Perchance To Dream


ben_icon.gif helena_icon.gif

Scene Title Perchance To Dream
Synopsis Helena's having trouble sleeping, and she turns to Ben for help. Conversation turns to Moab. It probably isn't the last time she'll have to talk to someone about it.
Date June 1, 2009

Old Dispensary

There is so much to do. So many problems to be juggled. Unfortunately, there are also only a limited amount of things that can directly be done about them at the moment. Helena is in one of the common rooms, curled up on a couch in jeans and a tanktop, barefoot with a laptop on her thighs. She reads and types, brows quirking together in concentration, and she seems otherwise oblivious to any distractions the room might offer. For the moment, she has it to herself.

But not for long! In comes Ben, tired looking as ever, with a package of coffee and a bag of apples in hand. He tries to replace what he eats. Helena is glanced at as he passes by; he ventures a 'hi' on his way toward some kitchen-like area.

Helena looks up briefly, taps a few more keys. "Hey." she calls out in response before returning her attention to her monitor. She takes a big breath, lets it out, and taps a few more times as if it embodied the proverbial die being cast.

Ben disappears for a few minutes and pops back into the common area; one slightly unkempt eyebrow raises at the solemnity of it all. "What are you doing?"

"Making an arrangement." Helena says wryly. "I'm going to be interviewed in order to address the accusations against Phoenix. Cat's been helping me to schedule it."

Ben's eyebrows both go up this time. "Interviewed by who?" is his immediate question as he comes to a halt, nearly bumping into a couch.

"An online reporter named Holly Parker." Helena finishes typing and looks up at him, head tilted to the side. "Sit." she invites, gesturing vaguely. "If you want." she ammends.

Ben, puzzled, actually does what he's told. Asked. Well, once he's asked, anyway, he comes over to sit on the next closest couch, resting his elbows on his knees and letting his forearms dangle. "What's an online reporter? If she's working for The Onion, maybe rethink it."

Helena smiles faintly. "No, not The Onion. Online reporters are pretty much journalists who use the internet as the medium as opposed to print or broadcast. Her work's got a certain integrity and her editorial oriented stuff has a distinct pro-Evo bent to it. Well, maybe not so much pro-Evo as pro-Everyone."

Ben considers this for a time, nods. "And the likelihood of it being a trap is pretty slim…?" he guesses.

"Hence why we're taking time to make the arrangements. Also, we're the ones who initially approached her, after doing some checking out." Helena says easily enough. "How are you, though? Have you been alright? Did you end up on a lot of runs because of the Midtown fires?"

"Yeah," Ben replies, reaching up to rub one side of his face. "The rains. Was that you? That helped." Look! Vague approval! Vague approval!

Helena nods. "That was the plan. I'm glad." She's not inclined to make too much fuss over said vague approval, even if she is internally doing a little 'go me!' cheer. "I did figure you'd be out there, I'm glad you came out okay."

"I manage," Ben says, looking faintly rueful. He shifts on his couch cushion, glancing down at his hands. "I've done some thinking on that question you asked. About taking a formula for an ability. I still don't have much of an answer."

"Fair enough." Helena says, moderately enough. She closes the laptop and places it on the floor next to the couch, half tucking it under. "I can't imagine it's an easy sort of decision to make. Especially if for example, you didn't really know what you'd wind up with."

Ben nods. "Right. Did they come up with something to actually remove powers in that alternate future?"

"Remove? No." She shakes her head. "They already have that. Not permanently, but there chemical ways of suppressing abilities." She lifts her chin, points to something just under her jaw line. He'd probably have to move closer to look, but there's an injection scar there. "Every day in Moab, they'd inject us. Told us it was a 24 hour suppression dose, but in reality it was actually a 48 hour dose to keep us from falling under the medication curve, so to speak."

Ben leans forward to peer at Helena's neck, frowning in a thoughtful manner. "I see," he says after a moment. "Side effects?"

Helena shakes her head. "None that I noticed. It made me feel more…dull? Not stupid, just like I'd been wrapped in cotton. But that might be because of the way my ability is connected to my emotions. You could ask Alex as well. Truthfully I expect that'd be more psychological."

Ben drums his fingertips on his kneecaps, leaning back. "And still no physicals, but nothing's happened on that front. Maybe I read too much science fiction."

"For about two days after we got out, we were all still suffering from the dosage, if you call it suffering. Physically I'm one hundred percent okay, I promise." Helena smiles faintly, a little tired rather than coy. "If it makes you feel better I can line myself and maybe Django up for physicals, but I think two months after the fact? If I was going to have side effects, they'd have occurred by now."

"Maybe I read too much science fiction," Ben repeats in a rueful tone again. "Then again, comic books kind of turned out to be handy in the last few years."

Helena can't help but break into a grin at that. "Well, if I grow a second head or start yearning for human flesh, you'll be the first one I call." Pause. "Well, in that case, maybe not."

"I'm not sure I'd want to know who you'd call first," Ben says, very slowly. And hesitantly, which is likely slowly except it's more slow to speak than speed of words.

Helena just looks at him sidelong. "Aaaanyway." she drawls, trying to push past the moment. "I was wondering, could you maybe get me some melatonin?"

Ben is more than happy to move right along there. "…Maybe? Why do you want melatonin?" She gets the crazy eye. He is dubious. Again.

"Because I'm having trouble sleeping?" Helena is still looking at him sidelong. What else is melatonin for?

"Herbal tea just isn't cutting it?" Ben ventures with a squint.

"You want me to drink chamomile instead?" She shrugs. "Okay, I'll try that first." Simple as that, no fuss, no argument.
"Go for the easy solution first," Ben says, starting to stand up. "How long has it been since you slept decently?"

"Define decently?" Helena asks. "Falling asleep isn't so much a problem, it's more the kind of sleep I'm getting."

Ben might clue in one day. Maybe that day is today. "…Bad dreams?" he ventures, cocking an eyebrow and looking very faintly embarrassed.

"Yeah." she says. She starts to say more and then stops. "Look, how much do you want to know about this? Because it's kind of private and probably an overshare, and if you'd rather not, it's fine."

Ben squints a little. "…I'm guessing it's related to your imprisonment?" Yeah, he looks embarrassed. Maybe he should've figured that one out earlier. "I can try to get you something that might kill the dreams better. Like Trazedone. Also a mild antidepressant."

"I'm not depressed." she says smiling faintly. It's not a lie, but to say she's in an ideal state of mind would be. Of course, she's not exactly living a life that provides optimal conditions for such. She nods a little bit. "I don't want anything that will put me out too badly. You never know around here with what we do, when you might have to run. I need to be able to wake up. I thought maybe something like melatonin would be better, but you would know more than I do." She frowns, looks away. "I don't want anything that would make me," she looks for the right words, "Weak-minded."

"…Makes sense," Ben says after a moment and a nod. "I'll see what I can get. I think the problem is going to be finding something that doesn't whack you out too much but still gives you a reprieve from dreams. There's a fine balance there."

"I thought melatonin would be natural." she admits. "I mean, that's what I've read." She's still frowning. "Do you still want to know what happened there? I can talk about it, but it might not really be something you want to hear. I'm not looking to make you feel sorry for me, and you won't be the last person I'll have to tell. But if it was just passing curiousity, I'm not going to push it on you."

Ben pauses to consider this. "I'm not sure. I've been… disconnected in New York. I remember the people I met in Boston when I need a nudge. My friend who died. I think about that to remind myself of the severity of what's going on. I'm aware I can be a depressing person to talk to." He glances away, makes a face, looks back at her. "I think I can help better if I know. If it won't upset you too much to talk about it."

"It's always going to upset me, a little." she replies musingly. "I think if it didn't, then something would be really wrong with me. But it's starting to become bearable, and people need to know." She leans back against the couch, curling her legs up and not quite looking at him. "Transport to Moab was by helicopter. They put a bag over your head so you don't know where you're going until you get there. When you arrive, they take you to medical, you get a speech, where they tell you how they're set up, and they give you the first injection. If you're docile about it, then there's no problem. If you fight back, they restrain you. Painfully. I only fought back against getting injected the first time."

Ben scratches his chin; he half-turns to sit himself down again, this time on the arm of the couch he was previously occupying. "No reason to waste energy on that for the sake of pride."

Helena shakes her head, unable to keep from smiling a little. "It wasn't pride, that first time. It was panic. But choosing not to struggle was one part not wanting to waste the energy, one part fear, and one part hopelessness. At the beginning anyway. The cells were singular, and I was on Green, which has the lightest security. A single cell access, with a shower and a toilet built in, a sort of cement block bed with a pallet, a tiny little window. There was a video monitor behind security glass, and I was allowed a sort of charcoal block thing to write with but no paper - I had to use the walls. I could read books, but no newspapers. Three meals a day - nutrition that tasted like cardboard, with morning and after lunch access to the yard." It doesn't sound so bad, as far as incarceration goes. "At the end of every yard period, they'd line us up and march us back in. Except on the days if you heard your name called to step out of line."

The bit about the charcoal makes his brow furrow - he doesn't get it - but the necessity of asking whatever question he has fades in lieu of the new information. "What happened then?"

Helena seems to catch the query. "You can commit suicide with a pointed object. Or use it against someone or something." she explains as to the reason for the writing implement. Then, "I don't know what would happened to the others when their names were called, but when mine was called, it meant I had to go see Verse." The quick, sharp way she says the name suggests…something.

Ben might ask about the lethality of paper, but again… more important matters. "Verse. Who was he?" he prompts, not unkindly.
"He was a government agent and a telepath." Helena says with a succinctly clinical air. "His job was to extract information about Phoenix from me."

Ben rubs his chin briefly. "…How do you hold someone like that off?"

"It's hard to explain." she says, suddenly looking down at her hands. "It's partially training. I mean, you really can't fend them off. Telepaths get into your head. Some of them can do different things…and it's harder if they make you physically uncomfortable as well. Verse liked to take my memories and change them. Insert himself into other people's roles, or twist memories into something that might convince me to tell him what he wanted to know. I managed to actually push him out of my head once, and to be honest I'm not sure how exactly I did it. I mean, I know what I experienced, but why and how my brain did what it did to expel him, I'm not sure."

Ben emits a low whistle. "Shit," he says. "Maybe it was a memory where his presence was so wrong you could shunt him out? That's really, and this sounds horrible, interesting. Someone out there must be running tests on how to do that."

Helena is still not quite looking at him. "When it happened, he was showing my mother in her garden. He put a gun to her head and told me if I didn't tell him what he wanted to know, he'd kill her." Her fists tighten. "I knew it wasn't real. It didn't make it feel any better, and when I wouldn't and he shot her and told me it was my fault, and even though I knew it wasn't real? I still felt guilty and horrible and he put the gun to my head." One of her knees comes up, and she holds it to her chest without thinking about it. "I started calling out for help." No, she started screaming, crying, begging for help, but she can't quite bring herself to confess that to Ben.

Ben winces. Right. Another hesitation, and he reaches out to brush his fingertips against her shoulder. He doesn't ask for further elaboration. She can tell him more if she wants. Right now he's concerned.

Helena blinks faintly in confusion at him, then smiles just a little. It's still Ben, effusive emotional displays are not becoming. "Then Cameron was there." she says quietly. "And he had a gun to Verse's head, and he told me to be strong, and he blew Verse's brains out…which didn't kill him, but he left me alone for days." Her jaw sets. "What did kill him was the syringe full of air to his jugular. Wasn't me," her smile is grim when she looks to Ben, "But I wish it had been."

"Understandably," is Ben's quiet response. He pats her arm twice with two fingertips. "That happened during the escape?"

Helena nods. "A girl named Tamara did it. But that's not even all of it, Ben. I did things there. Things I thought were necessary at the time, and they were ugly. I don't even regret them, and I think that might make it worse."

Ben tilts his head slightly to the left. "Sometimes ugly things have to happen," he says. "And sometimes people have to get hurt for hurting other people. Which isn't very humanitarian of me, but I lost patience for that a long time ago."

"What about when you have to hurt people to get what you think you need?" she asks quietly.

"That depends on what you need and the people you're hurting," Ben says with a little shrug, withdrawing his hand. "Which sounds like a pat answer, I know, but the best I've ever been able to determine is that it's a case by case basis. I imagine that's not terribly comforting."

Helena shrugs. "Like I said, I don't regret it." She leaves it at that. "So, yeah. Nightmares. I'd like to sleep better. It helps when someone's there, but I don't always have that luxury."

Ben's eyebrows raise a little again. "No? But most nights, hopefully? You do have a lot of friends from what I can tell."

Helena's brows go up. "Jesus Ben, what kind of girl do you think I am?" She's at least semi-kidding, and well - he did sort of fall into it.

Ben blinks a few times at her. Wait, what? He straightens up again, expression wry. "I guess that sounded bad. It wasn't intended. I'm sure you didn't intend to insinuate otherwise. But you know all that."

Helena assures. "Yes. Couldn't help the tease, sorry. But what I said is true, having someone there helps. I generally leave that alone though, I don't want things to be a sense of obligation, you know? So I'd rather just see if I can handle it myself, or with you and the application of appropriate phareceuticals."

Ben considers her for a long moment, nods. "I'll see what I can do. How did you all get out of the prison?"

Helena makes a vague 'everyone' gesture. "Phoenix planned an op. Except things got a little timey-wimey."

"Wibbly-wobbly," Ben says absently. "Classified, then."

"Not terribly." Helena assures. "I don't know much about the planning involved on account of being on the opposite side, but then it was off to the future, which I've told you what I can about. If you have other questions I can selectively answer them, there's stuff I'm keeping for a reason and I kind of think of all people, you would understand that." That's not an accusation, it's a compliment.

"Of course. There are always reasons," Ben says, starting to stand up again. "I'll see what I can do about the sleep."

"Thank you." Helena replies, staying seated. "Listen - Sal's had kind of a rough time, and - if you don't mind, we might call for you a bit more? He's not exactly very high-functioning at the moment. I'm not sure if he can even manage the infirmary right now."
Ben's brow furrows. "Sal? What happened to him?" He reaches up to scratch the back of his head.

Helena searches for a way to put it delicately. "Something's wrong with Teo. It's being handled, and I'd rather you didn't press him for details, we've got reasons for wanting to keep it quiet."

"I didn't even know they knew each other?" Ben supplies. "I just met Sal last week. But yeah, call for me more." He smiles faintly again. Always with the faint. "That's what I'm here for."

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