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Trigger Happy Jack

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1 Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 4:48 pm

I don't remember falling asleep, the conversation and lazy intimacy creeping into the small hours of morning. Eventually, though, I do fall asleep. I know this only because I'm jarred awake by an incessant buzzing on the nightstand. Groaning, I start to reach over to grab the phone before Ljuba's hand catches my arm with a groggy, "Leave it." It leaves a little knot of anxiety in the pit of my stomach, but when her lips find mine, I cave and happily melt into the tired kiss.

The sun has crept up by the time the second call comes. Ljuba doesn't so much as stir this time, and I'm wide awake the moment I hear the buzzing. It's a feat to extricate myself from the tangle of limbs and sheets, and when I finally do free myself, the cool air feels good against my sweaty skin - that's one of the few reasons I hate sleeping naked next to someone after a long night of nocturnal activity.

"Hello?" I whisper groggily as I fumble around for my pajama pants again. It's really fucking hard to discern the fabric from everything else in the room that also reeks of sex. By the time I finally find them, Richard is in full swing on the other end of the phone, every word out of his mouth coiling a tighter snare of anxiety around me as I struggle into my pants so I can go out into the hallway.

"Richard, I wasn't trying to be rude-," I start, already painfully regretting my decision to hang up on him last night. I was too shocked by how much Ljuba loved the guitar to even think about dealing with Richard - and obviously I'd become too engrossed in what happened afterward to notice that he had sent over a dozen texts waiting for an update and some thanks for his thoughtfulness.

"You were too busy fucking her, weren't you?" he accuses hotly. I can tell by the tone of his accusation that he doesn't know for certain, probably even doubts it, but the burn of jealousy at the mere possibility is more than enough to fuel his aggression. I can't bring myself to respond, either to deny nor confirm his fear. And I hate that I feel guilty when I hear the sharp intake of breath on the other end of the line. "You were!"

"Richard-," my cheeks feel hot with shame as a very real tone of betrayal comes over him.

"Shut up," he snaps. "I've done everything for you and that whore-," I can hear the way his teeth grind as he clenches his jaw to cut off his anger, the sound of his fist hitting something in the background making me flinch. "You're coming home. I've had enough of this."

"Richard! No, you can't-!" panic clamps down on me, Richard's voice ringing in my ear as he shouts, "NOW!" I'm shaking as I rest against the wall, tears forming in my eyes as I try to shake my head in denial. But I know better than to ignore a direct order, and his threat isn't really needed, though it comes anyway.

"Don't make me come and fetch you," he says icily. "We both know I can't be responsible for what I do when I'm angry. I expect you home by tomorrow morning. I'd tell you where to find my men there, but I'm sure you're already aware of their whereabouts. They'll see that you're back in time."

"Richard," I say weakly, his continued breathing the only indication I get that he hasn't hung up yet. "Promise you won't hurt her if I come?"

I almost think he's going to deny me, it takes him so long to respond. Just the thought that he would constricts my lungs with fear, a sound I'm sure he's relishing as I try unsuccessfully to hold back the sobbed, "Please?"

"I promise," he finally responds, his voice flat and cold. "Now don't make me ask again."

"I'm coming," I nod weakly, my hands shaking as I hang up the phone and sink down against the wall with a broken sob. My mind is racing as I try to figure out how to proceed. I'll have to leave my things. It'll be the only way to communicate that I mean to come back, that something is wrong if I don't because I can't wake Ljuba. I don't know what I would say! How I would explain to her that I have to go, that Richard has called me home because we slept together and I can't say no because I feel guilty for hurting him and I'm afraid of what he might do if I refuse.

It takes me nearly half an hour to gather my wits about me enough to move. Getting dressed and gathering what few things I need without making any noise takes some effort with my nose all stuffed up from crying. Moving around the room is challenging, but I manage to make it to the bed so I can brush Ljuba's hair back out of her face before placing a gentle but lingering kiss on the corner of her lips.

"I love you," I whisper, my fingers slipping into her hand before squeezing them shut over the object I'd left there. With that, I scoop up the small bag I'd packed, grab my cane, and hurry out the door to find my ride to Orlais.

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2 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:05 pm

*Teagan*

There's an uneasy feeling left in my gut as I come to, my head swaying groggily as I kick at the foot of the tub to get my bearings. The storms were nearer, and something new- I groan, rubbing at my face to absorb what little warmth is left in the water before I reach down to yank the plug and stand unsteadily. I could see the silhouettes standing in the midst of the storms, one more defined than the rest, but I couldn't make out which of us it was

"Cael-" I rasp, clearing my throat as I pull the towel from above the radiator and head into the main bedroom. The uneasiness from my vision had been growing steadily since I got out of the tub, and with water dripping off of me as I stumble for a light switch, I can feel it twisting into a sense of panic. Something's not right. With the light on, Jean and Cael begin to stir in their beds - simply not quickly enough for me. 

"Cael!" I say more fiercely, looking for my bag as I dig through it haplessly. "I need your ear for something, wake up!"

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3 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:30 pm

"Wha-?" I'm confused for a moment as I look around, unable to remember where I am for a moment. When it all comes back to me, I groan and drop my head back on the pillow, peeking blearily out of one eye as Teagan digs through her bag.

"What'd'you want?" I manage to slur past my pillow.

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4 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:41 pm

"Something's off," I frown, getting frustrated as my dress hangs on something inside my bag and I jerk it out. "I need someone else to hear this, because I can't make sense of it."

Once my dress is free, I tug it on quickly as turn to the foot of his bed, tossing my towel back off to the bathroom. "Two storms, big bad storms, coming from two directions. Just like a few days ago, but this time it's different. The winds, the lightning, it's all fiercer in one of them - but no one is screaming, no one's panicked

"I can't see anyone, not outright. Instead, there's five silhouettes, four in a group - and one that's larger, a bit further off into the storm. Like they're staring at the others, and eating something. I spent way too much time trying to figure out what, when a strike of lightning lit it up. Cherries. Aside from the storms, it was the only thing in the entire thing I could actually make out..." Sighing heavily, I reach up to unfurl the knot of hair I'd tied to keep it dry, pacing around as I realize Jean's nearly awake as well. 

"The same storms, but... Silhouettes? Cherries? It doesn't make any sense, but I have this horrible feeling I should know what it means..."

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5 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:56 pm

I'm hardly paying any attention to her rambling as I drift between sleep and wakefulness - at least until she mentions the cherries. I don't know why, seeing as they're just dreams or drug induced visions or whatever they are, but my heart sinks at the word.

"Cherries?" I ask, lifting my head from the pillow as I struggle to sit up. My face is creased with sleep and I still feel groggy, but I'm wide awake now. "Are you sure??" I frown a bit as I look around, expecting to see Marnin before I remember that he and Ljuba had spent the night in their own room. Shit... if Richard found out...

"Where's Marnin?" I ask, a note of panic creeping into my voice as I get up and grab my shirt and my shoes.

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6 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 6:57 pm

I shrug as Cael gets up, moving around me to get clothes.

"Didn't he and Lju have their own room?" I ask, frowning a bit as I watch Cael.

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7 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:04 pm

"Yeah, but-," I frown as the words stick in my throat. This isn't a subject I've ever even really discussed with Marnin... I know his secret, but that's all there is to it. I haven't needed to press for more of the story because I've witnessed his relationship with Richard firsthand.

"His brother is always eating cherries," I say vaguely. "There's a good chance he's one of the storms. And if that's the case, and he knows Marn spent the night with Ljuba... it might be nothing, but I still think we should check on them."

"Isn't his brother Richard Braddock?" Jean asks, and I can tell by his uneasy tone that he doesn't trust the idea of the elder Braddock having an interest in Ljuba for any reason.

"Yeah," I frown as I struggle into my boots.

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8 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:13 pm

The uneasiness compounds as I notice the way Jean reacts to the confirmation of the brother, my hands wringing together as I rise onto my toes anxiously. 

"It's never been that clear," I say after a moment, swallowing thickly as I look at Cael - waiting for him to be ready so we can head into the hall. At this point, the panic is nearly fear rotting away in my stomach. "Normally, everything's blurry, out of focus... But this was crisp. I could make out the stem of the stupid cherry-"

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9 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 7:31 pm

"He loves those fucking cherries," I scowl, nodding toward the door. "Sat there eating 'em as he sentenced an innocent family to die - cruelly. He's bad news. God, I hope it's nothing."

Jean hasn't even finished pulling his pants on as he follows us out into the hall, shoes forgotten as he gets his pants up over his hips and combs his hands through his hair anxiously.

"How would he even know we're here, though?" he asks. "If they're on bad terms, I doubt Marnin would tell him he spent the night with Lju. Right?"

"Oh no, Marnin is always in touch with him," I frown. "Hasn't really got much of a choice. Richard'd lose his shit if Marnin didn't talk to him... and he got that package last night, whatever that was... but it was definitely from Richard."

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10 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 8:59 pm

Following Cael, Jean and I linger back as he knocks roughly on the door to Marnin and Ljuba's room, receiving no answer before he begins knocking again. 

**Ljuba**

I don't know how long the knocking has been happening, the loud rapping causing me to groan and twist in the covers as I fight the urge to stay asleep. It isn't until I realize I'm alone in the bed that I pick my head up, looking around blearily in an attempt to make sense of the knocking and Marnin's absense. 

"Hold up," I call, entirely unaware of the item clenched in my first as I stumble about to pull the sheets around myself, half-smirking as I head for the door. "You've locked yourself out, haven't you?" I laugh, shaking my head as I undo the lock. "I should leave you in the hall, punish you fo-" 

I stop as I pull the door open, looking up at Cael and the others in pure confusion. 

"What..?"

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11 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 9:18 pm

I can feel the color go out of my face as I look over Ljuba's shoulder, peering into the room to find that Marnin isn't there. The concern only increases when I notice the phone clutched in her hand as she holds the sheet to her front self-consciously.

"Is that Marnin's phone..?" I ask worriedly.

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12 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:00 pm

Tensing, I look down at the phone in my hands. My head cocks to the side as I nod, stuck trying to remember why I have it at all. 

"Yeah...?" I frown, holding it up for Cael to take before I twist around to look around the bedroom. "He's not out in the halls somewhere?" I ask, picking up the sheets to further wrap around myself. "He can't be far, he's left everything here."

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13 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 10:13 pm

"Including his phone," I frown, shaking my head as I study it. I feel wrong, having it in my hand. I've tried to touch it numerous times in the past, and every time I had, I'd been left with a nasty bruise or a scar from where the blind man had caught my hand - sometimes smacking it, other times threatening to break it if I ever touched it again.

"Did anyone call him last night..?" I ask, wanting to turn the phone on to check the history, but feeling guilty at the thought. "Teagan had one of her vision-dream-things... said she saw Richard, except she didn't know it was Richard... but he was close.

"Can't you just check his history?" Jean asks impatiently, clearly relieved to see that Ljuba is safe and wanting to go back to bed.

"Yeah, but-," I start before Jean rolls his eyes and snatches the phone from me. I scowl at him, but only watch him as he clicks the phone on and starts going through it.

"Son of a bitch, there's hundreds of calls from him," Jean frowns as he clicks through and shakes his head. "Including three from last night and two from this morning... hold on, it looks like there's a bunch of texts, too."

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14 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Tue Mar 15, 2016 11:52 pm

As soon as I hear Jean say it, I spin around, frowning sharply as Teagan seems to notice. 

"No," She says, reaching over to snatch the phone from Jean. "We're not snooping - He got a phone call from that man this morning, that's all we need to know."

"Wai-" I inhale weakly, sitting on the edge of the bed as I hug the sheets to my frame. The weight of their presence this early is starting to sink in, and I look up at Cael with a lost look of desperation. "You really think he's gone? He can't be-

My voice shakes as I look around the room, "He's left his phone, his bags! Look!" I point at the backpack tucked near mine, hurrying over to scoop it up as I hug it oddly to my chest, keeping the sheets in place. "He never leaves without this bag on his shoulder. He won't even go to the corner shop from my place. He never is without it! You have to know that, you're his friend! He's just- He's likely out in the lobby, or maybe he went to get breakfast!

"That's it. I bet he's gone for breakfast. He always liked having breakfast cooked for when I woke up! I bet that's what's happened." I nod intently, setting his backpack on the bed as I pace around to look for clothes so I can go look for him downstairs.

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15 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Wed Mar 16, 2016 12:34 am

"Have you ever known Marnin to leave his phone, though?" I frown as I take the phone from Teagan to hand back to Ljuba. It doesn't sit right, any of this. But still... "I don't know, maybe you're right. We should check downstairs."

"I'll check the bathrooms," Jean says past a wide yawn. "Sorry," he frowns when he notices my glare. "I gotta pee, though! So I'll pee and check the bathrooms."

"You do that," I sigh, nodding my head slightly at Ljuba. "Sorry for busting in on you in your - uhm - sheet. We'll meet you downstairs?"

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16 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:25 pm

**Teagan**

By eleven, we were long on the road, most of the trip passing in a tense sort of silence. Ljuba dissolved quickly once we found that Marnin was truly gone, and the crass way the innkeeper described his hurried escape - 'Kinda looked like one o' them johns, runnin' out after a bad one night stand, ya know?' - only added to her distress. It took all three of us to get her calm enough to pack up their room, but once we'd hit the van, her crying had grown so severe she was hyper-ventilating. 

Jean had sunken back into the front seat. He'd done what he could to try and console the hysterical woman, but nothing seemed to ease her pain. Cael had already shot down every heartfelt argument she made to going after Marnin, telling her time and again it was reckless and suicidal to travel to Richard's home in search of Marnin. That was about the time she'd started to get angry, violent almost, and I began searching for something in my bag to sedate her. 

Likely the tensest part of this entire trip was forcing it down her throat. Cael had to pull the van over after Ljuba shoved me into his seat, knocking me dizzy from my head hitting the support bar inside. I could appreciate the fact she didn't want anyone near her, we all crave privacy during these vulnerable times. I could even appreciate she didn't want me trying to drug her, but her hysterics were proving erratic. With Jean and Cael holding her down, I apologized as I poured the vial of sedative into her mouth, clamping her nose and mouth shut until it was down. 

The minutes that passed until it took effect were silent and long, the men never letting her up as I sat at the other end of the van. She cried out angrily at first, cursing us for not doing more to help, then sobbed apologies as her eyes grew heavy and her words slurred. Once she was asleep, wrapped in what blankets we could find and tucked into the rear of the van, the rest of us settled into the front to continue the trip. 

I wasn't even sure where we were going anymore. If there would be any further detours from the course to the Capitol. With Ljuba bent on Marnin, I doubt she's still keen on heading for Soltera. Jean seems like he's just along for the ride, as well. I feel a bit bad for the man, watching him as he looks out the window with a tired sort of look. 

"So what is the plan?" I ask, my voice sounding awkward as it breaks the silence.

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17 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:37 pm

"We go to the Capitol," I shrug, my eyes fixed on the road as I drive. I have a pounding headache - whether it's from the lack of echostone or the tense set of my jaw, I don't know. "He left his phone... sooner or later, he's bound to call. There's no other reason he would leave it. The damn thing has been attached to his hand since his first trip out of Orlais. Richard would kill him for losing it... which means it's safe to say he's somewhere he doesn't need the phone - with Richard. So we wait for his call, and then we decide what to do.

"Until then, we've got other shit to do," I sigh. "We can do your thing and then we'll figure out what's next once we're in the Capitol. It's close enough to Orlais that we can come running if we need to."

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18 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:43 pm

"You know she won't go for that..." I frown, glancing over my shoulder at the sleeping woman. "And I can't keep pouring graviotium down her throat every six hours."

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19 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:45 pm

"Yeah, well-," my eyes widen a bit as I twist around to look back at Ljuba and then at Teagan. "Hang on! Graviotium? Isn't that an Echo sedative?!"

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20 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:47 pm

"Yes," I respond a bit guiltily, looking at Cael with a slight pout. "To be fair, I still don't know you very well. I had to be safe."

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21 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:53 pm

"You best not go forcing any of that crap down my throat!" I scold as I keep a suspicious eye on her. "I'm very allergic to some of the stuff in that crap."

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22 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 5:55 pm

"Are you really?" I frown, tensing as I uncross my legs and glance back at my bag. "What in it? I use the ingredients in other teas and salves, sometimes even the smokies - Which part?"

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23 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:03 pm

"I, uhm-," I cough lightly, trying to buy myself some time as I try to remember the names of some of the crap she puts in her stuff. Jean is looking at me now, and it's obvious he knows I'm full of shit. "I don't know what exactly... maybe that green stuff?"

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24 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:05 pm

"Green stuff..." I frown at the remark, my eyebrows pinching as I try to think of what it could be. "Uhm... The kava kava?"

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25 Re: Trigger Happy Jack on Thu Mar 17, 2016 6:13 pm

"Yeah, that," I nod, no idea what it is, but it doesn't sound like something that would go in everything.

"That's the base of one of the teas you've been drinking," Jean comments dryly, shaking his head at me in amusement. "He's pulling your leg, Teag. He's not allergic to shit."

"Am so!" I argue, half pouting, half scowling as I glare at Jean. "That cologne, for instance... good god, no wonder Marn told me to toss it out first chance I got."

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