A Private Moment
Location: The Tower, Bethany’s Cave
Timeline: Saturday, August 28, 2010/Afternoon
After Abby and Jax left the two of them in the familiar, unnaturally carved room alone, Bethany let out a sigh of relief. These people had been good to her so far, but she was still wary, untrusting, and it made it difficult to fully relax around them. She still didn’t understand exactly what was going on, or where they were, other than surrounded by Nephilim, of which she was apparently one, and in a volcano somewhere, which really did nothing to improve her sense of sanity, safety, or security.
The battered young woman only truly felt safe when Jon was around and again she felt a black dread rise up in her chest over the day that she knew was coming -- again. The day that she had to say goodbye to the man that she loved. She had already managed to let her blue-eyed hero go once and she really didn’t know if she had the strength to do it again. Bethany started playing with the buttons on the bed, shifting uncomfortably, wincing with the pain of sitting up, even assisted.
“I’m already going stir crazy,” the wounded teen hissed through a clenched jaw, fumbling for, then mashing down on, the little button on the box that controlled the painkillers. The green-eyed brawler had survived some pretty heinous abuse in her lifetime, but this was a whole new realm of pain, even if she did appear to be mending quickly, and she panted a bit, trying to catch her breath as the drugs began to take effect.
“Well, why don’t we do something to take your mind off, luv,” Jon said, looking around the cave. The only other place to sit was the couch, which was located in the outer room, with the television. It would allow Bethany some privacy, while he would still be sleeping near. But as Abby had said, it was still a trek to the nearest bathroom. “Want to watch the tele? I could find some cards or chess or something. Or go explore? Maybe find a library?”
Bethany gave Jon a strange look and giggled a little as she leaned back, a bit dizzy with the activity and the new painkillers. “I think Abby would strangle us both if I got out of this bed. She already seems ready to strangle you, so we might not want to push it with you wandering around unescorted,” the green-eyed teen teased.
After months of being around the former soldier, Bethany had gotten used to Jon’s moods and mannerisms and something struck her as off. She studied him briefly, her brow furrowed in thought, before she asked, “Hey, are you really okay? You seem a little nervous. Not sure if it’s just your leg, the situation...or if you’re actually upset with me and don’t want to admit it.” She moved her legs to make room at the foot of the bed and winced.
She pushed the covers down, pulled her gown up a bit, and hissed at the deep, stitched cuts across the front of her thighs. They were healing nicely, but the deep bruising spoke of the damage that had been done by the quick sweep of a sharp blade. Shaking her head a bit, she pushed the pain aside and folded her legs up slowly. “That’s gonna leave a mark...” she muttered before looking back to Jon and motioning towards the foot of the bed with a soft smile. “Care to join me?”
Jon looked down at the spot and rubbed his leg and then moved over to sit beside her on the bed. It felt good to get off his feet. “Probably a bit of all of that, luv,” Jon said quietly, not looking at her, staring off into the empty cave.
The battered brawler bit at her lower lip and looked down at her hands, taking in as deep of a breath as she could manage, then let it out slowly. “Like I said, if I thought Abby wouldn’t string us up, I’d let you have this miserable thing. I really do hate it when you have to sleep in chairs because of me...” There was a pause and another sigh from Bethany before she continued, her voice soft and pained, “I never intended for you to get stuck here with me. You deserve your freedom, to try to live some kind of life. Maybe find Cece, some happiness.”
Jon shook his head and looked at Bethany. “I resigned myself long ago that happiness isn’t for me,” he told her quietly. “Oh, there are moments, but no, I am not a man that deserves such things for long,” he told her. “I had it once, but…” He trailed off and looked away. “And I am not stuck here. I am sure, should I wish it, I could leave and have my mind comfortably wiped, or some such thing, luv, and never be back. I don’t even know where we are.” He looked around the cave again. “I’ve slept in worse,” he reassured her. “There’s a couch out there for me.” He nodded to the cave entrance. “I’ll be fine, luv.”
Bethany’s heart broke listening to Jon, the man that had saved her life more times than she really wanted to think about, the man that she adored beyond all others, tell her that he didn’t deserve happiness. “All I know is we’re in a volcano, supposedly, and I can believe that after what I saw. Everything was hot,” she said quietly, addressing the least stressful part of the conversation.
There was a long pause before she continued, “Jon, you do deserve to be happy. I wish I could prove that to you, but I can’t make you believe something that you don't want to.” Bethany sighed softly, then leaned back, her eyes slipping closed as she said the next. “I don’t want you to think that I don’t want you in my life. You’re the only person I care about anymore. I just can’t help but think that you’d be happier...safer...without me tagging along and causing trouble for you all the time.”
Jon turned and smiled at Bethany, reaching out to take her hand. “You don’t think I can’t find my own trouble, luv?” he asked her. “I worked for a...morally gray man who dealt with very bad men. I was a bouncer at a...less than gentleman’s club. I’m the one that picked the fight with Morty instead of taking you out of Reno,” he pointed out. “I could have gotten off this train anytime I wanted,” he reminded her. “Some things...well, they’re more important. You stick by your mates, watch their six, and when the bullets fly, you’re right there in the thick.” He squeezed her hand. “Not lying unconscious in the desert.”
“I’m sorry. I was terrified that you were going to get hurt...killed,” Bethany said, her eyes opening and meeting Jon’s gaze. Oh how she loved those eyes! Her chest ached a bit and she nibbled at her lower lip as she almost got lost in them. Squeezing his hand, she said, “It may not make sense to you, but I’d rather you live and be happy than take bullets for me, Jon. Or have to shoot kids for me. And you wouldn’t have been able to help Mama. The nest we chose for you...” The girl’s voice faltered and she fell silent again, glancing down and trying to stop the childish tears that leapt up in her eyes with the thoughts of her dead mother.
Jon reached out and cupped Bethany’s cheek, thumb wiping away the tears. “Isn’t that my choice to make, luv?” he asked her, tilting her face up to look at him. “I don’t leave me mates behind. But now I guess we don’t know how things would have turned out if you’d let me help you.” He leaned in and kissed her forehead. “Just don’t ever do that again, take my choice away from me,” he told her quietly.
The battered brawler gave Jon a bit of a wistful smile and tried to remember about controlling her breathing and not blushing over every gentle touch of his work-worn, battle-hardened hands, or turning strange colors when she felt his lips press to her forehead, when she caught herself staring into his deep blue eyes. “I...umm...” Bethany swallowed thickly, dragging her eyes off of his, and could feel her skin already trying to betray her as she tried to get control of her breathing.
“I won’t, I swear. It doesn’t normally take me too many near death experiences to learn from my mistakes,” the girl tried to quip, her voice nervous and shaky, as she gave Jon one of her mischievous, lopsided grins. She couldn’t figure out exactly why she suddenly felt like such a doofus around him and shot a wary glance at the evil drug box. It was the evil drugs; it had to be!
“Good. Then I think everything is forgiven,” Jon smiled at Bethany. “Now your only job is to get better.” He squeezed her hands, leaning back again. “The bed looks like we could wheel it out,” he told her, “so if you wanted to watch some telly or something,” he offered, standing up from the bed. “The cave is nice, but some of the modern conveniences outside I’ve gotten used to,” he chuckled, reminding her that even though he was more than capable in her preferred wilderness, he was a man raised in a different world than her.
Bethany nodded, smiling gently at Jon. “It sounds better than sleeping another week away,” she said, then her brow furrowed and she looked at his leg and sighed, “No, I don’t want you hurting yourself to push me around in this thing. It’s bad enough you’ve been sleeping in a chair all this time.” The young woman had already come to feel like a burden on her blue-eyed hero as it was, and she cringed inwardly over the small, everyday sacrifices that he’d made for her without complaint. “But you go and enjoy yourself. Relax, get some sleep. I’ll be okay, and you’re just out there if something happens.”
“You won’t be bored, luv?” Jon asked, standing. “You’re hurt worse than I am, so worry about you, not me.” He flexed his leg, but it was loosening up a bit. “Just give me a call. I’m going to see if there’s some football on. They seem to have plenty of channels, and I haven’t seen Man U in a long while.”
Bethany nodded her head, then blinked a bit slowly, before saying, “I’ll be fine. Sadly, I have the feeling I’ll be asleep again soon, even if it is driving me nuts. You deserve some down time and to do something you enjoy. Maybe when they let me out of this bed tomorrow, we can watch a movie or something?” The girl’s skin blushed as she remembered the first time that they’d cuddled up and watched a movie together and she got that small, wistful smile on her face as she finished, somewhat lamely, “That would be kind of nice.”
“I would love that,” Jon told her with a smile. “How about Roman Holiday?” he offered. “Audrey Hepburn. A classic.” He smoothed back her hair and kissed her forehead. “Get some rest.”
“You’re the movie expert,” Bethany said with a small, tired, laugh, giving Jon a genuine, warm smile. At least she had something to look forward to other than more pain, and weird things going on around her. Her life had never been normal, but everything over the last couple of days had been overwhelming. “You get some rest too. And Jon, just so you know, I’m always going to worry about you. I can’t help it.”
“Likewise,” Jon smiled at Beth and then slipped out of the cave to leave her to her rest.
Bethany looked after Jon for a moment, then she began fidgeting with the bed again, trying to lay it back down. It took her a few minutes, finding it difficult to focus through the tears in her eyes. In truth, the girl needed some time alone, even if she hadn’t realized it until that moment. Everything in the immediate had been pain and trying to make it through the next round of nightmares, but there was a sense of overbearing grief sitting on her shoulders and making it even more difficult to breath than just her injured lung could account for. The green-eyed brawler finally gave in and silently cried herself to sleep, her skin and hair turning an eerie blue, as the weight of that sorrow, and the new injection of the strange blend of drugs, finally overwhelmed her weakened body.
NPC Xander Carlisle