To Dream


corbin_icon.gif hokuto_icon.gif

Scene Title To Dream
Synopsis Finally awake from the nightmare, Hokuto has a good friend at her bedside to hold her.
Date February 19, 2010

Private Hospital

The smell of disinfected is the first thing to register to the senses. A hospital room, small and private as this one may be, is an odd place to awaken. The sheets are cool, almost as if not heated by body warmth, tubes and wires go to machines in a few places. While the nurses and doctors have done everything they could to keep the abandoned body healthy, weakness tugs on everything, muscles will need time to regain strength, skin color. Much of what's in the room is pale and gray—

Gray not by choice, but by lack of light. A side table houses a fake vace with plastic flowers. No doubt it had real flowers once upon a time, then traded out for ones that won't wilt and die. A stuffed white tiger sits against the vase, with a ribbon around it's neck. Chinese characters speak of the Year of the Tiger. A few newspaper clippings are folded up under it, as if it's protecting them from falling off.

Machines make a faint noise, and an IV's tapped to her hand. In the dim light, it's clear that Hokuto Ichihara isn't alone in her hospital room. No other beds, but a good sized chair happens to have someone in it, feet hoisted up onto a second chair that got turned towards. Suddenly the body jerks upward, eyes opening. One would think in the situation, Corbin would awaken more easily. Brown hair ruffled and sticking up in various places, beard trimmed close, but scraggly in a few places, he looks much as he had in the dream. Luckily without any blood on his stomach from where he briefly had been ran through. And healed. He said he'd be there when she woke up— and he wasn't lying.

A hand goes to his head as he sits up, rubbing over tired eyes. The sleep had been rough— and not nearly enough of it. They probably won't have much time to catch up, before the nurses and doctors will want to see her, but for the moment, his blue eyes can settle on her. "Hokuto?"

No nickname. He's still worried.

The keening sound of a painful awakening is the first sound Hokuto Ichihara makes upon rousing to consciousness. Dark eyes flutter open, already having been flooded with tears, wet streaks at the sides of her eyes trailing back down into her hair from where she'd been crying in her sleep from the trauma of revelation. When fingers curl into the white fabric of sheets, those slender digits seem more pronounces, veings bulge on the backs of her hands and knees bend, dragging heels across bedding.

When finally exhaling a sharp, ragged breath, Hokuto's stare up at the ceiling is seemingly vacant and listless. Only the sight of her throat moving in a swallow and the exasperated breath that follows gives any indication that she's actually present behind those open eyes. Though when they finally angle to look askance at Corbin, there is no mistaking the look of horrified guilt in them.

How do you say sorry for what she did?

Hopefully, you don't have to.

After a few seconds of blinking, Corbin pulls himself out of the chair, sock covered feet hitting the cool floor as he makes his way over, immediately reaching toward her since she's not really able to get away. With all she's done, some might wish to snap her neck, she might think they deserve to, but instead he's using strong arms to pull her up just a bit and hug her against his chest. They shouldn't have much time to talk, but for the first few moments, he's not even attempting to say anything more than her name.

A quickened heartbeat may drown out some of the droneing sounds of machinery.

Lips press against her hair for a moment, and then he's pulling back, "I know you were with me the whole time, but I still missed you." Voice softened and strained, just woke up in many ways, he touches her face with his hands to smooth back her hair.

While she might try to find a way to say sorry, how does someone forgive for what happened? Both of them have a crisis…

"You're in a private hospital. You can stay as long as you need. I'm taking care of the bookstore until you're ready to come back."

Hokuto can't help but cry, not when presented with unconditional concern and worry over her well-being despite having put the man through hell on multiple psychological levels. Arms too tired to lift up, Hokuto's body feels something like a weightless ragdoll in his embrace. Dark eyes wander up but are unable to quite make eye contact — perhaps thankfully — due to their positioning. When they're hidden behind falling lashes again, Hokuto breathes out a weak, whimpering progression of words. "I don't deserve this."

Trembling in Corbin's embrace, Hokuto's hand that remains free of the IV across the back of her palm moves up, weakly and shakily touching his bicep before falling just a little limp under the strain of tired muscles. "I don't deserve any of this." She whispers, practically hissing the words out through her teeth for all the emotion behind them.

It's being here, awake, but also being aware of what happened that seems to be hitting Hokuto the hardest, because it's all she can do right now to stop from simply bawling her eyes out helplessly.

It could have been much worse than it turned out. Corbin nearly jumped off a bridge at one point, and without the speedy assistance of another dreamer he never would have met otherwise, he would have. Even without that devistating end, it still had been emotionally traumatizing, throwing mental doubt into his mind. But does she not deserve this?

"I think I'll decide if you deserve this right now, okay? I'm going to hug you, because I missed you," he says, leaning in to kiss her forehead at the scalp. What she went through was worse than what he did— she saw all those things that she did, and she'll have to live with them. Will she be able to?

"You'll be okay," he says, optimistic, quiet. One of her shadows had said he always said that… and even if it kicked at some hidden doubts, it doesn't seem to be near enough what's needed to make him stop saying it. "And I'll be around to make sure you are."

It's hard to agree with what Corbin's saying, outside of the sincerity and sweetness of the simple platitudes, the truth of them is less certain. Will she be okay? That's not something that Hokuto will be able to figure out, not right now, not for a good long while. "I— " her voice cracks, emotion and lack of use joining forces to make it hard to speak, "I— I'm so tired…" It's a comical thing for her to say, given that she's been sleeping for over a month, but the fatigue in her eyes is so readily obvious to Corbin. He'd seen her, emaciated and weakened, in the dreamscape and that seems to have been a reflection of her state here, mentally.

"I— I'm so sorry." Hokuto breathes out, hiding her face against Corbin's chest, one weak hand barely able to stay up on his arm. "I'm so sorry." How do you apologize for indirectly murdering hundreds of people by way of psychological torture? How does someone justify living a life of freedom after having hurt so many others? How does a Company Agent live with it?

And yet, things would be much worse if she didn't start with how sorry she is. "I know you're sorry," Corbin speaks in simple, patient tones, voice older and more grown-up than he usually gets. The flippant joking tone isn't coming out in this moment. How does a Company Agent justify allowing such a person to walk free, with ability intact and unguarded? By the books, she should be locked away, drugged, and most certainly controlled…

"We'll just have to live with it. And hope everyone else who knows does too." When he went to sleep, he didn't know he'd have to make one of the toughest decisions of his life. And considering everything he'd fought for the last few months…

"I'll let you get some sleep— some real sleep… as soon as you get your late birthday present." Another press of his lips and scraggly chin stubble on her hair, and he begins to pull back, so he can reach to the table. Behind the vace sits a small box, which he pulls close, and goes ahead and takes the lid off.

On the top is a key on a chain necklace, simple silver chain. The key has a colored lacquer of paint over it, a design of stars with a crescent moon. It's his key to the store, painted. The one she'd given him on his birthday.

And under it is a set of shiny, unpainted keys on a keychain, with a chinese character as a metal dangly.


Reaching out one tired and shaky hand, Hokuto curls her fingers around the dangling charm on the keychain, a faint smile crossing her lips. Brown eyes turns to Corbin, jaw trembling slightly, and it's with a weary noise at the back of her throat that Hokuto brings the key chain down to hold against her chest, fingers curled tightly around the cool metal. "Thank you…" she rasps out, barely able to keep her lower lip from trembling as she holds the cherished gift close. "Thank you…" It sounds like genuine emotions, but the second time she says it, it still sounds like saying she's sorry.

Her eyes linger on Corbin, watching him when he finally disengages and moves around the hospital bed, headed for the door to give her time to sleep and rest, and for himself to eat, which is hard to do trapped in a world of dreams. Jaw clenched, Hokuto's smile is a bittersweet one, teeth pressed down into her bottom lip as brows furrow and eyes shut once Corbin's made his way out of the door.

She turns her head away, eyes shut, but then opens them once more and looks down to the charm in her palm, before curling her fingers closed around it and nodding her head once in slow and silent appreciation, hugging it to her chest. Now, maybe, she can find some semblance of peace and rest, while considering what to do with herself and the rest of the time she has left in her life. That's exactly what she needs to do.

Sleep, perchance to…

…well, you know.

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