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 Ataxia [closed/solo]

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Join date : 2013-03-14
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PostSubject: Ataxia [closed/solo]   Ataxia [closed/solo] EmptyTue Oct 31, 2017 2:50 am

So they'd flipped their truck. Sometimes that's how it went when you were off hunting witches. You pick up a pick-up, some rust bucket nobody will miss, you're blasting down the dirt road, everything's dandy, then there's a little scuffle over the radio station and it turns out you're not as good with a stick as you thought you were and hey, bam, up is down and down is up and you slam your head against the wheel because the piece of shit was built before airbags. Stars. Your teeth jam, and you're reeling from the whiplash when you kick the door open. The door falls off its hinges.

One second, take your good eye off the road, and you were hitting the bank and rolling into the ferns. Shit happened. And for what it was worth, they'd gotten some serious air.

That was her experience so far in Catherinesville, Maine. Someone gave her an "oh, boohoo!" and snapped at her to walk it off while they were buzzing around the wreck like flies, and she did, and kept walking until she was out of Black Woods and into relative civilization. It was a rough hike, and she was sucking in shallow, heaving breaths through her teeth by the time she'd reached the address hastily scribbled on a torn scrap of notebook paper, but hey, she'd made it. In one piece, more or less.

A red door and a white house. Its stark color stood out gaudily in this row of crooked Cape Cod colonial shacks, too fresh and bright among all this chipped and peeling paint. The almost perfect garden, with the white picket fence, but the violets had all started to wither and wilt.

Jane rubbed her thumb against the cut above her eyebrow, puffing out her cheeks and blowing out a breath. It frosted in the air around her, a white cloud. There was still a light red smear that indicated bleeding, but nothing anybody would get squeamish about, she hoped. She inhaled, and held it, shifting on her red-specked sneakers and wondering if it was too late to join back up with the group.

But that'd be a waste. And she was tired of walking. Out of all the shit podunk towns in the country this stupid vampire problem could've bubbled up from, it'd been here, and out of all the glory-hound idiots at Beata, she'd been the first one to see the notice pinned up on the board. Fucking Catherinesville. Jane wasn't sure if she believed in luck, or fate, or any of that, but here was the absolute perfect coincidence, and now she was here.

She couldn't let the chance slip through her fingers. Even if she wasn't sure what to do with herself now that she'd actually made it to the doorstep. After what might have been an eternity, she exhaled.

Jane pushed through the gate and limped up the cracked and crooked footpath, up the uneven stairs, to the familiar faded welcome mat splayed across the ground. With a snort, she was forced to note that they'd taken the old thing with them all the way up from Portland. What was the point? Her hand hovered over the doorbell, one heartbeat, two, a skipped beat, three, and she pressed it.

No noise, no feedback. She jammed her finger against it, once, twice, and then she was banging on the door with a sudden frenzied urgency, THUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMPTHUMP. And silence. Jane chewed on the inside of her cheek as her heart started to sink into her chest, but the jiggle of the doorknob snapped her back to attention. The red door cracked open just a few inches, four thin chains stretched across the frame, and a pale face peeking out from the gloomy interior. A spattering of freckles and dirty blonde hair tied back, one blue eye narrowed in that same fucking look she'd grown to know so well before Beata.

It was the last face she'd wanted to see, but maybe the one she should've expected. They were both caught off their guard, lost for words, gravity suspended, and she saw that blue eye shoot wide open.

"Hi." The word cracked in her throat.

Lexus slammed the door close again. Jane cursed under her breath, slamming her shoulder against the wood, as if she could bust the fucking thing down like it was a movie. "Lexi!" Ugh. Typical. "Lexi!"

"Who was that?" a muffled voice rang through the door.


"Gah, again?!"

Jane pounded on the door with renewed intensity, hammering on the wood 'til her fist stung and her arm ached and she finally heard the jingle of chains again, accompanied by a chorus of murmured curses. Another face appeared out from the darkness, brow furrowed, hair and eyes that matched her own, the glint of one of Will's old baseball bats shining menacingly through the crack. "Listen, we're not—..."

She tried to muster out another 'hi', but she couldn't even manage that this time, her lips  opening and closing as the words all jammed in her windpipe. Gwyn's expression must have mirrored hers, and after a few fumbling seconds, she heard the clatter of the bat against the floor, and the door slammed shut again. Jane just stood there in paralyzed silence, and she still felt welded at the joints when the red door flung back open, no chains, and Gwyn went leaping at her with arms wide and tears in her eyes.

"Jane! Jane!" To her credit, it was a pitch perfect full body tackle. Gwyn's arms wrapped around her back, binding Jane's elbows to her waist, and they went tumbling back into the hydrangeas, with her sister breathing hot sobs into her collar. "Whe—...? What—...?" There had to be a thousand questions, but mostly, all Gwyn could do was cry. That much was the same about her still. Otherwise...

Jane squirmed her face away, trying to wriggle out of the death grip, blinking the sudden blurriness out of her eye. "When'd you get so old?"

Gwyn pulled back with a sniffle, not bothering to wipe the wetness from her cheeks. "What are you talking about? You haven't aged a day."

Shit, now she was crying too.

Wordlessly, Gwyn peeled herself off her, plopping gracelessly down on the porch step. Her hands were shaking. Jane struggled to her feet, stepping out of the bushes and shaking the blue and pink petals from her bangs, just focused on recovering her breath. Gwyn, well, she looked like she was seeing ghosts.

"What's with the pirate patch?" she finally managed.

"Long story. I'm okay." It'd grow back, maybe, but she left that part unsaid.

"And the bow...?"

She'd forgotten about the stupid bow. Her smile flickered. "I mean, you never know when you need one. Coyotes and stuff." Witches, mainly.

Gwyn let out something like a string of giggles, but Jane couldn't tell if she was laughing or crying more. "God, and did you cut your own hair...?"

"Better than the haircut you and Jen gave me..." she managed, fingering at the bowstring.

She shook her head. "We were, like, seven..." Gwyn rubbed at her eyes with her sleeves. "Mom was pissed."

"I asked you to do it."

"And then you threw us under the bus, you fucking snake. Tattled and said we held you down." She laughed through the sniffles, red-faced, regaining her composure, but her shoulders were still shaking when she stood up. "Come on, it's freezing out here."

Jane ditched the bow and quiver in the hydrangeas, but had to pause to take a breath before she could muster up the courage to step inside, even as Gwyn staggered into the dim hall. Lexus wasn't anywhere to be seen, and she couldn't decide if that was good or ominous. Her sister closed the door behind them, and they were plunged back into darkness. Gwyn had to stoop close to get all the tangled chains locked back into their proper slots.

While Gwyn struggled with the locks, Jane wandered down the hall, brushing her hand over the dated wallpaper. Pictures lined the walls, pictures of Will and Gwyn and Lexus and Rion and Cordelia, but none of her, and none of Peter. Her fingers grazed over the light switch and she flicked it on. And off. And on. No light. She cast a glance over her shoulder.

Gwyn looked apologetically up from the chains. "Mom had Michael gut the circuit breaker," she whispered. "She doesn't like bright lights."

God, they really were living like fucking pilgrims up here. Jane turned away so she couldn't see the disgust that writhed across her face. "Is she home?" she asked. She didn't have to look to feel how much the question made Gwyn wince.

"She's always home. Jane, please, don't surprise her, you know how she got..." Jane was already moving, fumbling her way through the dark. "Jane! Jane!" Gwyn pushed hushed shouts through her teeth, her eyes pleading, but Jane kept moving.

She found her mother in a barren cell that could barely be called a living room. It was stripped of furniture except for a monstrous armchair that hunched in the corner, and a cold soot-stained fireplace that looked like it hadn't been kindled since Plymouth Rock. Gray light filtered through the drapes, but it still took a few moments for her eye to adjust to the gloom, and to the pale shape practically enveloped in the retro upholstery. Her mother was thinner than she remembered, with dark, watery eyes, and fingers that wouldn't stop fidgeting in her lap. She had some old book between her legs, but she wasn't reading it. Mom only had eyes for the little girl stacking blocks on the floor, a toddler with chestnut hair tinged auburn, the two of them dead quiet except for the hollow clink of wooden toys and the creak of the armchair.

When she noticed her in the door frame, and she hadn't been sure if she was ever going to notice her, there was no recognition in her eyes. Not at first. Jane chewed on her bottom lip, flexing her fingers into fists, too stubborn, or too afraid, to make the first move. That cold silence stretched into five seconds, ten seconds. Ophelia Lyndon shrieked. It was a reflexive, shrill, banshee shriek that exploded throughout the house, echoing through every dark, lifeless room, the kind of noise that rang in your ears and nestled between your vertebrae.

Cordelia knocked over her blocks, looked up at the stranger in the door frame, and her face crumpled, her long wail chasing after the last vestiges of her mother's sudden scream.

Jane's mouth twisted, face twitching, but she let it flatline back into a cool neutral smile, and then fade into a tight-lipped stony mask. "Nice to see you too," she choked.

"You made her cry." Her voice warbled, thin and scratchy and accusatory, and she shot out of her chair to kneel next to the weeping child. "No, no, no, no, honey, don't cry, don't cry..." Long, thin, pale fingers brushed up and down Cordelia's arm, but that only seemed to make her wail louder. Jane took a step forward, and her mother's head shot up, eyeing her with a wild intensity that almost made her shrink back. "Don't you come near her."

Maybe she hadn't really known what to expect, but the sharpness in her voice sent a sharp stake through her chest. "She's my sister, isn't she?" she snapped back once she could find the words. "What the hell is wrong with you?"

"Why are you here?!"

"Oh, I just thought I'd swing by," Jane flourished, voice dripping with sarcasm. "I don't know. I'd thought—..."

"Michael! Michael!"

Ah, shit. Footsteps thundered down the creaking stairs, whipping around down the dark hall to erupt into the room in long strides. Michael was still the straight-backed overgrown bat out of hell she remembered, slicked reddish brown hair and five o' clock shadow, deep in his forties, but since he washed his face with the blood of babies every morning, except for a few creases he could pass for mid thirties. When she thought of what Satan looked like, she imagined Michael with goat hooves instead of dress shoes.

There was a stunned silence, with Michael almost tripping over his own feet as Jane turned to glare at him, but he managed to keep a flat expression. "Ophelia..." he intoned, in a low smooth voice that made her shudder like it was nails on a chalkboard. He was a lawyer, and thus a raw sociopath. Talking was his strong point. Quiet most of the time, but if you got him going, he could talk all day without letting you get a word in, talk and talk and talk until he convinced you that he was right and you were not only wrong, but a monster for thinking differently, and if you talked back, he'd find some way to twist it to something that hadn't even popped into your head until he'd said it. And you knew you were right, and you knew that he knew you were right, but he'd still won, because he controlled all the words. What was right or wrong, it didn't matter if it was left unspoken, as long as he could make you look like an idiot.

Everything was winning to Michael Lyndon. Grinding people beneath his heel was the only thing that could get his shriveled prick up.

"She made Cordelia cry!"

Jane grit her teeth, unable to hold herself back. "You made her cry!" she exploded.

"Let's not shout," he interjected in that snake hiss of his, "or Cordelia will be more upset. Ophelia, please take Cordelia to the kitchen." He reached out to touch her softly on the arm, speaking in a quieter tone. "Jane, we can speak upstairs, just give your mother a moment and—..."

She shouldered him away. "This doesn't have anything to do with you, Michael."

Her mother bundled Cordelia up in her arms, shooting to her feet. "Get her out!"

"Tell me what I did to make you hate me and I'll be gone." Her mother just burst into tears, sweeping the weeping toddler away in her arms and disappearing around a corner, and that was the last she saw of her. Jane whipped around, dipping around Michael to stamp off down the hallway. Michael followed just on her heels, practically breathing down her neck.

"You know your mother is in a delicate condition, you can't hold this against her."

Gwyn had disappeared into smoke. Skittered off the moment she heard the shouts, most likely. She'd always been a nervous mouse, flying off down to some hidey-hole with every loud clap. "You're right. Like always. I should've just assumed she'd gone full Loony Tunes. I'll just crawl back into my pine box so I don't upset her." Somewhere in the back of the house, she heard Ophelia Lyndon throwing plates against the wall, sobbing hysterically. Jane jiggled at the chains, fumbling to get them loose. Shit, she had her locked in here.

Michael turned her forcefully around by the shoulder, reaching from her blind side and forcing her to look him in the eye. "You've never written. You've never called."

"You changed your numbers."

"But you found our new address just fine. You never intended to communicate." She wasn't accustomed to this sudden flare of anger that started to build up in her blood, simmering deep in her gut. Jane pushed away and turned on her heel, pounding up the stairs. "Yes or no? You cut yourself out of our lives years ago and then you just show up at our door?" he called up after her, stopping at the base of the steps. "What do you want from us?"

She wrenched a portrait of Will in his army uniform off the wall and flung it down at him. The corner caught him just above the temple, making him flinch back with a choked grunt. Jane continued up the stairs without even pausing to look, rounding a corner, then another corner, and then she stopped, hissing through her teeth. Lexus blocked the hallway, leaning on Will's bat, eyes narrowed like they always were, glaring like she was trying to peer straight through her skull and into her thoughts. "Well, are you happy now? Get what you wanted?"

"Yeah, I guess so," Jane dismissed with a sharp snort.

"Well, good. As long as Jane gets her kicks, that's all that matters, right?" Lexus pressed forward, the bat dragging behind her, until she was right in her face. "You just get off on watching people squirm, don't you? Why the fuck would you come here? Did you just think it'd be funny to watch us all flip out before you just skipped out again?" Jane shouldered past her, wordlessly, and went staggering back as Lexus shoved her to the ground. Her shoes squeaked on the hardwood as she leaned, pinwheeled, then toppled over, sharp pain shooting up her elbow as it jabbed against the floor. She stood up without looking her in the eye, biting on a sharp remark before it could slip through her teeth. "Don't you give a shit about anyone?"

She breathed heavily through her nose, fingers twitching. "Do you want me gone or not, Lexi? Get out of my way." Jane eyed the bat in her hand, white knuckles wrapped around the rubber grip. "Quit flexing. You think you're scaring anybody with that thing? And you always called me drama—..."

The bat whistled as it whipped through the air in a silver arc. CRASH. An ugly flower vase went exploding into blue shards, scattering across the floor and sliding around her feet. They didn't get each other, did they? You only had so much time on earth before you turned back to dust, and she wanted every moment from now until then to be the best she could make out of her life. Talking to her was a waste of breath. She'd learned a long time ago that it wasn't even amusing to prod and tease and get her worked up the way she did. Every argument with Lexi, hell, just sharing space with her left a bad taste in her mouth afterward. Jane shook her head and shoved past her, without any retaliation this time. "Where are you even going?" Lexus hollered after her.

"Out." She flung open the window and propped her foot up on the sill. "Nice seeing you." Jane jumped out into the open air, cold wind blasting away the warm stuffiness of the musty old house and refilling her lungs, and landed with a quiet rustle in her mother's hydrangeas.

Gwyn pushed her head out of the window, doubled over the sill as she called out after her. "What the hell?! Jane! Jane! Where are you going?!"

Jane snatched her quiver out from the flowers and slung her bow back over her shoulder, marching down the crooked garden path and back into the street without looking behind her. Maybe this was running away. Shit, maybe they were right. But that was the last thing she wanted weighing on her mind. The only parting courtesy she could give was a half-assed peace sign thrown up behind her as she left down the street, drawing long gazes from the withered townspeople as she stormed past, but she just kept her eye glued to the asphalt.

So the family reunion didn't go as expected. Whatever. That was peeling open a chapter in her life she should've just left sealed tight. She had witches to shoot.

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