|It's a Graves thing (soundofwings) wrote in rooms,|
@ 2015-01-02 23:36:00
|Entry tags:||!dc comics, *log, death, helena wayne|
Who: Helena and Death
What: Coma Time
Where: Helena's Brain?
When: OH MY GOD SO BACKDATED to when Helena was almost-dead in the hospital, right after Death showed up again.
Warnings/Rating: Weirdness, coma, injury?
She's been here for days. Weeks? Months? Minutes? Seconds? It was hard to tell at the top of her mountain, feet lazily kicking over the edge of the cliff, air smashing against the rock face to climb up between her toes and legs. Her toes spread out like they were sinking into mud, but there was only the cool air wafting upwards to greet her. It stirred the light skirt that ended at her calves, the material so fine it might as well have been made of cobwebs and dreams. The bottom of the cliff was made of fog, and it could have been twenty feet down, forty, sixty, it was hard to tell, but the answer was all the same. Through the fog came the light at the end of the tunnel and Helena wasn't sure if she was ready to fall yet.
Behind her, at an odd distance (maybe a hundred feet, maybe two feet, maybe a hundred miles) was another mountain, black and foreboding, and the white snow at the top looked almost blue in the shade. All around her was a meadow. Simple. Peaceful. Long green grasses and buttercups that burst into gold dust that tasted like honey when they were blown on, and dandelions that exploded into caltrops.
Her tail flicked idly against the grass and wings that she couldn't bear the weight of when she was awake were out, mountains of granite above her shoulders and loosely extended, relaxed, the edges carving small furrows into the ground. Hair that was once black and cut angry was now longer, longer than a few months growth could have given, and pale sunlight blonde. Around her shoulder and scooping beneath the stone skin and wings, were the hints of armor. Not welded together, not fastened by hooks and leather, but a single piece of metal that molded to flesh and bone from her shoulders to her hips.
There was no sound of approach, no rustle of the long grasses or betraying gold dust or explosion of dandelion. There was simply absence in one moment and presence in the next, a woman sitting down just within arm's reach and settling her own bare feet over the edge of the cliff. The black jeans she was wearing (worn enough and loved enough to gain rips and tears along the legs) were rolled up nearly to her knees, revealing skin that was snow-pale and traced over with nearly invisible branches of scarring, so old that they were nearly faded into obscurity. The t-shirt she wore proclaimed the name and logo of a band not yet heard of, the ink of the silkscreen faded into vintage invisibility with time. The knit of it showed pinholes of age, flashes of silvery skin beneath as she leaned back on her hands, tipping her face up to look at the sun. It made her mass of hair slip back over her shoulders, exposing a silver line along the side of her neck, tangling with the grass as she sighed.
"Not what I expected after last time."
A glance to the side came with her voice, but there was no surprise writ across Helena's features as she regarded the woman at her side, her own legs stretching out to catch more air. "So, I didn't imagine you then?" Last time seemed so far away. Months? Years. Her wings spread out a little more as she leaned back, hands on the earth behind her. "The circumstances are different this time. Am I dying?" There were only flashes that played out across the sky, a spark of light, Bruce's face, the sky of Gotham framed by the bricks of its buildings, and her tail flicking angrily at the grass behind her. In the hospital, her heartbeat gave a spike.
Kick. Kick. Feet back and forth, catching the breeze and making more of her own. Toenails painted glossy black because she was back in Gotham and it made her smile. "You didn't imagine me." She kept her head tipped back and closed her eyes. The sun here wasn't quite right, but hadn't she known uncountable suns, even since that day in a Gotham penthouse where she stopped Helena's life from spilling out around her hands. One more strange sun wasn't going to change her outlook. It still felt right to tip her face toward it.
But the next question pulled her back, made her look over. Her eyes traced down over stony wings and twitching tail, the armor there along skin. And once the observation was over, she answered. In a punch that wasn't pulled: "You might be."
Helena's own toe nails were plain, unvarnished, clipped close to the skin so they wouldn't break or grow sharp enough to jab her surrounding toes. She glanced at the black on other toenails that weren't hers, then tipped her head back to catch the sun. It resembled Marvel's more than Gotham's, and she'd only seen Silent Hill's for a few days before the sky only took on hues of gray. This sky was the color of bluebells.
She looked down at the haze of fog that obscured the bottom of the cliff. "If I go down, I'll die. I could fall down. I could fly down." A flap of heavy bat wings turned stone and a burst of gold as wind hit the buttercups. "This is much better than last time."
"Mm." The sound she made wasn't agreement. Nor was it disagreement. In the moment, it was simply a sound. One that said 'well, I've heard what you've said'. It took another moment for real words to come. "You could. Either, I suppose. Up or down. It does look like there's a choice, doesn't there?"
In the hospital, the room chills for just a moment, and a nurse looks over her shoulder at the window, searching for a draft. Even though the window in the room doesn't open. Has never opened. None in the hospital do. She stares at the glass for a moment before returning to reading vital signs off one of the many machines.
Painted toes curl in the breeze that carries through from that place to this, stretching to catch it before relaxing again. "It's different than last time."
The other side of the choice is going up the mountain behind her, the one that Helena isn't looking at yet. She knows it's there, can feel it at her back, knows what it looks like in her mind with the deep crevices at the bottom and treacherous crevasses at the top. There will be no flying to the top, it was a journey that must be made on her own two feet. The facts don't scare her, but there was something keeping her from turning and going that way.
She kicked her feet out lazily, cloth rasping at her pale legs. "I didn't do this to myself." Naked toes extended into the air as her eyes closed. "I'm glad I didn't dream you. Everyone tells me that things happened that I don't remember, but I didn't tell anyone about you."
"You could've told them about me. Most of them probably would've known it was me, if you'd told them. Dick knew I was there, at least - he asked after you. Right after it happened. Asked if you were still alive." Pale lips pressed into an almost guilty smile. "I think my fish made him seasick." And maybe that was supposed to be a true statement, one that made sense, or maybe it was the result of a mind that was battered by trauma and caught in a coma. Maybe…
She looked over at Helena, her gaze resting there for a bit and then sitting forward so that she could look down over the cliff they were perched on. She stayed there, still, for a very long time, as if she could read things in the fog that gathered below. And then, shaking herself a bit to pull her attention back, she turned. She looked over one shoulder at the mountain behind them. And looked for another stretched out moment before shaking her head.
"Well." She blinked. Paused. "That's going to need to be addressed."
"Did he?" It was the first Helena heard of it. But the care had stopped there before fishes and seasickness and a massive bloody stain on the floor. "He didn't try to find me. Bruce reached out. Damian did too. And Selina, but I think she was just feeling lonely and wanted attention." Simply stated, it lacked any real emotional connection to it.
Following the other woman's gaze, she glanced at the mountain that was always there. "If I climb the mountain, I go back." Back to the world of the living and a family she could no longer relate to, if she ever had been able to. A flick of her tail in the grass and her gaze settled back onto the other woman. "So you know Dick? What are you? Who are you?"
"He did. I'm afraid I wasn't much help. I…" Her gaze went distant with the long-ago memory. "I was a bit rough myself that day." She'd shifted back around to put the mountain at her back again (or at least, if she hadn't actually shifted, she was not longer looking at it). The simple statements about the girl's family conjured a delicate frown, something that hinted at a difference of opinion, but she kept her words to herself for another passing moment.
The statement about the mountain earned a nod. Yes, she could tell that the mountain was the way out for Helena. There was no question about that - an obstacle so high and difficult would always be the 'way out' for someone caught in a dream or a coma. Especially for someone for whom waking, life and relationships, posed even more challenges than the unknown of death.
With one leg still relaxed to let her foot hang over the side of the cliff, her other knee pulled upward so that she could turn her head and rest her temple on the peak of her knee. The questions earned a long stare and then, slowly, the spread of a smile. One that warmed her eyes and eventually drew out a soft laugh. She didn't answer, just shook her head with that same smile and said softly: "Really? You haven't figured it out?"
There was nothing for her frown. She'd had to accept that she saw the world differently than others did and when it hurt, it had to be changed. The frown didn't hurt, nor did the truth about how she viewed certain members of her family. It simply was. Like the grass below and the sky above.
The stare, the smile, that finally garnered a reaction. It wasn't really movement, it was just her being in one spot in one moment, and in another spot in the next, her thighs sliding to bracket the other woman's. Did she know who she was? No.
What were the clues? She arrived when Helena had been close to death, arrived again at the same point, but it had been life she'd given then, not the sweet abyss. Helena reached out, no hesitation as she touched fingertips that were neither warm nor cold to the soft tissue just below her eye. "I have this same marking when I'm a lion. But mine is white. You marked me when you forced life back into my body." A flap of her wings and a gentle flick of her tail against the curve of calf muscles.
She eased closer, an invasion of personal, intimate space as she touched first her face, then her hair, leaned in to touch her nose to her lips so she could smell her breath, pressed forehead to forehead to look cross eyed into her eyes. Finally, exam complete, she leaned back slightly and cupped the pale face in her hands, jawline fitting into her palms. "You were the most beautiful thing I'd ever seen." Her thumbs spread out, pads swiping across the bow of her lips. "You were hope and bliss, and the promise that I wouldn't be alone while I died." A hard lean forward, too hard, foreheads thunking together. "I thought you were my guardian angel come to free me from a pain that no one could understand, no matter how hard they tried." Helena leaned in close, the corner of her mouth touching the woman's. "You were my freedom," and even now, even here she can't keep the longing out of that single word as their mouths smeared together like pussy willows in the wind.
It was the closest she'd been to anyone in years, but the touch didn't make her skin feel like it was about to skitter free of muscle and bone. There was warmth, but it wasn't stolen, it wasn't thieved from an unhealthy mind and she could roll in it, bask and bask and bask and take, except she only knew how to live starved now, not full. She drew back, slid out of her lap, thigh muscles bunching as she crouched over her knees. "But you should have let me die. Now no one knows what kind of monster I am. Not even me."
She wasn't expecting this young woman of the mountain to suddenly be in her lap, though stranger things had happened in her long, long existence. Maybe once she would have pushed the body away, set her gently to the side, but now she simply looked. She already knew each pore and fingerprint, each and every cell that made her up. It didn't bother her (not at the moment) to be looked back at. Her hands settled on feminine hips (nailpolish and rings and a tattoo on the inside of her left wrist) and steadied Helena as she settled. There was no push or even any interest to her touch, maybe a bit of comfort, but nothing that said the touch would travel or evolve into anything else.
The delicate touch to the place under her eye only earned a slow blink. Her own skin was just this side of cool, and her opposite eyebrow inched up. She'd forgotten about that mark, the way it didn't show when she was playing at being human - only when she was there to take someone, or in in-between places like this. The words were accusation, but her lips pressed into the first hint of a smile. "It wasn't intentional. I don't usually work backwards like that. ...unexpected side effect." Her voice was soft, and somewhere in the distance, from beyond the fog over the edge of the cliff, there was the sound of great large wings beating in the air, the soft shush of feathers catching a thermal and riding it.
She accepted the touch, the exploration of her face. It was far closer than she'd let anyone get in an immeasurable amount of time, but this situation was far different than any other. And when the examination was complete, when warm hands cupped her face, she simply smiled softly. "Different people see different things. Most often I just look like me, but sometimes people's expectations come into it and I'm different for them." The lean, the impact of foreheads, the warm whisper against cool skin, all combined to make her sigh. She'd barely been returned for a few days, and already things were stepping out of the usual. And damn the hotel for that - for taking The End and starting everything back up again into confused territory.
"I overstepped my bounds," she admitted in response. "But I would do it again." And whether Helena realized it or not, that was a confession of unthinkable importance. Even after the stretched out expanse of time she'd completed since her last days in Gotham, she would still break that rule. "For certain people here."
And that was a bad idea. Maybe just as bad (less? more? she couldn't tell) as letting their mouths linger close. She didn't yearn for it, warmth and human contact, not in the way she maybe once did - when she was at her sickest with glowing green in her veins, alone and scared. She was far, far past that time in her history. But she didn't push Helena away, let her press and whisper, let her do those things that maybe would give her strength for that still-looming mountain. And those last words earned their own shake of her head, an exhaled sound that may have been a laugh, and a soft smile. "You judge yourself too harshly. I have been around longer than any living mind can comprehend. I've known every sort of monster, and I know what you are and are not. You are not so monstrous as you choose to believe. I know. Who better, Helena?"
The confession, and subsequent importance of it, wasn't realized by the girl-who-was or the woman-that-is. It was easier to believe that this woman, this idea given form and thought, had chosen it for some other reason than because she was a certain person. It made more sense that way - they had never met before that night when she'd had a knife sticking out of her chest, never spoken as far as Helena knew (but she could have been part of some memory fragment that she no longer held, there were many of those).
"Maybe I do," she said with a tilt of her head, gaze moving from woman to mountain. "But they'll judge me just as harshly. If I can say those things to myself and not have them hurt, then they can say anything they want and their words will never be more than air and sound leaving their throat." What power did they have to hurt if she took it away? None. She controlled the power they had over her and she wasn't letting it go this time. "It's nice to have someone believe the best in me, but you really shouldn't. It isn't something I need anymore."
The mountain shivered, the long grass swayed around them with it. "The landscape will change soon. It's almost time for it." Almost time for another shot of whatever painkillers they were pumping her full of. The mountain would go and what would come would be lighter, easier, more playful than she was now. It'd be the sweet narcotic rush in her veins that turned the world upside down and made everything truly not matter. At least, that had happened every time she got like this, reality impinging upon her time here. There was no reason it wouldn't happen again.
The gaze stayed steady on Helena's face - hurt from outside or hurt from inside, it was a struggle she'd seen it happen too many times. With an unwavering hand, she reached out and tucked Helena's hair back behind her ear. "That's a hard way to live. ...I hope you'll forgive me if I wish more for you."
And as the mountain shivered, she nodded and stood again, wiping the back of her jeans (as if there was a need for her to check for dirt). "Almost time. But it'll stop doing that soon. You need to make your choice when it does." A bend and stoop, a warm kiss pressed against Helena's forehead, and she was gone.
It was a hard way to live, but they lived (and died) in a hard world. The past taught her that. Her eyes closed at the touch, from temple to the back of her ear, and again at the kiss, but she accepted them. "I know," she murmured to the slow beat of wings as Death went. "I know." But it wasn't time to climb the mountain or to plummet into the chasm, but time for the long grass to be littered with wild flowers, and the sky to turn a shocky bright blue. Helena rolled onto her back as the word leveled out, giant purple mushrooms with hot pink polka dots appearing all around her, all of them dropping golddust into the wind, and the very first breath of it made her laugh, easy and carefree.