And She Laughed Like A Hyena


cassidy2_icon.gif coren2_icon.gif

Scene Title And She Laughed Like A Hyena
Synopsis Memory is a fickle thing. There are many things that can be learned from a memory, as Coren and Cassidy discover.
Date October 3, 2009

The Home of Coren Shelby and Cassidy O'Shea — Lower East Side

"Too surgical," Azrael says as Cassidy squeezes her eyes shut. He lowers the scalpel and takes up the hunting knife, "Too sharp." He reaches to the floor and takes up the work glove again, sliding it onto his hand before lifting the piece of glass. "Much more useful."

The familiar voice forces Cassidy to open her eyes. There she finds Coren looking over Jessy Delaney's body, only it's not Jessy Delaney's body but that of Abigail Beauchamp. "I think we'll start with number six, doesn't that sound right, luv?" he says, pointing the glass at the longest scar before he leans closer, "And there's no Abigail to take these scars away." On that remark, he begins to dig in.

Ever since her abduction and torture, Cassidy's showers have all been nearly scalding, as hot as she can stand it. Wanting to burn the memories from her… to wash off the remembered sensation of his fingers on her skin. But it also has the unfortunate effect of bringing pain from the sensitive skin of her healing cuts and burns, reminding her of what she endured.

Running her head under the spray, running hands over her red hair, Cassidy thinks about how horribly long the night had been for her. The nightmares had been becoming more frequent even with Coren right there with her, holding her and being that comforting presence. It was starting to not be enough and last night's was horrible. Instead of Azrael doing the cutting, it had been Coren. It bothered her more then any of the other nightmares. It had been embarrassing, because she had seen the pain it caused him when she woke up screaming, thrashing… needing to get away.

So she has run to the bathroom as soon as she could escape him, wouldn't talk to him… wouldn't listen to even the thoughts in his head… She went numb and turned on the shower. A false sense of being alone. Cassidy knew he'd be listening to her, just like she did him. But at that moment she didn't want to think, just wash the night away with burning water.

Reaching down, she slowly turns off the water, the handle squeaking loudly in the small bathroom. The spray cut off, Cassidy shivers in the chilled air, teeth chattering slightly as she pushes open the glass door. It always seems to be a blessing that the mirror is fogged up when she faces it, leaving her only a soft pink blur. Today however is different, she can't even look at it.

When she reaches out for the towel on the counter she pauses, her eyes coming to rest on the cuts. She has to give herself a bit of a shake, before she pulls the towel to her. When she sits down to towel off her legs, she stops again… eyes focusing on the long cuts on her legs, all thoughts and emotions bleed out of her. It's a mental nudge from her partner about breakfast that shakes her out of that blank stare.

Pulling herself back together, she forces herself to get done, hair clinging cold and wet to her skin. Picking up her bra, she smiles a little at it, something in her had chosen the more lacy underthings, a matching set. Slipping them on she muses that maybe her subconscious is tired of waiting for her body to heal. Her mind knows what she desires…. Something in that thought makes her choke up, tears blurring her eyes. The glimmer of a thought flits through her mind and she turns to look at the mirror, reaching for the towel, fingers curling to the soft folds.

She has to see.

Leaning against the counter in her underthings, Cassidy swipes the towel across the mirror, clearing the fog. She meets her own eyes in the mirror and she can see the fear. But then the flick down, the towel falls from her fingers, leaving her hand pressed to the mirror. Just the sight makes her go cold…. colder then she was. So many cuts.

Taking a limping step back, her head leans down, followed shortly by her eyes. Fingers move slowly, trembling slightly, as she reaches to run along the various newly healed scars. Fingers slip along the largest cut, feeling the impression in her skin.

The memory hits her hard and suddenly she can't breath through her panic as it runs through her, the pain as fresh as the day Azrael did it to her. It's so vivid and so real… the feel of the glass sawing through flesh. In shock, she stumbled back and suddenly sits down heavily on the tiled floor when her bad foot gives out on her as it still cannot bear her weight. The pain of the fall jars her enough to pull her out of the memory with a heart wrenching sob, arms wrapping around herself tightly.

Her head lifts to look at the foggy mirror and she can't help but think of how she looked. It was worse then when she was beaten. So many cuts.. so many. Her bottom lip starts to tremble as she start feeling a sudden hopelessness and depression. How can anyone want me like this? The tears won't stop, as in her mind she realizes just how disgusting she looks. Even though there is the voice of reason telling her that someone already does, her mind is so far gone down the road of self pity, that she can't see it. It's as if everything Coren said to her had never happened.

Her mind slips back into the memories of those horrifying days. Everything else it shut out — even the arrival of Coren. She can vividly remember watching as the scalpel slid through her skin as if nothing. Once started, she can't help but reliving each cut in her mind as she sobs hysterically and trying to breathe through it. How can he stand touching me.. looking at me. The disgust and sense of worthlessness is almost too much to bear.

He should've just killed me.

"Cassidy," Coren's voice comes very clearly, because he's unlocked the bathroom door and stands in the doorway. His tone is one of anger— anger that she would do this to herself. It's tantamount to torturing herself, and he knows she did engage in that with Azrael, twisted fucker that he was.

A pair of jeans are folded over his arm, and he comes and plunks himself right down next to Cassidy. He unfolds them and starts to slip one of Cassidy's legs into the leg of the jeans, and then the other. It's his hope that the shock of the fact that he's dressing her might snap her out of it enough that she'll start breathing properly again. Whether or not she complies, he pulls her up by the armpits, holds her against him and pulls the jeans up, taught, and then slides the zipper up and buttons them. Then he spins her around to face him, supporting her all the way because of her leg.

Coren looks her over very carefully, and while there is a great deal of pity and sadness, he still nonetheless says, "This… doesn't matter. And you bloody well know it, too. Don't you go letting that fucker get to you like that, you're better than that."

There is no response from Cassidy when her name is called, she is unable to stop crying. One hand grips the wrist of the other, as her mind relives the memory of being dragged out of the shed. She had just known it would be the end there. No more worrying, no more pain. It would have been easier on them both.

But then she feels the hand on her legs and Cassidy gives a little shriek, she hadn't known he had been there. It was enough to get her gasping for air, though each exhaled is a small sob. When he lifts Cassidy and holds her there, her whole body trembles with the sheer force of her emotions.

The act of pulling her pants on does the trick though, when she finally faces him, the tears haven't stopped but she is no longer hysterical with sobbing. Thought, he'll know she's still on the edge, as her fingers grip tightly at the back of his shirt. "It matters," she manages after a few tries at getting the words out. "Look what I did to myself." Her voice almost seems to whine as she tries to pull away enough to look down at herself. "How can you stand it?" The words are choked out as she teeters on the edge of falling into her sorrow again. "I did this…" Her eyes clench shut as she tries to ward off the memories, her expression full of pain and misery.

"Stop it, Cassidy, stop it." If ever Coren has used a commanding tone, now is that time. "That's quite enough of this," he says, making sure she can't look down. One arm holds her up and against him while the other taps on her forehead, "You've got to get into into your beautiful, bloody thick skull that I don't care. I don't care about any of it. Yes, they're there, but I love you. I love you anyway. It doesn't matter. And you didn't. None of that's on you. It was the work of the sickest, most deranged fucker I've ever had the displeasure of being aware of. Whether or not your hand was behind some of these is … completely irrelevant. Because it's not your fault. None of it." He holds onto her head with both hands now, holding it straight so she can't look away. "It's not your fault."

Her head whips side to side denying his word, damp hair would be flying if it weren't clinging to her skin. There is even a flinch away from the tap on her forehead. "No… " Cassidy whispers the word, then she gets louder. "No.. I did this." Her tone is fierce, stubborn, her eyes are wild with some need for him to believe her.

Her face is caught in his hands, Cassidy gives a choked sob at his words. They echo in her head hollowly, seeming to be the key that unlock a memory that was tucked away. The first warning he gets is the fact that the young woman's mind goes numb, like when he had found her, as she mentally slips back in time.


"I can see it now, Cassie. You're home, on the mend…" Azrael looks down at Cassidy, scalpel in her hand now. He was nice and made sure it was an instrument that could incise as cleanly as possible, "Coren will probably tell you, it's not your fault. But it is your fault, isn't Cassie? I mean, look at yourself," he says with a chuckle, "Cutting into your own flesh. Desecrating your body…."

Having long since moved on from the original scars, Jessy Delaney's body has been replaced with a large mirror, not that Cassidy has ever looked at it. She hasn't needed to.

Memory is a funny thing, though, particularly surrounding trauma. It often finds a way of fragmenting, shards of it intermingling.

"I remember this lovely little diner in London and the cutest waitress there. Girl named Jessica. Cute as a button, not unlike yourself. Hell, she could have been your sister." Azrael looks over the marks, cauterizing the last of the most recent incisions without the girl even flinching. "Well, save for all the scars. Her laughter could warm your heart.

"Oh, I know, you probably think I have no heart. Technically true: my body decayed a fair few decades ago. This husk is care of some poor vegetable. I doubt he'll be sorely missed. Anyway, as I was saying, cute kid, laughed like a hyena. You know, one of those laughs where they start snorting. Hilarious girl. I wondered what happened to her. Been a long time since…."

If not for the lack of emotion displayed thus far, the sudden flare of anger wouldn't be surprising. "No no no," Azrael says, grabbing at Cassidy's wrist and hauling her up. "That's not fair. You can't escape like that." He pries the scalpel from her hand and wraps the sheet she was lying on around her and her bleeding wrist. It's with a sharp tug that he hauls her up and off the morgue-like table, holding her up because of her foot. "That's not part of the game." The words come out as a snarl as he viciously drags her from the workshop out into the open.

The memory swirls away as Azrael, almost literally, loses his head. And Coren's still there, like he always is. Only now, rather than angry looking, he has a completely perplexed and confused look on his face. The fact that Cassidy engaged in what can only be described as self-mutilation seems unimportant to him, and indeed he only holds Cassidy tighter and with more love— and understanding. She saw it as her only viable solution. The only way out. How can he fault her for it? She saw her opening and she took it.

"My fault…" Cassidy whimpers her words barely a whisper, the emotional pain sharp and unforgiving. Blue eyes, red rimmed from all those tears, open slowly and look up at the man she loves so much. There is almost a bitter edge to that love, as she chokes back a sob. Pressing her cheek to his shoulder, the soft fabric of his shirt soaking up the tears, her mental voice almost wails out what she knows deep within. I should have fought more. I should have fought till he killed me.. but I helped him. I did this to myself.

I'm broken. I see it in your eyes. In your mind.

"Don't," Coren says, giving Cassidy a light shake, pulling her back down the floor where he settles her on his lap and brushes her damp hair back. "Don't think for one moment that I think you're broken. That's what he wants you to think, but that's not what I think. Yes, you're hurting, but I have never once said nor thought nor felt you are broken. Maybe he broke your spirit a little, but he broke mine long before he ever went near yours. Hell, he may well have broken mine before you were even born…" Because his first wife's name was Jessica. And she laughed like a hyena.

Taking a shaky breath, Cassidy closes her eyes and bows her head as she tries so hard not to think for the moment, her heart still thudding against her breast bone. Her head turns toward him a little, but she doesn't look right at him. "That was your wife?" Her voice is rough from her emotions. "You're first one?" Her head turns back to looking in her lap, and the scared arms laying there. Fingers automatically start tracing them, feeling the groove left by the soldering iron.

Her eyes shut tightly against remembered pain, that slices through her, twisting her stomach. "Will the hurt ever stop? I don't want to have these nightmares anymore…. You being there doesn't seem to work anymore." Being only in her jeans and bra, she becomes suddenly aware of the chill, from the cool air of the room against his skin, she leans against him for warmth.

"I don't know, could be. Or it could just be him trying to fuck with us from the grave. He could have known this particular exchange was bound to happen." Coren holds Cassidy snugly against him and then hauls her up off the floor, swiping a towel with his hand and carrying her to the bedroom, where he sits down with her on the bed. There, he starts to towel-dry her hair while she's in his lap. "I don't know, luv," he admits. "I honestly don't know. But we'll get there, one way or the other, I promise things will get better, but I don't think I can help you alone. I may be familiar with psychology as a criminologist and profiler, but I'm not familiar enough with any form of psychotherapy." Yes, he just suggested therapy, because there's simply no other option and he just isn't qualified to handle this with just hugs and kisses.

Head still bowed as he dries Cassidy's hair, he can feel her relaxing some with the care he's giving her. Eyes drift shut as the movement tugs and pulls gently at her hair. "I know… " She whispers, her legs drawing up enough that she can curl an arm under her knees. "I know you're trying." Her voice catches again. How can she still have any tears left? "I'm sorry I'm so difficult. I'm trying to be a good girl about it…." She sounds so small, her voice so distant as she says those words. "… but it's getting worse. I can't stop the memories from just hitting me." When she looks at him, her eyes are shiny with tears again. "How are you going to stand a lifetime of me.. of this." This. It covers so much in her mind, everything from the situation, the scars…. "I don't even know if I could stand a lifetime of me."

Coren has witnessed enough of Cassidy's memories and nightmares to cringe ever-so-slightly when she says she's being a good girl. Of course, as far as he's concerned, she's been nothing but, but the mere phrase is something that can no longer be said near him without creeping him out. He reaches for a hairbrush from the bedside table, setting the towel aside, and starts to brush through Cassidy's hair. "I think you might underestimate my love for you, Cass, because I can and will stand it, for as long as it takes, eternity if I have to. But you can't give up. You have to promise me that— you'll never give up, because I don't think I could take it if you did."

He dips her slightly downwards, gazing long and hard into her eyes after brushing away her tears. "I will help you through this as best I can, but it's a slow process one way or the other, and we're both going to hurt for a while. But I promise you I will always be here for you, no matter what happens. I will endure Hell to protect you."

Her eyes search his face, looking for something to doubt, something off about it all. Cassidy knows she won't find anything, nothing to shatter that perfection. How can he be so real, so true? It still leaves her breathless to see him look at her like that and to feel what he feels. It is a humbling experience. The thin delicate fingers of one hand lift to comb back a bit of his hair that had fallen out of place, and then trail down his cheek t rub across the stubble of his jaw. "I… don't think I could give up if I wanted too. I don't think I could stand the pain it would cause you…" There is a but in her words. "Sometimes though, it's so hard. I'm so afraid of going back to work. I … remember the pity in their eyes last time I was scarred. The looks now that the cat's out of the bag about us and my ability."

"Yeah, it could be trying," Coren admits, brushing Cassidy's hair with his bare hand now as she strokes his face. "Could be a downright pain in the ass, but we won't figure that out until we do it, now, will we?" He kisses her on the forehead, then on the nose, and then either cheek. "You know, if they really bother you," he looks into his eyes, "… there's a really old standby. You can tell them to sod off and mind their own bloody business. We and they have better things to do than gawk about watercooler gossip."

"You're right." Cassidy concedes with a whisper. Each kiss he places seems to warm her, pushing away the cold shadows within. There is actually a ghost of a smile, when he looks into her eyes. "I'll make sure to say it just like that too. Always freaks them out when I channel you." It happens too, a hazard of the link. The thought of some of those moments, brings a bit more of that smile. "I love you, Coren." The words just slip out without another thought, they come so easily with the emotions that seem to tug at her heart when it comes to him.

But even those three important little words bring back memories of being held in his arms.. of being numb. The icy twist of her stomach, makes her gasp with fear. She doesn't want to slip into the numbness, she doesn't want to lose that moment. So in a near panic, she does the first thing that comes to her mind. Her hand slips from his jaw to hook behind his neck, so that she can pull him into a desperate kiss.

"I love you." 'Too' never makes it out of Coren's lips as Cassidy latches on, and he has to set the hairbrush aside to take hold over and slide an index finger just in front of her mouth as he manages to stop her— however much he doesn't want to. "Wait, Cassidy. I want you to stop, just one minute, take a breath. You were safe that first moment I held you. That's where this whole nightmare ended, the second I touched you. The second I held you and told you that I loved you. Don't let the bad memories have power over the good, because there was more good there than there will ever be evil." And as promised, when the minute is up, the kissing resumes, a hand of his sliding along Cassidy's mostly naked upper torso. The lacy ensemble is very becoming of you, by the way.

When that index imposes itself between their lip, Cassidy looks somewhat surprised, but then her brows drop down a little into a 'How dare you!' look. It's a look that he best get used too, cause it may not be legal, but in their own twisted way they are married to each other for the rest of their lives. That is just one look among many others, such as the slightly humbled look at the fact he views that first moment as a good one. She knows he's right and he knows it.

When his lips meet hers for a second time, she's almost hesitant… that is until she gets a glimpse at that very male thought going through his mind. Smug satisfaction drifts between them. I had thought of you when I bought them. Obviously, she bought them before things got complicated. The memory is just a flash, a simple musing at the time of purchase.

The kiss is broken again and she rests her forehead against his, while she tries to catch her breath, her heart beating roughly in her chest. Both arms now rest behind his neck, her eyes shut as she allows herself to feel their emotions and thoughts tangle. The words pass between them, they sound so innocent, but the meaning is heavy with what she needs from him. Something she hasn't asked him for yet, fearful of his reaction. Help me forget things for a time? Help me lose myself in something good?

Before things got so complicated, yes, Coren muses, scratching his brow slightly as he looks Cassidy over. Sure, the scars are there, but so is her inner beauty. While it may be slightly tarnished too, it's still her and always will be. He grabs the hairbrush and sets it back on the nightstand before pulling Cassidy further into the middle of the bed.

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