Steve and Ioan encounter crime in the park.
[Players only. Takes place recently, directly following Ioan's birthday surprise. Warnings for some graphic violence.]
Once out in the air, Ioan has found that he might want to walk to the restaurant, even being buzzed as they both are. He's still wearing his grey suit, with the white dress shirt. However the blue tie is loosened and the top button of his shirt is open. He thinks that he and Steve should be just fine, walking. Of course, that's more of a mix of his own Welsh arrogance and that of the fact that he's atypical.
Steve usually dresses more casually, unless he has some official function or such. So tonight he's in jeans and a University of Chicago t-shirt. He's mindful that they are both a bit off from the hard cider they consumed earlier, but Steve doesn't see any harm.
Across campus, a young man with brown hair and brown eyes was talking to a beautiful young co-ed. She smiled at him as they talked. They were about the same age, and the pair of them chatted amicably for awhile. What the girl didn't know was that the man in question had a knife hidden on him. And he was waiting for the opportune moment to strike. To make this lovely woman his own.
Jackson smiles at Sarah and starts walking with her toward his nearby apartment. He has plans, but he needs to get her there first. She's just about right. Though her hair is a bit shorter than he likes.
Sarah is in a bit of a quandary. This guy, Jackson is a charmer, and he's kind of cute. She wouldn't have let the guy pick her up were that not the case, much less talk her into going back to his place after a drink. Sarah thinks of herself as reasonably progressive. Not the slut that her overbearing Catholic mother would label her, certainly, but she does like men, and doesn't condemn herself for enjoying their company. Still, in the last few minutes, she has begun to have doubts about her choice. Jackson is very smooth, but a couple of times she has seen a momentary gleam of something ... not nice ... in his eyes. She doesn't think that she's in any real danger, but Sarah is beginning to work on trying to find a polite way of getting away from him. She is close to 'remembering' some errand when fortune intervenes and her cell phone rings. Trying not to show her relief, she answers it. It's only wrong number, but she takes advantage of the opportunity to pretend that there is some crisis with a friend. Closing down the cell, she makes her 'excuses' and starts shifting towards walking away from the guy.
Jackson sees her pulling away from him. He doesn't like losing his women. And Sarah is walking away from him. He gives her the best smile he can manage and tries to at least talk her into allowing him to walk her to her room. He's got to get the situation under control, soon. If not.. well he has the insurance in his back pocket if he needs it.
Sarah's doubts are starting to really gel now, as Jackson gets more aggressive. Suddenly she feels like she needs to get away from him right then. She tries to decline, saying that she needs to hurry and doesn't want to tie him up, but her smile is getting rather thin, and she's just moments away from just running.
Jackson can sense this. He has to act now. He offers her taxi money, reaching into his back pocket for the insurance next to his wallet. It's dark out here, and the campus, though well lighted, isn't the most perfect place in the world. Campus security is only slightly effective. He offers, trying one last time. Much better to try one more time, try and get her back under control.
It's a good try, and he's really selling it, but Sarah is convinced now, convinced that she needs to get away from this guy. Thanking him again, she starts to back away.
He's loosing it, damn it. There were better ways to do this and now he's lost her. He grabs the switch blade from his back pocket and grabs her, popping the blade out and holding it to her throat. He tells her just to be nice and quiet and he won't hurt her. He needs to get her away from the open area, but that's not going to work where he wanted and he is forced to improvise. He needs to get her into the nearby trees. He drags her toward them, careful to not nick the pretty throat before he gets what he wants, first. Mustn't damage the goods while he's got them.
Steve is walking along, watching Ioan with amusement. "So tell me, Mr. Proper Welshman, just how drunk are you at the moment?"
Ioan laughs. "Well, Mr. Proper Physics Professor, I am fairly drunk. Not enough to, say, go and start singing show tunes or, say, the Philosopher's Song. But I'm pretty buzzed. Not to say that I couldn't successful drink some more. If I'm allowed to drink more. I suppose that will be up to you, Steven, and how drunk you can stand me."
"I'm not sure how brave I am in that regard." He looks Ioan over. "Still, you don't look too heavy. I suppose I could lug you back to campus if I really had to do it. But if you yak on my new sneakers, I will be unhappy." He looks down at his recently-purchased hi-tops.
Ioan laughs. "If I do, I'll buy you a new pair." Ioan claps Steve on the back.
Jackson hears a noise and pauses, looking around to determine where the source is coming from. He has to wait, he can't risk everything now. So he waits, the knife pressed to Sarah's throat, carefully. It's all very careful. What Sarah doesn't know is that, while she's not his first rape, she would be his first kill.
Sarah feels cold terror down her back. The disbelief that this could be happening to her, and then the belief. There's no doubt in her mind that she's about to die, and then she hears it, the sound of faint conversation and approaching footsteps. Sarah has no idea how she manages to take any action, but it's pure survival instinct. Drawing on faint memories of a self-defense class she was pressured into taking over a year ago, Sarah drives her heel down on Jackson's instep, slamming her elbow into his gut at the same time. For a moment, the hand with the knife is away from her throat, and in that moment, Sarah screams and does her best to pull away.
Ioan stops, dead, and looks at Steven. Ioan tilts his head to one side. "Did that sound like a scream to you, Steven?"
Jackson can feel her pulling away and he tries to go after her, it's an attempt to go forward. To grab Sarah by the arm, but she slips from his grasp and she's off. Damn it all to hell, he'll either have to give chase or he'll have let her go. If he doesn't let her get too far, he can still have at her. He attempts to give a limping chase.
Steve is sure that it is, sure enough to react immediately. Feeling a brief stab of nostalgia, he takes off running for the sound, clearly a woman's scream. He sees a young woman emerge from a nearby copse of trees, running like it's for her life, which it might well be. Things take a rather cinematic turn as the fleeing girl catches her ankle on a tree root and falls, screaming again.
A moment later, a young man follows, clearly pursuing her. "Hey, you, leave her alone!" It isn't until he is nearly on top of the guy that Steve sees the knife. It's too late for second thoughts now, he's committed. Steve swings for all he's worth, nearly yelling himself at the pain as his fist connects with the guy's jaw. Some part of Steve was still used to the protection that his power had given him from such things, but those days are over now. The force of the blow skins the knuckles of his hand and hurts like hell.
Ioan stares as Steve's across the grass, incredibly fast, even without his powers. Ioan doesn't even manage an objection before Steve's gone. Jackson is shocked as he's grabbed by some other man. Then the other man hits him, hard, on the chin. Jackson barely has time to think, when he stabs the other man in the stomach in order to get away. His plans are completely interrupted by the appearance of this man.
Ioan sees Steve stumble back, then fall. It's that scene that moves him to action. "Steven!" Ioan runs across the yard. He's not unfit, but it's a bit of a run for him. He skids to a stop in his dress shoes as the bloodied knife is suddenly pointing at him. Ioan's eyes flicker from the knife to the man's face. "I suggest you put that down. No one else needs to get hurt here. Just... set the knife down." He can feel his heart racing, but he can also see the blood slowly spreading across Steve's shirt. He needs medical attention, and Ioan has to get to him, but if he moves, he'll be in trouble.
"Leave her ... alone." It's like a slice of fire in his gut, and Steve can feel the hot rush of his own blood escaping through his fingers. It's bad, very bad.
"Steven, please. I must implore you to be silent. You're bleeding and if you talk too much you'll very likely bleed out before someone can arrive and tend to you." It's a very proper way to speak, given the situation, and Jackson isn't entirely sure what in the nine hells is going on. He's still trying to get Sarah, and now these two men are here, interrupting him. And he's got a nice bruise forming on his jaw, he can feel it.
Ioan returns his attention to the man with a knife. "Just... put the knife down. It's not necessary for anyone else to get hurt." Jackson isn't about to put the knife down and tries to get to Sarah, while keeping this English person at bay. Ioan notices him looking at the young woman and comes to the conclusion that Steven has put him in the uncomfortable position of finishing what Steven has started. The only thing Ioan can think of to do, in order to get the young man to either put down the knife or to run, is to conjure an illusion. And really, this young man did just stab Steven, and he does have a moral obligation to save his friend.
Jackson turns back around, making another grab for Sarah, and he hears a noise. His head whips around and he sees... something very strange.
Ioan is irritated with the blood seeping from Steven's body. And the young man's clear apathy and desire to just get to the girl. Ioan slowly straightens, his dark brown eyes taking on a hard gleam that could rival anything young Jackson could manage with his impulses. But then, Ioan is a great deal more dangerous than Jackson. Drawing off of the energy that feeds his illusions, he pictures a large dog. The wind seems to kick up as he multiplies the single dog into a pack, then into a pack of wolves. Soon, far back in the darkness, there are the sounds of low growls. Ioan pulls in more energy, and soon the pack comes slinking from the shadows. The leader is baring his teeth and growling menacingly. Nothing to give away that it's an illusion.
Christian is walking through the stone walkway that connects the buildings together, tapping on his Blackberry as he walks, when he feels a strong pull of energy. He stops, looking around. He knows of only one other person associated with the campus who would draw that kind of energy from the Astral Plane. And that is Professor Gruffudd. Christan pockets the Blackberry as he shoots across the grass, through the bushes, toward the pulling sensation. The professor must be creating a pretty large and solid illusion to draw that much power. Which should probably indicate trouble. He skids to a stop on the grass, seeing the illusion of the wolf pack, Professor Gruffudd, a man with a knife and a woman on the ground, near Professor Sandvoss. He's ineffectual here, out of his element, and all he can do is watch the drama from the shadows.
Sarah is simply beside herself. She's managed to yank her foot clear of the root that she tripped over, but it's clear from the pain that her ankle is sprained, or worse. These two guys have shown up, and given her a wild hope that she might survive the night, but then suddenly a pack of wolves has shown up from nowhere, and all she can think of is getting away. Grabbing onto the tree, she tries to pull herself up.
Jackson looks at the wolves, and at the man in front of him. There's something in Jackson's black soul that recognizes he's outclassed. This man in front of him, no matter how mild mannered and meek looking, outranks Jackson in the sociopathic hierarchy. The switchblade disappears and Jackson flees the scene as fast as he can, backing down from the greater man. Damn it, now that's two hunting grounds he's lost to others. More dangerous others. Others who somehow can do more than he can. Perhaps Chicago is a bad hunting ground all around.
Ioan waits until the younger man is gone in the night. He releases the energy, and the wolves disappear. He pulls a handkerchief from his jacket pocket as he moves and presses it against Steve's bleeding stomach to try and clot the blood. Christian hurries across the grass once more. "Professor!"
Ioan looks up. "Mr. Coulson! Help the young lady. And call for medical personnel! Quickly! I know you have a mobile on you!" Ioan straddles Steve's waist and presses down on the wound, feeling the blood soak into the flimsy fabric.
Steve looks up at Ioan, beginning to feel a deep cold taking hold of his body. "Ioan ... someone needs to know ... I think I've seen ... the source ... " His voice trails off, the blood loss taking it's toll.
"Damn it. We'll discuss it when you're better. For right now you need to just keep breathing. Mr. Coulson! Mr. Coulson! Christian! For God's sake, call whatever number is used in America for emergencies and help the young woman!" Ioan looses his temper and snaps at his assistant.
Christan hops over to the young woman and attempts to calm her down, while fumbling for his Blackberry and trying to dial 911.
Ioan presses hard on the bleeding wound. "Stay with me, Steven. Stay awake, let's not go into shock, shall we? It's terribly rude, what with it being my birthday and all."
Steve looks back at him, wincing at the spike of pain as Ioan leans on the wound. I'm not afraid ... I'm not afraid ... His lips move, but Steve doesn't think that he's actually making any sound. It's true though, somehow, he's not afraid. Somehow he knows - it's going to be ok. Einstein had been right, about the most important thing. Whoever or whatever was 'in charge', wasn't playing dice with the universe. Steve clings to that thought as the cold moves through him like clutching fingers. At the end of consciousness, he can hear sirens ...
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