2008-02-22: Down to Earth


Kory_icon.gif Sophie_icon.gif Randall_icon.gif Peter_icon.gif

Special appearance by Dr. Cameo.

Summary: Sophie frees Kory of her false memories, Peter guides her back to her real life, and Randall knocks himself out.

Date It Happened: February 22, 2008

Down to Earth

Mount Sinai Hospital, Upper East Side

The paramedics show and get Kory covered in a sheet, strapped onto a gurney, and brought out into the chill February night. Charlotte and Ndugu get asked if they're relatives. They're not; they're then barred from riding along in the ambulance. Randall, in the hallway, as her boyfriend is also not a relative. Nor is the Sophie beside him.

So there's no one but the paramedics in the van when Kory's respiration slows to nothing. There's no one but the paramedics with her when they have to get her lungs going again. And there's no one but the paramedics to run beside the gurney as they get her admitted and doctors work to make sure that the lungs failing doesn't cause her heart to follow suit.

Sophie may not be allowed in the ER, but that doesn't mean she can't do the traditional thing and pace in the waiting room. So, that is exactly what she is doing. She frowns, obviously going over things in her head. She has a lot to sort through, including things in other people's heads.

Randall is in the waiting room as well, but is not pacing. Instead, he stares at a blank patch of wall for a few minutes, in a vain attempt to pick up on another of those faint signals that he thinks he can sometimes make out. When that doesn't work, he ducks out to the shop to see if they have any NyQuil; if he can't reach her, then maybe he can make it possible for her to reach him.

The wait isn't long. At least, not as some things go. But it probably seems interminable. Infinate. Torturous. The uneasy tic-tic-tic of the clock is painful, all sane and logical, but before it can bother anyone enough that they tear it off the wall, Anzeti Alexander comes running in, full tilt, eyes wilder than his hair. "Kirkwood!" he says, but it's not accusatory as it was last time they met. "What's happening? The message was garbled. I got 'Kory' and 'ambulance'…!" He nods, belatedly, to Sophie, remembering his manners.

Sophie doesn't know the man, of course. But, it is pretty clear that Randall does, or at least that he knows Randall. So, she returns the polite nod, but lets Randall do the talking.

By the time Anzeti arrives, Randall is flopped back into a chair - partly due to his own exhaustion from the recent foot chase, partly due to the Big Effin' Q doing its thing. "Oh, man, long story. Basically, she turned out to have a stalker… Drugged her. And subliminals, but mostly drugs, I think. They're working on her… down that way." He waves an arm in the general direction of the ER.

"Stalker…" Anzeti repeats, mouth dropping open. "Drugs…?" His sister? Drugs? "He forced…" it had to be, by the young man's expression. He sits down, and puts his curlytopped head into his hands. "Oh, god, how bad is it?"

Sophie takes a breath, as she says, "I think it is an overdose, umm.. sir. The guy who did this? He was feeding it to her. Then when she wouldn't take it willingly, he soaked a dress in it and forced her into it. I am guessing it absorbed into her skin.:"

Randall shakes his head quickly, lacking a measure of his usual control, as if he were somewhat drunk. (Never mind the NyQuil's non-trivial percentage of alcohol content.) "He didn't get any further than that…" Then, heart dropping out of his chest, he flails an arm out, reaching for the back of another chair nearby. If Charlotte was keeping the worst from him— "…or at least I don't think he did. No, no, he couldn't have. He would have run his mouth about it if he had."

"I'm gonna see if they are gonna let me go see her. I'm glad you called me and not our mother, man. Thank you." Anzeti and Kory's mom is a nurse, yeah, but no medical professional can be calm, professional, or objective when it's their own child. He stalks to the admissions desk, flashes his ID, and tries to stay calm as the woman tries to find Kory in the computer.

His posture stiffens, and then goes limp as the woman tells him something. It's a moment or two before Anzeti's sure enough of his footing to turn and walk back to the waiting room. When he gets there, he drops into the first chair he encounters, rather than the one next to his sister's friends.

Sophie wants to ask, but not sure if she can. She glances over at Randall, not sure if this is shock, relief, or what.

Catching sight of Anzeti's return out of the corner of his eye, Randall manages to pull himself sideways in the chair. For all that his thoughts are clouded, one thing is clear from his expression: what is it?

It takes a minute for him to look up and realize his sister's boyfriend (?) and friend (?) are waiting on Anzeti to give them an update. "They…they said she's on a respirator." A pause. "They said they're …they think she can breathe on her own again, now, but until the drug wears off, they're not taking any chances." Again. Now. "They said if they take her off too soon, she could crash again." Again, again. "And her heart might go with her if she does." He takes a hitching breath, nineteen-year-old bravado completely shredded in the face of the worst thing he's probably ever had to face. "You have the bastard who did this? You have him? Tell me he's locked up someplace where the sun won't shine on his face again."

Sophie closes her eyes as she lets some relief wash over her. At least Kory is still alive, and has a chance. As for Leslie.. once again, she lets Randall take the heavy work on that one. She says, "Hopefully the worst is past her. It is just waiting for the body to rid itself of the drug."

Randall is conflicted about all this. It's bad, sure, but there are several ways it could have been even worse. "Screw the rules," he mutters, struggling to his feet, "I've got to go see her." To give her hope, if she's conscious. Or for silent moral support, if she isn't. Or… no, he can't bring himself to complete that thought. "You're her family— will they let me in if we go together?"

"Man. You can barely stand," Anzeti points out. "I don't think she's conscious, either. They said what she's been given is a sedative. Like they use to put patients out for surgery," Anzeti says haltingly, as if struggling to remember through his distress what he was told only moments earlier.

Sophie says, to Randall, "She might need some time.. but.." she looks at Anzeti, "We might be able to at least give moral support. They say that sometimes people who are unconscious can still hear. We can help her fight to stay with us."

Step step stagger. Thud. No, Randall hasn't collapsed on the floor, he's just leaning heavily against the wall next to the door. Fortunately, Mount Sinai does not go in for cheap drywall. He shoots Anzeti a Look: don't you read, dude? When you can barely stand is exactly when you're supposed to go be there for someone! "One foot in front of the other," he mumbles to no one in particular, reaching for the wheeled coffee-service cart and using it as a makeshift walker as he heads out toward the hallway.

Okay, he's determined with Anzeti or without him. And that strikes Anzeti as worthy. He rises to his feet and offers Randall his shoulder. They're of a size, so it'll be awkward, but at least he has someone to lean on. "C'mon." He glances at Sophie, smiling shakily at her. "You too. I'm sorry. I didn't get your name. Ma'd kick my ass for my bad manners."

Sophie says, softly, "Sophie Petrov. I don't think she'd be too upset, considering the situation." as she turns to follow the two into the hospital room.

The curly-haired, sleep deprived, gruff-featured doctor coming out of Kory's room gives the trio approaching a look. Anzeti looks back, daring him to say something. The fact that he's taking a good bit of a drowsy Randall's weight while still staring defiantly seems to make the doctor decide it's not worth the fight. There's a faint smirk under a grizzled growth of hair on his face that's seen five o'clock and then some. "Go in. Be quiet. Don't stay long. And mind what you say," he says, turning to lean on his cane and limp up the hall.

It's slow going, off and on, but Randall makes it there with his lucidity intact. "It's me," he calls out. "It's us. I'll go find you some chicken soup soon, I promise." What are you supposed to say to someone while they're (legitimately, this time) sedated, anyway? While he tries to remember the answers, he takes advantage of a fresh chair near the bed, slumping heavily into it.

Anzeti is blinking, trying not to cry. He doesn't want to be crying when he tries to tell his sister to hang on. So he takes a couple deep breaths. "I found your goddamn ice cream," he says. "Little bodega in Harlem still has it. So…so you have to wake up. You have to wake up so you can eat your goddamn ice cream." Sniff. "Okay, Kory? Deal?"

Sophie comes in after the two. She looks more wide awake than the rest. Just worried, and oddly bracing herself as she walks into the room. She walks over toward the edge of the bed, gloves back on her hands. She looks to the two, lips parting to say something, then pausing as she looks to Anzeti.

"You get better. If you want something other than ice cream, you got it." Anzeti bends to kiss his sister's forehead. "I love you. You're not done here on earth. You hear me? You can't leave Ma and Nana and Gran. You can't leave me. You still have stuff to do here." He straightens, knuckles at his eyes like a sleepy child, and clasps Randall's shoulder. "Let you have a minute with her. I'mma call my mother before she finds out and kicks my ass for not telling her." He turns, not waiting for a response from Randall, and walks out without another word.

Randall reaches up, clapping a hand on Anzeti's arm in return, then glances over at Sophie after he leaves. The idea of having her peek into Kory's thoughts and make sure things are okay has occurred to him - especially now that the (possibly) unaware parties have cleared out - but there are still issues with that. For one, Kory's skin might still have traces of the drug in it or on it. For another, who knows if reading a person in her weakened state would be safe for either of them? It freaked Leslie out something fierce; under these different circumstances, it could be better, could be worse.

Instead, he pulls his chair over toward the bed, grimacing as metal squeals against tile, and idly runs his fingers through her hair. "And don't think they're the only ones, all right? After all we went through to get you back… after all we will go through, together? I know you don't want to miss out on that, any more than I do. C'mon, Kory, find your way through this, I know you can…"

Sophie glances to Randall. "I.. I am worried about what she went through. I can try and find out.. see if I can help. I don't know if I CAN help, but I can at least find out."


Sleep has been something Peter's needed a lot more of in recent weeks. A long day of arguing and tension, he laid down for some rest and discovered something he had feared lost. He could find the dreamplane. It's more tiring than before, more draining, but he finds himself drawn to it, pulled in. Eyes close and he lets it happen. Dreamwalking has helped people that he knows of already. Maybe something about the tea he drank, or the music that's playing down the hall made him think of his friend. Who hasn't been in her apartment for a while. Slowly he drifts off into the space between dreaming and awake, looking around. For what, he doesn't know.


The dreamspace is vast as it always is, and Kory's dreamspace isn't in her apartment. Rather across town. Peter would recognize where. Heidi was here last time Peter and Kory shared a dreamspace here. In the hospital. Kory is drifting, lost, and buffeted by winds unseen. There's a narrow shaft of light chasing her, but she keeps changing direction, and it has to try to align with her again.

She looks like herself — only frighteningly not. She's washed out, colorless, translucent and glowing, like she's made more of fog or condensation than whatever her dream form is usually — and more solidly — composed of. She doesn't seem aware of Peter's presence.

Mount Sinai

…and in the hospital room…

Kory breathes deeply, regulated through the machine that keeps her lungs pumping steadily. The displays register she's stable, at least, if nothing else.

By now, Randall is slumped forward as well, one arm splayed bonelessly across Kory's stomach. That dose of Green Death Flavor he gave himself earlier has finally pushed him over the edge. His mind is a blank, though, still at least a good half-hour away from reaching a dream state of its own.

Sophie hesitates. But she can no longer, knowing what she can do, stand by. Having been in Leslie's mind, she has an idea what he was doing, and what it did to her. So, with Randall sleeping, she strips off the gloves, and, taking a seat by Kory, she, with no concern for her own exposure to drugs, touches Kory's head.

The hospital. Peter doesn't think anyone he knows is in the hospital, so he's surprised when something draws him all the way across town, into a room, until he finds something that he recognizes, a pulsing dream he'd taken time to memorize and recognize. Dulled as it might be, it's still her. He still recognizes her. Something about this is not right. He also knows that.

Reaching out toward her with his hand, she turns away just before he can snatch ahold of her. "Kory. Kory, what are you doing? What happened?" Her dreams had been dull, washed out before, but something about this isn't right.

There's no fissure or fracture over Kory's heart this time. She's just weak. So weak. Fading. "…Peter?" she revolves slowly at the sound of his voice, and smiles. "Hi, Peter." She lifts a hand to wave at him and is momentarily mesmerized by the sight of her fingers going translucent. "Oh. Wow. That doesn't look too good, does it?" she asks, looking up at Peter. She's stopped moving and that shaft of light chasing her finds her, and begins to slowly widen, as if someone were irising open a skylight overhead. "Is everything okay? Are you okay?" Peter's so often not okay. So much is always wrong in his world. "I hope so. I don't think I have the energy tonight." She looks up at the light. "Oooooooh…"

"No, it doesn't look too good," Peter says, finally making his way to her close enough, only to have his fingers slip through the first time when he tries to take her hand. "Don't worry about me." Nothing is ever really okay with him, but it's not him he's worried about, and if she doesn't have the energy to worry about him, it's not something he'd need to say anyway. "What happened to you? If you're tired you shouldn't be here. You should be— are you even dreamwalking?" There's something about this isn't right. He glances up at the light as it grows. That's not right either. "Hey. Let's get you back to where you're supposed to be. Can you take my hand?" He holds out his hand to her.

Sophie closes her eyes. With what is now becoming a familiar experience, she starts to gently explore Kory's mind, her memories.

"I don't think I am. I think something's not right," Kory agrees with Peter. She tries to take his hand, but she's all phasey. Intangible. "I …don't think I can, Peter," she says softly, looking up again at that shaft of light. It's so bright. A distant pinprick in the distance. "That light's so beautiful," she sighs.

But a sudden flash of light and color in the darkness flickers into existence on either side of Peter. Kory, reaching through the real dreamscape, in a memory. Reaching for Randall. Randall made of silver and black, like a solar panel. The two of them drifting over a pond full of lilypads. And on Peter's other side, disjointed and broken musical notes, dancing around a Kory who is covering her ears and shaking her head. Randall looms over her like a monster as she sinks to her knees, cowering.

The ghost Kory blinks, confused, between the two images. "…" She looks to Peter, bewildered.

Meanwhile, a few literal feet and a few figurative miles away, the real Randall's breathing instinctively falls into rhythm with the metronome of Kory's ventilator. The words of encouragement he offered earlier will have to suffice, from his end; it's up to the others now.

Sophie doesn't see Peter, at first. She only sees the images, able, due to her gift, to distinguish. The Randall monster.. it wasn't just that it wasn't the Randall she knew.. it was that it wasn't a /real/ memory. She frowns, her gift's instincts taking over as she tries to heal, to repair.

"Okay, Kory— I don't know what's going on, but you're right, something isn't…" Right here. At all. Peter blinks as something changes in the dreamscape. It's not caused by either of them, as far as he can tell. Not consciously. She looks as confused by what they're seeing as he is. "Kory what…" Randall. He recognizes the man, he knows what he meant to her. Even if there were some issues. "Kory, listen to me, something is wrong here. You know more about dreams than I do. I know I'm using your ability, but what… what is going on here? This isn't— right." That's the only way he can think to explain it. "Why are we seeing this? What is it?"

The Randall monster blinks, and turns away from Kory, startled by something only he can see or sense. Sophie. He reaches toward Kory again with claws, but the claws fall away, revealing ordinary human hands. He opens his mouth to bite with sharp, dripping, venomous fangs, but Randall's wry human smile is there instead. The musical notes slap against his skin - plap plap plap, faster and faster, until they have enveloped him. The monstrous shape writhes in defiance, but the musical notes turn bright and pretty, and then unfurl in a burst of something sweet and soft, flying up into the dreamscape like rosepetals and butterflies, revealing the real Randall smiling gently at Kory, before vanishing to reveal Leslie — skinny, scrawny, pockmarked Leslie, pulling his strings like a puppet.

"I …" Kory wrinkles her nose at the puppet scene going on, and then at the dream. "I remember that," she says to Peter, turning to face the Solar Panel Randall. "I …the other night. Before they came to free me. I went to find Randall. But I was so weak." She turns to regard the other scene. The monster Randall turned puppet of Leslie. "That…I don't remember that at all. It doesn't make any sense." But she's angry at the idea that Leslie is trying to turn Randall into a monster, and that anger gives her strength. She becomes less translucent, more solid. "Where am I, Peter?"

The light above is still widening.

Sophie is absorbed in her work. To anyone coming in, she merely looks like she has her eyes closed and is maybe gently hugging Kory. Prayer, meditation. She nods, then, in satisfaction as the image begins to match the true memory. She shifts gently through the memories, deeper, to find any other hidden deceptions, or traps.

The dream starts to dissolve, pieces of it falling away. Peter stands in astonishment as it happens, knowing it has nothing to do with him. His first assumption is Kory's doing it. For the moment it seems the proper one, but the more confused she looks. "That was the man that was fighting with Randall in that dream we shared. The one that…" Maybe it wasn't all his dream. Where are they? "I don't remember stepping into your dream at all," he says, looking around. That might be why it looks so different, not quite right. "I think we're still between dreams, but you shouldn't be here. You— I went to lay down and something drew me here. Something… pulled on me."

There's a pause, he glances up at the light. He knows where this dream is located.

"This is the hospital. You're in the hospital." Something she said while he was still in shock clicks. They came to free her. "You're hurt, and you're not supposed to be here. Let me help you get back to where you're supposed to be." He reaches toward her hand now that she's more solid.

The other memories Leslie tried to put in were codewords that would draw Kory to him. "I'm sid vicious for you, darling…" would make her drop what she was doing to stand by his side. But the connection between song lyric and sinister subliminal source is broken. They separate, and Leslie's part in binding her mind is dissolved away as another false memory.

"That…I remember. At the signing. He …with the music. How could he?!" Kory is horrified that someone she believed a friend could betray her like this.

A real memory: Kory realizing with disgust that the tea he'd given her as a gift had been drugged. Disillusionment that what had seemed a nice gesture had ulterior motives. The emotions stack higher as her real memories are unraveled from the ones Leslie tried to force into her psyche. And the more intense her reaction, the more dramatic her rejection, the more solid she becomes.

"Yes, Peter. I think you're right. Something's wrong." Kory looks up at the light, and shakes her head. It's beautiful, and tempting, but Peter's regard and the memories sorting out makes her strong enough to resist the silent allure of that silvery shaft. "Show me my way back?"

Kory takes a deep breath in the real world, as her emotional state floods her with adrenaline — that fight or flight reaction happening in response to the mental reactions. The monitors begin to indicate more active response from the patient.

Randall's sleep state is shallow enough to be stirred apart for a few seconds, propmted by the harmonic-free beeps. "Uh wha?" he mumbles, before flopping the other way, dangling uselessly over one side of his chair.

Sophie's lips twist with disgust at what Leslie had done to Kory's mind, to her memories.. to a woman he claimed to love. Did, in his own warped way, love. With his memories came his feelings, so she couldn't really doubt that. But she could try and right things. The false memories, they glimmer darkly at her, as she unweaves them from the true one by one.

There's a lot going on in this place that Peter doesn't understand, but he gets the metaphor of a light. In the movies they would always say to not go into the light, and maybe this is no different. His hands grasp at her, trying to wrap around her fingers now that she's more and more solid. He look worn, tired, but solid and steady, determined. His hands are no longer covered in blood, like they'd often be on the dreamscape the last month or so. That's been cleaned off. The only sign that he's still carrying the burden is in the watch that sits on his wrist, ticking away. "You're supposed to be in your body. You're the one that taught me how to get back to mine… can you feel it? Your fingers? Your feet?" She was always so much better at this than him. She taught him.

"I did teach you, didn't I…" Kory says, shaking her head. "Things have been…a little crazy, lately, Peter." The Solar Panel Randall looks with dismay as a knife flies off into the distance. Kory watches it, remembering. "One of the customers at the Lair. He snapped. And his friendship twisted. I think I might be dying." Quick image of her reacting to Charlotte and Ndugu. Recoiling with fear at the mention of Randall's name. That memory, false, unravels thanks to Sophie's increasingly deft ministrations. Charlotte tearing her elaborate goddess gown off her. And the room spinning. "It's coming back to me now. I'm not ready to die." She looks at Peter, solemnly. "And I can think again. Thank you for coming for me, Peter." She smiles and touches his face, and she feels like she always does in the dreamscape now, if a little cool. "You're my guardian angel, huh?" But she knows her way back now.

The shaft of light irises closed in the face of her determination to reclaim her life.

And in the real world, her breathing becomes more deep. The adrenaline is helping flush the sedating toxin from her. Sophie's careful memoryweaving has allowed her psyche to move unfettered.

Randall mumbles again, still incoherently, slowly tipping forward again to lean against the hospital bed. Some small amount of all this has crept its way into his thoughts, on one or both levels, but he can't make any sense of it at all; it flies past him like so much wind. After a moment, he begins to snore quietly.

Sophie is getting weary. This is more than she's done in forever. But.. as she sorts, making sure it is all fixed she senses.. there's something else there. It isn't a thought, which seem closed to her somehow, like she is in the downstream of a person's thoughts.. can only touch them as they move from the present to the past. But it is something else.. or someONE else? Thinking somehow Leslie.. she reaches out…

This whole story makes him look around, expression growing serious for a moment. "I knew you weren't answering the door at your apartment, but I thought you just got busy," Peter says softly, thinking back on all the times that he knocked on the door, waited a few minutes and then moved on. That memory is closest to the surface. It doesn't reenact on the dreamscape, but as someone reaches through Kory and reaches to him… At first the memories are an open book. He's not prepared to guard. "No… I'm not your guardian angel. I just happened to be here. It sounds like Randall saved you first," he says, smiling at her in response. It's modest, and almost teasing. "You're welcome, though. I don't know what I'd do if you died on me." She happens to be one of his good friends. It does feel nicer now, certainly. More like how he's always remembered it. Then he feels a small buzzing. Almost like feedback. There's a twinge, he looks around. Something— someone? — else is here. "Maybe you should… get back into your body. I'll go to the hospital and check on you, I promise."

Sophie jerks back from that as she seems to be sensed. It is a memory, it isn't Kory's.. but it is a true one. Someone.. a stranger? She shakes her head, unable to interpret what that means. She moves her hands back, slumping a bit in weariness as she can only hope what she did was a little help.

Kory's memories of Peter are warm, affectionate, numerous, and entirely true. He kept her busy and distracted during the hiatus — so she wouldn't dwell and fall apart. He offered her words of encouragement. He warned her, even, about the music, but she didn't realize. Peter is a dear friend, forever, as far as Kory's concerned. "I'll see you soon, then," Kory tells Peter. It takes her a minute to find her way back to her body because of the drugs still fading through her system. "Be safe, Peter. And I'll try to do the same."

Kory's hand moves. Okay, it tries to, but that's the one under Randall. She moves the other, and the monitors pick up her heartbeat speeding back up to normal, gradually, along with her breathing rate.

Her eyelids flutter, and then blink as she pulls back to consciousness, though still dreamy-eyed.

Oh, hey, actual physical movement. Wha wha? Randall stirs again, rubbing his eyes and straining to focus on Kory. "…hi," he murmurs, just before collapsing for good. Or for a few more hours, rather.

The smile is returned, and Peter holds onto her hand until she finds her way back. Only then does he let go, with a soft, "I will," in response to her request to be safe. He tries too. It doesn't always happen.


Peter thinks of his own body and quickly snaps back. A little too quickly. And then he sits up, gets dressed again, and starts to head toward the door. Time to go to the hospital, though he's aware it may be a lot of sitting in the waiting room, as he is not family. Unless he uses a little invisibility to make it happen faster.

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