Log:A Lovely Date
Briar has decided it's time for some one on one time. They've gone full femme today in a little black dress with a silver cropped jacket and six inch heels. Those legs go all the way up. Their makeup is on point, and their hair is shoulder-length and glossy dark waves. At a glance, one would assume female.
They collect Chance and take him to Virginia, that restaurant where he took Briar and his sister. Briar doesn't always show it, but they pay attention. It's evening, and there happens to be a great table free.
The Confidant has been hard at work. He's got a notebook and a pen and ink stained hands and he's been wandering about staring at doors. He kinda needed to get out. When Briar shows up at his door, he gets up right away to shower and change--before they can even mention anything about Virginia. That tidbit perked him up, sure enough. Virginia is still home to him. He is a person of 2018. When he arrives in that space and time, it is still the closest face and body to who he is in The Facility. So what if he goes deaf for a few hours? He has hearing aids, a smartphone and a hot date. Who needs anything else?
Chance picked out something nice for himself to wear. A black button down shirt with a subtle pattern and a bit of a shine to it. Add a pair of dark khaki chinos, casual sneakers and an actual watch and you wonder who the hell dressed Chance because he's the blandest boy on the block. Not tonight though. Not when Briar looks like /that/. Chance Reed used to tame his copper curls but The Confidant doesn't bother, letting his thick red hair be free. Free from pomades and beanie caps.
As soon as they are seated, Chance pulls out his phone and says, "I wonder if Google works. Wouldn't it be insane if--nope, no way. Nevermind. Hey! Wanna play with it? It takes pictures."
The Addict sets their dainty black clutch on the table and reaches for the phone. "I want to get a picture of you," they say. After being in space, the phone doesn't intimidate them anymore. "You should order for me, because I have no idea what's good here. I liked what I had last time." Last time, they had a salad.
Briar pauses, then says, "I've decided I don't care what my role is supposed to be. I'm going to study addiction, and I'm going to overcome it. I'm going to figure it out so that it's not in control, I am."
Chance winches at the mention of a photo but begins to straighten up anyway. Buttons. Hair fluff. Sit up straight. "I wish you could keep it. A picture. We don't have those. But, uh, does anyone? Even as the things we bring back?" He is distracted by the menu briefly, as if only now remembering there is food. The declaration Briar makes puts a grin on his face. "There you go. That is inspiring. I'm glad you've...figured it out a little. I-I still don't know what to do with myself." Then there's waitstaff. He orders the same salad, dinner sized for Briar and after some hemming and hawing, picks out steak for himself. "See, I can get protein that isn't frozen and shaped like dinosaurs." He winks.
Briar snaps a picture, then messes with filters until there is a frame of glitter and hearts around it. "Yeah, I wish I could have this in my room. I could wake up and look at you." They set the phone down and clasp their hands on the table before them, gazing at Chance. "Live," they say. "Explore hobbies, try new things. The more experiences you gather, the more useful you'll be to other people, because you'll be able to relate so much more. Like, I know you understand what it's like being addicted, because you were an addict once. I'm not saying go have bad experiences, though. Go out and have good ones." They grin when dinosaur-shaped protein is mentioned.
"That makes so much fucking sense." Chance says and shakes his head. "I was thinking about my room. Other than the little sitting area, it was bland to the point of clinical when I woke up that first time. Twin bed. White sheets. The bathroom is still that way aside from the tub. But, that, like the rest of it changed over time. I am nothing but a reflection of what others want." He reaches across the table. His three branched ring is on his left hand. "When I made some friends, my bed became a full. Because others need to sit on it. When I fell in love and that love came here with Senni and then Misty. Queen. Then you came and made it a King. And...it's a California King now. Get my point? I don't think for myself. I think for others." He sighs and then smiles. "I think I should spend every single moment I can in between Encounters doing just that. Then I can make up my own mind."
Briar reaches across the table for Chance's hand. "You have to take time for yourself," they say. "Imagine that, inside of all of us, there's a chalice. When it is full, when it's overflowing, we can share with everyone around us, nourishing and nurturing. When it's empty, we have nothing to give. No one gets to drink. You have to go out, refill the chalice, keep its source -- that's you -- nourished and nurtured. It's not selfish. It's necessary. You know why I take so many bubble baths? It's self-care. It feels good, and the scented candles are relaxing, and when I'm done, I feel like I can handle everything again."
"But..." Chance begins. "I don't know what to put in the chalice. Because...people fill it." He deflates. "It's probably easier for you to tend to yourself. You are a pleasure seeker." He pauses and his eyes stretch. "I don't mean that as a bad thing! I don't. I do not. I mean, it's what I love about you. Mira's a seeker too so I guess I like that sorta thing." He looks away a moment and he bites his lip. "I-I'm not driven by a thing or experiences. I am fueled by being there for others. If I was a normal person in a normal situation, it would be awful and toxic. I don't want bad things to happen so others need me. I--I am just happiest when caring for others in that narrow sort of way. The hand to hold or shoulder to lean on. Fuck, I hope that makes sense. Lemme see that pic again?" He then adds, "I need a hobby. One where I can do something that helps others without having to be right....there. Yeah?"
"Sometimes pleasure, yes," Briar says. "It's not that easy, though. A lot of the time, I feel worthless, like I don't deserve nice things like bubble baths. I feel like I should just drink myself to death every night because why not? What good am I to anyone? But then I think, dear Lord, what a burden that would make me. Always dragging, always having to be tended to because I can't tend to myself." They shake their head. "I take care of myself so that I can be the best version of me for the people I love. I take care of myself so you're not constantly holding me together along with everything else on your plate. It's not selfish, love, and it's quite intentional."
They give Chance's hand a squeeze, then withdraw so they can check their hair in a compact mirror taken from their clutch. Flawless. They always have good hair. "Sometimes, those bubble baths are the hardest thing to do. Because it's time I'm alone with myself, my thoughts. Part of me hates it, but I know it's necessary. If I'm not at peace with myself, how can I be composed for the people who need me?" They show Chance the picture. "Your hobby can totally involve other people. Just something that makes you feel good, you know?"
Chance takes the phone to look at the picture. He smiles and shakes his head. "I'm swear my hair is only red so it looks like a beacon. People always notice me. One reason or another." He taps across the phone for a moment and then looks up again. "You are saying things and I hear you but something just isn't clicking." He pouts. "I promise that I will look and I will try and enjoy something. But it needs to be a thing apart. A thing just for me. Because I shouldn't always be in the service of others. At least in between." He frowns again. "No one had a hobby. Not one out of the six. Wait...no. Jody liked to read detective and mystery novels. He had a copy of some Sherlock Holmes collection in his desk. He saw a play on Broadway too. But reading doesn't count. Writing would though..." His brows furrow and food arrives to Chance's relief.
The Addict smiles at the server, then takes up a fork to stab around at their salad, making sure everything is mixed nicely. "Just because it's just for you doesn't mean you have to do it alone," they say, "and if it's somehow in the service of others, but it feeds your soul, that's all right. I guess that's what I'm saying, when you break it down into its component parts: feed your soul. It's a beautiful soul, and it deserves to flourish. Martin used to keep journals. Danny had music. Dia had her revels. Braden had his studies. I try to learn one new thing every time I'm here." They set down their fork so they can sign with their hands: 'this is what I'm working on now.'
The Confidant gasps and his face flushes. "I...fuck, that's really sweet." He looks away and sniffs. "That will be useful as long as I like being...being here." He doesn't go for his food right away. He eats quickly when does eat. Stuffing food in as if it'll run if he lets it. "You are so thoughtful. I'd fucking wither without you and Mira. Hell, maybe even Dare too. I can feed right into his role and that, in turn, feeds into mine. Like I said, if we had normal lives, we would be codependent messes." He starts to eat, making an effort to go slower. "I'm thinking to myself...what if we end up somewhere we never want to return to? I mean, I can pick any peaceful place in my memory of the Encounters and be fine being there. Even The Noc...and Ick-One. Fuck space." He starts with the angry eating. "I would hate for there to be a world without peaceful, nice memories. Within the Encounter or is the...post-it memory space. Like here."
The Addict smiles, and signs 'I love you' before taking up their fork again to start in on their salad. "Luckily, Mira and I will take care of you. We'll take care of Dare. You'll all take care of me." They eat daintily, somehow managing to keep their lipstick looking great. "God knows what will happen," they say, "but every place has to have something nice about it, don't you think? I mean, without something nice, what's the point of losing it? And isn't that what happens? We lose it somehow. Somehow, we still manage to save it, but not for us."
Chance signs it right back and adds an air kiss. He smiles then, easily. It seems like he forgot about his worries for a moment. A half second of playfulness before he turns down his gaze and his jaw sets. He is so often anxious and tense that Briar may not have noted that he was any other way. But it was there. A flash. A flicker of someone without a care in the world and gone just as fast. "I don't talk too much about what we do in the Encounters and why. I don't think it matters that much but I have a theory. I don't think we are saving the world for anyone. I think it's someone's spectacle. Someone is watching us. And we get pulled out for our roles in the Encounter and then when its finished, we get put back in the box. A little like toys. But we're people. Not toys. So, it's a little fucked up."
"What if we were made for this?" Briar says. "Sure, we're people, but we're people with no memory of where we come from. What if we don't come from anywhere? What if, whoever they are, they just make us? Discard us when we're no longer providing the right kind of entertainment? Addison, for example, he was dark. Maybe too dark. Then he's gone. We were close, you know, or at least about as close as someone like him could be with anyone. Whoever they are, they just took him away." There's a dark cloud of grief there, and Briar bows their head. It's brief, though. They're doing well today. They can handle the feelings. "It's really fucked up, and that's why I decided I was just going to be my best self. It's all we've got. That, and each other."
The Confidant almost leapt into action as the dark cloud attempts to settle. He starts to speak before Briar continues and there is relief on his face. Chance Reed was more expressive than The Confidant, this is becoming clearer by the moment. The longer Chance stays in this space, the closer he drifts to his other self. Not that The Confidant would take note of this. "T-That's why I don't talk too much about why or what. We have tried all manners of escape and have none. We are powerless over the greatest parts of our lives. Powerless and unaware of it. Our awareness and autonomy is greatest in between Encounters and while we have it, we should use it to be happy and at ease." He sighs as his shoulders slump. "That is why I hate hints."
"Part of me likes knowing what to prepare for," Briar says, "but it's not like you really can prepare. We won't know anything we've learned by the time it happens. I try not to think about it. The wisest thing I learned, I learned when Martin was talking to Jody about how all we have is the moment, and we need to live in it." With a warm smile, they add, "I can tell you with utter honesty that there is nowhere I'd rather be right now, and no one I'd rather be with. It's a good feeling."
"Same." Chance says with a little smile. "I will admit I am dreading this next Go slightly less than the last one. There is always music...except before Prosperity. It was old Western films. But it's been musical since. Spring Break on MTV is more trash than music. So, it's not going to be exactly that...I think. We don't know but it helps me rest better. Worry less. I know it'll be the nineties. A time I recall which is...different too. I'm almost excited, to be honest." He pauses and that grim tension slowly seems to lift.
"Oh, fuck it! I'm leaning into it! I can wait to fuck up whatever comes next." Chance Reed has another interesting feature. Volume control. He's catching side-eye from two tables over. He waves a hand at fourtop, dismissively. "I'm deaf! It happens." There is much sighing and eye-rolling before Chance can get back on point. "Where was I? Right. I want you and Mira at my side to do it. But, if gravity reverses a little? That is okay. I will be okay. We'll all come back home and the reunion will be so much sweeter."
Briar laughs in delighted surprise. They're not the least bit awkward about people glancing over. "That's the spirit," they say. "Whatever it is, we'll conquer it. Even if we're total strangers, it won't matter, because when we get back, we'll have each other. I mean, not even death can stop us. That's kind of a cool thought, isn't it? There's nothing they can do to us there that we won't be okay here."
"Yeah. Empowering. I-I only fear coming back without your or Mira. But..." Chance takes a deep breath. "At least you'd be free. And that is what I think of when the doors change. Someone is free from all of this worry, concern, dread, anxiety and pain. It's a win for me either way." He takes Briar's hand and kisses it. Then, he says, softly. "I love how no one stares at me kissing you but can't stand it if I speak too loud. 2018, man. Wild times." And then, in a rush of sliding furniture, clattering plates and fallen silverware, Chance stands up and leans over to kiss Briar, hard, on the mouth. No much for the lipstick.
The Addict says gently, "That's why we go to Virginia on a nice date tonight. Because we don't know what's gonna happen." They smile and squeeze Chance's hand. "Oh, they stare. Sly-like, because I'm fucking gorgeous, and you're a dish." They rise up to meet the kiss without hesitation. The lipstick had a good run, alas, and they wrap their arms around Chance's neck and kisses their man with fervor. Let people stare.