DAMNED || LANDEL'S INSTITUTE

A Multifandom Asylum RPG


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Day 55: Women's Showers [4th Shift]
counterattack
ninelivesonce wrote in damned
Taura hadn't licked the last of the pink sludge off her plate, but she'd been tempted. It wasn't the best food she'd ever had, but it was miles -- hah -- above the worst. If the expressions she'd seen pasted to most of the faces around the room were any indication, this was one area where she'd had more experience than most.

She'd never thought anything good would come out of scavenging raw rats in Baron Ryoval's sub-basement. The rat part, specifically, not the fact that she had subsisted on them long enough to, well, survive. Score another one for the cast-off monster. Having the best revenge be living well meant that every day was another chance to take it; if General Aguilar thought her quiet obedience meant he'd broken her spirit he was going to have a surprise coming.

Really, the biggest problem she had with it was that there'd been barely enough for a healthy Taura-sized snack. At least they were heading into the showers; she'd be able to get warm through, even if her metabolism was balking.

She stripped her uniform off neatly, hanging it up with the same care she would give her Dendarii grays, and unbraided her hair. It had tangled some; she hadn't had time to brush it in all the commotion. And the tips were slightly sticky from the floor-scrubbing. Ugh. She tugged her fingers through it, ruthlessly yanking out a few tangles, before padding into the empty shower area.

[isn't it dangerous to shower with Lightning around?]

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Showers.

The very mention of it snapped Claire out of her reverie. A hot shower. A shower with hot water and soap, scrubbed clean. She was suddenly all ears. Such a thing hadn't been available to her since they had to leave the Other's town. In a change of heart that shocked the soldier, Claire followed after the woman with an eager smile and a lively pace. She'd dreamed about showers. Literally dreamed about them. You really never did appreciate a good thing until it was gone.

Or at least, she was appreciating it until she saw the showers.

"No! I'm not going in there!" she spluttered in protest. "You can't make me shower with all these people!"

"Do I have to put you on report, Greene?"

"I'm not going in there!"

"It's not an option," the woman replied sternly. "Strip down and get in."

Tears began to well in her eyes. Claire tugged at her hair, lip wobbling and cheeks going red. "No no no! You can't make me...I don't want them to see..."

"Greene, everyone will be naked. Everyone will have scars. You're acting like a child." Claire was grasped by the shoulder and turned around. Her eyes squeezed shut. She didn't want to see the other girls either. "Showers are mandatory. You will have one, or you're going on report."

Claire scrunched her face into a sheer painting of misery and wrenched herself free, skittering away with her arms crossing her chest. "I'm not changing while you're looking!"

The soldier raised a brow at her. She inhaled heavily, then turned on the spot. Claire watched her for a moment, just to be sure, then sourly began to pick her way out of the clothes. She sniveled all the while.

If anyone was staring as stick-like legs padded their way into the room, Claire couldn't tell. She kept her gaze down, using only furtive glances to guide herself towards an empty shower head. Only then did she uncover her chest, facing the wall and wishing for a strong layer of bricks between her and everyone else in the room. She didn't have much to worry about on the island with bathing. Safety was a big concern, but she was always alone.

Being amongst people now, Claire began to loathe herself. She was weathered and thin from lean diets and the harsh sun. Ribs jutted out from her middle, and the jagged marks her baby belly left her left a scarred tally on her stomach. Other scars from worse things. The brand on her arm. Even her breasts had suffered. They were much smaller than before, having shrunk down with the rest of her skin around muscle and bone. She wasn't skeletal, but she wasn't pretty anymore.

Nobody is looking. Nobody is looking. Claire snatched the shampoo and pursed her lips. Nobody wants to look at you.

[Bella bbcakes!]

Bella was absolutely dreading showering. Not only because of the wound on her head, (shampoo + any kind of open cuts sucked. Especially papercuts you never knew you had in the first place, ouch) but because ... well. She was completely hurt essentially all over. Not to mention she still was not all that keen on being naked in front of others, but still.

After being shoved into the room holding nothing but her towel desperately over herself, Bella looked around, wondering if she could just ... find a corner and get the hell out.

Though, being naked allowed herself to look at the horrendous wounds she had acquired the night before. Her arms were almost completely discolored near black and green and purple, right down to her fingers and all the way up to her shoulder blades. Then there was the jagged bite on her neck ... augh. It was worth it, it was worth it, it was worth it ...

That was when she saw Claire wander past her, eyes downcast ... and at once Bella forgot about her pain, and instantly moved towards her friend, who appeared much worse. She had scars everywhere, and such a strange ... was that a brand? What the hell had happened to her before being kidnapped to the institute?

"Hey, Claire," Bella whispered in a soft tone, smiling softly up to the girl. Hopefully she wouldn't feel too awkward about being next to her, right? They could share horror stories (even though technically Bella didn't have that many scars. The silvery scar on her arm was one, and the small scars from where the mirror shards had embedded into her thighs .. but everything else was clean. Small scars from childhood accidents and the like) but still. She'd be willing to listen if the girl wanted to talk. "Long time no talk. How've you been with our new overlord at play?

A voice made her stiffen. There was a delay between sounds and thoughts today, because she cringed and began to turn away before realizing it was Bella. A friendly face.

Don't look at me.

Claire's arms hugged her chest once more, even with the shampoo bottle in hand. She glanced over shyly at the girl, and suddenly her eyes were wide.

Bella had been brutalized. Her arms were painted with every shade of bruise she'd ever seen (was that even bruising?), enveloping the limbs completely from shoulder to finger tips. On the junction of her neck and shoulder, there was an ugly, gaping bite that looked like it came from the mouth of a shark. And there was stitching on her head, freshly sewn in. Claire's jaw dropped. In an instant her arms were lowered, the hand nearest to the girl half reaching for her shoulder before she thought better of it. It hovered over her mouth instead. The younger girl's question was ignored entirely.

"Bella? What happened to you?" She couldn't stop looking. The shock of her arms drew Claire's gaze up and down in horror, and the bite seemed to draw her in with it's gaping maw. "Did you get in a fight? Are you okay?"

Claire's shock at her current appearance had Bella blushing, looking down at the wounds even as she still held the towel tightly to her front. "I'm okay! Really, I'm okay," she said with a smile, dropping her eyes for a moment before looking back to at her. So caring, even though she had so many scars of her own -

"I was upstairs by the Chapel last night and things ... found me," she admitted, finally stepping under the stream of water. As expected, the heat made the wound on her head ache, and she grimaced under the water, clamping tightly down on her bottom lip to stop herself from ... screaming. After a few moments of breathing heavily in through her nose, she finally continued speaking. "The first was some kind of ... blue ghost like child. It had been crying, so I went to see if it was okay, and it just. ... Wasn't a real child, obviously."

Was it a ghost, though? She had no idea.

"It started screaming, and it made me just ... lose it? Kind of. And when I finally was able to get away I had these bruise like things on my arm," a pause. "Almost looks like the frost bite I saw in my health books back at school."

"But the thing is," she continued. "I couldn't feel pain last night. I don't know what happened, but I ... I couldn't. And when I woke up, I could feel it. Oh, could I feel it."

Surprisingly, (or not) the warm water was at least making her ankle feel slightly better. Still stung like a bitch and she was still trying not to put a lot of pressure on it, but still. "Then the bite ... it was from a monster pretending to be someone I care for," Bella frowned at the memory. "And ... yeah. Did that."

"But really, I'm fine!" she added quickly, giving Claire a small smile. "Don't worry about me. I've been through worse."

The girl's reassurance did little convince her. Particularly when she started her story. Claire's mouth hung open, fish-like, as she described her night.

A ghost child. A ghost that gave you frostbite? Claire wished she could say that was the strangest thing she'd heard of here, but that wasn't true. It was just that every single thing about this place was so odd in itself that it was impossible to compare anything. Not one bit of it made sense, and there was no grounds she could debate it on.

This place was even worse than the island in that way. At least here she had more company. Sometimes that was a good thing, and other times not so much.

Having never seen frostbite in her life, Claire couldn't be sure of what had happened to Bella's arms at all. There was worse things to worry about for now, though.

"You couldn't feel anything?" Claire shook her head, squinting as the water struck near her eye. "Nothing at all? What about regular touch, like..." Ginger and shy, Claire's free hand ventured out to press a finger tip on the first patch of skin that wasn't marred or completely inappropriate. Her cheek. Normally she might have ventured for something less personal, but they were in the showers. If it weren't for that towel of hers, they would both be naked, and that meant anything below the neck was out of bounds.

Yet that wasn't the worst of it. Far more alarming was the story of the bite. "...Someone you care for?"

Her immediate thought was Damon. Boone. He might be a 'patient' here, but he looked like someone Claire used to care about, and he was in the business of bites. A dark frown crossed her face as she calculated the possibilities. Shape-shifting sometimes happened in vampire stories, but not quite like that. It had more to do with vampires changing into animals.

But who was to say it was like that in the real world?

The question came after some careful consideration. Even if whatever had attacked her had looked like someone Bella had known, there was a slight chance that she'd known Boone before the crash. Or yet another person plyaing doppelganger. "Bella, what did he look like?"

Bella shook her head at Claire's continuous questioning, frowning. "It was odd. I also couldn't tell it was cold, even though I could see my breath clearly ..."

At Claire's sudden touch, a smile grew on her face, cheeks flushing slightly. "It was like pressure. But then again, by the point I was actually found by anyone, I was kind of in a daze from the pain that should have been there. Almost like my body felt it, but my mind didn't, so I couldn't in the end. It was ... weird. Really weird. But I'm glad it came back in the morning ... or else I would have started to feel concerned."

The teenager could see something pass over Claire's face, as if she was thinking, and she couldn't help but wonder what that thought was.

"Oh, uh, yeah," Bella continued. She was asking what Edward looked like. At least that was an easy question for her. "Um, dark copper hair; kind of shaggy, and in his eyes ... which are pretty much the color of topaz," Despite herself, she began to smile. "Tall, almost a foot taller than I am ... and pale. Very pronounced jaw," her fingers danced over her own, as if showing her how different his was to her own. "Yeah. It was an exact clone ... until suddenly I got close and it let out a shrill scream, and his face shifted ... and he attacked me."

It was still horrific to her. The thought of seeing the not!Edward lunge at her and shove her to the floor ...

But anyway. "I had heard before of something like this happening, though. Monsters looking like the people we care for. As if this place could get any horrible than we thought. So ... be careful out there, okay?"

Edited at 2011-03-25 02:15 pm (UTC)

"That's so strange," Claire said faintly. "Like...how they make you feel at the doctor's. With the needles."

It was the closest Claire would probably come to comprehending what had happened to Bella. Of course, it had been ages since she'd had access to those kinds of drugs, but sensation was a difficult memory to lose. Claire frowned to herself and wondered if there was anything that might have done it to Bella. Maybe she had been experimented on and didn't remember it?

Or maybe they had poisoned her food.

The thought was severely uncomfortable. Claire had only just come to accept that they wouldn't be doing that, yet if Bella had no idea what had made her lose all feeling it was hard to think of anything else. Could have been magic too, but Claire was just...she had no choice but to believe in it here, but she didn't like the idea of relying on it to explain everything. It just felt wrong.

She would just have to decide for herself later. Bella wasn't revealing anything else, aside from the fact that it had all returned to her in the morning. That didn't narrow things down one bit.

Whoever had attacked her, it wasn't Damon. Claire was relieved - there was a brief second where her chest grew tight when she mentioned how his face had changed, but the scream? That was too strange to reconcile. Not like a vampire at all. It sounded much more like an animal.

"So things like this have happened before? Things that change into people you know?" Her nose wrinkled. It was like what had happened with Damon, and yet it wasn't. Bella was talking about it less as a patient threat and more as something you had to look out for at night. "Are they people that are already here?"

"Yeah," Bella agreed, frowning and chewing on her bottom lip. "It was pretty strange, not going to lie. ... And it sucked. A lot."

She still wasn't even sure how it had happened; how she had lost all ... feelings of pain. And feeling, really. She hadn't even been able to tell it was cold, even though she could see her breath in the dimly lighted hallway. What did that mean? How had it happened? At first, she thought it had been from the tear gas in the morning, but now ... that project thing. Was it from the food? Honestly, that was what she believed. If something was going to change in her, something that altered the reactions in her body, surely her food has to have been tainted. Or ... something. That was all she thought.

She was afraid to eat.

"Yes," Bella continued, frowning. "At least, that was what I read on the bulletin board a while ago ... and it also happened to someone I know," she suddenly remembered. Venom. Wasn't that what Edward had said? "And ... I don't know about other people here, but the person it changed into ... he's here. We were separated last night, and I thought he was still gone ... I should have known. But it looked exactly like him. Right down to the voice. Everything ... it was a perfect clone. I had no idea until I got close."

She had known, though. Hadn't she? Something in her told her it wasn't him, and she didn't believe it until it was too late. What had happened?

"If it hadn't been for the man who saved me," she whispered, sighing. "... Well. Let's just say I probably wouldn't be here now."

It wasn't something to laugh it, but saying that it 'sucked' seemed like such a gross understatement that Claire couldn't suppress the muffled snort. "I can imagine."

She shook the water from her head and took a dollop of the conditioner, rubbing it into the frizzled ends of her hair. She hadn't been able to untangle it from the braid before stepping into the showers, so now she was left with no choice but to try to push it into the snarl. Her expression turned serious again as she worked at it, gaze sliding back to Bella and the wretched bite on her shoulder.

"I could look after you if it happens again," she said quietly. "I can't tonight, but...If you ever need someone to go with you at night, I'll do it. I have an axe. And a knife. You'd be safe with me, you know that right?"

She would look after her. Bella was such a sweet girl, but she reminded Claire a lot of how she used to before the crash. Or rather, before everyone left. She managed in bad situations, but she never learned how to fight or fend for herself until she was left on her own. And though she liked to imagine she was better this way...she didn't want Bella to go through the same thing. She wanted her to stay this way. Happy and sweet. Even if she couldn't help the girl at the moment, she could stop it from happening ever again.

Sometimes she was convinced things would be better if she took all the kids and all the nice people and kept them locked up in a room at night. Some people should just not have to deal with any of this.

Though there were a lot of neat inferences to draw about Bella's story. So many things lined up with what had happened between her and Damon, but it still didn't quite fit. It still sounded like a - like an animal attack. Like the shadows. And Damon, in spite of all appearances otherwise, had proved he wasn't anyone that Claire knew at all. That he could look so much like Boone and still be someone else sent her mind into a tizzy, but it was the truth. They were too different. And Bella's bite was something savage. As if there were many fangs digging into her at once, ripping her skin apart. Damon had just neatly punctured the skin around her scratch and sucked the blood from the holes there. No ripping involved.

Yet something about the description of the attacker was sticking. Claire scrubbed furiously as clueless frustration bubbled within. It sounded so famili...oh. Could it be the same person?

"I...I think I met someone who looks like that. He was all bandaged up." She squinted up at the younger girl, hoping for a sign of recognition. "Edward?"

Claire's words very nearly stopped Bella in her tracks, and she turned to the girl with slight surprise. They had only recently met, but she was still willing to help her through the night. It reminded her of her roommate's first night. She had been so willing to help her. Why was she surprised when someone else did it for her?

Despite the surprise (which eventually faded), Bella smiled brightly, nodding her head. "Thanks, Claire. Really. Next time I'm alone I'll hit you up on the bulletin, okay?"

After all, Edward had to hunt, right? Surely he wouldn't be mad at her for going out with someone.

Speaking of. At the mention of his name, the teenager turned, blinking in surprise - before looking up at the shower head, allowing her face to be hit by the stream of water. Suspicion instantly crossed her mind - for a moment, at least. Not that it was directed anywhere towards Claire. ... It was more directed towards a certain nosy vampire.

"Yeah, that's him. When did you talk to him? He's okay now," she said with a small smile. "He's my ... uh, my fiance."

How lucky you are, to have someone you care so desperately for, to be in the institute with you, Bella, she thought to herself with a sigh. Maybe.

She didn't reject her. Bella even sounded happy about it. For the first time since entering the showers, Claire felt a bubble push through all the ugliness of Bella's wounds and her own worries. It put a smile on her face, small and a touch secretive. "Sure."

It was so lucky that she'd found Bella. There were no pretenses with this girl. No ulterior motives. She was just nice.

It wasn't at all like the island. The days where people could just do things for the sake of doing them and be friends were long gone. Everyone had some special plan now, or was in on some conspiracy. Even Hurley - he'd gotten on the sub without her too. And he'd left with the group when they ran away from John - again, without her. All this from the most guileless, genuine person she had ever met. Claire's lips pursed and she studied her toes. I guess that's not true anymore.

As fate would have it, they were talking about the same person. Claire's brows shot skywards when Bella dropped the word 'fiance'. She was just so young. Younger even than Claire, when she got pregnant with Aaron. Shock suddenly made way for sadness, and with sadness came a tinge of envy. Bella had her boy here. This Edward...he'd stayed with her. Was still with her. Was marrying her.

Thomas hadn't even promised her that. And Charlie - they were so much like a family, but they barely even made it past the first few kisses. Would he have asked later on?

Was Bella going to have kids?

"U-um..." Her eyes clenched shut and her brows drew together. This was not the time or the place for it. Bella was her friend, and she had every right to be happy and get married. "We sat together at breakfast a couple days ago? We didn't get to talk much. He was...he was in really bad shape. And I was feeling pretty sore about things."

She paused to chew her lip, still reeling in incredulity. "You two are getting married?"

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