How long had she been hunched over, staring into a gutter, now splattered with her own bile? Her vision swam - she could hear people passing, the occasional whisper of a concerned bystander, but she could find no energy to pay them heed. No one had stopped. She wouldn't have known what to do if they had, except shoo them away and pray they didn't ask.
Those protestors. That Slynk, with its head smashed to pieces, lifeless a few metres from her. She hadn't even tried to help them - she'd turned tail and bolted the second she could, consumed by terror, the worst kind of coward imaginable--
She didn't know when she'd started crying, but she could feel the tears dripping from her nose, down into the puddle of vomit. Her shoulders shook with the force of her sobs. Behind her, the day rolled on.
It was typical of Jewel, to miss the hullabaloo. By the time he'd rocked up in town, the crowds had dissipated and there were barely any signals that unrest had occurred at all - he saw a few folk bustling past, but it was nothing out of the norm in a busy city. All appeared well. Eilonwi appeared hesitant, sniffing at the air as she went, but made no indication to him that they should change route. Her spot alongside him remained filled.
That was, until she heard something else. A horrible racket. Nothing extraordinary nor deafening, but piercing enough to make her ears lay flat. She paused. On the corner, ducked into the gutter, a woman.
Jewel had only walked a few steps when he noticed that his Felusine wasn't alongside him, and he turned back immediately. He was about to ask her - fruitlessly - what she was looking at, but it was easier to stare himself. The red hair was familiar. That small stature... was it...?
Nadia flinched. It was still a shock, to hear someone referring to her by her real name - she'd gone by the alias for so long that it had become natural. She didn't want to turn around. Whoever it was that had recognised her would have seen her in her composed form, not reduced to an anxious wreck, vomiting on the side of the street--
Shaking fingers fumbled around in her pockets to pull out a handkerchief, which was used to dab at her mouth as delicately as she could manage. When she did at last move to face the man, her breath caught in her throat.
"You did stay..." It had been months since she had seen Jewel, and had proposed that he visit the Labs in his search for a new home. Even in her awful state, a vague smile ghosted over her lips. "It is... it is nice to see you."
Jewel had to hold back a gasp. The shock - the difference between what he knew her as, even briefly, and what he could see before him - was extreme. Eilonwi made no such noise, but her tail flicked bath and forth in agitation, and he was sure he could see the closest thing a Felusine could express to concern on her face.
"Never mind that," He said; when he recognised how abrasive his tone was, he softened his posture and voice. "Are you okay? Are you sick?"
That was a stupid question. The pallidness of her complexion, as well as the sick pooled in the gutter, was evidence enough. Even so, he wasn't sure what else there was to say. He couldn't greet her as an old friend, nor treat her as a stranger. They would instead meet at the crossroads of acquaintanceship, and he would hope that it would be sufficient to comfort her.
Nadia drew in towards herself at the initial sharp tone of Jewel's voice. He hadn't intended it, of course, but the slightest change in behaviour could and would frighten her. The sight of his Felusine seemed to comfort her, though - she extended her wavering smile to her, and offered a half-hearted wave.
"Hello," She murmured. "Who's this?"
It was a cover, to disguise her inability to express what the problem was. What could she say? She couldn't bear to burden a near-stranger with what she'd seen, but was also terrified of facing her thoughts alone. She'd go back to her house and tremble in the shadows and go to bed wrapped in more than a handful of blankets.
"I would greatly appreciate some company to a coffee shop, if that isn't a bother," She settled with saying, in an attempt to appear collected. "I understand if you do not have the time."
Eilonwi was not typically fond of any human other than Jewel. Of course, the boy was a fool, but she was accustomed to his breed of idiocy. With others, it was impossible to tell whether they'd be an improvement or a downgrade from him, and she preferred not to run the risk. Still, there was something different about this one. Uncomfortable. She stunk of fear and sadness, and it was enough to have the Felusine padding forward, coiling around her legs.
"That's Eilonwi," Jewel said, and then offered his arm. "Not a bother. Let's get you away from here, hmm? Come on."
If she would allow it, he would gently guide her around and away from her own secretions and back onto the main street. There was nothing out of the ordinary to be seen. His being oblivious to what had happened was good, because he walked with ease; with a bit of luck, his relaxation would coax Nadia into calmness.
Nadia couldn't help but feel better, with the warmth of Eilonwi's fur around her legs. Creatures worked miracles for her mood. Though there was nothing to be done about what she had seen, she could stay connected to the real world through them, and her interior monologue could be put aside for a while.
Her eyes were wide, where they settled on Jewel's offered arm. She wasn't a fan of touching. Still, she thought it sensible to allow him to guide her, given how fiercely her knees knocked together.
"Thank you," Her voice was barely a murmur.
It startled her, how normal everything appeared. It was as if nothing had happened at all. As improper as it might have been to leave her vomit without even attempting to clean up, that was a hopeless task as things stood, and she needed a cup of something soothing. It was fortune indeed that she had never been drunk - alcohol would have been an acceptable alternative.
It was nothing. Nothing at all. Jewel wasn't going out of his way to help her - it was no chore to get a coffee, especially in company. Still, he smiled and accepted her thanks, and kept a hold on her, making sure it was light when he noticed the way she winced when his fingers tightened.
There were plenty of tea shops to choose from, but he swept them into the first he came across. They all served hot drinks, so what did it matter? The one he'd selected was warm, inviting, and had enough plush armchairs and low sofas to cater for ten times the number of visible patrons. A quiet corner away from the window with vacant seats was where he steered Nadia to.
"Sit down, okay?" He only let her go once he was sure she wouldn't wobble or keel over. "I'll get the drinks in. What can I get you?"
Nadia was grateful to sink into the armchair at the coffee shop. The cushioning was a balm to her weary muscles, and she pushed herself against the back with a grateful sigh, wriggling her shoulders until she had found the optimum position for comfort. Wonderful. She'd never been to that particular establishment before, but it was a cosy little place. Maybe she'd have to return in better circumstances.
"Really?" She was still startled and caught off-guard by Jewel's kindness. "I... would much appreciate a pot of tea, in that case. Thank you."
Tea was not the solution to the world's problems, but by heavens, it helped. A smidge of caffeine might rejuvenate her, and release her from the plague of feeling boneless and weak. How uncivilised. The capacity to be embarrassed about vomiting on a sidewalk was returning to her, and by the time the fae had turned to put their order in at the counter, her head was in her hands and her cheeks were scarlet.
Tea it was. Jewel nodded, then wandered over to the counter to put in their order. They could share a pot; it would keep the cost down and hopefully get her to open up to him a bit.
He wasn't an idiot. Something was wrong, in a major way - he didn't know Nadia well, but he knew that panic attacks on the side of the road were not her style. There had to be a reason behind it, and he wanted to know what that was. For his own gain, or to comfort her? Perhaps a bit of both. There was no harm in siphoning information subtly like that.
Eilonwi stayed with Nadia, taking watch duty from the floor next to her chair. There was no need for her to be told. The woman was getting some sort of comfort from her presence, and it gave her some time away from her bumbling idiot. She was gently rubbing her cheek against Nadia's knee when Jewel returned with the tea tray, laden with cups, milk and sugar.
"Here you are..." He passed her cup over to her, then settled back in his own seat, allowing her to make her drink first. "So, do you want to talk about what's going on?"
Twilight-Claw: I really, really love all the updates that have come~! <3
May 24, 2020 2:12:37 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: np!!! I hope y'all like it!
May 23, 2020 13:45:06 GMT -6
Riku: What an awesome update, staff! Thanks for that! <3
May 23, 2020 12:06:52 GMT -6
Jack: All have been found!
May 23, 2020 9:53:27 GMT -6
Jack: Might want to be on the lookout for anything... odd
May 22, 2020 23:51:22 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Yeah it’s definitely a coincidence but wow did it work out well for us! XD
May 22, 2020 6:43:27 GMT -6
Silver: I'm pretty sure that was just a coincidence, but it sure feels lucky!
May 22, 2020 2:07:09 GMT -6
Riku: So did you guys make this hosting switch perfectly RIGHT before pb broke? >.< Thaz crazy. It’s a huge relief and I’m very glad we’ve come to this. <3
May 22, 2020 1:41:01 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: It’s free up to a certain number of GB, which we haven’t hit yet.
May 21, 2020 6:46:33 GMT -6
Twilight-Claw: Is the site that is going to be used to host all those images also the type you'd need to pay for? (definitely noticed the broken images yeah. Photobucket feels like it is standing on its last legs. X3 )
May 21, 2020 0:13:57 GMT -6
Morgan: I'm just kinda nervous about them going down before things get moved over completely. It's prolly nothing to be worried about though. :3
May 20, 2020 22:13:15 GMT -6
Fiera Ferella: Thank goodness we're moving out of there? XD
May 20, 2020 21:59:22 GMT -6
Renathan: Ugh, photobucket has the images broke again. x3
May 20, 2020 21:18:53 GMT -6