Strange Flesh

Participants:

abby_icon.gif deckard_icon.gif leah_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title Strange Flesh
Synopsis The great Deckard's Escape.
Date February 23, 2009

The Happy Dagger - Basement Tenement

It's a bedroom, for all intents and purposes. There's even a window, although it's high up on the wall, and barred with grill and glass. Should someone peek, they'll only see dirty alley way and the flat, nondescript backdrop of a separate building beyond that. The room itself is bleak, if comfortable. The walls are cement and unpainted, the floor cheaply carpeted and the bed adequately dressed, a single thing pushed into the corner of the room. An empty book case gapes from the opposite wall, and a heavy oak trunk, something of an antique and actual worth, rests next to it, previously empty but now filled with at least most of the room occupant's belongings.

Two doors after that, one that stays locked and leads to out, wherever out is, and the other torn off its hinges to reveal a very basic, slightly rundown bathroom. But it works, hot water running at will, a working toilet, partially cracked mirror moderately clean, and towels and bare necessities provided.

It's designed for existing. But not much more than that.


Somehow things have gone from dark, to light, to dark again, and Deckard's still here. Single cigarette long since burned out and flicked aside, it's been a few hours since he's had anything to say. What's there to talk about, really? The ache in his skull has permeated from one side all the way to the other. It's in his sinuses and his teeth, dull in the slack of his jaw and the rest of the back of his head against the floor.

He's lying down, now, not asleep, but not really 100% conscious either. Maybe like 15% conscious, to be optimistic. 20%? 17%. His remaining eye is heavy-lidded at the ceiling, already pale skin ashen under barred moonlight. He has a look about him, like a hooked fish that's been left on the dock just a little too long. Like it might go belly up even if you kick it back in the water again.

Abigail's back, been gone again, then back. Her skeleton escorted away by other heavily armed skeletons, even carried back the last time when she'd hit a limit with one of the fighters. Whores come and go with food, heard through the halls. Two nice ones, one really lewd one who took great delight in telling Abby how soon she'd be up there with the rest of them, working. It's only after that one that Deckard gets a hunt that she's cried at all.

She eats, she sleep. The few times she's awake, she calls out for Deckard, check if he's alive, but no more. No ones brought him to her so she can't heal him. One of those times she wishes she could heal from a distance instead of touch. Sometimes she sings, but soon enough, inevitably, back to sleep she goes. Right now, like Deckard, the blonde is on her back, staring up at the ceiling, stomach queasy, trying to do what she was told. hang in there and be strong.

The gate moves, a dull clangor of metal locking mechanisms and hinges, and then impractical shoes begin to click a distinctly female cadence out on the floor, resonating, as if the hallway between cells was a giant acoustic tube.

It isn't, really. The hookers who Abby puts back on their feet don't generally manage to engender the same tone in walking, and generally, Mu-Qian treads more quietly and quicker, too. Only tonight, her pace is weighted and broken up by a mixture of ill temper and investigative intent, the incessant jingle of keys.

She is trooping along the hallway, pausing by every door to unlock, peek in, relock.

Busi.

Hai busi.

Hai busi.

Hn. Jiusi zheige saonu. Abby's the last to suffer her inquisitive stare, and the young healer is privy to the sight of a slice of pale skin, almond-shaped eyes, and dark chestnut-colored hair pulled back into a simple ponytail, a long thin loop of freshwater pearls over a pristine blouse and long coat the white of a dove, a woman of some Asian descent, older than the girl herself if not by much — before she vanishes again with a click.

Deckard's door opens. Stays open for a longer moment. Huise de lao tou-r. Jiusi. A slender palm hits the wall with an audible slap of impact, and his room is flooded abruptly with staticky fluorescent illumination. In the improved lighting, she is further satisfied by what she sees. "Good evening," the woman says, a hint of a Mandarin accent coloring her consonants. She drags the door shut and pockets keys.

Down on the floor, both of Deckard's brows knit on a reluctant delay, white light registered as a retina-scalding offense upon dulled senses more than anything more telling or substantial. Ow. One hand lifts slightly as if on its way to block it out, but it doesn't get further than a couple of inches before it falls back to sheets tarred brown with dry blood.

"Don't…" muffled out at a croak, he resolves to turn his head away and close his eye, which doesn't do much more than screen the light red through dehydrated tissue. How hard is it to let a guy die in peace when you've gone through the trouble of dumping him in a conveniently locked room to forget about him in?

Abigail remains where she is through the impromptu visual inspection from the Asian woman. She just glance back at her, idly wondering what it was that the woman spoke in the foreign tongue before she's gone again. New woman, and a better dressed woman that the prostitutes that come rambling down there. That has Abigail's curiosity. But then her gaze goes to the door as something clicks in her mind. Did the woman.. She didn't lock Abby's door. The jean clad blonde slips from her bed and over to the door, listening through the wall for Deckard and the female as her hand closes on the door, silently test out whether it was locked or whether the woman just closed it.

The door doesn't move under the pressure of Abigail's hand. Locked, with minimal noise and effort. Whoever the woman was, she hadn't even bothered to pull the key from the socket in the whole process of poking a peek in. No apparent sympathy for the prisoners. Alas.

An impression that might be etched deeper still by the tock— tick— tock of Mu-Qian's approach to the man on the scabbed floor, obviously contradicting whatever incoherent order or plea he'd tried to dispense in her direction. Coincidentally, she is wearing pants. White ones. As if some coquettish clairvoyant ability had told her she'd end up standing over a man and peering down over his prone head at such a trajectory that her underwear would've saluted him Hello if she'd gone with a skirt.

She folds her slender frame into a crouch near his head. One thin hand curls around her knee. The other moves into her jacket, extricating a small silver liquor flask with initials etched into the surface, curlicued cursive. ZM. "Only your eye?" she inquires. "Is that all they did to you, or was there something else?"

…The hell kind of question…? With grudging reluctance, Deckard tips his head back again, just the few degrees necessary to peer dimly at the woman crouched near him. His weathered face is still bloody, still black and empty at the left eye with a crust of agitated red wherever reflexive muscle movement has cracked his body's feeble attempt to fix things. The other eye is rimmed in red as well, and not entirely lucid. His pupil seems wide for the light — too wide, while it takes her in.

Mu-Qian looks blurry, the light all around too bright to make identifaction or discerning details easy. His brain is as slow to move as the rest of him, comfortably sluggish in its study. White pants. White light all around. Silver flask. "Wow," graveled at a private mutter, he swallows at the back of his dried out tongue and closes off again. "Who would've thought God would be so politically correct."

"That's not God Deckard" Hate to burst your bubble, comes through the wall. "It's just another one of Logan's hookers. Though she just might have a burning bush" oh, that's strange coming from Abby's mouth. She's parked beside the wall on her side, knee's up, arms around them, listening. Love those thin walls.

"They said she was nice," Mu-Qian remarks, glancing at the wall through which the healer's voice is emanating with a thoughtful air. A beat later, and she shrugs her shoulders, momentarily rouching up the expensive lines of her coat. "On the other hand, they are not all very smart." She turns up the corners of her mouth.

It's hard for Deckard to tell through the filter of pain and brain damage whether or not she's wearing makeup or if his guest is feeling unwell; her features seem flattened out by the chalky light, her dark eyes and brows like painted relief despite the doll-like sculpture of her bones. Squeak-squeak, goes the flask, unscrewing between glossed fingertips. "Only your eye?" she repeats kindly.

"She's not that nice," Deckard agrees in the same dreamy mutter, brows lifted out of their knit while the muscles in his neck relax, allowing his head to loll easily back into its starting position. "She hit me in the face. I was…drunk." There's a divot at his temple where the wolf-head cane made its first impression, crusted black. He makes no mention of it, but it's certainly there, dusty grey hair matted with dry blood at its borders.

"Sword in my hand," is a sentence fragment, but grammar isn't really close to the top of the list of things he has on his mind at the moment. The rise and fall of his chest has sped up noticeably with the effort of all this talking. He's starting to sweat again, though he can't have much moisture left to spare. "If I forget something is it points off?"

"I am. When I get a coffee every hour and not sleeping all day and have hookers trying to scare me" Why does she keep asking about his eye. "It was a flower pot and you were sliced and diced like a tomato with a ginsu knife. Lord everywhere on you" Abby defends herself. "At least I didn't leave a mark on you afterward and fixed the dent from the flower pot" Abby gives a soft harrumph from her side of the door. "And you've forgiven me that so don't bring that up!" There's a pause. "Besides, you broke my nose saving me from Wu-Long. So I consider us even on the harming you to help you" Abby shifts a little looking over to her cold food with a wrinkled nose, her stomach still flip flopping. "Don't hurt him please. If you let me come over there, I can fix him. I promise that I won't try to make a run for it or anything like that" That's for Mu-Qian obviously.

Squeak-squeak-squea—

Mu-Qian suddenly goes very still, and she stays very still for a long moment, a dent of shadow pastelled in between her eyebrows. She lifts her head, looks at the wall as if she could see right through it, though there's no preternatural radiance to her irises. When she casts her eyes back down at Deckard, there's a sharpness to her stare, something that isn't merely a stupendous relative clarity of mind. "My husband did used to say, these — ugly situations are the kind you either laugh or cry about.

"I understand that crying would just make your eye hurt more, but still, you're very brave." There is a very nice, kindly restrained pat-pat of her palm on the man's shoulder. "Don't worry, Abigail." Her forefinger flips the cap off the flask's neck, and she looks back down at the man, draws a small, quizzical circle with her other hand. "Would you like a drink? Some help sitting up?"

Deckard's mouth adopts a sardonic slant as Abby's argument trails on in the vacuum Mu-Qian's stillness creates. His eye stays closed until an uncomfortable prickle sinks down through fuzzy acceptance of the inevitable, uncertain in its bleary study of her pale face when it slits back open. If he did shed a few tears at some point over the last several hours, no point in wasting a hooker's talent for making a man feel like he's worth something on the truth.

Meanwhile, this whole thing is undeniably strange, but it seems like it'd be rude to just lie there and keep dying, so. He shifts over into a dubious effort to sit himself up. Help is necessary. There's no strength in his arms or back.

"I'll probably laugh or cry later. Right now just.. don't hurt him, or Logan and his whores will see how much of a southern spitfire I can be" Whether that's an empty threat or not has yet to ever be determined. But she's here, they're there and she can only sit and listen, watch the wall.

The wall stares back, equally impassive. Which might be for the better, really. If plaster and mortar could talk, these rooms would probably never shut up.

In the meantime, Mu-Qian laces one slim arm around the man's shoulders, apparently unconcerned by factors like — that he doesn't smell very good and is probably going to leave hard-to-remove marks in the pretty, pale stuff of her clothes. Given how pretty the pale stuff of her clothes are, however, it's likely there's more than enough where that came from.

There's pressure at Deckard's back, even across his shoulders, helping to steer him into the upright. She doesn't remove her arm once it's there; fails entirely to appear guarded about the slitted lips of her pants pocket and the keys inside, or about the possibility she might suffer a painful surprise at the old man's hand.

Her manner is flawlessly, confidently conciliatory and the flask she holds up to Deckard's unkempt face smells of whisky. "It sounds like you have both gotten out of worse situations than this," she observes, pleasantly conversational.

"I dunno. This one is pretty bad." Not an understatement exactly. Deckard doesn't begrudge her the help, though there's some darkening tension about his face concerning the absence of things like dignity and pride in all this maneuvering. "It's fine, Abigail. She's just…" he trails off, eye catching a little helplessly on the gleam of keys in her pocket, only to fall away again. Mu-Qian's been polite so far. It'd be a shame to give her a reason to finish him off and make his death even more humiliating for its hooker content.

He stinks, it's true. Stale blood and dying flesh and a guy who hasn't showered in one day too many. Mmm. The whiskey smells good, though. Unreasonably good. He hasn't quite hit on the shakes yet, but there's no way in hell he's turning it down. His mouth falls open, fails to complete his earlier sentence. Instead, he gets a hand up enough to steer to flask the rest of the way in.

"yeah.. this ones taking the cake" Abby rests her head on the wall, a soft and unheard sigh. "really does take the cake" But then Deckard tells her it's fine so, there's no more verbal posture from the blonde, just silence as she listens.

Silence laps up in the room as Deckard laps up whiskey. There's something slightly off about the liquor that's making its way down the man's throat, but it would probably take more than that to burrow through the slimy patina that's covering the walls of his mouth and tongue right now. The woman doesn't move a lot and her expression remains quiescent, albeit too rigidly so to appear particularly relaxed.

Not that anyone in here is in a state to discern those subtle shades. "I am not a prostitute," she remarks, eventually. "I am a business partner of Mr. Logan's. I did some medical work for his girls and boys before you were brought in, Abigail. I was a registered nurse in Europe. I'm here to help."

One swallow down and Deckard starts coughing. Not enough to choke, but his eye is watering when he gets back to it more slowly and carefully. Whiskey's a stupid thing to drink when you're thirsty. The thought occurs to him that it's an even stupider thing for a registered nurse to offer someone in the state he's in. It's warm on the way down to blaze at his empty guts, but it's the kind of pain that's preferable to what he's been feeling. So, he drinks.

"I wasn't brought in. Like some bag of groceries bought at the store" Carried in, blissed out at his touch. But there's no complaints from Deckard so Abby turns away from the wall, dragging herself back up onto the bed and curling up on it. The protestation of the springs in her mattress giving away her actions. Assume the position abigail, look at her watch, then tuck herself under the blanket. Listen. So it is, that Mu-Qian declares, she is not a hooker. Just yet another associate. Makes sense, she was dressed, not half undressed.

An important distinction, as long as a sociopath is walking around on pick heels and pretending to be respectable. Staying dressed. A knot of tension is working its way out of Mu-Qian's shoulders. She agrees, good-naturedly, "Not like some bag of groceries bought at the store."

The perfect stones of her fingernails curl loosely around the pointed corner of Deckard's jacket, absently, ignoring the judder of his shoulders in the white semi-circle of her grasp, merely reminding herself of where her hands begin and end. Human sensory systems detect variations in stimuli, not static quantities or measurements, and she's human enough to suffer that particular limitation.

"My name is Mu-Qian," she adds, after a moment. Just making conversation, from the sound of her. There's music to the way she pronounces her name that she does not expect to find replicated in either American.

"Thanks." He doesn't drink it all. Rather, with some good three or four swallows left sloshing in the flask's base, he lowers it back down into a rest against his knee. Scruffy, blood-crusted chin dipped down after her inspection of his jacket, he doesn't protest or pull away. If anything, he seems more comfortable than he was. Relaxed. Whiskey and attractive (if blurry) company. Gaping head wounds and mind-numbing pain aside, there are probably worse ways to go.

He's quiet on that account, afraid of screwing it up for himself, maybe. When she gives her name, he nods, and it's several seconds before he thinks to offer his own. "Flint."

This could be going a lot worse, in Mu-Qian's estimation of things. People with nothing left to lose tend to take risky gambles. She could get hurt or — something. Maybe. Her eyes are fixed on some indistinct spot of the wall, the angle of her elbow precise around Deckard's shoulders, her eyes absent. She smells faintly of crushed vanilla. She talks.

This time, mostly to distract him from the fact that he's become the playground for alien biological matter. "The name sounds familiar. You sort of look like it too," she adds, glancing sideways at him. The corners of her mouth tuck inward, empty of condescension. "Did you work for Mr. Logan before? Maybe there is a liaison who would take an interest? I haven't been paying much attention: my husband died recently."

Slow, slow, there is a faint and utterly ordinary kinesthetic sensation of liquid moving through his body, diffusing through the walls of his esophagus and stomach, finding its way through his arm and into his skull. Cells beginning to knit in his hand first, zipping closed along parallel to his metacarpals.

"I've been here a lot." Over the last month or so, anyway. He's had the time, the money, and the inclination. Not that elaboration on the subject seems all that necessary. "I've been in the papers, too." Flint Deckard, wanted murderer. Kind of sucks he didn't have an opportunity to get that cleared up. Not that it'd probably do that much for his funeral attendance numbers at this rate anyhow. The line of his gaze lazes over to meet her sidelong look, dimly grateful.

Until. Until there's something going on in his gut. His attention falls back to his own midsection while he puzzles his way to a frown. Woah, there. He hasn't quite managed to put two and two together, but he's gradually getting there, damaged left hand lifted away from bloody sheets as if to escape some crawling thing pinned beneath it.

Inside, not beneath. Inside, not beneath. Inside.

Squirming around, spreading out, sealing shut, and even though Mu-Qian's craft carefully skirts around nerves that would otherwise set off nauseating physiological alarm bells right through Deckard's body, there's a torque across skin tension and a vibration through muscle strings, a gradual but distinct cessation of pain, the sense of something trying to be subtle. And probably all the more alarming for how well it succeeds.

And perhaps worse for when it begins to coil in the emptied socket of his eye. "It's just healing, Flint." She has the presence of mind enough to note this aloud, pressing dainty knees and lips together, making herself reassuringly small beside him; harmless. "You don't have to worry. I am not like Mr. Logan."

"Better get your flower pot" Comes from the other room.

Nooo, no no no. Wiry muscle bunches under the loop of Mu-Qian's arm, already overworked heart strings picking up their pace to fuel gathering panic against this…parasitic invasion. What was in the whiskey? It's inside him now, slacking his mouth open and then baring his teeth until Abby chimes in, and it's there in his eye socket Jesus Christ. Aaahh. "Stop! JJhhh—don't, don't mess with it." Not exactly intelligable cowardice, if that's what it is, but he raises his healing (healed?) hand to press over the empty socket, ignorant of any further damage it might deal in the process. The other arm tries to shove her off him, meanwhile, as if her physical nearness might be partially to blame. He's still weak, but getting stronger, and this is pretty incredibly creepy and not harmless.

She's had that happen enough times that she knows to put her arm out, catch herself with a slap of a hand on the floor, ths curl of her body spasming to compensate for the momentary wreck of her balance. Mu-Qian ends up half capsized anyway, resting on her hip, a frown bent into her brow and mouth.

The interruption does nothing to stop the weird stuff sealing into his hand and reforming the shredded ruin of optic nerve, however. No. That's still going. Coincidentally, brains don't feel anything; Deckard is left with the distinct sense of substance progressing deeper through the tunnel of his eye socket before it broaches the physiological demarcation into a sensory dead zone and—

His vision clears. "No." The one in his remaining eye, anyway. Somewhere inside his beleaguered skull, the bruises over the surface of his brain tissue from both concussion and damage from infection are singed off, easy as breathing.

Oddly, the only ceasefire that comes is when the heel of Deckard's hand starts to press too hard into the ruined socket of his eye. "Stop." She bites the syllable out on an ingoing breath sucked through her teeth; flinches visibly, one hand cast up as if to ward the sight of it away, though she never closes her eyes. "Don't do that."

Breathing accelerated to a more feverish pace by the mystery substance's persistent progress, he scoots an awkward series of inches away from her across the floor, shoulders butting back against the bedside while his vision clears and the muddy damper on his perception lifts. Eye wide, piercing blue, he doesn't heed her request, rather — he presses harder, as if the seal of his palm over the warm spread of fresh blood is the only thing keeping her voodoo magic at bay. Which…it kind of is.

Pain is an inevitable side-effect, but up against what he's endured over the last twenty-four hours, it isn't intolerable. Brackish red seeps through the cracks between his fingers, slicking over the fault lines and furrows worn into the coating of older blood that already exists there. A rough exhalation wavers against the shock of it all through his nervous system once again, but there's no denying it's having some kind of effect on the mysterious Mu-Qian.

"Leave it alone," Deckard commands again, more assured this time, though his voice hasn't quite caught up with the progress the rest of him is made in the last few minutes. It's withered, sandpapered and coarse. "What the fuck are you doing to me?"

"I'm fixing you." She sounds annoyed now. Snapping, her voice pitches high, squeaks a little. Her white hands get whiter, knuckles pointy as she grips her own leg, thin fingers biting into the fabric of her trousers, nails curved inward, needling through cotton and into skin.

He toes curl where they peek out of the tips of her heels. She's pretty enough that she doesn't even go ugly when her mouth and eyes contort around a grimace of mingled exasperation and physical disgust. "Stop" her other hand spasms on the floor. Her accent thickens. There's enough light and clarity for Deckard now that he can make out her pupil blooming huge in the liquid circle of her iris. "Bende l — don't t don't touch it. You're making it worse!

"Please — just stop that." It's pointless to raise her hands, but she does it anyway, in vain hope that the gesture carries what simple speech may not.

"Deckard…" The mattress springs protest when the blonde shifts on the bed. "Are you okay? Is she hurting you?" Not that she can do anything here about it. Maybe. She's never really tried to break out of her room, but she just must. Right now.

"This isn't what it's supposed to feel like." Deckard's pretty solid on that point. He should know. He's endured the magic touch enough. Twitchy, pain-sharpened paranoia matches exasperation and disgust mark for mark — his eye traces her in living color, then again in black and white, bone over bone. One deep breath. Two deep breaths. The bleach of tendon under creeping blood relaxes just a little, though his hand doesn't actually move away from his face.

"'Fix' whatever you want. Leave my eye alone. I have a feeling it's going take more than simple repair to undo what Logan did. If I live long enough for it to matter." Voice lowered still further, possibly enough to make his words hard to pick out on Abby's end, he pulls in still another long breath before he finds it in himself to enunciate. "It's fine, Abby."

The knot of tension in the middle of Mu-Qian's face denotes disagreement. There's nothing simple about this repair, and she sincerely doubts that she could not undo what Logan did. Her jaw sets, sort of stubborn, embarrassed, or flat-out insulted, it's hard to tell exactly what configuration of negative emotions is heating the woman now.

"Sometimes, I hate how that man does business."

It isn't very dignified to mumble, but she can't help it; the air isn't moving out of her lungs at a practical rate. She turns her head away, one quick, sharp jerk of her head, ponytail swinging disdainfully behind her. If John Logan has to murder somebody, he couldn't be fucked to do it in a way that wouldn't drive one of his own residents completely out of her mind, would he? "Fine." She flits her fingers irritable. "Just do not make it worse. You look horrible."

Deckard's assertion that he's fine doesn't stop the blonde from getting up, pacing her room instead of conserving her little energy for the inevitable yanking she's going to get in some hours to go heal again. Her lips purse on her side of the wall as she walks in a big circle. As big as the small room lets her.

"I know." Deckard hasn't actually made himself check out his reflection in the mirror he's been allotted yet, but. The guy reads a lot. He has a fully developed imagination. His eye has been gouged out of his head with a knife. He knows. "I'm sorry." And he is. Genuinely sorry, upon reverting to monkey vision and registering the look on her face. "It's complicated. I don't — see. Like everyone else." Elaboration seems imminent, but it never comes. He lowers his hand instead, exposing the blind, bloodied socket to warm air once more. The hand, he just…wipes across his chest. Not like he's ever going to be able to wear this shit again anyway.

Mu-Qian's hands twist together, interlace, and wind up flattened to her face, as if she's holding up her head on the strength of her arms. It takes her a few long, silent seconds for her to collect herself. It's taken its toll over the past few days, knowing that Deckard was rotting in his own scabbing fluids down here. His pain had radiated up through the floor in rolling, nauseating waves that tasted like blood and bile, like kicked teeth.

"Bu guanle." Wearily, she lifts her head. "It doesn't matter." She answers his effort to soothe her injured sensibilities with a smile that has about as much substance and strength as paper. It's a farcical exchange of comfort and mannered gratitude. She knows it. Might as well. "Blood loss, bruising, dehydration. I will take care of those and leave your eye.

"I brought some penicillin for the infection, too." She touches smooth fingertips and thumb together, and there it is again. The roiling underneath Deckard's skin, that mechanized, puppeteered sense of structural improvement, wellness and warmth an afterthought rather than coming before; the opposite, inverse, negative of Abigail's gift.

Slowly but surely, Deckard is calming himself down again. He listens as objectively as he can, under the circumstances, nods where it seems like a good place to nod. Eye contact is largely avoided, like if he looks somewhere else he might spare her the grotesque mess where the other eye used to reside.

The roll of repaired muscle and clean blood under his skin is the source of some evident ongoing discomfort. It's invasive in the worst kind of way, coolly impersonal, and responsive to someone else's reflexes. A twitching muscle might be beyond his control, but one would normally assume it to be beyond the control of anyone else, too. He swallows often, head turned more deliberately away from her while she works. He watches the wall instead, and Abby moving on the other side of it. Like puppycam, only way creepier.

"Thank you."

Abby's pathing takes her to the bathroom, back to her room, around and around the room before she sits down again on the bed, disliking the silence now. But silence is better than screams no? She wets her lips, running a hand through her oily hair, belatedly realizing she needs to take a shower and just sighs. "Your his partner. Do you think he'd give a coffee maker and coffee? It'll help with healing people"

The space contained by Deckard's skin finally stops moving, or at least, ceases to move more than it had before he had his drink of whiskey. Mu-Qian rises to her feet finally, seeming steadier than she had been before she had expended her gift and been shoved over by a panicky prisoner.

The disparities between her methods and Abigail's go on and on. "If you need caffeine to make healing easier, that means you are over-taxing yourself," she replies, simply. "Perhaps you should listen to your body and do some training with stamina and finesse. There are probably going to be long-term consequences to pushing yourself so hard." If she realizes that this is at odds with the workload Mr. Logan has given the young Southerner, Mu-Qian conveniently ignores that.

She pats brown encrustation and unseemly creases off her pants, glances down at where the flask lays on the floor. Eventually, she extricates two fat white tablets of the promised antibiotic — liberally coated with a little more of her ability, to offset more of the blood loss — and lays them out on the pillow. "The sink water is safe to drink. You're welcome."

Her heel clicks a hasty step closer to the door. "You will both be reassured to know that he's dead," she tells the doorknob, quietly. It's pathetic, but as much acknowledgment as she can hope to receive from anyone in this place; the relief of his enemies. "Wu-Long is dead."

"He's dead?" The man of shadow, who plagued her and protected her.. is dead. Something to file away for others. Her next words are sure to make Deckard twitch. "God rest his soul. He was… Very good at what he did. I'm sure he'll be missed" The woman knew Wu-long. Her husband was dead which lead down to the inevitable… Mu-Qian was Wu-long's wife. His Widow. "then tell Logan to send less fighters in, if he wants me alive to heal. Or get me a coffee maker. I can't.. keep this up. He wants to use me like a battery then he needs to recharge me properly and I can't do that with only stupid red bulls when he needs me to work" It's not snottily spoken just laid out, like that's the facts of life in regards to her gift.

Heartbeat strung out on controlled panic, Leah has made her ghostly way in, hugging shadows and stealing silence as she slips through barriers of earth and metal and air that would halt a lesser thief in bafflement, or at least, in barricade. Hyperalert and slow-moving, she folds in through the wall into Abby's room and stands exquisitely still for a long moment, listening to the sound of her breathing as her oxygen-hungry body resolidifies in the open air, such as it is.

For a moment, she is entirely still, as though no one will be able to see her if she doesn't move (the anti-tyrannosaur school of stealth). All in black with hair bound tightly back from her face, she might be a convincing cat burglar in another setting, a slender figure popping into incongruous life through a wall where once there was no one.

The offered pills, coated as they are, are eyed with some measure of wary trepidation, but Deckard reaches to curl a hand around them all the same, bloodied fingers played slack around the unfamiliar substance while Mu-Qian picks her way across the room for the door. He's slow to get to his feet behind her, knees stiff with disuse, head muzzy again with the haze of white static borne of what hasn't been (or can't have been) replaced.

He stands there dumbly for a moment, head turned back to the bathroom, which contains a sink, but also contains a mirror. In no real hurry to get a good look at how bad things are, and possibly relieved to be standing at all, he stays where he is and focuses on not falling over again. Wu-Long is dead, she says. The guy he saved Abby from by punching her in the face.

He was very good at what he did. Trust Abby to find some fucktardedly positive light to shine on the issue. Deckard, for his part, says nothing while he frowns down at his pills. News of Wu-Long's death comes with some distant sense of relief. Not gonna lie!

one minute Abby's sitting on her bed, the next.. Leah Deckard is standing in her room, living, breathing, flesh. Abby's blue eyes go saucer wide, sucking in her breath and darting her eyes towards the door, worried that there will be guards coming down the steps in a matter of minutes. A fingers' put up to bisect her mouth, universal gesture for quiet. 'Deckard' is mouthed, gesturing to the room next to her, but then she's pointing towards Deckards door or where in relation it would be. "Mu-Qian is there" Whispered low enough that it can't be heard through the thin walls.

Whispers and most snores don't penetrate the plaster and stone, it's true. These rooms weren't built for voyeurism, unlike some of the others above. Mu-Qian sighs, and though she does so without ladylike subtlety, the healer can't hear that either. "You are very sweet, Abigail Beauchamp," she tells the wall, even as the door clicks open in front of her. "I hope what happens after this doesn't ruin that.

"And that you can stay brave for a little while, Flint." Mu-Qian's ponytail swings across her shoulder as she angles a glance out of a single eye back at the man, something that closely resembles remorse on her face. She's better at playing human than her husband had ever been, though there's a proportionate shortage of visceral sadism behind the salutation she offers. It sounds foreboding as fuck, but that wasn't on purpose. Not really. The less psychologically complicated a man's misery is, the less likely he is to do something morbidly unattractive to himself.

She steps back out into the hallway. White stiletto heels stab the floor audibly, her gait like a church bell tolling, reverberating through the basement's cold, fungal air.

Leah makes no sound, obedient at least to the suggestion of silence, but her expression of bewilderment is unfeigned, a wide-eyed blankness as she meets Abby's gaze. "Who?" she mouths, the word give neither breath nor voice. Her gaze skips toward the indicated wall, pulse skipping even faster. They say that excitement and fear produce the same chemical reaction in the body, so one may be exchanged for the other. Quarry heartbeats away, she bites down hard on her lower lip, and looks back at Abby. Her mouth shapes more words without voice: "Not safe?" Although that's pretty ridiculous as questions go; safe was not a word invented to apply to any aspect of this situation …

But then there's the sound of a voice she doesn't know, words through thin walls. She tightens her hands into fists, listening to what she doesn't quite comprehend while her blood sings for action, fast, now, right now. Glancing once more at Abby, she edges towards Flint's wall, and gains a little momentum with the chilling click of heels clanging against her nerves. Her own footsteps are soft, as close to silent as shod feet can get.
"He really was good at what he did. It wasn't good, what he did but.. What is supposed to happen to me Mu-Qian" That spoken normally, eying the brunette. This was Richard's plan? Leah wasn't on the list of people to tell though.. Leah could walk through walls… wow. Deckard's are evolved. Idly Abby wonders what mommy and daddy Deckard did. Abby nods to Leah. Safe, Mu-Qian has opened the door, she'll be closing it in two seconds. Deckard should be smart enough not to call out.

"Yeah. Sure." Deckard's voice scratches rough and familiar on the opposite side of the wall. He can't find it in himself to be rude, really. Not when Mu-Qian just finished bringing him back from the brink, even if she is pretty much telling him to smile for the inevitable firing squad. Her look is met with a bland absence of expression, mouth open as if to give thanks again, though he doesn't. Instead, he looks back over at Abby. And Leah. In the same room as Abby. Framed by the open width of the door, he stiffens and lets his mouth fall the rest of the way open.

"I don't know, Abby. Duibuqi. I'm sorry." Mu-Qian's heels click once, twice, sending echoes ricocheting off into the distance of the hallway, before she adjusts her stride to something less patentedly ominous. Decrescendo. It's no mystery to Deckard, however, that she is making her way out in pensive quiet, perhaps wrapped up in dreams of some sociopathic asshole's adoring arms.

With a last look cast over her shoulder at Abby, Leah hesitates. With silence and secrecy held close to her heart, she chooses forward momentum rather than to try to figure out a way to pass on a message through mouthing and sign language. She draws a long breath into her lungs and holds it, phasing herself completely intangible so that she can melt through the wall on two quick, quiet footsteps. Once inside her brother's room, she lets herself resolidify, and stays still for a heartbeat longer, her back against the solid wall behind as she sweeps the immediate surroundings with an urgent look about.

Abby's breath is held, just as tight on her side of the bed, watching Leah moved THROUGH the wall. She shifts then bolts off the bed, grabbing the handle to her door and starting to rattle it like crazy, twist, turn, get Mu-Qians attention to her door.

Deckard looks a mess. Only one blue eye stares round at Leah's entrance. Someone has taken a knife to his left eye, leaving little more than an empty socket to rot as it would until Mu-Qian stepped in to make some structural repairs around the fringes. Blood in various stages of drying is caked down the same side of his head, red to black, soaked cold into the collar of overcoat, and suit, and dress shirt under that. His hands and sleeves are similarly sullied, as are the sheets and pillows bunched at his feet.

There's a zombiesque feel to the fact that he's standing at all. There's blood everywhere — he has a hole in his head. He should be dying, or dead. He shouldn't be looking surprised, and relieved, and a little panicky. Mu-Qian's still outside. "Leah," breathed out to encompass all of the above, he gives her the same sideways treatment he gave his prior visitor, head turned away at an angle meant to mask the worst of the ugly hole. "Get Abigail."

Leah sucks in her cheeks, biting down hard on her flesh as her gaze takes in what has become of her older brother. She stares at him, a twitch of filial rage in a tick of her jaw, quiet horror dark in her wide eyes. Then the words he's saying make their impact, and open rebellion washes over her aspect with the shake of her head, lips thinning in a tight expression of aggravation.

Rather than melt back into the wall and retrieve Abigail at his behest, she moves swiftly to his side. For a moment it almost looks like she almost wants to hug him but can't quite figure out where he's undamaged enough to touch, and only reaches to grasp one of his hands firmly in one of her own. communicative in the manner of the ghost her particular ability allows her to resemble, she looks at him with iron in her gaze and says nothing.

She can't hear anything through the wall, so ABby keeps it up, hoping to be a distraction, still rattling her doorknob out and even tossing in a kick or two for good measure.

Metal clicks sharply and the door is wrest open, flung inward with surprising force given the size of the woman behind it. Mu-Qian's brow is furrowed in obvious consternation, dark eyes sharp with something that passes just as well for concern. "Abigail," she says.

Abigail has probably heard this tone before. Mu-Qian's accent cedes enough of an expressive margin to betray bright red notes of annoyance, harsh, with something not unlike mother-fear. A smudge of Deckard's dried blood shows in crumbly, uneven relief against the smooth fabric her jacket sleeve. "Don't do this. The guards are going to come down. There are cameras everywhere. You should know b—" A white hand snatches out to seize the healer's wrist and her face is nearer, black-on-black eyes narrow with curiosity and suspicion that comes either an instant belated or a moment too soon. "What is going on?"

Leah's horror is flinched at, however mildly. Deckard's chin dips, eye searching uneasily over her face only to break away too quickly, presumably under the guise of looking back through the wall again. "She's right there." Abby is still rattling around the door. It doesn't look great, from where he's standing, and the sticky black-brown of the hand in Leah's grasp tries to pull itself away without real strength. "Someone just came by. It could be hours before they check back in. Leah."

He looks back over to her, pleading in a deranged, horrifyingly one-eye kind of way that's suggestive more of temporary insanity than it is a convincing argument on his part. "I'm not going to die in the next ten minutes, jus—" Oh. Damn. When his glare snaps back to Abigail, it's to find that Mu-Qian's skeleton has joined her. His breath catches around whatever he was going to try next, the low murmur of his voice suddenly muffled to silence on his side of the wall.

"You first," Leah mouths at him, a hiss of breath lost in words she almost speaks, and she doesn't get any further than just those two anyway. She shakes her head vehemently, and clamps both her hands over his one sticky one and tugs at him, pulling him as though to drag him along all unwilling despite his considerable weight in relation to her own. She's not an ant and he's not an entire graham cracker, but she might be stubborn enough to try anyway. She shoots a bright look of fear back toward the wall and the sound of voices, although she certainly can't see through it, and releases his hand with one of hers only to tighten her grip with the other, and loop her arm around his waist. More leverage for pulling with!

"N..n..nothing" The hand on her wrist keps her from falling back. Wow. They both sound earily alike… husband and wife. "I just.. I got s..scared" On Abby's bullshit-o-meter, that's not very high. She is scared, she's been scared. She //might get away with it, except that at the last second, there's a ligthspeed glance towards Deckards wall then back to Mu-Qian. Then the healers eyes widen, realizing what she did. If she's even more like Wu-Long, the jig is up. "RUN!" Abby yells, not moving from where she is or making any attempt to attack the registered Nurse.

But there's no one here.

Mu-Qian's eyes flit toward Deckard's wall and her glossed lip curls. She's been working here long enough to know—

There's someone here.

She twists viciously on one delicate shoe, turns to look down the hallway. "GUARD!" Her scream rends the air as if she had attached razor-pinioned wings to the edges of the syllable. She doesn't bother with fully-formed sentences, either because she is acquainted with protocol for high-alert situations, however innocuous her own role may be, or because her English isn't that great. She turns her face to the camera, yanks the keys out of her pocket with an obscenely merry jingle. "Security breach!"

Halfway through the second syllable, the gate at the far end of the hall shrieks open and stops with a clatter, its black square maw and goons block in, big, handsome, and completely interchangeable. There's something wrong with the hand on Abby's arm, now. The skin feels like plastic, the grasp of a doll made of hard and remorseless plastic. "Get Logan." The key rams into the lock to Deckard's door with a pounding growl of metal on metal.

Considerable weight lacks considerable strength after however many days without sustenance. Or enough blood. Or sleep. Or…a shower. Deckard moves with the tug, though his shoulders try to angle themselves back to Abby's wall, the acrid, bloody stink of him at close quarters more insistent upon staying here than it should be. "Mu-Qian — DON'T."

But she already has. The call for a guard goes out and Deckard exhales three days worth of pent up frustration. Which, ironically, makes him easier to drag back. So too does the fact that his boots are crossing automatically back, one over the other, towards the far wall. "Fuck. Fuck. She's right there." He found her. And now he's running away. Running/stumbling.

He's making progress in an awayward direction, okay?

"God," whispers Leah, with vision strangely blurred and a queer stinging in her eyes that makes no reasoned sense but altogether too much human sense, "you stupid son of a bitch, come on—" She pulls him along with her, moving as quickly as she can with her stinking, stumbling, reluctant burden in tow. Her arm hooked around his waist, she motors for the far wall, phasing them intangible preemptively almost a foot away from it with a ripple of exertion at the full extent of her power. It's a queer sensation, rippling through Deckard's flesh like a thousand tiny goose-pimples prickling over him.

Leah imagines the strange change in air pressure that comes of passing through solid matter even before it touches her face. It's hard to breathe when you are out of phase with the air. But the solid wall means freedom to her, and thus she pulls Flint with her into it.

Abby's dragged with Mu-Qian, stumbling to keep up, a look down to the woman's hand, the change in texture. She's trying to look as unthreatening as possible what with the guards stomping, other other hand away from her body, palms visible, fear written all over her face. Inside her head she's praying, hoping, wishing that Decakrd and Leah have hightailed it.

"What did you do?" Mu-Qian must have had kids with Wu-Long. She is incredibly good at vesting enormous volumes of womanly shout with raging emotional content and brutal syllabic clarity. "Flint, where are you goi—"

The doorknob rattles so hard in the door that it seems for a moment the old wood might tear apart under the strain, but it stays intact as she shoves it open, wrenches into the room on a wild horse's clacking of heels. Abby is released at the threshold, leaving her to be scooped up in the arms of shouting muscle-men. Despite the temper plain on her face, Mu-Qian's complexion is whiter than death; she sees them, some woman's black-clad hips and Deckard's lassoed torso, vanish straight through the wall.

"Baigui." A rough translation of a colloquial term in a different dialect, but it suits here better than lou wai. 'White ghosts.'

They're gone just like that. White ghosts. She stops, stock-still, her eyes wide, old blood underneath her feet and a girlish lock of hair or three tendriling down her forehead. A burly bouncer sends her tottering when he bullies past, starts at the way she's staring, but it's too late; his big, meaty hands collide with nothing but flat, dusty plaster.

A flicker of blue veers back after the opening door, Deckard's scruffy head whipping around just in time for him to be dragged through a wall. Half an instant before eye contact, he's gone.

It's not really a pleasant sensation, is it? Being intangible. Somewhere above having sentient foreign substances prying about your insides, but below the warm fuzzies. He gasps, and the lack of air that exists to fill his lungs succeeds in stretching a couple of seconds into a couple of…really…long, unholy seconds. Suffocation seems imminent until they're through, and he gasps again, off-balance but ready to run. Which is probably good, because suddenly there are a lot of really beefy guys seeing red in the room they just vacated.

The alley way ahead is clear save for some atmospheric garbage and some melting slush. Leah's grip on him finally returned in kind in the form of a hand bracing at her shoulder, he runs.

When they are solid again and free in the outside air, Leah blinks repeatedly against the blur of her vision as they move, freeing a hand to rub its back against the corner of one eye as she breaks away from the wall. Shadow and stealth abandoned for the wind of her passage whipping in her face, Leah pounds through the alley as a woman running for her life, pulse racing with the thrill of adrenaline and the fresh energy of budding triumph, however grim and horrible it might be. She sucks in great drafts of breath as she runs, sure of her brother's pace along with her in flight.

There's a yelp as possession of the healer goes from Mu-Qian to someone who is… somewhat less forgiving. Abigails yanked back out into the hall and pushed against a wall, pinned there with a gun pointed at her head as Deckard's room is looked into by others who follow. She doesn't like this, the nearness of the male guard, the gun, but she's not really in a position to object. Just stand there, and take it as the nausea roils in her stomach even more from the weapon. She prays under her breath, loud enough for the closest man to hear, eyes shut tight. Leahs got him out. Please, please have got him out. They'd kill him, they have a reason and a need to keep her alive. Abby's fingers go white as she presses them against the wall.

The din is fading out of Mu-Qian's immediate concerns. Flint Deckard is gone.

Hollowed eye-socket, antibiotics, and phantasmic rescuer, all. What remains is an empty room with biological filth on the floor, sweat, anger. Abby pinned to the hallway outside. The Chinese woman tightens her mouth and turns around, ponderous with thought, slowly starts back out into the hallway and further, further, out to the exit, her ponytail flapping against the back panel of her jacket, presenting Abigail a passing profile that doesn't even pause to glance at her.

There's a lot on her mind. None of it pleasant. Her footfalls wind like filigree across the floor, one foot swinging gracefully in front of the next. "I am going to see John in his office," she calls out, raising slender fingers up in a blind wave at those behind her. "Keep guard."


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February 23rd: Not The Prom Queen
Previously in this storyline…
Hold On

Next in this storyline…
Predatory

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February 23rd: Predatory
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