There is not a lot of time before they must head out for Davenport, but America wanted to speak to the vampires, and she’s one of the only allies Daniel has got. They make a stop—Daniel, America, Jianyu, and Sonia—at the Prince’s. There is a little time to socialize (and make bathroom breaks, Jianyu notes as he breaks away from the others), which means Daniel can meet Jacob.
Jacob is sitting by a frozen fountain gazing into its icy depths. Vampires going public means that the Prince of the city isn’t confined to a boat or to a warehouse now: he’s pretty explicitly the ruler of the city at this point, whatever the existence of some scattered Technocrats. An entire district of the city is considered his, moreso than the rest of the city, and Jacob can roam it freely.
After his near breakdown in front of his cabalmates, Daniel is more than happy to leave the the place that had become his home so quickly. He was even happier when America expressed her desire to speak with the vampires, agreeing without a second thought. It would give him time to break off from the others and speak with Jacob. He made his destination known as soon as they got there before wandering off to find the vampire.
Which brings him to where he is now. He’s wrapped up as warmly as one can be in the cold temperatures of never-ending winter, though he still rubs his fingers together as he approaches the vampire. “Hello Jacob,” He says when he’s close enough to speak conversationally. He doesn’t want to startle the vampire…not that he probably could. “Can I sit with you for a bit?”
Jacob, unlike Daniel, doesn’t get cold. Or he’s already, cold, anyway. He’s dressed in a leather jacket that might not be out of place in Cincinnati in March but certainly wouldn’t keep a human warm in these temperatures.
“It’s a free count—wait, no, it’s a vampiric fiefdom.” Jacob gestures for Daniel to sit. He is, after all, outside and beyond the vampire hierarchy.
Daniel snorts softly, taking the invitation to join the vampire in sitting. “Vampiric fiefdom. Who ever thought that would be the case, eh?” He gives Jacob a smile before he turns his attention on the frozen depths of the fountain. “How is the fiefdom treating you?” He pauses. “How is ”/characters/kouam-bekoe" class=“wiki-content-link”>Kouamé?"
Jacob pulls out a bag from behind him Daniel is pretty sure wasn’t there before: it’s a sack of red apples. Jacob tosses one to Daniel; another three spill out into the fountain and a fifth makes his way into his own hand. “They let me have all the apples I want. Kouamé’s okay. Dead. Kinda sad.”
Daniel catches the apple with a look of surprise on his face. “Oh. Thank you.” He says. “That’s nice of them. There might not…” He trails off, not wanting to finish that train of thought. “Yeah, I guess that’s understandable. I hope he is able to overcome the sadness.” His eyes are fixed on the shiny red apple as his thoughts spiral out of control again. Ignore the small sniff he makes.
“We never really got a chance to talk after all the fallout of the apocalypse.” He states. “I wanted to ask you about…well, do you remember being with me? Out of time?”
“No. Yes.” Jacob replies. The apple has a smell, kind of an alluring one. Daniel hasn’t seen fresh produce in… technically months.
When has eating or drinking something freely given by a vampire worked out for anyone before? Daniel stares back at the apple again, twisting it through his fingers to admire it’s skin the feel of real fruit in his fingers. This is something they could lose forever. When might he ever get to eat a fresh apple again? (Soon, if Alex’s plan works)
Besides, it’s Jacob. Jacob doesn’t wish him ill-will, does he? “What do you remember?” He asks before he lifts the apple to his mouth to take a bite. The smell and weight of the fresh fruit in his fingers has won out over his self control.
The apple begins to steam and smoke in his hand, in his mouth—only an illusion, but the brief pain as it touches his tongue feels real—pain is only in his mind.
It’s not much pain, it feels more like biting into something really spicy than really hot. “I don’t know why I did the things I did. I don’t know why I said the things I said.” He begins in Cher’s voice. “Words are like weapons they wound sometimes.”
Daniel pulls the smoking apple away from his mouth, shocked at the flavour and the reaction the apple has to being bitten. Of course it’s an illusion. He rubs his tongue against the roof of his mouth, trying to rid himself of the spicy flavour.
“Jacob…” Daniel starts. His brows furrow as he tries to puzzle out the meaning of Jacob’s choice in lyrics. “Is everything okay?”
Since Daniel didn’t seem to get it, the guitar solo plays out of nowhere. Unbidden, the violins start racing in his head, their rhythm matching the guitars. “I didn’t really mean to hurt you. I didn’t want to see you go. I know I made you cry, but oh baby if I could turn back time.” Cher’s voice out of Jacob’s mouth with the full instrumentals. “That’s what we tried to do.” He finishes, the music falling away… except for the violins, fading and filling the silence with a quiet melody.
Daniel lets put a shaky breath, nodding his head. “We were trying to look.” He’s very specific about saying that. “I just…wanted to know. Wanting to know has never got me very far, has it?” He finds some level of comfort in the melody playing, shoulders slumping. “Why did you pull us apart, Jacob? What happened?”
“Your brother doesn’t think so.” Jacob glances right, just to the left of Daniel. “He thinks it would be best if you’d never messed with Time.” Refocusing on Daniel, “I heard the dead. Eleventy millions of them. ”/characters/cadence-richmond" class=“wiki-content-link”>Cadence told me it was bad, and that I had to stop you."
“What?” Daniel asks, turning his head to look over his shoulder. “Jacob…don’t tell me he’s…” He trails off. “Oh my God. Jacob.” He needs a moment to parse this information, judging by the way his fingers flex.
He slowly nods his head, eyes focused on his lap. “Okay.” He says. “All of the dead. Okay. Jesus. I want to—no, I am going back there. I know it’s stupid. I know this is bad. I need to try to save him, though. To fix this. To undo the damage that’s been done to Time.”
“As a dormouse,” Jacob chimes in. “I don’t know why you’re upset. You don’t seem to like each other much. Also he’s a Technocrat. Too many dead Technocrats.” He shakes his head. At least Cadence is gone.
He pauses, and adds, “I could make you not upset.” He offers. Unlike Will, he never saw the implications of that play out in a mindscape.
“I know we don’t. We never got along…I had little brother syndrome, he was always blaming me for upsetting my parents.” Daniel swallows. “I know he is a Technocrat. Was a Technocrat. He’s the reason why I left school to begin with, the person who started me down the path that ends here.” He’s not able to control the tears that end up spilling onto his cheeks. “But he is still my brother. He was going to get married. My mom told me he finally got engaged. Jesus. Oh my God. My mom.” He ducks his head down face in his hands. “I can’t even begin to imagine how she feels. Husband and now eldest son dead, and no clue what happened to the other. What if she’s dead too?”
“What?” Daniel looks at the vampire again, eyes widened. There might even be a moment where he would consider the offer. “How would you — no. No. I need to just swallow this. I need to feel these things. I need to get it out of my system or stamp it back down until I have time to actually sort through them. They’re clouding my judgement.”
“Some of the dead were from the future. I think. It wasn’t really clear when they came from.” Jacob murmurs. That was the most intense experience with Time he’s ever had—the dead and their regrets are more his wheelhouse. “But one of them was you. You’re going to die, Daniel.”
It’s one thing to know something in your mind, like a surety because of course it’s going to happen. Daniel has said it before, has thought it since all the details of the loops and Kal came to light. To actually hear Jacob say it, to confirm it, is a whole different story.
He’s frozen in time as he considers it. “I know.” He sounds much calmer than he looks. “I’m scared.” He pauses. “But maybe it’s time I figured out how so I can make sure the fallout affects as few people as possible.”
The violins are louder now, almost drowing out the world, except when Jacob speaks his voice comes through clearly. They’re not actually sound, they’re all in his mind. His soul. “How do you plan to do that?” Jacob asks quizically.
“Hey, at least when you’re dead, I can still talk to you.” He offers unhelpfully. “We can hang out for eternity.”
“I have to stop being scared to look at the future.” Daniel says. “I’m a fucking ”/wikis/cult-of-ecstasy" class=“wiki-page-link”> Cultist of Ecstasy. We’re supposed to know this stuff, you know? I need to look and plan ahead. It just blew up in my face pretty spectacularly the last time I tried. If I’m ready for this, though, I might be able to contain it. Maybe even use it to everyone else’s advantage."
He lets out a slightly hysterical laugh at Jacob. “Yes. That’s true. If I’m just dead. Not…” He chokes and swipes a few tears from his face. “Not erased entirely. Holy fuck.”
“You weren’t erased where we were.” Jacob offers helpfully. “Maybe Will just finally loses it and murders you. Or maybe Kal just decides once all the Time mages are dead he doesn’t even need to erase them because no one can turn back the clock.” Either one seems possible. “Nah, somebody probably just murders you.” He doesn’t comment on looking into the future.
“But we weren’t in time, Jacob.” Daniel says. “Not exactly. It was outside of time and all time at once. So it could have been either, couldn’t it have?” He wipes the rest of his tears from his face and turns his head up to stare at the dust-clouded sky. “I guess there is only one way to find out, though.”
Daniel falls silent for a long moment as he studies the sky. “Do you mind if I space out on you for a bit?” He’s already tugging the earbuds to his Walkman out of his pocket.
Jacob ignores him. Daniel puts his earbuds in, for all the violins are already in his head, finding a song that matches them and drifting into an Esctatic state. He reaches for the future.
Daniel knows well enough by now what Paradox feels like. There is a sensory feedback that Jacob has never experienced and hence isn’t able to replicate, whatever his illusory apples. Daniel is pushed back, and three women—the Bronte sisters, he’s pretty sure—put ghostly faces in his face, winding around him with pale, see-through bodies. “You will join us soooooon.” They remind him. He feels a rising bit of panic at the sight of the spirits.
He’s so close. Maybe it’s the rising fear he’s already feeling at trying to accomplish this, maybe it’s the lack of sleep and the slow mental decline he’s been on for the past week. Whatever the reason, he just cannot focus properly and finds himself in another of those feedbacks, another he didn’t want to experience so soon after his brush with true brush with death. He turns his head to bury it in Jacob’s arm, trying to keep the panic at bay while he breaths in and out.
Some Ecstatics would use this to fuel themselves. For him, it just drags him into negative places from his past and the uncertainty of his future. He can fight past it. He has to fight past it.
He’s quiet for a long time, breathing in and out slowly. Sorry Jacob, your cold arm in providing him a small bit of solace and grounding. “Did you have any family that was in Europe during World War II?” He asks softly. It might seem like an out of place question.
Jacob blinks, taken aback. This was the Jew who made the ‘How many Jews fit in an SUV’ joke. “Yes,” He answers slowly. “Didn’t we all?”
Daniel nods. “Yes, I suppose we did. I’m sure most of us would have been born and brought up there, too.” He says. “Maybe. My mom was born in Canada.” He sighs. “I just…keep wondering if this was how they felt, you know? Facing what seemed like an unstoppable force of power from destroying them all. Then I want to run away from it all and hide, which I know is one, cowardly, and two, useless. There really isn’t anywhere to hide from someone like him. So I need to fight, right? I need to not back down and offer what I can to saving what is left of the world.”
He sits up, letting out a deep sigh. “Alright. I need to make this work. Even if it kills me. Even if some literary women are trying to frighten me. Will you help me?”
“My Sire was there. She… befriended the Nazis.” A nice way to say it. “It wasn’t enough to save my grandmother.” He shakes his head. It’s too much gravity for him to hold onto in his mind. “What are you asking me?” He holds out his hand.
“Oh Jacob…” Daniel murmurs. “I’m sorry…” He swallows. “My dad was there. He managed to escape midway through the war. It’s strange to think that it really wasn’t that long ago at all.”
He takes the offered hand, smiling faintly. “This is all I need. Just a friend to anchor me. Thank you.” Daniel squeezes Jacob’s hand gently and tries to zone back out into his ecstatic state once more. This time with someone close just to keep him grounded.
Jacob’s hand seems to steady him. He pushes past the fear and anxiety, drifting back into an ecstatic state. The sisters moaning doesn’t bother him as much, here.
His mind drifts through time. He lacks Correspondence to search where he will, and Entropy to sift through meaningless events to find a pattern, but it’s his own self that he is scrying, to the end of it’s natural conclusion. Past the Starlight Passage at Davenport. Past or forward. Forward, forward… but not that many days from now.
And then something forces him back to his current awareness. That was magick from the Daughters of Mnemosyne, but he doesn’t know who or what. Something one of them, or perhaps even he himself, is keeping from him.
He’s very fortune. Time mages are perfectly capable of killing, lobotomizing, or spiritually scarring those who intrude on them. Perhaps since he is also a Daughter the ward simply rebuffed him. But every member of the Daughters who could have set that is more powerful than him, and if he himself set it in the future, then he did it deliberately and with full knowledge of this moment.
“Damnit…” Daniel curses softly as his focus settles on the present once more. “Someone is blocking me from seeing it.” He slumps his shoulders forward, head falling with it. “It’s not that far off though.” His fingers still stay wrapped around Jacob’s with a tighter grip than when he started. “I think I need to start with Davenport. I know what I need to do, though. I will try to plan two steps ahead when we’re closer. I don’t have the correspondence to see the future in Davenport from here.”