"Panjo, come on... you don't have to go."
Jhonen sighed, giving Lilli a pained look, making it clear that this was the last thing he wished to be discussing right now.
"Ves'tacha, you know I do. Anechka's on a rampage with him running off every night and besides, you're the one who gave me the bone thing. He's hurt and I gotta see what's going on."
Lilliana, the sweet scarred gypsy with her perminant smile always looked a little funny when she tried to scowl, and despite Jhonen's Romani pet-names for his girlfriend, she was indeed scowling. Normally bright and bubbly cheerful, it was Jhonen who got most of her scowls. She didn't like him pushing himself like he had been. Certainly not as dedicated to his master as, say, Steven, Jhonen was bound nonetheless to the Gypsy King.
Ironically enough, where Steven was crazy (heh) about his Mistress and Jhonen had every reason to want to give Jeriko a bath in hydrochloric acid, both ghouls were following in thier respective Masters' footsteps. Jhonen was every bit the dedicated bodyguard that likely nobody expect him to end up being with his earlier resistance of the newfound lifestyle (thanks entirely to Lilli). He excelled in his training and had taken to convince Mom to let him go a couple hours a week to a Martial Arts school just a couple of blocks from the theatre in order to keep himself fresh. Certainly he'd drug Lilli along once or twice too where she got to see him lose his temper once when some of the other students gave Lilli a look and started snickering, following which, he was informed that if the parent decided to sue the aikido school, Jhonen would be expelled. Oddly enough the kid's parents didn't sue. In fact... even more strange... the entire family disappeared with some vague recording left on thier answering machine about sailing around the world...
Lilli hopped up off of the bed, following Jhonen over to his closet and trying to wedge herself to where he'd put off changing a moment longer. it was to no avail. As she shouldered in front of him, he slipped smoothly around her, now fully in the closet. He tugged a sleeveless shirt, tight on his torso, off of it's hanger and did the same with a pair of lightweight slacks. Lilli's scowl deepened as Jhonen worked around her. Often her dextrous and swift boyfriend frustrated her with his slippery ways, regularly able to direct her attention one direction while moving around the other side of her, or reaching just below her line of sight to get a pinch in to her butt. She took a prompt from said pinch and grabbed his nipple through his shirt, giving a quick twist.
"Listen! You're not listening! It's not that heavy you said, i mean... it's probably just him and Brigette doing thier thing and it got too rough."
Rubbing his nipple, he couldn't help but give her his full attention for fear of another Purple Nurple, so he crossed his arms over his chest and gave her a patronizing look, but at least he was listening and willing to discuss it. "Or it could be that Franky guy that Jeriko told me about-"
"Freddy, yeah. You heard about him. What if it's not Brigette? I mean, hell what if it is! She's crazy-"
"Ring ring," interupted Lilli, holding her thumb to her ear and her pinky outstretched like a telephone, "Pot calling Kettle, come in Pot..."
"Shuddup... you know what i mean. What if she blew him up? or that Pat asshole-"
"Padraic," she piped in again as he sank to his knees in front of his bed.
His hands worked the mattress off of the floor and the wooden case beneath was slid out of it's cubby, but he was shaking his head and laying his hands on it's surface as she corrected him again, "Whatever! and the one girl with the tats."
"Sydney? Why would you worry about her hurting him?"
and it occured to him that she never did get the whole story on the whole attempted kidnapping.
"Gah... Don't worry about it. I mean, yeah worry about it. All of 'em... that whole group is unstable. It just pisses me off that Jeriko trusts them so much that he won't even let me go look their headquarters over."
"So why do you have to go now?" She was doing the pout. She knew it was a bad idea to let him go to a place they were explicitely informed to never go, but she also knew that when his gut told him that something was wrong... there usually was.
But she also knew that during those few times that something WASN'T wrong that he decided to stick his stunted nose into, things ended up going horribly, horribly bad.
"Because if I'm right I'd rather deal with a bunch of gun crazy ghouls than the vampires."
"Well... let me go with you! I'll talk to Steven and I c-"
"But he li-"
"NO, Lilli. Damnit... They've got booby traps and dogs and every last one of them thinks they're John Wayne. I'll try him first though, okay?"
"Yeah, cause you were sooooooo polite to him the other day."
"It was the last one! Jane dumped all my gatoraide out on my bed and he just ran in there and helped himself to my Sunny D."
"He's diabetic! He needed the sugar!"
"...well how was I supposed to know..."
"Aaaaand, he didn't help himself. Mom told him he could get something to drink. He gets it, you come in, look in the fridge and when you couldn't find any you snatched it out of his hand and just kept on walking."
"Well if you didn't go all googily eyed every time he came around maybe I'd be more friendly."
"Jhonen Rose! I do not!"
Of course this prompts him to immitate the girl. It was an arguement... of sorts... but true to being the youngest in the house, it was far from mean-spirited. It was two kids teasing one another, complete with Lilli smacking Jho in the shoulder when he started in a high pitched, slightly accented voice, "Oh Steeeven look at you with your muscles and jailhouse tattoo's. You can slip me a shiv any time."
"JHONEN!" Her arms crossed over her chest and she looked as ready to find something heavy to hit him with as she ever would. The venom in her gaze actually took the unfunny clown back and he whinced.
"sorry. I'm sorry." he moved to her and was rewarded with her backside being turned his direction, arms still crossed as she refused to look at him.
"Lillllllllllli... come on Koc'o-"
She spun around, eyes narrowed as she spoke no louder than she had before, though her words carried a maturity far louder than shouting could portray. "That was mean and rude and uncalled for, Jhonen Rose and you're not going to get out of it by speaking Rom."
"I know I know... Ok so I'm a little jealous and I shouldn't have said that. It was mean and it was rude and it was uncalled for and I'm sorry. I haven't made any effort in being nice to him so, okay, okay! If you stop looking at me like that I'll be nice to him. I'll appoligize and everything and I won't be rude to him in the future."
and still that cold look of smoldering anger lay upon the boy. Scarred lips spoke, "Do you promise?"
"I promise. Cross my heart."
and immediately the look was gone and replaced by her usual beaming smile. Lilli would no doubt prove herself to be quite the formidable woman. Already she had every man she knew wrapped around her little finger... and what's worse is she didn't even mean to.
"Alright. Forgiven. and i can go with you?"
"Ye-" Jhonen had to do a double take, exasperation contorting his features, "No!"
"But I wanna see Steven. He's sooooo dreamy."
"Why you little-"
"Hahaha!" and just as quickly as they'd argued, they were now chasing one another around his bedroom, Lilli snickering as she darted around and over the bed, Jhonen leaping after her, snatching and missing while she cackled, the laughter turning into a roar as he finally caught, her dragging her down to the bed and pinning her there beneath himself.
and thier grins touched, the two freaks kissing playfully, teasing, touching, brushing noses, touching scars, sucking face. It was, as usual, right as Jhonen had his hand sliding up past her knee, that she offered an "Mmm-" that broke the kiss.
"-mmm, Panjo, if things do go south what about ~him~."
Him. Grendel. Jhonen was no longer in denial that there was something mentally F'ed up in his own head, and as such he'd told Lili all about the Grendel mythos and his theories about why he'd have taken on the personality. It was an uncomfortable subject, enough so that they didn't refer to ~him~ by name as if they might invoke his presence. His appearances had been less and less frequent since thier return from India. A big part of this was undoubtedly due to Jhonen becoming more comfortable in his surroundings and learning that he was always destined for a life less ordinary. It still left him incredibly shaken to wake up with blood thick upon his hands and meat caked into the serrations of his Claw. For awhile there, the line between Jhonen and Grendel had begun to blur; Jhonen killing with a cold ease that lent itself to a dissentigrating humanity, but since meeting his family, that blurred line began to divide again, and the young man had to suffer through the guilt of having the monster within him and the confusion of not knowing exactly what he had done.
"don't worry... It won't go -that- south."
"But what if it does?" She sat up and pushed him back, legs crossing Indian style as all the worry and fear of the worst things happening animated her features. "What if you step on a land mine or something and... and... Grendel comes cause you're hurt and when you come to he's gone all Texas Chainsaw Massacre on every one there?"
"...a land mine?"
"you said there were booby traps."
"yeah but, what is this, World War 2, Germany? No- Lili... ok, look, even Grendel knows better than to hurt them on thier home turf..." at which point he says to himself ("i think"). "And besides, it's daytime and nothing's going to go wrong..." ("i hope").
The fact that his words didn't bolster her confidence one whit, he sighed and looked around, eyes settling on the trunk by his bed. He leaned over and cracked it open, pulling out Fang and Claw, the Wakizashi he's had since his first night with the pack and the blade he'd picked up during his service to Jeriko. Sheathed, he put them both into Lilli's lap. "You take these. Oh. and here, this-" and out came the black and white mask with it's conforming curves and familiar features... the mask carved from Jhonen's own face with it's sweeping white Devil Eyes peering up at the Draba Designer.
"It's just Jhonen... okay?"
Chewing her lip, Lili knew she swung a double edged sword. If he went in there armed like he'd appearantly intended, if things did go south, someone would die; be it the ghouls of the Bullets, or Jhonen himself. Either way, she couldn't live with the consequences. Then again, if he went in unarmed and something did happen, certainly he'd be able to improvise, but to what degree? and would improvising be enough? The girl looked to the trunk he'd pulled the blades and mask from. he'd turned the box into his personal items stash, completely with a secret slot in the floor for it from where he and Lilli went all carpenter-mode and cut thier trap door to one another's room. She warily reached in, bumping aside ninja stars and off little hooked blades.
"Here... wait, what's this?" her hands fumbled with the collapsed object; a heavy heavy black metal tube. She offered it to Jhonen who smirked just slightly as he took it. With a flick of his wrist, he unsnapped the asp. The black tube suddenly extended to a length of a little under two and a half feet.
"I got it off of that cop that time."
She was brought down that a cop ended up getting killed and she was holding the likely murder weapon only a moment before... but the glow returned at his admission of her good decision.
"Ok, so if ~he~ does show up, then all he's got to work with is a police batton," she clarified.
His brow perked and he leaned forward, digging just a bit, and pulling out a little tube of mace. He wiggled it before her and slipped it into his pocket with a grin.
"Alright," she conceeded with that lingering smile.
Jhonen couldn't help himself. Her smile brought his own to his face. It was her innocent joy that made her seem younger than she was... and those amazing hips that made her looked older than she was. Timeless. Lilliana was timeless and, in her own way, ever bit as immortal as the Cainites she found herself surrounded by. "Alright. You feel better," he asked.
"A little..." came her admission, but through it, as an after thought, her smile blossomed further and her eyes went wide with her sudden flash of brilliance, causing her to jump to her feet and announce, "oh! You've got to take one more thing!"
"Monday you can fall apart, Tuesday Wednesday break my heart. Thursday Doesn't even start, it's Friday I'm in-"
Jhonen stopped singing along just as soon as the radio shut off. He climbed out of the MudMutt and reached across the seats to grab the big old jug of Sunny Delight that Lilli insisted he stop and pick up and take with him. He could feel the weight of the asp pulling his light, cotton pants down on one side, and following a tugging adjustment, he ducked his head and ran.
The storm had rolled in while he drove. It was early afternoon but dark enough to be dusk as he carefully picked out footprints in the morphing mud. If it hadn't been for Lili's joking about land mines, he wouldn't have thought about it, but during the drive, having thought on what he knew about the supposed Mercenary Pack, he wouldn't put it past them to set up bombs all over the place. So, it was to the main entry he went, and it was there that he ducked into under the awning to get out of the torential downpour. Bottle clutched to his chest, he went about pounding at the door of the condemned crash test facility as if, by some vague notion, the Gypsy boy knew somebody was home...