Time Only Knows


delia2_icon.gif nick_icon.gif

Scene Title Time Only Knows
Synopsis When Delia visits Nick's dreams, he finds she is trapped in a different way than he is.
Date May 29, 2011

In Dreams

Time will say nothing but I told you so,
Time only knows the price we have to pay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

With the dipping of his fever after medication, Nick used the few hours of rationality to set up a plan not to fall asleep long enough to dream — not to sleep at all would be impossible, and dangerous, but if he slept in short batches of twenty minutes, he might be able to avoid REM and thus nightmares. Setting his cell phone's alarm clock, he managed to catch cat naps of sleep throughout the afternoon — none very restful.

Eventually, exhausted, he forgot to reset the alarm and drifted back into a fitful sleep… past twenty minutes, past thirty, past forty… the sleeping man's plans foiled by his ill body to rest, the dreaming man opens his eyes in the world he'd been trying to avoid.

As always, the colors are bleak; black and gray. There is no snow, but an icy cold and labyrinthine cave. Nick moves along the winding paths as if seeking something — he doesn't know what — accompanied by that familiar scent of sulfur. Now and then a chilling mist drifts by, much like the one that had pulled him down the staircase in another dream, but this time it only seems to serve to make him colder.



The sound of a pick against stone becomes louder as Nick ventures further into the cavern. The rough hewn stone flooring is overlayed with the blue dirt and yellow dust from countless years of mining. Blasts from a furnace somewhere below provide little heat, most of it is repelled by the harsh environment before it escapes in belches of smoke. Two possible ways, three if you count the way that leads back toward the mouth of the cave. One leading to the furnace, that spurts the occasional hot cloud of soot and spark. The other leads to a familiar scent, one that's cleaner than the sulphur and ash that he's used to here, lavender mixed with mint. Something that doesn't belong.


It's out of rhythm, tired and weak, so much like the sickly man stumbling through. It's joined by another, much quieter sound, the rattle of a chain and the clack of rocks tumbling against each other as they fall. In the distance, the source of the noise strikes a blurry slihouette against the dark walls of the cave. Slender arms raise the large tool again and once they've lifted it as high as they can, gravity takes over and the sharp metal sparks against the wall. Her dress is ragged and much too thin for a place such as this and her bare feet are unprotected from the elements. What is new is the piece of jewelry clasped around one ankle, a thick shackle of metal that ties her to the wall.

While the warmth, as sooty and dirty as it is, would welcome Nick to it, it is the tunnel that carries the scent of lavender and mint Nick follows; his own bare feet scuffed and bleeding from their aimless roaming leave dirty and bloody footprints behind him. At least the way back will be easy to follow. No birds will eat those crumbs.

Reddened eyes squint to look at the silhouette as he stumbles forward. "Delia?" he murmurs. "You're not supposed to be here," he protests — he's not supposed to be asleep, some part of his subconscious tells him, and yet he's not quite aware it's a dream. Just that they shouldn't be here, either of them.

The startled stare that meets his is a bright blue against red background. Delia's bloodshot eyes are paler than Nick's hers are a result of crying rather than the bursting of blood vessels from coughing. She takes in a breath as she catches sight of him and her chin trembles, threatening a burst of emotion that he is just as liable to turn away from as he is to close in for comfort.

"I didn't think I'd ever see you again," her hoarse whisper echoes against the cavern walls and she drops the pickaxe to move toward him. She's only allowed two and a half steps before the chain around her ankle yanks her to a stand still and she's left reaching for him. Straining against her anchor, she stretches out as far as she can to try to touch him to no avail. Delia is now Tantalus.

If we should weep when clowns put on their show,
If we should stumble when musicians play,
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

Black brows furrow and Nick stares down at the chain that keeps her shackled, then moves to her, staggering down to his knees as he reaches her to examine the anklet around her foot. Fingers curl around the metal, trying to tear it off of her until his fingers bleed and he leans against her legs, ragged breath wheezing through his chest as his shoulders rise and fall.

"What's it mean — is it one of your metaphors? Am I keeping you here, trapping you? I don't mean to be — I'm not s'posed to be here, I'm not s'posed to be down here…" why, he's not sure. What rule he's broken, he doesn't know.

Her head bows as her fingers find the shaggy mane of dark hair to tangle through it and push it back off his fevered brow. Delia's other hand moves to Nick's cheek before she sinks down into the dirt beside him. "I wish I was trapped with you," she manages in a breathless huff. "I'd be free with you, instead of.." The chain tinkles like a tune of dented bells as she moves her leg back and out of sight.

"They came in the night, when there was no one else home. I can't remember everything that happened except in a nightmare… but then it goes away before I wake up." The young woman's arms wrap around him and she holds him tightly to her. "Nick you have to get better, please… I need you to help me out of here."

Nick isn't the most kind of souls, even wen he's making an effort, and maybe if he weren't so ill, he'd have the presence of mind to say 'I told you so' but he doesn't.

Instead, the terror wells in him, and she can feel it in the way the cavern grows darker, the walls closer in, the sulfur scent thicker so that it feels they might choke. "Who? Who did this to you? Where are you?" he whispers, reaching to touch her face, to push back her red hair so he can look into her eyes. "I don't… you need to ask someone else, just in case, Czerwony… ask Benji… ask your dad for help. I don't know if I'll make it…"

Death is too big a concept for his mind to grasp in this state, and the metaphor will have to do. He gestures to the darkness around them. "I don't know if I'll make it out of here. You need someone else to help you, just in case I can't…"

There are no fortunes to be told, although,
Because I love you more than I can say,
If I could tell you I would let you know.

"The soldiers, they're keeping me here. I'm too scared to move…" Ducking her head into the crook of his neck, she hugs him tighter. She rubs her cheek against his shirt, wiping away the tears that have spilled out of his line of sight. As the stench of the sulphur overpowers her own, Delia chokes back a cough and breathes against his shirt. "No— I want to stay with you again, you have to make it. Please don't send me away. I can stay with you and keep you company. I can protect you." From his own demons.

Pulling back only enough to press her cheek against his, she feels cool against his skin. Her eyelashes tickle every time she blinks, as do her lips when she whispers. "Daddy can't help me, it's him that they're after. Him and Eileen and all the rest. Benji— I can't. I can't let her know." She's too proud, a Ryans curse. "Please Nick, they'd never know what happened to me if I just stayed with you."

It hurts to say no, and he bows his head, shaking it against the top of hers, his nose rubbing against her red curls. "You can't, Delia. I'd love for you to be here with me… but it's not safe. You need to stay… all of you… together."

There's something on the fringes of his consciousness that the man in the dream can’t quite grasp, though he knows it’s there, just out of reach. "The part of you that can't be here… that part would be in danger…" Nick shakes his head again, this time at his inability to string words together in a way that makes sense, and he lifts his head to look at her, to see if she understands. "It was dangerous for you to be here before. I lost you…"

A cough wells up in him, and he turns his head, shoulders rising and falling with hitched breaths, and he tries to wipe his mouth before she can see the blood.

The winds must come from somewhere when they blow,
There must be reasons why the leaves decay;
Time will say nothing but I told you so.

"It's never safe Nick, there's always something. Right now, I don't want to be anywhere else, you won't lose me this time but— I won't stay with you if you don't want me— I'm not going to hurt you again." The pain it causes her to admit it is visible on her face as Delia draws back another fraction, somewhat unwilling to let him go entirely. She swallows, hard and painful, before cupping his cheek with her hand and turning his head to face her. In his weakened condition, she doesn't need to exert her own strength to look into his eyes.

"I'll wait for you," she murmurs, closing in to brush her lips against his cheek. "I'll wait right here for you to come and get me, okay? When you get better, I'll be waiting right here. If you don't— I'm— I'm going to— Like you said before, if you gotta, I gotta… Once you go, I'm not going to be held to that anymore." She won't have to wake up ever again.

His hand moves to grip her curls at the nape of her neck, and he glares into her face, trying to make sense of her words. "What're you saying, Delia? I don't… I don't want you to stay in here where it's so dark and … it can't be better than out there, soldiers or not, Del, even if I'm here. Are you saying…"

He swallows hard, closing his eyes for a moment, brow knitting in concentration before he looks into her eyes again, pale eyes encircled by red searching her deeper cornflower.

"I will not let you die with me," he finally whispers. "Don't… don't ask me to let you do that, Del. I can't. I won't."

Perhaps the roses really want to grow,
The vision seriously intends to stay;
If I could tell you I would let you know.

"You made the deal, it's like a promise. It's a crap world we live in, you said it… You said that if you have to stay, so do I. If you don't stay— " She doesn't finish using his own words against him, stopping herself by pressing her lips together in a firm line. Delia's eyelids slide down most of the way, until she's looking at him through her eyelashes in a squint. "I promised I wouldn't hurt you again the way I did before and I won't, I won't force you into anything you don't want to do."

She turns her head away from his harsh glare, finding the courage in the wad of blood that he spit on the ground to finish what she started. "I'll know if you die, Nick. If you die— that's your permission for me to go away again. Hokuto did it, she didn't want to, but she did it. I don't need a body to live and I'll leave the minute I can't find you."

Nick's hands come up to rake through his hair. Frustration shows in the curl of his hands into fists, the twitch in his jaw. "I can't think…" he admits, his voice plaintive, and for one of those rare moments he seems his young age instead of an ancient soul.

"Hokuto's… she's not right, she's not alive… that's not a life for you, Delia," he protests. "You need a body. You need to find your body and live in it, if something happens to me."

He brushes his lips along her jaw, then bumps his head into hers. "Promise me, you'll go to your body. That you'll check in on yourself… that you won't let yourself get lost, that you won't get trapped here with me."

A tear slides down his cheek, but he reaches up to wipe hers with his thumb instead, his eyes steady on hers, pleading.

Suppose the lions all get up and go,
And all the brooks and soldiers run away;

"I promise that I won't get trapped in here with you and I promise— I promise that I won't get lost." Delia's playing a game of semantics and very obviously relying on Nick's illness to keep him addled enough not to outsmart her in the endeavor. Closing her eyes, she breathes in a long sniffle before opening them again to fix a stare into his.

"I need to find Calvin," she whispers as she places both of her hands on his cheeks and smooths one up to his forehead to brush the hair out of his eyes. "It was his— It's his fault that you're sick. I can ask him to make you better. He'll listen, he has to listen— I'll be careful, I won't do anything stupid this time. Let me find him?"

"It's too dangerous…" Nick murmurs, shaking his head against hers, but ducking it to cough again. Their surroundings grow darker yet, the edges indistinct and foggy, and she knows he's fading back to consciousness. "He won't listen. My kind, we're not important to him. We've only hurt him. He's like a kicked dog… he's like… me… Bad…"

That scent of sulfur rises again, and Nick turns his head to cough. Red seeps into the blackness around the corners, as if someone had spilled red paint — or someting more dire — onto the canvas of the landscape they exist in. Nick's voice is distant, echoing off cave walls as he slips away with a whisper: "… love you."

Will Time say nothing but I told you so?
If I could tell you I would let you know.

It's her scream that awakens the both of them. Primal in nature and filled with anger at being chained in more ways than one. When she jerks to consciousness inside the brick house, the bucket of water spills all over the kitchen floor. The lights are on, no one is home except for her, perhaps the reason why she felt the need to escape.

She leaves it, not caring if the water destroys the floor. It can be cleaned up later, before anyone else gets home. For now she runs up the stairs, chased by the dog, until she throws open the door to her room. Rummaging through her dresser drawer, she pulls out a throw away phone and pushes the power on.

I love you too

"If I Could Tell You" by WH Auden

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