Untitled (2017-03-30)

“I could die,” she said with a shrug, as cool as a cucumber. She said it the way one might say, “I could go for some ice cream,” or even “I could pick up some milk while I’m at the grocery store, if you’d like.”

The irony being, of course, that she was highly lactose intolerant.

Her offhand tone and casual demeanor nearly masked the content of her words, to which a generous narrator might attribute Jack’s belated, unhelpful response of:

“Um. Uh, Maybe?”

Unfortunately, the truth was that Jack was both awkward and frequently overcome by a dense fog of emotional incompetency. Now was one such occasion.

She laughed, if it could be called such. It was the laugh of a sailor encountering a shark in the middle of a hurricane–unimpressed, stressed, and yet, somehow, slightly amused. Toeing the line of hysterical, perhaps.

“You’re my best friend,” Jack said, rushed and cracked and desperately honest.

Ness sighed, “You’re mine, too.”

It was not new information and so, regretfully, it did not change anything.

There is a freedom in apathy; or so you think, at first.

It feels like ascending. Like leaving behind all of your worries and frustrations and grief. Like purging poison from your body, making you lighter–unburdened, relieved.

But not happier.

There is a danger in apathy.

Numb to pain, yes, but to pleasure as well. The things that used to make you smile are now overtired, trite baubles cluttering your space. Your favorite station is now just an annoying racket. Watering your little potted plant is a hassle.

You set your fingertips against an overheated panel and didn’t pull away until your skin began to blister.

But for a moment, you felt something.

Sadly, that something was curiosity.

~

A/N: This is the first time in a week that I got to go home before ten? And, also, there’s a clusterfuck going on at work, as per usual, but it’s NOT MY FAULT. I mean, I’m still going to be the one who has to fix it, but knowing it’s not my fault vindicates me greatly.

The Adventures of Jack and Ness (2016-08-05)

Because he hiccups when he cries and says things like, ‘What if pigeons destroyed a country?’ and never, not even once, no matter how often he was asked, took the easy way out. Because he’s strange and and silly and noble and far too good at poker to be anything but an impeccable liar, despite his kindness, and that’s what she’s been looking for this entire time, apparently.

Ness looks him straight in his beautiful, brown eyes and says:

“I need you to help me fight an old woman.”

Faye Lin, neé Peridot, is downright evil and possibly a manifestation of planet Earth’s justifiable rage at humanity.

She also is the only signatory for a specific safety deposit box in a particular bank that holds the exact item that Ness needs in order to get paid and have enough money to do things like, say, pay rent and maybe eat at least once this week.

“Or, at least, something that isn’t instant noodles,” she says, before not so gracefully shoving another slice of pizza into her mouth.

Across the table from her, looking discomfited  by both her eating mannerisms and the mysteriously sticky red vinyl of the booth’s benches, Jack puts his own slice of pizza back down.

“And… you need me for this?” he asks. He glances around, as if to check no one is listening, to then continue their conversation of robbing an old lady. Hypothetically.

Ness shrugs, cheeks filled with the glorious tastes of cheese and tomato or, at least, a very delicious approximation of both. “She knows what I look like, and she’s made it pretty clear that if I ever approach her again on the matter of the safety deposit box she’s going to kick my ass.”

“You talked to her about it?” Jack asks, all unimpressed incredulity as if he were the expert in acquisitions and she the new recruit.

“Duh,” she says, roll of her eyes quick and fleeting and more like a sideways check of the exits, “I had to.” She pauses, purses her lips, and admits with a sigh, “She’s my grandmother.”

~

A/N: Tagging this with Counterclockwise because Faye is Leanne’s younger sister and I kinda like this idea of outside POVs for the story… I’ll see where it takes me

Adventures of Jack and Ness (2016-07-22)

“You’re sweet,” she says with a curl on her lip, reaching out to pat him on the cheek. It’s a whole lot of patronizing but she has very soft hands and also she smells nice, so he leans into it.

“I hate you,” she also adds, though given she could just be smacking him instead of petting him, that seems to be unlikely.

“Well why don’t you tell me how you really feel,” he says.

She laughs and pulls away and gestures at the door, “Get out of my sight, Jack.”

“You know you love me!” He calls out, even as he scurries to obey.

No need to piss off V more than he already has.

Ness is very serious about her job. She is dedicated and loyal and hard working and etc etc

Whatever.

The point is, when she’s working all other things fall to the wayside. Nothing is more important than getting the job done in the most effective and efficient way possible.

She just wishes, in this case, it didn’t involve sitting quietly for three hours in a closet that smells like vomit and urine and, strangely, industrial strength nacho cheese if such a thing exists.

It’s the best place to hide their monitors for the bugs given they’ve hardwired everything so no one can just jump onto their signal, but it still smells horrible and she hates everything.

Next time, she’s call dibs on the babysitting job and Jack can sit in a closet that smells like the worst post-frat party ever.

It’s 2:37 AM when Jack shoots upright in his bed and hisses, “It’s a time travel paradox.”

From the other shitty, tiny bed in their shitty tiny motel room, Ness throws one of her lumpy pillows at him.

“Shut up,” she groans back, shoving her head underneath her remaining lumpy pillow. She’s already vowed to use hand sanitizer over her entire body when she wakes up–it’s way too early to worry about head lice. “ Go back to sleep.”

The pillow isn’t much of a deterrence to Jack, given it is just a pillow and he’s walked off much worse like, say, bullets and things, but he takes it as the warning it is and flops back onto his bed.

He spends the next four hours trying to figure out how and why their universe hasn’t imploded yet and fails spectacularly.

Adventures of Jack and Ness (2016-05-11)

“It’s just odd is all,” he says to her, voice all low and hesitant like he thinks she’ll attack him for a sudden noise.

“What is?” she murmurs back, letting her fingertips skate across the smooth, metal wall. There has to be a way out. After all, they were thrown in somehow.

On the opposite wall, Jack is doing the same, “That you’d go by a different name than the one your parents gave you.”

And in Ness’ case, she can see his confusion. Other people, those not fond of their parents or their childhood, would be more than happy to shed the name on their birth certificate. Which is an understandable and respectable way of life. But Ness looks back at the past as a place she will always yearn for, no matter the fact that she can never return.

The name her parents gave her is the last she has of them. She hasn’t used it in years.

Ness’ fingertips catch on a seam in the wall, so thin that she can barely dig her nails into it. But barely is just enough, and she rips the panel out, heedlessly tossing it to the floor of their cell with a resounding crash.

Jack, startled, growls but he catches himself mid-shift. His canine snout returns to being a perfectly human face.

In contrast, Ness has let her hands change fully into paws and claws.

“I haven’t been their daughter for a long time.”

Neither of them are entirely sure what made them successes out of the thirty experiments in their group. There are a few others who survived the treaments, but none on their level.

It’s not like either of them are genetically predisposed to be metahumans–though that is undoubtedly what they are now.

There’s a doctor who is known for taking in metahumans in need. Maybe she’ll help them.

They never make it to her.

Someone finds them first.

“Jackal and Lioness,” the woman they once knew as MX18 says while her witch lackey holds them down against the ground invisibly. They are struggling and snarling, only animalistic on the inside, Jack snapping his blunt human teeth and Ness scraping dirt beneath her soft human nails.

Neither of them are in the mood to talk.

That doesn’t stop MX18.

“You didn’t think I’d forgotten about you, did you?”

~

A/N: Some original fic, vaguely related to these two ficlets because… yeah.

Jack and Ness are kinda my catch all for a platonic pair of characters so each installment of the Adventures of Jack and Ness are unrelated to each other.

Adventures of Jack and Ness (2016-03-14)

Jack is in the middle of agreeing with Ness when he turns to look at her and immediately notices, “What are you doing with your eyebrows?”

Ness, whose eyebrows could not be raised higher to her hairline unless she shaved and drew them as such, tries to physically push them down with her hand. It doesn’t work, “Nothing. My eyebrows aren’t doing anything,” she denies, unbelievably.

“And… why are you smiling so much?” Jack continues with all the suspicion that is his due for being best friends with Ness Desmond since childhood.

“I am not–how dare you!” she says, faking offense through her smile.

“You did something,” Jack accuses trying to rewind their conversation back but if he’s going to be honest he wasn’t really listening. What did he almost agree to?

“It’s not what I did,” Ness says, no longer trying to hide the way her face has stretched open and pleased, “It’s what you’re going to do.”

In his defense, the last time Jack spoke to anyone that wasn’t Ness or his coworkers and students in an entirely professional capacity, it was his parents disowning him for being gay.

So…

It shouldn’t be surprising that he’s conflicted about being set up on a date with another man by his best friend.

The first part alone twists something inside him, that part that has always been torn between wanting to be a good son and wanting to be happy. The part that has, for the past several years, been entirely smothered over the lack of either.

The second part? Well. He loves Ness, of course he does. And he trusts her with his life. Probably.

But his love life?

Well.

There’s a reason he avoids high school reunions like the plague and it’s not because of the terrible food and music.

“God damnit,” Jack mutters to himself when he walks into the restaurant and spots the only other man with the agreed upon yellow rose matching Jack’s. “God damnit, Ness, he’s hot,” he mutters again, even though there’s no way she’d be able to hear him.

Maybe the guy has a crappy personality.

Then he looks up and smiles at Jack, making something in his chest wobble. Maybe it’s some sort of late onset asthma.

Ness would never set Jack up with an asshole.

“God damnit,” Jack says for the third time before going over and taking the empty seat at the table.

Or maybe it’s some kind of hope.

~

A/N: really quick thing bashed out because work and also all i’ve eaten today is cereal and girl scout cookies so aaaaaaaaaaah.

Adventures of Jack and Ness (2016-02-18)

One is fire, the other ice; and how terribly cliché that makes them and their relationship. How weak and foolish and naive.

Because fire and ice are extremes, forces of nature capable of destroying anything with their power. But combined they sputter and melt and cease to be anything but puddles and steam.

They are opposites and there is no way to combine their strengths–only cancel each other out. They are fire and ice and in no world can they be together and succeed.

He laughs–a jarring, abrupt thing more cough than levity. He’s been beaten and belittled and betrayed and all he can think of right now is how funny this all is. How hilarious it is that his death is entirely his own fault.

“You idiot, get up!” Ness shouts at him, tugging at his arm, trying to pull him to his feet. But everything hurts, and she is small and has no leverage. Jack stays on the ground.

“We have to go now,” she tries again, actual worry threading into her voice, “They’re coming, Jack, we have to go now!”

He deserves this, yes, but she doesn’t. For her, he wobbles into a crouch, which is enough.

She drops down under his arm, bodily hauling the both of them upright, running and dragging and trying.

He laughs again–feels a stab of pain in his lungs, but laughs regardless–in surprise.

They might actually make it.

She believes. She wouldn’t act if she didn’t believe. Everything for her is straightforward, she does as she says and says as she thinks and thinks only the truth.

Or her perception of it.

Ness believes and that is enough to save their lives. Enough to get them away from this wretched scene of mayhem, to someplace where they can rest and restock and heal.

It won’t be enough to set them free–they will always be hunted, chased down until they are finally caught–but it is a temporary respite. Enough to matter, enough to believe in.

Maybe they are fire and ice. Maybe they do weaken each other–dousing and thawing until they are no longer things to be reckoned with. Maybe there is no world in which they succeed.

But maybe they are not fire and ice. Maybe they are a spectrum of heat, or the lack thereof. It is not about being outliers, but about coming together and reaching equilibrium.

Maybe in this world, they don’t need to succeed. Maybe all they have to do is be enough.

Original Ficlets (2016-02-10)

“Medical says you’ll be out in three weeks,” Jack says with a small, nervous smile. His hand, curled around the hospital bed’s railing, turns pale with pressure.

Ness stays silent, doesn’t even look at him.

Three weeks is too long. And that’s not even including the time it’ll take for her to get back to fighting fit.

She won’t say it–she won’t say anything–but it’s all Jack’s fault. And since it’s his fault, he has to be the one to make it right.

Westerly remembers Huaqu, remembers hir home planet fondly. Remembers its people less fondly–the way other geshou would look at hir, a mix of revulsion and scandalized fascination, even decades after hir sprouting.

Zie hasn’t been back in years, and truthfully, zie doesn’t want to go back. But Westerly has been summoned–hir clan’s Elder Tree is dying, and what made hir a pariah before now makes hir a candidate to become the next Elder Tree.

“I’ll come back for you,” Leanne promises, hand gripping his as tightly as she can, even as her body begins to fade into nonexistence.

“No you won’t,” Bastian refutes, but he says it kindly. The small, sad smile on his face is the last thing she ever sees of him, the panicked fear in her eyes the last he sees of her.

At least for another century, that is.

Next time he meets her is the first time she meets him, and the lack of recognition would almost feel like betrayal if he weren’t already in the midst of trying to kill her teammates.

~

A/N: Just a few tiny original ficlets I wrote while on a train.

Adventures of Jack and Ness/Triptych (2015-12-16)

Despite being a SPAN operative, Jack is about as tough and sharp as a marshmallow. Which is to say, Ness is the one to fight all of their battles.

It’s just as well, Jack’s talents lie… elsewhere.

“I can’t believe that worked,” Ness mumbles, brushing dust and debris off her uniform. She keeps twitching her nose in an effort to ward of sneezing, but she’s pretty sure it’s not going to work for much longer.

“Neither can I,” Jack agrees, pulling at the guitar strap so the instruments winds around his torso and rests on his back.

They stare at the remains of the enemy ships, at the three giant eel-like creatures swimming happily in the waters, at the utter destruction only twenty meters from their spot on the cliff’s edge.

“This was supposed to be a milk run,” Ness says, pulling her partner away, but never taking her eyes off the planet’s native creatures. The creatures which the scanners had not picked up. The creatures which their team had not been prepared for. The creatures for which megafauna would be an understatement.

The creatures which apparently proved ‘music soothes the savage beast’ as more than just a saying.

“Well… no one on our team is seriously injured…” Jack says trying to be optimistic. But it’s very likely that their teammates will never want to work with them in the future. Given that, yes, this was supposed to be a milk run mission. Except for how Jack and Ness are apparently cursed.

“… They’re never going to let us go on planet side missions again, are they?” He asks his partner, dreading the answer.

“Forget planet side missions,” Ness groans, hiding her face in the crook of her arm, “We’ll be lucky if they ever let us off the ship!”

~

A/N: Some original fic because… because. My “Adventures of Jack and Ness” are a series of unrelated drabbles featuring a male-female friendship/partnership with the same names in different universes. This ‘verse is specifically “Triptych” … which is my attempt at an original sci-fi world. (It was supposed to be my NaNoWriMo, but… well… baby steps for writing works better for me).

Adventures of Jack and Ness drabble (2015-06-07)

“Oh, you dumb baby,” Ness tries not to laugh, comfortingly petting her oblivious partner’s hair.

“I didn’t know!” Jack protests into her knees where his head lays–him curled up awkwardly on his side, a stiff throw pillow clutched in his arms; her in her reserved corner of the sofa, feet shoved between the seat cushion and the armrest.

“The dumbest baby,” she murmurs, soothingly. She props her tablet up on the arm of the sofa to read her emails, but she doesn’t stop stroking his hair.

Jack spends the next ten minutes wailing his frustration into the fuchsia throw pillow. He doesn’t even care about the wrinkles in his suit.

They are eight years old when they meet. Eight and young and a little naive when they decide they are going to be best friends forever. Naivety doesn’t mean they’re wrong, but it’s a lot more work than they thought it would be to maintain their best friendship status throughout the years.

What with all the murder and espionage and fake identities and accidental marriages.

That being said, they stay best friends because at the heart of it all, they are still the same people they were when they were eight years old. He’s still the too eager idiot who thought he could make wings out of construction paper, and she the precocious fiend who suggested testing them from the school roof.

Nowadays there’s more experimental parachutes and hijacked helicopters, but it’s practically the same.

Depending on the country and which identities used, Ness and Jack are either siblings, cousins, married, or–one time, when they forgot to double check with each other beforehand–married cousins. That particular set of identities ended up needing to be burned anyway, so that awkward cloud of incest didn’t hang over their heads for long.

In actuality, they are both less and more than all of that. They chose each other, sure, which is more than can be said for family; but they also chose each other when they were inarguably stupidly young, and there has been more than one occasion in which sheer stubbornness is what saw their relationship through more than anything else. And they love each other, of course, but while their friendship edges into codependency, it always skirts widely around romance.

Likely because he’s gay and she’s aro, but also due to the simple fact that they just aren’t into each other that way. He knows way too much about her, and she of him, that they know it’s a bad idea.

A/N: Some Jack and Ness stuff, just got to let it out.

Word Prompts (M33): Mountain

It’s only been three hours, but he’s so fucking sick of this hike that he’s considering jumping over the sheer cliff face just to make it stop. But fucking Barry is still going strong and he’s not going to lose to fucking Barry.

“Fucking Barry,” Ness pants next to him, because the two of them are basically two bodies sharing one brain at this point. The only reason why she’s verbalizing it first is because her body is physically fitter and she has the breath to speak.

He grunts in agreement, then tugs her, via her backpack, to the right so she doesn’t step into a pothole.

Barry is not only chattering away like a demented squirrel, but also energetically flitting back and forth between them and the various apparently fascinating flora and fauna along the trail. If this weren’t exceedingly critical to tomorrow’s mission, Jack would have pushed fucking Barry off this mountain.

“Hydrate,” his partner reminds him, then bodily shoves a water bottle into his chest. Jack tries not to clutch at himself like a scandalized octogenarian, or a Harlequin romance heroine, but he fails. She has impeccable aim and, okay, he’s got sensitive nipples.  It’s not a sexual thing–she won’t let him live it down.

He’s still practically breathless, so all he can do is whine wordlessly until Ness huffs with exasperation, rolls her eye, and twists the cap off of the bottle for him.

“You two are so cute together, the absolute sweetest couple. I’m so honored to be your guide today,” Ugh, fucking Barry has come back to orbit around them. Barry thinks they are a newly married couple on their honeymoon. He does not know that his hiking tour company is a shell company for the Kelly crime family. Jack really wishes Barry knew so that he’d be justified in pushing him off the cliff.

“Thank you, Barry,” Ness says through gritted teeth which Barry probably interprets as a smile. And then she tugs on one of Jack’s backpack straps, quirks an eyebrow at him, and then makes grabby hands at the water bottle.

She wishes Barry knew, too.

~

A/N: I found and have been listening to slashreport.com … and didn’t realize it was past midnight until like now. ANOTHER ADVENTURE OF JACK AND NESS. What are they doing? I don’t know?