Only My Dreams


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Scene Title Only My Dreams
Synopsis Two dreamers see a very different beginning to their awkward relationship in the future that's already gone.
Date September 14, 2011

Pollepel Island Infirmary

Thin blankets aren't enough to protect against a cold so deep that breath comes out in clouds. Most of the patients in the ward have two or three piled on top of one another, enough to create a thermal barrier against chill. Only the ones that complain or the nurses see fit to indulge get that special treatment, those with fever or who sacrifice their own comfort are left without.

The dim candlelight reflects the shaky, shallow breath of one such patient; a woman with boney fingers so cold that the tips are turning blue. She doesn't have a fever, she also doesn't care enough to say much. Her hands tremble as she turns the thin pages of the book on her lap. Her skeletal frame is wrapped in a chrochetted shawl that seems too threadbare to give much protection. Lips that have the same hue as her fingertips whisper as she reads, not quite to herself but to anyone within earshot.

The bullet wound to his shoulder wasn't life threatening in and of itself but the infection that has set in has Nick York in the infirmary; while others shiver with the bitter winter cold, he tosses and turns to find a dry spot on his sweat-dampened pillow. Eventually his restlessness dies down and he seems to be sleeping.

Until he speaks.

"Can you read that one again?" The voice is soft, knowing that they two are probably the only two awake in the small infirmary.

Loose curls flare out and then settle down on her shoulders again when Delia is surprised by the man in the cot. Her eyebrows twitch twice before knitting together in a slight frown as she looks down at him. Pressing her lips together in a grim line, she flips the page back one and passes the book over without a word. She hasn't said much out loud since she was brought in, asleep. From reports and whispers given while he's awake, she's been in and out for weeks, all because of the same thing.

She gave up.

The book is tipped onto its pages and set down unceremoniously at his side. Her long arms loop around her knees and she pulls them up against her chest, resting her chin on their knobby tops. The dark circles under her eyes give her a haunted appearance, she's usually not awake when anyone else is. In fact, this is the first time they've been awake together.

Nick raises a brow at finding the book in his lap, glancing over at the forlorn figure in the other bed. With a wince, he rises up to a sitting position. Once settled, and a little out of breath, he tips the book so that the dim, flickering light illuminates its yellowed pages.

"Had I the heavens' embroidered cloths,
Enwrought with golden and silver light,
The blue and the dim and the dark cloths
Of night and light and the half-light,
I would spread the cloths under your feet:
But I, being poor, have only my dreams;
I have spread my dreams under your feet;
Tread softly because you tread on my dreams."

His voice is quiet and a little rough from disuse. He's an able enough reader though there's little inflection; it's hardly a dramatic reading. He runs a hand through his hair before speaking again. "I wasn't ever much into poetry but I like that 'un," he manages, glancing her way. "You read nicer'n I do, though."

By candlelight it's difficult to see the red rims around her eyes but it's hard to miss the sparkle of tears forming when he gets near the end of the poem. After a long sniffle, which serves as the extent of her applause, Delia rubs her cheek with the heel of one hand and tilts her head down to stare at the floor between them.

Slowly, the tears dry and her expression turns from pained back to vacant. It's only then that she lifts her eyes to his lips and gives him a small nod. It's something like agreement but not about voice or reading, he doesn't receive anything of the verbal variety. It seems that she's been struck dumb once again, maybe because of the audience.

His eyes drop when hers rise — not that hers sought his to begin with. He turns the page, the rustle of paper seemingly loud in the quiet room above the hushed sounds of breathing from the sleepers that surround them.

Blue eyes chance another peek to her; he knows who she is, and he has heard what has happened to her — enough to guess why she is in the infirmary. None of that is brought up now.

"Would you like me to read more?" he asks, almost shyly. "It helped me fall asleep a couple of nights. Your reading I mean. Maybe I can repay the favor, yeah?"

The audible swallow sounds almost painful, like the young woman is trying to force down the lump in her throat. She looks away again, raising a hand to push through the long tangled curls, almost mimicking his mannerisms. Then one shoulder rises to shrug and she shakes her head ever so slightly.

"I don't need help to sleep." Just like when she's reading, Delia's hushed tones are just above a whisper. The stony set to her features make her seem as cold as the air that surrounds them but her lips move at one side in a small grimace before she turns away again. It's another sniffle that gives the reason why. "You can read if you want," is the monotonous add on, "I don't care."

Nick glances from book to Delia, indecision freezing him for a long moment before he reaches across the divide between them to hand her back the book. "I'm sorry. I shouldn't have interrupted," is offered as cautiously as the book, expecting both offer and book to be pushed back or ignored totally.

"You could read something … with a plot, you know? It might help take your mind off … things," is an awkward suggestion. "They probably have something, if you ask."

Her fingers graze his as she takes the book, the burn of his fevered skin against her frozen hand causes her to fumble. She recovers by catching the small tome with both hands and then herself with a flat palm against the stone floor. Righting herself with a weak push, Delia finally meets his eyes with a slight squint of her own. It's a small attempt not to cry in front of a man who in the span of two years has turned into a relative stranger.

"I don't want to ask," she says, her voice cracking at the end. "I want them to just let me go." Her eye contact breaks then, as if the admission carried a weight with it so heavy that pulled her gaze to the floor. "But they won't… They won't let me just die."

His brows furrow at the admission she wants to die — it's not an unfamiliar sentiment, though it's not one he'd ever spoken as explicitly as Delia. Instead, he simply puts himself in dangerous places with little regard for his own safety. "Careful," he murmurs softly, one hand reaching out but letting her raise herself back up.

Nick studies her for a moment, then shakes his head. "You wouldn't give up on them if it was the other way around," he says gently. "Don't be angry at them for caring."

It's a little preachy in his ears, so Nick changes the topic. "I think there's a deck of cards in here one of 'em was using to play solitaire. I'm not sleepy for the first time in days. Ya wanna play gin rummy?"

Delia's eyebrows knit together in a stern vee and her chin angles a little as she regards him with the suspicion of a feral cat. All she's missing is the hiss and a flash of teeth. After a moment, she relents with a jerk of her head— it could be a nod. Noncommital in case it's a trap, she shrugs the same shoulder again and glances to the tables closest to them to look for the cards.

When she doesn't find them, the redhead sags a little in disappointment and curls her fingers around the edge of her thin blanket. "I don't know where they are," she admits quietly, not wanting to ask for help but doing so in a manner that leaves him to offer.

He takes the look-around for a yes, and nods, legs sliding out from under the cover until bare feet touch the cold floor. "You stay in bed. I'll bring a chair," Nick says, a quiet carefulness to his voice as he stands; wincing at the pain of being upright for the first time. He moves out of sight for a moment to the makeshift nurse's station, finding the deck of cards and returning with it and a folding chair.

"Loser has to smile," he says, setting the chair down and then shuffling the cards, using her bed as a table.

The first hand that goes by, it's quite obvious that Delia doesn't know how to play the game. A frustrated expression settles itself on her features and makes a home for the duration, it only deepens when she loses. Tossing the last of her cards onto the bed between them, she folds her arms over her chest. Her chin quivers a little and she presses her lips together tightly, looking away.

"Double or nothing," she ekes out, punctuating the statement with a sniff. It seems as though she just doesn't feel like smiling today.

"Welsher," notes Nick with a smirk as he gathers the cards to reshuffle and redeal. He explains a bit more of the game as he plays, telling Delia what she could do better the next time. It doesn't make much of a difference in this particular round, and once again she loses, though not as horribly.

He gathers the cards and darts a careful glance into her eyes, stifling a yawn. "I won't make you pay up. I'll put it on your credit, yeah? Smile only when you feel like it, Red." The cards are set on the nearest table and Nick retreats to his own bed.

Sliding down the mattress and turning onto her side to face him, Delia pulls the thin blanket up to her shoulder and tucks it under her chin. A long sigh comes out at a cloud that dissapates before it reaches his cot. There's a small twist at one corner of her lips as she tries to make good on her debt but it doesn't come out right, only as a grimace along with a single tear that creeps into her hairline.

"Thanks," she whispers, rubbing her cheek against the pillow to wipe away the wet line. "— for the poem… and stuff." Her fingers rake through the mess of curls, tucking a few of them behind her ear and pushing the rest back behind her shoulder. "Maybe tomorrow, if I'm still here."

The night is warm enough that Nick's windows are open, and while a siren wails somewhere in the distance, he knows that was not what woke him. Sitting up, he tips his alarm clock toward him to check the time, then reaches for the cell phone on the bedside table.

Holding it in his hands, he stares at it for a moment — it's late, and she may not have dreamt what he did, after all. But if she did…

He runs fingers across the screen, then keys in a message that will make sense no matter when she looks at it, no matter what her slumber held: Thinking of you.

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