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alderwitch

An Explanation of Sorts [IC]

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Taylor walked down the steps of Moira's apartment, feeling more weary than when she'd climbed them. It can't have been more than a half an hour ago, can it?

"I need a hot shower before I'll be able to think clearly. I was up all night last night." She spoke finally, coming to a stop on the building's stoop, "And I think I'd also like to ask you a few questions about all of that."

She gestured vaguely back at the apartment. It was clear that she didn't mean Moira's sudden vanishing act. "Do you want to come back to my place?"

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"Yes," said Jack, looking deeply relieved at the idea. "This has been one hell of an afternoon." He sighed. "Do you want a ride back? It might be faster if we go your way, my car still smells from work." He frowned. "Let's just say that wasn't a good start to the morning either. Though nothing as bad as this."

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"I know what you mean. My 'morning' started late last night and has really only gone downhill from there," A hint of her usual smile emerged and she held out one slender hand for him to take, "It's no effort to drop you off at your car afterwards."

She threaded her fingers through his and teleported them inside the spartan apartment she called home. This was one of many excellent reasons that the central living area was quite so bare. There wasn't anything to risk a messy impact with. Once there, she slipped her jacket off and stuck it next to the door along with her hat. "The cupboard's pretty bare but I think I have a few sodas in the fridge if you want anything."

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"I think I lost my appetite in there," Jack admitted unhappily, slumping down on Taylor's sofa. Deciding to lay his cards on the table, for certain values thereof, he looked up at her. "I'm sorry I made things sound so weird in there. I'm usually much more composed when it comes to my personal life." He forbore to point fingers at whose fault it had all been; he was fairly sure it hadn't really been his. Not about the important stuff, anyway.

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Taylor perched next to him on the arm after kicking her shoes off to the corner by the door. She twisted at the waist to look at him, "Well, it was a really weird situation. For everyone. Well, everyone but maybe Dark Star."

She folded her hands in her lap, one leg curled up under the other, "So, can I ask for the extended version? I mean, Stesha seemed bent enough that I'm pretty sure she's the girl who showed up to tell you off."

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"I met Stesha through my work, hiring her for a shower for a friend of mine," Jack told her carefully. "We went out on a date, and it didn't go very well." He smiled thinly. "Even though we beat up a couple of thugs together; that abortive museum robbery a couple of months ago? That was us. It just didn't...work out, you know?" He shrugged. "It happens. I admit, I was kind of a jerk in breaking it off, which must have been what prompted her and Moira to show up drunk at my door a couple of nights later to have it out with me."

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"And Moira?" Taylor asked carefully, her dark eyes guarded as she asked the question. That was a stickier situation for so many reasons. Not only was there the goddess-factor, but Moira was a team-mate too.

Taylor shifted a little on the couch's arm, trying not to fidget as she waited for his response. "You said it was a one night thing that you both regretted?"

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"We didn't really talk about it much after it had happened," Jack admitted. "Moira can be very...intense. Both in her desires, and in her achievement of them." He drummed his fingers on the couch. "It wasn't an experience I'd care to repeat, for several reasons. But yes, we had a night together, and we both certainly seemed to regret in the morning. I know I was sorry for how things had happened. I definitely did _not_ have a threesome with Stesha, or whatever it is Ace thought we'd gotten up to."

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That made Taylor smile and she put a light hand on his shoulder, "For those that spend time around the Danger family, it's a known phenomena. They don't see the world like, well, anyone else I've ever met."

Taylor tucked her hand back in her lap before she continued speaking. Not that Jack wasn't very pleasant to touch but this wasn't the time at all to get distracted. As she'd learned, Jack could be very distracting when he put his mind to it. It wasn't as if either of them were enjoying the current conversation.

"I do trust you, Jack. I think, and I hope that I'm right, that we've got something that's pretty darn special. I know it is to me." She levelled a very direct look at him, "If this is just us messing around, I'd like to know now. Because if you hurt me, so help me, it's not going to be a pretty sight."

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"I can't promise I'll never hurt you," he admitted. "We're both adults; that doesn't really happen even when two people have something special." He smiled, though, and put his hand on hers. "But I can promise you that I'll still be there even when you've hurt me, or when I've hurt you. That's what relationships should be about. Maybe I'm not the perfect man," he added, "but no one else is, either. I can just be...me. You know, what I am." He smiled at that.

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Taylor considered that for a long moment before the tension she'd been carrying started to leave her frame and she slipped her other hand over his. "That's all anyone can ask, and more than most people get. I'm not asking for perfect. I know I'm certainly not, myself."

After a moment she reached out to brush her fingertips through his hair. Perched as she was, she was actually sitting higher for once so it was easy to run her fingers through the silky strands. "For one, I know I have a temper. I'm sorry about today, I don't think I can imagine a more uncomfortable scenario."

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"It wasn't your fault," Jack told her, leaning back with some satisfaction as she touched him. Here comes the guilt. "And it wasn't Stesha's fault, either, it was just...one of those things that happens, between people. If I'd been a better man to begin with, none of it would have happened." He looked up at her. "You handled yourself pretty well. Hearing that about everything can't have been easy." He reached up and squeezed her hand. "Not to mention standing up for your principles. That was something too."

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Taylor lifted her shoulders in a shrug although her fingertips never stopped moving, almost as if the motion was calming. In some ways, it was. Taylor was one of those people who needed to fiddle with things when she was agitated, "Its not so much my principles as a responsibility. One I am dangerously skirting the tenants on by helping. It's never easy to stand up and be judged but it is what it is."

She accepted it with another small lift of her shoulders, still sad but resigned. It wasn't the last time this particular conflict would come into play in her life.

"I could have handled things better. I'm sure I came off snippy as my temper frayed." Taylor smiled reluctantly and shook off the last traces of melancholy with determination, '"But we all survived it unbruised. Or at least only as bruised we showed up in the first place. I thought someone was going to end up knocked through a wall for a little bit. My money was on Ace."

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Jack laughed a little. "Yeah, well, I can't say the thought didn't cross my mind." He grinned up at her. "I was a little worried about Dark Star, though I'm not sure why in retrospect. I swear, he's a good man and everything, but sometimes I think he's a little too accepting." I mean, look at everything he did for me. There was that guilt again. "So how did you get hurt this morning?" he asked her.

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"Thrown through a wall, while solid. My fault entirely. Should have counted," Taylor replied promptly, "Its not a big deal. I heal quickly and I was behind a shield. Its more that things have kept me so busy I'm over-worked and under-slept. I don't have to tell you that mistakes in our line of work are on the costly end."

Deciding her perch was less comfortable than the couch looked, she scooted down next to him. "I have no idea. I've only worked with Dark Star in uniform. I think he and Stesha are dating though. He did seem a little out of it socially but I'm not sure how much he was deliberately ignoring."

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"Dark Star had...well, you'll probably sympathize with this. He spent a good twenty years off-planet as far as I know, and I guess that much time out in space with just aliens to talk to will change your perspective on things." He sighed a little. "I can identify with him too," he admitted. "But for different reasons. Life on the street, or anywhere else that takes you away with face-to-face interaction with people, is always going to change you." He put his arms around her as she sat with him. "And I heard that story earlier. Who did it to you? I promise, I won't go beat them up unless you ask."

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She leaned into his side, tracking back onto the conversation about the fight with a little sigh and her voice was slightly frustrated although not with Jack, "I don't mind telling you about it, I was just trying to find the best way to phrase it."

Taylor fiddled with his shirt with her free hand, trying to find the best way to jump into the verbal double dutch of her imp problem, "Remember, I mentioned an imp had almost blown my cover? Well, I've been practically tripping over the little things at odd intervals. Stesha actually caught one and we took it to Scarab. It was - they were - looking for me and that's really all I know. So I ran into a slightly larger nest of them on something that should have been routine. All I know is there's something vaguely demonic out there and it probably thinks I'm going to be in the way of some bad plan. I didn't bring it up because I really have nothing to go one for tracking it down."

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"Demons, eh?" Jack remembered the open gates of hell before him, the weight of the demon in his arms as he lifted him high and hurled him into the gates of Perdition, the monster's lying tongue flying out of his head as damnation claimed him. "I've got some experience with those, but only from the more necromantic sorts of hells." He looked at her. "I'm here, whatever you need. But that must make life hell," he agreed. "If they're hitting you in your secret identity. Any incidents with your family?"

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Taylor shook her head quickly and said with a lightness to her tone that fooled neither of them, "No. I've called out sick on dinner for the month so I'm hoping to keep my contact with them minimal until I can shake out whatever bottomfeeder is behind all of this. It's made more complicated with the fast approaching wedding but I'll figure out something. Worst case scenario, I'll look even more shapeless than usual in my bridesmaid dress. It's scarlet red, by the way."

She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair, "Its just these little irritations, you know. They're not really dangerous to me but it makes it hard to fully relax ever. I'm just hoping I can find out whats going on before October. October is always insane with occult dabblers getting in over their heads."

Releasing her hair with a little flick of her wrist, she relaxed into the solid arm around her shoulders. "I know you're here and it helps. I hope you know the same goes for you with your problems. If I could just find this guy, oh, I would call you in a heartbeat."

It was clear that whoever was responsible for the imps was going to be fetched such a beating if the look on her face was any indication.

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Jack avoided the subject of the dress, despite temptation, not wanting to get drawn into a discussion of why he couldn't join her in church. "And I'd be there. In a heartbeat." He leaned over and kissed her, stroking the side of her face. "Let's talk about things we can change," he suggested. "What do you say to a Halloween patrol together?" he asked her. "We can spend the night chasing down thuggish occultists, and the day doing...you know, whatever." He smiled slowly.

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"Only if you promise not to clobber all of my occult thugs." Taylor said with a slow smile as she twined her arms around his shoulders, "I'll get rusty if I don't get my Halloween target practice in."

Taylor slipped into his lap deftly, and lifted her chin to brush a light kiss against his lips, "But I have no complaints with your daytime plans t'all."

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"Mmm." He kissed her again, and again, his arm going around her waist to balance her light weight as she sat on his lap. "I'm sure some of your 'thugs' are the sort of blasting wizards I usually leave to the Freedom League. I'll get the barracudas off your back if you bring down the sharks." He smiled at her. "Not that I won't help with the sharks. But I know where my talents lie." He demonstrated with more affectionate kissing, tuning out the world and the argument they'd nearly had as best he could.

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Taylor made a slightly dismissive noise at his own disparaging comments although she was a little too distracted by the affectionate attentions to counter with any real arguements.

"I think you're quite capable at dealing with whatever threats present themselves," she finally said, giving him one last kiss before she started to ease herself off of his lap with reluctance, "I should, however, get that shower if we're going to get any real work done today."

While she would certainly prefer to spend the afternoon hours engaged in their current activities, she had promised to look into all these matters as directly as possible.

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Not sure quite how much he and Taylor had patched things up, Jack repressed the Apparently your work ethic is the one enemy I can't defeat at the back of his mind and stood up as well. He popped his back with a relaxed look on his face. "I could use one of those myself," he said, letting her judge that however she wanted. Not sweating didn't mean dirt didn't accumulate on you, not to mention the fact that keeping his body temperature was always a good idea. "What's our agenda after that?"

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"I'd like to see if I can get a message to Eldritch," Taylor said, her tone doubtful that she could even contact the Master Magus, "Other than taking a closer look at the box, there's only so much I can do in the meanwhile. I have no idea how Moira sidestepped The Pact to begin with and until I know, almost anyone I can contact has a vested interest in leaving her in Olympus. The last thing I want to do is make any situation worse."

She sighed and ran her fingers through her hair again, smoothing it out before she smiled up at him, "Did you want to join me? I should warn you, its not a very big shower."

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