7/1 Issue: Torturous Timing

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7/1 Issue: Torturous Timing

Post by Slarti » Fri Jul 02, 2021 5:34 am

Timelined after It's a Small, Small World.

Jamie: Jamie's arm was starting to go to sleep under Jean's head, but he didn't care. It was the most normal thing he had felt in ...however long they had been here... and they both needed the comfort of a normal snuggle. He closed his eyes and took a slow breath in, hoping to not move his chest so much that she woke up.

Jamie: Jamie turned ever-so-slowly onto his side, pulling her in closer to him, and burying his nose in her hair. This place sucked. Understatement. Yeah, that's true. This place was hell. Arcade was a demon. And Jamie knew there was nothing he could do to protect her when they were split like that... Arcade proved it with this last stunt. This last murder.

Jean: Jean really wished she could just stay asleep. She was warm, and as comfortable as she could get, considering. Jamie's movement made her half-wake and she pressed her face against him and twitched, clinging tighter. Breathing was optional right now.

Jamie: Jamie felt the cling and froze, trying to not even breathe. Don't. Wake her. Up. Dreamland is a million times better than Wakeland.

Jean: She moved her head just a bit so she could breathe and realized she no longer felt the reassuring rise and fall of his chest. "Hmm?"

Jamie: Dammit. "Shh. Go back to sleeeep," he tried to singsong a lullaby. "Dream happy dreaaaams."

Jean: Oh good, he was alive. She smiled a little. It was a valid concern right now, again, considering. The singing made her sigh and give him a squeeze.

Jamie: It was working! He gave her a tiny squeeze back and kept up the singsong voice. "Don't let me wake yoooouuuuu. Sleep for as long as you need toooooo. When you wake up we'll be..." What to say without bringing up a sad memory or even a happy one that would make her sad? "...still snuggliiiiiiing." ...wow.

Jean: Jean giggled. God, she loved this idiot. Now she was mostly awake and since his bare skin was right there, she kissed it.

Jamie: Oh right, he was pretty much naked. ...kind of. He tried really hard not to grin about that reminder, but failed. "Go back to sleeeeep, baaaaabe. I'll be heeeere when you waaaaake... Laaaateeeerrrrr..."

Jean: She raised her head a little to look at him with a smile. "You're here right now," she said, voice a little slurred.

Jamie: Shit. "Jean," he said softly, "go back to sleep, babe. Please?"

Jean: She raised her hand to pet him. "I'm okay. Wanna just... be with you."

Jamie: "Well, you are... so you win?" Jamie leaned his head down to kiss her forehead. "Jeannie... I've been thinking... about where we are..." That wasn't the best way to start this conversation, but oh well. Too late now. Right? Maybe. "Us, I mean. Not... here." Not helping.

Jean: She pushed herself up on one elbow to study his face as he babbled, her eyebrows up. The link would be super helpful right about now.

Jamie: Yeaaaah... That look confirmed that he was making an ass out of himself. "So... um..." Jamie cleared his throat and tried again, "I want you to know that I love you and I'll always love you no matter what."

Jean: Jean's brows drew down. "I love you, too." She frowned. Wait. "...you know I don't want to stay here with this psycho, right? I want you. You're... everything I ever really wanted." She reached for his cheek, touching lightly.

Jamie: Oh shit. This was not going well at all. "No! Nononononono. That's not what I'm talking about!" Was there any way to salvage this? Jamie took her hand and kissed her palm. "I'm just... I don't want you to think that there's anything that would ever make me stop loving you."

Jean: "Oh. You mean... if he..." Jean swallowed and wrapped her fingers around his hand.

Jamie: "I don't know what he's capable of... And I don't know how to keep you safe from him..." Failure. That's what he was. A giant failure. "So, I just want to make sure you know that..."

Jean: Jean shook her head and leaned up to give him a quick kiss. "It's not your fault, Jamie."

Jamie: He gave her a suspicious look. Were her powers on? He couldn't feel her in his head, but maybe that was because his weren't on? "Maybe. Maybe not."

Jean: She pushed herself up a little more and freed her hand to cup his face. "None of this is your fault," she said slowly. "And I will always love you. Always."

Jamie: Jamie gave her a small smile and leaned down to give her a soft kiss. "That's good to know. I mean, I knew it already. But I didn't know it. I mean, out loud." Why were words so hard?!

Jean: "I miss our link right now..." Because she was so confused where he was going with this. "Just... tell me what's going on?"

Jamie: He grumbled and pushed to sit up, taking her right hand in his. "Um. Well." Easier said than done? Yeaaah... especially here. "I'm really sorry for what I'm about to do, but not because I'm going to do it. Um. I'll explain after I do it." He cleared his throat and pulled her ring from her right hand, then pushed to be on one knee. "Jean Anne Grey, will you marry me?" Say yes. Please say yes.

Jean: Jean sat up when he did and though she was feeling better she was stiff and her belly and head ached when she moved. Sorry for...? Her mouth dropped open when he took her ring and got on his knee. OMG.

Jamie: Oh. Well that wasn't good. Jamie cleared his throat again and steeled himself for another rejection. This was just as bad as pig shit. Do better, Madrox! Instead of doing better, Jamie opened his mouth to try and explain his reasoning, "Iknowit'sbadbutIthoughtitmighthelpyourememberlaterifsomethingelsehappensthatI'minthisforeverandI'msorrythatIsuckattiming." ...Perfect.

Jean: Her breath caught in her throat and all she heard of that was "I suck at timing." She couldn't help herself, she giggled. Uh, yeah. Understatement. Then she caught his expression and realized he was panicking. "Jamie," she started, but it came out choked. "Yes, of course. Yes." She pitched into him and hugged him tight, half laughing and half sobbing.

Jamie: All of Jamie's breath went out of him in a whoosh of air when he heard the yes, then she was attached to him and he sucked it back in. Then he started laughing. She said yes! Thank God! He held her for a minute, then pulled back so he could put the ring on her left hand. "I don't know if we'll ever get out of here... and I don't want to die not being at least engaged for real to you. I love you, babe."

Jean: She gave him just enough space to slide the filthy little ring on her equally filthy hand. "I love you." She sniffled, tackling him again and turning her face into his neck to breathe him in. Then his words sank in. "I don't want to live without you. Either we both get out or neither of us do."

Jamie: Oh. Jamie took a second to let that sink in, then pulled back to frown at her, "I won't let you cast yourself into the flames of my funeral pyre just because you don't want to live without me. If you can get out, then get out. Live a full life and raise our furbabies well."

Jean: Jean smiled a little at him and let her tears spill over. "It's not 'just because,' Jamie." Although thinking about Breathless and the Figaros made her sad.

Jamie: Jamie ran his thumb over the ring now in the place he'd intended it to be so many years ago and sat in silence for a moment. He looked back up at her face with a sad smile, "I know, Jeannie. But I need you safe. If I die, don't make it be in vain. Do everything you can to get somewhere safe. Far away from loons like Arcade..."

Jean: She watched their hands, meeting his eyes when he looked up. Jean swallowed and laced their fingers together. "If you..." she had to pause to take a hitching breath. After a moment, she cleared her throat "I'm taking him to hell with me."

Jamie: "Now waitamin-" Jamie blinked when he realized Jean was no longer in front of him. And he was no longer in the white room. He couldn't move his arms, so he looked up to his wrists, then looked down at his ankles. He was strapped to something... Something colorful. There was writing on sections of it, but he couldn't read it from the angles he was trying since he wasn't able to move. "What the fuck, dude?"

Jean: Fucking teleporting bullshit! Jean's head spun and her stomach flipped as she staggered and almost fell. No. Nonononono. Not again. "Jamie?!" She started to turn in a circle and there he was... on a wheel?

Jamie: "Jean?" At least he could see her. Not that that would do him any good if he needed to protect her... "What is this thing that I'm strapped to?" In the distance he heard himself..ves? groan and tried to crane his neck to see, but couldn't. "Why am I hearing dupes?"

Jean: Jean took a few steps toward Jamie on the wheel, her head cocking to read. "....waterboard?" Movement in the shadows to her right got her attention and she realized just behind the wheel there was a dupe... on a giant X. "Because..." She moved to check on him, shirtless and half conscious. Looking around, she saw others. "Oh, God..."

Jamie: "....That's not a good thing to say and then not tell me what's happening, Jean," his voice was a little high pitched and panicky. "Care to share with the class?"

Arcade: "Well now that would spoil the surprise, if she did! Welcome to my latest game!"

Jean: "He's got your dupes strung up!" His high voice jerked her out of her daze and she spun back to Jamie Prime, going up on her toes to reach for the ties around his wrist. She screamed at Arcade's disgustingly cheerful voice and worked harder to free Jamie.

Arcade: Arcade tsked at Jean's attempts and bound her wrists together with pink handcuffs. "I can't have you cheating, you understand."

Jean: "Fuck you!" She kept trying, but overbalanced and fell into the wheel, and Jamie, unable to catch herself.

Jamie: Jamie dipped his head, trying to hold her close to him and protect her from the maniac, with any means available. He was failing miserably. "Shh, it's gonna be okay, Jeannie. Promise."

Arcade: He laughed at their misfortune and had a chair appear just behind Jean's legs to knock her into it. "We will be playing the game shortly. But first! The rules!"

Jean: She squeaked as her ass landed in the chair. True to his word, Jamie had given her his pants and they were too big, immediately sliding down and threatening to fall off. Jean looked up at Jamie, meeting his eyes as her own filled with tears. "I love you."

Jamie: Jamie roared and pulled at his restraints, trying to get to Jean. "If you so much as touch her, I'll kill you myself." Somehow. His gaze slipped back to Jean and he tried to smile at her, "I love you, too. Forever. Promise."

Arcade: Rolling his eyes, he stepped up to the wheel and gave it a spin, "Oh, shut up. This is giving me a cavity and I prefer for cotton candy to do that." Arcade turned a sneering grin to Jean as Jamie went round and round. "Where do you think it will land? What should we do first, hmm?"

Jean: "Forever." She screamed when Arcade started the wheel spinning. "Leave him alone! You fucker!" She fought her way back to her feet and took a swing at him with her fuzzily bound fists. "I swear to God I'll kill you!"

Arcade: "Now, now. Don't threaten me with a good time!" He blew her a kiss and her ankles became shackled. The tik-tik-tik of the wheel slowed and came to a stop. "We have a winner!" Arcade bent nearly in half to try and meet Jamie's eyes as he grinned at him. "Don't get so dizzy you puke. Maybe try closing your eyes next time?"

Arcade: He stood straight and adjusted his bow tie. "Anyyywayyyy! The lucky torture of choice for this round of roulette is branding! Oooh! That's exciting! If I brand this one, do the others get branded too? Or vise versa? Who should go first?" He stepped back so he could see his display of Jamies hung on giant rebar X-frames. "Eeny, meeny, miney, mo..."

Jean: Jean fell, hitting the floor hard since she couldn't break her fall, her head rebounding off the surface. She saw stars for a moment and whimpered, fighting to stay awake and squirmed to see Jamie and what the crazy was doing. Branding?! "No! None of them!"

Jean: The lighting in the room brightened and she saw them now... he'd been hoarding dupes? What. The. Fuck. "J-Jamie... how'd he get so many..."

Arcade: "No need to answer her, dear James! I'll do it for you!" He booped Jamie on the mouth and it was sealed shut, bringing about lots of muffled, what Arcade assumed, cursing. Music to his ears. He grinned and pointed at a few of the dupes, "These were fun test subjects who didn't die in the initial rounds of torture," pointed to a few more, "these hardy gentlemen survived whack-a-dupe," and the last of them, "and these? These have been stored away for ...well... Now!"

Jean: Jean's mouth dropped open when he closed Jamie's mouth. She kept her eyes on his as much as she could, but all of his dupes... "Why?!" She struggled to sit up, pushing herself over to Jamie Prime with her feet and losing his pants in the process. She couldn't reach him, but being closer made her feel a little better. "None of this is fun, you sick fuck!" Some of the dupes seemed to be coming around.

Arcade: "No? You really don't think so? Well, that might change things a bit, don't you think, Mr. Madrox?" At Jamie's angry writhing, Arcade nodded solemnly, "Indeed. That was my first thought, also." One of the X-frames walked forward to be even with the wheel. "Jean! You get to play!"

Jean: "What?! What the fuck does that mean?!" She looked up at the groggy dupe on the X, his head hanging forward and hair in his eyes. Swallowing, she shot a look at her Jamie, whose face was so red she hoped he didn't give himself an aneurysm.

Arcade: "That means that I'm going to show you how much fun this really is!" His grin fell to a menacing glare and the pitch of his voice dropped as well, "Or else."

Jean: Jean returned the glare. Should she play along? Look for an opening to murder this clown? Flat out refuse? What should she dooo?

Jamie: Jamie was about to figure out just how to break his bonds and murder this asshat if he brought Jean into this and he let him know by trying to scream at him. But, of course, got no actual words out.

Jamie: The dupe blinked and lifted his heavy head, seeing Jean and a cute little clown staring each other down. "S'it time f'r my shift yet? 'mma be late, so should call in."

Jean: The inhuman noise Jamie made got Jean's attention and she fought with herself. She couldn't lose her shit right now. Later. Then she heard his voice and looked over at the dupe. Time for his shift? "Jamie?" She tried, since at least the dupe could talk. "Are you okay?" She winced. Yeah. He was great. Clearly.

Jamie: "Huhwhu?" Was this not a dream? "Circus citrus fruit."

Arcade: Clearly this one was insane. Even better! "Here you go!" A hot branding iron appeared in Arcade's hand and he passed it to Jean. "Press it wherever you want on either one of them and let the fun begin!"

Jean: Jean found herself on her feet with a branding iron in her bound hands. She eeped and fought to keep her balance and try to yank up Jamie's pants without burning herself.

Arcade: "Come now! Don't be shy! After all, he did say 'forever' earlier, so what have you got to worry about?! He'll survive this one at least!"

Jean: "I can't even stand!" Maybe if he got just a liiiiittle closer she could put the poker through his puke green eyeball?

Arcade: Sighing, he snapped his fingers and the chain shackling her ankles got long enough for her to walk and a belt looped through the pants to keep them on her waist. "Needy, needy."

Jean: Well, fuck, he hadn't moved. Jean swallowed and shuffled closer to the dupe. His face was about level with hers thanks to the X and she tried to catch his gaze. "Hey? What's he done to you?"

Jamie: Jamie blinked and tried hard to focus on the face in front of him. He knew that face. "Nothing worse than you've done to me."

Jean: Her breath hitched and she shook her head, feeling the waterworks priming itself again. "I love you. I've... never, ever wanted to hurt you."

Jamie: "Pshhhhhhhhh." Jamie's head was heavy, so he let it fall forward again. "Pink hair, don't care. Buh-bye now."

Arcade: Both of his eyebrows went up and he couldn't help but laugh. "He doesn't love you after all! So it should be even more fun for you now!"

Jean: Somehow, she knew. She'd met this dupe before, with Carol, smarming at a bar. "No, he does," she whispered. "They all do." Jean pretended to let the branding iron fall. Instead, before he could stop her, she spun around and aimed for Arcade's face.

Arcade: A clear wall appeared between them and he tsked at Jean. "My dear, my darling, my dumb fool. Did you really think it would be that easy? Did you think that I would have handed you a weapon without assuming you would use it against me?"

Jean: "I was hoping." Jean let the iron drop and instead went for the dupe, trying to see if she could get him free. "Help me here, Jamie..."

Arcade: The iron flew of its own accord and hit Jamie Prime in the neck. The sizzle of flesh made Arcade grin and as Prime screamed behind a sealed mouth, he watched the dupe for a reaction. Nothing. Disappointing.

Jean: Giving up on the bar dick, since he seemed unconscious again, she screamed for Prime and flung herself at that invisible wall again. "Fuck you!" She couldn't see Jamie well enough from her position to see how badly he was hurt.

Jamie: "Eventually, yes! For now, we play, though!" The branding iron disappeared and the wheel set itself to spinning again. "Would you like to play along? Or shall I force you to watch as I slowly murder your boyfriends?"

Jean: "Fiance," she corrected. The wall vanished and she went to Jamie Prime, but he was spinning. "I'll... play." She barely ground the words out. At least, she'd pretend, and try harder next time.

Arcade: "Wonderful!" A baton appeared in his hand and he gave it a twirl, then pointed it dramatically at the wheel as it stopped. "What shall we mutilate next?!" Arcade made a frustrated noise as it landed on 'branding' again. "No, no, no! That won't do!" He stomped his foot and the wheel ticked over one more space. "Amputation?! Much better! Come claim your prize, Jean! And pick what part you want to chop off of the one who hates you!"

Jean: Amputation?! "He doesn't hate me..." He might though, very soon. Jean brought her hands up to clasp in front of her chest and looked from Prime and the nasty burn on his neck to the bound dupes. Her gaze tracked back to Prime and she met his teary eyes.

Jamie: Prime weakly made protesting noises and tried to shake his head 'no', but he winced when it moved the wound on his neck.

Arcade: "Which will it be, dearie? The fake or the real? And remember, if you don't.... I will."

Jean: "They're all real," she protested, swallowing. Jean mouthed I'm sorry to him and started moving slowly toward the dupe. Stall. Think. Stall! Think!

Arcade: "Of course they are! They feel pain. But you know that you don't see them as your Jamie. Do you?" He gave her a wicked grin and a table appeared in front of the dupe full of amputation tools. "Take your pick!"

Jean: Was that a bone saw?! WTF. "They're part of him..." There was no way she could do this.

Arcade: "Maybe so, maybe no. Pick up a tool and start cutting." His voice turned chipper, "Or I get to play!"

Jean: She started to pick something that wouldn't do much damage, then rethought her tactic and went for a large serrated blade. Maybe turning it on Arcade would work better this time. Still, as she reached for it her hands wouldn't stop shaking.

Arcade: Arcade saw the tremor in her hand and a gleeful giggle tumbled from him. "The anticipation is killing him! I love it!" It was true. The dupe was having trouble breathing and was glistening with nervous sweat.

Jean: The chipper commentary made her jump and look up at the dupe, immediately fumbling the blade.

Arcade: The fumble made his giggle turn to guffaws and then he got an idea. The blade bounced, seemingly of its own accord, and cut a gash in the bottom of the dupe's foot. The reward was a scream from him and a muffled scream from Prime. "Goody goody gumdrops! Now do it right."

Jean: Jean choked on a sob and looked over at Jamie on the wheel and the dupe in front of her. "I-I'll stay with you!"

Jamie: Prime yelled as best as he could from behind his sealed mouth, shaking his head as hard as he could, not caring about the pain in his neck.

Arcade: Arcade's back straightened and his head cocked to the side in interest, "Will you now? Lovely! Then we'll have no need of this game! Well... Except maybe once more." Arcade gave the wheel a spin, "Since you're staying, he'll be going and the wheel will tell us how!"

Jean: "No! No, you let him go! You let them all go! Alive!" She was fighting to make her words understandable through her tears. "W-with all their parts!"

Arcade: "Ohh..." He tsked and gave her a sad face, "You thought that I would still be willing to honor the deal from before? You sad, sad little girl. You already turned me down, so I've moved on! You stay, they die!"

Jean: Ofc. Her desperate ploy for time wasn't working and she let herself collapse at the dupe's feet, in a puddle of his blood.

Arcade: His eyes narrowed and all of the implements on the table lifted into the air and pointed towards Prime. "Do as I say or he dies. For good."

Jean: Jean reached for bar dupe's foot and pressed her palm against the sole to stop the bleeding. After a moment, she realized she could feel him. Fear. Pain. Rage. It wasn't just the dupe, either.

Jamie: Jamie's eyes tried to focus on the shining objects hovering around him and Jean with his dupe, but he couldn't focus on all of it... Jean... do it.

Arcade: Arcade frowned at the extra light he saw from the corner of his eyes and looked down at Jean. Her eyes were on fire. That wasn't normal.

Jean: It was Jamie, she was was sure of it. Jean wasn't sure herself what was going on until Arcade looked down at her in mild shock. Jamie? She wasn't sure if he could hear her, and she wasn't sure she was hearing him, but something was happening.

Jean: Jean reached for the nearest floating blades and turned them back toward Arcade. She let them fly.

Arcade: Arcade squealed and ducked the blades, turning them into butterflies just before they would have hit him. "That was just RUDE!" He stood and glowered at Jean. "You will learn your place." A glass cylinder encompassed Jean and the dupe.

Jean: Fuck! In her panic, it took her a moment to realize she still had her powers, or at least a very specific portion of them. Phoenix. Jean dragged herself to her feet and tried to get the dupe to look at her. "Hey, hey..." She patted his cheek to try to rouse him.

Jamie: The dupe groaned and tried to open his eyes to look at her, but they slipped back shut before he could keep them open for long.

Jamie: Jeannie?! Jamie wasn't sure it would work, but he needed to try. He couldn't use his mouth, after all... Do whatever he asks, just don't die. Please.

Arcade: He glared and walked over, tapping on the glass with the end of his baton. "Hey! Hey, you! You're my toy! So let me play with you!"

Jean: Jean turned to glare at Arcade when he tapped, still trying to get the dupe to focus. She ran her fingers through his hair and heard Prime in her head. Same, baby. I'm going to try to get him.

Jean: She was starting to wonder if he couldn't block her powers right now since he wasn't. "I don't appreciate your games."

Arcade: "Everyone appreciates my games!" He slammed the end of his baton on the ground and the ground started crumbling under Jamie Prime and his murder wheel. "They appreciate them or they die!"

Jean: "NO!" Jean watched the wheel pitch to the side and felt the flames rise inside her and explode outward, taking the glass with it.

Arcade: Arcade was getting more and more angry with his inability to control what was happening. "Unacceptable! I will fix you!" But for now...

Jamie: Jamie slammed against the floor of the white room and had the wind knocked out of him. What the absolute fuck?

Jean: Jean's fall was broken by a body - Jamie's body. She groaned and reached for her powers, but this time didn't sense Jamie's presence. She pushed herself up to check on Jamie... Jamies?

Jamie: Jamie let out an 'oof' and was so grateful to make a sound through his mouth that he started laughing and wrapped Jean up in his arms as tight as he could without hurting her.

Jean: "Are you okay?" She moved into a more comfortable spot so she wouldn't squish him and returned the tight hug, then pulled back to turn his head and inspect his neck.

Jamie: "Yeah, I'll live." He let her inspect him for long enough that she could see he wasn't bleeding out, then turned his head to catch her lips with his. "Are you?"

Jean: "Yeah," she mumbled against his mouth, returning the kiss and breaking it to raise her eyes just over Jamie's shoulder. "And I brought a passenger..." The dupe she'd been trapped with lay on his side, still unconscious.

Jamie: Jamie turned his head to see himself and blinked. "That'll be fun later... Or not. I vote not. This is going to get confusing."

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