1965-08-16 - Shanghai Conciliating, 1922
Summary: Ambrose checks in on Kent after the chaos of the past night. He's able to turn the Bane towards aid rather than hurt alone, but runs into one of his deepest fears in the process. Help is offered.
Related: Shanghai Shakedown, 1922
Theme Song: None
lamont ambrose 

It is perhaps not the place one might expect to find him, after that evening. But Kent has returned to his den despite the night's attack. It's late morning now, and having stirred up both law enforcement and journalists on his own behalf, he's retreated to nurse his wounds.

He's lying shirtless on the cool silk of the mattress, wearing only pj pants, under the droning of a table fan set in the alcove. There's an ice bag held in one hand, pressed to one of the bruises, and the pristine white of bandage gauze on his shoulder. The room doesn't have that betraying sweetness of recent smoke, but by the sheer limpness of his posture, he's clearly not all there. There are other, older wounds visible - a trio of rosettes on one side that must've come from gunfire, a long knife-slash down from under one collar bone.

So very faintly…like the wisp on the wind of a familiar scent to trigger a cascade of memories…comes the echo of a thought:

— buff, Black. It has the overtones of heavy caution and hesitant expectation and must not be very far from the house breached by officers not so long ago. In the heavy shade of one of the nearby chimneys, Ambrose crouches, fully wrapped in his black silk vest and pants, complete with Oriental slippers and headscarf to conceal all but the narrow flash of his eyes. By their set, he's concentrating on filtering out his environment.

—buff? He tries again, attempting to broadcast the quick blip on what he's guessing is the 'proper frequency'; he's envisioning ripples spreading across the reflection pond and reaching out and out and out…

To have someone reach out to him is startling, and Kent goes still. But then it's a mind that's become familiar over the last few weeks. *?* comes the wordless query in return. Then Where are you? It's safe, you can come in, if you like. Clear and calm, with that sort of fuzzy, insulated quality that means drugs are muting certain aspects of reality.

To hear a reply is its own level of startlement in return. Ambrose blinks hard and flinches, orienting completely now on the balcony with its double opened doors. Relief flies back across the tenuous link, plain and simple, and then comes the soft sounds of quickly-moving footsteps. The roof-runner lands with grace on the balcony and quickly rises from his crouch, scanning the room before spotting Kent tucked back and away into his bower. He pulls down the length of headscarf from his face to reveal its bottom half.

"I didn't think you dead, but I didn't like what I saw of your face." Even as he walks over, Ambrose's lips are curling into something that might be stifled laughter. Oh man. That wording. He composes himself back the time he reaches the alcove and ducks in, squinting. "…it's a bit like a painting, actually," he continues almost tritely. "Masterful blending of the greens and blues there." His finger sketches in Kent's direction from where he now leans on the frame of the doorway before the bed proper. "I like the touch of red. Adds…zest," he says, flashing teeth for the emphasis on the word.

"When have you ever?" His voice is dryer than ever, raspy. But the irritation dies quickly. The opium is like a lead blanket, flattening everything beneath it. It makes him more snakelike than ever, that unwavering, pinned-pupil gaze….that and that he's not blinking very much. Ambrose so rarely sees him by daylight, even the daylight softened and diffused by the gauzy curtains veiling the balcony.

He swallows, once, sighs. "I owe you my life," he says, quietly. "Again. This time we are not even." There's a seriousness to his voice - he takes his debts far from lightly. No attempt to lever himself even a little further upright. This interview will be conducted reclining.

With his attempt at light humor gone flat, Ambrose too settles into the usual stoicism. His smile cycles through closed lipped and forced and then vanishing entirely as he considers Kent. It's noticeably eerie, how the man isn't blinking, and he shifts, his gaze sliding off to rest on the bare feet of the man instead.

"I rather think it's more like we're even until I say so," he replies, his eyes slipping briefly back to the reclining figure. "Because until I learned of your meditation, I was quite certain that I would forever be unable to function as a proper member of society. I count that as a debt forever even between us." Might as well be honest, especially after last night's antics.

The fingers of the hand not holding the ice bag curl a moment in frustration, a funny, childish gesture. It's a good thing the drug's holding him in a little, so to speak, for weariness and pain and the aftermath of fear have left him limp and open. He inhales, as if he'd speak to argue, but it catches on one of the bruises on his chest and it leaves as an impatient cough. "Very well," he says, eventually, tone grudging.

Ambrose inclines his head as one would in the court of Queen Victoria herself. He's not going to rub in his victory, not now while the object of the stymied attempt at level dues is incapacitated as he is.

Wouldn't be honorable, after all. Chirp chirp.

He picks a bit of dried plant stuck to his silk vest before meeting Kent's gaze again. "I have…extra in my reserves, if you would…if you'd want to risk having your wounds reversed. It would be as you felt with the, uh…the…knife wound, yes." He still feels badly about that one, apparently, given the guilty look that flashes through his features. "It would hurt," he further clarifies, probably unnecessarily.

The scar is still there, faint and silvery, as if it were decades old - that improbable, unsurvivable wound. "I'm fairly well drugged - pain won't last against that," he says, musingly. "But would it cost you very much?"

Ambrose shrugs, his bared arms still in their loose fold. "I don't believe so, no. As I mentioned earlier, I believe I have excess energy to spare. It feels…" He pauses, focus turning inwards briefly. "…as if it won't take from me in turn." There — a nugget of what he's learned of the Bane and its effects on himself. He hasn't yet noticed the one silver hair intermingled at the nape of his neck, proof that he can take enough time from his own life to impact it.

"Very well," he says, finally, venturing the ghost of a smile. "Not as if it won't cement my legend, to rise from my bed the next day unhurt. If it won't hurt you or others, then please do. I can bear the pain."

"I've felt worse," the Jackal promises quietly even as he enters into the bedchamber proper. He finds his way alongside the bed and looks Kent over, almost achieving an impersonal nuance. His little frown is for the myriad scarrings. Yikes. "Brace yourself," he forewarns before his raised palm then lands on Kent's shoulder.

Oh yes. It hurts. Hopefully the opium takes the worst of the edge off, but that's definitely the agony initially caused on full reverse, as rudely as something shifting gears in a car without warning. Still — the bruises fade before Ambrose's eyes and, presumeably, the flesh wound caused by the bullet fired from one of the service revolvers knits up at frightening speed.

He manages to turn his head enough to sink teeth into the cotton of the pillowcase. The sounds of anguish that result are muffled enough to keep from reaching the staff below, but Ambrose can most certainly hear them. His body's bowstring taut during the whole process….and when it's done, he goes limp. There's a sheen of sweat that wasn't there before on him, visible from brow to waist.

Then the rush of rebound endorphins, the drug no longer struggling to beat pain away, but a wave of hazy pleasure in its own right. The shudder that follows is not from distress. Quite the reverse, as he stares up at the carved ceiling, panting.

At the very soonest instant that he can feel the prickling of the Bane reaching out to sip at the other man's life-energy, Ambrose pulls back his hand as if he'd burnt it. He looks down at Kent with a deeply quizzical frown even as he rubs at the bones of his wrist, working out tension in the tendons surrounding them.

"You're…alright then, Black?" He asks, voice quiet and rather hesitant.

The flush that follows is apparently full-body, bright on the pale skin - goosebumps follow it, swiftly. "Yes, thank you," he says, closing his eyes again. But only for a moment, before he opens them again to work on removing the bandage on his shoulder. No longer needed. Not looking Ambrose in the eyes.

"Very good then." Two can play the Avoidance Game and Ambrose clears his throat before leaving the bedside. He moves to take up his previous stance in the open doorway connected to the alcove and, instead of leaning, pulls over one of the chairs tucked into the small table there. Sitting stride it as a saddle, he keeps up a silent watch upon the removal of the bandage. Did it really work…? Thoroughly? And what does the scar look like…?

He's still pink, as he sits up somewhat, drawing his legs up a little so he's reclining mostly on one hip. He's one of those who undoes bandages slowly, rather than ripping it straight off. But it's not long before he removes the mass of gauze and tape. STained within a bit….but the skin beneath, once wiped, proves tobe whole. There's only another little round scar, looking as if it'd been there for years. He drops the scraps into a little tin wastebasket tucked into the alcove's corner.

Ambrose nods himself and even allows himself what appears to be an excited little flash of a grin. It takes years from his face before he mutes it away to simple appreciation of his handiwork.

"I believe you'll be just fine, Mister Black," he says quietly, unable to keep from dimpling on one side. He sits up in his chair in a manner that indicates stretching back muscles and adds, "What came of your morning then? I can report that the bodies and Mariah all are conveniently missing. The sniveling wretch you spoke with is most likely in protective custody for his story — I can't confirm this, of course, but it is a good assumption." His blue eyes flick and linger on Kent again.

Lamont smiles back, almost shyly, touching the new scar with a tentative finger. "I went and spoke to some of the more honest police I knew, as well as a couple of local reporters. The story will be all over the papers, and it will raise a scandal. That should be protection enough from such an attempt again…and neutralize, for a while anyway, the use of police against me." He stays half-propped up, weight on one hand, less self conscious. He's blinking again, gaze less fixed - lids gone to half-mast, almost sleepy. Much more at ease.

"Well played, that. It should keep Li on his heels for a time, though not forever, I fear." Ambrose glances over his shoulder and scans the rest of the bedroom. It's not as if anyone's going to be jumped out of any shadows with a gun, but he's got his concerns which he communicates. "I would guess that your presence here is…a taunt, but it's not safe, Black. I don't believe I underestimated you last time," he adds, giving the man a narrow-eyed look. "Rather, I understimated your moxy. That was not smart. What did you intend to do anyways, convince them that they all wore tutus and should have been dancing in the Russian ballet?"

"There's nowhere that's truly safe," he says, matter of factly. "I mean, there's my house in the International Settlement, but….I need to be in the city, really." He shrugs, graceful. "Convinced them to let me go. It's worked before." AS if he hadn't been that close to being executed and dumped in a muddy ditch. "Or slipped away." Kent's expression is insouciant, as if his eventual victory were a matter of course. There's one of those awful, taunting little smiles playing around the corners of his lips, as he looks back at Ambrose.

"I believe your definition of 'slipping away' needs some adjustments, Black," replies the Jackal and he does use a one-handed set of air quotes for the action. He then indulges in a slow roll of his neck until vertebrae pop. A sigh of contentment and he glances back at the man again.

"…what? Do I have something on my face? Did I miss a bruise?" He appears genuinely concerned even as he touches at a place on his temple where hair meets skin; the insinuation is that there was once a wound there, obtained during last night's fiasco, like as not road-rash from his lunatic dive-and-shoot-through-Kent.

"I was not at my best," he concedes. And then he's lying back down on his side. Apparently even sitting up that much is tiring. "No. You look quite well," he murmurs. "No wounds that I can see." Letting the fan blow on him, cool that flushed skin.

The brunet sighs in relief. "Good. I can still see my reflection in a mirror, but I wasn't certain. There was a…period of time where I don't precisely remember what occurred. After the ride in the Mariah. But — " and he lifts up both hands in a small motion, " — I am no worse for the wear. I added the bullet to my collection," he informs Kent and then seems to regret it immediately.

"I, uh…" A small awkward laugh and his gaze skitters aside as he clears his throat. "I am also not at my best from time to time. The burden of being human, I suppose." He appears to be considering something and meets Kent's eyes almost as if this were a gigantic imposition and he knows it: "Would…are you still able to…if I were to…still be touching you, could I work on the meditation? I thought…I thought that working at the formation of myself in my mind might not be too daunting of a task."

"You have a collection?" Kent's voice is wondering. "And indeed - we still have human minds, make human mistakes, no matter what ability we've acquired." The gray eyes are glassy. "Yes, if you like. I won't be much direction at the moment, but you are welcome to try. I feel much better, thanks to your efforts, and the drug will help." He reaches out his bare hand. Ambrose still doesn't get to touch the ring again, it seems.

Ambrose doesn't rise from his chair immediately. "I have a collection, yes," he resignedly echoes. Good job, Atherton, now you've jumped from lunatic to true madman. He shifts in place and then continues,

"I thought I might…if you don't consider it a risk, that I might recline on the bed. I don't mind the chair, honestly, but it does wear on my spine after a while to remain still for so long without support." He considers it viable explanation from one eternally antsy-in-pants. His eyes fall to Kent's hand and back, his expression gone withdrawn.

"Of course, there's room," he says. And suits action to the word by scooting over, further in to the dim confines. The 'windows' of translucent silk let in the morning light, even if the draperies are down in the bed's frame

Swallowing hard and seeming to inhale to steel himself, Ambrose then nods. Atta boy, now follow through. He takes a moment to slide off each Oriental slipper and then carefully crawls onto the bed. He attempts to keep all motions smooth as not to jounce the current occupant. By the turn and placement of his seat, it seems he appears to wish to remain sitting upright with back against the wall of the unique bower. He glances left and right, letting his palm glide over the silk.

"Rather nice," he comments to himself before considering Kent out of the corner of his eye. Slowly, still with noticeable caution, he then places his hand palm up in the empty space between them. Ready or not.

Solemnly, almost ceremoniously, he lays his hand in Ambrose's. "It's part of why I won't sell this house. I couldn't really disassemble and move it, and it's the most comfortable I've ever felt." Clearly, considering the amount of time he spends lounging around in it.

Then the link is forming. The pool is a little warmer than usual, more buoyant, the stars glimmering in the ripples of the water. Kent is here as himself, dimensional, solid, merely floating on the surface. An example, perhaps, but a passive one. There's that sense of foggy warmth - he must be drugged more than usual.

Ambrose tucks his chin, partially a nod of acknowledgement to the logical reasoning of keeping the place, and then closes his eyes.

It's getting easier and easier now to slip into the kything-space. His awareness expands within the confines of the link, brittle-bright and flickering like the feathers of a shy bird before he seems to pull his enthusiasm in. Already, the Bane is receeding into its normal dark depths and this is likely proof that he has been practicing in the many hours of his spare time between theft and retaliatory actions.

His form begins as it always does, amorphous and indicative that he is present waist-deep in the pool. He lifts both shadow-filled hands and this time, instead of patches of sun-bronzed skin, color begins to flood from his fingertips and inwards. The skin colors and then comes the brisk and teeth-squeaking white of a linen shirt. Up goes the clarity and recognition of self. It bleeds into his shoulders and down his chest; the shirt is something from the late 1800s given the design. He inhales within the vision and it rushes into his face. Younger than he appears within the true world, he lacks the wear and tear of the desert. His hair is of a medium length in comparison to how he truly wears it, lighter yet by a shade due to time spent outdoors. His eyes shine in the same hue as the light through the curl of a tropical wave despite what deep hollows hang beneath them. He looks down at himself, hands still outheld, and then up at the shadow on the surface of the water.

— it worked?

There's approval from his mentor, keener interest as he moves to look up at Ambrose. Well done, he says, a little more brightly. You have been working. Look at yourself in the water. Somehow there's light enough to see, even if it's only starlight. That much brighter. You are learning.

— trying, comes the reply, nuanced with a shy pride. The inner-self of the man looks down and frowns. To his mental view, the starry surface blurs him over with ripples. Then clarity follows, perhaps enforced by his own willing, and his reflection seems surprised. — different — like you said — young. Ambrose seems almost perplexed by that, but then shrugs as if accepting it.

Thank goodness you have a quick mind and a firm will, comes that mental voice. But yes. IT's never quite as we see ourselves in the mirror. Now he's fading in, himself. Color, weight, presence. Why do you wear your hair so long?

Ambrose-self looks up from observing his reflection to the slowly-appearing form of his guru. Faint echoes of many thoughts resonate within the kything-space, distant conversations that feed in and out. Finally, he decides upon,

— spite. His lips split in a grin with far more brightness than he shows in the outside world. — laziness — defiance — anonymity — it's still manageable. A flicker of resentment snaps briefly, aimed at someone in the past years of his life.

All of which he simply accepts. Not that Kent seems to give much of a damn for physical appearance, really. He's neat and clean, the latter almost obsessively so. His street clothing is good, well-made. But beyond that…. Fair enough, he says, mildly, just looking at Ambrose, thoughtful.

Ambrose returns the look, his surf-blue eyes traveling over the man. Finally he meets the grey hooded gaze once more.

— judgement — yourself? It's a difficult thought to put into words, showcased in how the attempt scatters to the space like dandelion pufflets disturbed by a breeze. His self frowns and looks to one side, scratching at the line of his jaw — a habit brought from the world beyond to within.

— harsher — older? Flicker-flashes of imagery show on the reflection pond's surface: Kent as Ambrose sees him, stern and distant, aloof as an alley cat, capable of pinning him in place with the right look — the memory of the recent smile, flavored by interest at the sheer oddity of the expression — focusing on the barrel of a gun aimed at himself and then on the gentleman beyond, Kent himself hyper-detailed in adrenaline. — you look as if life has worn you down, Black. It comes through randomly clear.

He's silent for a while, hovering there like an apparition. Not one for the snappy reply when it deserves real thought. It has, he says, finally. And there's a sense of a heavy weight dragged a long, weary way. He's only thirty or so, should be a man in his prime. But war and loss and pain and surrender to his own worst impulses….it's a gradual downward slope. He doesn't seem to want to excuse it, though - looking clear eyed.

— you seem strong. It's mostly idle observation, despite being offered as a compliment. — but alone — difficult — I understand. The Ambrose-self tilts his head a little to one side, his mouth a flat line of quiet empathy. Wherever he places his hands beneath the surface of the surface of the starry pond, it might well be pockets. —perseverance — you have your reason — your woman — understand that too. Even as the pang thumps him rudely in the chest, the visual of his heart appears. Garnet-and-gold, beating in sudden presence as if his brain remembered that the rhythm continues on and on and on.

Compliments and understanding; Kent goes still in the face of it, clearly taken somewhat aback. It seems wisest, for now, anyway, he says, almost as if making excuses. I have not been lucky in - in keeping lovers alive. There's the knife rasp of a loss that is still raw, in its way, before he hastily suppresses that echo of pain. And I have much yet to do that would put someone at risk. It's not the fiery rage of vengeance vowed in the face of immediate loss - but that iron resolve. Those who hurt his woman are going to pay, and slowly and thoroughly. Someone once read 'The Count of Monte Cristo' and took it to heart, it seems.

— machinations upon machinations, the Jackal comments, a wry and almost sad amusement washed through. Then comes the wee sluice of guilt before it's bottled up hastily, a stopper doing a serviceable job for now. — easiest to be alone. Easy, yes, but so very lonely. He looks to one side even in his mental form in order to keep his microtells all the more private. — success — you'll get it — cost? — uncertain, he offers up humbly with what appears to be a scuff of foot beneath the water, given how the ripples spread and vanish in their winking silvery rings. — one to talk — myself. Self-derision is easy enough to sense.

IT may cost me everything he concedes, without hesitation. But with that I have left, I am willing to pay. What mattered is gone beyond my reach. Not even sad, per se, at least in terms of feelings. Matter of fact, resigned……and beneath it, that metallic bitterness. Hate lodged like a bullet in the flesh. And you…..When your curse is broken, will all the years pile up on you and leave you dust?

— I understand — in a facet. The speech is getting clearer, as if he's having an easier time formulating the words themselves to flow as conversation and not at the speed of neural leap. It's when the question follows that a subterranean rumble jolts through the kything-space. A freeze frame in brilliant terror: the sight of another man spontaneously combusting, burning to death in the middle of a desert salt flat, the supernatural fire glittering off the mineral-crusted surface. The celestially-dotted pond water jumpts and the mental vision of the man goes wide eyed before exploding out into a thousand firefly-like embers that fall to the water. Up surges the Bane like a crocodile after a watering zebra and that's when Ambrose rips himself from the connected state.

With several shallow yelps, he scrambles away across the bed and falls off it on the far end rather than getting himself stuck between the frame and wall. "NO! NO! NOT THAT! NO!"

Oh, dear gods. Kent's immediate response is to let Ambrose flee that shared space….but he does not relinquish his grip on the Bane. Far from it. His grip tightens like a hawk's claw on a mouse.

Other than that, he's mute in shock. The image is terrifying enough, and to have it associated with the curse….clearly, the stakes for play are greater than he knew.

"NO - NO - PLEASE!" Ambrose ends up knocking over a chair in his frantic and panic-blinded attempt to escape. The small table wobbles before a solid back-kick his slippered foot sends it across to hit one of the alcove's walls, still upright, with a loud grinding sound. He ends up in one corner, curled in upon himself, clutching at his own head and whimpering.

Emitted on all levels of mental broadcast, as if the receiver had been jammed open: — helphelphelphelphelpnotalonedon'twanttodiealonenotalonepleasenoplease. The Bane remains low in his bones, snarling at the hold placed upon it, but able to do nothing save for remain in its demi-banished state.

Now it's time for raw force, if applied with some direction, even some delicacy. He's still got the Bane in a mental stranglehold, like a man trying to wrestle a python away from his throat. With the other, he's laying his own drug-reinforced calm over Ambrose's mind like a weighted blanket. No. Quiet. This will not happen to you. I won't let it. Now *come to me*. It's a command, and the gleaming ring is lifted on a pale hand.

The Bane continues to snarl, but it's like the teeth snapping can't reach what succor rests beyond it. Beyond, in the corner of the alcove, the brunet inhales once deeply…and then exhales into his knees.

Yes. He lifts his head and turns to look at Kent. His skin is still sallow, blushed at the cheeks with splotchy color, but no tears flow — too terrified to even think of crying. He rises to his feet and walks back over to the bed step by slow step, his motions precise and nearly robotic. Onto the bed he crawls again and then, he takes up a kneel, sitting on his own feet with his hands resting on his thighs. It's a decidedly Eastern approach to take and likely a clue to exposure to guidance beyond that of what he's revealed to Kent. He watches the man with eerie, glaze-eyed focus.

Carefully, slowly, he releases the pressure holding panic away….but only a tiny fraction at a time. Like someone turning a valve to release steam building up. It's hard work, keeping his mind split like that: one fragment devoted to holding down the Bane, the other to keeping Ambrose from panicking.

Then, to complicate things further, he moves to Ambrose, deliberate….and takes the relic-seeker in his arms. Let it go. Little by little. Look at your fear out of the corner of your eye. I am here. I will help you. I will not let this happen to you. Now that iron resolve is turned to Ambrose's benefit.

Even as the brunet allows himself to be curled up against Kent's side, his hands tucked limply to his chest and legs stretched, there's the repeated testing of the aforementioned pressure valve. Flaring bubbles pop against the mental control exerted by the more masterful of the two men, but they begin to slow. Ambrose himself seems to want to mimic the exact suggestion in regards to side-eyeing his phobic worry for how his eyes slide once to one side and then close. A quiver runs through him accompanied by a soft whimper, but then he settled again, body relaxing. By the movements beneath his lids, he's trying — and it's not just the compulsion. He wants to be free of this fear, so strongly that it's like the taste of blood on the tongue: bright, brutal, metallic, desperate.

Now there's rapport again - and they're in Ambrose's mental landscape entirely, not the construct of the reflecting pool. Under the blazing sun, but Kent is still somehow shadowed. As if he were standing beneath a different light source entirely. There's that sense of what he is beginning to be, will be, some creature so wholly composed of and subordinate to his own will, a towering, Satanic arrogance.

But even in this space, he's still holding Ambrose tightly to him.

The contrast to the winkling meditative stillness that is the reflection pool is in such stark contrast to the current surroundings that recognition is markedly slow to catch up. Ambrose in this current place remains where he is, looking pole-axed. It's familiar - comfortable - himself?

It's not blank, but full of potential scattered to the cardinal directions. Tattered pieces of coherent thought fall at an outlandishly slow speed as if ash from a forest fire on half-reel. The vision of himself is pale but present, highlighted from beneath in direct contrast to the lighting above. The resounding drumbeat heard is his heart, just now reaching a plateau of calm as it catches up to the lassitude of the mind.

It is himself. But now there's that new guy in it, solid and undeniable. He's got one arm around AMbrose, as if that mind-self might faint or dissolve or shatter. You're all right he insists, firmly.

— am I? The faint question has the confusion that follows a good shell-shocking. Ambrose's facial set might be familiar to Kent in that he's seen it on fellow soldiers after the chaos of war, in both dog-fights and in the trenches. The vacancy slips and the mental-self deepens in saturation and clarity by a notch. He's not so much mindlessly scared anymore than frozen in place like a rabbit before a snake, very much able to look at what torments him but unable to move further.

Yes. You are. You're still you. This is an image. It's past. It won't happen to you. The point of his hip is digging into Ambrose's own, held that tight. Like he might have to wrestle Ambrose himself. I've got you. As if he could defend against that. But then, he's still holding the Bane at bay.

The flecks of disrupted thought begin to fall faster now, driven by a cool and calming shift in air within the headspace. — I am. It has the tentative push for self-belief behind it, that little statement of power. Within the hold, the form takes on more highlights here and there in the line of dark lashes and the delineation of fingers; these clutch to Kent as if he's the life-line that he is. — I am. Now the smallest sproutling of wonderment that shivers where it grows, relief providing the water and melting what constructs the floor beneath them to one vast expanse of post-storm rain-puddling, clear and silvery all at once.

He turns, makes it a full-body embrace, face to face. Arms around Ambrose, as if he'd hauled him from the depths of dark waters. Better he encourages. Better. You're doing better. ANd now they stand in water, cool and clear. You are master in your own mind.

The flush of color continues until Ambrose within his mental space is nearly an approximation of how he first began, but merely at a lower saturation. He doesn't have the faint Midas radiance seen within the star-lit pool. After a lengthy number of heartbeats spent looking around at the falling bits of thought, he finally focuses in on the fact that Kent is right there. Still. Right there.

Wordlessly, he then drops his face and tucks his hair beneath Kent's chin. Plain and simply accepting the presence and what it offers, drawing from the wealth of steel laid beneath the taller man's frame.

No shame. Nothing to be ashamed of. He cradles Ambrose to him, his own heartbeat palpable beneath the cage of his ribs. For he's in the same clothing or lack thereof, only those loose pants and no shirt. Skin warm and scented with tobacco smoke and resin and sandalwood soap.

The sound of the other heartbeat present is hypnotic in its own way, never mind the lingering mental command over both Ambrose himself and the Bane, still very much banished deep into his bones. He remains with chin tucked within the embrace, whether out of shyness, embarrassment, manners — it's hard to tell. His brainwaves have flattened out to match the ebb and flow of a gentle tide rather than riproaring about and straining the slow release valve enforced. Panic escapes in a watered-down driplet here and there now. About his hair lingers the scent of light salt and what nearly-scentless soap he uses to keep the worst of the tangles at bay. The subtler notes are vetiver and black cardamom, mint and metal.

— thank you, comes the whisper of a thought.

The external assaults of the Bane and Ambrose's panic are one thing. To have his own mind start whispering the faintest insinuations at that scent makes his jaw tighten just a fraction. If there's ever a time and place for that, this is not it. He be master of his own mind, but….there's enough of that involuntary physical self there to make him clamp down on his own calm.

He breathes out, softly. You're welcome. Feeling better?

— yes — let me go. The clarification of the gentle but implacable request comes in the fine tremble within the confines of the control itself. It's akin to someone pressing at a thick pane of saran wrap, stretching and testing, but not getting anywhere fast. Ambrose remains where he is in the hug, continuing to feed off of it and further cement the realization that he is safe where he is. It's like trying to shove open a heavy door burdened yet still by misgivings and the lighter pucker of a bullet wound on his chest — but still, he tries because…what else to do?

Obediently, he does, little by little. No sudden moves - leaving both the ethereal embrace and the mental restraints. When he steps back and away, he's visibly weary. Carrying those weights….it's tiring. Good. I need to fade back….can you carry the Bane again? That sense of weariness is heavy; this has taken a good deal out of him.

— yes — go. Jessies of his own devisings slip onto the Bane even as it thrashes its displeasure. He hoods it to boot, envisioning the ruddy red miasm as instead the sakker falcon on a wrist, shackled and quieted. Shh — shh-shh… Kent is free to slip from the kything, though the physical points of contact between bodies may yet still take up the warning faintest pricklings of pins-and-needles in fluctuations like waves.

He slips from it….and on the bed, edges over just a little, ending up bumping against the wooden wall furthest from the bed's door. Exhausted, by the look of things. Ambrose has healed his wounds, but between the drug and holding down the Bane….it's drained him. He's limp as a rag, sprawled on the deep blue silk.

Ambrose inhales through his nose rather sharply as he comes up for air from the kything. He blinks once or twice as he works through the brief mental fog before he realizes what's happening with the curse itself. He too retreats the necessary amount in order to prevent further little minnow-nibbles here and there, but not entirely from the bed. He looks down at Kent now, his brows looking near to knotting from bewilderment. It fades and the expression relaxes, but still not enough to mask the concern.

"…I, um…" He flounders. "…you should rest, I think. I've taken enough of your time today." To fall back on manners seems the thing to do, but it's not rote or distant. More apologetic.

Lamont rolls a blue eye to peer at Ambrose, rather dimly. "I do need to sleep, I think," he acknowledges. So much for the stiff upper lip….but then, how hasn't Ambrose seen him? He rolls on to his side, rests his head on the pillow, apparently quite content to doze off right there. Not without that tiny, feline smile though. Amused at some internal joke.

Unless otherwise stated, the content of this page is licensed under Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 License