Hertfordshire, 1854


s_brian_icon.gif eileen3_icon.gif delia2_icon.gif unknown13_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Hertfordshire, 1854
Synopsis A little dreamwalking yields results that could not otherwise be obtained.
Date February 20, 2011

In Dreams

Hertfordshire, England


Spring transforms the English countryside into rolling green hills and dewy forests dusted in wildflowers — pale yellow buttercups, drooping comfreys and creeping thistles in subdued purple shades, demure dogroses and dense bluebell thickets where the children of Hertford claim the faeries live. The sprawling estate to which Miss Jasmine, Miss Ryans, Mister Ruskin and Mister Fulk have been invited lies several miles outside the village on the edge the woods and is a stalwart, dark gray fortress of a home covered in snaking ivy, with great glass windows, and a long gravel drive that winds through the property, which includes a stable, large pond with a statuesque weeping willow at one end, and a garden maze.

A light rain patters against the panes, distorting the view of the grounds from the sitting room, but a fire roaring in the hearth provides ample warmth and light, filling the downstairs with the smell of burning sage and tinder. A worn rug in hues of red and gold imported from the East covers hardwood floors, but clashes fashionably with the ornately-patterned wallpaper, heavy drapes and the upholstery of the armchairs and chaise lounge positioned around the fire where, upon the mantle, a taxidermy fox crouches snarling with a dead pheasant dangling from its jaws, and it isn't the only piece of its kind in the room. There's a lion's head mounted on one wall beside a portrait of a tall, dark man with the eyes of a predator bird, and a flock of swans three strong flying in formation above the doorway that leads out into the entryway.

Tea, billowing steam, stands out on a low table by the chairs and chaise, along with a plate of finger sandwiches filled with variations of ham, egg, cucumber and butter purchased from the local dairy farmer whose land belongs to the master of the house, though it's the lady who will be greeting shortly if the maid who took their coats and brought them the silver tray is to believed.

Looking a bit uneasy, Nick perches on the end of his seat — as if afraid that by sitting completely on it, he might sully the fabric, though his suit is clean and rather posh. One hand moves to tug at the cravat at his neck, the color a pale gray to match with the darker gray vest — no doubt carefully selected to make his eyes look bluer in comparison to the silvery tones of the accessories. Those pale eyes skim the room, black brows dipping a bit as he surveys the portrait and the taxidermied animals.

"I feel like those things are watching me," he murmurs conspiratorially to Brian, keeping his voice low though he looks up at the ladies sitting nearby with a polite nod, a little more of a secretive smile and tip of his head to Miss Ryans. "D'you?" The accent seems at odds with the locale, something much more Cockney than this place would produce.

A dress of robin's egg blue that comes down to an inch or two over the top of a pair of button boots, Miss Ryans alights from her seat to step toward the window and gaze outside. They've only just come in but seeing the greens and colors of the flowers in the misty rain brings a smile to her face. She's not expecting much attention anyway, her hair's been well ruined by the humidity and is puffing out in every direction. The poor young woman is quite unable to keep a proper set of ringlets.

The room is deathly quiet, so it's almost impossible not to hear the whisper of Mister Ruskin. The smile earns a blush and the demure angling downward of her head. It's then that she rushes back toward Miss Jasmine's side and grips both her hands to share an excited smile of her own. With every breath inward the gold crucifix at her throat glitters, it's a hard thing to miss.


The cup of tea hovers straight in front of his mouth, the realization is made that the tea cannot be drank. Mostly because of the white fabric spread across his face. The oval blank white mask pulled down to his neck guards any expression that he might have. The black holes breaking up the monotony of his mask peer down at the tea cup in front of him. When Nick speaks to him, his attention flings over to the man, his body leaning aside rapidly as if to avoid cooties from the other man. The man rapidly stands up, tea cup going to be set down on the piano that happens to be near him.

Large coat removed the man wears a long white sleeve, black vest clasped on top of the shirt. The man looks around the room, black holes taking in the occupants. His eyes run over Jasmine and then Delia, his arms folding over his chest rapidly. As if suddenly disappointed in someones behavior. Taking a few steps, his arms unfold one black gloved finger tracing the piano as he steps off to the side of the room. A single black clad finger beckons Jasmine over soundly. Once she arrives, Mister Fulk.. Winters.. Mister Whatever speaks in hushed tones so that the other occupants of the room cannot hear.

"Are you doing this? Where are we? This isn't my head. There's no chocolate. And I rarely have other men in my head unless they're their to get beat up by me. What are you doing?"

Cucumber sandwiches are the best.

Two are gone by the time Miss Ryans is rushing back to her side, Miss Jasmine blinking clear blue eyes as her hands are taken, and a weak smile writes across her pale features beneath where a mask, somewhat garish for the times and setting, is placed to shield half her face. Lacy black that hugs to the slopes and curves of her brow and cheekbones, the almond shaped holes filled in with smokey grey makeup. But the rest of her fits in, from the upsweep of auburn hair, to the demure dress of a torso-hugging short stay laced in blue and white, the long skirt that cascades for the floor and gathers at her heels, feet in demure boots.

Her fingers bare but ringed in silver to match the thin chain around her neck, they squeeze Delia's, before she twitches a look towards the masked man in the room. "Excuse me," she whispers to Delia, before rising up to shuffle towards Brian, head tilted quizzically, and then eyebrows lifting behind her own mask at his questions.

"No! I didn't— this wasn't me— " A hand smooths self-conscious down the front of her dress of blue and white. She pauses, thinks, then says with some uncertainty; "Missus Gray's the one that invited us."

From upstairs, there comes a loud, explosive boom that sounds like a piece of furniture being hurled into a wall, followed by crashing glass and a door thundering open, then shut again. Someone — someone male — shouts something in a low, dull roar that's impossible to discern and a moment later Eileen appears at the top of the stairs in a plain white dress with a high waist made of a thin, gauzy material that clings to the curves of her legs and thighs, probably still damp from her morning ride through the forest or whatever it is she was dreaming about before the group's arrival. She wears her dark hair in a sensible knot tied at the back of her head with a few strands left free to curl and frame her face, which is pinched into an obvious expression of worry as she twists a look back over her shoulder and grasps at the banister with one hand.

The other — the one with a wedding band shining in the gloomy shadows of the upstairs landing — presses against her chest above her heart, and it's then that she sees the small assembly downstairs, forcing a too-tight smile that looks much less genuine than her voice when she calls lightly down, "You really must forgive us for the state we're in.

"I should know how to manage a household by now, but we weren't expecting company quite this soon." She descends the stairs, dress trailing behind her and a hand still on the banister, and moves to join the group by the fire. Her breathing is steady, maybe a little too rhythmic, but her cheeks are flushed and there's a puffy quality to her eyes that suggests she's been crying even though there are no tears in them now.

"I hope your journey from London was comfortable. Sylar—" Her voice momentarily stalls out. She catches herself. "My brother-in-law won't be joining us, I'm afraid. He's feeling under the weather."

Nick's brows rise in his face and he looks up at the ceiling, coughing a little and then making a grimace as he studies the others' reactions. When she appears, he rises, as is polite, and gives a little bow, proper, before moving across the room to greet her more properly, taking her hand and then bending to kiss her cheek.

"Sister," he says pleasantly but then he steps back and looks upward, confusion on his face. "Sylar," he murmurs, and he glances down at her hand, still held for a moment in his before releasing it. His head tilts, a comic caricature of curiosity and bemusement. "Which bloke did you marry again? I always get those two lads mixed up."

Delia's hand had just been reaching for one of the sandwiches, rudely because their hostess isn't here yet, when the big bang happens. Jolting and pulling her finger back quickly, she follows Nick's gaze toward the ceiling and catches her lower lip with her teeth. Uncertain of anything else to do, she gets up and walks quickly toward the staircase just as Missus Gray comes down.

"Goodness! Are you alright?" She reaches out hesitantly, her hands hovering over the petite woman's back to catch her in case she faints or falls. Not until the brunette is near a chair does the russet haired woman slink back to her previous seat. With Jasmine keeping Mister Fulkwinters busy, she sidles over to an empty seat closer to Mister Ruskin, just to keep things semi social.

Arguments between two people wearing masks can be confusing to watch. When facial expressions are taken out of the equation it is hard to gauge what the fuck is going on. When Jasmine starts to speak to him straight then switches back into character, Brian's whole body shifts. Reeling back and then dipping forward. If coupled with an expression, this gesture might make sense. But due to the blank white expressionless mask, it seems like he's just having a minor stroke. Letting out an exasperated sigh, one black glove lays heavily on the piano. Attention snagged upwards towards the violent sound. "Missus Gray." The black holes searching the room they are in. "I don't even understand where we…"

"I do declare! My wits are not about me this evening. I fail to reconcile with our current predicaments that we are pretense-ing.."

A pbbt sound is made from behind the mask. He has decided to stop talking. As Eileen makes her way down the stairs the Masked Man looks to Jasmine. "Could you give me a cane? Preferably something that could turn into a sword, and if possible..I would like the letters P-I-M-P emblazoned into the side. I think that's time period appropriate." Brian turns some to Jasmine a light hissing chuckling sound exhales from the mask as Winterfulk elbows Jasmine in the side gently.

"Did you hear that? He said blokes." A quick clearing of the throat is given.

"I apologize, I forget myself. Shall we return to the… thingie?"

"Be nice," Jasmine murmurs to Brian, under her breath, head bowed. "I've seen you run around a made up city of your own devising, an overgrown playground for a boy with a teatowel as his cape. We're in someone else's head, now. You have to be polite."

A nudge of her hip against his before she's mincing forward — less towards Eileen and more towards the table, her hands going out to fuss around the tea set to divide out modest helpings of the steaming brown, drunk without milk, only brown sugar crystals, twists of lemon. An errant curl of red falls around her ear as fine china is filled, and she sends a glance Nick's way, silent and suspicious in contrast to the warmth she's given those she's met, in hand clasps and nudges.

"The one with the military commission," Eileen answers Nick ruefully in the delicate tone people use to make light of things that shouldn't be made of light of. The grief in her voice is difficult to miss. "The other seems to be under the impression that his absence entitles him to manage the family's affairs for as long as we're reading about the Crimean War in the papers. I haven't received any letters from by husband in what feels like an age and not even one from Lord Holden, but sometimes no news is better than the alternative." She raises Nick's hand and presses an affectionate kiss to its back.

"Nick, I have missed you. I meant to write and congratulate you and Miss Ryans on your engagement," a lie, "but I've been so preoccupied here that it must have slipped my mind." The same way that none of this is actually real seems to have slipped her mind, just as her dreaming self overlooks small idiosyncrasies like Jasmine's mask, or much, much larger, more glaring ones like the way Brian is dressed. Who is she to question the height of fashion in London, anyway?

"If you and your friends have come all this way to reprimand me for my foolishness—"

"My…" Nick's brows furrow and he casts a glance back at Delia, before turning back to look at Eileen. "Right. My engagement." How had he forgotten a thing like that?

"We… we haven't come to reprimand you, Eileen. You invited us, remember? We've come all this way on a little expedition after we received your letters. It's not like you to 'ave forgotten. Are you feeling quite right?" He brings the back of his hand up to her forehead, his brow furrowing with worry. "Come sit and take some tea with us."

He nudges her to the rest, and begins to move to sit with them, but Jasmine's suspicious gaze has him scowling and he begins to move toward the doorway, head tipping to look upward. "You want me to talk to that Sylar bloke?" There's a narrowing of his eyes that suggests it wouldn't be all chummy chatting.

Pale face blanching at the words, then Mist— Nick's agreement of them, has Miss Ryans feeling a bit light headed at the moment and she sits down rather heavily on the sofa. A small whoosh is let out through her mouth and after a stunned shake of her head, she glances up at Miss Jasmine with something of an uncertain smile. Leaning forward, she whispers to the masked woman, "I don't remember getting engaged— Did I drink too much tonic that day?"

She regularly stays away from the medicinal cabinet aside from the times she requires it for someone else's benefit but stranger things have happened. Then her eyebrows twitch together and she shakes her head and looks down at herself— then at Nick— then Brian— Eileen— . Her jaw drops. "This is— damn she's good…" she whispers to the other dream manipulator. A glance down at her own dress, one generally reserved for those young ladies too young to marry and she darts a smile in Nick's direction. It's quick to fall and be replaced by a frown and a shake of the head. "No, you won't. I will."

"Playgrounds are fun." Brian argues quietly. "How did we get invited to the Clue mansion."

But as Jasmine moves away, Brian apparently decides to be polite. However he is somewhat disappointed that he doesn't get a cane. A light chuckle comes from behind the mask when Nick says 'bloke' again. Wintefulk walks the length of the piano, arriving at the small bench at the keys. Lowering himself down onto the bench, his fingers flex. When Delia starts to look around, Brian gives her a little finger-dancey wave. Welcome to the dream!

Fingers splaying out, Winters brings his hands down to the keys and begins to tickle the ivories. Apparently he is amazingly talented at playing the piano. The immaculate song sounds out, it's Beethoven's sixty fourth or Chopin's two point fifth. Or Fuer Alicia. In dreams the song doesn't really matter only that a song is happening. And it sounds great. He allows Nick and Delia to deal with the drama of the dream, he'll just add a little ambience for now.

The announcement of Delia's engagement has hot tea spilling over the edge of a cup, Jasmine hissing through her teeth at her own clumsiness, head bowed, before crouching down to mop it up with the napkins pinched together in silver, long skirt tenting around her narrow knees. She flicks a mildly, still startled glance up towards Delia when she speaks to her, and allows a wider grin to spread across her features. "That depends, did you add gin to it?" is whispered back.

Jasmine straightens her back, bringing up her cup of tea. Her stare trades on over towards the piano, perking a little at the gentle music beginning to fill the room, a serene undercurrent to the strange uncertainty that winds through conversation. She sips tea with caution so as not to smear the paint on her lips, eyes veiling, and sways a little to the piano playing.

Eileen takes a seat on the edge of the chaise at her brother's request, folds her hands in her lap and looks back up the stairs, brows knit. "No words are necessary," she assures Delia and Nick. "I'm sure my—" Another pause, because no that's not right, not really. "Gabriel," feels much more natural to her mouth, "will have plenty to say to him upon his return. He wouldn't stand for this if he was here now — I only wish there was more I could do."

She bends at the middle, picking up a cup of tea to warm her hands, dark head bowed as she raises it to lips and drinks, then lowers it again with a worried look at the tea stains on Jasmine's dress and then an appreciative one at Brian's back at the piano. "I've already tried sending him away, but I worry it's only made him angrier."

There's some sort of parallel here. "All I want is for Gabriel and Lord— " She sucks in a short, sharp breath. "—my father to come home. He and his brother look so alike, you see. It's almost impossible to tell them apart, and the damage Sylar will do to his reputation here in Hertfordshire…"

Nick stands where he is for a while, peering up at the stairwell before turning back, shaking his head. "I don't think it's proper," he says, and there's a grimace at the mention of her father — not his father. "It's not proper for him to be here with you. You should come back with us, until Gabriel comes home. You can stay with Miss Jasmine or Del — Miss Ryans, I'm sure of it."

There's another frown that creases his face. "Why are you here in Hertfordshire anyway? What's special about it? It's not home t'you."

He doesn't return to the seats but begins to move around the room, touching the bric-a-brac and peering up at the animals again. Something is unsettling him, and he begins to pace.

Chewing at her lower lip, Delia looks up at the ceiling as she takes a few deep calming breaths and lets them out through her mouth. After a few rapid blinks, she tries to smile at their hostess and nods along with Nick's words. "I'll stay with you until they come. We've sent someone out after Gabriel, he should be coming any time. Mister Ruskin is right, though, you shouldn't stay here alone not with the Mid— Sylar here with you."

Another long sniff of breath as the redhead tries to keep herself in order. This isn't her place, lessons from yet another on propriety and maintaining the status quo are important. For some reason or another. She can't remember. "Is there a place you go when he comes around? A cupboard or room?"

The crescendo grows large and heavy, before finally trailing off. Brian places one finger down and drags it messily across the expanse of the keys. Picking his finger up, the man slides easily around on his small bench. Stepping up, his vest is straightened as he takes a few steps forward. "Pardon me Missus Gray." Brian interrupts, rudely.

"Your honorable brother has hired me to aid you in your current circumstances. Due to my ubiquitous holdings in these lands, I believe I will be able to put a salve to your current ailment quite expeditiously."

The spiel is delivered and the masked man half turns to face Delia and Jasmine, hands subtly fanning out as if to say: 'Hmm? Hmm? Anyone impressed?' The black holes in his mask run over Nick. If he insists enough the other man will probably believe him. He's not aware yet that this is a dream, so if Brian just keeps telling him that he was hired. "Thank you again for this opportunity, Mister Ruskin." There. Then he is turning to face Eileen once more. "One might propose that you have abruptly fallen into a pit, as it were, of troubles." Brian glances over to Delia before tilting his head to one side. "If I can confirm the location of your manor on my map, I believe that would help precipitate our venture."

Brian pauses over his last big word. He's pretty sure he used that right.

Settling to sit despite tea stains, Jasmine remains a quiet presence as the script is kept to — pushed, but kept to, the rigid definitions of this fiction possibly beginning to blur. Peering into her tea as if she could divine from something without any loose leaves to read, she sees tunnels. Ones without detail, vague and winding and dark, an abandoned train carriage, but a sip of the tepid drink banishes them again. There aren't coming clear, just impressions like taste and smell.

Eileen needs to continue to talk. And so the world around her becomes brighter, surreal, winding around her like the music that had come from the piano, her head held beneath lucidity as gently as a baptism, all while Jasmine gently sips her tea.

"Don't be ridiculous, Nick. Of course this is my home." Eileen doesn't sound entirely convinced, however — his pacing unnerves her, and there's an uncomfortable amount of truth in that accusation, although she couldn't tell him why. She looks from the piano to the portrait next to the lion's head mount, and narrows her eyes before her gaze is drifting back out the window to rivulets of rain carving paths down the glass and the green landscape on the other side.

Upstairs, footsteps creak above the group's head — someone moving — and Eileen forces herself to swallow. "A cupboard or a room," she repeats, sounding distant, only half-listening to Delia and Brian at this point. "He roams the whole of the house. I don't see how there would be any place that I could—"

The smell of burning sage has gone, threatened to be replaced by something staler that does not belong in a building as lived-in as this one. She lifts her eyes to the ceiling and finds dark water stains that weren't there before but are kept from spreading to the point where they might alarm her by Jasmine's influence. Something wet drips onto the serving tray, but she misses that, too, and the acoustics of the room remain as they are, sounding more like an old English manor than a forgotten subway tunnel. "Yes, I— I suppose I could look at a map. How did you convince them to let Gabriel come home? The war's not over yet. He hasn't sold his commission. He's— He's not been hurt in the fighting, has he?"

Reality pushes back against the masked dreamwalker and a lean, greasy rat skitters across the floorboards on the other side of the room, but still the dream holds. It might not without her.

"'Tisn't," Nick insists, scowling at the three swans in the portrait, something wrong in the number before he turns to look at his sister. "Your home's in London or … or New York." That seems strange to say, but it feels right, and he gives a shake of his head at the strange masked piano player using big words.

His subconscious is starting to push upward — wakefulness is slowly crawling into him, and he moves closer to Delia, to offer his hand suddenly to her, a silent plea to keep him here, to keep him anchored for whatever reason that's so important. "We'll get you away from him. We just need to get you away from here. Is there a way out of the house that he doesn't know about? A secret passage maybe?" His scabbed hand pulls at the cravat, the fabric coming out of the collar its tucked into.

The rat scuttling across the floor has Delia lifting her feet and tucking them under the hem of her dress. Real or not, she doesn't like them. She follows it with her gaze until it disappears from view completely before focusing on the conversation again. "No! No he hasn't been hurt in the fighting… He's been uhm— We heard new that he's been assigned a new post." She gives a fleeting glimpse at Nick and then Brian as a measure of reassurance, she used the right terms… right?

Slipping her hand into Nick's, she points discreetly with her free hand to the area of the sofa next to her. There's a slight smile and the squeeze of her fingers as she watches him for a moment, shaking her head slightly at the loosening of the cravat. "You're undressing yourself— " she whispers softly, hopefully nobody proper in the room heard it.

"A map." The smile can practically be heard as he crosses the room rapidly. Gone only for a moment, Fulwinterkins returns with a rolled up piece of parchment. Frayed at the edges with dark brown marks of aging, Brian approaches the piano expeditiously. Hmph. Flapping the map out, he stretches it open with one careful hand so that Eileen can see the entirety of it. Though the map looks to be rather old, when Delia and Jasmine see it rolled out they will recognize it as a very modern and common map of New York City. Particularly a certain location of midtown.

The blues of water the reds of roads, though to make it a bit more believable NEW HERTFORDSHIRE CITY is inscribed at the top. Brian produces a quill which is offered over to Eileen. "If you could just inscribe, where exactly your manor is located at presently. For my future records." His head tilts some.

"A new post." Brian quickly agrees. "An honorable discharge from his current position and a leave for an honorable officer. I'll see him home briefly before he must attend to his new duties." Those black holes in the middle of his face shift up to Jasmine, a little shrug being produced. Before glancing back down at the map, "And if you're aware of your husbands brother.. Where he might be staying? Is he permanently residing in the manor? Or does he have a cabin in the woods perchance? Perhaps he fancies a certain inn?" And despite Jasmine's insistence, he can't help it. She should be circling the location already so it shouldn't hurt to add, "A super eight motel, possibly?"


Tsk, Mister Wfiunltkers, is from Jasmine, but irritation is only detected in the pull at her painted mouth, her mask obscuring most of anything else. Rigid posture, but maybe that's just the lacing that winds up her back to keep her dress proper. She's already working hard, even if working hard looks a lot like sitting prim and pretty with her cup of tea. Concern melts annoyance, however, reflected off towards Eileen, then up towards the water stain, tension making her fingers rigid and anemic around the porcelain she holds.

Wulfknerst slowly turns away from the map glancing back to Jasmine, leaning away from Eileen. Standing on one foot to get closer to the other masked dreamer. One glove walking towards her on two fingers before tap-tapping on the back of her wrist. "By the way. The aliens came and went, you were nowhere to be found. So now planet Earth is destroyed. So I hope you're happy." A little harrumph noise emits from behind the mask. "There goes all the chocolate rivers in the universe. I expect you to come help me find a new planet for humanity to populate." A light sigh is given, disappointed almost before whathisname looks back to Eileen, a small wrist gesture indicating her to 'go on'.

Quill in hand, Eileen discards her cup of tea on the appropriate saucer with a gentle clink, and rises from her seat on the chaise so she can get a better look at the map spread across the piano. The tips of her fingers, nails as clear and fine as glass, trail along the roads, and at first she seems confused, like something about the parchment is wrong.

And it of course is. Yet her mouth is silently moving around the names of the streets as she follows them. Broadway. Bleecker. Lafayette.

She makes a sound at the back of her throat and scratches a dark, angry X above the section of the map that corresponds to Midtown Manhattan where the theatre district used to be, then allows the quill to drift from her fingers. Her opposite hand goes to her wrist, clutching it, and she lets out a thin hiss of pain in response to Brian's last question.

The fireplace flickers like a candle violently shuddering before it goes out, and when the flames kick back up again the furniture and the hearth remain, but the group is no longer in the manor's sitting room but deep within the subway's bowels. Eileen takes a staggering step back away from the piano, her slippers sloshing through several inches of stagnant water.

Her hiss builds into a low, keening wail—

Nick doesn't sit, but instead squeezes Delia's hand, holding it tightly as he looms over the map, watching Eileen trace the roads, watching that X get marked. That waking part of his mind tries to find on the map his own location, not so far away, to memorize it, where the roads intersect, where the subway lines link.

Ruins of Midtown: Underground

But suddenly he finds himself far from England, far from the warmth of Delia's hand, from the comfort of tea and sandwiches and instead huddled in the corner of a subway platform, the low whirr and clack of something mechanical somewhere off in the distance. Not far enough for his liking.

He scrambles to his feet, pulling out his phone. Too far below the surface, he hurries to find his way aboveground, to try to get enough of a signal to pull up the GPS on his phone.

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