Anchor In The Dark


devon2_icon.gif elisabeth_icon.gif

Scene Title Anchor in the Dark
Synopsis A request comes on the heels of a troubling dream, and affirmation that no one is alone even in the darkest times.
Date September 4, 2011

Skinny Brickfront : Endgame Safehouse

It’s been going on for several minutes. The restless sleeping, tossing, breaths taken in uneven draws. The quiet murmur of words, urgent and laced with fear despite the feel of feigned confidence.

Another night, another nightmare. Everyone in the safehouse suffers those frightening dreams, horrors built on memories left to stew in an idle mind. And it’s not the first time that Devon has been troubled in sleep by images within his head, though most recent nights have been fairly quiet from his room. Tonight he’s haunted with things seen behind shut eyes, the struggle sounding closer to real than remembered.

Elisabeth has been plagued left, right, and center for the past two weeks. She has once more taken to sleeping on the other side of Norton Trask's wall to negate herself at night because all she can do is dream of music that she hates and suffocating darkness. She has woken screaming on more than one occasion, although the safety net that a dreamwalker built into her mind has caught the vast majority of it. Still, Liz is weary and not sleeping the best — mostly sleep is something she does at this time of year because she has no choice.

She sits in the common area in the wee hours of the morning sipping tea. The lights are low, the only illumination coming from one of the nightlights that she carries with her in the dark always. It's sitting directly in front of her on the table and she's staring into it when Devon stumbles out of his room.

The stumbling comes, on the heels of an interlude of silence. Broken by a sharp inhale, the rattling gasp that fills lungs with life-renewing air and chased by the panicked dragging of disoriented and frightened body to and through bedroom doorway. Devon hastily escapes the deep, dark confines of his room to stand, shaking and pale at the edge of the low light. He draws in another quivering breath, looking from the glow to shadowed corners then back again.

The teen ventures a few steps away from his room, with arms folding tightly across his chest in effort to muffle the pounding in his chest, still the quaking of his body. To put up a front and hide his shaken expression. "…Hey," Devon calls before he's too close, quiet, hesitant.

She hears him coming. How can she not? Elisabeth is nothing these days if not a master manipulator of sound. She reaches up and wipes tears from her own cheeks before she turns to look and see which of the house's residents is there. When he speaks, she replies gently. "C'mon. There's some tea if you'd like some."

His head bows, partially to give Elisabeth a moment, to hide his own guilt and choke back the swelling of mixed anguish and relief. Her actions don't go unnoticed, the least he can do is boyishly afford her a private moment before taking attention. He steps forward, edging more than walking closer, head lifting slightly to look toward her again. Worry mingles with everything else, setting creases to Devon's brow. He hesitates, half starting to speak, arms and shoulders tensing before the motion reverses and the teen's arms go out to pull her into a hug.

Elisabeth pushes her chair back and she meets the teenager halfway, holding him tightly. "You okay?" she whispers.

"I don't know," Devon admits, unable to stifle a quiver in his voice that mirrors his shaking. "I just… if things get worse, promise me you'll pack me off to Australia or Antarctica or Timbuktu? No matter how much I argue?"

Oh God. Elisabeth holds him close and says softly, "Devon… I'm almost ready to do it now." The admission is difficult, but firm. "There are things that you deserve. And that this point… I'm just not sure that staying here for this fight is the way to go." She sighs heavily, pulling away and forcing a small smile. "I'm … almost ready to speak to Jaiden and Phillip about getting our people, any who want to go, the hell out. Will you go if I do it?"

A hand scrubs over his face as Devon takes a step back, fingers raking through his hair. "I don't have anything left here," he replies. Except the fight. "There's nothing. —I don't want to die by the hunterbots. Or end up in a prison camp somewhere waiting to die. It's…" The teen trails off, trying to grasp for some understandable thought, trying to remind himself it was just a dream. Instead of completing the thought, he looks up at Elisabeth, torn, afraid to quit the war, and just as terrified to continue.

Yeah. Elisabeth is beginning to understand the feeling. Really really well. She strokes the boy's face and nods a little. "There's no shame in stepping away, Dev," she says softly. "It took me a long time to understand that, but… there isn't."

"But then who's going to step up," Devon asks, trying to fit the pieces together, to make it okay to turn away again. "Who's going to be there to fight back? To help the prisoners escape and… Keep kids like Kincaid safe? I never wanted to get involved, but how do I walk away from it?"

She's quiet a long time and says softly, "Devon… there is time now to walk away. To take the time to see what happens. And there's time to step back in again. Nothing says walking away is forever. Sometimes it's just to recharge. To … keep your sanity intact." Elisabeth smiles a little. "It's time for us to that for ourselves, I honestly believe that. We can leave contact information — if they need or want more hands, all they ever have to do is call."

It's a long moment before Devon nods slowly, studying her expression until his head dips in agreement. Worry, apprehension still shadows his expression, though he's quelled the worst of it. His breath still shakes faintly when he exhales. "It was so real," the boy says after another minute or so, quietly. "Like it was more than just a dream."

She's not unfamiliar. Elisabeth nudges him to the makeshift table and moves to sit down, pouring him a cup of tea. "Wanna tell me about it?" she asks gently.

"It was strange." Devon sits down at the table, hands clasping together. "I was leading a group of prisoners through a tunnel that led out of one of the camps. Kincaid was there, about my age now, and I was older." His head shakes a little, looking up at Elisabeth. "This older guy named Ryans had come looking for Kincaid, and Lucy had opened a gateway to get us away from the camp. One of the hunterbots came at me and Lucy after everyone else got through. We made it to the other side, but…" A look of fear, as though saying aloud what had happened will make it true, stills his words.

Elisabeth's hands shake a little. She can't help it. Setting her teacup down slowly, she bites her lip. "You … didn't make it. Did you?" she asks softly.

The boy's head shakes a little, eyes dropping to knuckles going white under uneasy tension. "There wasn't any time. I kept Lucy from getting mauled, but I… got us back through the gateway. As… As I was killed."

She nods slowly. Elisabeth continues to stare at her tea. "I wish yours was the first such story I'd heard," she murmurs. "Unfortunately… I'm beginning to realize that the timeline that we fucked up so long ago is biting us in the ass now … and not too many of us were lucky enough to have anything that even looked like a happy life." She looks up at him and says quietly, "It's my belief that they came back hoping to keep it all from happening. They wouldn't be warning us if there was no way to stop it — that would just be cruel, and I don't think they came back to be cruel. I think they came out of love. At least most of them." Maybe not Josh's friend Calvin — that one might have just been insane. She's not sure.

"It's never seemed right to ask." Devon pulls his hands apart, one flattening against the spool-table top, the other rubbing the back of his neck. "For me to ask, about that time. It's childish, but I figured… They're here now, things are different. But after seeing that, after… everything." His eyes flick up, looking at Elisabeth. "It feels selfish, but I really don't want to die that way. And I want to know more about what's going to happen."

Blowing out a breath slowly, Elisabeth looks around the room. "I can't tell you a lot… but I know a decent bit from putting together the pieces of what I've heard," she tells him softly. "I know that I originally died in 2010… because of Edward Ray's plans and Richard's belief in them. In the five or so years that I was dead, I gather that he either worked his way into the Institute or quite literally took it over from the top. Hell, maybe he created it, I'm really not clear on any of that part." She sips her tea. "Aric somewhere in there became the new head of Messiah. A lot of the people we know now — Jaiden, Graeme, Remi, Monica, a lot of others — were either aligned with the Ferry or taken to concentration camps and later broken out BY the Ferry, for whom they then worked. Or so I gather. Uhm…." She trails off. "I know that the military and the Institute were working very closely together, much like now. And later I was brought back to life by Darren Stevens because Richard couldn't live with himself anymore…. he never told me he'd had me killed."

There's a grimace and Elisabeth considers. "From what I gather, Claire and I were heading up the FRONTLINE unit that ran out of the Institute. And the times kept getting worse and worse. Anti-Evo sentiment kept getting legislated, essentially those who were in league with or sympathetic to Humanis First seem to have been in control with no checks and balances to stop them. There was a war. A long one, and I think during that time there was a lot of worldwide destruction. I got the impression that a lot of people like us lived without electricity and stuff, a lot like we're doing now. Kind of hunkered down. And then somewhere in there we also had the plague. The Evo flu jumped to humans. The one that started this year wasn't supposed to make the transition for another few years." She grimaces. "But a lot of what I have are tidbits and I don't have a good grasp on the timeline at all, really."

The teen is quiet, listening as Elisabeth speaks. The correlations, connections to that timeline and this one are a frightening thing and he doesn't miss them. Some of the details he's heard before, Aric's leadership and the Evo flu's mutation to inflict the non evolved. But the rest is easy to see, if you look and listen, unmistakeable when you look at the news or take a walk down the street. Folding his arms on top of the table, Devon rests his head on them.

"I'm glad you didn't die last year," the boy says quietly. "I hope we aren't headed into that future, but it seems like it. We're already in a war, and it's …Getting easier to imagine how much worse it can get.

"Richard went far, far out of the way to make sure of that eventuality — to be sure that I wasn't killed that way. To be sure he didn't become that man. But…. changing the future is a risky business. We thought that taking Arthur Petrelli out of the equation that the lovely future that some of our friends had seen could still come to pass. Turns out, Petrelli kept the Humanis First fuckers in check… and killing him set them loose on the world. Now we're trying to clean up our own mess." She grimaces. "Knowing the future is never a good thing, in my opinion."

"Sounds like this Richard guy was a good man." Devon pauses, lifting his head and shoulders from the table top. "Mostly. Time traveling… Seems a waste of— I'm sorry he's gone." He musters a small grin, sad and short lived, then returns his gaze to the unfinished surface of the spool.

"Me too," Elisabeth says softly. "He's a good man. And a son of a bitch too." She grins a little, fondly. Sadly. "Can't believe I'm living through this alone again," she admits softly. "Two years ago, Humanis First blew my brains away. Most days… I've pretty much recovered. But … the end of August through Labor Day is rough." She shrugs a bit. "I'm sorry any of us are facing this future. We should have fucking let the quarter million people die, maybe. But… " She shakes her head. "Hell, I don't know. Not sure that would have been a good thing either," she sighs.

He glances toward Elisabeth again, head still mostly bowed. "But you're not alone," the boy states quietly, extending a hand to cover one of hers. "We're here. Jaiden, Norton, Graeme. Me. You do so much for us that… You don't have to suffer your nightmares on your own. We're here for you as much as you are for us. You might be Mom, but even Mom's got to defuse sometimes."

Elisabeth turns her hand in his and laughs softly. "You can be alone even when you have a crowd of people around you, Devon." She squeezes gently. "All of you are soothing in your own ways." When she looks up at him, she admits, "Each of you hold a piece of me. I never really expected to care about so many people so much. But there's still a hole in my heart that none of you can fill, but don't take that to mean I don't appreciate you."

Words of truth that Devon himself know well, both in being alone and in lacking something. He smiles faintly, tipping his head in a small nod. "I know what you're saying. But that doesn't mean you have to hide it all the time either. I won't tattle if you break down, or think less of you. But I do understand not wanting to let it show, too."

She shrugs. "I'm not usually one to wear my heart on my sleeve to start with. And pining away for a guy isn't really my style." Elisabeth pauses, and then she smiles wrapping her hands around her teacup. "That said… I never expected to fall in love either. I'm okay, Devon. It hurts my heart to know what happened, but I also know how damn hard my Richard tried to stop it. To make sure that what happened in our son's time never happened here. I like to think that…. doing it broke something in him. But hell, maybe that's giving myself too much credit." Meh, her expression seems to say. "Love is stupid sometimes, but it is what it is."

"I guess." The teenager shrugs slightly and finally picks up his cup of tea. He's quiet for a moment, looking at the liquid within the cup, before speaking again. "I'm sorry I interrupted your reminiscing." Pining seems the wrong word to use. "I should learn to handle these nightmares better on my own. But, thanks for being awake to interrupt."

"Ffft," Elisabeth dismisses with a soft laugh. "After I was killed… or as near as makes no never mind… I had a lot of nightmares," she tells him. "I still do. A dreamwalker helped me. She created… sort of a safe place in my head. A place to hide from the dreams when it got too bad. Richard… " She pauses. "He's the one person I trusted to have brought there, the person who helped me anchor it so I could always find it. He's the person who helped me anchor myself, to be able to come back from it." She shrugs. "Thinking of him now and again seems the least I can do for him. And it helps me calm down." She looks at him. "He loves me, wherever and whenever he is. And that keeps the nightmares to a managable level. I hope that you find something that helps you keep yours to a level that's bearable." She reaches out and touches his arm. "And remember one thing when these ones come to you — they don't have to happen. You're seeing the world as it could have been. A what-if, if you will. Just knowing the possibility is going to change how you react, how you behave. Nothing is set in stone."

"My aunt," Devon replies with a shrug. "She helped, kept me safe from myself and made the worst nightmares bearable when I went to live with her after my parents were killed. She's gone now, so I manage as best I can." Which doesn't seem his best most of the time, waking up trembling and afraid when they go from bad to worse. "I'm going to keep a more wary eye on those robots, and avoid anymore government notice. That camp was bad."

Putting a hand out to brush his hair back off his forehead, Elisabeth says softly, "You're not alone either. You don't have to manage." That the dream has given him reason to be more cautious she cannot be sorry for. "Hang in there a little while longer. Okay?" She bites her lip. "It's time for some of us to pull up stakes and get the hell out, Devon. If only to regroup for a time and be out of the immediate line of fire so that as things continue… there's another place. I'm …. planning on talking to the Ferry about creating a safe haven on Jaiden's land in Australia. Don't know if it's viable, but… it's what I'd like to do."

"Yes ma'am," Devon answers quietly, nodding to solidify his compliance. That dream left him shaken; though when called for it he'll return to the front, he's more willing to step back at the moment and regroup. "I'll be ready to go when it's time. To Australia or wherever we can find a few days to recover and lick our wounds before going back."

She sighs and returns to her tea. "Drink," Liz urges softly. "Settle down a little. You'll sleep better if you give yourself a chance to process."

The boy half smiles again, turning to look down at the cup in his hands. He sighs, after a moment, settling into a thoughtful silence with a sip of tea.

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