had been only seconds before. It wasn’t much of a giveaway, all told, but he’d spent so long desperately watching after her, carefully studying her every move for a hint or a sign, that he was starting to pick up on the subtleties. The little things that made Tavi Tavi.

Jean his brows start to draw together, mirroring that look back at her with an expression of concern. Something in this stomach giving an unpleasant twinge.

Christ.

“Hey. Come here,” he prompted when she was finished, reaching for her and pulling her close. She still felt small in his arms, the way she always did, cupping a hand to the back of her head and pressing a bristly kiss to her forehead. She tasted of water, sunscreen, and chlorine. Tasted like her. “You’re here with me.”

He didn't know whether she was talking about the things in her head, or whether or not she was doubting this was real. The fact that they were both here, together. He was getting used to that too. The little shifts and breaks in her reality.

It had stopped stinging as much to see her this way — repetition brought a certain amount of familiarity — but it never hurt any less.

“And I’m not going to let anything happen.”

He’d thought she was getting—

Well, maybe that was foolish of him too.

A little reminder that, even here, as far away from the ship and the death as they could get, they still weren’t quite free.

25
Black Echo ~ Pirate Ship / Re: Go Down, Moses
« on: July 11, 2017, 08:01:06 PM »

It was a little lacking in finesse. The way she choked down on his cock like she was desperate for it; crushing heat, the clench and squeeze like an iron band as her throat locked down around him with each gag, pleasure bordering on pain. But Jesus, there was something about her determination, sending another twist as the muscles in his stomach clenched, until—

She pulled away suddenly, leaving only cold air and a sharp, aching throb. Jean made a frustrated sound that vibrated in his throat, the fingers of his other hand digging painfully into her thigh. Jesus. He’d been getting close; the sudden neglect now bordering on discomfort, felt another throb run through him, while a tiny, desperate voice tried to forcibly remind him that it was in his best interests to lose. To let her win. But he couldn't help it. He’d come too far now.

Each choked word only seemed to spur him on further. Now wasn’t the time to be pushing her limits — he knew that — but Jesus Christ, she made it fucking difficult. That pleading in her voice making him want to press in harder. Push in deeper. Feel her body clench and squirm underneath his hands. Under his tongue. It was a conscious effort to keep his hands still, to keep that same rhythm, that wet heat tightly gripped around his fingers.

He could feel her thighs start to clench, gripping around his head, and fuck— yes. Perfect. Wanted to growl encouragement, but that meant moving his head, and that wouldn’t do. Pulled his fingers free instead, just for a moment, another slap to her ass and a determined squeeze,  before his fingers slipped back inside, heel of his hand pressed against her so she couldn’t buck away.

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2517, The Unification War has been over for a decade and Miranda is still a secret. Into The Black is an Alternate Universe Firefly & Serenity fandom roleplaying game. It centers around independent crews of different ships which travel all over the 'verse created by Joss Whedon.

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