Guest, Not Prisoner


delia2_icon.gif dema_icon.gif

Scene Title Guest, Not Prisoner
Synopsis Dema lays down the rules of the house and hopes to teach the fledgling something new.
Date January 1, 2011

The Mind of Dema Gataullin

For miles and miles, there are only hills and mist, the occasional dark, lean shape of a pine tree, the still mirror of a pond or the silky ribbon of a stream. And in the center, a house - wooden, three stories, painted a slightly weary but pure white - all under a great twilit, clouded sky. This is a house that never was, in a place that was only ever imagined. This is where Dema dreams, and the thick fog that gathers around at its bounds only gentle guide a wandered back on the path home. It's warm inside, most of the time, and the food is hearty, the cupboards always stocked. It's not a bad place. And it's all there is.

Dema's has been under for a while now. He has requested it. Delia can't be allowed to slip away. Not now, when they are so close to making her whole again.

Here, he wears his own face, standing by the oven, kneeling to check on what he's cooking. Dema turns out to be quite the domestic, at least here. Routine holds this place together, keeps it intact, and thus secure.

"I am sorry for this," Dema says, closing the oven door again and turning to his ward and, effectively, prisoner, "but we need you safe. This will be over soon. You will wake up. Be with family again." Or so he assumes. Dr. Brennan seems like a good man, a rare thing in the Institute. "But…" he sets his hands on the table between, "Poperyod bat'ki v peklo ne lez'," rolls off his tongue, an idiom that doesn't translate instantly in this space, "there are dangers out there. That… thing with no body. You cannot become that. Better to die," he dips his head, apologetically, "not that you will die. You will live. I will make sure of it."

The thing with no body, Delia's eyebrows twitch a little as though she's searching her mind for exactly who he is talking about. "The shadow monster?" Her assumption is likely incorrect but to her, he's the dangerous one. "The one that talks about the future? The one that told me that you would help me find a body?" Not her body. A body. At least not right away.

"He said my dad's ging to get himself killed because of his ideals." She's worried about that, worried that her father is going to die before she's ready to let him go. Her shoulders sink down as she sighs deeply. Lacing her fingers together, she stares down at them, not looking up to meet Dema's eyes. Some might call it shame or fear, in her case they'd likely be correct on the second account. "What if you can't get me back together, will you kill me?"

Shadow monster? Dema cannot be certain if Delia speaks of yet another monstrosity, some delusion of her own, or some other aspect of being to which the Russian dreamwalker refers. It would pay to be more precise, apparently. "The thing with a woman's shape. Japanese woman. Strange eyes. I do not know if this is its constant shape. The evil thing." As if this last were descriptor enough.

"Ideals, they are not ideals unless you can die for them, yes?" Dema offers, which may not count as comforting words, "just hope they are worthwhile." As to Dema's own ideals, threadbare though they are from years in the grey, he doesn't think much on them. Or tries not to. And then Delia asks him a very uncomfortable question. He did say she'd be better off dead…

"This is not an issue," Dema says, choosing to dismiss the concern, at first, rather than address it, "we will. We know where your body is. When we have this, we can reunite you. It will not come to that." Which just reintroduce the difficult topic. He lapses into momentary silence. "In difficulty… we will find another way. You should not die," his brow furrows, "though you are reckless."

"Hokuto? She's not a thing, she's .. " There's a pause as Delia's eyes drift down to her hands again. "She's tragic, like a story. Not like Mean Heat but like… I don't know. She's sort of like a Shakespeare play. I don't know if I could have lived through anything she has." Not the killings but the death.

Slowly, Delia's eyes lift and her nose wrinkles just a touch as she tries to keep from looking as afraid as she feels. "What if they won't give you my body? Will you take me to where it is to put me back? I'm tired, that's why I stayed with Nick.. I just wanted to stop running all the time." She clears her throat of the thick emotions swirling inside of her, a few times to get them all suppressed again. "Why do you call me reckless? I haven't hurt anyone." Not that she knows…

"What she was is not what she is," Dema says, tapping a broad finger against the wooden table between them, "I do not know what she did before. What I saw was evil. This, what we do," he gestures between them, "is no game. It is not for power, to abuse, to dwell in dreams and treat people like playthings. She is brutal, uses hammer and chisel, but dreams are clay. And they do not belong to you."

A great hand splays flat on the tabletop, the big man looking across at Delia, trying to catch her eyes. "No harm. Not yet. But you must learn to tred lightly. It is maybe good you are clumsy, now. Since all the world knows you wander, you can be found. But when you are whole again, you must learn."

"She's not evil." Delia's insistence wavers a little, only because half the time she's unclear on the other woman's motives. Her jaw sets rigidly as she glances toward the wall, refusing to meet the man's gaze. "She found me and.. she helped me, I just didn't listen. It's all my fault." How her mentor treats her hosts, she has a finesse that can't exactly be matched by any other. Sort of like a snake coiling around and squeezing until her victim complies.

"When I find my body, I'm never going to leave it again. I'll take those drugs if I have to." That's when she meets Dema's eye, her eyebrows twitching down into a stubborn frown. "I was right before all of this happened, I'm nothing but a freak."

"And what is the good in what she does? You have seen it," Dema says, emphatic like he almost never is, evidently coming upon an ideal of his own, some principle, "disrespect. Cruelty. Force. I know this. I was with the bratva, I understand methods like this. We cannot behave this way. We are guests. We walk in the most secret place of others. To overstep…

"It is rape, girl. Deepest there is. Rape of dream is rape of mind, of soul. That thing is a ravager, and no other acts can redeem such a sin."

Dema's gaze is pale blue when Delia meets it, utterly serious. "You are young. Thing are all one way or another. It need not be so. But if you admire that creature, then yes, you should never set foot in another's dream again."

Delia's face blanches when the large man talks about rape and what it is they do to the minds of others. "She's not like that. She— she didn't want me to be like she was. She wanted me to do good things, I just .. I'm a total failure." The reason why she shouldn't leave once she's back together, if she does get back together.

There's an audible, hard swallow as the redhead's helpless expression points down to her hands again. "That's what I did to Nick, isn't it? I stayed when he wanted me to leave— I raped him." Her breath hitches and she squints her eyes tightly until they're almost closed. "He's going to hate me forever."

"Do not lie to yourself," Dema says, uncommonly merciless on this point, his already limited bedside manner quite disentegrated, "that is just what she is life. Once is enough, and I saw her arrogance. She held court, as if that place belonged to her. It does not. It never will." First impressions are lasting, it would seem.

But Dema is not so willing to codemn Delia. As she turns the guilt upon herself, his adamance ebbs. He closes his eyes, shakes his head. "What I saw, he was willing. I saw a home, beds. Shared memory. I do not think you did wrong with him. And he will not hate you. You will find this, I am sure, when you see him in waking." Dema turns, ponderously, to the oven again, cracking it open. "There is a whole world between you and that thing. I will keep you safe. If I see that creature… I will destroy it."

Whatever it is that the great Russian bear is making, the redhead can't smell it. She hasn't eaten in over a month and she doesn't actually feel the urge to here. "That's just… that's not him, that was where he went to sleep… I learned how to search memories, from just before people go to sleep. I can see what they saw. What was outside the house, that was him. He wanted me out, he tried to drag me out but I wouldn't go."

With something of a heavy sign, she looks toward the oven and knits her eyebrows together. "What are you making? How can you eat here? Do you need to eat or do you just do it because it seems like the right thing to do?" Delia's curiosity about the mechanics of Dema's methods gets the better of her as she attempts to make some sort of conversation. As for the creature…. she's not convinced that it will be anywhere nearby any time soon.

Dema takes an oven mitt that hangs on a hook nearby, drawing it over his big hand and pulling a casserole dish out. Within are cabbage leaves, wrapped around savory meat. Hearty, and entirely Russian. He lifts it and sets it on the stove to cool, removing the mitt before turning to Delia. He dips his head.

"The last," Dema says, "more or less. Dreams are strange, yes? Changing? But they obey rules of their own when left alone. Consistent. Stable, more than people think. Things slide, but only to things next to themselves. In patterns. This," he motions to the cooling food, "is a pattern. Tasks, strung together. A story, if small. This makes the dream safe, for walker and dreamer."

He moves to pull out a chair, taking a seat across from Delia. "The best thing to do in another's dream is watch. Intervene only when necessary. Shape only when you must. And then, delicately. Not your own memory or thoughts. No grand symbols or meanings or lessons. Dreams do their own work, and obey secret truths of the dreamer that are the dreamer's own business."

Delia's eyebrows knit together in a frown and she stares down at the table. "If… if you do that, then how do you tell people about things? How do you warn them?" Because people don't listen to her. Ever. She could be naked, jumping up and down screaming her head off and still invisible. "If you don't make people see, how long do you wait for them to open their eyes?"

She might already know the answer.


"There was a man, he can control people in real life… make them do whatever he wants. I don't know if he would have listened to me if I had just told him he had to move the kids." Instead of what she did… slaughter them all in his sleep and blame the government raids.

"You lead them," Dema says, "gently, you spin a story from what they give you. You play a part, you stand next to them, and they think they are the hero of this story, and they are, but a hero does not make their story. It is the things around them. You are the things around them, an invisible hand, shifting things until they have the names you wish. Everything in a dream is next to every other thing." Maybe what he's saying makes more sense in Russian?

"But you do not make people," and on this point Dema is adamant, "dreams are not the place for this. In dreams people keep their secrets, have shames they do not know, bedding their sisters or killing their brothers. If you must be heavy handed… make yourself known. Risk them waking, and ask them directly, but always show respect. You know, more than many now, what what in you dreams is all you are, no? If what I speak to now, here, in this dream, if that were gone, you would be gone, even if you body is living, yes?"

"No…" Delia disagrees, looking up from the table and then directly into Dema's eyes. "No, that's not true. Nick woke up, he kept me alive, I stayed with him." He didn't know it, neither did she, not at first. "Maybe it's just him I can stay with but Nick kept me alive in his head. Hokuto, she can stay alive when people are awake… they can see her when they're awake. I saw her when I was awake."

Maybe she just thought she was awake. Shaking her head, the stares up at the man and presses her lips together. He might try to call a bluff and wake up just to see if she stays alive. He also might disregard whatever she says like so many others do.

Dema shakes his head. "This is not what I meant," he says, "I mean only that the thing in dreams is what a person- ah- I cannot think of the words," he waves a hand, "maybe it does not matter. Maybe you will learn on your own. You already are, yes? You survived a waking. But be careful, girl, what that does to your host. I am cautious, always, and maybe this limits me, but I would prefer to wear shackles than walk on bones, you see?"

"You mean… staying when someone wakes up could kill them?" Delia's eyes flicker around the room, focusing on abstract little details that might not catch the eye of most. A corner of a cabinet, a crack in the flooring, a small spiderweb laced along the window sill. "I could have killed Nick? By staying with him?"

Could his injuries have been her fault?

Dema lifts a hand to his brow. "It is not- not that this is what would happen, no," he says, trying to keep up with Delia's questions, reaching the limits of his fluid expression, "just- you do not know what can happen, so you are very careful, yes? I mean- you should be very careful. So far I see you," he nods his head, indicating the space beneath the table, "running barefoot. A good principle this, though less literal, eh?" he attempts a smile which, on his almost geological features, is a sight indeed, "but you can tell better if you are open to the dream, flowing with it, not demanding it obey you, you see?"

The redhead goes quiet, pondering before she looks out the window. "I understand. Be a part of it instead of being it. Like.." Her will combatting that of the other dreamwalker's Delia takes a deep breath. The sky darkens, the sparse clouds covering the moon leave only a pale circle of light through the window. It's all she can do here, hide the sun. Perhaps only that because it catches him by surprise before she lets her own overlay on his dream go. "Like that… Do do what I want just because I can."

Glancing over at the casserole dish, she eyes the foreign little cabbage rolls. Uncertain of what they are exactly. "When Hokuto was guiding me… to help Lynette stop taking Refrain… She was wrong?"

Dema has confidence enough in his own power here that he permits Delia some wiggle room, letting twilight become night and permitting the moon to weakly reflect a sun that is not there. But her conclusion has him shaking his head once more. "No, just the opposite," he says, "do only the very least you can. Not a playground, you see? The dream is bigger than you. You do not control it. You play a part in it as it unfolds. Understand?"

Any mention of Hokuto is bound to sour Dema's temper. Still, he keeps control of himself. "I do not know. What did she tell you do to? Did you have Lynette's permission to do this thing?"

Delia shakes her head and grimaces. "No, she doesn't want to stop using Refrain. She says that if she stops the Institute will just make her take it again." From what the dreamwalker has seen and learned since, it can be assumed by the sour expression on her own face that she believes the statement false. "It's how she got to Magnes' dream, isn't it? Refrain?" Or perhaps how she called Dema to her in the first place.

"I've given up though, she doesn't want to help herself." The clench of Delia's jaw calls her a liar, like there's more that she's not telling her host. Her eyes drop and she glances toward the stairs. "I would like to go somewhere else now." Rather than talk about her father's love interest. "When I was with Nick, he would wake up and let me sleep."

Dema's lips quirk to one side, expression suddenly considering. He's been, admittedly, rather pedantic thus far, and for someone so eager to convey what he thinks to be crucial wisdom, much of his words have been delivered as if from on high, a teacher scolding a student. Which is not a very good teacher at all. Tyranny is all he's really know, so better ways are hard for him to figure, having few other examples, but…

But he must admit, Delia has done a great deal on her own. To treat her with disrespect is unfitting. Unhostly, too.

The Russian rises to his feet. "You make me talk too much," he says, gruffly, "I am poor with words. Come. You can sleep. Later. I will show you something, a place here that you can use," he fixes her with a sharp look, "if you promise to obey my rules."

Having the large man suddenly rise from his seat, Delia teeters on her chair, almost falling backward trying to look up at him. Catching herself with a whunk against the hard floor, the young woman staggers to her own two feet and nods once. It could be construed as a silent agreement to his terms but silence is never binding, so she clears her throat and uses her words. "Alright, if the rules are about the dreams … and not killing Hokuto." The last is a grim addendum.

Folding her hands behind her back, the young woman glances around the room they're in again. Of course this isn't all there is to see… his anchor is much stronger than her own. It has a foundation, perhaps of rules and unyeilding structure but he's not lost as she is.

The kitchen is large but almost undecorated, quaint and Old Worldish. But this is not the place Dema wishes to show Delia. His brows loft as the other dreamwalker tumbles over, and he waits while she rights herself. Making his way up and around the stairs, he motions for Delia to follow him. Stubbornly refusing to dematerialize, insisting on obeying drab, realistic limitations while in this space, he ascends the stairs. He speaks as he does, deep voice resonant and easy to hear though his back is to Delia.

"Rules are simple. Your father, he has taught you to behave when at the house of a friend, yes?" Dema asks, though God knows what this American parents teach their kids, "wipe your feet, say please and thank you, offer to get drinks for the men, yes? Manners."

"My mom did.. My dad was usually working." Not to demean Benjamin's presence in her life but Mary was always the teacher, disciplinarian, comfort, and confidant. It wasn't until her mother's death that her father actually started raising his girls. By that time it was too late for one of them. The other, the one in the dream right now, still clings to the apron strings her father donned after the bomb.

As they walk up the stairs, Delia drags her fingers along the wall, subconsciously adding color to their bleak surroundings. Just a little ribbon mixed in with the whitewash. It's probably already breaking the rules, but the light touch of pale yellow adds a Provincial sort of happiness to the Russian's grim world.

Dema glances back as he notices the changes she's bringing. The feminine touch, one of his sensibilities might consider it. Despite himself, he smiles just a little. The color is noticed, but not commented upon. Only very slightly indulgent, but still.

"Also, clean up after, yes?" Dema continues, heading up the second flight of stairs, up towards the top level where the roof begins its sharp, sharp slant, designed to slough off the deep winter snows that come to this non-place in other non-times of year. "Some rules are for the house you are in, different depending on the house? But when you doubt, ask, or trust in customs. Permission is asked for, not assumed, you see? But now…"

The big man moves up under the drawstring of the attic entrance, grips it, pulls it down, unfolding a step ladder. Up there is a dark and stuffy. He motions for Delia to go first. "I give you permission, play as you like in this place. But put away things after you are done. Be tidy. House manners, you see? Simple. But vital."

Bare feet pad up the ladder to the attic to peek in before she actually climbs up into the space he's designated as a play area. As long as she cleans up after herself. Wide blue eyes flit nervously about the space, attics have never been one of her favorite places. They're usually dusty, full of cobwebs, and have bats, rats, or some other creature ending in ats… gnats maybe.

Being careful not to catch her sundress on a stray nail, the young woman pads silently across the bare boards, unprotected from splinters and the like. Luckily it's a dream and her feet shouldn't get caught up, fester, and wither into putrid stumps. It's always a worry.

It's not so bad up there. Dry, yes. And a little too warm, the hot air trapped and made stuffy. The shadows are deep and the dust thick, but as her feet pad across the space, she kicks up motes that start to shimmer in the air, forming plumes and columns of friscalating light. What's perhaps most strange is that there are no things here. No old furniture, no boxed memories, no chests full of clothing from bygone eras.

Dema doesn't follow Delia fully up the stairs, pausing midway, big head peeking through into the attic space. "A place to dream in dreams," he tells her, "here you can sleep, but you can also make, change, do as you will. Only keep within this room, understand? I lend this place to you, when you need it, and it is small so you will not get lost so I cannot find you," and, of course, she can't escape, "practice, if you like. But tidy afterwards, yes?"

Hot, dusty, claustrophobic, a prison not as lovely as the pink walled room in Nick's mind. Her anchor… her room. Delia doesn't answer more than an unseen nod to the large Russian man. This is his mind, he'll know every move she makes anyway, especially since she's under such scrutiny. Already the redhead is peering about the space for whatever changes she can make in quick order to make this place feel less like a prison and more like home.

Kicking up some of the dust, she shifts her weight and moves the devil to the side with a bit of wind. Before he closes her in for good, the young woman glances up at the ceiling and murmurs a soft passage of a scripture. "And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep… And God said, Let there be light: and there was light."

Above her a small dome of pale white light forms, filling the sparse room and banishing the shadow. Not that Delia believes herself a god, not at all, just in such a place… A small glint off in the corner catches her eye and she patters toward it. Between the cracks of the floorboards, a thin gold chain has fallen through the cracks.

"Ambitious dream," Dema remarks, dryly, from his watchpoint by the floor, "to dream the world. Easily turns to nightmare, too," his lips twitch in a ghost of a smirk, "eating the apple, then, it is the dream becoming lucid, then? A person, they cover up when they know what they are. When they know at all."

The big man eases slowly up into the attic and takes a seat at the edge of the trap door, one hand settling in the dust, sending a poof of motes out in all directions. He looks up at the light, then over at Delia who is going over to… what?

"What is that?" Dema asks, not quite a demand. He's trying to be a little lighter handed. Follow his own advice with people as he dictates with dreams.

Digging her fingernails between the floorboards, Delia pulls up the chain. It's tarnished and bent, but the crucifix on the end is still quite solid and scar free. Looking between the necklace and the owner of the dream, a confused frown forms over Delia's features as she picks at the clasp and places the delicate piece of jewelry around her neck. "You're going to get my body— " she says in a low tone, her body that's as bent and tarnished as the chain around her neck.

In answer to his question, she lifts a hand to her throat to catch the crucifix between her fingertips. "It's my necklace, I lost it a long time ago."

Dema reaches out a hand, fingers forming a gradual slope, arm extended towards Delia. "May I see?" he asks, fingertips moving very slightly, to beckon Delia over. His deep set blue eyes consider the little cross, and there is almost a sense of magnetic pull drawing at the pendant, his very interest influencing the space.

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