Across the Eden island bridge, a long figure walks, her weight supported by a battered length of wood, the bottom half stained an ominous reddish brown. A tattered blue cloak flutters around her shoulders, glimpses through the holes revealing a seared and melted bodysuit, skin in turn revealed under that.
Raising her head, Robin peers blearily at the houses before her, her vision shifting, standing for a long moment she sways in place, only her death-grip on the staff keeping her upright, a slow but steady trail of liquid drips onto the pavement from her, not blood but water. As she forces herself forwards, her cloak shifts and the source of the trailing fluid is revealed, a small hole in the center of her chest, ragged and irregular in its edges, leaking pure clear water as it if were a faulty tap.
Staggering towards her destination, the metal foot of the staff she carries clanks dully against the pavement with each step. Painfully slowly, she walks, eventually coming to the front door of a certain house. Distantly, as if confused by any activity more complex than just moving forward, she stares at the doorknob. Sluggishly reaching inside her cloak she withdraws a tiny bit of warped metal that might once have been a key, staring at it, scarcely comprehending; the key soon falls from her limp fingers.
Trying to pull a stream of water from the air around her, Robin moves to forge a watery lock pick, in that same moment, water suddenly gushes from the hole in her chest, as if some tap within had suddenly been turned on full blast, A strangled cry and Robin falls, landing heavily against the door.
Jessica mutes the television, trying to hear the noise again, almost like a knock but louder... "Hello? Is someone there?" Jessica stands up and braces herself, slowly increasing her density in case a would-be thief is lurking about, or some cop trying to set her up in retribution.
Moving to the front door, Jessica stands alongside it, gripping the doorknob tightly enough that it nearly distorts. Taking in a deep breath, Jessica swings the door open in one swift movement
and watches in numb horror as Robin, injured, falls to the floor, her clothes shredded, holding onto a warped length of wood with nothing short of a death-grip, a puddle of
water? spreading from her.
What? Hold on!" With a small grunt of effort, Jessica heaves Robin over her shoulder and carries her upstairs to the bedroom, setting her down on the soft bed, hoping she would wake up okay. "What could have done this to her, one of her old foes? If ANYTHING is wrong with Robin then they'll pay, promise to stay out of their way be dammed, anyone that hurts MY Robin has to answer to me!" Swamped by cold fury with an edge of fear, she runs back downstairs to close and deadlock the front door, just in case.
Awakening with a rattling gasp, Robin sits up, trying to lurch off the bed, the hole in her chest back to leaking water slowly. "Fuck... C'mon Robin, put it back in the box... put it back in the FUCKING box!" Falling to the floor with a thud she tries to crawl her way to the bathroom, seeking a mirror.
Panic overtaking her anger for a moment as a dull impact echoes, Jess races back upstairs. "No
What is they've come to finish her off? I
I won't let them! " Spying Robin on the floor as she burst into the bedroom, Jessica spends a few tense seconds scanning the room, satisfied that no greater threat than Robin falling out of bed is present, Jess slumps against the doorframe, allowing herself a moment of relief before berating her charge.
"Robin Morgan! Get your semi-conscious ass BACK in the bed young lady!" Jessica stands over Robin, hands on her hips as the downed magi crawls forward still. Picking her love up, Jess carries her back over to the bed before setting her down, considering getting some equipment from downstairs to strap her to the bed, and only briefly becoming distracted by what use such straps may be
"You always look after me, but as soon as you get in trouble you try to keep fighting
I may not know much about magic but I know what a little rest can do, don't fight me or I WILL keep you there." Jessica's authoritarian tone cracks slightly, torn between her anger Robin had gotten herself so badly hurt and concern for her wellbeing. She lays her hands lightly on Robin's arms, ready to hold her down if needed.
"You don't... ge-et it... please you c-can't... touch me now." Robin's voice is strained, trying weakly to brush Jessica's arms from her, frost already forming on Jessica. "I can't... control it..." hyperventilating, Robin's breath sounds forced, as if laboring to keep her alive. The trickling water travelling down her chest sluggishly freezing, forming trails along the flesh, wisps of steam rising from the hole itself.
"Robin you have to listen to... What happened?" All emotion drains from Jessica's face as she looks at the hole in Robin's chest. Backing away, she raises her arms, gaping at the ice already forming on them she brushes it off. Distantly, Jessica stares at the wound, trying to fight through a sea of numbing shock. "What
what on earth happened to you
Is there anything I can do to help?"
"Just... don't touch me!" An edge of hysteria entering her voice, Robin tries to get to her feet again. "That staff... that damn staff opened a door I closed a long time ago... Ghck!" Breaking into a coughing fit, Robin doubles over, biting her lip hard enough to draw blood as she tries to gather herself, her body shaking. "And the fucking thing doesn't want to close..."
"I don't have to touch you; I can turn to my Vapor form and examine you from inside. I just want to help Robin... why come home to me if you don't want my help?" Jessica backs up a few more steps, unsure what to do or say, this
panic, something she had never seen from Robin before, even when she was angry. "What on earth is going on that is scares her so much?"
"It's... too dangerous... I don't want you hurt." Crumpling to the floor as another spurt of water surges forth from the hold in her chest, Robin gasps in pain. "No powers, I... we, need to do this another way..."
"Then how? You said yourself my titan form was at least partly magical... maybe all of me is now. You don't have to worry about me getting hurt; you're the elemental with a chunk of your chest missing, leaking water or
whatever that is. Just tell me what to do and I'll do all I can Robin." Jessica wrings her hands, fear rising in her at Robin's pain, at the lingering thought that she may leave her as Elissa did
"That's the problem..." Grabbing the edge of the bed, Robin tries to pull herself back up. "In you other forms I don't know how I would react to the latent magic... right now I'm like a leaking magical battery, there's some... obstruction, keeping me from closing the gateway again. I can feel it, twisting in my flesh as my body tries to heal." Robin looks up at Jessica, her face locked in a rictus of pain. "I need someone I trust to cut it out; someone I know won't try to force the rift back open... you any good at surgery?"
"Why on earth would someone want to open it? I'm
not that kind of doctor, but I've done some minor surgical work. So I can probably... Yes Robin, I'll do it. Do I need any special tools or can I just use normal instruments?" Determination and strength flowing back into her voice, Jessica nods, focusing on what she can do, trying not to reveal her own unease at operating on Robin.
Robin remains silent on the question of forcing gateways open, instead concentrating on the present. "Some painkillers would be welcome but if not you'll just need a knife and something to pull it out with, If I could I'd insulate them against the magic... we dealt the cards we're given though. You don't have to worry about disinfecting them or keeping me alive, just... Get it out of me!" Growling out the last words only just quieter than yelling, Robin's body shakes from head to toe. "I'm sorry! I'm sorry, it's... the power whispers at the edge of my mind, it wants to be free..."
"Robin, keep it together... I know I'm not exactly a shining example in self control, but you need to hold on. I'll go get tweezers, a scalpel, and some aspirin alright?" Increasingly unsettled at seeing Robin like this, Jessica turns around and changes into Vapor, phasing through the floor to reach her lab faster.
Hastily taking what she needs, Jessica almost stabs her hand on the scalpel when she grabs for it, Cursing, Jessica berates herself. "Robin's already freaking out, the last thing you need to do is loose your own cool Jess; follow your own advice and hold on long enough to save your girlfriend..."
Stopping by the kitchen, Jess rummages through the cupboards, snatching a bottle of aspirin before heading back up. She hands the bottle to Robin, grasping the tweezers in one hand and the scalpel in the other. "Can I touch your flesh with my spare hand to get a better grip? I have to get some kind of leverage to not fall against you while I probe for the obstruction..." Trying to lighten the mood, Jess forces a weak smile. "Unless you'd prefer I fell against you
Throwing back the whole bottle, Robin scoops up a handful of the water draining from her to wash the medicine down. "Agh, I just hope my metabolism realizes those are here to help..." slipping out of her cloak with a wince as the motion stretches her wound, Robin passes it to Jessica. "Here, wrap this around that hand, the thick wool and slight magical change should protect you." Lying down on the bed, Robin struggles with the damaged seam of the suit, trying to pull it away so Jessica can get at the gash.
Jessica takes in a few deep breathes to prepare herself. Setting the tools on the bed, she wraps her left hand and arm in the cloak, the garment still providing plenty of spare material to trail along the bed. Picking up the scalpel in her right hand and the tweezers in her left, she waves her arms around a little to loosen up, trying to ease the stress out of her system so her grip is steady.
Leaning forward over Robin's body, Jess presses the wrapped hand on Robin's stomach to support herself as she runs the flat side of the scalpel along the inside of the hole, seeking any irregularity that might signify a foreign object. Jessica keeps her touch light, keen to avoid actually cutting into Robin's flesh if at all possible.
Stifling a cry of pain as Jessica probes the damaged flesh; Robin grabs one of the pillows from the bed and jams a corner between her teeth. Hoarfrost beginning to form on the metal tool as it moves.
"I'm doing all I can Robin, please move as little as possible, there's a reason I'm not a career surgeon..." Jessica concentrates on the gaping hole in Robin's chest, refusing to have her gaze drift along Robin's naked body.
Running the blade around almost half of the ragged wound, Jessica detects nothing alien; pausing for a moment, she goes back carefully, wanting to double-check something. "Robin, I think I've found whatever it is that's keeping the... portal... open. Should I cut it out, let it fall through or pull it out with the tweezers? Whatever it is, it's very small, you're lucky I even managed to notice it."
Letting go of the pillow, Robin's voice is breathy with pain. "Pull it out. If it's capable of keeping the connection between places all by itself, then it's something I don't want to leave on the other side..."
Jessica moves her wrapped hand over the hole, reaching in with the tweezers where she had found the obstruction. Grasping whatever it is firmly, she pulls at it carefully, slowly, determined not to drop it.
Setting aside the scalpel, Jess holds up the tweezers and what they grip to the light. "Well here's the culprit, looks like a splinter or something. Not everything can be solved with magic; sometimes you need some good old-fashioned science." Jessica smiles tentatively, hoping the danger is past.
Breathing easier, Robin levers herself upright, the flow of water from her chest already slowing, the hole closing, not so fast that it can be seen, but like a flower blooming, the evidence clear all the same. "No need to rub it in Jessie... looks like the staff decided to leave something behind when it got yanked back out..."
Staring darkly at the offending length of wood as it leans against a chair, Robin's voice becomes businesslike. "To think even a tiny fragment of it managed to maintain the connection... it's certainly even more powerful than I thought, I'll take that back to Merl tomorrow." Turning back to Jess, Robin smiles weakly, "For now though... we'll need to burn that splinter, and could I have my cloak back?
"Oh right, sure..." Jessica unwinds the bundle of wool from her arm and hands it back to Robin. "Why do you need to burn it, shouldn't we tape it to the staff or give it back along with the staff to the owner? I didn't mean to gloat... But
admit it; it helps to know someone as smart and skilled me. I bet Morgana couldn't surgically remove something like that..."
"You'd be surprised
" Robin mutters contemplatively as she shrugs her cloak back on, hiding the sorry state she had reduced yet another of the bodysuits Jess had lent her, nodding in approval as she sees the cloak at least already repairing itself. "The reason we need to destroy it, is that once separated from the whole, a fragment of a magical artifact is generally too unstable to rejoin with the original, particularly something that spent some time inundated with a different flavor of magic."
Jessica leans forward to kiss Robin softly, smiling sweetly at her. "Do you want some food or anything else while your
hole closes up? I could maybe drop the staff off too
You know I'm here for you, and I'll keep you safe. What did you get yourself into anyway that caused this?"
As Jessica kisses her, Robin pulls her closer, into a hug as well, speaking softly. "Thank you Jessie, you really saved me there..." Almost crying, Robin ignores the dull pain as her still healing wound is shifted about. "Thank you..." Pulling back from the hug, Robin stares at Jessica adoringly. "All kidding aside? Yeah, I'm starving... as to how this all happened... do you want the long answer or the short answer?"
"Whichever answer you feel like giving. Even now, you still hide so much of yourself... How about you decide how much you're going to tell me while I get you some food. I think we still have some ice cream left, among other things. It's too late to cook so I'll bring back whatever I can find ok? Just relax; you're safe with me now, no matter what you've faced." Jessica grins, turning to head down to the kitchen, both to find what food she can to help Robin regain her strength and leave her alone long enough to collect herself, to mull over Jessica's words and her own thoughts.
Sighing, Robin slips what remains of the near-useless bodysuit off of herself, now dressed only in her cloak, she crouches on the bed as she awaits Jessica's return. "Looks like I'll have to start from the beginning with this one..."
Jessica comes back up; balancing a container of chocolate ice cream, a bag of cookies, a box of crackers in her arms, a bottle of water nestled in her cleavage. "I hope this'll help
I'll have a little of it while you talk too. So
what did you decide on Robin?"
Opening the bag of cookies and using them to scoop up small 'spoonfuls' of the ice cream, Robin chomps down the combination snack, forgetting herself and speaking with a full mouth as she does so. "I'm going to tell you how I became what I am, just WHAT I am and that in turn will tell you why I call myself what I do in costume."
"I've been thinking about that too
you've mentioned Arthurian legends in that regard before. It's a good place to start in any event, but you don't need to tell me everything, just whatever you think I should really know, ok honey?" Jessica coos at Robin as she opens the box of crackers and eats a few, offering the bottle of water to Robin in case she needs a drink too.
Looking at the bottle thoughtfully for a moment, Robin draws a thin stream of water from it rather than drinking from it, playing with the fluid with her powers absently as she digs in to talk. "Okay... well first thing to know is that I started off human, but you know that
In my home dimension something historians called 'the fracture' but I called 'ruining my fucking life' happened, a goddess died somewhere and decided to use me as her personal taxi service for what remained of her..."
As she clenches her fists, the stream of water floating around Robin suddenly rolls itself into a ball, spikes pointing out from it as she digs at old wounds. "She changed me utterly, remade me so I was a fit 'vessel' for her... and the fallout, a sudden rush of magic killed my family... And still the bitch needed more from me." Her head slumps into her chest as the life drains from Robin's voice, the water she had been playing with dissolving, raining down in droplets upon the bed.
"Um... Robin, did she remake you to fit her appearance too? Did
did you used to look different? But... despite all that happened you were given such power... I mean a Goddess! I know the saying 'the gas is always greener' and I don't exactly want to live forever but all that power... Sorry, keep going..." Jessica brings herself out of her power fantasy to concentrate on Robin again, uneasy of her hollow tone.
Shaking her head, Robin ignores the question of whether the deity changed her looks at all and moves on. "Don't get excited there Jessie... Even when the goddess was still riding shotgun, I could only ever safely access a fraction of what she had... and when she left, I was remade again, connected to the sheer elemental power of water itself. In a way it's even greater than what she offered, more realistically it's too much power to channel through a still mostly human body, so I still barely scratch the surface, if I do dig deeper..." Robin looks up to state at the dark stain on the staff in the corner, her voice distant. "It doesn't go well... The power ALMOST has a sentience of its own, desiring freedom
"You can't really blame it
My titan form is something similar, raw emotions, wanting to be expressed, magic giving it a means to do so... Even if the power isn't all it could be, you're still able to control all manner of water." Resting her hand lightly on Robin's arm Jess offers company for her misery.
A little embarrassed, Jessica looks away, a thought occurring to her midsentence. "Sorry about prodding about the past it's just... A Goddess! I mean I wouldn't dare compare myself to the beauty of a deity... I take it the hole was a path to that power? I heard on the news about a freak ice storm, was that you?"
"Yeah... tonight's sparring buddy was a demoness... bitch stabbed me through the chest with that same staff over there, she nicked it from the local magic shop and it formed a bridge to... the other place
" Sighing, Robin drowns her sorrows with another cookie."That's the second time I've lost to her... She's tricky I'll give her that, first pulling a mind-wipe and now stealing something to even up the scales, we're just lucky she worked out how dangerous what she started was and yanked it back out again."
"So...she had you at her mercy and she spared your life, don't you think you owe her or something? I know you like to be a hero and after the invasion, demons are a danger... I don't know if I want to get mixed up with demons, but I'll do what I can to help, I'll be here for you." Privately hoping she doesn't have to face any demons herself, Jess nonetheless means what she says, determined to help Robin.
"I can't let her go... Jess, she's killed men, women and children, in cold blood and liked it... you don't want to know what she's done to their bodies..." Looking ill, Robin shudders as she remembers the scenes of carnage. "If you were to help... I'd first go to Merl, find a way to protect you..."
"I guess I can understand much then... I know you'll beat her eventually. You don't have to worry about protecting me; I can help..." Turning her thoughts to more pleasant subject matter, Jess indulges her curiosity. "Anyway did you name yourself after the Goddess?"
Resting her head on her hands, Robin watches Jessica as she eats. "Kinda... like you'd expect of a goddess she had a fair few of them, I went with the one that seemed to piss her off for some reason while she was still rattling around inside my spirit, I later learned that one she was more often known by... was Nimue..."
Her eyes widening, Jess contemplates the implications. "The lady of the lake? The woman that gave Arthur Excalibur? She was a Goddess in your dimension? So was that why Morgana was drawn to you, your connection to where she came from? My title is nothing so creative... I have no idea what to call my titan form that wouldn't sound corny." Jess notices the darker undercurrent to Robin's words, and offers help. "Robin
it seems like you even resent the power you have. I told you if I could change you back I'd try... you don't seem to believe I can do that, but maybe you could transfer the power to me.
Smiling wanly, Robin chuckles to herself, deciding to remain silent on Jessica's proposal about her powers she moves on. "It's more even than that... the version of Nimue that reached out to me... did so across dimensions. She was local to where Morgana came from, how's that for eerie coincidences eh?"
Looking at Jessica for a long moment, Robin wonders if she dare asks, if she can justify putting her at risk. "Jessie... the next time I go out looking for this demoness... would you come with me? She needs to be stopped, and it's increasingly clear to me that all I can do is battle her to a stalemate..."
Jessica looks down, forcing any hint of fear from her voice before she replies. "I... I'd do it for you. It's just I'm not exactly sure how I can help. If you ask me to then I will alright? I'm just not exactly looking forward to fighting some big hulking demoness... One other thing
why is it Morgana just doesn't seek you out now since she managed to find you in that imprisonment?"
Passing Jessica the ice cream, Robin's hand lingers on hers as she takes it, trying to comfort her through the touch. "I won't force you too... if the next fight against her seems to be going badly, if I think you can help without being in unacceptable danger, I'd contact you, ask if you can. With any luck I won't have to though, without the staff in hand I think she might be running out of new ideas to take me out..."
Robin's face falls slightly as she considers Jess's other question, an undercurrent of sorrow in her voice, though at what exactly is hard to tell. "As to why Morgana hasn't shown up yet, there's two reasons, when she first tracked me down, it was by the artifact in my possession that she sought, she didn't even know I existed back then... though once she saw me she recognized what I was. She does have means by which she could find me now it's just... she has business to take care of."
"Robin I..." Jessica lifts Robin's chin up with her hand to look her in the face. "Robin please, I can't help you with your pain if you don't tell me. I know you love her; you've spent untold years with her, both of your immortal lives intertwined... I'm lucky, I'm glad you confessed love to me. I won't force you to dig up things about your past that cause you pain ok?"
Looking up at Jess, her eyes misty, Robin nods ever so slightly, thankful to have someone here to lean on. "Thanks Jess, it means a lot to me that you're here."
Niggling questions beginning to gnaw at her, Jessica's nerves fray. "But
about the demon
how would you contact me? I doubt you carry a cell phone, even if you did I'd probably have to replace it all the time what with you getting blasted in battle all the time. I don't want to have to worry about you coming back I just... want to ease the burden, maybe we can bring Morgana here or we can practice more so my powers are more potent. I
I want to help you Robin!" Passionate fire builds in Jessica's voice, several swift spoonfuls of ice cream and a few cookies steadying her with sugar and fat.
"Ssshhh, shhh, it'll all be okay... we can work out all this another time..." Sensing her turn to comfort Jessie has arrived; Robin takes the ice cream laden spoon from her and opens the front of her robe, shivering slightly as the melting confection drips onto her skin. "For now, it's just you, me and a tub of ice-cream... it's been a long night, care to make the most of what's left of it?"
"I'm sorry, I just... I really care about you Robin. And yes, I'd love to make the best of what's left. Do you want to start or should I?" Jessica directs a lusty gaze at Robin, smiling at her naked body, licking her lips in anticipation for the ice cream and the 'platter' it is served on.