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Old 03-09-2017, 08:41 PM   #90
Icelander
 
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Join Date: Mar 2006
Location: Iceland*
Default Tell Me Not, Sweet, I am Unkind

While Dr. Anderson plays doctor, Taylor goes to listen in the cellars, checking if anyone is coming through there. He can hear distant voices several tunnels away, too far to hear individual words, and something that might be distant screams, but might also be rats fighting deep in the tunnels. Taylor spends maybe half a minute listening, but is unable to discern any sounds which he can certainly identify as human within a range that he considers an immediate threat.

Once Taylor has determined that there are no guards preparing dynamic entry through the cellar, he comes back to the dining hall. He looks at Dr. Anderon and notes that the good doctor has not yet put on his riot suit and tactical gear. Taylor is about to go over to him and help him dress when Dr. Anderson gives him a telling glare, which Taylor translates as a signal that treating the injured men is real work and that Dr. Anderson will be available for playing dress-up only after he has finished. Looking at the awake and responsive guard, Avery, Taylor grins ruefully.

Taylor: "I'm mighty sorry I hurt y'all. It weren't by choice."
[guard is silent]
Dr. Anderson: "I admit that this sort of thing is new to me, but should not someone interrogate our prisoner? After all, he might know something that could help us resolve the situation without further harm to us or these guards."
Taylor: "That sure would be fine, doc. I guess he oughta be interrogated, yeah. But I ain't gonna. Never could find no stomach for it."
Dr. Anderson: "There is such a thing as non-coercive interview technique."
Taylor: "I'm gonna have to take yer word on that one, doc. Jes' see that you don't hurt him none, dropping all them syllables aroun'."
Dr. Anderson [snorts]: "If you two could please give me us some privacy. I will call you back once I conclude my interview or if I estimate that communication is fruitless."

Taylor turns to Sherilyn Bell and gives her new SRT gear a once over. Then Taylor asks Bell to come with him to the lobby, taking her new M16A2 rifle. Once there, he shows her how to use the night vision optics to scan for threats. Sherilyn seems to have recovered from her funk and snuggles up to Taylor as he stands behind her, showing her the use of the optics. Taylor explains the function of the tactical flashlight and the IR setting on it, but does not turn it on, as that might be visible to guards watching the barracks. Unfortunately, the optics aren't good enough for Bell to be able to make out much detail and in any case, she seems to regard the instruction as an opportunity for outrageous flirting more than a serious activity.

After Taylor confirms that the guard he saw earlier, lying in a hide like a sniper, is still positioned on the roof of the main building and looking right at the barracks, he decides against exposing Bell to potential fire by having her try to spot him and try her power on that guard at range. Instead, Taylor insists that they sit down and stay far enough from the windows to make them invisible from outside. Taylor then relies on his hearing to determine if anyone else is coming. A few seconds of silence suffice for him to determine that nobody is anywhere near the barracks. Turning to face Sherilyn Bell, Taylor clears his throat hesitantly.

Taylor: "Lynnie, uh, you know that I care for you, doncha?."
Bell: "And I absolutely adore you, Chasie, sweetie-pie."
Taylor: "No, Lynnie, I mean... you don't have to pretend something you don't feel with me."
Bell: "What the hell is that supposed to mean?"
Taylor: "I jes' want you to know that I ain't gonna leave you behind, no matter what. I'm helping you 'cause you worth helping. Worth it 'cause who you are, not... how you make me feel. I ain't the kind who thinks saving the princess oughta get me a doll to play with."
Bell: "You better not be implying..."
Taylor: "Lynnie, I seen your room. An' the pictures in it. All of him. I reckon maybe I ain't the one you want to kiss, Lynnie. I'm jes' somebody you used to know an' happen to be close at a time when you's emotional an' need somebody t' hold you. An' there's nothing wrong with that... I's jes' saying you don't hafta pretend it's nuthin' else."
Bell [looking hurt and angry]: "I wasn't pretending anything!"
Taylor: "I'm sorry, Lynnie, that wasn't what I meant. I ain't sayin' I know what you feel or why you done anything. Still an' all, considerin' all you been through... it's maybe not a good time. Anybody would be lonely and afraid, all tore up an' not knowing who to trust an' lookin' for reassurance. You weren't doin' anything wrong, Lynnie. I was. I never shoulda kissed you, not now, not like this."
Bell [furious]: "Don't you dare try to cloak a mealymouthed rejection in your noble bull----! You don't think I oughta have a say in who I'm allowed to kiss, considering my feelings and all?"
Taylor [raising his hands apologetically]: "I ain't saying that, Lynnie. No matter who you kiss or don't kiss, I ain't gonna judge you. An' the last thing you need to be worried about is rejection, darlin'. Heck, me reject you? Any time I's aroun' you, girl, I ain't got the sense God gave a goose and I know you's smart enough to figure that."
[Taylor shakes his head ruefully]
Taylor: "I never was any darn good at fibbing you, so I ain't fixin' to try. I'ma pretty sure I still got feelings for ya. I never woulda kissed you if'n I didn't. An' I don't jes' mean thinking you's as cute as a toe sack full of puppies, though you sure is that. Lynnie, you always done could make me feel those corny things they sing about in them silly love songs an' I reckon you still might could if'n you put yer mind to it. Me not wanting you ain't never been our problem."
[Cherry Bell starts to speak, but Taylor interrupts her gently by placing a finger on her lips]
Taylor [voice breaking]: "Please, let me... please don't hate me, Lynnie. It... it ain't that I don't want to. It's just... you's all tore up, there's folks tryin' to kill us an' I said I'd help. Some girls'd feel obligated. Or some might could think sayin' no would make me walk away, leavin' them here. It don't matter what I said I'd do, 'cause who'd blame ya if you didna trust me? You ain't seen me in half a lifetime. An' I know you's scared, 'cause I'm scared, an' there's ever' reason to be. It ain't a situation either o' us kin think straight. If anything happened between us... a man who'd do that couldn't care much 'bout you. I... I cain't be the kind o' man who'd take advantage like that. Even if'n I'ma being stupid an' wrong 'bout everything here, can you please understan' why I jes' cain't? An' let me jes' be your frien'? For now? I figure you might could use a friend."

Bell again starts to speak, but this time, she stops herself and stares for a long time into Taylor's eyes. She seems to be trying to find answers to something, but in the dimly lit lobby, his eyes appear inhuman, with almost no whites and the usually blue irises reflecting silvery light. For all the alien structure of Taylor's eyes, though, he's never been very good at hiding his emotions from those he cares about and maybe that hasn't changed just because his eyes have. And it's true that he never could lie to her worth a damn.

Bell [small voice]: "Would you really be content with just being friends?"
Taylor: "Happier than I been in a long time, Lynnie."

Cherry Bell sighs deeply, strongly emotional. She may have been consciously letting go of anger. Or it could have been relief. Then she hugs Taylor tightly and affectionately, without any of her usual flirtatious overtones. Taylor puts his arms around her comfortingly, whereupon she snuggles closer on the lobby floor and does her best to disappear into his sheltering hold.

Bell: "I... I do need a friend."
Taylor: "An' you got me. No matter what."

They sit there for quite a while, with Taylor listening closely to the night around them and looking out over Bell's head, scanning the darkness for threats with his inhuman eyes. With the threat of the towers and the thermal-sighted heavy weapons in them, a capable commander ought to be able to make it impossible to survive outside by stationing two or three shooters in blind spots from the tower. On top of the main building was one and the second and third might have better hides or ones further away.

The obvious move for Warden Tyrrell's men is to rush the barracks from below, knowing that fleeing outside would be suicide, but with every passing moment, the more likely Taylor found that the guards weren't going to do that. From raised voices inside the main complex, Taylor guesses they might be gathering for a surface assault, but there seems little purpose or organisation to the movement. As Dr. Anderson is still conversing with Avery, the guard, Taylor is quite content to remain where he is for the moment.
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Last edited by Icelander; 05-05-2017 at 06:24 AM.
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