Time To Leave Town...
Location: Tina Cyparissus' apartment, Shady Side
Timeline: January 22nd, 2012
Jesse started to walk up the door that lead above the clinic. “Come over she said…. She would talk she said…” The tall blonde man grumbled to himself. He was pretty much stomping up the walkway. Stopping halfway he put his hands on his hips and popped it out, “Oh you lost the bet, so therefore I don’t have to talk.” he said in his best Tina voice. Throwing his hands up in the air he continued to mumble as he rang the doorbell, “Well let see how you like that this early in the morning. Social worker my ass!”
Inside the apartment, Tina heard the doorbell as she was loading Worlds of Myth. The splash screen had just given way to the character screen, and Tina’s avatar looked back at her from within her Greek armour with a questioning look.
The doctor sighed. She took a long sip of her coffee.
“I bet it’s him. Has to be him. Of course he wouldn’t let this go.” She sighed again, pulling her plush royal blue bathrobe a little more tightly around her as she headed for the door. “Pain in the neck ex-boyfriends ringing the doorbell on a Sunday morning before the crack of noon...”
Tina opened the door at the bottom of the stairs that led up to her second floor apartment. She looked as though she’d just woken up a short time before - which was true, for the most part. Her straight black hair was still a little messy, and a hint of pale skin was visible beneath the thick fuzzy robe. Her legs were bare, though her feet were stuck in a pair of slippers that looked like the torsos of very cartoonish Roman gladiators. “Morning Jess.”
“Morning.” Is all he said as he stood there not sure what to say, “Well, I am leaving today. Thought you should know.”
Tina nodded. She felt a small pang of disappointment - not that his departure was unexpected by any means. “It really has been good to see you, Jess. Do you have a few minutes to come in, or do you have to get to the airport?”
Pulling out his phone, Jesse looked at the time, “I have a few minutes.” He had planned for this. Hoping that she would let him in so they could talk for a few minutes.
She stepped aside, gesturing for him to take the stairs past get up into the apartment. “I just made coffee. Its... well... better than no coffee. I think there are still some of Lauren’s cookies around here somewhere... that works for breakfast, right?”
Jesse nodded as he stepped forward, “Of course.”
“So...” Tina headed for the kitchen, pulling a couple of mismatched mugs from the cupboard and a pretty floral metal cookie tin. She pulled the carafe out of the coffee maker and began to pour. “What time is the flight?” She held out a mug, black with jagged white letters that proclaimed ‘I AM SPARTA!’ with a figure of a Greek hoplite holding a sword and shield on the side.
Taking the mug, “Noon.” Jesse said taking a sip of coffee, “But I plan on being there around ten.”
“Two hours ahead. Makes sense. Should give you lots of time.” She agreed with a nod as she held out a tin of cookies. “Tell me something?”
Taking a cookie he looked up, “What?”
She met his eyes, her warm brown gaze piercing, as though it could look deep into the depths of his soul. “I get that my sister called you because she's a drama queen and worries about far too much, and that she asked you to come. But, it's been a long time. You didn't have to come, and more than that, you didn't have to keep pushing when I tried to make things... difficult.” A small smirk played at her lips. She'd clearly enjoyed the game. “So, why did you? And don't tell me it was because of Talassa, or because you just wanted to help, because I know you better than that. Be honest with me. Why did you cross the entire country for a weekend, when you just as easily could have referred Talassa to someone local?”
Jesse looked into her eyes. He swallowed deeply as he looked at her. “It’s complicated.” He said taking a sip of his coffee. Clearing his throat, he looked down then back up, “Because…. I wanted to, Tina. I wanted to.”
“Why?” She prompted, leaning against the counter with a small frown. “Uncomplicate it for me. We haven’t talked in years. I won’t deny it’s been good to see you, but, kind of unexpected. I mean, you flew across the entire country at the whim... of my sister...” Her eyes widened with sudden realization. “Wait... oh, by the gods... how did I not...” She shook her head and put her hand over her face. “I need more coffee...”
“Tina…” Jesse said extending his hand out to her, “I haven’t stopped…..” he paused, “....I still feel the same. I always have…”
Tina said nothing as she crossed the kitchen and poured herself another coffee. She turned around to look at Jesse as she drank the entire mug in one go, then turned back to the coffee maker for another refill.
“It’s times like these that I wish I kept alcohol in the house...” She muttered under her breath. “Phobos, if you’re listening and this is some kind of test, I’m so going to kick your ass...”
“What…?” Jesse said. He didn’t hear all she said, but something about a phobia.
“Nothing.” She gave a big sigh, hanging her head for a moment before looking up at Jesse. He really was gorgeous, with his tall frame and toned physique. His face was handsome, not as rugged as Phobos, perhaps, but definitely not hard to look at, and those eyes... Jesse had eyes that Tina could get lost in, and had many times in the past. “Jess... it’s been years. I’m flattered, but we’re different people now than we were when we were in college. You’ve got your career in California, I have mine here. Even if we did get back together, how would that even work? I mean, the logistics of it are kind of crazy.”
“I can expand my clinic. Over half of my patients are over the computer anyway.” Jesse said rising from his chair, “And I can refer them to my assistant Psychiatrist. He is just as good, if not better than I am.”
“That’s not even... there’s something else you need to know.” She spoke quietly, her hands coming together in front of her. Her index finger and thumb moved toward the ring finger on her left hand, stroking the base of the finger tenderly “Jesse, I... I’m engaged. I’m going to marry someone else. I’m sorry.”
Jesse’s heart dropped, “Why… why are you just telling me know?”
“Because...” She seemed to struggle for words as she shook her head. “Because he's... not exactly... it's... it's complicated.” she sighed softly. “He's in trouble. I'm not sure if I'll ever see him again, but... if... WHEN... I do...” her words trailed off. “I guess... I didn't mention it because I didn't know that's why you came all this way. I mean, I suppose I suspected you might have felt this way, but...”
“Who is it? How is he in trouble?” Jesse asked taking a step closer, “Can I help in anyway?”
“I don’t know.” She said quietly. “His name is Phobos. He’s the reason I’ve been playing that game, Jess. Worlds of Myth. Whoever is keeping him away from me, the key is in that game, I can feel it. I know that sounds crazy, but I know it’s connected. Talassa thinks I’m obsessed, and maybe I am, but there’s a reason for it.” A single tear rolled down her cheek. “I... I haven’t seen Phobos in nearly three years. I have no idea what’s happened to him. I just know that it has to be something serious, or he’d have found me.”
Phobos….. Jesse thought to himself as he tried to figure out who that was… “Phobos… like phobia? Something about fear? Tina what the hell are you going off about? Phobos is the god of fear, he’s just a myth.”
She was silent for a long moment. “I shouldn’t have told you his name. Of course you think I’m crazy. Why wouldn’t you? Sometimes I wonder, myself...”
“Tell me the truth, Tina.” Jesse said caringly.
“You want to know the truth?” She looked up and met his eyes, a haunted look in her own. “Okay. Here goes. Metahumans.”
“Metahumans? What do that have to do with this?” Jesse asked.
“A lot, actually.” She sighed. “I am not the same Tina you knew so many years ago. This will sound insane, I get that, but hear me out. I grew up in a world that was... well... a lot different from this one. Metahumans were free to live openly, without fear. They were respected, even. Looked up to. And faith, religion, it was completely different. Christianity wasn’t as widespread - it was still practiced, but so were the ancient faiths, all in harmony with each other. The gods were real. All of them. Greek, Egyptian, Aztec, Norse, each one. Just like Thor is real and all that craziness with the Avengers, only on a wider scale. I grew up in Kalymnos, just like I did in this world, only I spent my youth pledged to the service of the goddess Athena, and then when I was old enough, I came to America to study medicine - just like your Tina did. We met in both worlds, and we went our separate ways in both as well. All of that was the same. Exactly the same.”
She took a deep breath, exhaling slowly before continuing. “It was about a year or so after I moved to Shady Side and set up my practice. A good friend of mine, Lauren McArthurs... well, Shady Side wasn’t the most meta-friendly city in the world, a backwards little pocket of closed-minded idiots, including the man she married, who persecuted anyone who dared to be different. I protected her, helped her, as she went through the change and Awakened to her powers. In the process - and if it didn’t get weird before, it will here - I died.” Tina shook her head. “I... I won’t get into all of that. It was... complicated. The important part is that I was brought back. Higher powers were involved... I was a part of the Light... sort of what you might picture when you think of an angel, only, well, the other, older Seraphs got kind of snippy when you called them that. I had wings, and I was all gold, couldn’t lie, devoted to goodness and the healing arts. Anyway... I was a metahuman. That allowed me to meet Apollo, who introduced me to Phobos and we fell in love.”
“I won’t bore you by talking about him.” She shook her head. “Or tell you about our time together, but the title of ‘god of fear’ didn’t apply. He was kind, gentle, thoughtful. He’d grown up from all the scaring-the-crap-out-of-people thing that he was known for. The gods in general were a lot less petty than the stories said. They... they were noble.” A tear rolled down her cheek. “I don’t know what happened. I know there was a threat, a big one. The gods, the most powerful of the metas, all of them went to fight it. The next thing I knew, everything had changed. The entire world had changed.” She spread her arms wide. “All of this. Everything. I have no idea why I remembered when no one else - not even the most powerful of the metas who survived - did, save one... one man who corroborated my story, a man I knew from those days. Some of the people came to this world, many didn’t. The gods didn’t - except some of the gods I knew and loved are in that game.” She pointed toward the office where her computer lay. “I don’t know how, I don’t know why, but the gods in that game look EXACTLY like they’re supposed to, and my niece’s character is a girl I knew with divine blood - a Minoan goddess named Neferu. Hell, Jesse, Melissa’s character even has her name. I’ve spent the last three years remembering Neferu, Phobos, and all of my other gods, and then, all of a sudden, they show up in that game? Looking the way they’re supposed to look? There is no possible WAY that is a coincidence. Whoever made that game knew what they looked like, Jesse. I need to find out how... why. That’s why I’ve been playing so much. That’s why I need to play.”
She looked back up and met his eyes. “They’re not a myth to me, Jesse. To me, they were family, and I will do whatever I can to save them. I owe them that. I have to do this.”
Jesse sat there and rubbed his temples. That was a lot… a lot of… “What?” Jesse asked bluntly, “There is no way that is possible.” His training was screaming at him. He wasn’t acting professionally, but he didn’t care. “Tina, you know how you sound right now?”
“Completely insane. Oh, I’m aware.” She laughed, and her laughter sounded a bit crazed. “Why do you think I didn’t tell you before? Why do you think you’re the only person outside of... well... a select few who I’ve told this to? Oh, I know how it sounds. It would be a lot easier if I was batshit crazy, trust me, but I’m not.” She shook her head and closed her eyes against the tears that threatened to form. “You wanted the truth. You’ve been hounding me about it for days. I don’t need you to believe me, Jesse, but you wanted the truth and now you have it. I could give you proof, but, well, I don’t really need to prove myself to you, do I? It’s...” She paused for a moment, giving a small huff of laughter. “I guess it’s kind of a question of faith. That’s the sort of thing a Seraph should say, isn’t it?”
Jesse rubbed his temples as he took it all in. “How could you… why are you… what?” In all his years of counseling and studying the human brain, he had never heard someone be so passionate. It was almost like she was telling the truth, or she was legitimately crazy.
Tina shrugged picking up another cookie from the tin and then sliding it closer to Jesse. “That’s a reasonable reaction. Once you parse all of it, you can ask questions, but I never really developed telepathy. Sorry. Well.... not with non-Seraphs, at least. I could do it with Markus. He's one of the ones who disappeared.” She took a bite of her cookie. “Y’know... it feels good to actually tell someone all of this after so many years. Honesty IS good for the soul! Huh. Go figure. Another bit of Seraphy-wisdom.”
Jesse moved back to his chair and sat down. He looked up into her eyes trying to find some hope that she was joking. Nothing. Rubbing his temples again he sighed and turned on his professional voice, “Sometimes telling people helps you along. Why don’t we talk about this? Maybe I can help.”
“So you can convince me I’m imagining it all?” She gave a soft sigh. “I did just tell you about it. The only way you can help, Jess, is if you’re able to get in to Worlds of Myth and pull out a god. One who can tell me what the hell is going on. Trying to convince me I’ve cracked isn’t going to do that, so if that’s what you intend...” Her words trailed off with a long sigh. “If that’s what you want to do, Jess, you might as well go back to California.”
“Is that what you want?” Jesse asked Tina, “Do you want me to leave and go back to California?” He leaned forward onto his knees and looked at her.
She sighed, meeting his eyes for a moment. A part of her really didn't want that, but what could she say? Telling Jesse that she didn't want him to go back to California meant that she wanted him to stay in Shady Side, and that meant that she wanted them to be together. If that happened, it meant giving up on Phobos. “I can't give you what you want, Jesse. I can't be with you. I'm sorry.”
Jesse’s heart dropped into his stomach. He has hopped that he would be able to at least get a chance for her to open up about this. Pulling out his business card, with some scribbling on the back, he set it on the table, “If you aren’t going to talk to me, here are some local counselors that you can talk to.” He stood up, “I will miss you, Tina. I have to go.”
“I’ll miss you, too, Jess.” She said quietly, taking the card and setting it on the counter behind her. “It really was good to see you.” She opened her arms wide to offer him a farewell hug.
Jesse, still holding back tears, stepped into the hug. It felt good to be in her arms again. The warmth that he always loved was still there, “It was good to see you, too.”
He smelled good... better than she’d remembered him smelling. She closed her eyes, breathing deeply as her head rested against his neck. She didn’t even realize that she’d nuzzled her nose in to his neck, breathing in the heady, musky scent that was uniquely Jesse. It had been a long time since she’d been this close to a man - any man - that she’d forgotten how good it felt to have strong arms wrapped around her. Her lips brushed against the soft skin of his neck and she gave a soft, happy sigh, her breath warm against his skin.
Feeling the brush of her lips, the smell of her hair, brought back a flood of memories. He pulled her in closer as he hugged her tighter.
It took Tina a moment to realize what she’d been doing and how close she’d pressed her body against his. She stepped back, trying to be slow in releasing him so he didn’t realize how embarrassed she was. The flush of her cheeks gave her away, as did her inability to look him in the eye. “I, um... I-It... yeah. Good to see you, too. You said that already... right. Um... you had a flight to catch, right? I’m keeping you from that...”
“....right… the flight…” The blonde man looked at his watch 9:30. Time for him to go, “Yes I should be going…” he said as he fumbled for his keys.
She cleared her throat a little, forcing her eyes up to meet his. She could feel the blush in her cheeks, figuring her feelings for him must be as clear as day. He’d known her, been with her, too long to mistake it for anything else. “Right... um... good flight. Safe trip, okay? Maybe you could send me a message to let me know you made it back safely? Not that, um, you have to... but... if you want to stay in touch, or anything... if you want to...”
“I can message you…” Jesse said as he finally got the keys out of his jacket pocket. Of course he wanted to stay in touch but wasn’t sure how to put it. He awkwardly stuck out his hand, “Take care Tina.”
She gave a small smirk, his awkwardness cute but putting her more at ease. Her hand met his with a firm handshake. “See you later, Jess.”