AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

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illirica
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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by illirica » Sat Aug 17, 2019 3:17 am


Hector seemed uncertain. He'd obviously been working on something before she'd arrived, but he seemed like he wasn't quite sure he wanted to talk about it, or what he wanted to say about it. Teja waited for him to start, patient. She wasn't entirely sure about what he was designing - while it would pain her to admit it, he'd surpassed her knowledge on the biotech front some time ago; Teja's strong suit had always been pure physics rather than other sciences.

She was still far ahead of him on the subject of acronyms, though. Not only was his offering for DIODE ridiculous, it had a superfluous conjunction. At least he was trying to figure out a way to stop himself from dying again, though.

"Relates to, uh. You." Teja paused at that, blinking in what was evident surprise at the unexpected direction this had taken. She'd known he was designing technology for himself, but the idea that he was trying to work something up for her was... Teja didn't know quite how to feel about that. It wasn't what she'd expected to come back to, certainly.

The intensity of combat situations made it all too easy to hyperfocus - to fixate on nothing but what was happening, to the exclusion of other pieces of information that might have been important. Information like that there was someone back here, and that he was trying to help her. That he cared for her. He tried to explain it, which somehow managed to go horribly awry, because his description bordered on wildly inappropriate.

She probably should have said something about that line, but she didn't have the energy for it. She did raise an eyebrow, though, waiting patiently while he made a heroic effort at digging himself out of the hole he'd just created. At least he had the sense to change the subject, when it occurred to him that maybe his efforts weren't quite doing the trick.


"That's a sword,"
Teja answered the obvious, which didn't tell him anything. It bought time, though, time to bring her mind back to the present, or the recent past, and formulate a better answer, one she could actually give him.
"Volksgeist gave it to me."
Quiet. Too quiet.
"Before he died."
Earlier, she had been confident. The villain vanquished, the heroes victorious, exactly the way it was supposed to be, the way people needed to believe it could be. AMPERE was her place, though, and if there was anywhere she felt safe enough to be uncertain about how she felt about all of this, it was here.

She closed her eyes a moment, then shook her head, not knowing if she wanted to talk about all that or not right now. She walked over to him, setting the blade down on the table with at least some degree of respect, if not perhaps the reverence Volksgeist would have thought was its due. It was becoming more and more evident that she didn't want to be standing, so she grabbed a chair and pulled it over next to him, leaning in for a moment before becoming keenly aware that she probably still had demigod-ichor on her pants, and God alone knew what else.


"Sorry,"
she murmured softly, sitting back up again, her eyes drifting back to the whiteboards, the expressive scrawl, the hard-learned equations, diagrams, ideas. She wanted to ask Why? but she knew why, even if it was something she didn't deserve. She had been dealing with the present, but he had been here, looking towards the future. One he wanted to share with her, even as the lightning storm overtook her from within.

"I wonder if she will mourn me, now, with what I have become ... or perhaps, she would mourn what I ... once was."


"Will you... tell me about it?"

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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by Aether » Sat Aug 17, 2019 1:35 pm

It was a sword. Hector blinked, looking down at it, then gave a mocked sigh of relief.

"Oh, thank God," He muttered, pressing a hand to his chest as if he'd been scared for a moment. All sarcastic, of course, and while Captain Capacitor had never been one to like his jokes-- or him, come to think of it-- maybe Recurrent had finally acquired a sense of humor as one of her powers. Check off that box right above getting a sword, too, apparently. "I thought that for a second there, you were carrying some sort of ... very odd kitchen knife. Afraid I was going to get murdered like in Psycho." If she were to murder him, though, there was an explicit chance that he would inevitably return-- and dark as that was to think about, it was fun to bring some humor to the notion by attributing his inevitable resurrections as the cause of why Teja actually hadn't tried to kill him again. Or maybe she just liked having him around, too. Like a sidekick.

Or a partner, maybe, even if she was always very clear in how she felt about that in her government days.

The second answer, though, drained a bit of the levity from Williams' face as he considered the implications of what those words truly meant. By the third and final response, his smile had faded. Not sadness, not a relative unhappiness, but concern had replaced his joking temperament. His brow furrowed, upturning slightly. The blood that splattered across her pants, while originally thought to be some other stain, now made sense.

Volksgeist was dead-- and rather than discuss the weight of such an occurrence, Teja asked him about whatever he was doing, as if the scope of his plans were somehow relevant in the wake of a demigod's death. Williams blinked, struggling to find the words, and eventually just swallowed and nodded, looking back over to the notes he'd written.

"So. Uh-- well, for one, I'm sorry for saying ... all that. Shit. I am. Sorry. But-- the, uh, DIODE was essentially ... a way to, uh ..."

Hector didn't quite know how to word what he was trying to say, and so he resorted to his usual methods of stuttering through sentences until he finally found something to latch onto. It was a far cry from what he used to be, really-- back under the government, even with an attached script, Akhilleus was known for often making up ad-libs and speaking quite well on the spot. Quips were his expertise. He'd meant to be charismatic, after all, and people that possessed charisma didn't fumble over their words. Now, though, he was withdrawn. The inexperience of a person in his early 20s shone through. He wasn't sure about other people, but dying seemed like a decent ego check.

"It's-- cytochemistry, biomechanics. Some engineering, but-- not building with stuff, really. I made it as way to ... help you, I guess. See if there was a way. To ... fix what's wrong. Not that there's -- you know what I mean, right?" Please just nod your head or say you do. "Look --"

There wasn't a need to beat around the bush. He needed to act for himself and tell her, for Chrissakes.

" -- I don't want you to die. I really don't. And I'm trying to learn as much as I can to help you, or come up with ... I don't know, something, because I feel like I can't just sit here and let it happen. But I can't ... help, really, until I know what's going on in there."

Hector gestured to her entire form, leaning back in his chair and looking back at the notes. He bit his lip for a moment-- what if there is no helping it?-- before speaking again.

"I'm guessing it's something to do on the cellular level, if you're generating as much as you already do. Something like ... I don't know. That's the problem."
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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by illirica » Sat Aug 17, 2019 8:00 pm

For a moment, Hector was acting remarkably like his old self. Teja was concerned by the fact that she found that comforting, doubly concerned by the fact that she found it more so than his evident worry for her. He really just wanted to help.

What if I don't want help?

It was a question she could not ask. He would not understand it, she did not think. He would think, perhaps, that she didn't want his help - it would come off as a rejection, and she certainly knew she'd given him enough of those in the time that they had known one another. You aren't ready. You can't do that. You aren't qualified. It wasn't that, not this time. She didn't know whether or not he could do something, but he was certainly qualified enough to make the attempt.

No, she was the one who wasn't ready. Life was meant to be finite - in her case, the inevitable end was... not a comfort, perhaps, but at least a certainty. A time when she could consider her duty complete. She didn't seek her own end - but she had never planned to avoid it, either.

And yet she knew what it was, to watch someone you cared for die. She couldn't ask that of him. Not when she had already asked him so much. Too much.
"I don't know either, actually,"
Teja admitted.
"The whole Capacitor project was... classified. I don't know how they did it. I've... theorized about it."
Lied about it. Pretended she knew more about it than she did.
"But I don't know for sure how any of it works. I was told not to ask."
And she'd always been good at doing what she had been told, hadn't she? Not like Hector Williams, who'd all too often done what he'd pleased, much to her annoyance at the time.

Teja looked down at her hand, a weak spark jumping between fingertips.
"It's... everywhere. Not intrinsic to any one system."
The charge she generated wasn't linked to musculature or a particular organ or blood or lymph or any other part of her, it simply... was her.
"Cursed as you are with lightning..."


Or perhaps not a curse. Not if she didn't allow it to be.
"It generates faster when I'm sleeping, or unconscious."
She didn't know if that information was helpful, but at least it was true. It had been... a day for truths, it had turned out.
"I've always assumed that was a defense mechanism, since being discharged used to knock me out. Faster generation meant getting back up faster - but there's really no reason for evolutionary rationales in an ability that didn't evolve... or maybe it is evolving. I just don't know, Hector."


She looked at him again, meeting his eyes.
"I'm not giving it up. If that ends up being the choice... I won't. I need you to know that."
It is what I am.

"... I ... am bound ... by my nature."


Yes. That.

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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by Aether » Sun Aug 18, 2019 12:31 am

She didn't know?

The thought was jarring. Capacitor as an identity was always about knowing the limits, never getting too audacious, always staying the course and acting as a constant. Being there, unshakable, a consistent line of defense as other heroes rushed into the fray. The admission of ignorance, though, only served to cast a different light about her true role in combat. Maybe she was sidelined because Damson, like her, had been unaware of her true limits-- or maybe her superiors did know, which was exactly why she got sent to the perimeter in the first place. Convenience. The lightning storm at AMPERE, the supposed discharge in London he'd read scraps about, the immediate tension in the air whenever she walked into a room because of the passive background of electrons passing around her-- all this was evidence of liability, of unpredictability. She might have been able to hurt civilians-- but then why was she always put around them?

There was even more to unpack, there, but the most concerning thought had been in the words she'd told him.

I don't know.

Capacitor-- Teja Docesznic-- didn't ... not know things. It was an intrinsic betrayal of her nature. The reason Hector had intensely disliked her when they first worked was because she seemed to know just about everything-- always had an answer to his complaints and insults, always had a reason that he couldn't quite argue against. Her not knowing was ... shocking, in an inappropriate word, and the confusion transpired across his face before he could fully dampen his reaction. Parallels. The way the lightning generated faster under sleep or coma. The way it was a defense mechanism, just like the frost was a way to save him.

I just don't know.

She wasn't giving it up-- and she hadn't the faintest clue what it actually was. Her final declaration rose a question-- a few, really, but only one that truly mattered. What? There wasn't a single way in hell the words were going to come out of his mouth, though. Why? No matter how much he wanted to say them.

How can you be so selfish?

It was a question he couldn't ever ask her. She wouldn't understand what he meant by it-- or perhaps it was his misunderstanding, really. It was selfish for him, after all, to pressure her into a choice that would let him spend more time with her. Or maybe he was right, and she was prioritizing a need for heroism over her own well-being and life. Part of him wanted to admire her for it. Another part of him wanted to loathe her for it. But he couldn't ever hate her, now, could he? Hector didn't think he ever had. Not truly. So instead of asking a question that could never be asked, he only gave a soft melancholy nod, the quickening cold within the room making his true feelings known.

"O-- okay. Right." He said, forcing himself to look away from her and back towards the notes. People could be convinced, couldn't they? She could change her mind. If the time came. Sometimes a choice never was a choice at all, but there was often a deliberate ignorance of what was not chosen. A reasoning. An excuse.

He did not think Teja would ever change her mind.

"I, uh-- I wanted to talk to you about something else." Take your mind off of it. "About the Society." Hector's eyes drifted back to Docesznic, an eyebrow cocked to a slight degree as he clicked his tongue against the roof of his mouth. "If you'll have me, I, uh-- I'll join."

Admittedly, he had already been on a number of excursions with the Society already, though their meetings were fated by chance as opposed to deliberate coordination. Some of them he had gotten along with-- Arno, maybe, and Teja herself. Some of them, less so.

Like Francine Southam, the girl he'd nearly punched the lights out of. Granted, she had concussed him and nearly damaged his hearing permanently, and she'd held onto the primary target in the Alaskan breach like it was a damn kid, but he still felt wrong about doing that.

"I'll ... consider lending you my expertise. Gracing you with my presence by keeping you all cool." He continued, another smirk playing across his face. With a shrug, he pushed back to the desk.

"Of course, I'm also content being your partner. Up to you. Are those two things mutually exclusive? If I join the Society, do I, like ... have to file it with HR?"
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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by illirica » Sun Aug 18, 2019 2:03 am

He didn't need to say anything. The sudden chill said it for him.
"I know, Hector,"
she said, softly, to the words he hadn't spoken.
"I know. I just..."
She sighed, shaking her head. The answer wasn't there, so she changed the question.
"I just spent the last moments with someone who'd lived long enough to regret everything he had become. Do you know what scares me more than the idea that I'll die? The idea that I won't. That... what I've become... is something that will just go on. Like Gyras. Like Volksgeist."
Like you.

She could feel her skin prickle under her clothing, reacting to the cold, but she said nothing.
"I'll think about it,"
she said instead. She wouldn't ask him to stop working - and maybe he could come up with a way of solving the problem that didn't change what she was.

She'd changed enough, lately.

Hector moved on to another subject, one that was... not entirely unexpected. Teja knew he'd been considering the idea, especially as much as she'd quietly included him in some of the Society events - but she hadn't wanted to ask him. It wouldn't have felt right. It would have been... too much like their old relationship, she thought. Asking him to put himself back under her command, with all the chafing that entailed.

And of course, he brought that all the more into focus by adding to his request with an egotistical remark almost worthy of Pendragon, and a temperature pun.

"Of course, I'm also content being your partner."

Was that what they were? Or... perhaps he just meant that in the superhero sense. As he'd claimed all too often, back in the military, because he had known it annoyed her. The word did seem to have a different connotation these days, though, somehow. She smirked, then realized he would probably take that for encouragement.


"You do realize that if you join the Society, there's no higher command to tell me I can't zap you for making annoying comments, right?"


More seriously, though.
"I don't want to exclude you from anything, Hector. If you want to join the Society, I think you've more than earned that right. And if you want to continue being my... partner... well."
She gave him a smile.
"I'm mature enough to handle that. And as much as I never anticipated admitting this... so are you."

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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by Aether » Sun Aug 18, 2019 7:49 pm

"Oh, come on." Williams joked back at Teja's comment about zapping him, reclining back in the chair with both hands raised and pressed against the back of his head. He would have kicked his feet up on the table for a little more flair, but the last thing he wanted was to scuff the pristine ivory workbenches she'd installed in this place. "Don't act like a higher command has ever stopped you from doing that before. I nearly went bankrupt buying phones, Teja. Which is the only reason why I'm joining the Society, by the way-- only a hero's paycheck will stop me from going into crippling debt." At that little comment, he gave a push of his legs to glide away from the table, towards Docesznic's own seated form. He stopped a short distance away from her arm, raising another eyebrow. "Of course, there's this other person-- a woman, about your height, kind of looks like you-- that I am also indebted to."

The smirk was kept steady across his lips, a hand reaching out to her wrist to momentarily use as an anchor to re-orient the chair he was sitting in so he actually faced her correctly. Whether or not the hand was kept there was up to her-- he didn't want to make it weird, after all. Weirder than it already was, anyway.

"I know you just got back from fighting a literal god, but-- I was wondering if you'd allow me to take you out on a small kind of, uh ... celebration, let's call it." Nevermind the fact he'd been building up the courage to ask. Let her think this was entirely in the spur of the moment. It fit his personality, after all. "Low-profile. Dinner, or a movie, or mini-golf, if you're into that. Maybe you can use the club with ... magnetism."

The thought of her levitating a putter was admittedly kind of hilarious to Hector's incredibly idiotic sense of humor, but he meant the offer seriously. There was ... a lot to talk about, he thought, between the two of them. Things that hadn't been said since their moment at the convention. There would come a time where they would have to discuss the baggage each one of them carried, but for one night, he'd thought that there could be a moment of respite between the two.

She was busy, though. As was he. And while both were dedicated to the protection of Earth and the pursuit of justice, they could relax, if not for a small portion of time. Before they had to go out and fight. Before Teja had to make another sacrifice which lessened her life expectancy.

Before he died, again.


And again. And again. And again.
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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by illirica » Mon Aug 19, 2019 1:59 pm

Teja gave him an amused look, the sort that knew he was about to be annoyed with her, and simultaneously implied she thought he completely deserved it.
"I assure you, any phones I may have damaged were completely accidental. And, incidentally, as such, Damson would have been obligated to replace them through the program budget... if you'd ever asked him. Or read the paperwork."
Of course, Teja also could have told him that at the time, but... somehow it must have slipped her mind. Repeatedly. Every single time.

Despite the provocation, he'd evidently decided not to kill her right now. His hand was on her wrist, and as always there was a sense of tension. Teja touched other people rarely, and people touching her was even worse, because she didn't have the forewarning to shift the charge she carried away, somewhere safe, where she wouldn't hurt someone. She couldn't hurt him, though, and the instinctive reaction passed in barely a moment, almost imperceptible. She let him keep her hand where it was, looking back at him. He looked like... trouble, she decided.

Apparently, trouble meant asking her... out. On an actual date. How many times had she told him that she didn't date? Of course... she'd told him a lot of things, back then. Things were different now. The past shaped them, but it didn't define them - not unless they allowed it to. She wasn't about to do that. They'd both fought hard enough to get here, and she intended to fight to keep it.

Teja raised an eyebrow.
"Demigod, maybe,"
she commented,
"And he was just a man, in the end."
Maybe they all were. And maybe this was... not the time for philosophical questions. It was a time for simpler questions.

Like whether or not she wanted to go out on a date.
"...Sure, though."
Before something else happened, another crisis, another sudden call for her attention, another choice, another death. Not today.
"I'll shower and get changed. You think about where you want to go."

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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by Aether » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:44 am

DISSIPATION
2 hours following Los Angeles Incident.

They had lost.

Los Angeles burned, and when he had tried to put an end to the unjust suffering of innocents, the city froze; now, it lay dormant, building after building coated in an undecaying shell to preserve the monumental horrors which lay beneath. Ice covered every scorched brick and concrete pathway like volcanic glass, ashen and blackened by burnt refuse, the frost-laden air tainted with the scum of smoke which burned the back of the throat with each chilled breath. He had tried, tirelessly, to help those he could, to save the masses which had been laid to die upon wooden crosses born from the earth's covered topsoil.

But he was not a savior, was he? Hector had said as much to Damson, and proved as much in Los Angeles. He had stifled the fire, protected the city from an undying inferno, and at the cost of countless lives he could not bear to estimate, he had frozen that which had once been set alight with effervescent agony. Both acts done and undone by the same hand, a precious equilibrium preserved in the wake of all that had occurred. The vessel giveth, and the vessel taketh away-- but there had been nothing to truly give upon that battlefield, and yet Williams had taken what he could all the same with no semblance of indemnification to be offered in return.

Clean up had been minimal, as there was little to be done about the copious ice. There were those that praised him for his quick thinking, thanked him for what he had done to prevent the immolation of the city center-- and yet the hounds of condemnation were just as loud, barking with their obscene censure and derision to tear him down to the salted earth. He had been accustomed to critics and advocates alike, but-- there was something different, now, in the way they looked and talked and felt around him, each pair of eyes struggling to avoid his metallic gaze as if his stare alone could freeze over the heart of somebody they loved. Uneasiness plagued their every move like the handling of volatile explosives, as if one stray decision could somehow set him off to cause another tragedy-- they were frightened of him, visibly, and their fear was reciprocated within Akhilleus himself.

They were afraid. All of them. Afraid of what he would do to them all.

He had left the remaining efforts to the law enforcement, as was their job. In a moment, he was taken away from the familiar embrace of the Californian winter and spat out into the artificial, climate-controlled coolness of the white-walled chambers within the AMPERE laboratory. He was within the Mojave, now, a place that forever retained its unbearable heat-- yet he knew that the moment he stepped foot outside of these electric panels, the void within his soul would greedily claim the stifling temperature of the desert as its own and take all there was to take until the scalding sands had been reduced to cool, unperturbed dunes of frost. Even now, the sleek metal of the subterranean bunker grew clouded with collected moisture and manifested condensation-- the lightning held within each gargantuan plate, however, managed to stave off the turning of the seasons into an arctic miasma.

The Styx fell away, plates interlocking to vanish and fall away to some faraway corner of the universe where it would lay dormant until he called upon it once more. His skin still tingled with aftershocks of the tempestuous eruption he had called forth from his fingertips-- the hair lay charred and vacant across his forearms, the charge having momentarily stripped sensation from his flesh. His darkened skin turned pale in winding, bolt-like patterns across the back of his hands and wrists, subtle lichtenburg scars engraved into the limb up to the elbow; they danced across the skin, white like snow tattooed across the appendages, permanent fixings of the price he was damned to pay.

Silent, eyes deadened from the storm, Williams moved to one of the workbench chairs and lowered himself into the seat, the fractals still blossoming across his vision like taunting remnants of the floral demon he had faced in Los Angeles. Had he killed that thing? Was the spirit of that monstrosity present in every tree, every flower, every blade of grass he walked upon?

How much longer would he have to raze this earth under the excuse of justice before there was nothing left to protect?
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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by illirica » Sun Sep 08, 2019 2:21 pm

The hero returned, not with fanfare, but with silence. AMPERE resounded with it, the sudden void, bereft of sound, as if that too had been devoured by some uncanny force. Teja knew it was him, of course - how could she not, when his very presence seemed to draw her in? The silence was unlike him, though, and the void was far too quiet.

She knew the reason. She'd sent them - her people - to LA, because she'd trusted them - trusted them to take care of each other, but Hector returned quiet. Reports from the area were confused, as they always were, but they were clear about the fire, and they were clear about the ice. She knew him well enough to understand how it had come to the sudden cold - and she knew operations well enough to understand what the cost of that had been - in infrastructure, in collateral, in lives.

No doubt it would have been even greater had the fire raged unabated, but it was always too easy to say 'there must have been a better way' - and all too hard to find one, in the moment. She started towards where he sat in silence, then paused, a quick command through her Society watch translocating her to the other side of the room. One didn't approach a soldier from behind once they got off the front lines after all.

Teja walked towards him, calmly and without sudden movements, finding with some surprise that there was a part of her that was infuriated at the extra few half-moments it took to do so, that wanted to be there with him now, immediately. Together. He drew her to him, as always, but he didn't need her quickness at the moment.

The few instants of her approach gave her time to look at him - the silence spoke volumes, of course, but it was beyond just the silence - he'd divested himself of his armor on return, and while he didn't bleed, there was no way to miss the scarring, white-lightning over his skin. She couldn't help but wonder, for a moment, if she had done that.

No. It was new, a retaliation for his casting of the lightning, not for absorbing it.

And yet, yes. His skin had always been somewhat strange since... it was hard to say, really, when the change had happened - they had not been close, for long, in the grand scheme of things - but there had always been what she had chosen to assume was a resultant coloration to it - though perhaps discoloration would have been the better word, all things absorbed by the void of his being, even the very pigments. There had been a subtle demarcation about it, though, along the veins... she'd thought that, too, was intrinsic to whatever he now was.

But in sharp relief, it was all too obviously the spindle spine of branching lightning.

Be careful now; for I might be made into the gods' curse upon you.

She knelt before him, her voice a soft thread to be woven into the silence, not to shatter it.
"Hector."
Her touch was cautious, brushing ash from his forearms to fall undesirable upon the ground.
"...I'm here, now."
.

Teja took his hand in hers - and why not? It was all too obvious she had already branded him her own.

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Re: AMPERE Laboratory (Location)

Post by Aether » Sun Sep 08, 2019 6:49 pm

She had come to him.

They were drawn to each other, always, by their intrinsic and inseparable natures. Like fundamental constituents, each yearned to belong in a pair, and the avidity of their solidarity made the other's absence that much more painful. He had longed for her presence in Los Angeles as the fight raged on, the emptiness of his vessel made turbulent without a sufficient anchor-- and yet, simultaneously, he could not help but feel relief that she had not been there to see what he had become, what he had done to truncate the ravenous terror which had been cultivated within that park. He knew that this was the way things had to be-- that she could not be everywhere at once, and that they were still bound by their mortal frames-- but the acknowledgement of their plight did not lessen the pain that it brought, as well as the implications his increased dependency suggested. As she approached, the electric aura of her presence melted the cold which stood between them both as stray charge gravitated from her to him, as it had always been and would always be. He never gave. He always took. Even now, he could only hope she came closer if not to see her, to feel the warmth her comforting embrace ushered forth.

He needed her-- now, more than ever, he needed her, and this need utterly terrified him with the intensity of its nagging demand. There was a reason he had subconsciously placed himself here, after all, within the heart of the storm instead of his workshop, or the cemetery; it was autonomous, this want of contact, this desire for her above all else as if he had been guided by biological intuition and scientific memory alone. As if the briefest of moments within the park without her had spawned withdrawals. He let his head fall into his hands, fingers curling upon his forehead and cheeks as the thought settled within him, germinating, branching out to fields of thought he never dared tread before. Addiction. Dependency. A false relationship built upon Darwinist apathy, spurred on by a need to survive above all else. Was that what they had become?

No. No, he-- he understood her, he ... loved her, even if he could not bring himself to admit as much in fear of a regretful insulation by Teja; he wanted to say it, more than anything else, but he knew why he could not. He knew, and yet he wished so much to drown caution beneath the ardor he felt for her. She was all he had, now, and she was the only one which could bear the unending winter his essence brought upon the world. She knelt before him, gently grasping her hand in his in a dreamlike reminiscence of the divine vision of her presence that came to him within the darkest recesses of his mind-- for that was what she was, a streak of illuminating light to contrast the dying darkness which fell all around him. A beacon, mortal and evanescent, doomed to die so soon yet breathtaking in the blinding beauty it brought to the world. He could not lose her. He could not, he would not, even if the thought was further example of his greed; the idea of her death, however faraway or crushingly close it might seem, was one he could not bear to think about.

The future held untold tragedy, as did the past-- yet presently, he could only feel elation at the sight of her comfort. What she had said an was undeniable truth-- she was here, now, as was he. They were together. Hector lowered himself from the bench, a painstaking soreness slowing his every movement, and rested upon his knees to hold eye within eye. He couldn't speak, he couldn't explain-- all that could be managed was a release of his grip within hers to drape both arms around her to pull each moiety close. He rested his head upon her shoulder, locking himself tight in an exchanging embrace, a heat fluttering within his gut as his eyes remained opened, unseeing.

"I thought I'd l-lost you," Williams spoke beside her ear, voice strangled to a weak whisper as if a louder tone would will the thought into a dreadful existence. His voice quavered alongside the bare tips of his fingers, the hug of his arms lessening in their grip as to not drain all she held within her body. He could not hurt her-- not now.

"I-- I don't know why, I-I just ... in the park, they'd ..."

He couldn't explain, no matter how vivid the horror was. Even now, the soft strands of her hair melted together and reformed into warped lines and streaks across his vision, and he could not stop it, whatever it was. Drugs, hallucinations, it did not matter. She was here.

She ... was, wasn't she? Or was this another trick, another pit he had fallen into, a mirage designed by whatever satanic torturer that garden amalgam had revealed itself to be?

"I didn't know w-what was real, and I ..."

His embrace momentary tightened, a confirmation of what he believed to be true.

"... I need to know you are."
Heroism is accessible. Happiness is more difficult.

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