There were passageways and sometimes, in more complex structures, doors- but this was unlike anything he'd seen before. The door was large and imposing, with four locks, plus a chain wrapped around and anchored at another point, secured together with a combination lock. The chains were reddened with rust, oxidization that seemed to be a result of not having been used in some time. Raz eyed it with curiosity and rubbed his hand over the rusted chains. The rust flaked some, but the chain didn't budge. He'd have to find the keys.
He knew it wasn't the right thing to do, prodding around people's secrets while he entered into their minds. But he hadn't had a problem with that in years, so he barely spared a thought to it. He dealt with the cesnors- in their business suits, their weird voices echoing a bit in the vastness of the mind, and running right towards him. But he was stronger now than he'd ever been. And this advanced training in marksmanship was getting easier as he dodged the empty set projectiles the larger censors vomited out at him.
In the past few years, Sasha's mind hadn't changed much. The different places he compartmentalized were roughly the same. From what he remembered- the bedroom he remembered his mother in, the shoe shop, the stained glass lamp factory. It was- comfortable, being in a mind that was familiar, even if that mind still pushed to press him out. Still, he had layers of Astral Projection remaining, and the mental energy dropped as he defeated censors, plus he was smart enough to take along Dream Fluffs.
He found the first key hidden in one of the boxes and the next on a high point on the top of one of the bed posts. The third was under the edge of one of the lamps and the fourth was inside a mental vault, along with some memory of a Psychonaut that Raz had not heard of before. He was a tall man with wavy hair, not as tall as Sasha, and they seemed to be having some sort of adventure- probably mission related, as they fought against some weird tentacled monster. It cut off after it'd been slain, however.
And the combination lock code was written on a post-it note on the side of one of the boxes. He returned to the door, pulled the keys from his storage, and first undid the combination lock. It was difficult, the way the turning mechanism was locked up, the twist hard, and it took him several tries, accidentally overshooting the numbers a few times.
The chain was heavy and he had to use his telekinesis to help pull it aside. Rust stained his gloves, flaking off as he pulled, augmented by the telekinesis. It rattled and clanked as he deposited on the floor, and then he put each of the keys in the locks, turning them.
That took a few tries too- not because the locks were hard to turn, but because it was some sort of puzzle, having to be turned in a certain order to get them to unlock fully. The click was loud in the otherwise quietness of the area; it was almost like the censors didn't want to come here. Raz decided he'd try to figure that part out later, and he pushed the door open.
When he first entered the room, it was very dark, but there was a flicker of a light- almost like candlelight. Raz frowned and adjusted his red-tinted goggles, but eventually pushed them up, because it was so dark he could barely see. There was shimmering purple to indicate a mental cobweb... but it was quickly obvious there were many here. Like the place had not been used in a very long time.
He used the cobweb duster to clean them up and continued down the hall. The familiar sound of censors reached his ear- similar voice; but not similar words. Usually, they only made weird sounds- wordless. But this- this was something completely different.
And they didn't seem to be coming after him, either- they were just, in there. There was some odd control room within, with some sort of microphone PA system. And the censors were speaking in to microphones and a voice echoed faintly, like a speaker playback, in a different voice.
A censor was shaking his finger, making a shame gesture- "No son of mine is gonna..." and it trailed off, but it was disappointed. The recording shifted to something... older, German accent. Raz frowned- Sasha's father?
There were dozens of them, and a group broke off, suddenly. They looked like- well, how someone's father might have looked, if they weren't circus acrobats. They ran at him- the mantra of "No son of mine..." chorusing out at him. Raz startled and he used his marksmanship to get rid of them. Though they didn't seem to die, either. He frowned a little, and tried to use his clairvoyance on them. But there was... whatever was in there was like a backlash and he stumbled backwards. He pushed them away with telekinesis, trying to figure out what this was. It seemed so strange.
Raz wasn't quite prepared for the answer, as he darted away, turned himself invisible and returned to do his investigation into the area. Was this some sort of censor command center, that sent them out to the rest of the brain? But that phrase...
There was one, whose voice was morphed in to a female, young female voice, teasing about how he wasn't really a man, because he couldn't perform. If he'd found this area when he'd first been in Sasha's head, he wouldn't have figured it out. But he saw writing on the wall, angry red, phrases written in English and German, and some underlined and some of those more than once.
There was another passage, too, and he kept his invisibility on as he went down that, too. Not knowing what to expect, he found himself surprised when he saw some... flickering, almost ghostly, vision of Sasha. He looked pretty much the same, except the way the colors seemed to be leeching out of him. And there were more chains, keeping him pinned there, for some reason. In spite of that- there was a sort of smile on his face and he looked almost happy.
It was a presumptuous sort of thing to consider, but he didn't think he'd ever seen Sasha actually smile. There were censors milling about in here as well, still repeating the words from earlier, but without the voice morphing. There was finger wagging and condescension. The father-like censor was by far the loudest and Raz started trying to figure out how to undo the chains.
There were locks on those as well, glowing with purple-ish energy and he eyed the censors and wondered if he had to fight them to set this ghost free. Or should he, even? There was one more vault running around- well, it was more settled in the corner, darkened, and hidden by mental cobweb. He cleaned that up and opened the vault, pulling out the reel, and flipping through.
The man from the earlier vault was back, but the content was... Sasha was in it again as well, the two of them embracing, and then kissing, and then they shared a look that made Raz feel slightly uncomfortable, like he was witnessing something he shouldn't have seen. (Technically, that was a correct assessment. This place had been heavily locked and barred.) He dismissed the reel and stared around the room, and it all came together.
The thing of it was, Raz didn't like the idea of this part of Sasha being chained down and locked away, but what could he do? It was one thing to see one's private memories, and explore reaches of their psyche that they probably didn't want under scrutiny; and completely another to unchain a... was it a memory?... that was so heavy under lock and key. So he stayed there for several moments, listening to the cesnors and considering what to do, and in the end? Well, it really wasn't his place.
Raz cracked open his smelling salts and returned to the Collective Unconscious.
It was larger than before- doors upon doors, leading to the minds of people that he'd gone in to before. There were other ways out, but the most convenient at Whispering Rock was still the brain tumbler, and he spilled out in to Sasha's secret lab. The elder Psychonaut was there and he looked- not unhappy, but a bit distant and sad. Like maybe he'd been in that space too, where Raz had tread, without alerting him to his presence. Raz looked at Sasha, and Sasha looked back, giving him a tight smile.
"What you saw in there is not to be discussed," Sasha's voice was firm, almost like giving an order. Raz tilted his head to the side and wondered- because Sasha had said it was bad to keep your emotions closed off... but he still wasn't entirely sure what he'd witnessed.
"But..." Raz started and Sasha shook his head. He was clearly not going to talk about it. Obviously, the way he was already tight-lipped, lighting up a cigarette with almost shaking hands. He thought he knew what that was- mundane concepts weren't beyond him, and the mental representation was... well, much more terrifying than what the innocuous phrase seemed to imply.
He had known an acrobat at the circus, who'd had feelings for the Strong Man. Even at his young age, he'd see their lingering gazes, and them sneaking off together, but the Strong Man was married and he made sure everyone had known it. Raz wondered if maybe that was the reason behind Sasha's seeming attraction to Milla but his lack of desire to do anything about it. At the cafeteria, later still, he'd laid a hand on Sasha's elbow.
"You don't have to hide," Raz had told him softly. But Sasha just gave him a sort of... sad look, and shook his head.
"I don't know what you're talking about," Sasha replied, his voice not changing. Raz worried his lower lip briefly and frowned too, before moving over to where Lili was having her lunch. He was quiet and contemplative during it, his mind continuing to drift towards Sasha and his secret.
Ultimately, he knew it wasn't his choice; but he could hope for the day that Sasha would be true to himself. Raz, knowing what he knew about the people here, was sure that they'd accept Sasha for who he was. Maybe some day that day would come. And for now? He'd quietly support his friend, and offer what he could, if and when the need ever arose.