Shattered Delusions


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Also Featuring

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Scene Title Shattered Delusions
Synopsis The search for a missing sibling takes a brief respite that ends in a dreamer's reality shattered.
Date February 19, 2011

Somewhere under Midtown

It's been hours of trudging through subway tunnels, climbing over heaps of rubble, wading through ice-cold puddles of stagnant water. After the initial search, Nick went back up to get more supplies — a backpack full of rope, a first-aid kit, food and water. Enough to last a few days. Optimism has never been his strong suit.

He's too deep in when he realizes that he can't go any further, that sleep deprivation is making him stupid — and that it will likely cost him. There are too many dangers down here, and if he gets hurt…

…there's very few people who would care.

And even fewer that would be able to do anything about it.

He pulls himself up the platform and follows the tunnel, climbing over the turnstile with legs that are numb with cold and heavy from exhaustion. The concrete walls here have been graffitied over and the place smells like urine, but it seems vacated enough. He wants something with a door between him and whatever else is out prowling around in the underground, and he finds it — a bathroom he enters cautiously, gun drawn as he clears each stall with a kick of his boot.

He's slept in worse places.

She hasn't.

Nestled into a thick duvet, russet curls spread across a few pillows, Delia's eyes are closed, like they have been for the past few days. Since her self appointed mission to keep searching for Eileen, she hasn't kept her promise to Nick about only sleeping eight hours at a time. She's only been awake long enough for a glass of water and a sandwich at most. An Asian man sits at the other end of the room, her current caretaker, quietly reading and waiting for any news she might be able to share. There hasn't been much yet. Still, he stays.

Adrift in a stygian sea, Delia's eyes finally open, looking for sparks or stars among the void.

Maybe it's his proximity in the waking world to his sister that allows her to find him — perhaps she is awake, while he is asleep. Perhaps it's that Ruskin quality that calls her dreaming mind to his. But there is a spark, and a familiar one, that draws Delia to him, a moth to flame.

This is not the familiar, stark landscape of Nick Ruskin's mind that Delia is familiar with. Gone is the bleak duochrome palette of white tundra and black smoke. Outside of the window that Delia's dream form peers into, the world is a cold monochrome of London gray, though the streets seem to gleam silver thanks to recent washing by the city's seemingly perpetual rain. Her feet dangle effortlessly above the ground, pressed up close to the narrow, residential duplex.

Raindrops spangle the glass that Delia peers into. Inside, the room is warm and colorful in a garish contrast to the chilly and bleak exterior. There is a sharpness and a clarity to this world that suggests memory rather than the surreality that usually paints the canvas of Nick's subconscious. A calendar fans open where its stapled to the wall, in over saturated photographs of blonde American women, clutching their breasts with clawing hands. In equal show of assets, and genuinely candid where nude photos pretend to be, posters of football stars wallpaper the room, old and current. Zidane. Beckham. Gamarra. Cantona.

Marijuana is a heavy, sickly scent in the air.

The Nick Ruskin that sits on the edge of the bed of tangled sheets is much younger than the Nick that Delia knows. Youth has rounded out his features, though his body is lankier, leaner and hungrier, his limbs more angular than those of the man he will grow into. There is yet a vulnerability in the boy's features; a hope lit in pale eyes that has since burnt out. He seems perhaps 15 or 16.

With a wrinkle of distaste to her nose, Delia noiselessly melts into one of the posters on the wall. The tow headed woman's hair turns crimson as the head and face readjusts, the arms going to cover a bit more of the nude body than the others. She's much more modest, even when the figure isn't her own.

Sultry bedroom eyes settle on the boy in the bed and there's a curious tilt to her head as she studies him. It's a good thing she doesn't have to smile, though the parted lips posed into something a little more risque with her tongue curled over a canine is equally as difficult to maintain.

Dark hair damp with sweat falls into his eyes before a pale hand reaches up to shove it back. A pair each of navy boxers and faded and frayed jeans lie across his bare knees, ready to be pulled on his lean frame. The movement of sheets suggests someone in bed behind him, and a shy, sweet smile curves his lips, as Nick turns to look back. Curling and taking sheets with him, the long-limbed youth he shares a bed with lazily rolls within reaching distance - older than Nick, if not significantly, just a little more maturity, a little less softness in his features.

A blonde boy, if unnaturally so - or rather, one wouldn't be able to tell what the fuck hair colour was meant to be beneath the near-white bleach its been tortured with. Enough length to curl against the nape of his neck. His ribs and spine press up against the long, scarless stretch of his naked back, rough hands finding Nick's thigh. John Logan's eyes shine pale green and nothing brighter, and white teeth set against Nick's arm in play-bite.

Mouth going dry and suddenly feeling very much like a voyeur, the head in the picture shifts to the side as she looks away. She's even more surprised to find that she's unable to change the setting turn the channel to something more typical and horrific. Something that she expects from Nick's mind, not— him sharing the bed with— someone she has. Perhaps the most horrible part of this would be… if it's true. Mister Logan lied to her. Not to mention she won't be able to donate blood for the next nine years. Not that she was planning on it in the near future anyway.

Closing her eyes, Delia searches the most recent memories that she can. It's difficult to know what to hope for. If it's a fantasty, why would Nick be so… hostile… toward the blonde man. If it's not— Why wouldn't he just tell her?

The most recent memories are him searching the tunnels, the phone call with her, and strangely, some awkward moments with another man she knows, sharing his apartment with Toru of all people, though that they are strangers living under one roof is clear enough. Eventually she comes across the memory of Logan and Nick meeting outside of a bar, the two trading insults, the two aiming guns at one another, and Nick bruising the other man's jaw. The mock flirtation and the real bitterness.

Nick's arm is jolted as Logan tugs himself to his feet, and the blonde fails to immediately let go. "Why don't you take me off the streets," is said in rich, parody flirtation, nails raking tingly over Nick's palm.

Nick stows his own gun in a show of good faith, even as his arm is jerked, his lean frame giving leverage to Logan's rising. The hand on his draws him backward through the years in memory, and there's a twitch in his jaw as that voice still affects him, still stirs him.

Even when it's mocking him. At least, he's pretty sure Logan's mocking him.

The violent surge satisfied for now, Nick gives a one-shouldered shrug, an attempt at stoicism that is contradicted by his volatile actions of just moments before. "Not my type," he says, his cheeks coloring just a touch in traitorous treachery.

It's enough to prove that this memory, this room Delia finds herself in now, is a memory.

It's enough to explain why he wouldn't tell.

In the room, the jeans and boxers are dropped as Nick rolls toward Logan.

Abruptly, the scene shifts. The air is cold and brisk, the sky, a bright lapis lazuli overhead, far above the tall buildings that flank the streets. The basketball court is flat, grey, empty, and Nick hooks his fingers into the diamond-wire as he waits. His sister dropped off at a music lessons, and he has the afternoon free.

Closing her eyes against the violence and suddenly feeling much too small to be the woman in the picture. Delia slips out, trying to get away from the memories. From the horrible things that might still be waiting. Guilty for being in the situation she's in. She didn't start the fight, she had no part of it, she knows it… but somehow, it's still all her fault.

An orange breasted robin bird flits to the top of the wire fence, tilting one cornflower blue eye toward the boy before sidling a little closer. The twitchy movements of its little grey head precede the small peep it gives in greeting. It's not expecting to be answered, but he's not alone.

Flapping its wings, the bird ruffles its feathers in a full body shiver before settling on one of the wire links above the boy's head. Another peep. A happy sound that should be associated with the coming of spring.

Pale eyes flicker up to the bird, black brows in the boyish face knitting with some confusion — robins are not common in this concrete jungle, and he's never seen one with blue eyes before, not even in books. His head tips and his lips quirk into a smile, appreciative still at this age for unexpected beauty in a world that's been far too ugly to him.

If he recognizes anything in the bird, it's hard to tell, because suddenly the thudding sound of footsteps on the asphalt ring out fast enough that he only has the time to turn fractionally by the time a boy- larger than he is, older, ears already beginning to go cauliflower from rugby scrums- crushes Nick Ruskin into the fence with an elbow to the kidney with the force of a bodycheck behind it. His fall is helped by meaty hands on the back of his jacket, driving him to the ground. A forest of legs approaching, low laughter and words and threats like so much chaos above his head. On his feet again and outnumbered, Nick lashes out, fists flying to connect with whatever and whomever they can, but each hand is grabbed and soon he's pinned against the fence, taking kicks and punches until he's slumped, head down - only still standing because hands still firmly hold him in place.


The scream inside of her own mind precludes Nick from injury as the scenery shimmers and shifts for only the two of them. The memory plays on as it is destined, only now the robin has pale eyes and when Nick looks up with a confused scowl to gaze upon his attackers, it's cornflower blue eyes that greet them. From the bird's vantage point, a few short curls of red hair can be seen over the boy's ears and in a cowlick just off the middle of his forehead. Their placement is almost as if by design rather than the by accident of a panicked dreamwalker.

Even if the body did have the strength to keep fighting, the will isn't there. As one bright blue begins to swell shut, split lips part to ask a question that might have been asked when the memory was just being formed. But her voice is still missing and all that comes out is a peep of a note, it could sound like a protest, but it's not.

Finding himself displaced from his body jars Nick, his conscious mind becoming aware of the dream, that he is dreaming, though this dream is real. Was real. "No," he says angrily, becoming himself, and not the bird. Taller than the boy held against the fence, his face leaner, his body fuller. He hops down from where he sits. He doesn't want to see this, to watch this happen, and he doesn't want to see her endure it, even in a dream.

Fists and feet and spat-out words still hurt in dreams, even if there are no wounds in the morning.

"It's a memory, Czerwony. You can't change it. Just watch." His words make it clear he doesn't want her to see it, at all. But it's too late for that. "Just let it happen." He steps away, beckoning to her, as if he could exorcise her from his younger self with the gesture. But all he can do is ask.

A weary shake of the boy's head has a mane of red hair bouncing like springs from his scalp. Long and unruly, they hold their position for a moment before another face pulls up from where the boy's is tilted down. Delia stands and steps out from the body, the scene freezing for the time it takes her to join the man at his side. She can't look at him, she can't even face him because of her own shame. Instead she turns to watch the scene unfold, flinching with every fist or boot that connects with the fragile youth pinned against the fence.

Her cheeks are already streaked with tears as she watches on.

Soft, thin fingers find his more calloused ones and like a viper's strike, Delia's palm is connected to Nick's as she grips his hand tightly. She tries to sniffle as quietly as possible, as to not interrupt memory but his wish is granted as she turns her head and closes her eyes against it, her wet cheek grazing against his shoulder as she turns away. It's not that she's too fragile to see the violence, she's seen results much more gruesome than this in her time at the hospital. There, she was disconnected. She cared without caring too much.

The grown Nick glances down at her hand on his, and his fingers interlace gently. "It's okay," he murmurs. "It's not the worst scrap I been in." Only the most painful. His eyes turn away from her to the one other figure apart from the fray.

Logan hangs back, cigarette half-done and looking uneasy, but his expression hard in some kind of spite. He'd promised them a conversation, here, alone. And now the rest watch him expectantly, and he feels moved to make impact before Nick can talk.

His cigarette is left to die on the asphalt as he breezes forward — past Delia as if she isn't even there, drawing her attention upward once more — and brings his hand around to deliver a punch to that younger Nick's mouth, softened already before him. Finally released from where he's been pinned, blood runs from nose, lips and a cut on the younger boy's cheek, dripping down his chin and onto the frayed knee of his jeans as Nick pulls his legs to his chest, trying to make himself as small of a target as possible. Not much doing when a spray of saliva finishes the deal, and the word faggot sneered, those ice-eyes hard and unreachable, some part of Logan removed. Broken off.

For Nick, nothing is broken. But every part of him hurts. But bruises and cuts will heal, with time.

His pride and heart may not.

"It's not— " Delia answers, her voice choked with tears. "It's nothing close to okay. How— " Her grip tightens and a voilent shudder courses through her body at the cruelty witnessed. Not the beating itself as much as the end, the final blow delivered by Mister Logan's younger incarnation and the change between the last scene and this.

The hand that Nick has linked to Delia's is tugged as the woman steps forward, jaw set and eyes narrowed at the blonde man who is probably around her age at this time. There's nothing that she can do and the pull of the dark haired man's gently hold reminds her of the fact. The attack on her brother, not just about a girl. It's a pattern. One that started years before.

Turning his back on his younger self, even as Logan and his friends do the same, Nick turns Delia away from the broken and bleeding form of the teenager he had been. "'s done," he says with a shrug.

The street in front of them turns into a subway tunnel, the same one Nick had been traveling down before he needed to sleep. He frowns as it reminds him of his present, rather than his past. "I should wake up," he says quietly. "I need to find her."

The redhead keeps staring over her shoulder at the boy until the figure darkens and disappears completely. Her eyes drift along the concrete, watching as the spots of spit and blood dry and disappear as well. Still, Delia can't bring herself to gaze up at Nick. "I'm sorry, Nick. I was looking for Eileen— I saw a familiar mind and I stopped. I— I tried to leave but I couldn't." Whether she was actually stuck or if she just couldn't bring herself to leave is something left to him to decide.

Turning to face the man, her blue eyes find the hollow of his throat and stay there instead of rising any farther. "You need to sleep, you're having nightmares. Let me, I'll come back when I find her. I'll let you know where she is." Her head lowers so she can eye the concrete between their feet, as weathered and cracked as she feels. It's easy for Nick to see the hurt that she's trying to hide. "T-there's other people searching for her too, Brian and Sami… We have someone looking for Gabriel. And me…" At least she was before she took the sojourn into his mind.

Nick reaches to touch her cheek, thumb scuffing along her chin to tip it upward, his pale eyes seeking her brighter ones. His lips curve into a half smile — there is something of that young boy, something still vulnerable in the expression. "Don't be sorry," he says with a shake of his head. "Now you know why." His brows twitch and he looks back, as if those phantoms of his past are still there.

Blue eyes tick back to hers. "No one else does," he adds. "Not even Lee. Don't tell."

His calloused index finger moves to touch her lips in a shush. "I'm not…" he begins, but he shakes his head. Whatever he's not, it doesn't matter.

"I'll keep looking for her." His hand drops again.

Her eyebrows twitch together as Delia's eyes search the pale ones in front of her. His smile is answered by a moon pale hand reaching for his forehead, fingers ruffling through his shaggy bangs before curling and tracing down the side of his face. "I am sorry. I was stubborn and I didn't just take you at your word when you wanted me to leave… or Brad— or Brian… I wanted to believe that Mis— he could be good. He was always so nice to me. I wanted to prove everyone wrong but it's not just you, or Brad, or Brian, or Nicole…"

When his hand drops her chin falls and she's once again staring at their feet. "I'm— I'm going to find a new place to stay and after we find Eileen, I'm going to go home. I can't stay here anymore— Not to get better. I can walk, that's enough."

There's a twitch in his jaw. "Don't do it because of me," he whispers, and his head falls forward to press a kiss into her forehead. "Do what's right for you and what makes you happy. It's all I want for you. I just… I don't think he has the heart to make you happy. And even you can't care enough to make up for that."

His hand, knuckles still scabbed from his assault on the car window, reaches up to brush a red curl from her cheek. "I -"

But suddenly, he's ripped from her, into wakefulness, torn away by the intrusion on his slumber of the door squeaking open, and from where he sits curled behind a sink, Nick's blue eyes open to stare into the grimy face of a homeless man.

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