Thus Shines the Light

March 29, 2018:

Ripclaw and The Magdalena spar. The Spear has other ideas.

Vivienne's Loft

One floor of a converted warehouse. A large artist's loft in the industrial style, more training facility than home.

Characters

NPCs: None.

Mentions: Jessica Drew Johnny Blaze Joseph Durant (NPC)

Plot:

Mood Music: [*\# None.]


Fade In…

It had been nearly a week of silence, if not actual peace on the supernatural front. At least so far as the Magdalena had been concerned. Vivienne seemed not inexperienced with technology, as she did have a cell phone, as it turned out, and she did answer pages, but she never used emojis or internet jargon, and seemed to prefer conversation by voice to the typed word. So in the few conversations that might have been had, she had been both reachable and approachable.

Robert had been given an open invitation to the safe house where the Vatican had decided that Vivienne should have her base of operations. It was deep in the heart of the city, one of those apartment buildings that must once have been a factory or a mill, but now had been converted into a series of artists lofts.

As it turned out, Vivienne had an entire floor to herself, the interior still very much in the industrial mode, with the interior design skewed towards exposed pipe and ductwork, cement walls and a minimalist aesthetic. Or perhaps that was just Vivienne, who had only a small, plain cot tucked away into a corner of the loft, not far from where some small part of the area had been built out as a living area, with areas for cooking, bathing, entertaining. It was as an unwalled studio apartment.

The majority of the loft had been kitted out as for training, with an assortment of obstacles which were movable and build-able. Weight and strength training equipment was also present, giving the space a lived in, but not homely air.

For her part, Vivienne sat crossed-legged in the center of the largest exercise mat, kitted out in her full armor, leaving off only her cloak, which was hung not far from her. Armed as well, with both of her usual swords and, though it isn't readily visible from the door, the Spear as well, somewhere on her person.

*

Roberts been applying himself to a lot of legwork in seeking the artifacts, playing connection point between the various bearers and assembled who the Curator has sought out and gathered. It's been hectic while still juggling his 'home' life, that itself is a whole 'nother story itself.

He's resistant to enter the safehouse at first the man eventually made way within, a leather jacket with a hooded under sweater, tattered jeans, boots, nothing about him ever screams vigilante, superhero or the like. Casual wear at all times it appears. The only weapons on his person, those forever attached limbs. His eyes taking in the entire floor Ana has acquired herself or been afforded by her handler(s).

"Impressive. A lot of room for someone acting alone."

*

The door having been unlocked easily enough with the code he had been given, meant that Vivienne was only now opening her eyes to take in the man walking across the space, her hands still resting lightly on her knees, "The Vatican wanted to be sure that everything that I might need would be contained in one place." A nice way of saying she would be contained in one place. Not an unfamiliar situation, by any means. Most overseers preferred to keep tabs on their operatives, "It is not always so quiet. Josef only just left." Which might explain why she appears to have been coming down from a workout.

Vivienne unfolds herself easily enough, rising to her feet and approaching her guest, "Welcome. Make yourself," and then she trails off, as she looks about the place. There's so very little in the space that seems concerned with comfort. "as comfortable as possible. if it suits you." She, for her part, doesn't move from the workout area.

*

"So you're not entirely alone." Robert comments as he makes his way further in, a hand reaching out to touch the wall, claw tips tapping it then drawing back to himself.

"Thanks, I could use a moment anyways, I feel I haven't sat still in some time." A smile and he gives her a slow once over, then does a small circling walk, despite having said he could sit. Like a predator prowling a new space, mapping out the confines hes now in within that suite floor of hers.

"You haven't seen anything unusual lately?"

*

Having passed on the welcome, Vivienne, though she remains in the workout area, moves to a small fridge to remove a pair of water bottles, one of which she offers towards Robert, should his circling bring him back in her direction. She seems to have no problem with the perusal of her living space or her own good self. Not a woman given to vanity, is Vivienne Benoit. "Well, yes, and no. Josef is my handler, the Vatican's go-between and so we do spend a good deal of time together, training, or working, but he does not live here. He has his own life and his own concerns outside of his duties."

The question brings a tilt of her head as she considers, opening her own bottle to take a long swallow. "Well, I did see a giant anthropomorphic, and rather terrifying rabbit, and far too many children eating far too much candy. But I believe that was simply one of the many Easter festivities the city is taking part in. I have seen nothing like what we encountered before. Only the sorts of creatures I normally encounter in my day to day patrols."

*

Robert politely accepts the offered up water bottle, uncorking it to take two drinks before recapping.

"That's… disturbing. This being New York though all things considered unlikely too far out there in breaking the mind." A half smile, his eyes drift over that training area again and he motions towards it, "You looking to loosen up a bit? I suppose we could entertain some sparring or quick exchange if you're wanting. I really have never seen a Vatican trained assassin in action beyond the brief display against the Angelus there."

Vivienne pauses, her body falling still, as she hears herself described as an assassin. But perhaps, in the end, she accepts the term, whether for good or ill, and doesn't make any word of correction. She takes her own long pull on the water bottle in hand, before she nods an acceptance of the match. "The children seemed to enjoy it, though it seemed a rather terrifying prospect. I did meet two very interesting folks there. A Jessica Drew…there's something about her I can't quite put my finger on, and a Johnny Blaze."

Vivienne moves to the center of the mat, slipping her two swords into hand. She does not move for practice weapons, only awaits Robert's moving to meet her. "I would be interested to tests your capabilities." There's just enough of a quirk to the corner of her mouth to inject humour into her words.

*

"Jessica Drew." Robert considers, perhaps that was one of Moonstar's companions he met? The name is familiar. No, he recalls it now, the PI he was in dialogue with over the Demon Bear's origins.

"I am familiar." He says with a smile. He is wrong entirely, he is familiar with Jessica Jones - not Drew.

"Never heard of a Johnny Blaze however."

Robert observes as she moves then turns to start taking off his jacket, the tee-shirt following it to be folded up together, a force of habit for him. No shirt, no shoes! All violence.

The claws are flexed, they ripple and pop outwards as they elongate past finger length to about that of daggers then recoil back in, it is obvious he is focusing. A knit of his brow says as much.

"I'm trained well enough, I suppose. Though, we are ever students, right?" His own stance looking something akin to a Karate master as legs space, toes point and claws on one form in to a fist the other palm out.

*

"He seems to have a fondness for motorcycles. She seems about as familiar with this city as I am." Vivienne takes a moment to watch Robert prepare himself for the skirmish, though, rather than commenting on him, she offers, "It was good to meet people who did not know me. or perhaps, better to say…who know only Ana." When she sees Robert settle into position, she nods, taking her own moment to settle herself, grip tightening momentarily on the hilts of the weapons, before she charges in, one blade raised to strike toward his chest, the other coming in low, down along the line to make contact with his sword. She's fast, faster than one might expect of a human woman. "Yes, there's always something new to learn."

*

"Yeah? You got to be… a self without so many labels and ties?" Robert asks, a slow circle to the left. Sizing her up until she's charging, his hands both rise up and clamp together with a 'tang' as the blade is deflected, his surprise at her speed evident as hes pushed to the defensive at first. The step left elongating in a fast shuffle as one leg lashes out in a kick at her shin, also a hook of his foot. A feint. A low one.

"I pride myself on staying open minded."

*

"Yes, exactly that. I had an opportunity to be myself, whatever that is when my mantle is stripped away." Spoken as though the woman herself was not even sure of that. Even as she's speaking, Vivienne continues to move, as if it were the most natural thing in the world to carry on a reasonable conversation in the midst of being one of a pair of people attempting to do serious injury to each other.

With her initial blow deflected, and Robert feinting to avoid the second low slash, she moves seamlessly, where he was on the defensive, she now is, as he moves in to sweep, and she twists away, both of her swords coming up, as close to a shielding maneuver as she can manage. "That is new, for me. I was raised in the Church. They exhibit a decided lack of open-mindedness."

*

The feinted kick hits air and his upperbody lurches forth, one slice and another from those claws though they are knifehands and the sides of his palm, not the actual blades.

"Who are you?" He inquires, "Or at least are you doing what you feel is true to you, in service of your Church, Faith and God?" Its not anything more than curious in the way he inquires, the man's long hair framing out around his features as he moves with and against her, almost like this is a choreographed dance. She can tell he has had experience, plenty of it and training, multiple martial arts forms integrated in to a personalized style from this small display already.

*

When Vivienne brings her blade up, the one in her dominant left hand, Robert would be able to feel the strength she uses to meet the slash of his claws. That is, much more human. She's strong, but certainly not anywhere near, so far as he can tell, as strong as he is. Even if he had not been enhanced, he's still both four inches taller than she is, and probably has a good one hundred pounds at least of weight on her. Still, she's quick, and moves seamlessly through the stages of the dance. She gives no quarter, but neither does she make any attempt to truly injure him, always attempting to strike with the blunt flat of the blade.

"I am a weapon. What I might have been, who I might have been, before I was taken by the Church, I don't know. I know only the..only life I've ever known. I have seen much of the world-" A brief break, as she switches to a more balletic style, blades flashing, this time as she moves to push in, aiming towards chest and abdomen, rather than striking at his extremities, "-but that world, and the people who live in it, seems very removed from what I am."

The dance is perfect, and graceful, two warriors playing point and counterpoint to each other. "When I received the rites, I was given a vision. A glimpse of the worm inside the apple if you will. It was a gift. I serve God, I work with the Church."

*

There is an opening of his hand, it snaps back with claws splayed wide with a fan of those bladed fingers while he turns, the flat of the blade striking off of him and hes stepping close, moving out to her left flank and driving his elbow in towards her hip and side. Enough force to knock the wind out of a healthy adult.

"You're much more than a weapon. Clearly." He compliments, Roberts shoulder dips back while a free hand pushes at the blade to catch it on his palm, deflecting it then closing over it, or trying to grasp her wrist. If successful in this he'll launch her at the training mat only to keep in motion, momentum followed with a lunging knee. Either way she's getting her licks in, two tags on him already. Hes less about finesse than she is.

"This vision… do you still remember it to this day clearly?"

*

"Mind, body and spirit, they are all what I was both born and made to be. I understood that I was accepting that when I took the mantle." She might be fast, but Robert has more than enough experience to match and possibly surpass her. Certainly that strike of his elbow hits with force, causing her to stumble back, the wind knocked out of her, one of the blades dropping from her hands, as his grabs her wrist, twisting hard enough to force her to release the weapon or break something she'd need time to heal.

But she's not out yet, and she attempt to use the lunge to her advantage, sweeping out a foot to attempt to catch him, so that if she goes down onto the mat, he follows after her. "Yes, perfectly."

*

"You seem well synchronized in all three." Robert admits, she has a strong amount of faith, conviction and is clearly an instrument that can unleash these things. The woman' prowess, agility and finesse is remarkable, he is augmented enough that he can match it but that's with his gift and modifications, without them she would far outclass him on these points.

"I ah… " Ankle caught by the sweep his leg leaves him and he's landing on his side with a heavy 'whump' only to lash a heel out at her backside. A thrust away kick to give him room, if it can land if not then he's moving to a three point like stance. In motion the man very much exhibits that 'Bear totemic' strength.

"What was it? Or was it literally as you said?"

*

"I have known nothing else since I was barely old enough to walk." There's no heat in that, no sense of outrage. It is a simple statement of fact, an acknowledgment of a life that cannot, now, be changed. The impact with the ground causes Vivienne to release the second blade as well, though it's clear why. She's rolling with the momentum of his kick, coming up into a similar crouch to his, one knee up, one knee down, the Spear now in hand, still small, in its compact size, only a handspear, freed from its holster on her back. She remains 'at guard', but seems to have paused, wanting to focus on what she saw. To recount it properly for the shaman.

"I saw the Church. I saw its from its youngest days to the present day. I saw the good it did, its good souls, their good works. But I saw the evil that festers there. The corruption, the fanaticism, like a stain of black water seeping up along a pure white wall. A tide of rising darkness." She takes a moment of silence, as thought she were examining her memory to insure she was recounting everything she remembered as she remembers it, her grip on the spear knuckle white, the artifact itself beginning to glow with a soft radiance.

*

"This makes the idea of being out with only the one keeping tabs on you rather inspiring, hrm?" There is a rise up and he lets his feet leave the ground a flying leap that will send him careening in to her with intention to drive her in to the mat again, one claw open, fingers parted wide again while the other is held back, like it is prepared to be driven in a stabbing or thrusting kill motion. All the while talking through pants or breathy intakes, casual though, dialogue blending with their actions.

"I've known nothing to as far back as my memories were modified, before that I had to fight to regain past, it is largely empty, pictures with no substance."

"I admire your conviction, your view of reality. It is motivational. It also makes me feel less insane to know someone else is as defined in what they perceive." Mindful of the artifact yet not acting against it.

*

"Yes, I suppose. Josef has been with me since before even I became a woman, he was with me when I took the mantle. I have no memory of my own father. I have only Josef." A flick of her wrist, as Vivienne sees Robert launch himself at her, the spear flashing with light, the haft growing longer, not to its full length, but enough that she can now grasp it with both hands, lifting it to intercept his strike, sacrificing her mobility to save herself damage from his claws, his weight driving her back into the mat.

*

But all of that pales in the flash of brilliant light that floods Robert's mind as his claws close over the spear. It both is, and is not a familiar light. It simply is…Light. And in that light a voice, a sound, not words, and yet, he can get the sense of them, the gentle command in them, 'Look. See.' And out of the light the Magdalene. And not the one now pinned beneath him, but the first, her head bowed, her cheeks stained with tears, her forehead pressed to the nail piercing the feet of her lover, her savior, her husband. And from that first Magdalene, the countless faces of all of the Magdalena that came after her. Each of them in battle, each of them at the moment of their death. At the moment of their Sacrifice. Each of them born up on their own cross. Each of them seemingly impossibly young.

Until Vivienne, and now she's a child herself, barely a woman, standing in a still pool of water, surrounded by women dressed in attire very much like her own armor, but he knows, somehow, that they are different, they are not Magdalenas, but her shepherds. A dagger driven through her palms, echoing those nails driven through the wrists of The Christ, her hands flooding with light, her eyes burning with it. And then, just for an instant, in the moment before the spear withdraws from his Sight, Vivienne again, older than she is now, though it's unclear by how much, but this time, her light was flickering out. But when, or where, or by what means…that was not clear. 'Remember, Hatalii.'

*

Robert's descent and pin has him suddenly in a swirl of Spear of Destiny induced vision trip, that immediate connection of the Ghost Warrior, a medicine man with strong 'sumesh' focused towards the good of life, nature, spirit and humanity driven through a semi-Ethereal jaunt of Magdalena's past, perhaps a sort of imposed psychometry that actually makes his red eyes glow brightly until the point in which the very center's shine like beacons.

The violent suggestive of their sparring bleeds away so his hands are opening up, palm on her shoulder the other clutching the spear. He sees her and those before her in all walks of their lives, their experiences where it flashes through his mind like a reel, a prompt.

Light awash around a great lumbering bear that is aglow in runic signature, where it stops in the planar reaches beyond grass and flowers sprout, grow, the animals can be heard and then there is a darkening blur, an electronic noise as shadows roll in and hes blinking away the inspired vision.

A moment of silence, a clearing of his throat and he reorients to the present. His headshaking a little like an animal coming free of a daze. He wants to say something but he only breaths and his mouth opens.

*

And for Vivienne, a completely different experience. No vision for her, only the force of his weight slamming her to the mat, the loss of breath, the sudden feel of his body losing that particular tension that is the battle state, the feel of his hand grasping her shoulder, the scanning of his face as he seems to be, momentarily, removed from the moment, seeing something she cannot, the livid red glow in his eyes. And all of that in only a few bare seconds, though it might have seemed endless to him, before she sees him coming back to himself, or at least back to the present, "Robert?"

That hand, its fingers curl in and Robert's name is heard from Ana's lips, his eyes refocus to the present and he flexes digits, one pad after another working in a motion against shoulder as if for the first time. "What?" He inquires. Drifting somewhere between induced state and harsh reality. It dawns on him Vivienne is no longer engaged in the spar with him and the violence faux or not just bled away, warmth, tranquility, full tactile sensation on once numb synthetic 'lifeless' appendages. It is euphoric.

Vivienne is no seer, no visionary, no walker between worlds, but she has been on occasion, been gifted with vision, seen others experience it, sometimes on her behalf, sometimes to her detriment, enough to recognize the look of it when it washes over Robert's face, buoying him on the wave. And perhaps, in the end, she still has the Spear, which they are both holding, and she can feel the power of it, and knows, though she would never be able to say how she knows, that the power was, in that moment, not solely for her.

And so she waits, allowing him time to return, to focus, her tone quiet, reverent, "Where did you go?" And his hand? The fact that he can feel, truly feel? Well, there are, in Vivienne's world, in her blood, such things as miracles, the small ones no less important than the large. And perhaps this is one of them. Who's to say how long it will last? But for now, it is real and not a fever dream of a time, barely remembered, when he might have been something other than what he was made into.

*

"Through the light." Robert responds, "The Spear I think, your blood, your light even perhaps." He murmurs quietly as his hand again flexes, fingers clenching in and opening to slide over, thumb testing exploring as he then seals his eyes closed unwilling to open them as if he were to that glow of its power would release and return the bio-synth, the unfeeling cold alien metal.

This doesn't allow him to remove himself from their current position, though he moves his hips to stop pinning her so roughly, adjusting so his weight is upon his knees and that other hand wrapped around the spear doesn't dare move. "Such power… If only.. "

*

Vivienne, though she does feel Robert move above her, makes no attempt to slide free. Whatever it is that is happening to him, somehow, she knows that it isn't over. That it involves the Spear, and, as his words come down to her, herself, her blood, and the power in it that, in many ways, powers the Spear. But if his move allows anything, it is for her own hand, almost doll-like, in in size comparison to his, but warm, and real, and alive against his skin, to settle on the back of his hand. And against the back of his hand, on his skin, he can feel the warmth of it, the callouses from her years of training, the simple tactile sensation that for most people, would be something taken for granted.

And again, that voice in the back of her mind, that voice that is Light, and Spirit, and Truth. 'Your light.' And though he cannot see it, her hand, still resting on his, begins to glow. She hasn't the answer, but she has faith. And she allows her faith to guide her to whatever end. "If only what?"

*

"If only it could last." Ripclaw manages but that makes the sensation start to fade, the closure of his eyes not helping it in its retreat as oddly muted yet scintillating mesh-armor starts to resheath his bicep, down towards his forearm. The touch of her hand upon the back of his has fingers meeting those presented to curl with them and he slowly opens lids to look down at her. A sigh escaping him as that glow does fade, a curl up of his lips that is perhaps the ghost of a smile, "Thank you… for that." He says, thumb still flesh rubs over the webbing of her hand.

"I apologize for the… " A tip of his head downwards, indicating their bodies at the moment. No big deal among warriors in a grapple but the length of it, leaning towards expected awkward. "I hardly remember my time before the transformation. This. Touch that is my own."

*

"I do not know how." Vivienne offers, as she hears the words, takes his meaning, sees, finally, the difference between his biosynth arm, still grasping the Spear, and his human hand and arm in contact with hers. There's something fascinated, but in equal measure sympathetic, as she sees that inhuman tech start to reclaim him, though it seems, momentarily, unable to reclaim his hand, as though her fingers, intertwined with his, her hand still faintly glowing, her touch were keeping it at bay. "But my ancestor managed to rise from the dead, to cast out demons, to turn water into wine, surely I can learn how."

"Don't apologize. You beat me fair and square." And in this Vivien herself is square in the other sense. There's no awkwardness, real or perceived, as though the idea that their positions could be seen as anything intimate really was completely foreign to her. As if the very idea of herself as something that might invite intimacy were completely outside of her view of herself. "I will learn how."

*

"Beat you? No." Robert says as her hand keeps the techno-skin at bay, he savors this, keeping fingers interlocked enough to touch down along her wrist, where skin is less calloused and softer. The grasp of his hand upon the spear finally loosening enough to relax his arm, his body above her as they remain there. Though each passing second has him drawn back to the present and that spread of synthetics progressing now cast around his forearm on each limb.

"This… machine that's part of me, its not entirely of this world. It's become part of my genetics what you're managing is nothing shy of near impossible to a miracle."

*

The first time that they met, Vivienne seemed utterly fascinated by the synthtech of his hands. It was utterly unique in her experience. And she clearly finds it no less fascinating now, though there's something harder, more determined now in her eyes, as she studies it. She has a path now, a goal. A good thing.

The Spear, despite the loosening of his hand continues to glow, the radiance warm and comforting, rather than piercing, "Would you wish to be healed of them completely? If you could? Would you wish to be able to keep it, but have the ability to feel with it?" Because there is sympathy, but there is also logic, and to solve a problem, she needs to know the parameters of the problem.

"I don't know how I am managing it either. Only." She reaches up to touch the hand no longer grasping the spear, her hand wrapping, well, she hasn't the handspan to wrap entirely around his wrist, but about halfway, and the synthflesh does indeed retreat from her, "I have spent all of my life considering how I might use my blood to fight evil, perhaps I ought to have sent equal time learning ho to do good."

*

Robert uplifts at the torso, his hips and knees steadying him upon her and the ground, their placement upon the floor largely ignored as he observes the new retreat of the augments, the CYBERDATA butcher's handiwork, like waves being washed back and forth empowered by the Artifact the Magdalena's power over material and flesh is being shown off, a marvel that has his forearm exposed, the metal fading only to resurface around her hand.

A swallow and he gazes down at her, studying her features as she's manipulating the alien tech that's woven through his flesh, "I think I see it all and yet again, there is always more that astounds me."

The hand that's coiled about her wrist slides down, fingers explorative over the expanse of her collarbone and the slender base of her throat. Skin on skin, his hands haven't felt such and he'll take advantage of that for the moment, skirting respectfully. At least until this trance is broken and they're thrown out of the relic's influence.

"There is much you can accomplish if this is a power you can wield… so many you could help, not just as a weapon."

*

There's something wholly innocent in the way Vivienne moves beneath Robert, adjusting her position to that she has better access to his hands. The forearm that goes with the hand she had held still mostly clear, even after his finger unlace from hers, as though it's her skin, or perhaps the contact it allows with the Spear, with her power that does it, remaining bare flesh, even as his fingers dip low enough to trace her collarbones.

The other, the one she grasps at the wrist is a true oddity, the synthflesh rippling and moving like mercury, as she moves her hand. Yes, clearly they've established the how, but not the why. Thankfully, it isn't painful, given how often she moves her hand, watching the advance of the tech.

Nor is the touch of his fingertips along her throat painful to her, though he would be able to feel a quickening of her pulse as his fingertips settled there, and her expression brightened, "Yes, perhaps not just." She reaches back up, drawing his hand away from her throat, preserving the flesh there, even as she begins to try to sit up, "I want to see what we can do."

*

The pulse touch momentary, a curious thing the beat of heart through neck that's not being crushed, severed or muted in sensation. Then he is moving with her, drawing his knees under himself to remain seated upright, his arms extended out where she is being allowed to manipulate them, each application of her hand keeps the synth retreating, washing the metal from fleshy pale tone skin that brands him as a mutant to the cybernetic grafting, maneuvered by the tips of her fingers and hand, the glow around it.

"What we can do?" Robert is curious, open to remaining in this medium state that's unfortunately urging him towards concentration to persist as their bond is dissolving, gradually and at a pace he can feel but not alarmingly so yet, the Magdalena's Light exerting dominance over Tech, Faith over Science, Mystic over Alien…

"Is this the spear or you?" He assumes both, surely the will behind it is her own.

*

With her body now free, Vivienne maneuver herself up to kneeling, before she settles back with her legs tucked beneath her, knees almost touching Robert's. Close enough that she doesn't have to overextend his as she studies his hands. "I heard the Spear, just a few words, it said, it was my light. It was me. And that is the truth of the spear, you know. It has some powers, of course, it is an artifact, but the greatest power is in my blood, not in it, it focuses my power, you could say."

"To keep your hands like this. I mean, of course your weaponry is useful, but if you could feel again, even if only for a while, if, I don't know. I have to research, look in the archives, see is such a thing has ever been possible." Book nerd alert. She totally is one.

*

They at the moment seated knee to knee on that training floor look like they're about to engage in a game of 'Patty Cake' or some ritual prayer. Both of Ripclaw's hands are kept outwards, laid palms up so she can keep them held and under the influence of her gifts.

Robert isn't exactly in any haste to retract them, to return them to their CyberData modified state after all.

"I am already feeling your powers losing their hold, this may very well be a fluke but I'm not opposed to you experimenting, not if it gives me back what I lost."

"It's not a priority though, this is a selfish indulgence and if I were to get rid of them in some miracle, my use to the team may diminish."

*

Vivienne's expression is focused, thoughtful, as though she could solve this problem by sheer force of will. Her hands, set palm down in Robert's are dwarfed by his, though she seems still to be able to halt, no, not halt, but, as he notes, slow the spread of the synthskin that is spreading upward along his arms like a cancer. The Spear lies beside them, still glowing, but it too, perhaps in time to the creep of the alien tech, is fading.

"Perhaps it is, but I do not believe so. You would not have been given such a thing, a chance to reclaim what was stolen from you, if it was meant to be something to be experienced only once. I believe that. To show you a gift, only to bar your access to it evermore would be cruel. And this does not feel cruel, Robert."

Vivienne slips her hands forward along Roberts, fingertips forcing a retreat of silver as her touch skims along his wrists. But it is slower now, science, reality reimposing itself on his flesh. "It is a priority though. And perhaps it is not about returning you to what you were. None of us can ever be who we were again, once the world has found us. But this butchery, this terrible thing that was done to you…if we could fashion some way to allow you to feel, to regain some of that which was taken from you, some way that you could control whether you were…" she pauses, as though she hadn't the right words, "Man or machine…would that not be something worth striving for?"

*

"I've made due to this point." Robert replies quietly, there is a frown forming again on his brows as he watches her hands, their sympathetic exploration and the constant shift from inorganic to organic.

"I do believe in fate, destiny, what happened to me was inhumane, wretched but through it I have been able to help others and will continue to do so. If it is gone… if I lose these, my cybernetics, I'm a man. I don't know what I will be." A hand, long fingered, warm rises up to caress tips of nails and pads along one of her palms, the sensation of touch is exhilirating, long lost and new. Bitter sweet really.

"Like I said though, I have to insist… it is not a priority and when we find the time, outside of our hunt for the artifacts and discovering the Curator's true nature, I am all for seeing just exactly what miracles you can accomplish. If your capable of this… there are others who would benefit much more than I."

*

"Life should not be about 'making due'." Said by the woman who, in many ways, is the very embodiment of just that very sentiment. And more the pity her that she doesn't even realize it. "Yes. as do I. And it may be that this is what you were always meant to be. But that does not mean that we cannot find a way to hone this gift." Vivienne nods, her hands slipping back down curling her fingers around Robert's, her grip fierce, "So that is what we will do, when time and duty allows. We will try to find a way to improve your control, to make it easier for you to be as you wish to be when you wish to be."

A curl of her lips, the smile warm, touched by something far away, as the light finally fades from the spear and she moves to slips her hands free, "We do not get to decide who is and is not worthy. Only god can do that. And it would see he already has. All we can do is what it is given to us to do."

*

"I find your optimism refreshing, Ana." Robert says truthfully as she clutches him. "If anything for the sake of others, very well and strengthening your own control."

The fading of the light has him staring at his hands watching the transformative reclaim, flesh he didn't even recognize yet is his becoming once more sheathed in glistening beyond razor sharp coating, morphic to a point but still, not quite the same as what could have and likely should have been.

Once fully returned to their 'normal' state he closes them in to a fist then opens them again hands dropping to relax on his thighs.

"So you say." He offers politely at her words, "The grand design though, yes. " Agreeing as best he can because he does believe the same more or less.

"Thank you for this, as brief as it was."

*

"If I did not attempt to see the good and the right in the world, what use would I be to God? To the world to which he has called me to serve? What champion of faith, and hope, and love, would I be then?" A strange way to view herself, but, at its heart a true way. because in the end, putting herself between the world and the darkness that would destroy it was doing what she could to ensure that those three things continued to exist in the world. With her own hands finally settled on her own knees, she watches the final shreds of what miracle their touch was able to conjure fade, Robert's hands returning to their, while not natural, at least, as they exist now, normal state. And the Spear lies now still, and quiet, no longer radiant. As though it too, slumbered. "You are welcome. I will find the way through." She genuinely believes that.

"It is nearly midnight," she offers, her time sense good, despite not having looked at the clock, "Will you share a meal with me?"

*

"Yeah, food sounds good." The rest of what she said Robert doesn't remark on instead just standing up from their placement on the ground and offering forth a half-assed smile, "You cooking or we going out?"

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