Lilith's heart was racing and her skin tingled from the rush of adrenaline. Her thoughts felt sharp, precise and clear, while her body felt so alive it seemed almost detached from her.
The strange man named Dean squeezed her hand before letting it go and then turned to look at her. The light from his black face mask illuminated the darkness in front of them in a dull, comfortable way, as did the clear mask Lilith also wore.
They had run straight through a series of solid boulders, and into the mountain caverns, without so much as a scratch to show for it.
"You alright, sweetheart?" Dean was laughing through his words.
Lilith reared her hand back and gave him a hard WHAP against the side of his head.
He only laughed even snorted as he held in a laugh when he shied away from her raised hand, while she threatened to smack him again.
Then Dean sassed, "Hey, you're welcome." And his eyes circled upwards, making Lilith properly register where it was that they stood.
Dean echoed her disbelief, all sultry pleasure: "How, indeed."
Then he flexed his left arm, where that strange metal bracer was woven around his middle finger and then trailed back the entire length of his forearm.
"That's some... exceptional gear," Lilith said, regretting the awe that escaped in her tone almost immediately.
"Yep. This sexy little dream gets me where I need to be." He extended his left hand towards Lilith, metal-padded knuckle-up. "Wanna see it? You seem like you have an eye for the finer things."
As much as the combat gear designer in Lilith really, really wanted to say 'yes,' she didn't want to give Dean the satisfaction.
What an insufferable tease.
"We should get moving," she said, trying not to let the shock and awe of what had just happened show too much.
"Where'd you say you met your strange mountain friend? Was it about here?"
Lilith nodded, taking slow and steady steps as her eyes tried to adjust to the space around them. But the cave was wide and tall, not cramped at all. The vastness of it surprised her.
They walked slowly and carefully through the tunnel for a few minutes. With each passing minute, Lilith became more and more convinced that the strange woman Quin she had seen before really was nothing but a figment of her over-drugged imagination.
I mean, a poisonous atmosphere and all that can mess with your head, right?
"Ah, SO glad you could make it back!" The voice was womanly and warm, and it echoed from somewhere in front of them. Lilith felt a rush of relief.
Relief tinged with uncertainty.
Meanwhile, Dean's right hand fell to the blaster on his hip, and he gripped the handle of it tightly. He paused a step behind Lilith.
The warm voice echoed on, "Lilith, it's good to see you again. And... oh, you've brought a stranger with you."
Lilith was once again confused at how Quin's warm brown eyes seemed to be able to spot so many things without them being said.
Then Lilith's eyes fell to a stack of three thick volumes held tightly to Quin's chest. Quin extended them towards Lilith, the loose silken sleeves of Quin's see-through attire rubbing up against Lil's hands.
Half expecting to touch nothing but air, Lilith reached out her hands... and she took the three volumes from Quin's outstretched arms. They were very much solid, with a musty old-book smell to them.
"They're so heavy," Lilith said with a groan.
"Three volumes, three purposes. The first is for your friend. The second is for your enemy. And the third... is for the others."
Lilith's eyes scrunched up in confusion. "The others?"
Quin gave a playful, knowing smile, without offering any further answer. "I have found that all the knowledge that you seek for your noble quest is tucked into these pages."
Lilith's gaze remained fixed on the way her mask light illuminated the warm curves of Quin's tan smile. It struck Lilith as far more than a little odd that this strange woman of the mountain had minutes before been traveling through the caverns in nothing but darkness.
Quin shifted her body and her large brown eyes towards the young, notably silent man that stood in their midst.
Dean wasn't laughing anymore. His metal-braced left hand reached out and opened the front of the top book that Lilith held in her arms while his right hand remained tight around his blaster gun. The cover of the old book was a mint blue, as if it had been some richer hue than had faded over time.
The first page was covered in loops of elegant handwriting, and the ink glistened beneath the light that glowed from his facemask.
Dean closed the book cover and stepped slightly behind Lilith once more. He held his tongue, his jaw clenching.
"Mmm. Watch out for this one, dear." Quin's voice oozed playful suspicion. "He's a beautiful mess."
Dean continued to hold his silence. Lilith turned to look at him and saw that he looked almost... afraid. Her eyes trailed to where the smokey black branches of his tattoo curled up the side of his neck and saw his Adam's apple bob when he swallowed.
Quin gave a deep laugh as she clasped her hands together delicately, holding those fingers into her lips as she smiled. "If you find you have further questions, more knowledge that you seek, come and see me again. I'll be around."
Then Quin pivoted, turned, and began to walk back down the tunnel from whence she came. It was as if her womanly curves swayed and dissolved straight into the darkness.
Lilith shoved her shoulder into Dean's arm. "What's up with you?"
He said in a soft whisper, "Let's get the hell out of here."
"What about the boys? They don't need to explore the library when we have the goods right here! We should tell them."
"We should get the hell out of here, that's what we should do," he said quickly as he started to take her by the arm.
"What's gotten into you?" Lilith was the one laughing now. All the haughty showmanship had left Dean and he seemed far closer to a teenage boy than a man all of a sudden.
"I don't like messing with spirits. Bad past experiences. And, honey, that was one powerful-ass spirit."
Meanwhile, Dean pulled her along by the arm and said, "At least let's stash these massive books on your shuttle. Who wants to carry these around while hiking around inside the pit of a mountain?"
She gave a nod. "Alright, FINE! But then we're going back for the others."
...Or so she thought.