Burying His Mistake


s_joseph_icon.gif s_kaylee_icon.gif

Scene Title Burying His Mistake
Synopsis Kaylee is thrown into a sad nightmare where a young Joseph Sumter tries to bury his mistake.
Date January 22, 2010

In Joseph's Nightmare

He's fed memories every few days. It's kind of unfair that he gets them in his sleep, too.

And everything is so vivid. Cloud cover rivals the best of New York City gloomy days, but this isn't here. The grass grows sparse but green along a forest floor, crunching dead leaf and twig making for an uneven journey if your feet are bare, and trees dotting the landscape are claustrophobic, all thick grey trunks and choking canopy. Over there is a shed, all metal and wood and old enough that it almost seems to be dying, sinking into the ground with black gaping windows. For now, it'll work as a tomb stone.

There's a young man not far away from it— somewhere in the gawky range of young teenagehood, maybe even a little younger. Jeans, sneakers, a button down with the sleeves rolled up past his elbows, and sweat sheens his brow with dark locks sticking to skin from exertion. He holds a shovel, gripped with hands already rough from labor, even at this age, and he bites its iron spade into soft dirt he's been working at for a while, digging a hole that's almost a foot down, but not wide enough.

Several feet away, behind him, covered in tarp is— well. Something. Hard to tell what it is, bundled, but as long as his arm. It looks smaller, like this, and he ignores it as he digs. From the hitch in his breathing, whipping harsh through his throat, the sweat on his face is mingled also with tears.

Crack. There is the distinct crack of a twig as it's snapped under pressure, the soft crunch and slithering of fallen leaves. All making it very much known the young man is not alone. Looking out into the trees, there is a blurred figure in white, the shape distinctly feminine. The closer it moves, the more details can be determined, until she seems to step out of the haze.

Bare feet a bit dirty, but the white airy dress is crisp and clean, falling to just below her knees. There is not a smudge of dirt on it, making it stand out against the gray of the trees that she stands before. One thin hand rests against the rough trunk of one of the trees. She seems to lean against it, her head framed in long blonde locks of loose curls, tilts ever so slightly as she considers the young figure.

It was all so terribly wrong, this wasn't the lush garden she had been trapped in nightly, up until she woke in the river. This gloomy place was different, odd, and unfamiliar. It had been some time since she dreamed at all, so she's cautious and a touch afraid. Blue eyes watch the teenager as he works, trying to decide if she should interrupt what he's doing.

Focused on his work, he barely notices that he's no longer alone, or maybe chooses not to acknowledge. Each strike of the shovel is more labored than the next, his posture suffering under the effort and making no move to correct it. Several swings later, the metallic edge slices against a harder patch, rock included, burying but an inch into soil and forcing him to stop. Both hands come to grip the handle, and he rests his forehead there while he catches his halting breath. The blue cotton of his shirt clings down the centre of his back.

By the time he's standing up again, dragging the back of his hand across his face, he's looking towards the woman in white. Sees her, twin circles of near-black eyes, the angles of his face all matching that of Joseph Sumter, but sharper with youth, his body lanky and coltish and awkward, having not yet earned all of his height or a man's frame to accommodate masculine measurements. He sees her, certainly, a tormented and impassive stare before he glances back at the bright blue crinkled plastic, the wind playing at it teasingly.

And he goes back to his work, a soft grunt accompanying the sinking of his shovel as he makes his mouth into a line. Dirt hisses as he tosses it aside from the spade, the small hill of loose earth growing.

Breath catches and a hand flies up to cover her mouth with cool finger tips, as the young teen looks her way, recognition is instant. It's been so long since he'd even been in her own nightmares, so long since she'd seen him in the waking world. It almost hurt to see even this younger version of him as guilt twists her stomach. A part of her wants to reach out to this tortured youth and wipe the tears from his eyes and ask him what is wrong, but she holds back.

Following his gaze when she notices his head turn, the young telepath catches sight of that blue tarp, eyes narrowing when she looks down at it. She doesn't remember closing the distance, on her bare feet. She is just suddenly there. Fingers of one hand rub against each other as she tries to decide if she should look under it.

A glance at the busy youth for a moment and Kaylee's cat like curiosity gets the better of her as she crouches down to catch a edge of it to take a peek, trying not to make the plastic crinkle too much and alert him to what she is doing.

The smell leaks from it even before she can get a good look — strong but not particularly gut churning. No decay or rot, but blood is a strong presence. Coarse fur, brown with peppery grey mingled through it, and the leather-rough pads of canine feet upturned, legs growing stiff. A mutt, no doubt, but a loved one if a bright red collar looped around its broad throat indicates as such, eyes staring and black-rimmed mouth hinged open, tongue still pink, lax. Its frame is not perfect — battered, but the true injuries lay on the otherside, blessedly turned over. Blood cakes the tarp, dries rusty brown.

"Hey— don't."

The sound of shoveling has stopped, without particular transition, the teenager turned to her and standing in front of the shallow grave he's dug. His voice has a boy's tenor to it, matching the body it comes from, and he holds the shovel in both hands, grip evenly spread. His dark eyes are suspicious, if damp. "Or— or I'll need to bury you too."

The threat sounds flimsy, coming from him, though tension lines the backs of his hands, spiral up his arms.

"What happened?" Comes the question asked softly the tone laced with sadness, though it's hard to tell if her lips moved at all or if it is all in his head. Blue eyes turn without fear to look at the youth they echo the tone of her voice. Gently as if covering something precious, Kaylee lowers the tarp again and glides to her feet.

"Peace, Joseph Sumter… I'm not here to harm you." Her words are gentle, seemingly understanding. Strands of blonde blow across her her face, as if by some invisible breeze, but no hand lifts to brush them away, she only watches him, waiting to see if he swings, or answers her.

Names have power, or they should. Here, it only has the youth tucking in his chin in a defensive kind of gesture, eyes narrowing with unease. But skittishness is a good distraction over whatever's put watery tracks in his face, makes him swallow thickly. The shovel rotates in his hands, before Joseph decidedly turns away, and buries the spade into the dirt. "I killed 'im," he says, voice strung tightly, as if overtuned with guilt. "Meant to be watchin' him, and the door was open. Didn't even see what happened, I jus' found 'im."

Iron scissors through dirt, dirt is flung aside. Rinse, wash, repeat. "I don't want anyone seein'. You're not here to tell anyone, are you?" His voice pitches up in both query and anxiety, not looking back at her as he works.

Understanding dawn on the young woman, as she glances at the tarp again, her expression turning thoughtful. "No… I'm not here to tell." Kaylee reassures softly. Slowly she turns, fingers reaching to touch their tips to his shoulder, cautious of his reaction, but deciding something needed to be said.

"You did not kill him Joseph." The young woman, moves to step where she can see his face. "The door may have been open, but you did not push him out the door, nor did you do whatever was done to him." Kaylee resists the urge to brush the pad of her thumb cross his cheeks wanting to wipe away those tears.

Of course, the young are pretty stubborn when it comes to blame, so the hand drops to her side, catching the skirt, fingers gripping it lightly. "What was his name?"

There's a jerky shrug, a boy's stubbornness from her words, and he keeps his eyes down even if he can't completely hide his face from her when she moves around. "Don't matter. He's dead." He buries the tip of the shovel into firmer ground, leaning it enough to rest the handle towards the nearest tree, and brings up his hands to scrub at his face. By the time he lowers them, Joseph is looking across at her with a look of quizzical consternation that breaks through with unnatural sharpness from his prior grief.

"You know, I don't…" He looks towards the dog, tarp fallen back over it, but its bristly tail peeks from the edge. "I don't remember. Shoot." The irritation doesn't quite match, detached. "She'll test that. She's gonna test that. Make sure I get the name."

"Dead or not, he lived.. just like anyone else. So sometimes it's good to remember." Kaylee admits, with a small tug at the corner of her mouth into a smile. Though it fades some as his expression changes, as something seems very off about that sudden change.

"Wait.." Kaylee moves towards the tarp and then turns back to look at him, curious, and a touch alarmed. She tries not to show it as she asks, "Who, Joseph?" Eyes quickly move to the tarp, a frown tugging brows down some. "Why would she quiz you on your pet?" It makes no sense to her.

"Not the dog," Joseph says, and snapping the words at her just isn't in him, but frustration lines his words, rubbing his forehead. "The memory. It's gotta be all there." He hurries his foot steps towards the dead animal, flinging back the plastic and apparently forgetting, too, his prior tears, though he still sniffs through his nose as he gropes for the collar. The little medallion, dog-bone shaped, is clear of a name, and he draws his hand away as if burned.

He takes a wavery breath, almost panicky. "Uppers, hallucinogens — she don't tell me but it's not like I don't know what she puts in it. I don't know her name either — but that's 'cause she never told me it."

"Oh god —" The teenaged Joseph's words make Kaylee's stomach twist with unease. "Their drugging you?!" Bare feet rustle through the leafs as she follows him, watching him, eyes wide. Her mind a flurry of so many things. Mostly, why had she been sent here, this wasn't the nightmare image she has been plagued with…. it….


Tone firm, hands moving to grip his shoulder, fingers curling tightly, to make him look at her. "Look at me. I need you to focus." Hands will move to cradle his face so that he looks her in the eyes. "Panic won't help you." Her words take on that calming tone, even thought her own stomach churns with fear. "You need to be calm. I'll try to help you think. I don't know if you remember who I am, or what I do. But I'll try." He can almost see the pain in her eyes, but it's quickly replaced b determination. The panic he's starting to show driving her. She has no idea if her ability will work here, but she has to try. She tries to nudge his memory with her ability as she speaks slowly. "Stay calm and think back. Think of those tags." Releasing him slowly, and stepping aside, she motions to the tag at it's neck again.

"Remember his name."

There's rules, in dreams, and neither Joseph nor Kaylee have been educated. But abilities work — even the intangible brush of telepathy. Joseph's narrower shoulders hitch a little, hands up to grip her wrists as if to shove her away, but he doesn't have that in him, and ultimately allows her palms to rest warmly on angular features, brow furrowed and eyes blinkingly, rapidly. A conscious effort is made to breathe slower, deeper, drawing in chilled air with meaning as opposed to superficial panting.

The nudge of her power changes the world, but not in major ways. Everything is thrown into sharpness, enhanced. The mist fuzzying out the wider edges of the forest draws back to display more detail; the buzz of insects thickens in the air, and a fly hops and skips over the dogs lax muzzle; colours bleed vibrantly, and he breathes out with—

"Hero." Black eyes blink, and gaze finally connects with her's. Recognition — for the memory, for her, it's hard to tell. "His name was Hero." Joseph's back straightens, pulling away from her hold. "You did that."

"Yes." That single word is breathed out in relief, as it seems like her power still works. Hands release the grip on his face gently, letting the teenaged Joseph move away from her. She gives him a nervous smile. "It seemed important you know." She offers softly in explanation as her hands lower to her sides, curling into the light airy fabric."You seemed — worried that you didn't remember." Her gaze drops away as she suddenly finds herself worrying what he's thinking of her. "I'm…. sorry. I shouldn't have."

Eyes fall on the dead dog, her expression turning sad. "Hero is a good name. I like it and I bet if fit him too." The telepath says softly."I like dogs… always have." She says anything to try and move past what she just did to him.

"I was. Worried." Anxiety stripped from him, he seems almost tired and at a loss, looking down at the canine corpse, almost as if forgetting what he was doing here entirely. A brisk, short snatch of wind sends a small landslide of dirt tumbling back into the empty grave, leaves kicking up in small swirls, agitated tornados. Slowly, detail leaks away again, moves back to that hazy, grayscale version of rural Tennessee, where fog blanks out distant detail and bleakness sets into glimmering green and healthy bark, a bluer sky which turns back to silver overcast.

He swallows, once, looks at his own hands as if mystified by something. He doesn't change, remaining the youth that was found here, although it's like he's been derailed from the storyline entirely — the guilt-ridden teenager trying to bury his own mistake. Joseph follows her glance to the coarse furred mutt. "I miss Alicia."

Her head snaps around, surprise on Kaylee's face, blue eyes wide. Still the young teen, but Joseph is in there. Her hand starts to reach out, but she stops herself, bring it back to rest along her side. Her eyes soften at his words. "She misses you, too." Kaylee offers softly. "I can tell when I go see her." A gentle smile touches her lips she turns to him, "I can see it in her eyes. Don't worry about her though. She's well cared for. Me, Colette.. and Robin. We keep her company."

"You will see her again." The blonde states as she's firmly convinced it is the truth. "We're going to get you home to her again. I promise that." Anxiety tugs at her as she studies this younger version of the Pastor. "I'm sorry it has taken so long to find you. We've been trying to so hard, with so little to go on." That actually, makes the woman's voice catch in her throat.

"We all miss you and want you home."

It's not with incomprehension, that he regards her, but almost a serene detachment. The wind blows a little stronger, earth, leaf and twig all waterfalling into the shallow trench, tarp pushed to cover back over the dog. There's no groaning or creaking from the rundown shack just to the left of them — this world isn't falling apart, but it is, in a sense, closing, like a storybook. Joseph manages, for the first time, a twist of a half-smile for her, deepening the natural lines at his eyes.

"Looks like you found me anyhow," he says, voice absent. "You know, for everythin' they give me— all I want is a drink."

Nervous laughter, breaking over his voice, and he looks over his shoulder. "You should go. They'll find you too otherwise." He takes a step back, and its as if the ground simply stretches along with the step, space bends, pulls him away from her as he covers more distance than a single step could provide.

Her smile mirrors his own, though there is a hint of sadness there. "Yeah I did…" Kaylee says softly. "No drink though… You told me your not a drinker, Joseph Sumter." She tries to lighten her voice a bit, but fails at it. She feel helpless, even though she found him, she can't bring him home this way.

Panic grips her when he steps back, widening that distance greatly. Kaylee does reach towards him now, afraid she won't see him again once the nightmare ends. Trying to take a step towards him, she finds she can't move. No. A few more attempts to close the distance between them, she finds she can only call out to him as that distance grows, hands curling into fists they fall to her sides.

"Don't you give up hope, Joseph. We are coming for you. I am going to bring you home."

What you do and what you want ain't the same thing. This sentiment isn't given voice — there's no room for words, as the world dwindled, this patch of memory — but the sentiment is transmitted all the same. Something to do with her power, or breaking through the barrier of symbol and image to directly cross over an idea when two minds share the same space for a time.

A synapse firing, an impression. Either way, it's the last thing on her mind by the time Kaylee is rolling off into her own dreaming, and inevitable wakefulness.

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