Fear of Heights or Missing Out


hana_icon.gif logan_icon.gif

Scene Title Fear of Heights or Missing Out
Synopsis Hana makes the most of her vacation. Logan supervises.
Date February 7, 2019

Tzin Valley, near Mitzpe Ramon, Israel

Hana Gitelman clings to the face of the cliff like a spider distinctly short of limbs, hands and feet tucked into tenuous holds, head tilted back to study the rough surface above her. Dark eyes narrow as she maps out potential routes among the ridges and clefts of orange and tan striated sandstone, trying to estimate which can be traversed all the way to the top.

Also, which she can actually reach from her present position. The options aren't actually many.

The sun beats down on her head and shoulders and back as if its presence were physical. Cream and olive linen cover her from neck to wrist to ankle, and sunscreen where cloth won't do; while those measures keep her skin from burning, the heat still presses down as if weighted by its own gravity. Sweat trickles down the back of her neck, tickling along her spine; there are no shadows to be had under the near-midday sun, not up here.

Forty feet below is a different story, where cool green water pools in something of a crescent shape — deepest along the cliff's base, its shallows arcing around a rise of pale stone studded with shrubby poplars and saltbush whose future flowers are just beginning to bud. A thin breeze ruffles the greenery, but scorns the higher cliff; for all that there's only a few dozen feet of separation, up here, the sun reigns uncontested.

Her sweat-dampened left hand slips, not quite losing hold altogether but forcing a shift in weight, a reevaluation of pressure and grip. She's only hung here for a moment, but that's still a moment too long. She has a rope, nuts and cams; a fall wouldn't hurt much but pride.

Sometimes, pride counts for quite a bit.

Making her decision, Hana lunges up and to the left, right handhold the only residual point of contact as she strives for her next perch.

Where Hana knows exactly what a fall would cost her, Logan, on the other hand, imagines rope spooling loose or — even less likely — snapping, cams springing from their rocky crevices, nuts slipping free. She looks so small up there.

Because he is down here. Two feet on the ground, thank you.

He is watching with great incredulity, sunglasses protecting his eyes from the glare of the sun, lenses of dark diamond-blue. They are very nice sunglasses, bargained down from a steep price, and you might believe they're not even knock-offs if only for the fact he now has a whole arse profession dedicated to telling the difference. Still, enough fast talk, a little bit of biochemical manipulation, and you can make the salesman believe just about anything, including your opinion on the value of his wares.

Anyway, he'd been having his own adventure and is now witnessing Hana's, dressed in vacation chic — white cotton shirt with rolled sleeves, linen trousers, light boots sporting desert dust. The backs of his arms have done something to soak up the sun, a more golden undertone from the more sickly shades of English white he can adopt during the darker seasons they've escaped.

"Fuck me," he utters, when Hana suddenly springs to the left. Cups his hands around his mouth, and calls upwards; "Hold on, I'm coming to get you. I'll be there in a tick."

He absolutely isn't doing that.

The advantage of being a technopath is that it only takes a thought to respond back — no pause for breath, no marshaling of thoughts for speech as such. Only the intent and a flicker of will between one beat and the next… albeit after her new grip is secure.

You do that.

Hana does not linger there for long, bringing her feet up in such a way that she can push up, right hand reaching for a new hold. There she settles long enough to sink another anchor, action made quick by the practice of numerous prior iterations.

I'll watch from here and laugh when you fall.

She wouldn't actually — laugh, that is. It would be no small amusement, though, the schadenfreude of watching the man with his feline fastidious streak first splash through the water and then splash back down into it.

Less than ten feet more to the top of the wall. Hana spares a moment to squint at the intervening span, to evaluate, to calculate — and then leaps back into motion, attacking the final stretch in a series of dynamic reaches and jumps that completely disregards the safeguard of placing further anchors.

She might be showing off, just a little. But she'd probably skip the tedium in the home stretch even without an audience.

Logan flips his phone into his hand once it calls his attention from his back pocket, and opts not to reply — instead, he lifts the device, angling it up to get her in frame as he begins a video call. Hana will see Hana, a flag of white and olive and ribbon of dark hair, clinging to orange rock as if she'd blown there by accident, as if another hard wind could drag her off of it again. He only has time enough to hit record before Hana's making her lunging grasps, climbing boots scraping through cliffside, sending only fine dust drifting out into the air to disperse.

There are people in this world who believe John Logan lacks basic empathy. They could be right, but it also doesn't stop him from experiencing a sphincter clenching moment at one particularly wild grab at rock edge. The phone picks up a laughing: "Fuck."

She is further than he can reach, with his ability. He will just have to imagine the adrenaline surge that comes with each risk.

"You'll be glad to know I saw the whole thing," he says, at a more reasonable level of volume. "And your arse looked amazing the entire time."

It's the video that incites that grab, ironically enough — not for reason of flamboyance, but because the second perspective oh-so-helpfully mainlined into Hana's brain by her ability is distracting, disruptive, disorienting.

It takes only a heartbeat for T.Amas to intercept the feed, temporarily isolating it from her awareness, but that beat matters. It's the difference between a solid placement of her left foot and one too precarious to depend upon, good only for a single moment of propelling force, for getting out before the gravitational house of cards comes crashing down.

Somehow, it doesn't. An eternal moment later, Hana is scrambling over the top of the cliff, the intervening space all a shapeless blur in her recollection — or it will be, when she bothers to try remembering it at all. A soft, breathy laugh escapes as she gets all four limbs on horizontal surface at last, an expression of sudden freedom from concentration and tension and outright peril (as the hindbrain has it). It'll be a while yet before that relief fully tempers the drumbeat thundering inside her skull, the flush of energy vibrating through her muscles.

"Oh, yes. Positively thrilled," is acerbic to a degree she wouldn't be able to voice right now if she tried. Fortunately, vocalization is optional.

Having arrived, Hana sits herself down to take a drink of water — and to take in the view she's earned the hard way. It's a pretty respectable perspective: desert panorama stretching out expansively in all directions, cut by this canyon within which springs periodically well up, hidden oases of cool verdure visible only when right on top of them. There are grander views to be had — but her present high counts for a lot in putting polish on this one.

"And you're still missing out," Hana adds, this time actually speaking, though the data all sends the same. "Sure you don't want me to set a line for you? The hard part's been done."

He reverses several steps to best see where Hana has mostly disappeared to up at the top, a few quick glances to ensure he's not going to go arse over teakettle down a dip in the terrain, or step into a body of clear water. He lowers the phone, and so they both mostly just see the lake hugging the base of the cliff.

Rather than reply immediately, Logan closes his eyes, and focuses, and— has to catch his breath as his own more-or-less unexcited biochemical innerworld responds in kind to Hana's as he just barely manages to snag her on the edges of his range. He catches the wave of adrenalised comedown and the euphoric release, initially a simple exercise in awareness until his own physical form responds in kind. Minus the aches and pains of exertion, of course.

"No I'm not," he says, a dry laugh run through his words, opening his eyes, refocusing on his phone. "All I'm missing is the view."

He taps the little blank square on his phone that could be her input, should she wish to contribute.

It takes Logan longer to respond than she expects, but the feed from his phone says something about what he's doing. No I'm not puts a figurative bow on the deduction; Hana can't help but smile, a crooked quirk of lips there's no one about to observe.

Her response is a muted click of tongue against palate, its connotation, in this context, somewhere between I suppose that's so and I'll think about it. She sits there in the sun and semblance of a cliff-top breeze and contemplates that view, but not for very long; the decision never really was one.

Do you mind? isn't verbalized so much as the shape of intent read directly through intimate connection; Of course not, is by necessity more explicitly framed, even as T.Amas collects together the visual data from Hana's eyes. What's sent to the other half of Logan's video call is lightly processed to smooth out eyeblinks and shifts of focus and the jitter of minute movements, rendering the view in a manner more akin to a camera's steady, continuous feed.

Once the feed's established, she does its audience the courtesy of slowly taking in the panorama, letting the digital window into that vastness speak for itself.

"Lovely postcard."

It might occur to Logan now that this is nice, whatever it is. That it's the kind of thing that most humans on earth get to enjoy, should they manage to find another human to enjoy it with. There have been times like this before, when he or she have stayed the night, and she is sleeping, and he can rest his hand on her hip and listen — for all that 'listening' is not quite how it works — to the ordinary micro processes of a resting warm body, and wonder what he's missing. Dreaming, in the case of sleep, and thinking, whilst awake, and feeling, either way.

The absolute hard limits of a power like his, in other words, after he'd spent so fucking long thinking that it understood everything there was to know.

He pulls back his senses from hers, his body quick to stabilise back to how it was. The panorama crosses his screen. Considers the cigarettes in his pocket, but opts not to. "You climbed a big rock. Anything else you've been meaning to conquer?"

Anything else. A glib reply doesn't spring immediately to Hana's mind, perhaps simply because she's not in the proper mindset to conquer. Still basking in the glow of present laurels, biochemical and otherwise; not yet looking for the next short-term objective.

Also, the cliche jest just doesn't occur to her; it's never been in Hana's goals to conquer the world, or anything of that nature.

Her gaze lands on another 'big rock', this one jutting up from the higher landscape — a mountain proper. One that doesn't seem far away at all, but perception in this arid environment is deceptive. There's no reasonable walk from here to there, and she's on the wrong side of the canyon from the car. Her contemplation of the bigger rock isn't serious, anyway. The difference between able to climb and being a climber is distinct, and not one she's interested in pushing for its own sake.

"Not up here," Hana answers at last, attention returning to the greener clime below. The edge of her moment is beginning to erode; the sun is hot and bright and there's nothing like shade anywhere above. Nothing to keep one here, once they've arrived.

She's not quite done with it yet — but soon.

"I'll be waiting."

And Hana is freed of any obligation to acknowledge the too-obvious but by now very-familiar sly aside out of John Logan, because he ends the call on his phone, gently severing the double vision he imposed upon her to begin with.

And he's alone, then, if only separated by a mere forty, fifty foot intensive climb. Or a very quick fall, depending on perspective. Each to their own.

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