Log:Absolutes of Perception

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Absolutes of Perception
Characters  •   The Bon-Vivant  •  The Caregiver  •
Location  •  Hallway of Rooms/Anywhere Room
Date  •  2018-12-22
Summary  •  Caregiver and Bon Vivant acquaint and find kindred spirits in the surf and sand when it comes to matters of reality and perception.

It's been quiet out here this... morning? -- mostly. Recently there's been a bit of noise in the hall. A soft sort of clatter, a few brief thumps. Nothing particularly worrying-sounding, just a little bit odd. Slightly more worrying might be that on opening the door, there's a very hurried exclamation of "Coming through!" And about a heartbeat before something does in fact go by quite fast.

On closer examination, it's a man. Which matches the voice, at least. A man in a well-cut velvet-jacketed tuxedo, specifically; tallish, blond, with a neat goatee and somewhat floppily cut hair, today, which means it bounces and floats a little as he rides down the hallway barefoot on a skateboard. He makes it do a quick if not entirely elegant turn not far past, and turns around, grinning, to see whose door that was. "Sorry."


The Caregiver opens her door to start to step out, but skateboards and whole people whizzing by atop them, well. That's not a thing she's used to. Large in part because she's never seen a skateboard, and that's painstakingly clear given her fascination with the wheeled board and man atop it written on her expressive features.

Slipping out in a casual long sundress of printed red and white oriental design with bare feet, she's freshly bathed without cosmetics on her wide-eyed, vibrant little face today, hair in damp waves. With her door and to some degree her mouth left hanging open, she finally breaks her stunned pause the warning and whiz by brought, then she huffs out, "... I wanna do it. Show me how?"


The grin subsides a fraction in the pause, but lifts again at her words. "Sure," the Bon-Vivant says, "I've been messing with it a while, it's all balance and stuff. So..." He shifts its position, aiming it properly back down the hallway, with one foot on it and one on the floor. "First you put one foot on it like this, and then kind of balance yourself so you can get it going with your other foot..." He demonstrates, passing by her as it picks up speed; his voice drifts back as he adds, "Then you can bring the other foot on here! And you can kind of lean to turn it." Which he also does, which makes it swerve a bit. He puts his foot back down on the ground, to stop, which makes it judder along the slick floor a few seconds before it entirely works. "...stopping works that way. Or putting your arms out and hitting the wall, that's how I did the first few times." He steps off and leans down, picking up the board and padding back to set it down near her. "Hi, also. We haven't met yet." A glance at her door; he's caught on that those relate somehow, clearly.


There's a particular concentration that turns into slow determination upon the brunette's features as she observes and listens to the Bon-Vivant and his instructions, head moving with bare tilt of keen attention. There is a space, though, now that she's done being slack-jawed at the very idea of wheeling around on a board in the halls, a space where she looks at the man instead of the momentum accessory. And she really takes the time to -look- at him, not precisely study so much as an all-encompassing kind of survey. Some people can really make you feel seen, not just looked at. The Caregiver is one of those kind of people.

Then, with a quick draw of breath, she moves to put a bare foot on the board with holding hitch of her dress skirt, testing the wheels and her one-foot balance with pushing back and forth, "You can call me Eilis. I know people and names here, they're... maybe not as solid as a concept as people expect, but that's who I am." She steals a glance at him with unspoken curiosity of waiting for likewise introduction, then she steps up to test balance with both feet. It's foreign, sure, but she has very good balance that comes from the very core of her spine. Likely dance or performance training somewhere of some kind, if one stopped to watch.

Then without a reach for help, she sets herself at a cross flying roll with shove of toes to thunk right into the wall at the opposite side of the hall on a test run to stop herself as suggested, laughing abruptly. The noise of her delight seems to surprise her too there for a beat.


"Eilis," the Bon-Vivant repeats, and grins at her again, "Nice meetin' you. I'm--" A small pause, and maybe a just-perceptible dimming, as he looks a few doors down, and points to the one where the wood-grain creates a well-dressed man, surrounded by other partygoers, laughing as he sprays an impressive fountain of champagne from a bottle in his hands, "That's my door. Colorado's decided to call me Champagne for now; Caleb's goin' with Champ." Changes the first sound, but the derivation's still pretty obvious. "I guess I'm okay with either? Kind of still trying to figure out what'd feel /right/. But having something at all's good."

His arm's got that kind of 'ready' tension to it, as he watches, but it relaxes a bit when it's clear how good her balance is. Now that he's not dealing with the board, he's got time to look at her more closely in return; it's unlikely he's as good at giving the sense of being properly /seen/ as she is, but that one of genuine interest he's got down. And then she's pushing off, and his own laugh joins hers, equally delighted. He seems less surprised about it, though. "Nice. I almost fell over the first time I stopped that way." A small pause, and he admits, "I DID fall over the first time I stopped the other way. And the third way, though I wasn't actually expecting to stop that time, so, decent excuse I figure."


After hopping her feet to either side of the board with dismount and a kick for turn, the Caregiver looks down at the door where Bon-Vivant gestured to consider it for a distracted moment with the introduction. Then her lips slant with fond smile for the two former Coltons he mentions, features softening with affection, "Yes. I think I like that, honestly. It's catchy. Champ." A pause, "They're different here too, but that sounds like them. Honestly, calling you Champ is basically a man's version of endearment, so you don't have to think of it as a name at all so much as something new to make familiar. A nickname, mm? Sometimes those feel better than actual names."

Her own door has closed mostly over on its own creeping hinges by now, a shadow silhouette of a woman carved into it with outward extend of gentle, graceful hand-- in that hand, though, is a human heart in full bloom of trailing flowers. There's vines wrapped around it too, though, snaring instead of thriving with blossom.

She tries again, this time turning the board toward the lengthwise angle of the hallway and the man by extension after making some long distance between them with board replacement. Then she goes again, but with the continued need for momentum, she's more wobbly with trying to keep things straight in the face of speed that she seems to insist on starting out with. She doesn't -quite- make it over where he is before a lean makes her lose a foot to catch, then trip stumble with the board at clatter, laughing anew, "...people are going to hate you for this, I'm already annoying them nonstop in front of the picturebox."


The Bon-Vivant leans comfortably up against the wall between doors, hands settling idly into his pockets as he watches. "I get that impression... that people are different here than they are in the Encounters, but still kind of... similar. Recognizable, maybe? And the people who've been in more than one, mostly they seem to like the last one most, and I dunno yet if that's just how it goes or if that one was just special. Chance says not to think about it all too much, but. It's interesting, and honestly this place is all I really know." For what there is to know.

His brow furrows slightly as he looks her door over a bit more closely -- interesting design -- but his attention's quickly back to her, especially as she nears. When she starts to stumble, his hands emerge quickly to catch her if need be, but since she seems to have it, they only get as far as a light steadying to her closer arm before they drop again. He blinks once at her remark, then brightens farther. "I love that thing. There's no music in my room, I'd take it back with me if I could. How're you annoying them?"


"We are who we are. But not everyone is able to feel things like me. They want something more tangible to hold onto. Their heads get in the way. And that's okay. Maybe I'll be like that at some point. But then again, maybe I'm not made that way. And that's okay too." The Caregiver makes her supposing with a quick flash of smile in gratitude for the balancing catch on her arm, lashes dropped after to try and work at flipping the board back over with her foot instead of leaning to pick it up to set proper and ready anew. It takes her an awkward moment, but eventually she gets it.

Then she answers the Bon-Vivant's question a little amused and vaguely chastised on principle at the same time, "It's new to me. Music sounds so different in it. Evan called it technology. I dance a lot in there to occupy myself." A pause, "Sometimes it's occupying fun. Sometimes I do it to feel other things right when they need time. A few people think it's a bad influence on me, others just are sick of the constant noise of it. But they're overall sweet enough to tolerate me, so far.


"I'd figure we've gotta be who we are. Who else would we be?" the Bon-Vivant says, still watching her deal with the board, "I think maybe most of us are just having trouble figuring out who that is. I don't know if it's easier or harder if we haven't been someone before we're here, though. Like, I'm pretty sure it's called a TV, the picturebox, but it's one of those things I don't know why I know. Which is most of them, I guess, except for what people here've specifically told me. I know that's a skateboard," he gestures at it, "but don't ask me how." A shrug, and the grin again. "I dance in there sometimes too. And the songs are catchy. 'We close our eyes, and the world has turned around again; we close our eyes and dream...'" Yes, he sings it. Not too badly, at least; they aren't going to tap him for the band, but he's probably not getting drinks thrown at him if the Facility develops karaoke. Not for that, anyway. He pauses slightly more thoughtfully. "I... don't think I know any other music, though. I mean, I feel like I do, but I can't actually think of any that isn't from that."

He shakes his head as if to clear it, and looks to her more directly again. "Why would it be a bad influence? It's fun, it makes people happy." For 'people', probably read 'him', granted. "Oh. Have you tried the rooms that can be anywhere, yet?" He makes it sound as though that's somehow related.


There's a bare knit of her brows as Caregiver listens to the Bon-Vivant, a realization passing over her quite visibly before she forgets all about the skateboard. Her eyes turn to look at him anew with fascination for the man this time, not the object, but why exactly is perhaps outwardly unclear. Her bottom lip traps between her teeth as she tries to think how to explain, a briefly distracted smile ghosting her lips when he full on starts to sing a bar that stuck with him. Taking in a breath, she lifts her hand to knock back through and hold some of her hair back at bay while speaking, "This is my first time. My memories are from the late eighteen hundreds and turn of the century. Women... had certain ways about them. Certain expectations. And that's how I'm remembered to a lot of the men in this place. It's hard for them to shake off."

She doesn't seem to actually understand his second question, though, because after she's answered the one bit, she trails off her line of thought to blink a few times fast, "... what?"


The Bon-Vivant looks not wholly certain why she's looking at him quite that way, though not actually put off -- there's worse things than being fascinating, right? If he has a suspicion what it might be, though, anything he might have said about it gets first delayed by her explanation, which gets another of the more thoughtful nods, and then entirely derailed by her reaction to the second question. "Oh," he says, looking down the hall in the direction that leads toward those doors, breaking into a smaller smile; both his hands lift to loose curls in front of his chest, briefly, turning into a pair of matched points at her as his gaze returns to her face, the grin spreading, "You have to see this. C'mon."

He leans down to scoop the skateboard up, and starts walking down the hall backward, still looking at her. "So, there are these two doors, okay? And when you open them, they're whatever you want them to be. As long as you don't want there to be people or animals, anyway, that's what I was told. First time I went into one, Caleb and Colorado were in there having drinks on a space deck. Just surrounded by... space. It's awesome. I have no idea how it works."


Caught up in curiosity and perhaps extended fascination of company given his own status and state of being in this place, the Caregiver automatically follows as the Bon-Vivant speaks and walks. There's still confusion lingering on her, though, because she has no real concept of a space deck or anything else of the sort. Let alone a somewhere that can be anywhere.

Her mouth opens as if she's about to question again, but then she quickly closes it and opts for the surprise factor instead, eyeing those two doors and the man in turns the closer they get. Of course, when they get there, though, she pauses, uncertain. She doesn't at all look like she doesn't -want- to go, she just... doesn't look like she wants to go in first.


To be fair, The Bon-Vivant probably didn't have a mental image for 'space deck' either until he saw one and had to name it something. But wherever what concepts and vocabulary he has come from, it does at least seem to be a fair bit further in the future than 1902. Probably helps.

"Okay," he says, stopping in front of the doors and turning to look at them, "Let's see..." He considers for a moment as he adds, "Apparently, whatever the first person's thinking they want them to be when they go in, that's what it'll be. So..." He reaches out with his free hand, and opens the door. Inside, it's a (fairly generic, honestly) beach, sand stretched out as far as the eye can see to the right and left, with an ocean ahead, waves crashing onto the shore. The scent of saltwater floats out to them. "Beach," he announces unnecessarily, though he sounds rather pleased; he closes the door again without going in, then reopens it.

This time it's a maintenance platform, not unlike one off the Noc landing bay, surrounded by nothing but open space, swirling nebula in prismatic colours dusting distant stars and halos of light. There's a cooler sitting on it. "Space deck," he says, gesturing to the scene within, and then closes it again. A small tilt of the head, and it's opened again: "I dunno, but it seemed fun." It kind of looks like a big playground, actually; there's a couple skateboards near the door, as well as some scooters and bicycles, and the area's got all kinds of dips and hills and the like. There's various things that look like one could climb them, as well, or slide down, or ropes and swings. There's something almost obelisk-like with dispensers like in the dining room on each side. And there's a big TV in the sky playing the same stuff as the one in the parlor. Because why not? "I can close it again and you can make it something, if you want."

He grins at her again, and makes a Vanna-White gesture toward the place, though surely he can't have ever seen or heard of that. On the other hand, neither has she. Either way, it comes along with a bright, "Ta da!"


Now. Given the way things were and the way things are for Caregiver now, she shouldn't be floored entirely. She did fight demons once upon a time with drive and daring. The spectrum of setting and operating life after death in the Facility is something completely beyond figuring out. And she's living in that space now with all the people and things around her in various modes of differential from what she thought she once knew.

That said, she's floored. She watches with a fixation through the door as demonstrations are made, a little captivated piece of moment trapped in amber, absolutely bone still and silent. It lingers and sticks with her for a long spell.

Then abruptly, she takes to shaking her head quick, insisting, breathless, "The water. The ocean. Make it again."


"Ocean it is," the Bon-Vivant says, and closes the door again. This time when he opens it, it's that first beach again... mostly. He's changed it a little; there's stuff on the sand, now. Towels, beach chairs, a couple umbrellas, a large cooler, a couple things one could float on. Given how much she's been watching the MTV, she might actually recognize things from beach-themed videos -- easy to guess where the mental images for this come from, if so. And that scent is back, of course. He holds the door open for her, and makes an 'after you' semi-bow that would probably be more gallant if he weren't holding a skateboard, but surely it's the thought that counts. He's not so amazed by this as she is, but still decidedly tickled, and the more so seeing her see it work.


There's no more hesitation from Caregiver, stepping forward immediately once the gallant, if slightly hindered gesture is made. She immediately breezes by the Bon-Vivant in all his tickled pride about making things 'work' and seeing the results on her face. At least her long breezy little designer sundress and bare feet are made for that moment. Sand sucks in heels.

The first thing she does is breathe. Audibly, visibly, desperately once she's able to take in the salt air. As her wide eyes reflex cut lashes with sunlight squint, she briefly raises a hand to shade while acclimating, then it drops to hold in hard flatting smash over where her heart is no doubt pounding. Her gaze drinks in the expanse of ocean water in favor of everything else, they drift with the distance to horizon. They drift with memory echoes too, giving her sight a different kind of distance there for a spell.

Visibly, she feels the sand on her bare feet as her toes curl, eyes dropping with lull to observe them at bury. After stealing a glance back at the man who's literally given her anywhere over her bare shoulder, she's transformed with an absolutely blossoming grin. Then she starts to run straight to the surf with the exhilaration of open space, invitation for him to follow implied.


The Bon-Vivant is somewhat less well-garbed for the venue, though hey, barefoot is a start! He doesn't seem to be particularly bothered by the rest, though; he sticks the skateboard in the sand by the door on its end, as though it were a tiny surfboard, and then runs after her, shedding the velvet jacket as he goes. By the time he passes the seating area, the vest and tie have been abandoned as well, though there's the general impression that it's less that he cares what happens to them and more just freeing things up a bit. He's grinning as he follows, and if there's an end to the room, it's somehow much farther out there than they're going to quickly reach -- and he clearly assumes that to be the case, as well. There isn't so much as a pause before he hits the surf, laughing.

The water is water. It behaves exactly like water; it soaks fabric, moistens skin, splashes. The salt scent intensifies as they near it, and as it flows against them; the texture of dry sand beneath their feet turns to that of wet, each retreating wave pulling grains tangibly from beneath them. He doesn't have the memories to go with the experience, but whatever part of him keeps him from being completely lost in existence is pretty sure this is right.


It's a contagion, Bon-Vivant's laughter and ease. Maybe it's the way he's made. Maybe it's the way she's made to catch it. Laughter and delight spills from her openly, stealing all of her manners and any reserve previous moments in the hallway gave her. She's right now and close to flushed with the vibrancy of it, the breathless burst of speed after a moment of overwhelm.

Though she wouldn't trade it, her life was heavy before. It's heavy now. In the right now, there's none of that to wear. She's free right when she hits the water.

Once she's in with quick splashing welcome, she kicks some of the water over at company in play and yanks up her dress hem that's already soaked to make the roll of water stop impeding her, forging a little deeper path. Then she sinks straight to her kneels to partially immerse and rock in small back and forth with the life that's being made by the power of the boundless sea, hands out at swish.

"I couldn't do this in New York. I always wanted to. It was colder. It wouldn't have been proper. I--" Her head tilts reflectively, then all of a sudden she's heartwrenching with another memory, "We were supposed to cross this." She doesn't elaborate on the who, the why, the where, the when, the how. But it's that kind of sad earnest that carries.

There's a quick draw of breath. It's bottled after a glance back at the distant open doorway. Balmed with silent reassurance. Then she's back with another laughing splash of hand this time.


The water's still got a bit of chill to it, but not so much that the warmth of the sun doesn't sufficiently counter it -- instead it creates a pleasant contrast, one balancing the other. The kick of water in Bon-Vivant's direction is surprising enough to get a yelp, if one that's more amused than unpleasantly startled, and he aims to send a splash right back at her. The roll of a wave against his other leg does nothing for his balance, and he does at least as well splashing her accidentally as his foot stomps down to keep him from falling entirely over, arms out. It makes him laugh again, this time at himself, and he draws a moist hand through his hair before deciding she has the right idea and gathering his already-wet trousers up toward his knees before wading deeper in.

"Maybe in a later time you will," he suggests, briefly pausing at that touch of sadness. A moment, and a smile again, if a smaller one, as he says, "I'm glad you get to do this now, though," and leans down to send her a splash back. It's not terribly large -- maybe not large enough, because he suddenly grins again, more wickedly, closes his eyes, throws out his arms, and lets himself fall right over into the knee-deep water. THAT creates a much more effective splash.


Submerged to the bottom of her ribcage while kneeling, the Caregiver's dress floats around her and moves with the water rolls, the quick motion of laughing flinch away from the playful splash. Then she up and gets soaked with a tiny surprised sputter once Bon-Vivant goes full body drop splash as a bigger measure. Wiping her hands in clearing swipe over her face, she does the exact same like a little copycat, but once she's under, she turns to let herself get air with float stretched out instead of kneeling again. She gets stuck a little beached that way, though, despite the surf-pushed peaceful moments right before that and flails some to get bearing for sit in the shallower part on her ass, leaned back on her hands.

She doesn't really noticed given the color scheme and design of the dress she's pretty fucking immodest right now with the garment wet and clinging as a result of full drop immersion, a silver cross on a leather cord catching the sun as her head tips back into the warmth of the outside light, eyes closed. They don't open as she stays posed in sit that way, eventually talking to Bon-Vivant once he's of a way to hear her, "I used to think people like you were demons, you know. The faces I didn't know were the demons. The faces I did know were the ghosts."


The Bon-Vivant sits up, with something of a sputter as he rubs his hands over his face to get the water away from his mouth, nose, and eyes, and shakes his head to clear it from his ears. The sound turns into another short laugh as his fingers continue into his hair, slicking it back. It leaves him sitting submerged to just below mid-chest, moved slightly by each wave that passes him by in either direction, and he watches her settle into her new position. Immodest or not -- or rather, whether immodesty is or isn't an added benefit -- she makes a pretty picture there. And he probably hasn't seen the necklace before, though it's hard to miss now as the sun glints off the metal.

He moves for the moment to sit by her, matching the position as if to see how it feels; technically not much less immodest, given the effect of water on the white fabric of the shirt, but he's perhaps less likely to scandalize anyone with it. "Ghosts... are spirits of people who died, right? Demons are," his head tilts slightly as he considers what his mind pulls up, "evil things? Huh. Why?" A pause. "I mean, why did you think that, though 'why are they evil things' is probably good too." He closes his eyes as well, tipping his face toward the sun as she has, into the warmth.


The Caregiver has never had to explain living as Eilis McTavish or Prosperity itself to anyone up until this point. Most people knew her lively spine and ready heart and ungodly determination all culminated into a piece of horrible heartbreak in trade for victory, so poignant it belonged in a stage book. And even though it ended that way, she fought still, she fought that very piece of heartbreak to try and turn it into something sweeter until her very death. But not everyone knows that. It seems to punch her right into opening eyes with a flutter. She's not -bothered- in the silence that comes after with consideration, she's just visibly trying very hard to think how and what to phrase as she finally looks back at Bon-Vivant, a wet long bang layering partially pitched over her pensive eyes.

She addresses the most rational bit to explain first: Ghosts are the echoes of the dead, yes. Demons live off of the strife and souls of people. It's not that they come from Hell, that's not particularly what makes them evil, I don't think. The Devil himself didn't seem so awful, somehow. Some of them are walking personifications of our sins to act as a force."

Her hand lifts where it's propping her to knock the interfering hair back, dusting some sand in fine sift over her face accidentally, a brief fidget before she settles back the way she was, "I thought that because... I lived in a place where our ancestors pacted with those creatures. And they moved among us, unknown at first but very known. We flushed them out. We fought them. We removed them. All so we could be free and not pay for the sins of those that came before."


It's got to be odd, piecing together what almost everyone else just knows through the various comments they make -- all the snippets of their stories, these lives that the very newest arrivals have nothing but the Facility to compare with. Odd to deal with on both sides, really. The Bon-Vivant is certainly listening closely to what he's told, though, turning his head to look at her again as that silence continues several beats before she answers.

The explanation of ghosts and demons gets a nod, and probably filed away somewhere; Hell and the Devil don't look like they have a strong meaning for him, but enough that he doesn't feel an immediate need to ask. On the other hand, "What are sins, exactly? And I guess that makes sense, if you were moving among them before you got here, that you'd think you still might be here. I know people have mentioned they died, in their Encounters," he's picked that term up from the first explanation he was given, and there's something about it that suggests it gets the capital letter, "so... yeah, ghosts makes sense."


“It's odd to talk about it to someone else that wasn't there. I listen to others doing that. That lifetime they had. The other lifetimes they had. But I've never had to explain. I've never had to sit and think and try to summarize my entire life, the parts that mattered more than anything, and the way it turned out. I just... had it. It was mine. It was ours. Now it's something else. It was real, but it's... seeing the others so different..." The Caregiver ruminates aloud to the Bon-Vivant with a somewhat frustrated expression, as if she can't get out what she's trying to express.

Maybe she just can't fully wrap her head around what exactly she's feeling, which seems to be pure amped up vibration in that second sense. It laces her limbs, quickens her breath. She's so damned expressive without words it's almost ridiculous, the sheer volume of the way she operates in a feeling space as much as a thinking space written all over. Then she focuses on what she can answer, "Sins... collectively, they aren't a big deal. They're part of being human, I never bought into damnation for living life as pure life. But there's a particular seven that are pieces of ruin. And I think maybe that's what we were facing. Lust. Greed. Envy. Sloth." She does pause on sloth with her teeth making a tiny knock together before she continues, "Wrath. Gluttony. Pride."

Finally she kind of eases up, concluding, "We're all of those pieces. But we're just people. We can do damage with those things, but... when those things are personified into a singular form they are the sheer power of destruction."


"It's kind of odd to listen to it, too," the Bon-Vivant admits, "and I don't entirely know what exactly to do with it, really. But it's pretty clearly important, and matters." He shifts position slightly to free a hand, letting him move it idly through the water, feeling the way it pulls against or moves along with or across the wave movement. "Everyone's got so much past to deal with and so much future they're worried about. Maybe it's just that I don't have much of anything else yet, but I think I'm probably better at 'now'." For no very good reason, he flicks a few drops of water in her direction, like the baby cousin of their earlier splashes.

"Lust, greed, envy, sloth, wrath, gluttony, pride," he echoes, thoughtfully. "I feel like those ought to have more meaning to me than they do. I know, generally speaking, I know what they are, what that means. But it's the same way I know what a bird is. However that is. I haven't actually seen one." He looks up at the sky, and glances briefly toward where that cooler sits, but there are of course none to be seen. No people or animals, that's what the room can't do. "But I can get that demons are walking personifications of those sins, and they caused destruction, and that's why you guys had to fight them. And you won, and some people seem like they're taking it harder than losing." It's not judgemental, just an observation, if one he may not fully understand yet.


"Maybe. Could be the missing pieces you don't know that make you, but maybe it's just you. Maybe it'll keep being you. A different you, but the same you. I admit, even though I struggle and drown and burn through all this new when no one's really looking, at the same time, I have an utter state of accepting grace compared to a lot of people I talk to. You know. Deep in the middle where it actually matters. I still know who and what I am as a separate entity. I'm Eilis, sure, but I'm also not. I'm not a simple creature. I'm not a name. I'm not whichever wind chooses to blow around me. I believe what I feel." The Caregiver takes a moment to watch Bon-Vivant while he takes his own turn for thoughtful rumination not just for company, but as much for himself and her eyes go a bit studious on his details before she says her own piece.

"Mind you..." She gives pause there to make a somewhat humored, somewhat self-deprecating noise in her throat. Then she falls back with collapse in the sand to look at the sky while finishing, playing with the cross at her neck, "I speak comparatively. We're all a bit messy here. And there's a lot I don't know. But at the same time, I'm not keen on others feeding what they perceive things to be as givens when I'm not sure they have a damn clue either. Assumptions are as dangerous as willful ignorance in the way that spreads."


The Bon-Vivant laughs at the remark about acceptance compared to others, though it's a much softer sound than the more delighted one she's mostly heard so far. "Yeah, I definitely get the impression some people are more... uncomfortable with the situation than others. Or find it harder to put together the parts of them. Might be easier not having any parts to put together, I guess? Though, it's not quite as bad as it was now that I kind of have something name-like, even if I'm not sure about it yet, but it's still kind of unsettling at times. But then I look at some of the guys who're back from a third--" He breaks off, brow furrowing. "Huh. Everyone talks about having been through two lives, or three, but they never count this one in that. This one should count too, even if the stuff around us keeps getting reset. We don't. I won't forget I met you or that we went here, when I wake up tomorrow."

He watches her toy with the necklace; there's curiosity, but he doesn't ask the question yet. "Anyway. I get the feeling there's a lot no one knows. But at least most of the people I've talked to seem to think they don't, too. What've you seen getting assumed?"


"There's a few things. People are entitled and due to try and work things out as they need them, in fairness. But..." The Caregiver blows out a slow breath over her lips as she continues to watch the sky, talking at length after soaking in the Bon-Vivant's own observances and feelings on the matter at hand. And there's a small smile to herself somewhere in the middle of his words, "I noticed that. They don't call this one life like the others. Funny that. I tried to explain the way we're made in the inbetween spaces to someone last night. It didn't go well."

The brunette's brows twitch down into holding, bothered frown there for a spell before the expression gradually clears with a turning of eyes over to company while explaining more specifically, "I don't like the bits some have about us being 'things' instead of 'people' at all. That one is horribly dangerous to believe if we have to keep doing this over and over. But...the concept of what's real, more than anything. That one." She pauses, "It makes me flinch still. The first person that found me here told me my whole life wasn't real. They meant well, they did. But it shattered my heart when I already felt alone and lost. The problem is, that word? It's absolute perception. By definition, at that. Not imagined, not supposed, occurring as fact. And those things -happened- and they happened -so hard- we are all marked up by it with no physical wounds. You don't have to see them to know they're there. Our scars should be proof of reality. Our loves. Our pains. The things we take with us in the end. They're ours. No one gets to dismiss them."


"Inbetween spaces," the Bon-Vivant says, as if tasting the phrase. "It is weird that they don't, when it's this version of them that's trying to figure things out. From what everyone's said, it sounds like the other versions are just trying to live the life they've got, and this one's the one that lives all of them. The life of lives. The other ones end and this one goes on. Though-- they said we can't die here. Or, we can, but we come back. Just wake up in bed in the morning again, I guess..." It sounds like it really is a guess; maybe not much detail's been given. "I'm not sure what to think about that."

He looks toward the sun, and quite obviously regrets it, eyes closing sharply and nose wrinkling as he turns his head away from it again. A couple blinks to clear the glare. "Your definition of real seems as good as any, to me. If we remember a thing happening, and the other people remember it happening, and it affected us, it must be some kind of real. Right now I think there's a lot of stuff we just can't know, like there's no way we can figure it out, so people are just gnawing and gnawing at it in circles. But it might be just that I don't know enough yet, I guess." This time he looks out over the water more wisely, taking in the swells as it leads out into the distance, and the clouds far out there. "There's this, though. I know this place is making is somehow, so does that mean it's not real? But I'm wet, and tomorrow if I say, hey, remember when we sat in the waves? I'm pretty sure you'll say yes. So it's real even if it isn't." He's thinking out loud, clearly. "...I wonder if there's time in here. If we wait long enough, will there be a sunset?"


"We've spent time together. So there is time. We're perceiving the passage of it as real. But at the same time... the way we're accustomed to gauging that is gone so it seems to be still." The Caregiver knows what the Bon-Vivant actually means, but she can't help but go into it with a small slant of her lips, circling to her bits before in a sense, "Time has never relied on the sun or the stars or the clock. It moves in moments. It always will. Just like the sun used to always rise for me in the life before. Even when we dreaded it and did our damndest to make time stop. Even when I was -sure- the sky was broken just like me." A pause for small exhale of clarification that's solid despite the breath of delivery, "I never was broken. It was just hard not to feel that way, sometimes, in the end."

Then she shifts up onto her elbows from sprawl to consider the sky anew, then the doorway where they came in. Then the sky again. She looks like she has a spark of idea, then she looks like she maybe doesn't want that idea anymore right after, "... I honestly don't know. I feel like if we tested you stepping out with me in here to see if the sun will make motion of falling with your magical imagining, I might fall in into some crack and never get found again." She pauses, "Maybe it's like the food. It produces what you want at the time. Like catching a snapshot from the mind."


The Bon-Vivant blinks at her first remark, and nods. "A'ight, point. There definitely has to be time, 'cause we're doing things in it. I guess it's more, how far does it move in here, or, how much does it affect the world it makes? There's more than one wave, definitely, but I don't know if maybe it's like a shorter version of days in this place... like every twenty waves or something it resets. Though... then the drinks we drank in the space deck would've been coming back every so often." He glances back toward the door as well. "I keep wanting to play with this and see what we can make it do. Like: if I think about how I want a place where it'll have sunsets and sunrises, will it? Does it not if I don't? Can I change my mind? Could I come in /wanting/ to be able to change my mind and then be able to? I think it stays however it's 'set' until the last person leaves, but that's mostly a theory... based on me leaving the space deck last, on purpose. But what if we came in going 'I want it to change whenever we tell it to'?"

He looks at her again a moment, studying. "You don't look broken to me," he decides, and it's hard to tell whether it follows from that or the words before or neither when he asks a moment later, "What did you mean, about people thinking we're things rather than people? And what happened when you tried to talk about the inbetween spaces?"


"I um." The Caregiver may be more sparing with her smiles as late, but ah, when they come? They're sunshine, this one breaking like a slow dawn instead of dazzle with light. She actually seems grateful to hear that from Bon-Vivant. And while she may not be broken, suddenly she's stuck, despite being highly verbose. Even when she's reserved and there's only so many words, she picks the ones that stick and weight like they should. But right now she doesn't seem to actually have any.

She has Eilis-level concepts of what the other 'things' might be that people were talking about, and well, she's from 1902. Things like Robots and Aliens and Induced Dream Sequence Experiment and Pawn Games, they're beyond her. "I don't know what people think we might be if we're not people. The one time I addressed it directly with someone after hearing it from other angles too, well, I mostly just dug in that he was a person and he was -my- person whether he liked it or not."

Then she pauses again, trying to address his next bit. Again, she gets stuck, but this time she makes sure to gust out an agitated sigh at the conversation in memory, first, "The thing I meant about... the inbetween spaces... I um." She blushes and sits up with draw of knees to drape her arms over, drying hair mussed, "Tried to give a very strong example to make a point about some things I feel about myself." A pause again, "Tell me something you feel about you while I think of the best way to answer that."


The Bon-Vivant has his own repertoire of smiles, and that smile of hers draws one of them out, smaller and a bit less evenly balanced than the easy grin, but just as genuine; more of a mirroring quality, her pleasure in hearing the remark reflected in his at seeing it. It settles slowly as she answers the first of his questions, into something much fainter but still present; he settles back onto his hands again, and then farther, onto his forearms, as he wriggles just a bit deeper, letting the water wash up over his chest. Keeping his attention mostly on her keeps the sun out of his eyes, but the focus is much more actually /on/ her, as she sorts out her answers. "Even if we weren't people, I think we'd still kind of be people," he muses. "Same way what we go through's real even if it isn't. We think we're people, we feel things like we think people do, we look and act and talk like what we think people do, so even if we /are/ something else, aren't we kind of people anyway?"

He doesn't fully know what to make of the blush, though it's hard not to notice it. Doesn't hurt to have a question to think about, there, though his forehead furrows more deeply than before while he does. "I feel about me," he says slowly, "...that..." It trails off, another considering pause. "Hm. ...I like things," he decides, finally. "I like doing things, feeling things, tasting things, discovering things. I like people. I feel like me when I'm enjoying things. All the debate and focus on what this place is and why we're here and stuff is interesting, but I think I feel like it's kind of not... mine? That might just be because I'm new. But I think... if I can spend my time worrying about what we can't know or I can skateboard down the hall or listen to the music or eat really good sushi why would I pick worrying about what we can't know? I think I feel that about me."


Though the woman is sitting still while listening to the Bon-Vivant, her fingers pluck and fidget on her wet dress skirt where her hands dangle in crossed falling with the arm drape. She's thinking as much as she's listening initially with attentiveness, and it's almost accidentally a brood which is an Eilis McTavish once-upon-a-time thing entirely, but he doesn't know that. However, the more the man speaks and thinks aloud, the more she eases out of that huddled sit with interest turning toward thoughtful fascination. Eventually she lapses into turn on her side while laid out there in shallow surf and sand to watch him as much as listen, rapt and quiet.

There's a lull of space when he's finished. Then without explaining she says, "I needed that. Maybe we both did. Thank you for being introspective like that. It's hard to do. To look at yourself as a whole without the details that might have made you that way." She pauses, leaning on one of her arms in that lay out, then uses the other hand to start drawing in the sand while dropping her lashes to watch what she draws on explain, "I used to tell people that... people as a whole don't know how to slow down and really look at others or listen to their words. They look with their eyes instead of -seeing-, catch noise on the ears instead of -hearing-. I always knew how and it was why I was so good at... well. People." She draws one circle. Then another. Then another. They're all overlapping at one point like a Venn Diagram, but she doesn't know what that is.

"This is what people see me as. This is what I see myself as. This is how situations paint me." She points to each of the circles in turn, then pokes her finger there in that small space of overlap, "That's me. I am all of those things and none of those things because where we really exist is between the lines." Then her hand brushes away the outer lines of the circles in the sand, just leaving the overlap, "It's the most powerful piece. The strongest piece in a chain of shapes that mold it."

Her eyes finally lift, in brief to the doorway indicatively before she looks at the Bon-Vivant solidly, "This -is- the inbetween. Everything about this piece here, it feels stronger here to me. It gets powerful. Overwhelming. A way of being to -sate-."


"It's weird, trying to think about myself that way," the Bon-Vivant admits, "I don't know if it's easier that I don't have a lot of... outside influences to sort through yet, or if it's harder that I don't have that much to go on yet. But it wasn't something I'd really thought about before." And, he doesn't say aloud, it's another interesting thing; that probably comes across to her even so.

He shifts his weight to one side and moves a bit more up the beach in order to more easily watch her drawing in the sand. Small nods, as she explains things, and the thoughtful look is back. "So now that you're here, instead of out there," and he clearly doesn't mean the Facility for 'out there', "the things that you see youself as and that other people also see you as and that situations ALSO paint you as... the things that fall where that overlaps are stronger now than they were before. Like if you took some of the water out of the sea, it'd be saltier." It's a question, even if not stated as one: that's what she's saying, right? "How do you know just what that overlap is? How you see yourself seems easy enough to work out. But the other parts seem harder."


"I don't know. I just feel it. I don't know how to make walls and close doors inside like other people do. Sometimes it leaves me wandering and knocking around in there, feeling too much, but eventually it all comes back to the same conclusion. Over and over and over again. I let myself feel all the things other people don't want to let themselves feel. And I find myself. Sometimes that helps others find themselves too." The Caregiver hasn't really spoken of herself as Eilis or the life she had with any real details. She had been summarizing. Glossing.

But as she continues to look at company, she tells the Bon-Vivant, "The last Reaping Season is the clearest. I--" She pauses and can't keep eye contact, even though her words are steady, lashes dropping, "In a matter of weeks, I lost nearly everyone dear to me. My doting father was strung up in the square next to my uncle, mutilated. I had three brothers. I was their sunshine. Their bird to watch fly. I watched them drop one by one too. Jeremiah went first, pulled into the mud by monsters to feed a demon. Nolan was next, burned by hellfire and fighting to his last hitching breath. Glenn atoned with self-sacrifice right in front of me. He had killed our father, unwittingly, possessed by a demon and couldn't live with it. So he made something of it. And then..." She has to stop. Her hand lifts to clutch desperately at the cross around her neck. She doesn't seem to be finished, exactly, but she needs a moment.


Reaping Season -- that's not a phrase that's familiar to the Bon-Vivant, even if he knows the words. The rest, though, that's easier to grasp, even if the feelings connected are still very much in the realm of birds, for him. He knows enough to understand that it would be difficult; that it would be traumatic, leave the kind of invisible scars she spoke of earlier. He knows, even if it is only in the same way he knows that jumping from a very high place and hitting the ground would hurt quite a lot. But he doesn't really know what to do with it. So he lets her have that moment silently at first, watching her more sidelong so as not to stare, and noting the way she grips the cross. After a few breaths, what he comes out with, quietly, is: "That sounds like a lot to feel. Especially if you were feeling it for other people too." The sense that she's not quite finished is mirrored by the sense that he's still listening.


"We promised to end it all together. To whatever end. By whatever means. Together. Me and the man that kept me standing through every single heart cracking blow. But... when the end came... I was alone. They drugged me and kept me tucked away to ensure I stayed standing when the last banishing and sacrifice was done. My cousin Cillian and my very heart and soul... Pierce. My two pillars of trust. They were too afraid of my broken wings. Too afraid to let me fly. Too afraid to watch me die." There's a vague screw of The Caregivers's fine features into partial wince. Her words are gentle and even understanding as she recounts. People can understand and forgive. They can also never forget. It's still a gut wound for her.

Finally her hand slides off of the cross to let it fall on the leather cord at natural dangle, eyes cutting to look at the ocean, voice a little distant, "Pierce sacrificed himself to end everything. He drank from a cursed chalice that put him into suffering languish for the rest of his days. No moving. No speaking. Trapped in his own bodily prison." A pause, "I took care of him like that for the rest of our days together when it was done. I had his twin boys months later. But I died having them.” A breath draws in then falls into the sea wind with the rest of her words, “It was meant to be that way. Because -they- were our boat. Our future. We were never free. We were always trapped by the sins of our fathers and their fathers before. But those boys? They were free."


There are probably parts in there the Bon-Vivant doesn't truly /get/, be it lack of experience or lack of information, but he gets enough of it. He doesn't have to have a promise broken to understand it would be upsetting, or to imagine wanting to stand together more than to be safe. He certainly doesn't have to have the experience to imagine suffering that particular curse: where there's been genuine but slightly disconnected sympathy before, that one hits something that's already in him, somewhere, and that expression makes it all the way to empathy, shading into horror somewhere in the eyes. It makes his shoulders tense for a moment before he shifts position a little and lets it flow back out.

Still, it takes another moment when she's done before he replies. "Well. I'm glad they were free. I'm sorry about the rest, though. I think I've met Cillian. Is your Pierce here too? And the boys?" It's asked slightly more carefully than his usual questions, as though he senses it might be a dangerous place to step. "And all that makes you... sure about the place where the circles of you overlap?"


"Yes." It's a bit unclear which question she's answering there because it comes out hard and fast and solid and singular. But maybe the sheer feeling behind it indicates exactly which question. She's so very sure. Focusing on the Bon-Vivant anew, the Caregiver pulls in a slow breath and smiles. And she smiles like she entirely feels it into her bones after all of that heartwrench she's outed, the actual expression muted but absolutely glowing. Slowly she pushes up into sit upright again and looks at the door, "Pierce is here. He's different. But it's not... in a way I can't manage, I don't think. He still -feels- like Pierce. The boys, no. I barely remember them. Colorado and Sebastian raised them. Caleb too. They were Coltons. Pierce was a Colton. Their cousin. They became the family I needed in place of the one I lost, while it mattered." She pauses, glances at the door to the hallway with a bit of tension creeping into her shoulders, "Cillian is here, but he's..." She exhales through her nose short and sharp, not finishing the sentence. But the general sentiment probably spells he's -too- different here.

Then suddenly her head shakes, "The reason I'm saying this is because if a life was ever going to be weaponized in a way to snap a woman in half and make her doubt herself or burn everything down, well. I think I've had that." She pauses, catching a delicate breath to look at the man sitting in the sand with her, "I bend. I don't break. I know who I am. I'll always find it."


"I haven't met Sebastian," the Bon-Vivant says, "...or if I did, I didn't hear that name." He already mentioned meeting Colorado, of course, and something about him and Sebastian raising the kids got a hint of a smile -- like something about it made sense, or at least was somehow pleasing. The rest gets only nods at first, if still thoughtful ones. He sits up as well, glancing down at the fabric clinging to his arms and undoing the cufflinks so that he can push and roll the cloth up past his elbows; the links go absently into a pocket in his trousers, still underwater. Probably not a safe place for them, really.

"Cillian or Conrad or whichever's most right seemed... not to be enjoying himself," he says, as though that would make the man different from most of the Facility's residents. "You, though -- I figure knowing who you are's probably the holy grail around here, from listening to people talk. From things they said, they felt like they knew themselves less after they went on a second other-life than after the first one. But I think you're the only one I've talked to who sounded like they felt like this them, this life, was different from who they were in that first other-life. Maybe that means you do know, and it'll stay. Maybe it's like that really-seeing thing you were talking about."


"I admit. I'm not looking forward to testing it. Just because I always find the pieces that matter doesn't mean it's easy to do and keep doing. But some things just are. And there are downsides to -feeling- like I do. I have to make distances where certain people need their distance now. That's hard for me. I have damage triggers and desperate urges here that yes, I've always had in some degree, but... without the distraction of actual day to day living they seem more vital, more powerful, like I'm functioning in some kind of core fashion and trying to compensate. It's strange. It's a lot of impulse. I need to touch and be touched so much more in absence of other things. It helps put me back together when something kicks me. Maybe it's because I don't force defenses like others." The Caregiver puts her tongue to press against the point of a canine tooth after trying to explain further to the Bon-Vivant. And her pulling her own core apart like that without the details, well, it's much like she had him do.

Confessing then, she knits her brows with something like guilt, though she reaches out to touch at the man nearby and his arm in brief with gratitude before carefully pulling her hand back and away, "I don't talk about myself and all that's rumbling around inside too much to others. Pierce used to know all my pieces somehow even when I never said words at all. But that might be different now. He might not understand my new impulses. He's more reserved here." She looks a bit uncomfortable there for a beat, but it passes as she looks at the Bon-Vivant with weight thick in her simple sentiment, "Thank you."


The Bon-Vivant continues to listen quite seriously; some might find the effect marred by the fact that his feet move against the water, and at one point one knee lifts to let him dig his toes into the wet sand, but even then she does still have his attention. And at the touch to his arm, a smile as well, brighter than the recent ones. Speaking of impulse, he leans over a bit and wraps a wet arm lightly around her shoulders, giving a brief and gentle squeeze before letting go. Nothing untoward, as long as one doesn't consider being touched by people one's recently met untoward...

It comes along with a, "You're welcome," followed by, "And thank you, too." He pauses, considering her, and says, "One thing about being new, I guess: I don't really need distance. I don't have anything to need distance about. So if you need someone to say things to or to go find something distracting to do, well, I told you which door's mine, right?" Fleetingly, the grin, along with a small shrug. "Plus, so far I'm not that sure anyone but you and me likes the music." Which apparently matters somehow. The smile's softer again as he adds, "Anyway. I hope it turns out only the things you'd want to be different are different now. Like skateboards and oceans and a lack of demons."


"Mm. It's out of my hands, honestly. I don't actually know how any of this -really- works. But I like hope just fine." She wasn't kidding about the space and touch thing, either. With a turn of face in brief nuzzle of hugging intimacy The Caregiver melts right into that arm around her like the Bon-Vivant were anyone else she considered to be a piece of comfort and love, friend or family and it's automatic. There's no sense of him being some stranger she met with a cool wheel contraption and doors to magical places. It might be why she was a little careful with her own touch, not knowing his inclinations or maybe her own limits.

It's not a big deal, really, outwardly-- it's open unbridled gratitude for the spaces made and the company that gave her the very sea and skies again, in her eyes. However, it's also a lot like a kitten keening into affection that you kind of have to bat off once you want your hand back. Not literally, of course, she shifts back to sitting, then eventually standing and dripping sandy water on her own when he breaks it, but its slow. It's nothing and everything there, all between the lines, "I should go in. Will you tell me what sushi is next time?"


There's definitely a sense that she may not be alone in the space-and-touch-thing, really, and that there may well be similar squeezes and such in her future, if she doesn't change her mind and object. This one lingers longer than it felt like it was initially going to, when it's leant into, but it still has to end. "Hope's pretty good," he agrees, watching her stand, and stretches, arms pressing high above his head before he, too, gets to his feet.

The request cues the grin again, and he nods, dripping as well. "Absolutely. I'll even get you some, next time." He scans the beach, eyes falling on the cooler and the floaty-looking toys near the towels, and seems to make a decision. "Thank you," he says again, and moves to give her a proper hug, with both arms this time. Not a notably long one -- she said she should go, after all -- but a proper one nonetheless.


"You're not alone, you know. It feels that way from the outside looking in, or even from the inside looking out, I imagine, but you're not." The Caregiver steps right into those arms once they're standing and the limbs are lifted with intention, wrapping on a full sea-soaked, sandy squeeze with bodily warmth behind the chill of water and breeze. Her words are just as warm where she speaks them in brief against one side of the Bon-Vivant's shoulder with accompanying nuzzle while drawn in. Then she breaks to move inside to the hallway, play kicking up sand on the way with muted delight and perhaps a hint of distraction after a backwards glance.


The Bon-Vivant replies to that assurance by way of an extra squeeze in the hug, before it breaks. He watches for a moment as she starts to go, and then moves to the cooler. It proves to contain bottles, one of which he sticks in each trouser pocket, and a third in his hand, which he waves to her with when he catches the backward glance, grinning again. Then he picks up the big inflated ring from beside it, and runs right back into the ocean, soaked tuxedo and all.