In Tongues


abby_icon.gif mu-qian_icon.gif

Scene Title In Tongues
Synopsis Both healers. They have everything and nothing in common.
Date February 26, 2009

Staten Island — Rusty Warehouse

At one point in the not-so-distant past, this derelict warehouse was used to store loading equipment for the dockyards of Fresh Kills Harbor. Today, it serves as a makeshift prison with storage containers converted into simplistic cells that look out across the warehouse's concrete floor, blocked off with three steel walls and one made from industrial-grade wire mesh with an electrical current running through it to prevent escape.

Each cell is outfitted with a cot, a toilet and sink to provide the prisoners with fresh water, as well as a bucket that can be overturned and used as a stool.

When the girl from Louisiana awakens again, she is no longer alone. There's a woman with her, recognizable if not familiar, her profile a blend of Asian daintiness and Caucasian angles, deep, russet-dyed hair pulled back into a pile behind her head, and a tea set at her hands. Steam rises in a plume from the thin column of infused fluid that jets down from the nozzle of the kettle and into one cup, snaking out, then back in like a serpent's tongue, before she swivels it to adjacent cup, and boils down, down, down, until the meniscus of the fluid rises to a quantity that Mu-Qian deems acceptable.

She's wearing white again. Cashmere, an A-line pattern in the knit down her torso, open collar held by an oversized button above her shoulder. Slacks again, their bottoms sweeping ruched over the toes of somewhat more practical wedge heels. All of her remains as coolly immaculate as the articulation of her hands, plucking an ice cube out of a plastic box at the corner of her tray, dropping into the tea with a muted—

Plink. The first real noise she's made since she came into Abby's container.

Muzzy, pain fogged blue eyes watch Mu-Qian from her spot on the cot. The blonde healers left eye twitches when she shifts, getting comfortable on the bed, underneath her blanket, pillow bunched under her head. She never heard the woman come in, the current drop from it's course across the front gate that discourages escapee's. She'd say hello but.. instead, Abigail, lifts a few fingers before she drops them back down. Unhappy, hurt, depressed. Hurt being the top of that list right now. Away from the asian woman she looks, down to the tea with it's singular ice cube, then back to Mu-Qian. She's given a slight shake of her head, best the blonde can manage and a motion with her hand as if sipping from something and a grimace. It's not happening apparently.

Unhappy, hurt, depressed. It's been a Hell of a month for Abigail Beauchamp. She's a little like the ice cube in the cup, which is making this low hissing, keening sound as its shape and substance and clarity is melted away, dissolved in the heat of its surroundings.

Mu-Qian offers a troubled frown, sets two cups onto the smaller tray upon the larger. Lifts it up between her hands and steps toward Abigail's bed-side, the stool she had moved there. When she settles with the beverages across her lap, both cups of tea are clouded with milk. "Just a little," she encourages, quietly. "I will help with the pain. Your mouth?"

Thank God. Someone will. Magnes will be happy at least, or placated instead of hunkering by the crack and watching her. There's a small nod, careful movements before hesitantly she cracks open her mouth so that Mu-Qian can look past her dry lips to the wound within. Woman's a nurse, she's likely seen worse, especially if she was Wu-Longs wife. She gestures to her leg as well, her thigh where Jack so happily shot her twice before the healer starts to shift in the cot, sit up, maneuver herself into a positon where she can try and drink.

Men and their toys. Honestly, getting somebody to do what you want shouldn't involve that much expenditure of ammunition or joyless energy. Mu-Qian spares a moment to frown at the leg mountaining up underneath the blankets before her eyes flick up again. A slightly belated notion, she cants forward, an aborted motion to help the girl struggle upright. Turns out Abigail's all right; she can handle it. Doesn't need a lap full of boiling tea, anyway.

"You have good friends in the world," she remarks, picking up the cooler of two teacups in one scrimshaw hand. She lifts it up and toward the young woman. "The kind that you did not earn merely through use of your ability. It must inspire courage. Which is still based on fear," a rueful smile. "But love is that way."

No, Abby's not like deckard, she's been having to move, use the bathroom in the one corner of the cell and then back to the bed, so getting up isn't going to be too hard. Painful, yes, yes it's that, but she still gets upright, leaning her back against the steels wall as she reaches with a shaking hand for the outstretched cup.

Blonde tresses slither forward and to the side when Abby nods to Mu-Qians words. She does. Much as she denies it, that people do what they do for her based purely upon her god given gift, they still amble around her and protect her. They've spent the last month searching for her. Her hands close around the small cup, able ot hold it on her own and pull it close, gathering the courage she needs to take that first sip.

Though the awareness of the physical malformations that lay underneath those blankets and inside Abby's mouth make the woman's skin tighten and trouble her stomach, Mu-Qian is accustomed enough to these that she only gives the younger woman an encouraging smile. Don't be scared, don't be scared. A little more pain and then there won't be any for awhile. "John Logan loves someone too," she remarks, after a moment. "And it makes him afraid, brave, foolish, and strong.

"Similar to your friends," she offers, without the tone of insult or insinuation. "They have made several mistakes and claimed a few victories. For love, Flint Deckard did great things.

"But John Logan only loves himself." Abigail probably saw that one coming. Few things about Mr. Logan are subtle. Mu-Qian takes up her own cup of tea, a finger curled around the slender porcelain handle, lifts it to sip from. It's a blend that manages to be both fruity and spicy at once, some infusion. She inclines her head at the peak of Abby's leg underneath her comforter. "Normally, he knows how to appeal to that in others. But it isn't going to work on your friends, is it? They would die for you."

The people who stuck thier necks out to save the world? Who day after day run around tagging buildings with paints images of a flaming bird rising above the stagnation of life. Deckard who for all that he grumps and yells.. still came into the dagger and lost an eye for her. Teo who walked into the den of the big lion and asked questions. Questions that scared the brothel owner enough to come down and.. push and try to prove he's the bigger man. That he won't let some little thing like her bring it all down. The healer nods again to Mu-Qian. Astute woman.

Abby lifts the cup to her mouth, tilting it, just enough to get a few drops in, let it wet her lips and pave the way for a little more as she tilts her head back, help the liquid get to the back of her mouth. The sound is likely not going to make Mu-Qian happy, like someone just hauled off and kicked a puppy in the side and Abby tries to choke down what she can, because she knows, she needs to drink it.

Like the whiskey, only healthier and privvy to a small amount of caffeine in lieu of soothing depressants. Mu-Qian takes her own tea in in small swallows, watching, her sculpted brow slightly furrowed in sympathy. It is awful. All of it. She sincerely doubts Abigail's been fed her share of antibiotics, either, and this place is crawling with bacteria and old stains. "This puts both of you partially at a disadvantage. Obviously, it's complicated, but I think there are a few basic truths that are going to surface, eventually.

"Logan will do anything to protect himself." Her voice slows, pensive, a certain weight of thought on the corners of her mouth and brow. Which has nothing to do with the sudden cessation of pain in Abby's mouth, odd though the timing is. Pure relief lances through the severed nerve endings in her tongue. "Maybe— maybe?" she tilts a look at Abigail. "We should talk about what you will and can do to protect your friends."

That makes it easier, it really does, the pain ceasing. The woman laced the drink with something and ordinarily, frankly, Abigail would be throwing up alarms and panicking about what was put in her drink. But it's relief, who knows how long it will be, and she's going to take it. Make it easier to follow Mu-Qian's words and trail of thought as well. The cups emptied then cupped loosely in her lap with a hand, the other dragging a cloth to her mouth as she coughs wiping at her lips but not actually in her mouth. All the while, watching the asian woman.

Eventually, she hands over the cup to her, closing her eyes. A fingers held up, give her a moment, before said hand disappears beneath the blanket, shape of her hand coming to rest over where she got shot. She's going to give it a go, try and heal, even just a little now that the majority of what hurts is just her leg now and not her tongue.

Logan doesn't know she doens't have to pray out loud. How would he know, it's not something she listed with her abilities when she registered, but right now, she cares less. First thought prayer, fails, nothing. Second one, a few brief seconds she feels the tingle, the warmth near her leg before it cuts off. She thumps her head back against the steel wall, not hard enough to cause alarm, more out of frustration, tears leaking out under her blonde lashs.

There's a soothing noise, commiseration, not quite like tsk tsk but oddly motherly in its nature. When the girl's ability offers a kinesthetic shimmer in her leg, there is an odd, distant sense of dislocated wrongness elsewhere, easily lumped in with preexisting injuries — unless she's paying very close attention. Mu-Qian requests the better part of her awareness now, however, her hands out, soothing, long fingers across the girl's shin. "Please don't do that, that isn't going to help," she points out, eyeing the part of wall that Abby's head was colliding with.

You probably don't have to be a nurse to corroborate that she is being entirely truthful as pertains to medical matters. After a moment, her eyes shift back to the girl's face. "You have a lot of raw talent, Abigail Beauchamp, and raw power. You overtax it, but you can afford to.

"I see… it seems," she modifies her choice of words down for humility, her glossed mouth quirking unhappily, self-deprecation mingled with honest curiosity. "You did not… refine your ability. Learn to target specific injuries or anatomy. Is it— it isn't working because you can't speak? Or because you can't concentrate?"

Two fingers splay across the blanket by her side. Second options. Abigails not paying attention, her frustration taking the most of it. She wriggles the two fingers again, but doesn't try to summon the healing up again, nor does she thump her head. It won't help no. Abby breathes in deeply through her nose, then back out in a strange sigh before she gestures to the cup again, mimicing more tea being poured into it. Her other hand that had diappeared under the blanket surfaces again and abby clasps her hands together up palm to palm in a begging gesture. More tea please.

The nurse concedes to the request with a nod, placing the cup back on the small tray before she rises to her feet. Slips out of the gap between stool and bedside with an easy sidelong step that manages both to keep Mu-Qian's eyes on Abigail and to bring her closer to the tea set. Her back is turned then, slender shoulders falling into a graceful slope as she maneuvers around the clinky music and fragile contours of porcelain that probably costs more than the rest of this freighter's contents put together.

Except for Miss Beauchamp, of course. In another moment, she's back, settled onto the stool again, as posture-perfect as she had been a moment ago. Abby's cup is proffered back out to her, its base supported on the fingertips of one hand, her other clasped around its flower-like shape.

Mu-Qian's back turning, is rewarded with… no leaping abigail trying to stab her with a spoon. Abby remains exactly perched where the asian woman left her, even when she returns, taking the cup with equally careful hands. More like she's afraid to drop it and break it. Abigail can understand fine expensive porcelian. If she could afford it, she'd have her own set. Mu-Qian's afforded an inclination of the blonde's head in thanks before she's carefully blowing over the surface of the cup awkwardly then goes through the process of drinking it again.

It's getting better. Steadily, the improvement in Abigail's jaws first and foremost, guided by a whim, just a thought, and seeming — for a moment — to be no more than that, but there's something different then, the reduction of pain that was Mu-Qian's doing turning against itself, becomes her own undoing, if stealth is her intent.

Which isn't, not really. Weird movement is kindling in Abby's mouth like she's been made to choke on a handful of live grubs. Nerveless skin bellies out of the severed line of her tongue like a sac before filling in, slithering expansion tangibly underneath the roof of her mouth. Tastebuds take a moment to texture in, popp into existence like daisies from the snow, seconds before the internal wiring pulses to life, the network of sensation completed.

Mu-Qian, in the meantime, drinks her tea. The ache in Abigail's leg has lessened, but remains for the moment untouched.

The complete cessation of movement from the blonde heralds the acknowlegement that something is decidedly off in her mouth. Her breath is held, thoughts, observations turned inwards as whatever the other woman did, begins to fix what it was that Jack and his strat razor sliced off. It's enough to make her stomach flip flop and give her ample warning to push the empty cup towards Mu-Qian to protect the delicate china and snatch up the bucket/stool to empty her stomach of the tea she just drank. Not to try and stop whatever it is that the asian woman is doing, Abigails not about to do that when it's obviously doing good. It's more just a reaction to the feeling of what she's doing in her mouth.

Understandable, even to Mu-Qian, who is hardly the most sympathetic audience a retching girl could have. Still, there are a pair of smooth hands out to catch Abigail's hair when she stoops over vomiting. Perhaps amusingly , the woman has to put her feet on tippy-toe in order to prevent the tray from sliding off her knees as she does so. She makes a soothing noise low in her throat, somewhere between a toneless hush and the melody of a Mandarin syllable that would be meaningless to the poor girl anyway. So many strong and troubled people in this country. It isn't fair, really, the rap that Americans get back home.

The blonde's stomach lurches a few more times, emptying what little was in her stomach already, thin fingers grasping the rim of the metal cylinder with white knuckles. "W..What was that" Holy crap, she can talk again. "Tongue. Fixed my tongue" Something in the tea? Something maybe that Mu-Quian injected her with before she woke up? She looks up from her now not so empty bucket, twisting her tongue, this way, that, testing. The bitter acid of her stomach's gift lurks on the sides and causes a grimace. "Thank.. Thank you"

"Something in the tea," Mu-Qian replies, kindly, and kindly also failing to fluster or grimace at the mess that Abby dumped into the bucket. Instead, she winds up balancing the teaset in one hand and shunting her stool sideways a few more inches so that the receptacle can be dragged up closer, and glancing down at the contents of Abigail's vomit, to discern whether or not she had eaten. How much. Not enough, obviously; getting your tongue lopped short by a Somalian pirate. "My ability. You heard Deckard complaining about it the other day. You are very welcome."

Actually, nothing. Chewing was just beyond her. Choking down liquid, was just within her capabilities. So the contents are just Mu-Qian's offerings from the last little bit. The dirty hanky is brought to her mouth, a clean patch found and her mouth wiped. "I can tend my leg. Thank you. I think you helped enough that I can do it on my own now" So that's why Deckard whined and moaned. Abigail couldn't quite blame him. "Why? I don't want him getting .. upset with you for what you did just now"

Mu-Qian wouldn't blame him, either. Not until he started digging his hand into his eye-socket, that was; disgusting. "He might never know," she points out with a conspiratorial wink. "You should probably avoid healing your leg until you get some food in you, otherwise you may start burning yourself up. I have seen it happen before. It is worst of all with…" she pauses momentarily, locating the appropriate colloquialism.

"'Speedsters.' You can almost see it by the minute, the fat sluicing off and withering away—" her features tighten with a sore memory or two. She motions with a hand, dismissing that, before she reaches to adjust the fold of her collar. "I hate leaving injury untended when I can do something about it. It has gotten me in trouble before," she admits, a half smile, a fleeting shadow of the unspoken thought.

Other times, I can't.

"I know that feeling. Needing to.. fix things. Heal them. Can't stand to see someone hurt, not when I can do something about it" The sound of her own voice is like music right now. It's low, she's quiet, still probalby somewhat in awe that she can manipulate her tongue again to help her lips and larynx produce understandable words. "You probably have Magnes's adoration for this. He's been going crazy since he found out"

Speedsters though, Speed healers. "I can't heal more than I can give. I'm not.. like another that I know, who it's literally.. him, his life, that he uses. It's… " Abby's never had to explain it, to someone else. "Sleep. Food. Caffeine. God. That's all it needs, the last most of all"

There's an inquisitive tilt to Mu-Qian's head now, a subtle line that disrupts the otherwise geometrically perfect axis of her posture. "Without sleep, you can not focus. Without food, your metabolism will consume you. Caffeine gives your mind an illusion that you have energy — and therefore the ability to focus and fuel to burn, but if you do not have actual calories to do so, truly, God will be the only one who can save you.

"I like knowing there are more healers in the world, xiao jie. It would bring me no pleasure to see you damage yourself or your gift pushing it too far. These are not the best time to discuss this, I know." She admits to this much understanding, leaning back against her chair, the pale stones of her fingers clicking the tray. "The truth is, Logan won't want you to be in physical pain for long. It will distract you from th eother kinds."

"I don't have much of a choice. There's too many people hurt in the fights. If I don't heal…" It goes unsaid what might happen. "I told him, before…" Before she nailed him with the bible and then stabbed his eye. 'What I needed, but I won't be getting that anytime soon. So.." So it's moot. They'll continue to use her like a battery until there's nothing left. She's already getting tot he point where she looks like she lost five or so pounds too many. She's not going to get into it the hows and why's of what she does and hwo it works further. 'Logan will od, what logan will do. His time is running out. He knows it and he's scared"

The Asian woman tilts her head slightly, her eyes dark with thought. "There are many, many cards that Logan has not played yet. He's scared, but we talked about fear. It creates courage," she turns one long hand over, palm up. "And desperation." The other hand. Both fall back to her lap, her slender forearms parallel to the seams of her slacks and something oddly enervated about the way Mu-Qian holds them.

For the moment, she leaves that be; the fighters, the overtaxation. If she's aware that there's a certain cognitive disjunct between discussing Abby beyond her current situation and then emphasizing the limitations that that situation imposes on her, she doesn't let it on. "Your friends are scared too, and they aren't wrong to be so. Logan will defend himself. You've seen a few things that he can do. There may not be much left of your friends if he has to show off the rest."

"Depends upon the friends and whether they all come. The group, your husband belonged to, If they lived, might have come. They owed me. There's too many people who have an investment in what I can do, and beyond what I can do. I don't know why that woman didn't take me, but she had reason, i'm sure." Abby's curling back up on her bed, upright though, one hand rubs back and forth on her injured thigh as if it might bring comfort and soothe it. "And if they come, and Logan brings out all his guns then.. " Abby looks towards the cage entrance. 'I have faith, even without a tongue and hurting, I had faith. they'll come Mu-Qian. Mark my words. Tomorrow.. next week, a month from now, they'll come. Logan can't stop them"

"No," Mu-Qian agrees, failing entirely to appear distraught at this notion. Whatever understanding she has for John Logan, it didn't come from fond empathy. It passes in a moment, hardening over. Red seeps into the smooth skin around her eyes. Her husband. She lifts her head. Coughs, once, pushing her hair back with a splay of varnished fingernails. "You're right. He probably can't stop them from coming, but he is going to do his best to kill them once they are here.

It seems your friends would far more readily die for you than Logan would for anything he believes he owns. They seem very clever, the ones who come for you, but when it comes to willingness to sacrifice

"Doesn't that—" there are new lines in her brow, marring skin that's softer and smoother than any woman of her age and with her experiences really has any right to. She's silent for a moment, as if trying to find a way to ask this without seeming overly insulting. "That doesn't trouble you?"

"Jesus died for me at Calvary, to pay for my sins Mu-Qian. He sacraficed himself. I've learned, that friends, even when you want to protect them, save them from getting hurt, will step in anyways, even if it's just to hold you up, or take a bullet" The blue eyes stay on the asian woman. "I can't stop them from coming, even if it's to their death anymore than I myself can part the red sea. It will kill me, and cause me no amount of hurt, if they do, but it's their choice, to do this, not mine"

Abby shakes her head, running her tongue over the front of her teeth, grimacing at the fuzz that seems to linger there from lack of brushing her teeth. "He protected me. For a week. Part of a deal I made to heal someone, one of his. He came, he asked, and I followed. And he stood willingly between me and the rest of his group, ready to fight to protect me if he had to. A month before, he de-corporealized me and pinned me beneath a church pew, and left a friend for dead right in front of me. A month before that, Flint Deckard broke my nose and my cheeks, to protect me from your Husband after he'd tossed a man out an apartment building right in front of my scooter" There's a smile at the end, something funny to her. "He preened, like a peacock, when I professed my faith in his ability to keep me from death for a week"

Tears add light to Mu-Qian's otherwise dark eyes, the inheritance of one half of ancestry that had never made peace with the other. She brushes her hand past her face, glances down at it again, rubbing a film of salt water over her forefinger with a lacquered thumb. Marvelling at the heat and fluid, or so it would seem, if her face weren't so still, carved in, as if like the shell of a doll. I believe you, she thinks but doesn't say. There would be no point in lying, of course, it's just second nature to question news of Wu-Long.

She has been looking for him awhile. "I don't know who killed him," she replies eventually, inhaling through her nose, damply, like a kitten crept too close to the milk pan. "I only know that he is. Zhenshi…" She blows out a little sigh, swallows. Flits her fingers back and forth near her face, fanning it cool, as if her appearance suffered at all for a little more color. It hadn't. "That sounds like him," she answers, eventually. "Men."

"Should probalby wipe your face, before you go. You don't seem the type to let people see you cry. There's a woman, named Eileen. Don't hurt her. She was at the brothel, I gather, from Logan's anger and his words. She was part of his group. If you want to know more, about what he did here, you can talk to her" Abby gestures to out the cage and to the other row. "Third one down. I only know him as the russian though he isn't really russian. Ethan Holden" She's named Ethan's cage. "He's was friends with him. I don't know who else of their group is alive. I was taken not long after everything happened" And it seems that Abby's done talking, everything taking it's toll on her. "How long will I be able ot sleep, before my leg starts bothering me? Do you know if it's infected?" She's shifting, getting ready to lay down.

There's a gentle tug on the blankets, easing them so that the girl underneath can settle properly in their coccoon. The mention of a woman does not, as one might have been concerned, instantly marr Mu-Qian's features with jealousy. She lifts the tray off her lap and her frame off the chair, considers this thoughtfully. "Your leg won't start bothering you again, but it isn't healed— only the nerve endings have been cleaned up.

"I'll bring you some proper food and tweezers, we can figure out which of us should take care of the rest of the wounds, and some antibiotics to head off infection." Ethan Holden. The name rings a bell, albeit a faint one. Mu-Qian shifts her eyes through the container wall, in roughly the direction where the Englishman's box lies. Bending low, she grabs the bucket with her spare hand, lifting both the receptacle and its slimey contents away from Abigail's bedside.

"I can't heal things in blood. Infections, diseases, the like" Abby's far from complaining at the blanket adjustment or the removal of the soiled bucket. "Thank you" Simply spoken as the blonde closes her eyes. "take care"

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