Memories Always Have Power


elisabeth_icon.gif ygraine2_icon.gif

Scene Title Memories Always Have Power
Synopsis In the dark hours before dawn, the world is shaken - but perhaps not wholly for the worse.
Date 08 August 2011

Skinny Brickfront

This building is only 14 feet deep, and it is set up as two townhome-style apartment set side-to-side with one door on a corner of the building and one at the center of the building. A metal fire escape runs across the back of the building offering egress in case of an emergency. The bottom floor looks like every other abandoned set of ruins in Long Island City — throughout the apartments there are empty boxes and tattered mattresses that have been used by squatters in the past, various kinds of debris litter the rooms, and there's a general feel of abandonment. Windows are broken or bricked over, and the wall that separated the two townhouses has a massive hole knocked through it for passage. But the floor is not covered with a layer of dust nor is there very much dirt.

The second floor is obviously inhabited by squatters, though. The floors are kept clear and a living room/kitchen arrangement has been set up in here with three couches cadged from places like Goodwill, a couple of camp stoves rest on countertops. Once again a walk-through hole has been broken through to the townhome on the other side, and over on that side of the wall the rooms have been used as bedrooms with sleeping bags and in a couple of cases camping cots set up. Most of the windows on this floor are in decent shape, though panes are cracked or missing in some places.

The third floor also shows some signs of habitation, but the floor plan here is different. The building was intended as a family home, so the third floor is one long hallway between the two stairwells with rooms off it. It is possible to walk the entire length of the building on the hallway side and see out the few unbricked windows. Two rooftop access points are at the top of the stairwells.

Oh the shark babe has such teeth dear, and it shows them pearly whites
Just a jack a knife Just a jack knife has macheath dear and he keeps it way out of sight
When that shark bites with his teeth, dear scarlet billows begin to spread fancy gloves though has macheath dear so theres never, never a trace of red

The music is always, always the one thing that permeates her nightmares. Even the safe hidey hole in her mind that Hokuto helped create for her is sometimes not enough to hide from the music. In her dreams, Elisabeth is hiding on a four poster bed with the blankets pulled up over her head while from outside the door, the song plays on. Only a whisper of it reaches her in that safe space…. any yet it is still enough to cause her physical body to react.

Even in the cool pre-dawn air sweat coats Elisabeth's body. She shifts restlessly in her bedroll and in her sleep her power flares to life. The room's walls and floor tremble. Drywall falls from the already cracked wall near the door. A low bass hum, almost like feedback from a subwoofer, comes to life in the room.

In all the time they've shared a room, Elisabeth's nightmares — even at their worst when Trask was negating her from the far side of the wall — have not been like this.

Roused from deep slumber, it takes Ygraine no time at all to realise that something is very, very wrong - but a few moments to connect physical sensation to emotional response, and to combine the two to produce a desire for rapid and immediate movement.

Tumbling out of bed - half-dragging a blanket with her, Ygraine sinks into a crouch on the floor. Sleep-gummed eyes open wide, watching the bouncing ripples of light generated by the vibrating night-light kept on for her friend's peace of mind. Not that the little glowing egg seems to be working too well just now.

A last glance around for any evident threats, then the Briton scurries over to the other bed, taking a deep breath before reaching out to the tormented sleeper. She's read of ways of waking people instantly and peacefully - something about touching a point behind the ear, her sleep-fuzzled brain informs her - but she lacks the skill, and shall have to settle for using one hand to squeeze and gently shake Elisabeth's shoulder, with the other available to grab Liz or provide defence should the blonde strike out.

On the sidewalk, one sunday morning lies a body, oozin life someones sneakin' round the corner babe, could that someone be Mack the Knife

The music in her mind is abruptly silenced, the hand on her shoulder catapulting the dreamer into other, worse memories. Pure silence, with only a touch. Darkness. Flashes of pain, of body parts rupturing. The feel of a knife on her face. Her wrists shredded and trickling blood.

Elisabeth comes awake screaming, the sound unfortunately enhanced with her ability. Drywall above her bedroll blasts off the wall as the blonde first stretches with the intake of air required to scream that loud and then curls into a fetal position to shake in abject terror.

Fortunately, Ygraine's forward-leant posture of worry shields her face from the debris raining down from above - but she still hunches against it, leaning still further forward to protect both herself and Elisabeth, even as that scream leaves her ears ringing.

With the world muted and hollow and distant, trapped behind a barrier of lingering tinnitus, the Briton dully shakes her head and attempts not to bellow as she calls out, "Elisabeth! Liz! You're safe!"

The audiokinetic is out of the dream. The scream itself yanked her back into reality. But it doesn't stop the full-on panic attack that's already in progress. Elisabeth pulls in tighter, the bass hum steady in its tone but louder now. This would be why when she knew she was having nightmares before that she asked Norton to sleep on the other side of the wall from her. Well within his radius of influence. Scrambling upright, struggling to suck in air, Elisabeth pulls back against the wall still curled up in a tiny ball sobbing uncontrollably.

Well, from a half-deafened perspective that's an improvement. It confirms that there - probably - isn't more to come in the way of wholly-uncontrolled outbursts. Shaking her head again, with noise now starting to leak back in, Ygraine cautiously shifts position to let her lightly rest her hands on Elisabeth's elbows, worriedly peering at her, hoping that skin to skin contact will do something to anchor her.

It takes a long time for the hysterical sobs to slow. Only when they finally do does Elisabeth unwind a little bit, finally letting Ygraine gather her into a hug. "I'm sorry," she gasps between ragged, hitching breaths and remaining sobs. "I'm so sorry."

Relieved that she doesn't have to try anything like singing Elisabeth out of her panic, Ygraine settles for pressing warmly into the hug, one hand pressed against the older woman's back while the other gently smooths out her hair. "It's all right", she murmurs - and is relieved to hear herself do so without the inner echoes or muted quality of her earlier words. "I know rather too well what the mind can do to us. But you're safe, and you're not alone."

What she's sorry for is probably not terribly clear. Elisabeth buries her face in her knees, trying to pull herself together. The nightlight's barely enough. And some part of her wants the shadows. The shadow that Ygraine casts over her as she holds the blonde is… a way to pretend. "He was going to cut off my foot… and make me eat it," she tells Ygraine dully without looking up. It's not about what her mind can do. It's what was really done.

Ygraine stiffens a little, before sighing and pressing her cheek against Elisabeth's hair. Tightening her grip, she delivers a firm squeeze. "You're here now", she murmurs. "You're with friends. And we care for you a great deal. I can't change the past, however much I'd love to for you and others… but I'm here now."

Sniffling, Elisabeth whispers, "I'll be okay." She has to be. The person who held her together through it all isn't here anymore. "I'm sorry I woke you up like that. It's been… a long time since I dreamed like that."

"I'm wondering if I should pick you up and wrap you in a blanket, or something", Ygraine murmurs, turning her head to plant a kiss on Elisabeth's hair. "But you don't need to apologise for bearing scars. You certainly don't need to do that. You've seen me falling apart often enough." True, she tends to press herself into a corner and draw obsessively rather than shake the walls apart, but the general principle holds. She hopes. "I don't blame you at all."

Her head finally comes up and Elisabeth wipes her cheeks. "When it gets like this, I usually hole up in my apartment. The windows are shatterproof," she admits. "Alec … set it up so that it was SWAT-proof too."

Ygraine laughs softly. "I was more focused on making sure that I'd have time to get out of mine, but… I certainly didn't want people getting in at all easily. That's what the new cage inside the door was for. Installed just in time for me to run away anyway…."

Gently shaking her head, she leans back just far enough to offer Liz a somewhat nervously encouraging smile. "This might not be the best of times for it, and I warn you that if you cry on it too much I can't promise to replicate it exactly, but I do have something I think I could give you. Been trying to find the best time. And persuade myself it was good enough."

Elisabeth looks at her curiously, wiping at the tears that continue to trickle. "Okay," she says warily. "What is it?"

Ygraine nods slowly, taking a deep breath. "Should I let go of you, or carry you over to my side of the room?", she asks with a half laugh. "I'm not sure I should be releasing you just yet."

The blonde smiles just a bit. "You can let go. I'll be okay," Elisabeth replies softly. She's coming into control of herself, the bass hum starting to abate.

Pausing part-way through pulling back to give Elisabeth another hands-only squeeze, Ygraine offers an encouraging smile before rising to her feet and padding over to her side of the room. There, she delves into her art supplies, coming up with one of her older sketchbooks: a substantial, hard-covered thing which has the slightly ragged appearance of being stuffed with many loose sheets.

Perching on her bed, Ygraine bends her head over her book as she carefully opens it at the back, drawing out a couple of pages. She stares at them for a long moment, before taking a deep breath, setting aside the book, and padding back over to perch beside Elisabeth, and tentatively offering her the first sheet.

It's Richard. Head in full detail, mostly in profile, with a generous hint of shoulders. He's looking down at something - or more likely someone, given the curl of his lips and the laughter in his eyes. There's a definite teasing quality to his expression, and more than a touch of mischief….

There's a moment of absolute shock. Elisabeth reaches out to touch the sketch, aborting the movement because she's shaking too hard to take it from Ygraine. Tears flood her blue eyes. "Oh Ygraine…." She wraps both arms around herself in a hug and whispers, "I don't even have a picture of him. You…. Oh God." She can't take her eyes off it.

Ygraine seems quite willing to hold it for her, relief mingling with pleasure as she offers the blonde a gentle smile. "I'm sorry it's taken so long", she murmurs. "I… wanted to try to get it right. To capture that memory of him. You have no idea how many versions of this there are, where I was trying to work out his nose, or his chin, or…"

"It's….. amazing," Elisabeth replies with a smile through her tears. She rubs her hands on her shorts to dry them and reaches out to take it finally. "Thank you, Ygraine."

Ygraine quite willing allows her to take it, smiling as she releases her grip. "There's also this one", she murmurs, holding up the second sheet - which shows a vastly more serious Richard, with the drawing fading out around his feet. He's shown as he might have looked to someone sitting down while Cardinal himself was on his feet. He looks intense, brow somewhat furrowed, expression maybe even fierce, his gaze fixed somewhere off to one side of the viewer.

Elisabeth laughs softly. "That's the ferocious face," she observes. "Always looks like that when he's plotting."

Ygraine giggles, again relieved. "I'm glad you can recognise it. I… was so worried that when I gave these to you, you'd say 'you've got him wrong!' It's… I'm very glad indeed that you can see him in them."

"They're beautiful," Elisabeth tells Ygraine sincerely. "I love them." Her eyes fall to the one in her hands and she stroke the lines gently. "It needs plastic. Or .. laminate."

Exhaling, Ygraine nods, cracking a swift smile. "I can get that done. There're enough art students in the city to support places offering that kind of service, cash in hand. I could get you t-shirts made up with him on, never mind something as simple as protecting or framing them. I just… I just wanted to be sure you were happy with them. I'm truly delighted to see they make you smile."

She looks up and says softly, "Would you make a copy for me? I want…. to take it to my father." Elisabeth swallows. "Just in case something happens to my copy."

"I should be able to manage that. Could even get it laminated, too, if you want", Ygraine assures Liz. "I've been considering scanning all the art I want to keep, so that I've got it in a digital back-up or two. Would you mind if I made a hard copy for myself?"

"No," Elisabeth says. "Not at all." She looks down at it again and then reluctantly hands it to Ygraine. It's the only image she may ever have of him, and if he never comes back… it makes it priceless.

Ygraine carefully accepts it, offering what she hopes is a reassuring smile. "Thank you. I'll try to get you a copy soon. Could perhaps venture out today to get one, I suppose. I can put the mapping efforts on hold for twenty four hours…."

Elisabeth makes an executive decision. "We're putting all work on hiatus today. Picnic. Lunchtime. I'm dying for a Piccoli's sandwich, and Jaiden can go in there." She grins. "Life's little necessities. I hereby proclaim today a day of rest."

Ygraine laughs softly, quirking a teasing smile. "Developing divine habits now, oh glorious leader?", she teases fondly. "But a day of rest, whoever decrees it, sounds very good. I think you'll get rather a lot of support for your tyrannical and consultation-free decision, ma'am. And it'll give me a chance to sort out some copies, and the lamination. And buy some proper tubes to protect them, too. Would you like a frame, or anything?"

"No," Elisabeth replies with a faint smile. "A frame would be too hard to keep intact, I think." She pauses. "Thank you, Ygraine. I really… don't have words for how much those sketches mean to me."

"Accept them as a gift, and use them to hold onto what matters - and that'll be quite enough for me", Ygraine murmurs, blushing bashfully. "Now… hrr-hrrrm. Is it too early to think about breakfast?"

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