Refrain from Dreaming


delia2_icon.gif s_hokuto_icon.gif lynette2_icon.gif

Scene Title Refrain from Dreaming
Synopsis This is what happens when you try to keep the demons away… you end up letting something worse in.
Date September 15, 2010

Gun Hill

"Nettie! Nettie!"

The void is dark, infinitely so, an empty expanse of black like a night sky, illuminated by distant points of dim light. In that cold, lonely darkness, there echoes voices, chanting children in unison, wavering in and out of focus like a distant radio station playing in an echoy concert hall.

"Nettie, Nettie! Nappy, nappy, Nettie!"

Amidst the faint starlight in this void, there exist brighter, blue stars. They are like glittering sapphires with vibrant azure centers, few and far between but so much more like beacons than the stars in the dark. Adrift in the void, they serve as welcome signs, open doors in the dark of the subconscious demesne, the kingdom of dreams has stars too.

"Did your mommy guy you that jacket? Must be nice having everything you want!"

One of those blue stars in the dark grows in size, turning soon to a swirling nebula of brighter blue points, a galaxy of churning thunder-head stormfronts flashing with synaptic relays. A galaxy of memories and dreams colliding and swirling together like a young universe just born.

"Nappy Nettie's gonna' cry! Look, look, Nappy Nettie's gonna cry!"

Down into the swirling galaxy of subconscious minds, the haze of blue clouds swirls past, stars glitter and in the thunderhead flashing, silhouettes of people moving are visible. They, like images from a projector cast on smoke, are indistinct and distant looking, but the voices grow in clarity and volume.

"Nappy Natty's gonna cry! Nappy Nattie's gonna cry!"

Children can be so cruel.

As the flashing and flickering picture comes into clearer focus, Delia Ryans feels herself sitting on a wooden bench, listening to the sounds of shouting children's voices. Young girls, probably no older than eleven or twelve, stand in a circle around a tiny blonde-haired young girl in a denim jacket with the sleeves rolled up, her eyes puffy and reddened, crying and embarrassed.

Swings creak and groan nearby and sneakered feet scuff on asphalt. Chain-link fence bounds in his playground, sitting in the shadow of a squat, red brick building — a school. Beyond the schoolyard, thin and twiggy trees blow in a hot wind, some palms in the distance with their wide and shaggy leaves rustling set the scene as somewhere subtropical. The dry, arid heat gives some context as well.

"Good evening, Delia," is whispered by a woman seated on the bench beside Delia Ryans, one black clad leg crossed over the other in inky-hued slacks. Her button down vest is of equally dark coloration, though the crisp white undershirt beneath is starched, its collar folded back, sleeves unbuttoned.

Hokuto Ichihara regards Delia Ryans with a mischevious, catlike expression, her yellow irises shining like gold in the bright sunlight, warm breeze blowing at dark locks of long hair.

"It's time for a lesson…"

Beverly Hills, California

May, 1991

It's that mention of her mother that really does it. Later, shrinks would call it abandonment issues and fear of intimacy, but right now, it's just a little girl whose mother didn't love her enough to stick around and a group of other children pointing and laughing…

At this age, she doesn't have witty comebacks or calm demeanor. Or self confidence. What she does have is rage. It's the rage all victims feel, born of helplessness and humiliation… if only she could sling the bile right back at them. If only.

Instead of bile, though, it's a fist that hits the ringleader of these other girls right in the gut.

Two red eyebrows come together in a vee shape in the middle of the ginger woman's forehead. She remembers that time in her life, only she wasn't the victim, she was one of the sheep. Always too afraid of being disliked to stand up against the bullies, but popular enough to avoid their horrible treatment.

Turning to Hokuto, her blue eyes search those yellow feline ones and she chews her lip. "What kind of lesson? Who is that?" The young woman isn't familiar with the child at all, she hasn't seen her even in passing. The fact that she went to bed alone would have had her guessing that it was one of her own dreams, the appearance of Hokuto brings it into glaring focus. She's been pulled somewhere else. To someone else.

The punch to the stomach of the leader has Delia edging forward in her seat wanting to stop it. It's just a dream though, only a dream, if it were real she might have actually stood up.

There's a sharp whistle from a teacher on duty and a shout, even as the girl Lynette punched doubles over and lands on her knees, clutching her stomach and crying. The other girls scatter at the whistle, followed by the clip-clop of heels on asphalt with the teacher barreling towards Lynette with brows furrowed and eyes wide.

"Her name is Lynette Rowan, she's a resident in the building you now live in…" Hokuto's voice is breathy, whimsical, and the cast of her gold eyes over to Lynette's tiny form comes with a furrow of her brows. "When I pulled you into this dream, you saw the glow of blue in the divide between minds?" Those gold eyes turn back to Delia, "How Lynette's mind is awash in that sapphire color?"

Like all children, the sound of the whistle is the sound… of doom. But it's too late to scatter like the other children, so Lynette does the only other thing she has in her arsenal. She sobs. Her explanation of how it's all the other kids' fault comes between brokenhearted tears and fear driven hysterics. They were being mean! They called me names! They said things about my mother. Anything she can say to get the heat off her, and maybe a little sympathy in exchange.

Nodding slowly, Delia turns her attention to her mentor and nods slowly. "Why is it bl— sapphire? Are all minds like that? Dad's seemed so normal. I mean— I didn't know it was me." Looking down at her feet, Delia makes her shoes disappear and covering them are her security socks… The ones with the monkeys. She doesn't need shoes, not here, but she does need the socks.

The sobbing catches her attention and she watches the little girl for a while. "This isn't a very nice dream at all." A statement of the obvious and the redhead turns toward Hokuto and smooths her expression. "What color is my head?"

"It isn't," Hokuto obliquely explains as the playground drama unfolds, unwatching as the teacher grabs Lynette by her arm and yanks her towards the school building, raised voices and crisp shouting over the sound of the tiny girl's crying. "The reason Lynette's mind is blue, is because she has used Refrain." The word is leveled heavily to Delia, and the drug is something she'd come to know working at the hospital, seeing overdoses leave people in a comatose state, vegetables.

"Refrain does something to the mind, opens doors for people like us wider than normally allowable. We must tread carefully in these minds, because the more vivid we make the dream, the more real her actions become. For instance, were I to heighten the clarity of this dream to Lynette, she would begin crying in her sleep, walking…"

Hokuto's eyes fall shut slowly. "It could endanger her." When the dream walker's eyes open again, she has squared gold eyes on Delia. "Move gently through these minds, for our powers are tenfold stronger in them. But," Hokuto intones with a raise of one hand and a pointed finger to the air. "Every dark cloud, has a silver lining."

Time freezes.

It is here where Lynette becomes lucidly aware that she is dreaming, here where the 12 year old little girl is abruptly a thirty year old woman. It is here that Lynette sees her dream as a blurry, out of focus freeze-frame, save for two women seated on a bench.

"Go, talk to her…" Hokuto offers in a hushed tone of voice, pressing a hand to Delia's back. "Help her."

Dreams are strange things. Flips and changes that make no sense. But you never really think about it. Unless someone makes you.

Which is where Lynette finds herself and her present self and mind finds herself on a blurry playground, which she stares at for a long moment, trying to bring it back into focus. To no avail of course. "What…"

When her gaze falls on the two women, who she can actually see, she stops and stares for a moment. A long moment. "Okay… what the hell is going on?" This is, apparently, a new experience for her.

One of the two women should seem very familiar to Lynette. The redheaded daughter of the Company agent that's been handed the keys to the clinic in the basement slides forward, giving a rather uncertain glance over her shoulder to the Asian woman. When she turns back to look at the owner of the complex there's a gentle upturn to her lips.

"Hi," her voice is a little shaky, it's a rather new experience for her too. "My name is Delia. You're Lynette, right?" Though the young woman is getting closer, she doesn't seem to be taking any steps. Rather, the world around Lynette seems to be shrinking, drawing the two together.

One leg crossed over the other, hands folded in her lap, Hokuto Ichihara watches in silence as Delia narrows the divide between she and Lynette, offering an approving smile as she closes her eyes and dips her head down into a nod that the redhead isn't in the proper angle to see. When her golden eyes open again, Hokuto's silent stare is affided with half-lidded quality to the pair of women.

For the time being, Hokuto is merely a casual observer, watching her new student grow.

Dreaming about Ben's daughter. Yes. This is… well, it's not normal, that's for sure. As the world pulls them closer together, Lynette takes a few cautious steps back. "Yes, I'm Lynette," she says, just as cautiously, her gaze is openly suspicious as she looks over the girl. "What is this? This isn't normal, what is this?" She looks back toward the Asian woman, too, but as Delia's the one poking around, she's the one who gets the landlady's attention. "This isn't- What's going on?"

"It's just a dream," Delia reassures the woman, her smiles grows a little and she finally takes a step forward. With every movement the little monkeys on her olive colored socks seem to do some sort of wiggling dance. She's not s elegant as her counterpart, a little more raw and quite uncertain. She's also a little too blunt. "Can I ask you a question and would you answer it honestly?"

The redhead's hands dip into the pockets of her faded jeans as she stares across at the other woman. One odd thing about her is that the color of her eyes seem to be the same as their surroundings, just a little brighter or more intense. Unlike the Asian woman's contrasting yellow ones that seem to glow every time she looks toward them.

"Just a dream, huh?" Lynette glances around again, just trying to take stock. She is, perhaps, a little upset that there's no real exit strategy from here. Maybe she is just dreaming? It is the weirdest dream, that's for sure.

That question gets her attention, though, and she looks back to Delia. "Well. You can ask me a question and if I don't want to answer it honestly, I simply won't answer, how's that?"

"Fair enough," comes the soft answer from Delia's lips, the smile waning to something a little more neutral. She glances around them, up at the sky and then focuses her bright blue eyes back on the the blonde woman. Her curly hair seems almost fiery in the haze, unlike the normal color of orange while passing each other in the halls. She's much more shy around strangers out there.

Clearing her throat once, she puckers her lips slightly before drawing a breath and spilling the question burning her tongue. "Why were you using refrain?" A little too blunt, perhaps.

Lynette stares at her for a moment, stunned at the words that fall out of her mouth. It's the last thing she expected to hear, well, ever. And she reacts with the same sort of anger they witnessed moments ago in her youth, although with less violence this time.

"That is none of your goddamned business," she shouts at the fledgling dreamwalker, a finger pointed accusingly in her direction. "You just waltz in and accuse people of things you know nothing about?! How dare you!"

"You're right," Delia answers calmly, there's no malice, no tone of accusation in her voice nor apology. "I don't know anything about it, that's why I asked, I want to understand." Lynette's venomous words didn't seem to have an effect on her at all, that same neutral expression is set on her face, though her eyes have softened tremendously.

"If there's something I can do, I want to do it. I'd like to… if someone is hurting you, I want to help." Help how isn't explained, though her own thoughts betray her as the dark blue sky begins to swirl with clouds.

A subtle crease of Hokuto's brows is all that betrays the effort to still the clouds beginning to form in the skies, a gentle hand in keeping the subconscious hostility at bay. Staying perched on her seat, the dreamwalker offers a look to Lynette and Delia each in turn, then down to her lap as her lips creep up into a smile. In a way, watching Delia maneuver through this treacherous terrain reminds her of her own baby steps into others' minds, with Angela Petrelli playing the silent watchman observing the passage of subconscious aggressions.

Hokuto also knows what came of the latter experiments, what came of the latter trips into more dangerous minds, and the creature that was awoken within her. Furrowing her brows, she closes her eyes and offers a slow shake of her head, then looks back up to the pair, quietly observing Delia's practice run.

The lack of temper in Delia's response seems to take the wind out of Lynette's sails and she lets out a sigh instead of yelling more. "You know. You do this oddly. It doesn't feel like a dream. It feels like… I'm not sure what." She takes a moment to look at this woman, this invader, but trust seems to be something slow in coming. "I'm sorry, but there's really nothing you can do. What's done is done. Unless you can change the past, it's all done and over with now."

One of Delia's eyebrows ticks upward and a puzzled expression crosses her features. The young woman rocks back and forth on her feet and looks around them, all of the blue. It muddies the color of her socks. "There's always something that can be done, it's obviously still affecting you. If you don't want to talk about it, that's alright, you can always just show me." Lifting her eyes from her socks, the redhead meets Lynette's and lifts her shoulders up. "Showing someone helped me a lot."

The fledgling dreamwalker wasn't a refrain user, she's never even touched a cigarette. What she did do was hate and she did that very well.

"Show you? Show you. Hunny. I'm sure you're well meaning and all," although from her tone, it's hard to say if she really believes that, "But you don't want to see all that. Let's just chalk it up to bad luck and call it a day, shall we?" Lynette smiles over at her, but her arms fold over her torso, betraying the discomfort that smile is hiding. "I really don't need anyone trying to fix me. We all handle our problems in our own way, yes? Yes."

From behind Hokuto, a parade or rally seems to be coming up on them all. It starts out transluscent, like ghosts. It doesn't stay that way. Quickly, it forms into a solid mob of angry people, all holding Humanis First signs and banners. They're all running, directly toward Delia and Lynetts, parting like the Red Sea around Hokuto, ignoring her as she sits on the bench.

"Are you handling it? Or are you hiding from it?" Three of the monkeys from Delia's socks jump off and form the trio of hear no, see no, and speak no evil. The mob gets closer. Frightened, the monkeys scream and jump onto Lynette, crawling into her clothing to hide. The mob should be on them, but as they gain ground, Delia and Lynette seem to be gliding away. Hokuto by now is barely a speck on the horizon.

At least until she steps out from behind Lynette.

"She's concerned," comes with a purred quality of voice as Hokuto shadows her eyes in hooded quality, black hair swimming around her shoulders as if she were suspended underwater. "You should be grateful for someone to be so blunt, all things considered…" Turning gold eyes to Delia, Hokuto folds her hands behind her back.

"Delia," the teacher says to the student, "I think you should show Lynette what the truth looks like." And behind those words is an implied, subconscious meaning to the other dreamwalker, almost in the same way breathing is a reflexive act, understanding Hokuto at times seems to be second nature.

«Change the dream, and show her what she looks like… while she puts poison in her veins.»

Hokuto is a firm believer in that you must be cruel to be kind.

Taking in a gasp as the mob heads her way, Lynette looks over at Delia, accusingly. And just in time for monkeys! Which she swats at before she bears the burden of them hiding in her clothes with an sigh. The indignity.

It's Hokuto that gets her jumping when she steps out of nowhere. "Tact is generally considered a plus, darling," she says to those first words, "And I've got plenty of people who're concerned. I'm up to my ears in them. I don't need this." It's that mention of the truth that gets her stepping away from both of them. Wary.

The mob is on them in an instant when Delia stops protecting the two of them. As they converge on the redhead, they disappear and blow away like the drift of cigarette smoke. The redhead's eyes darken and the clouds that Hokuto had been keeping at bay blacken the sky, boiling and mixing into a circular vortex. The wind rises sharply, blowing both Lynette's and Delia's hair, whipping it around their faces. Oddly, Hokuto remains unaffected.

Looking up, the clouds form a whirlpool directly above them, the sides starting to form into a tornado. It touches down right beside them, tearing along the ground around them. The blue dust is raised until it blinds the two of them, the roar of the storm covering any pleas that Lynette might be trying to convey.

And then it's all gone; the roaring wind, the storm, and when the dust settles…

"I'd like you to concentrate very hard on that memory. Imagine it as clearly as you can. Just put yourself in that moment." A voice rings through the dream as that wind starts to die down, just before Lynette becomes visible again. It's hard to distinguish, like it's being masked somehow.

"And describe it in detail. Relive it."

When the two dreamwalkers see Lynette again, she's sitting on the ground wearing a formless jumpsuit sort of thing, her jaw is bruised and bleeding from a slice in the skin, her eyes look sunken, like she hasn't sleep in a very long time and her hair isn't just short, it's gone, shaved off. There's a figure in the distance, shadowy and looming, but hard to make out. But there's something definitely wrong with it.

"I hate you both so much," the woman speaks, although it's hard to say if she really means Delia and Hokuto, as there's a certain… distant quality in her voice. But she squeezes her eyes shut, pressing the heels of her hands against them, her head shaking firmly.

"Lynette, I want you to try and remember that nightmare.

Delia's face is awash with pain as she sees the Lynette on the ground. The shorn woman seems so pitiful, it takes everything the young dreamwalker has not to reach out and grab her up to save her from herself. "This is so hard…" she whispers to Hokuto, "How am I supposed to help her if she doesn't even want to help herself?" But the redhead's voice dies away when she lifts her eyes to spot the distant figure.

Narrowing her eyes suspiciously, she begins to walk toward it, trying to make out just who or what it is. Is it Lynette' torturer? Is it a personal demon? Is it Lynette herself?

"The dreamwalker's quandary," Hokuto intones, she herself unseen in this phantom of a dream, save for golden eyes and a pearl white smile, as if she were the Cheshire Cat out of Alice in Wonderland. Even then, that too fades as she recedes into the shadows of the dreamscape.

"She has to be made to want to help herself…" Hokuto whispers around Delia, her voice echoing and distant, a sussurus of multiple layers of her own speech slightly out of synch with one another. "Be wary," the disembodied voice warns, "the shadows that can lurk in the deep subconscious have agendas all their own. I can protect you, but…"

Her voice thins and shifts from one of Delia's ears to the other. "Pray I am quick enough."

It isn't the shadow they have to worry about, apparently.

When Lynette notices where Delia is going, she's up on her feet in a moment, and going to tackle the redhead to the ground. "Do not go over there!" Fear threads through the dream, through that voice, through the tremble in Lynette's hands. "You do not want to go over there. If you want to know what that is, you ask me, you do not go over there, do you understand me?! I don't need that on my conscience just because you've decided to be a curious kitten. Off limits."

The figure does seem to be a little more distinct, although still shadowed, but it must be some figment of her imagination, because while it's the shape of a man (or close enough), there's definitely four arms there.

Slowing her step, Delia turns toward Lynette and lofts one eyebrow upward. "If I asked you, would you answer me honestly me or would you hide from it and tell me to go away?" The dreamwalker's words are spoken with a hard edge, meeting Lynette's strong emotion with some of her own. She's not as afraid of the beast as she should be, perhaps foolishly so. "What is it that you are so afraid of? Is this the thing that hurts you?"

The redhead turns toward the four armed creature again, narrowing her eyes into a little squint as she tries to see through the blur that obscures it from view. She stops completely though, giving Lynette the option before forging ahead into that dangerous terrain.

"Look, it really isn't any of your business. I don't know why you feel like you have the right to know. To do this to people." Lynette looks over at that shadowy figure, swallowing hard before she looks back to Delia. "I want you to think about the worst day of your life. The worst possible day. The day something happened that was so… incomprehensible to you, you just shut down. The day you saw something so awful, you just… you just never want to think about it again. And then think about someone forcing you to look into the face of that again. This isn't a playground, damnit. This is my life."

"A life that you're running away from. A life that you're turning into…" The dreamwalker waves a hand around the young woman and frowns at her as she practically hisses the last word. "This." Taking a large breath to puff her chest and courage up, Delia turns her head back to the shadowy creature. "The worst day of my life was the day my mom died. The day she never came home again. Because of someone like me, or like you. Because someone decided to blow a hole in the city."

The redhead's face goes neutral again and she stares directly at the bald woman, knitting her eyebrows together ever so slightly in a displeased frown. "I faced it, I shared it with someone. Are you're too afraid to do even that? Do you need to hide behind refrain to make yourself feel better? Show me. Give it away and let me carry it for you. You don't need this." Turning back toward the creature, she places her hands into her pockets and simply stares at it. "I'm not afraid of this. It can't make my mom die again."

"Refrain," Hokuto's voice reaches Delia again, her pearly white smile and golden eyes appearing over the dreamwalking girl's shoulder, "isn't the only thing that can relive fond past memories." The sibilant whisper of Hokuto's voice carries to the young redhead's right ear. "What you need do," comes before a subtle hiss, as whorling tendrils of inky shadow coalesce into a night black snape draped over Delia's shoulders with vibrant golden eyes, "is build her a scrap book…"

For all the ridiculousness that it sounds like, Hokuto reinforces the idea as she gently coils around Delia's shoulders, a featureless viper of jet black irridescent scales. "The mind has places, safe havens, bastions of dream that can be made to protect the sleeping mind. Find Lynette's safe haven and build a door for her that none but she can open… and let her fill it… fill it with the happiest memories of her past."

Flicking her forked tongue out, the serpentine form of Hokuto tilts her wedge-shaped head to the side. "From there, healing can begin."

"God, do you think I wanted this? Do you think I chose the Refrain? Do you think I like it? I hate it. But I need it, I can't… go through the withdrawal again." Lynette sort of sinks down to her knees there, her hand covering her face. "No one's supposed to know. I've got it under control. It's fine. I don't know how you… found out, but it's… I'm managing it." Really well, too, clearly.

When Delia turns to face the creature, the monster of Lynette's memory, things change a little. She's not standing there anymore… she's running. Up a dark stairwell, heartbeat thrumming in her ears, trying desperately to breathe. A figure stumbles out of a door, a man in a white lab coat, blood everywhere, his hands clutching at his stomach. The memory seems to focus on all the blood, seeping between the man's fingers, out of a corner of his mouth, bright against the dull background of the memory. She remembers that blood.

And when the focus turns to a figure in her periphery, that same, four armed silhouette, there's the same bright blood on the monster's hands and arms, smeared over his mouth. And Lynette's voice cuts in from there at Delia's feet. "I didn't- It's too much to ask someone else to carry. It isn't the shit you burden people with."

"Maybe you didn't want it but the refrain didn't chose you… You don't have to do this alone, you don't have to go through withdrawls all alone. I can help you." Delia is still facing the monster, not taking her eyes off of it for a moment. As though expecting it to lash out at them if she turns her back on it for even a second. Eying the creature, she reaches down and gropes for Lynette's hand, in an attempt to pull the woman to a stand beside her. "You don't need to look at it, let me and just think of the best day of your life." Although she's a little too curious, she doesn't ask who the man is or what happened to him.

As though battling the blonde woman's memories with her own, the scenery shifts in and out. From this scene of horror to a messy child's bedroom. A pink and white room with crayon drawings all over the lower parts of the walls. Not Lynette's safe place, but her own. Closing the creature behind the door, Delia locks it away from herself and in turn, Lynette.

The redhead presses her back against the door, bucking forward as that monster tries to enter the sanctity of her bedroom. "We should get to your happy place… I don't think mine will do it for you. You know something? I've always wanted a happy place with a string quartet."

Lynette does stand, but she clings to her hand and keeps herself turned away from the figure. "Best day… that's a good question." And while she's thinking about it, the scene changes and Lynette relaxes her death grip on Delia's hand.

"I'm not sure how to make a 'happy place'. It sounds like something out of one of those self help books." With the threat contained behind that door, she seems to be able to flip back to herself, although now she's got this long, slightly curly blonde hair that hangs down to her shoulders. She may be a little fixated on the hair thing.

Still wrestling at the door against the creature trying to batter its way in, Delia gives the woman a little bit of a smile. "It's hard… getting that one place you feel peace of mind. When was the last time you were happy? Actually happy?" She doesn't add the 'without refrain', simply because it is implied. "We can start there…"

The creature stops its assault suddenly, causing the redhead to ease her pressure just a little on the door. Big Mistake. As soon as she does the pounding starts again and without the full weight of Delia on the other side, the monster bashes through the thin wood with one arm and begins clawing for the door knob. "You might want to hurry… a donut shop where you got your first donut? Disneyland? An island full of mostly naked me?" Her suggestions are swift as she grabs a large plastic Barbie head and begins pummeling the arm with it.

"Happy, huh? Happy…" Give her a minute or two… Lynette's still very much thinking about it as that arm breaks through and starts clawing around. And then… the oddest thing happens. While Delia is still fighting off the monster in her own happy place, the soundtrack of the room seems to change.

"You work in this building?" It's a deep, smooth male voice, carrying confidence and authority.

"I do, Mr. Costa. I'm your lawyer's assistant…"

"Well. Not anymore. Come on, Blondie. I'll show you your new stomping grounds…"

When the scenery changes, the two women find themselves standing on a rooftop next to a sparkling pool. The building is white, almost blindingly so in the bright sunlight, which draws the eye all the more to the fantastic ocean view over the railing around the roof. And Lynette lets out a soft sigh as she steps over to lean on that railing to look over the cool ocean waters.

The door is gone, the hand is gone, the monster is… Nowhere to be seen. Catching herself, Delia peers at the mannequin Barbie head and tosses it into the air, only to have it disappear. "Where are we?" She asks lightly as she steps over to the rail to look out at the spectacular view.

So far, so good. Closing her eyes, Delia concentrates until the rooftop has a door. Turning toward it, she holds her palm up and out to Lynette. "Okay, now lock it. Don't let that thing in… Just rest here for a while." A large, gold key materializes in the woman's hand and at the same time, a large keyhole blinks into existence in the door. "You'll have to do it before it finds us."

"California. I guess you could say, this is the place where my life actually got some direction. Not to mention it's beautiful, yeah?" Lynette looks over at Delia, then over at the door, then back to Delia. "This is taking the metaphor a little far, don't you think?" She says as she takes the key and strides over toward the door. There's some quickness in her steps, since she really doesn't want him to find them.

"I feel like Alice," she grumbles as she sets the key in the door and slides the lock shut. No monster so far. "And that's it? He won't be able to get in now, just like that?"

Passing a worried expression toward at the door, Delia shakes her head. "Only that key can open it… I can't even open it and you can't open it without it. Don't lose it… I don't know what would happen if you were stuck here forever." Maybe nothing, maybe only good things, maybe she would never wake up.

Turning back toward the ocean, Delia suddenly changes from her jeans and t-shirt into a white cotton dress. Its spaghetti straps are opalescent and the tiny eyelets in the fabric allow some of the sin to peek through to her pale skin. "It is pretty, what sort of direction did you have in California?"

"Stuck here? Wouldn't it just be the same as any other dream?" Lynette does hang onto that key, though, when she comes back over to the railing. "Oh well. I was sort of drifting when I was younger. Went to college, but didn't really know what sort of degree to get, didn't know what job I wanted. My father was a lawyer, everyone sort of expected I'd go that way, but neither myself nor my father wanted that. So I just sort of did a little of everything. Eventually, through my father's contacts, I was able to get a job here. Which was all good and well, but not quite fulfilling until the boss grabbed me up. Donnie Costa's sort of a big deal on the west coast. Music, and clubs and fashion lines… he's a little like me, trying a little of everything. But I used to… run a lot of errands for him, that ended up giving me the right skillset for what I do now."

"Saving people?" Delia's simple answer to what the woman does for a living fits in her mind. Angling her head toward the blonde woman, the redhead gives her a small smile. "You saved my dad, I'm going to return the favor…" It's about time that someone did that for her. As a safehouse operative, she's a very important person, especially to the fugitive company members.

"I wanted to be a doctor, you know." Having been given the keys to the clinic in the basement is a rather obvious indication of where the woman's talents lie. "I'll never be one now, but I think I'm okay with that. There's other important things to do, like what you do… I couldn't imagine being such a strong person."

"I wouldn't put it that dramatically, dear. I'm just letting him hide out. There's really no favor to return. But Donnie's the one who taught me how to get things in and out without anyone noticing. I used to coyote for a little while, before I started working the safehouses instead." Lynette lifts a shoulder, but she seems a bit more interested when Delia brings up her own misadventures.

"Life doesn't always go the way we expect. Or even want. But who knows, you might have the chance in the future. You never know how the cards'll end up playing out." At those last words, though, she lifts an eyebrow, "So strong, she leans on Refrain, you mean?" It's just a little dark humor, is all.

"No, that's not what I mean. Not at all." Delia's eyebrows twitch together momentarily as she concentrates on exactly what she wants to say rather than blurt the first thing that comes to mind. "Everyone has something," she begins slowly, looking down at her fingers and feeling along the smooth cuticles of her nails. "Something destructive that they do to forget. Some people drink, some people do drugs, some people hurt themselves. But everyone has to face what it is eventually."

Giving Lynette a stray glance from the corner of her eye, the redhead lifts her shoulders and drops them helplessly. "Your burden is pretty strong, which means your coping mechanism has to be strong… which means you must be pretty strong to be able to do everything you do plus keep all of that hidden."

"I used to use vodka. Really great vodka. Well, now I have several vices," Lynette says in dry humor. "I keep it hidden because it isn't anyone's business. I just… like I said, it's not the sort of thing you want to ask someone else to carry. Especially people who haven't learned about the monsters that are out there. And that's why I do what I do. If I can help people never have to learn about what's really out there."

She turns to the younger woman, her expression more serious, "I do want you to know… I didn't ever touch Refrain before. But they were… giving it to me, then not giving it to me, then giving it to me again, for months so." Whoever 'they' are. "I didn't want it, but now I can't give it up."

"Who are 'they'?" Delia's quick question comes up along with a narrow eyed study of the blonde woman. It's a quick assumption that she makes that whoever 'they' are, they're part of the beast that haunts Lynette. "Why were they giving it to you?"

Looking down, the redhead's face grows a little somber and guilty. "My… vice… isn't so much of a vice as it was a crutch and scapegoat." She turns to face Lynette and takes a deep breath. "I … I listened to all of the hate. I was almost joined Humanis First. I think being scared of my dad was the only thing that actually stopped me from being a real member."

The question stops Lynette for a moment, and she looks very much like she doesn't want to answer. However. "The same people that are after your father." As for why, that she doesn't answer, instead, she just spreads her hands a little helplessly. She doesn't know, or won't say.

But when it's Delia's turn to share, Lynette puts a hand on her shoulder companionably, "Hey, look… we all make mistakes. We're allowed to make them. You don't have to look so guilty over it."

"Them? They did this to you? Why? Why would they do that?" The sky begins to darken a little before Delia shakes her head and closes her eyes, calming herself. A few deep cleansing breaths in and out bring the vivid blue skies back to normal and the fledgling dreamwalker slowly opens her eyes again to the sun. "You don't have to answer, I'll find out."

"As for not being able to give it up… Are you scared of the withdrawals? Is that why? Have you tried before?" It seems the young woman is intent on helping at least in this regard. Looking down, she sets her jaw and then lifts her eyes to meet Lynette's. "Because if that's what is scaring you, I know how to help that. We can do it together."

"Their agenda is bigger than it seems, apparently. But The Institute," Lynette says with no small amount of disgust, "is curious about a lot of things, and they don't seem to care much how they get their information. Or who they have to step on to get it. It's… why we're relocating some of the people here to safer houses. The people they don't know about."

With a frown, Lynette looks back out at the ocean, her hand curling around the rail tightly. "I would go through it, the withdrawal, and then they'd give it to me again. I don't think I can do it again. I wasn't in a good place, in all that. Half out of my mind, seeing things, not eating, throwing up when I did eat… I… can't do that again."

"How would thy give it to you again? I don't understand… Do they have some kind of hold over you? What's going on?" There's a fair amount of confusion in Delia's expression, and worry. Shaking her head a little, the young woman lets loose a long sigh and purses her lips. "It doesn't have to be that way… the withdrawals. I have an idea."

Turning, she looks around the rooftop and then up to the sky. "You could do it all here, if you wanted. We have the clinic downstairs, I could hook you up to an IV to keep you hydrated. We could find something to counteract the nausea… at least for the first bit. And you could go to sleep. You could spend the whole time in here with me. We could do it together."

"It's…" Lynette closes her eyes there, because this is exactly what she didn't want to have to explain. "They took some of us. Kept us in cells and did their… experiments." A hand comes up to cover her face for a moment, as if it could hold back the rush of emotion. There's a pause before she drops that hand and looks back over to Delia. "They had some… thing they gave with the Refrain, that left us lucid enough to hold conversation… and made me relive my manifestation. To study it."

She shakes her head, though, as she offers up her solution. "I don't think that would work. It might get it out of my body, but I don't think I can get rid of the addiction, you know what I'm saying? When I could have it, the memories were awful, but it was better than when I couldn't have it. And it became… I don't know how to explain."

"You're never going to get rid of the addiction, some piece of you is always going to want it. That's how addiction works but…" And this is where Delia's voice turns a little cooler, more distant. She wasn't one of the people in the cells, she doesn't know what it was like. "…but… At some point it stopped being them that gave it to you and it started being your responsibility."

Then, there's the simplest of all questions posed to Lynette all evening. "How long do you want them to own you?"

Lynette shakes her head again as that accusation is leveled her way. Denial, quite clearly, is the name of the game. She doesn't have words and arguments as to why it's their fault and not hers, because it's not a logical standpoint, it's an emotional one.

"You don't get to say that," she says to the last question, "You don't know what it's like to live with this. What it was like to wake up there and have it not be some horrible nightmare. To fall asleep here at home and dream about it and never quite be sure which one is the dream and which one's the reality. You don't know what you're asking me."

The excuse earns Lynette a rather incredulous look, "Seriously?" That's Delia's age showing through. The glaring reality of it all comes crashing down around Lynette when, with the blink of an eye, a colorful stick figure unicorm runs across the rooftop and jumps over the rail and into the sky. "Dreams. Really. I'm sorry but… this is all I can do. Why don't you want me to help you with it? You don't have to live with nightmares. This is you choosing to stagnate."

Reaching out, the redhead latches onto the blonde's hand and closes her eyes. The entire world swirls around, the blues turn to a burnt orange, the rooftop disappears and dries into a harsh desert scape. The land dry and parched, cracking in places where water could have been.

Little pools of shimmering liquid fill small craters around them. Walking by, Delia points into one and frowns toward the addict. "Tell me what you see."

"Because! Because I barely know you. Because I'm not sure who to trust anymore and because… because you're not him." Oh. There's something she wasn't expecting to say, as there's a little, surprised expression at her own words. Wups.

But, that pause affords Delia the opportunity to grab her and sweep away the scene without protest. Lynette blinks at the new setting, but there's still no protesting from her, even at Delia's demand. "What is this supposed to be, huh?" With a sigh, she looks toward the pool, crouching down a little to peer into it for a long moment. Whatever she's seeing in there, it doesn't seem to make her very happy. Bittersweet, maybe. "Why are you doing this, huh? Making a person see the one thing they wanted, but never could have? It's the now that matters, what is, not what could have been. I don't have any use for regret," she says, lifting her chin some. But not enough to actually look away from that water.

"Because, there was a time that you wanted more than the blue haze that gets you through the day." Crouching down beside Lynette, Delia places a single finger into the pool and stirs it around. The scene changes from the blonde to the dreamwalker herself. "I wanted to be a doctor, I gave up the day I tested myself and I came up positive. I'm never going to practice in a hospital… but…"

In the pool the hospital green scrubs of the doctor turn to the gray scrubs of the clinic nurse. The one that takes care of the ones who really need it. Pulling her fingers out, Delia flicks a few droplets back in to change the scene a little more.

Lying on one of the cots is Lynette. She's sleeping peacefully, holding her hand is the nurse in gray scrubs, Delia, who seems to be in some sort of meditation. "Hokuto told me that not all doctors have to practice in hospitals. I can help you, if you just want to try. You can get all of your dreams back. Maybe not the same way, but you'll have things to look forward to."

"Alright, look, I don't want to sound dreadfully depressing or anything, but dreams about the future? I don't do that. It's distracting. It keeps you from seeing what's in front of you. I deal with what's in front of me." Lynette looks from the pool to the woman, a frown fixed on her face. "I don't want to go through the rest of my life thirsty for it. Psychological addiction, all that. I'll crave it everyday. Every time I see the scars they left behind. What sort of life is that?"

"Because the greatest day of your life is going to be the day you wake up and you don't even think about it." Delia places a hand on the ground and a bit of grass begins to grow under her palm and spreads out in a small circle. Pushing herself to a stand, she turns to look at Lynette and tilts her head a little. "And you know what? Maybe my dreams right now are little… but at least I have something to look forward to every time I get up in the morning."

Slowly, the setting changes back into the safety of Lynette's rooftop, her happy place. The one with the locking door. "When you get up, look at what's in front of you. A shitload of work and a few needles to make you forget it all. From where I'm standing, that's not such a great place. One day you're not going to be such a high functioning addict. One day you're going to be laying in an alley and you won't be able to get away from that monster. I'm giving you the chance to get rid of it now."

Turning Delia walks a few paces, the grass growing under her feet only to begin to wither and die the moment she steps away. One last look is thrown over her shoulder at the other woman, this one is Hokuto's catlike smile. "Just remember… every time you pick up that needle, you're making it easy for me to get in and just your luck… I bought a new book today…."

Lynette wakes up with a jolt, sitting straight up in her bed. Perspiration drips from every pore in her body and it's not just night sweats, it's the beginnings of withdrawal. As she shivers in the dark, the only thing that she can see when she closes her eyes is a book….

Nagging for Dummies

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