On A Darkling Plain


delia2_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title On A Darkling Plain
Synopsis Delia goes to mend a fence with Nick by thanking him for something that might never happen.
Date April 15, 2011

In Dreams

The landscape of Nick's mind tonight is not one of tundra and smoke, but still desolate, still solitary. The land behind stretches as far as the eye can see in the gray dusk. Gray-green grass flat and dull in contrast to the sharp and abrupt face of the cliff down to an ocean precisely the icy blue of Nick Ruskin's eyes. It's a familiar image, one seen in many books, may or may not be recognizable as Dover Beach.

The sky is gray and growing darker, suggesting twilight, and yet a full moon floats above in the gray sky, ripples of moonlight shining silver on the blue waves that lap the white clay of the beach and cliffs. Nick sits above, so very close to the edge, watching the water. There are no jagged crags below, this time. Only water. Only pebbles and sand.

The soft breeze carries a few tendrils of red hair into his periphery before two pale hands come from behind, shadowing his eyes from the view of the ocean. In such close proximity the scent of lavender and mint are a second clue as to who might be behind him, blinding him. There's no guess who to accompany the surprise, just a chin resting against his good shoulder.

"I miss you," is the soft greeting that can barely be heard over the lapping of the waves against the beach. Then the hands are gone, allowing him to see once again as they loop around his waist to hold him where he sits. She doesn't look at him, preferring to stare out at the water. At least for the moment.

Tension rides in the muscles and tendons of shoulder and neck when those hands come over his eyes, and a stillness in his chest as if he's holding his breath until he feels her hands around his waist. Then, a shaky and shallow breath enters and a huff of breath is exhaled.

"I'm around," he says in a neutral voice, belied by that tension, the stiffness of his posture, the way he doesn't look at her. "Nothing to miss," he adds, a one-shouldered shrug punctuating his words, lifting her chin slightly before it falls again.

The other arm picks up a pebble and pitches it down into the water, which has grown a darker, stormier sort of blue.

"You're wrong," the argument is quick and simple, like ripping a bandaid off instead of a slow peel. "There's a lot to miss, I think." She knows, actually, because it's what she's been feeling. Delia's own deeper breaths blow hot near Nick's neck before she shift slightly to angle her head in order to gain a clearer view of his profile.

Her shoulders touch against his back for a brief moment as she adjusts her seat to kneel behind him, becoming just a little taller than he is. "I had a dream about you," more of a vision by all accounts but she doesn't say it out loud. "A memory, really. Have you been having strange dreams?" She glances at the water again for a split second, only to note its temperament (or his) before focusing on him again.

A flicker in his jawline gives away what he no doubt hopes comes across as stoic indifference as he listens to her speak. Blue eyes peek from their corners when she moves to look at him, before flicking back out toward the sea, staring across to France's coastline.

"No," he says with a nearly imperceptible shake of his head. The syllable is terse, but it feels honest. "Nothin' worth rememberin' in my dreams if I dreamt at all," he adds after a moment long enough that it seemed he wasn't going to elaborate.

One hand slides to his side while the other drops away to find his hand. Then Delia lifts it and crawls under his arm to take a seat beside him. She doesn't let go, holding his arm around her shoulders in a firm grasp. Until she laces her thin fingers with his. "Oh…" the sound speaks volumes of disappointment, perhaps not with the fact that he hadn't dreamt but that there was nothing worthwhile to keep on his mind.

The redhead kicks her legs around in lazy circles through the air, knocking against his shin lightly every few passes. If he's bothered by it, she doesn't seem to notice, she's not. "I had one about you," she says again in a low tone. "I found out that they're memories… You brought me to a graveyard, to visit my daughter."

Nick glances down as she takes his hand, giving a shake of his head at her audacity. His is cold, not quite slack — a slight curl to the fingers she has to unbend, as if the natural tendency of his hand is to make a fist.

The scars across the knuckles seem to suggest it is.

Her words earn another shake of his head. "I know I've hit my head a few times, but I don't think I've ever been lucky 'nough to have amnesia, Del. That's not a memory," he argues in a flat voice, not looking her way but staring across the water. The cry of a loon far above makes his eyes narrow, his arm tensing up and away from her, though she holds it firmly in place.

"It is a memory," the soft insistence of her voice speaks volumes as to what she believes is the truth. Nick's heard the tone before. "A memory that hasn't happened yet. It hasn't happened yet, but it will. I have proof… out there." At that, Delia lets loose his hand to bring it up to his face and turn his head to meet her eyes, using two fingers at the side of his chin.

"Stop being like this," she says, her eyebrows furrowing slightly as she lets her gaze drift down to his throat and then his collar. "Please." It's not an easy thing, she's begged his forgiveness so many times before. He'd relent if she cried but it'd be a hollow sentiment, just something to get her to stop. "You're so wrong about me… very wrong about me."

He's about to argue — how can it be a memory if it hasn't happened yet, which is a poor argument coming from him considering his recent time traveling exploits — when she turns his face toward her and makes demands of him.

His brow furrowed, blue eyes flick — left right left — before he jerks his chin away and moves to his feet, striding along the cliff's edge as if there was not a sheer fall just a half a foot's width away from his boots.

"Don't tell me how to be or not to be in my own bloody head, Delia," he says, the wind whipping words from his mouth but they can be heard somehow over the crashing of waves below that start to come faster and harder despite the tranquil setting. "You came in my head tonight. I wasn't looking for company, was I? If I'm not as charming and chatty as you'd like, well."

Another shrug, and he glances back. "I'd say you know where the door is, but there don't seem to be one. I'm sure you can make one, though."

"I'm not trying to tell you how to be," she utters, lowering her head to allow her hair to shield her face. It's a defence mechanism she's used too many times to count, the ostrich method. If she can't see him, he can't see her shoulders sag and her trunk curve downward. He won't be able to see her ankles cross in front of her or see her eyes close in a feeble attempt to avoid pain and bring herself some relief.

Her hands press down to the ground at her sides and she lets them rest there, curling her fingers over the edge of the precipice. "All I wanted to do was say thank you, for being there for me. I— I'll need it." A small quiver in her voice at the end is what stops her from chattering on.

Nick stops. Back to her, his eyes close, and one hand comes up to rake through his hair in that nervous gesture of his. He sighs and turns around slowly, eyes down as he returns to her side. He crouches, forearms resting on his knees, and he gazes down at the water below.

"A memory that hasn't happened," he repeats, the vitriol gone from his voice, though that flatness has returned. The water below likewise is no longer turbulent but flat, glassy, gently lapping at the shore rather than crashing as it had a moment before.

"So, what, the future? How's that work?" he says, brow ticking upward, curiosity and worry creeping into his voice.

"Her name was Beth," Delia starts, speaking as though it has already happened because where time travel is concerned; past, present, and future tense don't necessarily mean much. Besides, she's had the memory brought to her and in her mind, they were already there.

Her fingers curl enough so that her nails dig into the backs of her hands, leaving indentations and in one case a scratch. "She was nine months old when she died… I wanted her to come back, I begged you to find someone to b-bring her b-back." Her eyes stay closed, she doesn't feel his proximity, keeping herself focused on the dream and preventing his fading. "You told me that the sickness wasn't fair to the little ones. I think she died of the flu."

Nick tries to speak but no words come, and he has to clear his throat to try again. "How do you know? That it was a memory… a … vision?"

The words aren't accusing or disbelieving of her story, merely cautious and careful in tone and timbre.

He reaches for her hands, uncurling the fists before curling his own larger fingers around hers. "If it's the future, it doesn't have to happen like that. Even the past can be changed." Even if he failed in his own quest to do so.

There's another question he doesn't ask, can't bear the possible answer to.

"I— I have the proof, I can prove it to you. I've been carrying it with me ever since I saw it… Brian and Sable found it, a crayon rubbing of a tombstone. The one— the one in the dream." The one Delia assumes that he ordered, paid for, and was prepared to get rid of on her say so. Simply because she was upset. "I think you bought it for her, you picked out the nicest thing to say… It was perfect."

The dreamwalker's fingers are a little stiff but easily moved by his stronger hands. She could resist, if she felt like it. "Her name was Beth, she'll be born on April twelfth next year. She'll die in January. When you brought me back there— I wanted to dig up the grave with my bare hands but you stopped me."

"That… that could be faked…" Nick begins, his voice choked. "If someone is trying to hurt you with some… some joke…" Just the thought of it makes him scowl, his hands tightening over hers though not enough to harm them, not enough to hurt.

His eyes finally meet hers for the first time, his pale meeting her more vibrant ones, though the ice in his has melted away with worry and concern. The question is still there, and still unspoken. April of next year is a year away. "If it happens," he says finally, with some effort, "I'll be there for you if you need me t'be."

"It's not faked," she says quietly, her words sounding resigned and accompanied by a shake of the head. "It wasn't meant to hurt me, I know that. I think it's a warning… Like the visions before November. A lot of people have been having them, I had another one before it. I was with the Ferry, trying to convince people to leave the ghetto. They were staying even though the government stopped caring for them. There was a man there, the one that works with my dad. He said they were bringing telepaths to be exterminated." A measure of worry in her voice is host to a plethora of fear.

"I was older in that one," there's a little smile on her face, a bittersweet pride that she lived that long. Pulling one of her hands out from underneath his, she places it against his knee and then leans over to rest her cheek on top of it. "She was important to me… I know she was…" Flicking her eyes up to look at his face, she lowers her eyelids to shade them halfway. "Don't worry, you weren't her father. It's why— It's why I don't want to have her."

When she rests her hand and chin on his knee, Nick closes his eyes, lifting his head slightly, letting the cool evening wash over him. "I … you're sure no one's trying to hurt you?" The freed hand goes to touch the necklace at his throat, though he doesn't remind her of her doubts and worries then.

"I wasn't here last June, but that wasn't a warning from what I hear — it might have worked that way, but it wasn't intended t'be, Red. And it hurt people. A lot of people died because of those visions, in car accidents and falls… just be careful."

He swallows and runs his free hand over her hair lightly. "Your… you trust so easily, and it's a gift and I wouldn't want to change it or else you wouldn't be… you wouldn't know me," Nick says quietly. "But it puts you in danger, too. And I wish I could keep you safe from anyone who might hurt you, but it'd mean changing who you are… expecting you to be something you're not."

Her eyes fall to the spot where the medallion shows through his shirt. "I know no one's trying to hurt me, Nick," there's a certainty in her voice and a small measure of happiness as she says it. Even with the depression of the subject and time in what will be her life, should she choose it. "I just— If she was that important— I don't want to go back to…" Her voice drops off and her eyes fall to a spot on his jeans near her face, forcing her to cross her eyes somewhat to focus on it.

She lifts her head then, tilting it into his hand as she listens to him. "I can take care of myself, Nick, you said— I'm a redwood, remember? I'm not.. I'm not as naive as people think, I'm capable." She doesn't say intelligent or list any good qualities, just attempts to debunk the negative. "Nick, please don't cut me out. I'm not always going to be perfect or do everything you like or want from me. Just please try to understand."

His hand moves to run through his, shaggy and black and in need of a cut — and Nick shakes his head. "I don't expect you to be perfect, or … I don't have any right to any expectations 't all of you, Red."

A sigh cuts through his words and he tugs her hand, gingerly standing so as not to jostle her where she rests against him. "If you think they're real, though, and not something meant to hurt you, I'll trust your instincts on that." There's a furrow to his brow as he says it that suggests it's not altogether honest — after all, she trusts him. After all, she trusted Logan.

"I'm not angry at you," he adds, staring back out at the sea that's flat and calm, its mood seeming to echo his.

"You don't," when Delia stands with Nick, she laces her fingers through his, grasping them tightly. "You don't have the right to expectation… but I gave it to you anyway." It's a repetition of what she told him before during their last argument on the street. Her free hand comes up to touch his cheek and she gives him a small crooked smile while following his stare out onto the ocean. It lingers there for a brief moment before flitting back to look up at him, where she widens her smile a little.

Her fingers move to smooth out his eyebrows, a small attempt to sooth the angry beast before it rears its ugly head. "I'm going to need you and you're going to be there for me. I don't think I can tell you how much that means to me, just knowing that you're going to be there."

His eyes close and his jaw twitches at the touch. "You won't need me now," he says with a shake of his head, lips curving into a humorless half smile. "By warning you — it'll change it, yeah? She won't get sick. She won't die. You don't have to be sad, and you won't need me."

His fingers squeeze hers and then release them. "I'm glad I was there for you, though. If it helped. Even in a dream of something that hasn't happened, and now won't. Like I said once… in another life, right?" As he speaks, a cloud drifts in front of the moon, the silvery light reflecting off the water suddenly snuffed out like a candle and leaving them in a grainy gray light instead.

"I do need you," insistent and argumentative, even in softer tones that match their setting. Delia's hands drop to her sides and she looks down at the ground between them with a slight nod, though she quite obviously disagrees with everything he's saying. "And we don't know if she won't get sick, I don't even know if I'm going to try to find her father. I don't want to… but it makes me feel— ungood" it's not a real word "— when I think of not having her, you know?"

He probably doesn't.

"It's like I'm having an abortion without ever being pregnant. I know she existed, I know that she died, and I know that at least I loved her, even if no one else did." She stops suddently and then takes a small breath, shaking her head. "Maybe you did… or maybe you just loved me enough to try to make me happy." Her mouth hangs open and she takes a big breath inward holding it in fear as her blue eyes widen and freeze on his throat.

Nick doesn't argue the last of what she says. He nods — agreement or understanding? It's hard to tell, as he stares out at the gray water below.

"I think if," he begins, "she's meant to be, she will be. Somehow. It's hard to change the past… and while that's the future, to someone else it's the past, at some point, right?" He frowns at the inadequacy of his words. "I tried to change mine, once. To undo it."

He glances over at her, shrugs a shoulder. "I'm still here."

That sounds unnecessarily morbid, and Nick shakes his head. "What I think I mean," Nick begins again, scowling as the right words continue to evade him, "is that you need to live your present… and do what's right for you and not worry about what may or may not be."

"I'm sorry that you went through everything you did," she says quietly, looking toward the grassy field to one side of them rather than the water on the other. "I wish I could change it for both of you so you never had to. All I can do is what I'm doing now, not undo it but— uhm… trying to help in my own way." While doing a myriad of other things at the same time, multitasking.

"I work at the Apothecary in Greenwich Village," the random comment seems to come out of left field and seem so off topic. "I'm.. I'm uhm.. planning to go back to school but in case something else happens to— you know— and I can't. I'm going to take the boards this summer, so I can be at least licensed. Maybe take a pharmacy course or two, it'd help Lucille." She's never really mentioned her sister before but… "Just do I have something to fall on if everything goes bad again."

"S' apparently selfish of me to have wanted to. Can't go back, can only try and make it…" Nick shakes his head. There's no making it right. "Thank you. You…" he pauses, glancing down at her, then back to the water, "do."

Swallowing, he nods to the east, a paler gray illuminating the coast of France. It must mean he's waking, or she is. "Good luck with all that. You'll be good at it." There's a confidence in those words that isn't in most of what he's said — but that she's good at taking care of people, at nurturing people, this he is sure of.

"Come and see me," the point of her verbal diarrhea comes out in a quick blurb. His well wishes aren't ignored, just put to the side as she seizes his hands and pulls herself a step closer. "Come and see me, I'll buy supper. Curry.. or… or something. I can pay for it now." A promise that she can take care of herself, perhaps him as well if he ever needed it.

A nervous glance is cast toward the pale gray that could be a sunrise, if there was ever a sun here, and she chews on her lip. Her blue eyes flicker up, like the flit of a bird before she follows through and gives him a quick peck on the lips. Nothing monumental like more insistent embraces they've shared. "I like your name for me the best, I'dlike it if you called me that more often. Or if you'd just call." It's a hint. A fairly blatant one.

His eyes dodge hers, and brows knit. Again there's no argument. When she kisses him lightly, he bows his head, an almost shy smile as he shakes his head again as she continues to push him. The smile broadens with a chuckle at the blatant hint. "Czerwony and ognisty," he murmurs. He reaches for her shoulders, bending his head to hers to kiss her forehead lightly.

"I can't make any promises, but if you need help, I'll be there," Nick says softly, a promise despite his words.

"I'm counting on you," Delia breathes, her eyes opening after Nick's lips leave her forehead. She loosk up at him and licks her lips as though trying to make a decision as important as life or death. What she choses is to back away and catch his hands as they fall. Curling his knuckles up to her face, she touches them with her lips and lets go quickly.

She steps toward the sandy cliffs and glances back over her shoulder at him. She doesn't ask what the second word means, she knows it's something complementary and it brings a smile to her features just knowing that much. Without another word, she closes her eyes, turns her head back around to face the French coastline and takes one final step.

There's no crunch of a body on gravel, no splash as she hits the water. Just nothing.

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