|Veronica Mars (marshmallowmars) wrote in the100,|
@ 2016-04-17 22:30:00
|Entry tags:||!trigger, cullen rutherford, veronica mars|
WHO: Veronica Mars and Cullen Rutherford
WHEN: April 17th, after everyone comes back.
WHERE: Cullen's room and just outside of it
WHAT: A happy reunion leads to some unpleasant confessions on both sides.
WARNING: TRIGGER WARNING for references to rape, date-rape drugs, and mind control
Veronica Mars was back in Mount Weather, or at least what resembled Mount Weather. Admittedly, it’d taken quite a hit during the battle and no longer matched the Mount Weather that she remembered, but the world in general was fuzzy and vague. It felt not unlike the aftermath of strong cold medication; she felt slow and plodding as she tried to piece together where she was, what had happened, and what came next.
It wasn’t the first time she had woken up confused. She pushed down the thought with a swallow, glancing around at the half cleaned-up carnage around her. Goblins, she heard someone say, and that made as much sense as anything. Why not goblins? Hell, at this point she was half-expecting David Bowie in a teased wig and tight pants to show and sing her a song about magic.
Shaking her head and trying to clear it, Veronica started to head down the hallway to her room. She wanted to shower, get her mind in gear, sort out the tumultuous feelings that were lingering below the surface. She was tired. She missed her dad. Dads? She had a lot to unpack mentally, and--
--and then she saw Cullen, a distant figure in the crowd. Talking to someone, looking stressed. Her heart swelled, just for a minute. Veronica wasn’t a lovey-dovey person, and she made a point not to rely on people, even those she dated. But that didn’t mean that she wasn’t relieved when she saw him, when his face reminded her suddenly of who she was - had been? And he was as comforting a destination as she had.
And so without further ado she ran up to him and leaped into his arms, wrapping her legs around him in a perfectly executed tackle hug.
It wasn’t just physically unexpected. Cullen had literally just been told that the whole group that had vanished en masse two weeks before had returned all at once, deposited right outside of Mount Weather’s front door, and he assumed that these returns would be much as any of the others. They would come back, and they would remember nothing of the time they had spent at Mount Weather. The friends he had made here, and Veronica...none of them would remember him.
And then a small blond blur flew in and crashed against him, failing to break his balance much but entirely shattering his expectations. Cullen caught her automatically, reflexes kicking in with arms looping around her hips, and he leaned back to get a look at her face, just to make sure he hadn’t gone entirely mad in the wake of this very messy battle.
“Veronica?” His smile was crooked and a little dazed, but it was there just the same.
“Hey there,” she answered with a grin of her own. It hadn’t occurred to her once that Cullen wouldn’t catch her - look at those arms; he was built for catching emotional damsels - so to have her suspicion confirmed was nice. What was also nice was that expression of shock and tentative hope spreading across Cullen’s face. “I remember everything,” she explained quickly, just in case there was any doubt. “I didn’t go home. It was a spell. Magic.”
And she was beginning to feel anxious again, so she ignored it and brushed her lips against his. “I remember you. It’s okay. I’m back.” For however long it would last.
A massive rush of relief hit Cullen along with the explanation. He had sort of figured it out from the fact that she had launched herself at him instead of giving him a suspicious side-eye, but it was still reassuring to hear it stated clearly out loud. The kiss was good, too, so much that Cullen took another one despite the fact that they were in the middle of everything and they were normally not “public display” sort of people. This was a special circumstance, as the still-smoking funeral pyre of Maker only knew how many goblins indicated.
“I am very glad to see that,” he said, and then concern flashed onto his face. “Are you all right?” She looked fine - better than he did, still wearing some of the soot and filth from the fight and its aftermath - but she had been gone for more than a fortnight, and she hadn’t gone home...so where had she gone?
Veronica slowly eased down off of her boyfriend until her feet hit the floor. Wow, she’d forgotten all about that height difference. “I’m fine,” she said, because that was the easy answer and she was, at least, physically fine. “Everyone’s probably fine. Storybrooke? Super duper boring.”
And super duper enchanted. She glanced left and right; people were reuniting all around them. Too public. “Can we go… somewhere else? Talk?” Veronica was still smiling, but her eyes were strained. Worried. It was beginning to occur to her that she had - quite possibly - kissed another man while in Storybrooke. More than that, even. A cold wave moved through her and she made a note to find Cisco Ramirez and… and what? Talk? Confirm? “Somewhere private,” she added, because hell to this.
Cullen was more concerned, seeing the change in her expression. He knew Veronica well enough to know something wasn’t exactly right. And Storybrooke - that was where Emma was from, wasn’t it? They had all been there? Veronica’s reference to magic a moment earlier popped back up in his mind - any magic that had done this would have to be immensely powerful, the kind of thing that could only be done with an ocean of blood or lyrium in his world. That sort of magic was never without indirect consequences to go along with the obvious.
“Of course,” he said, taking a quick glance around. “My quarters? If Varric has returned, his first destination is likely to be the tavern, and I believe they have the furniture turned right-side-up since the battle.”
She nodded, stepping toward the hallway where Cullen’s room was located. “It’s goblin free, right? They’ve all been… uh. Exterminated?” That’s what one did with goblins, right? She didn’t know much about them, other than they weren’t the creatures that lived under bridges, and she was pretty sure you weren’t supposed to feed them after midnight, or ever. Thinking on it now, she wondered if they’d be eating goblin stew for the next few months. It couldn’t possibly be worse than dragon, right?
Aaaaand she was thinking about everything but the problem at hand. As soon as Cullen closed the door, Veronica crossed her arms over her chest nervously. “Hey, if you want to nix the bad news talk, I’m totally up for hot reunion making out instead.” Cheap blow, but eh.
Cullen didn’t object to a hot making out reunion on principle - it was in fact a very tempting prospect. He had missed Veronica, he’d had a bloody miserable few days of warfare, and his body still felt like one big bruise, and the idea of forgetting about talking entirely and just dragging her down onto his bed sounded excellent. Veronica had him worried with her locked-up posture and talk of bad news, though.
“I’m too good at imagining worst-case scenarios for that, I think,” he said, offering a reluctant half-smile as he sat on the edge of his bed. As he had surmised, the room he shared with Varric had its furniture back in place, though it had clearly been through a fight. He hadn’t brought any of his things back, but at least there was room to sit down and talk.
Whatever bad news Veronica had, it probably wasn’t as bad as whatever Cullen could come up with. For instance, she likely wasn’t possessed by a fear demon now, or married to the Goblin King. “Give me the bad news, and we can go on from there.”
It was the mature, smart-person thing to do, sure, and Veronica respected that it would be more beneficial to get all this out now rather than a few days from now. Still, she wasn’t sure what all “this” was. Her memory of the last few… weeks? Was it weeks? That was clear enough, but had that Technicolor haze of a dream to it. Everything before that? Solidly iffy.
She kept standing, lips pursed to the side as she tried to sum this up like how a detective would appreciate it: blunt, thorough, quantitative. “Most if not all of the people who disappeared from Mount Weather went instead to a town called Storybrooke, in Maine. None of us remembered Mount Weather, or our former lives. It was very…. Typical.” Realizing she was talking to a man who considered slaying dragons ‘typical’, she clarified: “It was pre-bombs, late 90s to mid 2015 typical. No magic, everyone was a boring ol’ human and looked it, with all the friendships and families and relationships that came with it.”
And realizing she had a perfect built-in example: “Fenris was one of my adoptive dads.”
Slaying dragons, fighting goblins, that sort of thing was indeed more or less typical for Cullen. He had heard enough stories from Veronica of her life in California to have some idea of what “typical” meant to her, though, and now he was trying to imagine Fenris (and Varric and Bull) in that kind of world. Doing so requires significant stretching of the mind to begin with, and then the idea of Fenris as Veronica’s father...
“You were all just...plopped into different lives?” Cullen asked, baffled and a little disturbed. It sounded like the work of demons to him, and he knew what it felt like to have your entire concept of reality and self messed with. It wasn't comfortable.
“Different lives, different memories of said lives…” Veronica couldn’t remember many details of anything prior to the most-recent few weeks. There were impressions, certainly, and emotions, but it was like trying to remember early childhood. Anything more concrete than general ideas slipped through her fingers like sand.
One thing, however, stood out in particular. “I was dating Car-- er, Cisco Ramirez,” she said, looking up at Cullen with an expression caught between worry and quiet fury. Veronica hated cheaters. There wasn’t a cheating bone in her body once she had committed herself to a relationship. And Cisco was a sweetheart - friendly, funny. He reminded her of Piz, her on-again, off-again boyfriend in college. “I remember dating him. Liking him. But I get here, and it’s like… have you ever had a dream about someone you’re not dating and you wake up and it’s weird? It’s like that. I still want you,” she clarified. “But it’s… really not okay. This magic, these… vague memories. What do I do with them?”
Cullen nodded understanding, quietly horrified on Veronica’s behalf. The closest experience he had to what she had been through was torture by demons. She didn’t seem that kind of upset, but he was still worried for her. It didn’t even occur to him to be jealous or consider Veronica’s Storybrooke relationship with Cisco any sort of betrayal. They had been kidnapped by magic; nothing of this could be their fault.
“It is a matter for investigation, certainly,” Cullen said. “And I am truly sorry this happened to you. I--” He hesitated a split second; Cullen didn’t talk about Kinloch Hold and the fall of the Circle. With what Veronica had been through, though, he wanted her to know that at least to some extent, he understood. “I have had my mind filled with foreign thoughts and images by magic before. Finding your footing afterward is...difficult.”
Veronica watched him, her face careful, but sympathy could be seen lurking in her eyes. She wasn’t a believer in talking about things, but she also appreciated full disclosure. Cullen was trying, in his way, and more importantly in a way that she understood. She laced her fingers through his and gave them an experimental squeeze.
“Maybe you can offer some pointers. Usually it’s just run-of-the-mill date rape drugs that make me wake up woozy.” She was smiling, but it stretched across her face in an unnatural way. “That… wasn’t a joke, by the way. That happened. And it was… bad. Two guys in one night while I was passed out kind of bad. So this? This waking up and not remembering… everything…” She rolled her shoulders, and goddammit, her eyes felt watery and hot. She forcefully pushed it back - it all back - and smiled a little more fiercely. “So, yeah. Pointers. Tips. Something nice to make me feel normal?”
Cullen’s immediate acceptance of whatever had happened with her and Cisco was something she’d have to examine later, as well as his disclosure of his own negative experiences with magic. Veronica had a feeling that this might even count as a heart to heart, albeit one if the hearts were carefully protected with bodyguards touting sniper rifles.
“The only tips I have are ‘do not allow this to turn you into an anti-magic zealot fueled by hatred and fear’ and ‘never sleeping again is not actually possible’...and something about letting the people who care about you help instead of getting yourself transferred to a posting in a foreign country in an effort to never speak to any of them ever again,” Cullen said, a wry smile turning his lips. “I am afraid my own response to having demons muck around in my mind was not especially healthy or effective. It makes a good ‘what not to do’ list, though.”
Cullen wasn’t at peace with what had happened to him as a young Templar, but he had at least gained some perspective on it. This was the most he had talked about it since Knight-Commander Greagoir had required his report, and even then he had said as little as possible. He wasn’t sure what it meant that he was willing to say this much to Veronica--that her peace of mind and happiness had become rather important to him, probably.
“I don’t dislike magic. Makes things easier here for us, and it damn sure helps the military.” Veronica shrugged, making a face. “This whole thing doesn’t help me like people that much more, though.”
She bumped her shoulder into his purposefully, and rested the side of her head there. “...most people. You’re all right, I guess.” It was as mushy as she could be; too much honesty and it felt like someone had taken a Brillo pad to her brain. “I know we need to help with the clean-up, but can we… not? For like, thirty minutes? Just sit here until someone starts banging down the door wondering where you are? You can tell me about the goblin battle and I can coo over your new scars, and if you don’t have new scars, I’ll just coo over your battle-weary muscles. I’m versatile, here.”
Cullen slipped his arm around her waist, already beginning to make himself comfortable for a half hour of collectively abandoning their duties. Everyone else was likely to be doing the same, and there would still be plenty to do in thirty minutes. Given what they had all been through, whether they had gotten stuck in Maine or fought a goblin army, the whole mountain was owed a break.
“I do have a new scar, actually,” he replied with a little chuckle. “You’ll have to get my shirt off to see it, though. I took a goblin axe to the back after I put a sword through their king’s throat.”
Yes, the offer to take his shirt off was a clear and obvious invitation. And yes, he was bragging just a little about killing the goblin king. But if you couldn’t do those things when your lady was freshly returned from being kidnapped by an accursed village, when could you?
“You took out their king and got a brand new scar? Well butter my butt and call me a biscuit; I simply must know more.” Despite the sarcasm, Veronica was impressed despite herself and already reaching for the hem of his shirt. She still had a lot to mentally unpack, and knew that her ruminations were going to be far from universally pleasant, but in the moment? Well, making this reunion with her boyfriend as angst-free as possible sounded like the best foot forward.