Lingering Effects


elisabeth2_icon.gif felix2_icon.gif

Scene Title Lingering Effects
Synopsis Some traumas are just not easily shaken off.
Date Oct 27, 2010

Red Hook, Textile Factory 17, Basement

Tonight's activity is … unusual. In that Elisabeth has only ever worked on this particular skill with a shadow. And then only rarely because she cannot, even now, get past the fact that pure darkness induces panic. Blindfolds cause it too. It makes it hard to train the ability, but she's managed to do the basics. A nightlight and Richard Cardinal in the darkness and she can actually make her way through a room she hasn't seen by dint of sound waves. She hasn't informed her boss — and all she told Felix was to head into the basement of the Textile Factory, choose a large storage room, set it up however he wanted to, and come back up to the main level and let her know when he was done. As he stands in front of her now, Elisabeth looks…. a bit pale.

"So, Feeb…. Here's the thing. I don't know if I'm going to make it from one side of the room to the other. I need you to keep a flashlight ready and in your hand, and I need you to be on the far side of the obstacle course from me. I don't want to hurt you with my ability and I don't want you close enough to get to me without a little effort. Otherwise, I think I'm going to chicken out. Think you can do it?"

He puffs up his chest - narrow, still, despite the muscle laid down by working out. "Of course," he says, with a little boy's braggadacio. He's not in fatigues, but in boots and jeans and t-shirt. "I brought a flashlight, like you asked. Gimme a minute to go down there and get to the other side?"

God, please do not let me freak out down there. Elisabeth nods slowly. "All right. Call out when you're ready, and we'll see if all this practice is gonna do me any goddamn good at all," she murmurs, offering him a tense smile.

There's the sound of him rummaging. The sound of him bumping into things and swearing in his saltiest Russian. And then the faintly exasperated edge to his voice, as he calls up. "Yoo-hoo. I'm reaa-dy." So very good at being silly.

It makes her giggle. Which is probably the point. Elisabeth's well versed in his attempts at lightheartedness. She walks down the stairs, pausing at the door to the storage room he's using to suck in a deep breath, and then steps in to the all-encompassing darkness of the room letting the door close them in.

Almost immediately, the suffocating sense of panic strikes. Her heartrate kicks into the stratosphere and her eyes struggle to make out any sense of light. Felix can hear her breathing hitch in the darkness. The struggle isn't exactly quiet as she reels backward to fumble for the door. Only a supreme effort of will keeps her from literally bolting.

Her words are forced from her, every word made difficult by the stutter that she cannot control. "T-t-t-t-t-t-t-talk t-t-t-o m-m-m-m-m-me?" Liz requests in a tone that suggests if he doesn't…. the inaudible chuff of sound that just passed across his skin might no longer be inaudible as she loses control of herself entirely.

Thank God, Leonard Cohen has no vocal range whatsoever. It makes it easy for untrained schlubs like a certain Russian to sing his songs. He takes a deep, deep breath, and croons to her through the echoing confines of the basement. "Dance me to your beauty with a burning violin, Dance me through the panic 'til I'm gathered safely in, lift me like an olive branch and be my homeward dove…."

It doesn't matter what he says or sings.. it's the fact that it's a voice in the darkness that helps. It's not "Mack the Knife" and it's not him. The dead man. Doug. Elisabeth fights to focus on the sound. On the wave patterns in the sound itself, closing her eyes and letting her ability take over. Felix is…. there. Forty-ish feet forward from the sounds of him and off to the left slightly.

Now… sound travels much like water waves. Gently push them forward and away, and there should be delicate ripples as they break around objects in the path. She can sense where the breaks are, how the sound waves deflect or shift direction around them, but it's a delicate kind of sensing — still not perfect by any stretch. She has a good sense for the size of the room and where it ends on all sides, but the ripples off things in the middle still confuse and complicate the situation. Like pebbles in a pond create overlapping waves.

The blonde forces herself to step away from the (relative) safety of the wall, to let go of the door handle. And complete disorientation sets in for a long moment. Felix's voice is the only constant in the darkness and she's not sure she's even still standing. It isn't until she can force the panic to recede — just a fraction — that she can take the next step. It's a shuffling one, untrusting of what her senses are telling her. Sound rebounds in this room — which is why she chose it. It makes things more complicated, forces her to put her attention on that and not the all-encompassing darkness.

Feeling your way via ripplies in the water. He goes through the song, pacing deliberate, voice surprisingly sweet. She's seen him so many ways - knows the taste of his mouth, the scent of his hair, the way his muscles feel, stretched in playful resistance. And now she knows him via echolocation.

She can do this with a nightlight. She can do this blindfolded. Richard's been working with her on it for weeks. Months, even. But that's in a space where there is still a sliver of light somewhere, not in this immense span of absolute black. And even though her eyes are closed and it should feel the same to her, the darkness is like a living thing, smothering her.

"Felix," Elisabeth gasps softly. "Turn on the flashlight or the lights, please?" She's accomplished no more than five steps forward, but she feels like her heart is about to explode. Her stutter is almost under control, but it's still there.

There's a soft click - he's got his big lantern on. "Gotcha," he says. "You're doin' great, Liz. Really good."

When the lights come up, he can see just how poorly she's actually doing. She's stopped right in front of a set of boxes that would have tripped her viciously if she hadn't quit moving, but her face is clammy and sweaty and she's shaking visibly. That rush of sub-audible bass rumbles through the room again and she says, "No… no, I'm not." She sounds breathless. "That's … we're done." She thought she could do this, but she can't. Not in the pitch black.

"Shhhh," he soothes, gliding forward in that deceptively slow way he has to take her hands. «That's a brave girl,» he says, in Russian.

She's angry at herself. Elisabeth thought she was getting over it — at least in terms of being able to function. When he takes her hands, they're like ice and her palms are damp with panicked sweat. She grips him hard. "I don't know what you said," she tells him with a bit of a grin, "but it always sounds positively evil."

"I just called you brave. Now, this, this is more evil," And he murmurs something that is no doubt salacious, in her ear, after drawing her to him.

Wrapping her arms around him tightly, Elisabeth laughs. She has no idea what the hell he just said, but the comfort of his lanky frame is easing some of the tremors of terror too. Burying her face against his chest, she murmurs, "Jesus fucking Christ, I'm gonna be useless if I can't find a way around this." She still can't sleep without the nightlights. Maybe never will, she's beginning to realize.

He rubs her back, like a mother soothing her child. "No, you won't. it's slow, Liz. But you're trying. You are. Give yourself credit, eh?"

"It's been a year, Felix," Elisabeth says quietly. "I can walk into subway tunnels, I can walk outside at night. I can walk through my apartment in the almost black. But as soon as you give me zero light, I just lose it. Every time."

He blows against her ear. Not hard, like a horse's breath, teasing. "I don't know," he says, unhappily.

With a heavy sigh, Elisabeth looks up and offers a bit of a smile. "Tomorrow's another day. Guess I'll just keep trying."

Felix kisses her on the nose. And then on the ear. And then on the mouth. "Yeah," he orders. "You do that."

She smiles at the kiss on her nose, giggles softly at the one on her ear, and when he kisses her lips Elisabeth returns it. Her hand comes up to cradle his cheek, and there's a flash of a memory, a shared intimate moment. It is enough to draw the tension a little away, easing the rigid line of her spine some. She rests her forehead against his face and murmurs softly, "C'mon, Feeb — Let's get out of here before I rattle the damn place around us and Kershner bitches about the broken glass again." Her tone is rueful.

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