Now That's A Hangover (private)

Julian was aware of pain before he was aware of anything else. His head was throbbing and spinning. Even with his eyes closed the world was spinning. He moaned softly. He was lying on something lumpy and uncomfortable, and it smelled musty. He definitely wasn't at home, or in a hotel room. He had no idea where he was or what the hell had happened.

He cracked one eye open and regretted it. A harsh light from above stabbed into his eye like a knife. His stomach roiled and he immediately knew that he was about to be sick. Instinct said to move, but he couldn't. He managed to hang his head over the side of whatever he was lying on, and threw up on the floor. And then promptly blacked out again.

Hours, days, or years could have passed before he came to again. It was even less pleasant than before. The light over head still jackhammered into his skull. His head was going to explode, he was sure. He could smell musty fabric and his own vomit. Wonderful. And to top it off, he still couldn't remember anything.

Fortunately, although his stomach still flip-flopped, he didn't get sick again. He lay on his stomach on what appeared to be an old mattress. Inches from his face, on the concrete floor, was the source of the smell of sickness. He rolled his eyes around, looking at he room without moving. It was concrete, floor to ceiling, and tiny. The source of the painful light was a single light bulb suspended over to one side. There was a little alcove in one corner with a toilet and a chipped old sink. No door, not even a wall. The only way into or out of the room appeared to be a metal door in the corner.

Julian focused on breathing for a little while. Over the next couple minutes the events of the last night (?) filtered back in. He remembered being at the long bar with his friends. Making peace with Val. Drinking way too much... damn it, and going to the hotel with Val. He'd woken up, showered, and left the room... and then he'd been hit on the head.

He lifted a shaking arm and gingerly felt the back of his head. His blond curls were matted with blood and there was a sizable goose-egg at the base of his skull. He pulled his hands away and pushed himself up, and immediately realized that was a mistake. This time, at least, he made it to the toilet.

When he was done throwing up everything he'd eaten in the last year or so Julian washed his hands at the sink. He had a hard time seeing blood since his car accident, and that combined with the lingering nausea from being hit on the head had tipped him over the edge. With a wad of toilet paper he did his best to clean the blood from his hair but there was a lot of it and he suspected he was just smearing it around. He could even feel it on his shirt. At least it was in back, where he didn't have to see it.

Wobbly on his legs, he staggered toward the mattress and managed to mop up with some more toilet paper, after which he was sick again. Not feeling stable enough to make another trip back to the musty mattress he just sat on the floor and leaned against the wall next to the toilet, the side of his aching head against the hard cement.

Julian closed his eyes and tried to figure out where he was and what was happening. His brain definitely wasn't working right, and he'd read enough to realize he probably had a concussion. Patting his pockets he realized without any surprise that whoever had taken him had also relieved him of his personal belongings, including his wallet and phone. His violin, too, was gone. He shuddered. Why the fuck was this happening to him?

Stranger 11 years ago
The heavy metal door didn't weight anything, not to Mathew, or to most vampires. But most humans would have to think about it, or at least know they were opening a door. If the weight wasn't enough, the building, an old abandoned liquor store, had been left to its own devices long enough that the door was a little rusty, it creaked like hell when he opened it. There would be no sneaking up on their guest.

He was a little annoyed with Asa for turning him into a nurse, and he'd probably take that out on the kid. At the same time though he greeted the man they were holding with a big cheery smile, well it would be if his eyes hadn't been gleaming with a rather malicious glee.

"Curly! Did you miss me?”

Before Curly, yes Mathew knew his name was Julian Stephenson, but he -liked- Curly, could answer he chucked a thread bear, worn, moth eaten towel and a couple of wash clothes at him. He was going to give himself ten points if he could cover the guy's face and he tossed some hot soapy water on the floor where Julian had been sick. That wasn't his idea, that was Asa's. The man was a daemon for cleanliness. Mathew would have been just has happy to let the guy wallow in his own filth.

"Awww you not feeling well? Why don't you clean up a bit?”

He'd be taking the towels and bucket back with him. They weren't going to give Curly anything to use to try and escape or cause trouble with but he wasn't exactly Hannibal Lector so, at least for now, they'd be cutting him some slack.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian nearly groaned out loud when he recognized the man responsible for his last beating. Last beating? He so didn't need this to become commonplace.

"God. You again?" Sadly, his voice had none of the acid he'd hoped for. It came out raspy, hoarse, and slurred.

Julian used the sink to pull himself upright when it appeared his new BFF wasn't going to leave. He used the cloths to wet his hair, moaning in pain at the slightest touch to his head. The water turned red and he felt his knees go weak but he was actually afraid to pass out with this guy here so he gritted his teeth, closed his eyes, and did his best.

After that he wove his way to the mattress, dropped the towel on the puddle of water, and used his foot to swipe it around a little. The room spun, his stomach rolled again, and he sat down heavily on the mattress.

"If you want them you can come get them. I can barely see straight. What the fuck can you possibly want from me?"

He tried to glare at his captor but his head throbbed painfully and instead he braced himself on the bed and tried to fight off the overwhelming urge to pass out again.
Stranger 11 years ago
Although not exactly given to compassion Mathew did feel a bit bad as Curly cleaned up, or tried to. He managed to make some progress, at least it didn't smell as bad. Lord Asa was going to be pissed when he heard about this. The old man was a bit of a fan of Curly's playing, he'd even been to a few concerts to say nothing of buying the recordings.

"Me again.”

He agreed cheerfully. That was a lot of blood, well not a lot, but it wasn't good. He would have thought it would have stopped by now. He'd make sure to report that. One of the trio might have to take another look at him, one of them was a doctor or a medic or something, he never could remember what, they could take another look. Although, Mathew wasn't keen on that idea, he really didn't like the idea of Curly knowing there was anyone here but him, but it wasn't his call.

Moving extremely quickly, Mathew picked up the towels and tossed them in the bucket. He moved back to the wall and lounged against it.

"Not you this time Curly. You're just collateral. If things go well you go home none the worse for wear... more or less.”
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian opened his eyes and blinked at his captor.

"Wow really? You couldn't just stick a gun in my back and tell me to move along or get in the van or something?"

He was trying to hide his fear behind his bravado. His voice was still slurring and he knew he was badly hurt. He also knew this man was frighteningly unafraid of violence. Given those things he should probably be meeker but Julian generally liked to meet trouble head-on.

That, and he really wasn't thinking straight.

"If I'm just collateral, can the collateral have some ice, please? And maybe even a cup? And what am I collateral for? Please don't tell me it has to do with Val again. This is ridiculous."

A wave of nausea swept him again and he swallowed it down. He wanted to leave so badly. He was starting to regret moving to Nachton but this wasn't the city's fault. Whatever Val was mixed up in was still affecting him, and he was starting to think she'd lied to him about her level of involvement.

It was hard to focus on a single thought for long. He closed his eyes, then opened them. For a second he completely blanked out.

"Why am I here again?"
Stranger 11 years ago
Mathew shrugged. He hadn't been responsible for collecting Curly. Granted he'd been key in finding the guy at The Long Bar tonight and seeing him hooked up with Valentine, but Asa had turned the kidnapping over to the trio. He was a little surprised at how much damage those humans had done. But then again, men could do massive amounts of damage to other men, they didn't need vampires for that.

"I'll pass your suggestion up the ladder.”

If the kid had sounded surly or aggressive Mathew probably would have smacked him down. But since Curly sounded as bad as he looked the attempt at a tough guy act actually just made him want to laugh.

Although he did find some chutzpa and asked for a cup and ice. Mathew just snorted.

"I'll pass that along too but don't hold your breath.”

If they knew what Valentine was doing with Brosco they might be willing to improve Julian's accommodations a bit, but probably not.

He was tempted to back hand the guy, just because, just to remind him that he shouldn't ask too many questions but it seemed kind of unnecessary under the circumstances. He did, however, laugh a bit about the Val question.

"You said it, I didn't. But you know red-heads, terrific trouble aren't they?”

It actually might be fun to turn Curly loose with the Irish bitch. He was undoubtedly none too happy with her. Mathew didn't for a second think that Julian could hold his own but it would be interesting to see what she did with him.

Since that wouldn't be happening Mathew opted to egg him on.

"Collateral Curly and I'm not sure you're worth it. Although she sure seems found of you. She'll give it up for you.”

At least that is what he'd told Asa. Today it seemed to have worked. They beat Curly up and Val took some action. So it stood to reason this would get them their prize.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
That was special. He admitted Julian was just here as collateral but apparently he didn't see any need to offer him some help. Well, it figured.

"I'll be pretty shitty collateral if I die before you get to turn me in or whatever," he slurred. "Shit, man, I just want some ice for this fucking knot on my head."

Yeah, he was getting more irrational by the second. He hadn't had anything to drink, either, since being drunk with Val at the Long Bar. He was dehydrated on top of everything else. This night or day couldn't get much better could it.

The guy just kept talking, droning on and on. Julian groaned and put his head in his hands, hoping he could hold his skull together with them.
"Please shut up," he finally moaned. "Can't you just close the door, turn out the light, and go away? I'm not going to go anywhere."

Honestly, he just wanted to pass out again. His eyelids felt heavy. His head was pounding like there was a mosh pit happening in his frontal lobe. He was stuck in a tiny cement room in some sort of building... he didn't know, he couldn't make out anything behind the metal door. All he knew was that there was a bigger room out there.

Finally he pushed himself away from the mattress and stood, intending to go to the sink and get some water from that, cupped in his hands. He staggered and fell back on the bed.

"Jesus..." he mumbled. The man watching him blurred, split into two, and then melded back into himself. "Stop moving around..."

The light bulb overhead burned into his eyes... and then went out completely, and that was a huge blessing.
Stranger 11 years ago
She didn't have much respect for Mathew, some of course since he was Asa's creation, but not much. Genevieve had even less respect for Chase, who'd actually done the grabbing and had over done it more than a little. She was actually worried about Julian.

She was a very short, very slight young woman. One wouldn't know form looking at the mousy brown hair and slender build but before Asa had taken her as a familiar Genevieve had been a Marine Corps medic. She easily recognized the symptoms of a concussion from what Mathew had told her and what she'd seen with her own eyes.

Opening the rusty squeaky door she slid in quietly, well as quietly as possible, with her kit. Asa wouldn't let her bring much in and certainly wouldn't let her leave anything but she did have several ice packs, some prescription pain meds, a couple of paper cups, some ice, and a couple of granola bars. There wasn't much she could do, but they did need to make the effort.

Genevieve softly nudged Julian awake.

"Here. Take these.” She handed him the pills and a paper cup filled with water. "An put this on the back of your head for a bit. I've brought you something to eat as well... if you're hungry.”

Her voice had a soft southern accent to it. The men in her unit had called her Scarlet, some mockingly some as a bit of a nickname even though she looked nothing like the fabled Scarlet O'Hara.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Someone was trying to wake him up and he didn't particularly want to. He was incredibly fuzzy still, and he remembered that opening his eyes only hurt more because of that annoying overhead light. Part of him was hoping this would have turned out to be some strange alcohol-induced dream. That wasn't the case, evidently, but the person shaking his shoulder was at least a little more soft-spoken than the first guy.

He rolled onto his side, his ears ringing but her voice penetrating the fog. She offered him painkillers and a drink. He took the two white pills; they were just aspirin. He wondered if something stronger wouldn't be necessary and then realized that maybe drugs and a bad head wound weren't a good idea. he put the aspirin in his mouth and swallowed it with a cautious sip of water. Julian desperately wanted to drink it all at once, but he remembered how sick he'd been earlier and he even more desperately wanted the water to stay where it belonged.

He looked at the woman hard; she was small and slight, dressed in scrubs. He didn't know if she was here by free will or force. Either way he didn't feel obligated or inclined to say thank you. Setting the cup on the floor next to the mattress he accepted an ice pack, glad it was one of the squishy gel ones, and gingerly touched it to his head. It hurt every bit as much as before.

His lips drew into a tight line at the thought of eating, but he took what she offered and tucked the little bars into his shirt pocket. He didn't want anything now. Maybe later.

She didn't appear to want anything more from him; Julian sipped the rest of the water in the little cup and then turned away from her, curling up onto his side. He tugged his shirt around himself, propped the ice pack against his head, and closed his eyes again, thinking about his parents, thinking about his friends. He'd had a date with Tavi tonight. Or was it last night? Or tomorrow? He didn't know. God, he didn't want her to think he'd stood her up. He had a rehearsal with Jan's band after that, and a symphony rehearsal the next afternoon. They were going to think he was in breach of contract or something. He would have to explain this somehow. How, he didn't know. He didn't even think he could play his violin now. His brain was going in too many different directions at once.

Tears pricked at his eyes and he held them back with an effort; crying would be weak and it would only make his head hurt more. Swallowing them down, however, was just as bad. His head exploded in pain anyway. Julian gripped the dusty mattress while he writhed for a few moments until it subsided from unbearable agony to almost bearable agony. Finally the room slipped away again and he didn't care, by then, if it ever reappeared.
Stranger 11 years ago
The door had been oiled by this point. Asa hated to make a grand entrance; it was his habit to simply slip into a room. People didn't need to know when he came and when or where he was, or indeed who he was. He liked it that way. He was wholly unremarkable, one of the few vampires he'd ever met who wasn't devastatingly attractive. He could have been any one of a hundred ethnicities; he could have been from nearly any point in history. He was plain. On the slight side of medium, average height, average weight, dark hair, dark eyes; standing in a crowd most peoples' eyes would simply slide over him and on to the next person and Asa liked that.

He hadn't at first. In fact he'd been extremely resentful at first, but Giovanni had spelled it out for him one night. Asa wasn't much to look at, he never would be, but he could think and that was a skill that would serve him better than all the good looks in the world. Unfortunately, that didn't always mean he came out on top. In this case the Irish wench had something he didn't, she was brash and reckless and that was denying him something he dearly wanted. But he could learn and they had taken this man to exchange for Brosco.

Asa stood quietly, lightly leaning against the wall and waited. He didn't move, he just waited for Julian to wake up. Genevieve had told him the man had a concussion, she couldn't be sure how bad, but that she -thought- he would recover. All Asa could do was wait. Typically he wouldn't have bothered to talk to a captive, it just got messy but this one he wanted a word with. Not so much a word as a chance to play with, quite literally. Asa was an enthusiastic violinist himself. The opportunity to play together, to hear him play in a one on one setting was too tempting to resist. So, he waited.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian felt eyes on him this time. He knew he wasn't alone. He stirred on the dusty mattress. The aspirin hadn't done much for his head but at least when he opened his eyes he didn't want to explode. He slowly pushed himself upright. The room spun again; when was it going to stop doing that? He reached down and found the paper cup. Picking it up he slid around to the other side of the bed, stood unsteadily, and wobbled to the sink. Once there he turned it on, filled the little cup, and drank without acknowledging whoever was there with him. He drank again, and then again, although his head told him he probably shouldn't he was desperately thirsty.

When he was finished he left the cup on the sink, held his hands under the water, and then gingerly washed his face, his head spinning all the while. He finally turned the water off and pushed himself away from the sink. Turning, he looked at the person in the room with him. It wasn't his previous visitor, or the nurse. It was someone new. Someone who hadn't spoken. Well, Julian wasn't going to strike up a conversation with him.

He wove back to the mattress since there was nowhere else to sit and dropped down on it. Leaning back against the wall he turned his head to the side to avoid touching the most tender parts against the wall and closed his eyes again. If this guy wanted to talk he could talk. Otherwise, Julian felt no obligation to be the first to do so.
Stranger 11 years ago
He watched Julian move and it didn't take much to see that the man was still no his best. Asa was rather irritated. The job had been done very sloppily. Perhaps he should have sent Mathew after all. It was interesting that there was no conversation, demands, no questions. It didn't bother him, it was just interesting.

Asa knocked on the door, it opened slightly and he was handed another cold gel pack and more aspirin in a little paper cup. Wordlessly he set both down next to Julian before returning to his spot on the wall. He probably should let Genevieve take another look, but what did it matter really? Either Valentine wanted him back or she didn't. Asa doubted condition, other than alive, really mattered to her. He never would have figured his 'sister' for having gotten mixed up with a human. Everything Asa had heard about her had indicated she was fairly unsympathetic, not terribly romantic. But, of course, he'd never actually met the woman. He only knew what others, including Giovanni, had said and you couldn't rely on second hand information.

After several long minutes of silence he asked a very simple question.

"Are you well?”

The fact that they would very probably be abusing Julian didn't negate his concern now. It was possible this exchange would go off without a hitch and then there was no point in causing the violinist more pain than they had to. On the other hand they might wind up killing him if Valentine didn't cooperate, but a concussion and pain now didn't help with that end so it was just as logical to see him recover somewhat.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
The man didn't make much noise; Julian felt more than heard him come close. He opened his eyes, saw more pills and another cold pack. He wasn't sure if either one was helping but he'd take anything he could get. He swallowed the pills and picked up the pack, touching his head gingerly with it. It throbbed at the slightest touch and it was still bleeding, but very slowly and sluggishly.

The silence stretched on and on, and Julian grew more and more afraid. There was something about this man; the other one, he knew he could piss off with a few insolent words and that gave him a sort of satisfied pleasure. This new guy, however, just stared coldly and Julian was beginning to feel the stress and strain of his situation now that he could think marginally more clearly.

The man finally spoke and Julian's eyes opened again, squinting against the light and trying to focus on his captor. His initial response was to bark a short laugh for the absurdity of the question but he bit it back. This guy wasn't the other one. Julian wasn't willing to risk another blow to the head for the brief satisfaction of being a jerk.

"No," he said thickly. "I'm not."

It was a stupid freaking question in his opinion. He obviously wasn't well. He was pretty sure he needed a hospital. Why would he ask a question like that? Was he testing Julian? Did he want a sample of the false bravado he'd displayed earlier? Julian didn't know. This was a situation he'd never been in before. He hadn't let it sink in before, but he was now realizing that he might very well not make it out of here alive. He didn't want to die.
Stranger 11 years ago
He left part of his mind attuned to his perception. Since the day Giovanni had recognized the skill Asa has practiced it, perfected it and used it. It was part of the reason he didn't often say much, he was busy listening. He could hear Julian's heart beat and his breathing, he knew their guest wasn't dying and very clearly on edge.

When Julian stated he wasn't well Asa nodded slowly. He'd expected to hear as much, but he'd still asked. Mostly to see if Julian was slurring his words. It was something of a setback and rather disappointing, if not concerning, that he was. The more he watched and spoke to their guest the more upset he became with his handling. People should know better, some things you treated with care.

"I am sorry about that. It will be addressed.”

Addressed with his familiar, nothing more would be done for Julian. According to Genevieve nothing much more could be done for a concussion. Besides, the man was a commodity, not a guest.

"How are your hands? I trust they weren't banged about too badly.”

Asa was truly desperate to play with the man, although you wouldn't know it from looking at him, his expression was very clam, very neutral although his voice was faintly tinged with excitement. Genevieve was just outside the door with two violins. One was a late period Stradivarius, one he's purchased from the man himself when it was new. The other had been made by Giuseppe Guarneri del Gesu and had been a special commission, made just for him. They had already had Julian for some time, he didn't except Valentine to wait too terribly long to contact him, or try to. The girl wasn't thick and must know if her boy toy went missing who had taken it and why.

The only thing Asa was more anxious to do than play with Julian was to get his hands on Brosco. Brosco was the key to Breda and if he could get Breda. If Bread fell, Giovanni was next. It was like dominos and when they fell that would leave him standing. It was a coup a lifetime in the making.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian shrugged at the man's apology and didn't respond further. He didn't see the point. Would this conversation help save his life any? What were the odds that he would actually get out of here alive? Was this like something out of a movie, where the bad guy says he's going to let the hostage go and then kills him anyway? What did this man even want?

He looked down at his shaking hands when the man asked about them.
"They're fine," he mumbled. "No one touched them."

Why did that matter? Julian was grateful to be smacked in the head rather than have his hands messed with. After his car accident he was pretty terrified of having to go through rehab all over again. The idea that they might have done something like that to him made him shudder.

He looked up at the man.
"What do you need in order to let me free?"

He was curious what they wanted from him, or from Val, or whoever. Surely the knowledge couldn't hurt. He wasn't even positive it was Val they were after. He just wanted to know.
Stranger 11 years ago

Asa responded with barley concealed glee. It would have been a crime if Julian's hands had been permanently damage. Of course, if push came to shove that would be where he was likely to target his own damage. But no sense talking about that now.

"Ah... I'm afraid there is nothing you can do about it. We are waiting to be contacted about you. Someone took something I need, so I took you. It should be a fair exchange, it just takes time to work out the details.”

The odds were quite good that Julian had already worked out that the someone was Valentine. He wasn't a dim man after all. Still, business should be kept in the family and Asa wouldn't be sharing any details. Perhaps, if asked, he might offer a few generalities but he also wanted to let Julian go so he could continue to perform and that could only be done if Julian knew nothing, or nearly nothing.

Unable to contain himself any longer Asa again knocked on the door, it opened just enough for Genevieve to come in with the two inurement cases and leave again. Asa might trust Julian with a violin, trust that as a musician he wouldn't be able to bring himself to damage something so rare, but Asa would not trust him with his familiar. Moving very quietly, smoothly, he almost reverently handed Julian the Stradivarius case.

"I wonder if you would be good enough to play with me?”

He would even consider allowing Julian to play the del Gesu made instrument, if he asked, but he didn't offer. That was his favorite.
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian should have known better than to expect answers. He felt a thrill of hope when he was told he was being held for an exchange, but then realized that he probably wasn't important enough to bother with. Oh God, he was actually going to die wasn't he. He swallowed hard and said nothing.

When the man knocked on the door and returned with two violins in their cases Julian peered at him in disbelief. Then he politely asked Julian to play with him. Julian stared at him, hardly able to comprehend the request. He almost asked if he was crazy. Then, as the man looked at him expectantly, Julian thought to himself, yes, yes he is.

That scared him more than anything else. He didn't think he could even hold a violin steady much less play anything, but refusing the request frightened him even more. With shaking hands he reached out and opened the case before him.

"Um ... okay, I'll try. But I don't... I'm not sure I can."

He knew his voice was weak and slurred. He didn't try to hide it; maybe it would get him out of this. When he raised the violin to his chin and turned his head into it he knew he wouldn't have to fake it. He couldn't do this.

He lifted his arm, drew the bow across the strings, and cringed as the sound, normally so pretty, seemed to stab into his skull. Grimacing in pain he tried to play a scale. His fingers weren't obeying him. The room spun.

"I'm sorry. I'm trying."

His voice was shaking again. Even if he could get his head on straight he was too damn scared to play. He set the violin carefully down and turned away, curling up, leaning against the wall and shivering with pain and fear.
Stranger 11 years ago
A thrill of excitement shot through Asa as Julian picked up the instrument. It was such a beautiful piece, it deserved to have someone more talented than he play it. He watched trying to curb his anticipation. Although he was worried given the way Julian moved and sounded.

He couldn't help but visibly cringe when he tried to play the scale. No. No. No. this was wrong.

Asa closed his eyes and took a deep breath. This was terrible. It was perhaps the only reason he'd agreed to take the man. He'd let his lust for music cloud his judgment and he was paying for it now. Chase would regret his actions. He might not live to make the same mistake.

With a deep sigh of regret Asa picked up the violin.

"I know you are. This is not your fault. The man who hurt you will regret his actions."

Reverently storing the violin Asa moved back to the door. A cold fury consumed him, he'd not even gotten to remove his instrument from its case.

"Please let me know if you feel up to trying again. It would bring me a great deal of pleasure."

Opening the door, confident that Julian wouldn't try and rush past him to escape, Asa paused.

"You'll also have to forgive me if I'm forced to drop the normal rules of hospitality at some point. Ah... but please do not try and escape. I'd hate to have to damage you further than we have to."

Reassurance was not Asa's strong suit. False hope just made things worse in the long run. With that he let the heavy door close behind him and went to look for Chase.

((OOC... out))
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Julian remained curled up in a ball while the man spoke. He didn't acknowledge his words, didn't turn, didn't do anything. He just shivered and wished he were almost anywhere else but here.

He felt a little bit of satisfaction when he was told that the asshole who'd clocked him would be reprimanded. Julian didn't know exactly what that meant, but it didn't sound like fun. He was all for it not being fun.

Finally the man left him alone. Normal rules of hospitality... these were normal rules of hospitality? Was that supposed to be humor? Left to himself Julian tried to fortify himself, but it was hard when he felt sick and tired and chilly and utterly alone. No one knew he was here; he didn't even know where here was. Val wouldn't go looking for him like they seemed to think she would.

Julian pulled his shirt around himself again, closed his eyes, and remained as still as he could until the world around him went dark again. This time he dreamed; or rather, he had a nightmare. Even when he was asleep he couldn't get away from this situation.

He was standing by himself in a rectangular room much like the one he was currently in, though instead of a dangling overhead lightbulb there was a flashing red light from a source he couldn't see. It just throbbed on and off in time with the pounding in his head. There was no convenient alcove with a sink; it was just a gray box. He explored the sides of it but found no door, no windows, and aside from the flashing red light it was completely black.

He saw faces now and then, those of the two men who were his captors. The second man, particularly, the one that scared him the most, kept asking him if he was well and if he would play with him. He held a violin out to Julian, and Julian tried to push it away only to turn and find the same man behind him, holding out the violin, asking him if he was well and would he play.

Finally Julian took the violin, sat down in the middle of the room, and set the bow to the strings. The only sound that issued forth was a sob. He lifted the bow and tried again, and this time the sound that came out was crazed laughter; not his own. Or, if it was, it was totally unrecognizable.

Julian tried to focus his thoughts but they wouldn't. He thought bout his parents, saw them crying for their second lost child. He saw Val, shrugging her shoulders and turning away. Tavi, checking her phone with an expression of disgust. Jan, looking at a clock and lifting his shoulders at someone unseen.

And still he tried to play, but no music would come forth.
Evgeni 11 years ago
Julian hadn't shown up for the band's gig at Eternity. That wouldn't have been the end of the world or anything normally but it had not been that long ago that their friend had ended up in the hospital after being mugged.

The violinist had mentioned a Val and having to get a message to her. Later conversation with Jan and given his clan mate the strong suspicion that he knew this Val and that she also was a member of Tacharan.

Their friend seemed like he was in some trouble that was way more dangerous than any human would ever want to be in. So, when Julian had missed the performance Jan had asked him to go take a poke around in Julian's head.

And now here he was...

"How can you stand this awful light?" Evgeni dismissed it with a negligent wave of his hand. However it didn't go. He concentrated a little harder and the light dimmed but it was still there. Instead of an eye piercing red pulsing nova of pain, it was now a dim flickering annoyance.

Interesting. Being unable to remove something usually suggested some outside influence. He had learned that from many years of experience. If someone were physically freezing, for instance, to the point that it entered their dream in some fashion then it was nearly impossible to remove it. It was the body's way of saying there was a danger to it.

"Dis is not very cozy." He looked around at the grey box and the men that showed up to watch Julian play.

"Here, give me violin. Is okay." Evgeni gently took the instrument from Julian. He conjured a stool and sat down facing his friend. Tucking the violin under his chin, he began to play a soft Russian lullaby.

"Now tell me what is wrong."
Julian Stephenson 11 years ago
Evgeni was the next person to make an appearance in his dream, but he stuck around longer than the other people Julian had seen. His friend asked about the garish red light, and Julian tried to close his eyes and block it out. "I can't stand it," he pointed out, "but I seem to be stuck with it."

Like that it receded. The pain in his head was no less, but the red light dimmed and Julian immediately felt a little less stressed. He watched Evgeni as he looked around, commented on the room, and then took the violin away from him, which Julian relinquished with palpable relief. Evgeni played and Julian sat still, dropping his head into his hands and closing his eyes.

What was wrong? What was right, would be a better question. Or, at least, a much shorter list. But dream-Evgeni couldn't know what was going on. Maybe this was Julian's body's way of trying to work out a solution.

"I'm going to die here," he said miserably. "That's what's wrong. I have to get out of here. They want something from Val. They seem to think I mean something to her, like they can use me to get to her. Collateral, that's what they said."

Even in the dream his voice was thick, heavy, raspy. He tried to speak clearly and was pleased that his words weren't entirely slurred. That was an improvement, even if it was an unconscious dream improvement. It should probably worry him that they were slurred at all in his dream.

Terror shot through him again and he hugged his arms around himself.
"I don't want to die, Evgeni. I can't get out of here. This son of a bitch is crazy, too. God. He wanted me to play for him. I could barely hold that thing."

He glanced pointedly at the violin. Then closed his eyes again, rocking back and forth a little. He mumbled to himself,
"I don't want to die. He's going to kill me. No one's going to find me here. Oh, God, I don't want to die."

It might have been a little one-note, but Julian's thoughts were running back and forth along that one topic as he sank further and further into his own terror and fear. Normally pretty hard to ruffle after all he'd seen in his life thus far, Julian was definitely more than a little shaken by his current predicament. He felt bound and helpless, and there was no escape in sight for him unless Val somehow came through. And even then, hell, he watched TV. He knew he still wasn't out of the woods.