Trust in Me


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Scene Title Trust In Me
Synopsis It takes one to know one — especially when training an empath.
Date July 6, 2011

Bay House

The Bay House at dinner time is a loud place, full of energy and life. Forks and knives scratch against plates, laughter is loud and boisterous, as are the occasional insults and barbs that are common when several children live under one roof. It's a merry sort of place, one that might allow a guest to forget the dire circumstances that have brought these people together, why they are hidden away in this long-forgotten house, why the Ferrymen are these children's guardians, and why it's not safe for them to be wards of the state as they should be.

As the meal ends, Meredith takes one plate that's been set aside, and nods to tonight's guest. "For now we're keeping him separate from the rest, until we can teach him how to control his power. He interacted a couple of times, and it went well enough, but with kids… well, there's no telling what might make him emotional, right?" she says, leading Huruma down the hall to the door in the floor. She crouches, setting the plate down, then lifting the latch to reveal the ladder that goes down to the cellar below.

"It's plenty warm down there, and there's more room, and we're not sure on his range… he's used to coming and going, anyway, but he's been staying put, so I think he wants to stay," she adds, before picking up the plate and making her way carefully down the thin rungs of the small ladder. "Salem? Dinner! And we have a guest," she calls, glancing up at Huruma.

When Huruma makes her way down to the passageway below, she sees the end of it closest to them has been made up into a room, complete with a pull-out sofa, a desk, bookshelves, and toys. The little boy in question sits at a little play table, hands folded politely as Meredith puts the food in front of him. His eyes are wide as he looks at the newcomer, and there's a small wave of uncertainty, if not quite fear that trembles through Huruma's senses.

When they first approached her about coming here, she felt more hesitance than anything. While she is not the most perfect choice for someone to send directly into the midst of young children, Huruma is also one of the only Empaths that the Ferry knows personally. And certainly the only one that they can simply reach out and push into the direction of the Bay House. Huruma eventually agreed to see this little boy, but the being dragged over in time for dinner was a little beyond her. Even so, she did her level best to be familiar with the kids she knew, and open to the ones that she did not.

The tall woman, in her heeled boots, black denim leggings, and a sleeveless, deep purple blouse- complete with plunging neckline- did not seem like a dinner guest when she showed up, but even the borderline nature of her dress is put aside when she tries to be as gracious as is manageable. It works out, somehow. Huruma follows Meredith down the hall at a languorous pace, hanging back only enough to pretend that she is inspecting her surroundings, when in fact she is putting out her usual feelers in a much more deliberate motion. Searching for the reason she came, perhaps. She can feel him before they see him, of course. Pale eyes turn to watch the woman open the latch door and pull it up. Being in every way precarious, Huruma follows when Meredith is off of the last rung. The fronts of her boots catch on the rungs, rather than her heels; Huruma has some skills when it comes to other important things- like running or climbing in clothing that may not be as fit for the situation. It is a fine art to be sure.

Huruma does not need to see Salem to be able to know that there is a rabbit-like reaction from the boy. When she does turn herself onto the floor proper, she purposefully avoids looking at him, and instead surveys the child's room she has found herself in. Perhaps she wants Meredith to finish, or perhaps this is all part of a silent plan. She makes it incredibly difficult to tell, at a glance.

"Salem Mayhew, this is Huruma. She's very nice, and she's here to help you. I'll be here, too, so there's nothing to worry about, okay?" Meredith tells the boy, whose pale eyes flit over to her for a moment, and his head bobs in a solemn nod before he glances back to Huruma. The food is left for now; he's thin and wiry from taking care of his own needs for far too long, but well-fed enough in the past few days not to grab the food and eat it like a hungry little beast.

"Hello," he says to Huruma. "They said you're like me?" he asks, though there's incredulity in his eyes if not his tone — it's hard to imagine him having much in common with her. Another wave of anxiety emanates from him, enough to make Meredith press her lips together and swallow hard, backing up to the wall where she crosses her arms to watch from a distance.

Huruma could say the very same. They have been as verbatim as could be. He's like her, she is like him. Too many associations too quickly, she finds. Time will calculate who is like whom. She is two feet over him, at least, and he is as pale as a ghost. A pair, right? The dark woman purses her lips slightly, her own mind twinging he reaches out- albeit unconsciously- first. The sensation is not new- in fact it is an old one- something that she had not felt for quite some time, until just the end of last year when she finally came together with Joseph Sullivan again. Salem's is lighter, and it feels breathable, like a bit of heated air.

The anxiety that Salem puts out, Huruma deftly and silently replaces it with something more serene. If not for his sake, then Meredith's, and her own. Huruma does not directly address him as soon as he may like; which would probably cause more anxiety if it were not for her pressing her own agenda on his mood. She has no idea if he will feel it there, slipping past like a wee fish between a tangle of weeds.

"You should eat." Huruma tilts her chin up, head slightly back. Her voice comes out in the usual deep smoothness, and they can all feel it vibrating slightly off of the cellar walls. "Yes. I am, insofar as you seem to be a Lilliputian version of myself."

His face seemed impassive until that touch of serenity touches him; there is then a noticeable relaxing. The tension that was barely noticeable in his solemn face eases for a moment, and for a moment he looks almost cherubic. His brows furrow together, and he shakes his head, the tension rising again, warring for a moment against the tranquility before easing back into a neural state of affairs, and he relaxes again.

It isn't the food he is shaking his head at, apparently, because he picks up a fork, stabbing a bit of meatloaf to bring to his mouth. "No. I can only make people feel bad. I can only make people want to leave." The words are serious, full of conviction wrapped around a mouthful of food.

"Unless you'ave a tattoo of instructions that your caregivers'ave not told me about…" Huruma leaves it at that, assuming that he is clever enough to know that she means unless he got a manual, he doesn't know what he can or cannot do yet. The tall woman eyes up the desk's old school chair before she steps over to hoist it up with one hand, arranging it at the opposite side of the table. At the least, she will not have her knees up at her chin- that would be more detrimental than she might like. Huruma places the chair, and winds her way down onto it, putting one ankle behind the other. Her movements are graceful, if somewhat aloof- as if her body seems to think that she has something better to be doing, and her brain says otherwise.

"I was like that, a long, long time ago. When I first began doing what I presume is happening t'you now. Negative emotions are th'easiest t'conjure, and children are inherently emotional creatures. I found m'self gravitating towards fear, and I remained there for many years. Long after I learned better of it."

Salem tilts his head in a moment's confusion before her meaning makes itself clear; a shy and hesitant smile teases the corners of his lips though they do not part enough to show his teeth. The rest of her words are listened to and aptly; when he was smaller, before his manifestation, before his feelings began to leak and before everything went bad, he was likely the teacher's favorite for his quiet and curious ways. But that life is long lost, along with his father's life, along with his mother's protection.

Some of her words earn Huruma a furrow of brows, but he nods after a moment. "I don't mean to make other people feel bad. And they always feel way worse'n I do, when it happens," he offers in that solemn manner. "Someone said maybe I can just take pills, make it go away that way. One of he other kids." There's a hope in his eyes that doesn't seep from him like the tension or fear.

"I did not have th'luxury of pills. We empaths are not th'type, I think, to live with that choice. We must thrive on th'emotions of others, else I think we risk our normalcy entirely." Huruma's voice retains its calmness. She sounds more like she is chatting him up over lunch, rather than laying him out like a map. Which is probably what everyone was hoping she would do about it.

"Emotions are like heat. Some are easier t'conduct than others are." And that, according to Huruma, is a fact. "If you can do it, it will not be easy. But first things first, I have been told that you wish t'corral what you do possess." Her arched brows lift in question, and she leans into the metal back of the chair to examine him with a cat's idleness. "I was not as nice a child as you seem t'be. I was comparatively atrocious, and I would practice on others as I pleased."

As his past puts out there, she has gathered that Salem is unable to do the same as she once did. He is not like her whatsoever in that department.

He sets down the fork neatly on the napkin to the side of the table, and drops his eyes, but not before she can see the threatening sparkle of tears forming, and not before she can feel the despair welling up in him, despite her praise of sorts. "I'm bad. I'm worse because I knew it was me…" he whispers.

The admission opens the floodgates, both verbally and emotionally. The despair and self loathing pours out from him like a break in a dam. "I couldn't control it, but somehow I knew it was me that was making them sad. I knew it was my fault, I just didn't know why. It kept getting worse and worse, and then when I got tested, I knew it was my fault, even if I didn't know what the words meant, and I knew Daddy hated people like … people who make the test go red, people like me. And it made me feel worse, and it made him feel worse… way worse than Mommy. Mommy was sad, but not like him, not sad enough to hurt herself, not like him… I must have been controlling it. It's my fault. I killed him!" The words crescendo until the last is a shout, with Salem suddenly pushing himself out of the seat, his fists balled up in frustration that hasn't been voiced for far too long.

Meredith gasps, and wraps her arms around herself, tears welling in her eyes as well. She takes a step forward, but there's little she can do to help in this situation.

There is only so much that Huruma can do to veer the water away from herself, and after a point she decides that apparently, it will be easier to take the situation by the scruff of its neck and shake it into submission. Picking up Salem and shaking him may not actually be an option here, so she finds the next best thing. Huruma's face is flat when he stands and shouts, and balls his bony fists; her eyes, roughly the same pale white as the tabletop, find him, the inkwells of black pupils dilated in the low light.

The next thing that the boy has to face is Huruma lifting herself onto her feet and looming over him; somewhere in this, her hand, palm roughly as wide as his gaunt face, curls around the front of his shirt. If he wants to be seen as a decision-making, murdering adult, she will gladly put that to the test. Huruma's lips peel back, baring her ivory teeth in a snarl; a growl hums in her chest, and though she does not shake him, pull him closer, or god forbid- bite him- having an angry Huruma in your face can be an ordeal in itself. What comes with it is a mixture of fright and nervousness that overlaps the negative emotions drooling out of him. A dam, however built, remains a dam.

"And you are apparently still too weak t'do something t'keep it from happening again." The dark woman's voice rattles deep, and he can see the sinews in her arm shifting with her grip. "If you think yourself a guilty man with blood on your hands, repent like one and prevent it. I harbored absolutely no guilt for those I killed, unlike you." The growl becomes a half-smiling purr, as mercurial as a shift in the breeze.

"I will tell you one thing, mvulana. I do not care who you have killed, that is your own penance t'be fulfilled. What I do have presence t'care about, is how. You are as I was, and I only learned true self-control b'cause a man came t'me as I come t'you now."

Fear and nervousness are sharp and bright and focusing emotions, unlike that dark despair that threatens to drown and overwhelm him and everything around him; the tears dry up, their salty stains still on his cheeks, but no more come. Salem stares up at Huruma for a long moment before his knees bend and he sits again, as if pulled back into the chair by something else.

He looks to be in shock for a long moment, a tremor or two running visibly through his body despite the balmy warmth that comes in from the opening of the tunnel yards and yards away. Finally he blinks.

"Show me how?" he finally whispers.

Fear is a catalyst, a mediator, and offers the brain a point of convergence for its thoughts. Fear is also terror, panic, and distress. Huruma could have chosen a worse concentration, in hindsight. She watches him wobble back into his seat, eyes peering down the distance between her brow and the top of his messy brown hair. After a moment, she sits back down as well, watchful of the thin boy that is all but trembling.

"There will be time for you to come to terms with your guilt, Salem. That time is not now." Huruma speaks this as clearly as she can for him, and it seems to come from a place of personal experience. "You and I needed to grow up quickly, and without the aid of our parents. You and I found it necessary to learn from another like ourselves. In these, we are 'like' one another. Our differences outweigh our likenesses, yet our needs and purposes are one and the same."

Huruma leans forward in the chair, feet on the floor, and one hand moving out to put her palm onto his head, heavy and warm- strikingly different from the fist that had been kneading into his clothing "I will show you, but you must put your trust in me."

Eyes too old for their youthful face meet the white ones in the dark face above. There is no doubt he understands. The fear is still there, but it grows softer, duller, not so sharp around the edges as it blurs with just what Huruma asks for — trust.

Salem nods again, and his voice is little more than a whisper, yet it holds more confidence in it than anything he's said yet in this place. "I trust you."

Meredith eases back against the wall; her taut posture relaxes, and she shakes her head, a soft huff of relief coming from parted lips. "Brave kid," she muses, but Salem doesn't seem to hear.

For now, the world exists only for himself and his new tutor.

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