Author's Note: I wrote this in response to a challenge on Fanlib, the only criteria being that we had to come up with a new Heroes character who fit into the original plot and characters in some way. I brainstormed for five minutes, and came up with this little drabble. I know all the quotes I have aren't totally right; I haven't seen the episode "Four Months Ago..." in a while.
When Bob had first asked her to demonstrate her ability, she demurred, uneasily.
"I can't make myself do it," she said. "It just…happens, when I sing. And if you hear it…"
"I assure you," said Bob, "all precautions have been taken so that I will be undamaged to your effects. I will be listening from behind that window there—" he pointed to the panes that faced into the hallway, behind dull Venetian blinds "—and if anything goes wrong, we are prepared to dose you with a mild tranquilizer."
"No one will hear me, though, right? Without protection, I mean."
Bob nodded confidently, and she gave him a small smile. Bob left the small room, closed the door behind him and stood in front of the window. Uncomfortable, Lorelei turned away, so that she was no longer facing him but the wall. She cleared her throat awkwardly.
"The sun has fallen," she sang, "and it lies in blood. The moon is weaving bandages of gold. Oh black swan, where oh where is my lover gone?"
Lorelei felt hot and ashamed. What if it never happened—if they sent her away and laughed at her for thinking she was different? She would never get help, she would never be free—
Behind the window, Bob stood motionless. She had a lovely little voice, but that certainly didn't make her special. Beside him, just off the window's view, a man with ears securely plugged and a tranquilizer gun in hand shifted, restless.
The song changed, becoming even more discordant and weird. "Don't you hear your lover moan? Eyes of glass and feet of stone; shells for teeth, and weeds—"
Her eyes widened and went glassy, overcast with blue. Her lips turned red, her cheeks white, but the song from her mouth never ceased. Its words changed, no longer in English but in a language Bob had never heard, or maybe they were not words at all. She sang at once in a whisper and a scream, as though two voices came from her instead of one, and her arms rose from her sides as she sang, pointed out before her as though she were casting a spell.
The dissonant, unearthly notes flew into Bob's skull, penetrating through skin and bone and brain, even through the muffling glass. He was growing so faint, so weak, so cold, so weary, and at the same time he wanted nothing more, nothing in the world more than to be closer to her, to hear the song again and again for the rest of his life. He grabbed at the windowsill with the remainder of his strength, and the action gave him enough resolve to mouth the word, "Go" to the gunman before sagging against the wall.
The door burst open and slammed against the wall, and two tranquilizer darts flew into her neck. She whirled to face her assailant, eyes flaring, her voice echoing of its own accord as she screamed in anger. The melody had stopped, but the words and the voice kept coming. The gunman staggered backward—even through the earplugs, he was not thoroughly protected. But the tranquilizer saved him. Without warning Lorelei's eyes, flashing red, rolled into her head, and she collapsed ungracefully on the floor.
When she came to, she was lying on the bed in that same room, and Bob was bending over her, shining a painfully bright light in her eyes. She groaned, and he started back for a moment before recovering himself.
"That certainly is an usual ability, Miss Cameron. Very…interesting. One might go so far as to call it a siren song."
"You can fix it, though, can't you?" she rasped. Her voice was hoarse, and it pained her to speak.
"Mind if I ask you a few more questions?" He put the light in his pocket. "When did your ability first manifest itself?"
When he moved back and gave her room to breathe, Lorelei felt more comfortable. She sat up, massaging her throat. "About fourteen months ago, I guess."
"Mm-hm." He was checking her pulse now. "Have you ever tested its limits?"
"What do you mean?"
Now Bob was looking straight at her. "We know that you can temporarily disable people. I was weakened for a short while after the experience; the man who tranquilized you experienced severe headaches for an hour afterward. But have you ever gone further? Could you, theoretically, kill someone with this power?"
Lorelei's eyes widened. She looked fearful of the prospect. "No! I mean—I don't think… I would never try to do something like that."
"Of course you wouldn't," Bob soothed her. "But we have to know as much about this as possible before we can help you."
Lorelei swallowed, looked down at the floor, nodded. "There was…one time," she admitted quietly. "A man was nearby when it happened—he was old. Everyone else recovered, but he—" She gave a little shuddering shake of her head, as though it were too horrible to think about. "I never really knew whether he was just old and he couldn't take it, or whether I really…killed him."
"One last question, Miss Cameron, and then we'll see what we can do for you. Has your ability ever manifested itself in spoken voice before, rather than song?"
"Spoken voice?" Lorelei looked confused.
"When my assistant came in, you ceased to sing and instead shouted at him, in the same tone and words as when you had been singing."
She frowned, bewildered. "I don't—I'm sorry, I don't remember that at all."
"Mm-hm." Bob stood up. "Miss Cameron, why don't you stay here for the night? It might be best if we kept you under observation for a while."
"Okay," she said, wide-eyed. "Whatever you think is best."
With nothing more than that, he left her there.
Lorelei sat on the cot with her legs tucked under the frame, her eyes wandering nervously around the room. It looked so sparse, so cold, like the prison cells she'd seen in a documentary on TV.
Her mind cautioned her,They're helping me. I need help. I can't take care of myself. They're helping me.
Her instincts only screamed, terrified, for release from these walls that towered over her.
Later that evening, Bob sat down in a small and dark room, with only two things before him: a computer and a digital recorder.
First he turned on the recorder.
"This is Bob, recording November twenty-first, 2007. Subject is Patient Type A, Number 14, also known as Lorelei Cameron. Subject is twenty-four years old, female Caucasian, red hair, brown eyes.
"Subject was first admitted to Company Facility at 4:37 PM. When tested, Subject seems to possess what can only be called a Siren Song, which simultaneously weakens its hearers, possibly potentially fatally, and draws them to hear more when Subject begins to sing. Subject has been classified Type A due to her ability's strongly dangerous potential and total lack of positive effects.
"When questioned, the Subject appeared to have no knowledge of speaking her ability rather than singing it, although such an instance was documented. This researcher finds it entirely plausible that her ability might one day grow to a point where she no longer needed to sing in order to summon it. Subject might also possibly grow strong enough to voluntarily summon and control ability."
At this point he shut the recorder off, and turned to the computer. It was a very basic machine; its only function was to record the input from the many security cameras around the facility and then to play them back. With a few keystrokes Bob had reached the feed he was looking for.
Adam was lying on his cot when the tape started, staring up at the ceiling. Bob wondered what he had been thinking. Something malevolent? something ordinary? A second later, it didn't matter, because that was when the song started.
The fact that he had lied to the young Miss Cameron bothered Bob not at all. He sincerely doubted that she would have consented to use her ability had she known that Adam Monroe could hear her, and was not prepared in any way to defend himself. But then, such was the march of science, and it wasn't even as though the man could be killed.
Though the security tape had no sound, Bob could easily tell when the song started, because Adam was frowning with confusion. It wasn't often you heard Menotti in this place. But then it changed, horribly changed, and Adam changed as well. He started up onto his elbows. Even on the grainy security footage Bob could see his eyes dancing wildly in his head, searching for the song's source. When he realized it was coming from the vent, he leapt to his feet in an attempt to reach it, but already the song's degenerative effects had taken hold.
No sooner did he leave his bed than his legs collapsed under his own weight, and Adam hit the cement floor hard, in a way that was painful to watch. A thread of blood eked from the side of his mouth where his teeth had sliced through the skin of his cheek, but Adam seemed not even to notice. He crawled to the vent, and with frantic fingers he clawed at it. It would never budge, but Adam kept at it, scrabbling at the metal, slamming his hands against it in desperation until the skin of his palms was raw. Twin trails of blood slid down from his nostrils and covered his lips.
The song stopped. Then Adam's eyes rolled into the back of his head, and he fell into a dead faint.
Bob could have kept watching the tape, to see the medical personnel coming in to check Adam out and make certain he had suffered no permanent harm, but that was not his interest right now. The footage had only confirmed what he had feared.
Once more he switched devices.
"Subject's effect on test subject Adam Monroe was severe, and confirms this researcher's suspicions. For the current lack of a cure, absolute action is recommended."
"This will—this will cure me, right?"
"That's right," the nurse answered smoothly, from behind her sanitized mask. "How are you feeling? Nervous?"
Lorelei smiled, even showing her teeth a bit, but her freckled skin was paler than usual, and she was twisting the skimpy hospital gown in her hand. "A little," she answered.
"Don't be," the nurse told her. "Whatever happens, you know this is for the best, don't you?"
Eyes wide, Lorelei nodded. "I don't want to hurt anybody," she said emphatically.
"Well, that's why you came here, sweetie. Now I want you to lie down on the table—just like that, on your back." The nurse tied a rubber strap around her upper arm. "Now think of something happy for just two seconds, and the needle will be in before you know it."
Lorelei shut her eyes tightly, felt the needle pierce her skin and shuddered.
"Good girl. The IV's going to start dripping any second now." The nurse looked down at her with something like motherly affection, and a shadow crossed her eyes above the mask. "Anything you want to say before you go under?"
Taking a breath, Lorelei smiled up at her faintly. "Thank you," she said softly.
The nurse's cheer had gone. Blinking, the woman touched her hand.
"I'm so sorry," said the nurse, and she sounded as though she meant it. "You have a lovely voice."
An unfamiliar male voice interrupted her. From her position on her back, Lorelei could not see its source. "We're ready to start the procedure. If you could just count back from ten for me…"
Obediently Lorelei began, but even as her silent lips formed the number, she lost consciousness.
That had been a year ago. At least, she thought it was a year. Who could tell, when there was nothing to keep track by? Maybe they would give her a calendar, if she asked for it, if she had cared enough to ask.
The first few days, Lorelei remembered, were the worst. Throughout her life she had been accustomed, without even realizing it, to sing as she went through the day. Singing was her joy. The first time she had forgotten, and absent-mindedly opened her mouth only to find that nothing would emerge, she had burst into tears and thrown herself onto the cot. She would have screamed in frustration, but that no longer worked either.
She could not sing; she could not speak. Lorelei did not know for certain what they had done on the operating table, only that they had done it well. Not a squeak escaped her throat, not now. If she cried, the sobs could be heard only in her head.
She knew there was another patient (or prisoner, or facility member, whatever they were calling him) in the room next to hers. She had seen him, sometimes, through the vent, lying on her stomach with her face pressed against the bars, pulling her fiery curls back from her face. He was tall and thin, with sandy-blonde hair and a sharp face, and he never noticed her. Lorelei could have tapped on the vent, and he might have seen her then, but what would be the point? She couldn't communicate with him.
Now, to pass the time, her fingers tapped out rhythms on the floor. She remembered songs and stories in her head, or played word games with herself on the pen and paper they gave her. Sometimes she only sat there and missed her mother.
A year spent like this. One year. Maybe she was going insane. Maybe she was already there. If she lost her mind, would it make a difference? They would move her to another small room in another white building, with another vent and another plastic tray.
Then Peter came.
Sweet, innocent Peter.
Even before she knew his name she loved him, though she had never seen his face. In his voice, even through the metal vents and the thick white walls, she could hear his goodness. He was frightened; she could hear that too, and oh, how she wished she could reach through the walls and comfort him.
A month later she heard his story through the vent, and heard his name as well. He believed, more whole-heartedly than Lorelei ever had, in the helpfulness of the Company. She listened to him tell Adam his story, about how he had come so close to destroying New York, about how he had hurt his own brother who had saved him from that fate.
Poor, poor man, she thought. I know what it feels like, to hurt those you love.
For the first time she heard Adam's thoughts on the facility. "It's a prison," he said, and Peter could scarcely believe him. "This is where they keep the dangerous ones," Adam said.
I could have told you that, thought Lorelei, then added wryly in her mind, No, never mind, I couldn't have.
She heard them talk about their plans for escape. Her heart leapt suddenly—escape? They could take her, she could be free! But when she banged her fist against the grate, desperate to be heard, they fell silent instantly, thinking she was a listening spy. She nearly wept with frustration.
To distract Elle, whose beach-blonde voice carried easily into Lorelei's ears, Peter pretended suddenly to return the interest she held in him. A more intelligent woman would have thought it suspicious that Peter, who had always done his best to avoid her attention, suddenly sought it, but his apparent change of heart only made Elle happy.
She heard the conversation pause, heard Peter say things she knew he didn't mean, but they hurt her anyway. She imagined him putting his arms around Elle's waist, touching her lips with his—no—!
It was hard sometimes to remember that Peter didn't even know she existed.
Then the day of escape came, the day when Peter told Adam through the air duct, "Five days without the pills."
Lorelei didn't know what Peter's power was, so she was surprised as she watched through the grate to see a figure step suddenly through the wall into Adam's room. She gasped, taken aback, and then laughed to herself with joy as she saw him for the first time. He looked in no way like she had imagined him, but he was perfect like this. Lorelei never would have changed him.
She realized for the first time, the thought tightening suddenly around her heart, that he was leaving. The joy left her slowly, like the air leaked from a balloon. Dear, sweet Peter was leaving her, when he had never been hers at all. The knowledge hit her heart, leaving a pained expression on her face.
They were ready now to go. He was going to find his brother, the one that he had burned when he had gone radioactive, and heal him. Lorelei knew that, but in her heart she did not care, selfish though it was. How little she had here—and oh, how desperately she wanted him to stay.
Peter took a step forward, Adam's hand on his shoulder. They were walking toward the wall.
Peter, goodbye—I love you.
He stopped, hesitated, looked around almost as though—almost as though he had heard her thoughts. Then he was through, and he was gone.
Lorelei sat up, her stomach sore from her long hours lying in front of the grate. Leaning against the wall, she closed her eyes and thought of a song she had heard a very long time ago, about love.
The melody hung in her head,
her fingers tapped against the floor in a slow, steady rhythm.
A tear slid down the side of her nose—
But she smiled.