Dismaying Observation

Title: Dismaying Observation
Time Period: July 6, 135 A.E.
Characters Appearing:

Summary: Two with shared side effects attempt to convince the local vet they aren't just crazy.

There's a haunted look about the young Leslie Hightower. A look that he's too young to be carrying. A boy of ten should be playing and frolicking and getting into trouble. But this one looks like he'd rather hide away somewhere. But today, he's making his way to his uncle's clinic, and not alone, either. He's called on Cordelia to come along. She was there, when the scary things started, and maybe she'll be able to explain better than he can. His parents have been blaming it on bad dreams and an overactive imagination so far.

If it's an overactive imagination, it isn't his.

But he's the one that pushes the door open, thinking to knock to announce himself only after he's already inside.

The teen that follows him closes the door behind her. The thing whispered about Cordelia after she was kidnapped and whenever her family's been in strife is how "resilient" she is, how she's strong like her mother or her grandmother or her grandfather or her uncle, whatever relative seems handy at the time. But today she looks more frail than usual; her skin is pale, her undereyes dark. Fingernails have been bitten to the quick, the tips of her fingers pink from worrying them. She licks her lips and glances from Leslie, expecting him to address her uncle first, but then, that's why she's here — the mature almost grown-up.

"Hey, Doc," she greets in a faux-sunny voice. "Got a moment?"

Being an uncle, a father, a brother, and a cousin gives Leonard that extra traffic that he is very used to by now. Though he has been working slowly since his injury, Leonard has been trying to keep his door open for those he may be unable to go out and see. A little give and a little take. When the duo lets themselves in, the senior Hightower is seeing to stuffing a cat into a wire cage. It looks to be trying to crawl up his good arm, picking red holes in his wrist as it swishes and wriggles.

Leon doesn't even look up when Cordelia speaks- he waits until he gets the animal in and clicks the door closed; the vet straightens up onto his heels, eyebrows lifting when he looks them over.

"Hello, Leslie. Cordelia. I hope your parents know you're here." The latter comment is for both of them, though they get a smile at the same time. "I have one now, yes." He starts looking around for something to wipe the blood from his hand, nonchalant. Sage is not to be seen, though chances are she is about somewhere, nearby.

Leslie adjusts the crutches under his arms as he steps away from the door. Cordie starts, but when Leon replies, it's the little one that speaks up. And in a rush of words that make it hard to understand him. "I'm being chased by monsters. Don't matter where I go, they come along after a while. And mama says it's just nightmares, but it's not, they come when I'm awake, too. And I see them even when nobody else sees 'em, and Miss Cordie was there and she saw the dark, too, and she's the only one that don't think I'm gone crazy like old grandpa Charlie." There's a pause for breath, and the boy turns to look at Cordelia. "You don't think I'm going crazy like old grandpa Charlie, right?"

It's made him sorta surly, whatever's gotten into him.

Cordie's poor gnawed-hand falls on Leslie's shoulder and gives it a squeeze. "No. You're awfully young to go crazy like old grandpa Charlie, and I'm too young, too," she says with a smile, before turning to look at Leonard and grimacing a bit; if she had her way, she wouldn't be telling anyone about it, and now it looks bad that she wasn't the one to come clean. Being on the cusp of adulthood definitely has its fallbacks.

Her lips press together again, and her eyes dart around the room, taking in the tools of Leonard's trade and his patients, very different than her own. "He's… I've had them, too. Visions, or something. They don't feel like visions or hallucinations, though. Not the kind that come from fever or the kind that come from medicine, or the kind that come from dreams. They feel real, and the only way I know they're not is because no one else remembers them, or … or after I come out of the … the fugue, I guess, I'm not hurt like I should be, or there's no… no evidence of whatever it was I saw." There's a shiver, and what is not said is as important as what is — she is not about to say the things she's seen in front of Leslie.

Leonard knows that sharp intake of breath from personal experiences. So, he is ready, and nearer, when the boy lets out his rush of words. He puts on his serious face when it comes to kids talking about monsters, and that they are following him, and only he can see them there. If kids think something is important, he finds it helpful to be just as intent on the issue. Whether or not it is true. It could be- who really knows?

Whatever has happened, it certainly has made little Leslie rather bothered, and certainly more withdrawn than before. As the boy finishes, he centers his gaze on Cordelia, the elder.

"Hallucinations are not always something you can tell apart from reality, that's how they form…" Leonard begins, noting her unease when it comes to what she has actually been seeing. "What manner of things have you two been seeing? Do you detach from yourself? Zoning out, I suppose, would be a better term. And you're both having them? My," He gestures them towards the chairs nearby, ignorant of the cat's growling from the corner crate, waiting for his owner to return.

"Sit down. And let's start over."

"Don't zone out, Uncle," Leslie says, as he maneuvers over to a chair to drop down into. "It's no different than anything else. Just sees things other people don't see at the same time. But they're really there. I had a talk with Da about my chores he swears we never had, but we did, I remember it clear as day." Which isn't at all part of the monsters, but he seems… reluctant to talk about the scary parts in greater detail. "They happen, but they don't happen." The boy lets out a heavy sigh, a hand coming to rub his face. It's to get rid of some tears, but he's trying to hide that part.

The teenage physician takes a seat and examines her hands, one thumb rubbing at a hangnail on her opposite hand. She looks to Leonard, dark eyes solemn as she shakes her head slightly. "He's right. It's just all mixed up in day to day business. I'll be doing something completely ordinary like cutting herbs or washing my hands and suddenly something happens — not always bad, like he said, but things I swear happened and then later I ask my mother about the conversation and she looks at me like I'm insane, and it turns out she wasn't even home at the time I thought it happened."

Cordie's eyes drop to her hands again and she tucks them into the frayed end of her sweater, as if realizing how ugly and reddened they have become. "Some really awful things. Wolves, dragons, former… patients." There's a glance up at Leonard to see if he catches what she means by that euphemism. "Things that shouldn't be there staring at me in the mirror, or suddenly eating something that I shouldn't, that I wouldn't, ever eat."

Without telling his uncle about the scarier things, the situation comes off as more mundane than terrifying. Leonard sits down beside his nephew, putting an arm around the boy's shoulders. It is only when Cordelia begins to tell of her own, that it becomes that much more bizarre, and pressing. The usual brightness in his green eyes darkens, and his jaw sets firmly.

"Something that you'd never be eating? That seems- different." Leonard settles into the chair, palm on Leslie's back. "Too different. When did all this start? Are you absolutely certain that there is not someone playing nasty tricks on either of you, anything like that?"

"It started at that house." Leslie sighs, though, seeming more defeated than anything. "We was playing, in that old house getting swallowed up by the woods. I fell and couldn't get back out. I saw a face in a dark and been seeing monsters since." He looks over at Leonard, sniffling while tears well up in his eyes again. "Mama and Da, they don't believe me, neither. But I'm scared," he says, voice just a whisper by the end.

"Is that what you saw?" Cordelia says softly, peering at Leslie. Everything was so strange and she was so happy to leave the house behind, she'd forgotten to ask. "I know you saw something I didn't see… what did it look like?"

She looks to Leonard again, and puts her hands now in her lap, pressing them together between her knees. "I don't know what happened. One second we were in the house, and it was so, so dark, too dark, and the next, outside of it, like we'd run a mile, and the door broken like we'd run through it, kicked it out, I don't know. But I don't remember doing any of it." Her voice is earnest; there's no doubt she's telling the truth, or the truth that she knows. And then, if there was any doubt, her eyes well up with tears and she jumps up, turning away so that Leslie won't see, moving to the cage to peer in at the creature there rather than let the little boy see her cry.

There may be something to being a mage- something that lets all of this, whatever it is- have a different feel when it gets to you. There are some things that simply feel different- some things that are seen in other ways. The click of nails meets Cordelia at the turn of the corner wall, and the hallway back into the clinic. Sage peers around the edge, wolfen features examining both the displeased housecat, and the teenage girl.

"A face? Yes- what kind of face? A man's, or something else?" Questioning Leslie is thin ice, but his uncle does it with aplomb. He has been here before- an inquiring mind needing to tread featherlight, for fear that a child might crack under the pressure. "Neither of you have gone back, have you? Do the other children still go up there?" Hopefully not. Leonard thinks that he knows which house they mean- even if there was not something there, it is an old, rotting piece of work.

"It was like… eyes staring out the dark at me. And this grin, full of sharp teeth. Too many teeth. Smiling at me. And then we were outside, like she said." Leslie's stare goes to the middle distance as a tear falls down his little cheek. "I dunno about the others. I'm not going back there." Some kids probably do, it's a popular place for daring each other into acts of stupidity. And apparently danger.

Cordie turns back, eyes dry but lashes a touch wet, looking longer for their dampness. "I didn't really connect it to the house, not until I checked on Leslie yesterday for his ankle, and he mentioned it. I just thought it was me," she says unhappily. "I would have said something earlier, but I thought maybe I was just… I don't know. Isn't there a word for when you go through bad things, and they scare you and give you emotional problems? I thought maybe I had that, but, delayed." She wrinkles her nose and comes back to stand behind Leslie, putting her hands on his chair.

"I didn't see whatever he saw, but it wasn't normal in there. It was just… wrong. Very, very wrong."

If the adults suddenly block the kids from going there, the more likely that they will. Leonard chews on this for a few moments, brows lowering. His hand rubs a circle along the boy's back again, and his uncle leans over for a quick embrace, chin pressed to hair.

"Traumatic Stress disorders exist, yes, but I have never heard of something as bad as this." Responding to Cordelia comes only after some thoughts are gone over twice. "If this happened in that house, I'll have to try and tell whoever owns the land that it needs to be blocked off. But since when do kids listen?" He laughs, though it is dry in his throat. "You have a woman working for your house that knows about magic, yes?" Leon turns his chin up towards the girl.

Leslie nods vaguely to what the others say, but he's sort of checked out. He's not paying much attention as far as the solution of the house, since his kid mind doesn't connect it to helping him. His only movement is to look down at his lap, letting the talk go over his head. Nearly literally. His good foot swings just above the floor, and he sniffles a little to himself. But he keeps his head down.

"Who?" Cordelia says vaguely, shaking her head at Leonard's question, before she brings her hands back up to the table. "Aislinn might know something. She was able to help find Cas, and she knew what was wrong with Luna Owens, so she might know about this, too. I just… I didn't want to admit I guess that something was wrong."

She sniffles once, but bites back the emotion before it overthrows her composure, shaky as it might be. "I should probably tell her anyway, so I don't do anything crazy if I'm with a patient." A violent shiver runs through her at the thought, and her eyes well up with tears again. She stands up, wrapping arms around herself. "I should go. Les, you want me to walk you home?"

"That- European woman." Leonard is vague right back, but his knowledge of things is that short. He only knows that a while ago, the Rosses had some woman scholar in town, who ended up staying there in Dornie. "Aislinn may know, yes, but I do so hate putting her in any danger, if that is what this is." Leonard nods along after that. "You should tell her, especially even if you think it could affect your care, or your judgment. She can help you more than I can, but I am glad that you both were brave enough to say something."

"Get on home with her. If anything really bad happens, you can come to me again if you need to, but I fear I may not be much help if there is something following you kids around…" But Leonard can try to help, even so. He gives his little nephew another short squeeze before urging him onward with Cordelia.

Leslie leans in to hug Leonard, a silent thanks. For listening and not brushing them off, likely. But he pulls away with a sniff and brushes the tear streaks off his face before turning to Cordelia. It's a poor show of covering up that he's been crying, but he tries.

"Yes please, Miss Cordie. I'm tired." Which is likely not because of the ankle. But he gets his crutches placed just right and heads out with the young Ross.