Night falls and so does Jean.
Her eyes drift closed, her mind sinking slowly, languorously down through the depths as the world unfurls around her. Swinging into the tangles of her dream-like state.
Light and shadow, noise and silence. The clatter of footsteps long-stilled or never-made. Voices. So many voices. Whispers and screams and everything in-between; everything all at once, all the time, just like the bad old days before… Before. Control. Uncontrolled. Arms outstretch for an anchor. Something to pull her back to the now.
The smell of freshly varnished wood, the feel of it worn smooth under countless careless fingertips, the way the afternoon sunlight strikes a window at just the right angle to paint rainbows on the wall.
A girl sits hunched in on herself, her arms wrapped tightly around her body, the too-loud sound of her breathing harsh and ragged over the soft susurration of voices and laughter. She sinks into her seat as if she’s trying to hide, but the harsh glare of the overhead lights illuminates her trembling form like a spotlight aimed right at her. The source of the voices lurks just outside the circle of light: a crowd of vaguely human forms, blurry and indistinct aside from the feral glint of teeth and eyes and nails as they shuffle and point. And laugh. The girl trembles; a full body shudder that makes her teeth rattle and the legs of the chair clatter on the shiny hardwood floor.
“No,” she whispers, and the sweet smell of cooking meat suddenly fills the air, mingling with the smell of complex hydrocarbons to produce a cloying, sickening aroma. “No, no, no,” as her skin starts to redden and smoke. “No, no, nononono.” The words turn mushy and indistinct, fading into a gurgling moan as flames erupt from the flesh. Fat sizzles and drips, skin charring and peeling to reveal scarlet, wet muscle that blackens and burns away to show internal organs bursting like rotten fruit, charring to the bones. The greedy flames feast on the flesh, consuming all of it to burn ever brighter. Somewhat improbably, the eyeballs are the last to go, rolling in the sockets like marbles before they, too, start to bubble and pop.
And still the figures laugh.
Jean flinches away and…
"They're not afraid of you, they're afraid of me."
The visions rewind, a movie reel skittering across a screen. White noise tingling within her ears.
Blood, there’s so much blood and shouting and the shouting sounds like sirens. The pain is back and it’s repeating, lapping over itself like a broken record. Thrashing like chains are holding her down, there's warm liquid on her face. Blood. When did it get on her face?
The sirens sound like they’re screaming a call for death. She can’t get enough air, the blood is choking her - overwhelming. The siren is screaming for her.
There's silence. She whips her head behind her, 180 degrees.
The rich scent of baking pies curling kindly through the air, heat from the oven mingling with the bright summer sunlight to wrap the whole scene in lazy warmth.
The room is bright, and light and airy. Colourful posters plaster the walls around a bed plump with pillows and sheets and worn but comfortable furniture takes up almost all the available floorspace, giving the place a cozy, lived-in feeling. Music drifts in through the open door; a woman’s voice singing along to the radio. Cracked in places, and missing a few of the high notes here and there, the voice is nonetheless made of joy and comfort and love. This is a safe place. A happy place. Home.
Even if the details blur and change, posters morphing shapes and colours when they’re not in focus, even as the window blurs between having curtains and having none, even as the taste of longing and loss is almost palpable upon the tongue.
Jean turns around and…
Sweat and musk and mingled breath.
Blurred figures on a bed; moving, straining, writhing against each other. Details drowned out by a sea of conflicting needs and sensations. Heat and touch and hesitation and desperation and desire, raw and inchoate and everything all at once and too much and more more more. Reaching, grasping, touching wanting…
Jean's mind snaps. An elastic recoil.
And, all at once, she's in her bed. The room is cool, legs are tangled up in sheets, and Wade lays on the pillow opposite her own. He watches for a second, digits still grasping her petite wrist.
She nods. Keeping it simple was just,... easy, "Nightmare," she repeats. It was so much more than a nightmare and he knew it just as well as she did, though he never pressed for more.
Telepathy, astral projection, precognition, delving into the minds of others,... while in her vulnerable state of rest, some of her abilities were amplified. How one could be so powerful and powerless.
Sleep was hardly ever found to be soundless.
Restless. Tired. Exhausted.
Gone ungently into the night.