Growing Pains

Valkyrie

War
Birds of Prey
Real Name
Ashley Oldenburg
Missions
547
Ability
Ability to instill self-doubt, turmoil and intimidation
Savage's Cabin

Back in the warmth of the cabin, their earlier conversation about human attachments fresh in her mind, Ashley asked whether he had always lived alone here. Or perhaps there was someone, who had broken the loneliness for him.

Savage: “When I was younger I struggled to resist the moon-shift. I built this cabin so I could come here when the moon was close to full, To stay and shift, safely away from my wife and children. And then after they were gone, this became my solitary retreat from the world for decades. You are the first I have shared it with, My Ashley.”

She wasn't sure if that made her happy or sad.

"I like that this is our place."

And then it was like a bomb went off in the kitchen - it made her want to cover her ears and she almost did, but then the little cub was darting out from the kitchen, it's fur all puffed out in distress. And Eclipse came after it.

AJ: “Eclipse, no!”

She quickly reached down and picked up the cub, cradling it once more protectively against her chest. Eclipse was showing more teeth than a dentist's office.

AJ: “Out.”

"So much for 'my scent on the cub will make the pack accept her'."

He had taken care of it though, Eclipse traipsing off into the kitchen.

The cub had buried her head in the crook of Ashley's arm, so she stroked the cub gently and spoke to it.

"Maybe you better come with me."

Ashley walked to AJ and stood on her toes to give him a kiss on the cheek.

"I'm going to take that shower."

Then she grinned at him mischievously.

"You can clean up the kitchen."

She headed up the stairs to the bedroom and shut the door before setting the cub down. Ashley sat on the floor next to the cat, stroking her fur.

"Did that big mean wolf try and get you?"

The cat hopped into her lap, trying to climb on her, so Ashley picked the cub up again. She hugged it to her chest, and realized that inexplicably tears were starting to come to her eyes. The enormity of what had almost happened hit her like a ton of bricks. Just like the poor cub had lost its mother, Ashley could have lost AJ. In the necessity of the moment - getting the bullet out, making the trip back to the cabin - she had pushed it out of her mind. But now that the danger had passed and everything was quiet, the realization came. What would she have done if he hadn't been able to heal? Laid down next to him and died too. She couldn't think of any other alternative. She had lived through the death of someone she loved once; she didn't want to do it again. And she didn't want to be alone again.
 
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Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
The day had been absolutely perfect, and the night was following suit. As they strolled along the streets of Paris, the sun was setting behind the horizon and the night's sky was becoming as bright as the city scape. They had picked a perfect night to take in the sights for it was the start of the Parisian Nuit des Lumières [Night of Lights], a week long event that celebrated the historic Eiffel Tower. There were more food street vendors than usual that filled the park, along with little tents for games and different activities for kids. It was almost like an American carnival minus the rides. John took the opportunity to buy them both some crepes, an act that Ava happily accepted. Taking a bite of the sweet cream and berries, they made their way along the paved walkway weaving around the mass of people.

John: "Maybe we should spend more time here. There's nothing that says we have to be in New York all the time. We could buy an apartment - or a townhouse even."

That made Ava smile.

"I would absolutely love that."

The thought of being able to escape Hellfire and come to a place that was now 'theirs' sounded perfect.

"We could even look at a few places while we're here?"

She added, thinking that if they found a place before they left, they could just buy it and make it official. Ava's eyes scanned the park filled with people, lights, and activities.

"I mean...could you imagine this time next year? We could come back again for the festival, except this time, stay in our own home."

She mused with a smile, the thought making her so incredibly happy. Ava took one more bite of her crepe before throwing the rest away and brushing the powdered sugar off her hands. She then wrapped her arms around John's neck, giving him a sweet kiss, quite literally.

"This could be our home. Our new Arklay."

Ava hugged John tightly, resting her chin onto his shoulder. They had escaped to Arklay when Ava couldn't take the situation with Haleigh, Alek, and Cameron anymore. When it felt like her entire world had fallen apart. But it still felt like she was at Hellfire, surrounded by the same suffocating politics and drama of the club. But to come to Paris? To have a home that was only hers and John's? It was something Ava needed. She held him tightly, looking out to the festival -- out to the place that could be their new home...and that was when she saw her.

FLASH

Central Park

The moment was wonderful and the world around them slowed, that was until a crash next to Ava brought her back to reality, making her jump with a start. A rogue soccer ball had been kicked into the bench behind her, crashing into her coffee cup and causing it to burst everywhere - including on Ava - and topple to the grass. A little girl, no older than six, came running up looking horrified. The little girl had beautiful long brown hair and brilliant blue eyes. Ava could immediately tell she was truly upset for what had happened, her eyes flooded with fear.

Little Girl: "I'm sorry! I-I didn't mean to..."

"It's alright, sweetheart...you have a pretty powerful kick, huh?"

The little girl still seemed hesitant, unsure of how to respond.

Little Girl: "But...but your pretty outfit..."

She pointed to the side of Ava's outfit that had coffee spilled all over it. Ava smiled warmly, making it a point to get off the bench and kneel on the dirty grass in front of the little girl to show her it didn't matter. She leaned in as if she were telling her a secret.

"The perks of wear black."

FLASH


Ava's smile fell, her eyes widening with both confusion and uncertainty. She watched the little girl run and laugh, playing with a sparkler across the park. The same little girl from Central Park....or was she? The little girl disappeared amongst a group of kids, Ava unconsciously moving from John's arms in an attempt not to lose sight of her, but she was gone.

FLASH

Woman: "Lily?! Lily!"

A cold, older looking woman with a severe face came rushing forward, grabbing the little girl's hand roughly making Ava look up at her with both surprise and concern.

Woman: "What did I tell you about kicking your ball by the walking path?"

FLASH

Lily...


The name echoing in her head again and again. Then it came in a wave; the pulsing pain she had experienced earlier in her head. Wincing in, Ava grabbed her temple and shut her eyes tightly.

FLASH

"What are you doing here?"

FLASH

Voice:
"She won't remember."

Voice: "If she does--"

Voice: "She WON'T."

FLASH

She stopped in the middle of the black corridor, the fluttering of wings filling her stomach. It caught her off guard, her hand going to her stomach in confusion.

FLASH


Ava's hand went to her stomach, audibly gasping in pain as she tried to make sense of what was happening. Everything was so blurred, like a dream you could almost remember but can't quite make out the details. She heard voices....voices that were warped and unrecognizable. She could feel how close she was to remembering something, but she couldn't, damnit she couldn't. It was right there, so close....but just as quickly as the pain started, it stopped.

The crowds voices and music of the festival all faded back to the forefront, Ava's eyes slowly opening as she shakily tried to catch her breath. It was then she remembered the little girl, her eyes quickly looking back up into the direction of where she first saw her. But she was no where in sight...gone just as quickly as she was there. Or was she even there to begin with? Confusion and uncertainty filled Ava's dark eyes...what was happening to her?
 
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Berserker

'bout to show you what Hell looks like
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Aleksander Hallbjörn
Residence
New York City
Missions
994
Ability
Strength
The White Corridor

There was a crowd now, and everyone was talking. Erika was acting like she was in charge which he really didn't care about as long as she fixed this. The longer Haleigh stayed like this the worse it seemed, and it was killing him that he couldn't seem to help her. The only thing that was even a bit of a distraction was the idea that their daughter might already have powers and could be doing this. He was admittedly more than a little curious what Calder might find out - but he intended to be very clear what the consequences would be should anything happen to the his daughter while the Rook was doing whatever it was he did.

It comforted him that the consensus seemed to be that the children would protect themselves from harm.

Erika: "Elena is right. We have to operate under the assumption that the children stopped this from happening before disaster. If they have that kind of sentience, I feel like they would be able to detect that we are helping..and quite honestly, this might act as a very thorough lie detector test. If anybody has ill will towards these children, they will protect themselves."

"If anybody has any ill will towards these children, they're going to need a whole hell of lot of protection of their own."

He would pulverize any of them who moved to harm a hair on either child. Elena rolled her eyes at him.

Elena: "No one wants to harm the children, so let's focus please."

Heidi brought the conversation back to using Calder, and the Rook looked to him for confirmation before agreeing, which Alek liked. He nodded his consent.

Calder: "Okay. I can do this."

"You WILL do this."

Calder: "Yes, sir."

And then Elena suddenly had a problem with the White Knight's plan for him to hold Haleigh back. Of course, truth be told, the idea of letting Haleigh kill Cameron wasn't without appeal. But he was quick to bring up the very real possibility that Elena would just let Cameron go right ahead and kill Haleigh, which would be fantastic for her apparent bid to be the second Mrs. King.

Heidi: "Which is why Calder is well suited to be copying Cameron's telepathy. Him and Elena both should be able to overpower my King's attack, and Calder can be your inside man watching for the double cross - Because no, I don't trust you with my Queen. As I said before, no offense intended."

It made sense, because he knew he himself wouldn't risk Haleigh just to gain Cameron's death, and he had to go on the assumption that Elena would feel the same about Cameron. And if she didn't? He had every confidence that his new Rook would tell him. And then he'd kill her.

Adriana: "Are we going to do this, or stand around debating it until the babies are born?"

Erika: "She's right. Look, the level of distrust here? It's what caused THAT..."

He scoffed.

"The 'level of distrust' ain't going anywhere, sister."

Erika: "We all have our reasons. We all have our agendas. But from all this talk it's clear that we all want to protect these children. Despite what ANY of us think about their parents, those kids need their parents. And they will be good parents. You wanted a new Hellfire, well? You got it. So for now, we just have to trust the fact that we all have the same goal in mind. And we are all goal oriented people. I'll need some time to figure out a spell that can even attempt to broach this forcefield, and we need to see if Adriana and Gia are even capable of affecting that energy. Jack, certainly there has to be some kind of science machine you have around that might be able to allow them to test their abilities on said energy? If not, can you please help figure out a way to test this? We only have one shot, and we can't fuck it up. Alek, since your so untrusting, might you assist me with my research? I think I have the type of magick I'll have to channel in mind, but another set of eyes might help in the library."

At first he thought she was joking.

When he realized she was serious, he narrowed his eyes. It sounded like a trick. But, he supposed, at least he could keep an eye on her. So he nodded.

Erika: "I hate to say to everyone else to sit around and wait, but until we can figure out this forcefield, there's not much for everyone else to do. But don't stop coming up with ideas. Research, see if you can figure out something we aren't seeing yet. We need the brain power if we are going to pull this off. Does that sound good?"

He turned to address his people.

"Jack, work with Adriana and Gia. Make it work, as only you can. And Calder,"

He eyed Elena, not unsuspiciously.

"Maybe you should work on the telepathy thing with Miss Estrada. She's still a Red Court associate, even if she is wearing white."

Calder nodded and looked at Elena. Elena crossed her arms and gave Alek a smug smile.

Elena: "I can teach anyone. I learned from the best, after all."
 
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Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
Paris

It had been a perfect afternoon, and it was turning into a perfect night. His eyes flitted excitedly around at the festivalgoers, the vendors and street performers. He had never attended something like this when he was a child, so he took special glee in seeing it all unfurl around him. He spoke without really thinking, suggesting maybe they should spend more time here, buy a place even. But Ava seemed excited by the idea, which made him smile.

Ava: "We could even look at a few places while we're here?"

He had finished off his crepe and he was licking the sugar from his lips, but her words made his eyes widen. He had really expected her to say they could just stay in a hotel, that they couldn't spend that much time away.

"Really? That would be excellent. Really excellent."

Ava: "I mean...could you imagine this time next year? We could come back again for the festival, except this time, stay in our own home."

"Our own home..."

He echoed.

He'd never really had a home, at least not a happy one. And then he'd moved around wherever Ava was. Even the mansion now that he was king didn't really feel like home. The idea of the two of them having a place that was theirs and only theirs? It seemed like a crazy dream.

Ava: "This could be our home. Our new Arklay."

Ava slipped into his arms, like she was meant to always be there. His arms came around her, holding her tight.

"This is the best birthday ever."

And then he felt Ava tense in his arms.

"What's wrong babe?"

And then she was moving, like she had seen something.

"What is it?"

He pulled back so he could look at her face, and that was when he saw her face contort in pain, her eyes clamping shut and her hand going to her head. She looked like she had earlier, on the balcony. He took hold of her again so she wouldn't fall.

"Ava?"

Her eyes opened, and some of the tension left her body.

"What happened?"

He was worried. This wasn't normal, though he knew she would try and act like it was no big deal again. He looked into her eyes, his own filled with concern.

"We should get you back to the hotel."
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
What's wrong babe? What is it? Ava?

She heard John's voice like it was an echo in the distance, unsure of what he was saying but knowing he was there. All Ava could focus on was the little girl she saw and the pain in her head. It all happened so fast, the memories flashing in her mind like hazy dreams. She didn't know what to make of it or why all of a sudden it hit her out of nowhere. But as soon as the pain was gone, Ava's focus went back to the little girl, her eyes darting up toward where she had seen her before.

John: "What happened?"

Her eyes moved from person to person, trying to find Lily within the crowd. She didn't know why, but Ava felt such desperation to see her - fear filled her stomach at the thought of never seeing her again.

"I don't know..."

She murmured, the words barely audible from her lips. A large group of people made their way past where she had seen Lily before, hope filling Ava's heart that maybe she would be there once they cleared, but she wasn't. The hope was replaced with nausea, Ava swallowing hard. She felt John's grasp on her tighten as he began to guide her down the walkway toward the hotel a couple blocks away.

John: "We should get you back to the hotel."

"No...I--"

Ava tried to stand her ground, not wanting to leave. Feeling like if she did she would die. But John was insistent and Ava was sick. Her hand remained on her stomach, the nausea overwhelming.

"I saw her...the little girl.."

Ava finally whispered as John lead her into the hotel. Looking over her shoulder back to the festival, tears filled her dark eyes.

"From Central Park. She was here!"

Ava looked up at John helplessly because she knew she sounded absolutely insane.

"I don't...I don't know why, but when I saw her again I felt like I NEEDED her....and then the pain started...and I got flashes of....something. I don't know...I can't explain it....I feel like i'm losing my mind..."
 

Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
Paris

Ava seemed frantic, even as she seemed to start to hear him again. He asked he what had happened, but still she looked around her.

Ava: "I don't know..."

She was distracted by something, and Steel glanced around him, trying to see what she was looking for. He didn’t keel his eyes off her for long though. He started to help her move in the direction of their hotel. She clearly wasn’t feeling well, he could tell by the look on her face.

Ava: "No...I--"

“Yes. You aren’t well.”

Ava: "I saw her...the little girl.."

“What little girl babe?”

She wasn’t making sense. He wondered if she knew what she was saying, if some fever might have overtaken her suddenly. He felt her forehead as they entered the hotel and he guided her towards the elevator. When he looked into her eyes again, he saw they were filling with tears. It broke his heart.

“Aw, babe...it’s okay...”

Ava: "From Central Park. She was here!"

That made his ears perk up, and he looked at her seriously. Was someone following Ava?

They way Ava looked at him...

Ava: "I don't...I don't know why, but when I saw her again I felt like I NEEDED her....and then the pain started...and I got flashes of....something. I don't know...I can't explain it....I feel like i'm losing my mind..."

John wrapped his arms around Ava as the elevator doors dinged closed.

“Not to worry, my Queen...we’ll figure this out...whatever is going on...it’s going to be okay. I’ll search all of Paris for this girl if that’s what you want...”

When the doors opened outside their suite John helped Ava inside.

“Why don’t you have a nice hot shower and get into bed? Maybe you’re just tired...”
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
It literally felt like she was losing her mind. Why was she so drawn to this little girl? Was she that far gone about Haleigh having twins and Cameron's daughter that her mind was breaking? Was she losing touch with reality? From the moment she met that little girl in Central Park she immediately felt a connection to her, and to see her now in Paris? Was she even really there? Was this a coincidence? A power play? A way to hurt Ava? She tearfully looked up at John, feeling completely at a loss. John wrapped his arms around her as the elevator door closed, Ava's eyes staring helplessly at the main entrance of the hotel, willing the little girl to walk through the doors to no avail.

John: “Not to worry, my Queen...we’ll figure this out...whatever is going on...it’s going to be okay. I’ll search all of Paris for this girl if that’s what you want...”

Hearing John say it out loud, it sounded absolutely ludicrous. Searching for a little girl that Ava met once in passing? Feeling this panicked because she thought she saw her again? She was beginning think she took a page out of Erika King's book of crazy. As the doors to the elevator opened to their suite, Ava pulled back from John, looking up and seeing the worry in his eyes. She could tell he was trying his best to navigate the situation, but even he was concerned about her behavior.

John: “Why don’t you have a nice hot shower and get into bed? Maybe you’re just tired...”

Just his words alone was like a knife in her gut. She did sound crazy.

"Yeah...maybe I am.."

Ava backed away before slowly making her way into their suite. Silently she went into the master bathroom, shutting the door behind her. Immediately turning on the shower, Ava sat down on the closed toilet and hunched over, putting her head into her hands. She sounded crazy. She looked crazy. But deep in her soul she didn't FEEL crazy.

FLASH

"How is this possible? I thought I couldn't..."

FLASH

Medical equipment rapidly beeped all around her, the room sterile and white. Her heart was racing as pain overwhelmed her body.


FLASH

Ava had moved into the shower now, sitting on the bench to let the hot water fall over her naked body. Screams echoed in her head as she closed her eyes and laid her head back against the tiled wall. Her head was throbbing, the flashes of dream like memories hitting her again in a montage of blurred and slow moments. Nothing was definitive or clear, and everything was just as confusing as before. But one thing was clear, something was definitely fighting it's way to the surface of Ava's mind.
 

Madame Masque

Unknown
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Adriana Nefaria
Missions
13
Hellfire -- The White Hall

Adriana smiled like the Cheshire Cat when Erika agreed to owe her a favor. Many of her long standing associations began this way, an open-ended agreement, to be collected at some later date. Of course, Adriana wasn’t likely to limit herself to just this meager arrangement. She would build the on the foundation for a long while before she ever collected. Adriana had spent more than enough time around crazies to know they were people too, with needs and desires that were often no less sane than anyone else. If she was reading the White Court (and the rest of the Inner Circle assembled here) correctly, Erika needed more than a momentary assist.

There was a lot of discussion going on, a clear detriment of too many cooks. Everyone with their opinions, everyone’s with their motives. From listening, Adriana gleaned even more insight into the status quo, but she didn’t ignore those who were being quiet, either. As an outsider she was paid very little attention, and this allowed her the freedom to observe freely, yet she still masked her interest in the people around her by further scrutiny of the forcefield between the group and the regents of the court she hoped to join. She was careful not to touch it, though she held her hand up close to the barrier.

The visible ‘energy’ of it gathered tightly as her fingertips neared, and she could feel warmth radiating from the forcefield. She could feel a tingling under her skin, and the fine hairs on her arm stood on end. She stopped suddenly when she sensed movement behind her. The gruff but handsome man in the red suit was closing the distance until he was standing over her shoulder, watching with an austere regard. She thought she saw discovery in his glare.

“You know what it’s made of now?”

She asked him quietly. He replied that he had a theory. The rest of the group continued to dispute the finer details of who was doing what to whom. When Adriana spoke again she made herself loud enough for everyone to hear.

“Are we going to do this, or stand around debating it until the babies are born?”

She interjected mildly. The White Princess agreed and settled the scores, splitting them up for now to different tasks. Gia was not so secretly annoyed by the delay, but Adriana saw the wisdom in caution. Erika addressed the pillar next to Adriana as Jack, and he nodded solemnly at her question.

Jack: “I can, your highness.”

Alek: “Jack, work with Adriana and Gia. Make it work, as only you can.”

Jack: “Yes, your Grace.”

Heidi: “I’ll stand watch then.”

The White Knight volunteered, and after sharing a meaningful look with the Red Bishop, he left the hall. Adriana watched the others go their separate ways as well.
 

Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
Paris - The Hotel

He tried to reassure Ava, holding her and telling her he would scour all of Paris himself looking for this mysterious girl if that was what she wanted. If it was important to Ava, he would do it. But he was concerned. This fixation had come out of the blue, and for no apparent reason. And then there were the headaches...

But Ava didn’t just make things up, or send people on wild goose chases just because she could. There was a reason she was feeling this way, and he planned to find out what it was. But for her, he suggested a shower and bed. She humored him, and when he heard the water turn on in the bathroom he called first for some tea, and then to a local associate of the Black Court.

[into the phone] “I need you to make certain Ava Cassadine is not being followed...”
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Ava had been in the shower for quite some time mulling over everything that had transpired at the festival. But still, she had no answers. The headache had subsided, as did the flashes of memory-like dreams. Finally opening the bathroom door, steam billowed out into the bedroom to reveal her wrapped in a plush white towel. John was on the bed, a tray sitting next to him with hot tea [though likely cold by now] at the ready. Ava gave him a small smile as she walked over to the bed.

"Thank you...I'm sorry, I lost track of the time."

Knowing John, he had ordered the tea almost immediately after she had gotten into the shower. Sitting on the edge of the bed with a sigh, Ava's damp hair stuck against her shoulders as she reached her hand over and took his.

"You have men looking into this?"

Not so much a question as it was a fact. She knew John wouldn't take this situation lightly, even if Ava sounded certifiable. John didn't even need to answer, the look in his eyes giving her enough confirmation. Ava nodded a silent thank you while giving his hand a squeeze.

"I think this little girl is causing me to recall something from my past that I don't remember happening. It's like flashes of a memory....and I know I was there experiencing it, but I can't remember when or why or what is happening."

Looking over at John.

"All I know is....the moment I thought I saw her at the festival...all I wanted to do was run to her. It was like panic took over - this need to be with her."

Ava hung her head and shut her eyes, heavily sighing out. John didn't deserve any of this dramatic bullshit, especially today of all days. It had been perfect, and now she was acting like she was living through some Lifetime special.

"I'm sorry, John...Damnit it's your birthday and i'm pulling this bullshit? [scoffing out] It's like Arklay all over again."

Ava: breakdown round number two. It was embarrassing. She wasn't used to being this unhinged. For fuck sakes, she was always poked fun at for being so stone cold because of her ability to shut down. But the moment she found out Haleigh was pregnant, it was like her mind completely lost it. Emotions flooded to the surface that she didn't even realize she had. Jealousy, anger, loss. She felt incomplete and inadequate - feeling she never experienced before in her life. She had pushed it all away, focusing on the Europeans, on John and their trip, but everything came flooding back the moment she saw that little girl at the festival.

Ava looked over at John, her dark eyes somber and exhausted.

"I don't know what to do anymore. I don't feel like me...and you don't deserve any of this.."
 

Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
The Paris Hotel

John kept glancing at the bathroom door. Ava had been in the shower a long time, which in and of itself wasn't a reason for concern, but with everything that was happening...

He was sitting up on the bed, his legs stretched out in front of him while he read the newspaper. An empty teacup was on the nightstand, it's pair on the tray next to him. The water was quite cold by now - the French never did understand the necessity of the tea cozy. Finally he heard movement and the door opened, steam from the shower wisping into the room. He folded the paper and set it on the night table next to his teacup.

Ava: "Thank you...I'm sorry, I lost track of the time."

He waved her apology away.

"I'll call down for some more water."

Of course, he knew she wouldn't drink it. Ava sat down on the bed, wrapped in a white towel, her wet hair curling in a most beguiling way.

"I'm glad you were able to relax."

He smiled at her.

"We'll be sure to have them stock black towels for you next time."

He looked down, surprised to find her hand taking his.

Ava: "You have men looking into this?"

"You don't need to worry about that."

He wanted her to be able to enjoy this vacation, not worrying about who was watching her or who was following her, or what their people were doing. All that she needed to know is that she was safe. She nodded and squeezed his hand.

Ava: "I think this little girl is causing me to recall something from my past that I don't remember happening. It's like flashes of a memory....and I know I was there experiencing it, but I can't remember when or why or what is happening."

"Does she remind you of someone? Maybe when you were a child? A photograph perhaps?"

He thought for a moment.

"I don't remember any little girls since I've known you, so before then? Did you and Stavros come to Paris when you were little?"

Ava: "All I know is....the moment I thought I saw her at the festival...all I wanted to do was run to her. It was like panic took over - this need to be with her."

"Maybe it's your subconscious trying to tell you...something?"

But he had no clue what that could be.

"A fallout from the trauma...from Archer..."

He hated saying the name, but it was a real possibility that Archer's attack had more lasting effects than they had realized. Ava shut her eyes and sighed. He reached out for her.

"Come here."

He pulled her next to him and put his arm around her.

Ava: "I'm sorry, John...Damnit it's your birthday and i'm pulling this bullshit? [scoffing out] It's like Arklay all over again."

"Don't talk like that. You have nothing to be sorry for."

He turned his head so he could look her in the eyes.

"This has been the best birthday I've ever had. I got to spend it with you."

Ava: "I don't know what to do anymore. I don't feel like me...and you don't deserve any of this.."

"You're right."

He paused, taking a moment to tuck her hair behind her ears.

"I don't deserve you in the least. But while you're still keeping me around, let's figure out what to do, together."

He planted a soft kiss on her lips.

"We could start people looking for this girl...could you describe her in detail? Or make a sketch?"
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Ava sat down the on bed asking if John already had men looking into this situation. It was less of a question and more of a confirmation, John telling her not to worry about it. But how could she not? This couldn't have been a simple coincidence. And if she was imagining this girl...why was she haunting Ava so much? It was causing memories to surface that she didn't realize she had.

John: "Does she remind you of someone? Maybe when you were a child? A photograph perhaps?"

"I don't know..."

John: "I don't remember any little girls since I've known you, so before then? Did you and Stavros come to Paris when you were little?"

Ava sighed out heavily, not getting frustrated with John's questions, but getting frustrated that she had no answers to them. The only thing that was clear was the moment she saw that little girl she needed to be with her. It felt like she couldn't breathe unless she saw her again, panic completely taking over.

John: "Maybe it's your subconscious trying to tell you...something?"

Ava looked over at John, utterly clueless.

"But what?"

She had no idea, and by the look on John's face, neither did he.

John: "A fallout from the trauma...from Archer..."

Ava shook her head, Archer the furthest thing from her mind. But it was infuriating nonetheless that they were playing guessing games about a child she had no connection to whatsoever. John called Ava over, wrapping his arms around her and pulling her against him. Ava welcomed it, his warmth enveloping her and causing her tense body to melt into his just enough to fit against him. She felt horrible for even putting all this bullshit onto John. He didn't deserve any of this, especially on his birthday. He firmly disagreed, saying it was the best birthday he had because he was with her, but she couldn't help but feel like he was placating her. Ava looked up at him with somber eyes, feeling like this wasn't worth it anymore. Her recent antics, mood changes, everything....it wasn't worth putting John through this.

"I don't know what to do anymore. I don't feel like me...and you don't deserve any of this.."

John: "You're right."

Ava recoiled a bit at his words. But just as the ache in her heart began, he was then tucking her hair behind her ear and looking at her with such love in his eyes.

John: "I don't deserve you in the least. But while you're still keeping me around, let's figure out what to do, together."

"John..."

Ava lifted her hand to his cheek, her eyes glassy with tears of relief and gratitude.

"I don't deserve you...Thank you.."

His lips softly pressed against hers and Ava felt the horrible night slipping away. It was the most blissful few seconds until the cold sting of reality came back as soon as he pulled away.

John: "We could start people looking for this girl...could you describe her in detail? Or make a sketch?"

Ava groaned, shaking her head.

"I don't know...she looks like...[scoffing out incredulously] me when I was a child. Except with icy blue eyes."

It was the best way Ava could describe the girl. The memory of Lily playing with the sparkler played in Ava's mind like a slow motion movie. Her laughing, the lights illuminating her eyes, her jumping up and down as she waved the sparkler in circles. Ava shut her eyes for a moment, the memory so sweet yet somehow painful at the same time.

"I...don't know."

She finally relented, laying her head down on John's chest. She wanted to sleep so badly, but her mind was racing too much she new sleep was a non-factor. So Ava suggested a movie, in hopes of at least getting her mind off the situation for a little bit.

"There's nothing else we can do until morning....Want to watch a movie? Try and salvage the evening?"
 

Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
The Paris Hotel

He could tell she was getting frustrated when he was asking about who this child might remind her of, but he was wracking his brain to give any suggestion that might help her figure out what was happening. He thought maybe it was a subconscious thing, but neither of them knew why that would be happening. He suggested Archer...but Ava shot that down.

He pulled her over against him, trying to physically show his support for her. He might not know what any of this was about, but he cared about helping her figure it out. Ava then went to her classic move: putting herself down and telling him he didn't deserve this.

Ava: "I don't know what to do anymore. I don't feel like me...and you don't deserve any of this.."

He surprised her by telling her that she was right - going on to say he didn't deserve her. Which he didn't. She was a goddess - he was a poor kid from East London. She had given him everything he had: he didn't deserve her. But if she was going to for some reason let him be with her, he was going to do everything he could for her. So he told her they would figure this out together.

Ava: "John...I don't deserve you...Thank you.."

He gave her a kiss, not wanting to get into an unnecessary argument with her over it. Instead, he suggested they get their people looking for the girl, try to figure out why she seemed important to Ava. He asked if she could describe her, or even make a sketch of her.

Ava: "I don't know...she looks like...[scoffing out incredulously] me when I was a child. Except with icy blue eyes."

She was getting even more frustrated, so he took her hand and squeezed it.

"It's a start."

Ava: "There's nothing else we can do until morning....Want to watch a movie? Try and salvage the evening?"

"We're together, that's all that's important. No salvage-ing needed. But"

He shifted, reaching for the phone.

"Why don't you pick the movie, and I'll order us some popcorn...and a bottle of wine."
 

Pathfinder

White Princess
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Erika King
Residence
Newport Beach, CA
Missions
202
Ability
Witch
The White Corridor

Erika narrowed her eyes at Alek as he smirked at Elena, fighting the urge to roll her eyes all the way in the back of her head. There was chemistry, but then again Alek seemed to have chemistry with everyone. While she would have to admit, to see the trainwreck that might ensue from Elena seducing Alek to fuck with Haleigh would be perversely fun to watch. But there were already enough pots on the stove as it was, and like she had just said out loud, there were now children to consider. Things had changed - and she made a mental note to keep an eye on the two of them from here on out.

"This red court reunion is sweet. But we've got work to do. Come on, Alek. Let's go."

She turned to Elena with a genuinely thankful glance.

Leaning in, she spoke a bit softer.

"Thank you for your all your help, Elena. I mean it. I'm...sorry to have drug you into this. And I will make good on my word, as soon as we get them out of this, but I gotta say..it's good to have you around again. Maybe don't run out of here TOO quickly. I've got a niece to impress after all."

Being a bitch hadn't gotten her anywhere. Leaning on those around her and making herself vulnerable to trusting people had worked. She wasn't totally alone in Hellfire, or rather - she had a bit more agency than she used to, and she was going to have to keep telling herself that repeatedly so she didn't lose her clarity, like she had so many times before. Still, she could feel her pulse race a bit as a wave of silenty anxiety moved through The White Princess as she began to lead him out of The White Corridor and into the Black Wing as she was stopped by security before Amanda Soto approved her entrance over a com link. The moment her pristine white stiletto hid the obsidian marble floor, she was taken back for a moment to her childhood. Though The Kings kept a family Brownstone, for the most part, Erika had grown up in this wing. It was also where a lot of fucked up shit had happened to her. But she knew that if she wanted to save her brother and her sister-in-law, she had to keep moving. She motioned Alek to continue following her.

"It's just down these stairs, sorry for the scavenger hunt."

While her family did have an heirloom Book of Shadows, the only person who had access to it was her mother, and she was not an option. Erika's career had lent to quite a bit of writing and she found herself exhausted by the process so adding "witch school" to her agenda never seemed worth it. She felt magick was something to be experienced rather than written about.

"Some things should be kept secret."

She opened the door to a large storage area covered in dust. Nobody had been in this room outside of Erika, Cameron or Ava in a good decade. Though it was meticulously organized, it was essentially a garage of keepsakes, books and other possessions forgotten or left behind by member's of The Black Court's past. Erika slipped on a pair of short white silk gloves before moving over towards a shelving unit, pulling several cardboard boxes and dropping it on the large wooden block like table that was now in between them.

"These are Alison's journals."

Erika couldn't remember a time that Alison King hadn't been studying. Her nose was always in a book, that is when she wasn't lifting it high in the air and shitting on everyone around because she felt so punished for being brought into this world by people she thought she was better than.

"She was a miserable bitch, but she was the only one of us with the good sense to leave this place before it consumed her entirely. If there's a way to breach this cage. She knows it."

She pushed a box towards him.

"Those volumes are about crystals, I'll take the ones from when she was still training under my Mom."

Alison hated Kelly more than anyone. And it was a well kept secret between the family that more than once, two women with magickal powers often resorted to physical blows against each other. It seemed to be a goal in her life to destroy Kelly, and Erika always knew that somebody, Alison would come back and make her play. Surely she had written about how to get around or deactivate her mother's "talismans". She looked at The Red King, unsure of his reaction to all of this.

"I know, it seems like a shot in the dark...and it is. But it's the only thing I can think of right now that doesn't involve contacting Kelly."

She shuddered for a moment as she made eye contact with her old dollhouse draped underneath a white blanket. She could picture it in her mind. It seemed so out of place here, and it was. Hellfire really was not a place for children. And what had actually transpired in The White Corridor between her brother and her sister-in-law suddenly hit her in a new disturbing way. These babies weren't even born yet and they were already starting to be dragged into things. Nausea now accompanied her anxiety.

"And..."

[hesitating]

"I'm sorry for lying to you earlier. I was freaking out a bit and I just needed time to think. It wasn't right."

She exhaled deeply as she felt her demons seemed to move in the shadows around them. Erika was trying to center herself before she found herself lightheaded, gribbing the counter of the table tightly, pressing her fingers against the bridge of her nose.

"God this place just has a way of kicking you in the balls at every turn, doesn't it?"

The Red King did not seem amused or in the mood for small talk.

"Sorry. We should be researching."

As their eyes met again, she felt another wave of anxiety, but not about herself. For Haleigh. She really had reservations about Alek. It may not have been her place, it may not have been her business, but there was a time when Haleigh and Erika had been quite close, not as friends, more like survivors..and Erika had made a silent promise that if Haleigh needed to be protected from someone, especially a man, Erika would do her best to protect her. As a wasp, she was a creature of gossip, and she had heard the many sordid details of what had transpired between Alek and Ashley, and it definitely left a sour taste in her mouth. But she was also trying to like him. Trying to trust him, and she was hoping that if he could see her in more of a human way, he might be a bit less leery of her.

"He's not going to trust you...your his enemy's sister."
 

Berserker

'bout to show you what Hell looks like
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Aleksander Hallbjörn
Residence
New York City
Missions
994
Ability
Strength
The White Corridor

Alek sent Calder off to train with Elena. He could keep an eye on her - and of course, the better positioned Calder was to protect Haleigh the better.

Erika: "This red court reunion is sweet. But we've got work to do. Come on, Alek. Let's go."

He bristled at her commanding him.

"You can stop acting like you're the only one who wants this fixed, Erika."

She wasn't used to the pressure of responsibility. Which is why Haleigh was a queen, and she wasn't. He was more than slightly concerned that Erika wouldn't be able to handle this, and would fuck it all up completely. Which is why he intended to watch everyone involved and make sure they all didn't their part. Because he was used to being the leader, and he would get what he wanted no matter what it took. No matter who he had to sacrifice.

Erika paused to suck up to Elena, which was fine with him, as long as it kept her on their side. His side. He knew Elena's loyalty only went as far as Cameron now that Helena was dead. She was the last hands he would put Haleigh's future in. If he had any other choice.

Alek was surprised that Erika went towards the Black Wing, though he supposed he shouldn't have been. She and her brother were really Black Court. If he were Ava, he would be leveraging that connection more. Of course, the flip side was that Haleigh had allowed interlopers onto her court. Something he hoped she would remedy once they had resolved this situation, though putting up with Erika would be worth it to gain Haleigh's children. Cameron would have to be dealt with, in some way. This incident was proof of that - he was too much a danger to Haleigh and her children. That Cameron would lift a hand against Haleigh with his own son in her belly was all anyone should need to know about him. If Cameron had harmed Alek's daughter in any way, he'd mount the White King's head on his wall.

The Black Guards at the Black Wing's entrance tried to stop them. Alek had had enough of his position being questioned, and he took a step forward, his voice lowering in octave.

"Step aside, or you'll be guarding the potatoes in the kitchen from your wheelchairs."

Most of the Black Court was out of the mansion, and there was no need for this ridiculous security. The guards suggested nervously that they make a call to get the okay.

"You do that."

Amanda granted their entrance from wherever the hell she was in Tokyo, and they proceeded into the Black Corridor.

Erika: "It's just down these stairs, sorry for the scavenger hunt."

They entered a room, and there was so much dust it was liking walking into a goth's storage unit. Erika started pulling cardboard boxes off the shelves like she was sending them to the junk sale. Where they probably belonged.

"What are we looking for?"

She had finished with the boxes, a pile now on the table in the room.

Erika: "These are Alison's journals."

Alek hadn't known Alison - she'd left the Mansion just before Helena had found him.

Erika: "She was a miserable bitch, but she was the only one of us with the good sense to leave this place before it consumed her entirely. If there's a way to breach this cage. She knows it."

"Too bad we can't just call her and ask her."

It seemed like looking for a needle in a haystack to dig through a bunch of old books. Maybe Erika should have actually known what she was doing before she handed a magickal object to Haleigh. If only someone had cautioned Haleigh about it. Oh, right, he had. A box moved across the table towards him.

Erika: "Those volumes are about crystals, I'll take the ones from when she was still training under my Mom."

That he was in a basement looking through books about crystals would have been funny in any other situation. He sighed.

"'Dear Diary, today I got my first cauldron...'"

Erika: "I know, it seems like a shot in the dark...and it is. But it's the only thing I can think of right now that doesn't involve contacting Kelly."

He looked at her.

"If she can fix this, hell I'll call Kelly."

That bitch had gotten out of things scot free just because she was Cameron's mother, but as far as Alek was concerned, that protection was null and void. He'd make her help them if she wanted to live.

Erika: "And...I'm sorry for lying to you earlier. I was freaking out a bit and I just needed time to think. It wasn't right."

He scoffed.

"You're not sorry at all. If you're going to wear a crown, you'll have to stop acting like you don't deserve it."

But then he looked at her hard.

"Don't do it again. I won't be as forgiving when Haleigh's life isn't at stake."

He started to flip through one of the old journals.

Erika: "God this place just has a way of kicking you in the balls at every turn, doesn't it?"

He shrugged, not looking away from the book.

"Welcome to Hellfire."

He turned the page.

"If you aren't up for this, I will call Kelly."

Erika: "Sorry. We should be researching."

"Yes."

Because it sure as hell likely wasn't going to be him that found the answer. He looked at Erika, the darkness of his stare speaking without words that she had better find it quickly.
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
John: "We're together, that's all that's important. No salvage-ing needed. But why don't you pick the movie, and I'll order us some popcorn...and a bottle of wine."

Ava gave John a soft smile before he leaned over and grabbed the phone to call room service. She honestly didn't know what she would do without him, especially the past couple weeks. She felt like she was on a rollercoaster of emotions which was completely unlike her. But he was always there, keeping her steady and riding right along with her. She was a strong woman and fiercely independent, but moments like these are the ones that made Ava realize how her strength could only take her so far. She needed someone to lean on - to support her. John was that and so much more. So as Ava picked the movie and John ordered some popcorn and wine, the night continued forward with them watching some old black and white French movies until the sun began to rise over the horizon.

Ava had been staring at the beautiful view of the Eiffel Tower from dawn into early morning, laying still against John's ches and listening to the slow beating of his heart. He had stayed up with her the entire night, just only falling asleep a little after the sun rose. The movies had helped keep her distracted, along with John being his charming and funny self. But as soon as things got quiet, Ava's mind was on that little girl. The moment she met her played over and over in her mind. Her voice, her demeanor, her carefree spirit. Everything was so absolutely perfect about her, yet so confusing. What were the odds she would see that same little girl in Paris weeks later? One in a million? What were the odds she started having flashes of unknown memories as soon as she saw her? Impossible. In the hours Ava laid staring at the Eiffel Tower, she knew without a shadow of a doubt that this little girl was somehow connected to her. But how?

Slowly lifting herself from John, she looked down at him and finally smiled. He was exhausted, she knew he was. But she also knew he was going to feel horrible that he had fallen asleep when she hadn't. Ava leaned down, giving him a soft kiss on the lips before slowly and quietly sliding out of bed. Disappearing into the bathroom, she emerged a few moments later wearing black high waisted workout leggings, sports bra, and a thin black jacket tied around her waist. She needed to go for a run and clear her mind because laying in bed was starting to drive her insane. Going to the small pad of paper on the night stand closest to John, Ava wrote him a note so he wouldn't worry if he woke up before she returned.

Went for a run and to pick up some pastries at Délice Sucré. I love you, A.

Turning, Ava headed out of her hotel suite and exited the hotel, tucking her phone into the little pocket on her pants as her music began to play in her ear buds. The weather was absolutely perfect, people riding bikes and walking dogs along the path that boarded the Seine river. Ava jogged past, keeping her pace steady as she tried to lose herself in the music and atmosphere. She ran for a good while until she finally came to the end of the path where the park near their hotel began. Ava slowed as she made her way to an empty bench, taking out her ear buds while sitting down. Sitting back, she closed her eyes while trying to catch her breath, the adrenaline from her run coursing through her body.

[voice] "Hi."

Ava opened her eyes with a start. She inhaled sharply. It was her.

"Hi..."

Ava was dumbstruck to see her there, the softness and uncertainty in her voice revealing as much. But Lily just looked at her with her big blue eyes, smiling.

Lily: "You're from the big park in New York!"

Ava couldn't believe Lily remembered her from Central Park. She slowly sat forward, hoping not to startle her or scare her. How would a little girl remember something as insignificant as talking to a random adult in the park?

"I am...I can't believe you remember..."

Lily: "Uh huh!"

Ava was so confused as to how this was even happening. She had thought she saw her the night before but questioned whether it was a figment of her imagination. But here Lily was, standing in front of her, talking to her.

Lily: "You look just like my mama, of course I remember!"

She said with such a matter of fact tone that it left little room for debate. But that perked up Ava's interest even more. Maybe Lily's mother was with her and could answer some questions. Maybe it would help Ava understand these flashes of memories and strong connection to this little girl. Ava lifted her eyes to look over Lily, scanning the park for anyone who looked to be her mother.

"I do? Is your mama here with you? Can I speak to her?"

That was when Lily's face fell, sadness enveloping her eyes. It was like a knife in Ava's heart.

Lily: "My mama died when I was a baby. My papa has pictures of her all over his office. I'm not allowed in his office....but I sneak in there sometimes just to look at her...."

Ava was silent for a moment before unconsciously reaching for Lily's little hand, taking it.

"I'm so sorry...My mama died when I was little. too"

Lily kept her eyes cast down. Ava wanted nothing more than to take her into her arms and comfort her, but she knew she couldn't. So she did the next best thing, change the subject to try and get Lily's mind off of the sadness. It was a kill two birds with one stone scenario because she needed more information about who Lily's guardians were.

"So are you here with your papa now?"

The change in subject seem to work, Lily lifting her head and perking up a bit more.

Lily: "Uh huh! We're on holiday! He just got married and we're celebrating."

"Oh wow, that sounds like fun!"

Lily: [frowning] "All they do is stay in the hotel room."

That made Ava chuckle.

"That tends to happen."

Lily: "Why?"

[quickly changing the subject] "I'm sure your papa will be doing tons of fun things with you soon!"

Lily smiled big, jumping up and down.

Lily: "He said we were going horseback riding tomorrow!"

[smiling] "See!! That sounds like so much fun! I love horseback riding too!"

Lily: "Yeah!! I have my own horse at home named Apollo. But I couldn't bring him. Papa said he was too big to fit on the jet. I said we could just shrink him, but papa said Apollo would get homesick and that I should ride the horses here."

Ava laughed, completely enamored with Lily. She continued to go on about how shrinking Apollo sounded like a brilliant idea because she could take him everywhere, including her bedroom, but Lily's little voice became white noise in the background as Ava stared in horror. Her eyes were fixated on a little gold pendent on a chain around Lily's neck, the necklace managing to find its way out from under her jacket after she had been jumping excitedly about horseback riding. Ava's breathing slowed, her face stricken pale, and her stomach overcome with nausea.

"Where did you get that...."

Lily stopped talking, tilting her head in confusion.

Lily: "Get what?"

Ava couldn't speak, her eyes never leaving the golden pendent that hung longer than it should have on Lily's little body. Lily looked down realizing Ava was talking about her necklace. She picked it up and looked at it with a smile.

Lily: "My papa gave it to me when I was a baby! He said it was my mama's and that she'd want me to have it."

The air left Ava's lungs, tears filling her horror struck eyes. Paris didn't exist anymore. Hellfire didn't exist. The world around her and Lily died away and became an abyss of nothing.

Lily: "My papa says this is a goddess named Per...Per--"

[softly] "--Sephone..."

Lily: "Yeah! Persephone! And on the back is [both in unison] Hades on his chariot of horses."

Ava mirrored Lily robotically, emotionless, shocked, knowing exactly what was on the back of the pendent.

Lily: "Yeah!! Do you have one too?!"

Ava subconsciously lifted her hand to her décolletage, tears falling to her cheeks as she stared in utter shock. She did have one...because there was only ever one of those pendents. Hers.

"Oh my God...."
 

Sparrow

Rising Star
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Elena Estrada
Residence
Colima, Mexico
Missions
45
The White Corridor

Elena looked the tall Rook up and down. He was a soldier by trade, which might give him some of the discipline he would need - but she doubted it. Still, she had made a bargain with Erika to help, and having that bargain honored was important enough for her to even teach Alek how to be a telepath. She smirked at the idea. He could never handle it. Hopefully his man would be more reliable.

Erika: "This red court reunion is sweet. But we've got work to do. Come on, Alek. Let's go."

She would have protested that she wasn't on the Red Court, but if her old ties came in handy at any point in this trip, it was better not to burn the bridge. Erika then leaned in to speak to her before she left.

Erika: "Thank you for your all your help, Elena. I mean it. I'm...sorry to have drug you into this. And I will make good on my word, as soon as we get them out of this, but I gotta say..it's good to have you around again. Maybe don't run out of here TOO quickly. I've got a niece to impress after all."

She leveled her gaze back at Erika. She didn't trust her not to move on to the next shiny thing, forgetting all about Carolina, any more than she trusted Cameron to do so.

"Just keep your word."

She turned towards Calder and spoke directly into his mind.

Let's go. We can practice in my suite.

She gestured for him to follow her deeper into the White Wing. When they reached Elena & Carolina's suite, Elena opened the door with her mind and entered the sitting room. She moved the white armchairs so they faced each other, and took a seat in the far one, crossing her legs at the knee and her arms over her chest. Calder seemed hesitant. She rolled her eyes.

Do you honestly think I would try to seduce you with my daughter asleep in the next room?

As if the idea itself wasn't ridiculous enough. She decided to speak the next bit of instruction aloud.

"Now, have you ever mimicked a telepath before?"

Calder: "A couple of times, but...I didn't like it."

She nodded.

"It takes practice to separate the thoughts you want to hear from those you don't. It can be overwhelming at first."

He nodded with a shiver. She scoffed.

"Try being a child in a small village in Mexico when it happens to you."

She cleared her throat.

"In the interest of time, you'll have to copy my power to practice with."

She leaned forward and pointed a finger at him sharply.

"But if you ever copy my power without my permission, I'll turn you into a pile of jelly quivering on the floor."

She straightened up again, before speaking in his mind.

The key will be to focus on my voice in your mind. Block everything else out but my voice. When you are completely focused, then copy my power. Stay focused on the sound of my voice.

She continued to speak in his mind's eye, slowly and clearly, until she could feel his mind suddenly reaching back. He looked around him wildly, and she knew he was losing control.

Listen to me, Calder! Only me! Focus on my voice. Focus!

Calder: "I...I can't...I can't do it..."

You can! You have to!

But it was no use, he had lost it. The thoughts of everyone in the mansion were pouring into his head. She used her own power to put up a block, keeping his mind from connecting to anyone else's.

"Enough."
 

Neptune

Unknown
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Jack Chondrich
Missions
15
Hellfire -- The White Hall

Jack was not a commentator. He was an observer, and a thinker. So while the rest of the group discussed their predicament, Jack just listened and watched.

In the back of his mind he mulled over the deeper problem they faced, that posed by the White King’s antagonistic behavior lately. He had heard the things Cameron had said in his anger, the threats he’d made. Despite it all, Heidi seemed determined to protect her King just as much as her Queen, which Jack found deeply concerning. Jack stood with his own King, of course, and so with Haleigh by extension. But how would he get Heidi to see her King’s flaws clearly?

At the forefront of his mind he considered their current problem. He thought about what the new Nefaria woman had brought to the fray, and the limited information they had on the crystal cage. Adriana wasn’t much of a talker either, and she too seemed singularly focused on the barrier. Jack watched the way the ‘cage’ reacted to Adriana’s nearness, and considered that compared to the way it had forcefully repelled the glass she’d thrown at it. He moved closer to be able to see better, and Adriana looked up at him to ask if he knew what the cage was made of now.

“I have a theory.”

He replied, and soon they were beginning to reach conclusions in their debate. The White Princess asked if there was some way he could help the Nefaria’s test their ability on the cage. Of course, first, he’d have to identify what the cage was. But still, he told her he could, confidently. Alek instructed him to do so, and he nodded as he replied to his King. Heidi volunteered to stand watch over her regents, and she shared a look with Jack before he left the hall for the catacombs.

He had his hypothesis, but needed more information. This wasn’t his area of expertise, but he had recently made an acquaintance who could give him a great deal of information. He called Liam and after some small talk, broached the subject. He knew better than to give the actual details, and instead framed the discussion as further curiosity about an article he’d read. The more they talked, the more Jack found his theory confirmed. He went to the equipment vault and searched the shelves for what he needed, then thanked Liam for the clarifications before saying goodbye.

He brought the equipment back with him to the White Corridor, where the Nefarias hung around but appeared to be avoiding interacting with each other, while Heidi stood as near to Haleigh and Cameron as she could, watching them carefully for any changes. She tossed a glance at him when she heard his footsteps, and he returned it calmly before approaching Adriana. He didn’t know her any better than he knew Gia, since he never interacted with the White Bishop, but Adriana seemed to be the more proactive of the two sisters, so she was the one he spoke to.

“I suspect the crystal is creating a plasma forcefield by ionizing the surrounding matter.”

Adriana: “I don’t know what that means.”

“Matter is ionized when the atom acquires a positive or negative charge through a loss or gain of electrons—”

Gia began to make theatrical snoring sounds. Adriana cut an irritated look over at her sister and then turned back to Jack. She gave him a disarming smile and admitted she was a businesswoman, not a scientist, then asked how he thought they could help. He realized that even the simplified explanation he was was providing would be wasted and that he needed to just guide them.

“You saw how the shield reacts when you get near? The ionized particles are collecting together and binding to form the impenetrable barrier. The free electrons have kinetic energy when they begin to collect and bind. If you and your sister can manipulate that energy—”

Adriana: “We can drain the shield as it forms and prevent the barrier from fully hardening.”
 

Persephone

Treacherous Bitch
Hellfire Club
Real Name
Ava Cassadine
Residence
New York City
Missions
5,034
Ability
Weather Elemental, Animal Control/Communication, Enhanced Senses and Strength
Lily: "Why are you crying? Are ...are you hurt?"

Ava could hear the questions Lily was asking, but she was frozen in absolute shock. The pendent around Lily's neck, it wasn't some random piece of jewelry someone could buy at a store. It wasn't even a piece that could be thrifted or found in the smallest village in Greece. It was a one of a kind pendent, engraved with the story of Persephone made thousands of years ago by the Grecian people who began their worships to the Greek Gods. It was the only pendent of it's kind, given to Ava by her father when she was a child. He was obsessed with the fact that they came from "the Gods", particularly Persephone's story that he had been told by his grandfather when he was a child. He loved the power Hades possessed and how Persephone captured his heart and became Queen of the Underworld. As a child Ava didn't understand why it was so fucked up that Stavros loved this particular mythology, but as an adult it was disgusting. Even more so now because Ava knew the true history of what happened to Persephone because she WAS Persephone. Regardless, it was a necklace she wore all through childhood and into adulthood. The mythology of the pendent didn't matter to Ava as much as the fact that it was incredibly important to Stavros and he gave it to her. But despite having never taken the necklace off, as Ava stared at it hanging from Lily's neck, she couldn't understand how she had forgotten all about it.

Ava reached out to the pendent, taking it from Lily's hand to hold in her own. It felt just as smooth as she remembered. Lily looked up at her still confused why Ava was so dumbstruck and in tears.

"You said your papa gave this to you..."

Lily: "Yeah..."

"And it was your ma.....mama's?"

Ava could barely say the word 'mama' because it meant the impossible was true. That Lily was her daughter. That Stavros had been raising her without Ava's knowledge. But it still made no sense. She couldn't have children, she was barren because of her merging with Persephone. But Lily nodded without hesitation causing Ava to gasp in a breath she didn't realize she had been holding.

"How is this possible..."

Then the familiar pain began to flood her head, Ava wincing as she clutched the coin tightly.

FLASH

Kelly: "You're pregnant."

Ava's eyes went wide as she sat in Kelly's personal lab. She had first gone to the infirmary after feeling a strange fluttering in her stomach, but her father and Helena had intercepted her there, telling her to go see Kelly where all magical and non magical eavesdropping was impossible.

"I can't...I can't have children.."

Helena: [flippantly] "Well now you can. You're welcome."

"What? What do you mean? YOU did this to me?"

Helena: [deadpan] "The underestimation of my powers constantly amuses me. [rolling her eyes] And pisses me off."

Stavros: "Come Ava, we must leave Hellfire."

"Daddy, what is going on?! Why did you do this...who's baby am I pregnant with?!"

FLASH

Ava's back arched off the bed and into his body, feeling the strength above her, intoxicated by it. He moved with a purpose, hard, and with a need that mirrored her own. She moaned loudly, her eyes rolling shut as his mouth took her breast, feeling herself about to come for him.


FLASH

Ava laid in a bed unfamiliar to her, her state of mind hazy yet still conscious. It felt as if she was in a sedated state, unable to do much but still aware of what was happening to her. It had Diana written all over it, familiar with her tactics. Once the White Queen was in your mind, you were completely helpless to do anything about it. Ava's hand was on her raised belly, softly rubbing it as the baby moved inside her. Then suddenly the bed beneath her became wet and the machines began to beep around her.

Nurse: "Her water broke! Contact Mr. Cassadine immediately!"

FLASH

Pain overwhelmed Ava's body as another contraction came, much stronger than the last. Crying out in pain, one of the nurses wiped the sweat from her forehead telling her that she was doing amazing.

Doctor: "One more big push, Ava!"

[weakly] "I can't..."

Doctor: "Yes you can, you're almost there."

[crying] "I can't....I can't..."

Stavros: "Your child is almost here, Ava. Push and you will have her in your arms."

Ava looked up at her father, seeing the excitement in his eyes. He took her hand as she began to push, screaming in agony until the pain suddenly stopped and only the softest little cry could be heard. Ava's tears were now not from pain, but from pure joy seeing the doctor lift her daughter up. That was when Ava felt her father pull away, the doctor wrapping the baby quickly in a towel before handing her to Stavros.

"Let me see her, daddy...Give her to me..."

Stavros looked back with the coldest stare she had ever seen in her life. One that left her shivering at the thought of what he was about to do. Ava's eyes went wide as she tried to life her torso up.

"Give her to me."

But Stavros turned away as Helena walked through the doors, handing the baby to the Red Queen.

"GIVE ME MY DAUGHTER!"


FLASH

Ava's hand went to her head, panting out erratic and heavy breaths as the new memories flooded her mind. They were so clear - as clear as day. There was no mistaking what she was remembering. Her father took her child from her...took Lily from her. Helena and Diana involved in the entire horrendous situation.

Lily: "Are you okay...?"

Lily's concerned voice brought her back from the painful memories that were overtaking her consciousness. Ava looked up at her little girl, her icy blue eyes filled with worry.

Woman: "ELLARIA!"

Lily's eyes widened as she looked over to where the voice came from, Ava looking as well. It was the same severe looking woman from Central Park, quickly rushing over.

Woman: "ELLARIA! Come here NOW!"

The woman grabbed Lily's hand roughly, yanking her away from Ava and in the process tearing the necklace from Lily's neck that Ava had still been holding in her hand.

Lily: "Stop!! Ow!"

Ava rose to her feet, the pain of the reemerging memories replaced with a murderous rage.

"Get your hands OFF HER!"

Woman: "Leave this little girl alone now or I will be calling the police!"

The woman tried to quickly rush away with Lily but Ava grabbed her arm, pulling her to a stop. She was inches from the woman's face, her eyes as dark as the clouds that began to roll in around the city.

"Afíste tin kóri mou tóra í tha sas ríxo to chéri apó tin príza KAI NA SAS KANEI!" [Let go of my daughter or I will tear your fucking arm from your socket AND MAKE YOU!]

Lily's eyes went wide as she looked up between the two tall women.

Lily: [confused] "Daughter...?"

Ava quickly looked down at Lily, only speaking in Greek as to not frighten or confuse her even more than she already was. But of course Stavros had already taught her Greek; he always said the English language was juvenile and uninspiring. The distraction was enough for the woman to pull from Ava's grasp, back peddling and taking Lily with her. Lightning cracked in the sky furiously as Ava moved forward, but the woman gestured with her arm, grey smoke enveloping both the woman and Lily.

Lily: [struggling] "NO!!"

"LILY!"

Ava lunged to try and grab her, but before she could reach her, they both disappeared from the park. Falling to her knees, the pendent was still clutched in Ava's hand as she held it tightly, feeling that impossible ache once again as the sky opened up and began to pour down upon the city.

"NOOO!!! NO!!!"
 
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Steel

Mutant Policeman
Birds of Prey
Real Name
John Steele
Residence
New York City
Missions
327
Ability
Body tranforms into organic steel
The Paris Hotel

The popcorn gone (mostly him) and the bottle of wine drank (by both of them) they had laid together, watching old movies and talking. The feel of her next to him was like everything right in the world, like everything was as it should be. He could even forget to worry about her headaches and dreams - well, maybe not forget, but push them enough to the back of his mind to be happy in the moment. She was the most amazing person, and she was in his arms. It was dumbfounding, really. That he would be watching old black and white films with subtitles...it could only happen because of her. She had made him better.

They had watched the sun rise over the Eiffel Tower together, and then he guessed he had dozed off, waking up to find her gone. Which immediately made panic course it's way through his body. He sat up with a start, and looking around him saw the note she had written.

Went for a run and to pick up some pastries at Délice Sucré. I love you, A.

It didn't make him feel less panicked, though it should have. He couldn't get over a feeling in his chest that something terrible was going to happen. Normally he didn't put stock in feelings like that, he was much too practical for that, but when it came to Ava, he didn't take any chance. So he quickly slipped out of bed and threw on the shirt and pants he had been wearing the day before, which he had thrown over a chair.

When he got outside of the hotel, he scanned around looking for her, not knowing how long ago she had left him. The weather was bright and sunny, a real perfect day. He started through the park, intending to end up at the patisserie and ask if she had been there. He walked quickly along the path, and then jumped in spite of himself as lightning lit up the sky and thunder followed. He must really be on edge, he thought.

And then dark clouds appeared almost out of nowhere, over the park. People were scattering as torrential rain started to pour from the sky. He knew where it was coming from. And then he started to run.

Not long after he saw her, kneeling on the ground, turned away from him. He sprinted to her.

"Ava!"

He knelt in front of her, seeing that she was clearly in distress. He pushed her dark hair out of her face, the rain soaking both of them to the skin. He took her by the arms, looking into her face, hoping she would recognize him.

"What's happened?! Ava?!"

He got up, picking her up with him, and put his arm around her shoulders.

"We have to get you out of this rain."

He moved her quickly back towards the hotel, and as they passed the front desk he barked for them to send hot tea and coffee to their room, not stopping as he moved Ava to the elevator. When they reached their floor, he moved her into the suite, picking up a throw from the sofa and pulling it around her shoulders before hustling her into the bathroom.

"You've got to get out of those wet clothes."

He found her thick black robe for her, then went to the door to let the waiter in with the tea and coffee.

"Just set it on the table."

While the waiter set the tray on the coffee table, Steel found his wallet and handed the waiter a tip before heading back to the bathroom. He rubbed his hands on her arms to warm her, guiding her back into the sitting room and onto the couch. He poured her a cup of coffee - knowing this wasn't the time for a tea battle - and put the cup in her hands.

"Here...this will warm you up..."

He looked into her stricken face, searching for answers. He spoke to her gently.

"What happened?"
 
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