Behind You


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In Shadows:

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Scene Title Behind You
Synopsis The past comes back to haunt Logan and Daphne, and the Nightmare Man strikes out against Hokuto's dream walkers…
Date February 12, 2010

Risa's Dreamscape


Double doors smash open on the sound of a scream, fluorescent lights flash by one by one, and the pain is intense. The light may feel almost as blinding as the searing hot agony of third degree burns that blister skin and peel it away like the exterior of a sausage boiled for far too long.

Burn victim, white caucasian male in his mid thirties, he was on the bus!

It is absolute pandemonium in every direction; screaming, crying, wounded people lay in the aisles of a crowded hospital. Doctors pass by patients one by one in the corridors, some people laying motioness in front of waiting room chairs. Police, NYFD rescue, Paramedics, all swarming the facility.

John Doe suffered second and third degree burns over most of his body, broken right arm and leg, he was halfway under the bus when we found him. BP is 160 over 80.

Somehow perhaps this is how John Logan believed he would die, burning, or maybe he might have assumed the burning came somewhere afterward— this is just an early onset of whatever circle of hell he's bound for. His flesh is like over-microwaved pizza in some spots, some portions still bubbling beneath the surface, his scream is echoing down the halls.

Get him into surgery.

Eyes rolling back in his head, John Logan can feel the intense pain of the burns, feel the blinding pain of a crushed arm and leg, feel the life ebbing out of him as he's wheeled on that bed down the hospital corridors, the sound of his own heartbeat pounding in his ears like the rhythm of a war drum.

One Hour Ago…

Hooves make an unusual sound on the tile floor of a hospital. Though admittedly a unicorn is perhaps the least most garish thing in the room next to the chosen attire of Johnathan Logan as he dismounts his trustworthy steed. This was perhaps one of the more mundane backdrops the Nightmares have taken him to, a vacant hospital devoid of electricity, smothered in pale gray light through many windows from the choking fog outside.

The wall at his right ripples like water, and the pixie-like blonde that comes stumbling out behind him may well find it just as unsettlingly vacant as her compartiot might. Admittedly, bumping in to one another in the hall of mirrors isn't the most surprising thing in the world, for certain. Besides, it's always better to take on one of these nightmares with the buddy system after all.

The sounds of the Emergency Room are swallowed by the breying snort of John's Unicorn, clip-clopping a few hooves anxiously as it turns its white head from one side to another, as if considering the vacant hospital itself. No one's here, and the mirrors aren't present on this side. Which likely means they've been moved somewhere else, and likely by someone.

Two guesses as to who.

It's both surprising and unsettling for Daphne as she finds herself stumbling into the hospital beside the man she only vaguely recognizes from what she later dubbed the "School for the Sleep Challenged" — the nightmare within Hokuto's concocted classroom. She'd later told Corbin she would try to help, but she didn't expect to find herself in a dream that was neither hers nor his and this makes her unsure of herself — a state she hates above all to be in.

"I don't do hospitals," she growls more to herself; having spent too many years poked and prodded by doctors, hospitals are a nightmare in and of themselves.

"A unicorn? What, are we going to sparkle the Nightmare Man to death?" the speedster tosses at the man she doesn't know except by face. She herself is notably lacking any sort of avatar or patronus by any name.

"Shhh," Logan says, placing a hand against the curving white neck of the mythical creature that brought him here, fingers stroking through the untangled golden threads of the unicorn's mane as he casts a glance uneasily around this space. It's the lack of mirrors that make him frown, first and foremost, and then the slow revelation about what this place actually is, and his scowl deepens. Who likes hospitals, anyway? Not Logan.

The beast at his side doesn't have reins of any kind, nor a saddle and stirrups, apparently comfortable to be ridden bareback, but there's trust in the way he takes his hands off her to take a step away, turning on his heel to evaluate the place. A golden sword rests in a sheath at his hip, his pants of a flawless white material with shining black riding boots. A gold waistcoast cinches in the white silk of an open collared shirt, and none of these items seem particularly placed in any era — not this one or one previous, too much a costume, if a very well, expensively made one.

Speaking of sparkling someone to death, he shoots a narrowed look at Daphne, a glance up and down as he sets a hand on the hilt of his blade. "You'd be surprised how often that works. What are you going to do, sass him to death?" the Brit fires back, before pale green eyes take in their surroundings once more. "This is different."

Their voices echo faintly off of the walls, nearby to the ER lobby that they're standing in, tall glass windows show a fog-shrouded city of abandoned cars and inch thick ash littering the street. Some of that bedding of charred flakes still falls from the sky, almost like snow in the city they had fallen asleep in.

But this place is empty, silent, without person or presence; all the other nightmares had been so active, vivacious and full of direct conflict. This feels more like the funeral of a nightmare victim, somber and quiet, a moment of silence for the dearly departed— so departed they didn't even bother to show.

"I don't know what I'm doing… what are we supposed to do?" Daphne says, a querulous tone invading her voice due to the fear that seeps into her bones, her face screwing up with some concentration as she peers this way and that, looking for some clue as to why she's fallen into this dream. Part of her wonders if it is Corbin who is in trouble, and part of her wonders if it's her dream, half expecting doctors with long vicious needles. As she moves to the windows, she gives a shake of her head. "This isn't real," she whispers, reminding herself more than him, most likely.

Logan is caught staring out the window with a sense of wonder written on features, and the unicorn waiting around restlessly bows her head and carefully nudges her velvety nose between his shoulderblades, taking care not to poke with with the spiraling horn of gold that juts from between her eyes. Get moving. He shakes his head to snap himself from the reverie, and again, there's that futile search for signs of life. "Perhaps we should be finding the way out if something interesting doesn't happen— or you can point me out yourself," and that last part is slightly accusing, the tap of his heels ringing out loudly in this abandoned place as he paces around the unicorn.

Maybe it'd been going on the whole time, maybe they only just noticed it now, or the source had been silent. Regardless of why it wasn't clear until just now, someone down the hall and deeper into the hospital is crying. The sound is a subdued one, muffled and weak, strangled noises of repressed emotion that seems like something iconic to be found in the wings of a place where people go to be to stand on the threshhold of life and death.

The noise does grow silent for a moment, followed by a hiccuped choke of a sob, and muffled wepeing again. The sound — just like Daphne and John's voices — echoes in the otherwise silent and dimly illuminated hospital. It's worse than the silence, by and large, and it strangely makes the awkwardly muted place from just moments ago seem more welcomed.

Daphne turns from the window to shoot Logan a look. "Didn't I just say I don't know what I'm doing, Legend? If I knew how to get out, I would be — do you hear that?" She turns to look in the direction of the crying. "We probably have to help that person…" Even as she speaks, looking longingly at the doors for a moment before turning to move down the hall, a shadowy form begins to take form behind her, until finally moving silently behind her is a form that makes no more sense than the unicorn for which she mocked Logan: a scarecrow, made up of a jacket with patches on its elbows, shapeless pants, a faceless burlap sack with a hat atop its shapeless head.

Clip, clop, go metallic hooves against tile. The unicorn is following Daphne quicker than Logan is, who stands still for the time it takes for the wee blonde woman to be the definitive leader of this little duo. Distrustful of the sound of crying, but also doubting that a simple doorway would take him anywhere useful — perhaps even further inwards. Still—

The edge of his blade hisses against tough leather as he draws it, gold catching the light and coming to rest its flat against his silk clad shoulder. With a glance back at the ash coated city, Logan follows, catching up enough to fall into step with the speedster and her own faithful companion.

The sound of crying doesn't get louder or softer when Daphne and Logan, accompanied by their sundry mythical mental constructs, make their way down the corridor. It's an odd lacking of doppler effect in this place, where the closer they get to the crying the volume it's had since beginning remains consistent. All of the doors on this corridor are closed, a jumble of nonsensical letters and numbers on all the signs, making it impossible to read designations of hospital wards or room numbers.

The only open door is, perhaps obviously, the source of the mournful sound. Through that doorway, diffuse gray light comes flooding thorugh a pair of sheer white curtains, shining foggy light down onto a hospital bed, where a tired looking woman with sunken cheeks and reddened circles around her eyes lays in the bed, a wasting death.

Intraveinous tubing is inserted into one of her arms, ink black hair swept back behind her head and braided over one shoulder. She looks familiar, not quite perfectly so, but the weary old Asian woman dying in a hospital bed is evocative of the memories from the end of Hokuto's classroom session, when the Nightmare Man forced the dreamers to see her current mental state.

Perhaps more confusing in this scenery, is the younger woman sitting at the bedside, one hand holding the dying woman's where the IVs are in the back of her palm. Her hair is shinier, more loose, even if her eyes are more tear filled, cheeks glistening with the running mascara that normally surrounds her eyes. There's no mistaking Hokuto Ichihara, brown eyes full of something resembling a mixture of sadness and relief as she squeezes the older woman's hand.

Standing behind Hokuto, a caucasian woman with shoulder length brown hair has a hand on her shoulder, looking down at the bed, backlit by the pale light shining through the window at her back. When Daphne — the first of the pair — makes her silhouette visible in the hospital room door, this unfamiliar young woman raises a finger to her lips, silently shushing the blonde.

Staring at the scene unfolded before her in this hospital room, Daphne's dark eyes flicker from one face to the next — the old woman to the grieving Hokuto and finally to the last woman who gestures to the speedster to stay silent. Her brows knit — is this what he wants? Is silence the right choice? She's frozen with indecision — if this is a nightmare forced upon the dreamers by the Nightmare Man, shouldn't she shake them out of it?

She whirls to look over her shoulder, waiting for Logan to catch up to her, her eyes full of questions. "I don't know what we're supposed to do," she whispers again, frustration and impatience mounting. Right now, the only thing she really wants to do is wake up and get out of the dream — except if she's here to help Hokuto somehow, she feels she needs to try. For Corbin's sake.

He raises an eyebrow at her, moving up close enough to peer over the speedster's head and into the room, some surprise ringing in his eyes at what lays before them. "Fancy that," Logan says, at a mutter, glancing back down at Daphne's expectant stare, teeth showing in a slight sneer, "he didn't leave pointers and directions. What a cunt." He knows he's not being helpful — but he probably doesn't know what to do either, uncertainty in his expression and the way the unicorn waiting in the hallway uneasily swishes her golden tail.

Light suddenly shines over the creature's form, and where the equine once stood, a woman stands instead. The little nurse's outfit is pure costume, as with the hat that goes with it, placed on her golden curls. She doesn't speak, just winks at Daphne with one set of false black eyelashes, and squeezes between them as she enters the room with a click-click of white stilettos, the sound reminiscent of the unicorn she once was. Marilyn Monroe might not be the most reassuring presence in a hospital ward, but she makes her way up to Hokuto, reaching out to place a gentle hand on her shoulder.

Meanwhile, Logan— isn't look at Daphne, clearing his throat, but can't help but watch with curiousity, as if he were testing something.

When Hokuto turns her eyes up to the nurse, it's with a weak keening sound in the back of her throat, and a hesitant smile. Behind her chair, the brunette looks at the nurse confusedly, then over to Daphne and Logan with equal uncertainty in her features. "I— I didn't mean to— " her voice hitches in the back of her throat, hand moving away from Hokuto's shouldr as she moves to lean against the curtained window. "I'm sorry…" She has a faint hint of something eastern European in her accent, that Americanized brush of once having had something foreign as a native tongue, but long since faded.

The woman laying on the hospital bed neither says nor does anything, and both Logan and Daphne now notice on entering the room that she's not hooked up to the EKG and her IVs have been turned off. The woman they're staring at, laying in that hosptial bed, died some time ago, now just a sallow reminder of someone's family.

But it's when that unfamiliar brunette moves away from the grieving young woman that there's a furrow of her brows, scrutiny afforded to the corpse laying in the bed. She goes silent, while the dead older woman's eyes flutter open, revealing irises of bright yellow like that of a cat's. She turns her head, looking wide-eyed to Daphne and John.

"You shouldn't be here."

It's like waking up from a terrible nightmare. Daphne bolts up into a seated position with her chest rising and falling, breathing hastened and eyes wide, sweat beading down her forehead. For a moment, it truly does feel like waking up, save for the fact that she's still in the hospital. The examination room looks old and forgotten, some tiles have come loose off of the walls and fallen into a pile on the floor. Old medical equipment is covered in a thin layer of dust, and the leather of the examination table she's laying on is cracked and weathered.

Worse of all is the aching sensation of numbness in her legs. Worse yet are the braces on her legs, unwieldly metal cages with vinyl adjustable straps. Crutches are leaned up against the examination bed, and in those horrifying moments where she realizes she can't walk, Daphne can hear the panicked breathing of John Logan nearby.

He's on the other side of the darkened examination room, in a wheelchair, his legs skinny and knees knocked together, feet awkwardly shifted to side. There's a flashlight in his lap, shining out towards Daphne, the only light available in the grimy and quiet hospital space. Out the metal cage windows, it's nothing but pitch blackness — it's night now, here.

Wherever here is.

Oh God. Daphne's breath comes in a gasp that is half sob as the almost forgotten but all too familiar sensation in her legs makes itself known. Her eyes are wide and frightened as she stares at John, one hand, moving a bit more awkwardly as well, comes up to shield her eyes from that weak light. "It's still a dream… it's still a fucking dream. God, please, tell me it's still a dream," she murmurs, grabbing one leg to pull off of the bed, and then the other, reaching for the awkward crutches that will encase her arms as well, caging her. She turns to look for the scarecrow that she had just moments ago summoned to help protect her — maybe not as noble in form as the unicorn, but just as noble in practice. She concentrates for a moment, and shakes her head. He's gone. She's alone — unless one wants to call Logan good company.

"It's a dream. I should be able to walk," she repeats, leaving the crutches against the bed as she instead chooses to try to move forward without them.

The flashlight wavers, left untouched in Logan's lap. His hands are busy, clasped to his face to cover his mouth as if to keep the hitchy, frightened breathing muffled and silent as he stares down at himself in open fear and disbelief. There's no attempt to call back his mount— as it were— or even look around for her, no attempt to stand, say anything, paralysed in more ways than one as his mind catches up with what's in front of him. No no no n-

Only when the flashlight slips, hits the ground and sends the beam of light skewed off in some other direction, does Daphne hear him go, "oh…" Voice faint, tremulous, but he at least moves, then, awkwardly reaching to steal back up the flashlight. He swings its gaze towards the woman in her leg braces, fascinated for a moment and suddenly very hopeful. If she can walk—

If she can walk—

She wouldn't be clattering to the floor in a heap of impotent rage. Daphne's legs give out right from under her the moment she puts her weight on them, knees buckling and braces clattering as she collapses down to the dusty tile floor, knocking the cruttches over to land at her side with a crash of the metal bodies and rubber stoppers. She lands on her hands, thankfully, but she can feel the perceptual sluggishness of normal human reflexes the same way John can feel that lack of chemical balance that he can bestow in others, it's like being on the wrong side of his own ability, stripped of everything that makes him him.

Watching Daphne collapse to the floor is a horrifying thing, for as much as John may desire ot try and help her up, he's just as much in a helpless position as she is, bound into the chair and unable to truly bend over. It's not as though helping her is out of his capabilities in the wheelchair, but his immediate sense of what to do is so drastically different from reality— such as it were.

"I think … I think we're in my dream," Daphne whimpers, managing to drag herself until her back is against the wall, to use it as leverage to pull herself up. "Do you know who those people were? I recognized Hokuto but that's all so I wouldn't think it's my dream except …" except that she is facing her worst nightmare now. She manages to get her feet underself again, the maneuver painstakingly slow as she slowly pulls herself up, using the crutches and the wall to take the brunt of her weight since her legs are useless. "I believe it's a dream — I know it's a dream — why can't I walk?" Again, it's not so much to Logan, but more to herself, to her psyche, and maybe even somewhere to the Nightmare Man, should he be listening. "Damn it. Did that woman do this? Maybe she's the oneiromancer — the one who told us to be quiet — or the one on the bed — or … I'm so confused." She thinks of Corbin tugging her into his dreams — maybe if she concentrates she can pull him into hers. If he's asleep and dreaming.

"Maybe we need to get out of this place like you said." She slides arms into the crutches, and gives Logan an appraising look. "Can you wheel yourself?"

"Fuck." Placing the flashlight in his lap, to settle between his thighs, Logan finds himself gripping onto his wheels in a movement that is an echo of familiarity. Joints squeak rustily, as if to match the decay the hospital has undergone, but— "I got it," Logan confirms at a mutter, the sparkling wealth of pride he'd carried with him before replaced by a weighty kind of shame that anyone— even a girl with braces on her own legs and fellow cripple— can see him like this.

He trundles forward a little, getting used to the motions that grant him mobility. "I feel wrong," is all he adds, miserably, but doesn't elaborate, just pauses to pick up the flashlight enough to dart it around, looking for a way out. "What good would a way out do if we can't even walk?" he asks, even as he searches. "Any of his doorways can take us anywhere. We need to— to find a way back to the hall. Or find him and…"

And what? Kick his arse? Logan falls silent again.

Silence is about all they're afforded in this tiny examination room, filled with dusty glass bottles and old surgical equipment on rusting trays. There's nothing but the sounds of Daphne and John's conversations, their personal and private pains and fears now made manifest in as much a blindingly painful way as could be. While Daphne has at least found herself a way to stand on those crutches, John seems to have sunken into the paralytic indecision that his seemingly helpless state in the wheelchair has provided him.

What good are either of them? It's a question this very building seems to be asking. Providing no answer.

"I don't know, but sitting here isn't going to help," Daphne snaps, in a strange reversal of the advice her parents used to tell her as a girl, when she would withdraw into her room. She certainly feels like curling up and feeling sorry for herself, except that she knows she doesn't have to be like this.

"Maybe if we get somewhere else, we won't be like this — maybe your fairy horse will come galloping back and your pin-up nurse, too, and you can be all virile and powerful cocky male once more, but we're not going to get anywhere sitting here. Let's go, Prince Charming." She heads to the door, opening it to God knows what.

At the very least, anger is better than whatever it is that has him on the verge of panic. The urge to trip her in retaliation is like a frission of familiarity, something Logan can grasp to as he sets the flashlight back down on his lap and goes to follow her. The skree of his wheels as he veers around are reply enough, the light swinging to dance its golden illumination over Daphne's frame, casting around her to show off whatever lies beyond. It judders with the movements of his wheelchair as he silently follows, mouth set in a line of contempt.

When Daphne gets the door open, it creaks noisily, opening out into not just a dusty, but a demolished hall. The ceiling of the hospital has been completely destroyed, shattered concrete and twisted rebar show three floors up, where loose papers blow out from the gutted side of Mt.Sinai Hospital. Desks hang halfway out from shattered layers of the hospital floors, and out beyond the demolished front of the building, the skies are charred black, tinged with firey orange where the glow of a distant inferno chokes up soot and black ash into the skies.

As Daphne hobbles out on her crutches and Logan wheels out into the obliterated hall behind her, they can see the crumbling ruins of New York City sprawling like some nightmarish vista beyond them, crackling orange flames illuminating some still burning buildings, while glowing hot embers fall down where once ashes did in that more foggy and purgatorial place they once were.

Amidst all of the ruins, there is something grand rising above them all. From here, it looks like the bare naked iron scaffolding of a skyscraper, too impossibly large to exist in reality, rising up like the mythic tower of Babel from the floor of what should be the ruins of Midtown, piercing the choking black clouds and disappearing into whatever nighrmarish heavens this place has.

Down at the end of what remains of the hallway they're standing in, Daphne and Logan both hear a very unusual noise amidst this horrible landscape.


An elevator is coming up from the basement.

Staring at the horrific apocalypse before them, Daphne trembles visibly. "It's not real," she whispers again, brows knitting together as she scowls, frightened and angry at once at the nightmarescape before them. "It's like something out of Tolkienn or something," she grumbles, and then turns to look at the source of the chime. "Shit." She would take a step backward, except it's hard to do so on crutches and in braces. "You still have your sword, Charming?" she asks as she extrooc Okay go for it

Staring at the horrific apocalypse before them, Daphne trembles visibly. "It's not real," she whispers again, brows knitting together as she scowls, frightened and angry at once at the nightmarescape before them. "It's like something out of Tolkienn or something," she grumbles, and then turns to look at the source of the chime. "Shit." She would take a step backward, except it's hard to do so on crutches and in braces. "You still have your sword, Charming?" she asks as she extricates her arm from the crutch to feel her pockets for anything that might be useful as a weapon, but finding nothing.

"Um," is a discouraging answer, Logan slowly becoming accustomed to his own predicament as he wheels up to settle beside her, staring out at the ruined plane of destruction, before twisting— as much as he can twist— in his seat towards the ding!

His wheels make marks in the ashy debris of the hallway when he turns around— far too expertly in the familiar way Daphne's navigates her crutches, it's just like riding a bike, one supposes, you never fucking forget— and eyes that direction. "I never did see New York when the bomb hit," he mutters, wheels squeaking when he backs up an inch. "I don't suppose you did either. Maybe we should find whoever it is that did." Or run. Or roll, or limp. Whatever comes first.

The elevator is empty, if not disturbingly bright and cheery with its brass fixtures and faux wood paneling and Girl from Ipanaema tittering out in bossa nova glory through speakers. It's a cheery, upbrat song for elevator music, complete with bongos and brass horns. Unfortunately contrary to the inviting appearance of the elevator are the two passengers that had ridden it all the way up to the top floor.

The first of which steps out to the merry tune, one white heel touching down to the tile floor, pleather miniskirt nurse uniform snugly wrapped around her body as much as the celophane wrapped around her face is sucked tight to her skin. Maybe Marilyn Monroe didn't die from asphyxiation, but the visible qualities of this particular zombie are indeed similar.

She steps out from the elevator, pale legs spider-webbed with purple vericose veins that bulge and twitch, glowing a luminous blue, the same color as the syringe in one of her hands and the's carrying with her shambling, choking gait towards the pair of cripples, as if to imply; it's okay it's just a needle.

Behind her is something far more obvious in its menacing. Burlap cloth is drawn over the bowed head of a tall man, rope from a noose tied tight around his neck. Where his mouth would be behind the bag is a bloody stain, two eyeholes cut but not eyes to speak of peering out from beyond. It shuffles out, carrying a far less medicinial looking emergency axe behind it, dragging the pick end across the tiles with a scraping noise.

"You aren't supposed to be here."

The voice comes chirping over the speakers in the elevator, blending in to the tune of the Girl from Ipanema, and that sassy salsa beat keeps playing as those two monstrous perversions of Daphne and Logan's Persona keep shambling out of the elevator and down the hall towards them.

"Get out."

Behind Daphne and Logan, from the opposite direction of the elevators, there's a frightened sound of heavy breathing and shoes squeaking across a tile floor. They can't see where it's coming from, but a pair of partially closed double doors seems to be leading towards that noise, along with an impossible to reconcile pressurized hiss like the air brakes of a bus, but there's no bus in sight.

"No, I came after. I was in Paris when it hit…" Daphne begins, in response to Logan, when the things come out of the elevator. The petite speedster stares for a moment at the lurching, loping steps of their personal avatars and then shakes her head, beginning to move away from them. "Well, I was half right, anyway, just missing the fairy steed… though I think that's a good thing…" she mutters. "Where are we supposed to go? It doesn't want us here, which means this is where we need to be, right? Any ideas, Charming? They aren't very graceful but they've got two working legs each which is more than we have. I don't think we can outrun them — or out-wheel them." Her eyes flicker to the looming building. "Do you think we're supposed to go there?"

A frantic glance back at the building, and Logan curses under his breath. "Dunno. Reckon it's got wheelchair access?" Probably not, but it has a door, one that can be closed between Monroe and the scarecrow. His eyes are wide, white around the dilute discs of his irises that could become vibrant green with power — and don't, in the way his legs rest useless in front of him. His gaze flicks from his avatar's face to the blue syringe in her hand, nauseous familiarity making him dizzy for a moment.

With that same groan of metal and leather, he turns his chair, wheels with pushing, violent motions of his arms in retreat.

Leaving the elevator behind, Logan's wheels squeak and scuff across the floor as his hands frantically wheel him over lumps of debris and down the broken tiled hall. Cracked paint peeling like parchment paper off of walls blurs past to his right, and the burning apocaylptic wasteland of whatever nightmare scape this is blurs past to his left. Behind him, Daphne's crutches click-clack-snak-clack as she tries to follow behind John's path of wheeled escape.

She can hear the suffocating flex of the plastic wrapped around the nurse's head, her throaty strangling noises and the metallic scrape of that emergency axe dragging behind her own strawman come scarecrow. Just as John's reaching those partly open double doors that — mercifully — open away from the direction he's coming and can just be plowed through, he hears a tell-tale and heart-sinking clatter and crash behind him.

When one of Daphne's crutches hits a piece of broken tile on the floor, her arm swings out from under her and she falls chin-first onto the ground. Her teeth click together, blood runs from the cut on the underside of her jaw, and she's prone on the ground as the gurgling scream of John's persona comes staggering down the hall at her, syringe of Refrain held backhanded in her veiny grip.

He could run, get through those doors, and get out— or he could go back for Daphne.

The fall, for Daphne, happens in slow motion — the tug of the rubber stopper on the broken tile, the topsy turvy tilting of the hallway as the floor rushes up toward her or so it seems — and that skull-shaking crunch of chin on ceramic as her arms and legs go sprawling. "Fuck," she swears, thickly, pushing herself up to try to crawl toward those doors, dragging crutches with her or else once she can get up to her feet, she won't have a way to walk. Tears of fear and rage stream down her face, mixing with the blood on her chin. "Go…" she tells Logan, even as she crawls toward him. "Go, get help." What help? "Get … find a way out… or a way forward… I shouldn't be like this, I'm not crippled anymore…" she babbles in her panic.

The clatter of crutches is enough for him to swerve, make the mistake of looking back. "Oh come on," is an almost pained whine, frantically assessing the situation and casting an almost pleading look to the doors he'd been wheeling towards. Every man for himself is a sentiment Logan's basically made a career out of, but— he also doesn't want to be alone. Two cripples are better than one. His chair shifts as he reaches down towards the ground, over the side of the arm and going blanch white at whatever imagined pained the gesture brings.

"Get up," he snarls at Daphne, even as he brings his arm back— and pitches the piece of concrete as hard and an accurate as he can towards the shambling version of his avatar. He's already reaching for more, a twisted piece of rebar to fling or fend off the approching creatures, almost as soon as it leaves his hand.

The piece of concrete smashes against Monroe's plastic-wrapped forehead, sending her lurching back and the needle clattering out of her hand. Stepping forward past her, Daphne's shambling straw man lifts up that axe with both hands, the red hued haft and head starkly contrasting against the grim and dusty environs of the hospital. When he moves forward, gurgling out a wet groan, Logan's hand is winding around a piece of rebar on the floor and pulling it up into view—

—as a sword?

Held in Logan's hand, a mirror-smooth finish to a curved military saber looks remarkably unlike the rusted piece of metal he thought he was holding a moment ago. The jeweled studded gold hilt is a bit garish— but so very much John Logan. Writhing on the ground, John's twisted mockery of Marilyn Monroe kicks her legs and reaches out for her throat, spasming on the floor as though only now suffocating from the celophane.

Whoever's exerting a hold on John and Daphne is losing their control.

He didn't leave her. There might be some surprise on Daphne's face as Logan flips his wheelchair around and keeps the things chasing them at bay, but there's no time to dwell on the shock. She takes the moment to grab the wall in one hand, and the handle of his wheelchair in the other, pulling herself up. "Shit," she says as she sees the sword in his hand. "Something's changing…" she murmurs, out of breath, once she's on her feet again. Emboldened by Logan's sword, perhaps, she swings her crutch at the scarecrow's head — the irony of having to fight her own avatar not missed. "So much for paying attention in class," she mutters to herself.

His fingers make a ridged, knuckled fist around the garish hilt, feeling moderately uplifted by the sight of it. Dream. It's all a dream. He flinches back in his chair when Daphne suddenly swings metal and plastic towards the head of the axe wielding monster, the blade brought up in preparation to stab the pointy end into enemy flesh. He can't help but wrench his attention towards the suffocating monster that was his avatar, swallowing hard.

And then reaching down with his free hand to grip the fabric of his pant leg to place a foot against the ground, trying to draw up strength through his dwindled leg — a tentative kind of pressure, measuring.

They can hear the crying again, ragged sobs that have replaced the awkwardly cheery music in the elevator. Something is doing battle inside of this dream, and it isn't just Logan and Daphne, there's a fight going on at some metaphysical level all around them that they seem to be either spectators to or not quite a part of.

Daphne's crutch smashes against the chest of her scarecrow Persona in the same beat that Logan is up on his feet, shakily getting out out of his wheelchair and thrusting that military saber through the scarecrow's chest. There's a thin viscous line of silvery-white luminous fluid that spews forth from its chest as Logan's blade cuts a gleaming arc of that diamond-glitter through the air.

It stumbles back, falls down and lands in a heap on its side. When it collapses to the ground, Monroe's body arches her back, as a spiral horn explodes out of her midsection. There is a flesh tearing sound, a swelling of skin, and then a thunderous neigh as an entire unicorn comes exploding out of her body like clowns out of a clown car.

Golden mane shines in the gloom, metallic hooves click-clack on the tile as it lands in a prance. Just moments after, the bag-headed specter of Daphne's persona begins to twitch, snap and break, stitches coming undone on its sack-cloth body, filling coming out, and Ray comes scrambling out from its chest cavity with herky-jerky puppet motions much like the unicorn had clawed its way out of whatever fleshy prison Monroe's doppleganger had represented.

But now the pair are faced with a choice, the seeming exit behind them, or the crying coming from the elevator.

The tow-headed speedster can only stare at the impossible spectacle before her for a moment before she realizes that Logan is up on his feet, and she takes a step forward herself, holding onto her crutches rather than casting them away — in case she needs to hit anything, or in case she finds herself unable to walk.

"Which way?" she says, one foot pointed toward the double doors even as she glances back at the elevator, conflicted feelings evident on her still tear-stained and bloody face. Dark eyes flick from one choice to the other. "I… if we can walk, it's not my nightmare anymore. Is it them we're supposed to help?" she nods to the elevator.

Once all is said and done, there's a loud clatter as Logan kicks his wheelchair aside with so much venom and anger that you'd think the contraption was the reason he'd ever been in it. Turning, he ignores Daphne for the time it takes for him to greet his unicorn, smoothing a hand up the long bridge of her muzzle before he's glancing back over his shoulder at the pixie-like woman and then the sound of crying. "I don't know," he tells her, honestly, stepping back from his steed and resheathing his sword. "But I'm not so keen to walk away now. Every mind he takes, the worst he gets — every mind he loses…"

He sighs out, a shrug. "Maybe that means we're winning. Come on. What's the worst he can do to us now?" A meaningful glance at her crutches, before he begins to move towards the elevator.

The elevator isn't spacious enough for a full purebred unicorn, as pretty as she may be, but it's thankful that when John slides inside, it's more of a blonde nurse behind him than anything else. Dark brows go up as Marilyn slides around and behind John, arms over his shoulders, and Daphne's able to walk with creaking steps towards the elevator. With each step the straps on her leg braces creak, groan, flex and snap, eventually breaking right off of her legs.

Inside, there's — comically — only one button to press inside the elevator.

Floor Three — Psychiatric Ward

Delightful. Winking, Marilyn leans over and around John and depresses the button as Daphne and Ray are making their way inside. The door chimes, slides shut, and then immediately the lights go out and it becomes an express elevator down as the cables snap and lights go rushing by at wildly fast speed.

The entire elevator shakes, shudders and groans, the metal of emergency breaks screech, groan and then snap as the elevator continues its plummet down, down, down—


It sounds like air brakes again, a faint noise of something hissing inside the elevator, right before it just stops. Not jerks to a stop, not crashes, not anything that one would expect from inertia, just… stops. The elevator comes to a silent halt after the hissing sound, the doors slide open with a rumble, and John Logan, Marilyn Monroe's convincing look alike, the Scarecrow from the Wizard of Oz and Daphne Milbrook are staring out at the interior of a darkly lit concrete corridor. There is a red stripe of paint going along the wall at floor level, and rows upon rows of iron doors. In a way, it looks just like the hospital did, even one of those metal cells doors is open, and there is crying coming from within.

Legs free of braces, Daphne zips into the elevator with a touch of her speed to see that her power has returned in full. She gives Ray a skeptical look, however, having lost a bit of her confidence in the brainless avatar. When the doors open again she steps out, walking slowly despite the fact she doesn't have to. She hands one crutch to Ray and keeps the other — some weapon is better than none, even if it is just metal piping with rubber ends. "Thanks for coming back," she adds quietly, not looking at Logan but at the red stripe that leads them down the corridor.

Out into the corridor we go, Logan bringing up a hand to draw Marilyn's arm off down his shoulders, but contentedly pushing his fingers through her's in a loose handhold as they step out of the elevator. His other hand still grips his sword, pale gaze roaming over the rows of doors, mouth twisting a little in some vague familiarity — reminds him some of the basement of his former brothel, though those were only wooden. Certainly there'd be weeping sometimes and—

These thoughts are interrupted by Daphne's word of thank you. He did do that, didn't he? The sword rotates as he uneasily shifts the hilt around in his hand. "'s okay," he responds, now looking towards the open door. "Just means you get to go first."

This concrete hallway is wholly an unfamiliar place, save for those who had ever seen the interior of the Moab Federal Penitentiary's Red Level. Passing by door after steel door, Logan and Daphne come once more to an open doorway, just as they had before when they entered here. That pressurized hisss-snap of air brakes comes again as they peer inside, and see a brunette woman sitting in the middle of a featureless cell, hunched forward with hands folded in her lap, head down and slowly shaking from side to side. "I'm sorry…" she murmurs under her breath, that Russian accent just a touch thicker. In her hands, she's holding a lump of fresh, dry earth, sprouted with tufts of green grass. When her head tilts up, it's clear she's silently crying, the way her cheeks glisten.

"I'm so sorry…" Her fingers curl in the dry soil, sending crumbling chunks falling from between her fingers to the concrete floor. Skinny legs in gray pants draw up as she scoots back against the smooth stone wall, and she hugs that dirt clod to her chest, eyes wrenches shut and a ragged sob escaping her lips.

Ray turns a particularly If I only had a brain look to Daphne, then cranes his head to peer inside the cell again.

"Where are we — it's not the hospital now. A jail?" Daphne murmurs, though she doesn't really expect Logan to have an answer. When they finally get to the door, she frowns, then takes a step into the cell. She hasn't done this before, and she's unsure of what to do — not really. Corbin's dream doesn't count. Hokuto's dream gathering, she didn't have to try to save someone.

"Miss? It's a dream. It's okay. Whatever you think you did tonight, you didn't do it. You just need to wake up, and things will be better," she says, stepping closer. "Some person is doing this to you — to us — but you can fight him. We can help you." She gestures at the odd trio behind her.

"Waking up for how long?" Logan's voice is quiet, echoing off the walls and low ceiling, moving to stand in view of the door before letting it frame him, a hand resting on the edge. "Just for the Nightmare Man to come back and take her? It's not that easy, love. Though— she does need to know it's a dream." And into the cell, now, eyeing the woman with faint recognition as the one who banished them back into their unpleasant states just prior.

He's not good at this part, and likely, neither is Daphne, but— "What's your name?" he asks of the woman, firmly, if only to draw her attention towards this misfit quartet.

"Tonight…" The young woman murmurs, looking up through the dark bangs of her hair, lower lip trembling as she squeezes that dirt clod between her hands harder. "I— " Brows furrow at Logan, her teeth press down into her lower lip, and the girl offers a hesitant smile. "My— My name's Risa. Risa Lynette. I— " her voice hitches in the back of her throat. "It's not what I did tonight, I— " she looks around the cell, then back to Daphne. "I know this is a dream…" she offers in a hesitant smile, a very lucid expression on her young face. "But I belong here, in a cell, where I can't hurt anyone with my ability."

Swallowing awkwardly, she looks at Logan and John with a guilty expression before resting her chin on the backs of her knees. "I'm— I'm sorry about what I did to you both. I think— I think I'm doing this." Her eyes track from side to side, "this place… isn't anywhere anymore. It— it was destroyed, so I know it's a dream. But I hurt you and your boyfriend…" She looks back up to Daphne and John with furrowed brows.

"I… I can't control my ability. It's why they put me in here, and— and I couldn't even use it to— to save— " Swallowing awkwardly, the girl curls up righter, clutching that dry and crumbling ball of soil to her chest. "I'm sorry," she breathes out in a strangled sob.

"I don't know how it works, that's why I keep asking you!" Daphne hisses to Logan when he corrects her, but then she's listening to the woman's earnest confessions and apologies. "I… you didn't hurt us. Or if you did, it wasn't your fault, Risa. It's this Oneiromancer's fault; he's messing with your dream and making you do these things. You're not doing them, not on purpose or even by accident, at least not in your dream, honey." She waits a beat, then adds, "He's not my boyfriend."

Daphne takes a step forward to touch the woman's shoulder. "I think to fight him you have to think of something strong in yourself — something to help you fight him. You can do it, Risa," she says encouragingly.

"And that's why I'm explaining," Logan says, a defensive mutter before he switches his attention on important things, like the woman in front of them. As both women exchange words, he paces along the length of the cell, Marilyn slinking inside to lean her back against the wall beside the door, an arm up, striking a pose with all casualness of someone simply crossing their arms.

Logan pays her no mind, setting the tip of the saber against the ground, letting it spin and keeping balance with his palm against the hilt. "Someone you've wronged that forgives you," he suggests. "Or loves you. A place you felt safe. An item that reminds you why you're good in this world. You let the bad things you've done get to you— "

He smiles, up to the canines. "It'll eat you alive."

"My ability… is forcing the past on people." Risa growls out thorugh clenched teeth, "I— Someone did come for me, t— tried to blame me for Norman's death. But then— I— I don't know, then all of the sudden I was in the hospital with that crying girl and her dying mother. Then you all came in and— and I could feel you trapped, trapped in that wheelchair, and those braces. I— I pulled those things out of your pasts…"

Risa looks down at her knees, uncurling just a little to look at the dirt in her hands. "The only thing that ever gave me strength in the whole world, I watched die…" her jaw trembles, dark eyes wander up towards Logan and Daphne. "Just like it did for the person who came to me and tried to hurt me. I could feel their pain, I— I could see into their past. It was so horrible…"

Looking back down at the dirt in her palms, Risa closes her eyes and brings it up to her nose, smelling the scent of soil. "He's not here…" she offers in a hushed breath, looking up to Logan and Daphne. "You don't belong here… I kept trying to warn you. I— I'm dangerous. But he's gone. I— I think I hurt him."

Daphne glances back at the scarecrow she had pulled out without too much thought… even though he turned against her for some reason, she now understands where he came from — Ray was the one thing she had ever done for her father that had helped him, had saved the crops that year from the crows. She smiles softly to herself, but then Risa's words pull her out of her pride in her creation.

"You … you somehow trapped him in his past? The nightmare man?" she asks, brows knitting as she looks at Logan with a questioning look. "We talked that day about trapping him somehow — trapping him in a telepath's mind or something, but… maybe if you could keep him trapped in the past, we wouldn't have to do that!" There is some excitement as she looks to Risa again. "Is there a way to do that? To keep him trapped? Can you do that in the waking world? Where are you in the real world?" The questions sound ludicrous, but then even absurdities make sense in a dream world. Reality is what makes no sense in a nightmare.

Logan's knows a frission of shared excitement, tempered though it might be with doubt enough to make him scowl. Still, he doesn't interrupt— until the end, gently pointing out; "Hokuto said he doesn't have a place in the waking world. He exists only in our heads, so I dunno…" …if it matters. Still. He narrows his focus on Risa, eyes a bright shade of green — he doesn't negate her, but if serotonin is something that exists here, it heightens into a pleasant mood. Maybe the dream cross over allows for only her sleeping body to adjust.

Maybe nothing happens.

All the same, he speaks, "The thing hurting you is hurting lots of people. Like me. You feel bad about what you did to me and my lady fair," a glance to Daphne, corner of his mouth quirking up, "then maybe you should help us in return, and keep hurting him until we figure this out."

"With frien's…" Risa murmurs, brows furrowed, "and no, I can't keep him trap't. He got away now, didn't he?" One dark brow of Risa's crooks up slowly, and she looks down to the dirt in her palms, offering a hesitant smile. "My frien's wouldn't appreciate me telling you where we were staying, they are not the most forgiving people in the world, and…" Risa swallows tightly, "I cannot do what you wish't of me anyway…"

Logan's request elicits a side-long look from Risa, her dark eyes considering his far lighter ones with a crease of her brows. "I— He'd have to come around again. I don't much know that he would, after what I showed him, and what I saw. I don't know many people who want to be around me after they know what I— "

An almighty crash as he turns and heaves a heavy examination table over on its side, ramming into a shelf, tipping books to the floor. Swift footsteps take him across the room, carelessly swiping his sword across the dressing screens as he goes, humming.

The shock of mental contact wracks Daphne, Logan and Risa with stunning mental images of something— somewhen— somewhere— else.

That cane. That fucking cane. Eileen squeezes her eyes shut, searching for a beacon of clarity in the darkness, but sees nothing except for inky black and brilliant white whorls swimming in her vision like stars. When she opens them again, she finds what she was looking for in the guise of a muzzle-shaped glimmer several feet away. In the act of overturning the examination table, Logan unwittingly exposed the pistol that had come to rest beneath it, its stark shape standing out against a sea of broken glass, acrid-smelling liquid and hundreds upon hundreds of tiny pills amassing on the clinic floor.

It doesn't stop, pulsing like a heartbeat in their minds, a moment of a snapshot of an instant in time forever etched in the mind of John Logan, where Risa Lynette seems to be residing in some intangible manner.

Eileen's gaze darts from the gun to Logan's back, and does not dare linger on either for fear of prematurely alerting one to the other. As the tip of the sword cleaves deep gouges in the dressing screen and slices cleanly through the fabric stretched across each carefully-constructed panel, she rolls onto her back and raises her eyes to the ceiling, bloodied lips coming together to silently beseech whatever gods there are, if any.

"I— I'm sorry!" Risa cries out, curling up into a small ball as a keening sound escapes her throat, eyes wrenched shut, trying to avoid the assailing senses that flow out from her to the others.

Smash. Smash. Bottles of cleaning alcohol located, and being dashed upon the scuffed wooden floor with almost jovial flings. Glass breaks, skitters, gives way to the strong smelling chemical now pooling on the floor, candlefire flickering in dangerous reflections. Pills burst into smears of powder underfoot as Logan walks, destruction following him as he lays the clinic to waste.

"Oh god I'm— so sorry!"

Perhaps he's not supposed to kill her. Perhaps the environment is getting the rest of his pent up frustration instead. Or maybe he just likes breaking things, that's fun too.

"I wonder if your Italian friend'll come for blood too," Logan says, his voice sounding miles away beneath the thrum of pain, adrenaline, and pleasure. "Just like you did. Wonder what I'll do to 'im, then, when he does? Maybe I'll just end this vicious cycle right then and there, but it don't end with you, does it. Not tonight."

Eileen's hips lift off the floor, her spine curving into a high arch that transfers most of her weight to her shoulders. At a distance, the act could easily be mistaken for misplaced display of desperation and need as her body contorts, twists and writhes, one arm reaching high above her head, fingers curling, fumbling—

She feels her hand close around the pistol's grip, but what she could have easily lifted five minutes ago is as heavy as lead when she tries to pick it up again.

Clunk. Eileen's arm succumbs and the pistol's muzzle glances carelessly against the floorboards.

A pause, and more swift footsteps. Despite her weakness, a boot comes down slowly but firmly on her wrist, pinning it there while the sword catches the weapon, lets it slide heavily against the wooden floor with a flick. "Now, now," Logan says, in his muted, distant voice from somewhere further than he really is. "Now's not the time to make up for past mistakes." His boot lifts again, freeing her hand, and finally that feeling of unnatural pleasure relents, although the body will have to spend its own time in reaching a balance.

Risa's body is shuddering, her eyes rolled back into her head as she twitches on her cot, forcing these images, sounds, sensations out into the minds of Logan and Daphne just as she experiences these flickering stacatto flashes of past events as well.

"Take care of yourself."

"I'm so sorry…"

The vision has Daphne cowering suddenly, unsure if the dream had shifted to another place and another time once more, ducking her head as if the smashing of the glasses and bottles might injure her. "What the hell — what's … where are we now!" she shouts, though the Logan she sees now is not the same Logan she was with a moment ago. "Damn it… I want to wake up… wake up!" The last is a command — to herself, to Risa, to Logan, to all three? It isn't clear.

There's a clang as Logan just drops his sword, walking backwards into a wall as if in an attempt to get away from the flashing vision of himself and Eileen, little Eileen who wound up in a nine day coma after everything, who would come to try and kill him, and everything spirals convoluted ever after. By the time it ends, he wheezes out a breath from where his hands are muffling himself, lowering again to smooth out his shining waistcoat. His face is ashen in the light, some strange sense of fear draining blood from his face as if waiting for the smackdown of guilt like he remembers getting that one time.

It doesn't come. Thank heavens for small favours. "You just— " His voice is croaky, and he tries again. "You just— stop that." And now poison green eyes indicate the blanket negation settled over Risa, though it wavers, in and out. "We can't wake up. Can't wake up until someone lets us out."

"You okay pal? Buddy? You don't look so good are you okay?"

Only Logan hears the voice in his head, an old man concerned for him, but it doesn't remind him of anyone or anything from his past. Risa doesn't even seem to notice as she props herself up onto an elbow, threading a lock of dark hair from behind one ear. "M'sorry…" She mumbles, tears welled up in her eyes yet unshed. "I— I did not want to show you that, I can't control what m'power does, it is— it is like a reflex."

"Hey, pal…" He hears fingers snapping, "what're you stoned or something?"

"My power's… it shows you what you left behind. People, places, all'a that. I— I'm so sorry… I don't want t'hurt anyone— I— I didn't mean to." The wall beside Risa ripples softly, shifting to the strange depiction of reflecting stone, which is in itself a bit strange, until it takes on more obvious qualities of a very tall mirror with wrought wooden frame and polished glass. It only shows Daphne and Logan in it, and nothing else. It is— apparently— the way out.

Was she right? This girl drove off the Nightmare Man herself, without even needing to muster up the willpower to do it? Is his past that terrible?

"Is he breathing?"

Logan can still hear the voices, echoing distantly in his head, and once more he hears the psssh-kssss of pressurized brakes. But there's the mirror, the way out, the way to waking.

Ahead, not behind.

Daphne uncurls from her fetal ball. She isn't going to wait. "Come on…" she says, gesturing to Logan. "We need to go — otherwise she might … we might not leave, if we get caught in the past." She isn't sure if that's how it works, but the mirror is there, and it's the first she's seen since they fell into this asylum of dreams and pasts. She holds a hand out to Logan, to take as she steps through the looking glass, hoping it's the way out of this wonderland.

In all the warped rules of dreamland, the flashes of memory and the shifts of setting— the sounds Logan hears in the back of his head still seems strange, enough for him to glance distractedly over his shoulder, then towards the mirror. Daphne's beckoning hand is stared at, then a rueful eye cast to Risa. Okay. They can always find them again. Swallowing, Logan picks up his sword and sheaths it, and Marilyn Monroe only falls into step with him as he takes Daphne's hand.

The postcognitive doesn't earn a goodbye, just a nod of acknowledgement before negator and speedster head for the mirror.

Through the looking glass, as it were, without a look back. As Daphne and Logan step through the mirror to exit the dreaming world and return to their seperate minds, Risa Lynette pulls her knees up closer to her chest as they disappear. She swallows, tightly, when Logan disappears thorugh the silvery surface, head bowed and jaw set. She looks down to the lump of earth in her hands, and then over to the door of her cell with a guilty expression on her face.

"Did I do good, Norman?" There, behind where Daphne and Logan were standing, the towering silhouette of the wild, blonde-haired Norman White offers a slow, silent nod as he takes a few steps over towards Risa, laying one large hand down atop her head. Lips draw back slowly, revealing a pearly white smile.

"You did wonderful, my little Risa…" When she looks up into his golden eyes, Risa somehow believes that much was true.

"You did exactly like I wanted you to."

Snapping his eyes open, Logan has someone's sweaty finger under his nose. An old man in thich glasses is hunched over him, and a fat man with a shaggy head of curly hair is reaching to rifle thrrugh his pockets. He's— on a bus?

"Dude!" The Fat guy says, lifting up a business card, "He runs a stip club or something, maybe he's doped up on coke or— hooker— something?" The old man furrows his brows, waving a hand at the overweight bus passenger.

When did he get on the goddamned bus?

"Sir? Sir are you okay? You've been looking a little… vacant, you wandered onto the bus in your night robe, so— " He offers a gentle smile. "My name's Donald, I'm a doctor. Do you know where you are?" The kindly old man moves to sit at Logan's side, offering up a warm — if not somewhat anxious — smile. For all his worth, Logan isn't sure when he fell asleep, but apparently it was in his leapord print bathrobe. When Donald hunches down to sit on the seat next to Logan, and the haze of sleep is wearing off and he's trying to figure out where he is, Logan catches something out of the corner of his eyes as he turns to look at the window to his right.


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