Improved Mental Health


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Scene Title Improved Mental Health
Synopsis Teo looks in on a dreamwalker who lost her way.
Date February 1, 2011

In Dreams

The inky darkness is something like a blanket, only not so warm or fuzzy, just all encompassing. The belt of rocks that drifts weightlessly would be dangerous if navigated with a small craft. The smaller ones tumble around, exploding into bits as they smash up against the larger ones. A speck of red grit catches the sparkle of a sun too far away to be of any use for heat or real source of light. It makes a slow spiral toward nothingness and lands in a wisp of crimson hair that blows from no wind. It's just fanning out, like Celine Dion's hair in every video she's in.

From the top of an asteroid, Delia Ryans sits and watches the symphony of destruction. It's soundless but she can imagine it. With every burst of ore filled rock, a rush like the splash of a cold water balloon on a hot day washes through her mind. Every time, she closes her eyes to enjoy it. It's refreshing and relaxing.

A speck in the distance shows only gray for a moment, a shadow-covered sort of white. It bounces over specks of grit, nearing, and growing in size as it does. In a moment, the sun can pick out glints of copper too, and then it would seem that some of the black is not merely the vicissitudes of space backdrop of it, but part of the matter racing lilypad-style over the floating rock toward the girl on her asteroid. Bounce-bounce.

A longer leap— it almost skims the top of the next rock and falls tumbling into void, but a last-minute stretch of its tiny, elastic frame manages to snag hold. There, the creature stays for a long moment, clinging, puffed out to twice its original size. Even made vague by distance, its behavior is recognizably feline. Delia could recognize the cat from lightyears away.

As the cat leapfrogs into view, Delia's eyes widen a touch and she raises a hand in silent greeting. Until it looses itself to the vaccuum of space, that is met with a wince. Until he makes a slow tumble into view, clinging by one nail to the craggy surface of a small asteroid and puffed out like a multi-colored cotton ball.

Standing up, the young woman pushes off from her perch and swims through the void toward the cat. She doesn't stop as she reaches out on her way by and lifts him up into her arms to coddle him and nuzzle her cheek against the top of his head. Hi there stranger, the gesture says all too affectionately. The belt diminishes in size as they drift together through the nothing. The appearance of the cat has calmed the cacaphony of thoughts that caused the explosions within the belt.

The cat huddles up against her boobs. Which makes plenty of sense, if you know more about the cat than Delia does! But it's mostly her doing, anyway. She's hugging him, and they're in the way. Her cheek just gives the whole thing an air of legitimacy. He closes his slit-pupilled eyes and slowly his fur settles, tail trailing S shapes around in the void. That she can swim in it and he can't is a little disconcerting, but the transdimensional (D. Mitchell, Number9Dream, 2001) quality of cats (Eg. egotism) have it that he gets over it quickly enough. Ahhhhh. So this is where he is. Funnily enough, he's never been here before.

After all, last they met Delia was short a body. Or maybe the time before that? He opens his eyes— startlingly orange this time— and turns them about, studying the landscape fomented by his fellow oneiromancer. Rather stark. Perhaps not deliberately depressing, but indicative of some melancholy after all. She pulled a flaming heart-sword or whatever out of herself last time, didn't she? This is weird.

He clears his throat and it's a thin rasp, not entirely inappropriate to a cat clearing his windpipe, to go with the soft, warm face he presses up under her jaw. An inquiring prrrrt is emitted in roughly the tone he was trying for. Pointedly, he then pulls back and looks around again.

It's not as much swimming as just allowing her initial push off the rock she was sitting on to carry her aimlessly through the empty space. As the cat wriggles and glances around, soft grass seems to grow up from around her until she's actually lying still in the middle of a field and looking up at a black sky filled with a milky stream of stars. It's only then that she allows him to pull himself out of her hold.

Her long arms bend as her hands tuck under her head, cushioning it against the ground as she gazes up at the stars. "I'm glad you came," she finally says to the cat. "I was getting lonely and I can't find Cheza anymore." Whether her visitor is familiar with Mister Logan's dog or not is still up in the air. It doesn't stop her from talking about her though. "Do you ever feel alone, Tuzzy Bear?"

Tuhwhat? The cat tries not to look immediately offended but it's hard goin'. Tiny paws fold over her wrist and he loops his tail around to dangle over her hip. He distracts himself by contemplating her words, albeit in slightly disgruntled silence. Lonely! And yet she's still here. In here. She could be anywhere.

This strikes him as absurd as her jumping into the sleeping minds of dogs. What kind of oneiromancer does that? He splays his whiskers contemplatively, looking over them in search of Hokuto, but sees no sign of the other dreamweaver between the blackness of space and the minefield of asteroids, the sun too far away. His ears flatten with annoyance, and he looks at her with what he hopes is a sharply reproachful Look. Twitches his tail, then turns his head away. No.

He never feels that way. Ever.

The dreamwalking cat's distress over the given name is mistaken for affection and the young woman nuzzles her cheek against his head again. Letting loose a long sigh, her large blue eyes fix on one point in the cosmos for a while before drifting down to the pile of fur resting on her chest. "Remember when I got lost?" The question is posed as though it's been ages upon ages since she's been back in her body instead of less than a month. "Before that happened, I built my room inside this guy… I was staying inside of his head. I'm scared that if I leave again, I'm going to find him instead of my own body."

There's a long pause before the young woman places a finger underneath the chin of the tortoise shell and gives it a little scratch. "I made a promise to the doctor that I wouldn't leave for good until I see him again… I hate waking up but I get lonely being asleep. Isn't that stupid?"

The cat narrows his eyes at the girl for a moment, showing a hysterical edge of annoyance. It does, however, give way to a grudging sigh, that is, that manages to sound grudging despite smelling slightly of tuna. That fear, apparently, he understands.

Abruptly then, the cat lets out a sneeze that probably leaves a thin layer of tuna residue on Delia's throat, and them abruptly starts to squirm, small paws latching at empty air. In a moment, the tortoiseshell animal pops free of her arms and lands with a little cottony plomp on the asteroid's surface.

Looks around a moment, and then starts to make tiny tracks toward the sun. He has to jump to the next rock, but fortunately, not one very far away. Doesn't miss, at any rate. A thin layer of powder goes roostertailing away from under his splayed toes when he catches himself at the end of a slight skid, and then he turns around and looks at her. Looks at the sun. Her again, and wanders a padded footstep nearer.

"Eugh… What— " Delia smears a hand down the soft skin on her throat to wipe away the sneeze and then smear it across the side of her white cotton dress. It's cat snot, you can't see it anyway, right? But then Tuzzy Bear is leaving and that has the redhead sitting up, her head twisting to allow her eyes to follow the little cat's escape.

Then Tuzzy Bear stops and looks at her. Looks at the sun. Her again…

Furrowing her eyebrows in an effort to comprehend the silent language of cats, Delia shakes her head and heaves a deep sigh. Slowly, she pushes herself to a stand and leaps up into the void. If Timmy has fallen down a well, the redhead doesn't care. He's got a collie to save him, he doesn't need her dreamwalking cat.

"Where are you going Tuzzy Bear?" The woman's soft voice can be heard almost all around the little cat, as though she's everywhere and nowhere all at the same time. Finally, one pointed toe belonging to a bare foot touches down beside the feline. It's followed by a second one before two hands scoop up the kitten like a little baby, with its fat belly displayed proudly to the galaxy. Another bound, then another and another until the sun takes up almost the entire sky. They're that close.

Feeling a bit undignified, the ghost-cat dangles from the woman's arms, squinting narrowly at the sun. He tries to make peace with his current circumstances, twisting his feet experimentally, and then fluffing his whiskers at the great big ball of light that's suddenly that much greater and bigger in his view. Christ. That is one big-ass ball of burning gas and incinerating light, if not nearly as big or destructive as the real thing would be at this proximity. His belly reverberates a doubtful noise into the void of darkness. He is perturbed. There is no Earth here; there are no other people.

And don't think he doesn't look for them too. Looks about. No vestige of a childhood home protruding from rock, no inexplicable but wistful banquet tables or nostalgic lawnmowers being pushed about by an estranged father, or BLOCKBUSTER shopfront symbolizing residual anxiety about deadlines missed, not even the fucking Cheza-thing she'd been talking about earlier which ought to be exceptionally easy to invoke since it's right there on her subconscious.

Certainly no flaming swords of THE POWER OF SELF-ESTEEM. He huffs air, and then thrashes his legs discontentedly.

Which results in thin fingers tickling his belly.

Although the indignity is placed upon Teo on a subconscious level, the tips of the redhead's fingers play lightly against the white fur as she pets the cat. "C'mon Tuzzy," the young woman murmurs, feeling the animal's discontent. As though climbing a set of invisible stairs, the young woman closes in on the sun. The light makes it impossible to see anything but blinding yellow, even through shuttered eyes it's impossible to make out anything except for lots and lots of bright.

With the cat cradled in her arms, Delia takes the final step into the flaming ball of gas and then… nothing. Where they are now is not where they were. Where they are now is a pink room with walls decorated in white daisies. Children's drawings litter the walls, there's a fireplace, a man with black hair and blue eyes, a man with brown hair and green eyes, a dog made of orange cheese, and so much more. Each one turns quite realistic when looked at, as though it were a three dimensional hologram rather than a stick figure drawing.

Up against the far wall is a large bed with a fluffy white duvet. The carpet on the floor is stained with paint footprints belonging to a small child or a large dog. A small child with springy red hair and bright blue eyes, and freckles that dot across her nose. A little girl that wouldn't be so vivid if she didn't just step out from inside of the woman carrying him. For a moment, the ghostly image of the girl just stands there. Then, like a silent movie, she springs into action and the transluscent body bounds up onto the bed and begins jumping.

Finally. Teo's kitton legs cease their karate and go to try a slack penduluming as he stares about through large fire-colored eyes, his pupils waxing wide before waning back to slits again. He studies each of these animate figures in turn, but skip lightly over the fucking dog to study the girl almost immediately. Delia. It's Delia-baby, and she's already fucking around where her gay dads don't see! It's adorable. He tucks his white-bibbed chin in and noses her hand with his pink nose, and then looks up again. Things, finally. Things.

Maybe introducing him to them will spare him the indignity of having his stomach scratched by a postadolescent girl of dubious oneiromancic competence. Maybe? It's worth a shot, anyways. He decides to focus his energies on the simplest thing, probably the least emotional taxing for her— the cheese dog. Stretches his forepaws out at it, claws extended in sudden Swiss Army array, glinting wickedly translucent white. He opens his mouth. Moooohhhw.

The little arms that stretch, the claws that glint dangerously toward the cheese dog, they suddenly find themselves hanging in midair without the support of Delia. While the bite sized version of her gains opacity the one holding him loses continuity and slowly fades to nothing. In the end, the two have traded places between what's real and what's not.

The springy little curls bounce up and down as the child flies through the air, making attempt after attempt to flip with each jump. She's never successful and really only ever manages to land on her bottom. She's wearing a child sized version of the same white cotton dress that the older one was wearing. Her feet are also bare. Perhaps what is most important of all is that her eyes light up with every new thing she sees. She hasn't lost her joi de vivre yet, at least not in here.

"CHAY-ZAH!!" she calls, catapulting off the bed toward a crayon outline of a door in the wall. The moment she touches the hand drawn knob, the entire thing turns solid and quite real. "CHEY-ZAAAAAHHH!!!" There's no answer, even when the door is pulled open to open the mind to somewhere/someone new. This part of Delia isn't afraid to peek. Apparently.

There is a cartoonish scrambling of small paws in empty air, pedalling sheer nothing, and then he abruptly drops like a stone. Fortunately, a rather stretchy resilient stone, landing easily on his feet, because that's what cats do. He rubs his claws into the carpet once or twice, kneading with vengeance hinted in the curl of his spine and standing up the hairs on his tail, but then he subsides with a faint deflation of a sigh. All right. No ripping the textured parts of Delia's dream up with his exposed claws, not when it took them this long to get her somewhere.

Finally permitted to walk without his dream-belly molested, he starts doubtfully toward the girl, directing his path so that he hides, briefly, behind the leg of the bed, before making a short dash to hide behind the next one, peeking out from under the blankets. Every self-respecting catbody knows that small girls can not be trusted to indulge in cats without torturing them, even if they are big ones in real life. His eyes wink like coals in the shadow beneath the furniture, and he tries to get a good view around her skinny baby-legs and into the hall.

The hall isn't actually a hall at all (hey that rhymes), the sight that greets the cat is what seems to be the doorway to another mind. Every time the little girl closes the door and reopens it, a new scene appears, a new dream, someone else. Unafraid, she swings the door wide open at a sunny meadow and steps forward. Once the threshold is crossed, the young woman reappears and hovers at the doorway, keeping it open and keeping an eye on the child. The mind, it seems, is split. Broken.

A thumb is raised to rose stained lips and Delia chews on the short nail there while she waits for the little girl, her younger self, to have whatever fun it is she wishes and return. "Stay close!" She yells after her, unable to keep the worry from escaping as well. "Don't go out of sight of the door!" The child could get lost… then where would she be, possibly insane.

Bonk. Bop-bop. The fold of a soft ear flips gently against grown-Delia's calf, and then a nick of whiskers along ankle-bone, the damp point of a feline nose wiggling gainst his foot and then to press the point, a nip of his teeth. The cat went from all the way over there to right here in less time than it takes to blink, and leaves him curling and uncurling his tail from the shape of a question-mark. Orange eyes dish glassily up against Delia, and then he weaves himself in between her ankles to peer out into the world the smaller one went into.

Maybe he should have trusted that one more. Creature of open meadows and seasonal flowers, naivete and laughter. The furthest thing from the one he scavenged out of the void. Sniff-sniff. He tries a tentative step forward, his small toes breaking into the edge of sunlight.

The young woman glances down at the little cat, the expression on her face is neutral for half a moment, as though she's considering an action. Reaching down, she sweeps a long fingered hand across its back and then crouches down on her haunches to continue scratching at its ears. She stands again when the cat makes its foray into the wilds of the unknown mind. Off in the distance the smaller version of herself races like a mad thing in search of whatever it is she came to find. There are squeals of childish laughter as she crests a small hill and looks back toward the other. In a moment, she's out of sight.

There's an acrid stench, at least to the delicate senses of a cat. Something disgusting and distinctly pollicle roams these parts, likely hunts in this very field. it is then that the little girl's red springy curls pop into view again. There's a scream, not of fear but of excitement as a shadow looms overhead.

The cat's fur stands up in alarm. And then flattens rather suddenly, as if annoyed at having exposed some idiotic feline tendencies. Lively tension loops through his spine. Teo stares out into the field, his whiskers puffing on his face in disgust. He glances up, back at Delia/'s crotch, then hits her leg suddenly with one side of his rump. Then the other. Hissing, he abruptly pounces forward, out onto the grass, his eyes open and slight body eloquent. A noise scrapes itself out of his lungs, almost human, despite that it lacks any recognizable language at all.

He glances back at the older girl standing in the strange rectangle of gloomy bedroom space and calls her again, once, a screech of annoyance. Then, without a further cat-noise ado, he rounds his head, ears tipping forward. Abruptly dashes through the grass, moving toward the stink and the tiny girl all at once.

The little girl is at the top of the hill, far from the little cat and the door but still well within sight. The older version doesn't move from her post under the arch of the doorway, gazing out with worry toward the running cat. "Tuzzy Bear come back! You'll get lost!!"

The yell earns the interest of the little version and a head of springy curls peeks above the grass. Spotting the bounding feline, she stands in the grass and wipes her dirty hands down the apron of her white summer dress. "C'mon Trippy~ Let's go find Tuzzy Bear!!" The little girl seems to have found a dog, one that she's visited before.

The giant shadow belongs to a rather miniature dog, one that is about the same size perhaps just a little larger than the cat. Like the cat, the dog has two ears, a tail (though hers curls), a round little belly, and teeth. Unlike the cat, the dog is lacking one rather important thing. A fourth leg.

Aaagh a dog. Teo freezes in the tall grass, his body held in a crouch, eyes luminous through the blades. His tail is nearly parallel to the ground, sticking out behind him, twitching left and right. It'd be lashing, except that he, being human, in fact, knows better than to think the grass won't knock about and betray his precise location. He studies the three-legged with vague wariness for a moment, blinking at the empty space that its fourth leg should have been hanging. He cocks a glance back at grown-up Delia, then forward at the baby version again.

The fact that one can hear the other is somewhat promising after that whole mutual-exclusion episode in the bedroom. He weaves backward a few pawsteps, peering at the dog and the midget for a moment. The next, there is a very calculated twitch of long grass behind him.

The rustle of the grass has the small ginger dog raising its head and then lowering down into a crouch. There's a rattle of a growl as it points toward the unknown element in the field. Its little orange bottom and bristly tail peek up over the greenery as the snuffles of the canine grow closer and closer. The grass up ahead of the cat shifts and wavers as the relatively small dog winds its way toward its prey.

"TUZZEEEEE-BAAAAAARE!!" The call of the child is somewhat reminiscent of an earlier summons for chay-zah or whatever she was yelling for. The miniature version of the woman is a few paces behind the dog, seeming not to know exactly where the cat is even though the woman at the door can spot it almost right away. It seems, they don't share everything, either that or the little girl isn't imparting the location of the pretty kitty to the dog.

A tiny cat-foot grasps around in the grass, dabbing in the soil, marking it. Or something. That cats do; Teo doesn't know jack shit about cats, actually, but as long as he's here in the girl's subconscious he knows he can leave a trail even without lifting a hindleg and pissing a steaming arc of it. He scratches the ground once, twice, then turns abruptly, padding back toward the adult one. Lets out a chirp on the way.

A second.

A luminous eye swivels back to peer at the crippled dog and the diminutive girl, a shiver running through white fur and tiger-coded patches alike. He rasps out a m'owww, and then tracks another few pointed steps toward the figure in the doorway, before accelerating to a sudden, single flame's-tongue leap toward it. He couldn't get much more obvious without shitting an arrow, and really; he leaves that to the dogs.

Cat— cat… CAT!! is what Trippy must be thinking when her ears perk to two diamonds and her entire body goes stiff at the sight of the tortoise shell in the grass. Her grass. Trippy grass not Tuzzy grass. The moment the cat moves, the three legged dog is bounding toward it as best as a three legged dog can bound. Her lungs are working overtime, trying to push out enough air for snarling brussels barks and trumpeting beagle brays at the intruding animal.

“Trippy no!! Bad puppy!!” The little girl is racing after the dog and cat toward the door, the dog is well in the lead. She trips, disappearing beneath a wave of grass. A gust of wind folds the greenery over the little girl, masking any trace that she was ever there. The roll of blades left so long they’ve gone to seed wavers and the ruby mop of curly hair belonging to the child peeps up, followed by a cherub face. “I’m okay!” The announcement of her well being is made so quickly, it’s almost as though she’s well practiced at answering the question… before it’s asked.

The cat winds his body into a circle then unwinds it turning around, ears pricked forward and eyes almost preternaturally large on his head. The resilience of that child is not important in the context of all children or the vitality of youth and clarity and warmth of anticipation or whatever— Delia is a great deal older than that in real life, after all. It doesn't matter what she used to be. It matters that she knows she has this. Resilience, vitality, clarity, warmth, anticipation, all of that.

So he draws her nearer. Assuming he can get away from the damn dog who, admittedly, must be regarded with some distaste. Less a feline thing. More the annoyance of someone who had a very fine suit tailored and doesn't want to get yappy pursedog hair all over it. It'd be a mild affront to his ego, see.

Of course, it would be considerably worse to miscalculate the combination of older and younger Delias if that produces some effect like matter-anti-matter and blows her up inside the chamber of own skull, but—

— eggs, cake. Letting out a mrrow, he takes a quick dash to older Delia's ankles, winding warily around behind her bare legs. His eyes narrow. He stares out at dog and child, and flogs the back of the nearer one's knees with his tail, whiskers puffed importantly and one forepaw curled as if to pose. Tuzzy Wuzzy is heeere. Maybe so is her improved mental health.

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