Log:After the Ashes
The Rogue has been relentlessly glued to the television. It's not a morbid curiosity, or boredom, and weirdly not a fear. There is some strange drive that has been keeping the once very aloof Rogue pinned down in one spot telling those that inquire with tired eyes lined like road-maps, "I can't let it happen again." letting them decide what that means. Apparently he's given up the illusion of professionalism and tipped his hand a bit dragging the brick red comforter with him to get comfortable on the couch and just hunker down. On the television the camera following the preplaning of someone in a Lodge room without lights. One knee on the observer is drawn up, the cover handing off one shoulder while hands wrap around his coffee as he keeps silent vigil.
The Scholar emerges from the long Hall of Rooms, freshly showered and dressed closer to Sebastian than Roen; a dark red shirt with the sleeves rolled up and black khakis. He's Roen's age here, and has the beard as well, but where Roen had kept his hair fairly short, the Scholar's harkens back o Sebastian's wild head of unruly curls (if with more white than just the single big streak).
His bearing is somewhat hesitant; he's still feeling out this second awakening, and what it means to have memories and behaviors of two similar yet wholly different men rattling around in his head. He's half way to the dispensers before he realizes someone else is in the parlor, watching that infernal television. A moment after that he realizes who that someone is. He stops, smiles, sad and happy at the same time. "Caleb," he says, because the man sitting here is far too old, weary, and focused to be Lyle. This is his brother-in-law.
There are few people who have sat in on the interior of Rogue's mind in it many forms, and the Scholar had been for nearly all: Once saving and the other being saved by one another. It's the voice though that pulls his attention away.
This man is far too old to be Lyle: mid-thirties, no hair gel, no cocky smart-ass grin or curious wonderment for the world. He's also fallen a step away from being the man who kept all his emotions lashed and lassoed tighter than the spurs on his boots also. The calculating, waiting look remained in the man widely known as Caleb Colton, but the open relief and expression worn is unmistakably from Lyle's lifetime. Caleb nor Sinclair had any capacity for such outward gestures of emotion and the emotion broadcast and amplified is relief.
"Shit, Bas, is good t'see you, bru." The soft South African dialect? Who the hell knows where that even came from. Look born of patient compassion informs, "Stopped in to see you on Max' alright. You were asleep... I,um, figured it might be just to let you ride it out in your time." Blue grey eyes, plural, drift to the dispensary and back to his... brother-in-law, or... surrogate... the...hell? Extended family by opt-in. There. Done. "You're welcome to grab something and let your heels cool a while." Which was as Rogue an offer to sit a while and join him as any.
The Scholar's smile becomes warmer at the Rogue's reaction. Yes, he doesn't mind the effect Lyle and this last life (brutal as it was) has had on this member of his family-of-choice; not one bit. His careful demeanor can only be Roen's, as Sebastian was anything but careful (even though, clutz that he was, he should have been).
He clears his throat, looks mildly embarrassed for passing out in Max's room. "I think Roen was operating on so little sleep my mind here is determined to make up for it." He gives the TV a grimace, nods at the dispensers. "I was just going to grab myself a little something--did you want anything?"
The Rogue squints a bit with empathy looking at the commissary and then at his mug. "Running a bit low. Coffee'd be lekker." He pauses and wrinkles his nose, "be appreciated." One's slang and devices known to them don't always translate, though he could also throw in 'mondo' and still be just as obscure. Oy.
His eyes drift back to the tele and offers, "Poor Julian. Poor bastard can't catch a break. Suppose none of us really could." Knee pulls up and he shifts a bit uncomfortably in the corner of the couch watching the Scholar curiously, but remaining quiet for him to speak as he needs to. "How she holding together?" There is curiosity for the sake of having values to add to his careful calculations and assessments or concern. This? This query fell into personal concern instead of means to find personal advantage.
After some thought, the Scholar says, "She's...managing." A small wince. "She's died so many times and been through so many lives, I think it's becoming difficult for her to process." He sighs softly. "Maybe it's too much to hope I can help her with that but, I'll try." He's much more Roen than Sebastian, just now.
He takes a steadying breath, runs a hand through his hair (in as much as he can). "Coffee, coming right up." He's not long at the dispensers, and returns with a tray bearing a pair of coffee mugs, a rich, dark scent wafting off them; a pair of Belgian waffles with whipped cream and berries; and two eggs, over easy. He settles himself on the couch, putting the tray on the coffee table and offering the fresh mug to the Rogue. "I haven't been able to watch," he says of Julian, flicking a glance at the TV. "I'm not sure I can see Colorado die again." He swallows, takes up his coffee mug to wash down that bitter truth with a sip.
The Rogue reaches forward setting his dead cup on the low table so he can relieve Bastian of the new one. He flinches and says admitting, emotion only Bas and Pierce ever saw on him before, and worn openly now, "I dunno I can either. Worried about Evan..er... Marc. Jules." Taking a deep breath he says quietly, "Did all I could to save em. We couldn't last time, but." He lifts the mug to Bastian offering the cold comfort, "We did this time." Taking a deep breath he murmurs, "We have to watch though. Is it worse to hide? To..." He shakes his head, lips pressed together hunting the words, "watch when we can do nothing or," He gestures the mug to the screen, "We keep watch so they don't have to go through it alone. So we can understand what they can't say and... well... to know when to start looking for them so we can figure out if-" He really doesn't finish that sentence flinching where words would be. He sighs looking into his mug silently and takes a drink. "Been thinking about dying. I dunno if you have. I know both of us our first. In a way it's comforting she's struggling with it. I dunno it's a healthy thing to get used to."
"I'm not sure we should," the Scholar says of watching. He has a contemplative bite of waffle, fruit, and cream, keeps his eyes on his breakfast. "Max hated it, said the thought of our private moments being shown for consumption was nauseating. I can't entirely disagree." He sips from his coffee. "But I also think you're right--if we know what they went through, it takes the burden off them of telling them. Yet, it also denies them the right to decide what to tell us." He raises his eyebrows at the Rogue to see if he follows. "Feels intentional, in a way; an attempt to make us trip over one another's emotional boundaries." He glances towards the Anywhere Room doors when he says that. "As do the changes to those," he mutters, has more waffle. He nods, agreeing about Max. "Still, it would be better to at least have a way to not...be in so much pain, from it."
The Rogue narrows his eyes at teh screen and replies quietly, "This isn't consumption. This is trying to take back what is mine." The Rogue listens to teh argument about privacy. In the end he answers quietly, "I won't let them take him from me while I sit by and just let him tackle this alone. I can't... not know." He lookes over to teh hall and back to Bastian, "Max is here. You know she's ehre. How long you willing to wait to figure out of Colorado is alive or missing?" Becuase... Addie. Blue-grey eyes fall back to his coffee with a quiet murmur, "I can't do this again, BAs. I would rather... have them hate me for intruding on their privacy, than not know if they're alright." Shoulders rise ad fall in a shrug uncertain if it's even the correct path, but it is the one his tired and wounded soul is choosing. "I can't leave... my people. And I need to know Marc and Rado are okay. That's my family. And Ethan?" There's the flinch. That half dimpled grin warms his face with odd amusement, "He's wearin that watch of mine we found out Candi was holdin onto." He pauses adding with a chuckle, "And my shirts now. Glad I wore em big for his sake or he'd be a mite bit uncomfortable." Shaking his head he blows on his coffee taking a sip. "We were so bad. Won't lie. I'm scared shitless his door'll be clean cause... that seems to be the trend."
The Rogue says, "Bad men don't get to have nice things I guess. Hopeing that changes."
The Scholar mmmmms around another bite of his waffle. "It might not be for you. But imagine--what if your--Lyle's, private moments with Ethan, were shown." Of course what he means is, Bastian's private moments with Max, which were their shelter from what was going on. A small fortress in which they could protect one another, if only for a short time. He thinks beyond that, to Prosperity and similar interludes with Colorado. Oh, no, he didn't want anyone to see those either.
He makes a face. "It's one thing, to bear witness to the rest. I suppose I can't disagree with that, though, I don't expect Colorado would want me to watch. I know Max wouldn't."
Reluctantly, he regards the TV screen. "But I do understand, the desire to know." He gives the Rogue an amused, sideways glance. "Carrying a torch for you, is he?" His eyes flit to the ring on his ring finger, and he smiles. "I worry about that, I won't lie. If Colorado didn't come back I'd..." He's not sure he can properly describe what would happen. "I think Sebastian would die, in some sense," he admits. He cleans his palette of that horrible thought with a drink of coffee. "I also know I can't do anything about that. I'm powerless in that arena. So I wear his ring, and hope. That's what I have."
The Rogue arches an eyebrow and gives Bastian that look, "Ja ja, if it's personal? I don't have to look. If we're talking well being and fuckin suffering? Bloody hell on a handbike, they're convinced I'm still there and are trying to consume the rest of the bloody puddingand a box of pop tarts in case that's my 'unfinished business', Bas." The truth is there's no idle toll from watching. Weathered hand rubs his face.
"I care... less about personal boundries and more about are they fekking alright. You-" Two angry fingers gesture at the tv, "can stand by passivly if you want. I want to know who is hurting the people I care about. I want to know when they retire from there so they at least have someone fucking waiting for them on this side because..." Wet angry eyes leak down his face, jaw setting. "Because I need them to come out on this side. Cause if they don't? Their loss shouldn't be in vain. And I don't... I don't want to forget why."
The Scholar blinks, surprised. "They think...you mean there's a ghost of you? That you're not...controlling?" He bites his lip. An ugly thought, in a way. They already aren't aware, within these lives, of the rest--to be entirely out of control of a copy of oneself, that seems much worse.
He sighs, sets down his fork to grip the Rogue's shoulder. "I'm not saying I don't understand why you intend to watch, Caleb." His grip tightens. "I do. I just..." He ducks his head, looks away. "I have to respect their wishes. My desires can't take priority over theirs. I...I'm not sure Colorado will even want me to..." He stops, releases the Rogue's shoulder to rub at his eyes. "I don't want to make assumptions. Just because he was my husband before doesn't mean he'll still want that now."
The Rogue looks to his brother-in-law with that punctuated look of now you get it. "Yeah. Ethan... Rado,Mall, Julian? Pretty convinced I'm still there." God it's hard for him to keep that cleverly crafted bulwark together. The hand hits his shoulder and one hand, warm fom holding hte mug, layson Bastian's hand squeezing it. His eyes squeeze shut and does not add the if Rado even makes it back part. He just squeezes the hand and tries to keep his emotions in. This wasn't the place to let all that shit go.
Taking a deep breath he looks to Bas and laughs in spite of it all, "When you know me to worry about someone's personal space, brother?" That wry, Lyle-like dimpled half grim pulling to teh forefront on a much older face in teh years earned that that kid never got to have. "I dunno why you bother lockin anyhting up at all, bru." Taking a deep breath he gestures to the television, "Trust me, seeing myself young, stupid and utterly American is reprisal enough for me." His eyes look up to Bastiana nd offer, "When he gets back? He won't forget you. Not for Candice and not because of-" OH SHIT. He almost said it and now there is just awkward regret all over his face. "kaaaaaaaaak." He sighs and just pinches the bridge of his nose. "Look no one's keeping that salty sunnovabitch from caring about you, mate."
The Scholar winces in sympathy for the out of control ghost copy, but also smiles, wry and faint, at the Rogue's admitted lack of personal space. "Well, that's true enough." He snorts a laugh. "I had to try. It was the principle of the thing. Anyways, then if you shot your foot off with my shotgun, I could rightly say you'd gone looking to do that, and it wasn't my fault."
He wants to believe the Rogue about that, but he worries, in the same way the Rogue is worried about Ethan stepping out of his room when it's all over. He fiddles with his fork, give the Rogue a puzzled look when he stops. "Not for...?" The Scholar's mismatched eyes widen as he realizes what the Rogue is referring to, and he covers his mouth with a hand. Well, hadn't he been concerned about this very thing? At least Bastian hadn't actually been Colorado's uncle or father. A mentor, yes, but that wasn't the same as...well.
He lowers his hand, takes up his fork and has a bite of waffle. Now he's very pointedly looking at the TV. "Ah. Yes. I suppose that will be. Something to discuss."
The Rogue just drops his head to the back of the couch and stares up at the called, strange ceiling. There's something to reconcile. "And here I was afraid it would be me using him as a patsy." A heavy sigh fills his lungs. "Look," he moves right on, "He'll be back and...the neon cowboy is and is not the man we know. So...let's not complicate his shite on him. or...ours." The look to Bastian is a difficult to read. He is more than happy to let that sleeping dog lie. For now he just quietly lets Bastian eat his pancake, "Hey, Sea Bass?" yes he's still calling him the old affectation worth a Clint of mischief. comfort in the familiar. "For what it's worth? I think....I think we did alright."
"Caring about me is one thing," the Scholar says to his plate. "I don't expect he'd stop that. But...he might not want..." He stops, shuts his eyes a moment and shakes his head. "Well. Like you said. Nothing to be done for it until he comes back." He sounds like he wants to believe that, even though worry continues to gnaw at him.
First waffle done, he starts in on the second. It's a little soggier from sitting there until the berry juice and whipped cream, yet he doesn't seem to mind. "We did as well as he could," he says with a nod. "Saving the world is a hefty task, I couldn't fault us for failing. Our lives don't equip us for that sort of challenge, and we rose to it anyways." He looks askance at Caleb. "Bastian was quite proud of all of you, you know. I'm sorry he never found the time to say it, before it was too late."
The Rogue tightens his jaw closed and there, in the quiet relief and sanctuary of simple words, lives that kid that just suffered enough in a lifetime without complaint. He sits quiet taking this in and looks up with a squint, "That first time I died in there and lied and you went with me to the hospital?" His head tilts curiously. The blond asking through the thick accent, "Was that real?
The Scholar pauses between bites of waffle. His eyes fix on some distant point, going unfocused. "Yes," he decides, voice absent. A few seconds of silence, then, "I think it was, yes. It has that quality that some memories do. The idea that it happened, but I don't entirely feel it. But," he looks at the Rogue again, "I've decided that it doesn't matter if I'm missing the deeper connection to those memories. Their result is still there. It still made us who we were, in there." He snorts, has some coffee. "In some ways it's for the best. If I had Roen's level of trauma from the war, I'd still be in my room, and good luck to any of you trying to pry me out." He stares into the mug. "It's like that meteor, the one that wiped out the dinosaurs," he says, voice low. "We were none of us alive for that. But we live in the world it made, and the crater is still there. That it's occurence is only a fact for us doesn't change what it did."
The Rogue listens hanging on the answer. The agreement that it is, at least in part, part of the 'real' or the 'real enough' gets a slow nod of agreement, "Ja ja." Eyebrow arches and he can't help but laugh with Lyle's ease and Sinclair's grim humor, "How come I feel we wntirely changed places this go around, eh bru?" Fingers comb roughly back through his hair. "Feels crazy... but I liked that place. Prosperity? That was a hard life. Hard town. Grew up fightin and lived," The Rogue shakes his head, "Always fightin. There? Finally felt like... I dunno. First thing that felt close to living. Even when things were going to shit. Felt good. Made something better." His eyes flinched, "Are we still all living in the dinosaurs' crater then?" It was more than a fair point on Bastian's part. "Hey... I'm scared too, bru. We made it work though. And... I appreciate you not lettin e get lost to my own head in there. Weren't easy. I know. Regardless waht... Ethan decides for himself or any... changes there are in Colorado? You still my family, bru. We doin this."
"I suppose we did," the Scholar says, leans forward to have the last bite of his waffle and chase it down with a sip of coffee. "Though you'll have trouble convincing me Sebastian, even possessed by Colorado, was anywhere near as much of a handful for Caleb as Lyle was for Bastian." A sly smile, then, "I wouldn't say I liked it more, but," a lift of his eyebrows, "Bastian's life was an incredibly painful one to live." He scratches at his beard. "Not that Sebastian's was much easier, but...he and Colorado had a life, afterwards, in a manner of speaking. I don't know how well Bastian would have done if he'd survived."
He leans back, smiles more genuinely now. "Thank you. I'm happy to remain family to you, even if..." He shrugs, shakes his head. "Regardless what's been, and what comes. If you'll count me as a brother or cousin still, I'd be honored."
The Rogue reaches over laying a hand on Bastian's arm with a wry, dimpled grin, "I ain't here to make things easy, bru. I'm here to get. shit. done." He winks with one eye, just relieved to have two to do so with. "Maybe our folly is trying to pin down one spot. That's gonna change. But family's family." Said with the certainty that Caleb's ever decided anything. Looking back to the television he squints and then back to Bastian. "I reckon not ell. To be fair? In the 8 minutes I was alive after you? It hurt." Taking a deep breath he says with all calmness, "You were suddenly gone. I realized the cavalry isn't coming. We're the cavalry and they're so... scared. Sometimes we gotta make hard choices. Maybe sometimes we can either take care of ourselves or we can take care of the things we love most. Something about not having a cake and eating it." Looking up to Sebastian a curious smile, "You reminded me, or maybe reminded me that if you really care about someone you put them first. You don't even think about it. You did that for us and I got no regrets. It was a short life but... we got em. And Ethan can at least know he's worth something. Everything to someone. And maybe they'll be alright even if it's just in theory." The arm gets a squeeze as he confesses his exit in the oblique. "It's real enough to count for us dinosaurs, huh?" He nods. "Finish eating. Let's go for a walk after this. We ain't done that in a while."
The Scholar lets out a breath, long and slow. "I'm sorry for that. I wish he'd been more careful, but once he saw Max die, I think...he stopped thinking at all, and was just acting." He grimaces. "He'd have never wanted to abandon all of you, but for a moment he stopped caring about things. I regret that. I don't think I ever won't."
He seems relieved, though, by the rest of what the Rogue tells him, something he could use a great deal of just now. "Yes, short, but...full of a number of things worth preserving." And there was the question of some of those they'd met. Would Dash, or Cassandra, or Mallory be here with them, or were they like some of the others such as Olivia, to never appear in this liminal space?
"Yes, a walk," he agrees. "Let's do that," and sets to finishing his waffle.
The Rogue tilts his head and offers gently, "Ya know, you're allowed. In fairness to you? I made the conscious call. I mean.. I knew. I was scared but somehow? Man I fuckin knew. If it wasn't this it'd be the infection from the eye and we know it. But you didn't abandon us. You brought us closer together and you made us a weird fucked up lil family." Standing up and stretching he extends a hand to help Bas up. "You repaid me good there." The smile extends with a side nod. "Let's go move some dust. I hear the ranch got horses again."