2010-07-21: Sweet Sacrifice

Starring:

Sydney_V5icon.png

Date: July 21, 2010

Summary:

Fear is only in our minds taking over all the time…


"Sweet Sacrifice"

Safehouse

Summer air hot and sticky— hotter than that in New York fills the night. It's dark and nearly silent outside, much darker than the noisy interior of downtown NYC. The only noises to be heard here are those of nature— small town living has that effect. Crickets, frogs, and owls can be heard— creatures of the night who live here in the thick black of the warm night.

The heat draws a figure in the small room upwards from her bed. The head of curly blonde hair, tousled from her sleep efforts rises from the twin. Shoving the comforter off her already hot self, she pulls the oversized pink nightshirt with a painting silkscreened on the front from her skin— it's sticking thanks to the humidity.

As she steps from the bed and pulls each of her feet into her large tiger slippers, and covers that pink nighty with a white half-length housecoat. That done, she pads from the room down a flight of rather creaky stairs.

Darkness and quiet extend also to the rest of the house, spreading out around her from the bottom of the old, weathered stairs. Warmer colors of the Victorian wallpaper, the rich brown of the wood flooring and wider palette on patterned rugs, the dull unused bulbs of a hanging chandelier — all cast into lifeless versions, a spread of near greys to blacks in the unlit setting. Even the heat, as it stands in the air, lends no color to the aura, only a sense of wood warping, expanding — a muggy overtone almost more fitting to the outside. But here it sits, saturating the environment and sticking her slippers to her feet and her nightshirt to her body.

creee rrrrrkkk ccccrk

Protests from the much used stairs follows her down, and as she reaches the bottom, it's finally silent around. But for an echo…

ccrrreeeeeaakk

… or is that really what it is? There's no more stairs. Where would such a noise be coming from, then. The thickness of the air captures all sounds; nothing repeats eerily down these corridors. And now it's gone again, anyway, no tale to te—

eeeeeeeaaakk

There again. And now — a passing shadow across the curtains near the door. Just a beat, a moment, a figment of a suggestion of a person. It passes across the window and then it's gone. But not gone.

There's someone outside.

Puzzled, Sydney peers at the shadows along the curtains. She freezes for a moment, confused, unclear on exactly what's transpiring. The muggy weather draws colour to her otherwise pale toned cheeks, but it's not suspect really, considering the current temperature. She shuffles towards the door.

Crreeeeeeak

Underneath her feet the boards complain, but her curiosity draws her to the door anyways. Slowly, she opens it, leaving the screen between her and the outdoors. With a deep breath she lets the humid night air fill her lungs, but the screen stays in place as she squints into the darkness.

Peering through the screen she calls cautiously, "Hello?"

Perhaps not the wisest move, but what else is to be done in such a deep black night. She reaches over to a light switch, turning on the porch light.

zzzzzuus—ssttt! The lantern planted against the wall next to the door buzzes argumentatively to life — if he can even be called that. After jumping to full brightness, there's a pop and a small shatter as one of the bulbs explodes. The other fades incrementally, flickering every so often between supporting light and its own looming death. But what yellowed glare it does give off manages to cast the porch into something discernible from the landscape of darkness beyond.

One flicker and things seem empty.

Second flicker and then there's the shape again, round shoulders, the slightly spread feet. His back is to her. But as hued light hits blond hair, there's a shifting and he turns, casting his figure into the light and his face into familiarity made hazy only by the separation of screen between them.

Laurie_V5icon.png

Laurie's lips curve immediately into a smile when seeing her, though one side nudges up just slightly more to give a teasing edge to his sincerity. Stark contrast between his white shirt and black leather jacket lends itself well to the muted atmosphere, especially in the refreshing but chilly breeze that passes by on the porch and is absent in the stifling house. "Hey shrink," he greets merrily, eyes mapping the door frame then finding her there inside it. A thoughtful shadow passes over as he shakes his head a little daydreamily, "No. It's therapist, isn't it."

Sydney jumps at the noise of the exploding bulb, a little unsettled, but not worse for wear. But the figure and the shadows draw a more settled smile, excited even. Something changes considerably about her entire demeanour. She tugs on the screen all too quickly, causing it to snap shut seconds after. Again she does the same, only this time, catching it with her foot and stepping out into the substantially cooler night air. With a heavy deep breath she throws her arms around Laurie.

"Laurence Miles, what happened?!" she clings tightly to him her grasp tightening the longer she's permitted to hold on. "They told me… they told me you died!! Yet here you are— not dead!" She tightens her grasp just a little more as she sniffles madly. "And yeah. THerapist. That's me. Except not. I'm just a fake now."

Laurie catches her embrace with a bit of an exaggerated 'oof' from him at impact. Flickering from the lantern almost makes him look pained a second, but the moment's gone and he's put hands on her shoulders to acknowledge her hug into him. "Now, why would they go and do a thing like that?" A bit of scolding, a bit of bafflement; mostly, a lot of mockery as he chuckles in a way that she can feel through the chest that she's pressed against. While the white shirt seems a bit too well-pressed, too recently cleaned — and a bit of a scent like it, too — the worn leather of the jacket is all comfort to her. Familiar. Like she fell asleep against this fabric, and could again.

"As you can see," he adds, helpfully slipping two fingers under her chin to tip her face towards his. It maneuvers her grip on him a little looser, but somehow puts them even closer. "Here I am." The hand moves, but doesn't drop. His fingers drift idly against her throat, along the edge of her neck. "And you seem pretty real to me, therapist." His chin lifts, raising his gaze less intimately above her head. To the door. A different mood, a suggestion of something lower: "Aren't you going to invite me in?"

The smell and comfort of that jacket are exactly that, warm. Almost a feeling of home that she can barely remember; an abstract she has no connection to anymore thanks to her life wholly apart from anything familiar or stable. But then her home was always less conventional than most people's. The chuckle brings an easy smile to her lips, toothy and warm, relaxed, that home-feeling only increasing with each chuckle against her.

The fingers underneath her chin cause Sydney to draw a slow quiet breath— hold it in and the contact forms distinct goosebumps down the back of her neck. A small shiver exists as the only other evidence of her now-bated breath. At the question, however, she lowers her arms from around him and answers brightly, "Of course! Please, come in." She reaches for one of his hands now, her fingers curling comfortably around his as she pushes the door open— this time almost effortlessly, stepping back into the quaint home.

Hand in hers, he swings their arms in an easygoing, natural fashion as she guides him inside, Laurie's gaze trailing to the threshold as he reaches it. Pauses. Lets her pull him over it and inside. Even though what dying light is outside can't reach inside, things are a bit lighter now. Perhaps with adjusted vision, the overcast sensation lifts, letting a few colors in — but not many. In this selective somber set-up, the brilliant blues of Laurie's eyes are especially bright as he seeks out Sydney's face, always smiling. "You know," he strings along in continued teasing, "It wasn't easy finding you, but I managed. The feds can't keep me away— no one can."

Now he stops walking, and, through their combined arms, urges her to do the same. A small tug suggests she turn about, come a little closer again. "Hey, therapist," Fingers touching hers. Tug, tug. His voice has drifted lower, quieter, with a serious undertone that serves to soften some of the more mischievous lines in his face. "You know I'll always find you." Tug. Come closer. Fingers not entwined with hers seek her out now, a repeat of outside as a light brush of knuckle traces her arm, up, to her shoulder. Across the collarbone. His curled hand unfurls over her heart, pulled back so as just to ghost the air above the fabric of her nightshirt. "You're safe when I'm around — Sydney."

A moment.

Like a heartbeat.

T-THUMP.

But that noise wasn't inside her.

It came from further into the house.

T-THUMMMM—P.

The urging of the hands meets a kind of unusually easy-going compliance, the first tug turning her around and the others closing the distance between them. His words are met with softened features of Sydney's own, and the smallest edgings of a smile— she feels safe here. Once again goosebumps form along her skin, this time where Laurie's touch grazes her— a strange combination of warmth and chill underneath his hand. Her eyes close gently underneath the knuckles, drinking in this moment as her free hand rises to his cheek, fingertips caressing it gently, this time with no hesitation and certainly no guardedness on her part. Just as gently, her eyes open to stare up at him and she whispers quietly, "I know. Thank you."

The sound, however, causes her to stir, and puts her on edge again, hand lowering from his face. Laurie's fingers get a little squeeze as Sydney's eyebrows furrow. Instinctively her head turns towards the depths of the house again. Her weight shifts as she turns to follow the sound. With a little tug on his arm, she shuffles towards the unknown. This place, her apparent new home, is like Wonderland, and she nothing more than a blonde Alice armed with only her curiosity— and now the consultant— to explore its depths.

Interrupted by the sound, Laurie's head remains briefly still tipped from where his cheek had rested smoothly against her palm, nothing to mar the skin but a light chill, from standing in the cooler outdoors. As she turns, he turns, the arm she has of his crooking a bit to give her a good angle to put her hand against. More Hatter than Rabbit, he saunters alongside her to the first archway towards that sound. A small stretch of hallway only, it turns soon into a kitchen and dining room. Sinks to the right, table to the left. There's three chairs, two pulled out and waiting for occupants, the other shuffled close in as though it knows it won't be needed. Or is already in use.

Above, a window's notched slightly open but no breeze comes through to clear the mugginess. Even so, the array of hanging pots and pans sway against each other as if there was. clink clink clatter click rattle clink click.

But none of these are the thumping.

Even further to the right, past the sinks — the pantry door. Locked. Bolted. Then another archway to another room, beckoning onward.

Summoning: T-THUMP.

But now Laurie slides ahead of Sydney, dropped eyebrows marring his persistent smile. "Stay here," he suggests firmly, hand sliding along her shoulder and pushing down as though to plant her to the spot. "We can't go, all of us. I'll check it out." Stepping away, he glances back to give her a reassuring wink, and then swiftly strolls to the edge of the archway and beyond — vanishing into the house's darkness.

Sydney frowns at the clink of the pots and pans and the chairs pulled out from the table. Something feels amiss, not that she's really aware what it is. "Be careful," she warns quietly before adding, "And don't take too long…" As he disappears into the darkness she begins counting quietly, muttering near silently, "One locomotive… two locomotive…" the counting continues, hushed and nearly secret as she reaches towards the pot in the middle to rectify the noise. This place doesn't feel like home, even if having Laurie here does. Her cheeks redden slightly as he steps away into the darkness, her own mind unsettled. Pressing her lips together, she tries the pantry door, giving it a solid tug to no avail.

With a deepening frown she turns back to the table and pulls out one of the seats just a stitch farther before sitting on it, lowering herself into it slowly. It's uncomfortable, really; the kind of chair designed to look pretty, but not to let its occupant feel remotely comfortable. Her back aches against it, but she sits anyways and then she begins to count. "…thirty locomotive…"

clatter clatter click cl—

Sydney's hand calms the motions of several of the pans, lending a new silence to the room when the distance isn't indulging it's periodic THUMP of a heartbeat. THUMP THUMP. The pitter patter of something that isn't quite footsteps. Evidence of night-time creatures has dimmed as well. The thumping becomes nearly comfortable — no, not comfortable — but known. Expected. T-THUMP. It's stuttering rhythm passes the time more evenly than her own counting.

click

click

A pot must be loose.

click T-THUMP

None can really be seen moving, but there's that sound.

click T-THUMP

More of the house's internal orchestra.

click

T—- HUDDDDRR. Shhhhhlkkk.

That's odd. Sydney's the only one in the kitchen, but it surely sounds like someone just carved up a turkey for dinner.

The thump and the click are enough bring her back to her feet. She freezes, allowing the sound to wash over her, that eeriness almost palpable in the muggy air like she can breathe it in. Again, Alice in a strange wonderland, she shuffles away from the table and the empty kitchen. Eyebrows furrowed and lips frowning, she examines the pots again only to freeze seconds later.

Her curiosity wins out despite Laurie's instructions.

Creeeeeak

The floor complains loudly underneath her, but it seems to beckon her forward, goading her on, daring her to take another step.

Creeeeak

Groping in the darkness, she abandons the kitchen in search of the thump and Laurie.

Darkness unfolds in front of her, all around but non-inclusive. No matter how much Sydney is surrounded by dark, she isn't a part of it; it only wraps around corners and crannies and keeps secrets from her. And you know what they say about two keeping secrets…

Too many steps are needed for how short of a threshold there should be between kitchen and living room, but as she reaches that divider, there's a glare of light in front of her eyes. A huge spotlight, in fact, illuminating in the distance without really letting her see. It's just far too crowded to see.

Slashes of bright yellow police tape cut across every which way — along the walls, connecting furniture, it creates a madhouse maze of direction where every free space is full of men in official garb. Photographers, coroners, CSI… a crowd of gaping, generic policemen.

The back of the closest individual turns as Sydney approaches, revealing to her the smirking face of an Agent Sam Wright. Upon sighting the therapist, his expression only thickens more mockingly, and he raises a hand to pat at the spot on his cheek that even now seems a little pink from impact. "Look who thinks she's gettin' in 'ere, fellas," he laughs loudly, brightly — ha. All the faceless officers snicker along. "Dun wanna go this way, missy." Thumbs in his beltloops, he leans in, leering intensely at her. "Tha's jus' askin' fer it."

Sam_V5icon.png

Sydney's arms flail against the tape, ripping it down from every which direction. Her eyes try to focus on everything transpiring but somehow she can't make sense of it. A scowl, however, forms on her face at the sight of that agent whom she abhors. At the leering she sinks into herself, even going so far as taking a step back. Wright is sent a distinct glare, even with the evidence of her handiwork on his cheek, he's earned no pity or mercy from the blonde therapist.

"Asking for what?!" she snaps too quickly. "Where's Laurence?! I heard noises so I came here— what is that way?" Her face flushes involuntarily at the laughter at the goading, but she fights it with fury. Plain simple fury. "Tell me what's over there you… dumb… redneck!" While she might not be an expert in the insult department, she certainly tries.

With every fluttering drop of tape snaking its way to the floor, there's another glimpse of the scene beyond, like Sydney's ripping puzzle pieces off the world and finding the image hidden inside. Something red. A tarp. Some kind of tool…? Are those shoes… more red… just more red and then she sees — Sam.

Scuffy and smirking, he leans into her view, blocking what progress she's made with a snort and a flippant gesture towards the other officers. "Ya hear that?" Merry cajoling, "She wants ta know where Laurence is." There's a few sniggering 'ooo's but otherwise the overtone of the laughter is distinctly dark; isn't that funny — she doesn't know — kind of laughter.

But as she insults him, even badly, the laughing dies off Sam's face, darkening into a scowl during which he manages to somehow also maintain his smirk. It's twisted. "Watch it, girl," Elbow pulling back, his hand raises, palm squared off towards Sydney's cheek; he rears back to slap her.

Instinctively, Sydney cranes her neck to see the tarp and beyond. On her tiptoes she tries to see beyond to see what's there, the horrible sinking feeling grows in the pit of her stomach as butterflies itch to get out. She flinches as the hand is raised, but then stands there, staring at Sam, her eyes never moving from his, almost daring him to do it, waiting for him to do it. A hand is raised to her throat while the other runs over her jaw, as she watches him, waiting almost expectantly, ready to take it and braced for impact.

And then she whispers, quietly, now, "Where's Laurence?" She takes a step towards Sam, her anger fading into an odd kind of anxiety.

A hand grabs Sydney's arm; each finger is enveloped unnaturally in bright blue. A strong grip pulls at her, tugging her out of the way of what is bound to be the wrath of Sam — the slap that never gets the chance to land.

There are bright blue eyes to match: it's Detective Powers, wearing blue protective gloves from the crime scene; her strong grip continues to pull Sydney away. Away, away from Sam, away from the mess of tape and so much red — away into safety, even if that safety is in the dark, outside the spotlight. The agent and the other jeering officers are left behind. From Sydney to the scene, Maggie gives a knowing look; and with it, regret, disappointment, and a shake of her head.

Maggie_V5icon.png

She turns Sydney from the sight, wrapping an arm around her smaller form, standing tall and protective next to her. "Hey, hey, look at me, it's okay…" says in a calm monotone, trying to keep her eyes comfortingly on hers. "You shouldn't have to see that. Don't look, don't look, it's a mess. You'll be all right. But…"

A touch to Sydney's blonde curls, motherly; her calm voice goes on, soothing. "You know, what happened… it is your fault…"

The grasp actually pulls her away even as Sydney literally drags her heels on the ground, fighting the movement with every muscle. The rabbit hole is deeper than she thought; scarier than she thought. Breathlessly she gapes at the detective. "I don't even know what happened!" she squeaks now, the tears already forming her her eyes. That crippling sensitivity that she normally fights breaking her. The disappointment and regret Maggie reflects are only received and directed inwardly, even in her unbeknownst circumstance.

"My fault…." she stifles a quiet sob, not even knowing what's transpired the tears fall from her eyes. "…it's not… what…"

"What… what happened…?" she stammers. But then, unexpectedly, she tugs back on her own arm, and darts into the spotlight towards the tarp. Towards the red. More afraid of what she can't see than what she can.

The grisly secrets only get further away; no matter how much Sydney chases after the tarp, the crime scene is too far. Always many steps ahead, always out reach, the details just out of sight.

But there's someone already there with her answers: Maggie, once beside Sydney is now in front of her. The detective is walking from the spotlight to intercept her again, ready to lend that seemingly comforting presence. Another protectively gloved hand to her shoulder, another gentle squeeze, but this time the detective blinks slowly at Sydney, questioning. Doesn't she realize…

"You happened. Oh, sweetheart— " Maggie's voice is unchanging, nothing but sincerely sympathetic in tone, calm, honest, slow— "If you weren't a walking disaster, maybe none of this would have happened … but you're such a mess, aren't you, oh, it's okay. You can't help but be pathetic…" Sorry for the poor broken thing, she smiles a tight but compassionate smile. "It's all you know how to be. You should go back to being what you know and hanging around men more on your level. Like before."

"Wh-wh-what do you mean I happened?!" Sydney demands as she raises her hand in the air and takes a step back now. "Don't touch me, don't you dare touch me!" the yell is demanding, still angry as no one has actually told her anything, even if somehow she caused this. "I'm no-no-I'm not a mess!" except she is. More than she'd like to admit. "Scott and Bryce have nothing to do with this!!" again a hand is lifted to her jaw bone— running two fingers over it— and the other to her throat. She gasps for breath like she's being strangled, and she shudders.

"Where is Laurence?!" she finally demands, fighting tears again forming her her eyes. "What actually happened?! Even if I caused it don't I deserve to know?! Don't I deserve that!!"

Maggie steps back this time, and the darkness that doesn't touch Sydney touches her somewhat, casting shadows, darkening the hollows of her features. She holds her hands up, the blue still vivid, to show that she is not going to keep touching Sydney, she's surrendering to the woman's hysterics. Nothing about the detective's demeanour changes otherwise: her expression is firm, save for that small understanding smile — no matter the reactions. "Well he went into the dark, didn't he." The figure of Maggie takes a step back until all's left is shapes and shadows. "Everyone… wants more than they deserve— " she says slowly. "I guess, eventually, if you want something enough, you'll get… what you deserve."

She's gone. Gone with her are the milling authorities at the crime scene. It's left empty.

The spotlight disappears — chhk, an unseen off-switch — and the landscape evens out without the separation of light and dark, everything falling into the latter.

The missing spotlight and detective only draw a kind of wariness from Sydney as she glances about the area— everyone is gone. She peers back to the place she'd tried to get to, her breath ragged in the muggy air. Slowly, carefully, she shuffles to where she'd seen that red. The tarp.

Creeeeeeeak

The floor beneath her warns and gives her pause. Standing still, she narrows her eyes and steps again.

Creeeeeeak/

With a deep breath she collects her courage, the fear accumulating, not entirely knowing what she'll find int hat room. The shuffles continue, faster now, ignoring the noise, almost drawn by whatever lay in that space.

She's getting there, closer and closer now. Old fabric rolling across the back of a couch blocks her view, letting only stick out what she thought were shoes before and are just indistinct shapes in the lack of light now. And, of course, the red. Across the walls, the floor. Here, there, everywhere. In an almost painterly quality, red is everywhere. But in the darkness, it's also shadowed, dimmed. The intense color doesn't seem so menacing like this. Maybe it won't be so bad

crunch

It's quiet. Almost inconsequential. But there.

And, as Sydney's slipper slides away from the spot, it's the sad, smashed white powder and speckling of intense yellow shell of the lone Skittle she stepped on.

The red draws puzzlement from the therapist. Her eyebrows furrow as her mouth gapes open just a little, breathlessly she moves forward. The crunch however, pulls her into an all too familiar shutter as she clamps a hand over her mouth to prevent the scream from spill out. She shivers, uncontrollably even with the muggy air, but she moves forward again. Pale-faced and afraid.

There's no one to keep her safe.

Step.

She's reaching the edge of the scene now, the edge of the red that spreads on the rug around her while leaving a strange swirly path for her to follow. But this one's not made of yellow bricks.

Another step.

Around the edge of the couch, periphery breaching that obstacle to the sight beyond.

Another step.

It comes into focus now… The circle of couches and easy chairs, on the rug, with a perfectly normal coffee table in their middle. The wood spreads long and thin, tall, with drawer handles high on each long edge, placed strange for a table, but perfect if six men wanted to try and lift the piece. There, at its foot… just lumps. Not shoes at all. Material of the rug has bunched up, creating two indistinct bumps there next to each other.

On closer examination, it isn't just the carpet. There's something under there.

Still trembling and still gaping, Sydney walks to the bumps in the rug. Biting her bottom lip she suppresses all of the emotion that she can. She looks carefully at the bumps, bending down to her knees, kneeling just shy of them, narrowing her eyes to try to make sense of the shapes underneath.

She rises from them slowly before examining the coffee table and tugging on the handles… not that it'll get her anywhere, there's no way she can lift this piece.

She tugs harder, a distinct groan that comes out as a shriek causes her to erupt into tears, and landing on her knees again. SHe curls into a small ball on the floor before tugging at the rug. But once again this is futile. Desperate to know what's under there, she searches the pockets of her housecoat to no avail before standing to her feet again, instinctively she backs up, only to fall into one of the easy chairs.

And then thump — a hand clamps down on her shoulder from behind.

Sydney screams.

There alone in the dark, her scream cuts into the stillness of the rest of the room as she tries to jump out of the chair.

Sydney's movement launches her out of the chair, in a flailing of her limbs and the ones that now seek to get around her. Arms grabbing, trapping her as she rises, a body moving against hers irrefutably stronger than she. Red. Red. Black.

Then — suddenly — that feel, that warmth. She's not just pressed up against any shirt but the soft, red silk of Laurie's as he attempts to get her to hold still and look at him. "Hey! Hey, hey. Hey, there, honey— "

Finding Laurie's arms, she actually turns to grasp him, Powers' words still ringing in her ears. Loud, drawn out sobs fall into that shirt, that perfect silk shirt. With another tremble she just finds some semblance of stillness amongst the fear, "I thought… there was…" the skittle. She swallows as she looks up at him. "I'm sorry…" She shivers uncontrollably. Hatred for this place forming inside her.

Their second embrace; but his arms have barely grasped her before those words uttered draw him to bring hands up to her cheeks, cradling her with thumbs cupped against her ears, fingers into her hair — he supports her upward gaze as he seeks to look her in the eye, his blues pulling her in as strongly as his arms once did. "Sorry," he echoes, that reassurance in his voice and expression touched gently by confusion, and wariness seeping in, "Sydney… what did you do…"

He smiles a bit, close-mouthed, just his lips turned upward, almost forced, to go with the way the rest of his face is now frowning. Concentrating on her as he carefully tries again, "Syd— " The noise catches oddly in his throat. Interrupted. Now the confusion's at the forefront as he contemplates this strange feeling. His head turns slightly to the side as he tries to open his mouth but his lips press together without yielding as he fights some building discomfort, this gurgling that tenses the muscles in his neck.

Red. It springs to the tight middle of his pressed lips. Bubbles.

Then… suddenly overflows.

Blood. Pouring from the corners of his mouth as he gags, jerking forward to try and contain it. His hands tighten against Sydney's face, trapping her forward even as he continues to lurch, chin bobbing oddly between liquid-filled attempts to breathe — speak.

And when he can't contain it anymore, and his mouth opens with that gasping end to her name, all the pooled blood drains out, splattering forth between them — on her. Laurie staggers backwards, now pulling away, and where his hands have been he leaves long streaks of blood. It's on her cheeks, in the sides of her hair — the front of her nightshirt.

That's not red silk he's wearing at all.

The shriek that escapes now is loud, irrepressible, and loud enough to be heard outside.

Sydney twitches as her eyes well with distinct tears, the blood smeared on her face only running down now like she's crying blood thanks to the dilution from her real tears. "LAURENCE!" she gropes for him in the darkness, her hands trying to hold him, to find some semblance of life in him. "NO! You're— LAURENCE!" despite the blood covering her body and the bloodied tears now essentially dripping down her face. "No— " she follows the step, the movement, trying to fill that gap between them, trying to find some way to stop the blood. What did she do? What did she do?!

"No, no, no, no, no, Laurence, stay with me, please," she whispers frantically as she fills that gap between them. The housecoat is removed if there's somewhere, anywhere she can press it to stop that blood, she'll use it. But her own body is drenched in Laurie's blood, it's literally on her hands, her face, in her hair. She's dressed in it, covered in it and mixed with her own muggy sweat, it sticks to her like another layer of clothing.

No source, the blood is everywhere at once, and he only spits up more as he tries to answer her. More staggering, wavering steps carry him away, forcing her to catch up continuously. Now, as he presses one hand to his stomach, the other reaches out for her, grasping a messy, bloodied grip onto her wrist that's almost harsh.

With every moment he grows paler in the darkness, illuminated by the red and the flesh — yet fading. The fingers grasp more weakly on her, tugging slightly as he now buckles and sinks to the floor, onto his knees, and with the momentum bringing her forward.

But just before she can be pulled off her feet, his grip slips in the blood and his dying strength, and instead he only pulls away the housecoat from her hands.

Leaving her not empty-handed, but only holding the opened and stained switchblade the stabbed man in front of her gave as a gift.

"What…" he now manages to out around the blood. Palm twists away from his stomach, revealing the fatal wound too late. His blue eyes now cast upon her with insurmountable pain — that of betrayal.

"I… I…" the tears stream down her face as Sydney follows Laurie to the floor, her sobs loud and broken. Pained. Soulless. Angry. Afraid. Everything at once these tears are hot against her face, even amid the blood stains. "I… didn't! I…. wouldn't! I'm not….!" her sobbing transforms into stammering amongst the waterworks as she runs the knife over in her hands, closing the blade as she collapses on the floor.

"Laurence, Laurence, no… you've gotta… focus, focus, PLEASE… please don't… please…" unsure what to do, she kneels beside him, looking for his hand, desperate to squeeze it to have some indication that everything is going to be alright. Her own face pales, though it's difficult to see underneath the layer of Laurie's blood on her.

"I… I wouldn't hurt you… I would never hurt you…" her voice cracks as the confusion consumes her face.

Absorbed as she is, bloodstained as she is, and fallen to the floor… Sydney doesn't see as another figure forms out of the darkness. First farther away, then at the handled coffee table. Then right behind her. At the sobbing, destroyed mess of them both, a shining devil's smile gleams in the dark.

Over her sobs, it speaks in that voice — his voice.

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"Oh. But I would~!"

And then there's an inescapable claw of a hand wrapping around her arm, her wrist. With a definitive click the knife is out and as wild, maniacal laughter peals, cutting through the thick air, so also does that grasp force hers forward — plunging by Sydney's hand the blade straight into the already formed wound. The woman's fingers sink into that torn flesh, bathed in blood, forcing skin and tissue aside as her fingers are worked in by the same thrust as the knife.

What guttural protest Laurie might have made is brought up short by choking, hacking — the blueness of his eyes fading to grey.

Sydney's time to process is also brought to a violent end when that hand on her wrist fiercely yanks her around, pulling her straight off the ground, toes lifting up, in a arm-wrenching twirl that puts her now in a psycho's embrace.

There's another shriek as Roberto's voice cuts into her sobs. Sydney stiffens, her body reaching a breaking point of trauma; there's no escaping this mad man, but she knew that when she avoided witness protection the first time. "NO!" she screams loudly as her hand is made to plunge into Laurie's wound, her protests loud and continued as she trembles certain of one thing: she's going to die here, in this place.

Her protests are futile, however, as she quickly finds herself in the maniac's embraces, the tears and yelling inadequate in this place. Fiercely she uses her hands to try to push him away, to create some measure of space between them, determined to hurt him back. She balls her hands into two fists and attempts to wail on the man on whom all of her fears rest. "Let go of me," it's more a plea than a demand as she continues to cry. "Why?! Why did you hurt Laurence?! I'm the one you want— the one you wanted all along!" Again she twists in his embrace, fighting against it, altogether unwilling and unyielding in her efforts to escape his grasp.

Instinctively she uses her legs to try to deliver a solid kick to the sociopath— she knows there's no appealing to his emotions, he lacks empathy and can't related to anyone other than himself.

Roberto is not entirely unrelenting; he allows her some fragment of freedom, progress — right before hauling her into him again, eliciting perverse enjoyment out of her continued squirms, her helplessness to his power. As she pleads, however, his face darkens from that devil's smile, letting a hiss out between his briefly clenched teeth. "Heeeeeeee took something from me!" Hands on her arms, he squeezes — hard — as if trying to pop her limbs apart by sheer pressure. "I don't really LIKE PEOPLE TAKING THINGS FROM ME. HE ALWAYS HAD EVERYTHING AND I HAD NOTHING — NOTHING — NOTHING I WANTED!" The repetition turns into near childlike sobs of whining, a plain and simple tantrum: if it weren't coming from a grown psychopath. From the hold on her shoulders, he begins to violently shake her, increased only by the irritation brought on by her kicking. "NO NO NO NO NO NO!"

Then, in an instant, in a flash he's calmed. Smiling almost benignly at her. Endearingly. The hands loosen and he trails a finger along her arm, the others of that hand wrapped now around the handle of the open switchblade. The one with all of someone else's blood on it. In a move, he spins Sydney, pressing up against her back and nudging his face right against her neck. "But now I have it. Mine. Mine, mine, mine. And you're never ever ever ever going away~"

"He was kind, decent, strong, compassionate, heroic— all things you could never understand!" Sydney's arm snaps to her side as she still desperately tries to pull away, but it's futile, she's trapped, trembling and adrenaline-filled. Her skin is cold to the touch despite the muggy air, especially as she spun around and pressed against him. She manages a momentary stillness, almost like she'd given up the fight. "I'm not yours," she whispers, her expression transforming into something akin to pain. "I'll never be yours," the terrified whispering continues.

Unexpectedly, even to her, she attempts to ram one of her elbows into Roberto's gut using her opposite hand for additional leverage.

Leaning into her, Roberto's arm comes around her stomach, her waist, slithering in as the other, holding the blade, wanders lazily towards her leg. "You'll always be mine," he counters, dark but singing out the words right into her ear where he's tucked his head against hers. Cold knife touches cold skin, teasing the edges of her shirt as he contemplates drawing the blade up once or twice, sometimes bringing fabric with it and sometimes just threatening to tear through to her flesh. "Can't you see? You've helped me see, little blonde therapist. My — little — blonde — bitch."

As he breathes heavily on her ear for his conclusion, that elbow sucks his breath away instead. An instant growl when he can make noise again, he staggers, but not enough. The knife gone, he still has that arm on her waist and he uses it to claw at her stomach angrily. "BITCH. What did I say?! You're mine! FUCKING MINE. And now we will be together forever!!"

Releasing her, he reaches to the side and flips the top of the table right open. It's hollow inside: fit for a person. Roberto's arm lashes out to get ahold of her as she flees, getting her around both sides and hauling her in and then up, "CUNTS FIRST!"

Sydney is dropped forcefully into the tiny wooden space, without fabric or bedding to make the impact any less terrible. Splinters threaten her bare skin with any movement. It seems like, even open, the air's already been sucked out.

When Roberto dips close now, he caresses a hand over her cheek, through those tears and that blood. "… don't you see…" he purrs, soothing almost, he sings the child to sleep in her coffin, "… there's nobody else here."

SLAM.

As the top thunders into place all light forever is gone. Plunged into sheer darkness, blocked in on every side, somehow Sydney can still register that above her the wooden lid has been marred — frantic, red-streaked jagged lines tearing futilely at the material — the claw marks of someone who never got out.

… Was it her?

"N— " The objection is loud, demanding and cut-off by Sydney's low groan when she's essentially shoved into the coffin. The tears are pretty much a continuous stream now, constant, angry, and pained. "No, no, no, no," she objects before the lid is slammed over the table. The complete darkness she finds herself in is an "No matter what you do to this body— no matter how much you hurt me, I will never be yours!" she yells loudly.

Like the last occupant of this coffin, she claws helplessly at the lid, knowing full-well it's useless, there's no getting out of here on her own accord.

And then she does the one thing she can, she screams. Loudly. Perhaps the loudest she's screamed in her lifetime. The echo in the table hurts her ears— bouncing off each of the walls she presses her hands forcibly against the wooden box, still screaming.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhah!"

And again.

"Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh!"

And again.

"AHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!"

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