Johnnie's room was always dark, but usually, that pale body stood out a little. Scars here, a knife-edged grin there- but just now, it was just... dark. There was someone there, to be sure- and it was undeniably Johnnie, the pressure of her Wyrd and Mantle ensured she was unmistakable even in the blackness- but it was hard to pick out where she was without turning on a light. Music played, softly, something that seemed to just be there to have something besides silence.
The presence of Johnnie's Wyrd -- the strongest it's ever been when Teagan has been around her -- makes certain that Teagan knows she's there. But still -- Johnnie can feel the brief and tentative pull of Relentless Pursuit, brought and then dismissed. The fae version of checking the video and seeing who's in the room, perhaps.
A shadow slides under the door, and slips into the full darkness, joining it. Nothing yet said.
"Oh, wonderful," Johnnie chirps at the sensation. "Maybe you can help me figure out-"
There's an extra shadow, and Johnnie sighs dejectedly. "... where the room stops and I begin."(edited)
A slow breath out follows -- and one cannot breathe, not like that, exactly -- without being real. "It might help to have the lights on," Teagan answers, solidifying into their usual long, lanky shape again. They're wearing their outside clothes, on account of not being sure whether or not the fae presence in the house was Johnnie or not. (They're not used to it yet, and maybe not used to Johnnie being this Wyrd again yet.) "Doesn't the dark make that harder to tell?"
"Of course it does, but if you're making sure you can tell the difference, it's important to test the distinctions at the worst case scenarios. I much prefer contemplating such truths sitting here where I'm safe- if I was out and about in, I don't know, The Shadow Realm, it'd be far more useful if I already figured out how to tell the difference, don't you think?" Johnnie comments simply. "Besides. Lights are... uncomfortable. They're fine. But it's like- humid."
The Mirrorskin frowns, and shucks off their heavy coat, the battered one that Sigrun made him to replace the one that he gave to Bailey. Teagan folds that and pads to rest it on the nightstand next to Johnnie's bed. They move in this room, even in the pitch blackness, with the casual and comfortable steps of someone who can see exactly where they're going, even though they can't. They know this room, and besides -- they're sure Johnnie would just move stuff out of their way with her shadows rather than letting them trip.
Baby is taken off their hip and laid on the folded jacket. Their shoes, boots, both chucked off, and those just left on the floor before they clamber onto the bed like they belong there, comfortable in boxers and a tank top. "I suppose so," Teagan concedes thoughtfully. "But just thinking your way through what's real and what isn't real, especially with your newfound strength, rather than testing it, seems to me like it might be a way to spiral."
Beat. "You okay?"
"Mm. In a less controlled environment, maybe. I can turn the lights on whenever. So it's not like some unknowable thing. I dunno, it doesn't feel slippery-slope, just slippery-elusive. You could be right, for all I know, though," Johnnie admits. There's no need to adjust for Teagan. The room is The Room and there's not much need to shuffle things around. Plenty of need to tuck Teagan in against her side, though. That's important.
"I'm- hrm. Yes and no are both incorrect. Not Okay to me is more like "me-after-the-Dream", or "Petra-after-Timefuck." And Okay feels like it'd be downplaying what's actually up? So- Mostly. I'm Mostly Okay."
Teagan is very, very good at listening. That is, in fact, one of the things that a Teagan does: listens. After all, Everyone Talks To The Mirror. He curls up comfortably against Johnnie's side and rests the scar across their right palm on the empty place on Johnnie's skin, over her heart. "I'm usually right," Teagan replies mildly, leaning in to kiss the corner of her mouth. Now all the hellos are properly said. "Mmm. What happened to make you not entirely okay?"
Johnnie twists like water to catch the kiss where she wants it, full on the lips, making an idle, "mwah" sound after. And at that question, Johnnie flips the lights back on. Of course, she remains just as shadow as before. She gestures faintly towards herself. "All this. I think I'll be alright, it's just a step further than I've been before. There's always been bits of Person visible to be like "see, it's not all gone." And I know myself, and I don't feel like less of a Person. I just feel like a Person who happens to have an awesome shadowy self to be. I'm at once more fully and confidently assured that person-ness is independent of Wyrd-ness, but at the same time, it's been forcibly relegated to a purely mental consideration. I can't point and be like "see, it's like I said." It's literally all in my head. So I'm looking for ways to- I dunno. Prove My Self."
They knew Johnnie had gotten quite a bit more powerful, but even so, it's kind of a shock to see what she looks like now. Teagan can't really blink, or emote with their eyes, but their face is sort of -- still. Stunned, a little bit. Most people would not see this, but not only is Johnnie more perceptive than most people (by far) but she's one of the few people that Teagan doesn't hide their feelings from (usually). So they just look at her for a moment.
"Hmm," Teagan agrees, which is a very Teagan way to respond and agree when they're still thinking. "But I guess that requires like... knowing who you are and what would allow you to prove that." Beat. "So ... what's the core of Johnnie, then?"
Johnnie's hand lifts and settles over the hand on her heart. A little reminder. The scars are still there, and the blank patch, too.
"It's the proof that's proving- heh- troublesome. I know what the core of Johnnie is.
There was a time when I would have said that was the hunt, but that's not really accurate. That's just one part of it. The core of Johnnie is to stand. To stand with her family; to stand against evil; to stand so others don't have to. Sometimes it means hunting. Sometimes it means hunting for answers. And sometimes it means acknowledging the paradox that the most reassuringly sane thing one can do is to admit that one doesn't always feel entirely sane."
They curl their head into the side of her neck, taking deep slow breaths and listening. The scars are still there, and that, somehow, is more reassuring than whether or not Teagan can feel Johnnie's heart beating. "The first step in getting better is admitting you have a problem," they agree somewhat wryly, slowly breathing in and then out again. "What doesn't feel sane right now? Just not being able to point to something and say 'ah yes, I am still enough of a Person to not be a danger'?"
Because Teagan might not be an Autumn, but they know their beloved's fears.
"Eh. Not precisely that. People are plenty dangerous. And I don't think anyone reasonable would ever consider me not-dangerous. Heck, the Jesus-cat in the Narnia books admitted he wasn't safe. But good?" She nods to herself. "I suppose it's harder for me to figure out how to reassure everyone else that the walking eldritch shadowperson is Good. I know the answer but I'm having trouble showing my work."
"I can freeze your panties in time and leave you in an eternal wedgie, I can cut tanks with paring knives, and I have the leafy version of your favorite Book Of Too Many Truths, but please trust that I won't do anything awful with any of those capabilities on faith alone while I try to figure out the arithmetic behind why you should."
They take in a deep breath as if they're about to say something at the end of the first paragraph, and then laughs softly, soundlessly, the response only a little breath into the side of her neck. "Not me in an eternal wedgie, I'd just turn into a shadow and peace out. Well. Any of us could do that. Hooray for magical escape tricks." That's a little dry, there. "I would put my life in your hands without blinking, Johnnie. But I think your work is a little bit outside of all of those things, or the fact that you have people who love you endlessly."
Teagan pauses here again, collecting their thoughts or just turning them into words. "Why did you learn Spanish?"
"Oh. Not you-Teagan, the colloquial you. Like. the imaginary "you" to whom I'm talking," Johnnie clarifies, though she suspects Teagan gets that. "And I love your life, Teagan, but there's bits of you I'd much rather have in my hands on any given Sunday," she teases.
"Lots of reasons," she replies easily. "I knew it'd matter to you, all on its own. You know what comes easy to me and what doesn't and that's a doesn't. So it would be something you'd know was meaningful on its own, and meaningful to me." Beat. "Plus I wanted to see the shine in your cheeks when I started talking dirty to you in your mother tongue."
A little curl of a laugh. "I knew what you meant, Johnnie." Their tone reassures, hopefully, and their fingers twitch idly against her chest. Another little laugh, and they murmur, "You only need ask." Or not ask, as moods and agreements coincide.
Teagan lifts their head from her shoulder, then, and looks down at Johnnie's all-shadows face. "There's your proof," they answer, serious and thoughtful even though their cheeks silver at that last sentence. They don't explain it any further, just lay down the sentence that this is her proof and wait for her to follow the logic through.
Johnnie thinks at that a few moments, for all that the knife-edge gleam of white teeth curls into a smirk at the silver. "Is it that I still understand why I did something so human? Isn't that just a function of memory?"
They puff out their cheeks and wrinkle up their nose. "Not really. Because you still do those things, and you do them in a way that shows you're thinking about how I feel rather than just thinking about yourself. You do things for other people without being asked, and not because you want something in exchange but because it will make someone feel good." A beat. "I mean, I could point out that you still love us, but I imagine that you'd have to think about that to be sure you still do and that's not just a function of memory." Oh dang.
Johnnie listens, pondering, then nods faintly. "I suppose that's so. Something Fae trying to be selfless would get it wrong. It'd be about the act of being selfless, not about whether the recipient even wanted the selfless act. It'd spawn from their own craving to Be Selfless, not from a genuine interest in someone else's wellbeing."