fandom Pandora Hearts
It's freezing cold, and Jack is drenched. His clothes are soaked through; he's stood long enough in the rain for the water to get his waistcoat completely wet. He doesn't care, though. He doesn't care that if he faints of hypothermia, or if he melts under the sheer force of the downpour. What he cares about now is that he'd had a screaming row with the head of the Baskerville family, and it's only a matter of days before everything will come crashing down.
He'd apologise, he really would, go down to his knees and beg if he had to, but the secret passageway to the mansion had been sealed and there had been an explicit ban on Jack Vessalius thirty metres all around the Baskerville estate.
He'd thought of what his family would become. Third-rate nobles with a son who had managed to make the head of one of the four dukedoms chase him out angrily; it would make the headlines before the Vessalius would be completely wiped off the face of the noble world. They had that, at the very least. Fifteen minutes of fame, even if the fame was notoriety.
He had been notorious, now that he thought back on it. That one pretty boy chasing skirts all over the Baskerville estate, his eyes set on being the Lord's friend. Impossible, foolish boy. And now he went too far, trying to snap Glen out of one of his Lacie-induced stupors, and when you try to reach the sun and you come so close, it's a long, long way down.
Jack thought of falling.
He couldn't do that. He had people who depended on him (for once in his life, Jack felt like he wasn't drifting to and fro); a pair of brothers, a sweet little girl, and Glen. He'd like to think so, but really, Glen had been holding out so well on his own. Jack was just a persistent nuisance, like the whispers around the estate said. They never really did understand why Glen tolerated him so, and so didn't Jack. But it was easy to understand that one day, his 'best friend' would finally get tired of the charade and cut all the connections.
(And he just really did want to connect, to find a place, a purpose, in this world - )
There was nothing he could do but wait. If he left and took the brothers with him, his family would be branded as cowards, and Alice would never be safe. If he stayed, he'd have a front-ring seat to his family name's destruction, and face the wrath of a Baskerville slighted. Damned if he did, damned if didn't.
The rain was pouring down in sheets. Jack walked over to the nearest tree and slid down to its roots. It was so cold, but he didn't want to move. He wanted to stay in the pounding silence (a day and two nights that he hadn't come home) for just a little while longer, before hammering the smile into place and facing the music. He could lie and say that he had gotten lost, or that he wanted to be alone with his thoughts.
His family would be waiting for him to face the consequences. Perhaps that was all he was good for, anyway.
Jack realises just how far he'd stumbled into the forest at the edge of the Baskerville estate when he can't see the sky when he looks up. The rain is buffered by the canopies of leaves, but he's dripping wet and he's certain that he's feeling the beginnings of a cold.
He takes off his waistcoat, spreads it on the twisted network of roots and fallen leaves, and muses.
If he disappeared -
That would just be running away.
It's still raining against the grey-bright sky of a morning when he wakes up. Jack finds that he can't stand up without weaving up and down like a drunken man, and he can't stop shivering. There's mud on his coat and cravat, and his braid is like dirty rope.
He tells himself he'll try moving when the sun comes out. He still has to get home; he's sure that Gilbert and Vincent are waiting for him.
The rain hasn't let up by the time the sky darkens once again. Jack curls up against the tree roots and breathes as he watches raindrops splatter.
Running away would be suitable for someone like him, he supposes. His family could pin all the blame on him and go on with their lives. Disowning a noble was easier when you weren't a heir, and even easier in absentia. Perhaps Glen would take pity on the boys and send them to a better home.
He's stronger than this, that he knows. But while his mind soars, his body is frozen to the ground.
He could almost hear the Will of the Abyss' laughter. A scale different from Alice's, but a good melody all the same. He apologises to her, reaching out to ghosts that aren't there. Lacie crouches down before him and her tears feel like icy rain.
Is it still raining?
Jack's woken up with a stinging blow to his right cheek.
He tries to focus, to open his eyes enough to see what had just happened, but he fails miserably and dozes back asleep. It's so hard to stay awake -
He's long given up on not slurring his words together, and he tries to shake his head, to tell this ghost that he's fine, he's good, just a short nap, that's all -
"Do not fall asleep, Jack - stay awake for me. Please."
"'s'hrd - "
The rain is stinging his face, this time, as something warm meets his numb cheeks. There's someone hovering over his face, who is it - ?
"Tell 'm - 'msrrry - " Jack tries to say, as the rain stops falling and there's something relatively dry thrown over him. He can't focus on it, it's too blurry, but the voice sounds familiar somehow. A friend of his? A brother? One of the guards? A stable boy? Cheshire, Gilbert, Vincent, Raven, the Will...?
"You will tell me that yourself, you idiot. Keep talking, Jack. Keep talking."
Ah. Glen. Oh, Glen, sorry for wandering into your forest, that would be me, that one foolish boy who keeps on dancing on thin ice. Sorry for bringing her up, for yelling at you, for saying it doesn't matter -
"He's laughing - Ride back to the mansion, prepare everything, if there isn't a doctor when I get there I will make every single person there regret it - "
Sorry for being too noisy and talkative and I promise I'll stop it, I really would -
"Jack? Jack, talk to me. About anything." He's being hoisted up, gathered into arms, and is that a horse whinnying - ?
He asks Glen this, mutters it into the crook of his neck as the reins crack and Glen laughs a sort of laugh that's entirely too high for his voice.