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We're Still A Thing (IC)

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So much time had passed, Jessica hadn't even noticed. She and Jack met last year and, despite that one little 'disappearance', they'd been at each other's side ever since. At first as friends, but they grew closer and closer. A fun romp of two people who generally enjoyed each other's attention and company.


After Jack's graduation, Jessica snagged him as a roommate. Not that he had anywhere to go, but not that she would let him go. She just loved having Jack around. And awake. Like he was just doing now.


"Afternoon, sleepyhead," she said, kissing him on the cheek as he groaned into the land of the living. They took up most of the couch as she slept on top of him.

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Jack yawned loudly, as was normal for him. If there was one thing his inner animal enjoyed it was sleep. Most days it never seemed enough what he did manage to get, but he had been getting better sleep of late. 


It was an odd feeling to be out in the world. Things had definitely changed since June, even though it had only been a month...it felt like a lifetime ago. He still had little idea what he was going to do with himself now, aside from stopping villains and saving people...but that wasnt exactly a rare commodity in this town....


He returned the bright smile of his beautiful roommate who had seemingly fallen asleep on his rather large chest again. "Tis barely 1202, you make it sound as tho I sleep all day" he said with a thick chuckle.

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"But I enjoy breakfast, babe," she said faking contempt. She pulled up from her resting position with a yawn. Man, that was tiring, being rested. She slowly stood up looking at the trashed up living room. If it weren't for her lazy streak at the moment, she'd start cleaning. "But lunch is fine," she said pulling on a shirt. Modesty? Not really, but going out meant you had to be fully dressed, not just in your underwear.


She really didn't care for the food quality at this moment. Gluttony was not picky. Oh she had preferences. She remembered the burgers that brought the two together in the first place. Looking down at Jack she almost sat down on him. But then she'd have to find a reason to get back up. "Come on," she pleaded playfully, pulling at one of his arms.

Edited by Nightshade
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Jack yawned again and stood up, rubbing his eyes. "Da anything for you luv." He replied with a sleepy smile. He rummaged around for shorts and a muscle shirt, not bothering with socks or shoes. "Wat tis it you would like for lunch den?" He asked, his body mostly in auto pilot mode, and not yet fully woken up.

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As he dressed she walked back a second admiring her love. It was almost like the only person she could talk to these days was him. After he was done she held his arm again, this time stroking were one of his Shaman Tattoos. In the interim, They found out the meaning of the glowing part, and Envy had the best of her about it for the last part of a few weeks.


"Stacks is a good place," she mentioned her favorite 'meatarian' places. Like, everything was meat or meat-based. It was nominally a third meal, but if you knew someone who knew someone, you could get in early. "And," she looked up at him with a devious grin, "I've been wanting to shop around for, well... you know, visible ink?"

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"Mhmm stacks do be a good place, da." Jack felt his stomach rumble excitedly at the mention of food. He rubbed it gingerly with an absent smile, thinking of food. He looked down at Jess as she stroked his arm lovingly and the smile warmed for a moment, then faltered as his brain slowly processed what she had said. He pushed her away a lil so he could look her in the eyes. His voiced turned serious as he asked. "Vy vould you be vantin' to do dat luv?" He asked, his accent thickening with his intensity. He softened his tone and gave her a sincere smile, making a show of looking her up and down. "Trust me luv, ur skin and body are perfect jus vay they are."


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She knew this was coming. It wasn't like she hadn't heard it before. Wincing at his gruff and serious tone, she would never do this with anyone but him. She sighed with relief as his voice lightened. There was a moment of silence afterwords. She crossed her arms and looked away, left then right. The carnal spirits blaring in her soul to answer him in kind. Meeting his eyes again she did not smile, but her demeanor was somewhat happy. "You would," she said playfully with a little force.


She shook her head, "I mean, it is. But I've been thinking about it for a while. Ever since we knew you were magical. Well, more magical," She did not let on that it was pure Envy that planted the seed in her. "Like something we could share?" She shook her head again, this time more in 'defeat', "never mind. Forget about it." She did not. His words did weigh on her. But it would not go down that easy.


She finally did smile, "that's why I love you Jack. Muscle, accent, and a lot more wisdom that me." She took his hands and pulled him towards her, "let's go get some meat."

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Jack felt a stab to his heart as he heard the defeat in her tone. He hadn't meant to hurt her with his words, in fact he had wanted to cheer her up, but as usual his intentions produced the opposite result. It was the curse of being him it seemed.


He listened to her words but resisted her pull towards the door, instead sweeping her up into his arms and moving towards their couch. He sat with her in his lap and stroked her hair softly. "My apologies, luv...I did not mean to offend your pride." He said softly, almost a whisper in her ear. He should have known with her abilities that pride and envy would run close to the surface. He didnt always understand things, but eventually he figured it out. "I only mean to remind you that you be perfect to me already...and as far as tattoos, if that be your wish I will support it but..." he looked away for a moment, a bit of shame in his eyes. "The tattoos I bear...I as yet do not take pride in dem that you seem to. To me dey are reminder of lives lost both animal and family. I apologize if I seemed against the idea."

Edited by Jack
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The lift into his arms was met with a reflexive grab on to him. Not fear, excitement. As his hand went in her hair she calmed down a bit. It was something between him and her. Part Pride of herself, part actual love for Jack, it became an endearment. It was many things between them, but always personal.


As she listened to him, she heard what he was saying. The whole 'you're beautiful just the way you are' thing with him, she knew it was him talking. Did she believe it? Well, yes and no. It was Jack. He wasn't the type to lie. But she was self-conscious. That was enough for her.


Turning his head around so they could see eye to eye again she pressed her forehead against his, "you, your tattoos, anything you have. But mainly just you, are my pride. And joy. Nothing makes me happier than to make you happy. And hopefully the other way." They talked little of his family ever since things went down. She didn't know if it was a sore spot, but it seemed so. She held on to him for as long as she could.


And then her stomach growled. A light laugh escaped her. She stood up in front of Jack, "I suggest we talk about this on the way to eats. If we wait any further, I'm going to gorilla press you out of here." Not that she could even lift him that much. More like he would do it to her.


Their walk to Stacks was uneventful. Sure the regular summer tourists got picks of them, the 'faithful' gave her dirty looks. But none of that mattered to her. She was going to eat with the love of her life. That's all that mattered.

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They had drawn a fair crowd on their walk to the burger joint, but nothing that they were used to by this time. "What are you thinking? Couple big burger meals and shakes?" He asked with a grin as they stood in line. 

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Eh, Stacks could wait. This would be the pre-meal meal. Crossing her arms, Jessica leaned back on Jack's chest as she looked at the menu. "I mean, what else," she asked rhetorically, her tone carefree. She looked up at him with a smirk, "diet soda and salad," she said facetiously.


The line here was long and it was a scorching bright hot day outside. While she was acclimated to the heat due to her demon blood, others weren't so lucky. Jack wasn't the type either. Their winter romps were much more liberated. "You alright," she asked him with quiet concern.


While they waited in like others, still others weren't content as they were. The line was long and a couple of people were pushing through, causing grumbling in the masses. Until they got to Jessica and Jack.


"Excuse you," Jessica said turning around to greet the two interlopers.

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The two looming figures that had shoved themselves this far through the line wore deeply hooded sweatshirts despite the heat, the light of thee day not penetrating the hoods shadow enough to make out more than the roughest of features beneath.  A voice like the grinding of millstones rumbled out from one, "Too late witch blood."  the other circling slightly toward Jack.  Jessica could hear a ghostly howl erupt near the end of the line, a hellhound,  and where there was one there were bound to be more, "Come"  the other commanded.  The implication was clear, the invisible beast would be set loose on the crowd if the heroes didn't do as they were told or negate them somehow first.

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Jack felt his skin crawl as the figures loomed closer and immediately he put himself between Jess and the two hooded figures. He looked around at all of the people, most not even noticing the danger they were in. He turned his gaze upon the two figures. "Da, we can take this to better place..." he felt the animal within him awaken, the sheer resolve of his will the only thing restraining it from tearing through his flesh.

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What Jessica thought were just rude, impatient customers turned out to be more than she bargained for. The two words, 'witch blood', said with such contempt and audacity. Like, this fool knew her name and did not put enough respect on it to say it correctly. If this weren't an obvious crisis situation, she would have pulled out his tongue.


Jack stepping in between her and the unknown hoods was a smart decision. She stared daggers into her would be assailants, talking to her boyfriend, "thank you for saving their skin, dear." Whatever these two were up to irked her on multiple levels. She was not about to put innocent lives in danger either. So she took their directions and went with them, resisting the urge to do anything but follow.


Of course she was ready for whatever they had in mind. "Pain and woe beset up you if you even think of doing anything stupid," she taunted them quietly.

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The muscle took up position before and after the heroes bookending them just in case they got any ideas in their heads.  The large men moved with ploding steps that crunched against the ground with unnatural weight with each step.  They were silent and seemed otherwise inured to the threats sent their way.  They stopped at the opening of a narrow alley and pointed in unison into its shadowed depths.  "there witch blood."  one rumbled.  It was clearly some kind of trap but as far as Jessica knew the hell hound hadn't yet been called off yet.  Then again this was clearly more planned than a random encounter, the trap was certain to be thought out, though perhaps they hadn't accounted for her companion.

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Jessica wondered if this was just a usual uninteresting sight for the people of Freedom City, or were they invisible to everyone. Not that it mattered, she was relieved that the bystanders were ignored. Or, at least, had the option of staying out of it.


Outside, she continued to bite her tongue. Especially when the goon put disrespect on her name again. She looked to Jack with a resigned sigh. This was her fate. Well, not her true fate, which she hadn't even discussed with him. She kissed her boyfriend on the cheek, then turned to her kidnappers. "He's not part of this," she said sternly, "you'll get nothing out of him."

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Jack looked from Jessica to their wannabe kidnappers...if that's what they could be counted as. A low, guttural growl escaped him, but he remained silent. He placed a giant hand on her shoulder, almost possessively. He wanted these men to know they would be taking her over their cold dead corpses.


Jack felt the beast inside him awaken with ferocious rage. From its standpoint, these meat bags were trying to take something that belonged to it, was part of its pack and family. Jack had to focus to restrain his beastial urge to rend and tear through flesh. His conscious mind held on to the thought that he did not fully know what stood before him, and that thinking kept the Bear inside. He had to know more before he got Jessica into danger. 

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The brute nearest Jessica cocked his head as if listening to a far off sound for a moment and nodded.  "the male is not needed" the hulking figure rumbled in response hooded gaze falling to the hand on jessica's shoulder.  "only the witch blood"


The other reached toward the hand on their target intent on removing it and freeing her to follow the firsts instructions.  The movement was not violent but more inexorable as one might brush aside crumbs before sitting at table, utilitarian and devoid of any comprehension that the hand might not want to be moved.


The first pointed into the dark alley, "witch blood there"

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Jessica felt Jack's wrath building faster than hers. If not for the severity of the situation, she would have turned him loose on them. Thoughts of her trapping these lackeys in their base instincts as the bear ripped them apart was a fun little daydream. But again, these guys had leverage. She was a hero after all. Heroes didn't endanger the innocent.


Looking up at him, she put her hand on Jack's hand, a much softer caress "stay here. But if you sense anything wrong. Which I'm ninety-five percent sure you will. I want you to come and join me in making these two have the worst day of their very short lives." She looked at her two abductors with a toothy grin, "tell whoever you're talking to that they better like the taste of their own tongue."


Stepping away from Jack was hard. She knew this was going to be bad news, it had the stink of set up. Luckily no holy places around here. Also, he had a death grip on her shoulder, and not the fun kind. She assured him one more time, "remember what you have to do." And then, she walked into the darkness.

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Neither Jack or the spirit within had any idea of what to expect next...everything was going sideways. His instinct was to stop her, but she was already beyond that. She had decided to go with them, seemingly to protect him from something...but Jack couldnt make sense of it.


Jack stood in impotent rage, abandoned in an alleyway, left to wait and worry. He felt the anger build inside of him, and perhaps that was her plan, to let his emotions build pressure until they exploded forth in a violent and bloody mess.....and it was working. Jack's body began shaking harder with each passing millisecond as he bottled his anger. Who were these idiots that dared to threaten them? Who had the nerve to enter his territory and try and take what was his? The animal within him paced back and forth inside his mind and strained against what little defenses kept it under his skin.


He looked at his hands, his fingers already beginning to elongate, his nails sharpening. He tried to concentrate, to hold back the rushing anger, but the more tried, the more it slipped out. A guttural growl emanated from him as his teeth sharpened. 

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As Jessica pulled away from Jack the thug holding his wrist in it's steely grasp released him and let her pass into the unnaturally dark alley.  Behind her they closed ranks shoulder to shoulder their bulk blocking the narrow passage as they loomed silent and still uncaring or unaware of the transformation taking place before them.


The buildings seemed to rise almost at an angle to each side of Jessica as she ventured down the Alley leaving her in deep shadow and after only ten or fifteen feet she couldn't make out more than the hulking shapes in the entryway through the gloom that seemed to have settled.  Moments later an eerie laugh rang down the passage audible faintly even to Jack at the entrance.  There was a throbbing burst of pressure at her feet and Jessica could feel her limbs growing heavy her feet difficult to raise.

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It wasn't really the laughter that put the fear of whatever in her. It was her own doubt mixed with a little bit of her spirits lashing out. Wrath wanted to kill everything. The twin mountain dudes, the laughter itself. While Pride was disgusted by the very thought of the futility of this silly 'trap'. Sloth wanted a nap. It always did.


Luckily Jessica was more than just the whims of her carnal spirits. She tried to barrel through remembering the better times. How she would be at Stacks after this little ordeal. Though her own doubt turned everything inside out. She remembered her mother telling her there would be some days you just didn't want to get out of bed. Then again, her mother told her some things that shouldn't be repeated in public.

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As the rune beneath her feet flared to life Jessica was frozen in place her limbs no longer answering her minds call.  As she went silent and still the laughs echoed off the walls and three hooded figures emerged from the cloying shadows of the unnaturally dark alley.  One grasped each arm pulling them out to straight forty five degree angles, the center one beginning a whispered chant as the others placed something out of sight below her arms and they began to echo the words.  Jessica could feel the swelling power of the incantation as they prepared to harvest of her.


As the spell bagan to settle over them all the cowled figures at her arms pulled small ceremonial blades of glinting silver from their belts.  Laying the gleaming blades to her wrists they continued their low chanting growing in urgency.

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The eerie laugh hit Jack's ears and that was the final straw the beast needed to break free. He let out a beastial roar as his mouth contorted and stretched, teeth twisting and elongating into fangs. Jacks shirt ripped and tore like wet napkins as his muscles doubled, tripled, quadrupled in size. Another roar escaped him as his muscles tore themselves apart and stitched themselves back together. His skin turned black before translucent fur sprouted, giving him a white appearance. 


As his transformation finished, pale blue translucent ribbons of color swirled around his chest and arms, forming the tribal markings of his Shaman abilities. He stood at his impressive full height and his eyes were focused on the two thugs that stood between him and Jessica. He charged, swiping at the closest thug with one giant paw.

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The hulking brutes blocking Jacks passage didn't react as he growled and gnashed his teeth.  Even the full transformation into his titanic ursine form seemed to have no effect on the stalwart behemoths.  Only when he lashed out with wicked claws did they register any reaction twisting to the side so his claws rang uselessly off of the brickwork of the neighboring building.


As one they surged forward eerily silent in their straightforward brutal assault on the towering bear.  Crushing blows lashed out and struck home connecting with unnatural strength and crushing force as they pummeled Jack with fierce body blows.   As they moved he could barely make out stoney grey features beneath their hoods and a red glow from their eyes fortelling these were no normal foes but empowered and twisted by whatever dark arts held Jessica now.

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