The Heat


isis_icon.gif faulkner_icon.gif

Scene Title The Heat
Synopsis Summer nights reveal more than summer days…
Date July 31, 2019

Park Slope: Lookout Hill

Once, Lookout Hill had been a beautiful vantage point over a bustling city, with well-maintained carriage trails leading to a lovely sunset view of the New York skyline and the Atlantic Ocean; the fact that carriage trails are a thing that can be mentioned in the context of that vista gives a good clue as to how long ago that was, though. In the decades since, Lookout Hill had slowly, steadily faded. Efforts at reclamation had been made, but the Bombs and the Second Civil War had put a stop to that, leaving Lookout Hill to slide back into wilderness. Of course, considering what's become of Park Slope, one could make the argument that Lookout Hill had simply been ahead of the curve.

Isaac Faulkner wonders if that's the case now, as well, because Lookout Hill isn't looking nearly as unkempt as it once had; in fact, he'd wager that the view now is nearly as good as it had been all those years ago, when it had been the centerpiece of Prospect Park's design. Isaac isn't the only one behind that, of course… but he is better equipped than most to get to some of the higher, harder to reach spots in the canopy and hack out some of the dead branches. Maybe not the most entertaining way to spend time, but Isaac has fond memories of this place — both from earlier years, and from more recent times.

He's hoping to make some more still, tonight. The sun is setting, the skies clear, the air warm; it is, in short, a perfect evening for a picnic… which is why Isaac is waiting atop Lookout Hill now, a blanket spread on the ground and a picnic basket full of takeout Italian at his side, more nervous than he's been in… awhile, honestly… and already thinking about a thousand and one things he should've done differently. Should he have guided her up here, instead of hoping she'd remember the way? Possibly, but then he'd have had to figure out what to do with the food while he waited and led her up here. Hm.

There’s a bobbing flux of gold. A play of the light. Of sunset prisms on sunset hair. Jo’s face is turned over her shoulder, considering her surroundings, placing the landmarks from that first inspired trip to this same spot… Her pale brows knit a single wrinkle of worry between them, an expression easily smoothed over when she turns to see Isaac. There. Waiting. For her. The light of her smile then could replace the dipping sun in a heartbeat.

The auburn-haired woman picks up a lazy job - eagerness winning out of over self-restraint, clearly. “Hey,” she says breezily, a little breathless as she steps up before him.

She's here.

Isaac blinks as he sees her appear; despite the fact that this had been planned, he finds that somehow he's surprised to see that she's here… and in that moment he suddenly realizes that there'd been a part of him that hadn't expected her to show. He doesn't devote a lot of time to thinking about it, though; there are more important things to worry about right now. "Hey!" he calls back, lifting one arm in a casual wave, his lips already curling into a smile, those thousand and one worries fading into the background, leaving him to enjoy the moment.

"Glad you could make it," he says. "I brought Italian — not home cooked — and wine," he says, his grin widening a bit further as he lightly nudges the picnic basket with his toe. He pauses for a moment, taking in her appearance, and his grin takes on a more sincere aspect. "You look lovely tonight," he adds quietly.

Isis spares a quick glance towards the picnic basked. “You remembered.” It’s her favorite. Something they’d discussed last time they’d had a chance to sit down to eat. A fond smile draws her lips into a gentle bow as she looks back to him. The compliment offered has her resting her hands over her middle, smoothing out the worn-soft fabric of a simple tee that reads “Girl Power” and shows three female Marvel superheroes - the prominent figure in the middle being Phoenix.

“I’m glad you think so,” she quips back playfully in regards to her ‘lovely’ appearance. “I thought I was going to melt in the heat on way up here. Just blubber my way over and plop.” It’s warm, admittedly, but not to the degree Isis’s reaction would suggest. She palms over her forehead and brushes back her hair, trying to subtly dab a bit of sweat and invite whatever breeze has made it to the lookout to cool her.

“And, you. You look…” Why? Why did she even open her mouth? Just, take a compliment. Now she has to come up with something not too flirty, not too chees- “Yummy.” Wait. What!? “I mean. You always look good.” What is it about this guy? This one guy?! She takes in a deep breath and puffs out her cheeks like a chimpanzee. Hold. Hold. Okay, now speak. “Shall we?” She gestures towards the picnic setup.

Isaac blinks. Well. That's… that's a compliment he'll take, definitely! That surely bodes well, unless she's a cannibal or something (which he doubts; he's never met a cannibal that he's aware of, but he has a hard time seeing one blushing as prettily as Jo does.) He manages not to laugh aloud, in any case… but the grin on his face might be a little wider now, and there's definitely some amusement in his eyes as he regards Jo. He toys with the idea of teasing her a bit over that, but… nah.

In any case. They're here for a picnic, and it'd be a shame to let the food get cold. "Sure," Isaac says lightly, still grinning as he moves to settle himself in beside the blanket; with that done, he rummages a bit in the picnic basket and starts setting out the contents. Breadsticks and a small container of marinara sauce, a tray of seasoned meatballs speared on fancy toothpicks for an appetizer, a pan of lasagna, paper towels, paper plates, utensils… and last but not least, a bottle of red wine and plastic cups. Not a fourteen course spread, perhaps, but hopefully not a disappointment, either.

"Dinner is served," he says with a small smile.

“This.” Isis smiles as she settles in opposite Isaac, sitting on a hip with her legs tucked up beside her and one hand to the blanket to support the way her torso leans aside towards her companion. “This is perfect. Much more thoughtful than an ‘all-on-the-line’ scavenger hunt.” It’s true. “Let me get that,” Isis/Joanne reaches out to take up the bottle of wine, fishing a bottle-opener-and-corkscrew combo tool out of her pocket with a gesture that is clearly second nature. Her left arm, that reaching for the bottle, is wrapped thrice around the middle in a layering of black flex bandage, a bit of stark white gauze peeking out the underside. She pays it no mind but for some subtle and inconvenient stiffness it forces upon the motions of that arm.

“So, we’ve gone over all the important stuff: favorite colors, favorite food, favorite places, favorite games… ” Joanne blush is still unwaning, a gentle flush backdrop to a sift of cinnamon freckles. While their 18 to 20-course meal had been, simply put, amazing, the conversation had been the pleasantly awkward kind that comes from two people testing just the surface of unknown waters. “What more could you possibly need to know?” There’s a playful sarcasm to her, a self-deprecating jest about the easy, superficial way she’s seemed to, without have said anyway, insist they carry on up till now. She tilts her head and lofts a brow, expression warm in a more subdued way. There it is - inviting him to scratch beneath the surface, to wade deeper into the water. Will it be cold or warm? Dark or crystalline?

That depends.

Isaac nods, making a small gesture with his hands — by all means. As she reaches for the wine bottle, he notices the bandages wrapping her left arm, and his smile dims just a bit, a flicker of puzzlement touching his lips… but it's probably something minor. Maybe she fell or something?

Well. She obviously isn't worrying about it, so neither will he. As she asks her question, though, Isaac's smile takes on a thoughtful cast. He doesn't answer right away, either; instead, he grabs a cup to pass to Jo, taking the time to consider.

"There's always more to know, isn't there? People can always surprise you. At least, the interesting ones can," he says, giving Jo a grin to let her know he definitely considers her among that number. "But, if you're opening the field to questions…" he frowns, toying with a spoon as he considers. "Off the top of my head… what brings you to New York? Have you always lived here, or did you move here recently?"

Jo uncorks the bottle of wine. “Ooo. That’s a good one,” she rates the question hanging between them. “The first time I came to New York was after the first explosion. Looking for answers, finding more questions. You know, the normal ‘troubled soul of young adulthood’-thing. Found a different me. Then, I left during The War, though.”

She takes the offered cup with a simple appreciative nod and begins pouring. “I was up north when I got a letter a couple of months back. ‘Come home, I-…’” She stops and jerks her head up, staring wide-eyed at Isaac. “Well, it said ‘Come home, Isis.’ I used to go by that name.” Her shoulders relax a little. “So, I did. To find who sent it, and whatever else ‘home’ entails.” The crimson-haired woman’s smile comes a bit more easily. Secrets are a burden, and hers just got a little lighter.

“I could go back to Maine now, I suppose. But, I’ve found some things to keep me interested. A great job. A … support group thing that’s really looking to make a difference. A really chill guy, I’d like to get to know…” She smiles and holds out the plastic cup.

Isaac raises his eyebrows at that; he didn't miss that momentary wide-eyed stare. "Isis, hm?" Not that he disapproves; in fact, he thinks it's rather fitting.

It's definitely interesting, too, as far as Isaac is concerned; there's a lot she's opted to leave unspoken. Did she find who sent it, or just give up? A puzzle.

Isaac's smile broadens again as he sees her passing the wine back to him; he reaches out to take it, his fingers gently brushing hers.

The smile is all the reply she needs for her none-too-subtle flirtation. She glosses her lower lips with a quick pass of her tongue, biting done on the pale tier when he moves to take the cup of wine. His fingers brush hers, pale and slender and … hot. The fever is mild but enough to notice in the cool of the evening. But, he barely gets the chance to observe it from his seat…

Perhaps it’s the fever. Perhaps it's nerves. Perhaps it’s the subtle but sudden tremor that nearly spills the drink…

Whatever it is, she loses focus on what’s most important in moments like these. Herself. Her figurative, cognitive self. As if her psyche would do anything for a reprieve from her own fevered, injection-tainted body, it begins to slip. It’s all she can do, biting down hard her lip, to make the transition as smooth as possible…

It’s like being immersed in the sea - the senses clogged in the all-encompassing limbo - and then coming out the other side. The bottom. Somewhere that isn’t meant to be. Somewhere inverted and wrong. If looking upon one’s own body through the eyes of another isn’t disorientating enough, Isis has left behind the subtle taste of blood from her bitten lip to welcome Isaac into his new skinsuit.

Isis-in-Isaac goes wide-eyed, fingers tightening around the more feminine digits still extending the little solo cup between them. “Shhiiiiiiiiiiiiiit.

It's a good thing one of them's still holding a steady grip, because Isaac sure isn't. Instead, Isaac is feeling completely at a loss. Their hands had touched, and suddenly… weightlessness. Vertigo. For a moment, he'd felt like he was drowning… and then… then he's staring across the picnic spread at himself.

Several things hit him in that first split second. He feels hot. Jesus, when did it get so hot? It's probably a good thing that he's sitting down, too; he's got a good sense of balance, but suddenly it's feeling off. Wrong. He licks his lips; there's something weird there, too, but the most immediate thing he notices is the sudden taste of blood. Did he bite his lip or something? He tries to reach out to the shadows, to assess his surroundings, as he's done so many times, but… they don't answer. They're deaf. Dead. Nothing more than the mere absence of light.

His eyes widen; he pulls his hand back — god, his arm feels like jello — and as he does he gets a good look at it. The nails are neatly trimmed, but they're not his, any more than the hand they're attached to. He realizes, then, that it's her hand.

That's when he gets a clue as to what what just happened.

Isaac-in-Jo looks down, and… yep. There's a very nice chest there, wearing a Marvel superheroine shirt. Under other circumstances he'd be happy to continue gazing at that chest for a bit, but at the moment he's got rather more pressing concerns; slowly, he looks up, giving himself — or rather, Jo — an appraising look, eyes glittering with an almost cat-like scrutiny. Jo is not someone who should be playing poker, it seems; the look on her face is horrified, perhaps, but not shocked. She knows what's going on.

Isaac-in-Jo crosses his arms, narrowing his eyes at Jo-in-Isaac and giving her a thin smile. "I feel like there's a joke I could make here, but it'd be a bit crass," he says coolly. It's her voice, too, albeit with a hint of frost on it he's not accustomed to hearing; of course it is, he's in her body.

That voice, ironically, calms Isaac a bit. Isaac-in-Jo lets out a breath, trying to let the panic and shock out with it; to pull himself back together, despite how shaken he is, despite how uncomfortably warm this body is — Jesus, it hadn't felt this hot in his body! — and despite the fact that the shadows aren't answering him.

Still, he's at least able to regain a semblance of calm, and when he speaks again that frosty edge is gone. "Well. I'll admit it. You brought the bigger surprise," he says, the frost in that honeyed voice replaced by an edge of bone dry humor. "So. Can you undo this?"

Isaac’s shoulders come back, spine straightening, as Isis within watches the way her body folds slender arms and scrutinizes just so. Being on the receiving end of that particular look is particularly disconcerting. The nippy quality of her proper voice sends a shiver up the borrowed spine. Speaking of, it is so pleasantly cool in here! Maybe she can just stay-… Focus!
Isis-in-Isaac clears her throat. His throat. And, manages a fleeting smile that is apologetically charming on his features. “Would it surprise you to know I actually like ‘crass’?” It might. Seeing as they hadn’t gotten to that level. Nope, they just jumped right over it and crawled into one another. Literally.

Puppeteering mascualine hands, Isis-in-Isaac sets down the cup closer towards her rightful body. Isaac may need the drink more now, after all. “How funny would it be if I said I couldn’t?” Well, the cat’s out of the bag. Fuck it mode has officially kicked in. Isis-in-Isaac’s tilted smile comes of a great deal more enticing on this masculinely cut visage. His voice, too, from this vantage seems to fill her senses and makes her sit a little straighter in his body.

"So noted," Isaac-in-Jo says, filing away the bit about crassness, and for a moment Isaac's sardonic smirk spreads across Jo's features. Also noted is the fact that she's put the drink down closer to him, as well, which is thoughtful of her; Isaac-in-Jo reaches out with one thin hand to grab it, grimacing faintly at the ache, the weakness, in that left arm — what has she done to it? Does her job at Cat's Cradle include armwrestling angry bikers or something? He's going to have ask about that soon… but first, wine. He takes a generous drink; maybe it'll cool him off. This heat is… maybe not terrible, but it's pervasive enough to have a certain awfulness all the same.

At the 'how funny' comment, he gives her a momentary flat look… one that gives way to a bit more thoughtful expression.

"I suppose that depends on timeframe, doesn't it? If you can't ever reverse it? Not. Funny," he says, Jo's voice sharpening, eyes flashing for a moment before his expression returns to that thoughtful look. "But if we're just… stuck this way for a little while?" He gives it a bit more thought, then shrugs expansively, a hint of a wry smirk touching Jo's features… then the smirk broadens into a crooked smile, a gleam of momentary mischief sparkling in those hazel eyes. "I can probably tough it out. Though I have to say. This wasn't quite what I had in mind when I was hoping to get into your pants."

The mischievous gleam is short-lived, though, Isaac-in-Jo's hand coming up to fan himself — herself? Gah, now he's having to debate his own pronouns with himself. "But seriously, how does this work?" he asks, peering at Jo-in-Isaac intently.

Isis-in-Isaac does her best not to laugh when he levels that flat look her way. Her best is, simply put, not enough. Her laughter bubbles up in an awkward way on his masculine tones and she puppeteers the commandeered hand to cover her mouth. “Sorry, sorry,” she says. But, when the hand falls away a smile reveals the amusement hasn’t abated.

Unlike her unsuspecting partner, she skirts the topic of takesies-backsies and focuses on the much more interesting matter. “Oh, so what did you have in mind for getting in my pants?” Her grin on his features in unbridled - warm and yet deviously amused. She takes a moment to lean back, propped up on elbows, and stretch out borrowed legs. She looks over the temporary (presumably, anyway) vessel from this new vantage point. And then, she does something a bit new…

Isis-in-Isaac’s expression grows neutral, lost in thought. She’s silent. This is what it feels like to be him.// Not mentally, of course - all her doubts and fears have followed her. But, this is how he sees the world. She lifts his visage to the heavens, considering the sky in the frame of trees and foliage around the edges. After a time, though, she-in-he swivels back to the other. Still lounging, Isis smiles more sincerely. “”You feel good.” This compliment, at least in this setting, may rank as one of the strangest possible. But, she doesn’t falter.

“We can undo it whenever you want. Just another little love tap would do it. No time constraints or the like. But, I warn you… it’s not as smooth going back.” Not until her psyche can reach out and take control of the steering wheel that directs the ability from her proper flesh. Isis-in-Isaac’s gaze narrows slightly. “You’re handling this surprisingly well…” Why is that, hm?

The grin that's on Jo-in-Isaac's face right now is unmistakably Jo's; Isaac is quite certain he doesn't have a grin quite like that in his arsenal. Probably a good thing, judging by the way that Jo's heart seems to be reacting to it. At least, he hopes it's the grin; if Jo's dealing with cardiac arrhythmia on top of this infernal fever, he's going to be legitimately worried for her.

At her question about his plans for getting into her pants, Isaac-in-Jo frowns thoughtfully. "Mmm… wine," he pronounces, nodding. "A nice dinner, a lovely view. At least passably witty conversation," he adds. He pauses for a moment, tilting Jo's head to the side slightly and absently brushing at those auburn curls when they try to fall over Jo's eyes. Then he glances back to Jo-in-Isaac with a serious expression… but those hazel eyes are gleaming with mischief again. "Did I mention wine?" he asks, with feigned innocence.

He watches as Jo-in-Isaac leans back, seeming to take things in for a moment; when at last she ventures her compliment, it elicits a puzzled blink from Isaac. He turns it over in his mind a few different ways, peering at her curiously… but she doesn't seem inclined to dwell upon it.

Isaac sighs — a faint sound, but one laden with profound relief… but when Jo-in-Isaac frowns and suddenly regards him with that narrow-eyed stare — is that what he looks like when he does that? — Isaac-in-Jo's hazel eyes widen a bit. Then he frowns, hazel-eyed gaze sliding off into the middle distance for a moment.

"If that's what it looks like… I'm glad," Isaac says, Jo's voice taking on a quiet, introspective tone. "Because if I'm being honest… that moment when, with no warning, I was suddenly staring across at myself — suddenly in a body that wasn't mine, cut off from my ability, not sure what had happened? That was pretty…" he pauses, searching for a word, Jo's features twisting into a grimace as Isaac is forced to settle on a word he emphatically does not like. "…terrifying, I guess."

He shrugs, Jo's shoulders lifting slightly, those feminine arms wrapping around his borrowed body despite the unpleasant heat that still seems to permeate it. "But flipping out wouldn't exactly have done me much good. Figuring out what had happened would, and I needed to not be panicking to do that. That's all," he says, Jo's voice taking on an airy, nonchalant tone at the end.

“Wine. A sound plan.” Isis-in-Isaac smiles. One elbow comes up, the bottle taken and another glass filled. This one for herself, or himself at least for the present. The swap from female-to-male and back again is always one of the more interesting - the adjusted sensations, the mind slowly adapting to its place in societal norms and identity of self. Perhaps it's easier for her than her participants to move fluidly between the concepts and the pronouns. Isis-in-Isaac watches over a sip of wine.

“I’ll let you in on a secret. If we swap back, and maintain contact - we’ll stay in our proper bodies. No distracting need to concentrate. Nada. Just us.” This seems like a small thing, but in the right situations is really good to know. It’s Isis’s version of the least subtle wink-wink on the entire friggin’ planet.

The admission of exactly what is going on in Isaac’s relocated psyche is observed silently between sips of wine to mask any obvious expression. And then, bing! There it is. That was what the question had been fishing for. Isis-in-Isaac sits up a bit straighter. “You’ve got one too!” Those with an ability have been through a discovery of self before. They are more acclimated to another surprise, even one as disconcerting as the ‘theft’ of one’s own body. Isis-in-Isaac starts patting down the borrowed masculine body as though looking for a concealed weapon at the same time her consciousness starts to reach out internally, unerringly curious in a search for possible triggers. “What is it? How does it work?”

"Oh, so that's the part that catches your attention," Isaac-in-Jo snorts with mock irritation, but there's a tiny grin on her — hisfuck, whatever — face right now. Maybe he's reflecting on what her little reveal might imply about her intentions for the evening. But the grin and the the faux-irritation pass equally quickly, leaving Isaac… thoughtful.

"I had planned to show you tonight, actually," Isaac says, that alto voice seeming oddly somber for a moment; he lowers his hands, assuming a more relaxed pose. "You've seen it once before… or, well, maybe it's better to say that you've had an opportunity to see my ability once before. We were all a little preoccupied, and it was pretty dark at the time…" he says, giving Jo-in-Isaac a side-eyed glance, lips curling into the barest hint of a shrewd grin.

“I-… I can’t feel it…” Isis-in-Isaac’s hands still over the borrowed body and she closes her eyes, turning her focus inward. The masculine features scrunch up with the effort of digging aruond inside, but like a tightly stretched elastic spring back in a wide-eyed expression. “Nothing! Nada. Are you… sure your Evolved?” Isis-in-Isaac looks back on her proper body and it’s tempoary occupant with a hint of skepticism and concern. Either he’s insane or she’s… no able to tap into abilities anymore. Which means…

Isis-in-Isaac’s gaze flits briefly towards the bandaged arm on the redhead frame. A strong, invisible hand seems to build pressure around her throat until the masculine adams apple bobbed jerkily past the suffocating sensation. She reaches out tentatively, offering a hand, and with it a means of escape for Isaac to take back his proper body. “I’d like to see what you can do,” Isis comments quietly - sincerity making the lower, male vocals quiet and serene.

That extended hand — an offer of escape — is greeted with a surge of relief so overpowering that Isaac's first impulse is to grab it like a drowning woman grabbing onto a life preserver… but then he hesitates. As much as Isaac would desperately love to go back to being fully Isaac and not Isaac-in-Jo's body, that look that had flickered over Jo's borrowed face in the instant before she'd offered her hand gives him pause. He's had to deal with whatever misery she's been going through for a few minutes; she's had to deal with it all the way up Lookout Hill.

But when she says she wants to see what he can do in that serene tone… Jo's lips turning up in a warm, sincere smile. Isaac reaches out, clasping Jo's hand and steeling himself for whatever may come.

A brow pops up curiously when Isaac hesitates to take the offered hand. She looks back upon her rightful body, trying to read the thoughts within through the expression that is hers and yet… not. Isis-in-Isaac creases her lower lip in a thoughtful way, considering staying a moment longer to inquire about the pause, but… some curiosities are stronger than others. Why can’t she feel his abili-…

Her fingers take his and his hers. And whose is whose. And up is down. There’s a lurch, a hook in the very core of each being - which is surprisingly centered in one’s stomach, just behind the navel. Not the head or even the heart, like some might have believed. Hook, yank, line, and sink. The reeling effect slows after an initial jerk as Isis regains control of her ability somewhere amidst the chaos and gently tucks each pysche back into the cradle of their proper flesh with a last butterfly tickle of a sensation.

Opening hazel eyes once more, she smiles. And, does not release his hand. “You okay?” Her voice is quieter still as the too-familiar aches and subtle fever throw a dulling haze over her senses once more.

There's a gutwrenching lurch that feels like the moment a rollercoaster drops, a sudden sense of oblivion, and then… calm. Darkness resolves into a smear of color, which sharpens into a view of Jo, sitting across from him on Lookout Hill… still hand in hand. That hasn't changed, and that alone would've been enough to bring a smile to his face, but being free of that mildly unpleasant, pervasive sense of heat is also a blessing. "Fine," he says, taking in a deep breath of the cooling evening air. "Fine," he repeats… but then his expression shifts to one of mild concern as he looks to Jo. "And you?"

Something in her alabaster expressions soften minuely. Curiosity is ecked aside ever so slightly, just enough to scoot around and see his concern and address it with equal sincerity. “I’ve… been better,” she admits begrudgingly. “But,” Isis adds earnestly, “I’ve also been worse.” She gives his hand a squeeze in time to match the fresh blossom of her smile. “This,” her thumbs drifts, soft and a little rigid with the unfamiliarity of affection and contact, across the back of his hand. “This is helping.”

Isaac's expression of concern gives way to a smile of his own at that… but the only response he gives is a gentle squeeze of his own. Even as he's doing that, though, he's reaching out to the shadows… and this time he feels them. Ready and waiting.

Time to start his reveal, then. "I remember, last time you were here, you said you have a love-and-hate relationship with the night sky," Isaac says; there's a polished feel to the words, as if this is the opening to a speech he's worked out ahead of time. "I can kinda relate. Can you believe that when I was a kid, I was afraid of the dark?" he asks, glancing briefly back to Jo with a slightly embarrassed smile. "Not quite the same thing, maybe, but… when I was a kid, I always felt like there was something in there with me. Under the bed. Behind the door. In the corners where I couldn't see…" he trails off.

Then Isaac turns back to Jo, letting out a soft laugh. "And then one night I figured out what it was I was feeling, and I never feared the dark again," he says quietly, proudly. "It was the dark I felt; only and ever that. The shadows whispering in the night…"

"Waiting for the day I'd learn to whisper back," he says in a low voice.

Now comes the hard part.

Still smiling, Isaac extends his hand, palm down; slowly, he closes his fingers, turning his hand sideways… then, bracing himself, he calls on his ability. The pocket of shadow held in the cup of his hand stretches and twists, shaping itself into the form of a sprout, dark as jet. The sprout buds, then blooms into a phantasmal rose, the petals made of shadow so thin that they seem to be more vapor than solid matter, barely visible save out of the corner of the eye.

The effect isn't quite what he had intended — he'd planned to be doing this later in the evening, and even the ambient light of the summer sunset is enough to make the petals a little less solid than he'd intended — but all in all, he's fairly proud of how it's come out. No need for Jo to know how much he'd practiced for this little trick.

Isaac holds the rose aloft, giving a lopsided smile. "I can command shadows. I can make them real. They're my tools, my shields, my friends, ready to lend a helping hand if I even think about it. And as for the night?" Isaac lets out a quiet, happy laugh. "When night falls, we're shrouded in the shadow of the Earth itself. Why would I be afraid anymore?" he asks, still smiling; after a moment, he extends the rose towards Jo, raising an eyebrow inquisitively.

Red tresses dance across a porcelain backdrop, tickling the rolling hill of a cheek or the tiny sharp peak of a nose - Isis's head pivots slowly to one side the deeper and deeper she is pulled into Isaac's story. His words hold the same characteristics of the darkness and shadows of which he speaks - intiving, mysterious, intangible… all-encompassing. Isis finds herself leaning forward.

Any prodding jest she might have considered regarding his preparedness for this presentation is quickly forgotten when the ethereal-dark rose begins to take shape and bloom. Her breath catches audibly on subtly parted lips. Her eyes widen - she dare not blink lest it break the shadow spell. It’s only when he speaks of the night, of exactly what it is to him and it’s importance, that his voice overpowers her curiosity and steers her attention back to his visage. She mirrors his smile but only fleetingly, looking nervously towards the extended rose. She rolls her lower lip over her bottom teeth and bites down on it gently, it’s still sore, and reaches out to touch the petals of the gossamer blossom.

Isaac's smile takes on a bit of a triumphant aspect as he sees that look on Jo's face; it's deeply satisfying to be able to take something that is important to him, personally, and manage to convey it to another well enough that they truly understand.

All the more so given that it's someone he likes.

He watches intently as Jo reaches out to touch the rose; for all that he's worked to get the visual representation down, he's not really had a lot of luck on texture. The petals give as her fingertips brush them, just as a real rose would, but the feel is different than the velvety smoothness of rose petals; smoother, drier, almost like glass or mirror-smooth metal if not for how easily it gives.

Isis’s touch flinches back subtly at the unique and unexpected texture they find. Licking her lips, her fingers dip back again, following the contour of a petal down to the stem. She looks back to Isaac with an unabashed smile. “That’s… amazing. Just…” She exhales a sound of impressed disbelief from her nose. “You’ve taken every childhood mystery and made it … tangible. How many kids tried to catch their shadows, hm? Chasing something they could see but never touch. And, you just…” She looks back to where her fingers linger on the ethereal flower. “How long will it last?”

The stem of the rose still has some give to it, but it's stiffer than the petals had been, and feels more definitely glass-like — some exotic, oddly flexible variety of glass, perhaps, but definitely glass-like.

Isaac's grin widens at Jo's praise. Catching his shadow… did he try to do that? He thinks he might have, once, when he was very young, but… that was a long time ago, and the memories are… hazy, at best. At Jo's question, though, he lets out a little laugh. "Ah. Well, the answer to that is…" he says, pulling the rose back a bit… then he rolls his wrist, and relaxes the effort he'd been holding to maintain that shadow-rose; in the blink of an eye, it's gone as if it had never been.

"Until I let it go," Isaac finishes. "Or lose focus, I suppose, but I'm generally pretty good at maintaining my concentration." He hesitates a moment, considering. "The things I shape. They're real — solid — but… they don't exactly abide by quite the same rules as normal things, I guess? One of the things about them is that they're only real as long as I make them be… and I've not exactly tried to see how long I can hold an object," he says with a shrug. There are multiple reasons for that, the most obvious being how… distinctive his creations are.

Isis tries and utterly fails to mask her disappointment when the rose is… gone. No poof, no flourish, no melting, no ashen disintegration. Just - BLINK - gone. After a beat her brows bob once in an accepting fashion. It makes sense, the way shadows are simply… not, anymore.

She lowers her hand, letting it fall only so far as to turn Isaac’s hand over and trace the lines inside his palm with her fingertips and her eyes - as if there is some key to unlocking is ability in his life line etched there, or his fate line creased here. Thanks to their other hands still laced together, there’s no unnatural effect. If there are butterflies, they are entirely the normal kind. Finally, she looks back up to him, the secret of his ability still locked - and leaving a new wrenching pit in her stomach to add to her list of ailments. Still, she manages a smile - for him.

“Where the hell did you come from, huh?” she asks, a playfully accusatory question. Where does this guy come off - showing up and being all fantastic? She shakes her head as a warm chuckle bubbles forth.

Isaac is definitely feeling some butterflies in his stomach as Jo's warm fingertips trace the lines on his hand; entirely mundane or not, his heart is definitely beating faster. His eyes are drawn to her, and as she looks up with that smile he smiles back…

…and at her question he can't help but laugh aloud — a single explosive chuckle that slips from him without conscious thought, the result of a few of those butterflies in his stomach taking flight. "New York originally. Montana for awhile. But…"

Isaac's voice lowers, becoming a quiet purr, the kind of voice that tends to make people lean forward to try to hear better — something that would be just fine as far as Isaac Faulkner is concerned. Better than fine, in fact; absolutely fantastic. He smiles back at Jo, his brown eyes locking on hers. "That's a much less interesting story than where we're at right now, if you ask me."

Isis leans forward, curiosity and the siren song of Isaac’s hushed voice guiding her by the nose. His low harmonics send a chill up her spine - only a brief reprieve from the heat before it doubles down on a pulsing, warming effect throughout the whole of her body. A testing squeeze of her slender fingers around Isaac’s - their fingers an anchor to one another as much as to themselves hand is the last assurance she needs…

Control. Pretense. Hiding. Fear. They’re all weighted shackles, one after another after another, you don’t realize are there… until they fall away. It all melts from her with a smooth ripple, a rise of one shoulder oscillating across her shoulder blades and into the other. The weight of it all dissolved, momentarily at least, simply by the way he looks at her. She lifts her unanchored hand away to rest against his neck, her thumb tracing the line of his jaw, and presses her lips to his. Hazel eyes speckled with tiny sunbursts of gold linger open a moment, even then taking in his visage, before finally her lashes fall to her cheeks and there’s only their kiss, their racing hearts, and the heat.

That kiss. For a moment — or maybe it's an eternity — he just lets himself fall into it: the feel of her soft hand on his neck and jaw, the warmth of her lips against his, the warmth and nearness of her.

Alas, he needs to breathe eventually. When the kiss finally breaks he finds he's a little breathless. And hot. And feeling those butterflies again, this time all taking flight at once. "Would you, uh, rather finish dinner somewhere indoors? My place isn't far," he finds himself saying. He manages to remember to put on a smile at the end of it, at least.

Maybe it’s the fever heat. Maybe it’s the intoxicating thrum and freedom of summer heat. Or, maybe it’s just the heat. But as his words slide over her like tangible, nervously exploring fingertips, her voice comes quietly with eyes stills closed. “Indoors?” A mischevious smile comes to her lips and a heavy-lidded gaze lifts her eyes to his beneath the gossamer curtain of her lashes. “Where’s your sense of adventure?”

She leans back into him, into his kiss, into the moment where the world - dark or light - falls away from view and is experienced only through touch. A set of laced fingers still anchors them and yet still they manage to lose themselves in each other.

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