Description: Rarely, if ever, does the Ikari's commanding officer have a chance to speak to Leona as a father. This is one of those rare moments, a small chance for Heidern and Leona to reveal the side of themselves that no one ever sees.
Cold, sterile, and devoid of life. Unfamiliar ceilings, the smell of astringents, and steel treated with alcohol. Doctors, nurses, and patients shuffle around in the hallway in an endless cycle that seems to blur hours into minutes into seconds and back again; someone sitting long enough and staring outside the room would start seeing enough repeats and passings that only the sunlight that filters in and out of the slatted blinds keeps it from becoming an anachronistic blur.
It's been a few days since Leona Heidern was returned to the hospital by the likes of Heavy D! and Kyo Kusanagi in a much worse condition than when she was forcably taken-- more like a week ago. When she arrived, nearly slathered head to toe in blood, the doctors were horrified of internal bleeding gone awry, but things changed as time went on. She stabilized, slowly, over time. Her wounds seemed to start healing.
Her hair started to turn blue again.
She dreamed in that time; abstract colors and concepts that all seemed to blur together as though someone were holding the rewind button on her life and focused only on the most horrific parts. She dreamed of finally standing in front of a mirror and seeing only a horrible beast; wild red hair and vacant white eyes smiling back at her. She lifted her hand to touch the mirror-- and then the feral-looking being in that mirror reached out through and snagged her wrist.
It's enough to wake her up.
Her body jerks once, a reactionary tug of her right arm back in the bed before she settles down. Blue eyes flutter open, and immediately widen. She sits up in a harsh, sharp snap upright, letting out a gasp and looking around the room. Where-- where?!
She cannot escape her past; even in her dreams they haunt her, the horrible lineage that courses her veins. A lineage that, twice now, has reared its ugly head in the middle of war, leaving destruction in its wake. Destruction, and blood all over her hands. Did she think she could escape it?
Those close to her certainly did not expect to see it again...
Her dreams a horrible--horrible enough to wake the young Ikari from her deep sleep. And there to greet Leona upon startling awake is a young nurse, who practically jumps out of her skin in response. It follows with a soft laugh, the young, flustered woman pressing a hand coyly to her face. "A-ah, you scared me, miss," she states, holding a fresh bag for the young woman's drip in the other.
"Don't mind me, okay? I just need to change this out," she informs, reaching up to the drip--
But a gloved hand seizes the woman's thin wrist.
"I'll handle it," a familiar, gravelly voice states.
"B-but sir, you aren't--"
"Trust me," the one-eyed man states assuredly. Dumbstruck and a bit frightened, the woman shakily hands off the IV bag before she bows her head and takes her leave, hurrying out of the room in what is likely mild panic. The man left behind at Leona's bedside exhales raggedly. It's Commander Heidern.
...and he reeks of blood.
Silently the man goes about changing the bag out, long gloved fingers exercising surprising gentleness as he changes out the plugs in the drip's line. For now, the man remains utterly silent, his only eye looking at his hands as they work. And when all is done the old soldier finally looks up, right at Leona's face, right into her blue eyes.
And...he smiles, the expression on his face utterly genuine.
And a little alien.
Looking left and right, Leona's distress is noted by the poor nurse whom nearly has a heart attack from the sudden awakening. She likewise remembers her injuries in that time, all of them that had piled up in such a short span of time-- her kidnapping, and the subsequent battle with both the Kusanagi scion and the boxer. What happened to her? Everything seemed like a blur.
The voice is what cuts through the haze, the lingering pain, and the cold chill running to the IV secured to the back of her left hand. Leona looks up to the only man she can remember as a father figure-- a father-- and into the one eye that he still has. The younger, adopted Heidern looks as though she's seen many better days.
His alien smile is something that she's seen before. It's no less unusual to see him smile, but there've been plenty of times growing up that the two of them have shown emotion toward one another. Typically, they were alone. Typically, the situation wasn't always good.
This is one of those other situations where it wasn't good.
Her knees draw up under the blanket, despite the pain and protest through her legs. Her eyes water, and the stern Leona is forced to look away from her father as her head lowers and her arms settle around her legs. Normally, there'd be no hesitation. She'd be on her feet to explain herself and standing at attention even if she'd have lost an arm or a leg and the doctors only barely managed to reattach it. This, however, was much more personal. Horrifying.
A nightmare that only they remember. Those two ... and now Whip. It's a dark, terrible secret that now her father's enemies know.
Her voice is soft, the steely strength sapped out of it. "I'm sorry..."
Between the father figure and the daughter figure lies a heavy silence, both elder and younger, adoptive Heidern simply gazing at one another. Though his features are tired and haggard, and though he looks as if he has seen better days, his one, good eye is very much alive. Relief and joy are there in his blue eye, tinged with concern.
Despite the shit he's been through, seeing her and seeing her...alive, makes him happy.
But if only things were truly okay...
The younger Heidern's response causes the man's smile to crack a bit, and when she looks away it dissolves completely. He finds himself at an impasse in that moment. What can he say to her? What can he do for her? He knows what has happened...he knows what Hell she has endured...and there's just...nothing. No words; nothing.
She's a soldier. This he knows.
But she is also a woman beneath it all.
He doesn't expect a salute, or even status report. Right now, Commander Heidern does not see her as that soldier she is. He does not expect her to spill every last detail. Right now, all Heidern is in the presence of Leona, in this tiny little hospital room is a father. A very, very concerned father.
"Don't..." he begins, shaking his head as his single blue eye draws shut. "Don't apologize."
Carefully the man moves, easing his tired body onto the edge of the bed as he takes a seat nearby, mindful to give the younger Heidern a bit of room. A tired exhale slips past his dry lips before his eye slowly reopens.
"Because there is nothing for you to apologize for, Leona." He pauses briefly.
"So...take it back, that apology." The sad smile on his lips can be heard, even with the man's back to the young woman at his side. "What happened...was not your fault, Leona. You know that as well as I do." His hands curl tightly with a creak of old leather. It was Rugal at first. And now it was someone ELSE. Shadaloo..? NESTS? He won't pry for details. Not now.
"I was...worried about you."
Yes, this is what it was like to see the Heidern family behind closed doors. The concerned father, the injured daughter, both without the rigid formality they're well known with maintaining in the halls of the Ikari headquarters. The only person in their headquarters that perhaps knows Leona Heidern as well as her father is Whip-- but what happened and their attitudes here are likely foreign to her, too.
Her face buried into the blanket over her knees, it helps soak out the tears and keep her eyes clear. Like any child, she has to put up a strong front for her parent, even if it's one of those moments where she wants to cry it out until all the pain inside goes away. It's supposed to help people, isn't it?
Still, even as she picks her head up a little bit, even as the slightest of smiles drags up across the corners of her mouth, even while the blue-haired girl's gaze is sent straight forward, towards the wall. "Okay..." she says, bringing up a hand to rub at her eyes.
She's only human, right?
"I don't remember what happened," she starts. "A group of men came and attacked me. Light tac armor, weren't worth mentioning. A woman with red hair showed up and managed to subdue me. They kept me blindfolded for the most part, but they kept me in the city."
Even as she rattles it off like a report, the softness never leaves her voice. It's important information; even if she doesn't WANT to remember it right now, it's important that her father know what happen, not only as a parent, but as the Ikaris' leader.
"The last thing I remember was being pulled out of a van. A-And a syringe," she says, letting her chin rest on her knees, arms still wrapped around her legs. Her head lowers a little bit, shifting her eyes toward the window.
Such moments for the Heidern "family" are, sadly, rare. To be able to speak with Leona on a level that is anything but related to their duty as Ikari Warriors, to offer her a hand when she needs support--he does not get these opportunities often. And while Heidern is glad to be here and have the chance to try and offer his adoptive daughter emotional support, as odd as it is for someone as seemingly emotionless as the Ikari CO...he wishes he didn't have to.
It shouldn't have happened. Part of him blames himself. If he had not ordered that mission--
It's too late for regrets, he tells himself.
Though the young woman hides her face, the one-eyed soldier knows what occurs. It pains him to think she is fragile now, hurting over the things she did--the things she was forced to do, and had no control over. That beast locked within her...
When he feels the shift of her weight the man turns a bit, to turn his attention onto the blue-haired woman as she lifts her head and offers a smile. He can't help himself; the Ikari CO smiles in kind.
"Good, good," he offers quietly, grinning as he lifts a gloved hand and carefully rests it upon her shoulder, where he gently squeezes. "It's good to see a smile on your face." The smile on his lips grows a little, and still remains genuinely sincere.
However, when the young woman explains what happens, his smile again fades. Still keeping one hand upon Leona's shoulder, Heidern remains dead silent as she recalls the second incident. Group of men, a redheaded woman, kept in city...
His frown grows deeper. It pains him a bit to have to hear her out like this, but even he knows this information is important. It's still relatively fresh, which makes it more valid than if she were to explain things later. Though in his fifties, his mind remains a steel trap. He won't forget.
And he certainly does not forgive.
But even Leona begins to crack a little. In response the man shifts his weight and shakes his head. "That's enough, you don't need to explain anything further, Leona," he softly insists. "You've given me enough. Intel will look into this information. Right now, your priority is to recover." With a small tug of his lips, the old Ikari smiles a little. "You will take as long as you need, too.
"I insist, young lady."
The beast she can never remember. The beast that makes her mind and body hurt so much afterward, speak with a hoarse voice, and causes her to taste blood for days afterward. The beast that she can be only told about-- and the beast that is intimately tied into her bloodline. To her real father, and the truth of what happened all those years ago.
One of his hands settles on his shoulder. Normally, she would shy away from physical contact with others. But the grip of her father's hand makes it beyond her defenses, drawing in an unsteady breath through her mouth. It makes her chest ache, and her eyes water up again. Could it have been that one terrible four-letter word that filled her?
Even twenty-one years young, put through more dangerous situations than some people twice her age, Leona Heidern has her own weaknesses.
Then, worried, her father insists that she rests. Part of her wants to protest, turn toward him and demand to join the investigation. It would be too dangerous, though. If that woman could cause her so much damage once, then it was entirely possible that she could do it again. Then she could even hurt the people she'd be investigating with...
She nods slightly. She almost replies with a 'yes, sir,' but something stops her. Probably the slight smile, and the statement to follow-- like a chiding parent. Normalcy was never something kept often in the Heidern household, but the blue-haired girl can at least revel in this one short little shred of it.
"All right, father..." she says, instead.
Although Heidern generally presents himself as a cold, unyielding figure to the world--and even his fellow Ikari Warriors--the man is...well, a man. Beneath the visage of a man hardened by war and the loss of his family, a man bent on killing the man who stole that preciousness from him he still has a heart.
Leona is one of the few people--if not the only one--he actually reveals it to.
His hand lingers, a warm reminder that he is still there and willing to support her any way he can. He cannot possibly begin to imagine the horror that she endures--he's only seen it in brief glimpses. It's a terrible power, nothing a young woman like her should bear.
When she speaks it brings a soft smile to the man's otherwise harsh features, the expression out of place on the Ikari's face. But, somehow, it fits. Glancing aside with his one and only eye, the man regards the young woman--his daughter. But, distant in his gaze, there are hints of sadness.
As a father, he should be able to protect her from the monsters. He can't even do that, can he..?
Glancing away before simply turning his back, the man offers a burdened sigh, shoulders raggedly sagging beneath the heavy coat on his body. She doesn't have to tell him how she feels. He knows precisely how she feels about the situation, that soldier's duty.
"I know it's been hard for you," he offers in a quiet tone, hands held loosely between his bent knees. "If I...if I had known that bastard...or even the likes of NESTS or Shadaloo could do that to you, I wouldn't have put you out there, Leona." A heavy silence lingers.
"...at least that is what I wish I could say."
Easing his body off the bed, he shuffles his feet, turning to face the younger Heidern directly. His face is stern, though his eyes remain regretful. "You and I...we are soldiers. And we both know risks come with our duty. Risks that include...'that,'" He flinches briefly at the thought, his blue eye shifting to the side.
"What has happened, happened. We cannot change the past. But..."
Looking up with newfound resolve, the man locks his gaze on Leona's blue eyes.
"I will not rest until those who have hurt you and frightened you pay for it. I do not say this as your superior officer, Leona. No. I am saying this as your father.
"Rugal Bernstein...that woman; whoever. They will pay."
Log created on 21:51:27 05/27/2009 by Heidern, and last modified on 16:53:33 05/28/2009.