bebe2_icon.gif ghost2_icon.gif logan_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title Escalation
Synopsis Someday, you will learn to avoid escalation, or you will die.
Date July 2, 2009

Some Shitty Motel - No Man's Land - New Jersey

Thin walls, hourly rates.

The sunlight has angled itself in such a way so as to spread harsh beams of itself through the vertical blinds, irritating enough that Logan bothers to reach, fidget with the cord running down the side, until they whisper shut again. The weight in which he rests back against the bed is exaggerated, a pained whine of breath easing out of his throat before he's closing his eyes again. He's not tired, anymore, not in the way it would help him get any sleep. He's been doing that, or trying, anyway. Unconsciousness and drunken fuzziness don't count.

Past noon in New Jersey. The sound of traffic outside is only occasional, cars cruising by the rundown roadside motel and its rows of doors, the one of which Logan is behind is cracked open so as not to turn the room into a slightly iron-scented oven, a slice of the outdoors just visible. There's a moment before he maneuvers his good arm beneath him against the mattress, coming to sit up. The bandages have become rosy once more, and his mouth is as dry as the Sahara and acidic with whiskey aftermath.

He imagines he could stay here forever, where he doesn't have to think about how he got there and where he's going next. Drinking, and healing, and sleeping. And everything else that goes in between. Perhaps a shower would do well to be thrown into that cycle.

It's remarkable, how a woman can stomp on her tip-toes while wearing high-heels. Even if she is— really, truly, honestly, cross her little pink heart and hope to die, trying to be quiet for the benefit of the still-sick and bleeding. It's a mere coincidence, really, that there is a particularly troublesome stretch of floorboards just outside John's door—

Rap-clack-click. "That was a very long smoke break," the woman observes, stopping on the worn wood outside the Logan's silent doorway. She glances sidelong at the man leaning against the wall outside of it, studies the stoic lines of his face. Adds, "You do not smell like smoke," and she is rewarded by a smile that doesn't quite reach Ghost's mouth, crows' feet flexing thin toes at the corners of pale eyes, something choreographed relaxation taking up his shoulders.

Ghost simply asks: "How is Barbara doing?"

"Better," Mu-Qian answers easily, picking at the browning blood on her sleeve. By now, she has restored her person to its normal color and substance, her skin fair but not bloodless, tresses in a dense black snarl, fingernails scrubbed and smelling of soapmilk but nothing wicked. "Lungs, throat— cured. Her hands are still damaged, but she will be fine. Eloni had a few cuts I took care of. Soon, I should be able to work on John."

Who hasn't been reduced to piteous whimpering and replacing ounces of lost blood with had liquor supplied by his bodyguards, of course. Ghost's mouth quirks, finally. He doesn't answer, merely cranes his head to look down the strip of floor, trying to tell where Bebe is at despite that it would be far more expedient to check with the smallest flicker of psychic energy.

Soon. Yes, Logan is listening, a sharp eyed look turned towards his only partially opened door at the sound of footsteps, of voices. Angular jaw taut with more tension than he feels he has the strength to lend, and it's the ceiling that is awarded with a baleful glare. It starts at his shoulder, a ruined little mess, a hot centre of pain that seems to create a network down his entire left torso, the crack of bone and the fragment of muscle all pulling on the other in a sort of domino effect of ouch that Logan might appreciate if it wasn't him.

And so it hurts to move, to reach, to steal the TV remote off the bedside table, but ultimately worth it. Not to see what soap opera is playing on the old rounded corner grey-blank screen of the two-decade old machine in the corner of the room, but—

It goes promptly flying through the air, pinwheeling.

Outside, Ghost and Mu-Qian will hear the thump of something small but solid collide against the door they stand next to, and the shatter of plastic as parts and batteries promptly explode from being encased within the remote, littering the cheap carpet with its contents. The mattress springs squeak a little as Logan slumps back with a shaky breath inwards, a hand coming up to press against his face, long fingers across his nose, his brow.


Two pairs of eyes shift back at the door, which hadn't so much as shivered under the impact. Still, the crisp notes of snapping plastic carry with them a certain undertone— overtone— of raw temper, eliciting expressions of not dissimilar exasperation between the Chinese sociopath and the Sicilian one. Bijou Baxter, whichever room she happens to be laid up in now, is in the company of quite the monster cavalcade.

It's Ghost who opens the door first, being the gentleman, and also somewhat more morally and hierarchically obliged to do this thing. A slice of his face shows around the frame first, a single wintry eye shuttering a quizzical squint. He takes another second, maybe three to square himself into view, cocking his head. If he's out of sorts after the smoke break he'd just had, it doesn't show on his face.

Then again, Ghost is very rarely not out of sorts, these days. "You shouldn't exert yourself," he points out, plain as anything. The edge of Mu-Qian's skirt peeps out, white scorched black.

The walls that separate one temporary den of sin from the next at this particular roadside inn aren't very thick and that speaks both to the quality — or, rather, the lack thereof — of its construction and the typical length of time allotted for any given occupant's stay. Also, there was a sign in the lobby that listed hourly rates. But, of course, Barbara didn't see that when they arrived because she stubbornly insisted on remaining unconscious in the van for the entire check-in process. (At least she didn't complain about the lack of a pool.)

It's the width of the walls that worries Bebe back into the land of the living after her exceptionally short-lived nap in the wake of Mu-Qian's careful medicinal ministrations. While her blue jeans drip dry over the bar in bathroom that also hosts a slightly mildewed shower curtain, one tiny tart creeps out onto the breezeway in nothing but her tattered t-shirt and whatever pair of slightly scandalous underpants she just so happened to be wearing for her stint as speedy savior to the sluts and sociopaths left scattered in the debris of a burning brothel.

She remains just on the outside of the door, however, and hesitates to make any sort of triumphant entrance into the other occupied room just yet, lest she interrupt a miracle worker's very important business.

Not much daylight is making its way into Logan's room by the time Ghost peers inside, save for the sunlight trickling in over his own shoulders, casting him into silhouette and shadow. Despite the daytime dimness, Logan is an easy shape to make out, the predictable location of the bed and its bowing mattress, the clammy crumpled figure beneath thin bed sheets, an angle of a bared arm before Logan is pulling his hand away from his face.

"That would be less of a problem if she did something about it," Logan says, unable to keep his voice from wavering, whiskey tainted and strained with hurt. He turns his head, tries to pin Ghost in place with a watery green glare. "If I bleed out on the fucking floor, do you think she'll lift a finger?"

Then: "I know you can hear me." Emphasis more than volume is what directs his words over Ghost's head, towards where he can see that telltale flutter of white fabric.

Of course, Mu-Qian notices that her erstwhile patient and recipient of care has emerged — without pants — and is currently peering over from down the ways, smelling of storebrand shampoo and damp as a new kitten. She ignores Bebe for the moment, however, which is a different thing to pretending to ignore Logan.

She isn't. No, she can feel every other inch of him, twitching and fetid with agonized injury and the poison drained through his veins. It makes the thin bones of her fingers contract to the point of clicking, her wrist-bones standing out like bolts tenting the skin of her arms. The only outward evidence of disturbance. The rest of her is the image of serenity and repose, her new shoes spaced in easy symmetry, breathing even.

Seven seconds, and she finally turns on a dagger heel, brushes past Ghost, an invitation phrased with flickery fingers in the direction of the errant ex-whore from across the hallway. "John," she says, insinuating herself into his room on a cold clockwork tick-tock of shoes, errant pieces of exploded electronics, ejected remote buttons, rolling and bumping underfoot. She stops, partially for dramatic effect, and partly to wait for her prop to arrive on-stage.

"Look what you did to Bebe."

That's her cue. Bebe doesn't need to be familiar with the stage — although, technically, she is — in order to recognize Mu-Qian's prompting posture and the words upon which her entrance is meant to be made. Cinnamon eyes make momentary contact with the glacial gaze of the pseudonymous man stationed as Logan's guardian in lieu of the more familiar and arguably more intimidating form before she silently slips into the room. She is much more mindful of the broken plastic pieces scattered across the carpet, if only because she isn't wearing sexy stilettos or, rather, any shoes at all. Mercifully, she says nothing, although she can't help herself but to muster up just the teeniest tiniest hint of a smile that she tries unsuccessfully to conceal in the space between those pink apple cheeks.

At the sudden crowding of his room, suspicion darts across Logan's pale features, a hand going out to grip onto the mattress, levering himself up to slouch against the wooden frame despite its unforgiving nature against the exit wound in his torso. The sheets are up to his stomach, chest bare and shoulders taut with bridled anxiety. The pallor his skin has taken on might seem whiter if not for the contrast of first-aid bandages tied up around his shoulder - those are starkly snowy save for the wine-coloured points of bleeding.

There have been prouder moments. Give him a little while and he might remember them.

His gaze lands flat on Mu-Qian, then moves to Bebe, lingers on bared legs, then up to her face, as if giving it a go - the working out what he did to her, thing. Squeezing guilt and responsibility from John Logan is much like attempting to do the same with blood from a rock, however, and he's short on that anyway.

"She went back in for you," he croakily points out, eyes switching from the petite woman back to the healer with lazy delay.

"No," Mu-Qian responds, with roughly as much wounded conscience as… well. Logan. Which is to say, plenty of injury, less of the conscience anywhere visible to make use of. Ghost's face has gone conspicuously blank, either because his erstwhile lover— not that she knows it yet— is currently running around in her skivvies, or the other sociopaths are being girls.

Unbelievable work day, this. "Here," the man says. He fits a large hand on the back of a chair, hauls it over on a rattle of legs. The four settle neatly beside Bebe, offering her seat and repository for her dainty featherweight.

"No," Mu-Qian says, louder this time, if not to the point of actual indignity. Her sculpted brow finds a rigid set, her mouth an equally severe line. She's as porcelain pretty without makeup, but washed out, strangely younger without dusk weighing sultry on her eyelids or a humid sheen painted over her lips. "She was looking for you.

"And I was looking for Wu-Long." That doesn't make sense. Not to Ghost, who knows that Wu-Long is dead; not to Bebe, who knows that Mu-Qian knows that her husband is dead. Logan, however, undoubtedly knows better. Perhaps oddly, the healer chooses not to drill the Englishman's face with an incisored glare, doesn't quibble over the infinitesimal twitches and signs that might otherwise betray that John is about to tell some idiot lie as petty as the trespass he had committed.

No, she's herding Bebe, now, into the chair. To tend her hands.

It’s such a simple detail to overlook, especially when the opportunity to be preoccupied with excruciating levels of personal pain is apt to intervene on making astute observations, but Bebe’s hands look about six shades too bruised to be used. The only digits that appear to have been spared an abundant degree of blunt force trauma are her thumbs. That probably makes for an overwhelmingly unpleasant condition to be in; not nearly so bad as a bullet wound, though.

Remarkably, Bebe seems ill-inclined to confirm or deny what’s been said about her reckless return to the belly of a burning building and instead chooses to avert her eyes in silence and pretend that the room they’re in as suddenly become the most realistic art installation –- one most likely meant to convey the decay of the soul in the wake of disaster -– that she’s ever seen. However, try though she might, she just can’t keep her eyes off of Logan for long. It’s… pretty pathetic, actually.

She was looking for you. While that stops short at playing on the despondently out of tune heart strings in Logan's chest (only he gets to play his own tiny violin), that does make him stop, reorder the series of events he tries not to play in his head. Eloni had gotten that bit wrong, then. World-weary, Logan drags the side of his hand across his brow, watches distantly as the princess in the room - the other one - is seated.

This lesson in patience is making his toes curl. He hurts. "Mu-Qian," Logan says, his voice forcibly losing some of its tremor, suppressed and stifled, although as he continues, the attempt at a civil tone frays away. Yes, he knows. His legs slide beneath the sheets, fabric on fabric, but movement gets him no where. "Don't punish me. The sooner you fix me, the sooner we can leave— she doesn't need her hands in the immediate—

"Ghost," Logan finally snaps in that same injured tone, flings out his good arm in gesture. "Tell her she's being ridiculous."

What. Ghost doesn't want to be dragged into this girl drama. One dark eyebrow spikes on his forehead, and he glances away from the… whatever was playing on television, speculating on Logan's request, briefly, before he swivels his head to look at Mu-Qian and Bebe.

The latter is kind of helplessly demonstrating that Mu-Qian was right, but maybe Mu-Qian is a little bit wrong in her conduct. Her slender shoulders are rectangled stiffly underneath their sootied, off-white garb, her still-immaculate fingers making delicate tracery around the angry scratches and flush of Bebe's arms, the bruised round bone at the heel of her hands where the tiniest tart had pounded on the prisoner's door, fended off burning splinters, smashed open scorched door paneling.

"Life will be easier when he's healed," the ghost points out, kindly.

"You can suffer just a little," Mu-Qian responds. Moisture wells in her fingers, soothing down against the swelling and slough-off of Bebe's tiny extremities. She manages to appear regal despite that her hair remains in a snarl, the reek of ash clinging to her clothes. "I am suffering too."

Mu-Qian's miraculous touch is truly something to be seen. The young woman she's working on now has witnessed her workings on more than one occasion; she's watched the dead brought back to life. But, it is entirely another thing for Bebe to experience it for herself. The strange and not entirely comforting sensation of sinew and muscle writhing underneath injured skin. It's a little bit alarming, actually.

However, when Bebe's big brown eyes go wide and her attention is abruptly brought back down to her hands, it isn't because of something that the mysterious woman in white has done — rather, it's because of what she's not doing. Finishing the job. What gives? Someone spiteful has pulled the plug on Mu-Qian's gift.

The inverted hiss that the wayward whore emits, a sharp breath sucked in between tightly grit teeth, suggests that she's been stung by something unseen. Pins and needles. And yet, she doesn't understand. When she cranes her head to cast an accusing stare, her babydoll gaze is leveled over at the Ghost rather than the other man in the room who is much more deserving of the blame.

The order of the universe has, apparently, been left behind in all the rubble of the Happy Dagger. There is muted disbelief from Logan; blessedly, as vocal disbelief might be so many more nails on a blackboard. There's nothing around him now that he can throw, unless he wanted to risk losing the bottle of bourbon he has tucked away somewhere handy, and for a moment, he only sits slouched against the bed, watching with heated jealousy—

Which turns, as is appropriate for envy, bright green, a moment or two before Bebe sucks in a breath between her teeth. That metaphorical hand effortlessly suppresses Mu-Qian's talent beneath a cupped palm, cold and complete. "Then we all get to suffer together, don't we," Logan says, legs drawing up a little beneath the covers. Anxious enough, tense enough that it's possible the former pimp could abruptly skitter apart beneath the weight of his own self-pity, hands clenching bedsheets so as not to tremble.

"I was trying to help you. Remembering him doesn't do you good. You drink, you cry. I was doing you a favour. Good that it's burned, the photo, maybe we can all move on."

Not even the ghost, impartial, standing by with bemused expression of somebody who's decided to discard with the pretense of appearing put-upon. He isn't. Not really. His own ability is retained, makes its paranoid circuits around the locale with easy, ground-eating effortlessness as a wolf perambulates the piss lines that demarcate its territory.

He closes his fingers tightly against the urge to snare cigarettes. Watches.

Though, for a moment, there isn't a lot to see. Mu-Qian remains where she is, fingers loose over Bebe's heat-chapped wrists, the downward tilt of her face held in incongruous indifference underneath the strandy mess of shadow cast down by her hair. Presently, she opens her fingers, curls them, turns the pale stones of her fingernails toward herself as if to study the health of her cuticles.

Eventually, she stands up. There's the click of her heels as she approaches John's bed-side at a pace of deliberate music, chin lifted, something faintly incendiary about her stare. Imperiously, she offers him a hand.

"Someday, you will learn to avoid escalation, or you will die."

Whatever irony there is to be had in labeling someone currently possessed of superhuman speed as being slow, that's the word that probably most accurately describes Bebe's reaction to what's really taking place in the room around her. Initially, she's too busy trying to mimic Mu-Qian's calculated articulations, curling her damaged digits inward if only to confirm that, yes, doing so still hurts like hell.

The fact that Ghost remains relatively nonplussed by this turn of events seems to suggest that he isn't actually to blame for much of anything save taking up space and being an unfamiliar face in an otherwise awkward scene. His presence is oddly comforting and simultaneously strange.

Bebe's bare feet find the floor again and bring her 'round to Logan's bedside in the wake of the woman in white quite by instinct instead of intention. She still has an overwhelming desire to watch the woman work, if that's what she intends to do… or possibly intrude on what might be construed as some sort of stolen moment of intimacy. The green-eyed monster sprawled uncomfortably beneath those cheap bedsheets isn't the only one harboring a little twinge of jealousy.

Mu-Qian gets a baleful look upwards, only underscored by the low tinge of green reflecting off eyelashes, and the only hope that perhaps Logan will learn anything at all today is in the fact he doesn't verbally lash right back. Her hand is looked at next, and then— as Bebe follows on over on quiet feet, his gaze switches to her, to judge her expression, posture, her presence. Ghost goes all but ignored in this little game between the Dagger's own, and then finally—

Finally, the green dies out and gives way to a paler version, Logan letting out a breath he didn't realise he's been holding onto. "Fine," he utters, shuffling to sit up all the more. "I won't say another word. Now please…"

His hand moves to curl around her wrist, tugging her hand closer. The gentle nudge of serotonin doesn't have Logan's eyes lighting up that warning, poison green, subtle and needy.

Don't think that Mu-Qian doesn't notice— this phosphorescent luminosity that visits Logan's eyes, how coincidentally it is timed to the sudden thrill of biochemical pleasure in the chemistry of her brain. Distantly, she notes this, clinically assigns the scientifically correct terminology, shrewdly accepts this kindly spur of encouragement.

Maybe there's hope for the child after all. Neatly, and none too quick, so as to leave no room for doubt that this is a voluntary action selected out of a wide assortment of potential reactions, Mu-Qian settles on the rucked-linens edge of the bed, setting her heels together neatly on the floor. Dagger-nailed, her fingers move with preposterous gentleness toward the sticky square of hack-job bandaging wadded into the man's perforated shoulder.

Blood shows. Some fresh, some stale but still fluid, dark, a variation of texture scudded around the ragged hole of puncture. Her gaze hangs on it for a protracted moment, brow hardened rather than knit by the effort of analysis. It's a subtle shift, but discernible afterward. The stoicity of harsh focus to deliberately bland.

"The bullet is still inside. What do you want to do?" She moves her eyes to Logan's face, folds the tarred linen up in one hand, offers it sidelong to Bebe. "I may be able to dislodge it with my ability or by hand— but Barbara may be able to do it less painfully. With her speed."

The hollow of Ghost's cheek twitches. He's at Bebe's side, abruptly, a trash can held up by a grip of his rough hand on its rim.

Still cursed with slightly crippled fingers, when Bebe brings both palms together in order to temporarily play the plate upon which Mu-Qian deposits the discarded gauze and other sanguine spent accoutrements, she winces. Putain! The sticky wad swiftly finds its way into the proffered receptacle in barely the blink of an eye.

Of course, there's no need for anyone to suffer in silence unnecessarily. No. With saltwater welling on the lower lids of her lashes, the young woman whose less than literal leash used to be wrapped around John Logan's wrist decides that maybe it's about time he suffered— loudly.

To employ a profound understatement: Bebe moves quickly. One hand reaches down to splay out small fingers, some still scuffed and sporting bad bruises, on the rounded ball of Logan's shoulder while the other plays pincer. Thumb and index finger dig in to already gaping flesh. Sinking deep. Penetrating. She thrusts until her petite fingertips find purchase and amazingly manage to retrieve the buried treasure that someone had so lovingly deposited there between mutilated muscle and broken bone. The whole horrible ordeal doesn't take her more than a minute. Half that. Less. Soaked in gore right down to her last knuckle, Bebe's hand mechanically draws back and deposits the bullet in the trash can with a satisfying thump.

Maybe Mu-Qian was bluffing about that whole 'less painfully' thing. He might have been better off if she still retained her original ability. Or if he'd been less of a dick five minutes ago.

The thing with speed is that Logan doesn't really have the time he affords to staring, blinking, irritated confusion written on the angles of his face before quite suddenly— he experiences the longest twenty seconds of his life. Like a cat thrown into a tub of water, his immediate response is to thrash when slim fingers quite suddenly delve into his ruined shoulder, but doubtless there are hands to still him, whether he likes it or not.

He does scream, though; one singular barking howl that dissolves into so much whimpering even after it's over. Blood runs free, soaks him and the bed linens beneath. Hissing curses sputter out from the now still, pallid form of Logan.

"Bitch— fucking— god— "

Somewhere in there, the sheets were kicked away, the black slacks clinging to his legs, wrinkled and damp with perspiration as is the rest of him.

Hopefully, John isn't going to hold that against the actual medical specialist in the room. That wasn't what Mu-Qian had ordered. Her face remains locked in a mask of disciplined serenity, flawless— perhaps too much so, frankly, to give her 'case' any real weight. Not a chink shows in her armor. She enjoys the fading buzz of her serotonin high, idles on her heels, waits until Bebe has subsided to say—

"Xie xie." 'Thank you.' With that, and no further ceremony, she lays her hands on Logan's shoulder, prettily. Fortunate for the newest subject of her ministrations, the pain subsides the instant the strange stuff of her flesh erodes into his, the wriggle and squirm of secondhand cells moving to reconfigure the inflammation and gateways of pain receptors before the rest. It's both intuitive and tactical— a patient in pain is harder to cure.

When Ghost moves, his efficient celerity is all the more marked by the contrast to Bebe's rather sarcastic demonstration of her ability. He hands Logan his booze, its cap unscrewed, proffered by the glass of its neck. "You should probably sit down, Bijou," he remarks at the young woman, nothing much in the way of a request by his intonation but notable for its utter lack of rebuke. "You're fucking up your hands."

Before Bebe— er, Barbara— or, is it Bijou?— ffff, whoever can be ushered away from Logan's bedside, she bows her head in order to put her lips right up against his ear and whisper words honed sweet and sharp as a razor's edge while bloody fingertips carefully clutch and stain the stubbled skin of his chin. "It was for the best." Sealed with a kiss.

And then she relents, recoils, and returns to the chair she had been previously occupying some few feet away, drawing one leg up in order to rest her chin on one bare knee and almost immediately sport an expression that suggests she regrets everything that she'd just done.

It takes her a minute or two to realize that Ghost didn't call her Bebe; he called her by her old name. Bijou. The life she left behind five years ago somewhere on the Somali seas. Realization's dawning brings with it an awkward stiffness and a suddenly shocked expression as she actually acknowledges the saining verbally, "…wh— what did you call me?"

He's breathing creakily, eyes watering still even after Mu-Qian's strange flesh has cut away the pain before installing new muscle, bone, skin. Eyes close in a flinch at the touch, words, the kiss in between that and parting ways - Logan does manage to look up at her when her back straightens and she's drawn away from him. And now, well. He could roll over once its done and cry, or— Logan's hand moves to clasp steel-tight around the offered bottle of bourbon, takes a few shaky breaths, before his throat is quick to work around the couple of mouthfuls of amber liquid. It sloshes around within the glass as he presses the back of his head against his forehead, and it occurs to him that… that his shoulder doesn't hurt anymore.


"I'm think I'm— " Drunk, again. Or getting there. Not what he was going to say though, trying to get words working. "Think I'm losing it." Because Bebe doesn't have superspeed! That is ridiculous. Getting up to sit, letting his legs come around to hang over the side of the bed, a look is put back and forth between the petite woman with her burned, bruised hands, and the more hulking figure of his—

His? The man who insisted he work for Logan. Logan isn't sure where anything stands, anymore, with whores torturing him, healer refusing to heal, no one doing what he tells them to do— the mattress springs squeak in protest as he gets up, an arm out to make sure he's balanced. Dried and new blood spatters his torso, grotesque, smaller smears as low as his waist, as high has his brow. A numb-footed walk has him headed in the vague direction of the bathroom. And he's taking the bourbon with him.

"'scuse me."

"Bebe," Ghost lies, straightforwardly, watching his employer move away. A frown recurves his mouth; he stoops slightly, sets the wastebasket down on the floor, a safe and polite distance away from the tiny target and her freshly gore-slathered hands. He produces a small plastic-wrapped packet of Kleenex out of his pocket, casts it gently into the girl's lap and lopes toward the bathroom doorway after Logan.

He doesn't insist on joining the man in the privacy of the porcelain god's chamber, of course— that would be rude. He is, however, obliged to loom against the wall outside, back set to plaster, in stoic countenance, and generally stand guard over the erstwhile in his moment of vulnerability. He doesn't say another word until the door clicks shut behind them.

"I think you should both try to be somewhere else before he comes back out," he suggests, quietly, rather than softly. Callused hands are installed in his pockets, quiescent blank humor adapting easily to his features. This doesn't come close to sating his annoyance over Abigail's recent acquaintance with buckshot, not even medium, but — it's something.

It takes a little effort to neither frown nor roll his eyes.

Stepping across the floor, Mu-Qian's grasp is gentler on her erstwhile assistant, now, something faintly soothing about it, her regard a seeming of serenity underneath the massed rope of her hair. She isn't done grieving yet, undoubtedly, but for now she is much as the ashes of her discarded treasure remain on the next island over: undisturbed.

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