Raven stood there and felt like someone had boxed her ears. All she could hear was the ringing in the back of her head and the warbling sound of classic rock from three floors below. Her stomach turned over and she stood there, looking into too-green eyes she'd only seen in forgotten pictures and dreams, with a face that was sporting a new, still-healing scar that slashed under his right cheek. A nightmare and a dream all wrapped up into one set of emotions she couldn't pin down.
Raven tried to focus on that scar as she shifted her weight, looking around the room for a moment to just keep herself grounded. Looking directly at him was like staring at the sun, and Jason's stared felt as though it contained the weight of the world - like he was reliving every one of their conversations from his dreams. There were secrets hidden in between their silences, and neither one of them wanted to let the soft parts of them be exposed.
"I…" Her voice nearly cracked, and Raven took a moment to gather herself out of sheer embarrassment. She never found herself without words - finding herself without wanting or needing to say something, yes - but never words. And yet here was Jason, making her forget everything she should have been saying to him. Shifting, she took a cautious half-step into the small apartment and kept herself as calm as the situation would allow. "You left breadcrumbs, and I figured I was supposed to follow them."
Jason leaned back into the sofa, a knowing smile tugging at the corner of his mouth. "Home?"
Her eyebrows knitted together. "What?"
He laughed and something about the sound was oddly warm and comforting, and Raven felt herself thinking of his whiskey-soaked kisses and the burn and bite of his hands on her skin. He touched her and left trails of fire where there had been ice before. It somehow managed to feel like just an illusion and yet so real at the same time, and she nearly fell back into her memories. Nostrils flaring, she pinned down her emotions before they could get out of control, and Raven tilted her chin up and looked down her nose at him. If she gave Jason an inch, he would take a mile, that much was certain at least.
"I don't know what you're talking about."
"Home. Hansel and Gretel follow the breadcrumbs home." He crossed his arms over his chest, lips curling up at the edge as he watched her with rapt attention. "You know, for a girl who buries her nose into book every minute of the day, I would think that you would remember the story of Hansel and Gretel, and that they followed the breadcrumbs home."
She hid her blush in the shadows of her hood. He was insinuating that he was home. Cheeky.
Jason shook his head and cocked his head to the side, watching her from underneath the fringe of his lashes. "Come on, Raven. You've been in this dimension long enough to know simple fairy tales at least."
She pursed her lips, still staring at him. Her throat was tightening as her heart started to pick up speed. This was – at the very least – embarrassing. "And are you insinuating that this place is home? That you're home?"
The smile on his face faltered for the briefest moment, and the mask that Jason seemed to wear so easily cracked just enough to show someone else underneath. It was a flash of a young boy, of a man who was once a teenager who just wanted to live and belong somewhere. He wanted more than just a place to call home, he wanted a person, even if it was someone like Raven. Her heart turned over, twisting in her chest with the force of her thoughts. He wanted to be her home, and there was some part of him that wanted her to be his. She winced, silently hoping he could brush off the bite of her comment - she could be so thoughtless sometimes.
Whatever flash of his self that showed disappeared just a quickly, and Jason's half-cocked smile returned as he looked up at her. "Don't know if I would like having a shadow lurk around corners. It'd be great at Halloween parties though – really liven the place up." He snapped his fingers, seemingly coming up with a great idea. "Hey, do you do booki-"
"Cut the shit, Jason. Why am I here?" Raven crossed her arms and leaned back on her heels, hoping she could have at least a little control over the situation. If she could redirect him back to doing something useful with her time, then maybe this wouldn't feel so much like a waste... or at the very least less awkward. "You went through all this trouble to get me to your seedy bar by the docks, like you're some kind of pirate-"
"Ooh. Life number three, I think I like the idea of being a pirate. I'd look good with an eye-patch and a peg-leg, right? Carry a parrot on my shoulder... I'd name him Tim."
Raven's face fell and she stared up at the ceiling with a groan. What in the world was she doing here. She refused to give into his little bouts of teasing, knowing that was his defense mechanism to try and maintain control of something he knew he couldn't control. Well, whatever she had to do to maintain control of the situation, she was willing to do it. "We're not talking about you being a pirate, Jason. We're here to talk about why you drug me halfway across the city with little clues, and here I find you, files spread out in front of you like you're…"
"Investigating?" He laughed and moved to the side, offering her a small amount of space next to him on the sofa. His eyebrow lifted, inviting her over with just a look. "Like you asked me to do, Raven?"
She cringed, taking a soft breath as her embarrassment colored her cheeks. Of course that's what he was doing. She shouldn't be so hasty to judge him, but this whole situation made her feel like she was falling end-over-end and she couldn't get a grasp on the situation. Raven's hands fell to her side and she shook her head, hoping he wasn't looking too closely at her face. "Sorry… I didn't mean…"
"It's alright." He waved her off before motioning her over to the sofa again. "It's not like either one of us are known for our amicable personalities." He looked away and let out a soft cough, as if hiding something under his breath. "I probably could have been more direct with getting you here but I don't know… I thought…"
Raven closed the space between them and sat next to him, trying not to think about the way he smelled of cologne and gunpowder. She looked up at the slash of his wound and felt that hopeless, helpless feeling of flying surge through her again. Being this close to him brought her back to their shared dreams, the feel of his lips dragging over her own, drawing out kisses and sounds as if he was playing her like a finely-tuned instrument. Her mind wandered back to his calloused hands dragging up underneath the hem of her tank top, and goosebumps spread across her skin.
Oh... she was in so much trouble.
Raven swallowed those thoughts and glanced at him from the corner of her eye before looking down into the files. This would have been better if she didn't have to look at him. "You thought what?"
"I thought that maybe I was being cute or romantic? Or... something?" He laughed and rubbed the back of his neck, glancing away as his ears turned just a bit pink. Coughing again, he picked up a piece of paper and pulled it onto his lap to read. "Ah, sorry, guess that's kind of a, odd thought. Also pretty weird… considering… everything, really. Between you... and... me. I'm going to stop talking before I dig this hole any deeper."
Raven shook her head and what tension had developed between them seemed to melt into nothingness, leaving a cold void in the space between them. She looked down at her lap, guilt reaching up and squeezing her heart. She was nervous, she was scared, she was in completely uncharted territory, and, yes, Jason could be an asshole sometimes, but he was helping her, and they had kissed… or made out. Or whatever that was in their shared dream. Raven's ears grew hot and she prayed he didn't notice. If she didn't keep her mind focused, things were going to get out of control all over again, and she wasn't sure if she would be able to stop it this time.
A few seconds of silence passed between them, until she looked back up into his face. She needed something else to think about, to keep her mind occupied as they worked through this together. "You've got a cut."
He said it so fast that Raven doubted that's what it really was. He had stacks of notes strewed out in front of him, information that was highly prized and secretive, and he expected Raven to believe that he'd gotten hurt in a barfight? She bit back a sigh and reached up, running her fingertips over the cut, letting her magic draw the pain into her own body. There was the echo of the memories, the slash of a knife, the coarse growl of something inhuman, and Raven shivered as her hand moved to cup his cheek. There was darkness inside him, and he was looking for somewhere... somewhere that just felt safe. Did he really think that she was going to be safe?
Jason's eyes closed and he leaned into her touch. He looked so peaceful and so relaxed that Raven couldn't stop her stare from dropping to his lips. Another cut was there, and she wondered if she could just kiss…
This was way worse than what she planned for, and things were going to get out of control if she didn't stop. "We should… talk… about this…"
Jason nodded, his eyes slowly opening. Nothing but a thin ring of green stared back at her, his pupils consuming his stare as he leaned closer to her. His fingers wove into her hair, tangling in between strands as if he wanted to draw her closer, but didn't want to scare her away. He was leaning closer to her, his breath ghosting over her lips. All it would take is one tilt from either of them, and the files and information would be forgotten. The thought kept replaying in her mind, like a record with a scratch.
Jason's voice had dropped an octave, and every syllable sounded like it was forced out of his throat by sheer will. "Yeah… we probably should... talk about it, I mean..."
Raven's eyes closed and she summoned her last bit of will from a dark well in her chest. This was the last thing she needed to think about right now – his lips against hers and the way the weight of his body would feel if he pushed her against the worn tweed of his sofa. She swallowed the yes building in her throat and met his eyes again. "I mean… the files. The information you... called me here for?"
Jason cringed and pulled back an inch, his fingers releasing her hair. "Ah. Right." He cleared his throat and let his hand fall onto his lap, staring into the stacks on the coffee table. "Files."
Raven wished she could tell him that she did not want to talk about files.