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Fear of Fallling
It had taken a couple days since Nox and Lucas had agreed to go to Siberia with Aria to get things situated, a flight booked, rooms and all that fun stuff that goes with planning a trip. Not to mention actually moving into her new room at Nox and Aurora's place. It felt weird to Aria living with someone else, particularly one who didn't care for her, it was amazing how used to living alone she'd become.

But today was going to be a rough day. Nox was anxious, and for good reason, the last time he had flown he fell out of the plane. Granted it had been his fault, but still that didn't make the feeling go away. Aria wasn't excited either. But for completely different reasons. Aria disliked being trapped in a confined space with that many people with no place to go. It was suffocating the last time she'd flown. It was the first and only time Aria had flown, Antoinette choosing to take her by land from then on out. It saved the panic attacks and the massive migraines.

Aria wasn't looking forward to it at all. It was the main reason she'd asked Lucas to come with her. There were other reasons she had wanted him to come, but that was the main one.

Her one bag was packed, it pretty much had everything she owned in it. And she was going to have to check her weapons. That was going to cause problems she knew, but the proper documentation was in the cases with the gun and sword. She was not looking forward to that. But it was something both she and Nox were going to have to deal with, Nox didn't need any weapons really but he still brought his crossbow, a short sword and his own gun. He rarely used any of it, but he wasn't going to be unprepared either. He was used to hunting too, they just didn't travel by air.

Aria watched Nox pace back and forth in his living room. It was still sparsely populated with folding chairs and table. But he had the TV system in place, it was almost his favorite thing in the warehouse, he still preferred the dojo and the gym to sitting and watching the wide screen TV he'd had set up complete with surround sound. The sound system itself spanned the entirety of the warehouse, speakers in every room with their own controls and various other things Aria didn't understand. She'd paid for that. Nox had picked it out though, Aria had no clue. She told him it was a thank you for the room. He had waved it off like the room was nothing, but it wasn't nothing to Aria, and he wasn't nothing. The more and more time they spent together the closer they became and Aria had a feeling that is what family was supposed to feel like.

They were waiting for Lucas to show up before the three of them headed to the airport together. Aria looked to Nox with a grim smile, "You are going to wear a rut in the floor. Sit down you are making me sick to my stomach."
The look she received was worth the comment. He cracked a real smile in the bleakness of his mood. And it had the desired effect as well, as he sat down in the bar stool closest to him and stretched out like a cat.
To say Nox was afraid of flying was probably an understatement. He'd never worried about it before, not that he'd flown much before his trip to Moscow, but now. Now he was terrified of flying. Well not the flying, but the falling and plummeting to his death, that made him terrified.

People say oh it's safer to fly than drive a car. That is until you are in a plane accident and you crash and burn. Crashing might have been easier than watching the ground get closer, and you falling faster.

It was a memory he wished he hadn't remembered. He knew it was his fault now. But he didn't like the memory of falling, plummeting to his death, or almost anyway. He probably only survived because of his own ability, the one that had crashed the plane to begin with.

He had been anxious for three days. Three days of hell. Aria had helped calm him down, she'd kept his mind occupied, but now, while they waited for Lucas, there was nothing to do but pace. Aria tried to keep him calm, tried to make light of the situation, and for that he was thankful. But he truly wished this day was over with.

Where the hell was Lucas? Nox glanced at his wallet, it was no where near time for them to go. He needed to do something, something other than worry. Nox got up from his lazy cat position on the bar stool and walked past the living room into the dojo then into the gym proper. He could at least punch things until Lucas arrived.

So that's what he set his mind to, beating up the little punching ball that he'd rigged to one of the steel beams in the warehouse. He wasn't a boxer, he wasn't much at hand to hand, at least he hadn't until he met Aria, now, now he was getting good at it. He probably still couldn't beat Bas, but he didn't have to beat Bas in the ring to know he had a leg up on his friend. The power was a useful tool, he'd never use it against someone unless his life depended upon it. At least while not on the job. He had his principles to stick to, and he would. He would not make every godling into what the Atharim feared, he wasn't a power hungry man. Sure he enjoyed the power it gave him, but who wouldn't. 'With great power comes great responsibility.' Spoken by no greater man than the man who had raised Spiderman. Nox didn't figure himself a hero, but he would live by the principle.

Now he waited for Lucas to arrive and the dreaded plane ride to Siberia - where he hoped to chase monsters and maybe a few snow bunnies too. That was well worth looking forward to. Until then he'd hit the punching bag and keep his mind occupied.
Lucas had to go over a few last minute things with Sergei- and to let Valentin know he was going- so he was a bit late to Aria's. He had a simple bag packed. He wasn't really sure what to bring since he'd never been outside of Moscow before. In truth, he was a touch nervous but also excited. A trip to Siberia sounded exciting, especially with Aria. He couldn't but look forward to playing with her in those exotic locations. Hopefully. Nox would probably find something to do anyway.

And he admitted to himself that he was curious to see how she went about her work. The whole thing was still very strange. It would help for him to see how things worked. Aria seemed to think the trip would be fairly mundane, so it was a good introduction.

Finally, he arrived at her place and crunched through the icy road to the door and knocked on the door that they all treated as the entrance before going in.

He saw a collection of bags and both Nox and Aria seated, apparently waiting. "Sorry I'm late."
He went over to Aria and kissed her on the lips lightly.
Aria felt Lucas before he opened the door, she was smiling as he came in. The kiss he gave her was soft and she didn't want to pull away. Memories of the nights before flooding her memories. They'd been spending a lot more time together the past few days then they had before moving in with Nox. And Nox was slightly more testy for it. She could feel the jealousy but it was always sent off quickly, Aria didn't know why, she didn't ask. She wasn't going to pry into his private feelings, particularly when she didn't really want to know the answer.

Aria pulled away from and yelled, "Nox, Lucas is here you can stop beating things up."
He looked at Lucas with a grin, "He's a bit more nervous than he lets on."
And that was an understatement. Nox was like a walking nerve right now. His fear was flying high and Aria wasn't sure she wasn't going to get trapped in his mood if she touched him, she prayed that this worked. He was freaking out now, what was going to happen when he got on the plane.

Aria stood up and wrapped her arms around Lucas. "As much as I'd like to stay here, we better get going, he's not going to get any easier the longer we wait."
Aria kissed Lucas softly on the lips and smiled playfully before stepping away to get her things.

Flying, Falling. Nox's hands hurt from punching the bag so hard. His hands were red and raw from the friction by the time Lucas came. He pretended he didn't hear the door open or Lucas' apology. It wasn't until Aria yelled for him to stop hitting things did he leave the gym. She wouldn't let them be late for the flight. He sighed, his knew he was all over the map with his emotions, but she hadn't said much about it. Nox knew flying wasn't her favorite thing either.

But the last time he was on a plane he blew a hole in the hull and was sucked out of it and plummeted to the ground, softened only by a mystical power that he barely knew he'd done. Whatever it was, it was panic that had flooded his system, much like the first time he'd ever used the power to create a fireball to save Aurora.

He missed Aurora. But she was off with some unknown random guy and happy to leave him alone. He knew he'd been off but he hadn't thought she'd be upset at him. And she was more angry with Aria than anything, not that Aria could help being what she was any more than they could help being what they were. It was the life they were dealt and now they had to deal with it.

They got on the metro and Nox sat on one side of Aria and Lucas the other, she was practically wrapped in his arms, but she held Nox's hand, he felt calmed by that single gesture and he knew why. Aria was manipulating his emotions. He could not let that happen. That had been what every late night movie was about. Why they sat so close together even when it was just the two of them. It was a game, but it was more than that, it was training. He was conquering her manipulation with his strength of will. It was hard at first, but it got easier everyday. He could push her calming effect away, but that was rather pointless, the whole point of Lucas coming was so she could center, so he could be calm. It was a chain of events. Aria needed a calm person to draw on, someone to keep her sanity amongst so many strange people so closely packed together. Usually she could use him, but he couldn't be calm on a plane, and the only way he knew how to do that was to hold the power, and he was terrified of that nearly as he was of falling from the plane again.

So Nox focused on Aria's hand, not on what she was doing, he let her calm him. It helped, his body relaxed, but they were just on the train, they hadn't gotten to the airport yet.

When Nox saw the airport signs come into view he had a hard time breathing. He focused on Aria's hand holding his like a child would hold their mother's. And really that's how he felt right now, and he was okay with that. He was not so tough as he could never show weakness. No one else seemed to notice how badly he was freaking out, he wondered if Lucas even noticed. They weren't great friends after all, just people working towards the same goal - save Aria.

Even with Lucas' arm draped around Aria like a proper boyfriend Aria held his hand. She only let go long enough to step through the metal detectors and for him to do the same. Even that brief moment apart he could feel the panic rising. He wasn't even this afraid of needles, but needles don't come rushing at your from millions of miles an hour to smash every bone in your body. He had been lucky he survived. Really lucky!

Nox took slow steady breathes, and by the time they had reached the terminal they were to enter, it was time to climb on board the plane. He focused only on his two feet in front of him. Aria couldn't hold his hand, they both needed both hands, it was just easier, and he wasn't a child. It was funny how he could be okay with that one second and be completely defensive about it the next.

Through the tunnel Nox had to stop and Aria bumped into him. He didn't turn around but Aria pushed the hem of his shirt aside and put her cold hand on his waist and wrapped her arm around him and literally pulled him forward. He didn't think he was dragging his feet or being childish, fear literally froze his limbs. But after a few moments of her touching him again he could think clearly and he was walking in front of her through the narrow passage of seats.

Nox found their seats and stepped past them, Lucas got the window seat, there was no way in fucking hell he was sitting there. Aria got in and Nox followed tucking their bags in the overhead bins. He was surprised he was managing that without panic. He sat down in the seat and buckled in. He closed his eyes and focused on his breathing, he felt Aria's hand clasp over the top of his interweaving her fingers between his, she leaned over and whispered, "You are doing good."
Nox glanced down at Aria and saw her other hand was holding one of Lucas', and Lucas had his arm around her shoulder. What people must think of her, probably thought she was stringing along two guys. He laughed to himself and let that thought carry him through take off.

Edited by Nox, Mar 5 2015, 03:45 PM.
Nox was every bit as jumpy as Aria said he was. The guy moved as if every step was painful. He knew people had a fear of flying- hell, he'd never flown and was willing to admit to a bit of nerves- but at end of the day, people did it all the time and nothing much happened to them.

Not like they were in a plane that exploded in the air or something. But people were funny. All the logic and facts in the world and still we feel what we feel. And poor Nox was feeling it.

Lucas would admit it did feel odd to be holding Aria's hand while she also held Nox's. People probably thought they were a group. Nox was a good looking guy, but that wasn't really Lucas' thing. What he had done in the past was for money, for the drugs. He never got any indication that Aria wanted that either, so that was good.

Still, it was kinda funny. They got on the plane and Lucas got the window, which he thought was cool. Ok, more than cool. He felt a bit like a kid. He looked at Aria and smiled at her, then impulsively kissed her. Nox had his head against the headrest and his eyes were closed, white-knuckles showing he was holding Aria's hand tightly.

"You alright there, guy?"
He looked back at Aria and shrugged.
Nox hadn't acknowledged Lucas' question. He was focusing on not dying. Well on breathing, he felt if he stopped thinking about it he'd not be able to do so involuntarily and die of asphyxiation and he didn't imagine that was any better way to go than falling out of a fucking plane. He had no idea how Aria did that to herself, but she did and there was little he could do to keep her from it. Coping mechanisms were just that, a means to getting through, he wouldn't deny her anything unless of course she killed her self while on his watch, he'd be pissed about that.

They were in the air, and the ride was smooth, for the most part. The littl bell dinged and the light went off indicating that movement about the cabin was possible. Nox didn't move, but Aria stirred next to him, he had to give her credit she had a lot of people on this flight, all vying for her attention in her head, and if that was all that she was going to do they would make it through just fine.

Through closed eyes, Aria asked Lucas, "Did I tell you why Nox doesn't like flying?"

Nox protested, "Aria, please. Not now."

Nox felt the smile through from her calming effect on him. He opened his eyes and gave her a mock glare. ""You are trying to make me think of other things?"

Aria laughed, "No I was going to tell Lucas you don't like flying because the last plane you were in crashed just before it landed in Moscow."

Nox groaned, "Thanks love. I adore you for that."
He glared but it was not real. She had told Lucas with out tell him directly. Not that he cared that Lucas knew but he didn't want to hear any details of the plane crash. It was his fault, and that he knew Aria would not tell Lucas. It was a secret they shared, and she believed wholeheartedly in not telling secrets that were not hers to tell. And this was one of them.

Nox took the headset out of his pocket and put on music to drown things out with. But he could still hear Aria tell Lucas the details of the results of his encounter with the ground at high velocity. His months of incapacitation, his recovering, meeting her. Between the music and her version of his story, Nox found that he wasn't nearly so panicked as he had been. But Aria still held his hand, and Nox hadn't realized it, but he didn't want to let go, realizing that she was probably the reason he wasn't having a panic attack right now. He'd have to thank her later.
Flying never was a good thing for Aria. She'd only been once before, but never after that, her handlers opting for more escape-able forms of transportation when a teen age girl started having panic attacks and they were afraid of her being touched or someone accidentally touching her. They said it was fear for Aria's safety, but Aria now knew better.

Nox on the other hand was really rough around the edges, he was paler than usual and he clung to her hand like it was life support. She was surprised the Lucas was as tolerant of it as he was. And the looks and feeling people projected at her were so very wrong. The looks of jealousy and the ones of pure horror at her Aria had to push away. She focused on Lucas and only him. She calmed Nox through that calmness and that was what she focused on while they flew to an airport that would take them most of the way to their destination.

The region they were going was mountainous, and flat land was hard to come by, but they found a place to build a small airport that could cater to the surrounding ski resorts, while that was where they were staying, by the lake at he some well to do ski resort, it was not Aria's final destination. Up in the mountains, the monastery sat, or what remained of it. The buildings had been scared and scorched, if they still stood at all, the monastery it self was being rebuilt not far from the original. It was being built with traditional methods, not modern ones, the process was slow and even these number of years later, it was not fully erected yet.

Aria wasn't exactly sure what she was going to find on the mountain top, but she hoped some insight into the Ascendancy could be gathered, or at the very minimum she could bullshit her way into making this a productive trip to Borovsky. Otherwise he'd have he tracked and followed and that would be no good for anyone, particularly her and Nox. But they wouldn't have an easy time of it either.

Nox eventually calmed down as they flow over the land, it wasn't until the decent again that his panic hit another crescendo and it was all she could do not to fall into his panic, even with Lucas holding her other hand. Going down was so much worse for Nox, the inherent plunge of the plane combined with his memories of falling to the ground didn't couple well together and he was barely holding it together even with her influence.

Aria had a pretty good feeling he was pushing her away, not allowing her to manipulate him, or it would have worked better. But once they were firmly on the ground, Nox's mood returned, albeit it was tempered with releif. He was not quite himself, but the grin he offered was not plagued with fear and he was more than happy to make sarcastic comments to people who glared at him for being loud. He was getting back to normal.

The ski resort she'd chosen sat on the lake, nestled in the valley. Nox went off to the bar the moment they got there, she didn't plane him a bit. He had his luggage delivered to his room and Aria and Lucas went to theirs. A little down time before the next day when she and Nox would trek off into the wilderness with their guide to visit an old scared place that had been blown up by a god.
Aria held on to his hand throughout the flight. He didn't mind at all. It was nice to be needed. Nox was a bundle of nerves. Aria's little joke didn't make him laugh, but Lucas thought it was ok. Sometimes the best way to deal with stress was to joke about the cause. And if Nox was scared of crashing then joking about it might help make it seem less ominous. But everyone was different. He put on his ear-buds and was soon in his own world.

Aria, though, held tight. He couldn't imagine what was stressful about the plane for her. Something tickled his memory. A calm center? He'd ask her about it later when there weren't so many ears. And in the meantime, he relaxed and sent calming feelings her way. He wasn't sure if it worked that way, but it made him feel better and more peaceful. Hopefully that would be enough for her.

After they arrived- with more panic from Nox at the descent- Nox bounded as quickly as possible out of the plane and the look on his face as they stood on firm earth was almost comical in its relief. The air was crisp and cold- colder than home- and the town was so small. But the snow-capped mountains and the picturesque landscape made it clear why this was a vacation destination.

They got to their resort- on a lake of all things, the reflection of the sky and mountains nearly a perfect image of the real thing- and he was delighted by the wooden interiors, the dark and amber beams shining with the warm reflected lights of the lamps. It was warm and cozy.

He and Aria went to their rooms, while Nox went to his own adjoining room before saying he was headed to the bar. The bellhop delivered their luggage and after a tip, left the room. The room was just as warm and homey as the rest of the lodge. There was even a fireplace. He sort of knew how to make a fire from living on the streets- as long as there were matches.

He investigated and was pleased. "At least it's a real fireplace, rather than gas."
He remembered how comforting the flicker and snap and pop of a fire was in the bitter cold. You almost felt home. And in a place like this...

He bent down and started pulling out the provided kindling and wood. As he worked, he called out from the place, "I'm gonna make a fire. If you want to wash the plane off you, now's a good time. The fire will be good and warm for you when you're done."
Aria watched as Lucas checked out the room, she smiled as he suggested a shower, it was a good suggestion and she took it without much hesitation.

It was a little cramped, nothing like her shower at home, but it would do. That was one place Nox had spent a lot of money on, and all for her. His bathroom wasn't nearly as nice, and Nox didn't really care.

As she was getting dressed in short t-shirt and a pair of short shorts, her wallet beeped. Nox was looking for information on a girl. Aria rolled her eyes. Thankfully she didn't have to go to Nox's room to get his laptop or even get the addresses. She'd been through the god files enough that she was pretty sure there was no Emily listed. But she scanned the public files quickly and was correct, no Emily or alias of Emily. She sent him a quick reply, "All is well. Be careful."

Aria left the bathroom and set her travel wear to the side. Lucas was sitting near the fire watching it as it burned. She smiled and she knelt down behind him pressing as much of her body against his back, as she wrapped her arms around his shoulders and put her face in the crook of his neck. She took a deep breathe and sighed with happiness. "Tomorrow will suck. But the rest of the weekend is all yours, provided nothing happens while we are up on the mountain."


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