There's No Place Like Home

Participants:

cameron_icon.gif helena_icon.gif verse_icon.gif

Scene Title There's No Place Like Home
Synopsis Verse's latest attempt to gain information from Helena fails as unexpected help arrives.
Date March 3, 2009

Moab Prison Facility


Sunlight.

Warmth.

The smell of fresh cut grass.

When daylight comes filtering through open windows, thorugh lace cutrains hanging in a room painted a rosy shade of red trimmed with eggshell white, it's not prison cells or nightmares of recent memories that greet the young blonde tangled up in the quilted comforter in the room. It's more familiar, warmer, happier surroundings — the sunlight that comes through the windows is tinged that hot golden-orange color of a lazy afternoon on a summer day.

This isn't Moab, and the sound of water running outside from sprinklers, the chirp of birds beyond the windows, and the lazy creak of old wood brings back so many memories to Helena as she stirs in her bed. This isn't Moab at all…

This is Sleepy Hollow.

There are a few moments as always in these carefully crafted illusions, a first few weak moments, where Helena believes. Or perhaps not so much believes as allows herself to believe. There's a very distinct difference. Dark blonde lashes flutter into wakefulness, achingly and wonderfully lazy, as Helena stretches and sits up, taking in her old room, the wooden floors, the old rockingchair. Stares at her hands as the rest on her legs, on the quilt, in this world, unmarred by her forceful pressure into them in order to make her physical pain anchor her reality. The quilt is thrown aside, bare foot pressed to the floor. Uncertainly, Helena drifts across her room to stand in the doorway leading to the hall. This is home. But home is more than just a place. It's people.

"Mom?"

There's no sound from the upstairs, not aside from the sound of water out in the garden. Creeping out of her room, Helena can see the upstairs bedroom doors open, and the bathroom door open partway with no light on. Down over the railing of the balcony she can see into the living room, the ceiling fan spinning slow and lazily, and the back screen door open.

Slow, creaking footsteps carry her downstairs, past photographs on the walls, pictures of her so much younger than she is now, so much more innocent — a simpler time when her life was better than this. Down on the floor of the livingroom, the old sofa is exactly where she recalls it; television pushed adjacent beneath a bay window. It's like being haunted by a place, more so than a ghost, memories, smells and sounds all so familiar.

Out the back screen door, she catches movement from the corner of her eye, from her mother's garden and the sound of the sprinkler running.

Her steps speed up, lead her out to the backyard and Evelyn's garden. Her eyes flash past her own tiny green watering can - water the shoes, not the clothes, Helena - and out into the open grass and edged flower beds, eyes searching frantically. The house being so empty makes it feel more like a setting to her, because without the sense of communication and presence, it simply does not look as it should.

When she rounds the corner through the garden, where the wind blows the sheets on the clotheslines, where the tall grass from the unmowed back yard grows high, the movement is made clear. Kneeling on the grass, hands bound behind her back, the wiry and blonde form of a stately looking blonde woman catches Helena by surprise. More so, man standing behind her, holding a gun to the back of her head — Dressed in a long, black coat buttoned up to the collar, the man makes no pretenses on masking himself from Helena. Leather gloves cover his hands, sunglasses shadowing his eyes, his face a countenance of granite-like impassivity.

"Helena." Agent Verse states clearly, even as Evelyn lets out a ragged, confused sob, "We're going to keep having to go over these things, until you tell me what I want to know." Concealed eyes wander her thin form, "I will keep doing this, keep bringing you to these places and memories…" His head tilts to the side, "Just tell me, and this can all stop. I don't want to do to you, what happened to Alexander."

"H-Helena— what— what's going on?" The pleading, emotionally broken tone of Evelyn's voice is heart-wrenching, "What— what is he talking about? What did you do!?"

And just like that, the dream becomes a nightmare, and with Alex's name, Helena remembers what was done to him, and what could be done to her, now. "How do you sleep at night, Agent Verse?" Helena's contempt is unhidden as she gazes at him. "Alexander fought for his country and you thank him by erasing his mind. We saved millions upon millions of people, and you locked us up for it. And now you've decided you're going to rape my childhood. No." Her eyes flick to the remnant of the woman who stands in front of Helena, bound and frightened. "I'm sorry, Mom. But you're not real." It kills her to say it. It looks like Evelyn, sounds like Evelyn. God help Helena, it even smells like her mother.

"I don't sleep." Verse informs Helena, his tone of voice as cold as his expression. "Alexander did that to himself by resisting, and I wasn't the one who locked you up, I'm merely following orders given to me. I have a job, and I do it, and I've been trying to go easy on you and your friends, but you're making this exceptionally hard on me." He pauses, pressing the gun harder to the back of Evelyn's head. "Tell me where Phoenix's secondary hideouts are, and I won't put you through the same things I put Alexander through. I've played softball with you, Helena. I've let you wake up, but in here — in dreams — I'm the sandman."

Trembling, Evelyn tries to reach up, tries to move her arms, but they're tied to tightly behind her back with plastic straps. She struggles, wanting to rise to her feet, to hug her daughter, but finds herself unable to as Verse presses the gun down against the back of her head harder. "H-Helena, just — just tell him what he wants to know!" Her lips tremble, weakly, cheeks wet from the tears that smear her mascara, "I— Please. Don't— don't let him do this to me…"

"She begged to live once, Helena. Don't make her have to do that again, here." Verse's brows lower behind his glasses, "Just tell me, and this all stops."

"We both know that 'just following orders' is no excuse for the things you've done. That you do." Hearing her mother beg makes her tremble, and even though this is just fragments of memory corrupted by Verse's manipulations, it's enough to make her turn away, to put her hands to her eyes so she doesn't have to see. "This isn't real." she breathes. "And you won't fool me again. This isn't real." She tries to summon the music, but being in her mother's presence, even if it is nothing by a psychic shade, makes it too difficult, too painful to recall. The wall has been cracked, but it has not tumbled down. Yet.

"Helena, please, just tell him— " While Evelyn's words may have been muffled by the hands to Helena's ears, the sound of a gunshot silencing them is not, nor does it hide the vibration in the ground from her body slumping into the mulch of her asparagus plants. But the voice Helena hears, can't be silenced by hands over her ears.

She died because of you, Helena.

Nor can hands over eyes hide what the mind's eye sees. Crystal clarity is afforded to a front-row seat of her mother's body clumped over the low wood plank frame of the planter. Her blonde hair in a tangled mess, turned a soupy red color at the back, more slowly spurting out the front in pulses obviously measured by the remaining beats her heart has left to give.

Now finding her hands bound behind her back like her mother, Helena's knees are damp from the wet earth beneath them, and she can feel the press of a hot gun barrel to the back of her head.

You're nothing in here, Helena. Now tell me where Phoenix's secondary bases of operations are, and I can make all of this imagery go away.

Helena's brows furrow, her face gone red as tears well, her eyes on her mother's corpse. "My mother was stabbed - I didn't…I didn't!" Helena bends over her, forehead touching the ground as she cries violently. Even if part of her brain recognizes this for the unreality it is, a significant part feels like she just lost her all over again. "Phoenix…they're…I can't!" she sobs. "I can't. I can't. Help me. Oh god," she sobs, "Help me."

"Only you can help yourself, Helena." Verse lets her lean forward, not pressing the gun any further, lets her soak in the moment. "Just tell me where they are, and I won't have to hurt Peter, Alexander or anyone else. You can all be safe…" Dar shoes press into the mud, moving over to crouch down by Helena's side, gun in one hand, the other resting on her shoulder. "No one will have to know it was you."

The touch of his hand makes her flinch, skin crawling. "Peter doesn't know anything. And Alex doesn't remember. All you have is me."

All he has is her. Which means he won't stop, he won't ever stop, until he either has it or he breaks her, and Helena doesn't know if she's strong enough. "Phoenix…" she breathes, "They…" she trails off, her eyes fixed on her mother's corpse. "They're…"

"Safe." The sharp click of a hammer being pulled back fills the air, and this time it's Verse who feels the muzzle of a weapon shoved against the soft patch of flesh where the back of his skull meets his neck, digging into his vertebrae. "They're safe, Hel'," a familiar voice says, "but it's up to you and Alexander and Peter to keep them that way." Cameron Spalding steps into view, though his weapon does not waver. Dark blue eyes flick from the back of Verse's head to Helena's face and he lifts his chin, silently urging her to do the same — the words he says next aren't directed at the blonde, but instead at the man who holds her her at gunpoint.

"Put her back."

"Wh -" Agent Verse's eyes open wide at the press of an unexpected gun barrel to the back of his head. The Agent tenses, leaning back ever so subtly against the barrel to make sure he really feels it. There's a wave of nausea that runs through him, eyes quickly flicking back to Helena, brows furrowed. He breathes in deeply, slowly raising his hands, pistol held only by his thumb. "Touche, I— Claude… trained you well." There's both a tone of impressed surprise and bitter disappointment in Verse's voice.

"Now, be…" Suddenly it's Agent Verse who seems to be on the defensive, for a man who influences the mindscapes of the sleeping, he's sweating bullets when presented with the presence of Cameron Spaulding — risen from the dead in her mind. "You don't know, what will happen to her mind, if… if you shoot." It sounds like Verse isn't even sure.

Swallowing dryly, the agent looks down to Helena, realizing he was just addressing a figment of her imagination, "Helena, call off your…" he tenses, "your friend here, we… this doesn't need to…" For the first time, he's at the disadvantage.

Helena lifts her head. Red eyes widen as she stares at the sight before her eyes, a much beloved figure of her past. Someone who tried to protect her when he was alive. Someone who's protecting her now. This is her brain, isn't it? Her memories? And when she called for help, it came. She cannot help but smile, and in the oddest moment, she finds her heart filled with love as she gazes on the man who was like her brother. "Where have you been?" she says, her tone welcoming…until her gaze drops to Verse. "I suggest you do as he says." Her tone is clipped. "I was never much of a boss of Cam, and he does have a fiery temper." Her eyes harden. "Get out."

The corner of Cameron's mouth twitches up into the smallest of smiles. Figment of Helena's imagination or not, he positively glows with pride when she tells Verse to be on his way. "Ten seconds," he warns him, and though the expression on his face is warm as he gazes back down at Helena, his eyes filled with the same love she feels in her heart, the tone of his voice is so frosty it practically crackles at the edges. "Nine…"

"Helena— " Verse practically chokes on his words, "Helena don't do this, I— you don't know what they're going to make me do if— "

"Eight…"

Dark eyes shift behind the lenses of his glasses to look in the direction of Cameron's voice, "Helena, just tell me— tell me where they are— " Swallowing awkwardly, it's clear Verse has never been caught with his psychic pants quite so far down around his ankles, "They'll bring in someone worse than me, someone that doesn't care, I— "

"Seven…"

"Just tell me where they are!" Verse blurts out, his expression turning pleading, "You— you have the power to stop all of this with simple words, if I fail again, there will be a reckoning to the members of Phoenix in captivity, my hands are tied, I— "

"Six."

Helena rises to her feet, watching as Cameron counts down to Verse's doom in her psychic landscape. "I love him," she says to Verse quietly, "More than I'd ever believe you. I'd get out while you can." There's little else to say. "I don't know what'll happen when he kills you here, but I'm willing to go catatonic if it means keeping everyone safe."

"Five."

Rolling his tongue over his teeth, Verse tenses as his head tilts to the side, swallowing loudly, "You'd— these people have left you to the wolves, Helena. No one is coming to rescue you, no one is going to escape this place, there is no escape from this place!"

"Four."

"You'd— you'd give up so easily, instead of just giving in?" His jaw tenses, disbeliev painted across stony features, "Why? What could possibly compel you to be so loyal to these people?"

"Three."

Helena smiles. She knows…she knows something. "I could ask you the same question, Agent Verse." Her eyes flick up to Cameron. She's never been so grateful to see figment of her imagination in her life. "But I'm afraid you've run out of time."

There is no hesitation in Cameron's voice, no trembling along the curve of his wrist or the straight line of his long arm as he begins tightening his finger around the trigger. "Two. One—"

"Helena, don't— "

Bang.


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March 3rd: To The Point
Previously in this storyline…
Is This The Real Life

Next in this storyline…
Mr. King Would Like a Word

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March 3rd: Is This The Real Life
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