A Friend in Need

July 19, 2017:

Jhiao carries Nerina back to the X-Mansion for medical help from a familiar telepath. For once the naiad is too injured to muster her trademark snide.

1407 Graymalkin Lane

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions:

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It's still morning at Xavier's, just getting into breakfast time as Jhiao returns to the mansion absolutely soaking wet from the tops of her fuzzy ears to the bottom of her big leopard toes. It might be a little odd that the Niagara's worth of water clinging to her isn't dripping a small river in the werewoman's wake but at least it keeps her from tracking in a mess. Bound tightly into her fur, those attuned beyond the visible realm might notice a second mind hiding in tow - one that's exhausted, upset, and fighting down an urge to panic as the pair crosses the threshold.
"Clothes first please," a watery voice begs quietly through the fluid plugging Jhiao's ears.

*

The wereleopard lopes through the foyer and seeks out the laundry room. She hates this place; strong unnatural smells, loud noises; but she beelines for here regardless, and then leaps up and into the large washing sink. She even fiddles with paws and teeth until she gets the stopper in place. Then she wriggles and shakes, trying to encourage that water to flow off of her and into the sink, a place to rest, safe, unpolluted, contained. A place where Cloud can then offer more water, and keep her centrally located while seeking out things like food, medical attention, and yes - clothes. Maybe.

*

Betsy's one of the Mansion's early risers— a morning workout is so much a part of her routine that she's broken her fast, exercised, and started her day before much of the students are even through their first bowl of cereal.

She looks like she's just returning from the gym; she wears brief workout shorts and a clinging sport top, leaving an inch of her belly bare. Low-profile running shoes that match her pink top cover her feet, and even with her hair a bit sweaty from her workout, she looks as if she just stepped from an activewear shoot. And she's standing in the doorway, having sensed the intense psychic distress in Nerina's words and thoughts.

«…Jhiao?» She projects psychically, head tilting— and then her eyes narrow minutely, and her awareness surges towards the entity wrapped around the soaking wet leopard.

«And Nerina. I see you've returned. Is there an emergency?» she asks, in her clipped, urbane way.

*

*SPLOOSH!*

Like a wet tree that's been hit with a bat, the water floods of Zhiao all at once and quickly collects up to her elbows in the sink before it draws together to regain color and shape. Nerina looks up at the leopard with her hair nearly covering the whole sink bottom beneath her and squirms a little, finding things a little cramped with both of them inside.

The naiad freezes and her breath hitches in her throat as a voice enters her head. She bites at the inside of her cheek and tries to crawl more completely underneath Jhiao. «N-nothing, I'm fine!» she insists mentally, trying the thought just in case it can be read but losing in exchange the tighter control she can keep over spoken words. It doesn't take a psychic to tell the emaciated waif is lying.

*

« Need help, now! She has been hurt, badly. Need help, Knife-in-Shadows, please. » Cloud responds to Elizabeth, as she hops up out of the sink and back to the floor, giving Nerina more room in the super-sized sink to stretch out and be less kinked-up. Apparently she sees no reason for Nerina to hide under her, but she is close by, and watching protectively over the naiad.

*

Betsy keeps her mild alarm expertly contained. « I'll be back in a moment,» Betsy says, eyes flickering over Nerina.

She dashes off at top speed, clearing the way ahead of her with a psychic shout— it's only a few steps to one of the medical cabinets nearby. Specialized nutrient saline and intravenous plasma— but Betsy's already blaring the alarm to Jean and one of the medical professionals to come running as soon as they can.

She returns, banking off the door, and dashes towards Nerina, swift and sure as the leopard drying on the counter.

"Intravenous drugs," Betsy tells Nerina. "Electrolytes and sugars. And plasma— you look like you've lost a lot of blood," she informs Nerina, speaking out loud. She reaches for a hypodermic syringe, but pauses, balefully eying Nerin's wavering substance.

"Er…. can you consume these directl?" she asks, lifting the two half-litre bags.

*

Nerina does her best as she turns herself right-side up to stay crouched and hidden in the sink. The naiad cringes as she looks around the laundry room for a loose towel or something simple to cover herself with, only to curse as the lower half of her right arm collapses back into water with a splash.

Glaring at it while her remaining hand keeps a white-knuckle grip on the counter, the water dances and wriggles as she bids it to reform where it belongs. "Do you still have the hair I gave you?" she asks furtively in the short window she's alone with the leopard.

As Betsy returns, the naiad's sea-blue eyes jump to the doorway and it's clear the normal efforts to keep her countenance stone-faced and cold just aren't working anymore. The blonde girl is too tired, too frayed, and too weak. Right now, she's just scared.

Or as the telepath *rapidly* approaches with medical bags and needles, terrified. In the blink of an eye, the youth becomes a watery silhouette with all the substance of clear glass and she draws back reflexively towards the rear of the sink. It's hard to tell now where her colorless eyes are looking but her mind is very, very locked on the needles.

*

« No stabbing! » Cloud shouts in her mind as she hops up, putting her paws on the edge of the sink, eyeing the terrified figure of water. She blrrts at Nerina, trying to call the frightened woman closer to her. When that fails, she drops to the floor and then bounds back up to the counter beside the sink, pressing her nose right into that watery silhouette.

What?! How else is she supposed to show her support? Give it a rest!

*

Besty senses Nerina's terror and promptly flicks the covered syringe aside, landing neatly out of sight— but she focuses that withering psychic talent on the woman. Scary though Betsy might be, she's a literal bastion of certitude and focus, and she lends that incredible clarity to Nerina as she grabs an empathic hand and hauls the girl back out from the root of her terror.

«Stop that,» Betsy scolds Nerina, literally battering aside her terror like so many clinging black moths at night. « Fall apart later. We must help you now. I have plasma and nutrients,» she tells Nerina, holding the bags out at her again. « But if you don't get them in your system, you're going to go into /shock/.»

«Now. Can you ingest these /directly/ if I puncture the bags, or do I need to figure out an altnerative means of getting you the medicine you need?»

*

Jhiao Ting Li supplies claws promptly.

*

Nerina's aquatic cheek has all the comfort and humanity of warm pool water but it's enough to coax the naiad… well not quite human, but she shifts enough to wrap her arm tightly around Jhiao's shoulder and hold the leopard to her in a grip that's surprisingly solid.

"Nnn…" she murmurs, wriggling and squirming mentally as much as physically before Betsy's attempts to calm her. They might be working just in stopping the youth from fleeing the room.

"Just open the bags, keep those dannato things away from me," she insists sharply.

*

Bags? Open? Cloud lifts a paw, claws extending, and she slices open the bags helpfully, once they're over the sink. « Tell her. Hair in metal neck case — » Translate: locket « — upstairs. Please tell her. »

*

Betsy lets Jhiao pierce the bag, and hooks it near Nerina, so the girl can— drink it? Absorb it? She watches with fascination at Nerina's process begins. Whatever that process is.

"The locket. I will get it for you," Betsy says, once Nerina no longer is on the verge of total collapse. She leaves the rooom at a brisk clip, though this time she is not sprinting.

*

The 'process' might be a little anticlimactic to see. As the colorless saline and nutrient mixes drain down into the sink, water runs down the naiad's legs until the two pools meet. The mingle briefly, then narrow into a tight little bridge. Faintly as she 'drinks', Nerina seems to get just a little less bony and a little more solid. She was missing a lot of water weight…

At the mention of a locket, there's a confused gurgle. "What? Locket??" There's a moment of confusion before the realization dawns and she slaps two wets hands on the sink, leaning forward. "No!" she tries to call to the retreating psychic before wheeling on Jhiao. "What did you just tell her?!"

*

Cloud stares two pools of limpid amber at Nerina, growling and hissing in annoyance. What is wrong with this woman?! She lifts a paw, brushing it against Nerina's head, then down along her own furry foreleg as suggestively as she can. Nerina asked about the hair, and was clinging fiercely to Cloud herself, so she couldn't go get the hair. So she told someone else, who could understand her without her having to change shape. And naturally, the naiad is again going insane.

What this needs most is a telepath to fix that broken mind!

*

Betsy isn't far enough gone she doesn't hear the cry; she pauses, then walks back, brow hiked up in mild confusion at Nerina and Jhiao.

"I understand you have some concerns about your privacy and whatnot, but at the moment, I have thumbs, and Jhiao does not," Betsy tells Nerina. "If this is something you /need/, I will retrieve it for you; but you are going to have to elect to trust me just a little bit."

*

Color begins to return to Nerina's body as she solidifies anew - a hint of true, life-giving color now thanks to the infusion that's still mixing its way through her. She grips the leopard tightly to her and buries her face in Jhiao's shoulder, growling right back in frustration. "I asked if you had it, not for you to *tell her where it was*…"

There's another ominous wobble from the naiad's arm but this time it stays solid enough. With the leopard's fur smothering her senses, the young woman takes a few moments breathing heavy and tries to calm herself down, though it's easier said than done.

When Betsy returns again, Nerina looks up over Jhiao's cloud-marked back and ends with a deep but unsteady breath. A note of firmness returns to her eyes, not quite enough to be called a glare. It's not the friendliest look to someone trying to help her but given the naiad's normal mood it's at least a sign of health.

"No, I don't need it right now. I'll be okay," she insists. It's several seconds more before she adds a quiet "thank you" as she looks back down at Jhiao, remembering her manners.

*

"You are welcome," Betsy tells Nerina, checking herself from leaving again. She interlaces her fingers loosely in front of her midthigh, examining the woman and the leopard with her inscrutable, all-seeing gaze. "If you require it later, it can be readily retrieved. Now, can you give me some details? Were you attacked? Ambushed?" she asks, her tone gentle but firm. "You must not discuss it if you don't wish to, but I do need to know— yes or no— if the students here are potentially under threat."

*

« I do not understand her when she is like this. She asked for … something she left me. I assumed it was important, that it might help. » Cloud's tail lashes back and forth behind her, but she cuddles with Nerina in spite of herself. « If you have more of the science liquids, can you get them? I would go, but she does not seem to want to let go of me right now. Perhaps with a bit more, we can get her solid enough to eat. » Then Jhiao pauses and looks up at the Brit ninja. « Thank you for helping. »

*

Nerina's mind answers the question well enough without her conscious intentions. Attacked? Yes. Ambushed? Also yes. Those memories are *very* fresh still.

Outwardly, the youth takes a few more seconds to lift her eyes again only to shake her head. "No" «…more than usual for being a school full of mutants,» her subconscious finishes. There's a nagging thought in the back of her mind that she might be tracked and she might be found even here but it's one the blonde is trying to suppress and given her state it might just be an unfounded fear.

Leaning herself against Jhiao more fully, as covering and support, Nerina absent-mindedly rubs the leopard's sturdy side with her arm. "Nothing for you to care about. Just people I stole from."

*

"Very well," Betsy murmurs. She glances at Jhiao. "I am pleased to help, Jhiao," she tells the leopard, gently. "Nerina is stressed and anxious, and tired. Such conditions can make us all feel less than civil at times."

She reaches into a cabinet and pulls out a thick, puffy towel, and a robe to go with it. "When you're ready, dear, come upstairs and get warmed up," she tells Nerina, her tone cool but compassionate. "We'll get you some food and a place to rest." Perhaps sensing that Jhiao is helping calm Nerina more than Betsy's presence would, the leggy kunoichi inclines her head and silently slips from the room.

*

The leopard leans into Nerina, nudging her firmly. But short of downright snarling at the woman, she has done about all she can do.

*

Nerina's eyes follow the telepath as she draws out something to warm up with and even wear. It actually draws the ghost of a smile - one felt through her mind more than seen on her face - though the naiad makes no move away from her leopard as the ninja leaves.

With a pretense of solitude around them again, the young woman lets out a heavy breath and wraps both arms tightly around Jhiao as she turns from the room and buries herself anew in fur. Any displeasure from the big cat is missed at the moment as Nerina takes another chance to calm her mind and mentally recover.

Peeking out for just a moment, she stretches a long, watery tendril from her arm until it hooks the towel, then reels it back to drape the thick cotton over her bare shoulders.

"Thank you, Jhiao," the naiad murmurs as she discretely bites on her thumb. There's that smell of blood again…

"Don't leave me for… a short time, okay?"

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