Fresh Hell


faulkner_icon.gif melody_icon.gif

Scene Title Fresh Hell
Synopsis No action is without a price, even small ones.
Date August 5, 2020

Isaac Faulkner has had better days months years.

One could, in fact, make the argument that most of Isaac Faulkner's years have been better ones… though even he would grudgingly concede that most is not the same as all. He can think of one year that was worse even than this one… although he's not sure he can think of two. He tries to tell himself that this means he's been fortunate. Maybe it's even true… but he can't quite bring himself to believe it, even if it is.

He limps his way along the deserted sidewalk, his feet all but dragging the ground. He hurts — his body in general, his face and head in particular. He's having a hard time breathing through his nose, and nausea and vertigo are still haunting him intermittently. He's pretty sure the back of his head is bleeding from where it hit the ground, but at least he's got his hoodie to keep god knows what from getting in there; infection is the last thing he needs.

He takes another step, and another… and that's when the vertigo hits again, clenching around him like a fist. What had been intended to be a step forward turns into a sideways lurch as his sense of balance betrays him, sending him crashing into another alleyway. Faulkner almost — almost — falls again, but he manages to catch himself against a dumpster.

For a moment, he just closes his eyes and leans. Trying to catch his breath. Trying to keep down… whatever he'd eaten for lunch. "Fuck," he hisses.

"Yeah. Yeah, I'm fine, Caleb." The voice is a sudden intrusion into Faulkner's pain filled world, narrow as it momentarily may be. "No, I'm not drunk." The voice, a woman's, slurs just enough to give away her lie. Around a corner and on to the alley sidewalk steps an unassuming woman short brown hair framing half lidded eyes an uncertain expression, phone pressed tight to her ear. "Okay, maybe a little drunk."

A long sigh burns up her throat, bringing heartburn and bile with it. "I'm fine Caleb. I'll get a rideshare home, I-" Her shoulders slump in defeat, and it's only when she rolls her eyes that she finally notices Faullner ahead of her. The phone lowers slightly and her back straightens. "Oh what fresh hell is this?" The question is short lived, the woman's attention turned back to her phone. "Nothing. Don't worry about it. Tell Violet I said hi."

In a quick motion she hangs up the call. Almost immediately it begins to ring again, but she silences. Instead, she turns all of her attention towards Isaac. "Hey, um. Are you alright?" Even as she says this, she's backpedaling a bit; a courtesy offered before she takes off on the other direction

It takes a moment for Faulkner to realize that now she's speaking to him. He looks up… and sees her already backpedaling like he's got leprosy.

He lets out a bitter laugh; it's easy to see that she wants no part of him. He doesn't even blame her — right now he doesn't want any part of him, either. "Just dandy," he says, looking up at her. The dried blood under his nose is clearly visible, as is the bruising under his eyes.

"I'll… be fine," he says, shifting his gaze back downward and closing his eyes, trying to make everything stop spinning. "Just tell whoever's in charge of the spinning, if they could slow it down a bit that'd be great," he murmurs, not expecting her to still be there.

"Christ," the woman breathes out, whispy on the air as she tries to keep her exclamation from being heard - a failed attempt, by and large. Between the blood, the bruises, and the apparent spinning, a slightly clearer picture is being painted before her eyes.

"Do- do you need me to call 911?" The backpedaling stops with the hope that an answer will come quick enough that it's only a momentary pause. He looks like he just got in a fight, or worse.

She keeps that to herself, for now. She's sure he feels as bad as he looks.

"No," he says. "I just…"

And that's the point where the fumes he's been running on completely give out. Thankfully he's got solid objects on two sides of him — wall to the side, dumpster in front — so he doesn't so much go down in a tangle of limbs as he does flop against the wall and just sort of… slide down to sit on the ground.

"Just… hit my head a little," he says, pulling his legs up close to his chest and resting his head on his knees. "I just… need to get my bearings. 'll be fine," he mumbles.

"Christ," the woman echoes, this time more successful in keeping her exclamation under her breath. It's clear she's visibly torn between just beat it and not looking back, and… something else that could be a lot of things. Her lips press thin and a whine of uncertainty drifts up from the back of her throat.

"You probably have a concussion." This is marked with a heavy sigh as her eyes flick up and down him again. "You definitely have a concussion," she corrects. The urge to walk away is still clear and strong, but as Faulkner pulls his legs in hesitation sets in. Teeth take across her lower lip as she slowly approaches him, apprehension in every step. "What happened?"

"Fell," is his answer. Then, realizing how dumb that sounds, he lets another bitter chuckle at the absurdity of it. He looks up briefly. "Off a roof," he qualifies, before lowering his head again.

"Fell." There's more than a little flat disbelief in the woman's voice, but the answer is enough to pull her a bit closer to Faulkner. "Jumped?" It's a brazen attempt at correction, the woman stopping just before him. "If you tell me the truth, I can help you." Her body language clearly defies that statement though

"Fell," he corrects her absently. Then he catches her insinuation, and finds the energy to look up at her blearily. "If I was actually planning to throw myself off the roof of a building and hit the ground, I'd do a bit better than two stories, honestly. That'd be just plain lazy…" he says, lowering his head again.

If he were a little less of a dumpster fire right now, he'd be troubled by it — it's not the insinuation that he'd been attempting suicide that bothers him so much, it's the insinuation that he'd do such a piss poor job at it. Right now, though, vertigo and nausea are doing a good job of keeping his entire attention — there's not enough to be bothered by much of anything else.

The woman's face contorts into a flat, thin expression; she clearly doesn't buy it. "My wife once jumped from a second story roof. All she did was break her foot, you'd be surprised the stupid shit people do." Despite that weirdly personal remark and potentially scathing indictment, she moves to lean against the dumpster, looking down at him. "What's your name?"

Isaac peers up at her blearily; even in his current state he can tell there's a lot more personal information in that than she'd intended to give away. He considers for a moment how best to deal with it; it's easiest just to ignore it.

"That's… fair," he admits. People do undertake any number of blisteringly stupid acts with frightful regularity… and, to be fairer still, he probably does look pretty stupid in his current state. He lowers his head again, trying to make the spinning stop. Or at least slow down; he'd take that, too.

"Isaac," he says. "You?"

"Lisbeth." She chooses not to give the name she most commonly goes by, given what is likely to transpire next. A dry sigh slowly drifts up and out, closing her eyes as she moves to sit down next to him. "Fuck, I'm going to regret this," she mumbles with no attempt to obscure the disdain in her voice.

Eyes slide to look over at him and then down at the pavement. Slowly and with clear hesitation, she holds her hand up, palm facing upwards. It shakes a little, but she ignores it in favour of turning her attention back to Isaac. "Take my hand and don't be weird about it. We're about to be real friendly for a bit."

Huh what?

Isaac looks up again, looking a little confused — he's not entirely sure he heard that right. But the outstretched hand is clear enough, and as much as he hates to admit it, getting up off the ground is looking a bit daunting at the moment.

What the hell. He reaches up and takes her hand.

It takes a moment, her fingers wrapping around Isaac's hand as he places it into hers. A deep breath, the kind someone makes when they're steeling themselves for something painful, and she closes her eyes. It's only then that Isaac starts to feel something, something warm and pleasant running through his body, something like sliding into a warm bath, or basking in a mild breeze, or taking a bite of your favourite food.

He hears her swallow audibly, opening her eyes. "What made you fall?" she asks as she states on ahead, now feeling much more sober than she had moments ago.

He looks up as he starts feeling… less awful. Not good, not yet, but… better. A healer?

Well. Maybe he isn't entirely without luck today. He closes his eyes and takes a deep breath of his own. "I am — was" he corrects, not without a hint of bitterness "— a freerunner. I was…"

He trails off for a moment. "I was in an accident. A crash. I was… trying to get my legs back under me. Get back into running. But…" He shakes his head. "I slipped. I thought I could still make it."

He looks up, his mouth twisted in a bitter grin. "I couldn't," he admits, and that hurts worse than the fall had. He looks back down.

Faulkner can feel his vertigo lifting slowly, the throbbing pain crashing against his skull dulls as the edges of his vision darken. "So, um. I guess I should've opened with this, but there… may be side effects. Don't freak out too much. It'll pass. They usually hit me though, so…" Melody stares ahead, sucking a deep breath as she braces herself. " It'll be a few minutes. You might want to hold your nose so it sets right."

"Uh?" is Faulkner's articulate and well-phrased reaction to the mention of side effects… and now that his own misery isn't beating him over the head quite so hard, there's enough room for some concern when Lisbeth talks about those side effects falling on her. His vision starting to darken is… odd, but maybe that's just part of the side effects. He closes his eyes; it's easier not to watch the world spin, anyway.

"Oh. Yeah," he says when she mentions his nose; he reaches up with his free hand and gingerly lays a hand on it. Yep. Yep that is definitely broken. He grimaces and tries to make sure it's lined up straight. "Thanks," he says. Not just for the advice on the nose, either.

The next few minutes are marked by silence, Melody staring blithely ahead, head occasionally bobbing as she sucks in deep breathes and presses the back of her palm to her mouth. The way she starts to sway is familiar to Isaac, because moments ago it was him that was doing the very same thing. As his vertigo fades, as his nausea subsides, he can see those familiar motions beginning to manifest in Melody.

All the while, his lightheadedness, that throbbing, drumming pain, slowly fades into the background. Holding on to his nose makes his breathing whistle occasionally, something that finally makes Melody chuckle - and then immediately regret it. "Urp…" she sounds out, eyes widening as Isaac's vision becomes a slight bit fuzzier. "Okay. We- we need t-talk." Before she throws up on one of them, "F-Freerunner, huh?"

After a couple of minutes, the sense of spinning has slowed enough that Isaac dares open his eyes and glance over at the woman sitting next to him; what he sees causes him a bit of concern. The more Isaac starts to feel like a truck hasn't backed over him, the more it looks like Lisbeth feels like one has.

But she'd warned him about this, hadn't she? He wishes his eyes weren't futzing up quite as much as they seem to be, but it's still better than what he had been dealing with… what it looks like she is starting to deal with. "Yeah. Freerunner. I used to be pretty good at it," he says quietly. "Maybe I will be again. I just have to… relearn."

"Uh huh. N-neat." It would sound dismissive in any other context, but the way Melody breathes, with deep and sustained breaths - makes it clear that she may be listening but she's focused elsewhere. Her hand wipes at her mouth, eyes closing.

Something seems to move in the dim edges of Faulkner's increasingly limited vision, just enough to catch attention but undefined enough to question if there was ever something there at all. The blood trickling from his nose has stopped, along with bleeding from other lacerations from the fall, so there's that.

"I hope that goes well," tumbles out of her mouth like she was fighting to keep it in. "Because I'm not doing this again." Said with something at least resembling a smirk and an ounce of humor. "How're you feeling?"

The thing about guardian angels is, you only ever get one. Something Isaac had read in a book somewhere, once; it felt applicable. Not that he intends to say anything of the sort to Lisbeth. "I…" he starts, then grimaces. "Thank you," he says quietly. "I owe you one. Possibly more than one."

Her question elicits a deep breath, but the flicker at the corner of his darkened vision draws him up short before he can answer; he frowns, squinting silently into the shadows… but the movement he thought he had seen doesn't repeat itself.

Which leaves Lisbeth's question. "Less like I got hit by a truck. Not bleeding anymore," he says, blinking as he tries to get his eyes to focus. "I… thought I saw something for a second there, though…" he murmurs. He tries to reach out to the shadows for a split-second before the memory of his earlier failure hits. Right. Still no power.

"You really don't," comes with a shallow sigh, Lisbeth's eyes closing as she sinks against the dumpster. "I don't… normally do this. I'd rather not even talk about it again. I try to keep people from knowing what I can do l." Which begs the question, why help Faulkner?

"Good. Shouldn't be m-" A hiccup interrupts her, eyes widening again as she covers her mouth. Once that wave of nausea seems to have fade, she wipes her mouth and squeezes her eyes more tightly shut. "Shouldn't be much longer," she continues. "Just a few more minutes."

For Faulkner, the words are becoming harder to concentrate on, his vision getting progressively darker…

Until finally he blinks, and when he opens his eyes he sees only the black of voidal nothingness. Blurry shapes dance like afterimages swimming in his vision. Indistinct, yet almost familiar. Constantly moving, not at all Al going with his actual motions.

Isaac blinks. Then he blinks again. "I…" he starts, then falls silent, eyes narrowing and widening as he stares into the darkness.

Once, long ago, he'd been terrified of absolute darkness; even as a child, he'd always felt that there was something lurking there. Watching, waiting, shifting in the dark, held at bay only by light. He'd been right…though once he'd found the nature of what it was that had lurked in the dark with him, any fear had been left behind. This darkness, shot through with shadows barely visible, doesn't terrify him; there is a certain tension in him, yes, but he isn't planning on going anywhere just yet, anyway…

…and the dark still feels comfortable to him. Even if maybe it shouldn't.

"I see," he finishes. Maybe this is part of the side effects Lisbeth had warned him of. Or… maybe it's not. Either way, here and now, he's content to sit and wait, and to face what may come. "I didn't talk much about what I could do, either," he adds, after a moment's hesitation. He wonders if he'll ever be able to do it again… and then, hesitantly, he tries to reach out to the shadows he sees, even though he has no hope of success.

That lack of hope is well founded, Faulkner finds himself unable to forge his familiar connection. The afterimages waver, creating the strange sensation of being in motion despite his stationary position. Indistinguishable, familiar but void of detail as the shapes move in the dark of his visions. Something almost like a door opening motion, a strange sense of walking. It almost recreates a bit of the disorientation he was experiencing, but not nearly as potent.

After another few moments, Lisbeth releases Faulkner's hand, and the warm feeling begins to fade from him. Still, outside of the anomaly of his vision, he feels just as well as he did before his spill. From what he can hear, however, Lisbeth is doing not so hot - as evidenced by the fact that he hears her shift, shuffle, and the nforce back a retch.

"I'm- I'm gonna call for a ride home. Are you good to go?"

Isaac blinks, turning towards the sound of her voice; as the warmth of Lisbeth's healing fades, something cold and uneasy starts to creep in its place.

"I… I'm feeling better, thank you…" he says, sounding uncertain. "If you could… maybe point me towards someplace I could wait for a ride before you go, I would appreciate it."

There's a moment's hesitation. "How… how long do these… side effects… last?"

The initial response Faulkner gets is a low groan. A retch. A thump. Lisbeth sinks against the dumpster, a hand reaching out to his shoulder in an effort to stabilize herself a bit better. "Hard to say," she admits in a low voice. "Probably 'round an hour? It's a bit different every time." The next thing Isaac hears is her rustling around and pulling out her phone. "You doing okay ov-over there?" The concern in her voice sounds begrudgingly genuine, at least."I can get my friend to give you a ride home too if you…" She trails off, swallowing back something. "Ugh. This is the worst."

The vague movement in the darkness of Faulkner's vision continues unabated, never gaining further clarity.

"Yes," Isaac says softly. "Please. And thank you." He's not sure where he's going, but he'll figure something out… probably not back to Park Slope, though. Not at night, and not blind. He'd taught some of the bolder predators roaming Park Slope some lessons, and so far they've stuck…but wandering in alone and blind, after dark, is probably pushing his luck too far. He pulls himself to his feet, orienting himself towards Lisbeth's voice. "I'm not seeing very well at the moment." It sounds much better than I'm blind.

Blind. Hopefully this only lasts an hour; hopefully,as Lisbeth said, it's only temporary… though he's already starting to feel a creeping fear that it isn't… that creeping, anxious fear of the unknown that can only find you when the span of your world has collapsed down to the reach of your outstretched arms.

Faulkner can hear both the quiet beeps from Lisbeth's phone as she presses in a number as well as the haptic feedback vibration, both of which cease after a moment - just short of having entered a full phone number of he's been counting the inputs. "What the fuck does that mean, not seeing so well?"

Her voice is tinged with both uncertainty and worry, before she sucks in a sharp breath. "Fucking hell, that's why I only feel a little sick. I'm so sorry." It seems she understands what's happened even without his explaination. "How bad is it?" He suddenly feels the back of a palm against his forehead, followed by his cheek. "Does anything else feel off? Christ. Yeah, I'll make sure Violet gets you home."

"Don't be," Faulkner responds quietly to her apology, as calmly as he can manage. That fear is still there, slowly growing, but Lisbeth's earlier advice remains sound: don't freak out. Freaking out isn't going to help anything, even if right now he's feeling increasingly like screaming at the world in general.

"Nothing else," he says. "It's hard to make anything out, though… everything's dark," he adds, now sounding a bit more thoughtful. "I think I see… movement?" He closes his eyes — not that that's going to make any difference, at the moment — then shakes his head slightly. "Hard to tell."

He takes a moment to prod at his nose and his head; those, at least, feel appreciably better. "And yeah. A ride would be… greatly appreciated."

"Fuck." It seems to be Lisbeth's favourite word right now, eyes cast down at the pavement in front of her. "It should- it will be better inside an hour. It'll be really fuzzy for a while once it does, probably. Like getting those infuriating eye drops at the optometrist's, or rubbing your hands over your eyes when you wake up." It's rare that she experiences full blindness as a side effect of her ability, but at least that's how it tends to work for her.

Swallowing back a hiccup, she sighs and lifts her phone back up. Faulkner can hear her press one last button, followed by a ringtone. Vague movement continues to crawl across his vision asynchronous with his current reality. Two beeps sound out, and then he can hear a muffled voice on the Lisbeth's phone.

"Hey Violet. Yeah. Um. Can you do me a favourite? No I'm- not drunk, I- Look, I'm going to send you an-" A hiccup and a rising sound of uncomfortableness interrupt her. "An address. Can you come and pick me up. And, uh. I have a friend who needs a ride home. No, I'm not- Violet, please. Thank you. And please don't bring Regina."

With a beep, the phone hangs up and Lisbeth sighs. No other words are spoken - it'll be a bit until their ride arrives, and maybe a while longer yet until either of them is feeling like something resembling normal.

Maybe they've both learned valuable lessons from this.

But probably not.

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