Sleep Deprivation


elisabeth2_icon.gif graeme2_icon.gif

Scene Title Sleep Deprivation
Synopsis The physical effects would come later, but Elisabeth sends Graeme home to get some sleep now, before it gets any worse.
Date June 19, 2011

Skinny Brickfront, Endgame Safehouse

The spools that make up tables in their makeshift living area are usually used for eating at, but Elisabeth has set up the keyboard there tonight. It's past dark, but she's been in a mood the last couple of days. Not a bad one or even a particularly sad one. Just… somewhat inside her own head. The music from the keyboard doesn't carry beyond about a 10 foot radius, so it's not until one steps into the room that it can be heard.

"~~You are the strength that keeps me walking. You are the hope that keeps me trusting. you are the light into my soul…. you are my purpose. You're everything…. And how I can I stand here with you and not be moved by you? And you tell me how could it be any better than this?~~"

The song brings Joshua to the forefront of her mind… or rather, the boy — the young man — has been inhabiting her thoughts since she met him and the song seems to suit.

Graeme's been in and out of the safehouse, not seen much of past the fourteen or seventeen straight hours from Thursday night to the middle of Friday, that he simply monopolised the punching bag in the basement, working out his emotions and simply perhaps months of pent-up bits and pieces of frustrations rather than talking about them.

But when he does come into the common room, a bag of fresh groceries looking like the makings of salad, and some other things, likely luxuries that he gets more often than he should, the music brings a faint, content smile to his face before he even realises that it has, and he takes another table, figuring out what he's brought that'll go over to the kitchen, what that needs to go down to the small fridge in the basement. "Hey Liz." His presence has come with plenty of warning, both advance and at the appropriate times, and when he's done putting the slightly perhaps perishables back into the bag with the ice packs that have kept them cold so far and can keep them cold a little longer, he folds himself to sitting crosslegged on the ground in a definitely less than graceful motion. More like the twelve-year-old thing.

Though he gave advance warning, Elisabeth's attention is more on the music she's messing with. She'd thought herself alone in the building, really, and the first warning she has of company is when he crosses the sound barrier — his presence shifts the way she senses the sound waves. And she stops singing, simply continuing to play the piece that she'd chosen. There is a peacefulness to her that hasn't been there in a long while.

After a minute or two, crosslegged becomes knees drawn to chest, arms around his knees. Younger looking, more vulnerable, but mostly, Graeme is just a little bit tired, although there's a smile on his face, almost a grin. Even the company is relaxing, the music more so, doing a great deal more to soothe his nerves than the punching bag had. "You know, I could listen to you play for the rest of the night. It's beautiful."

The blonde's smile is soft. Her fingers shift to something a bit more classical, something that is probably entirely unfamiliar. "Thank you," Elisabeth says quietly. "It's … therapy, I guess." Her hands continue to move over the keys, the tune soothing and her playing steady. "I had a piano in the apartment…. on nights when I wanted to lose myself, I'd sit in there and play." Her smile is gentle. "I've been trying to remember the music that I know the last couple of days. There's a lot of it," she admits. "I didn't realize how many I knew by muscle memory. I've been wondering … what Joshua remembers most about his childhood."

Graeme nods, head tilting to one side perhaps to better catch the music and looking up at Elisabeth, watching her hands move over the keys, though more often his gaze rests on that smile, or her face, her eyes. "Yeah. There are a lot of things that are learned, and when we've learned them, we store them in muscle memory. Sports, music, driving, riding a bicycle, they're all muscle memory just as much as anything else." Graeme smiles sheepishly. "Ooops," he says. "I think my higher education's showing." He smiles. The line has so much more behind it than it did when they first met. "But muscle memory may still be there, at least in part."

Elisabeth's hand falter slightly. And she nods slowly. "Well, I've learned firsthand that … certain parts of memory are stored in separate places. For example, I don't remember learning some of the music that I can play…. but I can identify it readily when my fingers play it. And there are… things that I almost remember. Sometimes a scent or a sensation gives me an overwhelming feeling of deja vu." She shrugs a little. "I'm told it's … something like parasympathetic nerves or something. But anyway, it's neither here nor there." Just something random to talk about while her fingers pick out music. "How're you doing?" she asks him.

Graeme bites down on his lip at the question, enough that there's a faint trickle of blood on his chin, unnoticed by the teacher as he pays attention to the music, a response which might be far, far more telling than the answer he gives. "Alright enough, but I don't really know," he admits, with a small shrug of his own. "It's a hard thing to answer because if I try to think about it, or the most part, I'm just alright, fine, but not." There are down sides to the ability of endurance, and every so often the pent-up emotions that get shoved deep to the side somewhere inside of him seem to build into something.

Her hands come off the piano, and Elisabeth turns to look at him. His tone perhaps alerted her to a problem or perhaps it's just that she's attuned to certain kinds of sounds and tones from those closest to her. The trickle of blood where he's bit his lip brings her off the chair and over to take a knee in front of him, reaching out to touch his chin. "Graeme," she says softly. "What can I do?"

Graeme's eyebrows raise, and there's a look of surprise, for a moment, when she reaches to touch his chin. It prompts him to reach up and touch his own chin, and then there's a hint of genuine surprise when he feels the stick of blood and sees it on his fingertips. "I bit my lip too hard again, didn't I," he says, though it's not quite so much stating the obvious as it might me. He looks tired, which is quite the accomplishment, overall, with his ability to just keep going. But sometimes the teacher pushes it.

"I hate summer break. It's worse, for nightmares, and such." The soft southern drawl isn't nearly as confident as it usually is, and for a long moment, Graeme just stares at his fingertips, before reaching into a pocket for a handkerchief and starting to wipe away the blood from his chin, though without much effort to the motions.

Lowering her other knee, Elisabeth sits on her heels in front of him. There is worry in her blue eyes as she studies his face. And there's a rueful, sympathetic quirk to her lips. "Yeah. I understand." Worst part is…. she probably does. "Tell me what I can do for you," she says softly. "If you need me to listen, I will. If you need me to make it go away, I can do that too." The offer is made easily, her hand reaching out to take the handkerchief to blot at the blood herself. "I know that I'm not … the kind of person you usually go for." She grins a little. "But it's worked before, I imagine we can make it work again." There's a bit of self-deprecation involved here. She's not entirely sure of herself in this offer either — if it were Felix or Jaiden, she'd have merely kissed him.

He lets her take over, easily, and relaxing some, turning to lean against her when she's finished. "Summer break, any time I'm not teaching, the guilt is worse. I sleep, I relive the worst of it." Graeme laughs, a little, and slips an arm around her waist, gentle. "So sometimes I don't sleep as much, and it's not as bad if I don't, but …" The words trail off, acknowledgement of something he still doesn't want to say aloud. It's not a good idea, either. At least, not when it's getting past a whole week without having slept, a week where he's been pushing himself, to boot. "There's a whole lot about how my ability works, and how it affects me, that I just don't know, but it affect a lot of things."

She rests her head atop his and her arm goes around his shoulders to cradle him close. "You need to sleep, Graeme. You need restful sleep, and believe me when I tell you that I know how hard that is to come by sometimes." Her tone is soft. "Even now there are nights when I can't sleep unless it's in Richard's T-shirt." She bites her lip. "And I don't have anything of his here except a few pictures that he took… I kept them in my go-bag at the base. I'm … grateful. That Jaiden and Norton both understand that sometimes when I climb in with them, I just want…. to be held. By someone familiar."

There's a quiet sound of acknowledgement, and his free hand finds hers, eyes closing a little. "Guess so," he agrees. "I … never slept much. I only even usually need one or two hours, but," And there aren't any physical consequences of sleep deprivation for the man until far later, but the mental effects are noticed much sooner, the loss of control and the surfacing of issues that are usually not nearly as bad. "And when I'm not teaching, when I'm not making a difference now…" There's pain and guilt that the man just can't banish from his voice. But the closeness is a comfort that's making it better, at least for the moment, making it possible to talk about it.

She holds him tightly now, both arms around him. Every person in Endgame has lost something, and Elisabeth understands his hurt. "You need to go home," she tells him softly. "Climb into bed with Aric and just hold each other, Graeme." God knows, she wishes she could do it with Richard. "The person who holds your heart is safe harbor. It's the place you can go and trust that no matter how you're feeling, no matter what you're thinking, they won't judge. They'll just hold you." She kisses the top of his head. "You can't make a difference every single minute… it's the easiest way to burn out." And she speaks from experience. "Go home. Sleep some," she urges softly.

"He's a telepath, Liz," Graeme reminds her, quiet. "He's seen the nightmare of the kid killing himself more times than I'd have liked already, and I hate knowing how much it hurts him to see it and see me have it. And he's there, but I'm too selfless, I can't do that." He shakes his head. The small pitfalls that he's found of living with a telepath, albeit one far more resilient than the one in the Endgame safehouse. "The last thing I need, right now, is another person experiencing it. And I don't want to add more of my nightmares to his own."

"And Richard lived through me waking up drenched in sweat screaming about rats and whimpering in agony from being knifed and having organs ruptured," Liz retorts softly. "And I lived through him waking up in a panic, sure that he couldn't solidify, certain that he was drifting away in tatters of shadow. The one thing I've learned about loving someone — really loving them — is that you live their nightmares whether they're laying next to you or not. And that you worry less about them when you're laying next to them than you do when you wonder where they are."

Graeme smiles a little. She's right, like she usually is, with the logic that reminds him of it rather than just letting him continue along the less logical lines of reasoning, and for a moment he holds her tighter, burying his head in her shoulder and just letting the last of this moment's guilt and worry fade away, though it is not by ability that he does so, but by the comfort of her presence, before pulling away and kissing her, gently. "Yeah." A glance at the watch on his wrist. "Aric'll absolutely kill me for skirting curfew again, but I think I'll get some sleep." There is a longer moment before he gets up, touching hands to chin and reassured that they don't come away bloody this time.

She returns the soft kiss, her eyes closed and remaining that way as he touches her face so lightly. When he stands up, she releases him slowly and smiles, looking up at him. "I'll see you tomorrow," Elisabeth assures him gently.

"Thanks," Graeme says, quiet, moving to gather the few things and put them back into his backpack, get the skateboard. "Yeah. And I guess I'll try not to learn more about my ability quite this way." There's a slight grin, and a half self-deprecating smile, and on his way out, he detours back to bend down and kiss her forehead once again.

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