Bridge Between Sleep And Awake


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Scene Title Bridge Between Sleep And Awake
Synopsis Corbin expects to be in other people's dreams. He's not quite figured out to protect himself against his own. Luckily a speedster happens by.
Date January 2, 2010

Dreamscape and Beyond

The world of dreams is always in motion. Always changing, always breathing new life here and there. In all the descriptions he'd heard from his old partner, he never imagined he would be walking around in them, much less trying to help people. Dreams blur together, the lines between them fade into each other, and things combine. The setting of the dream? The bridge that passes over Roosevelt Island. The tram nearby marks the location. The island's visible underneath. The bridge itself is eerily empty, without any people or cars. Only one. A taxi cab that stands with door open. Everything about this place is off. Including the woman standing in front of the open door.

The city doesn't look wrecked. The skyscrapers are not crumbled. This is a dream of New York before the bomb.

"I have to go. I'm going to be late for an audition." The young woman's face is blurred, shadowed, as if there's something about it that just won't allow it to come into focus.

And Corbin thinks he must be here to save her. "I don't think the cab driver's in there anymore…" It seems strange to mention, like everything isn't quite right. The tram raises upwards, then begins to sail across, next to the bridge. There's no one on board. It shouldn't even be running at all."

"You should come with me. You've missed so many of my plays. You can sit in on the audition."

He's not here to save anyone. Someone else is here to save him.

Racing along the water, Daphne doesn't appear as more than a streak of color — white, black, and red, as usual — before she slows to a stop once she reaches the bank, climbing up it to look at the world from the base of the bridge. She only stops because something finally clicks as not right. This is not her New York City, a city she did not call home until after the bomb. She only knows the broken skyline, the one with landmark buildings missing, the city with the hole in the midst of its bustling heart. This is not the city that has been her home for the past year.

She shakes her white-blonde head, one hand on her hip as she looks around, frowning. The last time her sleeping mind played tricks on her, she ended up with her hands in a stranger's chest. She begins to walk, slowly, in the direction of the nearby taxi, though not paying much attention to it yet.

"Wait… Moira?" Corbin says, voice breaking a little as he steps away from the cab, toward the edge of the bridge. There should be so many people around, in cars, in the street, using the walkways. But instead there's just the two of them, and a young woman with white hair approaching slowly. The young woman near the cab becomes more visible by the moment, her name giving her an appearance. Brown hair, blue eyes, she looks as clean and soft as the man in front of her looks rugged and scruffy. In a silly brightly colored tourist shirt. "You're not here, you can't be here," he adds, voice growing firm.

"Maybe I wouldn't have died if you'd come to see my audition," she says, voice darkening from the sweet tones. The shadows begin to play along her face, until they form into burns. "Instead you were too busy with your job. A job that did real good in protecting me from them."

The words make him stumble backwards on the platform. There's supposed to be a rail— concrete between the edge of the bridge and the fall into the water. In this dream, there's not.

She's really too far, or would be in a world that followed the rules of physics, to hear those words, but Daphne hears them all the same. She wouldn't have died? But she's here. But Daphne knows, in some part of her that's more awake, that this is a woman who died in the bomb. "No!" she cries out as the man stumbles, beginning to speed toward the man to help him even as she yells. If he falls, he will be likely be killed. The word is torn from her lips in the rush of wind that accompanies her speed, as she reaches out to grab the fabric of that god-awful shirt, to keep him from falling.

Even in the dream, the laws of physics should still apply, at least somewhat. But certain people defy it. Corbin knows this, and even then he's taken by surprise when a gust of wind ruffles his hair, and a hand grabs his shirt and pulls him forward. The woman in the dream blackens, skin crisping. The smell of something burning fills the air, even if there's no sign of fire. The buildings start to crumble, showing the effects of the bomb in slow motion, without the bomb itself. The sky darkens, light from the sun casting through holes, touching buildings at bridge.

He takes in quick breaths, grabbing onto the small hand of the woman who grabbed his shirt. He doesn't recognize her, but he's beginning to understand.

He's the one getting a dream. Maybe Hokuto unintenionally made him a target. But he can't stop looking at his sister as her skin blankets and her body begins to collapse as the muscles can no longer hold her up. There's tears in his eyes. "This— this is just a dream," he tries to say outloud to remind himself. The woman whose hand he's holding may well be the only thing that's real, so he doesn't let go.

Daphne, petite as she is, is not strong enough to pull the stranger to safety. But speed is a force unto itself that makes the impossible possible. Her attempts, at least to her, seem to occur in slow motion, despite her spinning her proverbial wheels as fast as she can. Seconds tick by like molasses, and for a speedster, each second is a lifetime. "Yes, it's a dream, but we might really be on a bridge for all I know!" she shouts anxiously.

The hand grips at her own, trying to hold on, but something else in the dream seems to have other ideas about this situation. "You didn't protect me, Corbin," the voice says, throat sounding harsh and dry. The burning body of the woman reaches toward them, and everything slows down. Even to the point that Daphne slows down. The fingers on her hand start to fall off in black chunks, the skin peeling and breaking, the bones looosening and dropping.

And just like the buildings off in the distance are falling apart, the bridge starts to fall apart as well. It begins to crumble at the edges, moving closer and closer to where they stand.

"You need to go, you need to wake up and get out of here. Go."

"Oh, God, I'm not… fast enough…" the small speedster says, staring at her hand, watching it in fascinated, disgusted wonder as the muscles and bones disintegrate, letting go of this man she's trying to save. Perhaps at the cost of her own life — except part of her knows it's a dream. They keep saying it. It's just a dream.

"It's a dream, it's a dream, wake up," Daphne says, both to herself and to this stranger. She falls away, and then everything goes black.

A moment later, her eye lids fly open and she's out of her bed like a shot, pausing only to pull on her favorite sneakers. Luckily she was sleeping in a pair of black yoga pants and a gray sweatshirt, due to the chilly night. There is no pause for jacket or gloves or hat or even keys. She is a blur of gray, black, and white, speeding out of her penthouse and down to the street, to make her way for Roosevelt Island.

Inside the dream, the world continues to crumble away, her hand gone from his grasp. Corbin can't feel what he's doing, but he can see everything falling apart around him. He didn't protect her. This is a dream that he had long ago, one that got soothed and fixed by a certain woman who he'd been close to for years. She's with him now. She has to be.

But being with him doesn't mean much, when the bridge crumbles apart all around him. Chunks fall toward the water, his sister's skin turns to ash.

And on the same bridge, there's a car pulled over against the side of the road, lights blinking. Sleep driving? It would seem he had. For there's a man standing on the edge of the bridge, up on top of the thick concrete rails, stumbling slightly as if walking on unsteady ground.

His eyelids are closed, circular buldges rapidly moving back and forth. And he's wearing clothes that look slept in. And no shoes. No shoes on feet that begin to slip.

Daphne knows not to yell. She's seen far too many movies for that! The person on the bridge always turns toward the voice, then flails around losing their balance before plummeting to their death with a scream that trails off into inevitable silence. Not going to happen! She doesn't slow down, speeding all the way behind him, until the wind generated from her speed rustles the air around him. She grabs him by the back of his waistband, pulling him back onto the bridge, sprawling on the concrete, her own head hitting the ground. Ow. That will leave a mark in the morning.

Pulled down from the concrete, Corbin scruffs up his arm and slams heavily into the street, but it's better than crashing to the water below. And it jars him out of the dream, pulling him away from the crumbling bridge, the sight of his burned sister and his own guilt. He lays there a moment, confused, in pain, and then rolls over onto his back and looks up. The air's far too cold for him being as little dressed as he is. But he's alive. "Damnit. I think I liked when the most I had to worry about was an angry guy with a gun mad at my articles…" Or his Company.

He runs at the side of his head. No blood. Good sign. Vision's not doubled. Also good sign. But there's a light haired petite thing nearby. "I guess we were both on a bridge."

Daphne sits up, rubbing the back of her head, then shaking it as if to get the stars to stop spinning or the birds to stop tweeting like some bunny rabbit in a cartoon. "Fuck. That hurt. You okay? Were you … sleeping? Sleepwalking?" She frowns. It sounds like such a strange thing to ask someone you pulled off a bridge! But she still has no idea how she ended up on the side of a skyscraper a few weeks back, when she had gone to bed hours before in her own bed. "Are you okay?" She is definitely not dressed for this weather. The cold concrete is biting through the thin fabric of her cargo pants, so she pushes herself up off the concrete to hop from foot to foot in order to try to keep warm.

"Looks like I sleep drove, too," Corbin says, a little surprised by this development. The bridge traffic is extremely low. Likely cause of the curfew. Even if his special little card could probably get him out of getting pulled over, it's likely that they should get out of there as soon as possible. Chilly feet make him get up as quickly as he can and begin hopping a little over to car. His definition of quickly is snailpaced to her, though.

"I think I'm okay. Probably a few bruises in the morning, but I'm lucky you came along— are you one of the— you don't look like a Logan or a Mortimer. Were you there to help me, or is that just a coincidence? Cause I'm pretty sure you just saved my life." Twice. Once in the dream, and once outside of it.

Standing, she blinks. Things look a bit topsy turvy from this outrageous height of 5 feet and two inches. She staggers a step. "I'm not a Logan or a Mortimer, no. And how would I know to help you? I don't understand any of this — why were you in my dream — and why — how did I know to come check on you here?" She takes a step back from him, looking frightened, but the world begins to spin again, and she reaches a hand out for the railing, trying to steady herself. Her eyes flutter closed as her hand goes to the back of her head, checking for blood. None. That's a good sign. "Fuck. I can't… run if I can't… walk…"

"I think you were in my dream," Corbin says, a little confused for a moment. Then again it seems like they're all a little confused. "I don't know how you knew, but I'm glad you did." Maybe Hokuto was watching over him. She helped him. He just hopes she knows he's all right. He'd hate to fail her on his first attempt to dream.

as she stumbles and loses her balance, he reaches forward and touches her arm. "Steady. You probably hit your head. You'll need to rest for a bit, possibly go to a hospital. You saved my ass, so I'm going to insist you let me take you somewhere. My name's Corbin."

"No hospitals," she says shortly. She was poked and prodded by too many doctors in her young life to want to go to one for something as tiny and insignificant as head trauma. "It's just a bruise… I just… I'm a little dizzy." She frowns. They're on a bridge in the middle of the night. But he does owe her his life. "Who did you think I was — you asked if I was one of the somethings?" If he's honest about that, maybe she'll trust him to give her a ride. The traffic is too light to hope for a cab with a vacancy light lit, at the moment.

"No hospital. Can't argue with the girl who saved my life," Corbin repeats again, before he opens the car door and begins pushing her inside into the seat. Sit. He also pulls the seatbelt down and hands it to her. She's not young, not a teenager, but she's small and slender and could probably pass for a long younger than him. A knot on his head, but otherwise, the worst damage is to his arm. And his feet. Better than a crack on his head.

Moving around the car after he gets the door closed, he hops in and turns the heat back on, waiting a minute to get settled and warm. And to speak. "There's an Evolved that controls people's dreams. Trying to get them to kill themselves. Almost managed to do it with me. I thought you were one of the people who's trying to stop it."

The speedster doesn't fight him — that in itself should suggest something is off, as the usually untrusting thief is letting herself get in the car with a stranger. She leans her head against the cool glass of the window, eyes closing. Her teeth begin chattering, as the cold from the last few minutes contrasts to the warmth in the car. But his words have her eyes opening wide. She turns to look at him, horror on her face. "Why would they do such a thing? They did it to me — a few weeks ago. I don't know anyone like that… why would they try to kill me? You? Do you know them?"

"I have no idea. He may not have any goal other than to haunt people until they die. Some people are sadistic bastards," Corbin says, finally turning off the blinking lights and beginning to drive away. It's going to be a while. Taking her to the apartment would be rude, so he takes the round about way back to the bookstore, even if it takes crossing a couple bridges to get there. "All I know is that people are fighting it." As the car chugs along and the air warms up, he adds on, "You didn't mention your name."

She should give a fake name, but she can't think of one. Her head is spinning and the headlights of oncoming traffic double and halo until she has to close her eyes. But then she feels car sick. "Daphne," she says, sounding as miserable as she feels. "So you're supposed to help stop him somehow? How the hell do you do that? I don't get this. Why am I in someone's dream I never even met? Don't I have to have you in my subconscious to dream about you? No offense, I mean, maybe I met you and forgot, but I don't think so…"

"I think I would remember you, too," Corbin admits, glancing across at her as he drives. It's likely he'll just ask her where she needs to go once he gets far enough, but he's on autopilot right now. Just not in sleep walking auto pilot. Maybe he should start carrying around some No-Doze, or handcuff himself to the bed. "I don't know how to stop him. But I know that… someone who is fighting him is sending people into other people's dreams. So they can help each other. You must have gone into mine. Unknowingly. To help me."

"I don't… I don't just help strangers I've never met before. I'm not that kind of person," she murmurs quietly, pulling her feet up in front of her on the seat and wrapping her arms around her knees, brows knit as she scowls. "I mean, no offense. I'm glad you didn't die and all. But I don't understand this." She glances up and recognizes where she is, even if the streetlights are viewed in duplicate. "Just pull over, okay? I'll get out here. I'm okay. I'll be okay."

"I don't understand it either," Corbin says as he pulls over onto the side of the road on the Manhattan street side of the bridge and parks, unlocking the doors so she can get out if he wants. He'd never be accused of kidnapping. "But you said you had bad dreams before too. You might be a target just as much as me. Maybe I'll get to return the favor and save your life too." Or so he can hope. If not… well… "Are you sure you don't want to go to a hospital?"

"No hospitals," Daphne says with a shake of her head. That brings a hand to her forehead as she winces. "Thanks for the ride, Corey." Is it the concussion, or did she just not hear his name right? The door is opened and she slowly uncurls herself to step out, stumbling a little. She's definitely still dizzy, and not really too close to home. "See you in our dreams, I guess!" she attempts a bright and quippy departure before turning to walk but bouncing into a parking meter. "Ow. Dammit."

"All right, if you insist," Corbin says, getting out of the driver's side to walk around to where she's ran into a parking meter. "Are you sure you don't want me to get you closer to home? You might walk right off into a ditch or something." He wouldn't be able to repay the favor, then. Even as he says that, he rubs at his own head and moves around on tiptoes. Bare feet tiptoes. There's probably glass and worse on the street. But it's definitely cold.

"Ditch? We have ditches in Manhattan?" she asks, holding on to the meter to keep from spinning off the curb. Her free hand rubs her arm where she ran into the meter. "The sidewalk will quit turning in a moment, I'm sure." She sighs. She can't do it. Her head feels heavy and she just wants to sleep. "Okay. You're barefoot. If you're gonna follow me around anyway, I guess you might as well drive me." She almost walks in a straight line back to the car, with only one zig but not a single zag.

"Well, yeah, okay, no ditches, but parents always said 'dead in a ditch somewhere'. So…" It seemed to work. Corbin helps her back in, even at the expense of his bare feet, and then moves back around to the driver's seat so he can get the car moving again. Toward the bookstore. Public place. Has a bed. He figures it's safe until she says otherwise. "Where do you want me to drop you off?"

There is no answer. The petite blonde's head is against the window, her eyes are closed, and her hands are deep in the kangaroo pocket of her hoodie. Luckily, he can see the rise and fall of her chest and hear the very faint sound of her breathing. It seems she's fallen asleep. Getting woken up from a nightmare in the middle of the night, rescuing a complete stranger from puppeteered suicide, and then knocking one's head on the concrete is tiring.

"I don't think you're supposed to sleep with head injuries," Corbin says with a worried voice, quietly considering hospital for a few moments. In the end, he respects her wishes and goes to the bookstore. There's a bed no one's using right now.

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