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Author Topic: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]  (Read 390 times)

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Offline nephero

Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« on: June 09, 2017, 10:30:49 PM »
It was important to get in a good place before you get baked.

It amounted to a little bit of preparatory work, but the end result was always a great one; comfy pants, a loose soft shirt, soft lights and good music and no dozens of spiders scuttling about. It was the rare moment he put the Borises away; usually Jonesy just let them rummage where they would. They never got underfoot, never bothered him, so what was the problem letting them clean up the place a little?

Except for when he needed to smoke, then they were gently gathered up and placed in their proper tanks. Because nothing made you lose your fucking shit quicker than thinking you were alone and feeling tiny little paws on your arm. Jonesy had learned his lesson, and learned it hard. Boris went to sleep in the tanks when he got high. All two dozen of them.

And so Jonesy went about his night, breathing plumes of pale smoke up towards the ceiling as some animated show or another played on his television screen. He wasn't watching it, not really, but the voices and the flashing colors did him good, let him sink into his cushions and just be.

At first it was good. And then, something empty nagged at him. Some starving thing, bent and hungry and urging him towards what it wanted more in the world. Jonesy recognized the feeling after a moment, as "being lonely." It was one of those rarer feelings, he remembered, but one he still got-- every now and then he would see some handsome thing, some pretty face, and he would want so so desperately to be close, to be intimate, to share something fucking normal for once. The fantasy would never last long, and then all that was left was that same, starved feeling. A want for connection that he knew made him sick to his goddamn stomach every single time.

Jonesy was lonely. Jonesy hated feeling lonely.

There wasn't much he could do about it though, in ratty sweatpants and barely able to sit upright. He rolled his head to the side, spied his phone, and pulled up the Pilot Chat. It was usually full of idiots doing idiot things, and tonight was no different-- but tonight was different, because tonight he simply could not give a single fuck. He thumbed the keypad, rattling out responses, snorting a bit at a few here and there.

And then he spotted Jack's name, felt his chest lighten just a bit-- only to have it all cave right on in again as his superior officer rattled in that empty, so incredibly not-Jack tone. Something wasn't right here, and it was a mark of how not-right it was that Jonesy could even process it through the haze of his inebriation. He felt his high twist, turn over, curl into some kind of funhouse mirror version of itself as the conversation seemed to spiral out of control.

Shit, shit, shit, Jack really did it this time. Jonesy pulled himself to his feet, swayed, and made his way to the front door, shoving his feet into flip-flops somewhere along the way. Shit, he needed to get to Jack's, and he needed to get there yesterday.

Time distortion being what it was, it felt like eons of walking, Jonesy squinting at passing apartment markers as if seeing them for the first time and not the four-billionth. Was it right, or had it always been left? Finally, he made it to a familiar door, and pressed his thumb into the coms, muttering under his breath the whole while.

"C'mon, Boss, open up. Don't make me override--" Don't make me come in without permission, don't make me trespass here-- "answer the door, Boss."

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #1 on: June 10, 2017, 05:10:28 AM »
It had been a night. It wasn't really like Pilot Noble Jack Ladner to reach for a bottle, he wasn't much of a drinker, especially not whiskey even though he had had this particular bottle for some time now. A final 'fuck you' to his old commander. He stared down the familiar drink, the one he'd been forced to choke down on many occasions when he was called in by his superiors. The vintage one that was 'too good to refuse' that would be 'rude not to drink'.

He lifted the glass to his lips and the burn filled the back of his throat as he defiantly gulped it down. He tilted the glass a bit, watching the liquid do the same and then raised it to his empty apartment. "To your health Sir."

He downed the glass and poured another, and another.

Perhaps it was his lonely bitter nature that drove him to drunkenly open the Pilot chat while buzzed. Maybe it was because he wanted someone to talk to. There was worry and anger and pure... Discomfort? He wasn't even sure what this feeling was. He just knew he was alone and it burned more than the whiskey. Scorpius had to stay overnight at the vet and it was fucking him up. Well it was far from the only thing fucking him up right now, but not having that sweet bundle of fluff to quell his demons- even though he knew Scorpius was going to be ok. He hadn't told anyone. Why worry them too? They had enough shit to deal with, especially with new recruits. He choked down another glass.

What was Apollo's fucking deal? Shut now Jonesy was worrying for nothing. What an asshole he was being. He shouldn't have said anything. He should have let his own mood bring Jonesy down. He didn't deserve that shit.

It felt like he had only just put his phone down and started running his temples when that familiar and always welcome voice came through the com's system. Damnit. Why did Jonesy have to be so good?

He got up, stumbling only briefly as he made his way to the door and pressed the button to let Jonesy in. "Hey. You didn't have to come. I'm sorry." But everything about his appearance said otherwise. The stressed and empty look on his face, the bags under his eyes, his messy hair that wasn't even in the top knot, just hanging loosely to the side. He looked like he was going to collapse at any moment and yet as he moved out of the way, silently inviting his subordinate in, he strode back to his perch in his living room with the grace and confidence of a soldier at his best. He sat back down, poured another half a glass, but didn't offer any to Jonesy-

Because it would be horrific to do so. Because that whiskey always meant one thing.

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #2 on: June 10, 2017, 07:45:45 AM »
The stink alone was almost enough to turn Jonesy’s stomach-- powerful and acidic and “aged to perfection, kid, man the fuck up” and by all the gods that had no right existing Jonesy hated it. Thankfully, Jonesy was also blitzed, and so the urge to gag was muted to the point of nonexistence.

Didn't mean he liked any part of it. He followed his superior officer inside, watching his back as the other man strode so purposefully back to a bottle that set every bit of Jonesy on edge. Well, shit, there went the last of his high.

It was a mark of how far gone Jack was that he could even stand to swallow the stuff. Jonesy’s jaw set, his teeth locked tight, and he strode across the room just before the glass could make it to the other Pilot’s lips. He pulled it from Jack's grip, probably a little more firmly than was absolutely necessary.

“I think,” he said, softer and less anxious than he felt-- or was that how Jack was feeling? “that’s enough for one night, Boss. Okay?”

Blue eyes flicked over the older Pilot in quick succession. The unkemptness, the cascade of fire-red hair, the deep haunted bags under his eyes. And even deeper still, the dull, ever constant pang of pain for which there was no salve. Even more than the booze, Jack reeked of it, his emotional state pouring out like someone had popped a cork in a wine cask.

If it had been anyone else, Jonesy might've booked it the hell out of there. But this wasn't anyone else-- this was his commander, his Boss, his savior and hero and comrade and fellow survivor all at once. Jonesy swallowed, and forced a shift in his aura. It was hard to keep up for very long, especially considering his own emotional state, but he supposed even five minutes of temporary apathy was better than the alternative.

He'd long ago forgotten how to project happiness. This was as good as it got.

Jonesy moved around Jack, snatched up that bottle before the other man got any ideas, and deposited the pair of them into his kitchen sink without a word. He didn’t dump the fluid, no matter how sorely tempted he was to do so, but he sure as shit wasn't going to stand there and watch Jack drink any more of it.

“Maybe you should brush your teeth, Boss. You smell like the bad side of a Haviah dive.” It was only a suggestion, of course. Not a command. Not here and not now and sure as fuck not with whiskey involved.

He looked around the apartment, and frowned.

“Where’s Scorpius?”

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #3 on: June 11, 2017, 04:24:05 AM »
Jack let his second take the drink, take the bottle even.He was probably right; Jonesy knew this shit, and what kind of commander would he be of he didn't trust his Lead? Jack leaned back in his arm chair and closed his eyes for a moment before getting up at the suggestion he should brush his teeth. 'Bad side of a Haviah dive.' Under different circumstances it would have been funny. He stood tall and proud as he marched into his bathroom to do just that.

When Jonesy asked where Scorpius was he poked his head out of the bathroom, toothbrush hanging out of his mouth. "He's at the vet." He muttered simply and then finished brushing his teeth.

He didn't make it out of the bathroom though. Once his mouth was clean an rinse he sat on the edge of his bathtub, slumped over with his head in his hands. "I'm fine sir." He said, not to Jonesy but more to himself, more out of reflex.

'Can't handle it boy? You want more son?'

"I'm fine sir."

He clenched his hands into fists, digging his nails into his palms. His mouth felt dry already and he felt the barest of tears stain his cheeks. This time last year he had polished off a good bit of the bottle too, but it was different. He just hugged and kissed Scorpius back then. He didn't tip off poor Jonesy that anything was wrong. He didn't let anyone know, he just talked to his therapist after the fact. It was different. He didn't want Jonesy to see this. See him trembling in his bathroom, sitting on the floor now, held upright by sheer force of will and the bathtub behind him. He was supposed to be strong for his men.

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #4 on: June 11, 2017, 02:36:01 PM »
Under different circumstances, a lot of this would have been funny. The fact that anyone could possibly mimic the tangy odor that went with the sunless segments of Aedolis' capital city with their mouth, the fact that Jonesy had to stumble his way in hole-filled pajamas down to his commander's apartment and genuinely almost got lost doing so, the fact that a man high out of his mind had the balls to tell another man that he'd had enough to drink.

In terms of black humor, it was hilarious. But in terms of their genuine reality it... just hurt. Everything hurt. Jonesy looked over at the bathroom door where his commander stood, a toothbrush in his mouth but not really moving with any sort of vigor. Listless. Lost. Jonesy's brows knit tight together, and he upended the glass of whiskey in the sink. Out of spite, out of malice, out of anger at men long gone and, if there was any justice in this world, rotting in their own waste. He ran the tap a bit to wash out the glass, to get the stink of alcohol gone, and left it at that.

When it took too long for Jack to return from the bathroom, Jonesy made his way over to the door, rapping his knuckles gently against the surface and freezing immediately when he caught what Jack was murmuring. Every bit of Jonesy's blood ran cold, the words soft and quiet and so so simply but pulling every dread horror in existence with it.

'I'm fine sir.' Unbidden, old memories came to the surface, old memories that would not leave him be even years after the fact, old memories of claustrophobic offices with the door shut and the feel of cold glass and forcing down whiskey to get an even worse taste out of his mouth. 'I'm fine sir.'

Who knew three syllables would be enough to leave him so raw and shaking? So much for an evening of relaxation. Jonesy pushed at the door to the bathroom, slid inside, and slowly settled himself onto the floor beside his commander. Not touching, not right now, but close. A subtle indication that he was there, was always there, just like Jack had been for him too many times.

If only Scorpius had been there. The sweet little dog was always so good for this sort of thing, soft and loving and only ever interested in being close and comforting. Jonesy was a poor substitute, hard lines and that light aura that never quite 100% went away, even when he wanted it to. But like hell was he going to leave Jack like this, and so they sat there on the bathroom floor, the lights almost overbright in their mutual states.

"If you want to talk about it," Jonesy said, quietly, after a moment, "we can talk about it. If not, well. We can just sit here for a bit. Whatever you need, Jack."

Jack, not Boss. That moniker could wait. Rank, for the moment, had absolutely no place here.

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #5 on: June 12, 2017, 01:26:58 AM »
Jack didn't say anything. He just sat there next to Jonesy for a while. There was no physical contact, but despite it- or maybe because of it, it was comforting. Jack ran his hand through his messy hair and let out a soft sigh as his hand traveled to rub the back of his own neck. He looked towards the wall, where it met the floor tiles. Just zoned out. He was silent for another few beats, and couldn't bring himself to look at Jonesy.

"It's my anniversary." He said finally, knowing his fellow survivor would understand.

His squadron anniversary. The day he joined the Scorpions. A day he would love to forget, and constantly tried to block out. He never meant to keep track of it but it was burned into his mind with ever 'anniversary party' he had to suffer through. In other squadrons it was customary to celebrate such an occasion by grabbing a drink with your squadron mates or something similar. However the Scorpions used to 'celebrate' by using it as an opportunity to 'reassess and reaffirm your loyalty'. He shuttered a bit just thinking about it.

These days there was no celebrations at all. The wounds of his old squadron mates were still too painful, nerves too frayed, even with the passage of time. The newer members learned to accept that there would never be any acknowledgement of anniversaries, good or bad. It was how things were. Jack held his head up and remained strong for his squadron, but they would never be socially what other squads were. They were broken.

It didn't matter since they remained efficient, deadly, and a devastating team to reckon with. That was what mattered. Maybe in time they would share the comradery that other squadrons had. A long time. Maybe under a better commander.

For now, they had Jack.

His gaze traveled up to where the wall met the ceiling, rubbing his palms on his thighs, wishing Scorpius was curled up on his lap so he could pet the sweet fluffy little guy and push away the nightmares, doubts and inadequacies. Before Scorpius he would go out and get drunk this time of year. He usually ended up sucking off some guy in a bar stairwell, or making out with a woman and dancing all night if he was lucky. That usually lead to girlfriends and future break ups.

Last year he opened the bottle.

He took it home from the commander's office after the bastard was arrested, he had planned to get rid of it at one point but it had him conditioned. It was 'too good to waste' after all. It would 'help him loosen up'.

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #6 on: June 12, 2017, 02:15:27 AM »
The tile of the bathroom wall felt simultaneously chilling and soothing against the back of Jonesy's head. It was cold, sterile, uncomfortable. He was especially aware of the fact that he was leaning against it; there was no pretending the hard surface was anything but what it was, and yet somehow that sensation was, in and of itself, grounding. It kept Jonesy centered, kept from from drifting off into terrible places, kept him from drifting away from Jack and how badly the other man was hurting.

Jonesy didn't need to ask what anniversary Jack meant. He knew, the same way he knew every year despite making every effort to forget his own. He knew the old song and dance, the dreadful repetition year after year, and no amount of chemical induced euphoria could seem to overcome it. Not for lack of trying, of course. Not for lack of trying, apparently, on Jack's part either.

The Squadron Leader tilted his head, feeling the cool tile against the side of his head and sinking into his temple as he regarded his commander-- the only commander he would ever, ever acknowledge. The only thing behind him were monsters unfit of the title. And Jonesy refused to consider what might lay before him. He absolutely refused.

Especially when he could feel just where Jack's thoughts were lining up. He couldn't read his mind, but the mood told enough of a story of its own, and his mouth curved down into a harsh frown as he felt the emotion dip hard. Jonesy licked at his lips, tried to consider what to say here. What could he say? It was infuriating, being to in tune with feelings but being so unable to process and act accordingly. He was stunted, and he knew he was stunted, and more accurately he knew why and that just made him all the more pissed off.

Just what hadn't those bastards robbed them of? Jonesy tried not to count the endless string of failed connections he'd made over the years, the desperation for something real and genuine but the complete inability to actually act on it. Like an amputee trying to scratch an itch on a limb that was no longer there.

After a while, though, Jonesy opened his mouth. Closed it. Took a breath and opened it again.

"I know it hurts. It's fucking awful and it'll never be okay and fuck if that doesn't hurt even more... but... Today's also the day someone stronger than any of us came into the squad. It's the day someone big enough to put his foot down came into our lives... A leader, a real leader. I don't think any of us would've survived without you, Jack. Fucked up as it is, fucked up as it sounds, I'm... I'm glad to have you with us. I sure as shit wouldn't be here without you."

And it was true. He'd not gone a day in his life where he didn't consider what might have been-- but the fact remained that he would not have had the balls to do what Jack had done. At the end of the day Jonesy was as scared as any of them, no matter what kind of air he tried to put out there, and more than one occasion had him tonguing the barrel of his sidearm. Always a coward, he'd never pulled the trigger. The sensation of something on his tongue had always made him sick, anyway, and so each instance had left him in his bathroom, heaving into the toilet and furious with himself. It always only ever meant an appointment with psych the next morning.

Jack, great and wonderful and beyond any of the Old Guard, had saved them from that. At the cost of his own well-being, and in more ways than one. There was no getting rid of these scars, but Jack bore them anyway.

"You are, and always will be, the best of us, Jack. And not a day goes by where I'm not fucking grateful to have you."

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #7 on: June 13, 2017, 12:39:19 AM »
He knew Jonesy meant well, but his stomach twisted at those words. Stronger, a leader, grateful.

He shifted his ass on the cold hard tile floor trying to redistribute his weight as the words he never admitted to anyone besides his therapist, came pouring out. "I'm not though Jones. I am none of that... I just jumped on a grenade. Because I was terrified, and exhausted. I really thought I was ending my career at the very least. I thought I was ending my life." He muttered softly, gripping his knees.

"I wasn't going to let them change me like Judikael. I wanted to help you guys... but I planned on dying. Not this. I'm a coward." Maybe that was a harsh assessment of his own actions. There were definitely noble causes in there, but he did intend to die taking Ruslan and Valdemar out too. Jack rubbed his eyes on the back of his arm, he neeed to be stronger for them.

For his fellow survivors.

"I'm sorry Jonesy."

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #8 on: June 13, 2017, 01:31:31 AM »
"Jack,"

He shook his head a bit, trying to find words that just wouldn't come. Because even if it had been out of fear, even if it had been some long-winded attempt at suicide, it had still been something Jack had done. Not thought of doing. Not wished he was capable of doing. Not fantasized and endlessly imagined. Jack did it. He took the step. Jonesy wasn't sure he'd have been able to, himself. No. Jonesy knew he'd never have been able to do what Jack had done.

No. He'd have swallowed the whiskey all the same, chasing down the last of Ekkehard until nothing but burning alcohol remained. Jonesy fought a gag, swallowed his reflex and breathed through his nose until the moment passed. Focused, instead, on Jack, on the man beside him rather than the ghost of one. On the man who deserved it. The man who deserved far better than sitting drunkenly on his bathroom floor, mourning the years lost to the machinations of sadistic fucks on a power trip.

"You're no coward. You are anything but a coward. And you have nothing, and I mean absolutely nothing, to apologize to me for. Not now, not ever." Jonesy stared at him, pale blue eyes bloodshot in a way that couldn't all be blamed on narcotics.

He lifted his hand, as if to clap it against Jack's knee, and seemed to think better of it after a moment, instead patting at the bathroom floor.

"C'mon. The couch is a better spot, we can talk more if you want. Can't have you catching cold or something equally stupid." Jonesy made his way to his feet, and held out his hand for his commander to take if he so chose. Not pressing, simply being there, an offer Jack could accept or refuse howsoever he chose. Because that was the crux of it, making a choice, and when they weren't operating the squad, there were no orders. Only choices.

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #9 on: June 13, 2017, 09:21:22 PM »
Jack looked up at Jonesy, at his most trusted friend, and took his hand getting to his feet. The room felt like it was spinning a bit but he managed to make it to the couch with minimal stumbling. "Will you stay with me?"

A question. Jonesy knew he could easily say no. He could go home and it would be fine, Jack would never hold it against him. This whole thing couldn't have been easy on Jones either. That whiskey alone was a huge trigger for his men. He was stupid for imbibing it. He was stupid for a lot of reasons. He held his head in his hands, his whole body slumped forward. "I feel like I will never be able to be the commander you need." The you there could have easily meant the whole squad, but it didn't. He meant Jonesy specifically.

"I let all of you down. I did. If I were good at this... I would be able to help you. You deserve to be happy again Jonesy. Actually happy." They took so much from them. It was always there, unspoken, every time he looked at his men... even the new squad knew something was damaged here. As much as they tried to hide it, there was an obvious disjointed quality to them. He leaned back on the couch and put a hand over his eyes. "You shouldn't have to deal with any of this."

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #10 on: June 13, 2017, 09:51:01 PM »
"To hell and back," Jonesy replied, the corner of his mouth quirking upwards in a facsimile of a smile. The gesture wasn't warm, or comforting, or any of the things that a smile was supposed to be. Jonesy had long forgotten how to make a smile like that, but still he tried, hoping at least the attempt would be enough. Just enough to make his sincerity clear.

It was easier being close to his commander now that he smelled minty fresh rather than reeked of grain alcohol, and Jonesy gently led the other man over to the couch and deposited him rather ungracefully onto the cushions before flopping down beside him. He watched, somewhat dimly, as Jack leaned forward, his face hidden behind strong hands. Jones fished in his sweatpants pocket for the pen he knew he'd stashed there, took a deep drag until the light at the end flashed to tell him to knock that shit off.

He listened in silence for a long while, knowing that sometimes it was just better to get everything out into the open air, and not be interrupted every ten seconds before you could finish your thought regardless of the truth of it. The comment about Jonesy being happy, however, had him stir, and he sat forward, blowing a soft white plume out before him and baring his canines in a bitter laugh.

"Jack, you are not the reason I'm chronically unhappy. That responsibility belongs to a very select few, and they're busy rotting in some dank-ass cell. Or, if there's a god worthy of the title, they're rotting in some dank-ass grave."

He took another hit, held it, glared off into space in a way that said there might have been real damage if he had any talent for telekinesis. After a while, Jones seemed to collect himself, and turned a much softer gaze back onto Jack. "...It's not your fault, and it sure as shit isn't your fault I can't... shake what happened. You got your own hurts, don't you even try to take mine on, too."

Jack leaned back, and blue eyes, glassy as they were, followed his every movement. Gauging his body language, feeling the pulse of emotion that went with every little gesture, rendering them crystal clear and ultra-focused. Highlighted as being important, and inevitably tugging on Jonesy's heartstrings in mimicry of the emotion that went along with Jack's movements.

It was kind of hypocritical of him to talk about taking on hurts, all things considered. But he couldn't help it. He flinched away from most other folks, which caused more problems than they ever solved, but Jack was... different. Trusted confidante. Best friend. Brother in blood and tears and both reeking of the sulfuric afternotes of the same hell.

"You're the commander I need, Jack. No one else could ever come close."

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #11 on: June 14, 2017, 03:34:52 AM »
His dark eyes moved to Jonesy. Watching him 'smile', watching him exhale. Watching every inch of him desperate to forget and bury shit that could never be forgotten. Things that had irreparably shaped them both. Things that would haunt them both, and the rest of the old guard for forever.

'Rotting in some dank-ass cell.'

There was a heavy weight in the pit of his stomach that twisted and lurched because... because those words weren't true and it sickened him. Valdemar was still doing what he did best, he still had Ruslan, just because they were doing it to prisoners now- prisoners who also used to be Pilots. Who also had their psionics stripped away by implants and devices. Just because it was happening to convicts now instead of them... did that make it ok?

He couldn't tell Jonesy he had visited Valdemar, how could he? What would the other survivor think of him? His fist clenched, aching for that drink to be back in his hand. Aching for the sickening numbness it promised. "I should have just killed them." He muttered.

When Jonesy mentioned not taking on his pain- how could he not? He held a responsibility and duty to his squadron, even in times of peace their lives were in his hands. He was no empath but their pain was his own. And none more so than Jonesy.

He held his hand out, palm open, wondering if Jonesy would take it. Would squeeze it like when the other was a new recruit and first experienced 'what it meant to be a Scorpion'. Jack remembered holding Jonesy's hand that night. All night.

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #12 on: June 14, 2017, 05:03:43 PM »
It was hard to say, what Jonesy felt about the sentiment. On the one hand, he would have gladly watched those pigs bleed out on the floor. Would have relished being there for it, even. Would have loved to know that the last thing on this entire earth that Ruslan had seen was Jonesy's bared, grinning teeth. But, and this was his more rational side speaking, the side that had been to psych too many times not to know the truth of things, Jonesy knew that that wouldn't have made it better.

It would have been cathartic, sure. The visceral rush of it would have been a high for the ages. But it wouldn't have made Jonesy whole again. Or Jack. Or any of the old guard. They'd still be here, like this, broken and beaten and barely hanging on, rendered completely inoperable the same time every year. Still hideously allergic to whiskey.

Jonesy took a deep breath, and let it out in a shaking sigh. With it, some of the anxiety that had built was released, enough for him to finally notice the hand between them, palm up, fingers open and gentle. Like a flash, that first night came to the surface, though for once it wasn't about the horror. For once, the memory skipped past all the awful things that had happened, and instead focused on the after, when he sat there and cried and held onto Jack's hand for all he was worth, a wastebasket between his knees and that comforting presence to his right. The comforting presence that had always been to his right.

He slid his hand out, pressed his palm to Jack's own, and threaded their fingers together. Squeezed tight, and felt his chest do the same. He looked up after a moment, tried to think of the words to say, tried to think of the expression to wear, tried to think of something to do other than just hold onto the other for dear life. Nothing came to mind, except his copycat smile and a firm squeeze, the Pilot Echo falling into silence with his commander with the real sense that he'd not be going anywhere. Like that first night, where Jack had done the same. All night.

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #13 on: June 17, 2017, 06:36:13 PM »
Jack smiled that sad pained smile briefly as their hands met and he squeezed Jonesy's back lightly. Their hands remained clasped tight as that smile faded. He had to tell him. He didn't want to keep anything from Jonesy. Even if it hurt him... even if it was a betrayal, it would only be worse if his second in command found out from someone else later.

"I.. I do some pretty stupid shit every year on my anniversary. Last year... Last year was ok. Scorpius and I stayed in and I drank some, but I just-" I cried and pet Scorpius "I stayed in." He took a shaky breath and ran his free hand through his hair. He looked across the room, at the television on his wall that was barely ever watched, at the sparse cold decor that showed no actual interests or warmth.

"Before Scorpius I would go out and get drunk and hook up with people... that's how I met most of my ex girlfriends... I didn't do that this year though. I did something really fucking stupid. I just." Another deep breath. "I don't expect you to understand. I don't understand it really. Sort of.. I don't know. I just don't want to lie or keep shit from you. So I'm sorry Jones." He couldn't look at his friend, he couldn't see the look of disgust he was sure would be on his face. He squeezed Jonesy's hand again watching their interlaced fingers instead.

"I went to see Valdemar today."

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #14 on: June 18, 2017, 05:21:14 AM »
Stupid shit, Jonesy could understand. Jonesy did stupid shit all the time, mostly involving self destructive behaviors that consistently sabotaged any meaningful relationship he might have ever tried to formulate. Sometimes involving a wild binging of narcotics, wherein he ended up passing out on the plush sunken carpeting in his living room floor, and would always wake up the next day with a tarantula on his face.

Sometimes, stupid shit involved wild fantasies of the utterly catastrophic kind; what ifs and if onlys and all the other sort of hypothetical bullshit that never had a place in the real world. Things that made him feel giddy and made him feel broken and made him feel like he was caught on a carousel that just could not stop.

Stupid shit was easy to understand. It was the only thing some of them had.

Stupid shit did not cover going to prison to visit the man who had put a name and a face to Unrelenting Horror and a thousand million sleepless agonized nights. Jonesy's eyes widened, and he leveled that pale stare onto Jack himself, trying for a moment to gauge if he had heard wrong, if Jack had said something completely different and Jonesy was just too stoned to put the words together right.

But no. Jack couldn't even look at him. Something gnarled and barbed and twisted roiled in Jonesy's gut-- Jack couldn't even look at him and that was the worst part of it all. He gripped the other man's hand, hard, and tried to process just what the hurricane in his head even meant. Was he angry? He felt something like anger, but it wasn't Jonesy's usual bitter venomous sort. This kind tasted off, metallic, like licking a battery-- an anger that punished him as much as it did anyone else.

Angry at Valdemar, for being alive and well and apparently still enough of a bastard to have Jack caught up in his filth. Angry at Jack, for not coming to Jonesy instead. Angry at himself, for being so poor an option that Jack would rather subject himself to his demons before talking it out with him. That last part sobered him somewhat, pulled back the veil of battery-hate, blanketed it so the taste wasn't nearly so strong. He felt the barbed wire in his chest ease up, not cut so deep, and a few breaths finally killed what remained.

Of course Jack wouldn't go to him. Who on earth would? Jonesy was a disaster held together by duct tape and spite. Not exactly "voice of reason and comfort" material there.

"So, he's alive, still." Jonesy said, finally and quietly, staring down at the back of Jack's hand and the roughened knuckles there. "...Do you want to talk about what happened?"

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #15 on: June 19, 2017, 08:03:58 AM »
The sheer fact that Jonesy hadn't pulled away in disgust was enough for Jack. He let out a sigh and felt like at least one stone had been lifted from his chest. Still holding his Lead's hand he turned to actually look at the other scorpion, full acknowledging what that meant and how hard this was for both of them. He wanted to lie and protect Jonesy, but he also needed to tell someone. Someone else who could understand.

"Yeah. He's alive. He... I wanted to see him suffer. I think that's why I went. I want that to be why I went. I'm sure my therapist will tell me there is more to it than that." He muttered looking off for a second, trying not to let tears prick at his eyes in any visible manner. Trying to stay strong. "Jonesy. He is fucking thriving in there. They are doing it all over again. Just with prisoners now. They aren't suffering at all."

How did shit like this happen? How did Valdemar get to keep doing as he pleased while the old guard could barely sleep because of the nightmares? How did he get to be happy still? It was unjust. Was there really no punishment for wicked deeds in this world? It sickened him to his core to consider. It sickened him that his first reaction was to reach for the bottle.

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #16 on: June 19, 2017, 09:45:08 PM »
Jonesy snorted.

"There's always more to it than that," he muttered, his free hand coming up to gesture vaguely at nothing and everything, "subconscious impulses, patterns of stimulus and coping mechanisms and the reason you can't do something that has a pretty clear reason you can't do it is largely related, instead, to a deep seated self loathing made manifest by your inability to reconcile your own physical needs."

He looked over at the other Scorpion, the other survivor, the other Pilot, the other him. Quirked another mimicry of a smile, though this one was far more lined in bitterness. Only to have that smile utterly disappear upon hearing that that man, that monster and his awful little cohort were carrying on, business as usual. His face drained of color, and for a moment his gaze was distant, his breath coming in shallow puffs before he managed to ground himself again.

He sat forward, though he refused to let go of Jack's hand, probably squeezing a little too hard, all things considered.

"That's it..." he said, distantly, his voice quiet and far off like he wasn't even there, "that's it. There  are no fucking gods. Did..."

Something tugged at the back of his mind, and he looked to Jack again.

"Did he tell you that? Was he... was he just... just trying to...?"

'Just trying to fuck with you one last time, to get in your head, to make sure you never got peace no matter where you went'.

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #17 on: June 20, 2017, 12:05:05 PM »
Jack looked at Jonesy as he explained things. He was still drunk and not really following it all but he couldn't help but think Jonesy was just, brilliant. He probably understood shit way better than Jack ever could. He squeezed the other's rough battle and hell worn hand, it was his tether in the darkness that kept him grounded and safe.

He wanted Jonesy to hold him, but that was a burden he would never place on his second. Never ask of him. It was why he went through an endless string of shitty girlfriends, because at least they would hold him for a little while. Not that he ever told them what was wrong. He let them assume it was just the remnants of the war. They were more than happy to comfort a patriot and war hero for a little while. They could never understand though. He wouldn't want them to.

He just squeezed Jonesy's hand back, not caring that the other had squeezed his hard. He felt his heart ache when the other survivor said there were no gods. Jack had never really believed in any of that. He still didn't. In fact he couldn't stand organized religion now, but he knew Jonesy- He knew Jonah once believed. It hurt knowing that was just another thing that had been stolen.

He met Jonesy's eyes when the other looked at him. "Yeah... he did. But I could see it Jones... He didn't know I was coming, he didn't readjust his stance when I got there... he was calm and in control the whole fucking time. He isn't beat down or worn out or shit. He's fine. He's fucking fine. He-" Jack hadn't realized he had been crying. He hadn't realized he was squeezing Jonesy's hand for dear life. He took a deep shaky breath and looked down at their hands.

"He is... he's still just.. even without psionics and rank..."

Offline nephero

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #18 on: June 20, 2017, 08:41:54 PM »
The hand around his own squeezed, the tendons pulled taught and the knuckles turned bone-white. Jack was crying, the kind of crying you did when you simply couldn't help it anymore, all the raw pain and emotion coalescing into something that simply defied control. Jack's face had turned red from the sheer weight of it, his already beautifully angled eyes narrowed as teardrop after fat teardrop escaped him.

It was heartbreaking. Heartbreaking and agonizing and infuriating, and despite every measure he ever took to keep himself guarded against such things, Jonesy was buffetted by the sheer force of Jack's emotions, wave after wave hitting him until Jonesy was near overwhelmed by them. He took a deep breath like a man knowing he was about to go under, and reached out, taking hold of Jack's shoulders and urging him to face Jonesy more completely.

When Jonesy finally spoke, it was with gravel in his throat, mouth dry and tongue tied for the barest of moments, and it was all he could do to keep the stinging sensation from taking over his own eyes, to keep himself focused and not drowning in Jack. He would have gladly done so if it would guarantee some measure of comfort to the other man; as it stood, he knew there was no help in two men drowning.

"Jack--" he began, swallowing hard and getting his voice under control. "Jack, there's no justice in it. There's no justice in anything about it. That man, that... fucker, is allowed to do what he does because evil fucking exists in this world. There is no other reason-- evil exists, and we have to deal with it--"

He squeezed his commander's shoulders a bit, licked his lips, and surged onwards, trying to get the words out before he lost all available control and became no help to anyone. "But that's not your fault, Jack. Evil exists and that has nothing to do with you, with anything you've ever done or didn't do. It's not your fault this keeps happening."

Jonesy hesitated for half a moment, before deciding he could beg forgiveness later. He let his hand move, just enough to help wipe away the worst of the tears, while the other moved over his brow in some attempt at a soothing gesture. It was stilted, the movements jerking for the unfamiliarity of it all, but it was sincere, or at least Jonesy hoped it came across as such.

He'd never tried to project something so hard in his life.

Offline Nix

Re: Like a Boat into Oblivion [Nix!]
« Reply #19 on: June 23, 2017, 02:19:27 AM »
Jack was a bit startled by the hand wiping away his tears and soothing him. It wasn't that it was bad, or that it was even unwelcome, it was just unexpected. Jack never thought Jonesy would be comfortable enough to do such a thing, but here he was, taking care of his drunken mess of a boss.

Jack could tell how sincere that awkward gestures were, and how genuine Jonesy's sentiments about evil existing were. It didn't feel separate though. It felt like there was a direct correlation between all of Jack's mistakes and Valdemar doing as he pleased, but somewhere he knew that was just because he had been trained to feel that way.

He leaned into Jonesy's hands, into that gentle stilted touch as things he dare not voice started to rise to the surface. Things he couldn't bring himself to tell even his therapist. Things that kept him up at night and haunted the little sleep he got. The physical abuse was one thing, but the mental abuse was crippling. He couldn't even freeze things anymore. The new recruits and squadron members didn't even know he was cryokinetic or that it had at one point been his strongest asset. Valdemar had him doubting his own memory and questioning his own mind on a daily basis.

"Jones." He said finally breaking the silence, finally lifting his head. "I... what if I'm evil too?"